Friday, June 05, 2015

Cruising the Web

Kimberley Strassel explains how, for the Clintons, "charity begins at home."
The scandal of the century at the IRS was that agency’s secret targeting of conservative nonprofits. Perhaps a close second is the scandal of what the IRS hasn’t been investigating: the Clinton Foundation.

The media’s focus is on Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and whether she took official actions to benefit her family’s global charity. But the mistake is starting from the premise that the Clinton Foundation is a “charity.” What’s clear by now is that this family enterprise was set up as a global shakedown operation, designed to finance and nurture the Clintons’ continued political ambitions. It’s a Hillary super PAC that throws in the occasional good deed.

That much is made obvious by looking at the foundation’s employment rolls. Most charities are staffed by folks who have spent a lifetime in nonprofits, writing grants or doing overseas field work. The Clinton Foundation is staffed by political operatives. It has been basically a parking lot for Clinton campaign workers—a comfy place to draw a big check as they geared up for Hillary’s presidential run.
After listing the Clinton 2008 aides or other Democratic political operatives who were paid by the Foundation and now are leaving to work for the 2016 campaign.
This is typically Clinton, which means it is typically on the edge of legal. The foundation operates as a nonprofit, raising hundreds of millions as a “charity.” We know from foundation tax filings that it spends an extraordinary portion of its funds on travel and staff. How many donors are unaware that their money is going to keep Clinton friends in full employment? How many are aware and give precisely for that reason—to help elect a new president, one who will gratefully remember their help?

Lucky for the Clintons, nobody looks. As a charity (and unlike a super PAC), the foundation is subject to almost no oversight. The IRS in the past has stripped charities of their tax-exempt status when they are shown to be operating for a purpose other than benevolence. The agency has shown no real interest in the Clinton Foundation. Go figure.

Clinton allies are insisting to all who listen that the foundation exists to do good. It does. It exists to do very good things for Hillary and Bill and all their longtime allies. And in that, it has succeeded beautifully.

It's just one outrage or crisis after another from the IRS.
It’s been a very bad week for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – which translates into a very bad week for the American people.

First, it was revealed the IRS failed to implement critical upgrades to its computer systems which made it much easier for Russian hackers to steal information from more than 100,000 taxpayers. Then, if Russian hackers weren’t enough, an IRS employee in Missouri pleaded guilty to stealing more than $325,000 by filing fraudulent tax returns – stealing the identities of American taxpayers.

Now, we learn that as Congress began its investigation into the unlawful scheme targeting conservative and Tea Party groups the IRS used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress.

According to new bombshell testimony, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.” She told Congress that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information.

Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.” Now we know why.

Brent Budowsky, a Democrat writing at The Hill argues that this is Marco Rubio's moment.
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) is the most interesting GOP presidential candidate in the 2016 field, a field that is becoming a party embarrassment and will soon have more candidates than FIFA has indicted officials.

It includes candidates who are egotistical vanity players, unelectable rightist ideologues, talk show wannabes and book sale promoters, and it features only one woman, whose only qualification is a failed tenure as a CEO and whose only purpose in the campaign would be to act as the female Republican stalking the female Democrat who could be America’s first female president.

May 2015 was when Rubio clearly entered the top tier of GOP candidates. June 2015 can be his moment. He has achieved a significant national audience and will be closely watched by political insiders, Republicans in key states, media commentators and interested voters to determine whether he has the stature, depth and gravitas to lead the nation.
Far too much has been made by pundits of “the Bushes against the Clintons.” Like most overused cliches, this entirely misses the essential point of presidential politics in 2016.

American voters, bless their hearts, want two things that are difficult to reconcile in one presidential candidate. They want a president who embodies real and powerful change from a political status quo that has been widely discredited, and they want experience in governing that will reassure them the next president will have the right stuff to expertly lead a complicated government and manage an imperfect economy in a dangerous world.
The problem is that Rubio doesn't need June 2015 to be his moment, but January and February 2016.

It's 50 years since Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report, "The Negro Family: The Case for Action" about how the black family was disintegrating and the social problems that would ensue if this trend continued. Sadly, that trend has only accelerated.
In the most famous passage of the 1965 report, Moynihan, who would later become a Democratic U.S. senator, wrote, “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable.”

When he wrote these words, the illegitimacy rate among African-Americans was 25 percent while illegitimacy nationwide, stood at 7.7 percent. In the mid-1960s thanks largely to Great Society welfare policies, the out-of-wedlock birth rate began to climb rapidly. Today the out-of-wedlock rate for blacks is over 72 percent with even higher rates in inner cities. Illegitimacy among Hispanics is now over 50 percent, and for whites it has risen from the 3 percent in 1960 to 36 percent today.
We are seeing the results in urban crime and destitution.
That pathology is clearly linked to children growing up without fathers. The data is clear that children born to teenage single women are more likely to live in poverty, to fail in school, to become involved in drugs and crime, and to end up in prison. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 60 percent of rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates are men who grew up in fatherless homes. Yet this “politically incorrect” evidence is virtually ignored by policymakers.

Most of the hand-wringing articles addressing the problems of Baltimore have focused on the need for better schools, more jobs and even more gun control. Black leaders blame racism and call for more tax money and business investment in the city. But what does this matter if the family is not there to impart healthy values, personal responsibility, a hunger for education, a work ethic and a strong sense of right and wrong?

Until the 1960s, there were strong social sanctions against unwed motherhood. But when Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society, welfare payments, food stamps, government housing and Medicaid enabled unwed teens to have their babies without fear of consequences.

Since a father in the house virtually disqualifies a woman from collecting her government check, the welfare system encourages men to abandon their children. Welfare checks to young women destroy the sense of responsibility for young men, who are transformed from essential breadwinners to useless financial burdens. Fatherless communities are deprived of the traditional authority figures that discourage threatening gangs and control delinquent kids.

The human cost of these policies is found in the hopeless, uneducated, unmotivated young men aimlessly roaming the streets of Baltimore, devoid of a moral compass. Historically, individuals are restrained from anti-social behavior either by fear of punishment or by a strong moral upbringing. When both of these break down, so does society. Moynihan wrote that as long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.
Moynihan was our modern Cassandra. He was ignored and derided at the time, but all that he predicted has come to pass. Sadly, it is easier to diagnose the problem then to determine a solution.

David Harsanyi rejects the argument that, if the Supreme Court were rule against the federal government in King v. Burwell, the blame will fall on the Democrats.
Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare. Most, in fact, cautioned that passing the largest health care reform in American history -- written by one party, jammed through using reconciliation, and haphazardly implemented -- could be problematic as not only an ideological matter but a practical one. Now they have to act?

It's widely contended that the GOP has some kind of obligation to rescue Obamacare -- whether for moral reasons or for self-preservation. In addition to the administration's position, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut actually stood on the Senate floor with a "shruggie" symbol to criticize the GOP for not formulating a plan in response to King v. Burwell. This would be the equivalent of seeing Sen. Ted Cruz demanding that Democrats come up with a strategy to resuscitate the Defense of Marriage Act. It is preposterous.

The bad news for HIllary Clinton is that Iowans like having candidates answer questions from the media and real voters, not specifically chosen Clinton fans.
A survey of likely Iowa caucusgoers conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics from May 25-29 found that 77 percent of the 437 Democrats polled want to elect a nominee who will “meet with and answer questions from news reporters and editors.” An astounding 96 percent of respondents want a nominee who will “take questions from voters.”
Of course, who is going to answer that poll question by saying, "nyah, I don't need to hear the candidates answer questions." But the fact that the question even needed to be asked indicates how the media are getting rather tired of Hillary's rolling Rose Garden strategy when she doesn't even have the Rose Garden to hide behind. Reporters are getting so ticked off that they met earlier this week to discuss how ticked off they are.
Journalists covering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign met for nearly two hours in Washington on Monday to discuss concerns about what they believe is inadequate access to cover the Democratic front-runner, according to people who attended.

The grievances discussed at the private gathering, which was held at the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington offices, go beyond Clinton’s unwillingness so far to substantively engage with the press, a topic that has already been discussed publicly on cable news and social media. Attendees of the meeting, who were not authorized by their news organizations to speak on the record, charge the Clinton campaign with keeping an excessively tight grip on information, even when it comes to logistical details that don't seem particularly sensitive or revelatory.
So, they're really, really irritated at how the Queen's media courtiers are treating them. But what are they going to do about it? The real sanction - not covering her at all - seems beyond their abilities to entertain. I guess they figure one outlet would always break their cartel of silence or they just can't deny people the joy of filming one more Hillary photo op.

Check out this map from AEI renaming each state by countries that have similar levels of GDP. It's an illuminating way to assess how the states are doing economically.
As Elena Holodny at Business Insider writes,
America's largest state economy is California. For 2013, the Golden State's GDP was about $2.05 trillion, roughly the same as Brazil's GDP ($2.25 trillion). But Brazil's population is about 200.4 million, while California's is just 38.8 million — meaning California produces about the same as Brazil with about 80% fewer people.