DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

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Archive for the 'Your tax dollars at work – and play.' Category

Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can’t Dogfight

30th June 2015

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A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can’t turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy’s own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January.

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the unnamed pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief that War Is Boring has obtained. The brief is unclassified but is labeled “for official use only.”

Well, it’s not as if this is news.

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Texas University’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion to Earn More Than Any Governor

29th June 2015

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Here we see the Diversity Scam at its finest: Government makes burdensome regulations that eventually provide cushy jobs for ordinary people who are trying to cope with said burdensome regulations (and institutions desiring some assurance that they won’t be sued under said burdensome regulations). After all, who better to steer people away from the Regulation Rocks than the bureaucrats who were charged with enforcing them in the first place?

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How the White House Abandoned American Hostages

28th June 2015

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In the last 10 months, the Islamic State has brutally executed four American hostages. As Americans died, their government was powerless to stop the slaying. For while European governments tirelessly toiled to secure the release of European hostages, President Barack Obama’s administration’s passive approach doomed their American cellmates.

The U.S. government’s principal channels with the four families largely consisted of mid-level officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. The FBI was useless. Its tasks were alternately to extract information and to comfort the family. It never shared intelligence. One European hostage, who was incarcerated with the Americans and subsequently released, told me he was shocked that the FBI seemed more interested in gathering evidence to prosecute the hostage-takers than it was in locating the Americans. Our lead agent misled me on several occasions, employing convoluted legalisms that would have impressed the greatest Talmudic scholars. His tactics so frustrated the Sotloffs that they finally asked him to address all queries to me. Though Steve is dead, our nightmare with the FBI continues. The bureau still refuses to give the Sotloffs the original letters he smuggled out of prison, claiming it is studying them for clues.

The FBI could have helped most when the Islamic State initiated contact with each of the families. Instead, it relied on hostage training manuals designed for dealing with psychopaths. That was the wrong approach. The hostage-takers did not have fractured egos that needed soothing. This was a pure money racket. Its ringleaders were not driven by ideology and displayed no psychological disorders.

The State Department was no better. When the mother of one of the hostages requested a senior point of contact at the White House, a State Department official rebuked her for going over her head. When Steve’s father asked that I attend a government meeting, a consular official claimed the room was too small. When Steve’s father offered to give up his seat, the official demurred. The decision to prohibit family representatives from government meetings was made at the administration’s highest levels. The White House knew that some representatives, like the one retained by the family of James Foley, one of the four slain hostages, had intelligence and political experience. Banning them allowed the administration to manage expectations and control the tempo of consultations. Indeed, some families were so confused on secure conference calls that they could not identify the government officials on the other end of the line.

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Obama Scolds Transgender Immigrant Who Heckled Him at White House: ‘Shame On You!’

26th June 2015

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As if Obama or any other Democrite activist would have hesitated for a second to do the same to Bush or any other Republican President.

Uh, Barry? It’s not your house; it’s the American people’s house. Get over yourself.

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Social Security Paid the Dead $47M, Audit Says

26th June 2015

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) paid individuals acting as representatives for disabled beneficiaries nearly $50 million even though they were dead.

An audit from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is just the latest example of the SSA’s inability to figure out who on their rolls is still alive.

The audit focused on “representative payees,” or a person who manages another’s finances due to mental or physical limitations. The OIG found that many payees acting on behalf of disability beneficiaries had died.

“SSA did not ensure new representative payees were selected when current payees died,” the OIG said. “Based on our sample results, we estimated 2,548 deceased payees received approximately $46.8 million in [Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance] OASDI benefits and [Supplemental Security Income] SSI payments.”

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Michelle Obama’s America: Salt ‘Black Markets’ Arise in School Cafeterias

25th June 2015

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Kids in a school district in Indiana have created a black market in salt packets, which they trade and sell to help mitigate the disgusting taste of the so-called healthy lunches mandated under federal guidelines.

These guidelines were championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Like so many other clumsy government attempts to make people healthier by forbidding the consumption of things they like, the initiative is a costly failure.

‘Black market’ is a tendentious slur-word for situations in which the pricing and availability of goods are dictated by someone’s political agenda rather than free exchange. They are always a symptom of tyranny.

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New York Police Investigate Parking Tickets Given to Driver Found Lying Dead in the Car’s Front Seat

25th June 2015

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New York traffic wardens issued two parking tickets to a car whose driver was later found dead in the front seat, it has been reported.

Police have launched an investigation into whether wardens saw the body of 47-year-old Mamadou Barry but failed to report it.

Two parking tickets were found on the car, which was sitting in a zone where vehicles are not allowed to park between 11.30am and 1pm.

And while the first ticket was discovered inside the car and dated 16 June, another was still fixed to the windscreen when police were called, witnesses said.

Not my job, man.

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Most Illegal Immigrants From Border Surge Skipped Court Date After Release, Records Show

24th June 2015

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My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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The Kelo Debacle Turns 10

23rd June 2015

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Ten years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of the most destructive and appalling decisions of the modern era. In Kelo v. City of New London, a 5-4 majority allowed a local government to bulldoze a working-class neighborhood so that private developers would have a blank slate on which to build a luxury hotel, a conference center, and various other upscale amenities. The city’s goal was to erase that existing community and replace it with a new commercial district that would (hopefully) fill the local coffers with more abundant tax dollars. According to the Supreme Court, this unsavory land grab qualified as a legitimate use of the city’s eminent domain powers because the city “has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community.”

In the wake of the Court’s decision, the final holdouts in New London were given the boot and the bulldozers rolled in, leveling the neighborhood. But then nothing else happened. The redevelopment scheme fell apart and the project died. If you visit New London today, you’ll find that the razed neighborhood still stands empty, a depressing monument to the folly of “expert” government planning.

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Obama Wonders If Dylann Roof, Who Passed a Background Check, Could Have Been Stopped by a Background Check

22nd June 2015

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Sharp as a tack, that guy. What would we do without him?

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Texas Return of Deep Fryers to Schools Raises Obesity Concerns

22nd June 2015

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A decision this week to return deep fryers and soda machines to Texas schools has raised criticism among nutrition experts who say it will worsen a childhood obesity problem in the second-most populous U.S. state.

Is there a problem? No evidence is presented. Perhaps if they worked with obese kids on an individual basis rather than just making everybody eat salad….

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said on Thursday putting fried foods and sugary drinks back in schools restores choices for districts who have been unable over the past 10 years to help cut down on obesity rates under present guidelines.

Not that ‘nutrition experts’ care anything about choice.

“They have resulted in millions of dollars of food not being eaten and thrown away, and I’m here to put an end to that,” Miller said in a news release.

Not that ‘nutrition experts’ care anything about facts.

School lunches have been a politically charged topic for years, with states such as California banning sodas from schools and local officials sometimes criticizing the Obama administration’s policy to make school food more nutritious.

In the new ‘progressive’ regime, every aspect of life is a political question. Now, what does that remind me of?

On Friday, the American Heart Association (AHA) said the Texas move makes little sense and cited surveys showing most parents support nutrition standards for school meals.

Preventing food waste ‘makes little sense’? Restoring choice ‘makes little sense’? I guess the AHA doesn’t have time for facts, either.

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Left Argues for Keeping Fascist Law Because It Saves Money

20th June 2015

Sonic Harm understands the dialectic.

If you’re wondering why repealing ACA costs money, the answer appears to be that while ACA includes what one might think of as ‘Obamacare’ itself – you know, the actual stuff righties complain about – it also includes stuff about Medicare which (as far as I can tell) basically says ‘uh so we’re gonna just basically spend lots less on Medicare in the future? I guess?’. (Plus stupid boutique taxes like the medical-device tax that nobody likes but are presumably just put there to get the budget-scoring over the top.) Whether all these we’re-gonna-spend-less plans will indeed be followed to the letter with no other repercussions or feedback effects, in light of, y’know, political economy and reality, is left as an exercise to the reader. But CBO is required to take these future we’re-gonnas at face value either way, and so they rightly did. (Keep this in mind, by the way, because it’s the reason a raw CBO scoring of something, however good and respectable CBO is thought to be (and it is!), is not a valid part of a cost-benefit analysis of that thing.)

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Company That Got Millions From US Taxpayers Now Profits Chinese Owners

20th June 2015

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The good news is electric car battery maker A123 Systems is finally on track to turn a profit.

The bad news is taxpayers don’t figure to see any of the $133 million the federal government spent and the estimated $141 million in tax credits and subsidies secured from Michigan to help the company take off in 2009, only to see A123 Systems crash, declare bankruptcy in 2012 and then get purchased by a privately held Chinese conglomerate.

“In the case of A123, they created some jobs and a year or two later those jobs were gone, so taxpayers weren’t getting that money back,” said Jarret Skorup, a policy analyst at Michigan’s Mackinac Center, a free-market think tank.

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Civil-Rights Groups, Teachers Union Clash Over ‘No Child Left Behind’

19th June 2015

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Civil-rights groups and the country’s largest teachers union are at odds over the role of testing as Congress moves to fix the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, setting up a battle among Democratic-aligned groups that could make it tough to forge a bill that will garner necessary votes for passage.

In a letter to senators, officials with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and three dozen other organizations said the current Senate bill, the Every Child Achieves Act, doesn’t have sufficient provisions to identify poor schools and hold them accountable when students do not meet performance goals based on test scores. In addition, the civil-rights groups asked for requirements around data-reporting and equal funding for schools.

“The highest priority of civil rights community for improving this law is also the National Education Association’s highest priority to defeat,” said Ms. Haycock.

Leaders of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, say that the heavy reliance on testing to assess teachers and schools creates a toxic environment for schools. While testing could be one variable in that mix, union leaders maintain that it cannot be the only measure. They advocate instead for a “dashboard” of indicators on student progress.

Since laws can’t magically increase the intelligence and diligence of children, the only sure way to leave no child behind is to make sure no child gets ahead.

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Behold: The ‘Simple’ Rules for Fighting Federal Asset Forfeiture

17th June 2015

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It ain’t pretty.

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NYC Government Balloons to Record Size Under de Blasio

15th June 2015

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The number of people employed by New York City taxpayers will reach a record high this month — 282,767.

That’s according to the Office of Management and Budget, which estimates that by the end of June, the city will have increased its rolls by 11,000 in just the past year.

My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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New Tech: Government Must Change

14th June 2015

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But it won’t, until people die. Even then, it will fight tooth & nail to stick with the same old way of doing things.

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New Article Blasts Feds’ ‘Pseudoscientific Methods’ for Establishing Dietary Guidelines

13th June 2015

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A new article by University of Alabama-Birmingham researcher Edward Archer and colleagues Gregory Pavela and Carl Lavie, published this week in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, argues that the conclusions drawn by the federal government’s controversial Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) rest on fatally flawed assumptions about unusable data. Consequently, the authors conclude that the DGAC’s work—and the research used to support that work—is so off base as to be scientifically useless.

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Oops–We Forgot About the Operating Costs

12th June 2015

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The city and state officials who promoted construction of Honolulu’s rail transit line now admit that they don’t know how they are going to pay for the cost of operating that line. Between 2019, when the first part of the line is expected to open for business, and 2031, those costs are expected to be $1.7 billion, or about $140 million per year. In 2011, the annual operating cost was estimated to be $126 million a year.

Honolulu has about a hundred bus routes, which cost about $183 million to operate in 2013, or less than $2 million per route. The rail line will therefore cost about 70 times as much to operate as the average bus route.

What is mere money when we have a chance to make Hawaii look like 19th-century New York?

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Report: Hack of Government Employee Records Discovered by Product Demo

12th June 2015

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As officials of the Obama administration announced that millions of sensitive records associated with current and past federal employees and contractors had been exposed by a long-running infiltration of the networks and systems of the Office of Personnel Management on June 4, they claimed the breach had been found during a government effort to correct problems with OPM’s security. An OPM statement on the attack said that the agency discovered the breach as it had “undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture.” And a DHS spokesperson told Ars that “interagency partners” were helping the OPM improve its network monitoring “through which OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information technology systems and data in April 2015.”

Meanwhile, the breach has triggered outrage from unions representing federal employees. In a letter to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox expressed displeasure at the way OPM had handled the breach, calling the 18 months of credit monitoring and $1 million liability insurance OPM is offering federal employees “entirely inadequate, either as compensation or protection from harm.”

So the union representing government employees is upset that government employees proved massively incompetent. I see.

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11-Year-Old Boy Played in His Yard. CPS Took Him, Felony Charge for Parents.

11th June 2015

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The  Nanny State takes itself seriously.

One afternoon this past April, a Florida mom and dad I’ll call Cindy and Fred could not get home in time to let their 11-year-old son into the house. The boy didn’t have a key, so he played basketball in the yard. He was alone for 90 minutes. A neighbor called the cops, and when the parents arrived—having been delayed by traffic and rain—they were arrested for negligence.

They were put in handcuffs, strip searched, fingerprinted, and held overnight in jail.

It would be a month before their sons—the 11-year-old and his 4-year-old brother—were allowed home again. Only after the eldest spoke up and begged a judge to give him back to his parents did the situation improve.

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Lincoln Tunnel Bus Collision Injures 18, Snarling Traffic

10th June 2015

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The crash occurred around 9:30 a.m. in the tunnel’s center tube when a New Jersey Transit bus hit the back of a private bus, said Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. At least 18 people reported injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening and were taken to local hospitals, he said.

Note that: A government bus ran into a private company’s bus.

Prediction:

  1. Nobody will get fired, except perhaps the driver of the private bus.
  2. Nobody will go to jail, except perhaps the driver of the private bus.
  3. If anybody has to pay, it will be the private company.

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Still Gridlocked

9th June 2015

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The Obama administration wants to change the way American corporations that operate in foreign countries are taxed, increasing tax revenues to the federal government, and to use those revenues on infrastructure programs including the transportation bill. This is called “repatriation,” but the problem is that there is no relationship between corporate tax policy and transportation. On one hand, using repatriation for transportation weakens the user-fee links between transportation agencies and users; on the other hand, if Congress agreed to the change in tax policy, many other interest groups would line up with their hands out for a share of the take.

The program of the Democrite party is ‘Leave no source of revenue untapped’.

Though Republicans have the majority of both the Senate and the House, they are far from united about what should be done.

There is no ‘Republican party’. There is a Democrite party, and there is a not-quite-Democrite party that uses ‘Republican party’ as a Clever Plastic Disguise.

Fifty-two years ago, Congress had almost nothing to do with transportation. Though it had funded the Interstate Highway System in 1956, it acted mainly as a pass-through organization, taking revenues collected from refineries and oil importers and handing them over to the state highway agencies according to a simple formula. At the time, the United States was known for having the best transportation system in the world.

Ah, yes, the Good Old Days.

Since then, Congress has increasingly taken the reigns of transportation policy. It began funding mass transit in 1964. It started tinkering with highway funding, splitting the funds into more and more pots and specifying how each pot could be used, in the 1970s. In 1991, it gave cities incentives to build expensive rail transit projects.

The result has been little short of a disaster. The Interstate Highways are due for replacement yet there is no money to do so because Congress has diverted most of the federal gas tax to other things. Transit requires huge unsustainable subsidies that have done little to increase transit ridership. America’s rail transit systems are in deplorable condition as agencies eagerly build more lines even though they can’t maintain the ones they have.

The thing is that the business of government is buying votes, not all that other stuff. Until financial and performance incentives can be aligned somehow, things will just continue as they are.

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‘US military secretly preparing for asteroid that will wipe out mankind in September’

8th June 2015

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Well, I sure hope so….

Internet bloggers and Armageddon conspiracists are predicting the “end of days” event to happen between September 22 to 28.

My 15th wedding anniversary is in there. I appreciate the thought, but….

One blogger has worryingly suggested US residents retain their firearms after suggesting that the controversial military operation Jade Helm taking place between July and September in several southern states is in preparation for predicted anarchy that could ensue as the asteroid nears the planet.

It’s not the southern states that will be a problem; they can handle themselves. The coastal cities, however, full of room-temperature slum dwellwers, well….

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Is the U.S. Abandoning Afghan Interpreters to Certain Death?

6th June 2015

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I wouldn’t be surprised.

Earlier this year, military translator Sakhidad Afghan, age 26, was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by Taliban militants. Afghan had been waiting for years for the U.S. government to make due on its promise to issue him a visa to the United States.

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Cherry Creek Schools Fires Employee Who Gave Free Lunch to Hungry Kids

3rd June 2015

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The Cherry Creek School District’s nutrition services department fired Curry, who was kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, for giving school lunches to students who didn’t have the money to pay for them

Yet another reason not to send your kid to a government school.

The school district has a free and reduced lunch program for children who meet federal income guidelines. But Curry, who got the ax last Friday, was giving lunch to children whose parents made too much to qualify for the program.

It’s not enough to be poor, you’ve got to be black-people-poor; just being white-people-poor isn’t enough.

“I knew the whole time it was a firing offense,” she said. “Somebody told my supervisors what I had done, and it is immediate termination. I will take that if we can change the rules.”

 

Refreshing to find somebody willing to step up and take a hit for her principles.

 

 

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Sacramento Voters Reject Streetcar. (Not That It Won’t Get Built Anyway….)

3rd June 2015

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Sacramento wants to build a streetcar, and since everyone knows that streetcars increase property values, the city asked property owners to agree to pay a tax to help pay for it. Under California law, two-thirds of voters must agree, but the city must have believed that everyone loves streetcars so much that they would overwhelmingly agree to pay the tax.

Not so much. In fact, they couldn’t even get half to support it. The final vote count was something like 48 percent in favor.

Not to worry. Even though a nineteenth-century technology makes no sense in a twenty-first-century city; even though the people don’t want to pay for it; even though it has so far taken ten years to plan something that was obsolete a hundred years ago and certainly can’t respond to the almost daily changes in tastes, technologies, and travel patterns we experience today; they’re going to try to find a way to build it anyway. “We’ll look for other sources of funds,” said one city councillor. “We’re really committed to keep the project on track.” In other words, committed to stupidity.

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The TSA Doesn’t Work—and Never Has

3rd June 2015

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Even Voice of the Crust The Atlantic admits it.

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Wolves at the Door: Court Ruling Triggers Backlash Over Endangered Species Act

3rd June 2015

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Miles Kuschel could have taken aim to protect his cattle from the pack of six gray wolves stalking his herd Easter morning.

Since pulling the trigger meant risking a prison term, he didn’t.

But when Kuschel returned to his farm after Easter services, he found a calf’s bloody carcass.

“Try to put yourself in the farmer’s shoes. It’s literally a federal crime. You could be watching your pasture and you could see a wolf killing your cattle, which is like watching someone at the ATM taking money out of your bank account, and you can do nothing to stop it,” said Charlie Poster, assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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The Entitlement Squeeze

1st June 2015

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There’s just no money for all the stuff government wants to do.

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EPA Can’t Shake Its Ethanol Headache

31st May 2015

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After years of delay, the Environmental Protection Agency finally got its ethanol-mandate program back on track.

And right on schedule, the outrage poured in from all sides.

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‘Real food’ Movement on Campus Funnels Real Money to Left-Wing Causes

30th May 2015

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A movement to bring “real food” to Northwestern University may have less to do with improving nutrition than paying into the coffers of a host of left-wing special-interest groups.

A group of students called Real Food at NU rallied last week to convince the school to buy 20 percent of its dining-hall food from “real” sources by 2020, according to The Daily Northwesterner.

The effort is part of a national organization, the Real Food Challenge, which lists its criteria for real food as “local and community-based,” “fair,” “ecologically sound” and “humane.”

Mark Swenson serves on the board of directors for the Food Alliance, and also works for Bon Appetit Management Co., which is closely affiliated with the Real Food Challenge. Another Bon Appetit executive, Maisie Greenawalt, advises the organization as well.

According to the Real Food Challenge website, some of its advisers are leaders of worker rights groups.

One such adviser, Richard Mandelbaum, the social justice coordinator for the Farmworkers Support Committee, gave a presentation on “food democracy” in 2009 at the Left Forum, a self-described socialist group.

Mandelbaum is also an original founder of the Agricultural Justice Project, one of the designated certifiers of whether or not food is “fair.”

In order to be certified as having fair labor practices, the project recommends workers join a worker rights group, such as the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

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Black Workers Can No Longer Rely on Blue Jobs

30th May 2015

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Public sector jobs are in decline, and one community has been hit particularly hard: African Americans. Historically, the black middle class has relied on the government for good jobs. One in five African Americans are employed by the government, making them more dependent on public sector employment than whites and Hispanics. But those jobs are disappearing….

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Public University Hosts Special Graduation Party for Illegal Immigrants

30th May 2015

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Undocumented students graduating from San Francisco State University (SFSU) received an extra treat this week—a special celebration at the university in their honor.

California: Not really part of America.

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The EPA Manufactures Its Own Consent

30th May 2015

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In his 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media, co-author Noam Chomsky decried how newspaper, radio, and television peddles “system-supportive propaganda” in the service of ideological goals. The masses are diverted from challenging the system by Necessary Illusions promoted by the political class. Of course, as a committed leftist Chomsky is convinced that a corporate power elite is in charge of the process of manufacturing consent and disseminating necessary illusions.

As it happens, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has apparently learned a trick or two when it comes to manufacturing consent. Earlier this week, the agency released its new surface water regulations. Let’s set aside for the moment whether or not the agency actually has the authority to adopt the new regs, and look instead at how the agency managed the process of creating the necessary illusions to justify their adoption.

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Feds Spend $579,301 on Video Game to Teach College Students About Rape

29th May 2015

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I am not making this up.

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Jailhouse Crock: Unfinished Prison Costs Detroit Area Taxpayers $1.2M Per Month

29th May 2015

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A prison in downtown Detroit that was deemed too expensive to complete is now a construction site frozen in time that still costs cash-strapped local taxpayers more than $1 million a month.

It was supposed to be a state-of-art lockup in the heart of the Motor City, but four years after breaking ground, with construction costs totaling $150 million and no end in sight, the city pulled the plug on the project four years ago.

Now, the Wayne County Jail sits empty among the ruins of a bankrupt city, costing taxpayers upwards of $1.2 million in debt service and monthly upkeep costs for electricity, security, sump pumps – and even off-site storage for pre-fabricated jail cells that will never be used.

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Woman Calls Non-Emergency Number to Get Help for Suicidal Boyfriend. Cops Arrive, Kill Him.

28th May 2015

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When was the last time you got that level of service from a police department.

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Amtrak Has Problems, But a Lack of Federal Funding Is Not One of Them

28th May 2015

Veronique de Rugy pulls back the curtain.

While this continued faith in government’s ability to heal most wounds with funding is par for the course in Washington, it’s time to set the record straight. The reasons for Amtrak’s struggles have more to do with its history of poor management than they do with its lack of cash. One need only peruse reports from the Government Accountability Office and Amtrak’s own inspector general to see what can go wrong when the discipline of the market is absent. As the IG noted last year, Amtrak “has not consistently used sound business practices in each phase of the capital planning process, including developing sound project proposals with performance measures, learning from the execution and outcome of projects, and controlling unauthorized expenditures.”

Amtrak’s fundamental problem, however, is the same one that afflicts all government endeavors: Operational decisions are often made on the basis of political concerns rather than sound economic and financial reasoning. The clearest examples of this are Amtrak’s money-losing long-distance passenger routes, which are kept on life support with federal funds because politicians generally prefer to waste other people’s money than confront the tiny but vocal minority of people who benefit.

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Low-Speed, Infrequent Rail

28th May 2015

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Quentin Kopp, who once chaired the California High-Speed Rail Authority and led the effort to persuade voters to pass the 2008 law authorizing its construction, is speaking out against the project as currently planned. To succeed, he says, high-speed rail needs to run on dedicated tracks at high speeds and frequencies.

Instead, the current plan calls for California’s high-speed trains to run on the same tracks as slower Amtrak and commuter train. This will greatly reduce the average speeds because high-speed and conventional trains can’t be safely operated together. The current projected frequencies are two to four trains per hour (half in each direction), while Kopp says 10 to 20 trains per hour is needed for the trains to be “financially secure,” which presumably means that fares cover operating costs as required by the 2008 law.

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Young, Poor and Needing a Job, Not a Raise

27th May 2015

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Los Angeles is the latest large city in recent years to lift its local wage floor well above the federal minimum of $7.25. Seattle and San Francisco are already implementing $15 minimums, which likewise have been proposed in New York City and Washington, D.C. Last year, Chicago passed legislation that will boost the minimum in stages to $13 an hour in 2019, a 58% increase over five years.

The biggest backers of these measures tend to be unions, who want to reduce the supply of labor by increasing its cost. Unions call for higher minimums in the name of helping the working poor, reducing inequality, increasing purchasing power and so forth. But a union’s primary objective is to protect its members, and Big Labor’s minimum-wage advocacy primarily is in the service of pricing nonunion workers out of the labor force. The average union worker in Los Angeles earns more than $27 an hour, a wage that is easier to command when people who will work for less are too expensive to employ thanks to a mandated minimum wage.

Yeah, unions — the workers’ friend.

Politicians like President Obama and civil-rights groups like the NAACP insist that the minimum wage is an effective antipoverty tool. But most minimum-wage earners do not hail from poor households, let alone head them. Rather, they tend to be teenagers or young adults working part time. The majority of poor families in the U.S. have no workers. What they need most is a job, not a raise.

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‘John Wayne Day’ in Texas Honors Actor’s 108th Birthday

27th May 2015

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All due respect to the Duke, but this just goes to show that even Texas politicians can be remarkably silly at times.

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Why Is The Attorney General Making Claims About PATRIOT Act That Her Own Agency’s Report Says Are Not True?

22nd May 2015

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Uh, because she’s a statist lying Democrat weasel who was appointed by a statist lying Democrat weasel primarily because she was black and female?

That’s just a guess, you understand, but it fits the available evidence.

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ACA Health Insurance Rates Set to Skyrocket

22nd May 2015

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In 2016, insurance premiums could go through the roof as big insurers across the country apply for large rate increases for their ACA plans. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, the state’s biggest insurer, wants to raise rates 36.3 percent on average. New Mexico (at a truly eye-popping 51.6 percent), Maryland, and Oregon are seeing similar big numbers. Even in states where insurers are requesting more moderate increases, the percentages are still high enough to give one pause (Michigan’s Blue Care Network, for example, wants a 10 percent bump). Only in Maine has a state’s main insurer signaled its intent to keep rates flat for 2016.

That’s why they called it the Affordable Care Act, because laws are always titled the opposite of the effect that they have.

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‘What the Hell?’ Boehner Rips VA for Firing Almost Nobody, Year After Shinseki Resignation

21st May 2015

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That’s the way the Crust takes care of its own — nobody gets fired, nobody goes to jail.

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Healthcare.gov Consultant Gets Tax-Free Golden Parachute in Latest Obamacare Exchange Scandal

18th May 2015

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In more bad news for Obamacare exchanges, QSSI, the information technology firm that manages the federally run Healthcare.gov unexpectedly quit last Thursday. The IT firm, which is the third to manage Healthcare.gov in its brief two year history, has been marred by controversy over its relationship with administration officials.

While QSSI has been credited with saving the federal exchange following its disastrous 2013 rollout, its relationship with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has come under scrutiny for possible conflicts of interest. Andy Slavitt, formerly an executive at QSSI’s parent groups United Healthcare Group and Optum, was later made a senior advisor at CMS.

Slavitt was strangely allowed to pocket at least $4.8 million in tax-free income by indefinitely deferring capital gains taxes on the sales of millions in stock upon joining CMS. Slavitt was also granted a rare federal ethics waiver which allowed him ignore the one-year mandatory cooling off period and simultaneously be involved in contracting issues for Optum and United Healthcare while working at CMS.

The Affordable Care Act ought to have been named the Incompetents Full Employment Act.

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Regulating Sscalators and Escalating Regulation

18th May 2015

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What do restaurant menus, refrigerators, community banks and escalators have in common? All were subjected to yet more federal regulation last year.

No fewer than 184 “major” new rules have been imposed since the start of the Obama administration, costing Americans about $80 billion per year in additional regulatory costs. And many more regulations are on the way. Another 126 such rules are on the administration’s agenda, such as directives to farmers for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables; strict limits on credit access for service members; and another redesign of light bulbs.

A new Heritage Foundation study found that in 2014, red tape entangled virtually every aspect of American life. The largest single area was financial services, which has been inundated with hundreds of new regulations as a result of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. The full effects of the act have yet to be felt, but its restrictions are already crippling community banks and increasing consumers’ banking costs, while doing little to reduce the threat of bailouts.

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Ten Thousand Commandments 2015

17th May 2015

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Ten Thousand Commandments is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of the size, scope and cost of federal regulations, and how they affect American consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., it shines a light on the large, growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state.

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Sister Diana’s Testimony Before Congress — at Last

15th May 2015

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Sister Diana Momeka, OP, finally made it from Kurdistan to Congress to testify about the fate of the Nineveh Christians among whom she lived before ISIS invaded Mosul. No thanks are due to the State Department for her visit, though it’s not clear who exactly held State’s feet to the fire for their original refusal of her visit. Their “reasoning” , if you remember my first post on this story was based on an idiotic estimation that Sister Diana would use the occasion of a week’s visit to become an illegal alien. We should be so lucky, considering the numbers of sketchy individuals that very same State Department dumps into the United States by the thousands every year.

For the ignorant among you, “OP” stands for Ordo Praedicatorum; she’s a Roman Catholic Dominican nun.

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Too Much Money Going to the Wrong Places

14th May 2015

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It appears that the Amtrak crash that killed seven people Tuesday resulted from speeding, but big-government advocates are already using this accident to make their case for more infrastructure spending. In fact, the problem is not too little money, but too much money going to the wrong places.

In 2008, President Bush signed a law mandating that most railroads, including Amtrak, install positive train control (PTC) by December of 2015. PTC would force trains to slow or stop if the operator ignored signals or speed limits.

In 2009 and 2010, President Obama asked a Democratic Congress to give him $10 billion to spend on high-speed trains, and Congress agreed. Not one cent of that money went to installing PTC in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

PTC would have prevented this accident. There was plenty of money available to install it, but the Obama administration, in its infinite wisdom, chose to spend it elsewhere. Two days ago, it would have been embarrassing to realize that the government-run Amtrak hadn’t yet completed installation of PTC on its highest-speed corridor. Today, it’s a tragedy. But how is it the fault of fiscal conservatives?

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