03/1/15
Emperor Palpatine

Net Neutrality: “Young fool … Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton


Emperor Palpatine. Photograph: Allstar

We keep hearing, from the saviors in Washington, DC, how government regulation is the answer and how “evil monopolies” (created, incidentally, by other government regulations) are responsible for all our trials and tribulations and the “fundamental unfairness” of the Internet as she is currently wrote.

Obligatory movie quote:

“No. No government. I know those people. Absolutely not.” – Col. Ira Kane

Yeah, it’s a movie. It’s also absolutely right.

The founder of Broadcast.com, Mark Cuban, has recently been vociferous in his opposition to so-called “Net Neutrality” with his most recent public appearance on the subject in an interview where he breaks it down. His effort to “plain-language” the argument notwithstanding, and frankly, it’s a subject that should not be oversimplified, he laid out the unintended consequences dominoes and how this “everything is equal” push plays out in terms of common services.

Now, you might want to shrug Mark Cuban off as “some rich guy who owns a sports team” and clearly that’s being done a lot, but don’t forget how he got rich: he pioneered live broadcasting over the Internet. He’s not some political hack, evil cable company exec, or mushy thinking me-too “fairness uber alles” flag waver. He is, for once, someone who knows what the hell he’s talking about.

Net Neutrality, like so many political labels, is a “fair sounding” name that hides the actual motives and consequences of the real world implementations we will experience after the seemingly inevitable adoption of this latest government overreach.

It won’t be fair. It won’t be optimum. And the right answer will never even be mentioned, never mind entertained: deregulate the cable and broadband space to eliminate the protected monopolies.

The broadband space needs more competition, not less; needs less regulation, not more. Companies like Google laying fiber? Cox, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast suddenly no longer have a free pass.

Otherwise? The cynical and dystopian view?

One of the unavoidable dominoes will be broad censorship. Once the deprioritization of broadcast packets leads to the epic traffic jam that will reduce the Web’s US speeds to worse than those found in Europe, the government of the day will, once again, have to “save us” from this “unforseen” outcome and their clever plan will include limiting who can “legitimately” have bandwidth preferences, since clearly “legitimate” news outlets need to bypass the buffering jams that will afflict TV signalling and once dot-gov starts adjudicating who’s a “real” news or other “essential” service, licensing will naturally follow, and then “standards” of what is “acceptable” traffic.

At which point, whichever political party is in power at that time will have the distinct advantage of licensing whomever they deem to be more politically correct in their eyes. “Neutrality” on the ‘Net? Yeah, not so much.

We’re in the hands of fools and corrupt bureaucrats. Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission held a faux meeting on open Internet rules and access to broadband Internet. Commissioner Ajit Pai made a statement before the FCC vote to take unprecedented control over the internet with a secret plan. Yes, secret. Secret as in no exposure to the public or Congress prior to its enactment. What follows is the transcript of his comments – in echoes of Obamacare, this had to pass before we could know what was in it. Except, they are still keeping it under wraps. It must be very, very bad indeed.

From Breitbart:

“The Wall Street Journal reports that it was developed through ‘an unusual secretive effort inside the White House.’ Indeed, White House officials, according to the Journal, functioned as a parallel version of the FCC. Their work led to the president’s announcement in November of his plan for internet regulation, a plan which the report says blindsided the FCC and swept aside months of work by Chairman Wheeler toward a compromise. Now, of course, a few insiders were clued in about what was transpiring. Here’s what a leader for the government-funded group Fight for the Future had to say, ‘We’ve been hearing for weeks from our allies in D.C that the only thing that could stop FCC chairman Tom Wheeler from moving ahead with his sham proposal to gut net neutrality was if we could get the president to step in. So we did everything in our power to make that happen. We took the gloves off and played hard, and now we get to celebrate a sweet victory. Congratulations. what the press has called the parallel FCC at the White House opened its door to a plethora of special interest activists. Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, just to name a few. Indeed, even before activists were blocking the chairman’s driveway late last year, some of them had met with executive branch officials.

“But what about the rest of the American people? They certainly couldn’t get White House meetings. They were shut out of the process altogether. They were being played for fools. And the situation didn’t improve once the White House announced President Obama’s plan, and ‘asked’ the FCC to implement it. The document in front of us today differs dramatically from the proposal that the FCC put out for comment last May, and it differs so dramatically that even zealous net neutrality advocates frantically rushed in, in recent days, to make last-minute filings, registering their concerns that the FCC might be going too far. Yet, the American people, to this day, have not been allowed to see President Obama’s plan. It has remained hidden.

“Especially given the unique importance of the internet, Commissioner O’Rielly and I ask for the plan to be released to the public. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and House of Representatives Chairman did the same. According to a survey last week by a respected democratic polling firm, 79% of the American people favored making the document public. Still, the FCC has insisted on keeping it behind closed doors. We have to pass President Obama’s 317-page plan so the American people can find out what’s in it. This isn’t how the FCC should operate. We should be an independent agency making decisions in a transparent manner based on the law and the facts in the record.

“We shouldn’t be a rubber stamp for political decisions made by the White House. And we should have released this plan to the public, solicited their feedback, incorporated that input into the plan, and then proceeded to a vote. There was no need for us to resolve this matter today. There is no immediate crisis in the internet marketplace that demands immediate action. now. The backers of the president’s plan know this. But they also know that the details of this plan cannot stand up to the light of day. They know that the more the American people learn about it, the less they will like it. That is why this plan was developed behind closed doors at the White House. And that is why the plan has remained hidden from public view.

“These aren’t my only concerns. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal plans that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time. but rather than address them today, I will reserve them for my written statement. At the beginning of this proceeding, I quoted Google’s former CEO, who once said, the internet is the first thing that humanity has built, that humanity doesn’t understand. This proceeding makes it abundantly clear that the FCC still doesn’t get it. but the American people clearly do. The proposed government regulation of the internet has awakened a sleeping giant. I’m optimistic we’ll look back on today’s vote as a temporary deviation from the bipartisan consensus that’s served us so well. I don’t know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future commission, But I do believe its days are numbered. For all of those reasons, I dissent.”

Pai warned that the public and Silicon Valley were in for an unpleasant surprise. While that was being said, Demand Progress and Free Press, headed by Robert McChesney, flew a 2,000 square foot banner over the towering corporate headquarters of the cable giant Comcast, in Philadelphia, that showed Grumpy Cat and the legend: “Comcast: Don’t Mess With the Internet. #SorryNotSorry.” Referring to Pai’s comments, Evan Greer, Campaigns Director at Fight for the Future, had this to say: “What they didn’t know is that when they struck down the last rules we would come back more powerful than they could possibly imagine.” And that is exactly what happened – the Left surged, with Obama’s help and guidance and $196 million from George Soros, to come in and nationalize the Internet and communications. Obama has nationalized the banks, student loans, housing, healthcare and now the Internet. Americans walk around fancying that they live in a Republic that is no more. Marxism rules the red, white and blue now.

Not only will this stifle innovation and raise taxes massively, as well as costs… it opens us to UN intervention, which is exactly what Obama has in mind. You will see that basically your TV and Internet will become one as a utility. Higher costs, with slower speeds and horrid customer service await us. Not to mention, the Fairness Doctrine. Many of our blogs, such as this one, may cease to exist under these fascist rules.

Heed the words of Republican FCC commissioner Mike O’Rielly, when he states: “When you see this document, it’s worse than you imagine.” Of that, I have no doubt. I knew this was coming, but when it happened last week, a very cold shiver went down my spine. For the first time, genuine fear wormed its way into my being. I immediately squashed it and went back to work. I’m not that easily defeated.

The FCC on Thursday voted through strict new rules to regulate broadband and protect net neutrality – the principle that all information and services should have equal access to the internet. That is pure Socialism and worse. Few have seen the actual regulations – a number of Leftist organizations have, the White House who crafted this monstrosity in secret has, and Google who rewrote a portion of it has. We won’t get to see this baby until next week at the earliest.

From The Guardian:

Pai said the new rules would mean “permission-less innovation is a thing of the past”. The new rules will ban broadband providers from creating fast lanes for some or slowing the traffic of others for commercial reasons. They will also give the FCC the power to police conduct by broadband providers on a case-by-case basis.

Internet service providers will not be allowed to “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” consumers’ access to content and services.

O’Rielly said this would mean that any company looking to start a new service would have to seek permission ahead of time. He said anybody looking for new business opportunities in the document would be best off becoming a “telecoms lawyer”.

While the wording seems to confine this permission-first model to “services” such as NetFlix, Hulu, and things of that sort, what it will likely mean tomorrow, as scope creep is engaged, is that you would no longer just be able to start a new business or even a blog online, unless you get permission from the government. Is that the “change” everyone wanted? Well, here it is. This echoes the nationalization of the press in Venezuela and other dictatorial provinces.

From National Review:

Net neutrality’s goal is to empower the federal government to ration and apportion Internet bandwidth as it sees fit, and to thereby control the Internet’s content,” says Phil Kerpen, an anti-net-neutrality activist from the group American Commitment.

The courts have previously ruled the FCC’s efforts to impose “net neutrality” out of bounds, so the battle isn’t over. But for now, the FCC has granted itself enormous power to micromanage the largely unrestrained Internet.

It’s not just the conservative Right that now fears these moves… Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, issued a statement that net neutrality “endorses a backward-looking policy that would apply the brakes to the most dynamic sector of America’s economy.” This will destroy the last domain of true freedom in America. Right on target for a Communist agenda.

Robert McChesney, the Marxist head of Free Press, made his stance on his goals crystal clear: At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website Socialist Project in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.” Earlier in 2000, he told the Marxist magazine Monthly Review: “Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.” McChesney has come a long way… the Marxists know that if they get control of the military and communications, they can change the political structure of the US into a bonafide dictatorship. We’re here folks, they’ve done it.

We’re not done yet though… I suspect there will be a massive fight in Congress over this. If they can’t overturn it legislatively, they will try and starve it through funding. And the lawsuits and legal problems for the Marxists who have orchestrated this go on forever. The Republicans so far have been a massive, deadly disappointment. They better find their spines and stand against this. Between all the scandals, Amnesty, 2nd Amendment issues and this, the country is on the very edge of a civil uprising.

When the quislings in Silicon Valley finally wake up after this, they aren’t going to like what they have wrought. There will be unintended consequences galore and they’ll proclaim: “We couldn’t have seen this coming!” Oh, but you could have if you had any foresight at all. Quoting Emperor Palpatine, Republican Ajit Pai, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said: “Young fool … Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

02/27/15
The Watcher's Council

The Council Has Spoken!! Our Watcher’s Council Results – 02/27/15

The Watcher’s Council

http://www.crystalinks.com/druids_stonehenge.jpg

The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung. – Sir Walter Scott

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory. – General George S. Patton

I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside. – Sir Winston Churchill

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_nEAkWOufFU/T366WMxCdrI/AAAAAAAABOg/easpV-8FMnM/s400/Joshua_Dali_Sun.jpg

This week’s winning essay, Joshuapundit’sIs President Obama A Christian? Does He Love America? was my reaction to the question raised by former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the media meltdown that followed. Here’s a slice:

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani created a press-fueled tempest in a teapot when he raised those issues at a private dinner. As you know, only Democrats and Leftists are entitled to  private conversations and secrecy even the Mafia would envy. And of course, to the freedom to express their opinions  no matter how bat sh*t crazy they are. Rudy Giuliani obviously doesn’t qualify for that kind of protection.

Of course the press leaped on this. The current administration and its minions are free to refer to ‘right wing Tea Partiers’ as  terrorists and to deride a serving US General commanding a combat operation as ‘General Betray Us’ in the New York Times,  but again, the rule for Democrats and the Left is that you may never question  their patriotism under any circumstances, no matter what they say or do.

Having pretty much struck out trying to smear GOP front runner Governor Scott Walker for not undergoing four years or more of Leftist indoctrination at someplace like Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Princeton, the Obama media decided to grab at another straw and make a point of asking Governor Walker if he thought this president was a Christian.

His quite sensible reply was that he didn’t know, and as Byron York pointed out, a fair amount of Americans don’t know either. I suppose it all depends on whether you consider Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church with its radical politics and its  anti-Semitic and racialist overtones ‘Christian.’  Or whether you’re confused about a president who defends Islam and Islamists at every turn while dissing Christianity and standing by and doing nothing while Christians are being  ethnically cleansed from the Middle East by those peaceful Islamists.

But at any rate, the only way to know for sure would be to look inside this president’s head and heart, and Walker was astute in simply saying he wasn’t going to attempt that.

Now, does this president love America? Again, like the question about Christianity, it all depends on what your definition of loving America is.

In his memoir about his time as Secretary of Defense in the Bush and Obama Administrations, Robert Gates chronicled his struggle to contain his rage as former Democrat Senators and 2008 presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden chuckled to Gates about how their efforts during the second Bush administration to sabotage America’s war effort in Iraq and the Surge in particular while our troops were under fire were ‘hah hah,just politics, ho ho.’ As Gates related, these efforts along with their calculated attempts to insult and emasculate its commander General Petraeus literally cost American lives.

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Now again, some people are going to say ‘what difference does it make?’ Others would be outraged at this and a lot of other things that have happened in this administration.

So you see, it all depends on your point of view.

But walk with me a minute.

Let’s say,just for giggles, we elected a president who actually didn’t love the country, but whose agenda could more accurately be described in one word – payback.

How would such a president behave?

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was the one and only Mark Steyn with Oh Beautiful For Specious Guys submitted by The Noisy Room.

Steyn exercises his usual mastery at getting to the heart of the matter, in this case the Obama Administration’s craven response to violent, radical Islamism uhhh, ‘violent extremism’ that dares not speak its name. A must read.

Here are this week’s full results. Only the Right Planet was unable to vote this week, but was not subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty for not voting:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

02/27/15
Cap and Trade

‘Cap and Trade’ is Alive and Well, Despite Having Never Passed Congress

Gulag Bound
Seton Motley
PJ Tatler, PJ Media

cap-and-trade-heritage

from the days of 2011 when Congress was still deemed to matter

Remember “Cap and Trade?” The anti-market allegedly “market-based” “solution” to man-faked global warming climate change?

A central authority (usually a governmental body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted.

The limit or cap is allocated and/or sold by the central authority to firms in the form of emissions permits which represent the right to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant.

Permits (and possibly also derivatives of permits) can then be traded on secondary markets.

Except:

Cap-and-Trade Schemes Are Not Markets

Only if (you) want government to raise energy prices, make coal uneconomical as an electricity fuel, or restrict Americans’ access to carbon-based energy.…

“Cap and trade” is a policy so disastrous it couldn’t pass a Democrat-majority Congress – with Democrat President Barack Obama eagerly waiting with pen at the ready.

(Democrat) Ben Nelson: Cap-and-Trade Will Not Pass This Congress

Cap and Trade is Dead (Really, Truly, I’m Not Kidding)

Except with this President, no terrible idea dies just because the Constitutional process demands it.

(Environmental Protection Agency) EPA: If Congress Doesn’t Pass Cap-and-Trade, We Will

And so they have. Here’s the EPA’s “Cap and Trade” page.

And in government, terrible ideas are like kudzu – they rapidly, illegally spread everywhere.

 

“The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an expanded partnership to support water quality trading…”

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading

Oh look – the government is assaulting our farmers’ water supply. Where else have we seen that?

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The EPA exists to assault the private sector. And it is teaming up with other government departments to maximize the damage.

The USDA is a complete waste of money, time and space. Humans have engaged in agriculture for 10,000 years – we did so for 9,900 of those years without a government department. I think we’ve got this.

And, of course, there is zero Constitutional authority granted to the federal government to have a USDA.

Having no useful purpose, the Department of Agriculture works day and night to make private agriculture more difficult and expensive. Which raises our food prices – and makes our farmers less competitive on the now-global market.

These government-inflicted regulations and costs – by a department that shouldn’t exist – foster other government programs that shouldn’t exist.

Like the horrendous Farm Bill. Government makes it nearly impossible for farmers to turn a profit – then subsidizes them.

Like Food Stamps. Government jacks the price of food – then buys tens of millions of people food at the government-inflated prices because they can no longer afford it.

The Obama Administration is assaulting the private sector with every department, agency, commission and board at its $4-trillion-a-year disposal. Including unilaterally imposing “Cap and Trade” across multiple agencies. And what has transpired during the Obama Administration’s tenure?

14 Million More on Food Stamps Under Obama

Food Stamp Growth 75X Greater than Job Creation

It would seem there is a correlation there.

02/25/15
ISIS Job Fair

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Getting Ahead Edition

The Watcher’s Council

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Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

This week, The MidKnight Review, Anne’s Opinions and The Pirate’s Cove earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (mandatory, but of course it won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out on Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that! And don’t forget to tune in Friday for the results!

02/24/15
Barack Obama

Media Accepting Obama’s Spin on the Economy

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

With as many lies and distortions that proceed from this scandal-plagued administration, one might think that mainstream reporters would turn a skeptical eye toward another one of President Obama’s carefully crafted narratives. Each narrative is designed to push “progressive” policies or to cover up administration mismanagement. But our corrupt media reflexively cheer whenever the leftist agendas for amnesty, Obamacare, climate change, and economic regulation are mentioned. Add to the list of official narratives the hyped state of the economy, the successes of which cannot fail to be championed because they reflect on the viability of the current President’s policies.

Yet President Obama’s claims about how his administration’s efforts have boosted the economy, or that the economy is actually improving, are based on cherry-picked data.

“At this moment when our economy is growing and creating jobs, we’ve got to work twice as hard, especially in Washington, to build on our momentum,” claimed President Obama in his recent economic report, according to The New York Times. He continued, “And I will not let politics or partisanship roll back the progress we’ve achieved on so many fronts.”

Back in January, the labor force participation rate was the lowest since 1978. It has since increased by a mere 0.2%. And while hiring may be up, wages remain stagnant.

What type of progress, exactly, is the President citing? His entitlement and regulatory policies, such as Obamacare and proposed EPA regulations, shackle American economic ingenuity with an ever-increasing burden.

“Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed,” wrote Gallup President Jim Clifton in, “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment.”  “Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.”

“Our concern with our analysts is that [the unemployment statistic is] very, very misleading because what America really wants are full-time jobs. … The percent of full-time jobs in this country, to the population, is the worst it’s been in thirty years,” Clifton said on CNBC. He connected this to the middle class crisis.

Mortimer Zuckerman, of The Wall Street Journal has argued that the President’s signature health care legislation depresses full-time hiring. “Many employers cut workers’ hours to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health insurance to anyone working 30 hours a week or more,” wrote Zuckerman last July. “The unintended consequence of President Obama’s ‘signature legislation?’ Fewer full-time workers.”

But President Obama, his administration, and the media are on a full-blown public relations campaign to promote “middle class economics,” with more government as the answer.

“In a letter to Congress with the report, Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to approve his economic agenda of expanded tax breaks for the middle class and increased spending on initiatives such as early childhood education,” reported The Washington Times. “The president also wants to raise several hundred billion dollars through tax increases on mostly wealthier families.”

“The [recent economic] report…also contained a fair dollop of wishful thinking—or what some might call the administration’s own ‘dynamic scoring,’” observed Neil King Jr. for The Wall Street Journal.

President Obama has tied his favorite policies to theoretical economic gains which may, or may not occur. “So various measures to provide free preschool or expand the Earned Income Tax Credit would bring more adults into the workforce, thus expanding the tax base,” writes King. “A revamped immigration system would in turn lure more foreign-born workers to counteract what the president’s report calls ‘the effects of an aging native-born population.’”

“Although annual budget deficits have fallen from the trillion-dollar-plus levels early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, the national debt has continued to soar and topped $18 trillion late last year,” notes The Washington Times.

With the current controversy over comments by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani questioning whether or not President Obama loves this country, we are reminded of President Obama’s comments when criticizing then-President George W. Bush for running up $4 trillion of new debt during his eight years in office. Obama said it was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” President Obama has so far added over $8 trillion in new debt, and he still has two more years in office. So how would he rate himself?

Both The Wall Street Journal and New York Times ran articles which summarized the economic report without questioning its assumptions, effectively offering the administration additional platforms from which to spout its economic spin.

I reported last November that President Obama unsuccessfully attempted to sell the “illusion of economic success” to the public in order to “salvage what most polls indicate is about to be a dismal election for Democrats.” This effort continued with the President’s State of the Union, where he argued that “we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.”

Obama’s tired rhetoric of hope and change resonated with the media back in January, and it still does. Meanwhile, many in America struggle to put bread on the table.

“Not only have the ‘benefits’ of the Obama recovery not been ‘fully shared,’ but many Americans are still worse off today than when Obama became president,” reports Townhall. The 2013 median family income, “the most recent year available,” is more than $2,000 less than what it was in 2009 when Obama became President, it reports.

The media are doing their part to validate Obama’s claims about the economy. It is all about their political agenda and double standard.

Among Democrats, there are divisions over the degree to which Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered their leading contender, should praise the recovery and run on Mr. Obama’s stewardship of the economy,” wrote Jonathan Martin for The New York Times on February 22. “And Republicans—assessing falling unemployment and soaring job creation under a president with still-mediocre approval ratings—are grasping for the right way to frame their 2016 campaign message.”

Martin, like so many other reporters, operates under the premise that the economy has actually recovered. But to the extent it has, there may be other factors at work besides Obama’s initiatives. How much credit for the nation’s economic growth belongs to the Republican-led states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and especially Texas; states which are doing far better at adding jobs and balancing their budgets than the federal government? And how much is attributable to the powerful capitalist economy in this country, which chugs along despite the burdensome taxation, regulatory and bureaucratic demands that have been imposed on it by this administration?

02/20/15
Barack Obama

No “Major Scandal” in Obama Administration?

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

David Axelrod’s book tour is off to a rollicking start, with perceived attacks on Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidential run, and an absurd comment about the ethics and integrity of the administration he served so loyally, and continues to do so.

Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, recently asserted something so patently untrue that it demands a response. “And I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal,” he pronounced at a University of Chicago event.

The Washington Post leapt in to defend Axelrod’s claim by pointing to how President Obama’s approval ratings did not shift in the wake of the potential scandals he has faced since taking office. “It could be that scandals don’t have a lot to do with how Americans rate the president,” writes Hunter Schwarz for the Post.

It could also be that the liberal media, along with academia, determine what is classified as a “scandal”—and then refuse to report on scandals which don’t meet their own predetermined criteria. In this case, any lies, corruption, abuses of power, financial payoffs, or associations with unsavory characters or organizations that involve President Obama or anyone in his administration are never to be treated as a scandal.

The ongoing incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and the media often tilts in favor of the administration, leaving many scandals uninvestigated, minimized, or outright ignored. For example, both CBS News president David Rhodes and former ABC News president Ben Sherwood have siblings working for the administration. CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, a former Obama staffer under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, joined Bloomberg News, while MSNBC hired Axelrod.

President Obama even joked in 2013 that “… David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”

With so many members of the elite media in bed with the administration, Dartmouth College professor Brendan Nyhan’s 2011 observation that “the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing” becomes essentially meaningless. Nyhan said that a scandal becomes a scandal “once the S-word is used in a reporter’s own voice in a story that runs on the front page of the [Washington] Post.”

If Axelrod is using the same criteria, then, of course, President Obama probably can be considered scandal-free. But a real scandal involves actual administration wrongdoing or lies, regardless of the “perceptions” dished out by the media.

Axelrod’s comments ignore the presence of a number of real scandals which the mainstream media, including The Washington Post, continue to report on as phony—including but not limited to:

Benghazi:

The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 were greeted with a concerted public relations campaign by the Obama administration blaming the attacks on a protest inspired by a YouTube video, as revealed in the smoking gun Ben Rhodes email. (Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to President Obama, is CBS’ President David Rhodes’ brother.) The media, including David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times, continue to dispute key facts of the case such as al Qaeda’s involvement, have championed erroneous Congressional reports, ignore evidence of a cover-up, and have generally covered for the administration by promoting the idea that this is one of many “phony scandals.” The interim report of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi details the various failings and scandals related to Benghazi.

IRS scandal:

The IRS targeted conservative groups applying for non-profit status from 2010 to 2012. In what some see as an attempt to influence elections, the IRS began requesting inappropriate information disproportionately from conservative groups and then delaying their approval, generally chilling free speech throughout the country. Lois Lerner, at the heart of the scandal, has refused to testify before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment. The media continue to argue that President Obama is not connected to this scandal, but it can be tied directly to the White House. The President has tried to assert that there isn’t a “smidgeon” of corruption at the IRS.

Fast and Furious

The Obama Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged gunwalking across the Mexican border of thousands of weapons, resulting, ultimately in the murder of border agent Brian Terry. An ATF whistleblower, John Dodson, spoke out in 2011 about the problems with the ATF’s decision to let guns go to Mexico. As I wrote about in 2011, Fast and Furious was a scandal that no longer could be denied, but the media continued to do so. Sharyl Attkisson recounts in Stonewalled, “But as outrageous and remarkable as the allegations are, most of the media don’t pick up on the story. They’re steering clear.” As I wrote, the scandal “involves some 1,500 guns, about 1,000 of which ended up in Mexico, and a Border agent…who was murdered with weapons found near the scene of the crime in Arizona. The weapons were among 57 linked to Fast and Furious which have been tied to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., including the Terry murder.” Like Benghazi, Fast and Furious resulted in real deaths—but the media continue to ignore or downplay this scandal.

Veterans Administration

Following revelations in 2014 that there was widespread Veterans Administration falsification of health care wait times, and that certain locations had created secret waiting lists for veterans, the media finally declared this a scandal. But it’s not Obama’s scandal, it’s a Veterans Affairs scandal. Hunter Schwarz writes for the Post that “It was a very significant scandal, to be sure, but perhaps not one that people laid directly at Obama’s doorstep.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler recently referred to this one as a scandal, noting that only eight people have lost their jobs so far as a result of this veterans care debacle, not 60 as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said last week on Meet the Press. But as I have argued, there were really two scandals at the Veterans Administration at the time: health care wait times and the disability benefits backlog.

Solyndra

Solar panel business Solyndra received more than half a billion dollars as part of the administration’s green energy program, before going bankrupt. Its executives took substantial bonuses before the layoffs began. And, a Solyndra investor was also a major bundler for Obama, demonstrating a conflict of interest when the administration refused to turn over more documents as part of a Congressional investigation. And yes, the Post reported on its front page that the Obama administration had asked the company to “delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections that imperiled Democratic control of Congress.” But NPR ran an article last year victoriously announcing that “Now that the loan program is turning a profit, those critics are silent”—as if that had anything to do with the crony capitalism of the Solyndra scandal.

Obamacare

Obamacare is an ongoing debacle of premium increases and high deductibles coupled with crippling regulations. It leads to less, not more, health care access. While the focus has been on errors made within the “Obamacare rollout,” the media continue to champion exaggerated statistics regarding the alleged 10 million who have received health insurance under President Obama’s signature legislation. In reality, this program marks a rapid increase in Medicaid, and many enrollees are part of a “substitution effect” by which people who previously had insurance have switched to Obamacare. The subsidies, which the media casts as essential to the law, are under dispute in the courts, and increase the burden on the American taxpayer. Even Politifact called President Obama’s false assertion that Americans could keep their health plan if they liked it the 2013 “Lie of the Year.” Meanwhile, the complicit media finds every chance it can to champion this legislation’s “successes.”

This list just scratches the surface. Executive overreach has become standard fare, whether on immigration or environmental regulations. The Obama administration’s penchant for controlling leaks, a lack of transparency, and a war on journalists has been noted by the likes of former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie Jr. who said “The [Obama] administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration leaks,” and New York Times reporter David Sanger who said, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” James Risen of the Times added that the Obama administration has been “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”

The administration’s Middle East policies have been a disaster, if not scandalous. Just look at the growing threat from the Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical jihadist Muslim groups. More than 200,000 have been killed in Syria, Libya has become a jihadist playground, described by former CIA officer Bob Baer as “Mad Max,” and Yemen, as recently as September held up as example of where Obama’s foreign policy is working, has seen a coup by Iranian backed jihadists. And looming over all of this is the unfolding, outright appeasement of an Iran with nuclear aspirations.

What unifies all of these scandals and lies is how our news media have looked past all the administration’s corruption, treating, these occurrences as discrete, minor grievances, gaffes—or even conservative or Republican political maneuvering. This means that the constant lies by the administration, and President Obama himself, can be made with impunity. The media simply will not hold President Obama, or any of his associates who might tarnish his reputation, accountable.

02/20/15
50 Shades of Government

The Council Has Spoken! The Watcher’s Council Results – 02/20/15

The Watcher’s Council


The People’s Cube

The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

“The difference between golf and government is that in golf you can’t improve your lie.” – George Duekmejian, former Republican governor of California

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. – President Thomas Jefferson

“If we can really understand the problem, than the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.” – Krishnamurti

“It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.” – Will Rogers

https://askmarion.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/right2bplanet.jpg?w=500

This week’s winning essay, The Right Planet’sMore Hipster Harf: ‘We Can’t Stop ISIS by Killing Them; We Need to Give Them Jobs’, uses State Department spokesperson Marie Harf’s ridiculous statement about buying off Islamic State and others with ‘jobs’ as a starting point for an explanation on why the Left has such a problem facing up to radical Islam. Here’s a slice:

For many years now I have said the State Department needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. And I’m not alone in that opinion, either. The U.S. Department of State has a long history of working against the best interests of the United States, consistently shilling for all things socialist. Those who have looked into tax-exempt foundations like the Carnegie Endowment, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Consortium, Guggenheim Fellowship, etc., and the subsequent investigation by the Reece Committee, might know what I’m talking about.

The first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, once said, “Consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If the diplomats who have mishandled our relations with Russia were merely stupid, they would have occasionally made a mistake in our favor.”

State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf recently told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews ISIS could be stopped if we could just create jobs for them.

At first blush, for those ignorant of Marxist ideology, this sort of thinking seems preposterous. Well, I am strongly inclined to agree. But I digress.

For dyed-in-the-wool Marxists and their fellow travelers (sympathizers), it makes perfect sense. This is why I believe it so important more Americans gain a better understanding of Marxism—since it is lauded and approved of by so many American universities and the liberal media, not to mention those in positions of power within our own government.

Karl Marx believed our view of history needed to be changed (cf. “hope and change”). Cleon Skousen wrote in his book The Naked Communist about the central importance economics plays in the Marxian religion. Marx believed history should be changed to “a fixed, undeviating, pre-determined course of progress which could be charted in the past and predicted for the future on the basis of a single, simple criterion—economics.”

According to Marx and his votaries, if we could only “level the playing field” by making everyone and everything the same (see “equality and fairness”), it would usher in a veritable utopia, i.e., the long hoped for “workers’ paradise.” Interestingly, about 90 percent of what Karl Marx wrote concerned economics (see Das Kapital).

Well, let’s just get something straight: ISIS doesn’t give a damn about economics—quite the contrary. Their motivations and actions are not influenced by Marxism, per se, but rather the teachings of Muhammad, and a literal interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith.

Although it should be noted that Marxism and Islam have quite a bit in a common.

More at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Graeme Wood in the Atlantic with an interesting piece, What ISIS Really Wants, submitted by Bookworm Room. He attempts to present something very rare in today’s climate, an examination of the conflict from the point of view of the Islamic State. An excellent read.

Here are this week’s full results. Only Bookworm Room and Ask Marion were unable to vote this week, but neither was subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty for not voting:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

02/19/15
Rain

Gov. Hogan’s proposal to abolish rain tax a sign of Maryland’s ‘new direction’

By: James Simpson
WatchDog.org

Rain tax, flush tax, Maryland’s newly elected governor hopes to make it all water under the bridge

Gov. Larry Hogan made history in 2014 as only the third GOP governor elected in over 40 years. He did so based on promises to reel in the many excessive taxes imposed on the state by former Gov. Martin O’Malley and to take the state in a “new direction.” This Tuesday, he took the first step, proposing legislation to abolish Maryland’s infamous “rain tax.”

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image: NO TAXATION ON CONDENSATION: Gov. Hogan is getting to work on his tax cutting campaign promises by proposing legislation to get rid of Maryland’s notorious rain tax.

Maryland is the only state in the nation to impose such a tax. Formally called the storm water runoff fee, its ostensible purpose is to fund efforts to abate nitrogen and phosphorus pollution into the Chesapeake Bay from storm water runoff. Individuals and businesses are charged a variable tax, based on the area of impermeable surface on their property. For businesses, the fee can run into thousands of dollars annually.

On top of all the other taxes and regulations imposed on Maryland citizens and businesses, it convinced voters, registered as Democrats at a ratio of 2 to 1 over Republicans, to give Hogan a 4 point victory over his Democratic opponent last November, despite being heavily outspent. But Hogan has his work cut out for him.

Democrats still enjoy substantial majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, and gave O’Malley a blank check to do virtually whatever he wanted. Despite claiming he cut the budget by $9.1 billion, spending grew from $29 billion in FY 2007 to $38.9 billion for FY 2015 under O’Malley’s watch– a 34 percent increase.

To help finance this spending spree O’Malley rained down 40 new taxes costing Marylanders $9.5 billion during his tenure. Hogan estimates that by 2018, taxpayers will have shelled out a total of $20 billion for these taxes if nothing is done.

Many of these, including the notorious “rain tax” were rationalized as essential to fighting Chesapeake Bay pollution. But the former governor became notorious for repeatedly raiding funds specifically set aside for this and other purposes.

For example, the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) was created in 2004 ostensibly to cut Bay pollution from waste water treatment plants (WWTP) and septic tanks. This fund is paid for by one of Maryland’s other notorious fees, the “flush tax.” In addition to regular water bills, Marylanders must pay an annual fee for the privilege of flushing their toilets. The tax was doubled in 2012, supposedly to cover cost increases. But the O’Malley administration repeatedly raided the fund. Published accounts estimated at least $135 million removed between 2009 and 2013.

But it was actually more than twice that amount. No problem, said O’Malley, just issue bonds to replace the depleted funds. And that is what the state did. In its 2014 annual BRF status report, the state listed the current funding level at $586 million, of which $290 million was in state obligation bonds issued to replace $290 million “transferred to the general fund.” (See p. 9). In other words, over half the BRF has been financed by debt, despite a doubling of the flush tax.

O’Malley similarly raided Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund to the tune of $1.1 billion. Despite receiving $771 million in stimulus funds for transportation and infrastructure projects, he repeatedly raised the gas tax used to finance the fund. Democratic State Comptroller Peter Franchot protested a 2013 gas tax increase saying that “it’s going to be for general fund relief, not traffic congestion relief.”

Meanwhile, the justification for some of these taxes rests on arguments that are shallower than a mud puddle. For example, EPA pollution targets for Maryland’s storm water runoff equate to a mere 0.6 percent of the Bay’s annual nitrogen load and 1 percent of the phosphorus load. The state anticipates having to spend $7.4 billion between now and 2025 to meet these targets. This amounts to an abatement cost of $3,442 per pound of pollutant.

Conspicuously absent from the various Bay analyses are the many “illegal” spills of municipal sewer systems. These occur when sewer pipes either jam or pumping stations malfunction. Sewage then backs up and spills over into storm water pipes where it empties directly into the Bay. The state tracks these spills, but because they are considered “illegal” they are not counted in official estimates; neither are they included in WWTP or storm water reduction targets.

The numbers however, are substantial. 3.8 billion gallons of raw sewage has been pumped into the Bay between 2005 and 2013. That equates to approximately 16 million tons, or two million tons per year for the time in question, if one assumes the weight of water – more if the sewage is heavier.

Marylanders have suffered through eight years under the former governor, as these few examples suggest. Taxpayers and businesses with the wherewithal to do so have been leaving the state in droves to avoid it. According to Hogan’s Change Maryland website:

Since 2007, nearly 31,000 Marylander’s fled to other states, the highest in the region, 6500 small businesses have left or shut down, the second-highest in the region, and just three Fortune 500 companies remain in the state. This is a sharp contrast to 24 large corporate headquarters in Virginia and 23 in Pennsylvania.

One of the most recent departures was firearms manufacturer Beretta USA, which is moving its U.S. manufacturing facility to Tennessee. The company had been located in Maryland for 40 years. The decision was made following enactment of a widely unpopular gun measure that O’Malley pushed through despite an unprecedented uproar from citizens throughout the state. That was O’Malley’s style.

Gov. Hogan hopes to cultivate Democratic support for his “new direction” tax and spending plans. He needs their support. It remains to be seen whether or not he will get it.

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.