READER BOOK PLUG: From Davis Ashura, A Warrior’s Path.
March 10, 2014
OBAMACARE DELAYS: An “outrageous abuse of executive power.” What Obama is doing in purporting to unilaterally suspend laws is unconstitutional and outrageous, but it certainly opens up great possibilities for a small-government president in the future. Though presumably in that case the press will act as if such a thing had never been done before.
IN THE MAIL: From Kris Wilder & Lawrence Kane, Sensei Mentor Teacher Coach: Powerful Leadership for Leaderless Times.
OKAY, CPAC’S OVER. NOW FOR AN INSTAPUNDIT STRAW POLL! Just as meaningful, and probably more broad-based. . . . I’ve included everyone who was on the CPAC poll for comparison purposes, many of whom aren’t real prospects. But if there’s someone I’ve left out, mention ‘em in the comments!
K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Standardized Testing: I opted my kids out, the schools freaked out. Now I know why.
PETER WOOD: The SAT Upgrade Is A Big Mistake. “The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics. David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country. Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission. As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver.”
#YAWN: Roll Call: Climate Change All-Night Session Set for Monday. “Senate Democrats are about to burn the midnight oil to make their case on climate change. The previously rumored all-night session on the effects of climate change will take place Monday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse confirmed.” I wish we could get a cameo from Nancy “where’s my Gulfstream?” Pelosi.
Meanwhile, the demise of the “green Capitol initiative” doesn’t bode well for anything these folks push.
DAVE CAMP TO OBAMA: Let’s Talk About Tax Reform. Camp’s proposal is okay, but too timid — especially as an opening bid.
WHILE THE IRS CRACKS DOWN ON THE TEA PARTY FOR “ANTI-OBAMA RHETORIC,” WE GET THIS: ‘Game the system’? Nonprofits, including Farrakhan-tied group, enjoy windfall from farm subsidies.
SALENA ZITO: Original tea partyers returning to GOP fold.
Related: Ben Carson urges conservatives to unify behind GOP in November. I’ll note, though, that sore-loser mainstream Republicans — like Richard Lugar and Mike Castle — were happy to help Democrats take seats.
WHEN OBAMA STARTS HIS “THE PEOPLE VS. THE POWERFUL” SCHTICK AGAIN, REMEMBER THIS: NASA Admits To Selling Discount Fuel For Google Execs’ Private Jets. “NASA sold to H2-11 discounted jet fuel that was then used to fly a private 757, a 767 and 5 other luxury aircraft all over the world. H2-11’s principle owners are the same as Google’s: Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.”
Hint: It’s not “the people” who own private 757s and 767s.
GEORGE WILL: The IRS’s behavior taxes credulity.
The most intrusive and potentially most punitive federal agency has been politicized; the IRS has become an appendage of Barack Obama’s party. Furthermore, congruent with exhortations from some congressional Democrats, it is intensifying its efforts to suffocate groups critical of progressives, by delaying what once was the swift, routine granting of tax-exempt status.
So, the IRS, far from repenting of its abusive behavior, is trying to codify the abuses. It hopes to nullify with new rules the existing legal right of 501(c)(4) groups, many of which are conservative, to participate in politics. The proposed rules have drawn more than 140,000 comments, most of them complaints, some from liberals wary of IRS attempts to broadly define “candidate-related political activity” and to narrow the permissible amount of this.
Lerner is, so far, the face of this use of government to punish political adversaries. She knows what her IRS unit did and how it intersects with the law, and for a second time she has exercised her constitutional right to remain silent rather than risk self-incrimination. The public has a right to make reasonable inferences from her behavior.
And from Obama’s. After calling the IRS behavior “outrageous,” he now says there is not a “smidgen” of evidence of anything to be outraged about. He knows this even though the supposed investigation of the IRS behavior has not been completed, or perhaps even begun. The person he chose to investigate his administration is an administration employee and a generous donor to his campaigns. . . .
Speaking of questions: Can anyone identify a Democratic Senate candidate whose tax records were leaked, as Christine O’Donnell’s were when she was the Republican candidate in Delaware in 2010? Is it a coincidence that in January 2011, after Catherine Engelbrecht requested tax-exempt status for two conservative groups she founded in Texas — King Street Patriots and True the Vote — the Engelbrecht family business was notified of its first IRS audit? Does James Comey wonder why (this was before he became FBI director), five months after Engelbrecht’s tax-exemption request, FBI agents appeared seeking information about attendees at the King Street Patriots meetings? Were five subsequent FBI contacts “checking in” for “updates” on the group’s activities really necessary? Why did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show a sudden intrusive interest in the Engelbrechts’ business, which has nothing to do with alcohol or tobacco or firearms or explosives?
The whole thing stinks to high heaven. And so does the press’s unwillingness to investigate.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to entice you into debt slavery.’
March 9, 2014
DEAL KILLER: Here’s why Dana Loesch can’t support a Ben Carson campaign. Me neither. An anti-gun GOP candidate for President?
THE DETROIT NEWS on Obama’s endless ObamaCare delays:
The serial delays of Obamacare are coming so rapidly and for such obviously political reasons that the White House is barely even trying to mask its real mission of protecting vulnerable Democrats in the mid-term elections.
In announcing the latest postponement this week — this one allowing individuals to keep their existing health insurance policies through 2016 — the Obama administration carefully credited Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Udall of Colorado, Ron Barber of Arizona and 10 other vulnerable Democratic lawmakers.
All face tough reelection fights in the fall in races in which Obamacare is a key issue.
While it may be politically expedient, rewriting a law passed by Congress simply to avoid ballot box consequences is an outrageous abuse of executive power.
Yes, and it’s illegal and unconstitutional. So where are the lawsuits?
AN ILLEGAL ARREST FOR RECORDING A COP IN MASSACHUSETTS:
George Thompson says last January he was just sitting on his front porch, watching a Fall River police officer working a paid detail. Thompson says the officer was on his phone and was swearing very loud.
That’s when Thompson pulled out his phone. Thompson says Officer Tom Barboza then rushed him and arrested him, charging him with unlawful wiretapping.
But in Massachusetts it’s perfectly legal to record video and audio of a public official, including police, as long as they are performing their duties and the recording isn’t hidden. Barboza’s own police report shows that Thompson acknowledged he was recording the officer.
“I think we all have our basic rights and I think people should not record others secretly or surreptitiously,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine told WPRI.
Yes, well, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, citizens have the right to record the police, and that right is so clear that qualified immunity doesn’t attach to officers who violate it. I hope he sues them for a lot. And the folks of Fall River may want to ask why they have a Police Chief who doesn’t know the law.
FEW ARE IMPROVED BY THE CHANGE: Iconic Celebrities With Photoshopped Tattoos. Though I kind of like tattooed Spock.
WHY HIGH-IMPACT EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOUR BONES. So are squats, but the effects are different. This is why I run stairs for interval training.
JOURNALISM: It’s “A Rand Paul rout in CPAC straw poll” says Politico, but the only report in the NYT is a Ross Douthat column titled “Four Factions, No Favorite.” “Douthat’s column, dated yesterday, may very well have gone up before the poll, but still, if a rout was in the works, why is Douthat in the dark, and why is there no NYT article about Rand’s rout?” Wouldn’t fit the Narrative.
ED MORRISSEY: Ukraine: Another 3 AM wake-up call going unheeded. “Suddenly we’re discovering the consequences of the return to moral relativism in US foreign policy. It’s eerily similar to the Carter years, where an American President scolded his countrymen over their ‘inordinate fear of communism’ in an attempt to ‘reset’ the Cold War.”
TIM CAVANAUGH: Tea Party Less Dead Than Advertised at CPAC.
Among presidential hopefuls and prospects, the straw poll delivered wins for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who took first place with 31 percent, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who placed with 11 percent; and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a long shot with no political experience who showed with 9 percent. . . .
After reports that this conference would show a Republican Party establishment back in control amid a general fading of Tea Party energy, the conference followed a pattern that has characterized GOP events since at least 2008: When the small-government zealots are not around, you can hear a pin drop. When a member of the Paul family shows up, there’s so much energy in the place it almost seems like Republicans can win an election.
Nowhere was this more evident than in a highly combative panel on privacy Friday, during which former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore was repeatedly booed and catcalled for being the least anti-National Security Agency voice in the discussion. The mid-sized audience was fired up against even a Republican-approved version of the security state.
This libertarian wave continued throughout the conference, and the smartest presenters tried to ride it. The CPAC audience responded enthusiastically to all mentions of drug legalization. And pollster Pat Caddell broke the applause meter Saturday with a presentation that laid into the party establishment with a vengeance, reiterating his charge that the GOP establishment actually supports the Obama Internal Revenue Service’s persecution of Tea Party non-profit groups. Caddell’s fellow panelists questioned that assertion, but the dynamic was clear: The more Caddell ripped into the RINOs, the more the crowd loved him.
These data points could merely indicate the meaningless of CPAC and other GOP events. Rand Paul’s father used to be the only act that got crowds on their feet at Republican events too, but in two straight presidential elections he failed to turn that energy and fundraising advantage into primary wins.
But whatever peace the GOP establishment seemed to have imposed on the Tea Party hasn’t sunk in among the faithful. The Tea Party has been pronounced dead every year since 2009 (though oddly it also gets blamed for an ever-growing list of troubles). But for the Republican insurgency, it’s a dead man’s party.
Well, some people want it to be dead.
DUDE, YOU’RE WRITING FOR IZVESTIA: ‘Suffocating pressure’: Former ThinkProgress writer describes White House ‘censorship.’
Next you’ll be expecting political independence at Media Matters.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: CFPB to pay $22.3 million to lease building owned by Obama bundler. “The temporary offices to be occupied by CFPB for the next two years are being leased in a building owned by Neil G. Bluhm, a longtime friend and campaign bundler for President Obama. Bluhm made headlines in 2010 when he hosted Obama’s 49th birthday party at his Chicago home. Admission was $30,000 per person, with the proceeds going to the Democratic National Committee.”
MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Liberal labor union makes Republican arguments against Obamacare. “A new labor union research report offers a scathing indictment of how Obamacare affects middle-class workers. The report features a series of arguments that conservatives have long made about the law, right down to mentioning the language of ‘unintended consequences.’”
THE HILL: Is The United States Losing A New Cold War? Well, we’re certainly not winning. We don’t seem even to be trying.
DIVERSE AS AN MSNBC FANS’ CONVENTION: The Democrats’ 2014 Whitewash: Why are nearly all the statewide Democratic candidates this year white? “The upside of making the race of the candidate an existential issue for African-American voters is, it’s a tremendous motivator to turn out to keep the symbolic leader in office. The downside is, it’s not easily transferable to other candidates – not to other non-white candidates for lower offices, and certainly not to a bunch of white politicians who look pretty much just like the people they are running against. And yet, bafflingly, that is exactly what the Democrats are running in 2014.”
Lose enough of the white vote and the minorities don’t matter. The Democrats seem worried about that.
March 8, 2014
HE’S A SPIRITUAL LEADER: Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s daughter found guilty of money laundering.
SMART DIPLOMACYTM UPDATE: U.S.: No Need for PA to Recognize Israel; State Department spokeswoman says the U.S. believes there is no need for the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Obama’s got your back. He’s just holding a knife.
KYLE SMITH: How ‘Free to Be … You and Me’ emasculated men. Wasn’t that the point? “The show, which is of course unwatchable today except perhaps in states with generous attitudes toward self-medication such as Colorado and Washington, was an hour-long special that meant to tell little girls they could be anything they wanted, and little boys they could be anything they wanted too, provided that what they wanted was to be girls.”
PEGGY NOONAN: The Ideologue vs. the Children: New York’s new mayor attacks charter schools, proving his critics right. But with the New York schools losing students already, getting rid of charter schools merely ensures that more people will exit the public school system entirely. Long-term, charter schools are the only thing that can save them.
There is no one who can be trusted with political power. Lord Acton’s famous epigram — “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” — communicates a law of human life that is as inescapable as that of supply and demand: There may be variations along the curve, but the slope is always in the same direction. Even in a stable, liberal society such as our own, we have seen presidents, including the current president, abuse their power for personal and political ends, sometimes with shocking disregard for both law and propriety. The number of generals who have participated in the overthrow of civilian governments to which they swore oaths of allegiance is enough to populate a small army. In politics, great men are dangerous men.
There is very little in this world as dramatic as the coup d’état, but it is not only presidents and princes who are susceptible to the allure of power. New York City enjoys the services of the nation’s best-led and most professional big-city police department, but its officers have been known to abuse their power in ways ranging from the banal to the antiheroic, from taking petty bribes to acting as mob enforcers for the Lucchese crime syndicate. Political power is corruptible down to the level of public-school administrators and DMV clerks.
That’s why there should be as little of it as possible.
HEALTH NEWS: Man loses 56 pounds after eating only McDonald’s for six months. “John Cisna, a high school science teacher in Colo, Iowa, who gained national attention for his experiment, says he has lost 56 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and lost a total of 21 inches off his chest, waist and hips while dining only at the fast food emporium.”
WITH IPHONE PRICES TUMBLING, IS AN IPHONE 6 COMING SOON? I dunno, but you can pick up a 5S or 5C cheap now. I’ve got a 5S and I’ve been quite happy with it. In particular, the camera is excellent.
EVERYTHING SEEMINGLY IS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: 3 asteroids set to flyby Earth as Hubble watches asteroid crumble.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT TO GET ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY: For sale on eBay: One lightly used Soviet “Bear” bomber, low mileage.
Rod’s reaction was to grab his shovel and “whack it on the head”.
As soon as he was done with the snake, he called an ambulance, grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down.
“I said to myself, if I’m going to cark it I’m going to have a beer, so I got a Goldie out of the fridge and drank that; ’cause you know eastern browns are the second most venomous snake in the world,” Rod said
Rod’s teenage son was on the couch and slept through the whole thing because Rod didn’t want to wake him and make anyone panic.
“If you panic it makes it worse,” he said.
Well, I suppose the beer helps you stay calm.
READER BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Reader Brenden Luddy recommends this from Jayson Veley, Telephone: Conservative Arguments With Liberal Callers.
I CAN SEE THESE E-BIKES DOING WELL IN L.A., WHERE THE WEATHER’S NEARLY ALWAYS GOOD FOR BIKES: “The Qoros eBIQE concept is a beast of a bike. Fully suspended and capable of quickly hitting 65 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour) in power mode, it features hand-laminated carbon-fiber bodywork wrapped around a tough steel frame. Its brutish strength is complemented by sophistication, as it’s fitted with a five-inch touchscreen offering a wealth of information and the ability to shape performance with the environment you find yourself in.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: NOTHING EXCITING ABOUT THE JOBS NUMBERS:
They’re not bad — 175,000 jobs were added, mostly in business and professional services and durable-goods wholesalers. Most of the rest of our nation’s industries didn’t do much one way or another, except for motion picture and sound recording, which even in the best of economies is not what you’d call “steady work.” Given that many of those industries spent the last two months shedding jobs the way Lady Gaga goes through costumes, plodding boringly along was a cheering improvement. Especially considering the weather.
On the other hand, these numbers aren’t good, either. Because the economy needs to add somewhere in the range of 100,000 jobs a month just to accommodate population growth, 175,000 still leaves us very far from the level needed to absorb America’s vast reserve army of the unemployed. It’s the sort of number you expect to see in the tail months of an expiring boom, not as we pull out of recession. Numbers like this give credence to any number of depressing theories about permanently depressed labor-force participation — and the permanently lower gross domestic product that comes with it.
This is, of course, exactly the stagnation that critics of Obamanomics predicted.
Tyler Jackson has emailed me an interesting story, soon to apper online (I’ll link to it once it does)– the gist is that the head of the Connecticut Peace Officers’ Assn has released an open letter stating that the police will not “be party to the oppression of the people of the state by enforcing an unconstitutional law.” So far 250 LEOs have cosigned the letter.
The CT law required the registration of AWs, with a deadline for doing so, and it appears that the vast majority of AW owners have simply refused. So now the State faces massive resistance, and some portion, perhaps a large portion, of police refusing to enforce.
Interesting. Stay tuned.
CHEAP COMPUTING: ASUS CHROMEBOX-M004U Desktop, $179. It’s like a Chromebox Mac Mini.
Also, Save an additional $75 off the current Amazon.com price on select digital cameras. Simply use promotional code K77B9SDB and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout.
IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Tax Analysts: More Arrogance and Secrecy From the IRS.
I am not an IRS basher or hater. As I have said countless times, taking the heat for it every time (and that’s fair game, by the way), I know many fine people who have worked or work for that agency. But we are in litigation with the IRS in an attempt to get information on how it trained people to handle applications from groups seeking to be recognized as social welfare organizations. That litigation has been an incredibly frustrating process.
I don’t know if these apparent political decisions were made by Lerner or others either inside or outside the IRS, because trying to get information out of that agency is like trying to get sweat out of a rock. Over the years, it has fought the silliest things. I’m only half kidding when I say that if you asked the IRS to see the kind of staplers it’s using, it would tell you it doesn’t have staplers.
The IRS will go to great lengths not to be scrutinized. And that breeds an atmosphere of no accountability — which leads to arrogance. We have seen that arrogance consistently throughout the congressional investigations of several IRS officials. And where will it lead us? Not to a good place, especially for those of us getting ready to file our yearly income tax returns. A tax collector that treats its “customers” as guilty until proven innocent is a tax collector out of control. That is precisely what the national taxpayer advocate has been warning about. If IRS officials don’t believe they are accountable to Congress, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.
We really need a tax system that doesn’t give the tax collector so much discretionary power. Also, an end to governmental immunity. IRS employees should be personally liable for misconduct.
I’M PRETTY BIG, SO I MIGHT NOT FARE AS WELL IN COURT IF I USE A DRONE: Judge Dismisses FAA Fine Against Small Drone User.
HOW’S THAT SMART DIPLOMACYTM WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Western countries alarmed as Libya slides towards chaos.
ObamaCare is now in the sixth and final month of its extended inaugural open-enrollment period. If you want to buy medical insurance through the exchange–a big if, we realize–you have until the end of the month to do it, or wait till autumn to buy a policy for next year.
This column has analyzed the disaster of ObamaCare in terms of three phases. Phase 1, the technical failure, was evident as soon as open enrollment began on Oct. 1 and many of the exchange websites proved to have been incompetently designed. Technical problems continue to emerge, including, as noted here last week, the Internal Revenue Service’s tardiness in preparing the final instructions for Form 8960, which taxpayers must file if they owe the new ObamaCare “net investment income tax.”
Phase 2 is the revelation that ObamaCare’s central promise–”if you like your plan, you can keep your plan”–was fraudulent. In an effort to appease defrauded consumers, the Obama administration has announced a series of unlegislated exceptions to the law, which the president himself attempted to explain the other day. . . .
The third phase of failure is the slow revelation that the basic economic assumptions behind ObamaCare are wrong. A new survey from McKinsey & Co., conducted in February, found that only 10% of those who lacked insurance pre-ObamaCare had signed up for an exchange plan, and that of those who had signed up, just 27% were previously uninsured.
True, those numbers were up significantly from January’s figures, 3% and 11% respectively. Still, they’re low enough that the Washington Post sums it up: “The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal.”
It’s train wrecks all the way down.
REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD: Michelle Malkin: Eat Your Words, Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Obamacare’s backers are choking on their promises and running for the hills.
At the end of 2013, Democratic representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) had some nasty words for yours truly. Irked that I used my Twitter feed to criticize her Obamacare propaganda efforts, Wasserman Schultz snarked back at me: “Thanks for spreading the word! You’ll be eating them next year. #GetCovered.”
Classy as always. And completely wrong-headed as usual. Less than three months into 2014, how’s dutiful Debbie and her Dear Leader’s pet government-takeover program doing? . . . While Democrats complain about Obamacare-repeal efforts by Republicans, we may be nearing a special turning point at which the White House will have reneged on more Obamacare regulations than it’s actually enforcing!
Heh. They should have taken the “off-ramp” that Ted Cruz was offering in October.
I WONDER IF SHE WAS USING AN OUTSIDE ACCOUNT? THOSE ARE DE RIGEUR AT THE EPA. IRS caves on Lois Lerner documents, will provide Congress with ALL of her emails since tea party targeting scheme began.
THE DOCS ON INCOMPETENCE WOULD HAVE TAKEN TOO LONG TO COPY: Under legal fire, State Dept. hands over docs on ‘competence’ of ambassadors.
THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW: Judge says prosecutors should follow the law. Prosecutors revolt.
Late last year, South Carolina State Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty joined Kozinski. At a state solicitors’ convention in Myrtle Beach, Beatty cautioned that prosecutors in the state have been “getting away with too much for too long.” He added, “The court will no longer overlook unethical conduct, such as witness tampering, selective and retaliatory prosecutions, perjury and suppression of evidence. You better follow the rules or we are coming after you and will make an example. The pendulum has been swinging in the wrong direction for too long and now it’s going in the other direction. Your bar licenses will be in jeopardy. We will take your license.”
You’d think that there’s little here with which a conscientious prosecutor could quarrel. At most, a prosecutor might argue that Beatty exaggerated the extent of misconduct in South Carolina. (I don’t know if that’s true, only that that’s a conceivable response.) But that prosecutors shouldn’t suborn perjury, shouldn’t retaliate against political opponents, shouldn’t suppress evidence, and that those who do should be disciplined — these don’t seem like controversial things to say. If most prosecutors are following the rules, you’d think they’d have little to fear, and in fact would want their rogue colleagues identified and sanctioned.
The state’s prosecutors didn’t see that way. . . . The most plausible explanation for all of these stories is that a significant number of prosecutors just don’t want to be held accountable to anyone but themselves. I suppose a lot of us would like to have that sort of protection when it comes to what we do for a living. But few of us do. And the rest of us don’t hold positions that give us the power to to ruin someone’s life with criminal charges, to convince a jury to put someone in prison or to ask the state to put someone to death.
I think that immunity for state officials, including the absolute immunity enjoyed by prosecutors, violates the Titles of Nobility clause.
March 7, 2014
THE HILL ON CPAC: Rand Paul Electrifies Conservative Base. Well, a libertarian who can do that might just have a shot.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Party Schools — Years Of Fun Mostly At Other People’s Expense, But Not Much Learning.