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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reality Interrupt

The movement was founded on a falsehood. Scapegoating the police ignores the true threats to the urban poor.
By Jason L. Riley, WSJ Opinion, Sept. 8, 2015 

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

The great lie of the summer has been the Black Lives Matter movement. It was founded on one falsehood—that a  Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot a black suspect who was trying to surrender—and it is perpetuated by another: that trigger-happy cops are filling our morgues with young black men.

The reality is that  Michael Brown is dead because he robbed a convenience store, assaulted a uniformed officer and then made a move for the officer’s gun. The reality is that a cop is six times more likely to be killed by someone black than the reverse. The reality is that the Michael Browns are a much bigger threat to black lives than are the police. “Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11,” wrote former New York City police detective  Edward Conlon in a Journal essay on Saturday. “I don’t understand how a movement called ‘Black Lives Matter’ can ignore the leading cause of death among young black men in the U.S., which is homicide by their peers.”

Actually, it’s not hard to understand at all, once you realize that this movement is not about the fate of blacks per se but about scapegoating the police in particular, and white America in general, for antisocial ghetto behavior. It’s about holding whites to a higher standard than the young black men in these neighborhoods hold each other to. Ultimately, it’s a political movement, the inevitable extension of a racial and ethnic spoils system that helps Democrats get elected. The Black Lives Matter narrative may be demonstrably false, but it’s also politically expedient.

It’s the black poor—the primary victims of violent crimes and thus the people most in need of effective policing—who must live with the effects of these falsehoods. As the Black Lives Matter movement has spread, murder rates have climbed in cities across the country, from New Orleans to Baltimore to St. Louis and Chicago. The Washington, D.C., homicide rate is 43% higher than it was a year ago. By the end of August, Milwaukee and New Haven, Conn., both had already seen more murders than in all of 2014.

Publicly, law-enforcement officials have been reluctant to link the movement’s antipolice rhetoric to the spike in violent crime. Privately, they have been echoing South Carolina Gov.  Nikki Haley, who said in a speech last week that the movement was harming the very people whose interests it claims to represent. “Most of the people who now live in terror because local police are too intimidated to do their jobs are black,” the governor said. “Black lives do matter, and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.”

Over a three-day stretch last week, the New York Times ran two heart-wrenching stories about black mothers of murdered children.  Tamiko Holmes, a Milwaukee native, has seen two of her five children shot dead this year and a third wounded by gunfire.  Sharon Plummer of Brooklyn lost a 16-year-old son on Aug. 30. He was gunned down while standing on a street corner two blocks away from where his 17-year-old brother was shot dead three years earlier. After the older child’s death, Ms. Plummer moved to a safer community, but the younger son repeatedly returned to the old neighborhood to hang out with friends. She didn’t move to escape predatory cops, which is what the Black Lives Matter activists would have us believe. Rather, she moved to protect her children from their predatory peers.

Asked recently about the increase in violent crime, New York City Police Commissioner  William Bratton said what precious few public officials and commentators have been willing to say. He stated the obvious. “We have, unfortunately, a very large population of many young people who have grown up in an environment in which the . . . traditional norms and values are not there,” Mr. Bratton told MSNBC. The commissioner added that  Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report warning that the disintegration of the black family could lead to other social ills had proved prescient. “He was right on the money,” Mr. Bratton said, “the disintegration of family, the disintegration of values. There is something going on in our society and our inner cities.”

But the left has no interest in discussing ghetto pathology. Summer movies like “Straight Outta Compton” are too busy glorifying it, and summer books like  Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” are too busy intellectualizing it. The Black Lives Matter crowd has become an appendage of the civil-rights industry, which uses the black underclass to push an agenda that invariably leaves the supposed beneficiaries worse off.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reactions, Policies & Political Bedfellows

The Unfortunate Racial Divide

The Wages of Racial Discord

The president will leave office with race relations at their lowest ebb in decades. His politics of 

By Jason L. Riley, WSJ Opinion, 8/4/15
One great irony of the current presidency is that Barack Obama won the support of so many seasoned political journalists—not to mention otherwise-skeptical voters—who thought that a black president would improve racial unity. David Remnick of the New Yorker called him “the bridge.” Time magazine’s Joe Klein assured readers that Mr. Obama, who “transcends the racial divide so effortlessly,” would help America turn the page on race. But six years in, that hasn’t happened.

According to a CBS News/New York Times poll in July, nearly 60% of Americans, including large majorities of both blacks and whites, say race relations “are generally bad.” Almost 40% say they are getting worse. Other surveys back those findings. CNN pollsters reported in March that the share of people who think race relations have improved on Mr. Obama’s watch had fallen to 15% this year from 32% in 2009, while the share who think relations have worsened grew to 39% from 6%. A Gallup survey in January reported that 62% of respondents are “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the state of race relations in the country, versus 40% in 2008.

The press has dutifully reported this racial retrogression but is reluctant to lay any blame on Mr. Obama. The president obviously isn’t responsible for the racially charged incidents that have occurred on his watch, from Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore, to Charleston, S.C. Still, he ought to be held accountable for the racial impact of his reactions, his polices and his political bedfellows.

Mr. Obama campaigned as a racial conciliator, someone who believed, as he said in a speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, that “there is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There’s the United States of America.”
But that is not how he has governed. As president, he has repeatedly—and often prematurely—taken sides in local police matters involving black suspects.

He has supported college-admissions policies that favor black applicants over their white and Asian peers. He has dispatched his attorney general to accuse advocates of voter ID laws of trying to disenfranchise blacks and Hispanics. He has pressured wealthy suburbs to change zoning laws and build low-income housing so that he can shoehorn minorities into neighborhoods where they otherwise can’t afford to live. He has leaned on local school districts to discipline students differently based on their race and ethnicity rather than solely on their misbehavior. He has appeared before activists at the NAACP to denounce the criminal-justice system as racially skewed.

When Mr. Obama first ran for president, he went to such lengths to distance himself from professional agitators such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson that “Saturday Night Live” ran a cartoon parody that featured then-Sen. Obama sending Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson off to places like Botswana and Paraguay so that they couldn’t interfere with the campaign.

These days, Mr. Obama has the reverend on speed dial. Mr. Sharpton is a frequent White House visitor and the president’s point man on civil-rights issues. Given that the president is keeping company with someone who monetizes racial conflict for a living, is it any wonder that so many people believe race relations have regressed?

In the CBS News/Times poll, 77% of respondents said that race relations in their own community were generally good, but only 37% said they were good nationwide. One explanation for the disparity could be that the president’s emphasis on race in general and racial conflict in particular has made things seem worse than they really are. Presidents—especially the ones who can count on mostly favorable mainstream-media coverage—have the ability to control the narrative. And racial strife, or the perception of it, works to the political advantage of Mr. Obama and the political left.

The Black Lives Matter movement may be built on a falsehood—that cops shooting blacks is somehow a bigger problem than blacks shooting each other—but the falsehood will be indulged by politicians like Mr. Obama because the last thing Democrats want is for black people to stop seeing themselves as helpless victims of systemic racism.

“A central problem—perhaps the central problem—in improving the relationship between white and black Americans is the difference in racial crime rates,” observed the late political scientist James Q. Wilson. “The high black crime rate cannot be wished away by talk of racism, overarresting, excessive punishment, or whites having allegedly drugged or armed blacks.”

Race relations under Mr. Obama haven’t soured by accident, and so long as a wisher-in-chief occupies the Oval Office, there is little chance of improvement. Community organizers specialize in creating social divisions, not bridging them. So do presidents who profit politically from racial anxiety. America has learned these lessons the hard way.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).


Monday, June 1, 2015

Party Like It's 1999

California Party Time
Sacramento spends its tax revenue gusher like there’s no tomorrow.

WSJ Opinion, May 31, 2015

These are hard times for the blue-state governing model of high taxes and public unions—see Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland. But our friends on the left ignore these states and tout California as their real model, as Sacramento celebrates record tax revenue. So it’s worth noting that the Golden State may be repeating the fiscal mistakes it made before its last economic bust.

There’s no doubt the state government is on a high, with Governor Jerry Brown forecasting $6.7 billion in additional revenue beyond his January projections due to growth in capital gains and incomes among high earners. Over four years general fund revenues have risen by 40% to $117.3 billion as income-tax collections surged 55%.

This follows what has turned out to be one of the most fortuitously timed tax increases in history. Mr. Brown’s 2012 ballot measure retroactively raised taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 and increased the top rate to 13.3% from 10.3% for those making more than $1 million. The measure passed amid the Internet boom and stock market rise.

No one wants to mention, however, that the tax hike doubled down on the state’s top-heavy tax structure that produces huge revenue swings. The top 1% of taxpayers—those earning more than $525,000—paid over 50% of all California income taxes in 2012 while the bottom four quintiles earning less than $90,000 paid a mere 10%. The Golden State has lost middle-income jobs in manufacturing to other lower-taxing Western states, but it has assets like Silicon Valley that other blue states don’t.

The resulting revenue boom has politicians partying like it’s 1999, the height of the dot-com bubble. The boom has been especially sweet for teachers unions because under the state constitution schools are entitled to most of the haul. Over the past four years state spending on K-12 and community colleges has grown by 45% to $68 billion this year.

But now other liberal interest groups want to join the party. So Mr. Brown is proposing to extend Medicaid to illegal immigrants granted permanent residency by President Obama. California’s Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare has already added four million beneficiaries at a cost of $17 billion. National taxpayers are picking up $15.5 billion of the tab for now, but California’s share will grow after 2016.

Mr. Brown also wants to create another entitlement by inaugurating a state version of the earned-income tax credit for two million low-income Californians. That comes on top of next year’s increase in the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and $15 an hour by 2020 in Los Angeles.

Yet despite the government’s efforts to help the poor, California has the nation’s highest poverty rate at 23.4%. And nowhere in the U.S. save perhaps New York City is income inequality greater than San Francisco, which has been a hothouse for progressive policies such as a $15 minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave. All that income redistribution doesn’t seem to be the secret to equality.

Meantime, projected revenues from California’s cap-and-trade auctions have swelled by 150% in the last year to $2.2 billion. Mr. Brown wants to spend $400 million of that windfall on affordable housing; $350 million on low-carbon transportation (i.e., electric car subsidies that go mainly to the well off); $365 million on public transit and intercity rail; and $500 million on the L.A. to San Francisco bullet train that is already short of funding.
***
The danger is that this gusher of new spending will set up the state for another budget bust. Last November voters did approve a ballot referendum aimed at imposing some spending discipline, strengthening the porous rainy day fund. Under the new law’s formula, the state must spend $1.9 billion this year to pay down “debts and liabilities.”

But Mr. Brown has construed it broadly to include payments to schools and special funds that politicians had previously raided. He’d also create a new liability by proposing to seize $96 million from the rainy day fund to shore up University of California pensions. Yet Mr. Brown’s budget doesn’t even begin paying down the $191 billion unfunded liability for state worker and teacher retirement benefits.

At the end of 2015 the rainy day fund will have a meager $3.5 billion, and the Governor cautions that the “budget remains precariously balanced and faces the prospect of deficits in succeeding years.” Last year the state Legislative Analyst’s Office warned that a modest dip in income growth could trigger multibillion-dollar deficits due to built-in spending increases, particularly in education.


The paradox of Jerry Brown has always been that he’s smart enough to recognize the severity of the state’s fiscal problems, yet he can’t seem to restrain his prodigal legislature or even help himself. The revenue boom is making California’s economy and budget look better than they are. The reckoning will arrive when the next economic downturn does.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Advantage of Low Expectations

How the Clintons Get Away With It
The Clintons are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption.

By: Peggy Noonan, WSJ Opinion, May 7, 2015

I have read the Peter Schweizer book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.” It is something. Because it is heavily researched and reported and soberly analyzed, it is a highly effective takedown. Because its tone is modest—Mr. Schweitzer doesn’t pretend to more than he has, or take wild interpretive leaps—it is believable.

By the end I was certain of two things. A formal investigation, from Congress or the Justice Department, is needed to determine if Hillary Clinton’s State Department functioned, at least to some degree and in some cases, as pay-for-play operation and whether the Clinton Foundation has functioned, at least in part, as a kind of high-class philanthropic slush fund.

I wonder if any aspirant for the presidency except Hillary Clinton could survive such a book. I suspect she can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption. It’s not news anymore. They’re like . . . Bonnie and Clyde go on a spree, hold up a bunch of banks, it causes a sensation, there’s a trial, and they’re acquitted. They walk out of the courthouse, get in a car, rob a bank, get hauled in, complain they’re being picked on—“Why are you always following us?”—and again, not guilty. They rob the next bank and no one cares. “That’s just Bonnie and Clyde doing what Bonnie and Clyde do. No one else cares, why should I?”

Mr. Schweizer announces upfront that he cannot prove wrongdoing, only patterns of behavior. There is no memo that says, “To all staff: If we deal this week with any issues regarding Country A, I want you to know country A just gave my husband $750,000 for a speech, so give them what they want.” Even if Mrs. Clinton hadn’t destroyed her emails, no such memo would be found. (Though patterns, dates and dynamics might be discerned.)

Mr. Schweizer writes of “the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation . . . from foreign governments, corporations, and financiers.” It is illegal for foreign nationals to give to U.S. political campaigns, but foreign money, given as donations to the Clinton Foundation or speaking fees, comes in huge amounts: “No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office.” The speaking fees Bill commands are “enormous and unprecedented,” as high as $750,000 a speech. On occasion they have been paid by nations or entities that had “matters of importance sitting on Hillary’s desk” when she was at State.

From 2001 through 2012 Bill collected $105.5 million for speeches and raised hundreds of millions for the foundation. When she was nominated, Hillary said she saw no conflict. President Obama pressed for a memorandum of understanding in which the Clintons would agree to submit speeches to State’s ethics office, disclose the names of major donors to the foundation, and seek administration approval before accepting direct contributions to the foundation from foreign governments. The Clintons accepted the agreement and violated it “almost immediately.” Revealingly, they amassed wealth primarily by operating “at the fringes of the developed world.” Their “most lucrative transactions” did not involve countries like Germany and Britain, where modern ethical rules and procedures are in force, but emerging nations, where regulations are lax.

How did it work? “Bill flew around the world making speeches and burnishing his reputation as a global humanitarian and wise man. Very often on these trips he was accompanied by ‘close friends’ or associates who happened to have business interests pending in these countries.” Introductions were made, conversations had. “Meanwhile, bureaucratic or legislative obstacles were mysteriously cleared or approvals granted within the purview of his wife, the powerful senator or secretary of state.”

Mr. Schweizer tells a story with national-security implications. Kazakhstan has rich uranium deposits, coveted by those who’d make or sell nuclear reactors or bombs. In 2006 Bill Clinton meets publicly and privately with Kazakhstan’s dictator, an unsavory character in need of respectability. Bill brings along a friend, a Canadian mining tycoon named Frank Giustra. Mr. Giustra wanted some mines. Then the deal was held up. A Kazakh official later said Sen. Clinton became involved. Mr. Giustra got what he wanted.

Soon after, he gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million. A year later Mr. Giustra’s company merged with a South African concern called Uranium One. Shareholders later wrote millions of dollars in checks to the Clinton foundation. Mr. Giustra announced a commitment of $100 million to a joint venture, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative.

It doesn’t end there. When Hillary was secretary of state, Russia moved for a bigger piece of the world uranium market. The Russians wanted to acquire Uranium One, which had significant holdings in the U.S. That meant the acquisition would require federal approval. Many had reservations: Would Russian control of so much U.S. uranium be in America’s interests? The State Department was among the agencies that had to sign off. Money from interested parties rolled into the foundation. The deal was approved. The result? “Half of projected American uranium production” was “transferred to a private company controlled” by Russia, which soon owned it outright.

What would a man like Vladimir Putin think when he finds out he can work the U.S. system like this? He’d think it deeply decadent. He’d think it weak. Is that why he laughs when we lecture him on morals?

Mr. Schweizer offers a tough view of the Clinton Foundation itself. It is not a “traditional charity,” in that there is a problem “delineating where the Clinton political machines and moneymaking ventures end and where their charity begins.” The causes it promotes—preventing obesity, alleviating AIDS suffering—are worthy, and it does some good, but mostly it functions as a middleman. The foundation’s website shows the Clintons holding sick children in Africa, but unlike Doctors Without Borders and Samaritan’s Purse, the foundation does “little hands-on humanitarian work.” It employs longtime Clinton associates and aides, providing jobs “to those who served the Clintons when in power and who may serve them again.” The Better Business Bureau in 2013 said it failed to meet minimum standards of accountability and transparency. Mr. Schweizer notes that “at least four Clinton Foundation trustees have either been charged or convicted of financial crimes including bribery and fraud.”

There’s more. Mrs. Clinton has yet to address any of it.

If the book is true—if it’s half-true—it is a dirty story.

It would be good if the public, the Democratic Party and the Washington political class would register some horror, or at least dismay.

I write on the eve of the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, May 8, 1945. America had just saved the world. The leaders of the world respected us—a great people led by tough men. What do they think now? Scary to think, isn’t it?


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Burn, Baby, Burn

Arsonists Destroy Affordable-Housing Units of Elderly Black Poor

Al Sharpton’s Baltimore

 “No justice, no peace” finally blew into an urban riot.

By: Daniel Henninger , WSJ Opinion, April 29, 2015

‘No justice, no peace.”

In Baltimore now, they’ve got both.

When Al Sharpton popularized the chant, “No justice, no peace,” it was unmistakably clear that “no peace” was an implicit threat of civil unrest.

Not civil disobedience, as practiced by Martin Luther King Jr. Civil unrest.

Civil unrest can come in degrees. It might be a brief fight between protesters and the cops. It might be someone throwing rocks through store windows. Or it might be more than that.

Whenever groups gathered in large numbers to start the “no justice, no peace” demonstrations and listen to incitements against “the police,” we would hear mayors, politicians, college presidents and American presidents say they “understood the anger.” They all assumed that any civil unrest that resulted would be, as they so often say, “containable.” Meaning—acceptable.

In Ferguson, it was barely so following the Missouri grand jury’s decision in November not to indict a policeman for Michael Brown’s death. Businesses were demolished. As they were when street violence erupted in Berkeley, Calif. New York’s police stood aside while marchers intimidated much of the city and marauded through department stores.

But what the whole nation watched on television Monday for about nine hours in Baltimore was not “containable.” It was anarchy, an urban riot. It was civil unrest on a scale that left stores destroyed while buildings and blocks of inner-city Baltimore burned.

Every public official remotely in range of these “no justice, no peace” demos the past year over policing controversies in Ferguson or Staten Island had to understand, privately, that one might come to this. But not a single person in authority ever seriously pushed back against this message. No one said Al Sharpton or his clones should ratchet back this demagoguery lest the emotions unloosed and enlarged by social media in a city like New York, St. Louis or Baltimore blow into a big urban riot. Now it’s here, and parts of Baltimore are wrecked.

The one positive thing we learned watching the riot Monday is that these Baltimore neighborhoods have black leaders who know the difference between preening and progress.

Brandon Scott, a young city council member, spoke with blunt eloquence about being born in 1984 but knowing that the riots of 1968, whatever their justification, had left Baltimore physically and emotionally ruined for years. And now they were on the brink of again losing what he and others had tried to build in their neighborhoods. It was heartbreaking to hear the pastor who watched his new affordable-housing units for the elderly poor burn down Monday night.

In a better world, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake would step down, and Brandon Scott would step in to start the road back.

Al Sharpton never missed a beat Monday. With heavy rocks bouncing off the anti-riot shields of retreating police, he announced a May march from New York to Washington to publicize police violence against minorities. Naturally he criticized the looters.

President Obama called the Baltimore riot “counterproductive.” He said, in what apparently was a complaint, “I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.” The president mentioned federal grants for body cameras. Body cameras are an excellent idea. In fact, images from the shoulders of every cop in America should be streamed real time on the Web around the clock so everyone can watch and hear the details of cops interacting with every level of the community. Then let’s talk about who and what needs to change.

Mr. Obama said, “There’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now.” And then the president said: “Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities.” We’ll let Josh Earnest deny what the president was saying with this unattractive remark.

But over the past 40 years, even before Mr. Obama thought of it, Congresses like this one have committed uncounted billions of federal dollars to fund every conceivable project for urban America. Still, he’s right. Some communities remain about as stricken as they were in 1975, or 1968.

As to his contribution, Mr. Obama said, “We’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.” But one has to ask: What jobs?

On Wednesday morning the year’s first-quarter GDP growth rate came in—0.2%. Next to nothing. For the length of the Obama presidency, with growth significantly below norm, unemployment for blacks aged 24 and younger has hovered between 30% and 50%. That’s the real powder keg, not the police.

As to Baltimore, familiar support will materialize from New York when the Sharpton retinue arrives in the burned out Baltimore neighborhoods on his way to a meeting in Washington with the new attorney general. What this means is that when Reverend Al walks out of the neighborhood, Baltimoreans will be in the same place they were this week before he showed up. No justice. Less peace.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Snap-back....Get the Shovel-Ready

An Act of Western Self-Deception
Whatever the Ayatollah Wants
President Obama keeps giving and giving and giving.
WSJ Editorial, April 20, 2015

Give Ayatollah Ali Khamenei credit for knowing his opposition. Two weeks ago the Supreme Leader declared that Western sanctions had to be lifted immediately as a condition of a nuclear deal. And sure enough, on Friday President Obama said Iran would get significant sanctions relief immediately upon signing a deal.

The Ayatollah knows that Mr. Obama wants an agreement with Iran so much that there’s almost no concession the President won’t make. So why not keep asking for more?

***

Keep in mind that the talks began with the U.S. and its European partners demanding that Iran dismantle its nuclear program. But to persuade the Ayatollah to accept the recent “framework” accord, Mr. Obama has already conceded that Iran can keep enriching uranium, that it can maintain 5,060 centrifuges to do the enriching, that its enriched-uranium stockpiles can stay inside Iran, that the once-concealed facilities at Fordow and Arak can stay open (albeit in altered form), and that Iran can continue doing research on advanced centrifuges.

All of these concessions are contrary to previous U.S. positions, and we’re no doubt missing a few. But none of that was enough for the Ayatollah, who quickly asserted two new deal-breaking objections: immediate sanctions relief, and no inspections under any circumstances of Iran’s military sites.

The White House has insisted that sanctions relief would be phased out based on Iranian compliance with the accord. Iranian negotiators quickly denied they had agreed to any such thing. At first White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed this as mere face-saving domestic politicking inside Iran. But then the Ayatollah weighed in with his demand for immediate sanctions relief, adding to reinforce the goodwill that the Obama Administration was “lying” and had “devilish” intentions.

On Friday Mr. Obama nonetheless turned the other cheek and suggested a compromise on sanctions relief is likely. White House sources whispered to reporters that the immediate windfall to Iran could be between $30 billion and $50 billion from access to frozen offshore Iranian accounts.

Mr. Obama even suggested at a press conference that sanctions relief wasn’t really that large an issue as long as the U.S. could reimpose sanctions if Iran cheats. “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” the President said. He added that this “will require some creative negotiations.”

It sure will. How “snap-back” sanctions would work is far from clear. The U.S. framework summary concedes that charges of cheating would go to a so far unspecified “dispute resolution process” that sounds like some kind of international committee.

That surely means foot-dragging by West Europeans who won’t want to interfere with their new commercial business with Iran, and it probably gives Russia and China an opportunity to take Iran’s side. As former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz argued recently on these pages, the U.S. would then be the isolated nation, not Iran.

The word “snap-back” in any such arrangement is spin to sell a deal, not a realistic description of the process. Mr. Obama nonetheless said on Friday that “I’m confident” the negotiations on sanctions “will be successful.” Look for more U.S. concessions on sanctions as the June deadline approaches.

As for inspections, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps reiterated Sunday that all military sites are off-limits. Iran’s news agency reported that General Hossein Salami, the Guards’ deputy leader, said such inspections would be “selling out” to the enemy. “Iran will not become a paradise of spies. We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy,” he said.

This contradicts the U.S. summary of the framework accord, which claims that U.N. inspectors would have access to any “suspicious sites.” It didn’t say only non-military suspicious sites. Mr. Obama has already conceded that the inspectors would need Iran’s permission to visit certain sites, rather than having on-demand and immediate access. If military sites are off-limits, then those sites are where Iran would do the cheating when it wants to. The entire inspections regime would be an act of Western self-deception.


These latest events reinforce a conclusion that the Iranian talks are heading toward a deal that confers Western blessing on Iran as a nuclear-threshold state. Tehran will retain the facilities and means to develop a bomb at the moment of its choosing. The main question now is how many more concessions the Ayatollah will squeeze from a U.S. President he believes is desperate for a deal.

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's Not Fascism When We Do It

The Campus Climate Crusade

Liberal groups are out to sully the names of conservative professors and shut down programs funded by the Koch foundation.

By: Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ Opinion, March 26, 2015

Conservative thought on campus these days is rare, though for some it’s still not rare enough. Witness the growing campaign by politicians, unions and environmentalists to intimidate into silence any academic or program that might challenge liberal ideology.

Congressional Democrats have grabbed most of the attention here, with their recent attempt to cow climate skeptics. Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor of meteorology at MIT and a Cato Institute scholar, earlier this month described in these pages how House Rep. Raul Grijalva was targeting seven academics skeptical of President Obama’s climate policies, demanding documents about their funding and connections. A trio of Senate Democrats is working to muzzle more than 100 nonprofits and companies that have questioned the climate agenda, with a fishing expedition into their correspondence.

Largely unnoticed is that the congressional climate crusaders didn’t come up with this idea on their own. For several years a coalition of liberal organizations have been using “disclosure” to sully the names of conservative professors and try to shut down their programs. Their particular targets are academics who benefit from funding from the Koch Foundation, which has for decades funded free-market professors and groups on U.S. campuses.

Giving money to universities, and earmarking it for certain purposes, is common, though the left has largely cornered the market. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and his wife several years ago pledged $40 million to Stanford to start the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. The Morningside Foundation, established by the family of the late T.H. Chan, last year gave Harvard $350 million to fund work on, among other things, gun violence and tobacco use. The Helmsley Charitable Trust has given money to several schools to advance Common Core.

Apparently the only kind of thought not allowed is that which might “undermine,” according to UnKochMyCampus, “environmental protection, worker’s rights, health care expansion, and quality public education.” Stopping such research is the mission of this organization, which is spearheaded by Greenpeace, Forecast the Facts (a green outfit focused on climate change), and the American Federation of Teachers.

The group’s website directs student activists to a list of universities to which Koch foundations have given money, and provides a “campus organization guide” with instructions for how to “expose and undermine” any college thought that works against “progressive values.” Students are directed to first recruit “trusted allies and informants” (including liberal faculty, students and alumni) and then are given a step-by-step guide on hounding universities and targeted professors with demands for records disclosure and with Freedom of Information Act requests. The AFT and the National Education Association devoted nearly a full day at a conference this month to training students on the “necessary skills to investigate and expose” any “influence” the Kochs have at universities.

This week Michigan State University released documents to student activists who had targeted political-theory professor Ross Emmett, director of the Michigan Center for Innovation and Economic Prosperity. His crime? Using Koch grant money to fund a reading group, called the Koch Scholars, that brings together students to discuss competing political economy ideas. The first two weeks were devoted to Marx, though the activists apparently couldn’t tolerate an equal discussion of capitalism.

Art Hall, who runs the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas School of Business, was forced last year to file a lawsuit to try to stop a state records request from student activists demanding his private email correspondence for the past 10 years. Mr. Hall’s sins? His center got a seed grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, and he testified against green energy quotas at the state legislature last year.

As for those defenders of academic freedom and integrity, the American Association of University Professors several years ago defended climate scientist Michael Mann against a conservative group’s demands for his records. Now the Kansas chapter of AAUP helped fund the students’ demand for Mr. Hall’s records.

These UnKoch tactics are spreading. In February, Right to Know, a California nonprofit opposed to genetically modified food, filed freedom of information requests at four universities, demanding correspondence between a dozen academics and outside agriculture companies and trade organizations. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, a left-leaning organization, recently forced the University of Louisville to release information about the founding of a new Free Enterprise Center, partly funded by Koch money.

Congressional Democrats are simply getting in on the game, using the power of government inquiry to up the ante. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin ran a campaign in 2013 against the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council, demanding information from its donors, trying to embarrass them out of funding ALEC. It worked.


Disclosure is becoming the left’s new weapon. And it’s shutting down debate across the country. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Obama List Continues

Administration Failures
(No particular order except the year in which these were typed up)

December 2013
  1. You can keep your doctor and medical plan, period.
  2. $7 trillion new national debt
  3. $85 trillion unfunded national liabilities
  4. Billions of dollars gambled on Solyndra, Nextera, Solar Trust, etc.
  5. Fast & Furious
  6. Food stamp fraud expansion
  7. "Leading from behind"
  8. 1,200 Obamcare waivers to politically connected
  9. Czars
  10. Tax dollar bailout (and $10 billion loss) on private GM pensions
  11. Illegal ending of welfare-to-work
  12. $800 billion stimulus for "shovel-ready" jobs
  13. Stimulus guaranteed to keep unemployment below 6% (went to, and stayed, at 8%+)
  14. Isolation of Israel
  15. Credit rating downgrade of U.S. debt
  16. Stopped drilling in Gulf; enables weaker environmental countries to fill void
  17. No family over $250,000 to see taxes rise
  18. Stopped construction of virtual fence
  19. Cash for clunkers
  20. Promises Russia "greater flexibility" after election
  21. 9-11 "Truther" put into Green Jobs Czar
  22. Anita Dunn
  23. Makes John Holdren, previous believer in notion of forced sterilization, Science Czar
  24. Gay Marriage Opportunist
  25. Debt limit flip flop
  26. Sequester idea
  27. Executive inexperience
  28. Signature legislation left up to Congress
  29. No relationships with Republican leadership
  30. 24/7 Campaigning
  31. Syria
  32. Egypt
  33. Libya
  34. Chemical Weapons
  35. Bengazi
  36. Red line
  37. YouTube video
  38. Ignores Iranian Democratic uprising in order to legitimize election and condone Iranian crackdown in name of flexibility
  39. Bows to Saudi Arabian King, Chinese President, Japanese Emperor, Mexican President, among others
  40. IRS harassment of conservatives
  41. Lends Brazil $2 billion for government-controlled oil drilling
  42. Sues Boeing for opening plant in SC and creating 1,000 new jobs because workers there didn't want a union.
  43. Tax-cheat, Tim Geithner appointed Treasury Secretary
  44. Leaks Navy SEALS got Bin Laden after saying it would be kept secret, shortly after SEALS targeted and lose 22 in shoot down over Afghanistan
  45. "You didn't build that."
  46. Transparency
  47. Personally manages "kill list"
  48. Calls Fort Hood workplace violence
  49. Ignores own Simpson-Bowles commission
  50. Politicizes Supreme Court during State of Union speech
  51. 100 rounds of golf in first 3 years
  52. Compels Catholic institutions to provide Contraceptions
  53. Attack on the press - AP, Rosengate, Sheryl Attkinson
  54. Eric Holder Perjuries
  55. Federal Agency boondoggles to Vegas, Hawaii, Disney World, etc.
  56. EPA expansion w/o Congressional authority
  57. Putin
  58. Obamacare Website
  59. Iranian Nuclear deal
  60. Insists to public Obamacare penalty is NOT a tax BUT Supreme Court rests the constitutionality of the law on the basis that it IS a tax.
  61. Nuclear option detonated in Senate with Obama approval.

June 2014

62) Hands Ukraine over to Putin

63) Al-Qaeda takes key Iraqi city after Obama unilaterally removes American military.  Gives up all hard fought gains.

64) Says it is essential to keep forces in Afghanistan to preserve hard fought American gains.

65) Dumping illegal alien children into border states

66) Releasing five top al-Qaeda commanders into 1year 'house arrest' in Qatar.

67) Illegally releasing top commanders without notifying Congress.

68) Lying to American People that reason he broke law was the POW had severe deteriorating health and could not wait.

69) Accidentally 'outing' the head of the CIA field office in Afghanistan.  Valerie Plame, anyone?

70) Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’

71) WH 'swift boats' dozens of soldiers who speak up about Bergdahl.

72) Susan Rice (again) goes on slew of Sunday AM new shows and proclaims Bergdahl served with 'honor and distinction' despite strong indications he left his post and went AWAL.  Potentially up to 12 soldiers die in operations in search of missing Bergdahl.

73) VA Scandal. See: 7 Times Barack Obama Promised To Reform The VA for amazing quotes in 2007-2009.  Recall as senator, he also had oversight authority as member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

74) Obama watches way too much TV.
IRS, Fast & Furious, VA Wait List, Airforce One NYC fly over, Seizing phone records or AP reporters, Bugging reporters, Hillary email scandal, etc. etc. 

75) Funding Hamas after reconciling with PLO (against American law on funding designated terrorist organizations).


76) EPA unilaterally declares war on Coal.


77) Obama calls all 'Obama Scandals' "phony."


78) In newly released book, Hillary recalls how Obama '08 Campaign wanted her to attack Sarah Palin "because she was a woman."


79) Unilateral delay(s) of every aspect of ObamaCare in order to avoid 2014 election cycle.

80) WH forces serving soldiers to sign confidentiality agreements related to Bergdahl.

March 2015

81) Clinton Private EMail Server - no oversight or approval.  Avoid oversight

82) Israel Petty Treatment continues.

83)  Auditing of Mitt Romney donors

84) Under Obama, the CIA spied on the Senate

85) Secret Service "lets" man scale fence, run across wall, enter unlocked door and travel a good distance through the White House.  New issues continue to pile on.

86) Hard Drive crashes through out agencies continue, no way of finding emails.  Then they show up.

87) Unilateral, unconstitutional implementation of unpassed Dream Act

87) Unilateral, unconstitutional implementation of unpassed immigration amnesty

88) Wants to mandate forced voting participation

89) Unilateral, unconstitutional waiving of Obamacare penalty

90) Unlike all past Presidents, actively works to do end-around Congress on nuclear arms control and threatens to by-pass Congress by going to the UN to remove Iranian sanctions.

91) Sen. Menedez (D) hit with Justice Dept corruption charges as he emerges as primary democratic critic of Obama's Israel/Iran policy

92) Vetos Keystone Pipeline

93) Refers to the attacks in Paris and the Jews killed at the Jewish deli as "random" attacks and further refuses to join world leaders in Paris to play golf instead.

94) ISIS continues to grow, take more territory and brutally kill.

95) Iraqis so disgusted with US, does not notify Americans that they invited IRAN onto their territory to fight with them. 

96) Points to Somalia and Yemen as models of successful U.S. counterterrorism efforts.  Five months later, Iran-backed rebels overthrow Yemen and US embassy evacuated.  Just today 2 bombs explode at Yemeni mosque killing over 100.

97) Sends David Cameron to lobby memebers of Congress against Iranian sanctions.

98) Decries separate branch of government inviting Netanyahu to speak saying not proper to interfere with foreign election while sending scores of advisers and democratic campaign staff to Israel to work against Netanyahu's reelection.  (ADDITIONALLY, as Senator had been supportive of Speaker Pelosi unilaterally going to Syria to work out a deal with Assad against White House protests.)

99) Unilateral, unconstitutional governemental takeover of the Internet under the guise of "net neutrality"

100) We still have two more years of this guy.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Scandal Land

Do we really have to do this again?

Stuck in Scandal Land

As long as she is in public life, Hillary will protect and serve herself.
By: Peggy Noonan, WSJ Opinion,  March 5, 2015

Doesn’t the latest Hillary Clinton scandal make you want to throw up your hands and say: Do we really have to do this again? Do we have to go back there? People assume she is our next president. We are defining political deviancy down.

The scandal this week is that we have belatedly found out, more than two years after she left the office of secretary of state, that throughout Mrs. Clinton’s four-year tenure she did not conduct official business through the State Department email system. She had her own private email addresses and her own private Internet domain, on her own private server at one of her own private homes, in Chappaqua, N.Y. Which means she had, and has, complete control of the emails. If a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking to see emails of the secretary of state, the State Department had nothing to show. If Congress asked to see them, State could say there was nothing to see. (Two months ago, on the request of State, Mrs. Clinton turned over a reported 55,000 pages of her emails. She and her private aides apparently got to pick which ones.)

Is it too much to imagine that Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal the record of her communications as America’s top diplomat because she might have been doing a great deal of interesting work in those emails, not only with respect to immediate and unfolding international events but with respect to those who would like to make a positive impression on the American secretary of state by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which not only funds many noble causes but is the seat of operations of Clinton Inc. and its numerous offices, operatives, hangers-on and campaign-in-waiting?

What a low and embarrassing question. It is prompted by last week’s scandal—that the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is uncomfortable to ask such questions, but that’s the thing with the Clintons, they always make you go there.

The mainstream press is all over the story now that it has blown. It’s odd that it took so long. Everyone at State, the White House, and the rest of the government who received an email from the secretary of state would have seen where it was coming from—a nongovernmental address. You’d think someone would have noticed.

With the exception of the moment Wednesday when a hardy reporter from TMZ actually went to an airport and shouted a query at Mrs. Clinton—it was just like the old days of journalism, with a stakeout and shouted queries—Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been subjected to any questions from the press. She’s slide, she’ll glide, she’ll skate. (With TMZ she just walked on, smiling.)

Why would she ignore regulations to opt out of the State email system? We probably see the answer in a video clip posted this week on Buzzfeed. Mrs. Clinton, chatting with a supporter at a fundraiser for her 2000 Senate campaign, said: “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I . . . ever want to do email?”

But when you’re secretary of state you have to. So she did it her way, with complete control. It will make it harder, if not impossible, for investigators.

The press is painting all this as a story about how Mrs. Clinton, in her love for secrecy and control, has given ammunition to her enemies. But that’s not the story. The story is that this is what she does, and always has. The rules apply to others, not her. She’s special, entitled, exempt from the rules—the rules under which, as the Federalist reports, the State Department in 2012 forced the resignation of a U.S. ambassador, “in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system.”

Why doesn’t the legacy press swarm her on this? Because she is political royalty. They are used to seeing her as a regal, queenly figure. They’ve been habituated to understand that Mrs. Clinton is not to be harried, not to be subjected to gotcha questions or impertinent grilling. She is a Democrat, a star, not some grubby Republican governor from nowhere. And they don’t want to be muscled by her spokesmen. The wildly belligerent Philippe Reines sends reporters insulting, demeaning emails if they get out of line. He did it again this week. It is effective in two ways. One is that it diverts attention from his boss, makes Mr. Reines the story, and in the process makes her look comparatively sane. The other is that reporters don’t want a hissing match with someone who implies he will damage them. They can’t afford to be frozen out. She’s probably the next president: Their careers depend on access.

But how will such smash-mouth tactics play the next four, five years?

Back to the questions at the top of the column.

Sixteen years ago, when she was first running for the Senate, I wrote a book called “The Case Against Hillary Clinton.” I waded through it all—cattle futures, Travelgate, the lost Rose law firm records, women slimed as bimbos, foreign campaign cash, the stealth and secrecy that marked the creation of the health-care plan, Monica, the vast right-wing conspiracy. As I researched I remembered why, four years into the Clinton administration, the New York Times columnist William Safire called Hillary “a congenital liar . . . compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit.”

Do we have to go through all that again?

In 1992 the Clintons were new and golden. Now, so many years later, their reputation for rule breaking and corruption is so deep, so assumed, that it really has become old news. And old news isn’t news.

An aspect of the story goes beyond criticism of Mrs. Clinton and gets to criticism of us. A generation or two ago, a person so encrusted in a reputation for scandal would not be considered a possible presidential contender. She would be ineligible. Now she is inevitable.

What happened? Why is her party so in her thrall?

She’s famous? The run itself makes you famous. America didn’t know who Jack Kennedy was in 1959; in 1961 he was king of the world. The same for Obama in ’08.

Money? Sure she’s the superblitz shock-and-awe queen of fundraising, but pretty much any Democrat in a 50/50 country would be able to raise what needs to be raised.

She’s a woman? There are other women in the Democratic Party.

She’s inevitable? She was inevitable in 2008. Then, suddenly, she was evitable.

Her talent is for survival. This on its own terms is admirable and takes grit. But others have grit. As for leadership, she has a sharp tactical sense but no vision, no overall strategic sense of where we are and where we must go.

What is freezing the Democrats is her mystique. But mystique can be broken. A nobody called Obama broke hers in 2008.


Do we really have to return to Scandal Land? It’s what she brings wherever she goes. And it’s not going to stop.