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Don’t let Putin and Kim Jong Un take YOUR Internet! Sign the Petition!

FFinternetSign the Petition to keep the Internet in American hands and protected by the First Amendment.  We don’t need dictators governing the Internet!  [Read more...]

Erasing the Race Card

Obama Glare Angryby Kathleen Parker

One approaches the race fray with trepidation, but here we go, tippy-toe.

The race cards have been flying so fast and furious lately, one can hardly tell the kings from the queens.

Leading the weird lately has been Democratic Alabama state Rep. Alvin Holmes, who called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina “Uncle Toms.” Holmes, who also has said that it’s fine by him if men want to marry mules and, while we’re exorcising demons, that white people are only pro-life until their daughter gets pregnant by a black man.

When Mark Childress wrote “Crazy in Alabama,” he wasn’t just whistling Dixie!

Holmes is a one-man book of quotes, but a particular statement got him in trouble. Not the Uncle Tom reference, but his offer of $100,000 to anyone who could show him that “a bunch of whites” had adopted black babies in Alabama.

His offer, which subsequently had to be modified, produced hundreds of mixed-race family photos posted to a Facebook page , “Faces of Families,” from Alabama and several other states. A statehouse rally of mixed-race, adoptive families also ensued. Holmes apparently has not been moved to retract his original statements.

No one denies that there are racists roaming the byways of Alabama — as elsewhere. But this doesn’t translate to all whites being racists, as Holmes implied, nor does it justify slinging racial slurs at African Americans who don’t toe the party line. What can be more racist than insisting that all blacks think only a certain way?

That Scott and Thomas are conservatives who happen to be black earns them only contempt from what might be called “establishment blacks” — people whose identities have become so entrenched in past grievance that they can’t or won’t see that they have become what they loathed. History is littered with episodes of anti-establishment protesters becoming the new bureaucrats, victims the new oppressors.

To insist that Thomas and Scott are serving their white masters is above all a racist remark. The truth is, far more courage is required to be a black conservative than to foment outrage against manufactured heresy.

What’s merely crazy in Alabama is cognitively dissonant in Washington, which, you may recall, is home to a president and an attorney general who both happen to be African American. Speaking recently at the 2014 convention of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, a nonprofit civil rights organization, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that he and President Obama have faced “unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity.”

“What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” Holder said. “What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

How much time do you have?

Holder later denied making a race reference, saying he was only referring to the decline in civility. True, Holder didn’t say anything specifically racial — he’s far too smart for that — but aren’t we too smart to believe race isn’t what he meant? Inference isn’t a science, but the preponderance of evidence (the involvement of Sharpton; a largely African American audience; the mention only of two black leaders, and not leadership in general, suffering incivility) suggests that only a fig would miss his point.

Do some Americans dislike Holder and/or Obama because they’re African American? Undoubtedly. Does this explain why the president and the attorney general have been criticized? No. Could it have something to do with dissatisfaction in the direction they’re taking the country? Most certainly.

Holder cannot pretend that his conduct in the attorney general’s office is in question only on account of his skin tone. In a provocative observation, Brit Hume of Fox News remarked that, contrarily, Obama and Holder have been given a pass precisely because they are African American. Indeed, Obama said something similar not long ago, noting that no doubt some people dislike him because he’s black and, equally plausible, some give him a pass because he’s black.

Given that most blacks are Democrats, it is hardly surprising that they support the president. Likewise, it is hardly surprising that Republicans do not. But the latter cannot be construed as evidence that whites are racist or that their opposition to the current administration is race-based.

It is striking that during what many had hoped would be a post-racial America, racial division has been amplified, owing not least to sustained media attention. Then again, maybe we’re experiencing the final death rattle of our racist past. Perhaps all those suppressed thoughts and feelings of anger, hurt and frustration had to rise to the surface before they finally could be eradicated.

Let’s hope we’re almost done.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post.

The IRS Scandal’s Smoking Gun

A suspicious email could confirm Lois Lerner’s culpability in recent IRS abuses.

Lois Lerner IRSby Peter Roff

The so-called “smoking gun” proving the Internal Revenue Service played politics with conservative groups seeking official non-profit, social welfare status over the last several years may finally have been found.

In a rash of documents provided under the Freedom of Information Act to Judicial Watch, a non-partisan public interest law group, is an April 2013 email written by David Fish, acting manager of IRS Exempt Organizations Technical Guidance and Quality Assurance and sent to, among others, former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner. It was part of a thread discussing a recent U.S. Senate hearing on the potential for the abuse of the 501(c)(4) tax status by organizations intervening inappropriately or improperly in candidate elections.

Responding to a message “What can I say?” from Lerner, Fish responds, “Tell Ruth she needs to get on the stick and that the next election cycle is around the corner. This is obviously a wonderful idea (that’s why we suggested it). I think you told Greg all you can tell him, unless you want to tell him that we’re taking guidance plan suggestions.”

The email is dated April 15, 2013 – well after initial allegations that the IRS had “slow-walked” the applications of conservative groups had been made and, by the agency, denied.

The “Ruth” mentioned in the message refers to Ruth Madrigal, an official at the U.S. Treasury Department. The “Greg” mentioned in Fish’s message is apparently a San Francisco-based attorney named Gregory Colvin, who started this chain with an e-mail to Lerner and Madrigal letting them know he has just testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on the issue of whether officers of (c)(4) organizations who made false statements under penalty of perjury on tax returns “could be criminally prosecuted.”

The Obama administration has insisted from the beginning that conservative groups were not singled out and that electoral considerations did not factor into what clearly went on. They prefer to adhere to the fiction that anything untoward that occurred generated spontaneously in branch offices among low level staff and not at the direction of anyone in Washington.

The particular mention by Fish of the idea that “the next election cycle is around the corner” seems to any reasonable person to confirm or at least suggest higher-ups at the IRS including Lerner knew exactly what they were doing, had used their positions for partisan political purposes, and were continuing to do so even though the word about what they were doing had leaked out.

“The David Fish email proves the IRS originated and fed to Senate Democrats the idea of threatening conservatives with criminal prosecution for engaging in political speech – specifically with an eye towards the 2014 cycle. It’s the strongest proof yet that there should indeed be criminal prosecutions, not of conservatives but of the IRS bureaucrats who conspired to suppress them,” said Phil Kerpen, the president of American Commitment and one who has followed this issue closely since it first become public knowledge.

Interestingly, sources close to the House Committee on Ways and Means, one of the congressional panels looking into the issue, is not at all certain the document containing the Fish email was given to the panel subsequent to a rather broad, comprehensive subpoena of the IRS.

There is also this message from Lerner, also made public as a result of the Judicial Watch FOIA. In it she writes, “As I mentioned yesterday – there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report that are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t fell so comfortable doing the stuff. … So don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.”

It seems the agency, which seemed to be moving past the scandal under its new leadership, is now right back in the thick of things as a result of these two emails. Lerner’s not talking – and faces a congressional contempt citation and possible prosecution for failing to do so. She should come clean immediately; the American people have the right to know what went on.

It also appears congressional investigators need to refocus, to cast a wider net and make sure all the documents they asked for were actually turned over. If they weren’t, then it would seem reasonable to conclude a cover-up had in fact occurred and may be a bigger thing than the underlying crime.

Rather than slow down its efforts and wind them up, congressional committees investigating what the IRS actually did and finding what other federal agencies – if any – it worked with to subvert the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and association need to go into high gear. The upcoming summer recess would be the perfect time to focus on it since there will be nothing else going on in town.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report.

Donald Rumsfeld’s Annual Letter to the IRS

taxes_irs_tax code_

“That I and most Americans have no idea whether our tax returns are accurate ought to tell us something.” – Donald Rumsfeld

The Case Against Higher Taxes

 

While the 2000s may have been a lost decade for the American dream, a revival of our model’s advantages is still a real, worth-desiring possibility.

Reagan-tax-cuts2by Ross Douthat

Because it was tax day recently, because he mentions me and because I’m easily provoked, below the quote you’ll find three rejoinders to Jonathan Cohn’s admirably forthright argument that American society would be much better off if most of us were writing larger considerably larger checks to Uncle Sam:

Maybe you don’t like tax day … [because] it reminds you of how high taxes are—and you think that, because of those high taxes, the economy grows more slowly. That would mean fewer jobs and less pay for you—and the country as a whole. It’s not a crazy argument … But the evidence for this point of view turns out to be thinner than you’ve probably heard. Relative to other countries, tax rates in the U.S. are relatively low, even when you throw in local and state taxes and add them to federal levies. Overall, according to the Tax Policy Center and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities … taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest in the developed world. The average for countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an organization of rich countries, is higher. And in countries like Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands countries, the average is much higher. In those nations, taxes account for more than half of total national income.

That level may sound scary but, as many of us have written before, you could make a good case that the people of Scandinavia and Northern Europe know what they are doing. They are far more secure, thanks not only to national health insurance but also to generous provision of child care and unemployment benefits. And despite the high tax burden, their economies have historically been strong—in part, because the combination of investment and a secure safety net makes people more comfortable with a dynamic, ever-changing economy. The wonks used to call this economic model “flexicurity.”

As conservatives like New York Times columnist Ross Douthat note, you can’t simply import that model to the U.S. wholesale. But the Scandinavian experience is one reason that many economists and policy experts think there’s room for U.S. taxes to rise ….

1) It’s true that the U.S. has a lower tax burden than most developed countries. It’s also the case that the U.S. is much, much richer than most developed countries, in ways that a casual trip to Paris or London or Stockholm can sometimes obscure. The I.M.F.’s numbers have our purchasing-power-adjusted per capita G.D.P. at $53,101, which is slightly lower than oil-rich Norway (and Luxembourg) but more than $10,000 higher than Sweden and more than $15,000 higher than Denmark; most of the rich European economies are clumped together between the mid-thirties (where you’ll find the French) and the low forties (where you’ll find the Germans). Now: This wealth gap doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the link between low taxes and growth, since the U.S. has basically always been richer and (as Cohn notes) many of the social democracies have grown at a very respectable rate, in per capita terms, over the last few generations. But if you flashed back to the 1970s, you would find a number of very smart people who expected northern Europe (and Japan) to achieve more than respectable growth, and do more than just keep up with U.S. growth: They expected, for plausible theoretical reasons, that we would see continued convergence between the American economy and its developed-world competitors. And that, to put it mildly, did not happen; instead, post-Reagan, the social democracies actually slipped back a bit. So without claiming anything dispositive, I would be much more cautious than Cohn about the claim that growth and tax rates are unrelated, and much, much more hesitant about treating major tax increases as basically a free lunch.

2) And speaking of that free lunch … it’s also quite possible that the European economic story would look rather different, and rather less impressive, if American political economy had always looked more Swedish or French, and hadn’t pursued growth and innovation at quite the same frantic, Anglo-Saxon pace. This is, again, a highly contentious topic, but there’s a certain plausibility to the idea that (in the language of Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson) the developed world’s different tax-and-transfer models are actually complementary “flavors,” and that in a world where rich economies all converged on a single “cuddly” model of capitalism everyone — poor Scandinavians as well as rich Americans — would, on a long time horizon, eventually end up worse off. (Here it’s also worth pointing that if these complementarities and spillover effects do exist, the sheer size of the U.S. economy means that “Europeanizing” our tax-and-transfer model would represent a much more high-stakes roll of the global-economic dice than the kind of “bringing a lone outlier closer to the norm” scenario that country-by-country comparisons sometimes evoke.)

3) Then on what you might call the question of implementation, Cohn concedes the very general point that we can’t simply impose Swedish structures on the United States and call it a day, but he doesn’t address the more specific problem suggested by that concession: Namely, that a lot of liberal proposals essentially ask us to assume that American government — the quasi-imperial government of a vast, diverse, immigrant-heavy continent of three hundred million people — can somehow, in some future dispensation, approach the efficiency of welfare states administered on a much smaller scale and for a much more homogenous population. Which is to say, they wave away one of the central problem with existing public outlays in the U.S., which in other contexts they’re happy to highlight — the absence, in core areas like health care and education, of a clear link between increased spending and better outcomes. Or else they acknowledge the link, but assert that the best way to reform our kludgeocracy is to pursue greater efficiency in program design while simultaneously pouring more money into the system overall — using a heaping-full of sugar to make the medicine go down, if you will. (This was the basic theory of Obamacare, and also of more bipartisan reforms like No Child Left Behind.) It isn’t a crazy theory, but I think it’s reasonable to worry that in a system as inefficient and cross-pressured as ours, the sugar simply offsets or counteracts the medicine’s effects. And that possibility makes a strong case for holding the tax burden constant while seeking de-kludge-ification, rather than pre-emptively handing more money to bureaucracies and programs that aren’t exactly being managed with Nordic efficiency, and aren’t showing the most impressive of results.

To the foregoing I’d add one further, non-rebutting point: Namely, that regardless of whether one prefers Scandinavian-style social democracy to a lower-tax, more laissez-faire-ish mixed economy on moral grounds, the case for higher taxes gets stronger to the extent that the U.S. model doesn’t seem to be working on its own terms. By this I mean that all systems involve trade-offs, and our model is no different: American-style capitalism promises higher living standards overall in exchange for higher individual risks; faster growth rates in exchange for greater inequality; lower unemployment rates in exchange for fewer workplace protections; more liberty for innovators and entrepreneurs in exchange for somewhat less solidarity-as-redistribution. But if this promise isn’t being fulfilled, as has been the case in the last decade — if only the rich are seeing income gains, if the pace of growth and innovation are slowing even as inequality gets wider, if workforce participation is actually dropping below the European norm — then it’s inevitable that the model itself will start to bleed support. So at least part of the left-right divide at the moment (visible in the Picketty discussion, the guaranteed-income vogue, and the like) is over whether we should accept this breakdown, this failure of the American promise, as a permanent feature of our political economy — in which case the argument for high taxes does look stronger, because there’s less to lose — or whether we should still be making policy on the assumption that while the 2000s may have been a lost decade for the American dream, a revival of our model’s advantages is still a real, worth-desiring possibility.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Ross Douthat is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

A Sadder and Poorer Tax Day

obama_taxesObama’s tax increases have diminished America’s spirit and prosperity.

by Grover Norquist

With the arrival and passing of yet another April 15th Tax Day, the federal government will consume 20.5 percent of America’s total income this year. It’s not as bad as in France or Greece, but somewhat worse than when we formed these United States. When we were Colonies under the British, the average tax burden on American colonists was 2 percent. That was considered unbearable, and the revolution was on.

There has been some slippage over the years. The 16th Amendment allowing the income tax opened the door to truly European, supersized government. [Read more...]

IRS Ringleader Lerner Mentioned Working for Obama Campaign Offshoot

Lois Lerner IRSby Bernie Becker

Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency’s Tea Party controversy, mentioned potentially getting a job at an offshoot of President Obama’s campaign, according to newly released documents.

Lerner, discussing Organizing for Action with colleagues on email in 2013, said “Oh–maybe I can get the DC office job!” [Read more...]

Why Aren’t Public Officials Held to Account for Lying?

obama washington liesby Jack Kelly

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced television pitchman Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in prison for making false claims in a weight loss book he wrote and was hawking on TV.

In infomercials for “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” Mr. Trudeau claimed food companies and the government had kept secret a “miracle substance” discovered by a British doctor. [Read more...]

For Attorney General Eric Holder, Justice Is for the Left Only

Holderby John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky

A veteran Justice Department lawyer says that Attorney General Eric Holder has politicized the department in a way he hadn’t seen before. In short, “Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell.”

Now in his sixth year as attorney general, Holder has increasingly tilted the department in an ideological direction. It’s one thing to emphasize President Obama’s legal priorities. It’s quite another to decide not to enforce certain federal laws — such as the ban on marijuana — or urge state attorney generals to refuse to defend local laws on same-sex marriage. Legal changes are achieved through legislation, not through a sudden whim not to enforce them. No other attorney general has acted in this manner. [Read more...]

Holder’s view of the Constitution and the Rule of Law

Holder HeadAttorney General Eric Holder, who has given new meaning to the phrase a law unto himself, was remarkably candid in his testimony before Congress this week.

Outrageous, but candid.

“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder told the House Judiciary Committee. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that you’re acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.” [Read more...]

Hungary’s Moribund Democracy

Budapest Hungaryby Dr. Miklos Radvanyi & Dr. Istvan Molnar

The results of the latest national elections in Hungary on April 6, 2014, proved that history in this ancient land of the Magyars only moves in one direction, namely, backwards. Nowhere in central and eastern Europe are the legacies of the painful defeats of two world wars, the idiotic governance of Miklos Horthy, the catastrophic alliance with Nazi Germany, and the destructive communist dictatorship so unresolved as in this country. For this reason, Hungary unites the three sicknesses that obstruct the future; confused submersion under the nation’s bloody history, desperation about the perceived individual and collective hopelessness, and an all-consuming hatred that is being released spontaneously as well as systematically, in the form of chauvinism, xenophobia, and sheer materialistic envy. [Read more...]

National Security Fairy Tales: Iran and the Extremists

iran-nuclear-weaponsby Peter Huessy

On December 3, 2007 the US intelligence community released an NIE or National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.

A month later, on January 1, 2008, “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror” by Stephen Kinzer was published.

The first claimed the Iranians stopped their nuclear warhead work in 2003.

The second claimed the American CIA planned a “coup” in 1953 in Iran which brought Shah Pahlavi back to power.

The stories are critical to understand the inability of the US and its allies to successfully end the terrorist regime in Tehran and stop its nuclear ambitions. [Read more...]

IRS Secretly Passed Info about Targeted Group to House Democrats

obama-irsDemocratic Rep. Cummings previously denied IRS contact. But emails now show his denials were false. Why all the false and misleading statements, if there is not a smidgen of corruption here? 

by CJ Ciaramella

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent tax documents on a targeted conservative group to Democratic staff on the House Oversight Committee, newly released emails show, despite previous denials by ranking Oversight Democrat Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) that such contact had occurred.

Emails released by the GOP-led Oversight Committee show Democratic staff requested information from the IRS’ tax-exempt division on True The Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud. [Read more...]

Thought police aggressively on patrol

Free Speech Censorship First Amendment 1stby Charles Krauthammer

Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.

The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.

The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced. [Read more...]

Nevada Governor Blasts Feds’ ‘First Amendment Area’ in Bundy Dispute

1st First Amendmentby Paul Joseph Watson

Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has called on Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie to start arresting Bureau of Land Management agents on charges of trespassing and theft as his battle against the federal government intensifies. [Read more...]

The IRS Scandal Comes Into Focus

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp lays out damning evidence of Lois Lerner’s targeting of conservative groups.

irs-targets-conservativesby Kimberley Strassel

Nearly a year into the IRS scandal, we still don’t know exactly what happened—though we are finally getting an inkling. That’s thanks to the letter House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp sent this week to the Justice Department recommending a criminal probe of Lois Lerner. [Read more...]

Dallas IRS Office Plastered with Pro-Obama Stickers, Screensavers

Agency still under fire for Lois Lerner-tea party targeting scandal.

IRS Silecing Conservativesby Stephen Dinan

Even as the IRS faces growing heat over Lois G. Lerner and the tea party targeting scandal, a government watchdog said Wednesday it’s pursuing cases against three other tax agency employees and offices suspected of illegal political activity in support of President Obama and fellow Democrats. [Read more...]

White House Pay Gap Twice as Large as Pay Gap in the District of Columbia

Smug-Obamaby Caroline May

While the White House has argued that the wage gap between men and women in the White House is better than the national average, it is far worst than the average in the District of Columbia.

The pay gap among women in the White House is more than twice as large as the average in the nation’s capital. [Read more...]

The Equal Pay Ruse: Deceptive Stats

obama_lies-2Amid much fanfare, President Obama on Tuesday signs two executive orders designed to begin to narrow the wage gap between men and women. Never mind that the criteria generally used to measure such things are faulty and that the Obama administration doesn’t practice what it deceptively preaches. [Read more...]

The ’77 Cents on the Dollar’ Myth About Women’s Pay

Once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the ‘gender wage gap’ all but disappears.

Income inequality cash moneyby Mark J. Perry and Andrew G. Biggs

April 8 is “Equal Pay Day,” an annual event to raise awareness regarding the so-called gender wage gap. As President Obama said in the State of the Union address, women “still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” a claim echoed by the National Committee on Pay Equity, the American Association of University Women and other progressive groups. [Read more...]

US Sees Sharpest Health Insurance Premium Increases In Years

ObamaCare Big Governmentby Sarah Hurtubise

Americans have recently been hit with some of the largest premium increases in years, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of insurance brokers.

The investment bank’s April survey of 148 brokers found that this quarter, the average premium increase for customers renewing an insurance plan is 12 percent in the small group market and 11 percent in the individual market, according to Forbes’ Scott Gottlieb. [Read more...]