TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Tax-writing lawmakers’ tax issues – do as I say… “The House Ways and Means Committee is the oldest, and arguably the most powerful, in Congress with members responsible for writing the nation’s tax laws. But a CNN investigation of all 39 Democrats and Republicans on the committee found that at least eight members have faced tax problems of their own.”
April 14, 2014
BATTLESPACE PREP: Don’t Worry About Hillary’s Health — She’s Got A Great Doctor!
There’s even a bit of subtle Obama-distancing: “As close as he is to Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Hyman has not collaborated with the current first lady. He said Michelle Obama has been overly influenced by the food industry on her ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative to combat childhood obesity.”
Plus, this caveat, which should be added to most studies reported in the news: “While the study’s principal finding merits a booze-bolstered conversation at a dinner party, it will need to be replicated among men of broader age and cultural backgrounds before we take it too seriously.”
RON RADOSH: Who Inspired the Nazi-Klan Leader’s Actions in Kansas? The Answer Here. “What will our good friends at The Nation say now, when his very first sentence notes how inspired he is by the words of none other than Max Blumenthal, whose antisemitic and anti-Zionist book was released by the magazine’s own publishing house, Nation Books?”
DRIVING THE AUDI ALLROAD: “Allroad? So it can go on all the roads? So what? So can any other car with tires!”
WHENEVER I SEE THE TINDER LOGO, I THINK OF THE 1982 WORLD’S FAIR, BUT MAYBE THAT’S JUST ME: Tinder May Not Be Worth $5B, But It’s Way More Valuable Than You Think. Then again, there was a lot of hooking up there, notwithstanding that it was an app-less era.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Legal scholarship in the lean years. “I expect that scholarship will receive less attention inside the legal academy. In the last two decades, scholarship became an ever-increasing priority for law schools because they had the resources to make it so. . . . I would guess that the new environment also will have at least some impact on the substance of legal scholarship. My thoughts are tentative, but here’s a prediction: The lean years will create pressures for scholarship to have more relevance to the bench and bar.”
21ST CENTURY BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS: When The Restaurant You Googled Googles You Back. “It’s not the thought that counts; unexpected in-person customization feels icky.”
TODAY IN PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes admitted he believed man cleared of murder after nearly 16 years in prison was innocent. “In a stunning about-face, former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes admitted in a recent deposition that he did not believe a man exonerated for murder was guilty — even though one of his prosecutors insisted, as the man’s conviction was vacated, ‘We believe in this defendant’s guilt.’”
People should be facing jail time over this, but it will be an amazing example of accountability if they’re even disbarred.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: How Obama’s Justice Department Selectively Blocks Mergers By Republican CEOs.
IN THE MAIL: From Steven Pressfield, The Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War.
Also, today only from Amazon: The “Rocky Heavyweight Collection” on Blu-ray, $22.99 (62% off).
THE TODD AKIN OF VIRGINIA: Arlington County Board chairman apologizes for ‘Latino time’ comment.
Noting that board colleague Walter Tejada had not yet arrived at the swearing-in and would be a bit late, Fisette said that Tejada was running on “Latino time.”
Fisette was questioned about the phrasing by a reporter from WJLA-TV, and said that after talking with friends, he found that “some were offended.”
Do tell. And I’m sure the WaPo and Jon Stewart will be all over this. Background: The “GOP Lawmaker” Principle: Why You See So Many Articles About Random Right-Wing Politicians. “As the national electoral plight of Democrats increases, so does the incidence of stories about obscure state Republican lawmakers.” While stories about Dems get buried.
Because, you know, the press is largely made up of Democratic operatives with bylines. (Hat tip: Hinkle.)
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Our Psychodramatic Campuses. “Our pampered elite college students are creations of the very exploitation they project onto others.”
POWER PROBLEMS: The Costs Of Nixing Nuclear.
Japan is officially restarting its nuclear energy program, after shutting down its reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It’s an understandably emotionally fraught decision, but as the FT reports, it’s crucial for the country’s shaky economy. . . .
Nuclear’s benefits aren’t just economic; it’s an effectively zero-emissions energy source, and when countries phase it out, as Japan and Germany did in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, their emissions go up. Of course, if that was the whole story, it would be easy to chart Japan’s energy future. But when nuclear goes wrong, it can go very wrong. Japan sits on a tectonic boundary—not the ideal location for nuclear plants (it’s worth noting that the case for nuclear energy in Germany, which is not vulnerable to the same seismicity, is much more straightforward).
Fortunately, there’s a new generation of nuclear reactors coming down the pipe, reactors that are fail-safe by design, which would lessen the likelihood of another Fukushima catastrophe happening again.
HOPEY-CHANGEY: Sharyl Attkisson: “Chilling effect” from Obama administration on journalists. “Attkisson told Kurtz that political considerations were at play, but the bigger issue is the ‘chilling effect’ of the Obama administration on journalists, but also ‘corporate interest’ pressure as well, which don’t tend to balance themselves out but add together. Kurtz wondered aloud whether her growing reputation as a ‘conservative’ journalist wasn’t an attempt to discredit Attkisson, and she agrees. When she went after the Bush administration, Attkisson noted, no one was calling her a ‘progressive’ journalist — and her CBS bosses were delighted to run those stories.”
The political/corporate synergy of the Obama Administration is its greatest danger, and doesn’t get enough attention for precisely that reason.
CLAYTON CRAMER: ‘This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed:’ Guns and the Civil Rights Movement. Clayton Cramer reviews Professor Charles E. Cobb, Jr.’s This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.
WE MIGHT AS WELL REPEAL THE CIVIL SERVICE LAWS AND GO TO A SPOILS SYSTEM; THEY’VE BEEN POLITICIZED ALREADY: Complaint suggests HUD may have inappropriately promoted Obamacare. “Political priorities do not authorize agencies or the White House to violate appropriations law by taking agencies off of their congressionally mandated tasks.”
MICKEY KAUS: “I agree with WaPo‘s Greg Sargent that amnesty backers are increasingly realizing that it may be now or never for legislative action–-in part because the ‘comprehensivist’ coalition has begun to splinter, in part because it would be difficult for the GOP establishment to pass an amnesty bill in 2015 or 2016 without sinking the presidential candidacy of what may be their last, best horse in the race, Marco Rubio. But the desperation runs on both sides of the aisle–-affecting Democratic amnesty backers (including maybe Sargent) as well as GOP businessmen scared of tight labor markets, GOP strategists whose seemingly only strategy is to ‘get right’ with Latinos, and the GOP House leaders who love both groups.”
BOB WOODWARD ON THE IRS SCANDAL: “There’s obviously something here.”
UPDATE: Schieffer link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!
NO. NEXT QUESTION? The Hill: Is Obama Enforcing The Law?
Republicans are ratcheting up accusations that President Obama is playing fast and loose with enforcing federal statutes.
On issues ranging from marijuana legalization and criminal sentencing to healthcare and immigration, the president’s lieutenants have taken actions that critics say violate his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The administration has sought to deflect the criticism, claiming not only that the president has acted within his power, but that an obstructive Congress has left him no other choice.
In testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Obama’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, claimed “a vast amount” of prosecutorial discretion in how the Justice Department enforces federal laws.
“I do think that the policy pronouncements that I’ve made in the recent months are consistent with the law and also are consistent with good law enforcement,” Holder said.
The remarks drew fresh criticism from those who say it reveals a flawed legal view that has served as the basis for executive overstep.
“The testimony reflected the near absolute view the administration has toward its powers,” said Jonathan Turley, a liberal-minded George Washington University law professor who said he voted for Obama and generally agrees with administration’s policy positions.
“I do not agree that prosecutorial discretion supports the full range of unilateral actions that the administration has taken in these areas,” Turley said.
In Congress, a growing chorus of GOP lawmakers charge the administration with creating federal policy via memo, blowing statutory deadlines and even showing a willingness to ignore laws entirely.
If he were a Republican, the press would be screaming for impeachment. And he’s acting badly enough that, even though he’s a black Democrat, they’re beginning to take some small notice.
A QUESTION WORTH REVISITING: How Did Harry Reid Get Rich? His career in public service has ended up being remarkably lucrative.
SALENA ZITO: Dems’ Latest False Wedge Issue.
Barack Obama has divided this country since the beginning of his presidency. He has not been transformative; instead, he has indulged one special-interest group after another — women in this case, but also blacks, young people, the lesbian-gay-transgender community and Hispanics in earlier instances.
He has governed by sliced-and-diced division, fear, secrecy and resentment, all accented with toothless executive orders used as political weapons.
This is definitely not the transparent and compassionate administration that he promised.
Maybe this is what happens when you over-promise, or maybe this is who Barack Obama is.
Well, there’s not much evidence to the contrary.
DIVORCE, BELTWAY STYLE: The Democratic breakup that exposes Washington’s rotten core.
The documents, which you can read below, did not become available to the rest of us until yesterday. They tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth. They tell stories not only of an ugly divorce, but of the power of lobbying, of how one family maneuvered to the center of the nation’s dominant political party, of the transactional relationships, gargantuan self-regard, and empty posturing that insulates, asbestos-like, the D.C. bubble.
That the broken couple now uses the tools of their trade—the phone-call to a friend, the selective leaking of documents, the hiring of attorneys, the launch of a public-relations campaign—against one another is more than ironic. It is fitting. Tony and Heather Podesta reached the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Barack Obama’s Washington. Now they, like he, are in eclipse. . . .
Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law. John’s innovation was to establish a corporate-funded think tank where the burdensome policies would be concocted, and whose staff would go on to man the regulatory agencies that put their wool-headed ideas into practice. And to whom do the corporations turn when they find themselves on the receiving end of all this uplift, all this do-goodery, all this progress, hope, and change? Why, to the man in the red Prada loafers, and to his flamboyantly patterned wife.
Read the whole thing.
A DISTURBING VIDEO COMPILATION: All 134 Times Harry Reid Has Mentioned the Koch Brothers on the Senate Floor. Get help, Harry.
ANDREW KLAVAN: Black Lives, Democrat Lies. “Now to someone like me — a former liberal who became a conservative, in part, because I saw the devastation wrought on poor black neighborhoods by leftist policies — this is no surprise, not even all that interesting. What I did find riveting though were the desperate attempts by presumably left-leaning social scientists to explain the discrepancy away.”
ROSS DOUTHAT: Diversity And Dishonesty.
In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released.
Instead, the Mozilla statement rambled in the language of inclusion: “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. … Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions. …”
The statement on Hirsi Ali was slightly more direct, saying that “her past statements … are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But it never specified what those statements or those values might be — and then it fell back, too, on pieties about diversity: “In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.”
What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.
The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases. . . .
I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.
“Diversity” was put together as a lie — a way to rebrand quotas — and has remained so ever since.
April 13, 2014
NBC NEWS: KANSAS CITY SHOOTER IS FORMER DEMOCRAT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, KLANSMAN. Okay, they pushed the Democrat part down a ways in the story. Can you imagine the glee at the SPLC, though? They’ll fundraise off this for a decade.
UPDATE: Ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2006, too. Doubt the press will play this up much. Say, did you know that Fred Phelps was a Democrat?
I HAVEN’T SAID ANYTHING ABOUT JUSTICE STEVENS’ DUMB PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE SECOND AMENDMENT because (1) it’s dumb; and (2) it’s never going to happen. Might as well talk about my proposal to add five words to Article Three, so that Justices serve during good behavior, “or until they displease Glenn.” But Clayton Cramer has taken up the cross.
JOURNALISM: Media: Hillary Shoe-Thrower ‘Frightening’; Bush Shoe-Thrower A ‘Folk Hero.’ Though to be fair, some of this is in the response: Hillary seemed like a frightened old woman, Bush like an amused jock.
WHEN IT’S EASIER TO BECOME “THE MAN” THAN TO CHALLENGE HIM: Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence. ” Nine years ago, the company opened a one-man lobbying shop, disdainful of the capital’s pay-to-play culture. Since then, Google has soared to near the top of the city’s lobbying ranks, placing second only to General Electric in corporate lobbying expenditures in 2012 and fifth place in 2013.”
Yeah, like I said, they’ve gone from rebel outsiders to crony insiders.
21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Men and women are equally good at reading partners’ sexual satisfaction, new study finds. “Sally’s very loud — and very fake — public orgasm in the film When Harry Met Sally was her emphatic way of proving that Harry has no clue if the revolving door of women he sleeps with are satisfied or not. Although the jury is still out on one-night stands, a new study of relationships by Canadian psychologists has found that men and women are equally good at picking up on their partners’ sexual satisfaction. If you’re in a committed partnership, your lover already knows how much you’re enjoying yourself in bed — so no need to start using Sally-esque theatrics to get your point across, in other words.”
THE NEGATIVE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING.
“We’re far more inclined to embrace positive information about our own investments than negative information. We often turn that off,” says Tali Sharot, author of “The Optimism Bias: A Tour of Our Irrationally Positive Brain.”
What if the “power of positive thinking” is simply a numbing drumbeat that reinforces the positivity delusion, leading us to make blockheaded business and investment decisions?
So, kind of like the media coverage of the Obama Administration. Plus, a shocking phrase to read in the WaPo: “Old-style American Calvinism, while not a load of laughs, has a lot to do with American wealth and development.”
I CAN SEE WHY THAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT: New York Court Struggles To Find Jurors Who Don’t Hate The Occupy Movement.
BEYOND REPROACH: “Manuel Roig-Franzia at the Washington Post described the perils facing Samantha Power: dictators, third world warlords, terrorist. None of them inspired in her the slightest fear. There was only one thing on earth that gave her pause. Hillary.”
K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: High School Science Teacher Suspended For Teaching Science. Mark Frauenfelder concludes: “One of the most important lessons kids learn in public schools is that school administrators are usually autocratic imbeciles.”
Well, yes. You could write a book on it.
NO MATTER HOW SMART YOU ARE, THERE’S SOMEBODY OUT THERE WHO CAN FOOL YOU. That Time A Star Trek Captain And A Physicist Got Tricked Into Doing A Documentary On Geocentrism. To be fair, the captain was only Kate Mulgrew. Shatner or Stewart would have snifffed this one out, I think.
WHILE PUTIN DEVOURS EASTERN EUROPE OUT OF WEAKNESS, we’re secure enough to focus our diplomatic efforts on getting other countries to ban texting while driving.
SO MAYBE ALL THAT INTERCONNECTION WAS OVERSOLD? Now That Everything Is Connected, Everything Will Get Hacked. Can I get my operating system on ROM?
REALLY? If I were going to break into a house, it wouldn’t be Tammy Bruce’s. He’s lucky he escaped with his life.
POWER LINE: Standoff at Bundy Ranch Ends, With Photo of the Year So Far. “The new head of the BLM, Neil Kornze, worked for Harry Reid as a policy adviser from 2003 to 2011. It is reasonable to assume that Reid got him the BLM job, and I would hazard a guess that Reid saw the situation turning into a public relations disaster–-Nevada’s Governor and Senator Dean Heller, both Republicans, were more or less siding with Bundy–-and told Kornze to give it up. It still isn’t clear what the crisis was all about. Rumor has it that Reid wants the land for a giant solar farm that would be supplied by a Chinese company and, presumably, subsidized by the federal government. Reid’s son is apparently a participant in the deal. Whether that is true, I haven’t yet tried to figure out. One thing I will say with some certainty, however, is that tortoises had little or nothing to do with it.”
HANS VAN SPAKOVSKY: For Attorney General Eric Holder, Justice is for Democrats only.
A veteran Justice Department lawyer says that Attorney General Eric Holder has politicized the department in a way he hadn’t seen before. In short, “Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell.”
Now in his sixth year as attorney general, Holder has increasingly tilted the department in an ideological direction. It’s one thing to emphasize President Obama’s legal priorities. It’s quite another to decide not to enforce certain federal laws — such as the ban on marijuana — or urge state attorney generals to refuse to defend local laws on same-sex marriage. Legal changes are achieved through legislation, not through a sudden whim not to enforce them. No other attorney general has acted in this manner.
Holder clearly believes he has the inherent power to politicize his department. When House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte asked him last week whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion. “There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder responded.
But courts have frequently disagreed with Holder’s interpretations of the law.
Yes, and if the right had the lawfare/legal infrastructure that the left does, that would happen more often. It’s a major lack. Donors and policy entrepreneurs take note.
OF COURSE IT DOES. ALL WORKABLE ALTERNATIVES MUST BE DESTROYED: ObamaCare Threatens The Promise Of Concierge Medicine.
YEAH, WELL, CONSIDERING WHO WE ELECTED AS HER BOSS, MAYBE NOT: Nick Gillespie: We Deserved Better Than Kathleen Sebelius.
Her widely acknowledged incompetence in overseeing the implementation of a major new program is one of the reasons why record numbers of Americans think the government has too much power and have low and declining levels of trust in government to do the right thing. Whether you’re liberal, conservative, or libertarian, that’s not a good thing.
Last fall, when Healthcare.gov went live and crashed again and again, Sebelius’s response was not to take responsibility or explain why the job was botched so badly but to plead for slack from customers. “Hopefully [website users will] give us the same slack they give Apple…. If there’s not quite the operational excellence right away, we’ll continue to press for that,” she told the press. “Apple, you know, has a few more resources than we have to roll out technology, and a few more people who’ve been working on the system for a while, and no one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year or to, you know, get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure.”
That reaction helped to explain why HHS botched the job so badly to begin with. The government spent upwards of $677 million on the design and implementation of Healthcare.gov, so Sebelius’s claim wasn’t just misleading but strikingly out of touch with reality. The fact is that if Apple put out rotten products year after year without changing things, they would be out of business, as the rotting hulks of once-giant bankrupted companies can attest. That President Obama parroted the same line didn’t help matters.
No, but it was entirely predictable. And the difference is that we’re free to choose other products if Apple screws up. We have no similar choice regarding governments.
A SWISS READER EMAILS about my Cato Podcast talk on education:
It was interesting for me to hear your talk given to Cato this past week, broadcast yesterday. As a Swiss, I support what you are saying.
I am a citizen of both Switzerland and the United States. I attended university in the US at the Univ. of Texas and the Univ. of Pennsylvania, and have BSChE and MBA degrees from those schools dating 1965 and 1967 respectively. I am retired. I live in Switzerland, but I travel in the US to visit some family and to attend symposiums, like that for example at Hillsdale College this past January. While Manager of Engineering at Bechtel Corporation’s office in Kingsport TN, I recruited often at your campus in Knoxville during the years 1987 through 1991. At that time, your university was unique in visiting and asking companies like Bechtel, Tennessee Eastman, Mead and others in the East Tennessee area simple but profound questions on a more or less annual basis. For example, “What should our graduates know and know how to do to be of greater immediate worth to your organizations?” In other words, “value added” questions. It will not surprise you to know that I hired young men, and a few young women, as engineering graduates from UT-Knoxville. Their strengths outside of academics: apprenticeship experience and an early appreciation of our challenges as private companies.
Here is why your short talk was of interest to me. We here in Switzerland have an educational system that bifurcates young students during their early teenage years between those which will pursue higher education as “Akademikers” (engineers, medical doctors, etc.), and those who will attend trade schools and become professional persons favoring more manual skills. As they progress in cantonal secondary schools, all receive sound historical, literature and art appreciation foundations. Students read classic books. All (including the future Akademikers) experience (largely unpaid) apprenticeships. The respect achievers have within the society is largely the same. We have here, in Nidwalden, a 2% unemployment rate. My opinion: the United States has a high structural unemployment rate (including a low ‘labor participation rate’) due to a seriously flawed educational model beginning with Kindergarten. You are losing an understanding of the founding principles of your country, such as what is the Natural Law. The role of parents in your system is no longer understood or deemed important. Study the Swiss model. It has practical answers that serve a free people and a free society based on private enterprise. There is no occupational or religious coercion. But, there is a well defined Judeo-Christian societal role of parents; of teachers, advisors, testing authorities and of course the students. There is no “Common Core”. Our cantons are all somewhat different in their academic curricula for the primary and secondary levels because the cantons are different. But they are united in the objective that as young men and women approach maturity, they complete rational paths that yield life skills having value within the society, and for which their remuneration is based on “the market”.
I would be pleased to try to answer any questions you might have. I love the United States, and it pains me to see a problem there that could be fixed, but requires a sustained effort to change attitudes toward trades, and the important role of parentage.
Thanks very much. Alas, there are large parts of our apparat that depend on unfavorable attitudes toward trades, and parenting, making change difficult.
And I like hearing good things about my colleagues in Engineering, though to be honest, good things are pretty much all I hear about them.
April 12, 2014
NEW WAR ON CHILDHOOD: Medicate Kids Who Daydream.
ABC NEWS: Nevada Cattle Rancher Wins ‘Range War’ With Feds. The feds were violent, but they didn’t win.
AS I’VE NOTED BEFORE, lately the Dems seem extremely concerned about holding their base together. Christian Adams: Obama Lies about Voter Fraud and DOJ Investigations Before Paranoid Audience.
THEY’RE RERUNNING MY SHOW, so if you missed it last night you can see me on Fox Business’s The Independents tonight at 7 pm ET. My segment is just about the middle of the hour.
RAND SIMBERG: What Makes A Scientist? You’re a scientist if you do science, just like you’re a journalist if you do journalism. Job titles are just fluff.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: ABA Releases ‘Bleak’ Jobs Data for 2013 Law School Grads. Interestingly the University of Tennessee Law College is (again) significantly outperforming its U.S. News ranking on this metric. But what’s really disturbing is how many high-ranked schools are bringing up the rear.
21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: “For a variety of reasons, online sex workers make significantly higher profits than those on the street.”
THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: ‘Being a Programmer, I Decided to Build a Mathematical Model for the Decay of a Shower Curtain.’