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The PJ Tatler

Hope in the Midst of American Decline

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless. 

— Frank Bruni, NY Times, Lost in America, 8/27/2014

Drawing on a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Times columnist Frank Bruni paints a picture of a nation on the down slope, with no end in sight. He notes that 60 percent of those polled feel America is “in decline.” 

But if you dig into the data you find that, while the depressing number has indeed climbed to 60 from 54 percent in January 2011, in five of the last eight times the pollsters asked this question (going back to October ’91) the readout was higher than 60, peaking at 69 percent in June 2008. 

So, you might say, cheer up, Frank Bruni, it could be worse. 

However, the next question in the survey brings a chilling context to that 60-percent figure. The question: “Do you feel confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us?”

Only 21 percent said they do. Back in the dog days of decline in summer 2008, that number was 31. During a declension nearly as severe, in 1991-92, around 41 percent still felt confident their kids would have a better life. 

We Are Dissatisfied

Americans have always been a dissatisfied lot — we wouldn’t have come here if we were not. But we’ve always coupled that dissatisfaction with a belief in a better tomorrow. We’ve backed that belief with a determination to make it so, and a bone-deep conviction that we lived in a land where anything is possible.  We’re all about “the pursuit of happiness.”

This is what seems to have slipped…or rather, to have been tripped.

You see, it’s not that a Jimmy Carter-esque malaise has fallen across the fruited plain, but rather that malaise has been spread like mayonnaise across the amber waves of grain by people who seem determined to share the gloom of their own existential angst with the rest of us.

I, for one, will have none of it.

America still offers the greatest franchise opportunity on earth, available with no money down, to anyone willing to invest his sweat equity. In fact, that opportunity now exceeds the wildest dreams of our Fathers, as the internet has dried up the ocean and we can cross it barefoot in a moment. Global markets lay beneath our feet like Russell H. Conwell’s proverbial “Acres of Diamonds.” 

That doesn’t mean careful plans can’t collapse in the face of unforeseen obstacles. They quite likely will, and perhaps should, since passionate dreamers tend to lose touch with marketplace reality and must run headlong into an obsidian wall from time to time, to jar us into exploring other options. 

This opportunity also doesn’t excuse us from competition, both legitimate and nefarious. Some of your opponents will see your presence as healthy inspiration for their own innovations. Others will work tirelessly and deceitfully to ensure that you’re bankrupted and living under a bridge in a cardboard box. But the alternative to the exhilarating roller coaster of competition is the mundane merry-go-round of corporate wage-slavery, or government-subsidized bondage. The merry-go-round thrills only those who have never ventured beyond the painted pony.

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Keep Talking Like This, Councilman Scott Sherman, and You’ll Be My Pick for the 2016 GOP Nominee

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

On August 18, 2014, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman showed in just five minutes that he communicates basic principles more effectively than any Republican presidential candidate in recent memory.

His brief, unscripted remarks came in support of the mayor’s veto of a Democrat effort to force city businesses to increase their minimum wage to $11.50 per hour.

Sherman, perhaps the only member of council who has “signed the front of a paycheck,” found himself in a two-person minority on the veto-override vote, against six Democrats.

Watch the video below, and then help me to understand why this eminently reasonable position fails to persuade Democrats who say they care about jobs.

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Naive Mitt Romney Still Doesn’t Get It: Obama Does Not Make Policy ‘Mistakes’

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Mitt Romney, once again, proves himself unfit to be a candidate for president of the United States. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be a good president. We’ll never know.

Never.

Barack Obama, on the other hand (the left hand), has shown himself to be an excellent candidate, but a disastrous president.

With apologies to DC Comics, Romney is BizarrObama. Perhaps it’s more faithful to the Bizarro World storyline to say that Obama is BizarrOmney.

On the surface, Romney’s poll numbers climb with each step of Obama’s descending popularity. Where Romney demonstrates towering competence, Obama’s executive effectiveness inhabits the abyss–he’s abysmal. Romney sees the Russian threat clearly, and stands against it. Obama sends Putin a shiny red “Reset” button which, when pressed, reboots Soviet territorial ambitions.

But it goes deeper than that. Romney inhabits a spherical planet on the opposite side of the sun from Obama’s cube, leading him to say things like this

I was not a big fan of the president’s policies, as you know, either domestically or internationally, but the results of his mistakes and errors, in my opinion, have been more severe than even I would have predicted.

The headline quote making the rounds is that Romney, at a West Virginia rally for GOP congressional candidates, said Obama is “a good deal worse than I ever expected.”

This can be explained only by positing the existence of Bizarro World, where everything is a flipped version of life on Earth. Otherwise, we’re left with the inexplicable scenario of a Romney who understands the darkness in the heart of Vlad the Impaler, but finds Barack Obama’s motives inscrutable.

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Sanders: Don’t Ignore Problem of Black Unemployment in Ferguson Response

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the high unemployment rate among African-Americans should not be overlooked in the outrage over Ferguson.

The overall unemployment rate for July was fairly steady at 6.2 percent, but the rate for blacks edged up to 11.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate for teenagers was 20.2 percent.

Sanders told MSNBC that “if there’s any silver lining in the tragedy of Ferguson is that I hope we learn some very important lessons.”

“When I was a mayor of Burlington, Vermont and all over this country, what mayors are trying to do is develop community-based policing, where police officers are seen as part of the neighborhood, they know people in the neighborhood, they are trusted by people in the neighborhood,” he said.

“When you see the kind of force that’s been used in Ferguson, it really does make an appeal that the police department there is an occupying army in a hostile territory and that is absolutely not what we want to see in the United States. So, I think we’ve got to rethink a lot of this heavy equipment that police departments around the country are utilizing.”

The senator said he hopes “that what Ferguson teaches us is that not only the violence being perpetrated against young black men but also the economic crises facing black youth in this country.”

“Youth unemployment in America is tragically high, it is 20 percent. African-American youth unemployment is 35 percent. In the St. Louis area, it is significantly higher than that. And if we are going to address the issue of crime in low-income areas and in African-American areas, it might be a good idea that instead of putting heavy equipment into police departments on those areas, we start creating jobs for the kids there who desperately need them,” Sanders said.

He added that “we want to make sure that our police department has the effective tools and equipment to combat those threats.”

“But on the other hand, I do not think you need tanks and heavy military looking equipment in low income communities in America. I think that it essentially makes a difficult situation, a dangerous situation much more provocative and much more difficult,” he said. “…I think this is an issue along with the economic issue of having to create jobs for our young people that Congress should be addressing when we return.”

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said last week that Congress would review how the Pentagon transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies.

The promise from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) came after criticism, including from Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), that the SWAT reaction to the protests and rioting in Ferguson, Mo., resembled a police state more than a suburb.

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L.A. Can’t Even Hang on to the Porn Industry

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The only plastic bags they didn’t ban

This is the world capital of adult video production. And the porn industry hasn’t given up on L.A. just yet.

But it has certainly abandoned attempting to film scenes legitimately in the county. Under a law approved by voters and enacted at the end of 2012, film permits for adult video productions require filmmakers to commit to having male performers use condoms.

It’s widely believed that, as a result of the mandatory condom rule in L.A., porn producers have simply stopped pulling permits and moved their shoots to places that don’t have prophylactic police. New data from the regional permit organization known as FilmLA seems to back that theory:

A spokesman for FilmLA says there were an estimated 480 adult permits issued in 2012. Last year there were 40, he said. And so far this year there have been about 20.

Steven Hirsch, founder of what is perhaps the world’s largest porn studio, Vivid Entertainment, says the reason for the reduction is clear: Mandatory condoms.

Television and film production long ago fled Los Angeles, mostly for Canada. That’s right, taxation and regulation became so onerous in L.A. that the industry it was built on fled for a socialist country.

Now they’re driving away the only real backup plan actors and actresses have when they get here.

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The Man Behind StopARocket: Fundraising for the Iron Dome

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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After watching his fellow pro-Israel ralliers get attacked by a pro-Palestinian mob, one average Canadian citizen wanted to send a message, not just to the thugs who sent 6 people to the hospital, but to the entire world. If you doubt that average people can do big things, you haven’t met Ron from Calgary, the founder of StopARocket.com.

Amused by the idea of a crowdsourcing campaign for the Iron Dome, I reached out to the folks at StopARocket.com to see if I could get a handle on the folks behind the fundraiser. It turns out that the “folks” is one guy named Ron who was willing to do an email interview. Obviously the guy has a day job. Most of his responses were sent in the wee hours of the morning, illustrating how dedicated he is to what he refers to as a simple, but profound way for Israel lovers across the globe to show their support for the civilian defense of the free world. Ron’s humble, straightforward responses illustrate how much we can accomplish when we’re willing to embrace Ben Carson’s axiom “Think Big”.

Please start by telling me a little about yourself and the group ForCanada. What is the group’s purpose? What are the goals?

I’m a private professional in Calgary. I attended a pro-Hamas rally a few weeks ago that degenerated into a violent mob that sent six people to the hospital. I’m worried not just about Israel’s safety in the Middle East, but the safety of Jews and non-Jewish Zionists in the west, including in North America.

For Canada is the committee that organized the pro-Israel rally last Thursday in Calgary. They agreed to let StopARocket.com use their mailing address and bank account to collect cheques from people who don’t want to use PayPal.

What drove you to fundraise specifically for the Iron Dome, as opposed to some kind of humanitarian aid for Israel (i.e. supplies for soldiers, etc.)? Shouldn’t military aid be managed by government officials?

Supporting Iron Dome is merely symbolic. I read a CNN article that said each Iron Dome anti-missile costs $62,000 so that seemed like an achievable fundraising goal. As we say on our website, we will ask the Israeli government to put the money towards the cost of one anti-missile, or any other civilian defence expenses to protect Israelis. It’s only for defensive efforts to protect civilians. But Iron Dome has captured the world’s imagination as a symbol of Israel’s ingenuity and value placed on life.

Are you working with any officials in Israel to coordinate this effort?

Before we launched the website, we confirmed with the Israeli embassy in Canada that they would support this project and would help us direct the funds to the appropriate agency in Israel.

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Cafe Adds ‘Minimum Wage Fee’ to Customers’ Checks

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

As prices incrementally go up for products and services, it may not always be clear why. Indeed, some increases may go wholly unnoticed until presented in a comparison over several years.

One establishment in the picturesque Minnesota town of Stillwater decided to make a recent increase in their prices wholly transparent. As reported by City Pages, the Oasis Cafe has added a “minimum wage fee” to its customers’ checks to reflect and offset the increased cost of a newly implemented minimum wage law. Explaining the move on Facebook, the business writes:

WIth regards to why we’re charging a $.35 fee to cover the recent $.75 increase in in minimum wage…we estimate the increase in labor cost will will cost our company more than $10,000 per year…which has to be offset by an increase in revenue in order to operate profitably. Rather than increase the prices of our menu items, we chose to charge a flat fee. If the state of Minnesota would pass tip credit, like 43 other states have done, none of this would be necessary. For what it’s worth, we pay our people very well. Our dishwashers start at $10/hour, our cooks start at $12/hour and our servers average more than $20 when you consider what they earn in tips…

The explanation was offered in response to a critic on Facebook who claimed the move placed the business’s employees in a bad light. “Don’t you wonder how that makes your employees feel, making them look like the bad guys to their customers. Shame on you,” the critic wrote. How a customer would come to the conclusion that the minimum wage fee reflected in any way upon employees was not made clear.

Criticizing a business for effectively publicizing the effects of government (read: force) upon their operation is blaming the victim. Sympathy morally belongs with the business owner, whose capacity to act upon their own judgment and trade value for value honestly has been handicapped by government edict. If more businesses and organizations engaged in this kind of transactional activism, it might stimulate much needed debate on the morality of capitalism and the immorality of price controls.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 13:18 minutes long; 12.83 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Pro-Hamas Activists Blockade Israeli Arms Factory in Britain

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The International Business Times reports:

Pro-Palestine activists have shut down a factory in Staffordshire owned by an Israeli military company in protest at the current Gaza conflict.

Members of the London Palestine Action group scaled the roof and chained the doors of the UAV Engines Limited factory in Shenstone.

UAV states that it produces “engines for various size tactical UAVs, target drones and single mission platforms”. It is owned by Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit Systems.

London Palestine Action are demanding a closure of the factory, as well as an “end to all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel”.

The group unfurled banners on the roof of the factory with the slogans “Elbit Arms Israel Kills” and “UK: Stop Arming Israel” as part of the ongoing protest.

The link between UAV and Israel has long been a subject of British speculation. A 2009 article in the Guardian reported:

UAV Engines, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of engines for drones - unmanned aerial vehicles that are becoming critical frontline systems for military and civilian use around the world.

The company, known as UEL, is owned by the Israel drone specialists Silver Arrow, a subsidiary of the Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems.

One of its rotary Wankel engines is used in Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone. A version of the 450 makes up a squadron of the Israeli air force and has been seen over Gaza in the current conflict, being used for surveillance and targeting for Israel’s F-16 strike fighters.

Commentators on reputable defence and aviation journals and Elbit’s own website suggest that the Lichfield factory produces engines for the Hermes.

But Elbit’s head of corporate communications, Dalia Rosen, has denied this. She said: “UEL engines are provided to the British UAV programmes and to other international customers, not to Hermes 450 in the service of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces].”

When provided with references she replied: “If you want me to confirm a false speculation you can do it, but I strongly recommend that you trust my comment.” She did not respond to a request asking which other engine could be used.

The Middle East Monitor, a pro-Palestinian media agency dedicated to “creating new perspectives,” issued a report on the factory protest in Staffordshire. Referring to the protesters as “occupiers” who are pursuing a new front in the battle against UAV and Elbit, the report detailed:

The occupation comes the day after the UK government pledged to investigate whether any of £8bn of arms exported to Israel in the last 5 years are being used in Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

Currently, British police have cordoned off the area around the factory and are working to “ensure the protest remains peaceful and safe.” An estimated 10 protesters are on the rooftop, many of whom are live tweeting photos and messages “…saying they have enough supplies to ‘last a week’.”

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Will the Power of the People Fund the Iron Dome?

Monday, August 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A gentleman identifying himself as “Ron from Calgary, Canada” has taken it upon himself to start an Indiegogo campaign titled “Stop a Rocket” to crowdsource funding for Israel’s Iron Dome.

“Let’s stop a rocket and help Israel buy more Iron Dome anti-missles!” the campaign’s headline reads. The fundraising plea details:

So many people around the world are concerned about the terrorist attacks on Israel, especially through rockets fired by Hamas terrorists based in Gaza.

We are shocked at Hamas’s Nazi-like hatred for Jews; we feel sorrow for the victims of this violence, including innocent civilians in Gaza that Hamas uses as human shields. But most of all, we feel helpless — what can we personally do about this?

Is there something positive that people of goodwill around the world can do, both as a symbolic gesture, and that might actually save a life? We think there is.

…It wouldn’t be for an offensive weapon. You can’t use the Iron Dome to attack anyone. It’s 100% defensive — like a bulletproof vest. It only saves lives. And it doesn’t discriminate — it protects Jewish, Muslim and Christian Israelis all the same.

Let’s do it — let’s crowd fund this project, to save lives!

The campaign, which started on July 31, has already reached 27% of its goal. It is scheduled to continue fundraising until August 14.

Pamela Gellar, the blogging activist behind Atlas Shrugs endorsed the Stop A Rocket campaign, tweeting:

“Crowdfunding an Iron Dome!: FANTASTIC! I just contributed, so should you. Free people defending free people…”.

Canadian media personality and conservative political activist Ezra Levant promoted the campaign, tweeting:

“My friend Ron is crowdsourcing $62,000 to pay for one Iron Dome anti-missile. I think he’ll save a life: http://www.StopARocket.com  #Israel”.

Very little has been reported on the Stop A Rocket campaign. ForCanada, the organization to which donors can send checks, is a grassroots fundraising organization that has supported a Calgary for Israel Rally, and a Stop the Riots legal fund for victims of pro-Palestinian aggression. The organization is also tied to a campaign to “fight anti-Christian bigotry in Canada”.

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How Will We Avoid Disaster if Politicians Won’t Listen to Experts? Cries Galaxy Guardian Krugman

Friday, August 1st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

The science is settled in yet another field — economics — but no one’s listening. Citizens of the galaxy, be afraid.

New York Times pundit and economist Paul Krugman says the “overwhelming” consensus among his colleagues proclaims the Obama stimulus reduced unemployment and was “worth it.” But most Americans have no idea that these academics speak with virtually one voice on Obamanomics.

More important, over the past several years policy makers across the Western world have pretty much ignored the professional consensus on government spending and everything else, placing their faith instead in doctrines most economists firmly reject.

One rejected doctrine, “government austerity measures,” is pure foolishness during down cycles according to Krugman’s cabalmates. After all, nearly every economist knows that the only sure way to keep recession from plunging into depression is massive new government spending of money borrowed from our grandchildren.

Krugman wrings his soft science hands over the consequences of ignoring the voice from the ivory tower.

All of which raises a troubling question: Are we as societies even capable of taking good policy advice?

The op-ed column is headlined: “Knowledge Isn’t Power.” Like most progressives, Krugman believes that all it takes to do the right thing is to know the right thing, and so he’s crestfallen at the realization that the treasury of economics knowledge remains untapped by policy makers.

This must be tremendously frustrating, because Krugman started his career with the ambition to be a kind of guardian of the galaxy.

 “I went into economics,” he wrote in an e-mail message, “because I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, in which social scientists save galactic civilization, and that’s what I wanted to be.”

For those stories, Asimov invented a fictional science called psychohistory – a mix of social science, history and math, whose practitioners, in Krugman’s words, “understand the true dynamics” and thus “save the galaxy.”

In fairness to Krugman, he has, at least, entered a parallel field of fictional science. Among the most common news headlines related to the economy are those proclaiming how far astray economist predictions were from actual performance.

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EPA Regs Still Busy Killing Coal Jobs

Friday, August 1st, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Rogue agency is rogue.

West Virginia coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, told 1,1000 workers to prepare for layoffs because 11 mines across the state are “subject to being idled.”

The reason: weak market conditions and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the company said.

The company notified the 1,100 employees late Thursday that “sustained weak market conditions and government regulations have challenged the entire Central Appalachian mining industry.”

The layoffs would not take place till mid-October, Alpha said.

When The Idiot King said he would have a “laser-like” focus on jobs oh so long ago he really didn’t specify whether he would be focused on creating or destroying them. At least we’ve cleared that up.

These greendoggle regulations aren’t just wreaking havoc on an industry, they’re intentionally assaulting one of poorest regions of the United States.

Remember though, it’s the Republicans who hate the poor.

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Obama’s EPA Costs Him the Support of a Key Union

Friday, August 1st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The United Mine Workers of America union leans very Democrat and represents thousands of coal miners in the United States. The political trajectory of that union during the Obama years goes like this.

In 2008, the union enthusiastically endorsed then Senator Barack Obama for the presidency. That endorsement, coming from a big union in coal country, helped shore up Obama’s standing as he geared up to finish off Hillary Clinton’s Democratic primary challenge.

After four years of President Obama using the Environmental Protection Agency to wage war on coal, though, the United Mine Workers decided to sit out the 2012 election. It was the first time in decades that the union did not endorse a presidential candidate. It was clear in 2012 that Obama’s policies led directly to the union declining to endorse him a second time. Some coal miners appeared with Mitt Romney during the campaign, to slam the “war on coal.”

David Kameras, a UMWA spokesman based at the union’s headquarters in Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., said UMWA has not officially completed its endorsement selection decisions for the 2012 election and expects to do so by about mid-September. In 2008, UMWA endorsed Obama in May of that year.

“Our members count on coal-fired power plants and burning of coal to keep jobs,” Caputo said. “We’re a very Democratic union and we try to listen to the rank and file. They’ve sent a clear message that they’re not supportive of the environmental rules that are being put in place.”

Fast forward to 2014. The United Mine Workers are now in a street protest battle with Obama’s environmentalists.

In Pittsburgh, PA Thursday, coal miners from the union gathered to protest even more EPA regulations. They ended up in a shouting match with environmentalist protesters.

On Liberty Avenue just after noon, shouts of “Move to China!” from union marchers in green camo shirts met responses of “No planet, no jobs!” from sign-waving environmentalists.


“There are many good people who have bought into these regulations,” said Edwin D. Hill, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “Many of them have the best intentions. But if somebody is going to take our jobs and health care and pensions and harm our families, it doesn’t matter to me what their intentions are; we’re going to fight back.”

Fourteen UMWA organizers were arrested at the Pittsburgh confrontation, while protesting to protect their families and jobs from Obama’s policies.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also endorsed Obama, both in 2008 and 2012. Now they’re protesting him, too.

Obama thanks them for their support by using the EPA to take their jobs away.

By the way, coal state West Virginia voted Democrat for decades. Now that it’s shifting to the GOP, though, the Obama EPA didn’t even bother to hold any hearings on the new regulations there. That’s of a piece with Obama neglecting the border when he visited Texas this summer. States that did not vote for him are not part of his union. When Obama isn’t neglecting red states, he either uses them as an ATM for the Democrats, or he uses federal policy to punish them.

But back to the miners union. Are we seeing Big Labor (the UMWA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO) re-think its ironclad bond with the Democratic Party? Or, at least, a fracturing of Big Labor’s support for Democrats? For all the talk of a “Republican civil war,” is the Democrat base coming to war with itself — a war between the environmentalists Luddites who oppose the Keystone Pipeline and who want to do away with coal entirely on the one hand in the name of the global warming myth, and jobs and energy security on the other hand?

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14-Year-Old Kid Imitates LeBron James, by Becoming CEO of His Own Pizza Delivery Business

Friday, August 1st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

This story contains most of what’s great about this land of opportunity — creativity, hard work, volunteerism, risk-taking and learning from other leaders.

Fourteen-year-old Ajayi Jackson couldn’t could get a job because of bloody age discrimination [my phrase, not his], so he started his own company, Pop’s Pizza, with $100 of capital be borrowed from — you guessed it — his Dad.

He invented the made-from-scratch pizza recipe after learning to cook from his Mom. Already turning a profit, he’s made his sister jealous because she works longer hours for someone else and makes less money.

The best part of the story: Ajayi, like a lot of kids, admires NBA star LeBron James. But the budding entrepreneur is more interested in King James’ off-court business than in his moves in the lane.

He wants to meet the hoops hero because LeBron owns a chain of pizza places, and could share tips for success in business.

God bless Ajayi Jackson, and God bless America.

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McDonald’s Ruling Could Bring Big Labor Back from the Brink

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Obama’s National Labor Relations Board made a significant ruling against McDonald’s on Tuesday. That ruling may make it much easier for labor unions to sweep up part-time workers are franchise corporations, and upsets 30 years of corporate-franchise law, according to the New York Times.

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators — a decision that, if upheld, would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.

Business groups called the decision outrageous. Some legal experts described it as a far-reaching move that could signal the labor board’s willingness to hold many other companies to the same standard of “joint employer,” making businesses that use subcontractors or temp agencies at least partly liable in cases of overtime, wage or union-organizing violations.

Big Labor instigated the case and is crowing that it is getting what it wants.

Wilma Liebman, a former chairwoman of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama and now an occasional consultant to unions, said the decision could give fast-food workers and labor unions leverage to get the company to negotiate about steps that would make it easier to organize McDonald’s restaurants. Similarly, she said, the ruling could give the workers and unions more clout in pressing McDonald’s to have its franchisees raise wages.

The percentage of American workers who belong to unions has been in deep decline over the past few decades. States are trending away from forced union membership and toward right-to-work.

Big Labor has only maintained its viability in an unholy union with unionized government workers, whose dues pay off Democrats to keep government jobs lucrative and have contributed to making government worker pensions unsustainable. The union between Big Labor and Big Government costs taxpayers billions.

But if Big Labor can capture workers at franchise restaurants, many of which are small family-owned businesses that buy into larger corporate branding and products, it could find a new lease on life. It could also price products at those businesses out of range for lower-income Americans, and will surely cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their jobs, by forcing wage hikes that those businesses cannot sustain.

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Social Security Trustee: Unfunded Obligations At $24 Trillion

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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At Tuesday’s Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security hearing, Dr. Charles Blahous of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees testified that Americans owe $24 trillion in unfunded liabilities to those already in the Social Security system.

Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH), a CPA, asked Blahous what the impact would be on the Social Security trust fund if all unfunded liabilities needed to paid out. Blahous said that they usually highlight the 75-year “open group obligation” which is currently $10.6 trillion, but said the “actual amount of unfunded obligations within the Social Security system is actually substantially higher than that. ” According to Blahous, the reason is that the shortfall does not play out gradually over time. “It’s actually something that is on the books now. There is an excess of benefit obligations over contributions for people who are already in the system. And that’s actually about $24 trillion. And that’s about 4.4% of future wages going forward,” Blahous said.

Actually, it’s even worse to that, according to the Social Security Trustees’ 2014 Annual Report to Congress. Tucked way in the back in Table VI.F1 in the appendix we find, “The excess of the present value of cost for past and current participants over the present value of dedicated tax income for past and current participants produces an unfunded obligation for past and current participants of $26.1 trillion.” (But what’s a of couple trillion here or there?)

Asked by Renacci if Social Security taxes this year will be adequate to fund current benefit obligations, Blahous explained that there will be a shortfall of around $80 billion this year alone.

Renacci wanted to know where the money will come from to make up the difference.

“Well, when the payroll taxes fall short of benefit obligations, the difference has to be made with payments from the general fund. Right now they’d be in the form of interest payments from the general fund to the trust fund and a large share of those interest payments would go out the door immediately to pay beneficiaries,” said Blahous. He added that $80 billion would be added to the federal deficit this year as a result of the shortfall.

Renacci thought the unfunded liabilities should have received more attention in the Trustees’ report. “So we have $17 trillion in debt, we have potentially $10-20 trillion in unfunded liabilities, we could have over $50 trillion total liabilities — just in those two areas — and we have $80 billion each year, at least this year, that is going to exceed what comes in,” Renacci said.  ”I would somewhat believe we have a current problem that we need to fix and it’s something that we can’t kick down the road, as I continue to hear.”

Congressman Renacci’s office released highlights of the Trustees’ report:

  • The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2019. Beginning with 2020, the cost of the program is projected to exceed income.
  • The projected point at which the combined trust fund reserves will become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, comes in 2033 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.88 percent of taxable payroll — 0.16 percentage point larger than in last year’s report.

“As a CPA and former businessman, I came to Washington to bring a business perspective to an institution that sorely lacks it. We know that we spend more than we should, but the American people do not fully know the extent of our country’s dire financial situation. This is partly due to the fact that the Treasury leaves some of the largest liabilities, including Social Security, off of its balance sheet,” said Renacci, adding that he recently introduced the bipartisan Federal Financial Statement Transparency Act.

The bill would establish a Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board to develop Federal financial accounting concepts and standards. Renacci said the bill would lead to “a more honest depiction of our nation’s finances to ultimately allow Congress to better address our growing $17 trillion debt.” He said a clean balance sheet will serve as a benchmark for beginning to preserve Social Security programs for current seniors and for future generations.

 

 

 

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Free-Market Case Study: Who’s Entitled to a Tax Subsidy for Big Developers, and Who Benefits?

Monday, July 28th, 2014 - by Scott Ott
Neighborhood Improvement Zone Board in Allentown, Pa.

Civic leaders on this Allentown, Pennsylvania, tax-subsidy board decide which developers qualify, and which don’t, when it comes to hundreds of millions of dollars for downtown development.

Well, we’re living here in Allentown.
And they’re tearing all the old buildings down
But a guy who wants to save a hotel
Can’t get the cash from
the taxpayer well.
(with apologies to Billy Joel, and the people of Allentown, Pa.)

When funded by taxpayer money, is a developer entitled to a subsidy if he merely meets the basic requirements of the state program, or are civic leaders on the local subsidy Board compelled to apply extra scrutiny exactly because it’s public money.

That’s the fight in Allentown, Pennsylvania, right now, where a so-called “Neighborhood Improvement Zone” (NIZ) redirects tax dollars into developer projects — a hockey arena, hotels, office, retail and residential space — in the hopes that the investments in downtown will eventually pay off in bigger tax receipts for government, and in a revitalized city. This “local story” has broad implications for your community, state, nation and world. I’ll offer four reasons (below) why such arrangements, and the politicians who push them, deserve extraordinary scrutiny from taxpayers and voters.

It’s a special developer-entitlement zone for Allentown-only set up by the state legislature, thanks to the vigorous efforts of Allentown’s state senator, who counts the major developers among his top campaign donors, and whose wife got a job with a lobbying firm that has clients who benefit from the special tax-subsidy district. (Conflict of interest allegations have been denied all around.) The lead developers have just set up a political action committee to support candidates who support the NIZ, without regard to political party affiliation.*

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Stupid and Lame: Wealthy Actress Kristen Bell Begs for Minimum Wage Increase (Update: Reason Rebuttal FTW)

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

According to CelebrityNetWorth, actress Kristen Bell is worth $16 million. It’s fair to say that she make far more than a “living wage” for pretending to be other people in movies and on TV.

The actress is lending her looks and voice to the Democrats’ campaign to increase the federal minimum wage, on Funny or Die. Bell stars as a Mary Poppins knock-off. Take a look.

Funny or Die has gone all in for the minimum wage campaign, mocking House Speaker John Boehner over the issue in this ad video starring Harry Hamlin. Is the Obama administration or the Democratic National Committee paying Funny or Die for these clearly political ads videos that border on in-kind donations?

Liberals find Bell’s video persuasive, or at least politically useful. Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette is flogging it on Facebook.

In the video, Bell slams her boss for not paying her a “living wage,” despite the fact that as a live-in nanny, Poppins got full room and board in addition to pay for caring for the boss’ kids. Bell quits, mocks her boss, and curses in front of the children she is supposed to be raising, but never seems to figure out that if she is still making minimum wage, the problem may not be with her boss, but with her and her own job performance and her ability to stand up for herself.

Bell/Poppins never mentions the CBO study that found that raising the minimum wage will cost about half a million jobs.

In short, the unfunny video that barely scrapes the surface of the minimum wage issue and works in a slam on the Tea Party deserves to die.

Update: Reason rebuts with a win.

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GM Just Issued Six More Safety Recalls

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Fox reports on the latest from Government Motors.

General Motors issued six more recalls on Wednesday, bringing its annual total to 60 recalls covering almost 30 million vehicles.

The latest recalls cover nearly 823,000 cars, trucks and SUVs mostly in North America but including a small number of exports. The largest is for faulty seats in just over 475,000 cars and small SUVs. Other problems include incomplete welds on seat brackets, turn signal failures, power steering failures, loose suspension bolts and faulty roof rack bolts.

GM is conducting a companywide safety review as it tries to correct a dysfunctional corporate culture in which safety was a low priority.

So was quality.

GM has recalled 30 million of the 41.6 million cars recalled by all automakers this year so far. It sold 1.46 million cars in the first six months of 2014.

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Asia Tells Obama to Take a Hike on His Energy Schemes

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Energy prices are rising for Americans because Barack Obama wants it that way. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would use energy prices hikes to socially engineer energy use, and that is one promise on which he is following through. His EPA’s war on coal alone stands to jack up power prices 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, of the US Department of Energy.

In recent remarks to the League of Conservation Voters, Obama said that he expects the rest of the world, including developing countries and the largest economies, to do what he is doing to their own energy consumers.

“[W]e’ve got to lead by example.  They’re waiting to see what America does.” Obama said on June 25. “And I’m convinced when America proves what’s possible, other countries are going to come along.”

About that.

Asia’s two largest economies are not waiting to see what America does, and they’re showing no sign of following Obama’s anti-coal lead.

China says it shares Obama’s goal, but it is following its own lead.

China’s chief climate official Xie Zhenhua said China should not be subject to the same rules for greenhouse gas emissions as the United States and other rich countries, signaling that Beijing will oppose any attempt to impose them at next year’s world climate conference.

“We are in different development stages, we have different historical responsibilities and we have different capacities,” Xie told reporters.

Japan is not only not following Obama’s war on coal, it is increasing coal use in new domestic energy projects, according to Mari Iwata in the Wall Street Journal today.

Japan said Wednesday it would step up support for coal-fired power plants in developing nations, challenging a U.S. policy that seeks to discourage such plants in an effort to fight global warming. […] The move represents a repudiation of the Obama administration’s strict stance of carbon emissions. Washington is talking to members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of developed nations, about a rule that would ban national export-credit agencies from financing new overseas coal power plants.

Japan understands that coal can safely power its economy.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy, Tokyo seeks each year to back overseas coal power-plant projects worth about $4 billion. Typically those projects have Japanese investors and use at least some Japanese equipment. While the annual target hasn’t been reached yet, several major projects have recently gotten under way.

Japan has long supported energy efficiency. Unlike Barack Obama, who claims to support an “all-of-the-above” strategy that in reality only supports the development of expensive so-called “clean” or “green” energy, Japan actually does support all-of-the-above.

China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies respectively.

They’re not buying the Luddite, anti-energy radicalism that Barack Obama is selling on energy.

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Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Reason Foundation just released a survey proving the failure of the American public education system. But, according to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, we might as well just laugh at it:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I predict that any readers over the age of 30 will absolutely love this fact about voters under the age of 29. Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos that young people can define in an Internet survey.

A number of my PJMedia colleagues jumped on the survey with the usual complaint that “kids these days” want everything handed to them on a silver platter. Conservatives in general fail to address the far more creepy comedic love affair with socialism because we fail to understand the media that informs the Millennial generation.

Case in point: The “Jon Stewart takes on Gaza” debacle. Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did an excellent job ripping the comedian to shreds for his stereotypical, biased account of the meanie Israelis versus the poor Palestinians. Conservative media proceeded to join in the dissection 15 years too late. From the day he took the anchor’s chair on the set of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has attempted to be the court jester of the hipster elite. An admitted leftist, he was a psych major turned stand-up comedian who makes no bones about being a professional satirist – nothing more. Yet, the bulk of the millennial news audience share goes to Stewart and his former Daily Show co-star, Colbert Report comic actor Stephen Colbert. Knowing this, why should we be the least bit surprised that Millennials are laughing about the real issues facing the world and our country today, including socialism?

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Sir Ian McKellen Says Struggling Actors Deserve “Living Wage”

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

If venerable film and theater actor Sir Ian McKellen has proven anything over the course of his remarkable career, he has proven that it is never too late to catch your big break. McKellen worked steadily throughout his life, achieving renown (and an Oscar) for his role as an aging Nazi war criminal in 1998’s Apt Pupil. But it wasn’t until two years later, when he reunited with director Bryan Singer to play Magneto in the first X-Men film and became Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings franchise, that McKellen became an American superstar at the age of 61.

Plenty of actors have “made it” well into their middle age. Despite playing roles in several Hollywood films, including a significant supporting bit in Jurassic Park, Samuel L. Jackson didn’t become a star until his role in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46. Another Quentin Tarantino film catapulted Christoph Waltz to fame at the age of 53.

Such success, like most all success, emerges from a commitment to develop a craft and persist through setbacks while relentlessly pursuing an individually-defined happiness. No one handed it to McKellen, Jackson, or Waltz. They earned it.

Nevertheless, McKellen recently shared his belief with Radio Times that struggling actors should be lifted up through wage controls. From The Independent:

A recent report found just one actor in 50 earned more than £20,000 a year.

“Most actors are not rich – they are very poor indeed. What keeps them going is that they just love the job,” Sir Ian told Radio Times.

He said: “I know actors who have had to turn down good roles because they just don’t pay enough. It’s hard. The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theatres that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”

The reason one actor in 50 earns more than £20,000 a year is because only one actor in 50 produces that much value. Forcing wage mandates on the industry will not change the amount of value produced. It will only increase the cost of giving struggling actors a chance, which means they will get fewer chances.

It’s precisely the same dynamic created by any minimum wage. Opportunities for those with low or developing skill dry up as they are priced out of the market. If McKellen truly cares about the struggling actors rising up in his wake, he should reconsider his position on wage controls.

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Thanks, Bill Gates: How to Keep Dictatorships Alive, Squelching Liberty on a Global Scale

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Sounds like a simple enough way to cure poverty: Form a partnership between donors and leaders of government. Get a set of measurable goals and diligently track progress toward those goals. There’s nothing we can’t do when we put our minds to it.

It’s a technocratic solution to a human problem that plays to our sense of confidence as scientific problem solvers.

That’s been the basic approach to economic development of the so-called “third world” by the “first world” since the middle of the last century.

But not only is it a failure, it actually props up dictators and stomps the rights of the poor, while allowing wealthy donors, like Bill Gates, to feel good about themselves as they monitor the “measurable” progress.

I love the [United Nations'] Millennium Development Goals. I think they’re the best idea for focusing the world on fighting global poverty that I’ve ever seen….Thanks to these goals…the world at large knows the key measures of poverty, hunger, health and education. Some of the numbers are good and some are not. But the fact that the world is focusing on these numbers is excellent….The Millennium Development Goals can guide the search for new discoveries by showing us where innovation can bring the biggest returns. This is their genius.
– Bill Gates, speech to U.N. General Assembly, September 2008  (video below)

Sounds great. But is it true?

The Tyranny of ExpertsThe Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, by William Easterly, demonstrates how a toxic stew of arrogance, altruism and racism has led “the West” to positively hinder “the Rest” from achieving the very thing we value most — equality under law. Easterly has produced a rarity among serious books — page-turning readability, with even-handed scholarship and careful documentation.

Easterly says the problem with well-meaning fellows like Bill Gates is multi-pronged.

1) We don’t have accurate data, we ignore contrary evidence, and we misinterpret the faulty data, attributing apparent growth to the activities of autocrats and bureaucrats when the evidence points to factors beyond their control.

2) We ignore history and the actual needs of the people, as if we could write our own solutions upon a blank slate, that we decide is framed by modern national boundaries.

3) We idolize strong leaders who can implement programs funded by donors, but ignore their autocratic repression of individual rights, and so we often use charity dollars to pay for pogroms via programs.

4) We think of innovation as something a few elite scholars and captains of industry bring to the poor, rather than something that springs from decentralized problem-solving by people who have freedom, property rights, equal justice under law and profit motive.

In the video below, Bill Gates speaks to the UN General Assembly — history’s greatest congregation of thugs and tyrants. For more than six minutes Gates praises the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), without even hinting that people might need more than food, medicine and education. He never mentions self-governance, liberty, or capitalism.

The best spin on this is that Gates think if we take care of health, learning and economic survival, then republican governance and its protection of person and property will come later.

The vector of history collides with, and obliterates, that notion.

The worst-case scenario is that Gates cravenly kowtows to the world’s oppressors because he needs their cooperation to reach his beloved development goals. Like a geek with an MS-Excel spreadsheet, he has lost sight of the human impact behind the columns, rows and formulae. All that matters is the data, not how you get there.

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Price Gouging Would Solve California’s Water Crisis

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

The state of California has persisted under drought for several years. Now, regulators have taken drastic action to combat perceived water waste. From The Los Angeles Times:

Cities throughout California will have to impose mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering under an emergency state rule approved Tuesday.

Saying that it was time to increase conservation in the midst of one of the worst droughts in decades, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted drought regulations that give local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day.

Many Southern California cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Long Beach, already have mandatory restrictions in place.

But most communities across the state are still relying on voluntary conservation, and Californians in general have fallen far short of meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s January call for a 20% cut in water use.

In fact, statewide urban water usage has increased by 1% over the past three years. Cities have made efforts at “voluntary conservation,” which probably amounts to telling people that there’s a drought. But that hasn’t proven terribly effective.

Madelyn Glickfeld, assistant outreach director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, told the board that despite the Southland’s conservation strides, residents “don’t get this drought.”

She cited lush lawns and freeway sprinklers spraying next to the electronic Caltrans signs urging water savings.

There’s a better way to handle the situation. Instead of siccing the water police on neighbors for washing their car, California could institute market-based reforms which would effectively ration water without any form of policing at all.

Residents of East Los Angeles can expect to pay between $3 and $4 per 100 cubic meters of water used. If those rates were allowed to reflect actual supply and demand, they would clearly be higher. And if the rates were higher, residents would begin to “get this drought” fairly quickly. Those lush lawns grow because their owners regard them as a higher value than the money paid for irrigation. Guaranteed, there’s a price point at which that priority would shift.

But such a market response would be considered “gouging,” something which pretty much everyone regards as wrong. Yet “gouging” would immediately solve California’s problem by incentivizing consumers to ration their water use. Higher prices would also incentivize entrepreneurs to develop new and better ways to deliver water to consumers. Instead of responding abruptly to arbitrary political mandates, individuals would respond fluidly to the price signals offered in the market. The result would be a nimble response propelled by the rational self-interest of California residents. The crisis, such as it is, would resolve sooner and cause less damage over its duration.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 16:19 minutes long; 15.74 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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50 Colleges Where You Can Pay $60K A Year to Hear Hippie Profs Rail Against Capitalism

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

“Do as I say…”

The list of colleges and universities that charge more than $60,000 per year in tuition, fees, and room and board has grown to 50, as reported by Business Insider.

At the top of the 2014-2015 list is Harvey Mudd College, at $64,527, followed by Bard College and the University of Chicago, at $63,626 and $63,585, respectively.

A year ago, the $60,000-plus list stood at nine, topped by New York University’s $61,977.

The bitter irony is, of course, the fact that universities have been safe havens for hippie remnants to wax poetic about socialism all the while screaming about the evils of capitalism. If any one of these lecherous, flea-bitten idiots ever had to live under the economic circumstances they so gleefully champion they’d be hanging Koch brothers posters up in their offices in less than a week.

The leftist political approach to these rising costs is a mix of whining and demanding more taxpayer support for “free” education, never once examining why the situation is out of control.

That’s an approach they learned in college, by the way.

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Here’s What Obama Is Doing Instead of Visiting the Crisis-Stricken Border

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Branding. This president is all about the branding.

While the president goofs off, his official White House Twitter feed claims that he’s a hard-working stiff.

 

Between this and his conscious decision to avoid the disaster on the border, for which he is at least partly responsible, he’s basically daring Republicans to join Sarah Palin’s call to impeach him. “So sue me!” was yesterday’s taunt.

That would be a foolish thing to do. They should run against his policies and portray him as what he is — a slacker who doesn’t care about the damage that he is doing to the country. Run against Harry Reid, who has put the Senate in Obama’s back pocket. Running on impeaching him will blow up in the GOP’s faces.

Update: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is not amused by the president’s pool outing.

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Wendy Davis has a Huge Problem. His Name is Barack Obama.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

President Obama is in Texas this week, for fundraisers in Dallas and Austin. One of those is a fund-raiser with Robert Rodriguez, director of the pro-illegal alien revenge flick Machete. That movie postulates that there are no non-Americans south of the border at all. They’re all just “illegal Americans.”

While he is in Texas, Obama refuses to visit the border. On Tuesday, his spokesman Josh Earnest explained the decision by telling the media that because several administration officials have visited the border, Obama doesn’t need to.

But when she was atop the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano told Obama and the rest of the country that the border is “safer than ever.” That has turned out not to be true. Not even close. Kids can get across the border, which means that drug smugglers and terrorists can too.

How can Obama be sure that his current officials are any better informed than his former one?

Obama has never been popular in Texas. Mitt Romney beat him here like a drum.

Thanks to the crisis that is unfolding on the border and around the state right now, Obama is becoming even less popular. A Rio Grande Valley Democrat is even suggesting that the border crisis is “Obama’s Katrina moment.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is worried President Obama’s decision to not visit the U.S-Mexico border while he’s in Texas this week will become his  “Katrina moment.”

“I’m sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after a long time,” Cuellar said Monday in a Fox News interview with Neil Cavuto. “So I hope this doesn’t become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn’t need to come to the border. He should come down.”

Take a look at Rep. Cuellar’s district.

tx-28-cuellar

 

It slices right into the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, the Democrats’ stronghold in Texas.

Cuellar says he got an angry call from the White House after Tuesday’s remarks. But that won’t stop him from speaking out against the president’s decision not to visit the border.

If Cuellar is as worried as he seems, then the president’s disaster at the border stands to hurt Democrats there, which means they have no shot at all of winning anything statewide. None.

Wendy Davis has already had her own problems in the RGV. She has struggled to raise money there, and tried pandering to the region’s heavily Catholic vote by claiming, against all the known facts, that the late-term abortion supporter is somehow “pro-life.”

Davis has recently met with President Obama but refused to allow the media in, which means that she refuses to be seen or photographed with him.

But she cannot avoid him. Communities in the RGV are having to foot some of the bill for the massive influx of illegal aliens. The porous border presents the valley’s families and communities with serious security threats. That region is already struggling with a Democrat corruption problem in Hidalgo County. The Texas Democratic Party is a wholly owned ideological subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee, which under Obama has become beholden to the far left. Those politics just don’t fly in most of Texas. Obama’s decision not to visit the border signals to the Rio Grande Valley that he flat out does not care what is happening there.

Rep. Henry Cuellar seems to get that. He is speaking out to defend the communities in his district from President Obama’s irresponsible handling of the border crisis.

Wendy Davis lacks either the judgement or the courage, or both, to follow Cuellar’s lead. Davis will continue to run from having her picture taken with the president, but she just can’t get away from his policies. She isn’t even trying to. Her campaign has gone full Koch brothers, when Texans care about our security and our economy. Wendy Davis has offered voters nothing serious on either issue. She wants blue state economic policies, which are proven job killers, and she has come very late to the border issue. She has yet to say a word against Obama’s decisions.

As a Democrat in a conservative state with a strong Republican nominee running for governor, Wendy Davis was always destined to struggle. The decision to embrace the hard left and not criticize Obama’s border policies at all leaves Wendy Davis with no shot — none — to win in November. She’s finished.

More: Here’s what the president would rather do, than visit the border.

If there are any adults left in the Democratic Party, they’ll get with the president and tell him to knock this stuff off. Rep. Cuellar might do that. It’s clear that Wendy Davis will not.

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EPA Wants the Power to Garnish Your Wages

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This should not be allowed to happen. Ever. The Washington Times reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

This would do away with due process, at a time when the EPA is becoming the regulatory state by which the hard left assaults Americans’ property rights and the economy.

The EPA is also mired in a scandal and has lost some significant cases in court.

It does not have the power that it is grabbing. President Obama could step up and make a good name for himself by announcing that he will stop this rule change, but it’s probably happening at his behest. The regulatory state has been his weapon of choice to impose policies that have not been approved by Congress.

It’s up to Congress to stop it, and a Republican senator is stepping up.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.

Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.

The EPA rolled the plan out sneakily last week, and now it’s not answering any questions about it. Those two facts alone show that the agency can’t be trusted. Here’s one more.

Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

Here’s a negative comment: Under no circumstances should the EPA be allowed to do this. None. Ever.

h/t JWF

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Video: Chicagoland Regulations Drive Jobs Away

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Illinois Policy produced this video about Sara Travis. She wanted to build a coffee shop in Chicago. Chicago’s stifling regulatory environment drove her not just out of the city, but out of the entire state of Illinois.

Today she is in Austin, Texas, running Brew Hub and touting how much better Texas is for business than Illinois.

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Stick around to see Travis note Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s failed attempt to come to Austin to poach jobs back for his war-torn Chicago.

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Seattle Business Group Pushing Back On $15 Minimum Wage Nonsense

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

I’ll have a cup of sanity, please.

A coalition of Seattle businesses has cleared a major hurdle in its effort to repeal the city’s newly enacted $15-an-hour minimum wage, gathering enough petition signatures to put the issue to voters on the November ballot if the signatures hold up.

Forward Seattle — which represents restaurants, merchants and other businesses — submitted roughly 19,500 signatures last Wednesday to City Hall.

The group needed 16,510 signatures. City officials could complete a preliminary count by as early as Monday, then send the signatures to the King County election office for final verification.

However, the effort also faces allegations of fraud that appear backed by well-funded groups intent on preserving the wage increase, Forward Seattle Co-Chair Angela Cough said.

She also told FoxNews.com the group’s grassroots effort is under-funded in large part because members are being intimidated by opponents, who she said are compiling online boycott lists and going on members’ Facebook pages and websites like Yelp to post negative comments.

There are a couple of notable things about this fight. The most important is that the group is mad at the way the imperious Seattle City Council went about shoving this down the business community’s throat. Rabid leftists Democrats generally have no business experience or an all-out contempt for business owners, especially the successful owners. Measures like this happen because they either believe in economic fantasy (the inexperienced Dems) or are intentionally punitive (the contemptuous Dems). The measures are never in the best interest of anyone other than the politicians or activists pulling the strings of the people they will ostensibly help, but really don’t in the end.

It’s also important to note the tactics. Boycotts and social media sabotage are threatened because there isn’t a sound economic case to make. As that is the case for all progressive economic policy, they become more combative and desperate and, in the end, violent. These are the baby steps.

There is a temptation to let these socialist enclaves in America destroy themselves but the collateral damage is too high, including the fact that we often end up directly or indirectly funding bailout efforts.

The best move is probably just to focus on destroying progressivism.

I’m in.

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Republicans Should Do Whatever It Takes to Make Obama Look Good…Using Republican Principles

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

UPDATE: Upon seeing the initial comments, I’m concerned that folks read the headline, but not the story. So, I added a few words to the headline, in hopes of earning a reading. Let me know if it’s still unclear. — Scott Ott

Republicans should work hard to make President Obama look good.

Perhaps you’re thinking: “That’s not ‘work’ for Republicans. They do that effortlessly. Everything the GOP does seems to make Obama look good.”

That’s not what I mean.

Let me give you an example: Republicans fought the extension (of the extension) of unemployment benefits on the principle that when you reward something, you get more of it. They didn’t want more unemployment.

Democrats predicted that, if the benefits were not extended, America would look like the first 98% of Will Smith’s movie The Pursuit of Happyness, where he’s sleeping on the men’s room floor in the subway with his son.

Republicans, goaded by the fiscal conservatives among them, ended the president’s emergency extension of unemployment benefits. But wait. There’s more…

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Hobby Lobby, Disinformation and the Real War on Women

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Birth control advocates were quick to crow “War on Women” this week when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s ability to deny funding 4 out of 20 forms of birth control for their employees. Opponents have made a tidy disinformation campaign out of debating the merits of RFRA and hanging chad-like definitions of what is and isn’t an acceptable contraceptive. If you can concentrate past the shouting, you’ll see the gaping hole in the conversation regarding women’s health.

For all their wailing and gnashing of teeth, the anti-Hobby Lobby gang has yet to campaign against the right to restrict women to pap smears on a 3-5 year basis. Perhaps that is because pap smears aren’t being restricted by closely-held companies on the basis of religious beliefs, but by the tenets of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which follow government guidelines that have determined women no longer need PAP smears on a yearly basis.

A pap smear is a 5 second gynecological test that screens for pre-cancerous cells and cervical cancer. It also tests for HPV, the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States that can lead to genital warts, and as Michael Douglas will inform you, certain types of cancer in both women and men. Despite following guidelines to the contrary, President Obama cited the importance of pap smears when justifying Planned Parenthood’s $487 million annual grant from the government, claiming the money is meant for “mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.”

With mammograms that aren’t provided for women under 50 (women over 50 qualify once every 2 years) and Pap smears that are only paid for, at a minimum once every 3 years, the real deficit in women’s healthcare has nothing to do with birth control and everything to do with women’s health beyond their supposed immediate and ceaseless need to diffuse all threats of conception. After all, cervical cancer is slower to develop than a baby in the womb.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was quick to react to this week’s Supreme Court ruling, saying, “This is deeply troubling, because you have organized religions that oppose health care, period.” If this was an argument about health care, Pap smears and mammograms would be on the table. Wasserman Schultz’s complaint has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with a religious belief that ranks higher than a woman’s right to choose life or death for her unborn child.

Which is potentially why the public remains consumed with the compelling dead horse that is a “woman’s right to choose”. The tension over whether or not Roe v. Wade will ever be repealed is much more engaging than the stark reality of a healthcare system that is willing to let cancer go undetected. Disinformation campaign well played, and not without its irony. Obamacare supporters’ ardent trumpeting of the War on Women should come as no surprise given that they have become the generals in charge of the massacre.

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Master Salesman Barack Obama Denies He’s a Crazy, Socialist, Imperial President

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

When’s the last time you heard a president of the United States attempt to sell his ideas as “not crazy…not socialism” and not a sign of “the imperial presidency.” In the video below, President Obama does just that, on the banks of the Potomac yesterday in front of a friendly audience of staffers, supporters and media (forgive the redundancy).

Watching this brief clip convinced me that when President Obama leaves office sometime in the next decade or two, he can make a smooth transition to giving sales-training seminars.

I’ve studied the video, and culled from it…

Barack Obama’s 3 Secrets of Successful Selling

Background: The president wants to make up a budget shortfall in the highway trust fund by hiking taxes on gas companies. Here’s how a master salesman goes about it.

1. Deal with Objections: You often have to deal with the prospect’s legitimate objections — and sometimes with his irrational, emotional objections.  Apparently the president felt that Americans need assurance that the highway bill is sane, capitalist and democratic. By echoing what their conscience tells them about him, Obama offers affirmation, while subtly suggesting that he might not be what their experience shows that he is.

By the way, in a one-on-one setting, the president would have used the “feel-felt-found” formula to defuse the situation, like so…

I can understand how you feel this is a socialist, imperialist plan to punish producers and reward my union cronies. In fact, others have felt that way too. In the beginning, even I felt that way. But as I studied the talking points prepared by my staff in cooperation with the AFL-CIO and Sierra Club, I found that it’s not crazy, not socialism and not the imperial presidency.

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The US Economy Shrank Even More Than Expected in 2014 Q1

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

About that whole “recovery summer” thingy…

The U.S. economy contracted at a much steeper pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, but there are indications that growth has sincerebounded strongly.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the economy’s worst performance in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month.

While the economy’s woes have been largely blamed on an unusually cold winter, the magnitude of the revisions suggest other factors at play beyond the weather. Growth has now been revised down by a total of 3.0 percentage points since the government’s first estimate was published in April, which hadthe economy expanding at a 0.1 percent rate.

Yeah. A bad winter doesn’t cause the world’s largest economy to contract nearly 3% all by itself. Even the media are having a hard time keeping that excuse aloft. But Obama’s partisan bitter-enders will fight on to the end…

I want you to watch a couple of clips. A rep for the National Association of Manufacturers appeared on CNBC today. CNBC is supposedly a business-oriented channel. The NAM rep said that a majority of manufacturers are generally optimistic about their own companies, but are worried about Obamacare.

After the NAM rep says this, the CNBC host actually asks this question: “Can you just explain to me, why the provision of more affordable healthcare for wider swathes of the American population and the public, would be an impediment to growth?” Actually, he sneered the question. In a British accent. I’m not even kidding.

No clue as to how regulations, how achieving that so-called “more affordable healthcare” forces businesses into deciding whether to hire or stay under an artificial, government-imposed cap on the number of employees they can have before they run afoul of Obamacare regulations. No clue as to how much chaos Obamacare will impose on the employer-employee relationship — so much chaos that Obama delayed implementing that part of the regulation until after this year’s mid-terms. No. Clue. At. All.

On CNBC. The supposedly business oriented cable news channel.

CNBC wasn’t finished making excuses for Obama today. CNBC’s Brian Sullivan showed up on sister network MSNBC today. He blamed the economic contraction on…really horrible weather. I’m not even kidding.

“Here’s the thing: weather,” Sullivan told Morning Joe. “This quarter really actually was horrible. People didn’t go to restaurants for weeks. So we’re waiting to see what happens with the second quarter, whether we’re not gonna completely sharply rebound. That negative 2.9% is a big number,” he conceded, “but people are optimistic overall. They still are.”

Hope springs eternal! It even got Barack Obama elected president.

We have a whole generation of people, adults, who are living with their parents, not getting jobs, not getting married, not buying houses and cars. I guess we’ll blame that on the weather too?

CNBC, the business channel, really ought to look beyond the weather. The business channel published a survey of state business climates on the same day that the world learned that the US economy is contracting at an alarming rate.

The top five states — Georgia, Texas, Utah, Nebraska, and North Carolina — are all either red states or purple states trending red. They all tend to keep the regulatory environment to a minimum and keep taxes low. Blue giants California and New York did better on CNBC’s survey than they do on most — 32nd and 40th respectively. They tend to rank 49 and 50 on most business climate surveys.

It is just possible that federal and state overregulation have as much, if not more, impact on the economy than a few storms?

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Sit Down Kids-The White House Just Said No To A Tax Hike

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Pinch me.

The White House on Monday rejected a proposal that would hike the gasoline tax in order to prevent the federal Highway Trust Fund from running out of money in August.

“That’s something that we’ve said a couple of times that we wouldn’t support,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing.

Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democrat Chris Murphy last week suggested raising the tax 6 cents a year for two years and linking future fuel tax increases to inflation as ways to replenish the fund, which pays for about half of the country’s transportation projects.

Could Team Lightbringer be getting sensitive about public backlash about things like gas prices now? They shouldn’t. Like stories about the homeless, gas prices are only the responsibility of the president if he’s a Republican.

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Your Business Leaves Cash on the Table Every Day That You Don’t Do This One Simple Thing

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

What if you could make one simple decision, a minor change in personnel policy, that would, according to one top expert, “pay great returns,” and make your workers happier? You’d do it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?

You’re always looking for a way to invest your business capital to maximize returns, and you’ve overlooked this simple adjustment — a change you could implement today.

Here is the direct quote from top expert Valerie Jarrett, about this technique:

But we also know what a good investment in our workforce it would be if they had paid leave, and that investment will pay great returns.

That’s right, President Obama’s adviser, Valerie Jarrett, recommends that you give paid leave to every mother of a newborn. At this point, you’re smiting your own forehead, and wondering how you missed this ROI opportunity, aren’t you? Talk about “things I didn’t learn in business school”! Yes, that’s right, by paying people to stay away from their jobs, your business can harvest “great returns.”

President Obama went even further in a CNN interview, noting that in 1998, when Malia was born, he took a month off. In addition to the “precious memories” he garnered from the paternal bonding time, the people of his Illinois state Senate district undoubtedly felt the surge in productivity from their senator.

Barack Obama with daughter Malia in 1998

President Obama shown with his infant daughter during his monthlong hiatus from the Illinois state Senate, a leave of absence that must have measurably increased his productivity.

If paid leave for the mother of a newborn can goose the bottom line, paid leave for the baby Daddy should double, at least, the “great returns” you’ll reap.

Some critics slam the president as out-of-touch with working Americans and ignorant of what it takes to run a business. Certainly this news will stop the mouths of those cynics, while it lines the pockets of the one-percenters (AKA small business owners) who choose to grant paid leave to parents of newborns.

Only the ignorance among businesspeople of the “great returns” available from such policies has prevented them from cashing in until now.

But don’t worry, you won’t be left out of this investment opportunity, because President Obama wants to make sure you experience those “great returns,” by mandating that you pay parents of newborns to go home for weeks of generating “precious memories.”

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