Scott Walter Named President of Capital Research Center

Scott Walter, former Special Assistant for Domestic Policy to President George W. Bush, has been named President of the Capital Research Center (CRC).

Established in 1984, CRC is an investigative think tank based in Washington, D.C., known for connecting the dots between the radical Left and activist groups, labor unions, foundations, and other nonprofits. It specializes in exposing cronyism and corruption. Notably, CRC first exposed the activities of the “community organizing” group ACORN, leading to ACORN’s defunding by Congress and bankruptcy.

“We are excited to bring Scott aboard as our new president,” said former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a member of CRC’s Board of Directors. “His experience and depth of knowledge as well as his long history of success in nonprofit leadership make him the perfect person to lead the Capital Research Center and expand its impact.”

Walter succeeds Terrence Scanlon, who is retiring after having served as chairman of the Board as well as President. Meese added, “I was proud to serve with Terry in the Reagan Administration, where he chaired the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The board thanks Terry for his two decades of service.”

Michael Franc, Director of D.C. programs and Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, succeeds Scanlon as Chairman of CRC’s Board. Franc said, “CRC will continue to champion America’s unsung heroes in the nonprofit world and to expose the groups that are eager to grow the power of government at all levels.” Prior to joining Hoover, Franc served as policy director and counsel for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He also served as the Vice President of government relations for the Heritage Foundation from 1997-2013, managing all the think tank’s outreach with Capitol Hill and the Executive Branch.

In addition to serving in the Bush (43) White House, Walter was Vice President of the Philanthropy Roundtable, where he edited Philanthropy magazine as well as guidebooks for donors on such topics as public policy research, school choice, and assistance to the poor. Walter writes regularly for PhilanthropyDaily.com and previously served as a senior fellow at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and as senior editor of the American Enterprise Institute’s flagship publication. A native of Knoxville, Tenn., he is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Stop me before I donate again

Leonard Harlan, former chairman, Castle Harlan, Fleur Harlan, board member, Manhattan Institute and Bernard Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Bls Investments, attend the Film Society of Lincoln Center tribute to Catherine Deneuve in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 2, 2012. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** TKTK

Bloomberg has an interesting piece on left-wing donor Bernard Schwartz today that highlights the absurdity of so-called campaign finance reform and the Left’s crazy ongoing assault on Citizens United.

The headline is, Top Clinton Donor Wants A Law Against $1 Million Gifts Like His.

Mickey Mouse figurines and photos of grinning politicians surrounded the 90-year-old investor Bernard Schwartz in his Manhattan office on Thursday. Four days earlier, new federal filings showed he gave $1 million to a super-PAC supporting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, making him one of her top backers and part of the campaign-finance system that her rival Bernie Sanders calls undemocratic and corrupt.

Schwartz, a former head of satellite maker Loral Space & Communications who’s no stranger to hefty political donations and was once a target of suspicion about the favors they buy, mostly agrees with the Vermont senator.

“PACs are a bad thing, it distorts the political process,” said Schwartz, who now manages his money as chairman of BLS Investments. “Rich people have the opportunity to get access.”

 Besides his August gift to Priorities USA Action, which supports Clinton, Schwartz has sent about $2.5 million of soft money to Democratic groups since 2010, according to Federal Election Commission filings. That year, a federal appeals court helped lift caps on what donors can give to some political action committees. Schwartz wants new limits, but he chuckled when asked how that clashed with his own generosity. He isn’t holding back, he said, as long as supporters of the rival party aren’t. […]

Bernie Sanders, ox, gets gored

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

So, Sanders voters…

Tell us again how vote fraud is just something that Republicans make up.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2016/02/02/some-democratic-precinct-results-unaccounted/79682184/

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/02/bernie-hopes-fair-count-missing-precincts/79683596/

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/christinerousselle/2016/02/02/bernie-sanders-campaign-claims-shenanigans-in-90-iowa-precincts-n2113648

http://atr.rollcall.com/sanders-campaign-party-lost-5-percent-of-iowa-vote/

http://wtkr.com/2016/02/02/did-hillary-clinton-really-win-the-iowa-caucuses/

http://observer.com/2016/02/despite-stunning-moral-victory-sanders-should-seek-iowa-recount/

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/voter-fraud-and-missing-precincts-how-clinton-stole-iowa/ri12583

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2016/02/02/some-democratic-precinct-results-unaccounted/79682184/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/02/politics/new-hampshire-primary-2016/index.html

http://www.mediaite.com/online/video-raises-questions-about-voter-fraud-in-iowa-caucus-sandersclinton-vote/

—–

Of course, this is not the first time that a party’s corrupt Establishment wing has done this.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/03/gop-candidates-await-iowa-verdict.html

http://americablog.com/2012/01/did-romney-win-iowa-through-gop-election-fraud.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2012/01/santorum-i-might-win-iowa-recount-071443

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/report-santorum-finished-34-votes-ahead-of-romney-in-new-iowa-tally-votes-from-8-precincts-missing/2012/01/19/gIQAJGuRAQ_story.html

http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/2014/q1/romney-admits-gop-stole-2012-nomination-for-him/

 

Soros Luvs Hillary

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Radical philanthropist George Soros gave $8 million to pro-Hillary Clinton super PACs in 2015, Kenneth P. Vogel reports in Politico.

Six million of those dollars were donated in December. That tidy sum went to Priorities USA Action, which was part of the Brocktopus when it was founded. (The neologism refers to the network of activist groups and PACs created by sleazy ex-journalist David Brock. Brock severed ties with the outfit last year.)

Left-wingers pay attention to Soros’s campaign donations.

As Vogel writes:

Soros is seen as a bellwether among rich Democrats. He is one of the few liberals who has shown a willingness to drop eight-figures in an election cycle, having donated more than $20 million in 2004 to groups that tried to oust then-President George W. Bush. After the failure of that effort, Soros dialed back his big-money political spending.

Despite intense courtship in 2012, Soros gave only $1 million to Priorities USA, which at the time was dedicated to supporting President Obama’s reelection. That year he told a close Clinton ally that he regretted supporting Obama over her in the 2008 primaries and praised Clinton for giving him an open door to discuss policy, according to emails released last month by the State Department.

Priorities USA was among the many super PACs assiduously courting him heading into 2016, and his huge check is sure to be interpreted as an encouraging sign headed into an election cycle in which conservative billionaires are expected to donate more than $1 billion to super PACs and other unlimited money groups.

Insuring Crony Capitalism

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Insuring Crony Capitalism

Obamacare leads trade groups to fight for a bigger place at the trough

by David Hogberg, Organization Trends, February 2016 (PDF to come)

Summary:  Obamacare was originally passed into law with the help of payoffs to industries in health care.  Now the law’s machinery encourages each part of the medical sector to advocate for policy twists that benefit their group at the expense of other groups—and of consumers above all.  For instance, the insurance industry wants to use government to squeeze drug makers, and part of this campaign involves a “nonpartisan” nonprofit think tank that’s designed to persuade the public that price controls on drugs will be swell.  Actually, the history of price controls proves the opposite.  If Americans want both innovation and incentives for lower prices, they will have to substitute competition in the marketplace for government-run health care.

The year 2009 must seem like the halcyon days for the health care industry and crony capitalism.  The process of passing a health care overhaul, eventually dubbed Obamacare, through Congress provided stakeholders in the health care industry ample opportunity to use the government to their advantage.  Instead of trying to convince consumers to purchase their products and services—i.e., instead of competition via the marketplace—health care companies would support government policies that forced people to purchase their products and used subsidies from taxpayers to lessen the pain of the purchase.

It seemed there was something for almost every stakeholder.  As the saying went during the debate over Obamacare, “Better to be at the table than on the table.”  The insurance companies secured an individual mandate that requires most Americans to purchase their services.  Other goodies for insurers included government subsidies to help people purchase health insurance and a bailout—called a “risk corridor”—for insurers who lose money in the Obamacare exchanges during their first three years of operation.  In return, the insurance industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), publicly backed the bill, and insurance companies spent millions of dollars lobbying for it.

The pharmaceutical industry made out pretty well too.  Prescription drugs were one of the “essential benefits” that Obamacare mandates all “qualified” health insurance must cover.  Through the benefit mandate, the pharmaceutical industry was getting an in-kind subsidy for its products.  The pharmaceutical industry also received a promise from the Obama administration that the amount it would have to contribute to health care reform would not be more than $80 billion over 10 years, down from an initial $100 billion.  The pharmaceutical industry’s quid pro quo was a $150 million advertising campaign in 2009 backing Obamacare.

Those days are over.  As 2016 dawns, one section of the health industry is flirting with another type of crony capitalism: using government regulation to hamstring some market players for the benefit of others.  Specifically, the insurance industry, with a big assist from the political Left, is supporting more government regulations on the pharmaceutical industry, new mandates that could ultimately lead to price controls.

Such price controls would no doubt boost insurance industry profits by artificially lowering the price of the prescription drugs that insurers must cover.  Yet price controls invariably have nasty side effects, such as shortages and decreased investment.  For patients, this could mean difficulty in getting much needed pharmaceuticals in a timely manner, and fewer new drugs that better treat disease.  Expect this sort of crony capitalism in the health care industry to continue as long as Obamacare is the law of the land.

Continue reading →

Green Watch January 2016: Kitzhaber and Hayes, “Greens” vs. Transparency: How do environmentalist politicians protect themselves from being held accountable?

Kitzhaber and Hayes: “Greens” vs. Transparency
How do environmentalist politicians protect themselves from being held accountable?  [PDF here] [This is Part 3. Click HERE for Part 1. Click HERE for Part 2.]
By Steven J. Allen

Summary: In Parts 1 and 2, we reported on the tangled web of power-hungry and greedy special interests—environmentalists, business people, and government officials (including White House advisors and governors of other states)—that was exposed in the scandal that forced the governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber (D), to resign.  In this final installment on the Kitzhaber-Hayes affair, we examine the ways the scandal is tied to key goals of the environmental Left.  One key goal: making it much, much harder for voters to hold “green” politicians accountable for the disastrous results of their policies.

This month, in Part 3 of our look at the scandals that forced Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber to resign, we examine a trip to Shangri-La (well, Bhutan) … the ways in which billionaires want to measure your happiness … how British Columbia took a “climate” stand, along with Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia … how Walmart cashed in on paper-drying … and how Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, after being advised on how to avoid the appearance of impropriety, just couldn’t take a hint.

Warming is coming. Run!
In last month’s issue of Green Watch, we were introduced to Kate Gordon, who was listed as a board member of the Clean Economy Development Center (the shadowy group that provided a “fellowship” to Oregon’s then-First Lady Cylvia Hayes). Gordon links billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer to the concept of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which we’ll get to in a moment.

Some background: To the “green” Left, cost-benefit analysis is a problem. Even some environmentalists admit that many supposed anti-Warming measures would do real harm to the economy, especially to poor and working-class people—greater harm than the Warming itself. To get around that problem, activists have worked to build up the current and future threat of Warming. It’s been blamed for everything from the spread of AIDS to the future extinction of coffee beans and red-headed humans, from bumpy plane rides to the loss of people’s sex drives to a rise in the pitch of the croak of the coqui frog of Puerto Rico. [See Green Watch August 2014.] Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a recent Democratic presidential debate that “In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.”

Summing up all the Warming harm is hard work, and work to which billionaire Steyer has turned his attention. In February 2014, Anne C. Mulkern of E&E [Energy and Environment] reported:

High-profile billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer held center stage at an event here [in Santa Barbara, California] . . . In his final minutes, Steyer announced that he planned to launch an effort to quantify what inaction on climate change could cost the country. When a reporter afterward raced for Steyer, he begged off questions, waving for his aide, Kate Gordon.

[For the rest of the article, click HERE.]

Not letting ethics get in the way of a good science story or irreproducibility in the way of a good study

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

Due diligence in press coverage of scientific studies? Most of the time, reporters can’t be bothered.

Any journalist who writes a first-generation story based on a scientific study is attesting to the fact that he or she (a) has read the study and (b) has concluded independently that the study is, in all probability, valid—that the study was actually conducted as the study’s author claimed, that proper scientific procedures were followed as the study was carried out, and that the results were fairly analyzed.

(“First-generation” means that the story is the first one to report on the results of the study, or is among the first wave of such stories. Requiring the same of every journalist who later cites a study-based story would be an impossible standard to meet, but even second-generation and later stories should display appropriate skepticism.)

The journalistic standard is: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” Yet, when it comes to their stories based on supposed scientific studies, reporters almost never bother to read the studies.

Here’s an example. In September 2014, hundreds of newspapers published a version of this story (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/09/us/climate-change-will-disrupt-half-of-north-americas-bird-species-study-says.html  ):

The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone.

Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.

The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose “more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.” An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said.

Politico considered its version of the story so important that, in its print edition, it placed the story on the front page above the name of the publication.

The stories about the Audubon report shared one important characteristic: Not a single one of them was written by a reporter who had read the report. How do I know that? Because the report wasn’t finished. It was, at the time of the press coverage, in the process of being reviewed for publication. (The New York Times article had a link that appeared to lead to the study, but it was actually to an Audubon Society webpage that contained a cartoon explaining the study.) A scientific study that hasn’t completed the peer-review process isn’t a real study that can be cited, as has been noted by Global Warming activist and Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes.

Only a few news stories about the Audubon study mentioned that it wasn’t actually finished yet. One exception: Michele Berger’s piece on the Weather Channel website (https://weather.com/science/news/climate-change-could-hurt-half-north-americas-birds-20140909 ), which noted: “Though the work hasn’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, [the lead author] said two manuscripts are in the late stages of the process and a third is about to be submitted.”

The news stories about the Audubon report were based not on the study itself, but on the press release about the report, or on other news reports about the Audubon report, or, perhaps, on that cartoon on the Audubon website.

The next time you see an article based on a scientific study, try to find a copy of the study. Often, it’s nowhere to be found, or it’s behind a paywall, which keeps out any reporter who can’t or won’t pay $20 or $30 or whatever the fee is. (That’s pretty much all reporters.)

Even if a reporter can find a copy, that wouldn’t help much in most cases. As is clear from coverage of Global Warming, the percentage of reporters who are competent on matters of science—who can read a scientific study and make an informed judgment about its validity—is very small.

With any scientific study, there are questions about whether the study was well designed, and whether it was well conducted, and whether the resulting data were interpreted reasonably. The key, as it is in all science, is replicability (reproducibility). (A magazine of science-related satire is named The Journal of Irreproducible Results.)

The key question is: If someone else does the same research or conducts the same experiment, will he or she get the same result?

If it’s not replicable, it’s not science.

Often, it’s not replicable.

Consider a recent effort by The Reproducibility Project.

Smithsonian magazine (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scientists-replicated-100-psychology-studies-and-fewer-half-got-same-results-180956426/ ) reported on an effort to replicate studies in peer-reviewed psychology journals.

According to work presented today in Science, fewer than half [actually, almost 60 percent] of 100 studies published in 2008 in three top psychology journals could be replicated successfully. The international effort included 270 scientists who re-ran other people’s studies as part of The Reproducibility Project: Psychology, led by Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia.

The eye-opening results don’t necessarily mean that those original findings were incorrect or that the scientific process is flawed. When one study finds an effect that a second study can’t replicate, there are several possible reasons, says co-author Cody Christopherson of Southern Oregon University. Study A’s result may be false, or Study B’s results may be false—or there may be some subtle differences in the way the two studies were conducted that impacted the results.

“This project is not evidence that anything is broken. Rather, it’s an example of science doing what science does,” says Christopherson. “It’s impossible to be wrong in a final sense in science. You have to be temporarily wrong, perhaps many times, before you are ever right.”

Across the sciences, research is considered reproducible when an independent team can conduct a published experiment, following the original methods as closely as possible, and get the same results. It’s one key part of the process for building evidence to support theories. Even today, 100 years after Albert Einstein presented his general theory of relativity, scientists regularly repeat tests of its predictions and look for cases where his famous description of gravity does not apply.

“Scientific evidence does not rely on trusting the authority of the person who made the discovery,” team member Angela Attwood, a psychology professor at the University of Bristol, said in a statement “Rather, credibility accumulates through independent replication and elaboration of the ideas and evidence.”

Digital Journal described the replication effort this way (http://www.digitaljournal.com/science/why-some-science-is-actually-bad-science/article/455538 ):

Good science needs to be repeatable. Sometimes claims made in journals cannot be replicated. One of the reasons for publishing science papers is so another qualified scientist can replicate the research. The experimental claims made don’t always stack up. One group from Stanford University recently attempted to a reproduce the findings of 100 psychology papers. They only managed to achieve similar results for 39 of the studies, meaning that around 60 percent of the described studies were so poorly constructed they could not be proven.

It’s a growing scandal in science, that a lot of science—particularly with regard to controversial political issues—isn’t actually science. About which, more in a subsequent column.

 

Shocked—shocked!—at bias going on in Paris

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

2015’s best (worst?) demonstration of media bias on environmental issues:

As politicians completed their work on the Paris Treaty (the one on Global Warming), Miranda Johnson, environment correspondent for the London-based The Economist (one of the world’s top newsmagazines), likened the air of excitement in the pressroom to that among spectators at a classic soccer game.

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When the Treaty was finalized, Johnson celebrated by posting cellphone video showing the jubilation among her fellow journalists.

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image006  image008  image010

For the rest of our lives, whenever we need to cite an example of journalistic ineptitude, ignorance, extremism, and general kookery… well, we’ll always have Paris.

Misdeeds Large and Small

Obama_Fogle

Misdeeds Large and Small
Three recent scandals show donors cannot be too careful what they fund
By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Foundation Watch, January 2016 (PDF here)

Summary:  What do these three people have in common?  A morbidly obese man hailed by Michelle Obama for setting a good example for Americans by slimming down turns out to be a sex offender.  A race-obsessed Black Lives Matter activist turned newspaper columnist insists he’s African-American even though he’s not.  A holier-than-thou Latino actress aims to politically empower fellow Latinos – but only if they’re Democrats.  These three people have all created or had connections to sketchy nonprofit organizations.  Donors beware.

Two of the Left’s favorite trump cards to play are (1) to claim a monopoly on compassion and (2) to use a cult of personality to soar above the regular people. Typically, the compassion argument is used to justify massive government programs. Some of the same liberals—in many cases to their credit—still embrace private charity as well. Still, most liberals have an equivocal view of private charity, and given the highly mixed records of some liberal charities, that may be understandable.

This report will examine three striking examples of this phenomenon, involving charities tied to a Hollywood celebrity, to someone who wants to be black, and to someone currently in prison.

Of these three examples, Democratic Party celebrity/activist Eva Longoria is perhaps the best of the worst. Black Lives Matter leader Shaun King’s complicated relationship with the truth puts him somewhere in the middle. And clearly the most disgusting example is Jared Fogle, formerly known as the Subway guy, now someone Subway wants to forget about.

Aside from separate personal or legal issues they dealt with, each of these individuals were directly involved in starting nonprofit charities and then watching as the organizations become engulfed by ethical questions. Also, to some degree, each expressed their sympathies with the Democratic Party.

Fogle’s Fundraising
Jared Fogle had possibly the most astonishing fall of any celebrity spokesman. Be­coming the Subway guy in 2000, he was famous for losing 245 pounds by eating only low-fat subs at the fast food chain. His testimonial boosted the restaurant’s profile as well as Fogle’s image and wallet.

In between the time he burst on the public scene and was hobnobbing with politicians, celebrities, and professional athletes, he posed for pictures with then-Senator and longshot presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007. President Obama’s economy apparently didn’t keep Fogle from eating, as he gained 40 pounds by 2010. But Subway used that to its advertising advantage in getting their beloved Jared back into shape. Fogle even ran the New York marathon, finishing in five hours, 13 minutes and 28 seconds.

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Fox Media Hit on Gun Control Propaganda

Gun_Punisher

CRC senior editor Matthew Vadum was quoted by Fox News in an online article a few days ago.

The Jan. 13 post by Hollie McKay is titled, “Hollywood stars follow Obama’s gun control script, tweeting White House talking points on cue.”

Here’s the relevant portion of the article:

Still, such close coordination with the White House amounts to “Using allies to spoon feed and crowd-source radical political propaganda,” said Matthew Vadum, senior editor at the Capital Research Center.

“In the Obama era, the entertainment industry has been openly complicit in administration plans to promote so-called health care reform, for example, gleefully parachuting pro-Obamacare propaganda into TV shows,” Vadum said. “As the president tries to unilaterally crack down on firearms, it’s not like he needs to put a gun to Hollywood heads. Zombie-like, they’ll repeat any words he stuffs into their mouths.”