Thursday, April 17, 2014

Report: Emails Show Justice Dept. Involved in IRS Tea Party Probe

Embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner last year discussed working with the Justice Department to prosecute nonprofit organizations that she felt had "lied" about their political activities, according to new documents released on Wednesday by Judicial Watch about the agency's targeting of conservative groups.The new documents show Lerner's communications with Justice within days of publicly acknowledging that the Internal Revenue Service was singling out tea party, conservative, and religious groups.

They also indicate that the targeting may have reached further into the Obama White House despite Lerner's original assertions that it was all based out of the agency's Cincinnati field office.
In a May 8 email, for instance, Lerner said that she had received a call from Richard Pilger, director of the elections crimes unit at Justice.Pilger asked whether the IRS could help the department "piece together false statement cases about applicants who 'lied'" on a particular IRS form, "saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures.

"DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs," Lerner said in the email.

"I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…," she said.

Lerner wrote the email to Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff at the time to Steven Miller, who was the acting IRS commissioner.

She responded in an email the next day: "I think we should do it -- also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to [Federal Election Commission]. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?"

Lerner, who retired last September, oversaw the unit that evaluated applications for tax-exempt status. Miller was fired because of the scandal, and Flax has reportedly been targeted by congressional investigators.

Judicial Watch said on Wednesday that it had obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act
lawsuit filed last October. The watchdog group has sought documents showing how the IRS had targeted the groups between 2010 and the 2012 presidential election.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the IRS failed to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to last May.

"These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. "The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal."

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has been investigating the scandal, said the new emails underscored "the political nature of IRS tea party targeting and the extent to which supposed apolitical officials took direction from elected Democrats.

"These e-mails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs," the California Republican said in a statement.

"Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner's emails,” Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said in a statement.

The documents "further prove the coordination among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department and committee Democrats to target conservatives," he said.

Jordan added that had the oversight panel not become involved, "Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped-up criminal charges against tea party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights."

President Barack Obama has denied GOP charges that the targeting of the groups was politically motivated or illegal, telling
Fox News in February that "not even a smidgen of corruption" was involved in the specialized screening.

In addition, emails Issa's panel released last week showed that staff members of the oversight committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, had shared information with the IRS that effectively led the agency to investigate True the Vote after the group filed its application for tax-exempt status in 2010.

Cummings did not disclose any of those dealings with oversight committee Republicans,
Issa charged.

In a March 27 email, Lerner told IRS staffers about an April 9 2013, hearing — and the document also suggests that the other Obama administration departments might have been targeting the conservative groups.

The tax-exempt status the groups were seeking was 501(c)(4), which allows them to keep their donors private.

"There are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are)," Lerner wrote in the email.

"One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former general counsel at the the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform," she added.

"This is their latest push to shut these down.

"One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn't feel so comfortable doing the stuff," Lerner said. "So, don't be fooled about how this is being articulated — it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity."

Lerner ignited the controversy last May when she disclosed the scandal in response to a question asked at a conference in Chicago.

Her response came just before the Treasury Department's inspector general released a report disclosing the targeting.

President Obama fired Miller — and at least three other IRS workers have been placed on put on administrative leave.

In testimony before the oversight committee, Lerner has twice invoked the Fifth Amendment, though she has denied wrongdoing. The panel voted last week to hold her in contempt for her refusals.

If the
full House finds Lerner in contempt, the matter would be referred to federal prosecutors.

Where Income Inequality Is Worst

Where Income Inequality Is Worst
With President Barack Obama calling income inequality "the defining challenge of our time," much attention has been focused on the topic of late.

But the deepest level of income inequality in America is in one of the country's bluest states.

"The most profound level of inequality and bifurcated class structure can be found in the densest and most influential urban environment in North America — Manhattan," writes Joel Kotkin, executive editor of and Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University.

In 1980, Manhattan (New York County) ranked 17th among U.S. counties in income inequality. It is now the worst among the nation's largest counties.

The most commonly used measure of inequality is the Gini index, developed by Italian statistician Corrado Gini. It ranges between zero, which would be complete equality (everyone in a community has the same income) and one, which is complete inequality (one person has all the income). Manhattan's Gini index was at 0.596 in 2012, higher than South Africa's index before apartheid ended.

If Manhattan were a country, it would rank sixth highest in income inequality out of 130 nations, according to Kotkin.

In 2009, New York's richest 1 percent earned one-third of the entire city's personal income — nearly twice the proportion for the rest of the nation.

A recent Brookings Institution study found that the big cities with the most pronounced levels of inequality are those with the highest costs: New York, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

One factor fueling urban inequality is the federal tax code regarding home ownership, which helps upper-income Americans the most, according to a Washington Post editorial by Charles Lane.

Tax deductions for mortgage interest are projected to cost the Treasury $70 billion in fiscal 2014, while property tax deductions will cost $31 billion. Home-sale capital gains up to $500,000 are also tax free, and they will likely cost the Treasury $52 billion this year.

About 73 percent of mortgage-interest deductions go to the top 20 percent of earners, and 30 percent go to the top 1 percent, according to Lane.

Yet most lower-income earners don't take advantage of the deduction because they don't earn enough to itemize deductions on their federal returns.

Some of the country's worst inequality can also be found in rural areas, according to a study by University of Washington geographer Richard Morrill cited by Kotkin.

The worst rural inequality is likely in the agricultural areas of California.

"The Golden State is now home to 111 billionaires, by far the most of any state," Kotkin writes in an article that first appeared at "California billionaires personally hold assets worth $485 billion, more than the entire GDP of all but 24 countries in the world."

Yet California has the highest poverty rate in the country, adjusted for housing costs. As of 2012, with about 12 percent of the U.S. population, California accounted for one-third of the country's welfare recipients.

Cruz: Holder Should be Impeached if No Action on IRS Scandal

Stumbled Sen. Ted Cruz said Congress should impeach Attorney General Eric Holder if he does not seek indictments for people such as former senior IRS official Lois Lerner for their roles in the agency targeting scandal.

In an appearance Thursday on conservative talk show host Sean Hannity's radio show, the Texas Republican and possible 2016 presidential contender, said Holder should be impeached for "defying Congress and the rule of law,"
Breitbart reported.

Cruz said Holder's actions were not in keeping with the policies of the Justice Department, which has "a bipartisan tradition of resisting partisan pressure and upholding the rule of law."

He cited examples of previous attorneys general, such as Janet Reno and Elliot Richardson, as models for how the department should be run.

Cruz described Holder as "the most partisan attorney general the country has ever had," Breitbart reported.

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Cruz also said he was "very pleased" that Lerner was held in contempt by the House Oversight Committee, but criticized the Obama administration for not moving to indict one person eight months after the inspector general concluded that the IRS had wrongfully targeted conservative groups for heightened scrutiny.

Cruz also took aim at President Barack Obama for appointing a Democrat, who was a fundraiser for his presidential campaign, to lead the IRS investigation, saying it would be akin to John Mitchell investigating Richard Nixon, according to Breitbart.

Mitchell was attorney general during Nixon's first term and chairman of his 1972 presidential re-election campaign. Mitchell went to prison for Watergate-related crimes.

Cruz added that Obama had a "pattern of lawlessness" that "is breathtaking" and "dangerous" for liberty.

"We have never seen a president who consistently ignores the law and brazenly defies the law," Cruz said, mentioning immigration, marriage, drug, and welfare laws. The president's unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act also defy his authority in the Constitution, Cruz said. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The shame of Brandeis

The shame of Brandeis
by Scott Johnson in Higher education, Islam, Political correctness

I want to take the liberty of affirming John Podhoretz’s brief comments on the withdrawal of Brandeis University’s invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan was to receive an honorary degree at its upcoming graduation ceremony. John writes:
If you have not yet heard, Brandeis University has rescinded its offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist whose work has focused on the barbaric misogyny rampant in Islamic societies like the one in which she was raised—and whose efforts to call attention to them as a legislator in the Netherlands led to a political crisis there and her eventual flight to the United States.
Given that it only takes a Google search to find out everything one would need to know about her, including the controversial aspects of her views, it is laughable for Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to claim he had to withdraw the degree because of information he had only lately discovered. Ayaan Hirsi Ali said this afternoon that she was not surprised she came under attack from demagogic apologists like the Council on American Islamic Relations: She has come to expect such things.
Here John pauses to quote Ayaan’s response to this situation:
What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation–lines from interviews taken out of context–designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
John continues and renders the judgment which would I would like to associate myself:
What Lawrence has done here is the nothing less than the act of a gutless, spineless, simpering coward.
My late uncle, Marver Bernstein, served as the university’s president from 1972 to 1983. I know Marver would have been appalled beyond belief at his shameful successor’s monstrous capitulation to the screaming voices of unreason. As should we all be.
Bill Kristol has posted Ayaan’s statement on this sad state of affairs, quoted in part in John Podhoretz’s comments above:
Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.
When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students. I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.
What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The “spirit of free expression” referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.
Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me “to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.” Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to ‘engage’ in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.
Bill renders his own judgment on Brandeis’s pitiful performance here.

The Numbers Are In: Obamacare Causes Health Insurance Costs to Skyrocket

The Numbers Are In: Obamacare Causes Health Insurance Costs to Skyrocket

by John Hinderaker in Obamacare

Morgan Stanley has reported on its quarterly survey of insurance brokers, and Scott Gottlieb of Forbes sums up the depressing findings:
Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever according to a survey of brokers who sell coverage in the individual and small group market. …
The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some states show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”
The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare: Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.
The prior survey conducted in January also showed rates rising during the fall of 2013, but the new increases will come on top of those hikes and are even sharper.
Obamacare was supposed to save the average family $2,500 annually; instead, it has made health insurance far more expensive. And yet Harry Reid tells us that everyone who points out that his or her insurance costs more under Obamacare is a liar. And Barack Obama says the debate over Obamacare is over. No, Barry, it is just beginning.

Is There a Market For Stupidity?

Is There a Market For Stupidity?

by John Hinderaker in Socialism, Venezuela

The single worst thing any government can do is try to control prices. The result of price controls, always and everywhere, is disaster. At PJ Media, Richard Fernandez sets forth the sad history of price controls in Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro. There is lots more, but here are some excerpts:
In September 2013 the Guardian wrestled with a mystery. “‘No one can explain why a rich country has no food.’ Toilet paper, rice and coffee have long been missing from stores, as Venezuelan president blames CIA plot for chronic shortages.”
Let’s pause on that for a moment: only a news outlet as chronically myopic as the Guardian could fail to understand how a rich country can have no food. The answer is: they have a socialist government that tries to control prices.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times [economist Brad] Schiller wrote: “two years before his death, Hugo Chavez tried to repeal the law of supply and demand … Chavez despised the law because he believed it robbed the poor and unjustly profited producers.”
In its place, he persuaded the Venezuelan legislature to enact the 2011 Law on Fair Costs and Prices, a price-setting mechanism to ensure greater social justice. A newly created National Superintendency of Fair Costs and Prices was empowered to establish fair prices at both the wholesale and retail levels. More than 500,000 price edicts have been issued. Companies that violate these price controls are subject to fines, seizures and expropriation.
Not that he had any good experience with price controls. Chavez had been draining the state-owned Venezuelan oil industry for years using the same methods of price controls. “The most flagrant subsidy is for gasoline. Venezuelans pay only 4 to 6 cents per gallon for gasoline, the cheapest in the world. But it costs Petroleos de Venezuela, the government-owned oil company, close to $2 a gallon to extract, refine and distribute it. With domestic consumption now running about 600,000 barrels a day, the financial loss on subsidized oil is roughly $20 billion a year.”
The result was the ruin of the Venezuelan oil industry and the flight of its petroleum engineers to Canada.
But experience never deters a socialist. Chavez continued his war on the law of supply and demand:
Venezuela was once the largest coffee producer in the world but in 2004 it imported coffee for the first time from Brazil. By 2012 Venezuela was importing 43,000 metric tons from abroad. Today the movement of coffee beans is attended with the care accorded to shipments of gold bullion, under the watchful eye of SADA. “With SADA, any significant transport of food items anywhere in Venezuela must be declared. The truck, the merchandise, the driver, the dates of delivery, everything must be recorded previously if you want to make a delivery.”
Despite the regime’s best efforts, somehow the wreckers and saboteurs that are always summoned into existence by a socialist government find a way to foil the planners. After a little more socialist governance, Venezuelans no longer had enough to eat. The Chavez/Maduro government decided the country needed more cowbell:
As the Guardian explains: “battling food shortages, the Venezuelan government is rolling out a new ID system that is either a grocery loyalty card with extra muscle or the most dramatic step yet towards rationing in Venezuela, depending on who is describing it.”
Registration begins at more than 100 government-run supermarkets across the country on Tuesday and working-class shoppers – who sometimes endure hours-long queues at the stores to buy cut-price groceries – are welcoming the plan.
“The rich people have things all hoarded away, and they pull the strings,” said Juan Rodriguez, who waited two hours to enter the government-run Abastos Bicentenario supermarket near downtown Caracas on Monday, then waited three hours more to check out….
Patrons will register with their fingerprints, and the new ID card will be linked to a computer system that monitors purchases. The food minister, Félix Osorio, said it will sound an alarm when it detects suspicious purchasing patterns, barring people from buying the same goods every day. But he also said the cards would be voluntary, with incentives such as discounts and entry into raffles for homes and cars.
Ah yes, cars. Automobiles are another triumph of socialist central planning:
The last car company in Venezuela, Toyota, closed shop this year after it was denied permission to remit payment for the handful of cars purchased this year. Ford wasn’t doing too good either — selling a total of two cars last month. Venezuelans looking for a car must buy second hand. And wouldn’t you know? Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro signed an edict to regulate the price of used cars “in the government’s latest measure to combat inflation.”
With grocery stores no longer functioning due to price controls, Venezuelans are increasingly buying food from street vendors. That’s a problem! The government has a solution: more price controls.
The Venezuelan government ordered Tuesday that sidewalk vendors may only sell basic foods if they respect price controls and guarantee the necessary conditions of “hygiene and healthfulness.” …
Foods subject to the government resolution are “rice, pre-cooked cornflour, wheat flour, pasta, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, goat and pork.”
Also included are canned sardines, tuna and mackerel; powdered whole milk, pasteurized and sterilized with a long shelf life; cheese, eggs, soy milk, edible oils except olive oil; margarine, legumes, sugar, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, ground coffee, coffee beans, and salt.
The official resolution allows 30 days for sidewalk vendors to conform to the official measure, and says that whoever infringes it will be penalized with the “confiscation of their goods.”
It is fun, and entirely appropriate, to ridicule moronic leftist policies. But still, a nagging question remains: how can anyone be this dumb? If anything has been conclusively established by world history, it is that price controls are a horrible idea. And yet one government after another goes down the socialist path. Why? Fernandez attempts an answer:
The more interesting question is the absence of the demand for common sense. To wit: why doesn’t the Chavez government wise up? What keeps the feedback loop from working in Venzuelan politics? You would think that disastrous experience with price controls would lead to less of it and to an increased supply of common sense. But the contrary is happening: instead the greater the disaster the bigger the demand for more imbecility.
Fernandez draws an analogy to the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which I don’t find entirely persuasive. But this is his broader conclusion:
One possible answer is that once a ruling elite buys into a paradigm then all solutions have to be found within the paradigm space. It’s useless to argue ‘why doesn’t Venezuela leave the producers alone’ because that option is not on the table within the terms of their mental system. The only levers Venezuela actually has are the ones they allow themselves to consider. They have hired millions of bureaucrats to implement their price control system and that’s all they can do. To accept price controls are a failure is to accept they and all their useless functionaries are failures and to dismantle themselves.
That’s never going to happen while a single Venzuelan Boliver remains left to debase. Similarly the Obama administration’s foreign policy model cannot be fixed except within its own terms of reference. They know — like the Chavistas — that they’re always going to be re-elected, perhaps not only in spite of their failures but in some sense because of them.
In some bizarre way, stupidity often works. Not for the citizens who have to suffer its effects, but for governments.
If there were a homo economicus, if the rational actor of market theory really existed, then neither Obama nor Chavez would even be elected. Those who criticize president Obama’s lack of belief in American exceptionalism should look at the counterargument from his point of view. “If America is so exceptional then how come I am president?” The real problem with believing in the Law of Supply and Demand is accounting for the existence of an apparently endless market for stupidity.
Which in my view remains a mystery.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Liberal Gulag

Cleta on the Cummings case

Cleta on the Cummings case

by Scott Johnson in IRS

Washington superlawyer Cleta Mitchell represents True the Vote, one of the groups illegally targeted by the IRS in the scandals that have exposed the agency as a partisan operation. True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht has been harassed by federal law enforcement authorities representing three different federal agencies. They represent the price of politics in the Age of Obama.
As John notes below, yesterday the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee released emails that show Democratic staffers communicating with the IRS about True the Vote. It appears that Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking Democrat and therefore the Congressman to whom these staffers reported, may have lied during a committee hearing when he denied that his staffers had put the IRS on the trail of True the Vote. The emails show the Democrats calling True the Vote to the IRS’s attention and requesting records about that organization, which Lois Lerner was anxious to provide them. We reached out to Cleta to ask if she might be able to shed light on the news that broke yesterday. She responded: “This is the supplement to the ethics complaint filed [by Cleta on behalf of True the Vote] on Feb 6. I think one of the questions is what EXACTLY the IRS provided to Cummings staff. And what other communications between Cummings staff and, say, the SEIU or White House counsel might have occurred.” Cleta has kindly forwarded a copy of her letter dated April 9 supplementing the Ethics Committee complaint filed previously against Cummings. She tells us that she is filing the letter this morning:
April 9, 2014
The Honorable Porter Goss, Chairman
The Honorable David Skaggs, Vice-Chairman Office of Congressional Ethics
U.S. House of Representatives
P.O. Box 895
Washington, DC 20515-0895

Re: Supplement to Complaint Against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) – Filed February 6, 201 4 -Request for Investigation by Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”)
Dear Chairman Goss and Vice-Chairman Skaggs:
On February 6, 2014, my client, True the Vote, filed a Complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), seeking an investigation of Rep. Cummings, his staff and the Minority Staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (“the Committee”), to ascertain what role, if any, Rep. Cummings and/or the staff of his personal office or the Committee Minority Staff, including but not limited to Deputy Staf Director/Chief Counsel Susanne Sachsman Grooms or other staff members (“the Staff ‘) played in instigating the onslaught of federal agency targeting of True the Vote and its President, Catherine Engel brecht. We further asked OCE to investigate whether Rep. Cummings and/or the Staff played any role in the discriminatory and abusive treatment experienced by True the Vote by the IRS during the pendency of True the Vote’s application for exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We have asked the OCE to ascertain whether Rep. Cummings and/or the Staff have abused and misused their position(s) in the House of Representatives against True the Vote and its principals in violation of House Rules.
The rules of the U.S. House of Representatives impose basic standards of honesty, integrity and public service on all Members, Officers, employees and staff of the House, to-wit:
A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House. [House Rule 23, clause 1.]
We have requested OCE to conduct the investigation into possible violation by Rep. Cummings and/or the Staff of this provision of the House Rules.
Today we have learned that, indeed, Rep. Cummings and the Staff deliberately singled out True the Vote and sought – and obtained – information about True the Vote from the IRS potentially in violation of federal law.
We hereby supplement our February 6, 2014 Complaint filed with OCE, renewing and reiterating our request for investigation of these taxpayer funded efforts against True the Vote. Only OCE and the House Ethics Committee have the ability to conduct a proper investigation of these serious concerns. Only OCE and the House Ethics Committee can seek and receive documents, emails and materials from these House employees and Rep. Cummings. Only OCE and the House Ethics Committee can interview those who are i n a position to disclose the full and complete story of the concerted efforts to attack, abuse and violate the constitutional rights and federal laws protecting True the Vote and its principals, specifically Catherine Engelbrecht, from such governmental abuse.
Attached you will find the letter published today which details the improper and potentially illegal interactions between Rep. Cummings, the Staff and the IRS.
The disclosure that Rep. Cummings and the Staff have been deliberately working to target True the Vote over a period of time, using taxpayer funds to conduet its unlawful activities, misrepresenting to the IRS that Rep. Cummings had opened an “investigation” of True the Vote and the other appalling actions taken by this group of individuals mandates a serious and full investigation and we reiterate our request that OCE undertake that investigation and fulfill its obligations.
We will provide whatever additional information OCE may require in order to get to the truth of what has transpired over these past several years, and to learn how and why True the Vote and Catherine Engelbrecht have been subjected to these violations of law and the United States Constitution…
Cleta Mitchell, Esq., Counsel True the Vote, Inc.
cc: Catherine Engelbrecht, President, True the Vote, Inc.
Enclosed: April 9, 2014 Letter from House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

Don's Tuesday Column

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   4/15/2014

Obama’s health care law at 4 years old

With the April 15 tax day upon us, we have the recent 4-year anniversary of President Obama signing the mis-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare (to mock Nancy Pelosi mindlessly repeating “Affordable, affordable, affordable”). Tax day itself is a reminder that mentally robotic Democrats were in full spin mode trying to refute the idea that the now-Orwellian-phrased “Shared Responsibility Fee” was a tax.

Remember Obama’s “Well, George (Stephenopoulos), the fact that you had to use a dictionary …” in a shameless attempt to dispute that a penalty/fine written into the tax code and enforced by the IRS is a dictionary-defined “tax.” To paraphrase the standard liars line: “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying dictionary.” Irony and hypocrisy oozed over the Supreme Court ultimately calling it a “tax” in order to bestow their judicial blessing, when it was never called a “tax” in the 2,000+ pages of the Obamacare bill.

Witness the lemming-like way Democrats turned on a rhetorical dime to embrace the full weight of the tax code and the IRS to advertise, promote, threaten and guilt-trip young people into a program that undermines their own financial best interests. What’s worse is that it inculcates the idea that when the government imposes a burden on you against your free will choices, but you can access other taxpayers’ money to ease the burden, it’s all ok. Just “spreading the wealth around,” no harm done. Free money, hooray!

Let’s recall that the overwhelming weight of public opinion has opposed Obamacare, from its legislative inception and passage, to its pathetic implementation, to current phony triumphalism. Don’t take my word for it—go to and click on “Polls” tab. Click on “Health Care Law” on the far right to display 10 or so recent surveys of “Public Approval of Health Care Law.” Not only is the current RCP average (as of 4/12) a dismal 12.5 percent Against/Oppose (39.8 For/52.3 Against), but also that gap has been in double digits almost continuously since November 2009.

Individual polls present arguable results—4+ years worth of polling shows an irrefutable, undeniable negative public opinion. The leftist ideologues believe that Republicans saying bad things about Obamacare causes unpopularity. Their attitude: “People don’t know how good it is for them so we need to enforce Obamacare; eventually people will accept either the wisdom of their overlords, or political ‘quiet desperation.’” That and “Just shut up!” It’s their all-purpose dialogue-stopper on any issue where they claim the final word. You’re being disagreeable, so…just shut up.

Regarding Obamacare polling, the “for/against” results are not changing (Rasmussen poll, 4/7: 58% of voters view it unfavorably; just 39% favorably). Some media pollsters have taken the approach that “it’s the law so it’s irrelevant that most Americans oppose it.” They’re now shifting opinion questions to “repeal or not,” “leave as is, fix or repeal,” and so on. To them, it’s inevitable that another massive, redistributionist benefit program will end up as permanent and popular as Social Security or Medicare (Never mind that there are too few workers and taxes to sustain either program).

So, when the New York Times found 50 percent choosing “change the law” and only 42 percent for “repeal,” Democrats crowed about apparently declining “repeal” sentiment. However, just 6 percent want to “leave it as written;” only 1 in 20 thinks it was a good law.

Remember, everything about Obamacare, from the endless lies, misrepresentations and broken promises, to the corrupt deal-making by Democrats to get votes, to the 20,000 pages of regulations (Obamacare: “the Secretary shall write rules”), to the disastrous web site rollout, to conscience-violating rules forcing Christian business-owners to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, to the fudged, phony, numbers touted by Obama as he and his media sycophants proclaim a “victory lap”—it is a failing Democrat program for which no Republican ever voted.

Surrounded by this kind of self-created “train wreck,” there is no business that would tell the same folks who made the disaster to fix it. Obsolete failures disappear. Remember Edsel, DeLorean, New Coke, Pepsi Crystal, 8-tracks, Betamax, floppy disks or Coors Spring Water? How about that senior program, the “Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988” with new taxes on Medicare recipients? It was passed, signed and implemented with great Democrat hubris until angry silver haired protesters started pounding on the cars carrying Democrats like Dan Rostenkowski—that turkey got repealed in full the very next year.

Etched in stone? More like Exhibit A in the “Epic Fail” wing of the Big Gov Museum.

Media bias note: AP reporter Juliet Williams connected Democrat dots in “Scandals plague California capital, Dems succumb to ‘dirty dealings” (3/28 DN). However, the party ID of state Sen. Leland Yee, “Democrat,” was not in either Mercury News writer Howard Mintz’s (“Yee pleads not guilty to gun trafficking, corruption charges,” 4/9 DN), or AP reporter Paul Elias’ (“Yee’s lawyer questions FBI probe,” 4/1 DN) story; certainly not the fact that an anti-gun Democrat was arrested for attempted gun trafficking.

Can the Democrats Run Against the Koch Brothers?

Can the Democrats Run Against the Koch Brothers?

by John Hinderaker in 2014 Election, The War on the Koch Brothers

Led by Harry Reid, the Democrats have tried to turn the Koch brothers into an election issue. This has struck us, like most observers, as a dubious strategy. But the Democrats aren’t giving up: they are now broadening what had previously been inside baseball, using Koch to rile up their base, to a general election strategy in which they run ads directly attacking the brothers.
In the New York Times, Jeremy Peters and Carl Hulse report on the Senate campaign in Alaska, where Democrat Mark Begich is desperately trying to hold on to his seat. The Democrats are reprising the strategy they used against Mitt Romney, running commercials that attacked Bain Capital for closing plants or laying off employees. Their hook, in the case of Alaska, is a refinery in North Pole that Flint Hills Resources, a Koch Industries subsidiary, recently announced that it would close, in part due to excessive environmental costs that are being imposed by the state:
Alaska, with its robust oil industry, has become an unlikely place for Democrats to test the template they hope to use on the Koch brothers in other states. Mr. Begich has tried to transform the announcement in February that Flint Hills Resources, a Koch Industries company, would stop processing crude oil at its refinery outside Fairbanks, and thus eliminate 81 jobs, into a campaign rallying cry. He has made the brothers the subject of two of his newest ads on radio and television, and condemned them for the commercials that Americans for Prosperity has run.
“Who’s behind the ads?” an announcer asks. “Two billionaire outsiders: the Koch brothers. The same profiteering Koch brothers who bought the Flint Hills refinery in Fairbanks, ran it into the ground and are now shutting it down.”
The Times reports that the Democrats have similar stories lined up in North Carolina, West Virginia and Arkansas, all states where Democratic Senators are on the endangered list. Begich’s ads can be criticized on their own terms–when the North Pole closure was announced, he wrote a letter to Alaska’s governor in which he was sympathetic to the refinery’s position:
Obviously, the refinery has some competitive challenges. Chief among these challenges is the cost of cleanup on the land the State owned when Williams operated the refinery, and Flint Hills cited this in their announcement.
But a more basic question is whether the Democrats’ strategy of demonizing the Koch brothers can work, not just to raise money from the party’s faithful but to sway swing voters. In the Times article, Republican sources express skepticism:
Most Republicans seem content to let Democrats keep swinging at the Kochs, saying the efforts will squander energy and resources that could have been spent elsewhere.
“Mitt Romney was the candidate for president of the United States,” said Mr. Phillips, the Americans for Prosperity president, explaining that voters would not punish the Kochs the same way they did Mr. Romney.
“That’s a big difference. David Koch is the chairman of our foundation. He’s not running for anything,” Mr. Phillips added. “This just points to what bad shape they’re in.”
That seems right to me. Put the shoe on the other foot: could Republicans make much headway by attacking, not Democratic candidates, but their financial supporters? Would Republican ads attacking unions for destroying Michigan’s auto industry, or Tom Steyer for benefiting from government subsidies and mandates, or pointing out that George Soros is a convicted criminal, sway many votes? Or, to be more precise, would they persuade more voters than spending the same money on attacking Democratic candidates themselves? I can’t believe that the answer is yes.
Where the Democrats are trying to defend incumbent senators, their problem is that voters’ principal focus will inevitably be on the incumbent’s record. They can, of course, attack the Republican challenger (although in some instances, that challenger remains unknown at present), and they will. But it is the incumbent Democrat, not the Republican challenger, who has to face up to his or her vote for Obamacare, the stimulus, $17 trillion in debt, and so on. Understandably, the incumbents want to change the subject, but it is hard to believe that voters will be much distracted by attacks on private citizens who are not on the ballot.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The New Pitchfork Persecutors

The New Pitchfork Persecutors Eich and others who opposed same-sex marriage, even years ago, are being punished.                        

Gallaudet University chief diversity officer Angela McCaskill

John Fund
Let’s face it. Brendan Eich is large, white, and rich, and a computer geek — not the kind of profile that automatically elicited sympathy last week when the CEO of Mozilla was forced to step down for contributing $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a 2008 measure stipulating that marriage in California could be only between a man and a woman.
But all of us should care about the political orthodoxy that forced out Eich and that is taking hold in our country. “I don’t believe this is a question of suppressing free speech,” Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a key gay-rights group, told the Associated Press. The AP quoted Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, as saying, “It seems to me when a society makes a determination that something is wrong, for example racial hatred, then somehow it’s not intolerant to insist upon that understanding.” Good-bye to tolerance for diverse opinions.

Eric Dezenhall, who heads a prominent crisis-communications firm in Washington, D.C., told Forbes magazine: “There is a very specific narrative today on certain issues, and if you step an inch out of bounds, you’re going to get fouled or worse. [Eich] stepped on one of the three great land mines: gay rights, race, and the environment. You don’t have to have made flagrantly terrible statements to get into trouble now.”
Indeed. Consider the case of Angela McCaskill, the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. In 2012, she was one of 200,000 people to sign a petition in support of a referendum challenging a law that recognizes gay marriage in Maryland, where she lived. The anti-same-sex referendum made the ballot and lost 52 percent to 48 percent that November. But 54 percent of African Americans in Maryland opposed same-sex marriage, according to an exit poll conducted by the Associated Press.
Even though Maryland’s gay-marriage supporters won, some of them were not exactly magnanimous. McCaskill’s signature on the petition became public when the Washington Blade posted a database online “outing” all those who had signed it. Even though her signature indicated only that she wanted the decision on gay marriage to be made by the people and not by the legislature and the governor, her critics declared it showed “bias” on her part. She was placed on administrative leave by Gallaudet University’s president, T. Alan Hurwitz. In a statement announcing her leave, he wrote, “It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer.” Just the year before, Hurwitz had praised McCaskill as “a longtime devoted advocate of social justice and equity causes.”
The uproar over her being punished for private political views resulted in her reinstatement three months later. But she quickly found things weren’t the same. Her pre-controversy title had been “Deputy to the President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.” When she returned to her office, she came back only as Chief Diversity Officer, with reduced authority. She has since filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that it violated anti-discrimination laws.
Nor is McCaskill the only heretic to have run afoul of the PC Police. After Proposition 8’s passage in 2008 (it has since been invalidated by the courts), Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater, the state’s largest nonprofit performing-arts company, was forced to resign after gay-marriage activists learned that he had donated $1,000 to the Prop 8 campaign. Similarly, Los Angeles Film Festival director Richard Raddon was forced to step down after his donation of $1,500 to Prop 8 was made public.
This modern-day blacklist is not confined to computer geeks, university employees, and show-business types. Marjorie Christoffersen, manager of the famous Los Angeles restaurant El Coyote, resigned after El Coyote was subjected to a month of boycotts and demonstrations because she had contributed $100 to Prop 8. Fellow employees at El Coyote vouched for her kindness to gay employees — when one of the restaurant’s employees died of AIDS, for example, she had personally paid for his mother to fly to Los Angeles to attend his funeral. That didn’t matter either. And neither did the fact that El Coyote sent $10,000 to gay groups to “make up” for Christoffersen’s contribution. The boycott continued, and Christoffersen was forced to leave.
These purges prompted Charles Karel Bouley, a former columnist for the gay publication The Advocate, to call for calm and moderation. “Barack Obama said marriage was between a man and a woman at a time when we needed his voice on our side about equality,” Bouley wrote in the aftermath of Prop 8’s victory. “He let us down, too, remember, and many of you still gave him a job.” Indeed, Obama publicly declined to endorse gay marriage until May 2012. But Bouley’s point has obviously fallen on many deaf ears.
Perhaps it’s time to revisit the practice of publicly disseminating the names of people who donate to support ballot measures. Brendan Eich was “outed” after the names of all contributors to Prop 8 — which could be found in public records — were published in the Los Angeles Times in a searchable database. There is some precedent for privacy in this area. In a unanimous 1957 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NAACP did not have to release lists of its donors and members lest such a disclosure be used to target and discredit the civil-rights group, thus suppressing the right of legal association.
Bruce Chapman, a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau who is now with the Discovery Institute, told me that today’s climate could similarly “chill democracy.” “We don’t make the votes of people public, we don’t make how jurors vote public, and we keep Census data private for 70 years,” he says. You would think that liberals who like to rail against the publication of anti-Communist blacklists in the 1950s would appreciate such arguments. But some of them are cheering on the pitchfork persecutors or, as happened a lot during the days of the Hollywood blacklist, simply remaining silent.
— John Fund is national-affairs columnist at National Review Online.

Voters Still Hate Obamacare

Voters Still Hate Obamacare

by John Hinderaker in Obamacare

The Democrats hope that the supposed success of signing up 7 million Obamacare participants will blunt the potency of the issue in November. If this Rasmussen survey is any indication, however, they have a long way to go:
Unfavorable opinions of the new national health care law are at their highest level in several months, while the number who think the quality of care in this country will get worse is at its highest level in over three years.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat unfavorable opinion of the health care law, with 43% who view it Very Unfavorably. Just 39% have a favorable view of the law, including 16% with a Very Favorable one.
With 43% of voters viewing the law “very unfavorably”–undoubtedly more in the red and purple states where Democrats are trying to defend Senate seats–it is hard to see how Obamacare can be anything but a millstone around the party’s neck. The same survey found that 53% think the quality of health care will be worse under the new law, up from 47% last month. Even more voters, 59%, think Obamacare will raise the cost of health care. That is a brutal double whammy: most voters think Obamacare will cost more, but provide worse care.
There are more shoes yet to drop: in late 2014, in time, I believe, for the election, millions more Americans will receive notices to the effect that they have been kicked out of their employer-sponsored plans, or that the cost of using those plans has gone up (or the coverage has gone down). So it is hard to see where the Democrats are going to find relief