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‘Confusion at the IRS’ as scandal mitigation?

The New York Times appears to be offering its media mitigation services to the Administration in an attempt to try and lessen the impact of the IRS scandal.

Why? Probably so as to allow the country to move on to more important Times’ topics like gun control, homosexual marriage, increased deficit spending, manmade global warming, and amnesty for illegals.

So here are the basic elements of the Times story: A solitary IRS “manager” provided ambiguous direction. (IRS workers don’t normally talk politics one “supervisor” said, implying apolitical thinking.) “Low-level” workers processed other 501(c)4 applications but the desk of a “lone specialist” piled up with Tea Party cases. Meanwhile, “midlevel” IRS managers had communications problems with their higher-ups. Even though 400 Tea Party/conservative group records were flagged, two-dozen “liberal-leaning” and perhaps “apolitical” organizations were also marked for this special treatment, so bias is clearly not evident. The IRS “struggled” with its growing caseload (even though the caseload surge didn’t happen until well after the targeting began). The Cincinnati office is a bit of a “backwater” and the work there is undesirable. Eventually, progress on the whole topic was made and by the way, the IRS Commissioner in place for much of this debacle was a George W. Bush appointee.

So there we have it… things are complicated, honest mistakes were made by a mere few who probably meant well, the IRS needs more workers, and a Bush appointee is complicit. Case closed, game over. With all that established, shouldn’t America just press on with the really important issues of the day?

The implied question is answered with a resounding Times, “Yes!”

Why? Because according to a former IRS lawyer, a “politically charged investigation might descend into a witch hunt that leaves low-level I.R.S. employees too intimidated to enforce the tax code.”

(Hmm. It looks more like the problem was that some IRS employees were not sufficiently intimidated by the law to enforce the tax code to begin with… )

And apparently, to the Times, unearthing the truth of the issue pales to the possibility of a “politically charged investigation,” even though the IRS scandal is clearly a bipartisan issue with numerous Democrats, including the President, offering their public outrage.

Meanwhile, the “politically charged” behavior of the IRS (did they display their own initiative on this or were they were merely doing the bidding of their superiors going as high up as… who knows?) is something, like Benghazi, we should move on from.

Or as Hillary might say, “What difference, at this point, does it make?!

With the lights on, the cockroaches scurry for cover

The New York Times tells us the Obama Administration knew, pre-2012 elections, the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for “special treatment.”

The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was investigating allegations that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.

Want more? The acting IRS Commissioner lied to Congress.

According to the inspector general’s report, [acting IRS Commissioner] Mr. [Steven T.] Miller was aware of the political targeting in March 2012, sending a team from I.R.S. headquarters in Washington to discuss it with the program’s leaders in Cincinnati. Yet a month later, Mr. Miller, then the deputy I.R.S. commissioner for enforcement, wrote a letter to Republican senators saying there was no targeting of conservative groups.

What, me lie?

Besides this steaming hot mess, there’s still more: the apparent criminal leaks of taxpayer records to the media in an attempt to benefit the President’s political purpose.

So to what strategy did Democrat’s turn to at this hearing, attempting to mitigate the damage? Old reliable.

… Democrats tried to keep the focus narrow and under the purview of an I.R.S. chief appointed by President George W. Bush.

Expect the Administration and other Democrats to try and use the same “narrow focus” (i.e., blame Bush/blame others) strategy with the media. And why not? We sure wouldn’t want bigger steaming hot messes—the truth—to emerge, would we? (Or in other words, for Democrats, It’s worked so far but we’re not out yet…)

Still, what about the scurrying of the cockroaches?

[Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T.] Miller [who has resigned]… was likely to step down in June anyway, unless nominated for the permanent position.

Joseph Grant, commissioner of the I.R.S.’s tax-exempt and government-entities division, announced Thursday that he, too, would be leaving in the next month.

More:

When Republicans asked Mr. Miller whether the targeting of conservative groups was divulged to Obama administration officials outside the I.R.S., Mr. Miller said “that would be a violation of law.”

“I would be shocked” if that occurred, he said.

Indeed.

Shocking.

Three cheers for the New York Times

Actually, three cheers for Sharon LaFraniere who had the guts to write a big time story and to her Times’ editors who had the guts to run it. The story is one of fraud, fear, and the general idiocy that’s come to characterize the federal government, as epitomized by the current Administration. As such, LaFraniere provides a long-form story; yes, there’s much to tell.

Also present: massive lawyers’ fees, sidestepping the Congress, and a pathetic failure of stewardship. It’s all a cash-based form of Obamaphone, for “discriminated-against farmers,” writ large, real or imagined.

And the documentary requirement to get paid by the government in the case was set quite low: nothing.

John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia Law School professor and specialist in complex litigation, said that not requiring documentary evidence “was quite unusual, but there were also special circumstances.”

Still, he said, “I don’t think they realized how much of an incentive they were creating for claims to multiply. It is a little bit like putting out milk for a kitten.

“The next night, you get 15 kittens.”

The kittens at the milk-pan analogy is… kind.

“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” one former high-ranking department official said. “We had applications for kids who were 4 or 5 years old. We had cases where every single member of the family applied.” The official added, “You couldn’t have designed it worse if you had tried.”

Yet the bigger question is this: are the conditions described in the article an exception to the rule of government or do they rather reflect the rule itself?

The Clinton Administration had the issue basically put to bed: just 91 claimants were to receive $50K each for a total payout of less than $4.5 million. By the time it got to the Obama Administration, it had grown a thousand times, exploding into a $4.4 billion handout.

In 16 ZIP codes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina, the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997, the year the lawsuit was filed. Those applicants received nearly $100 million.

In Maple Hill, a struggling town in southeastern North Carolina, the number of people paid was nearly four times the total number of farms.

And the money line, so to speak?

“Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.”

Disgraceful. Criminal. Disgusting. Normal.

Demand better, America.

The brilliance of Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat is a voice in the wilderness. (The wilderness is, of course, the New York Times.)

Ross has not only captured the essence of Obama’s big government America but he’s boiled it down to a bumper sticker which the left can now offer: the government will solve your problems.

Big government thus becomes Staples with its “easy” button.

Skeptics ask “If big government were going to solve our problems, wouldn’t they already be solved by now?” Or “If deficit spending could fix the economy, shouldn’t it be in grand shape by now?” Similarly they can point the failures across history of government to solve people’s problems; consider Nazi Germany, the USSR, Cambodia, and Red China for starters.

The reality is big government does not create value that’s commensurate with it’s costs. That, and the reality the poor you shall always have with you.

Big government promises to solve economic problems, disassociation, single parenthood, and the challenges it has itself created, fostered, and fermented via multiple moral hazards:

…the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women…

…the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

It seems that liberals fail to acknowledge that man is a fallen creature and that government is made up of flawed human beings just like us. The bigger the government (or the more powerful the government; they seem to go hand in hand), the bigger the accumulated flaws. The founding fathers had it right: government is to be constrained and not encouraged.

Non-government solutions—like families or the Church—face the challenge of still having to work through flawed human beings but generally with a better root-cause analysis. That is, they more often acknowledge our problems are first a condition of the heart (or of our basic nature) and somewhere after that, a condition of the pocketbook.

Did Obama win because of his policies?

The theory Barack Obama was re-elected due to his policies, as offered by the New York Times, is laughable.

President Obama’s dramatic re-election victory was not a sign that a fractured nation had finally come together on Election Day. But it was a strong endorsement of economic policies that stress job growth, health care reform, tax increases and balanced deficit reduction — and of moderate policies on immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage.

Such “analysis” is beyond idiotic: Obama won in spite of his policies, not because of them.

The economy is, and has been, in the septic tank for the duration of Obama’s presidency—the Obama ‘recovery’ has been worse than the Bush ‘recession.’ Job “growth” is limited to the government sector and part-time employment. Health care “reform” creates another mega-entitlement filled with demand while squeezing supply. As for tax increases… well, there’s that whole fiscal cliff thing. “Balanced deficit reduction” means adding over five trillion to the national debt during Obama’s first-term. “Moderate” policies on immigration never happened; “moderate policies” on abortion advocate any time, any where, any reason, and someone else pays; finally, “moderate policies” on homosexual “marriage” is sop to homosexuals (and when they “divorce,” to the trial lawyers).

But what happens when the music stops? When John Galt bails—or heads to greener pastures—and there’s literally (Biden-speak) no more wealth to be spread around? We’ve had the dot com bubble and the housing bubble, and now we’re in the still-inflating government bubble. It’s just a matter of when it pops and the longer it inflates, the worse the pop is going to be.

So contrary to the brilliant minds at the New York Times, Obama won for one reason: voters viewed him as more likable than Mitt Romney and they cast their ballots accordingly. It’s the same burden John McCain faced in 2008. The 2012 Obama corollary is 1) few voters understand the free-lunch fallacy and 2) the media gave him a free ride (or better said, paid his way).

The president’s first-terms policies have been one fail after another and given Obama’s demonstrated inability to learn from his mistakes, a second-term will present more daunting challenges for normal Americans than ever before.

Obama Kool-Aid Drinker Drinks the Obama Kool-Aid

The alternate title to this post is Blind Squirrel Finds An Empty Acorn.

In the New York Times column Obama’s Team of Idolizers, Roger Cohen’s editor came up with a headline designed to spark the reader to investigate the so-called team of Obama idolizers. Instead, the article reveals that Cohen has drunken his Sun King’s own Kool-Aid (and probably ate the pudding as well).

…four years have passed and Obama has adroitly steered the bankrupted United States he inherited away from the precipice…

In reality—and in less than four years—we’re about $6 trillion more bankrupted (and that doesn’t count our national-level unfunded liabilities) than before and beyond Cohen’s thick bubble, most people think Barry has moved us closer to the aforementioned precipice.

And then there’s this:

The failure of hope, the absence of profound change, has much to do with the Republican obstructionism…

Ah, despite inheriting a Democrat legislative monopoly, Republicans should be blamed for Obama’s epic failures. Original, no? To paraphrase Dr. Leonard McCoy, “It hasn’t worked so far but we’re not out yet.”

Next item, a Cohen bone thrown regarding the 2016 presidential election, a dog-whistle for fellow lefties not to give up hope:

Then there is Hillary Clinton, a superb secretary of state.

Yes, just look at Mrs. Clintons’ myriad successes with regard to Egypt’s Islamic Spring, Syria’s state of martial law and disorder, NATO member Turkey trending Islamic, a nuclear Iran, continuing human rights violations in China, the Russian non-reset, et al. Hey, at least she hasn’t been indicted.

Finally, there’s this howler:

Obama has corrected big mistakes — abandoning the unwinnable global war on terror and pulling out of Iraq. To his immense credit he took a big gamble on killing Osama Bin Laden.

Roger, first off, early in his term, the President renamed the Global War on Terror (GWOT) to the kinder/gentler Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO). Don’t be so Bush-era; words matter!

Second, Obama has made drone-based assassinations the foundation of the OCO (not that I have a problem with that, but I’d expect the New York Times to…unless the President/Sun King is a Democrat).

Finally, Jimmy Carter would have taken that OBL gamble. Even heartbeat-away Joe Biden, regardless of the disconcerting stream-of-consciousness gibberish that comes out of his mouth, would have made that bet. Yes, I’d offer Dennis Kucinich would have done the same thing Obama did. Please, Roger: get a grip. Your denial is showing and from one human being to another, it’s embarrassing.

The summary? The intellectual dishonesty and factual failings of the New York Times no longer threaten; instead, they amuse.

What does the Episcopal Church stand for?

The saying is “When you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

With the Episcopal Church the saying can be turned on its head: “When you fall for anything, you stand for nothing.” This holds true with many other liberal Christian denominations, that is, those practicing cultural Christianity (if that).

The anything liberal Christianity has fallen for is the list of usual issues of the liberal/progressive/secular/non-Biblical orthodoxy as well as the rejection of “almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition.”

Ross Douthat makes this point quite well and it is reflected in the collapse of “liberal” Christianity.

I’m thinking liberal Christianity is an oxymoron of the day candidate, kind of like moderate Democrat.

A benevolent weed wacker for the government garden

A benevolent weed wacker for the government garden

By ERIC CLUE and NICK HACKER

Since the days of Jesse Jackson (the elder, not the younger), we have become political prisoners of the alliterations we use, even when they are mightily misleading. Consider how our political powers talk about the economy. Last month President Obama praised immigrants as an “economic engine.” Mitt Romney says that tax cuts will “forever fuel” a recovery. Others like Joe Biden, the Administration’s leading intellectual, fear a “super scary stop” in job growth unless the nation keeps doing what it’s been doing.

But our many alliterations ignore the need for a benevolent weed wacker in “the marketplace.” We too often tend to think of markets as extremely efficient, of humans as routinely rational, of incentives as commonly clear, and of outcomes as approximately appropriate. From this a series of market-based total truths follows: regulation and taxes are rotten and terrible because they impede the market’s implicit weed wacking works. Government stimulus is wimpy, wasteful, and wishful.

Together, these compose the great gospel of the market mavens. However, according to the alliterations and mega-metaphors we’ve developed—along with our proprietary algorithms—there is simply no evidence for it. We say trickle-down economics has fatally failed. What has worked? The President’s great leveling efforts (often derisively called trickle-up poverty) which have made everything free for so many Americans: college, disability payments, health care, housing, transportation, food stamps, cable television and high speed internet, and unlimited unemployment.

The 2008 crash and the Great Recession prove irrefutably how inefficient and irrational markets really are. And there is absolutely no evidence in the heart of any properly indoctrinated liberal economist that government interference could have possibly contributed to such happenings. None.

What we require now is a friendlier framework for thoughtfully thinking and tactfully talking about a new economy, grounded in modern understandings of how we want things to work. Economies (as social scientists and even liberal arts majors understand) aren’t super simple, largely linear and perfectly predictable, but complex, nonlinear and ecosystemic. An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden as shown by the mixed metaphors and subtle settled science of the documentary film Being There. The economy can be fruitful if well tended, but it will be overrun by obnoxious weeds if not.

So what is needed? A new framework, which we call Gardenbrain. With Gardenbrain, markets can become both efficient and effective if managed by government gardeners armed with benevolent weed wacking policies. Where Marketbrain—the idea that the marketplace actually works—posits that individual effort and initiative should be honored, Gardenbrain recognizes that we’re all better off when none of us are better off. Where Marketbrain treats inequality as the predictable result of unequally distributed talent and work ethic, Gardenbrain reveals that sophomoric subsidies and crony capitalism can instead help create a self-licking ice cream cone.

Gardenbrain challenges any non-liberal policy. And gardens are lovely and delicious while markets are ugly and malicious.

Consider regulation. Under the prevailing Marketbrain assumption, regulation is an invasive interruption of wealth creation in a largely self-correcting economic system. But the Gardenbrain metaphor, backed by our insightful ideology, allows us to instead assert an economy cannot self-correct any more than a garden can self-tend. And regulation — the creation of government standards to raise the government-determined quality of life — is God’s work.

Is it possible to garden clumsily and ineffectively? In a word, no (excluding mismanaged economies like East Germany and the former Soviet Union). Wise regulation is how humbly humanistic societies turn a dangerous jungle of “freedom” into a prosperous government garden. According to our algorithms, this explains why wherever one finds a highly-regulated economy one also finds a large and powerful government Leviathan. And where regulation is lessened, we find widespread freedom which can be a precursor to anarchy.

Or take taxes. Under the efficient-market hypothesis, taxes are an extraction of resources from the market. Taxes are not just separate from economic activity, but holistically hostile to it. Yet if this was an accurate reflection of our self-selected reality, then given our low and lax tax rates we should be wallowing in work. (Full disclosure: our algorithms have filtered outliers that don’t confirm our hypothesis, such as the current European economic situation.)

Gardenbrain, in contrast, says taxes are the foundational fertilizer which allows us to sustain the government garden. A well-designed tax system — in which the rich (those households making anything close to $200K/year) contribute and the poor (those much-needed special interest groups and voting blocs) benefit — ensures that wealth is properly “spread around” in order to foster fairness and satisfy standards. Reducing taxes on so-called “job creators” is fantastical folly. Jobs, we now know, are the consequence of a feedback loop between government, the people, and demand—as best managed by a government controlled economy—which truly creates jobs. Good growth doesn’t trickle down; it emerges organically from the government out.

Lastly, consider spending. The word spending means literally “to use up or extinguish value,” and most Americans believe that’s exactly what government does with their tax dollars. But government spending is not a simple single-step transaction that destroys dollars as an engine burns evil and dangerous fossil fuels; instead it’s an investment that circulates the government’s money. To invest tax dollars on education, green energy, the children, clean air and water, undocumented workers, free healthcare, and the likes is to carefully circulate natural nutrients through the grand garden of government.

Humans, we existentialists say, emerged from the primordial ooze and know there is no enduring truth. Perhaps that is why we have long had a poor understanding of the relative truth needed to grow government gardens. We need to elect the right gardeners (our benevolent weed wacking and redistributional elites), have them secure the soil (through, for example, the whenever-required application of eminent domain), and then depend on their goodness and wisdom (to properly cast the seeds of investment). Of course, they’ll also fertilize, water and wack the weeds for us. Lastly, our good government gardeners must also input algorithm changes, add useful alliterations, allegories, and metaphors, and when needed, re-define language in order to create the ideological story the people should hear. When the marketplace of ideas is finally eliminated by our elites, the fine and fruitful government garden will grow greatly.

Eric Clue and Nick Hacker are the authors of “The Government Gardens of Goodness: A Story We Made Up on Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government.”

(Note: if you must, read the original here.)

Mental health care in America

Institutionalized mental health care has collapsed through the years.

…across the country, the number of psychiatric beds has shrunk dramatically in recent decades.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s study pegged the decline at nearly 90 percent — from one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans in the 1950’s to one bed for every 3-thousand today…

This decline may help explain why so many from the New York Times op-ed writers (Charles Blows, Tom Frymom, Paul Rugrat, et al) are still roaming the street. That and subsidies.

Is Jimmy Carter ever right about anything?

Is Jimmy Carter, the current holder of the title America’s worst living ex-president, ever right about anything?

No. He’s not.

From Mr. Peanut’s article in the New York Times:

THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

Wrong again, Jimmy. The Obama Administration is abandoning this role.

And if human rights are as articulated in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the Administration already has the abandoning process underway domestically.

Oxymoron of the day: political science

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are known by the educational acronym STEM. Rocket science, for example, would be considered a STEM discipline.

Political science, while it may sometimes draw on mathematics and statistical analysis, is not a STEM discipline. In fact, political science is an oxymoron.

Finding an acorn on the topic of political “science” is political “scientist” Jacqueline Stevens writing for the New York Times:

Political scientists are defensive these days because in May the House passed an amendment to a bill eliminating National Science Foundation grants for political scientists. Soon the Senate may vote on similar legislation.

More acorns are found.

It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money.

And even still more acorns are found.

Many of today’s peer-reviewed studies offer trivial confirmations of the obvious and policy documents filled with egregious, dangerous errors.

Her solution to the non-science of political science? Comically, it’s this: change the way the grants are done.

To shield research from disciplinary biases of the moment, the government should finance scholars through a lottery: anyone with a political science Ph.D. and a defensible budget could apply for grants at different financing levels. And of course government needs to finance graduate student studies and thorough demographic, political and economic data collection.

Hey, you find some (acorns), you fail to find some.

We salute you, oxymoron of the day, where you can proudly take your place with other previous winners (public servant, green jobs, Obama economy, Homeland Security, Presidential wisdom, government investment, blue state success, Senate Ethics Committee, Democrat elites, and more) on a long list.

Only in the New York Times

The David Segal article is entitled Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay.

The crux of the article is that Apple derives other-worldly value from its workers. And that’s not shocking for what amounts in many ways to a group of true believer/groupie-employees.

What’s funny—well, to me—is this assessment:

“In the service sector, companies provide a little bit of training and hope their employees leave after a few years,” says Arne L. Kalleberg, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

What’s so funny about that, you ask? The fact this is a business article and the Times uses a quote from a college sociologist.

And what’s the main thing Apple seems to offer its workers and users? A (misplaced and even bizarre) sense of community/belonging. Not quite Harvey Updyke, but not too far removed.

‘Our quasi-heterosexual, not-quite, Jimmy Carter’

By CHARLES BLOWS

We liberals knew this day would come.

The New York Chime-Ins reported on Thursday that a Republican “super mega mondo PAC” was mulling a plan to resurrect Barry Obama’s spiritual chimichanga, Rev. Jeremiah B.A. Bulfraugh, as a WMD against the president.

The proposal said it would do what John McCain, whom it labels “a white-haired, malignant melanoma, Bob Dole look-alike” (Yowsah!), would not do in 2008.

It called for using Jeremiah Bulfraugh to “increase the dis-ease” and to “inflame the brain” among independents using the episode “that be never properly exploited.” How I love the use of sinister ebonics, especially if it detracts from Obamanomics.

But there was one description of the president that truly seized me:

“Obama, a quasi-heterosexual black Jimmy Carter, is a hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal, mega-politician with glimmer.”

For non-Republicans, this sentence is deliciously delicious, simultaneously sadly accurate, and non-incendiary — the perfect anti-Barry Oh! fodder.

Let’s dissect it, shall we? Scalpel!

First, there is the phrase ‘quasi-heterosexual.’ This phrase is usually defined as a man keenly interested in grooming his poodle. But despite the definition, the term isn’t all about sexuality. In its most true sense, it’s about President Obama wearing mom jeans — as he told the “Today Show” in 2009, “I don’t need a baggy crotch” — which is far more quasi-heterosexual than Mitt Romney of the big hair, traffic-cone epidermis, and Gap skinny jeans with baggy crotch.

But ‘quasi-heterosexual’ is rarely appropriately applied. On the contrary, it’s often delivered with a snicker to question real sexuality and to re-feminize my President, and feminists writ large. In a politically incorrect culture, “quasi-heterosexual” has become the non-bigot’s anti-Obama taunt.

Wait, did I get that right?

I guess it doesn’t matter, because while Obama’s bonfire of the insanities may be true, the part that rings even truer is the President’s desire for a legacy, no matter how inept his legacy may be.

As historian Dorcas ‘Weezey’ Noughgoodwin wrote in her book “Dealing with Rivals: The Political Un-Genius of Jimmy Carter” about his darkest era:

“Even in this moment of despair, the strength of Jimmy Carter was his weakness to engrave his name in television history for any reason, idiot, or if need be, sub-idiot. So like the ancient geeks, Jimmy Carter and those who fixed old computers, Obama’s ‘ideas of a person’s worth’ are tied to the way others, both contemporaries and future generations, perceive him.”

No president, regardless of ineptness, can be knocked for such a Jimmy Carter-like ambition. Or for achieving Carter’s non-success.

Now to the “hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal” accusation: somewhat false, but not very much. Yes, Obama is a non-pragmatic, left-leaning ideologue, much to the consternation of both even more devout leftists and normal Americans. But the media will fail to acknowledge this, so efforts to paint him as an extremist will never work.

And remember, Romney used to be a pragmatic, right-leaning centrist until he became a racist, which he was at birth.

So while Obama may have a “bit of the glimmer of the ‘American-past’ in him,” that is, he’ll modify his positions for expediency, Romney isn’t nearly as bad.

Wait, am I making a case against Obama or for Romney? I’m all confused.

I suppose it doesn’t matter much if you’re a dedicated reader.

Then there is my favorite phrase: “elitist.” It’s obvious to even me that Obama is hardly smart even if he’s a capable reader. But still, stupid to Barry Oh! is like lack of integrity is to Al Gore, so what’s the big deal? So maybe elitism is perhaps the most asinine charge to level against Obama considering he is the non-epitome of the phrase per its original intention.

And before I forget, it gets worse: any anti-Obama proposal is racially charged, no matter what. So anyone who criticizes my President does racial damage to America while protecting Republicans and white Hispanics.

As evidence, on Thursday, Joe Ricketts, the Warren Buffett-wannabe billionaire who had considered bankrolling one of the thousands of anti-Obama proposals, distanced himself from the anti-Obama business and later, Romney repudiated it.

There is good reason for this not very vigorous backpedaling: getting too nasty could be a net negative for Romney. After all, it’s obvious to anyone with a pulse Obama has been nasty enough to American already.

As a Fox News poll this week found, Obama, when limited to the question “Do you think the President might saved an injured puppy?” has his smallest non-large lead over Romney, minus seven points, since June 2004. According to Fox, it was partly because of the flight of “grossed-out independents” from Obama. And, as they see it:

“A nasty race suits Romney just fine; he can win nasty or he can win as-is. If the independents, especially moderate independents, continue to be disgusted with Obama’s ineptness, they may finally conclude the guy is a total idiot and isn’t worth preserving.”

So will Romney win the independent vote because Obama is an idiot? That’s a big non-no.

I think.

Fox concludes, “if either the economy or foreign policy in November look like it has for the last three years, Obama will lose in a rout.”

And should we tag quasi-heterosexual Barry with the fail? If I’m being honest, I’ll fall back on a Marv Albert quote:“Yess!!”

Hey, it could be worse. Obama could be white.

(Note: if you must, read the original here.)

Tom Friedman must get paid by the word. Why?

frymomTom Friedman, sometimes known at this site as Tom Frymom, has a well deserved reputation for being unreadable, using idiotic and pointless juxtapositions, dropping myriad non sequiturs, and for pushing the same pap relentlessly.

And while we’re at it, let’s just say Friedman’s ability to make a living as a “public intellectual” is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Yet as Thomas Sowell points out, there are such things as bad—really bad—public intellectuals, just as there are really bad policemen, soldiers, and doctors. Indeed.

It’s a good life if you’re Tom, but the brain-stumper is two fold: 1) who hired the guy in the first place (and why) and 2) how does he manage to still earn a living by only providing high school-level observations (and junior high-level writing)? I suppose momentum, in part, explains the second, but I have no idea about the first. Is it possible Friedman was once astute and capable and has since devolved?

As a satirist, Friedman’s work presents a special sort of challenge: it’s simply so awful that it’s self-parodying to begin with. While Friedman’s self-parodying is no doubt unintentional, try to parody something that’s already self-parodying. It’s tough. I mean you write an article in the voice of Tom Friedman and think you’ve nailed it only to find your parody effort is actually less stupid, vacuous, and trite than an original Friedman column. Or book.

Below is a recent lead from Friedman. If you’ve ever read the guy, you quickly realize this is the same formulistic goo, perhaps facilitated through the magic of cut and paste or at least a template, that so many of his columns are:

I had to catch a train in Washington last week. The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you’d have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you’ve gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven’t. Our country needs a renewal.

While it’s true Friedman is a cartoonish foot-soldier for progressive causes (less democracy, reduced rule of law, public transportation, green energy, government-induced market distortions, higher taxes, etc.), could a conservative writer as bad as the Frymom make a living in anything other than entry-level work in the housekeeping, lawn service, or fast-food industries?

This leads to a perhaps hopeful conclusion: based on merit, there should be plenty of work for conservative voices in the the arena of ideas.

Shocker: New York Times Hates Alabama

The highly cocooned editors at the New York Times are mad at Alabama for their law on illegal immigration.

The Times describe the law in question, H.B. 56, as “cruel, destructive and embarrassing.” The muy cocooned go on to say:

It still seeks to use police as immigration agents, criminalize acts of charity toward undocumented immigrants and nullify contracts the undocumented sign. And it retreats not an inch from its sponsors’ goal of solving Alabama’s problems through mass immigrant expulsion.

Well. If the feds won’t enforce federal immigration laws, is it any wonder that states will take action on their own?

Chances are the editors of the Times haven’t thought any of this through. Do they really approve of the idea of cheating unemployed Americans (some of whom may be minorities, women, the LGBT community, and the poor) by providing the benefits of citizenship to the “undocumented” ? There is a fundamental issue of the law, writ large, and how it impacts U.S. citizens. Even highly-cocooned liberals will many times agree—in principle—that  living in a nation with a citizenry of generally law-observing folks is a good thing.

Here’s what Wikipedia offers about H.B. 65:

The Alabama law requires that if police have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an immigrant unlawfully present in the United States, in the midst of any legal stop, detention or arrest, to make a similarly reasonable attempt to determine that person’s legal status. An exemption is provided if such action would hinder an official investigation of some kind.[2]

The law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving any public benefits at either the state or local level. It bars illegal immigrants from attending publicly-owned colleges or universities [currently blocked[7]]. At the high, middle, and elementary public school levels, the law requires that school officials ascertain whether students are illegal immigrants. Attendance is not prohibited for such students; school districts are mandated to submit annual tallies on the suspected number of illegal immigrants when making report to state education officials.[8][2]

The law prohibits the transporting or harboring of illegal immigrants [currently blocked[7]]. It prohibits landlords from renting property to illegal immigrants. It forbids employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants for any job within Alabama. Moreover, it considers as a discriminatory practice any action to refuse to employ or remove a legal resident of the state when an illegal one is already employed [currently blocked[7]]. The law requires large and small businesses to validate the immigration status of employees using the US E-Verify program. The law prohibits illegal immigrants from applying for work.[currently blocked[7]][2]

The production of false identification documents is considered a crime. Contracts formed in which one party is an illegal immigrant and the other has direct knowledge of that are deemed null and void. The law also requires voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering.[2]

Methinks the phrase of emphasis in the above is this: illegal immigrants. When we have the New Deli Times replace the New York Times en toto, perhaps the editors will bark up a different tree.

Print the Legend

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Print the legend is sometimes a problem in the media: Jayson Blair. Stephen Glass. Dan Rather. Janet Cooke. Walter Duranty. Monkey fishing. The Apple Factory. And, of course, innumerable others.

And now we have the Frank Bruni story Rethinking His Religion. Yes, that Frank Bruni, former bulimic boy turned food critic turned op-ed writer.

While the cement hasn’t dried on Bruni’s Rethinking His Religion column yet, it may be getting close. Ready for Fake but true, Part Deux?

Bruni’s story involves a classmate who was everything Bruni wasn’t: straight, Southern, conservative, and religious. Then, the man became a doctor and abortion-provider and lost his faith, approximately in that order.

He [the doctor] shared a story about one of the loudest abortion foes he ever encountered, a woman who stood year in and year out on a ladder, so that her head would be above other protesters’ as she shouted “murderer” at him and other doctors and “whore” at every woman who walked into the clinic.

One day she was missing. “I thought, ‘I hope she’s O.K.,’ ” he recalled. He walked into an examining room to find her there. She needed an abortion and had come to him because, she explained, he was a familiar face. After the procedure, she assured him she wasn’t like all those other women: loose, unprincipled.

She told him: “I don’t have the money for a baby right now. And my relationship isn’t where it should be.”

“Nothing like life,” he responded, “to teach you a little more.”

A week later, she was back on her ladder.

The veracity of Bruni’s column has been challenged by many for a variety of reasons including the non-availability of the doctor, the non-confirmation of others, and the impossible to believe narrative. Kinda like Nick Nolte tale as Four Leaf Tayback in Tropic Thunder.

Plus, it sounds like a liberal urban legend,

Gawker, a site not known for sympathy with religious conservatives, was perhaps hardest on Bruni. John Cook savaged the anecdote of a pro-life protester’s abortion – citing eight published instances of nearly identical stories, and calling it “a hoary old tale that pops up on the internet with such frequency that – if I didn’t know better – I’d suspect Bruni was laundering a transparently false urban myth.”

Well, that explains it: print the legend.

Why I Hate the Supreme Court: the Secret Thoughts of Maureen Dowd

The deepest, darkest, innermost secret thoughts of intrepid columnist and aging snark-queen Maureen Dowd.

Why did President Obama dare to bash and threaten the Supreme Court?

Has our former community organizer, argument for affirmative action, and constitutional law instructor no respect for our venerable system of checks and balances?

Nah. He’s ignorant. We all know that. We’ve known it for years. And we don’t care. What we do care about is his politics.

So the big issue is not how the President managed to pass the bar—assuming he did; after all, all the records are still sealed—but rather, regardless of his ignorance, why shouldn’t he bash the court? What have they done for him, hmm?

This despicable and conservative court is hermetically sealed in judicial la-la land, protected by their white pillars and layers of homeland security. From this sealed location, where too few in the liberal media know what they really do, why they do it, or how to influence them, they are well on their way to becoming the most divisive court in history. How so? Duh: they’re going to roll-back Obamacare.

While I long ago squandered even the semi-illusion that I am an unbiased, objective journalist, the Supreme Court is supposed to be the honest guardian of the Constitution. Instead, it’s run by law thugs dressed in black robes (and if Robert Byrd were still alive and were a member of the court, I’ll grant there would also be one white robe).

But all the fancy-pants diplomas and supposed credentials of the conservative majority cannot disguise the fact that its reasoning on the most important decisions affecting Americans seems shaped more by a political handbook than a legal brief.

Still, Barry should never have waded into the health care thicket back when the economy was teetering. Instead, his failure to bother explaining the plan was both bizarre and self-destructive, but that’s all water over the dam now. And certainly he needs a more persuasive legal case. But the Administration’s idiocy still doesn’t exempt the court, which is the burr in my thong.

It was stunning to hear Justice Scalia talking like a Senate whipper-snapper during oral arguments last week on the constitutionality of the health care law (I guess ignore my earlier comment that the court is hermetically sealed). And, sounding like a Republican opposition-research brown shirt, he dropped politically charged terms like “Cornhusker Kickback,” referring to a sweetheart deal that was only a part of the run-up to the law. Doesn’t anyone understand only the President is allowed to use politically charged terms? (Ezra Klein even told me it’s in the oath of office.)

If Scalia is so brilliant, why is he drawing a parallel between buying health care and buying broccoli? Couldn’t he make a sophisticated point about a cable TV monosopy or monopoly or whatever it is?

The justices want to be above it all, beyond reproach or criticism. But why should they be when it too many of them were appointed by conservative drek?

And I’m still smarting from 2000, when the court’s Republican majority ignored the will of the people and instead ruled with the law. The result? We missed out on having President Gore—even if he is a sex poodle—and instead had to suffer from the George W. Bush induced Hurricane Katrina and all that other stuff as well. You know: war, the economy, massive unemployment and all that.

Regarding the 2000 election case, Anthony Lewis, a man I’m willing to quote when he helps my cause, wrote, “Not making Gore president, with such disregard for the media, invites us to treat the court’s aura of reason as an illusion.”

The 2010 House takeover by Republicans—voters are such idiots unless they vote Democrat—have shown what a fiasco the Citizens United decision is, with self-interested sugar daddies and wealthy cronies overwhelming the traditional Democrat process of vote early and vote often. The only ones who really should have a voice are the media, with our own self-interested (and enlightened) sugar daddies and our own wealthy (and enlightened) cronies. Otherwise, it’s too close to being fair.

On Monday, the court astoundingly ruled — 5 Republican appointees to 4 Democratic appointees — to give police carte blanche on strip-searches, even for minor offenses such as sexual assault by a former president from Arkansas (you know who you are), driving while blind, or violating federal anti-bazooka laws. Justice Stephen Breyer’s ice cream warning that wholesale strip-searches were “a serious downer for former presidents from Arkansas” fell on deaf ears. So much for the conservatives’ obsession with their so-called “liberty.” (Yes, those are sneer quotes.)

The Supreme Court mirrors the setup on Fox News: yes, there are liberals who make arguments, but they appear to be complete idiots, incapable of making sense, failing to draw on President Obama’s transcripted speeches or DNC talking points, and are far too often relegated to the background.

Just as in Teddy Kennedy’s Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, the liberals on the court focus on what feels good (or bad) and the conservatives focus on the constitution. John Roberts Jr.’s benign beige facade is deceiving; he’s a crimson tide partisan, more cloaked than the ideologically rigid and often venomous Scalia (who reminds me of the Emperor in Star Wars).

Just as Scalia voted to bypass that little thing called the media’s mob power and crown W. president, so he expressed phooey-ennui at the idea that, even if parts of the health care law are struck down, some provisions could be saved: “You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?” he asked, adding: “Are you stupid?”

Well I’ve been accused of being stupid and it hurts.

Inexplicably mute 20 years after he lied his way onto the court, Clarence Thomas, a black man I despise, proving I’m not ideologically rigid, didn’t ask a single question during oral arguments for one of the biggest cases in the court’s history. The fact he could sit there and listen is simply beyond my credulity.

When the Supreme Court building across from the Capitol opened in 1935, the architect, Cass Gilbert, played up the pomp, wanting to reflect the court’s role as the national ideal of justice.

With conservatives on that court trying to block F.D.R., and with Roosevelt prepared to make up his version of the Constitution as he went, the New Yorker columnist Howard Brubaker noted that the new citadel had “fine big windows to throw the New Deal out of.”

Now conservative justices may throw Obama’s hard-won and above-the-law law out of those fine big windows.

Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and the insufferable Samuel Alito were nurtured in the conservative Federalist Society, which asserts that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.” But it isn’t fair to overturn a major law passed by Congress in the middle of an election. The majority’s political motives seem as dark as my own soul and that’s pretty dark.

Finally, if I’ve made my word count, I’m off to lunch. Otherwise, I’ll stick in a paragraph about Dick Cheney.

(If you must, read the original here.)

Media, Race Hustlers Seek To Fan The Flames of Hate

It’s interesting how the media, specifically the New York Times, can twist itself into knots as it regards race and the Trayvon Martin case (emphasis added):

Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic, told the police that he shot Trayvon in self-defense after an altercation.

Would the Times describe President Obama as a white black? Or a white African-American? No, I don’t think so, either.

How about a black citizen of France? An African-Franco?

And what’s up with the race hustlers and bomb-throwers, to include Spike Lee? Are any of them interested in making things better, or is it more about blaming others and seeking victimhood? (I think I know the answer).

The definitive take is at National Review.

We need love and not hate.

Real Men and Holy Underwear

By CHARLES M. BLOWS

Twitter almost claims me as another casualty.

This week, it was announced I would be suspended from my role as the Jayson Blair Chair for Journalistic Integrity at the New York Times for an innocuous Twitter message I composed and released. The tweet in question was directed towards Mormon presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. In a moment of disgust, I told Mr. Romney to “Stick that in your magic underwear.”

That “magic underwear” reference was my attempt to mock Romney’s religion, nothing more and nothing less. It was a subtle and nuanced thought, reflective of my multi-hued positions on religions. For example: would I mock a Hindu? Never. A Sikh? Perish the thought. A Muslim. Of course not; I might get in trouble for that. A Jew? Only if they live in Israel. An evangelical Christian? Absolutely. A Catholic? Game on. A Mormon? With pleasure.

See how subtle and nuanced I am?

I’ve since been asked how I would mock — or not mock — some of the other human categorizations. Anyone at Fox, white people who aren’t liberals, or blacks who don’t vote Democrat? Mock. Homosexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, WNBA fans, and minorities (except Asians and white South Africans)? Don’t mock. Have I told you how subtle and nuanced I am?

My first Twitter message, tweeted during the Super Bowl, read: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about Mitt Romney’s underwear, smack the ish out of him!” Another said: “Who was that New England ‘Patriot’ called Mitt Romney who’s probably wearing hot pink holy underwear? He needs to be smacked down by Captain Insano.” Well, I am Captain Insano and I show no mercy.

Intolerant people all across American said my messages advocated “inherently stupid thoughts,” “rudeness” and “classless hypocrisy” and asked the New York Times to take action against me. Of course these people’s complaints are groundless and reflect discrimination, if not outright racism. In closed meetings, my chain of command told me they viewed my messages as “idiotic, regrettable, childish, and offensive” but ultimately decided to take no action other than to suspend me from my position as the Blair Chair, with pay, for the 24-hour period after I leave the Times (whenever that may be). That was a wise decision and all I needed to hear. Therefore, Captain Underpants, you will receive no apology from Captain Insano.

There is vigorous debate online about what I meant by the attack on Romney’s religion, about America’s reaction, and about the New York Times policy on who gets suspended or fired and for what kinds of statements.

I have signaled, via Twitter, that I don’t plan to meet with anyone nor will I discuss the matter with the exception of defending my freedom to fulfill my true potential as a leftist clown. The things I say will therefore continue to be trite, childish, vindictive, unenlightened, hypocritical, and — even at no cost to the reader — a poor entertainment value.

But I don’t want to let this incident pass without using it as a “teachable moment” for us all about the way in which we define journalism and progressive thinking. At the very least, my comments, no matter how inflammatory, will probably continue to be largely ignored. On top of that, and based on the writings of my comrades, Tom Frymom, Moronica Dowd, and especially Paul Rugrat, I fit in.

You see, I follow myself on Twitter, so I know that I like to joke and tease. I even make jokes with myself. So I can believe that, in my mind, I have thought that these magic underwear comments were just hateful jokes mocking Romney’s religion, which given my great wit, was funny. After all, I’m a funny guy.

Now out there in the real world — where mocking male and female homosexuals, women, and minorities is all too real — a similar “joke” to the one I made (actually, it would then be an insult) would hold no humor. It’s an important lesson, but one we can all learn: hypocrisy only applies to the right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether I broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with my unconscious party guests in the 1980s – I did. But you can’t hold the whole journalistic profession responsible for the reactions of one sick individual (well, a few… actually, maybe many sick individuals). For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole democratic process? And if the whole democratic process is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our economic system in general? I put it to you, readers, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’ll sit and listen all day if you’re willing to badmouth the United States of America.

Words, even my words, have power. And power recklessly exerted from my throne at the New York Times has consequences. Yes, I’m about being politically correct, but I’m also insensitive to the plight of those being mocked, unless they are in the protected classes. Why can’t I ask the people taking the punches to also take my innocent and often very witty jokes?

Let’s show the whole of mankind that we can mock any disfavored group in any way we want, especially those who wear magic underwear.

Joe Nocera Gets It Right

Joe Nocera writes on the anniversary of a spectacle that will live in infamy, the Borkification of American politics. Nocera crushes the topic so accurately, I’m surprised the editors let his column run.

The supreme irony is that Ted Kennedy was the lead water boy for the Bork haters, a classic non-example of ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

Democrats, knowing that their judiciary-enabled agenda would be at much greater risk with an originalist like Bork on the Court, set out to destroy him.

In the traditional media (versus in the Senate), the Obama 2008 campaign was largely de-borked by the errand boys and grocery clerks, but for that candidate only. The borking Obama (as well as his running mate, and cabinet nominees) was saved from was then (and still has) been applied against other threats to the status quo, e.g., Sarah Palin.