Weekly Musing 6-16-13
“If any of you have cell phones, can you please leave them on. I want President Obama to hear everything I’m about to say.”
– U.S. Senator Ted Cruz during a speech in California
“Americans have been affected by the culture of political intimidation and discrimination that was cultivated by the actions of the IRS.
– Congressman Dave Camp
US Rep. Mike Rogers of Mich. won’t run for Senate – I’m glad we still have him representing Michigan in the House of Representatives!
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers announced Friday he will not run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan next year, saying the best way for him to make a difference in Washington is staying in the House.
In an email to supporters, the seventh-term Howell Republican pointed out his role as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“For me, the significance and depth of the impact I can make on my constituent’s behalf far outweighs the perceived importance of any title I might hold,” said Rogers, whose fundraising prowess, base in southeastern Michigan and high-profile role made him a favorite within the GOP.
The Fix’s top 15 gubernatorial races
5. Michigan (R): A poll from Democratic automated pollster Public Policy Polling earlier this month showed former congressman Mark Schauer (D) at 42 percent and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) at 38 percent. But more telling is that Snyder continues to be underwater in his personal approval. The fact is that Schauer’s lead is small because he’s largely unknown, and in a blue state, Snyder needs to recover his good name to win reelection. (Previous ranking: 6)
Obama’s power grab
“How ironic is that? We wanted a president that listens to all Americans — now we have one.” That was Jay Leno’s take on the Obama administration’s expanding NSA spying scandal, which has gone beyond Verizon phone records to include Google, Facebook, Yahoo and just about all the other major tech companies except, apparently, for Twitter.
But, in fact, there’s a common theme in all of these scandals: Abuse of power. And, what’s more, that abuse-of-power theme is what makes the NSA snooping story bigger than it otherwise would be. It all comes down to trust.
The justification for giving the government a lot of snooping power hangs on two key arguments: That snooping will make us safer and that the snooping power won’t be abused.
All that Big Brother talk has ‘1984’ sales spiking
George Orwell’s 64-year-old novel “1984” is getting a huge bump in sales after a leak exposed wide-ranging government surveillance efforts last week.
The classic tale portrays a dystopian future in which the government — Big Brother — monitors its citizens via the Thought Police, which “could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to.”
As Orwell wrote, “Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.”
Think the IRS Is Bad Now? Just Wait.
Under the Affordable Care Act, premium subsidies—tax credits in ObamaCare designed to defray the cost of purchasing health insurance—will go to some seven million tax filers and flow to households earning as much as $94,000 a year. The credits are both advanceable and refundable, meaning the IRS will pay them first and verify the claims for them later, what some call “pay and chase.”
The bottom line here is that the IRS can barely manage what it already has to do (and that’s a generous characterization given its unlawful targeting of conservative groups). The prospect of the IRS taking a central role in the administration of ObamaCare can only be described as scary.
Obama Demonstrates the Evil of Big Government
The scandals surrounding the Obama administration come down to one common theme — that the ever-growing size and scope of our federal government gives it enormous power over virtually every aspect of our lives, power that in the wrong hands can be used to reward supporters, exact revenge and punish enemies. In education, health care, transportation, energy, disaster relief, welfare, commerce, work and salary rules, and on and on, the federal government plays an outsized role completely inconsistent with the Founding Fathers’ notion of a limited government that allows maximum personal liberty.
In 1900, government at all three levels — federal, state and local — took about 10 percent of the people’s money. It now takes nearly 50 percent.
Privacy Isn’t All We’re Losing The surveillance state threatens Americans’ love of country.
We must realize this is a crucial moment: We either go forward with these programs now or we stop, and think. Some call for a conversation, but what we really need is a debate—a real argument. It will require a new candor from the government as to what the National Security Agency does and doesn’t do. We need a new rigor in the areas of oversight and accountability—including explicit limits on what can and should be allowed, accompanied by explicit and even harsh penalties for violations. This debate will also require information that is reliable—that is, true—from the government about what past terrorist attempts have been slowed or stopped by the surveillance state.
Pick Your Scandal
All can agree that the Obama administration is mired in myriads of scandals, but as yet no one can quite figure out what they all mean and where they will lead.
Benghazi differs from all the other scandals — and from both Watergate and Iran-Contra — because in this case administration lapses led to the deaths of four Americans.
Paranoia over reelection, in classic Nixon style, is the common key that unlocks much of the mystery surrounding the administration’s reckless, unethical, and often unlawful behavior.
Conservative senators shine at Road to Majority Conference
The clearest clash between Mr. Rubio and Mr. Paul was over the issue that has increasingly divided conservatives and Republicans — U.S. intervention abroad.
Mr. Rubio said it is incumbent on the United States to intervene when the basic principles of humanity are at stake. He rejected the idea that “somehow the time has come for America to retreat from the world and ignore the issues that are around that us.”
“There is no other light. There is no other nation. There is no other example,” Mr. Rubio said.
Mr. Paul argued that well-intentioned meddling by the U.S. has helped the country’s enemies and hurt the innocent.
The Kentuckian bemoaned the Senate’s attempt “to arm the rebel forces in Syria, many of whom are al Qaeda or affiliates.” U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, he said, will bring “more violence and more persecution of Christians, who have long been protected in Syria.”
The GOP’s New Minority
If Republicans are opposed to what mass immigration is doing to the country demographically, ethnically, socially and politically, there are, as Reagan used to say, “simple answers, just no easy answers.”
Those answers: No amnesty, secure the border, enforce laws against businesses that hire illegals, and impose a moratorium on new immigration so wages can rise and immigrants enter the middle class and start voting as did the children and grandchildren of the immigrants of 1890-1920 by 1972.
So what are the Republicans doing?
Going back on their word, dishonoring their platform, and enraging their loyal supporters, who gave Mitt 90 percent of his votes, to pander to a segment of the electorate that gave Mitt less than 5 percent of his total votes.
Why Democrats should listen to Joe Biden – Be Prepared
The picture Biden is trying to paint is this: The Republican party is beholden to absolutists like Cruz and Paul who view any compromise as a concession, that a vote for any Republican for Senate — even one like Gabriel Gomez who has worked hard to avoid any connections to the national GOP during his campaign against Markey — is a vote for that sort of my-way-or-the-highway approach that subjugates getting things done to philosophical principles. (Tougher gun background checks, which national polling suggested had widespread support among the American public, is Exhibit A for Biden in making that argument.)
And poll after poll has shown the GOP remains in poorer stead with the American people than the Democratic Party. A recent Post-ABC News poll showed Americans thought Republicans in Congress were more focused on issues that aren’t pertinent to them than those that are by a 60-33 margin. For Democrats, the split was 50 percent non-pertinent and 43 percent pertinent.
Biden is counseling his party to make 2014 a referendum on Republicans, not Democrats. It’s not an easy sell, but it may well be Democrats’ best bet in what, on paper, should be a very difficult election.
The GOP’s digital opportunity
The Republican Party’s failure to invest in high-level technology and analytics in 2012 has become shorthand code for the party’s woes: this alone wasn’t the reason Mitt Romney lost, but it was emblematic of a party whose leaders had stopped innovating — in policy, messaging, or campaign tactics.
Last week, the Republican National Committee hired Andy Barkett, a senior Facebook engineer, as its new chief technology officer. The party is also pressing the reset button on its previously close relationship with Liberty Works, a Silicon Valley-led consortium that was to manage access to the GOP’s voter file.
Let’s get rid of the IRS
If the national sales tax isn’t the answer, then a similar outcome might be achieved by drastically lowering current income tax rates in exchange for eliminating all deductions and credits.
With no reason to examine returns, the IRS could be much smaller. Without auditing power, it’d be less intimidating.
There’s still the issue of how to enforce Obamacare, which was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court only because its requirement that everyone buy an insurance policy is considered a tax, not a purchase mandate.
Resolving that may require a rethinking and rewriting of Obamacare. There’s very little downside in that.
If, in one stroke, we can eliminate the hated and abusive IRS and revamp an entitlement that seems destined to complete the bankrupting of America, what’s the downside?
Conservatives Became Targets in 2008
This history also casts light on White House claims that it was clueless about the IRS’s targeting. As Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman wrote this week: “With two winning presidential campaigns built on successful grassroots fundraising, with a former White House counsel (in 2010-11) who is one of the Democrats’ leading experts on campaign law (Bob Bauer), with former top campaign officials having been ensconced as staffers in the White House . . . it’s hard to imagine that the Obama inner circle was oblivious to the issue of what the IRS was doing in Cincinnati.” More like inconceivable.
And this history exposes the left’s hollow claim that the IRS mess rests on Citizens United. The left was targeting conservative groups and donors well before the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on independent political expenditures by corporations.
If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House.
Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere
I admit that, in addition to the possibilities for finding something interesting, there may also be the prospect of discovering suggestive but ultimately incorrect or misleading patterns. But I feel this problem would surely be greatly ameliorated by more and better metadata. At the present time, alas, the technology required to automatically collect the required information is beyond our capacity. But I say again, if a mere scribe such as I—one who knows nearly nothing—can use the very simplest of these methods to pick the name of a traitor like Paul Revere from those of two hundred and fifty four other men, using nothing but a list of memberships and a portable calculating engine, then just think what weapons we might wield in the defense of liberty one or two centuries from now.
Economics vs. ‘Need’
What are called “jobs that Americans will not do” are in fact jobs at which not enough Americans will work at the current wage rate that some employers are offering. This is not an uncommon situation. That is why labor “shortages” lead to higher wage rates. A “shortage” is no more quantifiable than a “need,” when you ignore prices, which are crucial in a market economy. To discuss “need” and “shortage” while ignoring prices — in this case, wages — is especially remarkable in a usually market-savvy publication like the Wall Street Journal.
Often shortages have been predicted in various occupations — and yet never materialized. Why? Because the pay in those occupations rose, causing more people to go into those occupations and causing employers to reduce how many people they “need” at the higher pay rates.
Virtually every kind of “work that Americans will not do” is in fact work that Americans have done for generations. In many cases, most of the people doing that work today are Americans. And there are certainly many unemployed Americans available today, without bringing in more foreign workers to meet farmers’ “needs.”
The GOP’s Huge, Growing Modernity Gap
Do you agree??? Since 1992 the GOP has lost the 18-29 vote in each presidential election. As the adage goes, “although people’s fundamental political views do not change much as they age, their propensity to vote does.” In other words, the GOP’s future could grow ever bleaker as today’s seniors and boomers are supplanted at the ballot box by Generations X, Y and Z.
If Gohmert, Bryant, and Erickson have their way, the Republican’s modernity deficit will further congeal and fester, with the GOP relegated, at best, to a congressional party, one that specializes in oversight hearings and impeachment trials but not one actually tasked by America to govern.
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