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Dear Readers, I am sure you will find many of the articles in this month’s Heritage Insider-Online of interest so for those who do not subscribe I am putting them on my blog for you use. I have gotten emails from many asking why I am no longer blogging. Frankly because I have said all I can say about the evil of Barack Obama and now can only sit back and cry for my country. Even if the Senate becomes Republican this November and a sane President is elected in 2016 there has been so much damage done that it will take decades to just claw ourselves back to the point we were at when this monster was first elected in 2008. Being an old lady I won’t live to see our America return to the respected place in the world and a country of independent proud people that I knew as a young woman.
I have watched the downward slide of America from the mid 1960’s with Democrat President Lyndon Johnson and his failed “Great Society”. Even at age 23 I knew that Medicare was wrong! Only 40% of elderly Americans were unable to afford health care insurance but instead of helping those individuals the insurance companies insisted that ALL the elderly must be given health insurance paid for by the younger tax payers. The same thi9ng is happening now with Obamacare—the only way the insurance companies will accept everyone with coverage regardless of health or life style or preexisting conditions is if every0ne is forced into the system. So stupid! Give help to those few who need it and let the rest of us take care of ourselves as independent decent Americans always have. It is a fact that has been proven over and over: Any thing the government gets into is badly run, in efficient, full of fraud and outright thievery and therefore very very costly to the tax payers. Medicare, Medicaid and student loans are prime examples of this rule!
I watched the schools and universities as an educator being “dumb down to the lowest common denominator by see and say reading and new math and rewriting history and replacing it with social studies and social justice.
Now during these past 6 years I have watched a President of the United States again and again ignore and violate the laws stated in the Constitution of the United States and no one stopping him! Yes, I have live thru the down fall of a great civilization and I will not live to see the rise to greatness again, but I have faith in Americans. We are a unique nation form by outstanding people who were wise far beyond their times. We today have the blood of those pioneers beating in our hearts and this is augmented daily by new blood of those who leave the old behind and come to the land of the freedom and rights of man so that they too can soar above the masses in the world in the only country on earth that allows its citizens that freedom. .I have faith that we Americans will walk proud again but after the damage done during these 50+ years it will take decades to return.
You, the readers of my blog are the people who will lead the way. God bless you. Sincerely, BB
August 9, 2014
34 studies, including a Pacific Research Institute handbook on tobacco taxation, and a Hudson Institute report on Iraq’s second Sunni insurgency
Notes on the Week
The environmental costs of delaying Keystone, What does the strategic trade lit really say about the Export-Import Bank? Is administrative law running off the rails?
Figure out what now for ObamaCare
Budget & Taxation
• The Export-Import Bank: What the Scholarship Says – The Heritage Foundation
• Abolishing the Corporate Income Tax Could Be Good
for Everyone – National Center for Policy Analysis
• Handbook of Tobacco Taxation – Pacific Research Institute
• Sales Tax Holidays: Politically Expedient but Poor Tax Policy – Tax Foundation
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
• An Originalist Future – Federalist Society
• Repression in China and Its Consequences in Xinjiang – Hudson Institute
• Private Property Interrupted: Protecting Texas Property Owners from Regulatory Takings Abuse – Texas Public Policy Foundation
Crime, Justice & the Law
• Criminal Law and the Administrative State: The Problem with Criminal Regulations – The Heritage Foundation
• The Long-Hours Luxury – American Enterprise Institute
• Misallocation, Property Rights, and Access to Finance – Cato Institute
• Do Labour Shortages Exist in Canada? Reconciling the Views of Employers and Economists – Fraser Institute
• “Middle-Out” Economics? – Hoover Institution
• How Many Jobs Does Intellectual Property Create? – Mercatus Center
• Thomas Piketty’s False Depiction of Wealth in America – Tax Foundation
• Philadelphia School Trends, 2002-03 to 2012-13 – Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
• Setting a Course for Obama’s Rudderless Africa Policy – The Heritage Foundation
• The Failure of the E.U. – Hoover Institution
• Iraq’s Second Sunni Insurgency – Hudson Institute
• The Collective Security Treaty Organization: Past Struggles and Future Prospects – Hudson Institute
• Changing the Rules of Health Care: Mobile Health and Challenges for Regulation – American Enterprise Institute
• Direct Primary Care: An Innovative Alternative to Conventional Health Insurance – The Heritage Foundation
• How Obamacare Fuels Health Care Market Consolidation – The Heritage Foundation
• A Time for Reform: Close and Consolidate Texas’ State Supported Living Centers – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Sustaining the Economic Rise of Africa – Cato Institute
• Market Solutions Should Be Central to U.S.’s Taiwan Policy – The Heritage Foundation
• Asserting Influence and Power in the 21st Century: The NLRB Focuses on Assisting Non-Union Employees – Federalist Society
Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation
• “Choking Off” Disfavored Businesses and Their Clients: How Operation Choke Point Undermines the Rule of Law and Harms the
Economy – The Heritage Foundation
• Autonomous Military Technology: Opportunities and Challenges for Policy and Law – The Heritage Foundation
• Size Isn’t All that Matters – Hoover Institution
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
• The Keystone Delay Is Costing us More than Jobs and Revenue – American Action Forum
• Who Watches the Watchmen? Global Warming in the Media – Capital Research Center
• Rethinking Energy: Supplying Competitive Electricity Rates – Center of the American Experiment
• A Guide to the 2014 Social Security Trustees Report – e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st Century
• Social Security Trustees Report: Unfunded Liability Increased $1.1 Trillion and Projected Insolvency in 2033 – The Heritage Foundation
The environmental costs of delaying Keystone: The delay in the Keystone pipeline costs more than jobs and income. There are also environmental consequences that come from shifting pipeline transport of oil to rail transport. Catrina Rorke extrapolates what the costs may be:
If the president had approved the Keystone XL pipeline, it would have prevented the release of an additional 2.7 to 7.4 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 500,000 to 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road or shutting down one coal facility. […]
From the State Department report, we know that the rail options emit 28-42 percent more during normal operations as compared to the Keystone XL pipeline. […]
Replacing the capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline with rail transport risks additional oil spills and the release of up to 23,318 additional barrels of oil – nearly a million gallons of useful fuel entering the environment instead of the economy. […]
The delay in building the Keystone XL pipeline risks up to 1,065 additional injuries and 159 additional fatalities.
By virtue of serving urbanized areas, railroads carry a certain risk to the public. A July 2013 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec devastated the downtown and caused 47 deaths. Though this tragedy is unique in size, the paths of railways intersect frequently with population centers. The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to minimize this risk, routed to avoid sensitive, sacred, and historic sites, as well as densely populated areas. [American Action Forum, August 6]
Rewarding work: “One factor that is often overlooked in the debate over causes of income inequality is a shift in the distribution of working hours,” writes Tino Sanandaji: “The rich now work more than the poor.”
Between 1979 and 2006, the share of low-wage earners who worked long hours declined from 22 percent to 13 percent. In the same time period the share of high-wage earners who worked long hours increased from 15 to 27 percent. Results were similar when education rather than income is used to segment the labor market. Most of the change is driven by changes in hours worked per employee, not by changes in employment rates. For men lacking high-school education, one-third of the decline in hours is driven by reduced employment rates, while the rest is driven by decline in hours among the employed. Among college-educated men, the entire increase in the long hours is driven by those with employment working more hours.
And the decline of work among the poor is a tragedy, he writes:
In simple economic models, working less and having more leisure increases well-being. A common but mistaken view of this reversal in work inequality is that it has benefited the low skilled because they can consume as much as before without having to work as hard. This ignores the complexity of human psychology.
Humanist theories of happiness, starting with Aristotle, have long argued that the key to life satisfaction is living a purpose-driven life and aiming for higher goals. Modern psychology similarly emphasizes work and purpose for a full life. Abraham Maslow viewed fulfilling one’s potential or “self-actualization” as the pinnacle level of happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argued that people are happiest when they are in a state of “flow,” or a complete absorption in a challenging and intrinsically motivated activity. [The American, August 4]
What does a gas company have to do with ObamaCare? If you’ve been following the debate about whether ObamaCare creates tax credits in just the state exchanges or in both the federal and state exchanges, you may have heard the word “Chevron.” What’s that all about?
“Chevron” refers to Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council a Supreme Court decision from 1984. Randolph May, observing the 30th anniversary of the decision, describes Chevron’s central holding this way: “When a statutory provision is ambiguous, if the agency’s interpretation is ‘based on a permissible construction of the statute,’ then the agency’s interpretation is to be given ‘controlling weight.’”
When there is ambiguity, why not defer to the agencies? May explains the problem:
Chevron, by virtue of giving agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions “controlling weight,” has facilitated the steady growth of the regulatory state. This certainly is a likely result because of the natural bureaucratic imperative for agencies, granted leeway to do so, to interpret delegations of authority in a way that expands, rather than contracts, their own authority. […]
To the extent that the Chevron doctrine—the counter-Marbury—in fact facilitates aggrandizement of power by government officials all too eager to expand administrative authority, there is a ready remedy. Congress can choose to legislate in a way that makes its intent unmistakably clear. Remember, absent ambiguity in the statute, a reviewing court never reaches the question of how much deference is due the agency’s own interpretation.
Congress legislating with unmistakable clarity? I understand that in the legislative sausage-making process this is an ideal infrequently realized. In many instances, Congress actually intends, whether or not it says so explicitly, to leave “gap-filling” for the agencies. That way, when an agency’s action rouses the public’s ire, Congress can blame the bureaucrats for overreaching. [The Hill, August 8
In King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit relied on Chevron analysis to find that tax credits were permissible in the federal exchanges; in Halbig v. Burwell, the D.C. Circuit decided that the meaning of “an Exchange established by the State,” was plain enough that there was no gap for the IRS to fill. Thus, there was no Chevron analysis needed.
The Constitution doesn’t exist for the convenience of the government. For the past century or so, the federal government has been using its spending and regulatory powers to “turn states into mere field offices of the federal government,” write Richard Epstein and Mario Loyola. Their article in The Atlantic explains not only how we got here but why we should care:
A common justification for federal overreach is that it allows for administrative convenience, but the Constitution doesn’t exist for the convenience of the government. Its purpose is to protect the people from government abuse. By leaving most government spending and regulation within the exclusive domain of states, the original Constitution created a dynamic framework of interstate regulatory competition. Citizens and businesses could choose to live in whatever state they wanted, a choice they could make with increasing ease as the nation’s communications and transportation dramatically improved, and states competed to offer an attractive package of services and taxation.
Just like cable-TV providers offer premium channels in pricy packages and basic cable at a cut rate, some states and municipalities offered lots of services and benefits—and higher taxes—while others offered smaller government and a lower tax bill. That larger menu meant more choices.
This interstate regulatory competition could accommodate a wide diversity of approaches, from the progressive safety blanket of Wisconsin to the frontier freedom of Texas. Vigorous interstate competition tended to punish excessive government, leading for example to higher growth rates in states with less restrictive labor laws. It also made it more difficult for special interests to wield government as a tool for extracting benefits from the rest of society in the form of hidden subsidies, cartels, and monopolies. Where special interests reign, market efficiency is lost, leaving everyone worse off.
Even today, states with high taxes, tough zoning laws, and restrictive labor laws tend to lose out to those with a lighter footprint—witness the tens of thousands of people—especially poor people—moving to Texas every year. The easier it is for people to choose between state options, the weaker the case for federal control of markets.
That leaves heavily regulated and highly taxed states at a disadvantage in the competition for people and businesses. Those states have cleverly solved much of their problem by using the federal government to impose higher taxes and regulation across the states. Burdened by often-costly progressive policies, states such as California, Massachusetts, and New York form coalitions in Congress to neutralize the advantage of states like Wyoming, Texas, and Florida. Protection from competition is the strongest impetus for the integration of federal and state governments under an umbrella of overall federal control.
That process undercuts one of the great advantages of a modern economy: the choice that mobility offers to families and businesses. It hastens the erosion of one of our most essential constitutional protections, the separate domains of federal and state governments, each confined to its proper sphere of authority. [The Atlantic, July 31]
The courts aren’t on board with the plan for unrestrained executive power—at least not all of them, yet. To hear liberals tell the story, the most important thing to know about Halbig v. Burwell is that the D.C. Circuit Court denied ObamaCare subsidies to millions of people in the 36 states that chose not to establish an exchange. The detail that the law says the subsidies are available “through an Exchange established by the State” gets second billing if it shows up at all. Liberals thus blame the court for striking down that which Congress failed to create. What an odd way of looking at judicial decisions. As Michael Greve notes, the acceptance of the government’s arguments as at all plausible is a signal that administrative law is coming apart at the seams. He writes:
[W]ould we actually be having this overwrought discussion over a perfectly straightforward Administrative Law and statutory interpretation question—and a perfectly conventional judicial resolution—if Halbig were about something other than Obamacare? Hardly.
By way of illustration, take a look at Sierra Club v. EPA, 536 F.3d 673 (D.C. Cir. 2008), a case over Title V permitting under the Clean Air Act. In defense of a regulation that took some liberty with the language of Title V, the EPA argued that (1) the statutory language (“each” permit) didn’t quite mean what it said, when read in connection with other provisions; (2) the statutory context warranted a more latitudinarian reading; and (3) EPA’s “programmatic” reading would better serve congressional purposes. In substance, that’s the government’s Halbig defense. Sierra Club rejected all three arguments; and you can clip entire paragraphs from the opinion and paste them into Halbig without anyone noticing. (Judge Griffith wrote both opinions.) No, it’s not a conservative cabal: in Sierra Club, the enviros won. And no, it’s not an outlier: some Administrative Law textbooks excerpt Sierra Club as an example of how Chevron(Step I) analysis works.
Why isn’t the supposed error precisely a case for a “we-messed-up-and-here-is-what-we-meant” statutory override, of the sort that Congress has enacted time and again for civil rights laws, Medicaid, Medicare, and any number of other entitlement statutes? In short, why isn’t Halbig obviously right? And why isn’t that answer congenial to liberals who, from the New Deal to infinity and beyond, have extolled statutory and even constitutional litigation as a “dialogue” between the Court and the political branches, especially the Congress?
Because they no longer believe it. Obamacare was no inartful compromise; it was a brutal cramdown. There’s no kicking this back to Congress; the judges’ rulings, Obamacare supporters wail, spell the life or death of the statute. And when in doubt, the liberals say (for once), choose life. [Library of Law and Liberty, August 6]
Video of the week: Economics is everywhere, including between the goalposts. The start of football season is less than a month away. From Steve Horwitz and Learn Liberty, here’s a look at how the game’s concussion crisis reveals an important lesson about public policy:
Pulling back the curtain on Healthcare.gov: Remember the fiasco that was the launch of Healthcare.gov? The Government Accountability Office has looked into the matter and the agency recently told Congress that, indeed, there was a fiasco. Peter Suderman reports some of the details of the GAO’s testimony:
One of the big problems was that federal health bureaucrats kept changing their minds during the development process. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which was charged with building the exchange system, “incurred significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed system functionality.” These delays were largely due to “changing requirements that were exacerbated by inconsistent oversight.” The dithering cost time, and it also cost money. Between September 2011 and February 2014, development cost estimates blew up, from about $56 million to $209 million for the federal marketplace. Costs for the data hub, another key part of the exchange, went from $30 million to $85 million.
It was a classic bureaucratic circus. No one knew who actually had the authority to tell contractors what to do, so contractors got jerked around and sent on fruitless tasks, or asked to do work that they shouldn’t have been doing. The GAO report says that CMS improperly spent $30 million on bonus features that it didn’t technically have the authority to order.
Delays and costs piled up, with some held off until weeks before launch, and when it came time to flip the switch, no one knew if it would work. “CMS launched Healthcare.gov without verification that it met performance requirements.”
But don’t think all the problems are in the past:
CMS Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said this morning that “there will clearly be bumps” when the exchanges open for all business again in November, according to a report in Politico.
Slavitt also confirmed that the exchange still isn’t built yet, with key backend payment systems that have already been delayed multiple times still incomplete. Slavitt said that the administration doesn’t expect work to be finished on those systems until next year—after the second open enrollment period is over.
[Reason, July 31]
• Assess how the legal challenges to ObamaCare’s subsidies and mandates will unfold now that two federal courts have issued contrary rulings. The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and Case Western Reserve University’s Jonathan Adler—the guys who noticed that ObamaCare doesn’t allow subsidies in
federal exchanges—will discuss the Halbig and King decisions. The discussion will begin at noon on August 12 in Room B-354 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
• Experience one young man’s harrowing journey to secure his life and liberty in a repressive future society. The Heritage Foundation will host a private advance screening of The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, at 7:00 p.m. on August 12. To attend, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Shoot guns, eat BBQ, and smoke cigars. The second annual Northwest Freedom Shootout is a fun afternoon event where you’ll meet other fans of the Second Amendment. The Shootout will begin at noon on August 16, at the Evergreen Sportsmen’s Club in Littlerock, Wash.
• Make your own declaration for Think Freely Media’s Great Communicators Tournament. Shoot a video in which you describe a policy issue using moral arguments to support a free enterprise or limited government. Submit it by August 15. The prize for first place is $10,000!
• Get an update on the right-to-work movement. The Heritage Foundation will host a panel featuring two teachers and a home healthcare provider grappling with union power in California, Michigan, and Minnesota. The event will begin at noon on August 12.
• Save the dates: Americans for Prosperity’s 8th Annual Defending the American Dream Summit will take place on August 29 at the Omni Dallas Hotel. The Mont Pelerin Society will meet August 31 at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong Hotel to discuss the future prospects for liberal reform in Asia.
- In: Barack Obama | Big Labor Unions | Communism in America | Economy/Money | Health Care | Know the enemies of America | Left's and Obama's attack on religion | Leftist violence in America | national deficit, taxes, national budget | Obama 2013 and beyond | Obama admistration | Obama Against America | Obama and ethics | Obama Executive Decress | Obamanation | Obamcare repeal and replace | Progressives Movement to Destroy America | Redistributing wealth | Taxes
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The lastest today: Catholic priest and Protestant ministers in the military will be arrested if they perform any services even tho they would be volunteering their time since they are not being paid. None of our military are being paid. Also the commissaries which are totally self supporting have been closed. The President is doi8ng every thing he can to make this as unpleasant on people as possible. Stupid, petty thing like the above and like shutting down the out door WWII Memorial for Gods sake. It is outside with no charge to get in and walk around! And still the Democrats and the President refuse to sit down and talk to the House of Representatives to resolve their differences as our Constitution was set up to require. I sincerely hope the American people are finally waking up to the monster who we let into our White House.
Much great information in the following Newsletter from the Heritage Foundation. You can pick and choose the articles that interest you most. Be informed People! BB
Updated daily, InsiderOnline (insideronline.org ) is a compilation of publication abstracts , how-to essays , events, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.
October 5, 2013
Latest Studies: 92 new items, including the Fraser Institute’s “Economic Freedom of the World” report, and a report from the Rio Grande Foundation on how New Mexico could manage its federal lands better than the federal government
Notes on the Week: Somebody was worried the shutdown wouldn’t hurt, the last shutdown was good for the economy, the federal income tax turns 100, and more
To Do: Learn the truth about gun control
Budget & Taxation
• Tax Reform, the Family, and the Pursuit of Happiness – American Enterprise Institute
• Could Dan Snyder End Publically Financed Stadiums? – Cato Institute (These stadiums financed by you the tax payers are built for millionaire owners for million air players to play in and then the public is charged an arm and a leg to get in to watch the games. About time the People refused to subsidize millionaires. Let them build and finance their own stadiums just as movie theaters owners have to build and finance their own theaters or bar owners have to build and own their own bars! BB)
• Tax Reform Should Eliminate the Deduction for State and Local Taxes – The Heritage Foundation (Tax reform from top to bottom needs done NOW. The IRS is corrupt to the core and the middle class has to carry the burden of taxes as a share of their income while the rich have all kinds of loop holes and at the other end 47% of Americans pay no taxes at all. This is wrong. We need a tax that is fair to all and where all pay. BB)
• Average Government Pensions in Illinois – (Illinois Policy Institute This is shocking! Tell your kids to get a government job and get on the gravy train. You can never be fired no matter how bad you do your job or how corrupt you are and the pay is outstanding. BB) BB)
• State Pension Contributions: Taxpayers Bear the Brunt of Increasing Pension Costs – Illinois Policy Institute
• Tax Reform 2013: Setting the Stage for Economic Growth – John Locke Foundation
• A Tale of Two Labor Markets: Government Spending’s Impact on Virginia – Mercatus Center
• New Evidence of the Effects of City Earnings Taxes on Growth – Show-Me Institute
• Building on Success: A Guide to Fair, Simple, Pro-Growth Tax Reform for Nebraska – Tax Foundation
• How Tax Reform Can Address America’s Diminishing Investment and Economic Growth – Tax Foundation
• The Effects of Terminating Tax Expenditures and Cutting Individual Income Tax Rates – Tax Foundation
• The Inequality Illusion – American Enterprise Institute
• Economic Freedom of the World 2013 Annual Report – Fraser Institute
• It’s the Government, Stupid – Hoover Institution
• What Economic Recovery? – Hoover Institution
• Corporate Governance and Shareholder Activism – Manhattan Institute
• Protecting Students and Taxpayers: The Federal Government’s Failed Regulatory Approach and Steps for Reform – American Enterprise Institute
• The Most Interesting School District in America? Douglas County’s Pursuit of Suburban Reform – American Enterprise Institute
• Expanding College Opportunities – Education Next
• Graduations on the Rise – Education Next
• Understanding Illinois’ Broken Education Funding System: a Primer on General State Aid – Illinois Policy Institute
• 60 Questions About Common Core – John Locke Foundation
• The Missing Half of School Reform – National Affairs
• Veterans and Higher Education – National Center for Policy Analysis
• How to Correct Our Schools of Ed – Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
• Honduras under Siege – American Enterprise Institute
• Framework for Removing Syrian Chemical Weapons: Reasons for Skepticism – The Heritage Foundation
• India: Congress and White House Should Have Modest Expectations for PM Singh Visit – The Heritage Foundation
• International Affairs Budget Needs Stronger Congressional Scrutiny – The Heritage Foundation
• Sri Lanka: Northern Provincial Council Election Could Be Step Toward Reconciliation – The Heritage Foundation
• U.S.-Japan Security Agreement Enhances Allied Goals – The Heritage Foundation
• Syria and American Leadership – Hoover Institution
• The Perilous Future of Afghanistan – Hoover Institution
Health Care (Need to read all of these People)
• Health Care Exchanges Impose $5.3 Billion in Costs, 16 Million Hours – American Action Forum
• Premium Increases for “Young Invincibles” Under the ACA and the Impending Premium Spiral – American Action Forum
• More Consolidation and More ‘Political’ Competition, Less Patient-Centered Market Competition – American Enterprise Institute
• Obamacare: Destined to Flop? Part II – American Enterprise Institute
• Obamacare: Destined to Flop? Part III – American Enterprise Institute
• Obamacare: Destined to Flop? Part IV – American Enterprise Institute
• More Good News as the Medicare Drug Benefit Approaches Ten Years – e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st Century
• Obamacare’s Insurance Exchanges: “Private Coverage” in Name Only – The Heritage Foundation
• Part-Time Illinois: Work Hours Have Dropped Since ObamaCare Signed into Law – Illinois Policy Institute
• Reforming Medicaid with Technology – Institute for Policy Innovation
• Conservative Health-Care Reform: A Reality Check – National Affairs
• The Uninsured Crisis under Obamacare – National Center for Policy Analysis
• Biometric Exit Tracking: A Feasible and Cost-Effective Solution for Foreign Visitors Traveling by Air and Sea – Center for Immigration Studies
• Remittances Abet Mexican Officials’ Irresponsible Behavior – Center for Immigration Studies
• Shaping our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics – Crown Publishing Group
• Consumers Would Benefit from Deregulating the Video Device Market – Free State Foundation
• No Picking Favorites: The Proper Approach to the Upcoming Incentive Auction – Free State Foundation
• Proposals Like the AT&T/Leap Merger Promise Consumer Benefits – Free State Foundation
• Two Sides of the Internet’s Two-Sidedness: A Consumer Welfare Perspective – Free State Foundation
• Above the Law: Unions are Often Exempt from Laws on Extortion, Identity Theft, and Whistleblower Protection – Capital Research Center (This is especially true concerning the public sector or government workers unions. These are the people who are paid with your taxes but do not have to conform to the same rules you have to conform to on your job. The “rubber room” teachers in New York who can not be fired so they sit all day in a room and read newspapers or play cards while still getting paid. Other cities and states have “rubber rooms” too! Also if you have been watching the farce of the IRS hearings you know that government workers don’t even have to answer to Congress! BB)
Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation (more heart-burn news you should be aware of. BB)
• What Now for Monetary Policy? – American Enterprise Institute
• Dodd-Frank Strikes Again – Hoover Institution
• Fannie, Freddie, and the Crisis – National Affairs
• AQAP’s Role in the al Qaeda Network – American Enterprise Institute
• DHS Acqusition Practices: Improving Outcomes for Taxpayers Using Defense and Private-Sector Lessons Learned – American Enterprise Institute
• NATO at Sea: Trends in Allied Naval Power – American Enterprise Institute
• Biofuel Blunder: Navy Should Prioritize Fleet Modernization over Political Initiatives – The Heritage Foundation
• Kenya Attack Reminds the U.S. of the Need to Maintain Effective Domestic Counterterrorism Programs – The Heritage Foundation
• Kenya Attack: Vigilance Required to Combat al-Shabaab’s Resurgence – The Heritage Foundation
• U.S. Counternarcotics Policy: Essential to Fighting Terrorism in Afghanistan – The Heritage Foundation
• The Strategic National Stockpile: Vital to Maintain, Critical to Improve – Hudson Institute
• Journalism or Espionage? – National Affairs
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
• Small Business Implications of Greenhouse Gas Regulation – American Action Forum
• Climate Data vs. Climate Models – Cato Institute
• The Energy Wealth of Indian Nations – George W. Bush Institute
• Congress Should Stop Regulations of Greenhouse Gases – The Heritage Foundation
• A Tale of Two Parks – PERC – The Property and Environment Research Center
• The Economic Possibilities of Unlocking Energy Resources on New Mexico’s Federal Lands – Rio Grande Foundation
• A Texas Capacity Market: The Push for Subsidies – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Does Competitive Electricity Require Capacity Markets? The Texas Experience: A Summary – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• ACORN International: Wade Rathke Shakes Down the Whole Wide World – Capital Research Center
• Philanthropy by the Numbers – Manhattan Institute
Regulation & Deregulation
• Insurance as Gun Control? – Cato Institute
• Kosher Certification as a Model of Private Regulation – Cato Institute
• Reconceptualizing Corporate Boards – Cato Institute
• Government Overreach Threatens Lives – Hoover Institution
• Reinvigorating, Strengthening, and Extending OIRA’s Powers – Mercatus Center
• Reforming Old Age Security: A Good Start but Incomplete – Fraser Institute
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
• Concealed Carry: Illinois Supremes Catch Up on the Second Amendment – The Heritage Foundation
• Protecting the First Amendment from the IRS – The Heritage Foundation
• The Fourth Amendment and New Technologies – The Heritage Foundation
• Real Judicial Restraint – National Affairs
• The Libertarian Challenge to Obamacare – Reason Foundation
• Government Shutdown and the Future of Transportation Funding – The Heritage Foundation
• Why the DOT’s Role in Funding and Regulating Transportation Should Be Reduced – Mercatus Center
• A New Approach to SSDI Reform – Cato Institute
Somebody was worried the government shutdown might not hurt enough. The tactic of government officials impairing the most highly visible and valuable services in order to make funding cuts really hurt is so well known that it has a name and even a Wikipedia entry: The Washington Monument Syndrome. That means us rubes just might look it up and realize what’s going on this week during the government shutdown—or, as Fox News more appropriately calls it, “government slimdown.”
In theory, a total lapse in funding shouldn’t be an opportunity for bureaucratic game playing: Services are either essential and remain functioning as per the Anti-Deficiency Act, or they are closed. But under the Obama administration, shutdown means finding ways to turn off things that don’t have an off switch or don’t require work to maintain. A few examples:
The National Mall: The Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget instructed the National Park Service to put up barriers to the monuments on the National Mall. That included the World War II Memorial (funded mostly by private money, by the way). On Tuesday, a group of World War II veterans arrived to visit the memorial as part of the Honor Flight program. The barriers carried the message “Because of the Federal Government SHUTDOWN, All National Parks Are CLOSED,” but someone moved the barriers aside, letting World War II veterans visit the World War II Memorial.
The group had appealed for help arranging its visit directly to the White House, but was turned down. [Daily Caller, October 1] The Park Service also told one Honor Flight group that was planning a Friday visit that its members faced arrest if they tried to enter the closed monument. [NorthWestOhio.com, October1]
On Wednesday, as Paul Bedard notes, more federal employees were sent to re-fortify the barricade at the World War II Memorial than were detailed to stop Islamic terrorists attacking U.S. embassy personnel in Benghazi, Libya. [Washington Examiner, October 2] Later on Wednesday, the Park Service announced that the World War II Memorial would be opened—but for veterans only!
Park Service Police are still on duty because they are deemed essential employees. They are essential, we gather, for telling citizens to leave open-air spaces that are not normally patrolled. That’s how shut down this government is!
Claude Moore Colonial Farm: The Park Service also shut down Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Va., even though it is entirely funded by a private non-profit organization. The Park Service says it has to shut down the site because it sits on federal land. However, Anna Eberly, Managing Director of Claude Moore Colonial Farms, told supporters by email that the Farm had never been closed down during previous budget impasses. Eberly continued: “You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.” [Townhall.com, October 2]
Bus turnaround lane at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. George Washington’s Mount Vernon is also operated by a private foundation, and the Park Service can’t close it down because it doesn’t own the land either. But the service still did what it could to make itself a nuisance by putting up barriers to the bus turnaround lane just outside the site. The bus turnaround lane is on land owned by the Park Service. Check out the photo posted by Newt Gingrich:
Government websites. A number of government websites are carrying the message: “Due to a lapse of federal government funding, this website is unavailable. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.” But if you go to a government page and get that message, then you’re still on the government page. Nobody turned anything off; they just changed the content. Does that make sense? Julian Sanchzez says it’s possible but unlikely there is a security reason for walling off the regular content. He notes:
The main page at NASA.gov redirects to a page saying the site is unavailable, but lots of subdomains that, however cool, seem “inessential” remain up and running: the “Solar System Exploration” page at solarsystem.nasa.gov; the Climate Kids website atclimatekids.nasa.gov; and the large photo archive at images.jsc.nasa.gov, to name a few. There are any number of good reasons some of those subdomains might be hosted separately, and therefore unaffected by the shutdown—but it seems odd they can keep all of these running without additional expenditures, yet aren’t able to redirect to a co-located mirror of the landing page.
Still weirder is the status of the Federal Trade Commission’s site. Browse to any of their pages and you’ll see, for a split second, the full content of the page you want—only to be redirected to a shutdown notice page also hosted at FTC.gov. But that means… their servers are still up and running and actually serving all the same content. In fact they’re serving morecontent: first the real page, then the shutdown notice page. If you’re using Firefox or Chrome and don’t mind browsing in HTML-cluttered text, you can even use this link to navigate to the FTC site map and navigate from page to page in source-code view without triggering the redirect. [Cato Institute, October 1]
Bonus shutdown melodrama: FLOTUS’s fingers furloughed from tweeting:
Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, updates to this account will be limited. #Shutdown
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) October 1, 2013
FLOTUS, of course, is the Twitter handle for First Lady Michelle Obama.
It might be that a lot of inessential government really is inessential. The political prognosticators say the 1995/1996 government shutdowns show that budgetary impasses are a bad idea, but the economics, says Tim Cavanaugh, tell a different story:
Despite the greatly ballyhooed furloughs of government employees, unemployment stayed even at 5.6 percent during November 1995, the period of the first spending gap, which ended when a deal cut by President Bill Clinton and Republican legislators allowed government to stay funded at 75 percent.
Unemployment actually dropped to 5.5 percent during the second spending gap, which was more complete than the first.
Unemployment continued to plummet in the months following the shutdown, as a hamstrung Clinton allowed the rate of government spending increases to slow and headed toward the eventual budget surpluses that became the highlight of Clinton’s legacy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment dropped half a percentage point within a year of the first shutdown and had dipped below five percent by the spring of 1997.
More surprisingly, gross domestic product increased during both quarters covered by the Clinton-era shutdowns. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP began the fourth quarter of 1995 at $7.7 trillion and ended the second quarter of 1996 at $7.9 trillion. By the end of the second quarter 1996 GDP had topped $8 trillion.
Personal consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment and personal income also increased during and immediately after the shutdown.
The GDP numbers are particularly striking because government spending is given outsized weight in GDP measures, which assume that every dollar in federal spending results in a full dollar’s worth of economic activity. Nevertheless, GDP continued to climb despite the suspension of transfer payments. [Daily Caller, September 29] ( if 800,000 government workers are considered “non-essential” for this shut down then it makes one wonder just how many are non-essential for good doesn’t it?? This is especially true when these government workers make on average 30% more than those of us who pay their salary and the fact that their performance of their jobs whether good or bad is protected by government employee unions so they can’t be fired no matter what they do or don’t do. BB))
A glitchy MacGuffin: This week Democrats in the Senate shut down the federal government in order to keep Obamacare open. But Obamacare is not exactly open in the way that its supporters were hoping: (READ ON:)
The Borinquen Health Center in Florida said only about 5 percent of the nearly 400 people who sought guidance in a 48-hour period were able to access Healthcare.gov, the website portal for consumers in 36 states where the federal government is operating exchanges, also known as marketplaces. [Insurance Journal, October 4]
Even MSNBC had trouble:
But beyond the software glitches is an even bigger problem with the online portals. John McAfee, a pioneer in anti-computer virus software, tells Neil Cavuto:
There is no central place where I can go and say, “OK, here are all the legitimate brokers, the examiners for all of the states” and pick and choose one.
Instead, any hacker can put a website up, make it look extremely competitive, and because of the nature of the system—and this is health care, after all—they can ask you the most intimate questions, and you’re freely going to answer them. What’s my Social Security number? My birth date? What are my health issues? […] (BEWARE! BB)
It’s not something software can solve. I mean, what idiot put this system out there and did not create a central depository? There should be one website, run by the government, you go to that website and then you can click on all of the agencies. This is insane. […] [Y]ou can imagine some retired lady in Utah, who has $75,000 dollars in the bank, saving her whole life, having it wiped out in one day because she signed up for Obamacare. And believe me, this is going to happen millions of times. This is a hacker’s wet dream. I mean I cannot believe that they did this.
Video of the week: Another fine entry in the Health and Human Services’ ObamaCare Video Contest. You know who takes no prisoners when it comes to ObamaCare? Remy:
September 30 was a good day in the courts for free speech, thanks to the Institute for Justice. The libertarian public interest law firm won two decisions striking down campaign finance regulations in both Mississippi and Arizona that prevented ordinary citizens from speaking out on politics:
In the Mississippi case, Justice v. Hosemann, Judge Sharion Aycock of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi ruled that Mississippi’s campaign finance scheme was an unconstitutional burden on small groups and individuals. Mississippi’s restrictions applied to any individual or group that spent more than $200 to talk about an initiative to amend Mississippi’s Constitution. The law was challenged by five friends from Oxford, Miss.—Vance Justice, Sharon Bynum, Matt Johnson, Alison Kinnaman and Stan O’Dell—who simply wanted to join together and speak out in favor of then-Initiative 31—an effort that would provide Mississippi citizens with greater protection from eminent domain abuse. But Mississippi’s $200 threshold is so low that it was impossible for them to even run a single quarter-page ad in their local newspaper without having to become a political committee.
Judge Aycock found that Mississippi’s campaign finance requirements were so complicated that “a prudent person might have extraordinary difficulty merely determining what is required” and that “potential speakers might well require legal counsel to determine which regulations even apply, above and beyond how to comport with those requirements.”
In the Arizona case, Galassini v. Town of Fountain Hills, Judge James A. Teilborg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona struck down Arizona’s similar regulatory scheme. The Arizona laws had been challenged by Dina Galassini, a resident of Fountain Hills, Ariz., who in 2011 sent an email to 23 friends and neighbors, inviting them to join her in a protest against a $44 million road bond by making homemade signs and joining her on a street corner. “Little did she realize,” as Judge Teilborg noted, “that she was about to feel the heavy hand of government regulation in a way she never imagined.”
Almost immediately she received a letter from the town clerk telling her to stop speaking until she had registered with the town as a “political committee” under Arizona’s campaign finance laws. Represented by IJ, Galassini challenged the Arizona law, securing an injunction that allowed her to hold her street-corner protests.
Galassini said, “I was stunned to learn that I needed to register with the government just to talk to people in my community about a political issue. All I could think was, ‘How can this be allowed under the First Amendment?’”
Now Judge Teilborg has granted Galassini a final victory, declaring that Arizona’s definition of “political committee,” under which she was regulated, is vague, overbroad, and unduly burdensome. [Institute for Justice, October 1]
Happy 100, federal income tax! My how you’ve grown! From Dan Mitchell, here are some snapshots of your younger years, starting in 1913:
The top tax rate was only 7 percent, the tax form was only 2 pages, and the entire tax code was only 400 pages. And a big chunk of the revenue actually was used to lower the tax burden on international trade (the basic tariff rate dropped form 40 percent to 25 percent).
But just as tiny acorns become large oak trees, small taxes become big taxes and simple tax codes become complex monstrosities. And that’s exactly what happened in the United States.
We now have a top tax rate of 39.6 percent, and it’s actually much higher than that when you include the impact of other taxes, as well as the pervasive double taxation of saving and investment.
In case this week hasn’t provided enough liberal media bias, check out the highlights from last year. Last week we were in Oklahoma City for the State Policy Network Annual Meeting, but if we hadn’t been there, we’d surely have been at the annual Media Research Center Gala, featuring the Dishonors Awards. The event is always a hoot for recognizing the worst and the dimmest media personalities of the year for their liberal bias. We’ll point to one highlight: With a quote that you probably remember, Melissa Harris-Perry won the Dan Rather Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis :
We have never invested as much in public education as we should have, because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So, part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.
Charles Krauthammer won an award of a different sort: the 7th Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence. You can see all the fun in the video below:
On the front lines: Last week we enjoyed seeing the State Policy Network hand out three deserving awards at its annual meeting in Oklahoma City.
Fighting for worker rights in Michigan: Joseph Lehman, President of the Mackinac Center, won the Roe Award, which is given every year to a leader “in the state public policy movement whose achievements have greatly advanced the free market philosophy.” The award is named after Thomas A. Roe Jr., founder of the State Policy Network. Lehman first worked for the Mackinac Center in 1995, and became President in 2008.
The Center achieved its biggest victory last December when Michigan lawmakers passed right-to-work legislation, which says joining a union can’t be made a condition of employment. The Center had been working for that policy since 1994. Lehman said: “The Roe Award created an occasion to focus attention on the Mackinac Center’s influence on better policies for Michigan, such as freedom to work. I accept the award on behalf of our team and dedicate it to them.” [Mackinac Center, September 30]
The Center has also been at the forefront of fighting the involuntary unionization of home health care and home daycare workers. We interviewed Lehman about those battles and more for our Winter 2013 issue of The Insider.
Promoting liberty in North Carolina: The John William Pope Foundation and the North Carolina-based think tanks the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, and the N.C. Education Alliance won SPN’s Network Award. The Network award recognizes the accomplishments of state-based organizations promoting free enterprise. These six organizations won the award for their close work together on a variety of issues in North Carolina, from taxes, to corruption, to education. [John William Pope Foundation, October 2]
Fighting backdoor unionization in Minnesota: Jennifer Parrish, an in-home child care provider in Rochester, Minn., won the Unsung Hero Award (sponsored by the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation). In 2005, Parrish became active in fighting efforts to unionize home child care workers when a union organizer come to her house and used bullying tactics and deceptive claims to get her to sign a petition for unionization. Eventually, Parrish become a leader in the anti-unionization movement—all on her own time and using her own resources. [PostBulletin.com, September 27]
• Check out the new film, Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire, which explores the racial and class biases of gun control proponents and shows how those biases still operate. The film is narrated by rapper and actor Ice-T. You can catch a special screening of filmat 7 p.m., October 8, at the Muenzinger Auditorium at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session featuring Second Amendment scholar and Independence Institute research director David Kopel.
• If you’re in the D.C./Northern Virginia area you might consider visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon—since it’s open! It’s unaffected (mostly) by the government shutdown, because it is funded entirely by private money. It also happens to be one of the best of the presidential historical sites.
• Get ready for the Values Voter Summit, which will be held October 11-13 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. This year’s theme: “Standing for Faith, Family and Opportunity for All.” Among the confirmed speakers: Ryan Anderson, Star Parker, Sen. Rand Paul, and Cal Thomas.
• Learn how GMO labeling laws spread consumer misinformation. The Heritage Foundation will host a discussion with Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, L. Val Giddings of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and Julie Gunlock of the Independent Women’s Forum. The discussion begins at noon on October 8.
• See a movie about a real-life American hero. Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, chronicles the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates and the ensuing standoff in which Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage aboard a lifeboat. The film opens nationwide October 11.
• Help honor Vaclav Klaus, former President of the Czech Republic who helped guide his country from Communism to freedom. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation will award Klaus its Truman-Reagan Freedom Medal at a ceremony at the George Town Club in Washington, D.C. on October 8. The ceremony begins at 8 p.m. with a reception to follow. For more info or to RSVP, email email@example.com.
Facts you really should know about what your government is doing and how to take action against this tyranny NOW.
Posted June 20, 2013on:
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I thought I was pretty well up on what is happening in our country because I really try hard to keep up and do a lot of reading, but now way was I even close to knowing what is happening to everyday people just like me and you. This article from the Heritage Foundation is an eye opener and a blood pressure raiser. Be sure and go to all the referred sites for all the information. The time for We the People to act is now when we have the momentum with the Tea Party and other groups up and moving. Time for you to get involved too before it has gone too far for the United States and Americans to turn the tide towards tyranny around and defeat those who would imprison us in a country no American wants to live in. Sincerely, Brenda Bowers BB
Every day, more Americans get trapped by big government. In addition to groups targeted by the IRS, upstanding citizens going about their normal lives are suddenly targeted by law enforcement authorities and charged as criminals. Just a few examples:
- A young girl was fined $535… for rescuing a wounded woodpecker.
- A businessman was jailed for years… for shipping lobsters in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes.
- A Maryland father and building engineer faced a years-long legal ordeal… after being unfairly targeted under the Clean Water Act.
These are only a few of the shocking incidents The Heritage Foundation chronicles in our new project, USA vs. YOU. Experts at Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies reveal the stories of 22 people from all backgrounds, races, and income levels victimized by carelessly written laws.
When criminal laws are created to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake, and compel the “right” behaviors, this troubling trend is known as overcriminalization. Ultimately, it leads to injustice for honest, hard-working Americans at every level of society.
Public interest groups from across the political spectrum recognize how this flood of criminal laws violates our basic liberties. Diverse organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the American Center for Law and Justice, and Right on Crime, among others, have joined with Heritage to reaffirm the true purpose of America’s justice system: to ensure public safety and protect the innocent.
When was the last time you saw the ACLU work together with a faith-based group like Justice Fellowship? WithUSA vs. YOU, the problem is grave enough to bring together unlikely allies. And we’re delivering this bipartisan message just as the House of Representatives has launched a task force aimed at correcting this issue.
This morning, Heritage Senior Legal Fellow John Malcolm will testify at the first hearing of the Overcriminalization Task Force—shining a spotlight on the scope and severity of this threat to our liberties. Ending the practice of trapping our citizens with unnecessary laws will be no easy task, with an estimated 4,500 criminal law offenses and 300,000 criminal regulations on the books.
Over the next six months, Members of Congress from both parties will study this issue in depth, hold hearings, and—with the right encouragement—take steps to enact real reform.
This new effort includes tools for you to raise your voice and make a difference in defending our liberties. So explore the documented stories in USA vs. YOU, follow the links, and take real action today to help turn the tide.
Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.
- President Obama has changed his policy on Syria, saying that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons and that the U.S. will provide military support to the rebels.
- The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, won’t be so “affordable” for many workers, reports the Associated Press.
- What would redefining marriage mean for Father’s Day?
- Investigative journalist James O’Keefe has produced some shocking stories of corruption. In a new book, hedetails his undercover work with Project Veritas.
- For decades, inappropriate IRS behaviors have been revealed. Each time, the agency has assured the public that it takes these breaches “very seriously.”
- Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman fact-checked President Obama’s latest speech on immigration and amnesty.
Posted June 1, 2013on:
- In: Att. Gen. Eric Holder and Obama administration obstruct justice | Black Panthers keep voters from polling places | Communism in America | DOJ Att. J. Christian Adams | Know the enemies of America | Leftist violence in America | Obama 2013 and beyond | Obama admistration | Obama Against America | Obama and ethics | Obamanation | Progressives Movement to Destroy America | Radical Left at War with America | Subverting America by Uri Bezmenov | Taxes
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Eric Holder is by far the worse attorney general this country has ever had. And yes, I do indeed remember Mitchell under Nixon! But Holder is not only a liar but a damned liar! You might find this article giving brief facts concerning Washington IRS scandals and Holder’s role in them. Will Holder be the weapon We the People need to rid ourselves of Obama? I am beginning to think so because at this point Holder’s resignation will not suffice to stop the rupturing scandals that are now engulfing the White House since too many IRS agents have come forward or turned in documents to congress that implicate the White House and the Department of Justice. The only way Obama can possibly get thru the next three years in office is to shuck Holder and appoint someone with a modicum of credibility—an incredibly difficult task if Obama chooses from among his cohorts as he will need to do. Then when the whole IRS mess is turned over to a Special Prosecutor, which is of course chosen by and overseen by the Department of Justice, the new Special Prosecutor will take two or three years to get thru the twisted and entwined details coming from all departments in our current corrupted government. The Republicans of course are going to try to keep the pot boiling at their level with their own investigation but simply lack the power to prosecute that a Special Prosecutor would have. So, it is going to be an interesting summer.
You might find the following article interesting if you haven’t been paying close attention as the tales have unfolded. BB
Q&A on Scandals and Eric Holder05/31/2013
Attorney General Eric Holder is head of the Department of Justice—in charge of enforcing the nation’s laws. So what happens when the head law enforcer gets caught up in questionable conduct?
The Obama Administration is under scrutiny for the scandals of the IRS targeting conservative groups and the Justice Department investigating journalists, and Holder’s role is the focus of a lot of speculation. We sat down with Heritage senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky to get some context.
A number of news organizations including the Associated Press, CNN, and The New York Times just refused to meet with Eric Holder “off the record” about guidelines for investigating journalists. Have we even begun to get to the bottom of this?
A soured relationship with the press over the subpoenas of AP and Fox News phone records is just one of the problems that Holder faces. When he was asked about the AP investigation during an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, he told the committee that he could not provide them with information because he had recused himself from being involved in the case.
“Recusal” is the legal term lawyers use when they remove themselves from having any involvement in a case because of an actual or perceived conflict of interest. In the AP case, Holder said he had removed himself because he had been interviewed by the FBI about the leaks, although he testified that he told the FBI that he had not leaked any classified information.
So was he involved in obtaining the Fox News reporter’s phone records?
At the time of the oversight hearing I just mentioned, information about the investigation of the phone records of James Rosen of Fox News was not yet public. But in answer to a question from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) about investigations of the press, Holder said, “with regard to potential prosecutions of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I have ever been involved, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.”
Yet we now know that the Attorney General “personally approved a decision to subpoena Fox News telephone records.” In fact, the affidavit that supported the subpoena request referred to Rosen as a possible “aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the national security leak.
What’s being done about Holder’s inconsistent answers?
The discrepancy between Holder’s testimony and what actually happened at the Justice Department prompted the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), to send a letter to Justice on Wednesday expressing “great concern” over the fact that Holder’s testimony “appeared to be at odds” with the approval of the Fox News investigation and search warrant “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department.
This is a very polite way of raising the possibility that Holder may have misled the committee. Goodlatte asks for an explanation of the discrepancy and whether the “investigation of Mr. Rosen as a potential co-conspirator or aider/abettor was a ‘wise policy’?”
Our government should investigate the leak of classified information, especially any leak that endangers national security. But it appears, at least at this point, that the Attorney General’s actions and sworn testimony are not the last word on this saga.
Let’s not forget the IRS targeting of conservative groups trying to obtain tax-exempt status. Should Holder appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS?
There have been some calls for Holder to appoint a special prosecutor, something that he has refused to do. The independent counsel statute, which was used to investigate prior scandals like Whitewater, has expired, so the only alternative to a normal investigation authorized by the Attorney General is for the AG to give a Justice Department attorney full authority to investigate and prosecute a case without going through the usual process of having the AG review and approve his decisions.
It is questionable whether such an appointment of a special prosecutor, like a U.S. attorney—all of whom are all political appointees just like Holder—would make any real difference in the investigation conducted by the Justice Department.
In any event, however, DOJ’s opening of a criminal investigation should not inhibit Congress from exercising its oversight function and conducting an extensive inquiry into why and how the IRS was targeting conservative organizations.
Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.
- 25 tea party groups are suing the IRS for targeting them.
- The IRS’s targeting of conservatives may be even broader than originally thought.
- Should your money be used to teach Moroccans to make pottery? What about for free bus rides to the Super Bowl? Check out this list of not exactly “essential” government spending.
- The number of people on Medicaid now outnumbers the population of France or the population of the U.K
- In: Att. Gen. Eric Holder and Obama administration obstruct justice | Barack Obama | Communism in America | Constitution of the United States of America | Economy/Money | Know the enemies of America | Leftist violence in America | Obama 2013 and beyond | Obama admistration | Obama Against America | Obama and ethics | Obamanation | Progressives Movement to Destroy America | Subverting America by Uri Bezmenov | Taxes | United States taxes
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This article from The American Thinker is a good overview of the IRS scandal in case you need to get the facts straight or understand just what it all means to you. The Internal Revenue Service is the most powerful department in the government. No one, but NO ONE dares to go up against the IRS. This being the case it is a powerful weapon for any congressman or President to use to get back at anyone they don’t like. This is what has happened with the conservatives in our country who dared to oppose the Democrats and Obama: The IRS was notified to “look into the activities” of any groups who applied for tax exempt status with certain words in their names. Words like “Tea Party, “Conservative”, “Constitution”. The Treasury Department Inspector General (Treasury oversees the IRS) sat right beside the IRS Director in the Congressional hearing Friday and refuted every lie the IRS Director told! The Inspector General stated without a doubt that certain groups were “targeted” by the IRS deliberately. The Inspector General also stated that he told members of the Obama White House of his findings last summer well before the elections and yet Obama is playing deaf and dumb!
Inspectors General are people who have no political affiliation and whose job it is to police the departments in the government. These people are the public’s watch dogs and are chosen for their high standards and integrity. Many of them have been denigrated by this administration in the past four years when they have dared to speak up so I expect this one (Mr. George) to be vilified also in the next week or so.
Anyhow, the following article may be useful to you when trying to argue the points while some bone head or other damned fool. 🙂 BB
May 18, 2013
The IRS Scandal — a Basic PrimerConfusion about the IRS scandal is distracting from its importance, so that thinking conservatives should be prepared to debate the issue. Some basics matter. Conservatives may need to share a summary such as this article to help convince moderate friends.
Callers to C-SPAN badly misunderstood these details when Jenny Beth Martin, Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, appeared on C-SPAN television last week. I interviewed Keli Carender of Tea Party Patriots on the radio on May15, who helped clarify some of the pushback and distractions from liberals.
First, don’t let people forget: the IRS scandal is not about conservative accusations. The Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury issued a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service sharply discriminated against conservative organizations. This is confirmed by Treasury’s Inspector General.
Second, a group’s political beliefs and positions ought to be totally irrelevant. Tax exemption must be based on what an organization does, not what it believes or what positions it supports. Whether a group teaches the Constitution or teaches union tactics doesn’t matter, it is educating either way. Therefore, the IRS should not have been looking at the name of the organization, whether liberal or conservative, but on the substance of the organization.
Third, many people don’t realize that nearly all liberal political organizations are tax exempt. There has been a lot of distraction and diversion focused on whether or not the IRS should have scrutinized tea party groups. However, MoveOn.org, NARAL Pro-Choice America, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood (which has been active in partisan election campaigns), Media Matters, etc., are all tax exempt. Organizations on the Left similar to tea party groups have had tax exempt status forever.
Fourth, don’t allow people to wander away from the central point that the scandal is about a double standard — not whether people believe political organizations should be tax exempt. Conservatives seeking tax exempt status were treated very differently from similarly-situated liberal organizations. Sure, some liberal groups were scrutinized. But conservatives were treated differently.
IRS official Lois Lerner fast-walked the tax-exempt application of Barack Obama’s half-brother, the best man at President Obama’s wedding. Abon’go “Roy’ Malik Obama got tax-exempt status in a bureaucratic breakneck speed, in only 30 days, in May 2011, even though it is unclear what if anything the Barack H. Obama Foundation actually does or has done since being approved.
When a conservative organization Media Trackers couldn’t get approved after 8 months, it changed its project to the liberal-sounding name “Greenhouse Solutions.” With the new name, the exact same project was approved within 3 weeks.
Liberal groups — even with very political activities — were systematically approved, and quickly, with relatively little burden or scrutiny, as reported by USA Today.
Groups supporting Israel were discriminated against. In August 2010, a pro-Israel group “Z Street” filed a Federal lawsuit when an IRS staff member admitted that all Israel-related groups were singled out by the IRS for extra scrutiny. There will be a hearing this July 2013, after the case was transferred to the Federal district in Washington, D.C.
The IRS demanded that a Pro-Life group promote abortion in order to get tax-exempt status. No liberal group has such a requirement. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are not required to promote abstinence, adoption, or Pro-Life Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
It is the law that the IRS must answer within 270 days for 501(c)(3) organizations, yet the IRS delayed conservative organizations for more than 540 days.
Fifth, there are many different types of tea party organizations. Some tea party organizations are Political Action Committees (PAC’s) which are directly involved in election campaigns. Others focus purely on training tea party organizers and members on how to be effective in organizing events and lobbying on legislation. Some purely educate about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers, etc. Others lobby on pending legislation.
So when the public hears about tea party organizations applying for tax exempt status, they often imagine only campaigning for or against a candidate. That is not tax exempt. Some tea party groups qualify. Some don’t.
Sixth, many have questioned whether the IRS wasn’t doing the job it should have done by asking questions of tea party groups seeking tax exempt status. No one objects to the IRS obtaining basic information and asking reasonable questions. The problem is that the IRS bombarded tea party and conservative groups with multiple waves of a huge number of very intrusive questions. And the wave after wave of questions seemed aimed at never getting around to finishing the process or persuading groups to simply give up and abandon their application.
Seventh, many don’t recognize what ‘tax exempt’ means. It means that if someone donates to a tea party group, the donations are not taxed as income. Otherwise, any political organization would have to pay income taxes on donations.
A tax-exempt organization may still have to pay taxes on other income, such as sales of products or services. Some C-SPAN callers imagined that people in such groups don’t pay income taxes. Of course, people running or working in tax-exempt groups pay income taxes on their salary the same as everyone else.
There are four important categories:
1. A 501(c)(4) organization is tax-exempt (they don’t pay income taxes on donations). A 501(c)(4) organization is allowed to lobby for or against legislation, but is not allowed to advocate for or against a candidate. A 501(c)(4) also can do anything a 501(c)(3) can do.
2. A 501(c)(3) organization is both tax-exempt and tax-deductible. That is, contributors can deduct their donations from their income taxes. It is much more difficult to qualify for 501(c)(3) status. A 501(c)(3) cannot lobby for or against legislation (except to an insignificant extent) and may not engage in any partisan’ (campaign) activity. A 501(c)(3) can educate the public on policy, issues, the advantages and disadvantages of various political policies and topics like the Constitution, concepts of our Founding Fathers, etc. or train citizens.
3. A Political Action Committee (PAC or Super-PAC) intervenes directly in partisan campaigns and does not qualify as tax exempt.
4. A 527 organization is a recent development, which also intervenes directly in partisan campaigns and does not qualify as tax exempt.
Eighth, many are not aware of the difference between ‘political’ and ‘partisan.’ Tax exempt organizations are allowed to engage in public discussion and lobbying of ‘political’ issues affecting society. That is very different from ‘partisan’ activity. ‘Partisan’ means influencing a campaign — that is, advocating for or against a candidate in an election (not necessarily just discussing policy or issues).
An example is the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, tax deductible foundation. Its head Melanie Sloan earns $230,000 per year. CREW does nothing but slander conservative Republicans and a few Democrats who get out of line with mostly false accusations.
Christine O’Donnell won the Republican primary for United States Senate from Delaware. This was learned at 8:00 PM on September 14, 2010. By about 11:00 AM on September 15, 2010, CREW started attacking Christine O’Donnell and publicly declaring that Christine belongs in jail not in the Senate.
Advocating for or against a candidate is the test of ‘partisan’ (campaign) activity that is prohibited for a tax-exempt organization. CREW ignored Christine until she won the GOP Primary. But within hours CREW started attacking her. CREW explicitly referenced her status as a candidate, and specifically that she does not belong in the Senate. Melanie Sloan explicitly said that the voters should know all this when they go to vote in November 2010.
I noticed this pattern and conceived, developed, planned, and drafted the complaint against CREW to the IRS, which ChristinePAC later filed with the IRS in July 2011. Yet two years later, the IRS has done nothing. Melanie Sloan’s parents are big donors to former Delaware Senator Joe Biden and CREW attacks conservatives. Don’t expect the IRS to hold liberals responsible for anything.
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Americans were told in the early 1960’s by a funny looking short chubby Russian leader named Khrushchev that America would be defeated by Communism and not a shot would be fired. If you care to go to my right side column you will find a series of videos made in the 1980’s by a former KGB (Russia’s top spy agency) agent explaining exactly how the Communist planned to overthrow America (Subverting America by Uri Bezmenov). I am 72 years old and I watched it happen exactly as Bezmenov said it would happen and exactly as Khrushchev claimed as he banged his shoe on the podium. Many laughed and said it would never happen but here we are fifty years later and it is happening. the last brick in the wall of our American prison is being put in place with the federal CORE Curriculum that the government is forcing on states. The text books of the CORE Curriculum have completely rewritten history! Beware!
Do read carefully this article from the Cato Instutute. Then check carefuylllly and keep an eye on your own schools and what is being fed to your children. BB
May 4, 2013
The Great Education Power-Grab
Did you know that reformers intent on implementing the Core Curriculum (National Standards) have invaded public education? They do not care about kids or about individuals. Armed with statistics and vast software systems, their intent is to establish one-size-fits-all curricula and success parameters in public education nationwide. The scope of their ambitions leads this educator to the conclusion that their underlying impulse is totalitarian.
These reformers are driving toward the six- or seven-class-a-day high school teaching load, the 9-5 schedule for the schools (or longer), school provided free and compulsory for ages 2 to 22 (or 26), the six- or seven-day school week, and the 12-month school year (with two- or three-week vacation breaks scattered throughout the school year), all controlled by a vast bureaucracy nationwide and justified by the implementation of “national standards.” A database of answers to 400 questions by all U.S. students K-20 will be compiled and maintained at a tremendous cost to the public. Forty-six states are already on board. This 20-plus years of control and indoctrination will, if implemented, become a cornerstone of statist control.mic
Who’s doing it? These reforms are led by Bill Ayers, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City. They are also led by educational publishers such as Cengage, Pearson, McGraw Hill, and McDougal Littel. They have a host of supporters including, but not limited to, the Coalition of Essential Schools, New Visions, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and other NGOs that want to bring equality and progress [sic] to institutions supposedly failing to their very core. These “reformers” are being abetted by their so-called adversaries, the education unions: UFT, AFT, NEA, and NYSUT. Claiming to object to some of the teacher hostility expressed by the “reformers,” these unions actually are 100% in tune with the political and social agenda of those reformers. Why? Because the movement toward “national standards” by these reformers means increased membership and dues for the unions, consolidation of power, and national promotion of their left-wing agenda. The education unions become junior partners in one of the greatest power plays in the history of this country.
The key to their vision, if one can call this Brave New World and 1984 nightmare a “vision,” is to bring in a whole new class of school administrators. These administrators do not have teaching experience. Teaching experience tends to breed respect for the individual. Instead, the drive of national standards is to collectivize, to standardize, and to establish one-size-fits-all educational benchmarks, goals, and curricula. The new mandarins of education are people in their twenties or early thirties who are to come in and uproot the supposed garbage of the past. Likewise, pressures are being brought to bear on older teachers and experienced administrators to get out of the way of the “agenda of change.”
A few years ago, this writer attended a meeting to recruit teachers into the New York City Department of Education Leadership Academy for prospective principals, and the sophisticated and attractive hostess of the program was asked, “When reviewing applications to the program, do you take into account whether the applicant has written and published any articles of books?” Without hesitation, the woman answered firmly that she does not. Connection with the world of books is not part of leadership in education. On another occasion, this writer even heard one principal in the New York City Department of Education say that he is not interested in having libraries where books just gather a lot of dust; rather, he wants to replace all books with much cheaper and less space-consuming CDs. He added that students do not need literature in high school; they need only skill-sets for proper English usage. Under the Common Core, literature is being de-emphasized in favor of nonfiction, and excerpts will replace the reading of entire texts.
The thrust during Bloomberg’s years as mayor of New York City has been to recruit people with little or no experience in education to teach and to run the schools. This supposedly is to refresh a profession that has been too insulated from accountability and new ideas for too long. We saw this in Chicago, when Arne Duncan was the head of the schools. He had only had a little tutoring experience, but his goal was to renovate and revamp the failing system. As far as anyone knows, the system there is still failing.
What, then, do we find? From top to bottom, the NYC Dept. of Education is replete with administrators with little teaching experience. Often selected because they are inexperienced and willing to be as insensitive as a cactus in order to please their superiors, they come to impose themselves as “leaders” on those who are already making great sacrifices as teachers.
Then there are teaching fellows and other “career change” types who have decided they want to begin a new career path in education. They soon learn the realities of life in the schools, and many leave. Many teaching fellows are also brilliant and idealistic, and they come into education to make a difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole. However, they find that they not only have to deal with incredibly complex and difficult classroom and building situations, but many times are being badgered by clueless administrators who are the “new breed” as described above. This author recently heard a highly regarded principal of a New York City high school say that he considered “classroom management” overestimated in importance. Right. Who needs an attentive, orderly classroom? Let students have a watered down curriculum, let them talk during class, and then give them inflated grades to support their self-esteem. This is to be the new formula for national “progress.”
We find people coming into education from facilities management, the petroleum industry, pharmaceutical sales, and lobster wholesaling and delivery backgrounds. This writer has met these people, and the likelihood that they read even one book a year is remote. Are non-readers and non-teachers suited to be educational leaders?
Many, be it for money, security, ideals, or some combination of the above seek administrative positions that they are not ready for. Why aren’t they ready? They are not ready because they have not been mentored and inculcated with core educational values that include, but are not limited to, focus on service and on educational values such as curricular innovation, creativity, knowledge, teacher morale, school tone, the family of man, student character-building, and caring/love of all for all (said list can be summed up as “the pursuit of happiness”).
The above changes are gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) being implemented in various school districts throughout the country, but national standards (Core Curriculum) are the connecting mechanism whereby the philosophy of education outlined above can be managed at the federal level. The rationale for this is that students in China, Japan, and Singapore regularly do better than U.S. students on international tests of math and science. Therefore, a more comprehensive approach (standards) needs to be taken if we are to remain competitive in the world economy.
Even accepting the highly dubious assumption that we are falling behind those countries, should our schools become as authoritarian as those schools? Are not the Judeo-Christian ideals of love and compassion still valid? Do we want the drones we find in these other cultures?
About 46 states have already signed onto “national standards.” There is movement in that direction. There are not many articles in the conservative media and blogs challenging this direction. Nevertheless, the danger to culture, to rationality (substituting what to think for how to think), to individuality, and to the tried and true is palpable.
My question to the reader: Do you want American public education to become even more of an ideological monolith than it is at present?