Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Energy Secretary Wants to Waste More Money on EV Loans

Just when you thought the Loan Program Office in President Obama’s Department of Energy might put its unused electric auto loan money back in the Treasury coffers, the government investor-crats are going to try to find some takers for the dollars of disrepute that have been tainted by the likes of inoperative, nearly bankrupt Fisker Automotive and Vehicle Production Group.
You might remember when we last heard about the condition of this program, it had trouble finding takers for the remaining $16.5 billion or so it had been allocated. According to a March report produced by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed DOE’s loan programs, those who might otherwise be interested in the financial help cited things like bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, uncertainty about credit subsidy costs, lengthy review times, and the expenditure of time and resources for an uncertain outcome as obstacles. But what stood out most – especially in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program – was that many electric vehicle entrepreneurs were deterred by bad publicity surrounding previous loans.

http://nlpc.org/stories/2013/08/29/new-energy-secretary-wants-waste-more-money-ev-loans 

Obama Grants Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants Without Congress

Congress hasn’t passed immigration legislation, but that hasn’t stopped President Obama from issuing directives that grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Last week, the Obama Administration issued the latest in a line of policy directives granting amnesty by default. This latest directive instructs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials not to enforce immigration laws in cases where an illegal alien is the primary provider for any minor child—regardless of the child’s immigration status—or the parent or guardian of a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
In a statement about the new directive, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R–VA) declared:
President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants.

http://blog.heritage.org/2013/08/30/obama-grants-amnesty-to-illegal-immigrants-without-congress/ 

Outsiders Have No Tool to Fix Syria

The desire to “do something” in Syria is understandable. The gut-wrenching images of the dead, including the young, have rocketed around the world. To casual observers, it seems obvious that a country as rich and militarily powerful as the United States must be able to stop the violence.
But the truth is that not even the United States can solve Syria’s problems.
The deeply dysfunctional Syrian state is not something outsiders have the tools to repair. Cruise missiles launched from ships and submarines won’t persuade the divided Syrian opposition to unite around a common goal, nor are they likely to cause President Bashar Assad’s supporters to capitulate and throw in their lot with the rebels.
But such strikes will result in additional death and destruction on the ground. The violence will end only when the warring factions within Syria tire of the struggle and are willing to compromise for peace. That is unlikely to happen any time soon, with or without U.S. involvement.

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/outsiders-have-no-tool-fix-syria 

SEC looking at Soros’ Herbalife trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking Bill Ackman seriously.
Days after the hedge-fund mogul wrote the regulator and complained about alleged insider-trading violations by George Soros’ family fund regarding its trading in Herbalife, the SEC took action.
An SEC lawyer has contacted at least one person who spoke with Soros Fund Management portfolio manager Paul Sohn, who was driving the firm’s Herbalife investment, The Post has learned.
Bill Keep, the dean of the College of New Jersey, who is an expert on pyramid schemes, was recently questioned by Liora Sukhatme, a lawyer in the SEC’s enforcement area.
Sukhatme asked Keep about a meeting he had with Sohn on June 26, he said.
Keep, who has ties with the Federal Trade Commission, declined to elaborate on his SEC chat. Sukhatme did not return a call for comment.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/sec_looking_at_soros_herbalife_trading_UhpdSXoVIl80JexRjHqHdJ 

Why Syria Isn’t the Big Story This Week

The world’s eyes are riveted on Syria this week, as the United States, France and perhaps a few others organize plans to punish a bloodstained government for its use of chemical weapons against its own people. It’s a story that has everything: the prospect of violence, the political agony of an embattled White House, David Cameron’s loss of grip, and perplexing questions about right and wrong. For liberal internationalists, few international laws are more important than those that ban the use of WMD against civilians; on the other hand, when the political patrons of a war criminal block action at the UN Security Council, liberal internationalists must choose between their highest values and their most cherished institution.
That’s why the Syria story is dominating the news this week, and like the rest of the world, VM has been following it closely. But another story that is getting less attention is much more important for the future of the world: the economic crisis in India represents a much more fateful moment in world politics than anything happening in Syria.
What’s so important about India’s economic problems? It’s more what they tell us about the state of the country than the severity of the problems themselves. The stock market jitters, the currency crash, the GDP slowdown and the government deficit aren’t enough in themselves to sink India. All economies go through rough patches every now and then, but the question isn’t about a downturn. The question is whether the Indian political system has what it takes to get the economy back on track.

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/08/31/why-syria-isnt-the-big-story-this-week/ 

An Accidental War

I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Martha’s Vineyard, but as a military strategy it’s not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington. And it’s trickier than it sounds: I’m sure Miley’s choreographer assured her she was “just muscular enough not to get mocked,” and one wouldn’t want to see the United States reduced to twerking arrhythmically to no avail in front of an unimpressed Bashar Assad’s Robin Thicke. Okay, okay, that metaphor’s as thinly stretched as Miley’s talent, so what does unmockable musculature boil down to? From the New York Times: “A wide range of officials characterize the action under consideration as ‘limited,’ perhaps lasting no more than a day or two.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/node/357287/print 

The Global Economy Suffers From Hypothermia

We've used the analogy before, in particular to describe what happened to the Roman Empire during the latter days of its existence. Looking around various economies in the world today, the same analogy once again comes to mind. One might say that what we see these days is analogous to the more advanced stages of hypothermia.
Early hypothermia may show in nothing more than cold feet, in itself an amusing analogy perhaps. But a body that is exposed to extreme cold over longer periods of time will at some point start to exhibit symptoms such as frostbite, which are the result of the core of the body trying to save itself at the cost of the periphery, the extremities. Typically, a human body, for instance, will lose its toes first because the heart can no longer pump enough blood (heat) to them and at the same time keep the body's core above a minimum temperature.
In our economies we see the same pattern. It is not generally looked at or even recognized, however, since 99% of us live in denial of the possibility that such a thing would even be an option. This is a direct consequence of the fact that, first, all major news makers and decision makers reside in the core, and second, that saving that core while letting the extremities die off is somehow seen as a good thing. Post-crisis policies around the globe are directed at saving the financial system, not the people the crisis has pushed into poverty. Since these people are not seen as crucial to the survival of the core, and the system as a whole, they are - almost ritually - sacrificed on the system's economic altar.

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/Finance/the-global-economy-suffers-from-hypothermia.html 

Florida’s public pensions still bleeding taxpayers

Florida’s taxpayer-funded public pension plans seem to be a pretty good deal as long as you’re not the one footing the bill.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 303 so-called defined-benefit plans offered to Florida’s state and local government employees.
The plans dish out lifetime payments after vested public workers retire. The payments are guaranteed, based on salary and years of service, and are floated by taxpayers public employees kicking in 3 percent from their salaries.
In the event a plan goes underfunded, taxpayers are on the hook.
“Due to a drop in the stock market the last few years and pension holidays taken by the state of Florida, the state Legislature paid hundreds of millions of dollars this year over and beyond what was accrued by this year’s public employees,” said Robert Weissert, chief research officer at Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee-based economic research institute.

http://watchdog.org/103595/florida-public-pensions/ 

White House Considers Awarding Obamacare Subsidies, Intended For The Uninsured, To Labor Unions

A few weeks ago, I discussed the fact that labor unions have been increasingly vocal about their objections to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare will “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class,” wrote three labor leaders in July. Now, according to a report from InsideHealthPolicy, the Obama administration is considering offering insurance subsidies—intended for the uninsured—to labor union members who already have employer-sponsored coverage.
Unions seek additional subsidies for multi-employer plans

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/08/30/white-house-considers-awarding-obamacare-subsidies-intended-for-the-uninsured-to-labor-unions/ 

Cooler Spending in U.S. Signals Slow Start for Quarter

Consumer spending cooled in July as income growth slowed, indicating the world’s largest economy was off to a slow start in the third quarter.
Purchases rose 0.1 percent after a 0.6 percent June gain that was larger than previously estimated, according to Commerce Department data issued today in Washington. Other reports showed business activity picked up this month and consumer sentiment declined less than projected from July’s six-year high.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-30/consumer-spending-in-u-s-increased-in-july-for-a-third-month.html 

The Department of Injustice

Martin Luther King Jr. was so naïve. He wanted Americans to judge one another on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  And he believed that the “bad check” that the government had written black people in the United States that he spoke of in his “I Have A Dream” speech 50 years ago this week could be cashed in the future where the “riches of freedom and the security of justice” would be available to all.
He obviously did not realize that character cannot be counted in a quota system. Or that black people should merely aspire to desegregation, not excellence, as Eric Holder’s Department of Justice contends.
In what is especially ironic for its timing 50 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Department of Justice (DOJ) last week sued to block poor black children in Louisiana from using school vouchers to attend a good school. The reason: their leaving failing schools upset the racial balance of those schools, depriving all students “of their right to a desegregated educational experience.”

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/30/the-department-of-injustice 

The U.S. Military as Western Union

Last November, United Nations human rights investigators accused the Free Syrian Army of war crimes after video emerged showing a group of rebels executing 10 captured government soldiers. The soldiers were videotaped begging for their lives before being executed.
In April, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accused a rebel battalion of torturing civilians and extorting money from them in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo.
In May, U.N. human rights investigators heard testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces used the nerve gas sarin, a lead investigator told Reuters.

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/30/the-us-military-as-western-uni 

Government Spending Is Ruining Families

The economic picture in the United States gets worse with each passing day of the Obama administration, and families are especially hard-hit.  While the damage is already devastating, the ramifications will continue wreaking havoc on today's children when they are adults starting their own families.

Comedians refer back to President Obama's 2008 campaign theme, "Hope and Change," declaring that most of us can only hope to have some change left after paying bills.  A survey of 1,100 Americans taken in October 2012 showed that 41 percent of respondents did not have more than $500 in savings at the time of the survey, which included "dual-income earners with ... big mortgages and big credit card bills."  Further, 54 percent had no savings plan, and 45 percent thought they would never be able to save money. 

The picture did not look any better in June 2013, when a survey of 1,000 adults found that 76 percent are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Half of those surveyed had less than a three-month cushion in savings, and 27 percent had no savings at all.

Ignorance is Bliss

Has the United States become too dumb to survive? Not yet, but some aim to take us in that direction.
A recent piece on Slate argues that we shouldn't send our children to private school, no matter what. Sure, the local schools may be bad. But that's apparently just the price we all need to pay. In fact, the lousier the public school is, the more important it is that your children go there.
No, not just to be indoctrinated into believing whatever the government wants you to believe. Allison Benedikt has an even more frightening reason for insisting on universal education.
She begins by bragging about her own ignorance. She says she read a total of one book in high school, and brags she didn't learn much on her way through the University of Michigan, either. She insists she's “doing fine,” but how would she know? To paraphrase Don Rumsfeld: education, to her, is an unknown unknown. She's never studied, clearly doesn't care to, and would prefer that nobody else do so either.

http://townhall.com/columnists/richtucker/2013/08/31/ignorance-is-bliss-n1687274?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl 

The Destructive Farce of $15.00 Minimum Wage & Melancholia

Forces with ulterior motives continue to lead the lambs to slaughter.

Leveraging a mentality that things are "owed" rather than "earned" in America, unions and their agents along with those that still think Thomas More's Utopia is an ideal society are pushing for a minimum wage hike to $15.00 an hour - more than double the current rate.

Protesters are framing the issue that corporations are part of a public domain and naturally they should share in their good fortunes.

Moreover, corporate greed results in employees being their victims rather than victims of personal mistakes. There are higher paying jobs out there, why aren't these workers applying for those jobs?

The fact is, most fast food workers have cornered themselves into uncompetitive positions in the job market where better skilled workers make more money.

http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/charlespayne/2013/08/31/the-destructive-farce-of-1500-minimum-wage--melancholia-n1688179?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Leaders, WH Discuss Obamacare Fixes

Pressure to fix the Affordable Care Act was a topic of conversation among top labor leaders and senior White House officials this week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Obama aides confirmed Thursday. But those involved have been reluctant to say more.
"We were talking about health care, and we'll continue to talk about health care to try to solve problems," Trumka said during a reporters’ roundtable Thursday.

The Disparate Impact of Holder’s War on Private Schools

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the civil-rights milestone will continue to loom large in the ideological media. The right will talk about how much progress we’ve made, the left will talk about how far we have to go, and the president himself will give a speech marking the occasion this week in which he’ll talk both about the progress and the ground that must still be covered. His speech will be all the more powerful for the obvious symbolism, though the speech text will likely be thoughtful and somewhat moving in addition.
It is also a speech to which the president’s attorney general, Eric Holder, should listen carefully. His latest crusade is to sue the state of Louisiana for giving black students in failing public schools vouchers to attend better schools on the grounds that the voucher program is resegregating Louisiana’s public schools. That is not an exaggeration, and I have to admit to being somewhat hesitant to even write about this for fear that Holder is kidding–because, well, he has got to be kidding.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/08/26/the-disparate-impact-of-holders-war-on-private-schools/ 

Summers’ Lending Club makes money by bypassing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act

Don’t know about you, but for some reason I have a sinking feeling when it comes to the idea of Larry Summers. Word on the CNBC street is that he’s about to be named new Fed Chair, and I am living in a state of cognitive dissonance.
To distract myself, I’m going to try better to explain what I started to explain here, when I talked about the online peer-to-peer lending company Lending Club. Summers sits on the board of Lending Club, and from my perspective it’s a logical continuation of his career of deregulation and/or bypassing of vital regulation to enrich himself.
In this case, it’s a vehicle for bypassing the FTC’s Equal Credit Opportunities Rights. It’s not perfect, but it “prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you get public assistance.” It forces credit scores to be relatively behavior based, like you see here. Let me contrast that to Lending Club.

http://mathbabe.org/2013/08/29/summers-lending-club-makes-money-by-bypassing-the-equal-credit-opportunity-act/ 

Larry Summers and the politicization of the Fed

Ezra Klein has an excellent piece on Larry Summers today, basically saying that he’s “the overwhelming favorite” to become the next Fed chair just because he’s an old Clinton hand, and is trusted by all the other old Clinton hands with whom Barack Obama has surrounded himself. (Interestingly, that’s a phenomenon unique to the economic team: no other department exhibits the same trait.)
The top slots on the economic team are all held by members of the Clinton clique. Sperling leads the National Economic Council. Lew is secretary of the Treasury. Furman is chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Sylvia Matthews Burwell, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, now heads OMB…
It stretches credulity to believe that a pure meritocratic process has simply and ineluctably led to the same six or seven people cycling among positions.
Klein’s thesis, when it comes to economic appointments, is that “the bar for each appointment is that the economic team already likes the candidate and knows he or she is good at the job and will work well with the other members of the team”. The reality of economic appointments to date is entirely consistent with that thesis, and I, for one, am convinced.

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/08/29/larry-summers-and-the-politicization-of-the-fed/ 

Syria

Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal

The large wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has already consumed more than 184,000 acres, and shows no signs of slowing down. The blaze, which has been dubbed “Rim Fire,” is now the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and one of the largest in California’s history. (Related: “With Rim Fire Near, a Look at Yosemite’s History With Fire.”)

The Rim Fire is one of more than 30 blazes currently churning across the West. And a combination of higher temperatures, untamed underbrush, less rain, and more developments in the region means that the number and intensity of wildfires is likely to increase in the coming years, says Don Wuebbles, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois.

“This probably is the new normal,” he says.

“If we look at how the climate has changed over the past 50 years—with warmer temperatures increasing beyond what we used to see in the early part of the 20th century, and changes in precipitation—fires will continue to happen and get worse and worse,” says Wuebbles, who co-authored a draft federal report linking climate change to an increase in severe weather trends.

7 Detroit building inspectors accepted bribes, endangered public

Seven Detroit building inspectors charged with taking bribes on the job are expected to be arraigned Friday after state and federal officials announced the results of a corruption investigation into the city department that oversees inspections of construction plans and building codes to ensure the safety of homes and businesses.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said the inspectors took payola for conducting phony building inspections or looking the other way at code violations. Schuette said the inspectors were charged with a total of 17 offenses, ranging from one-year misdemeanors to 10-year felonies.
The employees of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department are charged with offenses dating to 2007, some of which Schuette indicated were caught on video.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130829/NEWS01/308290104/Bill-Schuette-Detroit-building-inspectors-charged 

As Coal Plants Shut Down, United Kingdom Faces a Power Crunch

London at night sparkles with beautiful lighting, from the 11,500 lights that brighten the Edwardian facade of iconic department store Harrods to the 4,000 that illuminate the outline of Albert Bridge, spanning the River Thames. But are these popular tourist attractions—and the rest of the United Kingdom—at risk of going dark?

British authorities have been issuing some dire-sounding warnings. In February, the man then in charge of Ofgem, Britain's industry regulator, warned of an impending "near-crisis" of energy supply, calling the situation "horrendous" and likening it to being on a roller coaster headed "downhill—fast." Deputy Minister Nick Clegg was quoted saying that he was working to "keep the lights on." (See related quiz: "What You Don't Know About Electricity.")
In June, Ofgem released a capacity assessment warning that "risks to electricity security of supply over the next six winters have increased since our last report in October 2012." The report warned that Britain's ability to provide spare electric power capacity could plunge to between 2 to 5 percent, about half what is now.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/08/130829-united-kingdom-power-crunch/ 

Aetna pulls out of another Obamacare health exchange


Aetna Inc has decided not to sell insurance on New York's individual health insurance exchange, which is being created under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, the fifth state where it has reversed course in recent weeks.
The third-largest U.S. health insurer has said it is seeking to limit its exposure to the risks of providing health plans to America's uninsured, but did not give details about its decision to pull out of specific markets.
"We believe it is critical that our plans not only be competitive, but also financially viable, in order to meet the long-term needs of the exchanges in which we choose to participate. On New York, as a result of our analysis, we reluctantly came to the conclusion to withdraw," Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/29/us-aetna-exchanges-idUSBRE97S18520130829

Low Prices or High Pay - Pick One

President Obama, the unions, and Democrats in general are attempting to force Wal-Mart to raise its minimum wage.

In Seattle, there is an absurd push by activists to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for fast food workers, retail clerks, baristas and other minimum wage workers.
Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer said there's no time to waste. What the nation needs is money in the hands of regular consumers. "A higher minimum wage is a very simple and elegant solution to the death spiral of falling demand that is the signature feature of our economy".

http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/mikeshedlock/2013/08/30/low-prices-or-high-pay--pick-one-n1687222?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl 

Disability Insurance Trust Fund Nears Insolvency

This week’s charts show total receipts, expenditures, and assets left in the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund. Data from the 2013 Trustees Report show that the disability fund is currently predicted to be three years from insolvency. Under more pessimistic assumptions, the insolvency date is pushed up to 2015. The fact that the DI trust fund is not currently depleted shouldn’t mislead us into thinking we have until 2016 to deal with the shortfalls.
Spending on Social Security has more than doubled in the past decade, and DI now accounts for almost 20 percent of Social Security’s budget, up from 10 percent in 1988. The trust fund has been operating under deficits since 2008, as shown by the decline in the trust fund (green bars) and ever-growing gap between the payments (red line) and receipts (blue line). Despite these trends, disability insurance programs are often left out of the social safety net discussion. 

Personal Income, Spending Miss; Employee Compensation Plunges

On the surface, today's Personal Income and Savings data was not pretty: with Incomes and Spending both rising at 0.1% in July, both missed the expected growth rate of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively. This also meant that the US consumer's savings rate was unchanged at 4.4% in the month, and the downtrend from recent highs continues as more and more of the savings buffer has to be depleted.

But it was once again below the headlines that the truly ugly data lay. A quick look at the components of income showed something very disturbing. After holding relatively firm for the past five months (excluding the violent swings surrounding the 2012 year end accelerated bonus payouts), compensation of employees - the core component of personal income - tumbled by $21.9 billion. This was the biggest monthly slide since May 2012, and as the chart below shows, the downtrend in sequential wage growth has now resulted in a sequential decline in wages.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-30/personal-income-spending-miss-employee-compensation-plunges 

Media blackout: Thousands of Americans were laid-off this week (Aug. 26-30)

Within hours of President Obama's re-election, companies both large and small across the country began announcing major layoffs, along with store and plant closings.
All of the new taxes associated with Obamacare are forcing business owners to make a decision to either keep their workforce at current levels and surrender a third of their gross profits to the federal government, or reduce the number of full-time employees and stay in business.
Unfortunately, massive layoffs have become a weekly occurrence as companies begin to cope with the harsh realities of a second Obama term.
Despite the false, cheery rhetoric coming from both the Obama administration and their surrogates in the mainstream press, the labor pool is smaller today than it was 30 years ago and continues to shrink.

http://www.examiner.com/article/media-blackout-thousands-of-americans-were-laid-off-this-week-aug-26-30 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Welcome to the Unaffordable Careless Act

Harvard (and later Columbia) sociologist Robert K. Merton wrote in 1936 about the "unanticipated consequences of purposive social action." Pity that Barack Obama, an alumnus of both universities, either never read or took to heart Merton's warnings. It would have saved Americans a lot of misery.
The president certainly did not promote the Affordable Care Act by promising it would mean more part-time and fewer full-time jobs. Yet that is one of its unanticipated consequences.
A major provision of ObamaCare requires companies to provide health insurance to any employee who works more than 30 hours a week or pay a $2,000 per-person fine. Not surprisingly, the number of hourly employees working 30-34 hours a week dropped by an average of 146,500 a month over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number working 25-29 hours rose by 119,000 a month.

http://www.rove.com/articles/489 

Reporters Should Get Their “PolitiFacts” Straight on Obamacare

Does calling a reporter a “fact checker” make him or her more even-handed? Hardly.
PolitiFact is a case in point. It is a website of the Tampa Bay Times, manned by journalists and editors. It purports to rule from on high on the veracity of political statements, assigning “Truth-O-Meter” ratings that range from True to “Pants on Fire.” It is all very droll, or painfully sophomoric, depending on where you stand politically. Studies by George Mason University and the University of Minnesota have concluded that PolitiFact is a biased outfit that is much harsher on conservatives than on liberals.
Last week, PolitiFact decided to rate statements on defunding Obamacare made by Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint at town hall meetings across the country. Well, these are not ratings made last week—PolitiFact just wrote on how it had rated these statements in the past. A bit of a summer rerun.

http://blog.heritage.org/2013/08/26/reporters-should-get-their-politifacts-straight-on-obamacare/ 

Summers Pick Fits Obama’s Preference for Beaten Path

At this point, Larry Summers isn’t just the favorite for Federal Reserve chairman. He’s the overwhelming favorite. Unless something truly unexpected shows up in the vetting process (a paid toast at Bashar al-Assad’s birthday party, for example) or the administration comes to believe Senate Democrats will revolt against a Summers nomination, he’s going to get the job.
That shouldn’t come as a shock. A close look at the rest of President Barack Obama’s economic appointments makes clear that the shock would be if he didn’t go with Summers.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-28/summers-pick-fits-obama-s-preference-for-beaten-path.html 

Time to Stop the Special Perks of Politics

If there's anything that's fundamentally un-American, it's the burgeoning system of politicians bestowing on themselves special privileges that are largely unavailable to the public -- that is, the people who elect them and pay their salaries.
As Glenn Reynolds pointed out in USA Today, special laws around the country give some states' politicians special gun rights, legal immunity and a variety of other perks.  It's a disgusting practice that needs to stop.  It's impossible for our elected representatives to "represent" us properly if they are living a life that's insulated from many of the onerous laws or regulations they inflict on the rest of us -- or, more generally, if they're a special "protected class."
Perhaps the apotheosis of this deplorable trend is the fact that, in 20 states, private lobbyists get public pensions.  That's right -- through their taxes, citizens of those states are getting the dubious privilege of subsidizing the retirements of employees of private lobbying firms.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/carolplattliebau/2013/08/29/the-special-perks-of-politics-n1686976 

UK parliament votes against military action in Syria

British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat for a government which had been poised to join the U.S. in strikes to punish Bashar Assad's regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack this month.
Cameron's nonbinding motion was defeated 285-272 and he conceded after the vote that "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action."
The prime minister said in terse comments while he believes in a "tough response" to the use of chemical weapons, he would respect the will of the House of Commons.
At the start of the week, Cameron had seemed ready to join Washington in possible military action against Assad over the alleged chemical weapons attack. But the push for strikes against the Syrian regime began to lose momentum as Britain's Labour Party — still smarting from its ill-fated decision to champion the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — announced its opposition to the move.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100988766 

It’s Time For Congress To Debate The Wisdom Of Attacking Syria

For the better part of what constituted the early morning and afternoon in Washington, D.C., the British Parliament met in London to engage in a multi-hour debate on how, if at all, the United Kingdom should respond to reports that Syrian government forced had used chemical weapons in an attack on August 21st. As is typically the case for Parliamentary debate, it was a raucous and contentious affair but it was also more substantive than anything you’re likely to see in the United States Congress any time soon. Most importantly, though, here was the elected leadership of one of America’s closest allies engaging in an open and public debate about the possibility of taking action that could end up involving their nation in a civil war that has raged on for two and a half years now with no signs that its going to abate. Given the fact that the United Nations weapons inspectors have not even completed their inspection yet, it’s likely not the final debate that Parliament will have on this topic before any action is taken, assuming that it is.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/its-time-for-congress-to-debate-the-wisdom-of-attacking-syria/ 

China halts environmental approvals for oil giants

China's environment ministry has suspended approvals of new projects by the country's two biggest oil firms for failing to achieve pollution reduction goals, it said Thursday.
The ministry said it had temporarily halted approval of new refining projects, and renovation or expansion of existing facilities, for China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec).
CNPC failed to meet the target for reducing chemical oxygen demand -- a measure of the amount of pollution in water -- for last year, the ministry said in a statement.
Separately, it said Sinopec failed to achieve the required cut in its emissions of nitrogen oxide, an air pollutant.
It was not clear how the environment ministry, which is considered weak by many analysts, would enforce the ruling.
The ministry declined to comment further. A Sinopec spokesman said in a statement that the company would "obey" the ministry, while CNPC could not be reached.

http://www.france24.com/en/20130829-china-halts-environmental-approvals-oil-giants 

Fear the Rise of the Bureaucratic State

Even without the news that the IRS deliberately targeted Americans based on an ideological criterion, American’s freedom and control over their personal lives have been under attack for decades.
The real threat to our nation is the rise of the Bureaucratic State and the blanket of soft tyranny it casts to gently smother Americans to death. A liberal law professor John Turley warns against the “fourth branch” of government.
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical.

http://www.ldjackson.net/fear-rise-bureaucratic-state/ 

Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest

There are a few broad trends in the U.S. economy getting lots of attention lately. The job market appears to be increasingly polarized, with high-paid and low-paid occupations growing quickly, while middle-class jobs are disappearing. And on top of that, median wages have stagnated over the past decade.
This is worth exploring a bit more in chart form. Catherine Mulbrandon of Visualizing Economics has created a graph looking at the industries where job growth has been fastest between 2000 and 2011, breaking it down by income:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/27/heres-where-middle-class-jobs-are-vanishing-the-fastest/ 

Federal Reserve Employees Afraid To Speak Put Financial System At Risk

Regulators overseeing the nation’s largest financial institutions are distrustful of their bosses, afraid to speak out, and feeling isolated, according to a confidential survey this year of Federal Reserve employees.
The findings from the April survey of roughly 400 employees, presented to Fed staff during multiple meetings in June and July and obtained by The Huffington Post, show a workforce that is demoralized, and an institution where teamwork is nonexistent, innovation and creativity are discouraged and employees feel underutilized.
The shaky morale is a legacy of Alan Greenspan’s 19-year term as Fed chairman. From 1987 to 2006, the Greenspan Fed pushed for a hands-off approach by regulators, who then found themselves blamed for the financial crisis that led to the most punishing economic downturn since the Great Depression.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/federal-reserve-employees-survey_n_3826165.html 

Trains to Nowhere: A Government Spending Problem

Both parties now agree that we don't have extra budget money lying around, but both say government does need to spend more on "infrastructure."
Even conservatives want more spent on roads and mass transit.
The reason, advocates claim, is that infrastructure, unlike most government spending, has a "multiplier effect" -- it creates new wealth by doing things like speeding up travel.
Well, it might.
Advocates also point out something that seems obvious to them: Infrastructure is a job that must be done by government. Who else would launch big projects like the New York City subway system? Subways are what Big Government supporters call a "public good."

http://reason.com/archives/2013/08/28/trains-to-nowhere-a-government-spending 

American Education: a Lesson in Incoherence

In a recent American Thinker article, Thomas Lifson made the astute observation that the American higher education system has "got[ten] fat, lazy, inward-focused, and expensive during its decades of monopoly on certification of higher end new labor force entrants." No truer words have been spoken on the state of the post-secondary establishment in the USA and other western democracies.
The liberal dominated higher education system will, of course, attempt to deny these charges. But the data is against them.
The OECD released a 2012 report looking at the educational systems of its member states. The results are not promising for tertiary education in the USA.
The USA has a below-average employment rate for tertiary educated 25-64 year olds, ranked 10th worst among 35 countries, with the corresponding unemployment rate in this same group well above the OECD average. America also has a below average proportion of full-time earners among 25-64 year-old tertiary-educated individuals with earnings from employment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Foreign Policy Incompetence of Obama, Hillary & Now Kerrey

It is my belief that for many years now, even further back than President Truman, the US has meddled far too often and too deeply in the affairs of foreign countries.  The toll on our nation has been incalculable in terms of money wasted, lives lost/permanent physical/psychological damage to soldiers and foreign services officials, lives lost or permanent physical/psychological damage as well as destruction in the countries in which we meddled.  Our international reputation is in shambles.  The ineptness/incompetence of the current administration in this arena has finally exposed the folly of such actions.  The turmoil in the Middle East and the role our government has played throughout is proof positive.  While I don't agree with the author's view of our role, the article exposes the folly of our overly aggressive and self-serving approach to international relations.  My take?  We should seriously cut back on our interventions in the affairs of others.  Except in the most extreme cases limit our involvement to engaging in commerce/trade but mind our own business otherwise.  We have enough problems to take care of at home than to be playing the role of "nanny" for the whole world.  

http://www.humanevents.com/2013/08/23/obamas-foreign-fiasco/  

George Burns

Monday, August 26, 2013

Anti-Smoking Activists' Clueless Crusdade Against E-Cigarettes

Incredibly, the latest push from tobacco eliminationists doesn’t involve actual smoking, which has already been driven out of polite society more thoroughly than Rev. Jeremiah Wright sermons, early David Allan Coe records, and Three’s Company-era gay jokes combined. But it does lay bare the prohibitionist mindset and its fixation on scrubbing the planet clean of any behavior or attitude the crusader deems unacceptable.
This time, the buttinskys are trying to douse the dreaded e-cigarette, a device that supplies a safe nicotine hit to the user without bothering or endangering anybody else. E-cigarettes use replaceable cartridges in which nicotine or flavors are heated, vaporized, and inhaled (users are called “vapers”). Some e-cigarettes look like conventional cancer sticks and others look more like something from a bad Sylvester Stallone movie set in the near future. Questions of fashion aside, they are not just a safer way for smokers to get the nicotine they crave, they are apparently as safe as milk (well, pasteurized milk, anyway, and assuming you’re not lactose intolerant).

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/25/ban-e-cigarettes-the-anti-smoking-lobby-s-clueless-crusade.html 

How Well Do State Education Departments Report Public School Spending?

Public schools are usually the most costly item in state and local budgets. Yet despite tremendous and persistent spending growth in the last half-century, the public vastly underestimates the true cost of public education.
To better understand the source of this misperception, this report examines the spending data that all 50 state education departments make available to the public on their websites. It reveals that very few state education departments provide complete and timely financial data that is understandable to the general public.
Half of all states report a “per pupil expenditures” figure that leaves out major cost items such as capital expenditures, thereby significantly understating what is actually spent. Alaska does not even report per pupil expenditure figures at all.
Eight states fail to provide any data on capital expenditures on their education department websites. Ten states lack any data on average employee salaries and 41 states fail to provide any data on average employee benefits.

http://www.cato.org/cracking-books 

Drinking From the Cup of Bitterness and Hatred

It is important that we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King not only arguably delivered the greatest speech spoken on American soil, but his words were a critical turning point in the history of civil rights in America. When King said that he dreamt of the day that his children would be judged by the content of the character instead of the color of their skin, it was the point at which many white Americans began to rethink their views about blacks.
Yet half a century later, it is sadly and painfully apparent that Dr. King’s successors have outright ignored his inspiring words:
And that is something that I must say to my people who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/26/drinking-from-the-cup-of-bitte 

Fed Up Yet?

AS SUMMER BECOMES fall, we commence the 100th anniversary of that most glorious of all the violations of the United States Constitution, the Federal Reserve. The legislation that eventually emerged as the Federal Reserve Act was introduced in the House in August 1913 and was enacted and signed in December. The Fed itself started doing business in 1914. It would seem that this is a dandy time to pause in our national rush to ruin so as to reflect on what the first century of the Fed has wrought.
The chairman of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress, Representative Kevin Brady, has been nursing a bill to create a Centennial Monetary Commission. The idea would be to look at all the questions related to how the Federal Reserve System has, or has not, worked. The Texas Republican is a cheerful, sensible, moderate fellow who has put out word that he wants the commission to be “brutally bipartisan.” Wouldn’t you know but that the Commission is given but a 14 percent chance of getting out of Brady’s own committee and a 2 percent chance of becoming law.

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/26/fed-up-yet 

A Third-Party Candidate on the Rise in 2016?

There are many lessons to be found in studying the American presidential election record.

We're currently moving through a period of profound frustration with the Republican Party.  Many were looking and hoping for a Reagan-esque candidate to arise during the 2012 primary debates.  Alas, there wasn't one anywhere to be found.

Obama and Romney took 98.17% of the popular vote.  Obama won by 3.85%, and with only 1.83% of the popular vote going to candidates outside the top two parties, the non-two party vote was effectively irrelevant.

But it hasn't always been this way, and -- if history is any guidance -- the tide will turn again, and soon.

The following figures show the percentage of the popular vote outside the top two candidates and the percentage of the popular vote for the third-place candidate since 1824.

GDP Data Is Unreliable, Government Propaganda

Two days before the stock market set its most recent record highs on August 2nd, the Department of Commerce provided the necessary rocket fuel when it reported a much better than expected first-reading of economic growth in the second quarter. This 1.7% preliminary estimate not only topped estimates, but was sufficiently strong enough to allow traders to overlook the dismal final reading of first quarter GDP, which was unceremoniously slashed to just 1.1% from an original guesstimate of 2.5% in April.
While the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) defends the integrity of its work and the periodic revisions it makes to its methodology, for some, this aim-high-then-mark-down trend is nothing short of a conspiracy.
"I think we have been getting overly optimistic [GDP] assessments from the government," says Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, in the attached video. "They want to make GDP appear bigger than it normally would be, and growth to appear bigger. So this is government propaganda."

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/gdp-data-unreliable-government-propaganda-peter-schiff-111727893.html 

Challenges are just beginning for central banks

Each August for the past several years, a conference room on the third floor of the Jackson Lake Lodge has been stocked with financial data terminals, secure phone lines and all the other accessories that Ben Bernanke and his top lieutenants at the Federal Reserve might need to fight a global financial crisis.
Many of the world’s leading central bankers are back at their annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole this weekend. But the conference room is empty.
The crisis — which started in subprime U.S. mortgages six years ago, engulfed banks on both sides of the Atlantic, brought the worst recession in generations and drove several European countries to the brink of bankruptcy — is for practical purposes over.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/25/business/challenges-are-just-beginning-for-central-banks/#.UhszW7yE6Zg 

NSA having flashbacks to Watergate era

The National Security Agency is facing its worst crisis since the domestic spying scandals four decades ago led to the first formal oversight and overhaul of U.S. intelligence operations.
Thanks to former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden's flood of leaks to the media, and the Obama administration's uneven response to them, morale at the spy agency responsible for intercepting communications of terrorists and foreign adversaries has plummeted, former officials say. Even sympathetic lawmakers are calling for new curbs on the NSA's powers.
"This is a secret intelligence agency that's now in the news every day," said Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and later led the CIA. "Each day, the workforce wakes up and reads the daily indictment."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/25/200325/nsa-having-flashbacks-to-watergate.html#.Uhsy9ryE6Zi

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/25/200325/nsa-having-flashbacks-to-watergate.html#.Uhsy9ryE6Zi#storylink=cpy

Saturday, August 24, 2013

13 items can be considered racist


Ask yourself if any of these 13 items can be considered racist, well maybe one of them but not in the way you think.  All of them are actions of a presidential administration and except for one they have nothing at all to do with race.  Yet members of the administration and a huge percentage of the mainstream media claim whites in America are unhappy with the president simply because he is black.  Ask yourself another question.  If whites were so hell bent against a black president how come he has been elected for two terms in a country with a majority white population and only 13 percent black population?   Why can't the left see that it is the president's actions and policies that a majority of Americans, white & black, do not like?    

http://alineofsight.com/blogs/lawless-in-the-white-house   

George Burns

California Lawmakers Continue to Undermine Property Rights

California’s redevelopment law was designed to revive inner-city neighborhoods by giving city planners extra powers to invest tax dollars and direct development decisions in areas that were deemed to be blighted. It morphed into a financial sleight of hand, whereby officials subsidized auto malls and hotels to divert tax revenues that would go elsewhere.
Property-rights activists loathed redevelopment because it gave cities an excuse to take property via eminent domain and give it to developers who had “better” plans for the property. Anything eyed by these agencies, critics said, became “blight.”
Even many redevelopment supporters — who point to the revival of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and other projects as proof of its success — admit that agencies sometimes abused their power. But in the end, their financial approach was their undoing.

http://reason.com/archives/2013/08/23/california-lawmakers-continue-to-undermi 

Why Arab Democracy Will Fail

The auguries of political science strongly predict that the Arab Spring rebellions will succumb to new autocrats in the near term. Sparked by a 2010 uprising in Tunisia, the Arab Spring revolutions toppled autocratic regimes not only in Tunisia but in Egypt, Yemen, and (with outside military assistance) Libya, while civil war broke out in Syria.
So why the gloom over the hopes for a wave of Arab democratization? Because, broadly speaking, data on the arcs of post–World War II revolutions suggests that their chances of successfully transitioning from autocracy to democracy are less than 50/50.
That dispiriting appraisal is based on a new data set, compiled by the UCLA political scientist Barbara Geddes and her colleagues, that provides transition information for the 280 autocratic regimes (in 110 countries with a population of more than a million) in existence from 1946 to 2010. More than half of the time, one autocrat has been followed by another. The odds of transitioning from autocracy to democracy are even worse for personalist dictatorships and one-party states, although military dictatorships make the transition about two-thirds of the time. A personalist dictator is a ruler who basically runs the state as a family business. As it happens, all of the regimes in which Arab Spring revolutions were successful were more or less personalist dictatorships: Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria.

http://reason.com/archives/2013/08/23/why-arab-democracy-will-fail

SEIU: The 21st Century's Jack Cade

William Shakespeare's plays always featured some sort of comic relief to appeal to the groundlings: lower-class Britons who had to sit on the ground because they could not afford theater seats.  These members of his audience had enough common sense to laugh, for example, at Jack Cade's outrageous propositions in Henry VI.  Fast food workers will, hopefully, have enough sense to dismiss similarly the equally outrageous promises by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small beer... and when I am king, as king I will be, there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.

Even the groundlings knew what would happen if the King decreed that bakers must sell seven half-penny loaves for a penny.  Bread would quickly become available only on the black market, if it was available at all.  Henry Ford said explicitly that it is not possible to legislate prosperity, but he proved that his universal code of economic, scientific, and behavioral laws can create almost limitless wealth.  Ford's industries, and those that developed to support them, created high-wage jobs while they made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.

No Evidence That ObamaCare Will Bring Down Health Care Costs

As the liberal talking points on ObamaCare dictate, once ObamaCare is fully implemented, more people will contribute to the insurance pool and rates will stabilize and perhaps come down.

Sounds nice in theory, but does it work in practice?  Is this revealed as just a utopian fantasy not grounded in empirical evidence when we examine what has occurred in other nations?

The liberal premise for ObamaCare can be distilled into a couple of key hypotheses regarding health care costs: (1) health care costs are being driven up at rapid rates because of the high private-sector profit-driven component of the American health care system, and (2) increasing public-sector involvement in the health care system and government regulation will stabilize or decrease costs.

If these foundations for justifying ObamaCare were true, what we should find when we compare trends in American health care costs to those of other nations with socialized medicine/universal health care coverage is that American health care costs are increasing at a more rapid rate than those of all these other countries. Such is most definitely not the case.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mass. State Senator to Resign Over Ethics Fight

A Massachusetts state senator who founded the regional airline Cape Air and remains its chief executive said Thursday he would resign his seat and suspend his gubernatorial bid while he fights an ethics decision concerning his business with the state.
Democratic state Sen. Dan Wolf, who was elected in 2010 to represent Cape Cod and the swanky summer colonies of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, said he disagreed with a recent ruling that his business interests conflict with his political position.
Earlier this month, the state ethics commission ruled that Mr. Wolf's spot in the Legislature violated conflict-of-interest laws because Cape Air has a contract with the Massachusetts Port Authority to operate out of Logan Airport. The commission ruled that in order to comply with state law, Mr. Wolf would have to shed his holdings in Cape Air, terminate Cape Air's Logan contracts or step down from elected office. Mr. Wolf has at least a 23% ownership in the airline, the ruling stated.

http://reason.com/24-7/2013/08/22/mass-state-senator-to-resign-over-ethics 

The Immense and Growing Price of "Tax Expenditures"

Tax expenditures are officially created loopholes that allow individual and corporate taxpayers to reduce their federal liabilities if they engage in certain sanctioned ways. They're called expenditures because they resemble government spending and have been treated as such in federal budgets going back to the 1970s. The biggest tax expenditures (in terms of dollars) include not counting employer-paid health premiums and insurance as compensation, excluding pension contributions and earnings from taxes, the mortgage-interest deduction on up to two homes, depreciation of machinery and equipment, deductions for state and local taxes paid by individuals, and charitable contributions.
Tax expenditures tend to be very popular with the people who benefit from them but they also represent a blatant attempt by the government to engineer behaviors ranging from having children to buying homes rather than renting. As the consensus that our current tax code is overly complicated and inefficient (both in terms of economic activity and revenue generation), all tax expenditures should be on the table for reconsideration and elimination.

http://reason.com/blog/2013/08/22/the-immense-and-growing-price-of-tax-exp 

Larry Summers Decided to 'Take Off the Gloves' in Fed Chair Campaign

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has been hanging out in Cape Cod all summer, did not want to campaign for Federal Reserve chair at first. According to The Washington Post's Zachary A. Goldfarb, Summers told his friends "no lobbying" when his name was first batted around to replace Ben Bernanke. Now, Summers has decided to "take off the gloves," and has instructed friends and former colleagues to counter attacks against him.
So far, Summers has had a rough go of it. Janet Yellen, his main competition for the Fed chair post, has had vocal supporters since day one. About a third of Democratic senators, including Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein, wrote President Obama a letter in late July urging him to pick Yellen. Polls show that economists think Yellen is the best and most likely choice to chair the Fed. Even Republicans, like Senator Pat Roberts, have come out and said they prefer Yellen over Summers (not that they really like either of them).

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/08/larry-summers-decided-take-gloves/68569/ 

Elizabeth Warren’s secret: The Salon interview

It’s been well-documented that the 113th Congress specializes in getting nothing consequential done. While the nation’s supply of named post offices is apparently well-stocked, anything more critical has generally stalled out, with little hope to break the gridlock.
So let’s say you’re a high-profile freshman senator walking into this den of inertia, and you want to make your large following proud and advance your agenda, but you’re in no position to do that legislatively? How do you, Elizabeth Warren, find your way through this minefield, and even chalk up successes?
“It’s all about learning to use the new tools,” Warren told Salon in an interview this week. “In the Senate, there are more tools in the toolbox than are obvious.” Warren, now the senior senator from Massachusetts (Ed Markey, with a 37-year congressional career, is the junior member), has employed those more unconventional tools effectively, doing her part to both change the conversation around the financial industry inside and outside Washington, and change the sharpness of the regulatory response to financial misdeeds.

http://www.salon.com/2013/08/22/its_a_new_day_in_town_the_elizabeth_warren_interview/ 

Foreclosure Fiasco: A look at the new shady dealers in Wall Street greed

“Let’s kill all the lawyers,” Shakespeare demanded over 400 years ago. These days, lawyers have taken a back seat to Wall Street as the main target of public ire. But when a bank sues a homeowner for foreclosure or engages in any other legal action related to delinquent mortgages, they hire a law firm to represent them. Nicknamed “foreclosure mills” because of the relentless churn of cases they take on, these firms are complicit in much of the misconduct we attribute to banks throughout the foreclosure process. There’s a long list of documented abuse by foreclosure mills, which are often specialist law firms built to handle thousands of foreclosures at once. Because of their financial incentives, firms are rewarded for each action they take and frequently cut corners on legally mandated steps of the process. And like everyone else along the foreclosure chain, foreclosure mills have faced virtually no accountability for their misconduct. “It’s the crookedest thing I’ve ever seen in 38 years of law practice,” said Blair Drazic, a defense attorney in Grand Junction, Colorado.
But Colorado is the place where justice might finally get served, thanks to an investigation by state Attorney General John Suthers into the billing practices of leading foreclosure mills. The case, which has not yet led to charges, has so far featured allegations of bill-padding, collusion, destruction of evidence, and lobbying for personal gain. If Colorado is successful in reining in the worst conduct of the foreclosure mills, it could spark more scrutiny of their practices across the country.

http://prospect.org/article/foreclosure-fiasco 

Violent Crime In America And More

This article provides statistics on violent crime that should disturb everyone.  It also puts a damper on the progressive narrative that white on black crime is an especially egregious problem, that ours is a country filled with white racists.  The fact is that violent crime takes place mostly within racial groups.  And, get this, one out of every four women will experience domestic violence sometime during their lifetime.  http://www.newswithviews.com/Wooldridge/frosty880.htm   Something is seriously wrong in America and it is my belief that it is largely a consequence of the demise of moral two parent families raising moral children based on religious/Christian principles.  The religion of secular humanism has no fixed moral principles because to them everything is relative and there is little doubt that secular humanistic leaning leaders are the dominant force now running our country.  No wonder violent crime is so prevalent and as most of us will admit that is not nearly all that is wrong.  It is safe to say that in addition to running our country the progressive secular humanists are "ruining" it.   

To make the point far better than I, check out this article which does a good job, rightfully I think, of laying much of what's wrong squarely at the doorstep of the criminal enterprise in Washington, DC.  http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin767.htm   

 George Burns

Libertarian Populism Is an Oxymoron

National mixed emotions about libertarianism are understandable, given that many Americans consider former Texas Congressman Ron Paul and his many naïve or anti-Semitic or tin-foil-hatted disciples as its leading representatives, and that so many Libertarian Party members come across as more interested in intellectual purity and being “right” than in actually making a difference.
But the rise in prominence of certain pro-liberty members of Congress, particularly Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) in the House of Representatives and Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate — along with the occasional libertarian, or at least constitutional, tendencies of Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — are slowly dragging libertarianism into the political mainstream. (Rep. Amash was the only member of Congress whose campaign I contributed to in the last cycle, not least because he explains every vote he casts in Congress on his Facebook page.)
In a recent opinion piece entitled “Libertarian Populism and Its Critics,” Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ resident conservative, takes on a range of writers who have recently discussed “libertarian populism,” a term that seems to have been coined by Ben Domenech (who, like me, is affiliated with the Heartland Institute).

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/23/libertarian-populism-is-an-oxy 

How do we make people want to be successful?

I live in a different America now. For the past two years I lived in the inner-city of America’s most dangerous city. I saw the culture of poverty up close and personal. Some insist there is no such thing as a culture of poverty; they would think differently if they spent the last two years in my shoes. But of course they won’t.
The culture of poverty is many things. Actually it is an accumulation of things. Having one of those things doesn’t necessarily mean you are part of that culture. One characteristic of the culture of poverty is the single-parent household. But there are many middle class and even upper class (though fewer) single-parent households that are doing just fine. That is because they have resources unavailable to the poor. Like savings. Lawyers. Reliable transportation.
But if you are a single parent with multiple children by multiple fathers, and a high school dropout, with a record, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you move to a new rental every six months, yanking your kids out of school after school, and if you do drugs in front of your children, and sell your food stamps for cash, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you are 20 years old, living with your grandmother, with no interest in ever getting a job, or getting married, or doing much of anything, chances are you are part of that culture. If you do not have a kitchen table, but you do have a big flat screen TV, and when the social worker comes to visit someone yells, “The social worker is here, go get the light bulb,” then chances are you are part of that culture.

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/23/in-another-country 

How Responsible Is Obama for the Oklahoma Killing?

Two weeks after the Martin story surfaced, President Obama had the chance to defuse tensions.  "Obviously this is a tragedy," said Obama solemnly in response to a planted question.  After some empty bromides about everyone pulling together and the like, the president cut to the chase: "But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon--If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."

By this time, the White House had access to all the information the Sanford Police Department did.  The courageous step for Obama would have been to defend the Sanford Police Department and to demand an end to the media lynching of George Zimmerman.  As an African American, he had more latitude to do this than a white politician would have.  Instead, he chose to identify fully with the black "victim."

If Obama's son would have looked like Trayvon, he would have also looked like James Edwards and Chancey Luna, both charged with first-degree murder in Lane's death.  Although south central Oklahoma would seem to be a long way from south central LA, the national media have created a dysfunctional culture accessible to all disaffected youths everywhere, even the occasional white kid like getaway driver Michael Jones.

There Is A Problem With This Ruling

Tolerance is apparently a modern day one way street.  In this case a lesbian couple planning a wedding were refused photography services by a Chrisitian couple who believe that marriage is between a man and woman.  Thousands of years of tradition were thrown out the window by a court because this lesbian coulple refused to tolerate the Christian couple's belief and go to another establishment for the services they desired.  This is a prime example of modern day intolerance.  The Lesbian couple's view of tolerance is that "you must tolerate me but I do not need to tolerate you."  In their intolerant righteousness they chose to pursue a path that would punish the Christian couple for their strongly held religious beliefs.  The Christian couple's beliefs, you see, were intolerant according to the lesbian couple and political correctness no doubt drove the court's decision. The lesbian couple's "rights" were paramount and to be tolerated - the Christian couple's religious "beliefs" not.  The lesbian couple won the court case.  The implications are enormous,  Where have common sense, decency and true tolerance gone? 

See link for details:   http://www.redstate.com/2013/08/22/losing-the-battle-winning/   

George Burns