DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

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

IRS Erases Hard Drive Despite Court Order

20th January 2016

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The IRS erased a hard drive belonging to a former top employee involved in the agency’s controversial, taxpayer-funded hiring of elite trial law firm Quinn Emanuel.

Although there was a court preservation order on all documents related to the IRS hiring of the outside firm, the hard drive was erased anyway. The order was borne of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Microsoft.

Even though the white shoe law firm has zero experience handling sensitive tax data, taxpayers have been footing bills of over $1,000 per hour for its services.

Democrats Investigating Democrats: Nobody will get fired, nobody will go to jail.

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Inspector General: Clinton Emails Had Intel From Most Secretive, Classified Programs

20th January 2016

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Hillary Clinton’s emails on her unsecured, homebrew server contained intelligence from the U.S. government’s most secretive and highly classified programs, according to an unclassified letter from a top inspector general to senior lawmakers.

Democrats Investigating Democrats: Nobody will get fired, nobody will go to jail.

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SUPREME COURT TO HEAR EXECUTIVE AMNESTY CASE

19th January 2016

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The Supreme Court decided today to review a decision adverse to the government in the legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules. At issue is a program that would allow as many as five million illegal immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program under which they would receive work permits and avoid the possibility of deportation.

Obama’s power grab was thwarted when a coalition of 26 states filed a lawsuit alleging that Obama unlawfully sidestepped Congress and ignored the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act for changing rules. A federal judge entered a preliminary injunction shutting down the program while the lawsuit proceeded, and a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the injunction.

The district court’s injunction was based on a finding that the Obama administration didn’t follow the applicable procedures for changing rules. However, in agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court broadened the matter to encompass the more fundamental separation of powers concerns. It asked the parties to address whether the administration’s plan violates the constitutional command that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Looks like King Barry has encountered a stumbling-block on his way to supreme power.

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Corporate Inversions: Why Are Companies Leaving the US?

19th January 2016

It’s the taxes, stupid.

A corporate inversion is a deal in which a US company acquires or merges with a foreign one (that operates a similar line of business) and shifts its domicile abroad to benefit from a more favourable tax regime there. Thus, a company previously incorporated in the US becomes newly incorporated in a foreign country while retaining its material operations in the US.

Why are companies leaving the United States through inversion deals? The United States levies a very high corporate tax rate of 35% (plus state-level taxation). In contrast, the tax rates in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Ireland are much lower: 20%, 25% and 12.5%, respectively. US tax is also levied on profits earned abroad as soon as those profits are brought to America. To avoid taxation of their foreign earnings, US corporations designed complex structures that enable them to keep their profits offshore indefinitely. Needless to say that large amounts of cash accumulated abroad attract potential acquirers.

Duh.

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The Real Tragedy in Flint

19th January 2016

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A poster-child case of government incompetence.

Evidence suggests the DEQ did not check to see if a corrosion control program was in place. When people started complaining, the DEQ shrugged. Maybe somebody knew they had screwed up. Maybe nobody did, although the chain of evidence seems to suggest they were just too arrogant to pay attention to anyone who had anything to say about it. This isn’t surprising, coming from an agency whose director has a degree in food science, an MBA in finance and spent the previous few years of his career managing a entrepreneurship incubator. That’s what happens when you give important cabinet-level jobs to people who help you politically … but that’s another story.

DEQ is responsible for overseeing testing of water supplies. And when Flint tested its water, DEQ staff made Flint fudge the results. They threw out samples that had high lead levels.

And, I’m going to guess, told the Governor and his staff, all along, that everything was fine, this was much ado about nothing: “Look, Mr. Governor, Flint’s testing says the water’s fine.”

Hence the rush to blame the Governor, the only Republican in the equation.

Personally, I think Detroit needs to be held accountable for starting the snowball down the hill. And I think there are people in the DEQ who should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment and fraud.

Standard Prediction when Democrats are involved: Nobody will get fired, nobody will go to jail.

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Partisan Political Interests Behind ‘Cover Oregon’ Obamacare Exchange Debacle

19th January 2016

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A newly uncovered email confirms accusations that the $305 million Cover Oregon Obamacare exchange was controlled by partisan political advisors working for then-Governor John Kitzhaber’s 2014 reelection effort.

Kitzhaber is, of course, a Democrat.

Public documents previously obtained and examined by Willamette Week suggested that decisions over the fate of the now-failed exchange were given to partisan political operatives – led by a trusted aid of the governor known as “the princess of darkness.” This new email all but confirms these accusations.

Cronyism is, of course, endemic to politicians of all parties.

While Kitzhaber did win reelection, he was forced to resign months later amid a public corruption scandal involving his fiancée’s misuse of public office.

Ah, yes, the traditional Democrat way to retire from office.

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Flint Water Crisis: American City Is Still Charging Residents Up to $200 a Month for Contaminated ‘Toxic Waste’ Water

19th January 2016

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Of course. The city is run by Democrats, and Democrats don’t see why the quality of the product ought to be reflected in what they charge you for it.

“This s*** is criminal… [Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder] deserves to go to prison for this,” local resident Kendrick Boyd was quoted as saying.

Of course. The city is run by Democrats, and Democrats always look for a Republican to blame when what they do goes wrong.

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Don’t Blame Inequality on the Rich

19th January 2016

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Paul Krugman asks, “Is vast inequality necessary?” His answer is that some inequality is “inevitable,” but “the rich don’t have to be as rich as they are.”

But maybe the problem isn’t the rich are too rich. Maybe the problem is the poor aren’t rich enough. Like Bernie Sanders, who accuses Trump of being a demagogue and then spends most of his speeches lambasting the wealthy, Krugman wants to blame the wealthy for being rich. But the wealthy aren’t the ones who put policies in place that keep the poor oppressed.

The Antiplanner recently met Alan Graham, who helps homeless people in Austin. He says the homeless have too many health problems to make good employees, but they are very entrepreneurial. But the only entrepreneurial activity they are legally allowed to engage in is begging, because the courts have ruled that begging is a First Amendment right. Anything else they would like to do, even just open a lemonade stand, requires fees they can’t afford and permits from a bureaucracy they can’t understand. These rules were made by middle-class bureaucrats and progressive elected officials, not the wealthy.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

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Poisoned Water in Flint, Michigan

18th January 2016

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Gee, we don’t have such problems in Texas….

On Thursday, around 200 people called for the resignation of governor Rick Snyder outside Flint City Hall, the Detroit Free Press reports.

What, the Governor was responsible for the Flint water? I thought water was a local thing?

The city’s drinking water became contaminated it switched from water coming from Detroit to its own river in April 2014, because Detroit water had been too expensive.

However, nothing was done to address the corrosive properties of Flint River water, which began scouring the city’s mostly lead-based network of service pipes, exposing the city to lead poisoning.

Oh, I see. They’re just pissed at him because he’s a Republican, and that’s what Michigan people do, apparently. It’s never their fault, it’s always some Republican’s fault. I’m surprised they didn’t think to blame George W. Bush, although I’m sure that’s coming.

If you look at the recent history of Flint, you’ll find a series of problems; per Wikipedia:

In the mid-2000s, it became known for its high crime rates. Since this time, Flint has been ranked among the “Most Dangerous Cities in the United States”, with a per capita violent crime rate seven times higher than the national average. The city was under a state of financial emergency from 2011 to 2015, the second in a decade. It is currently in a public health state of emergency due to lead poisoning (and possibly Legionella) in the local water supply.

(Notes omitted) All under a string of unfailingly Democrat politicians. So, of course, when something goes wrong, they blame a Republican who had nothing to do with it.

I notice no plans to improve things, except buying expensive water from Detroit. A very Democrat program.

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Obamacare Premiums to Rise by up to 50 Percent in 2016

18th January 2016

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That’s why they call it the Affordable Care Act — because they act as if it were affordable care, but it’s really just an act.

Obamacare – the gift that keeps on shivving.

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FWS Finds Obama’s Carbon Rule Remains a Threat to Manatee Populations

18th January 2016

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The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) started off 2016 by removing the manatee from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) designation of “endangered” to the lesser designation of “threatened.” In a notice in the Federal Register published after the announcement, the FWS noted that manatee populations have seen gains such that there is a “very low percentage chance of this animal going extinct in the next 100 years.” However, the FWS noted one of the more pressing threats to the manatee resurgence would come from President Obama’s carbon regulations under the Clean Power Plan.

It’s no secret the President’s carbon regulations will force the premature retirement of coal-fired power plants across the U.S. In fact the President seems wholly indifferent to the thousands of jobs and livelihoods he’s destroying. However what the President and EPA did not count on is that some of the power plants that will be shuttered are integral to the survival of hundreds of Florida manatees.

The issue stems from the fact that the warm-water discharge from some Florida coal-fired power plants, such as Florida’s Big Bend Power Station, has become home to hundreds of West Indian manatees. The manatees are drawn to the warm-water discharge for a nearly six-month period in the winter.

The FWS’s notice on the manatee’s new ESA designation stated, “Within the Southeastern United States, the potential loss of warm water at power plants…used by wintering manatees is identified as a significant threat.” The FWS went on to point out that “addressing the pending loss of warm water habitat from power plant discharges remains a priority activity needed to achieve recovery.”

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It Won’t Do Any Good, But Let’s Do It Anyway

18th January 2016

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Oregon has a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forcing electric companies to stop burning coal and to get half their energy from renewable resources. It sounds like a great plan, but like so many government plans, it has a few flaws.

First, it won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, it will increase energy prices, thus reducing the viability of Oregon’s economy.

At least, that’s the conclusion of Oregon’s Public Utility Commission, the three-member board that is supposed to regulate electric utilities. The only problem is that the commission was never consulted about the energy plan, suggesting that the state is listening only to groups who are already true believers.

“We have some deep concerns about these negotiations because we think they will not be effective in reducing carbon emissions,” wrote commission chair Susan Ackerman in an email to the governor’s staff, “but they will be expensive to consumers.”

That never stopped them before.

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Not So Swift Boats

15th January 2016

Steven Hayward at PowerLine blog smells a rat, a big ugly one.

About this business of the navy patrol boats captured by Iran. As Scott and Investors Business Daily point out, there’s something off about the official story that a “navigation error” caused the boats to stray into Iranian waters. I don’t believe this story for a moment. (And the initial explanation that the boats “drifted” there after engine trouble has already been withdrawn. Why was that put out or not disavowed immediately?) One hopes that boat crews would navigate by means in addition to GPS since GPS could be taken out in a serious conflict, but unless our sailors have become incompetent or there was some extraordinary failure on these boats (unlikely I think), this “navigation error” sounds like either a deliberate mission that the Pentagon can’t acknowledge*, or the Iranians captured the boats in international waters, and we’re not willing to dispute their claim because of the Iran arms treaty agreement.

I don’t believe the government’s story for a minute, either. A number of former special forces types have explained at great length that this fable is, due to the planning and preparation for such a mission, exactly that — a fable.

This is just a fig leaf to excuse the government from having to respond to a blatant violation of international law by the Iranians, which one might call the Obama Benghazi Doctrine.

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Obama administration halts new coal leases on federal land

15th January 2016

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One significant part of the Obama Legacy will be his attempts to reduce the American people to freezing in the dark.

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Conn. Gov, State Dems Under Fire as GE Ships Up to Boston

15th January 2016

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The company moved in part because the business-friendly relationship it had with Connecticut had started to sour in recent years. GE’s decision to relocate came after two of the largest corporate tax hikes in Connecticut history were passed by state lawmakers in 2011 and 2015. GE had hinted it would to leave but some state leaders believed the company was bluffing.

They were not.

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

Fasano said Connecticut residents “deserve an apology from every Democrat lawmaker whose disrespectful comments mocked companies like GE when they raised legitimate concerns about the state budget.”

Good luck with that.

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New York Court Rules Farm Owners Broke Law When They Refused to Host Lesbian Wedding

15th January 2016

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Freedom of association is apparently no longer valid. Pity.

Lesson: Avoid New York.

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Why Connecticut Lost GE

14th January 2016

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If you steal money from people, they go somewhere else. Duh.

When Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy proposed $750 million in new business taxes last year as part of a $1.5 billion package of tax hikes, the state’s major companies weren’t amused. General Electric, in particular, questioned whether it would stay in Connecticut if the tax increases took effect. It turns out the company wasn’t bluffing. Connecticut did raise taxes, and GE has announced that it will move its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston. The Nutmeg State has seen its share of industrial relocations, restructurings, and downsizings; it has so many empty office parks that a local NPR station dubbed Connecticut a “suburban corporate wasteland.” Aetna demolished a 1.3-million-square-foot campus in Middletown. Pfizer knocked down a 750,000-square-foot research center in Groton.

Connecticut’s business climate is poor. The Tax Foundation ranks its business-tax environment 44th in the country. GE’s decision to move is part of a larger story. Changes in the economy and culture, and improvements in governance of cities, have created a profound competitive challenge for Connecticut, one without easy solutions.

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Thought for the Day

14th January 2016

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Or perhaps all of the unborn children who died on his watch. Your choice.

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LA Rams Should Pay Back Public Funds to Missouri, Sen. McCaskill Says

14th January 2016

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is planning to introduce legislation that would require sports franchises who have received public financing for their stadiums and other projects to pay back those funds if they “prematurely” relocate to another city.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that McCaskill, channeling the rage felt by many of her constituents in the Show-Me State over the NFL’s decision to allow Rams owner Stan Kroenke to move his team from St. Louis to Los Angeles, wants to make sure the public is “treated fairly” if a team subsidized by taxpayer dollars decides to skip town before the bills are paid off, which is the case with the Rams.

Apparently the taxpayers of Missouri are still on the hook for $100 million for the stadium that the Rams are leaving behind. Just terrible, the way some people just won’t stay bought.

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Obama’s Legacy: Trump and Bernie

14th January 2016

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The pigeons of Image Politics come home to roost.

The new year began with an underground nuclear-bomb test in North Korea, the worst first week for the Dow since 1897, and Iran forcing 10 U.S. sailors to their knees.

But the man delivering the State of the Union is “optimistic” because “unconditional love” will win.

Of course he is. His job is safe, and his pension guaranteed.

Mr. Obama said in his speech that the economy is producing jobs, which is true, and that it is “peddling fiction” to say the U.S. economy “is in decline.” Really?

The U.S. economy’s average annual growth rate since World War II has been about 3%. In Mr. Obama’s seven years it has been about 2%. Some 65% of people think the U.S. is on the wrong track. You can discover a lot about the wrong track in that missing 1% of economic growth, Mr. Obama’s “new normal.”

Everybody who is paying attention realizes that the economy is anemic at best. Of course, that category rarely includes President Obama.

The leaders of Communist China lie awake at night worrying about creating 10 million new jobs every year to prevent a revolution. The elected leader of the U.S. lies awake every night thinking about jobs making . . . windmills and solar panels.

And we’ve got a revolution.

Well, it’s pretty revolting, that’s true.

Both the Republican and, to a lesser extent, Democratic parties have elements now who want to pull down the temple. But for all the politicized agitation, both these movements, in power, would produce stasis—no change at all.

Donald Trump would preside over a divided government or, as he has promised and un-promised, a trade war with China. Hillary or Bernie will enlarge the Obama economic regime. Either outcome guarantees four more years of at best 2% economic growth. That means more of the above. That means 18-year-olds voting for the first time this year will face historically weak job opportunities through 2020 at least.

Under any of these three, an Americanized European social-welfare state will evolve because Washington—and this will include many “conservatives”—will answer still-rising popular anger with new income redistributions.

And for years afterward, Barack Obama will stroll off the 18th green, smiling. Mission, finally, accomplished.

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US Court to Hear “Climate Defence” argument in a Criminal Case

14th January 2016

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Climate activists on trial for blocking an oil train may be about to set a controversial legal precedent. According to Mother Jones, for the first time in American legal history, activists will be allowed to present their concerns about climate change as a legal defence for their allegedly criminal actions.

If this succeeds, the Green Shirts will soon be setting up People’s Courts to impose politically-correct environmentalism on an unsuspecting nation.

 

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State Department Discovers ‘Thousands’ of Previously Undisclosed Clinton Documents

14th January 2016

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Perhaps they were hiding in the White House with the Rose Law Firm files.

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Planetary Defense

13th January 2016

Check it out.

I rather doubt that they can do anything about ‘planetary defense’, but as a long-time SF fan I’m glad we have one.

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Rams Moving to Los Angeles Area, and Chargers Could Join Them

13th January 2016

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I suspect that both the players and the organization would much prefer to live and work in L.A. than in (yuck) St. Louis.

The St. Louis Rams will move to the Los Angeles area, where they intend to build a new, nearly $3 billion stadium in an entertainment complex in Inglewood, Calif., just over 10 miles from downtown.

Inglewood is a notorious black slum area and this will give the City/State a chance to put a lot of poor black people out on the street in favor of a (primarily publicly-funded) ego-monument to economic illiteracy.

The decision, in a 30-2 vote among the league’s 32 team owners, comes after more than a year of often acrimonious lobbying by the Chargers, the Raiders and the Rams, who each applied to move to the Los Angeles area last month because, they said, they were unable to get enough public support to build new stadiums in their markets.

In other words, they want new homes built at taxpayers’ expense. That was the original reason for moving out in the first place, the publicly-funded bribe wasn’t big enough.

 

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Dems: Obama Administration Raids ‘Terrorized’ Immigrants

13th January 2016

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Leading House Democrats are escalating their criticisms of President Obama’s immigration policies, saying the administration’s recent arrest of scores of Central American families has “terrorized” immigrant communities nationwide.

The Democrats say they recognize the need for the Homeland Security Department (DHS) to be tough on border enforcement in order to deter the next great migrant wave.

But the agency’s recent home raids, which rounded up more than 120 immigrants denied asylum claims and now in line for deportation, backfired and sent shudders of fear through immigrant communities at home instead, the Democrats charged.

I guess they’ve lost sight of the fact that Obama isn’t a Republican.

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Report: U.S. Lets United Nations Pick Which Syrians Come to America

12th January 2016

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Hey, what could go wrong?

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Great Caesar’s Ghost

12th January 2016

Kevin Williamson pulls back the curtain on the Great and Powerful Oz.

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

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FBI’s Clinton Probe Expands to Public Corruption Track

11th January 2016

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The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state has expanded to look at whether the possible “intersection” of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws, three intelligence sources not authorized to speak on the record told Fox News.

All very entertaining but I still predict that nobody will get fired and nobody will go to jail.

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Local Resistance: The Next Move in Blocking AFFH

11th January 2016

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Readers may recall that last year, the House passed the Gosar Amendment that would have defunded President Obama’s “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH) rule. Unfortunately, Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned the Gosar Amendment during the negotiations over the Omnibus spending bill. Team Ryan loves to blame John Boehner for the disastrous Omnibus. But the Boehner-led House passed the Gosar Amendment. It was Speaker Ryan who gave it away, leaving us with a leftist power-grab of the same order of magnitude as Obamacare.

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How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain

11th January 2016

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For Disney, Mickey Mouse is not just a huge money maker, but the company’s most coveted piece of intellectual property. Mickey is Disney, and Disney is Mickey: the two are simply one and the same, and nothing is more important to Disney than his well-being. (“I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known,” Walt Disney once famously said).

For this reason, Disney has done everything in its power to make sure it retains the copyright on Mickey — even if that means changing federal statutes. Every time Mickey’s copyright is about to expire, Disney spends millions lobbying Congress for extensions, and trading campaign contributions for legislative support. With crushing legal force, they’ve squelched anyone who attempts to disagree with them.

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No, We Don’t Have to Sacrifice Neighborhoods to Save the Planet

11th January 2016

Read it. And watch the video.

Here’s a video of Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick saying the city needs to “sacrifice” its single-family neighborhoods in order to stop climate change. We’ve known that planners feel this way, but rarely do they say it in so many words.

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What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2016?

9th January 2016

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Except, of course, for the Disney Millennium Copyright Act.

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Senator Demands Answers From Department of Education About Controversial Mandates

9th January 2016

Read it.

I predict that he will receive what we lawyers call a ‘non-responsive answer’.

Issued in 2010 and 2011 under the guise of “Dear Colleague” letters, OCR’s mandates dictate how colleges and universities that accept federal funding—virtually every institution in the country—must respond to bullying and sexual misconduct in order to comply with federal anti-discrimination statutes like Title IX. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and other civil liberties organizations have repeatedly criticized the letters for threatening freedom of expression and due process on campus by defining First Amendment-protected expression as “harassment” and mandating the use of the lowest standard of proof in sexual misconduct cases, among other requirements.

Senator Lankford notes that OCR’s letters “fail to point to precise governing statutory or regulatory language that support their sweeping policy change.”

Legislative authority? We don’t need no legislative authority.

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Little Sisters of the Poor Appeal to Supreme Court for Protection Against Feds

9th January 2016

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Seventy million dollars is a lot of dough for a group named the Little Sisters of the Poor.

But that’s what the religious order says it will be forced to pay the government if they continue to refuse to arrange for insurance that provides lay employees coverage for contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization.

The brief also explains why the government does not need the Little Sisters at all: it already has many other ways to get contraceptive coverage to those who want it. “Indeed, the government has invested billions of dollars in creating exchanges for the express purpose of making it easy to obtain qualifying insurance when it is not available through an employer.  The government cannot explain why those exchanges suffice to advance its goal of getting contraceptive coverage to the tens of millions of [other] people …  yet are not good enough” for the employees of the Little Sisters.

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they are welcomed as Christ,” said Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and cannot possibly choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn’t have to. All we ask is that our rights not be taken away.”

It is not just enough that Big Brother be loved; it is necessary that you love Big Brother.

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Thought for the Day

9th January 2016

Obama Gun Control 3

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At Least 1,340 Clinton Emails Now Known to Contain Classified Material

9th January 2016

Read it.

Prediction: Nobody will get fired, nobody will go to jail.

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Record Number of FOIA Lawsuits Filed Against Obama

9th January 2016

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Wonder what happened to that campaign promise to be The Most Transparent Administration in History?

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Obama Administration Launches Task Force to End Terror Recruitment on Social Media

9th January 2016

Read it.

Yeah, that’ll work.

The new initiative — called The Countering Violent Extremism Task Force — will be headed by the Department of Homeland Security  with the Department of Justice serving in a joint capacity. It will be staffed by representatives from the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center among other agencies.

“The interagency CVE Task Force that we are announcing today, and which will be hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, will bring together the best resources and personnel from across the executive branch to ensure that we face the challenge of violent extremism in a unified and coordinated way.”  DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

The State Department, meanwhile, is establishing a “global engagement center” to do a better job of involving foreign governments and non-governmental organizations based outside the U.S.

In other words, we’re going to hire and pay more government workers, without any real plan to address the problem.

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Obama Faces New Criticism On Refugee Program After 2 Terror Arrests

9th January 2016

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Imagine that.

The arrest of two Iraq-born refugees on terror-related charges has recharged Capitol Hill calls for the Obama administration to pull back on plans to welcome thousands more refugees from Middle East warzones.

“It is disturbing, though not surprising, that terrorists have succeeded in exploiting our refugee system to come to the U.S. and aid ISIS,” Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Friday.

Well, yeah.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, while saying he could not discuss the specifics of the two latest terror-related cases, on Friday defended the refugee program as secure.

“No one’s allowed to short-circuit this system,” Earnest said, adding that refugees are subject to the “most rigorous screening” of anyone entering the U.S. He said this includes a “careful review of biographic and biometric information,” in-person interviews and other steps.

Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

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America’s Most Wasted

8th January 2016

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Senator McCain has released a report detailing what he calls more than “$27 billion in wasteful spending,” including “$872,164 to study how children cross the street, $25,000 for garbage art in Maine, $13,495 for Army National Guard bubble soccer, $2.2 million to text high school students to enroll in college, and $2.3 million for jazz playing robots.” The whole report is worth a careful look.

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Obama Defends Gun Control Push at Town Hall, Blames NRA for Rising Gun Sales

8th January 2016

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Will someone not teach this man some elementary economics?

President Obama doubled down on his push for gun control Thursday at a televised town hall meeting in which he said that sales of guns have soared under his presidency because gun rights groups have convinced people “that somebody is going to come get your guns.”

Oh, yeah, that really took a lot of convincing. Sorry, Barry, but the person convincing them is YOU.

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Public School Recruits Students to Work for Hillary Clinton Campaign

8th January 2016

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A public high school in Maine was caught red-handed trying to recruit students to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as a “community service opportunity” – without the knowledge or consent of parents.

Could you imagine the national media firestorm had the school been recruiting for Donald Trump’s campaign?

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Authentic Academic Gibberish

7th January 2016

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How about this, from Inside Higher Ed today, from an interview with Sidonie A. Smith, Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and author of a new book entitled Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times. Sounds possibly promising? No. Take in this answer:

Q: What is the “possibly posthuman humanities scholar” and how does this idea relate to doctoral education?

A: Writing this book, I came to see the new scholar subject as a performative of passionate singularity, hybrid materiality and networked relationality. This is one sense in which the humanities scholar that is becoming is possibly posthuman, and a posthumanist scholar. The locus of thinking, for the prosthetically extendable scholar joined along the currents of networked relationality, is an ensemble affair. It involves the scholar, the device, the algorithm, the code. It involves the design architecture of platform and tool, the experiential architecture of networks, and the economy of energy. It involves the cloud, the crowd and the “rooms,” bricks and mortar and virtual, in which scholarly thinking moves forward. Ultimately, thinking is a collaborative affair of multiple actors, human and nonhuman, virtual and material, elegantly orderly and unruly.

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2 Brooklyn Schools in Gentrifying Area Will Get New Zones

7th January 2016

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Education officials on Tuesday approved a plan to redraw two Brooklyn school zones, shifting a neighborhood of rising wealth from a mostly white elementary school to a mostly black and Hispanic one.

Watch that ‘neighborhood of rising wealth’ quickly turn into another ‘mostly black and Hispanic one’ as the yuppies bail.

The Department of Education proposed the rezoning to alleviate crowding at the mostly white school, Public School 8. But the debate over the move has raised thorny issues of race, class and gentrification in a quickly changing part of Brooklyn.

I’ll just bet it does.

P.S. 8’s current zone encompasses Brooklyn Heights, a prosperous neighborhood, and Dumbo, an area of former warehouses now filled with multimillion-dollar apartments. The rezoning, which will take effect in the 2016-17 school year, shifts Dumbo from P.S. 8’s zone to the zone that serves Public School 307 in Vinegar Hill. Currently, the P.S. 307 zone is small and includes part of a public-housing project, the Farragut Houses.

I guess the ‘Dumbo’ area is well named. I’m sure that’s what the purchasers fo those ‘multimillion-dollar apartments’ are feeling right now.

Though they are less than a mile apart, the schools have vastly different populations: Sixty percent of P.S. 8’s students are white, and only 16 percent are from families that receive public assistance, according to state data. Ninety percent of the students at P.S. 307 are black or Hispanic, and the same proportion are from families receiving public assistance.

We’re from the government, and we’re here to screw you.

Some parents in Dumbo said they were reluctant to send their children to P.S. 307, citing its low test scores.

I would imagine the crime statistics are of more significance than ‘low test scores’.

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Infantry: What Women Hate

7th January 2016

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In December 2015 the American military was ordered to accept women in all jobs, including infantry and special operations. This decision involves about 220,000 jobs and about 20,000 of these are for special operations personnel, commonly known as commandos. While the politicians who pushed for this policy now consider the issue settled and done with, the officers and troops in infantry and special operations units are not pleased and concerned about how to deal with it. Senior officers are bracing for more retirements or troops simply walking away when their current term of service is done. Recruiting for these strenuous and dangerous jobs is seen as even more difficult. In other words opinion surveys indicate that many experienced combat troops are ready to vote with their feet and will be impossible to replace.

Because the risk of injury and many other reasons, most countries found that over 90 percent of women in uniform did not want to serve in any combat unit, especially the infantry. Those women (almost all of them officers) who did apply discovered what female athletes and epidemiologists (doctors who study medical statistics) have long known; women are ten times more likely (than men) to suffer bone injuries and nearly as likely to suffer muscular injuries while engaged in stressful sports (like basketball) or infantry operations. Mental stress is another issue and most women who volunteered to try infantry training dropped out within days because of the combination of mental and physical stress. This is all a matter of sturdiness because men have more muscle and thicker bones. This makes men much less likely to suffer stress fractures or musculoskeletal injuries than women. Modern infantry combat is intensely physical, and most women remain at a disadvantage here. There are some exceptions for specialist tasks that do not involve sturdiness or strength, like sniping. Then there is the hormonal angle. Men generate a lot more testosterone, a hormone that makes men more decisive and faster to act in combat. Moreover testosterone does not, as the popular myth goes, make you more aggressive, it does make you more aware and decisive. That makes a difference in combat.

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Bumhunting as the Economic Paradigm of the 21st Century

7th January 2016

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Commenter Olorin has been using the term “dolt wrangling” to describe what appears to be one of the central methods of getting rich in the 21st Century: clever guys with spreadsheets offer attractive-seeming but implausible bets to less clever folks: subprime mortgages in the last decade, subprime car loans now, for-profit colleges financed by government loans, payday loans, casinos, and so forth. But there’s also a nonprofit side to dolt wrangling as well: refugee services and the like.

Another term for the the general approach might be the poker term “bum hunting.”

Government: ‘We have to provide these poor underprivileged people with services for free!”

Con-man: ‘We’d be happy to do that for a reasonable fee…. heh heh….’

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Pentagon Probes How Civilian Lived for Months in Fort Bragg Barracks

7th January 2016

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Army officials are trying to figure out how a civilian managed to live for several months at Fort Bragg, eating and bunking with special forces operators despite not being a member of the military.

The unidentified man, who a source told FoxNews.com is mentally ill, was found out last month, and has been questioned. The source said the man told the real soldiers he lived among that he was a demolition specialist and exempt from the daily activities they took part in.

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Attrition: The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Army

5th January 2016

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The U.S. Army has had to make some bold moves to comply with a 2012 order (from Congress) to cut its strength 21 percent (120,000 troops) by 2018. At that point the army will have 450,000 personnel. While the army tried to avoid cutting combat units excessively, 13 combat brigades were disbanded and some were reduced to battalion sized task forces or just headquarters (to be revived as a brigade in wartime using reservists). Some brigades were converted from Stryker units to infantry and some lost one of their three combat battalions. Other brigades gained a battalion and some additional support troops and equipment. The point of it all was to make the most of a bad situation and reorganize so that each unit was best (or better) suited to its future assignments. Most combat brigades are organized and train for eventual deployment in a certain region. They might, as often happens, be sent elsewhere. But in the meantime they have a focus for their organization and training.

This is appalling. Just as in Europe, to fund government waste and abuse in social welfare programs, the government is having to cut back on its core functions, one of which is national defense. Europe can always fall back on the United States, but whom have we to back us up?

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We Are Way More Scared of Government Than Guns

5th January 2016

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And rightly so, I think.

The first major action taken by Barack Obama in 2016—a set of new gun-control measures mandated via executive order—is aimed at a threat that Americans don’t spend a lot of time worrying about.

In its latest survey of Americans, Gallup finds that “dissatisfaction with government,” not guns or even terrorism, tops the list of concerns.

Funny how that works.

Obama’s new actions against guns include expanding background checks; changing definitions of mental illness in a way that limits who is able to own guns; increasing the number of federal agents charged with tracking gun sales and crimes; and more.

In other words, more power to government tools and less to individual citizens. My, what a surprise.

As Jacob Sullum noted here in December, most of the “common-sense” measures Obama is pushing would not have stopped the San Bernardino shooting or virtually any other recent mass attacks.

Don’t look at the evidence, just believe the Narrative. Guns leap from their holsters when you least expect them to and just mow people down, so therefore they Must Be Controlled.

Obama’s willingness to always pivot to issues that are not front and center, along with his willingness to expand the role of the state in virtually every aspect of our lives from health care to mass surveillance is surely a big part of the reason why people are consistently worried more about government than anything else. In this, of course, he’s had plenty of help from Republicans and his fellow Democrats, which also helps to explain another Gallup finding released this time last year: “In U.S. New Record 43% Are Independents.”

The only thing that saves us is that we don’t get all the government we pay for.

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Obama Intends to Violate Federal Immigration Law. Again.

5th January 2016

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On New Year’s Eve, the Obama administration published a 200-page proposed rule in the Federal Register. The proposed rule is another executive order, in plain violation of the immigration laws. Obama’s executive order would illegally ignore the immigration caps that are enshrined in law. Senator Jeff Sessions denounced Obama’s usurpation, which, interestingly, was covered by hardly any “mainstream” news sources.

And if nobody does anything about it, he’ll keep doing it. Time for Congress to wake up.

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