DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

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

Ashton Kutcher Is Not the New Defense Secretary

12th February 2015

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Too bad. He’d be a better pick than Obama’s nominee. (For anything.)

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Will Canada Declare War Over Keystone?

12th February 2015

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Canada, America’s largest trading partner and largest foreign supplier of oil, has been amazingly patient over Obama’s clearly insincere dithering over approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Back when I was still in Washington at AEI, Ken Green and I would occasionally put together panel discussions that included Keystone issues, and not only would the Canadian embassy decline to send anyone to participate, they didn’t even want to register for the event, so sensitive were they to mot wanting to be seen to intrude on domestic American politics. (Someone usually turned up from the embassy, but made no comments during discussion.)

That’s what makes notable the news stories yesterday that included public remarks of frustration from the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer. Doer made public a letter complaining about a new EPA analysis meant to undermine the Keystone pipeline—an analysis plainly intended to give Obama cover to block it since the State Department, no doubt against intense political pressure from John Kerry, looks to be playing the matter straight and issuing a favorable final ruling on Keystone.

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Immigrant Students in Massachusetts Seek In-State Tuition

12th February 2015

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More accurately, illegal immigrant students seek in-state tuition.

Carlos Rojas Alvarez, campaign coordinator for the Student Immigrant Movement, said greater access to higher education would give undocumented immigrant youth a greater chance to contribute to U.S. society.

Contribute to its decline, that is.

“Even with in-state tuition rates, it’s still incredibly difficult to enroll in college,” he said to The Bourne Courier. “Even not having to pay two to four times the amount, without any financial aid, it’s impossible for a lot of young people.”

And, of course, that’s aside from the fact that they don’t belong here in the first place. But nobody mentions that, because it goes against The Narrative.

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ObamaCare Despair

12th February 2015

James Taranto turns over a rock.

If the law is on your side, the juridical adage goes, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table.

Supporters of ObamaCare have reached the stage of pounding their heads on the table.

Perhaps it will wake their brains up, assuming that they have any.

At any rate, political promises do not have the force of law unless they are enacted into law. Congress didn’t sign a contract with HCA; it passed a statute. If the statute doesn’t live up to the promise, HCA is SOL.

You’d certainly think that.

“Greenhouse fails even to mention the government’s stronger, though ultimately unpersuasive, argument that the statute is ambiguous,” lawyer Howard Slugh, whose firm has filed a brief in King v. Burwell, notes in an entertaining rejoinder at National Review Online. “Instead, she insists that the plaintiffs’ reading of the statute is utterly frivolous.” She claims that the justices “all agree on how to interpret statutory text”—and that they all agree with her.

She ends by instructing the justices (her emphasis): “Read the briefs. If you do, and you proceed to destroy [sic] the Affordable Care Act nonetheless, you will have a great deal of explaining to do—not to me, but to history.” As Slugh understates: “It takes a lot of chutzpah to admonish the Supreme Court in such fashion.”

Linda Greenhouse, for all that she has a prestige gig at Yale Law School and the New York Times, far too often makes mistakes for which any first-year law student would be spanked.

NRO’s legal blogger, Ed Whelan, makes one obvious point: “It’s difficult not to conclude that Greenhouse thinks, rightly or wrongly, that the Left’s efforts to intimidate Chief Justice Roberts in the first Obamacare case worked and are worth repeating.”

Favorite tactic of ‘progressives’ everywhere.

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‘Giving geo-engineering to this US govt is like giving a CHILD a LOADED GUN’

12th February 2015

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An official US government report just has recommended that further research should be carried out into various methods of “geoengineering” the climate so as to combat global warming. But one of its authors disagrees with himself, saying that giving such technology to the current US leadership would be “like giving a loaded gun to a child”.

The report in question – actually two reports issued together – is from the hefty US National Academy of Sciences.

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Thought for the Day

12th February 2015

Non Sequitur

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A Record 3,415 Americans Ditch Their Passports

12th February 2015

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The number of Americans choosing to give up their passports hit a record 3,415 last year, up 14% from 2013, and 15 times more than in 2008, when only 231 people renounced their citizenship.

Experts say the recent surge is coming from expats who no longer want to deal with complicated tax paperwork, a burden that has only gotten worse in recent years.

Unlike most countries, the U.S. taxes all citizens on income, no matter where it is earned or where they live. The mountain of paperwork can be so complicated that expats are often forced to fork over high fees to hire an accountant — some say they pay as much as $1,000.

Matt Welch connects the dots:

The main driver chasing our citizens away is the authoritarianly named Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a gruesome bit of government money-grubbing of which Reason has written about plenty over the years. If you have more than $10,000 parked overseas, you have to disclose each and every account to the IRS, including the maximum value it had in the previous year, or face ruinous fines and even jail time. Foreign financial institutions, meanwhile, are deputized by FATCA to work as IRS tax collectors, which they obviously would rather not do, so many banks simply put up a “do not serve Americans” sign, which is a major pain in the ass for the 7 million or so Yanks living abroad. As Shikha Dalmia observed this week, the Obama administration’s approach toward runaway Americans (individual and corporate) is to further tighten the noose, which will only increase the number of defections.

Why would politicians knowingly harm their fellow Americans for what amounts to a trivial payoff in collections? Same reason a dog licks its naughty bits. Expats wield no political power, and all things being equal, the government prefers destroying financial privacy. The Republican National Committee one year ago approved a Sen. Rand Paul-led resolution to repeal FATCA; one of many indicators of whether the party will ever be worth a tinker’s damn will be if it plops a FATCA repeal onto President Barack Obama’s desk.

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Boston’s Little Dig

11th February 2015

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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or “the T” for short) has a problem. It has a $3 billion maintenance backlog, and must spend $470 million a year just to keep that backlog from growing. It has all kinds of wonderful plans to close that backlog, but those plans are all in the future. In the meantime, its latest budget proposal spares less than $100 million for maintenance.

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

Of course, the extension wasn’t supposed to cost $2 billion or increase ridership by just 0.5 percent. Back in 2005, the major investment study for the project estimated it would cost just $390 million (see page 5-55). That’s in 2005 dollars, but adjusting for inflation to today’s dollars increases it to about $450 million, less than a quarter of the actual cost. Projected annual operating costs have also nearly quadrupled from $9.9 million in 2005 to $36.9 million today. The 2005 study also predicted the line would increase increase daily ridership by more than 14,000 trips, or 1 percent, not just 0.5 percent (same page).

That’s because (a) public works projects always cost multiples of their original estimates, because people think of taxpayer funds as ‘free money’ and wet their beaks at every opportunity, and (b) public transport always goes from where you aren’t to where you don’t want to be, so very few people ride it. Reality is a stone bitch about that sort of thing.

 

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Feds May Finally Ditch Cholesterol Warning

10th February 2015

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After years of telling Americans that high-cholesterol foods would kill them, the federal government may ease up on warnings about this much-maligned nutrient. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will no longer list cholesterol among its “nutrients of concern,” according to The Washington Post.

The move reflects updated scientific thinking on cholesterol. While high cholesterol levels in the blood can still be a bad health indicator, scientists no longer view high blood cholesterol as a direct result of eating a cholesterol-rich diet, at least not for most people. Genetics may make some individuals more vulnerable to cholesterol in food, but scientists estimate this group only includes about 25 percent of the population.

Well, if there’s one thing you can depend on, it’s a scientific consensus. Oh, wait….

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School Worksheet Tells Kids GOP Thinks Helping Poor ‘Waste of Money,’ Parent Claims

10th February 2015

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The first quote read, “We should not help the poor, it’s a waste of money.”

The mother, who asked only to be identified as “Heather” to protect her son’s privacy, said he chose option “E” for “Fascist” because he “didn’t know what else could be the answer.”

When the assignment was returned, the answer was marked as incorrect and the teacher wrote in option “D” for “Conservative/Republican” instead, his mother told FoxNews.com.

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

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President Obama’s 2016 Budget Targets Retirement Accounts

8th February 2015

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This year’s version of the budget included a number of provisions targeting retirement accounts. That was no surprise, as provisions aimed at retirement accounts have been a regular feature in budgets in recent years. What was a surprise, however, is how many proposals were targeting retirement accounts, and how many new proposals there were. All told, this year’s budget featured over a dozen provisions that, if they were to become law, could directly impact your retirement savings.

Retirement accounts are one of the last great pools of money that the government hasn’t yet drained. Obviously, leeches like Obama want to sink their teeth into them.

 

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Eric Holder: Politicize the Department of Justice, moi?

7th February 2015

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Speaking of public figures who lie….

Holder’s hiring practices have also been marred pure politics, especially within the Civil Rights Division. The Department of Justice’s own Inspector General found that one office in that division “passed over candidates who had stellar academic credentials with some of the best law firms in the country” in order to hire others they preferred, a majority of whom came from just five advocacy organizations that are political allies of the Obama administration.

All too often, moreover, the positions taken in court by Holder’s DOJ have been so devoid of legal merit that they can only be understood politically and/or ideologically….

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Obama’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Will Cost $22 Billion

5th February 2015

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And guess whose pocket is being picked to buy these particular votes?

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Shutting Down Alaska

5th February 2015

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Obama’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new attack on Alaska oil production can have a consequence that extreme environmentalists have dreamed about all along—shutting down all remaining production bringing oil from the Arctic coast.

This would happen because the giant Alaskan pipeline must have minimal flow to function. Otherwise it must be totally dismantled in accord with the law allowing for its original construction. After years of delaying new production and causing billions of dollars of losses for the companies involved, Obama’s new attack may be the final blow. Already the pipeline is carrying only some 25 percent of its capacity of two million barrels a day. Less input will allow corrosion and other damages, making it impossible to operate.

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Senator Wyden Follows Up With Eric Holder on All of the Requests the DOJ Has Totally Ignored

5th February 2015

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As Attorney General Eric Holder is about to leave office, Senator Ron Wyden has sent him a letter more or less asking if he was planning to actually respond to the various requests that Wyden had sent to Holder in the past, which Holder has conveniently ignored. Wyden notes, accurately, that the government’s continued secrecy on a variety of issues “has led to an erosion of public confidence that has made it more difficult for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to do their jobs.”

I’m thinking that the answer is No.

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A University Recognizes a Third Gender: Neutral

5th February 2015

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Next step: Chaotic Well-Intentioned.

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About Those Leftovers….

5th February 2015

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Three University of California, Davis, students placed a community refrigerator on their lawn and invited neighbors to use it and share food. At the end of the first month, people were not only sharing food but books as well. Then the Yolo County health department stepped in. They said the fridge was an unregulated food facility and shut it down.

Well, what do you expect from a county named Yolo?

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Innocent Frequent Flier Detained After Run-In With TSA

5th February 2015

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APPARENTLY, working as a supervisor for the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport comes with a perk: You get to throw people in jail for no good reason and still keep your job.

If that’s not the case, why is Charles Kieser still employed by the TSA?

Roger Vanderklok had the misfortune of going through Kieser’s security-screening area at 8 a.m. Jan. 26, 2013, in Terminal B.

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Justice Department Watchdog Report Charges Nepotism at Interpol Office

5th February 2015

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The report, which studied a period between 2011 and 2012, says that executive director Warren Lewis told employees to “earmark a spot” for his son and “provide extra attention to his processing, for obvious reasons.” The report said Lewis’ son was hired as an intern in the summer of 2011 and later was hired as a contractor. The report added that Lewis’ son was paying rent to his father at the time of his hiring.

On another occasion, the report claimed, Lewis helped three acquaintances of his son gain jobs at the agency despite never having met two of them.

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

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How the West Is Owned

4th February 2015

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The Official White House Terrorist Identification Chart

4th February 2015

white house id chart

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Post Office Gets Lousy Customer Service Ratings (But Who Still Sends Mail?)

4th February 2015

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When my father worked a Post Office job during college, there was a four-person crew in the local black hole of correspondence to which he was assigned in the Bronx. Well, two of them were actually in the office at any given time—the other two were down the street at a bar. They took turns, which is only right. Given that context, reports of increasing customer dissastisfaction and lousy management from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General don’t seem that bad after all.

Jerry Pournelle often says that the aim of government is to hire and pay government workers. I suppose that if they ever get around to doing some actual work, that’s gravy.

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Where School Dollars Go to Waste

3rd February 2015

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America spends tons of money on education even though the final product isn’t very impressive. If children are indeed the future, then they’re certainly an expensive one: Of the $3.2 trillion in total expenditures for local and state governments in 2012, education accounted for nearly 28 percent, or $869.2 billion, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That figure topped government spending in any other sector, almost doubling the second-largest recipient of taxpayer dollars—public welfare.

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Obama Budget Includes $2T in Tax Hikes

3rd February 2015

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

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San Francisco Minimum Wage Law Claims Scalp of Great Science Fiction/Fantasy Specialty Bookstore

2nd February 2015

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I guess it wasn’t Walmart after all.

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Meet Ann Legra: Exhibit 24,340 in the Case Against Current Teacher Tenure Rules

2nd February 2015

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For six consecutive years, Ann Legra’s performance as a teacher has been declared “unsatisfactory.” Yet Washington Heights in New York City cannot seem to get rid of this arguably worthless first-grade instructor. Their most recent attempt to dump her from P.S. 173, the city’s second try, has failed.

Where is the Mafia when you really need them?

Administrators apparently found her classroom in chaos, with students running around, getting into fights, and attempting karate moves on a door, while she was off in the corner at a table, apparently “re-sharpening pencils” that were too sharp, in order to prevent accidents. In one school year she was absent 27 times and late 37 times.

According to the New York Post, Legra has responded to her punishment by filing a federal lawsuit, accusing the city’s Department of Education of discrimination on the basis of her race, gender, national origin, and medical disability (asthma). She’s not going anywhere without a fight.

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Obama Budget Creates Second Death Tax

2nd February 2015

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The Obama budget calls for a stealth increase in the death tax rate from 40% to nearly 60%. Here’s how it works:

Under current law, when you inherit an asset your basis in the asset is the higher of the fair market value at the time of death or the decedent’s original basis. Almost always, the fair market value is higher.

Under the Obama proposal, when you inherit an asset your basis will simply be the decedent’s original basis.

Example: Dad buys a house for $10,000.  He dies and leaves it to you. The fair market value on the date of death is $100,000. You sell it for $120,000. Under current law, you have a capital gain of $20,000 (sales price of $120,000 less step up in basis of $100,000). Under the Obama plan, you have a capital gain of $110,000 (sales price of $120,000 less original basis of $10,000).

There are exemptions for most households, but this misses the larger point: the whole reason we have step up in basis is because we have a death tax. If you are going to hold an estate liable for tax, you can’t then hold the estate liable for tax again when the inheritor sells it. This adds yet another redundant layer of tax on savings and investment. It’s a huge tax hike on family farms and small businesses.

Not to mention everybody else.

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Taxing the Rich: The Record Under Obama

31st January 2015

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Not his rich, you understand; the other rich.

The idea is to help pay for other measures aimed at helping low- and middle-income families.

‘Aimed at’ but won’t; what they will do is hire and pay more government employees.

They may also be used to help pay for increased government spending.

Oh, ya think?

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GOPChairmen to Lead Task Force to Develop Obamacare Alternative

31st January 2015

Read it and gag.

It used to be that the ‘Republican alternative’ to an expensive government program was ‘Everybody to pay for their own stuff’, not ‘slightly less expensive government program for the same thing’.

But that was yesterday; and yesterday’s gone….

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This Is How Your Tax Dollars Paid for the Super Bowl

30th January 2015

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You might as well watch the Super Bowl, America: You’re paying for it.

Forget about the league’s federal antitrust exemption dating back to the ’60s that allows it to yank any game off broadcast television it likes if it feels there aren’t enough backsides in the seats. Let’s forget about the same antitrust exemption that declared the NFL a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization on par with a Chamber of Commerce or real estate board. Hey, let’s even forget a Federal Communications Commission ruling that, for almost 40 years, forbids cable and satellite providers to switch to a live feed of a game that was blacked out in a local market.

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Big Sugar Leaves a Bitter Aftertaste

29th January 2015

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Taking candy from a baby is easy. Taking sugar from a senator? Not so much. For decades, economists, free market think tanks, good-government advocates, newspaper columnists, and even the occasional elected official have decried the special treatment enjoyed by the American sugar industry.

Under current policies, U.S. sugarcane and sugar beet farmers receive minimum price guarantees regardless of market conditions. In addition, the federal government allots 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market to domestic producers, and it imposes quotas and tariffs on the 40 countries that are allowed to export sugar to America.

In 1993, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that such policies were costing U.S. consumers $1.4 billion a year because they resulted in “higher prices for domestic sugar.” Twenty years later, the University of Michigan–Flint economist Mark J. Perry estimated that this annual cost had grown to $3 billion by 2012, and that consumers and U.S. sugar-using businesses had paid “more than twice the world price of sugar on average since 1982.”

In other words, sugar producers are getting a sweet deal, while consumers are getting screwed.

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11 Human-Trafficking Bills Passed by U.S. House Tuesday

28th January 2015

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FlickrOn Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spate of bills addressing human trafficking. Though politicians on both sides of the aisle have been crowing about their good work here, the bills do very little to address labor trafficking, which comprises the majority of human trafficking, according to the U.S. State Department. Rather, most focus on the more salacious prospect of sex trafficking, especially the sex trafficking of minors.

‘We have 11 human trafficing bills.’

‘Oh? How much are they charging us?’

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State Department Funded Group Working to Defeat Netanyahu

28th January 2015

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John has written about how President Obama’s campaign team is working to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s upcoming elections. To make matters worse, the anti-Netanyahu campaign is benefiting from U.S. taxpayer money.

As John noted, the organization “One Voice” wants to help take down Netanyahu’s party in the March 2015 Knesset elections that will ultimately determine the next Israeli Prime Minister. “One Voice” claims to be non-partisan, but it is working with V-15, an Israeli group dedicated to defeating Netanyahu. And “One Voice” itself admits that it is teaming up with V15 because Israel “need[s] a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”

I think we know the identity of the Prime Minister “One Voice” doesn’t mean. If not, here’s a hint: the son of Mahmoud Abbas reportedly sits on its advisory board.

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America’s Worst School System Will Soon Be Dead. Will What Replaces It Be Any Better?

27th January 2015

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“I have girlfriends who have a lot of children who have been killed, and I look at their pain and hurt on their faces, and I don’t want that,” says Shantella Davis, who’s an unemployed recovering drug addict and the single mother of a six-year-old named As-Sidq. “When I leave this earth I want him to be established…I want him to be able to go to college.”

They live in the impoverished city of Camden, New Jersey, which is home to some of the nation’s lowest performing public schools. “A lot of kids that came out of Camden High not knowing how to read and write,” says Davis. “How did the kid get through the school not knowing how to read and write?”

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CBO Still Refuses to Score Obamacare, Ignores 15 Tax Hikes in Healthcare Law

27th January 2015

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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week released their annual Budget and Economic Outlook which sets the budget baselines and estimates for the whole year.

Buried in Appendix B of the report is CBO’s attempt to provide an updated score of Obamacare. But that’s not what they did.  They only scored the “coverage provisions” of the law, ignoring some fifteen tax increases which are also a part of Obamacare and its cost to taxpayers.

Makes you wonder what they do up there all day. But I bet they’re well paid.

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Someone Teach Him the Laws of Supply & Demand

27th January 2015

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With its “vibrant mix of residential, retail, commercial and green space,” Arlington County, Virginia is exactly where a lot of Millennials in the Washington DC area would like to live–at least according to one such Millennial named Harrison Godfrey. However, many can’t, as the median home price is $550,000, which is far more than two professionals who each earn $50,000 a year can afford.

Arlington, says Godfrey, “requires long-term planning and investment, which is why it’s important for millennials to engage in the new planning process unveiled by the county council.” Actually, he has it backwards: it is planning that got northern Virginia into this mess. Moreover, government planning is always going to be more responsive to the desires of the people who already live (and vote) in a place than to those who want to move there (but may never do so which means they’ll never vote there).

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Turkey Takes a Dim View of Obama’s Syria Policy

26th January 2015

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Thank God somebody can find Obama’s Syria policy; I’ve been looking for it for years without success.

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Pentagon Bureaucracy Grows as Troops Are Cut

26th January 2015

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The numbers of authorized staff at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff have grown by about 30 percent since 2009, from about 3,200 military and civilian personnel manning those offices — at the height of the surge – to about 4,200 today, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office last week.

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

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Obama Took Advantage of 529s — Before He Killed ‘em

25th January 2015

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As noted at The College Fix back on January 20, one of the ideas you’ll not likely hear about in President Obama’s tax machinations is the repeal of tax-free 529 college saving plans.

The president wants these plans now to be taxed as ordinary income, with as rates as high as 39.6%.

529 plan expert Joe Hurley says this “will result in their effective repeal, as new contributions in will ‘dry up’ overnight.”

But ironically, Mr. Obama took quite advantage of 529 tax rules back in 2007.

Forbes writer Ryan Ellis points out this presidential hypocrisy is not unlike that from 2009 when the president wanted to nix 1,700 low income school scholarships for kids in Washington DC … all the while sending his daughters to the exclusive Sidwell Friends School.

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Alaska Can’t Change Name of Tallest US Mountain, Thanks to Ohio

24th January 2015

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Ohio is one of the flattest states in the US, but due to a quirky rule held by the federal board in charge of geographic names, the state effectively has control over the name of the country’s highest mountain and is blocking efforts to change the name of the Alaskan peak that holds that honor.

Mount McKinley has been officially known as Denali in Alaska since the 1970s, but the state’s attempts to have the Koyukon Athabascan name adopted at the federal level have long been resisted by Ohio, birthplace of William McKinley, reports Alaska Dispatch News.

A gold prospector named the peak after McKinley in 1896, the year before the Republican became president. To prevent the name change, all Ohio lawmakers need to do is introduce a one-sentence bill in Congress every two years.

Have Obama do it — he doesn’t give a shit about the law.

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Whither the Ebola Czar?

23rd January 2015

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So for some time now, we have had a Czar to be in charge of Ebola. Oh, not an actual doctor, of course, just a spin doctor. A career bureaucrat and hanger-on. And we haven’t heard Word One about Ebola or the Czar since. Wouldn’t you love to know his salary? Wouldn’t you love to have it? Apparently, just appointing a Czar did the trick and the crisis is now over! Huzzah! I plan to appoint a Czar of Housekeeping and Cooking in hopes that those things will be taken care of as easily. Oh wait, I think that’s me.

So what has the head of the CDC been doing with his time, then? Could he not have outsourced to underlings the task of hounding people to get this year’s near-worthless flu shots? Better still, could they not have come closer to guessing the actual flu varieties for the shot so that my elderly parents didn’t get horribly sick along with all of their fellow residents in their assisted living facility? They all got flu shots like good little soldiers.

Then, too, they might have saved several hundred thousand dollars if they had decided to take a pass on studying why so many lesbians are fat.

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Only Police Should Have…Body Armor?

22nd January 2015

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Venturing down a line of legislative reasoning that apparently sees threats to the republic in convenience store clerks, security guards, globe-trotting journalists, and shopkeepers nervy enough to do business in troubled neighborhoods, Rep. Mike Honda (D-YouGottaBeKiddingMe) offers up HR 378, The Responsible Body Armor Possession Act. Yes, it is in fact a bill intended to limit people’s ability to own gear that reduces injuries and death caused by bullets.

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Income Inequality *Is* a Problem—When Caused by Government Meddling

22nd January 2015

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But the preferred solution, for those who bitch the loudest, is — more government meddling. Idiots.

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Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Leader, Is Arrested on Graft Charges

22nd January 2015

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Democrat, of course, but you probably knew that.

More here. And here.

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US Senate Agrees That Climate Change Is Real in a 98 to 1 Vote

22nd January 2015

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Note that the amendment didn’t say man-made climate change.

The amendment even won support from James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), one of the vanguard of Republican climate change deniers who had previously called the phenomenon a hoax. Inhofe voted in favor of the amendment, stating that Earth’s climate has “always changed,” and citing “biblical evidence” to support the theory.

The Senate has gone on record to agree that climate change is real, but the governmental body is still split on its causes — other amendments introduced later in the day that attributed climate change to the actions of humans failed to receive the 60 votes required to pass, despite some Republican support.

I guess they have to take their victories where they can get them.

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Brickbat: No Entrance

22nd January 2015

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Following a complaint that one entrance to Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, wasn’t handicapped accessible, officials used benches to block that stairway. Some people are now using another entrance to the park, but others, who presumably aren’t handicapped, are simply going over or around the benches.

Presumably the theory is that if handicapped people can’t use it, nobody ought to be allowed to use it.

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(More) Rail Troubles

22nd January 2015

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The latest news from Hawai’i is that the Honululu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) lied to the city council when it told them the city’s rail project was $500 million to $700 million over budget. It turns out it’s really $910 million over budget. HART was just hoping to cover up $210 million of the deficit by quietly transferring bus money to the rail project.

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Robin in Deadwood Forest

20th January 2015

Richard Fernandez provides some inconvenient truth.

Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute believes there should be a National Museum of Government Failure.  He argues that the displays at the Smithsonian would pale into insignificance if set beside the awe-inspiring sight of such things as the “$349 million on a rocket test facility that is completely unused“, the Superconducting Collider whose ruins include  nearly 15 miles of tunnel and the ex-future Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.  Yet these artifacts, whose scale would surpass many a Lost City, are far from the worst failures.  The biggest fiascos by dollar value are the various government programs designed to win the war on drugs or poverty which after having spent trillions of dollars fruitlessly, lie somewhere in an unmarked bureaucratic grave.

Were Chris Edwards a distinguished economist he would realize at once that pointless activity is the best sort of government activity there is.  John Maynard Keynes couldn’t recommend it highly enough.  The great economist said that the best use of government effort was to bury money in a deep hole and employ the idled to dig them up again.

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At the Sterling Trial

19th January 2015

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Last week the government commenced its prosecution of former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling for violation of the Espionage Act. The government alleges that Sterling leaked the details of a program intended to undermine Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. The program was subject to a security classification indicating its extreme sensitivity.

Sterling did not publicly disclose the details of the CIA program; he laundered them through Risen (with a promise from Risen’s to protect Sterling’s identity as the source). So the government alleges.

The government subpoenaed Risen to testify in the case. Risen declined, and the government has abandoned its efforts to compel him to testify. He works for the Times, and the Times is, after all, on Obama’s team. The case therefore continues without the benefit of Risen’s testimony.

If Sterling violated the Espionage Act, as the government alleges, it is even clearer that Risen did so too. He is subject to the same criminal liability as Sterling and other citizens for violation of the Espionage Act, but the government has confined the prosecution to Sterling and now it has also abandoned its claim to Risen’s testimony.

Selective prosecution is a hallmark of tyrannous regimes everywhere. When friends of those in power can ignore the law with impunity, then there is no justice, just a fight for power and influence, which is what we have in America today.

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A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

18th January 2015

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Since this is NPR, they have a behind-the-scenes political agenda that comes out in the writing as if by accident. A good example is this paragraph:

This last point is crucial because it suggests that a choice-based system all by itself won’t necessarily increase equity. The most economically disadvantaged students may have parents who are making decisions differently from other families. These parents appear to be more interested in factors other than academic quality as the state defines it. Maybe they have access to different, or less, information. If this is true, choice could actually increase, rather than diminish, achievement gaps within a city.

The first sentence is striking: What does ‘equity’ have to do with anything? A choice-based system isn’t striving for ‘equity’ but for quality of education. That ‘economically disadvantaged’ (great PC style, there) parents make different decisions from ‘other families’ ought not to come as a surprise to a moderately intelligent individual, nor the fact that these parents like schools that are close, have extended hours, and lots of extracurricular activity — poor people use public schools as free day-care, a though that not only doesn’t occur to somebody writing for NPR, but which is a thought they are carefully trained not even to think.

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