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The PJ Tatler

Puerto Rico, You Lovely Island…

Sunday, May 24th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Obama economy still in the tank, Latino people of color hardest hit:

The posh boutiques that once lined cobbled Calle Fortaleza are gone now, replaced by T-shirt and souvenir shops grasping for dollars from passengers swarming down the gangways of the Carnival cruise ships that dock here most mornings. Bars advertise “happy hours” lasting from noon till night, while old men pushing tatty ice-cream carts go mostly unnoticed.

Old San Juan, the colonial gem of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, is tired but clinging on. Elsewhere on the island, the story is graver. Exhausted by a recession that has lasted for most of the past eight years and by talk of a possible default on government debt, Puerto Ricans are leaving in droves. Many who stay are jobless; doctors who haven’t been paid in months are downing their stethoscopes.

The pain that is Puerto Rico’s – and could soon be Wall Street’s if the debt crisis isn’t resolved – is poignant. Some blame its step-child relationship with America, neither a fully-fledged US state nor an independent nation. It hardly helps that Washington barely seems to care while at the same time it is suddenly lavishing attention on Cuba, its near neighbour to the west. The island has lost 20 per cent of its jobs since 2006. The unemployment rate stands at over 13 per cent. It’s no wonder people want to get out.

If you’ve been to old San Juan lately, you know it’s a dingy, sad-sack place in serious disrepair.

“People who graduate from the university go straight to the airport and never come back,” lamented Christopher Torres, 25, an activist studying computer engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, who recently led a student protest against proposed spending cuts. Some 144,000 Puerto Ricans decamped for the US last year and a higher number may depart in 2015. A White House official privately described it as the biggest population displacement ever seen outside of a war.

Population displacement seems to be one thing Barack Hussein Obama is very good at it. Also, nation-swallowing debt:

The next big payment on debt, of $655m, is due on 1 July. Meanwhile, the current administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has publicly warned it may run out of cash by 30 September. In its latest report, the Government Development Bank, its lending arm, which faces its own liquidity crisis, raised the possibility of a “moratorium” on debt servicing to maintain at least essential government services – an opaque way of saying default.

Wake me when this nightmare is over.

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Let Them Drink Water: Dairy Queen Removing Soda From Kids’ Menu

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Dairy Queen has announced it will remove sodas from its kids’ menu effective September 1 of this year. The company made the announcement earlier this week in a letter addressed to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Under our recommendation, drinks such as milk and bottled water would solely be listed as menu options at DQ locations. I am pleased to inform you that during our most recent meeting, the FAC (Franchise Advisory Council) voted unanimously to remove soft drinks from our kids’ menu,” William Barrier, executive vice president of product development and quality, wrote in the letter.

Instead of soda, children will be offered water or milk. The restaurant joins McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Wendy’s, and Panera in removing soda from their children’s menus.

Dairy Queen i as subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, which happens to be Coca Cola’s largest shareholder and the largest beverage supplier to U.S. restaurants. Restaurants have been feeling pressure from public interest groups focused on reducing childhood obesity, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Drink Up’’ campaign, which encourages Americans to drink more water. As a result, soda sales have been tanking in recent years.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

But soda will have a tougher time winning over the next generation if it can’t reach it easily, with some data suggesting U.S. consumption is falling faster among youth than adults.

Some 63.7% of Americans younger than 18 had a carbonated soft drink at least once in two weeks in early 2014, down from 77.3% a decade earlier, according to market researcher NPD Group. Over the same period consumption dropped to 74.3% from 81.7% among adult men and to 70.2% from 78.6% among adult women.

Outside the home, annual per capita soda servings for children between six and 12 years dropped to 33.5 in 2014 from 44.8 in 2009. For children younger than six, servings fell to 19.9 from 27.7 over the same period, according to NPD. It estimates children consume about 40% of their soda away from home.

According to Food World News, soda manufacturers are complicit in this movement to keep their products out of the hands of children:

Back in 2006, the three major soda companies in the world (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper) agreed to take soft drinks off schools, and now they claim they don’t target children in marketing their products – they’ve also agreed to lower the sugar amounts in the drinks.

What we’re seeing here is the soda industry voluntarily participating in its own demise. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper — and even shareholders like Berkshire Hathaway — are cheerfully going along with the systematic, selective removal of their products from key markets. Will they allow this to continue until sugary soft drinks are banned altogether? These companies are so frightened of the backlash from these health-conscious, anti-sugar bullies that they are willing to stand by as their profitable sugary sodas are deleted from restaurant menus and banned from vending machines. I’ve never heard of a business model like this working, but maybe that 280,000% markup they get on bottled water will make up the difference. That, or they’re planning on a government bailout when their industry goes belly up in a few years. (That’s where I’d put my money.)

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Facing a Massive Deficit, Arizona Slashes Welfare Benefits

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by The Tatler

Arizona is looking at a $1B deficit so the state legislature has cut the state’s welfare program, reducing the lifetime limit for benefits to the lowest in the nation.

Benefits will be cut off after one year for families on the program.  “As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016.”

The Associated Press describes “The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.”

“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”

Not everyone is happy about the legislature’s decision.

Cutting off these benefits after just one year isn’t fair, said Jessica Lopez, 23, who gave birth to her son while living in a domestic violence shelter and has struggled to hold onto jobs because she has dyslexia and didn’t finish high school.

“We’re all human,” said Lopez, who got $133 per month for about a year until she qualified for a larger federal disability check. “Everybody has problems. Everybody is different. When people ask for help, we should be able to get it without having to be looked at wrong.”

Arizona’s new welfare limits are the most restrictive in the nation. Most states have a five-year limit on benefits, 13 states have two-year limits and Texas has a tiered system.

The state made other cuts to keep in line with the governor’s pledge not to increase taxes. “The Legislature also passed a law seeking to force anyone getting Medicaid to have a job, and cutting off those benefits after five years. And Republican leaders are suing their own state to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which expanded Medicaid to give more poor people health insurance.”

The AP, which has a terribly biased write up on this story explains that the money for Arizona’s welfare program comes from the federal government. “Arizona’s welfare is entirely federally funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, but that money comes in a block grant, and Republicans want to use it instead for agencies such as the state’s Department of Child Safety.” The cuts in welfare will go to help the children but we don’t read about that until the very end of the story.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says the cuts are needed to protect the state’s education programs. “The bipartisan, balanced budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor protects Arizona’s most vulnerable, while avoiding a tax increase,” said Daniel Scarpinato, governor’s office spokesman.

 

 

 

 

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Valerie Jarrett Declares a Mother’s Place Is…with Her Kids?

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

At a Women Employed luncheon in Chicago last week, senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett declared:

Every single day in our country, moms are not at the Halloween parade, they’re not at the check-up, they’re not at the parent-teacher conference. They’re not doing what they need to be doing at home and that needs to stop.

What does the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls suggest businesses do? Offer more “paid leave and schedule flexibility.”

The question becomes, how will businesses afford to offer these perks in the wake of required minimum wage hikes and Obamacare regulations? You can’t exactly tax a business on one hand and slap them with the other. Jarrett’s White House doesn’t exactly support stay-at-home moms, either. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is only applicable to those who use daycare facilities; a spouse who sacrifices their salary to stay at home with their child winds up footing the bill. The president also called for a “second-earner tax credit” for households in which both parents work.

Bottom line: Jarrett cares about your children inasmuch as their existence forwards her White House’s “class warfare” agenda. Don’t count on Obama supporting businesses in their efforts to support working mothers any time soon.

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Common Core: Creating a Productive Citizenry of Sex-Bots

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the National Sexuality Education Standards for Common Core, children as young as the second grade are expected to comprehend that gender is a cultural construct. By 5th grade they need to be able to identify what HIV is and how to prevent it medically. By the end of 8th grade they need to identify “credible sources of information about sexual health.” They also need to comprehend how abstinence contributes to the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, much to the chagrin of Jenny Kutner, resident sexpert at Salon, who does not view abstinence to be “medically accurate” let alone a form of “sex education at all.”

Kutner justifies her opinion based on a recent California judge’s ruling regarding sex ed in public school classrooms. “Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right,” as is everything nowadays from wedding cakes to vandalizing major cities in the name of civil rights. Why is sex ed a public right? According to the Common Core standards:

Improvements in public health, including sexual health, can contribute to a reduction in health care costs. [And] Effective health education can contribute to the establishment of a healthy and productive citizenry.

The last time the government was so concerned about public sexual health, they handed out condoms by the boatload to soldiers. That’s right, folks, your public school kid is a soldier in America’s new “productive citizenry” army.

What neither the nationalized sex ed curriculum, nor the judge in California, nor Jenny Kutner ever expect students to understand is that if they want children one day, they need to have a plan to prioritize or balance family and career by the time they’re 18. Female students need to understand that the longer they push off having children, the harder that process will be. They also need to understand the medical ramifications of various birth control methods and how those may impact their ability to have children down the line as well. 

Since the procreation of life is conveniently lumped in with the prevention of disease, it is safe to assume that the cultural standard is to avoid both by all costs. After all, that’s what a productive citizen would do — place the needs of the state before their own selfish desires in order to avoid diseases of all kinds that could inhibit their ability to contribute to society.

So, why not promote abstinence, the only method of avoidance with a 100% guarantee? The loyalties expressed in abstinence-only education, to God, monogamous life-partners, and the unborn, pose the greatest threat to this State-focused mentality. The State doesn’t care if your kids have sex. They just don’t want to have to deal with the consequences.

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Christie Seeks Court Power to Overturn His Own Legislation

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is attempting to use the courts to overturn the “2011 pension reform he once called his ‘greatest governmental victory.’ Ironically, Christie now contends the statute he had championed is unconstitutional, and therefore unenforceable.”

That’s right, the guy who chatted up his 5-point plan for national economic growth in New Hampshire yesterday is busy petitioning the courts to overturn his own budgetary legislation. What’s the Governor’s solution for New Jersey’s ailing pension fund? “Transferring control [of] the assets, liabilities and risks of the retirement plans to public employee labor unions.” 

According to the latest Bloomberg poll, Christie is hovering between stronger, more conservative candidates and the flash-in-the-pan ideologues like Carson and Huckabee. While he’s roughly where he was a month ago now it’s Rand Paul, the isolationist, not Donald Trump, the 80′s celebrity, who is beating the Governor to the White House. Who’s the overall winner of the Republican ticket so far? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the guy who took power away from the unions instead of recommending they get given the reins.

Looks like Mary Pat Christie better brush off that resume.

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How Your Tax Dollars Fund Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A recent survey indicates that 95% of parents think their overweight children “look just right”. Cue Michelle Obama’s latest national panic attack: We don’t know what fat looks like anymore! But before you allow the Feds to implement yet another government-mandated solution, read on. “African American and low-income parents had the most inaccurate perceptions” of what a healthy child should look like. These populations are also the ones reaping the benefits of federal programs like WIC, the Women, Infants and Children special supplemental nutritional program administered by the USDA.

According to a 2013 Time article, the answer to “Why Obesity Rates are Falling” was WIC “…which provides nutritious foods and information on healthy eating and health care referrals to low-income pregnant women, promotes breastfeeding and offers whole fruits and vegetables instead of fruit juice.” How far did those statistics really fall? A whopping 1%. The minority big enough to protest against on Wall Street is also a cause for celebration among fans of tax-subsidized food programs. If only every American’s standards were so low.

How does WIC produce fat kids 99% of the time? By providing a budget that allows for a greater consumption of sugars, carbohydrates and fats than fruits and vegetables. The monthly food package for a child ages 1-4 permits for 128 fluid ounces of juice, 2 pounds of bread, 1 dozen eggs… and $8 worth of fruits and vegetables in cash vouchers. For a whole month.

That’s right, you don’t even get the food directly. You get a cash voucher and hope you can access fresh fruit and veggies, which can be hard to find in low-income areas often dubbed “food deserts.” Even if fruit and veg are accessible, they are some of the most expensive items at the food store. (I’m still waiting for my coupon for brussel sprouts.)  In fact, according to the journal Pediatrics, “high prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) in young children in low- and middle-income households.”

The Feds have created a culture of obesity currently fed and later medically supported by your tax dollars. I guess those low-income and minority babies aren’t good enough for Michelle O’s salad of the week. Save those greens for the middle class. They’ll need the energy to get to work.

 

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While Senate Dems Block Obama’s Trade Fast-Track, GOPs Vow to Move Bill in House

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Democrats blocked fast-track trade legislation today on a procedural vote, keeping the bill from coming to the floor for debate.

The vote was 52-45, with a 60-vote threshold required.

“The simple fact is that to pass the Senate, bills must have strong Democratic support. Nearly every bill passed by the Senate this year has enjoyed the support of over ninety percent of Senate Democrats,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has voiced strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, said.

“Senator McConnell needs to work with Democrats for our votes. I hope he will reconsider his approach.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pressed senators to begin debate on the bill, noting it’s “simply a placeholder that will allow us to open the broad debate on trade our country needs.”

“Voting yes to open debate on a 21st Century American trade agenda offers every member of this body the chance to stand up for American workers, American farmers, American entrepreneurs, and American manufacturers,” McConnell said. “It’s a chance to stand with Americans for economic growth, opportunity, and good jobs. Selling products stamped ‘Made in America’ to the many customers who live beyond our borders is key.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asserted in a floor speech, though, that those who says free-trade agreements create jobs “have been proven wrong time after time after time.”

“The administration says trust us. Forget about those other trade agreements. The TPP is special. This time it will be different. This one really will create jobs, despite the fact that every major organization representing the working people of this country says the exact opposite,” Sanders argued. “The TPP would force American workers to compete against desperate workers in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour. We have got to do better than that‎.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he voted against cloture “because trade promotion must go hand-in-hand with worker protections and trade enforcement.”

“If the Senate considers TPA, we absolutely must do so as part of a package that includes the other three essential bills before us – providing assistance for workers in displaced industries, establishing stronger remedies when trade agreements are breached, and promoting investment in developing countries,” Blumenthal said.

McConnell called the filibuster “pretty shocking.”

“There are always limits to what can be accomplished when the American people choose divided government. But it doesn’t mean Washington shouldn’t work toward bipartisan solutions that make sense for our country,” he said. “Trade offers a perfect opportunity to do just that.”

He later told reporters, “Look, this is not a game, this is about trying to accomplish something important for the country that happens to be the president’s number one domestic priority at the moment.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called it “unfortunate that Senate Democrats have chosen to delay the President’s top legislative priority,” but stressed “the Republican House will continue working on a free trade framework that creates jobs, increases wages and expands markets for U.S. businesses.”

“Either America will write the rules of global commerce for the 21st Century, or China will do it for us to the detriment of U.S. workers,” Scalise said. “House Republicans will continue working to ensure that America leads the world, grows our economy, and puts the interests of our country’s workers and families first.”

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Obama at Poverty Forum on ‘Capitalist Types Who Are Reading Ayn Rand and Think Everybody Are Moochers’

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama said today that the incidents with police in Baltimore and Ferguson, along with “a growing awareness of inequality in our society,” can turn attention back to poverty in America and bridge “ideological divides that have prevented us from making progress.”

At the Georgetown University panel on poverty, Obama name-dropped Ayn Rand and acknowledged he may speak differently to a black audience.

Panelists joining the president were American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, Harvard professor Robert Putnam, and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

“The stereotype is that you’ve got folks on the left who just want to pour more money into social programs, and don’t care anything about culture or parenting or family structures, and that’s one stereotype. And then you’ve got cold-hearted, free market, capitalist types who are reading Ayn Rand and think everybody are moochers. And I think the truth is more complicated,” Obama said.

“I think that there are those on the conservative spectrum who deeply care about the least of these, deeply care about the poor; exhibit that through their churches, through community groups, through philanthropic efforts, but are suspicious of what government can do. And then there are those on the left who I think are in the trenches every day and see how important parenting is and how important family structures are, and the connective tissue that holds communities together and recognize that that contributes to poverty when those structures fray, but also believe that government and resources can make a difference in creating an environment in which young people can succeed despite great odds.”

Brooks quipped that when Obama was railing on cold-hearted capitalists, “what was going through my head was, please don’t look at me, please don’t look at me.”

“I’m more outnumbered than my Thanksgiving table in Seattle, let me tell you,” the head of the free-enterprise think tank added.

“So how are we on the center right talking about poverty in the most effective way? Number one is with a conceptual matter. We have a grave tendency on both the left and the right to talk about poor people as ‘the other.’ Remember in Matthew 25, these are our brothers and sisters,” Brooks continued.

“…When you talk about people as your brothers and sisters you don’t talk about them as liabilities to manage.  They’re not liabilities to manage. They’re assets to develop because every one of us made in God’s image is an asset to develop. That’s a completely different approach to poverty alleviation. That’s a human capital approach to poverty alleviation. That’s what we can do to stimulate that conversation on the political right, just as it can be on the political left.”

Obama maintained that a free market is “perfectly compatible” with government “investment” programs.

“People don’t like being poor. It’s time-consuming. It’s stressful. It’s hard. And so over time, families frayed. Men who could not get jobs left. Mothers who are single are not able to read as much to their kids. So all that was happening 40 years ago to African-Americans,” the president said. “And now what we’re seeing is that those same trends have accelerated and they’re spreading to the broader community.”

He added that over the past few decades “the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction.”

“And, look, it’s still being propagated,” Obama continued. “I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re like, I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone — or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative — right? — that gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress — which is much more typical — who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.”

Obama also commented on “this whole family-character values-structure issue.”

“It’s true that if I’m giving a commencement at Morehouse that I will have a conversation with young black men about taking responsibility as fathers that I probably will not have with the women of Barnard. And I make no apologies for that. And the reason is, is because I am a black man who grew up without a father and I know the cost that I paid for that. And I also know that I have the capacity to break that cycle, and as a consequence, I think my daughters are better off,” he said.

“…When I’m sitting there talking to these kids, and I’ve got a boy who says, you know what, how did you get over being mad at your dad, because I’ve got a father who beat my mom and now has left, and has left the state, and I’ve never seen him because he’s trying to avoid $83,000 in child support payments, and I want to love my dad, but I don’t know how to do that — I’m not going to have a conversation with him about macroeconomics.”

The president said he’s “all for” values and character — things stressed by Brooks — “but I also know that that character and the values that our kids have that allow them to succeed, and delayed gratification and discipline and hard work — that all those things in part are shaped by what they see, what they see really early on.”

“And some of those kids right now, because of no fault of those kids, and because of history and some tough going, generationally, some of those kids, they’re not going to get help at home,” Obama added. “They’re not going to get enough help at home. And the question then becomes, are we committed to helping them instead?”

 

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Women: If You Want the Right Diagnosis, Take Medicine Into Your Own Hands

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Contemporary feminists continue to push the myth that women are stereotyped as stupid simply because of their gender. This time the target is medical professionals who misdiagnose female patients’ pain as a mental disorder. Because these activists are stuck in Sylvia Plath’s oven, misdiagnosis is obviously the result of a patriarchal belief that all women are secretly insane.

Forget the fact that their opening citation involved a misdiagnosis by a female doctor in the UK. Their first study cited shows that women patients are prejudiced against because of their gender. Too bad that study comprised findings ranging from 1970-1995. A 2000 study on “physician and patient gender concordance” revealed that female patients often chose their doctors, often chose women doctors, and were more likely to be disappointed with their treatment than their male patient counterparts.

What the Think Progress report didn’t take into account was the amount of time doctors spend with each patient. According to a 2010 study, American doctors have an average of 32 minutes for a new-patient appointment. According to more recent reports, the average doctor visit is roughly 15 minutes, a time crunch resulting from “…Medicare’s 1992 adoption of a byzantine formula that relies on “relative value units,” or RVUs, to calculate doctors’ fees.” In Britain, the plague of socialized medicine has driven the average visit down to 11 minutes thanks to the economics of the National Health Service.

The reality is a financial, not an ideological one. Women aren’t being talked over, ignored or misdiagnosed because they’re female. They’re receiving poor treatment because the economics of an increasingly socialized system don’t permit proper attention to be given to patients, male or female alike. Medicine, like everything else in the age of Obama, is becoming self-serve. Want a proper diagnosis? Stop allowing your feminism to turn you into a paranoid wreck. Instead, use it as a driving force to take control over your own health instead of expecting the State to do it for you.

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As GOP Folds, Rooting for the Democrats to Block Obama’s ‘Fast Track’ Deal. UPDATED: Blocked

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Now that Mitch McConnell has revealed his true party affiliation — the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party — it’s up to the Democrats to stop Obama’s latest power grab:

If you really want to see how much clout President Barack Obama has on Capitol Hill these days, watch the Senate on Tuesday. The same liberal Democratic senators who stuck with the White House through six years of politically excruciating votes are set to break away in droves to oppose Obama’s free trade efforts.

Their goal is to block a bill that greases the wheels for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous 12-country trade deal that Obama wants — badly — to add to his legacy. And their open rebellion against their own party’s president shows that lawmakers are viewing their own political fortunes as increasingly divorced from Obama’s.

The internal rift will be forced into the open Tuesday when the Senate casts its first procedural votes on a bill called “trade promotion authority” — or “fast track.” It would allow Obama to submit trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments. That’s key, trade negotiators say, to getting other countries involved in the talks, like Japan, Australia, Canada and Mexico, to take their own political risks of signing off on a final agreement, knowing American lawmakers won’t seek to re-open it later.

Sure, why not? Because if there’s one thing Obama needs in his lame-duck presidency, it’s even more authority to act unilaterally.

Anyone who contributed a dime to McConnell’s fraudulent re-election campaign should sue. I said before the election that the best possible outcome would be for the GOP to retake the Senate and for McConnell to lose his seat. I stand by that statement.

UPDATE: Both Obama and McConnell lose.

The Senate voted 52-45 on a procedural motion to begin debating the bill to give the president “trade promotion authority,” eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed. Republicans and pro-trade Democrats said they would try to negotiate a trade package that could clear that threshold.

But the vote Tuesday presented Mr. Obama what might be a no-win situation. He may have to accept trade enforcement provisions he does not want in order to propel the trade legislation through the Senate, but those same provisions might doom the Pacific trade negotiations that legislation is supposed to lift. 

A very satisfactory outcome.

 

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This Is Bigggzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Nothing like a merger story to the biz press’s juices flowing: 

Telecom giant Verizon announced Tuesday it will be buying AOL for $50 per share, or about $4.4 billion. AOL’s stock was up more than 17 percent after the announcement. Verizon’s stock was down about 2 percent. The transaction will be completed this summer and will take the form of a tender offer followed by a merger, after which AOL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon, the announcement said.

Having lived through the debacle of the AOL-Time Warner merger, which ruined both companies and has resulted in a demolished magazine and news business where the mighty edifice of Time Inc. once stood, I personally couldn’t care less what happens to AOL. But hey — it’s a chance for some folks on Wall Street to make pixels dance and enrich themselves, so let’s all celebrate.

Now comes the obligatory boilerplate about how this merger is Good For Everybody and a Great Leap Forward:

“Verizon’s acquisition further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy,” Verizon said in a statement.

Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and CEO, will remain at his position once the deal is finalized.”Verizon is a leader in mobile and OTT connected platforms, and the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a unique and scaled mobile and OTT media platform for creators, consumers and advertisers,” Armstrong said in the announcement. He also said executing this deal was the next step for the company to continue growing.

Yeah, right. That’s why failing, doomed companies like AOL, a relic of the early dial-up days, merge; “survival for a few more years” is more like it. Anyway:

“We turned the company around. We outperformed the S&P 500 for the last five years, and when you look at where we are today and where we’re going, we’ve made AOL as big as it can possibly be in today’s landscape, but if you look forward five years, you’re going to be in a space where there are going to be massive, global-scale networks, and there’s no better partner for us to go forward with than Verizon,” Armstrong told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“In today’s landscape.” If I worked at AOL, I’d be looking for another job, immediately.

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Surprise: Social Security Much Nearer Death Than Previously Thought

Sunday, May 10th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Not really much of a surprise, when you stop to think about it:

Officially, Social Security has enough money to pay all its promised benefits until 2033. But a new study suggests this forecast could be wildly optimistic. And that spells big trouble for future retirees. Every year, the Social Security Administration releases its Trustees Report, which projects the program’s solvency — how much it will take in, how much it will pay out and how long the “trust fund” can cover revenue gaps — over the next 75 years.

The latest report says that Social Security can meet its financial obligations for about 18 more years. After that, the trust fund will be exhausted, and payroll taxes won’t cover nearly all the benefit costs. That’s bad enough. But a new study by researchers at Harvard and Dartmouth shows that this day of reckoning will almost certainly come far sooner than that.

Rising life expectancy and declining fertility spell doom for the Ponzi Scheme, which is based on an inter-generational wealth transfer from workers to retirees. In other words, your SS payments have already gone to support your parents, and it will be your children’s generation that supports you.

A report released last week by the Urban Institute found that millennial women are reproducing at the slowest pace of any generation in U.S. history. Childbearing fell steeply in the years immediately following the “Great Recession,” with birthrates among women in their 20s declining more than 15 percent between 2007 and 2012.

So here’s my suggested fix:

If you voluntarily choose not to have children, you forfeit your Social Security benefits. It’s only fair.

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We Could Solve California’s Drought Problem Tomorrow

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

After four years of drought combined with population growth and increasing demand for water, the state of California has imposed mandatory water conservation on its residents. From MSN:

Rivers are so low that young salmon have to be trucked to the sea, and many farmers can use only a fraction of the water normally available for irrigation. Dry forests burn like tinder.

On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Board approved a new process for regulating desalination plants to make ocean water drinkable. On Tuesday the board issued the new conservation rules, aimed at enforcing an order by [Governor Jerry] Brown for the state’s urban areas to cut their water use by 25 percent.

None of this would be necessary if water were provided by the market instead of a government-regulated utility. Critics of privatizing utilities bulk at imagined high prices and the audacity of profit-making from a substance essential to life. But as California’s fresh rationing demonstrates, drinkable water proves scarce no matter how it’s delivered.

The difference in a market scenario would be the communication and incentive inherent in price signals. Drought would result in higher prices, which would signal to consumers that they ought to conserve, and to producers that they ought to produce more even if at higher cost. For those who say water’s too important to be left to the market, the same could be said of any commodity. The Soviet’s said it of bread, and we know how those lines worked out.

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Obama Proves Campus Rape Is Good for Business

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Reporting of sex crimes on college campuses has nearly doubled in the last five years. Not because the crimes have necessarily occurred, as last year’s Rolling Stone/UVA debacle illustrated quite clearly. Oh, and not because there are standardized procedures for collecting and reporting sexual offenses, either. And, as a recent National Review article indicates, numbers can be played with or outright omitted in order to create fantastic headlines, like the absurd 1 in 5 stat  cited by President Obama’s It’s On Us campaign to stop sexual assault on college campuses. Yet these drummed-up numbers continue to be used to drag the dead horse of campus rape out of the contemporary feminist barn and into the mainstream media’s spotlight. Why?

Money, of course:

The number of Title IX sexual violence complaints received by the department jumped from just 20 in fiscal year 2009 to 123 in fiscal 2014. As of April 8, 2015 — a little over halfway through the current fiscal year — the department had received 68 such complaints.

However, the number of staff has been falling at the Office for Civil Rights, which is tasked with enforcing Title IX.

…President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget would increase the Office for Civil Rights’ funding by 31 percent to $131 million, which the Education Department has said it would use to hire 210 full-time employees.

That’s 210 more employees who will be used to threaten colleges with too many complaints on file:

The Office for Civil Rights staff have said in the past that their priority is taking corrective action, rather than punishing a school. In the Boxer letter, they note they have “experienced positive results” on that score using their ability to threaten federal funding if an institution doesn’t fall in line.

Building bureaucracy on your tax dollars, one questionable accusation at a time.

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Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Killing Jobs, Hurting Students

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Students at the University of Washington in Tacoma are getting an object lesson in the value of a dollar. As economic dominoes fall in the wake of a municipal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour in Seattle, university students find themselves digging deeper into their pockets to cover higher prices resulting from the mandate.

Elsewhere, small-business employees initially thrilled by the “raise” granted them by the city have since learned that they’ll be losing their jobs later this year. Red Alert Politics reports:

[Z Pizza] owner Ritu Shah Burnham said she just can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told Q13. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

It turns out higher wages don’t grow on trees.

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Meet the Big-Government Republicans Who Back Increased NIH Funding

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Following on the footsteps of Newt Gingrich’s op-ed in the New York Times, several Republicans have joined the former speaker of the House and come forward in support of an increased budget for the National Institutes of Health. The Hill describes these Republicans as “conservative.”  Hardly.

I wrote about Newt Gingrich’s call for government expansion, reminding readers that government is both wasteful and unaccountable with taxpayer dollars. Why not audit the NIH before throwing more taxpayer dollars in its direction?

Joining Newt’s call for the expansion of government is loser Eric Cantor, who was humiliated in his primary race last year when his constituents tossed his big-government, crony-capitalist ass out of office.  But Cantor’s back, and he’s back on K Street where failed politicians go to cash in after years of doing the bidding of their crony-capitalist masters.

Another big-government Republican looking to expand government is Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon. “It’s not only a compassionate thing,” said the conservative Salmon (R-Ariz.), a champion of increased NIH funding. “It’s also an economic issue, when we look at the dollars that are never earned because of cancer.”

Not exactly, sir. Why do you assume it’s the government’s responsibility to cure cancer? You want the same government that could not successfully launch a website for its healthcare program to save humanity? Really?

Another player in this big-government shenanigan is Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services who is “pleased” Obama has requested more money for the NIH — a request to the tune of $1B.

The root of all this talk is a bipartisan “21st Century Cures” bill, spearheaded by another big-government guy, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, along with Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette. The bill will jack up the NIH budget to $35B by 2018.

The big problem these drunken sailors are facing is that by law, they have spending caps.

“Under the blueprint, House appropriators must cut $3.7 billion from the spending bill that covers healthcare, meaning even if the 21st Century Cures Bill authorizes new funding, it might not get through the appropriations committees.“

Let’s hope.

“Of course we all support biomedical research,” House Health Appropriations chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told NIH officials at a hearing in March. “Unfortunately, right now sequester is the law of the land and, given the reality of the funding allocations, we won’t be able to do everything the administration is proposing.”

As I pointed out in my piece on Newt’s advertisement for the biomedical research lobbying industry support for the expansion of the NIH budget, the NIH spends at least $12B a year on animal testing.  Taxpayers are underwriting barbaric animal experimentation, experimentation that is being abandoned by private industry because it is inefficient and mostly ineffective for drug discovery and scientific innovation.  These government experiments have no outside oversight or incentive to produce results. Don’t believe me? Fine, let’s audit the NIH and find out what’s going on there. What’s the harm?

The government will never be as efficient as private industry nor will it ever be as innovative, which is exactly why we should think very carefully before slamming the taxpayer with the burden to fork over their hard-earned money for more government.

It’s time to let private industry handle drug discovery and medical research.

Writes Bloomberg, “The LiverChip and similar devices allow researchers to hone treatments without experimenting on animals in early stages, making drug development faster and cheaper, with fewer complications. The ultimate goal of scientists — who have also replicated hearts and lungs — is to link ersatz organs into a ‘human on a chip’ to test medicines on the whole body.”

Alan Wells, a University of Pittsburgh professor who worked on the liver on a chip, explains, “Many animal disease models don’t reflect the human condition. You have to get into the human system.”

Don’t buy into the hype that the government is “just around the corner” from INSERT LIFE SAVING MEASURE/DRUG HERE because lobbyists are paying for spokesmen and politicians to pull at your heart strings. The government is inefficient and wasteful whether its trying to cure cancer or trying to issue you a driver’s license.

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Forget About Why they Aren’t: Why Are Women Having Children? And What Can Politicians Do to Support Their Decision?

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Atlantic published the most recent in a whole slew of articles on why women aren’t having children. (Google “Why women are having children” and you’ll get the entire mind-boggling list.) The reasons are prototypical contemporary feminist blather about the evil stain that humanity is on the environment and how they just don’t want to have kids. Apparently the selfishness inherent in not wanting to care for another human being is perfectly justified by the selflessness of caring about grass, trees and greenhouse emissions. Environmentalism, combined with a healthy love of animals, is the salvation-du jour of the not-mothering crowd.

In reality, these baby-less babes represent a mere 5% of Americans who, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, do not want to have children. According to Gallup, “More than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 40 have children, and another 40% do not currently, but hope to have children someday. Only six percent of Americans aged 18 to 40 do not have, and do not want to have, children.”

The real question becomes: In the face of all this popular criticism, why are women still choosing to become mothers today? And what real solutions can politicians anxious to imbue family values into American culture generate to support the parenting desires of the electorate?

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How Sex Ed Screwed Millennial Women

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Camille Paglia once suggested that real sex education would involve sitting a tween girl down and giving her a stark reality check. Forget condoms on bananas. The real issue would be: Do you want to have babies or not? Then, let the life planning begin.

Instead, what the majority of millennial students received via public education were the basics on how to avoid pregnancy and STDs (as if you can lump a new life in with a gross disease) along with a strong push to plan for a career before thinking about having a family. America is now reaping the fruits of an entire generation of public labor:

In a new report, the Urban Institute think tank writes that in 2012, there were only 948 births per 1,000 women in their 20s, “by far the slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history.” …The report authors say they don’t know whether Millennial women will eventually catch up in childbearing like women who lived through past recessions did.

Overall, the report paints a positive picture for women of color and a neutral one for white women. On one hand, women might be enjoying living carefree and childless into their 30s. On the other, a nationwide shortage of babies hasn’t worked out well for places like Germany, Denmark, or Japan, where aging populations threaten economic growth and the sustainability of pension funds.

Eighty-one percent of white women are experiencing a decrease in birth rate because they simply aren’t marrying. These career women are living out their Carrie Bradshaw or Hannah Horvath fantasies without realizing that they are de-funding the very socialized economy for which they so heartily advocate. All that free birth control won’t be so free if they don’t produce a new generation of babies to pay for it down the road.

What’s more, these women are inevitably relying on a paternal government that will take care of them well into their old age. Considering that the public education system has already trained them to economically produce, the question becomes: If they require more care than they are financially worth, what makes their aging bodies a good public investment?

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Son of George Soros Launches Anti-Israel ‘Jewish Action PAC’

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Alexander Soros’s announcement, first published in Politico, reads in part:

…other politically active American Jews have joined me to launch the Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC, which will focus the passion and political power of American Jews on supporting those progressive politicians who truly speak to the core values of Jewish voters.

We’re not only progressive in our views. We’re also among the most politically engaged groups in America. In our local communities, American Jews are active, fighting for the issues we care about. Right now, we’re joining with other religious groups to protest so-called “religious freedom” laws in Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, and elsewhere that would allow discrimination against LGBT people. We’re supporting efforts to empower home health care workers to organize for better wages and working conditions. And we’re rallying behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Last December, on the first night of Chanukah, thousands of American Jews gathered across 15 U.S. cities to protest police brutality against African Americans.

So, what makes the Junior Soros’s move so striking at this very moment? Perhaps it is the fact that at the very second J Street decides to go whole-hog progressive, a Jew declares the need for a progressive Jewish PAC? No. It is far worse than that. It is no secret that Papa Soros funds various PACs tied directly to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In his announcement, Alexander Soros makes it very clear that this “civil rights” movement is his organization’s primary focus. While J Street argues for Palestinian statehood in the Jewish world, Soros’s PAC is funding a pro-Palestinian activist camp on American soil, made up of disenfranchised African Americans who are busy establishing connections with radical Palestinians.

Why make it a “Jewish” endeavor? In a political climate where a growing number of Jews are cooling to Obama, traditionally liberal, secularized Jews are ripe for the picking. Let’s hope they’re wise enough not to pour Soros’s Kool Aid into their kiddush cups.

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Reuters: Third Straight Uptick in Unemployment Claims Somehow Indicates ‘Solid’ Momentum in Labor Market

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Sure, let’s go with that.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment aid edged up last week for a third straight week, but the underlying trend continued to point to solid momentum in the labor market.

Still, the rise in jobless claims and other data on Thursday showing weak new home sales in March and factory activity this month could heighten concerns about the economy’s ability to rebound strongly after stumbling at the start of the year.

Growth braked sharply as the economy was slammed by harsh winter weather, weak global demand and a now-settled labor dispute at West Coast ports. Activity also was constrained by a strong dollar as well as lower energy prices, which cut into domestic oil production.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 295,000 for the week ended April 18, the Labor Department said. Despite the increase, claims remained for a seventh consecutive week below the 300,000 threshold, a level associated with a strengthening labor market.

“Overall, the level of claims remains low and is consistent with a healthy labor market,” said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

As has been pointed out many times, but obviously hasn’t sunken in, the “level of claims remains low” because so many people have just given up completely and dropped out of the system.

For the last six years it has been the nature of even media outlets that aren’t horribly biased (like Reuters) to overplay any positive economic data while almost completely ignoring negative data.

The reality is that the economy has moments of promise, but it hasn’t been able to string a lot of them in a row for quite some time now. It’s the “Little Engine That Could, But The Press Is Telling Us Is, Even If It Really Hasn’t Yet”.

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Fight Hillary with Income Inequality Jiu Jitsu

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Above, Bill O’Reilly does an able job playing his default role, offering a boilerplate conservative argument in response to Hillary Clinton’s boilerplate complaints on income inequality. She says “the deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.” Bill warns that taxing the rich will endanger the economy.

Yawn.

What if Hillary’s opponents tried a different approach? Instead of denying her observation that the deck is stacked in favor of elites, roll with it.

Indeed, the deck has been stacked in favor of those with political pull. The Democrat Party, and Hillary Clinton in particular, stand shamelessly guilty of arranging a regulatory environment that favors their corporate friends.

It’s time to take the corporate-envy narrative away from Hillary. Snatch it from her. Then attack her with her own weapon. Then present a vision to unstack the deck by reducing the influence of those in power.

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‘Fundamental Transformation’ Taking America Down a Peg Economically

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

You have to give Obama this: he promised “transformation” and he’s delivering:

As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most.

The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. But they have also highlighted what some in Washington and around the world see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since.

“It’s almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers,” Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview on Friday. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.”

The evidence is clear: our first Third World, fundamentally anti-American president, sold to the American public as a sunny optimist, is in fact a saturnine, rage-filled chameleon who will only ramp up the destruction in the final two years of his disastrous presidency.

Of course, the New York Times finds a positive spin to explain the decline:

Washington’s retreat is not so much by intent, Mr. Subramanian said, but a result of dysfunction and a lack of resources to project economic power the way it once did. Because of tight budgets and competing financial demands, the United States is less able to maintain its economic power, and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either.

Experts say that is giving rise to a more chaotic global shift, especially toward China, which even Obama administration officials worry is extending its economic influence in Asia and elsewhere without following the higher standards for environmental protection, worker rights and business transparency that have become the norms among Western institutions.

President Obama, while trying to hold the stage, clearly recognizes the challenge. Pitching his efforts to secure a major trade accord with 11 other Pacific nations, he told reporters on Friday: “The fastest-growing markets, the most populous markets, are going to be in Asia, and if we do not help to shape the rules so that our businesses and our workers can compete in those markets, then China will set up the rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.”

The Times: defending Obama til the last dog dies. Watch whom they endorse in the 2016 election to see what fate they wish for America.

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Think Promising to Cut Taxes Will Help Conservatives? Think Again

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Because the dirty little secret is, most people don’t pay much of anything in federal taxes. Even worse, they look at their “refund” — which is actually an interest-free overpayment loan to the government — as found money; for them, April 15 is not Tax Day, it’s the second coming of Christmas:

“Get your billions back, America.”

That H&R Block admonition–a clever ad campaign–shows the inherent conflict with the Republican Party’s anti-tax philosophy. For most Americans, April 15 is not a day to pay taxes. It’s a time to get a refund. An industry has sprung up to help Americans spend their refunds even before they have arrived.

This dynamic makes it hard for Republicans to pass comprehensive changes to the tax code, especially for individuals. There’s simply not a great appetite among most voters to change a tax code that doesn’t require them to pay all that much. A Pew Research Center study found that 53% of Americans believe they pay the right amount in taxes. Only 40% believe they pay more than their fair share.

But there is also a widely held perception that at the federal level, the tax system is broken. Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that corporate America doesn’t pay enough in taxes, even though the U.S. has the world’s highest corporate tax rate.

That was one of the many flaws of the Willard Mitt Romney candidacy: nobody except the those who actually pay taxes cares. And by those who actually pay taxes I mean almost nobody:

The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011.

Also remember that the income tax (a “progressive-era” amendment) doesn’t tax wealth, it prevents the middle class from ever accumulating wealth. That’s why rich Democrats like John Kerry, who married his money, or the Kennedys, who inherited it, don’t give a fig about the income tax. And why you’re never likely to see meaningful tax reform.

 

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Welp…Now We Know How Hillary Feels About Common Core

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

[Begins at 5:33]

During a campaign event at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton was finally asked to say something about Common Core — which promises to be a prominent issue in the 2016 campaign. Of course, it wasn’t a reporter who asked Clinton about the wildly unpopular educational standards, it was a teacher and Common Core supporter who said it is “painful” for her to see the standards attacked.

Clinton agreed wholeheartedly. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she said.

[Not to be confused with the Benghazi attack, which she said was "very, very painful."]

She defended the standards, saying they were the result of a “bipartisan effort … actually, nonpartisan project.”

“It wasn’t politicized. It was about coming up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was. That there wouldn’t be two tiers of education,” Clinton said.

She speculated that Iowans were more supportive of Common Core because “Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. And you see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. A lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that. So [they] don’t understand the value of a core, in this sense a common core.”

[Perhaps what they don't understand is why every state needs the same standards with the same tests and why the federal government needs to be involved.]

“I was a senator and voted for Leave No Child Behind (sic) because I thought every child should matter,” Clinton said. “And [it] shouldn’t be ‘you’re poor or you’ve got disabilities so we’re going to sweep you to the back, don’t show up on test day because we don’t want to mess up our scores.’” Instead, Clinton said every child should have the same opportunities.

[Has she not heard of the Atlanta testing scandal where teachers were sent to prison for leaving poor and disabled children behind by falsifying their test scores?]

So in summary, Clinton supports a federally mandated one-size-fits all set of standards for every school in the country. It’s good that we got this cleared up early on in the campaign. Common Core promises to be a tremendous populist and crossover issue for Republicans — as long as they don’t choose a pro-Common Core candidate like Jeb Bush or John Kasich.

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Sarah Silverman Apologizes for Fake Story…Sort Of…Then Doubles-Down on Fake Story

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Scott Ott
Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman may not think the “wage gap” for women is funny, but her false personal victimization story, and today’s inaccurate, impersonal apology is a howler.

In an exclusive to Salon.com, comic Sarah Silverman has apologized — sort of — to former New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin for naming and shaming him in a video meant to advance the cause of equal pay for women.

And while she acknowledges that her story about being cheated out of equal pay had nothing to do with sexism, equal pay or cheating, she indicates that that was not her main mistake.

SILVERMAN: My regret is that I mentioned Al [Martin] by name- it should have been a nameless, faceless anecdote and he has always been lovely to me.

In other words, the false story itself was fine, but it would have been a better without identifying details that a nosy reporter could verify or discredit, as I did here, with a follow-up here.

SILVERMAN: This is also HARDLY an example of the wage gap and can only do that very true reality a terrible disservice if I were trying to make it one.  When I was interviewed by Levo, they asked me “Do you remember a time you were paid less for the same job” and this story, being just that, popped into my head.   To Al, I truly am sorry to bring you into this as you employ women and pay them the same as the men I’m sure.

While she offers this public written online apology to Martin, as of 2:40 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, she had not contacted him personally. But notice that we can be sure the “wage gap” issue is legit, despite her false story, because she calls it a “very true reality.”

But that’s not the end of her story telling. In her public “apology” Silverman offers a new account of that night in 2002. Today (Tuesday), I asked Al Martin about the shifting story. Turns out that Silverman’s new account is no more accurate than her old one, even as details change.

SILVERMAN: I didn’t expect to get paid, that’s not why I was there, but when I got off stage Al, the sweet club owner, paid me 10 bucks and I signed the payment sheet. I was like, oh, nice. I inferred from that that this was a paid spot not a guest spot.  Either way I would have been fine.

Martin says he didn’t pay Silverman anything when she got off the stage, as is the custom with guest spots. He gave her $10 cab fare only after she came back inside the club to complain that Todd Barry was paid and she was not. The tale continues…

SILVERMAN: Then when Todd pointed out that he received 60 dollars for the same spot I went back inside and asked Al why Todd got sixty dollars and I got ten. That’s when he certainly could have said “Because it was a guest spot, Sarah.  I was just being super nice and gave you ten dollars for cab money.”

Actually, Martin stands behind his original version: He did tell her it was a guest spot when she complained, and then gave her $10, but openly admits he was not “super nice.” He just wanted the conflict to end.

SILVERMAN: But instead, (and I will always remember this exactly how he said it because it was unbelievably hilarious) he said, “Oh- did you want a $60 spot?”

Martin flatly denies this: “I never said the $60 line.”

Despite the inaccuracies, Al Martin said Silverman’s apology is adequate. The married father of three daughters has previously noted that he agrees with the equal pay for women cause and conducts his business accordingly.

One final note of insincerity: Sarah Silverman’s apology comes with this proviso.

To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t.  Because that would be super shitty. Feel free to aim your vitriol at me but leave this issue of working women out of it, K?

And that’s the moment where the alleged “apology” turns into an attack against “the maniacs” — Silverman’s term of endearment for those who disagree with her. Despite their anti-woman stand, however, she does ask “the maniacs” nicely: “please don’t.”

To sum up, let’s follow the Leftist logic.

1) Silverman was recruited because her notoriety might help the cause.

2) She fabricated a story to identify with the cause, and ostensibly with its female victims.

3) She is unmasked as a liar, and now wants you to disassociate her from the cause to which her notoriety and personal identification brought more than 166,000 viewers.

4) If you insist on disagreeing with the cause, you’re a “maniac.”

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Second Witness Contradicts Leftist Comic Sarah Silverman’s Wage Discrimination Video

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Chris Murphy says he was there on the night that comic Sarah Silverman said she got $10 for the same work for which a male comic earned $60. Murphy says Silverman’s story of sexism, told for a video campaign (see below) that champions equal pay for women, is not accurate. He backs then-New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin’s claim that comics — male or female — who just drop in and ask to do a set, like Silverman did that night in 2002, don’t get paid anything.

Murphy, in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, says even Bill Hicks and Rodney Dangerfield, who were big names back in that day, didn’t expect compensation for guest spots at comedy clubs.

“There has been some He said she said things going on about the night in question between her [Silverman] and Al Martin. I feel I’m qualified to write about it since I was there.

I can confirm Sarah was not booked on the show, because I remember being excited she stopped in. Sarah rarely if ever played The New York Comedy Club. It could be because she was under the impression Al never paid comedians.

I gather this because when she came outside after her set she said, “Wow that was a great crowd. The place is packed. Al should be paying comedians”. The hilarious Todd Barry and I informed her he does. She went inside and asked to be paid. The rest is social media history.” — Chris Murphy on Facebook, April 13, 2015

Sarah Silverman direct message to Scott Ott on TwitterAfter writing about Silverman’s comedically sketchy story last week, I reached out to her. She responded with a direct message on Twitter. Silverman said, “What are you fighting for or against exactly. It’s true. He [Al Martin] took advantage of someone he assumed wouldn’t say anything. That’s the point.”

Actually, that’s not the point of the “wage gap” video Silverman made for Levo.com, nor is it the reality of events as we’ve now heard from two other witnesses.

Chris Murphy at New York Comedy Club

Chris Murphy on Monday became the second witness to contradict Sarah Silverman’s story about wage discrimination which forms the spine of her video about women earning less than men for the same work.

Like many Leftists with a cause, Silverman tries to identify with victims — in this case, women who purportedly get paid less than men for the same work. But even though she went back 13 years to find a personal example, her victim-tale won’t bear scrutiny. She makes it sound like Martin withheld from her the ordinary pay for a comedy set, but ponied up fully for male comic Todd Barry.

Martin maintains that Barry was scheduled for that night, and thus budgeted, but Silverman asked to do a set when she saw the great crowd. When she came back and asked for equal pay because she did the same work as Barry, Martin gave her $10 for cab fare. So, she was actually paid something when the standard expectation for guest spots is $0.

Chris Murphy added…

“I’m not sure why Sarah believed she was taking [sic] advantage of that night because she was a woman. Perhaps she was out of the loop so long she forgot the guest spot policy. Or it could be that in some circles it’s hip to crap on Al Martin.”

If Martin and Murphy are right, then Silverman’s story is not merely a mis-remembering or misunderstanding. She says she went back into the club after learning Barry got paid, and she asked Martin for $60. Silverman says that he sheepishly said, “O, did you want a $60 spot?” — as if he were caught in the act of cheating her, ostensibly because she’s a woman. She calls his behavior “pretty shitty.”

In other words, in the video, Silverman calls out Martin for sex discrimination and deception. I have repeatedly attempted to ask Silverman about these challenges to her narrative, but have heard nothing in response since her direct message on Twitter. At this writing, that video has been viewed more than 162,000 times, but apparently many viewers aren’t buying her story either. Check out the lopsidedly negative thumbs up-to-thumbs down ratio: 379-to-4,828.

Sarah Silverman's apparently false tale of wage discrimination getting panned on YouTube

If equal pay for women is a real problem, why can’t celebrity Leftists tell a real, true story about it? If there are real victims, these fake stories can do nothing but harm them.

 

 

 

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Should the Right Reject a Feminism That Fights for Men?

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Telegraph has picked up on one of the equity feminists breaking new ground in the War on Men, American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar, Christina Hoff Sommers. With more than 2 million views, her Factual Feminist series is drawing some serious attention from a mainstream media bogged down by the likes of Jessica Valenti and her contemporary feminist man-hating ilk. How did these man-haters grab the spotlight? Hoff Sommers explains:

“…In the early 1990s, I – along with several other feminist scholars (Wendy Kaminer, Daphne Patai, Camille Paglia, Mary Lefkowitz, Katie Roiphe, to name only a few) – went to battle against hard-line, sex-panicked conspiracy feminists like Andrea Dworkin. My side won the arguments, but their side quietly assumed all of the assistant professorships. So colleges are now full of gender scholars who instruct students on the ravages of the capitalist, heterero-patriachal system and its ‘rape culture’. Everywhere we hear about ‘micro-aggressions’, ‘trigger-warnings’, and the toxicity of masculinity. It’s as if George Orwell’s Junior Anti-sex League has occupied feminism.”

So, with a host of feminists like Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia actively advocating for men, should conservatives simply toss off feminism as a man-hating movement that’s past its prime? The social media stats say it’s time to get on the countercultural feminist bandwagon.

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Rand Paul for Prez Ad Conveniently Leaves Out Important Anti-Israel Fact

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A little reminder for those still intent on believing Rand is nothing like his anti-Semitic daddy:

Back in 2011, when Paul was just settling into the Senate, he proposed a budget that was more fiscally conservative than the proposals offered by his Republican contemporaries. In a bid to cut $500 billion from the federal budget, Paul proposed a spending outline that would have eliminated foreign aid entirely.

Paul’s cuts weren’t targeted at Israel specifically, which gets about $3 billion a year from the United States, mostly in military assistance. But by cutting all aid to foreign countries, Paul’s proposal would have zeroed out Israel’s aid.

The younger Paul echoed his 2011 statements on his 2013 visit to Israel, a trip viewed as his attempt to distance himself from his father’s anti-Semitic character ahead of an anticipated 2016 presidential bid:

He said the U.S. should first target unfriendly countries for cuts, and only after that should Israel be subject to cuts. And he pointed out that Mr. Netanyahu told Congress in 1996 that “ultimately he would like to see Israel independent of foreign aid as well.”

Despite his support for the Iron Dome and presentation of an act that would end funding to the Palestinian Authority, Paul remains an isolationist. His views are reminiscent of the populists who ran amok in the decade before World War 2. One is left wondering if Paul’s hands-off approach to foreign intervention, financially or otherwise, wouldn’t just wind up being the Republican version of Obama’s head-in-the-sands of the golf course mentality.

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Did Sarah Silverman Fake Her Story for Wage Discrimination Video?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

I should have known. Just this morning, I praised lefty standup comic Sarah Silverman for a new video where she encourages underpaid women to “ask for more.” It’s the perfect free-market antidote to perceptions of unequal pay.

In the video, from the Levo League, Silverman tells of a male comic being paid six times what she was on the same night, in the same club, for the same amount of work.

But the comedy club owner who allegedly underpaid Silverman back in 2002 tells a significantly different story about that night. He says Silverman actually got paid a little for what 99% of standup comics do for free.

Here’s the tale as Silverman tells it, in a video from the Levo League (below):

“I was doing stand-up, you know, just around town. And I did a show — I was out with my friend Todd Barry and we were doing sets around town together. And you know I was pretty well known already, and we both did back-to-back 15-minute sets at this club, the New York Comedy Club, and he paid me 10 bucks.

It was a Saturday night. I didn’t think anything of it, you know. And we were outside talking and Todd somehow brought up, you know, mentioned that he got 60 bucks. He just got $60, and I just got $10. We did the exact same time back-to-back in the same show.

And so I went back inside and I asked the owner, Al Martin, and I said “Al, you why did you pay me $10 and you gave Todd Barry $60?” And he, you know, it was so perfect: He goes, “O, did you want a $60 spot.” It was symbolic. I didn’t need $60. But it’s … um … you know, it’s pretty shitty.”

Sarah Silverman

In a “wage gap” video for Levo League, comic Sarah Silverman tells a personal tale of wage discrimination. But the man she accuses of discrimination tells a different story.

On the phone Tuesday afternoon, Al Martin — who sold the New York Comedy Club about eight months ago, but still owns the Broadway and Greenwich Village Comedy clubs — said he and his wife remember that night about 13 years ago, because it was the start of a longstanding “grudge” he’s heard that Silverman still holds against him.

In Martin’s telling, comedian Todd Barry was booked, in advance, to perform a set that night, for which he would be paid $50. Barry arrived with Sarah Silverman, who Martin knew from their early days doing open-mic standup.

“We have a budget and he [Todd Barry] was included in the deal,” Martin said. “Sarah came in, saw we had a good crowd, and asked to do 10 minutes.”

The common practice in comedy clubs, said Martin, is if you ask to perform, you do it for free. Even big names never expect to get paid for guest spots.

Afterward, Martin said he looked outside: ”I see her [Silverman] outside talking to Todd Barry,” he said.

Martin assumed they were talking about how well they did with the crowd. He was wrong. Silverman came back into the club, and here’s what Martin remembers (written as dialogue so it’s a bit easier to follow.)

SILVERMAN: You didn’t pay me.

MARTIN: Pay you? It was a guest spot.

["So I gave her 10 bucks," Martin said. "I didn’t want to piss her off."]

SILVERMAN: What the f— is this?

MARTIN: What do you mean what the f— is that? It’s cab fare.

SILVERMAN: You paid Todd $50.

MARTIN: Todd had a booked spot.

SILVERMAN: I did the same amount of time he did.

MARTIN: If you did the same time, you went over your time.

“Ever since then she’s had a grudge,” Martin said. “My intention wasn’t to pay her less because she was a woman. My intention was to shut her up so she would come back.”

Martin said Silverman never came back.

“At the time that this even occurred,” he said, “she would not have been on my regular roster of people that I would have booked for a full-paid spot. She was a very different comedian back then.”

However, he added that later, as Silverman’s career took off, he would have booked her.

Martin said that on Monday when he saw the wage gap video, “I was shocked. I don’t get why she took things the whole wrong way. I didn’t think she equated this with a man-woman thing. She comes out with this video and turns it into a whole gender thing. It’s not believable. Everybody knows what the going rate is.”

Martin said he’s married to a woman, has three daughters, and he has hired many female comics at the full-pay rate over his 20+ years in the business.

Coincidentally, just last night his Broadway club served as the venue for an all-female comedy show, produced by a woman, called “Broadly Funny.”

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NOTE:  I reached out by email, Twitter, Facebook and phone today to Sarah Silverman, the Levo League, and Todd Barry, but have not yet heard from any of them. I’ll update this story if they respond.

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Eureka! Leftist Comic Sarah Silverman’s ‘Equal Pay for Women’ Video Gets the Answer Right…Seriously

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Sarah Silverman, the left-wing standup comic, just did a serious video about equal pay for women (see below), and started with a personal story about how a male comic friend played the same club back-to-back with Silverman’s set one night, yet he received six times as much money for the gig as she did.

Sarah, upon learning this, returned to the club and asked the owner why. She asked for more.

What an incredibly beautiful, free-market, capitalistic, meritocratic thing to do. Bravo, Sarah Silverman!

“I think the best person for the job should get jobs. I’m all for women having to work harder to prove themselves at this juncture, if that’s the way it is in the world. But if you work a job and a man is working the same job you should be getting paid the same. I mean there’s lots in variables like, you know, how long you been there — this or that. We’re not…I don’t think anyone’s asking for something that’s more than fair.” — Sarah Silverman, standup comic

Asking: This is exactly what is required to ensure that women get at least equal pay for equal work in those instances where it’s not already happening.

What Silverman describes is a market functioning as it should. Just as every shopper for every product or service seeks to pay the least for the best, so every employer seeks to minimize her expenses, while recruiting and retaining great people. It’s a constant balancing act, with innumerable variables to determine the appropriate price at the moment.

Silverman seems to intuitively understand this. In fact, in the course of her five-minute video, the leftist entertainer never says that the government should mandate that women get equal pay. She says women should ask for more. She then takes it further and suggests that a woman’s own low opinion of herself and of her talents may be the primary restraint upon her paycheck. She uses her own personality as an example, so she’s not slamming anyone.

Sarah Silverman, Leftist comic, on equal pay for women

Leftist comic Sarah Silverman’s new video on equal pay is seriously right.

Most men know that this phenomenon is not unique to one sex. Men often do equal work compared with a colleague or the market, but earn less pay, usually because they fail to ask.

Every once in a while, however, we put our big pants on.

Years ago, I had a part-time job at Wal-Mart and by all accounts, including the manager’s and the assistant managers’, I was doing a great job as a people greeter. When review time came, the assistant manager told me that I was excellent in every way, and that she was awarding me the second-highest pay increase within her authority to confer.

I thanked her, and then asked what I would have to do in order to get the highest pay raise. She seemed flummoxed, and told me that it just didn’t happen. Even she had never received the highest pay raise possible. I suggested that if no one ever gets the highest raise, then it doesn’t really exist. She probably had deserved the highest pay, I said, but a mysterious unspoken tradition had denied it to her. We talked about the importance of rewarding good work, and retaining excellent employees. After a minute or so, she nodded and said she could think of no reason to withhold the best from me, and so, my wage was raised 25 cents to $6.25 per hour. I just asked. I was happy, but she seemed even happier.

(The three percent of Silverman’s video where she diverges from me has to do with abortion — although she never uses the word. Her analogy on that issue misses the mark. It’s worth overlooking that, for now, to praise her overall point.)

If you’re a woman — scratch that — if you’re an employee doing good work that produces excellent results, with an attitude that makes you a joy to customer and colleague alike, then perhaps the only obstacle to larger compensation is that you don’t realize what a treasure you are, and your false humility restrains you from asking.

This conservative writer joins with leftist comic Sarah Silverman to say: “Go ahead. Just ask.”

UPDATE: Did Sarah Silverman Fake Her Story for Wage Discrimination Video?

 

 

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Human Progress Is a For-Profit Enterprise

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

This latest entry from Prager University, featuring author and economics professor Walter Williams, does a fantastic job demonstrating the practical benefit of the profit motive. Profit, so often vilified in the modern political discourse, makes civilization as we know it possible. Without the profit motive, the relative affluence of the twenty-first century would not exist.

What Williams doesn’t directly note, however, is the moral basis of profit. We shouldn’t abide profit-making just because it enables civilization. We should abide profit-making because those who work hold exclusive claim to the fruit of their labor.

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Are Millennials Putting the ‘Cult’ in 21st Century ‘Corporate Culture’?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to USA Today, “Millennial workers want free meals and flex time” but there’s more to it than that. Look beyond the requests for flex time and generous perks like on-site massages and game rooms, and you’ll see a generation of workers demanding a workplace with all the comforts of, well, family.

When Jena Pellegrino, a 26-year old media assistant, decided to branch out in her career, she wound up coming right back to where she started, the perk-rich company Lockard & Wechsler (LWD), an agency best known as the marketing genius behind the Snuggie. Why? She details,

The perks she enjoyed at her former employer weren’t standard at her new job. She missed working in a smaller company with access to senior co-workers, generous personal time and a teamwork philosophy.

After nine months, she decided to take a chance and called her boss to ask for her old job back. After some negotiations, she was back.

“I felt I wanted to be in a company that treats you like family,” she says.

Millennials are flocking to companies like LWD that offer everything from pool and ping-pong to work-from-home options and corporate Thanksgiving dinners. Perhaps it is because when employees are nestled in the warm, safe bosom of company life, they don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, even if it means taking it home. According to the experts:

…millennials don’t mind working at home or the overlap between work and their personal life… By 2025, 75% of the American workforce will be millennial workers and employers will have to adapt to the market…

Sounds like corporate culture will be shifting just in time to welcome all those Common Core babies into a job market for which they’ve been bureaucratically trained on a national scale. Enticing as they may seem, will corporate perks be enough to ward off the kind of anti-family, death-inducing work stress found in other Common Core-esque nations? Time will tell.

 

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Obama Economy Still Sucking Wind — Unexpectedly!

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

That’s the news today from the Labor Department:

The U.S. added just 126,000 jobs in March, well below expectations of 245,000 jobs, leading to concerns that a long run of labor market momentum has stalled. The government also sharply revised downward job creation numbers for the first quarter. Over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 269,000 per month so the disappointing March numbers were very much unexpected.

“Now we begin the process of trying to figure out whether this is a one-off situation because we know growth was weak during the first quarter, well short of expectations,” said Mark Hamrick, an economic analyst with Bankrate.com, in an interview on FOX Business. “No doubt about it, with the payroll shortfall here, this is a disappointing jobs report.”

The headline unemployment rate was 5.5% last month, matching expectations, and holding steady at its lowest level in six years, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care,and retail trade, while mining lost jobs.

Once again, wages and the labor force participation rate, which are two indicators closely watched by Federal Reserve policy makers for signs of broader economic growth, barely moved.

Six long years of this: Wall Street is happy, Washington, D.C. is happy, but the peons continue to suffer. But look on the bright side: at least Barry Hussein’s buddies in Tehran are going to get their bomb.

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Is This the Dumbest Reason Ever To Ban Fracking?

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

Fracking_diagram_jpg_800x1000_q100

 

Canada’s little Maritime province of New Brunswick has chronically high unemployment — and huge reserves of shale.

Sounds like the perfect place to start fracking, right?

Well, no.

As Ezra Levant — who literally wrote “the case for fracking” – explains, the province’s anti-fracking moratorium starts today.

The government’s excuses for adopting this ban are pretty pathetic, but the silliest comes down to “social license.”

Levant explains what that is, so listen carefully in case your state legislature tries to pass that one off on voters.

 

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