Thursday, August 15, 2013
Naïve no more
By Rick Manning
At what point did you stop ascribing good intentions to the left?
Perhaps it was when you learned that the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign was financed by a $26 million gift from Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company that benefitted from regulations shifting utilities from burning coal to natural gas.
Or perhaps it is when you learned that the same Sierra Club that was strangely silent on hydraulic fracturing while going “Beyond Coal” suddenly became inflamed against “fracking” when the Chesapeake Energy “gift” was reported?
It might have been when you discovered that the big scene in the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, where the storyteller lights water directly from the tap on fire was nothing unusual as the water in the area has a high methane content and has been ignitable well before fracking ever came to town.
Or did you lose your innocence when it was revealed that the big Matt Damon anti-fracking movie bomb, “Promised Land”, was financed by oil exporter United Arab Emirates?
You might have been shocked when the liberal alternative energy advocates in Hyannisport, Massachusetts became the ultimate NIMBYs in opposing an off-shore wind energy farm of their coastline. Leading the hypocritical parade was RFK, Jr., a man who flies around the globe in his private jet attacking projects for their negative carbon footprint. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Junior opposed the wind farm off the shores of his family compound arguing that the energy could be replaced by a Canadian hydroelectric plant that he publicly opposed.
Some lost their faith when an Obama-assembled group of millionaires came to D.C. to urge passage of a so-called “millionaires tax,” but when asked if they would voluntarily give more money to the government on camera, not one stepped forward and was willing to write a check.
Others were stunned to learn that investment icon, Warren Buffett, who led the charge for higher taxes has been battling the IRS for years over whether his investment company should pay more than a million dollars more in taxes that the government claims they owe. It would seem if the second wealthiest man in the world really thought he should pay more in taxes, he could have written the check himself shielding his shareholders from the liability.
It could have been when you learned that Mr. Inconvenient Truth Al Gore sold his CurrentTV for a cool $70 million profit to middle eastern oil interests who have turned it into Al Jazeera America.
Obama supporters may have given up when they learned that after criticizing the concept of intercepting calls between suspected terrorists and their overseas operatives when Bush was president, Nancy Pelosi voted to allow Obama to effectively record every electronic communication from everyone without regard to that pesky little Fourth Amendment probable cause requirement.
If these crazy contradictions didn’t get you, you just may hit the tipping point in your trust when you learn that President Obama reacted to a request from Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not Congress, but the leading Democrat in the Senate) and found a way to exempt Congress and its employees from the devastating impacts of the massive increase in costs associated with Obamacare’s implementation.
As hard as they try, the left can’t blame John Boehner for this one. The very people who both voted for and have voted to keep Obamacare the law of the land, have now at the last minute found a way not only to give their labor buddies waivers from the system, but have given themselves a waiver as well.
The left’s assumed moral high ground has been so eroded that it now has the appearance of Death Valley when viewed from the 14,496 heights of Mt. Whitney.
The only problem is that when you stop giving the left the benefit of the doubt that they are misguided or perhaps just plain dumb, you come to the inevitable conclusion that their corruption is something much, much worse.
Are they nothing more than greedy opportunists who have discovered that government is the way to riches, or is it something even more insidious? That is for the newly disillusioned to determine, but next time you hear a liberal declare the equivalent of I’m from the government and I’m here to help, run for the hills, you have just met Colonel Sanders heading into the coop, and you are the chicken.
For Obama, Words Conceal the Indefensible
How the president uses language as a cover for the abuse of power
"The 'let me be clear' preface" is a recurring rhetorical tic for Obama, the Washington Post pointed out in 2010, and it's "become a signal that what follows will be anything but."
On Aug. 9, with his approval rating at a near all-time low of 41 percent, facing sharp scrutiny over the National Security Agency's dragnet data-collection plan, Obama held a press conference where he insisted: "I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people."
At the same time, Obama's Justice Department released a white paper defending the proposition that the PATRIOT Act allowed the covert collection of all Americans' phone records for a period of seven years because, under the language of Section 215, they're "relevant to an authorized investigation" of international terrorism.
Has there ever been a president whose career has depended so heavily on the power of language? Obama leapt onto the political scene with a stirring keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and, on the campaign trail in 2008, when Hillary Clinton suggested her opponent was too fond of speechifying, he responded with yet another passionate speech, declaiming: "Don't tell me words don't matter."
He was right, words do matter. Which is why it's ironic that the public case for so many of Obama's policies depends on doing violence to plain language. To our various "wars" on drugs, crime, and terror — add Obama's "War on Words."
The day before Obama's defensive presser, the Post's Charles Krauthammer accused the president of launching "the world's first lexicological war," marked by "linguistic tricks," "deliberate misnomers" and "transparent euphemisms."
Indeed, the euphemisms may be the most transparent thing about the self-styled "most transparent administration in history." Krauthammer, an inveterate hawk, focused on phrases suggesting that the president lacks the stomach for the War on Terror, or "overseas contingency operations," in Obama's preferred coinage.
But Krauthammer missed some of Obama's most glaring euphemisms, deployed to "disguise the unpleasantness" of war.
Last year, the administration added a new phrase to the doublespeak lexicon. Americans slated for death by drone go on something called "the disposition matrix," which lacks the harsh clarity of "kill list."
Harry Truman famously redefined war in Korea as a "police action." For its 2011 Libyan adventure, the Obama Team did HST one better: Raining cruise missiles on Tripoli isn't "war," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes insisted; it's "kinetic military action."
That's the kind of construction that makes your head hurt: "Kinetic," "resulting from motion" is the only kind of "action" you can have. What's the alternative? "Static" military action?
At times, it seems that Team Obama claims full-spectrum dominance over the English language itself. That's apparent in their legal position papers rationalizing undeclared wars, assassination of American citizens, and mass surveillance.
To get around the War Powers Resolution's limits on presidential war-making, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh argued that bombing Libya was "distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated" by the WPR.
In a DOJ memo that was leaked earlier this year, the administration claimed the right to kill U.S. Citizens who present an "imminent threat of violent attack." Despite what your dictionary may tell you, "imminent" doesn't mean "in the immediate future."
Nor, in the case of Friday's memo defending the legality of dragnet surveillance, does "relevant" mean "having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand."
Words matter because they mean things. But, as George Orwell wrote in 1946, when politics becomes "the defense of the indefensible ... language must suffer." This administration has made that all too clear
Welfare Can Make More Sense than Work
Most decisions in life are the result of a cost-benefit analysis. When residents in Connecticut consider getting a job, they assume they would be better off having a job than not. They’d be wrong. Because in Connecticut, it pays not to work.
Next Monday, the Cato Institute will release a new study looking at the state-by-state value of welfare. Nationwide, our study found that the value of benefits for a typical recipient family ranged from a high of $49,175 in Hawaii to a low of $16,984 in Mississippi.
In Connecticut, a mother with two children participating in seven major welfare programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, housing assistance, utility assistance and free commodities) could receive a package of benefits worth $38,761, the fourth highest in the nation. Only Hawaii, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia provided more generous benefits.
When it comes to gauging the value of welfare benefits, it is important to remember that they are not taxed, while wages are. In fact, in some ways, the highest marginal tax rates anywhere are not for millionaires, but for someone leaving welfare and taking a job.
Therefore, a mother with two children in Connecticut would have to earn $21.33 per hour for her family to be better off than they would be on welfare. That’s more than the average entry-level salary for a teacher or secretary. In fact, it is more than 107 percent of Connecticut’s median salary.
Let’s not forget the additional costs that come with going to work, such as child care, transportation and clothing. Even if the final income level remains unchanged, an individual moving from welfare to work will perceive some form of loss: a reduction in leisure as opposed to work.
That’s not to say welfare recipients in Connecticut are lazy — they aren’t. But they’re not stupid, either. Surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job. There is also evidence, however, that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities. Despite the work requirements included in the 1996 welfare reform, only 24 percent of adult welfare recipients in Connecticut are working in unsubsidized jobs, while roughly 41 percent are involved in the broader definition of work participation, which includes activities such as job search and training.
We shouldn’t blame welfare recipients. By not working, they are simply responding rationally to the incentive systems our public policy-makers have established.
Of course, not every welfare recipient meets the study’s profile, and many who do don’t receive all the benefits listed. (On the other hand, some receive even more.) Still, what is undeniable is that for many recipients — particularly “long-term” dependents — welfare pays substantially more than an entry-level job.
In a Connecticut recipient’s short-term cost-benefit analysis, choosing welfare over work makes perfect sense. But it may hurt them over the long term because one of the most important steps toward avoiding or getting out of poverty is a job. In fact, just 2.6 percent of full-time workers are poor, compared with 23.9 percent of adults who do not work.
Even though many anti-poverty activists decry low-wage jobs, starting at a minimum wage job can be a springboard out of poverty. And while it would be nice to raise the wages of entry-level service workers, government has no ability to do so. (Study after study shows that mandated wage increases result in increased unemployment for the lowest skilled workers).
If reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work is the goal, Connecticut legislators should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements. For its part, Congress should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions and narrowing the definition of work.
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Posted by JR at 12:37 AM