Friday, July 31, 2015

Jihad against U.S. Troops Is Not a ‘Circumstance’

Jihad against U.S. Troops Is Not a ‘Circumstance’
By Michelle Malkin 

Jeb’s Already Going Wobbly on Iran

Jeb’s Already Going Wobbly on Iran
By Christian Whiton 


Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of Dodd-Frank. In honor of the occasion, Veronique de Rugy looks at some of the commentary documenting her contention that “the legislation has overwhelmed the regulatory system, stifled the financial industry, impaired economic growth, and done nothing to correct the pernicious effects of ‘too big to fail.’”
There is this excerpt from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee:
Dodd-Frank was supposedly aimed at Wall Street, but it hit Main Street hard. Community financial institutions, which make the bulk of small business loans, are overwhelmed by the law’s complexity. Government figures indicate that the country is losing on average one community bank or credit union a day.
Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39% did so—a trend various scholars have attributed to Dodd-Frank’s “Durbin amendment,” which imposed price controls on the fee paid by retailers when consumers use a debit card.
Bank fees have also increased due to Dodd-Frank, leading to a rise of the unbanked and underbanked among low- and moderate-income Americans.
Has Dodd-Frank nevertheless made the financial system more secure? Many of the threats to financial stability identified in the latest report of Dodd-Frank’s Financial Stability Oversight Council are primarily the result of the law itself, along with other government policies.
And there’s a new report by John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which shows how Dodd-Frank has stifled competition among the banks. The “failure to approve new banks, for instance, means that those ‘too big to fail’ banks are now more entrenched than ever.”
Indeed, in the last five years regulators have approved only one new bank, as opposed to an average of 170 new banks per year before 2010. According to Berlau: “This lack of new bank competitors is one important reason why a large bank failure could severely curtail the supply of credit and availability of financial services. That in turn sets the stage for a continuing cycle of bailouts.”
Meanwhile the New York Times reports that “Fannie and Freddie are Back, Bigger and Badder Than Ever.” In their current incarnation as government controlled entities supported by a line of credit from the Treasury, we have what Jim Parrott, a senior adviser with the National Economic Council in the Obama administration calls “the worst of all worlds.” The system “attracts too little private capital, provides too little mortgage credit, and still poses too much risk to the taxpayer.”
With Dodd-Frank unable to remedy the problems it was designed to address, the door opens for leftists like Elizabeth Warren to push for more radical measures. The conservative message — that real competition is the answer to “too big to fail” — is unlikely to be heard, much less heeded.
The next five years will be very interesting.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A GREEK FARCE EXPLAINED (DP: must read to get the lunacy/unreality of the Marxist left)

I haven’t written about the saga of the new Greek bailout, which occurred while I was on vacation. Steve discussed it here.
It was a strange saga. The leftist government rejected a bailout package, choosing instead to put the deal to a vote by the Greek people. Greece, its prime minister Alexis Tsipras, proclaimed, is the birthplace of democracy, so Greeks should decide democratically whether to accept the deal the EU proposed.
Tsipras recommended that the Greeks vote “no” on the EU’s package. They did so overwhelmingly.
But then, Tsipras agreed to a harsher deal than the one he and his people had rejected. There was no plebiscite this time in the cradle of democracy. Instead, Tsipras pushed the deal through the Greek parliament.
Tsipras apparently believed that if the Greeks voted against the EU’s deal, Europe would give it a better deal. But, as should have been obvious to him, the terms the EU was willing to offer were driven by harsh economic realities. The Greek vote couldn’t affect these realities. It was irrelevant.
Moreover, Tsipras’ behavior left a bad taste in the mouth of Europe’s power brokers. If anything, they were now more inclined to stick it to the prime minister and his Syriza Party government than to offer concessions.
Tsipras hoped that the resignation of his obnoxious finance minister would appease Angela Merkel and company. It did not, nor could it have been expected to.
How could Tsipras and his colleagues have been so naive? The answer, it seemed to me, is that they are infantile leftists blinded by their ideology.
This diagnosis is confirmed in a Washington Post story by Griff Witte, Michael Birnbaum, and Anthony Faiola. If anything, Greece’s leaders — “scruffy Marxists,” the Post calls them — were more infantile than I had supposed:
In frigid February, when negotiators sat down across from each other for the first time, the members of the Syriza squad, some of whom were still in their 20s, were abuzz with ideas about putting struggling workers ahead of corporate interests.
Their counterparts from European finance ministries and the International Monetary Fund wanted bloodless numbers. What were Syriza’s concrete proposals? And how would they affect Greece’s bottom line?
Sometimes they were scarcely speaking the same language, as worldviews clashed and tensions started to mount. Syriza’s top negotiators were fresh out of posts as Marxist-oriented economics professors. Their aides were PhD students, steeped in the heady discussions of the academy. The European side, meanwhile, was unaccustomed to hearing rhetoric that had died out of the political mainstream with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Greek negotiators didn’t know much about economics and apparently cared less:
Even words like “competition” — hardly controversial among the market-driven economic elite that Syriza sought to reshape — irked some of the Greek negotiators. . . .Syriza bosses saw the relentless focus on promoting growth as prizing profits over people.
They didn’t know much about history, either:
Greece’s strategy had been premised on the idea that it could peel away allies to advocate on its behalf against an austerity-minded European establishment dominated by Germany. But instead, some of the continent’s smallest nations became its fiercest critics.
Officials from Eastern European countries that suffered for decades under communism warned of the dangers of giving in to the left.
Syriza’s sense of entitlement astonished EU members:
[C]ountries wrestling with their own economic troubles marveled that a nation receiving so much support could be so seemingly oblivious to the impact of the bailouts beyond its own borders.
“People need to understand that a country like mine has contributions to Greece that are nearly 10 percent of our annual budget and 2.5 percent of our GDP,” said Stubb, the Finnish finance minister. “We’re not talking about small potatoes.”
Today’s scruffy Marxists are a spoiled lot.
Even in the aftermath of its negotiating debacle, the Greek left continues to miss the point. It sees the EU’s tough negotiating positions not in economic terms, as old-fashioned Marxists might tend to, but rather as an attempt to send a message to other European countries not to elect leftist governments.
There probably is something to this view, but in the main it wasn’t personal; it was just business. And if any message was being sent, it was probably a message to the Greek people to elect a government that isn’t “irked” by the concept of economic competition.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, we learned that virtually no one in authority believed the official hard left ideology of the state. The leadership was not delusional, which is probably why it managed to hold power for so long.
By contrast, today’s European left believes its own bullshit. As Greece found out the hard way, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Attention America’s Suburbs: You Have Just Been Annexed

Attention America’s Suburbs: You Have Just Been Annexed
By Stanley Kurtz 

The Scapegoat for Strife in the Black Community

The Scapegoat for Strife in the Black Community

By Thomas Sowell 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crappy Days Are Here Again

It’s De Blasio Time, and madmen with machetes are on the loose.
Twenty-three prior arrests, including menacing someone with a machete five years ago, and this madman is still walking the streets? Seeing a passerby’s video of Sook Yeong Im, a pretty young Korean tourist, lying on the 40th Street sidewalk after crazy career criminal Frederick Young, 43, had twice slashed open her arm with his viciously honed weapon—exposing muscle fiber and sending blood spurting everywhere—brought back in an instant the knot of fear New Yorkers carried in their stomachs in the pre-Rudy Giuliani era, when out-of-control crime was killing not just one person every four hours, 365 days a year, but also was killing Gotham itself. That the assault occurred in Bryant Park at 11:30 on a sun-drenched early-summer morning, as the victim was looking for a seat after her yoga class, seemed to unravel just about every gain that the tireless efforts of thousands over 20 years had achieved to make New York once more the capital of the world. 

Suddenly, it seems we’re back to Son of Sam or the Wild Man of West 96th Street.
Start with Bryant Park. Who that had not seen it a quarter-century ago would believe that this lush, cosmopolitan oasis behind Carrère and Hastings’ gleaming white marble New York Public Library, with throngs of tourists and businesspeople lunching at its smart cafés or on its freshly painted Parisian chairs, was once a no-go zone, with drug sellers openly plying their trade in broad daylight on the packed dust that had once been a lawn, and with muggers lurking in the bushes, ready to prey on any tourist too uninformed to keep out? Along with MTA, Transit Authority, and Transit Police heads Robert Kiley, David Gunn, and William Bratton’s clean-up of the subways, the city’s lifeblood, by washing off the omnipresent graffiti and chasing out the bums and pickpockets in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dan Biederman’s Bryant Park Corporation’s astonishingtransformation of despoiled park into a gleaming commons at the very center of the capital of the Twentieth Century during the same period were the two pre-Giuliani signs that what human failing had spoiled, human effort could redeem. These were the first luminous demonstrations that New York did not have to die.

Behind both accomplishments was a theory, propounded by Manhattan Institute scholar George Kelling and political scientist James Q. Wilson. Dubbed Broken Windows, the theory held that, when city authorities allow public spaces to turn into theaters of disorder, dysfunction, and dirt—where dope sellers, graffiti vandals, and prostitutes of every description go about their business without interference, while bums and madmen panhandle aggressively, pee on the street, blast radios, jump turnstiles in the subway, and smear filth and litter everywhere—then honest citizens will stay away out of fear and disgust, and the evil-intentioned, seeing that nobody cares to protect public order, will feel emboldened to commit serious crimes, not just these so-called “victimless” crimes, whose real victim was the city itself. But clear out the rubbish, clean up the graffiti, spruce up the space, arrest the petty criminals, and get the madmen into medical care, and urban vitality will return. Meanwhile, serious crime will go down, because criminals will know that the authorities are watching them, that cops can stop and question them and search them for weapons on probable cause, and that lawbreaking will send them to jail. In Bryant Park and in the subways, the theory had its first real-world test. And Eureka! a modern miracle.
But what resistance the experiments had to overcome! The homeless, the mainstream media falsely told us for over a decade (there was then no Internet or Fox News to rebut them), were willing workers victimized by a heartless capitalist economy that sent their jobs overseas or replaced them with machines, forcing them out of the decent working- or lower-middle-class lives they had thought were secure. Or, if they were insane, why should they be forcibly medicated rather than left to follow their alternate lifestyle, as the cant of the time had it—harmlessly “idling,” in the asinine description of Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas—which in practice meant freezing to death on the streets, terrorized by the demonic voices in their heads, and driven with almost predictable regularity to stab someone in the park or subway, or push her in front of an onrushing train. And as for the bums and criminals, so many of them African-Americans: were they not forced to do what they did by 300 years of oppression, and, if society punished them for it, was it not “blaming the victim?”

Still, so obviously was the city dying under such enlightened tolerance that Gotham’s overwhelmingly Democratic voters elected tough ex-U.S. attorney Giuliani as mayor in 1993 to restore law and order—which he did with amazing success once he took over City Hall in 1994. He called Bratton back from Boston, where he had gone to be police chief in 1992, to institute Broken Windows policing in New York. Every kind of crime fell with amazing rapidity, and the city snapped back to life, once residents and tourists stopped being afraid to go out to restaurants and theaters, or just to walk the interesting and now safe streets, window shopping, people watching, enjoying the drama of urban life. Forced-treatment laws for the crazy helped many, but sadly many more ended up untreated in jail, which became the state’s de facto mental-health-care system. But in any event, they were no longer pushing people under subways or stabbing them with screwdrivers. And, short of jail, stop-and-frisk policies allowed police to take away any weapons they might be carrying, so they constituted less of a public threat.

Now Mayor Bill de Blasio has done away with much of that. Stop-and-frisks are down 95 percent from their 2011 high. Broken Windows policing is again under attack from enlightened opinion in the academy and mainstream media, which also has once again embraced what is now most emphatically the myth of omnipresent American racism. De Blasio himself leads the chorus in slurring the NYPD as racist oppressors, warning his biracial son not to give them any excuse to brutalize him. And cops are afraid to do their jobs, since they have no support from City Hall. So no wonder shootings are up for two years in a row—a first since the pre-Giuliani era—with four more just this afternoon. No wonder Gotham has had 19.5 percent more murders in the first five months of this year than in the corresponding period last year. And after vilification from City Hall and the mainstream media for recent Broken Windows arrests, and being ordered to cut way back on stop-and-frisks, no wonder cops didn’t want to put their careers on the line to mess with Frederick Young—an obviously crazy black man, muttering to himself and carrying something suspicious in a garbage bag. And you can expect more senseless, needless crimes like what happened to Sook Yeong Im, along with ever-growing fear in the streets, until de Blasio is out of City Hall.

Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database

Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database

Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database

A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”
Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.
This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.
Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.
So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.

Housing database

The granddaddy of them all is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing database, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled out earlier this month to racially balance the nation, ZIP code by ZIP code. It will map every US neighborhood by four racial groups — white, Asian, black or African-American, and Hispanic/Latino — and publish “geospatial data” pinpointing racial imbalances.
The agency proposes using nonwhite populations of 50% or higher as the threshold for classifying segregated areas.
Federally funded cities deemed overly segregated will be pressured to change their zoning laws to allow construction of more subsidized housing in affluent areas in the suburbs, and relocate inner-city minorities to those predominantly white areas. HUD’s maps, which use dots to show the racial distribution or density in residential areas, will be used to select affordable-housing sites.
HUD plans to drill down to an even more granular level, detailing the proximity of black residents to transportation sites, good schools, parks and even supermarkets. If the agency’s social engineers rule the distance between blacks and these suburban “amenities” is too far, municipalities must find ways to close the gap or forfeit federal grant money and face possible lawsuits for housing discrimination.
Civil-rights groups will have access to the agency’s sophisticated mapping software, and will participate in city plans to re-engineer neighborhoods under new community outreach requirements.
“By opening this data to everybody, everyone in a community can weigh in,” Obama said. “If you want affordable housing nearby, now you’ll have the data you need to make your case.”

Mortgage database

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, headed by former Congressional Black Caucus leader Mel Watt, is building its own database for racially balancing home loans. The so-called National Mortgage Database Project will compile 16 years of lending data, broken down by race, and hold everything from individual credit scores and employment records.
Mortgage contracts won’t be the only financial records vacuumed up by the database. According to federal documents, the repository will include “all credit lines,” from credit cards to student loans to car loans — anything reported to credit bureaus. This is even more information than the IRS collects.
The FHFA will also pry into your personal assets and debts and whether you have any bankruptcies. The agency even wants to know the square footage and lot size of your home, as well as your interest rate.
FHFA will share the info with Obama’s brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which acts more like a civil-rights agency, aggressively investigating lenders for racial bias.
The FHFA has offered no clear explanation as to why the government wants to sweep up so much sensitive information on Americans, other than stating it’s for “research” and “policymaking.”
However, CFPB Director Richard Cordray was more forthcoming, explaining in a recent talk to the radical California-based Greenlining Institute: “We will be better able to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns.”

Credit database

CFPB is separately amassing a database to monitor ordinary citizens’ credit-card transactions. It hopes to vacuum up some 900 million credit-card accounts — all sorted by race — representing roughly 85% of the US credit-card market. Why? To sniff out “disparities” in interest rates, charge-offs and collections.

Employment database

CFPB also just finalized a rule requiring all regulated banks to report data on minority hiring to an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. It will collect reams of employment data, broken down by race, to police diversity on Wall Street as part of yet another fishing expedition.

School database

Through its mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection project, the Education Department is gathering information on student suspensions and expulsions, by race, from every public school district in the country. Districts that show disparities in discipline will be targeted for reform.
Those that don’t comply will be punished. Several already have been forced to revise their discipline policies, which has led to violent disruptions in classrooms.
Obama’s educrats want to know how many blacks versus whites are enrolled in gifted-and-talented and advanced placement classes.
Schools that show blacks and Latinos under-enrolled in such curricula, to an undefined “statistically significant degree,” could open themselves up to investigation and lawsuits by the department’s Civil Rights Office.
Count on a flood of private lawsuits to piggyback federal discrimination claims, as civil-rights lawyers use the new federal discipline data in their legal strategies against the supposedly racist US school system.
Even if no one has complained about discrimination, even if there is no other evidence of racism, the numbers themselves will “prove” that things are unfair.
Such databases have never before existed. Obama is presiding over the largest consolidation of personal data in US history. He is creating a diversity police state where government race cops and civil-rights lawyers will micromanage demographic outcomes in virtually every aspect of society.
The first black president, quite brilliantly, has built a quasi-reparations infrastructure perpetually fed by racial data that will outlast his administration.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which exposes the racial politics behind the mortgage bust.