[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]
When former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani criticized President Obama as the product of his extremist upbringing, the media pounced, treating Giuliani’s comments as unsupported rants and demanding that every GOP leader denounce the remarks. In fact, the person who “outed” Barack Obama as the protégé of a Communist was… Barack Obama himself.
If you depend, for your political information, on the major news media organizations, you’d never know that. That’s just one of many important little bits of information about the President that they’ve protected you from. As a result, Giuliani’s comments seemed, to many people, to be baseless and a little weird. (more…)
La Raza’s Growing Influence: Gaining clout and tax dollars in all branches of government
By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, February 2015 (PDF here)
Summary: President Obama’s stunning reversal of his own views on deportation policy is only the most prominent example of influence enjoyed by the National Council of La Raza, which calls itself “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.” In addition to its sway with the president, the group has seen its government revenues rise with help from a high-level White House staffer and also seen a former member be named to the Supreme Court.
Before President Barack Obama told a primetime TV audience on Nov. 20, 2014, that he was going to bypass Congress and shield 5 million illegal aliens from deportation, he confided the details of his sweeping plan to Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. “I knew a lot of what he was going to say before he said it,” Murguía bragged in a C-SPAN interview on Dec. 5. “I met with the president that day, that afternoon.”
It’s hardly a surprise that Obama’s address to the nation sounded like something a La Raza staffer might have written, full of emotional appeals and framing the enforcement of immigration law as an inherent cruelty. “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?” Obama said in the speech.
Obama added that the Department of Homeland Security would focus on recent illegal border crossers, criminals, terrorists, and gang members. “Felons, not families, criminals, not children, gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” would be targeted, he said.
La Raza demanded that Obama “go big” in his executive actions on immigration because the president had been unable in previous years to push a comprehensive immigration reform bill—which critics deride as “amnesty”—through Congress. Obama went big indeed. In addition to focusing on criminals facing deportation, he expanded the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, raising the age cap to 31 in order to include anyone who came to the United States from 2007 through 2009.
[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]
First, a quick note about the federal holiday this week. No, it wasn’t President’s Day. It was George Washington’s Birthday. See my article on calendar manipulation at http://capitalresearch.org/2014/02/presidents-day-not-they-even-lie-about-the-calendar/ .
Why are people surprised that Brian Williams turned out to be a fabulist? After all, he was the anchor of NBC News, which has severed all connection to reality.
As legions of bloggers have shown in the past couple of weeks, Williams’s tales about his exploits in Iraq, Lebanon, and post-Katrina New Orleans got better as time went by. (See Matt Vespa’s account at Townhall.com [http://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2015/02/10/brian-williams-tales-about-gangs-and-riding-katyusha-rockets-n1954979]). Williams was a man of courage and action, a heroic figure who put his life on the line to bring the Big Story to you, the viewer, or, at least, that’s what he wanted you to believe.
It must really hurt that NBC has suspended him without pay for six months (six months that, most observers reasonably assume, will turn into forever).
This is the network that painted Richard Jewell, the hero of the Olympic Park bombing, as the guy who planted the bomb. (more…)
The NLRB Rigs the Rules
From the joint-employer rule to quickie elections and gerrymandering, the National Labor Relations Board pushes unionization [PDF here]
by Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Summary: A long-time union lawyer is enjoying his high post at the National Labor Relations Board, where he and his allies threaten to wreak havoc on the American economy. With little respect for the rule of law and a heavy thumb on the scales for the union side, the NLRB is in the midst of upending the franchise model that makes so many small businesses possible. It’s also at work perverting the ballot process for unionization elections, and keeping employers from talking with workers before those elections.
In his novel The Trial (1914), Franz Kafka painted a portrait of an unimaginably oppressive government with secret laws and trials in which the individual is crushed. Kafka could have found much literary inspiration in the National Labor Relations Board, which has recently worked to bring the nation quickie unionization elections, the gerrymandering of bargaining units (deciding who’s eligible to vote after the votes have been cast), and a scheme that could destroy the franchise model in American business.
Let’s look first at an effort to change the definition of who’s your boss, if you work at one of the hundreds of thousands of businesses in the U.S. that are based on the franchise model. This effort can be traced to the office of NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin.
If you follow issues related to labor law, Griffin’s name may be familiar. [Click HERE for the full story.]
Obama’s Climate Trick
To implement its War on Coal and a Global Warming treaty, the administration tries an end-run around the Constitution [PDF here]
By Marlo Lewis
Summary: In a rush to end the production of inexpensive electricity from coal—a policy that would hamstring the economy—the Obama administration is ignoring the constitutional requirements for international treaties. That’s because it sees the latest international agreement on Global Warming as a way to help defend its sweeping new regulations on generating electricity, which are themselves unlawful under the Clean Air Act. The administration is daring Congress to stop its unilateral actions on treaties and its blatant disregard of existing law.
The world is rushing headlong toward an international agreement (supposedly) to fight Global Warming, to be finalized in Paris at the end of this year. Even from the perspective of environmentalists, the deal won’t do much to fight Warming. That’s because, among other reasons, it’s highly unlikely that there will be any way to enforce the agreement other than by “naming and shaming” violators.
But to the Obama administration, the upcoming deal represents a prime opportunity to do another end-run around the Constitution—to impose major restrictions on the American economy through an international agreement, while ignoring the requirement that treaties be ratified by the U.S. Senate.
That pesky Constitution and the Clean Air Act stand in the way (more…)
We’ve been reminded in recent weeks of the depths to which Islamofascist terrorists will go, from the December murder of 132 schoolchildren by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban) to the January immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot by ISIS, an act that was shown to the world in a professionally edited video.
These acts seem to make little sense. Why would the terrorists commit atrocities that seem likely to backfire on them, to rouse their opponents to action?
Indeed, the website Catholic Online noted (http://www.catholic.org/news/international/asia/story.php?id=58067 ), regarding the school attack:
Analyst Peter Bergen believes this attack could backfire most spectacularly against the Afghanistan Taliban. While the group may have gained a lot of publicity, Bergen says, this attack on schoolchildren is seen as beyond the pale. The ripples will be felt through Pakistani politics.
“If the intent was to get the Pakistani military or the Pakistani government to back down, that is just not going to happen,” he said. “I think the level of outrage in Pakistan right now is off the charts.”
Regarding the killing of the Jordanian pilot—he was put in a cage and set aflame—the International Business Times reported (http://www.ibtimes.com/general-allen-isis-burning-pilot-backfired-strengthened-coalition-against-extremist-1809148 ):
Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen says . . . the video released last week showing Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death in a cage could be considered a tipping point in the battle against the terrorist Islamist group. . . .
Asked if the video released last Tuesday backfired, Allen responded, “Absolutely it did.”
“It’s a very important moment for our Arab allies in the [anti-ISIS] coalition,” he added.
Allen, President Obama’s special envoy to the coalition, said the ISIS atrocity has “galvanized the coalition” and unified it. King Abdullah II of Jordan has indicated he wants to do more to eliminate the terrorist group.
Gosh, those terrorists must be really stupid!
Or maybe not.
Currently, Islamofascism may be in its best strategic position in hundreds of years. Imperialist Islam held territory in the region that’s now Spain and Portugal (plus part of France) during the period from 711 to 1492, and reached as far as the gates of Vienna in 1683. Today, ISIS controls an area bigger than the U.K.; Iran-backed Houthis have taken Yemen; Iran is about to get the atomic bomb and, perhaps, missiles that can reach the U.S.; Boko Haram controls Nigerian territory the size of Belgium; and, if demographic trends continue, we’re a few decades away from a Muslim France.
They’re winning. The terror they inflict is part of a strategy that’s working.
Terrorists—those who commit violence against civilians, creating a climate of fear, in order to achieve political goals—know that the atrocities they commit are unlikely to bring down governments directly. What they’re counting on is for governments to react in ways that are detrimental to themselves.
It’s a principle that is important in game theory.
In The Art of War, the ancient Chinese treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, we are instructed to make ourselves appear to be weak where we are strong and appear to be strong where we are weak, so that the enemy will mistakenly attack us where we are strongest.
The key to winning a game of chess is to lead your opponent into making a mistake. Indeed, if two players play perfectly, a chess game will always end in a draw. Likewise, football is a game based on trickery, on drawing the other team into making mistakes. (Seahawks fans know what I’m talking about.) The game of terrorism and counter-terrorism may be far more serious than chess or football, but the same principles apply.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote last week (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/does-the-barbarism-have-a-logic/2015/02/05/3653a126-ad6b-11e4-abe8-e1ef60ca26de_story.html ):
Why did they do it? What did the Islamic State think it could possibly gain by burning alive a captured Jordanian pilot?
I wouldn’t underestimate the absence of logic, the sheer depraved thrill of a triumphant cult reveling in its barbarism. But I wouldn’t overestimate it either. You don’t overrun much of Syria and Iraq without having deployed keen tactical and strategic reasoning.
So what’s the objective? To destabilize Jordan by drawing it deeply into the conflict.
At first glance, this seems to make no sense. The savage execution has mobilized against the Islamic State and given it solidarity and unity of purpose.
Yes, for now. But what about six months hence? Solidarity and purpose fade quickly. Think about how post-9/11 American fervor dissipated over the years of inconclusive conflict, yielding the war fatigue of today. Or how the beheading of U.S. journalists galvanized the country against the Islamic State, yet less than five months later, the frustrating nature of that fight is creating divisions at home.
Terrorism is a strategy used by forces that, on the surface, are hopelessly outmatched, in order to trick the terrorists’ enemies into defeating themselves.
(That, by the way, is why the term “War on Terrorism” is a misnomer. Calling our conflict with Islamofascism “the War on Terrorism” is like calling the war against the Nazis “the War on Tanks.”)
Often, governments under terrorist attack react by restricting people’s freedom, or by instituting security measures that drain their pocketbooks. Such governments grow more powerful, and inevitably more corrupt. Over time, people get fed up and demand that their governments sue for peace with the terrorists, or, in extreme cases, people throw out the existing government in the hope that whatever comes next will be an improvement.
The 9/11 attacks drew the U.S. into a war in Iraq that altered the balance of power in the region. For one thing, it eliminated Saddam Hussein’s government as a counterbalance to Iran. (In simple terms, the U.S. had spent years maneuvering Iran and Iraq into fighting each other instead of going after us.)
In Spain, the Madrid bombings of 2004 occurred three days before the election; the government blamed the attack on Basque separatists, then got caught in a lie when it turned out to have been committed by Islamic terrorists. The socialists were elected, implemented “green” and otherwise socialist policies, and crippled the country’s economy so badly that Spain’s condition did significant damage to the entire European Union. Still stinging from their loss of Spain hundreds of years ago (they still call it “Andalusia,” its occupation name), the Islamofascists celebrated the country’s plight.
In the U.S., the stress of the Iraq War—the drain on the economy, the loss of life and limb—brought extremists to power in Congress in 2006. Two years later, they took the White House. President Obama helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt (temporarily, fortunately for us), waged an illegal war in Libya (effectively on the side of Al Qaeda), and tried to intervene illegally in Syria (which would have helped ISIS). Just last week, the President made the case that the Christian-dominated West lacks moral authority to stand up to the Islamofascists. We shouldn’t get on our “high horse,” he said. Without the 9/11 attack, which led directly to the Iraq War, it’s highly unlikely that Americans would have elected an extremist as President.
Another effect of the government’s response to 9/11: illegal spying by government agencies, such as the NSA’s systematic violation of the 4th Amendment, which undermined Americans’ faith in their own government.
In countless ways, we are a weaker country today than we were before 9/11. We are poorer and less free, and less able to oppose the Islamofascists in the struggle for the hearts and minds of Muslims and people in the Muslim-dominated world.
The Islamofascists know what they are doing. They are in it for the long haul. As I’ve half-joked, these are people who refer to events of the 11th Century in sentences that begin, “Recently…”
Monsters they are. Fools they are not.
[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]
When the Obama administration classified the Taliban as “armed insurgents” rather than terrorists, some people were surprised and mystified. These people were shocked and puzzled when the Obamaites called the terrorist attack on Fort Hood a “workplace shooting,” when they referred to terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters,” and when they referred to Islamofascist terrorists as mere “extremists” (the same term they use for Tea Party supporters).
Likewise, many Americans scratch their heads in confusion when the President wages an illegal war in Libya that empowers Al Qaeda, helps bring an Al Qaeda-favored group to power in Egypt (temporarily, thank goodness), tries to aid ISIS in Syria before being forced to kinda-sorta fight it, and throws open the jail door for Islamofascist terrorists being held at Gitmo.
Some call him a bumbler; they say he’s in over his head and they assume that he wouldn’t do such things if he had had adequate preparation for his duties as Commander-in-Chief. If that’s what you think, you’re not giving him enough credit. He knows what he’s doing. It’s just that his actions are rooted in his background and his core beliefs, and in his membership in an ideological movement about which President Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick , once said: “They always blame America first.”
This effort to downplay the evil of our country’s enemies is nothing new.
Apologizing for murder and hate is just something that American leftists do. It’s in their nature.
Consider the things they said about the communists. (more…)
No Shame on the Left:
Herb and Marion Sandler have concealed their role in the housing crisis with large gifts to left-wing causes [PDF here]
By Jonathan M. Hanen
Summary: Herb and Marion Sandler made billions of dollars in the mortgage business they sold, and many observers across the political spectrum have noted the harmful role they played in the housing meltdown. Yet their philanthropic efforts, tilted heavily to the far left, have helped them maintain respectability even among those who criticize non-leftist financiers. Mrs. Sandler died in 2012, but her husband soldiers on with their billion-dollar family foundation, supporting the kind of Saul Alinsky-type community organizers who were so helpful when the Sandlers wanted pressure put on business rivals.
When junk-mortgage billionaires Herb and Marion Sandler gave $600,000 in 2007 to the Pew Charitable Trusts to protect sharks from human predators, it was more than wildlife preservation. In a way they acted out of professional courtesy. These heroes of the uber-rich progressive philanthropy set were pious-talking loan sharks who founded World Savings Bank, through which they gained riches by being the first to push an exotic mortgage product called the “option ARM” (Adjustable Rate Mortgage). It was, as some critics put it, a weapon of mass financial destruction.
“They pushed [mortgage products] which offered several ways to back-load your loan and thereby reduce your early payments, with increasing zeal and misleading advertisements over the next two decades,” Time magazine noted in its February 2009 cover story, “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.” Option ARMs allowed real estate purchasers to borrow themselves into oblivion. Payments could be made so low that the mortgage went through “negative amortization.” In other words, when borrowers payments didn’t chip away at principal, or even at the interest piling up, the borrowers quickly found themselves underwater financially, owing more than their homes were worth.
This might not have been a problem if housing prices continued to rise indefinitely, but eventually they leveled off in many local markets, or even dropped precipitously. Even today, millions of Americans have homes underwater, and millions more are dangerously close, according to a 2014 Zillow report.
When the real estate market hit the wall a few years ago, the Sandlers’ mortgage portfolio was doomed. Its vaults were filled with dubious paper as ARM borrowers continued to seek out quick fixes, immersing themselves even further in debt. “This product is the most destructive financial weapon ever deployed against the American middle class,” housing lawyer William Purdy told the New York Times. In 2006, when Wachovia was fooled into purchasing Golden West Financial Corp., the parent of the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank, that lending institution held $122 billion in ARMs.
Wachovia coughed up $24 billion, and the Sandlers, who owned 10 percent of the shares, took in $2.4 billion personally. Not long after, the mortgage markets unraveled and the junk mortgage portfolio Wachovia had taken over began to implode, driving the bank near bankruptcy. Wachovia is no more. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank was sold to Wells Fargo at the end of 2008 in a $15.1 billion all-stock transaction.
The $2.4 billion the Sandlers pocketed turned them into royalty in the left-wing activist community. They gave about half of their profits to the Sandler Foundation. “Thanks to the Sandlers, Wachovia’s loss is the American Left’s gain,” reporter John J. Miller noted (National Review, Nov. 17, 2008).
Fundraising goes well for the Chicago-based Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the creation of the Obama presidential library and museum. The philanthropy took in between $2.75 million and $4.9 million last year, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Major donors from 2014 include big Democratic donor Fred Eychaner ($500,000 and $1 million) and the Joyce Foundation (between $250,000 and $500,000). Other donors disclosed by the Obama Foundation include hedge fund manager Michael J. Sacks and his wife, Cari ($250,001 to $500,000) and software entrepreneur/gay rights activist Tim Gill (amount not disclosed).
The IRS’s anticipated new regulations on political activity by nonprofit organizations—especially rules for 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups that have multiplied in number—are unlikely to be unveiled before midyear. That means, says the left-wing journalism shop ProPublica, that they may not be in place in time to affect the 2016 election. Although IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said last June that the new rules would surface early in 2015, IRS spokeswoman Julianne Breitbeil now says the agency will miss that deadline. In late 2013 the agency proposed a crackdown on politicking by nonprofits but withdrew the plan under heavy fire from both conservative and liberal activists.
The New York Times is suddenly alarmed that a growing number of affluent art aficionados are opening small, private museums, some with strictly limited visitor access. A recent article by Patricia Cohen expresses concern that these institutions’ founders “can deduct the full market value of any art, cash and stocks they donate, even when the museums are just a quick stroll from their living rooms.” Nonprofit museums such as the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Connecticut are situated near their founders’ homes, host few exhibitions, are closed the bulk of the year, or allow visitors to tour their facilities only by prearranged appointment. Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said such museums “do not follow the intent, even if they follow the letter, of the law” on art gifts. “They feed into the idea that the system is rigged toward the wealthy.”
Capital Research Center alumnus David Hogberg conducted an interview with the always interesting Dr. Thomas Sowell. The three-part interview was published by FrontPage magazine.
Hogberg is now a senior analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).
Here is the interview in its entirely:
Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America’s premier economists, has just released the 5th edition of his best-selling book, Basic Economics. He sat down recently for a lengthy interview not only on the topics in his new book, but also on current events. In part one of this three-part interview, Sowell discusses Ferguson, the Eric Garner case, and civil rights in America.