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Trolling Facebook

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

This week I’m giving our faithful blog-readers some insight into various aspects of deception and/or Big Government, as noted in comments I posted on Facebook.

► A friend posted this picture:

sja America sideways looks like a duck 140908 1509695_276960175794812_34656293_n

[My response, focusing on how our perception of images and ideas depends on perspective:] Try this: Take one of those beautiful “birth of stars” pictures from NASA, and turn it upside down (there is no “up” in deep space) and change the color scheme (which is artificial and computer-generated), and you can make it look kinda disgusting. In other words, the awesome beauty is there because someone put it there.

sja Hubble turn it around and change colors deception 140908 hubble-web1 http://saint-lucy.com/wp…/uploads/2011/03/hubble-web1.jpg


► A friend linked to this article: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/31/does-antarctic-sea-ice-growth-negate-global-warming-theory/

…which led to this exchange:

 [name redacted: Let’s call him “Bob”]  It is amazing to me that people whose main interest in life is politics, who have little interest or background in science, should be such experts on scientific matters because of scattered articles that seem to support their contrarian views. We Americans just can’t stop being know-it-alls, especially the most ignorant of us.

[Me:] Given the record of the “scientific community” in support of white supremacy and eugenics and the Population Bomb concept (resulting in China’s murderous one-child policy), and its support for the species collapse idea and Nuclear Winter and action-reaction arms control theory and homosexuality-as-a-psychological-disorder and spinach-as-rich-in-iron and canals on Mars and phrenology and scurvy-caused-by-bad-hygiene and ulcers-caused-by-stress, along with the “impossibility” of missile defense and of biological weapons and of the survival of 24-week fetuses and of continental drift, and its belief in SETI (based in part on a failure to understand math), you might think that the utter collapse of Global Warming theory would put an end to people trying to justify their extremist political positions (e.g., the War on Coal) with half-baked or fake “science.” But don’t worry. They’ll never run out of [baloney].

[Bob:] SJA: you might have added fusion energy. Your idea of science and mine differ. Science is self-correcting; lots of s**t is proposed, only the good stuff survives. And, yes, sometimes too long. The alternate to science is eternal truths everywhere, including that humankind need never worry about over-population or the end of fossil fuels or the harmlessness of spewing poisons into the air.

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Labor Watch September 2014: Union Power in the States = Less Pay, More Taxpayer Debt

Union Power in the States = Lost Pay, More Taxpayer Debt

How does your state rank on forced unionism, monopoly bargaining, and public pension shortfalls? (PDF here)

By Aloysius Hogan

Summary: New studies on the harms of American labor laws paint a grim picture. The laws drag down economic growth, suppress workers’ wages, and cause government debt to soar.

Could your family use an additional $13,100 a year? If you live in a forced-unionism state, that’s what the lack of a Right to Work law may be costing you.

At the same time, you’re harmed by the federal mandate that gives unions the power of monopoly (a.k.a. “collective”) bargaining. That federal mandate, it’s estimated, costs workers about 15 percent in forgone income.
In addition, unionization of government employees has helped add many billions of dollars to the unfunded liabilities of public employees’ pensions—a debt for which taxpayers will be held responsible.

Three new studies from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Washington, D.C. think tank where I am a senior fellow, examine these harmful consequences of unionization and of laws that push unionization. The purpose of the studies is to identify the problems caused by union power in states across America; express the problems in numbers; rank the states based on the problems’ severity; and point the way toward solutions by comparing states to see what policies work. Read all »

The Hawaiian Recognition Scam

In 2000, Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka proposed a bill known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. The Bill aimed to “provide a process for the reorganization of the single Native Hawaiian governing entity and the re-affirmation of the special political and legal relationship between that native Hawaiian governing entity for purposes of continuing a government-to-government relationship.”

Every aspect of this proposal since its inception has been fraught with misinformation, legal fictions, and historical ignorance.

Aside from the now-retired Senator Akaka, the biggest proponent of this bill is the Organization for Hawaiian Affairs or OHA. The OHA is a state agency dedicated to advancing the interests of “native Hawaiians,” that is, Hawaiians of Polynesian descent. But its policies affect all Hawaiians, regardless of ethnicity. For this reason in 2000 the OHA came under fire from the U.S. Supreme Court for excluding non-Polynesian Hawaiians from voting in its internal elections and for creating benefits for which only Polynesians were eligible. This violation of the Equal Protection Clause was deemed unconstitutional.

In 2014, this issue has arisen once again. The OHA’s goal is to grant itself the authority previously denied to it by the Supreme Court and to recreate the former kingdom of Hawaii. In order to accomplish these goals, the OHA has been lobbying the federal government to grant native Hawaiians recognition as a sovereign tribe, similar to an Indian tribe. The Akaka bill, as it has come to be known, would allow the OHA to establish a sovereign government in Hawaii that is completely separate from the state government. It could even result in the secession of Hawaii from the United States. The OHA and its allies assert that the United States unjustly annexed Hawaii after WWII and claim that their agenda serves to correct this alleged injustice.

This time, however, the OHA is trying a different and more disconcerting approach than before. Instead of lobbying Congress to pass legislation, they are asking the Department of the Interior to take unilateral action on the issue. This would essentially be an executive order by the president to enact the Akaka bill. President Obama has already received harsh criticism for his excessive use of executive orders. In this case, the United States Commission on Civil Rights sent a Letter to President Obama stating that

“We believe that provisions of the Akaka bill are both unwise and unconstitutional. Executive action implementing provisions of the Akaka bill would be at least as unwise and unconstitutional.

“Neither Congress nor the president has power to create an Indian tribe or any other entity with the attributes of sovereignty. Nor do they have the power to reconstitute a tribe or other sovereign entity that has ceased to exist as a polity in the past. Tribes are ‘recognized,’ not created or reconstituted.”

The native Hawaiians cannot be legally recognized as a tribe because they do not meet the qualifications.  A tribe is a homogenous ethnic group that exists separate from the society it happens to reside in. Tribes must have their own political or governing body. The Federal government cannot “recognize” what does not exist.  The federal government cannot “re-affirm” or “continue” an intergovernmental relationship that never existed in the first place.

The argument that native Hawaiians are a tribe is a legal fiction. The OHA has been quite dishonest in its crusade.  It submitted a roll list containing the names of native Hawaiians. The OHA claimed that all persons on the list consider themselves to be members of the same tribe. It was later discovered that a large majority of the 126,000 names on the registry had been imported from other government registries, rather than being the result of persons voluntarily signing OHA’s special affidavit that states, “I affirm the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Hawaiian people and my intent to participate in the process of self-governance.”

Beyond being dishonest, the OHA’s overall mission demonstrates a profound ignorance of the history surrounding the issue. Even if one believes that the annexation of Hawaii was unjust, the Akaka bill does nothing to remedy the situation. The historical record shows us that the old Hawaiian kingdom was multi-racial in nature. Its subjects were not only Polynesian, but Caucasian and Asian as well.  A heterogeneous kingdom is not a homogenous tribe. The entity that the Akaka bill would create is not the same as the former kingdom.

Critics of the proposal have also raised concerns about the implications of having different sets of laws for different ethnic groups. Such a situation, they assert, is a clear contradiction of the principle of racial equality under the law. In short, the Akaka bill is a discriminatory act that was crafted on false premises and pursued through dishonest means.

The best source of information on this topic comes from Hawaii’s state think tank,  the Grassroot Institute. The Obama Administration has already begun the process of creating a new regulation that would require the U.S. Department of the Interior to “reestablish” a “government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community.” See the Grassroot Institute’s official comment on this proposed “rule,” as well as the critique by Hans Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.

CRC has a report by Matthew Vadum on a previous such effort in Hawaii, and the May 2008 Foundation Watch analyzed a similar issue in the Aloha State.


The President’s deliberately deliberative policy of deliberation

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

The word of the day is “deliberative.”

Last week, President Obama let slip that “we have no strategy’ for dealing with ISIS (also called ISIL, based on a variant translation of the group’s name). Lest anyone accused me of taking his out of content, here are 200+ words of the exchange with NBC’s Chuck Todd:

QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.

But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.

“We don’t have a strategy yet.” That’s an astonishing admission, given that one of the key jobs of the national security community is Read all »

The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation

The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation

Pay no attention to the First Family behind the curtain

By Jonathan M. Hanen, Foundation Watch, September 2014 (PDF here)

This special report on the Clinton Foundation supplements our previous report on the philanthropy, published in the February 2008 Foundation Watch.

Summary:  The Clinton Foundation portrays itself as a noble enterprise whose lead actors, a former U.S. president and secretary of state, use their combined political capital and star power to unite philanthropists, CEOs, and governments of afflicted countries to solve the most pressing problems of global economic development, health care, and education.  Yet close inspection of the foundation’s inner workings suggests a pattern of chronic mismanagement and graft that the mainstream media downplays for the benefit of Hillary Clinton’s all-but-announced 2016 presidential campaign.  Worse still, Clinton is using the foundation as a launching pad for her expected White House bid.

The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is a largely legitimate enterprise, a philanthropic organization that apparently helps people somewhere. But helping humanity has become its secondary objective in recent years. Its charitable purpose has been subordinated to the political ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who now appears to be using the foundation as a de facto campaign organization in a bid to recapture the White House. Mrs. Clinton is arguably the most famous living woman in the world, but she still benefits whenever the foundation that bears her family’s name is in the news. Such publicity reinforces the Clinton “brand,” providing free campaign advertising for Mrs. Clinton in her all-but-announced presidential campaign.

Money has been streaming in to multiple entities in the Clinton camp, as left-wingers begin to show their support for Clinton, despite the waves of laughter that erupted earlier this year when she claimed her family was “dead broke” after leaving the White House in 2001. She compounded the faux pas by talking about how it was a struggle to have to pay mortgages on the various houses—plural—her family owns.

Political action committees known to support Clinton are doing a brisk business while the person who may become the first female president gears up for what amounts to a third Obama term. Large sums some observers suspect are payoffs designed to curry favor with a future president have also been flowing to other Clinton-related entities. For example, Clinton reportedly receives six-figure payments for speeches. She claims she donates payments from universities to the family’s foundation, but has not provided evidence to support that claim. Her ridiculously large book advance—reportedly $14 million—from Simon & Schuster for her memoir, Hard Choices, published in June, resembles an in-kind contribution from the publisher. No one thinks the publisher will earn a profit. Making money off a nonfiction book after such a hefty advance would be a long shot even if the book were a mega-bestseller. She may be high-profile, but she’s still Hillary Clinton, not J.K. Rowling of “Harry Potter” fame.

Bill Clinton was worried enough about potential conflicts of interest and legal troubles at the foundation that he ordered an internal review of the organization’s practices. After a fortnight of interviews with Clinton Foundation executives and ex-employees, lawyers arrived at disturbing conclusions. “The review echoed criticism of Mr. Clinton’s early years in the White House: for all its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.” (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2013)

Read all »

Business Insider story: What Dorian Johnson said about the Brown shooting

One of the main ways in which the media lie is simply to leave out relevant information. Here’s an example: a Business Insider account, posted at http://www.businessinsider.com/eye-witness-account-of-michael-browns-shooting-2014-8 (accessed 8/26/14) that was based on an MSNBC story. See if you can spot the key fact that was left out.


This Is The Version Of The Ferguson, Missouri Shooting That Police Don’t Want You To Hear

A police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an unarmed, black 18-year-old named Michael Brown on Saturday, sparking riots and protests in the St. Louis suburb. At least 50 people were arrested in three days.

Details have been hazy about the shooting, but two competing stories have emerged. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says Brown assaulted the officer first, and then the two began to struggle with the officer’s gun.

The police version is at odds with another story, corroborated by multiple witnesses, including 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend who was “within arm’s reach” of Brown when the first shot was fired. Johnson spoke to MSNBC last night and gave his account. Here’s a summary of his version of the events. (Police have reportedly refused to interview Johnson.)

On Saturday afternoon, somewhere between 1:40 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., Johnson says he saw Brown walking on the street and went to talk to him. As the two caught up, they headed back to Johnson’s house. When they were a 1-minute walk away, they went to cross the street. As they walked in the middle of the road — jaywalking — a police car drove up. The officer told the two to go on the sidewalk, according to Johnson.

“His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk,” Johnson told MSNBC.

Johnson told the officer they were almost at their destination. Thinking the officer was giving them leave, they began walking again. Instead of driving away, the officer switched his police truck in reverse, tires screeching, and nearly hit the two, according to Johnson.

At that point, Johnson said, he and Brown were in line with the officer’s side door. The officer asked them what the two had said and then tried to push his door open, according to Johnson. Because the two were so close to the door, Johnson says the door hit Brown and closed. The officer then allegedly grabbed Brown by the neck.

Brown then tried to pull away to avoid being choked, Johnson says.

“They’re not wrestling so much as his arm went from his throat to now clenched on his shirt … It’s like tug of war. He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you,’” Johnson said.

The two realized the officer had pulled out a hand gun and pointed it at Brown. The officer repeated, “I’ll shoot.” Seconds later, the first shot went off. Johnson says the officer let go after he shot Brown.

Brown and Johnson then ran towards a line of three cars on the side of the street. Johnson went behind the first, but Brown ran past. Brown yelled “Keep running, bro!” But by the time he got to the third car, the officer shot Brown in the back, according to Johnson.

Johnson says Brown stopped, put his hands up, turned around, and yelled he didn’t have a gun.

The officer allegedly shot several more times, Brown fell to the ground, and Johnson ran to his apartment.

“It was just horrible to watch … It was definitely like being shot like an animal,” Johnson told local news station KSDK.

The account of another eyewitness, Piaget Crenshaw, 19, seems to match Johnson’s.

The St. Louis County police department have opened its investigation of the incident. Meanwhile, the FBI has announced that it will open a parallel civil rights investigation of the shooting.


So that’s the version police don’t want you to hear, right? That’s the account of Dorian Johnson, whom police “have reportedly refused to interview,” right?

Johnson, of course, was Brown’s accomplice in the robbery/assault that Brown committed at a convenience story within 10 minutes prior to the shooting. Does the story mention this, oh, slightly relevant fact? No, it doesn’t.

Obviously, it should have been corrected once Johnson’s role was known, and appended-to when it became known that Johnson previously served jail time for lying to police. This is the Web, after all, where you can post corrections with the original stories. (I accessed this version of the story on August 26.)  But even the original story should have evidenced skepticism toward a “friend” of Michael Brown and his account of the altercation in which Brown was shot. A real journalist would take the word neither of the police nor of Brown’s friend.


The Court of Memes: Why people believe fake facts

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

A meme, as it’s called by experts in communications theory, is an idea that spreads in the manner of a virus from one person to the next. You may be familiar with the use of the term to describe a particular sort of meme, a graphic commentary of the type often posted on Facebook.

People can be infected with false memes as they are infected with viruses. How many of us believe that 97 percent of scientists believe in Global Warming theory, or that Columbus was warned he might sail off the edge of the world, or that the United States was responsible for wiping out most of the American Indians and taking their land, or that Thomas Jefferson, who was in favor of slavery, probably fathered one or more children with Sally Hemmings? All false memes.

After the death of the great actor/comedian Robin Williams, one TV tribute included a section from one of his performances in which he made fun of Sarah Palin for saying she could see Russia from her house. Dan Harris, a resident leftist at ABC News, recently, on a news boradcast, made fun of Palin for saying she could see Russia from her house. One estimate was that 87 percent of Obama voters in 2008 thought that Palin made that remark, which was actually made by the “Sarah Palin” character on Saturday Night Live.

In the worlds of politics and public policy, false memes often have very real effects, providing the basis for bad laws that hurt people, or twisting people’s view of history to make them easier prey for extremist politicians.


As I write this, the radio in my office is carrying news from Read all »

Labor Watch: The United Auto Workers on the Skids? Defeat in Chattanooga, a 25 percent dues hike, Michigan Right to Work, and promotions for failed leaders

The United Auto Workers on the Skids?
Defeat in Chattanooga, a 25 percent dues hike, Michigan Right to Work, and promotions for failed leaders [PDF here.]

By F. Vincent Vernuccio

Summary: It’s been a long, slow slide for the United Auto Workers, which hit its peak in the early 1950s. Defeated in a critical unionization election in the South and facing a critical change in state law in its home base in Michigan, the UAW has responded to the challenge by raising dues and by staying the course on policy and leadership.  

Things have not gone well at Solidarity House recently, and may be getting worse.

When the headquarters of the United Auto Workers was dedicated on June 9, 1951, news accounts called it “America’s most up-to-date union headquarters . . . Streamlined and spacious but not plush, the four story brick and sandstone structure is nestled among swank hotel apartment houses overlooking the Detroit river.” It was said that the union’s “nerve center” would be “the envy of many top industry executives.”

The UAW was riding high, and it seemed appropriate that the UAW headquarters’ three-acre site had once been the estate of the late Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford and himself the president of Ford Motor Company.
The website Detroit1701, which celebrates the city’s history, describes the headquarters Read all »

Can You Say “Dark Money Super PAC”?

Last November, when the American Federation of Teachers wanted to slip a cool half-million into a last-second ad buy to support Marty Walsh’s Democratic candidacy for mayor of Boston, it had a New Jersey union front group (One New Jersey) hurriedly concoct a Boston union front group (One Boston). Now both front groups have agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a dispute with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance for five different violations: failure to organize as a PAC, failure to disclose finance activity accurately, contributions made in a manner intended to disguise the true source of the contributions, receipt of contributions not raised in accordance with campaign law, and use of wire transfers. Still, it worked: Walsh won.

This is a classic case of the way unions and other left-wing pressure groups operate to influence elections. The only anomaly: the union groups paid for a positive ad, rather than the usual attack ad. That may be explained by One Boston’s indication that it sought to influence “Women 50+,” who may be more susceptible to positive ads than negative ones.

To illustrate the way these scams work, we provide a bit more background on the groups involved.  One Boston is the kind of pop-up mystery group the Left often creates at the last minute in an election. Its life spanned only October 23, 2013, to January 7, 2014, but the big checks it cut for ads immediately raised the local media’s eyebrows and made them wonder what this strange beast was. Later, when the truth came out, the CommonWealth Magazine website sketched a portrait of One Boston:

The group parachuted into the mayoral race from nowhere. It listed a two-family home in Roslindale as its headquarters. Its committee chair and treasurer, Jocelyn Hutt, was a political ghost: She was an infrequent voter whose name didn’t appear in state or federal campaign finance databases.

Legally, One Boston was a 501(c)(4) or “social welfare” nonprofit. It disclosed only one donor, another 501(c)(4), One New Jersey, which in turn is a mysterious group. You can tell from One New Jersey’s website that it lives to excoriate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), but who or what is behind it is opaque.

It has no IRS tax filings available on Guidestar.org, but it does have a single IRS tax filing available on the Foundation Center’s site, and on that form you can find three names: Steve DeMicco, Brad Lawrence, and Steve Rosenthal—the President, Secretary, and Treasurer, respectively. Those names make it possible to peel back some of the mystery.

Rosenthal, as his Wikipedia entry notes, “is a longtime labor and political strategist.” His résumé includes founding America Coming Together, “a voter mobilization project aimed at defeating incumbent Republican president George W. Bush” that was “one of the largest voter mobilization campaigns in Democratic history.” He also spent seven years as political director of the AFL-CIO, where he was credited with “transforming” organized labor’s campaign operation into the nation’s “most effective.”

His One New Jersey colleagues DeMicco and Lawrence are also behind-the-scenes operatives who’ve worked together in Jersey politics since at least 1979. Their P.R. firm Message and Media has won the last three Newark mayoral elections and is one of the state’s most prominent political outfits, helping elect governors, senators, and representatives, often using union money to buy the air time for ads.

Message and Media also produced One Boston’s ad, but everyone kept mum about who had supplied the half-million needed for that. It was weeks after Walsh’s victory before the AFT confessed to the Boston Globe that its coffers had underwritten the ads.

The final background data:  every outside group that spent money to elect Walsh was revealed as union-backed, including SEIU entities, American Working Families PAC, Working America, etc. In fact, David Bernstein of Boston magazine estimated that more than 80% of all money for Walsh—both “inside” his official campaign and pouring in from outside groups—came from labor bosses.

The outside spending set a record for such money in Massachusetts, and the mayor’s race also set a record as the state’s most expensive municipal race ever. Why were labor bosses so keen to see Walsh beat Connolly? As the Boston Globe explains, Connolly “had several high-profile spats with the Boston Teachers Union in his six years” on the city council.

The Globe found that Walsh’s union backers poured $2.5 million via independent expenditures on his behalf, or about double the $1.3 million in outside support that Connolly received. To further clarify the two candidate’s critical difference: Connolly’s outside support came exclusively from national education reform groups.

Presumably the AFT will pay the $30,000 fine, even though it’s not named in the court documents, especially given that One Boston no longer exists. As Mike Antonucci of the indispensable Education Intelligence Agency blog jokes,

AFT believed $500K was a good investment to get Walsh elected. Another $30K or so might just be considered a gratuity.

Actually, it’s a cheap gratuity – $30,000 on $500,000 means the AFT is only leaving a 6% tip.

A Culture of Lies

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

If you’re politically knowledgeable and not crazy, living in Washington, D.C. is tough.

As a D.C. resident, I’m surrounded by people who are ignorant and/or out of their minds, who believe the talking-points version of Progressivism that they are fed by most of the news media.

In just the past few days, at social occasions, I’ve overheard comments along the lines of the following:

  • “The Republicans in the South today are just the old segregationist Democrats. That’s because of the Nixon Southern Strategy.”
  • “After Hobby Lobby, women’s right to birth control is threatened.”
  • “Photo ID laws are an attempt to keep people from voting. Vote fraud isn’t a real problem in this country.”

In reality, Republicans in the South trace their roots to the (relatively) anti-segregationist wing of the Democratic Party of the 1950s/1960s, while the so-called Nixon Southern Strategy was never implemented. Hobby Lobby has nothing to do with anyone’s right to birth control, merely with whether people who don’t believe in abortifacients can be forced to pay for them in violation of a law signed by President Clinton. Voter ID laws, such as the ones in Canada, Mexico, and Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, protect people’s rights by preventing the fraudulent cancellation of their votes; that’s one reason that most people of all ethnicities support them. And voter fraud is so common that, before it became Politically Correct to claim that such fraud isn’t a problem, political reporters like me, covering political conventions and the like, used to sit around until 2 a.m. sharing stories about it. (My first scoop as a young reporter was when I caught a local mayor rigging an election.)

Mythology is the common currency of the Left. Read all »