Thursday, May 22, 2014

America's Budding Tyrants

Walter E. Williams

From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Basic to their agenda are the tools of indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once they gain power, as leftists have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.

Back in 1964, it was Mario Savio, a campus leftist, who led the free speech movement at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, a movement that played a vital role in placing American universities center stage in the flow of political ideas, no matter how controversial, unpatriotic and vulgar. The free speech movement gave birth to the hippie movement of the '60s and '70s. The longhair, unkempt hippies of that era have grown up and now often find themselves being college professors, deans, provosts and presidents. Their intolerance of free speech and other ideas has become policy and practice on many college campuses.

Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, updates us on the campus attack on free speech and different ideas in his article titled "Obama Unleashes the Left: How the government created a federal hunting license for the far left" (

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the nation's most accomplished women, graciously withdrew as Rutgers University's commencement speaker after two months of campus protests about her role in the Iraq War. Some students and professors said, "War criminals shouldn't be honored." One wonders whether these students would similarly protest Hillary Clinton, who, as senator, voted for the invasion of Iraq.

Brandeis University officials were intimidated into rescinding their invitation to Somali writer and American Enterprise Institute scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam were said to have violated the school's "core values." Brandeis decided that allowing her to speak would be hurtful to Muslim students. I take it that Brandeis students and officials would see criticism of deadly Islamist terrorist gang Boko Haram's kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian girls, some of whom have been sold off as brides, as unacceptable and violative of the university's core values.

Azusa Pacific University, a private Christian university, canceled a planned address by distinguished libertarian scholar Charles Murray out of fear that his lecture might upset "faculty and students of color." In response to the cancellation, Murray wrote an open letter to the students, which in part read: "The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else." Unfortunately, such a scholarly vision is greeted with hostility at some universities.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school's movement to boycott Israel. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue would "not be guided by cardboard notions of civility." That professor might share the vision of Adolf Hitler's brown-shirted thugs of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party in their effort to crush dissent.

Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement. As such, they pose a far greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist organization or rogue nation. Multiculturalism and diversity are a cancer on our society. Ironically, we not only are timid in response but feed those ideas with our tax dollars and charitable donations.



Yes, Some People Will Have to Pay Back Their Obamacare Subsidies

Obamacare offers subsidies to help pay for health insurance – if you are buying insurance through the federal exchange and your income qualifies. But now the word is out that at least 1 million people are probably getting the wrong subsidy amounts.

The Washington Post has inside sources providing all sorts of juicy details on this problem – but it didn’t take an investigative reporter to predict this was going to happen.

Heritage expert Alyene Senger warned that Obamacare’s subsidies are tied to income – and if your income changes at any point during the year, your subsidy is supposed to change, too. She explained in January:

    "if a person’s income fluctuates, which happens more frequently than many realize, the subsidy amount will change from month to month. Thus, when it comes time to file taxes in April, the amount of subsidy received over the past year must be reconciled with the final calculation of the total subsidy for which the individual was eligible—based on actual income for the entire tax year.

    So if you qualify for more subsidy help than you receive during the year, you’ll get a tax refund. But if you were given more subsidy than your income qualifies you for, you will be required to repay the excess subsidy."

Now, the Post reports that the government is attempting to keep up with this – except that the part of Obamacare’s computer system that is supposed to match proof of income with people’s Obamacare applications is, well, not built yet.

Since taxpayers are funding the subsidies, it’s important to make sure the correct amounts are going to the correct people, right? Well, that does make the Obama administration “sensitive” these days, the Post says:

    "Beyond their concerns regarding overpayments, members of the Obama administration are sensitive because they promised congressional Republicans during budget negotiations last year that a thorough income-verification system would be in place."

This setup is a disaster. And it will ensnare a lot of people. Senger pointed to one analysis estimating that nearly 38 percent of families eligible for subsidies also experience “large income increases” at some point during the year – meaning they would have to pay back some or all of their subsidies.

“The issue is symptomatic of many problems that will plague the law in coming years,” Senger said.

Is it any wonder that 60 percent of voters in a recent poll said the debate about Obamacare is not over? And 89 percent said Obamacare will affect their voting decisions this fall.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is right – Obamacare is still not the answer for America’s health care needs. It’s time for Congress to look at patient-centered alternatives that would restore choice to American health care – and stop the unending tales of Obamacare disaster.



Unreal: Democrats Screen Anti-Koch Film at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

Apparently slingin’ rhetorical arrows at the Koch brothers from the Senate floor isn’t working out all that well. So you could say Congressional Democrats are stepping up their game

Serious question: What surprised you most? The fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi screened an anti-Koch documentary at the Capitol Visitor Center last night of all places or that “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” is a real film? Actually, don’t answer that question. If you’ve been paying close attention to the Senate Majority Leader’s incoherent mutterings finely-crafted speeches lately, neither one of these things should really surprise you:

    The show must go on — unless it breaks congressional rules.

    Rep. Candice Miller, the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, wrote to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday saying a scheduled film screening of an anti-Koch brothers movie in the Capitol Visitor Center is violating House and Senate rules.

    The screening for “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” is scheduled for Tuesday evening and both Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will participate in a question and answer session for the film.

    But, in letter obtained by POLITICO, Miller (R-Mich.) wrote that she has “several serious concerns” that using the Capitol Visitor Center for the film “may cross the line into partisan politics.”

    Rules created by the House and Senate committees charged with administration of the Capitol complex state that “no audio visual presentations in the CVC may premiere, preview, showcase, or publicize a film.”

    “We cannot hold partisan political rallies or fundraisers on the grounds of the Capitol, or within its walls. Our work in this hallowed building must solely be in the interests of the American people and not into the interests of any political cause,” Miller wrote.

A Pelosi spokesperson disagreed. She argued that the film was not “screened” in the traditional sense, but rather "shown" in “clips” at a press conference where these types of activities are legal. Sure.

Meanwhile, progressive billionaire Tom Steyer recently gave the Senate Majority PAC (read: Senate Democrats) a cool $5 million. Remember, though, that’s a “clean” donation. Why? Because it will go towards keeping the Koch brothers in check -- that is, from “trying to buy” our democracy, or whatever.



French socialism at work

Reuters reports that in order to boost GDP and to cement that even under hard-core socialism France is still a manufacturing powerhouse, the French national rail company SNCF had ordered some 2000 trains for an expanded regional network from the national rail operator RFF. There was just one problem: the trains were too wide.

And since the local station platforms can not fit the misshaped trains, France now has to spend countless millions and add to its already disturbing budget deficit  in order to repair and construct wider stations. The good news, of course, is that France gets to double count the benefit of the GDP "boost" - first for the screwed up train order, all thanks to some bureaucrat who didn't feel like double checking his numbers, and second to reconstruct all of its incompatible train stations. Surely this is the purest definition of economic "growth."

    Construction work has already begun to reconfigure station platforms to give the new trains room to pass through, but hundreds more remain to be fixed

How could such an idiotic mistake take place: does nobody double check anything under a socialist utopia? Apparently not:

    The mix-up arose when the RFF transmitted faulty dimensions for its train platforms to the SNCF, which was in charge of ordering trains as part of a broad modernisation effort, the Canard Enchaine reported.

    The RFF only gave the dimensions of platforms built less than 30 years ago, but most of France's 1,200 platforms were built more than 50 years ago. Repair work has already cost 80 million euros ($110 million).




Wait Till You Get the Bill

The Associated Press reports on the latest way ObamaCare is going to increase costs for many Americans: "The Obama administration has given the go-ahead for a new cost-control strategy called 'reference pricing.' It lets insurers and employers put a dollar limit on what health plans pay for some expensive procedures, such as knee and hip replacements. Some experts worry that patients could be surprised with big medical bills they must pay themselves, undercutting financial protections in the new health care law." Such "reference pricing" treats everything beyond an arbitrary limit as out-of-network care, even if it's not, which means billing will be higher with no help from your insurance company. And it won't count toward your out-of-pocket limit. Has there ever been a bigger fraud perpetrated on the American people than ObamaCare?

One-Percenter in Chief

Barack Obama released his financial disclosures and it turns out the president is rolling in the dough. According to The Blaze, Obama is worth $7 million, including the $400,000-a-year presidential salary and the royalties from his three books. He only paid $98,169 in taxes. With enough money to qualify him as a One-Percenter, maybe he should take the advice of Hillary Clinton who said at the New America Foundation Conference Friday, "America is strongest when prosperity is shared. ... I urge elites to pay their fair share." More...

Wrist Slapping for GM

What happens when Washington's darling car company, General Motors, does something embarrassing like ignoring a defect in its cars' ignition switches which then led to 32 accidents and 13 fatalities? When the government started looking, GM started 'fessing and the government slapped the automaker on the wrist with a civil penalty of $35 million. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, "What GM did was break the law. They failed to meet their public safety obligations. And today, they have admitted as much." While the transportation secretary could look stern announcing the fine, it was a fraction of the $1.2 billion Toyota has to pay for its sticky acceleration pedals. But wait... didn't the federal government own GM during all those years the company hid the ignition switch defect? More...

Banks Dump Gun Sellers

Gun companies on all levels, from parts manufacturers to local gun stores, have seen banks back away from doing business with them because the federal government defined gun companies as "high risk." The companies say the Department of Justices' "Operation Choke Point," a probe into credit card fraud, is an attack on the Second Amendment. Peter Weinstock, a lawyer with Hunton & Williams LLP, told the Washington Times, "This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent 'reputational risk' to do business with. So financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative in who they do business with: Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped." The Obama administration never has made secret its contempt for Liberty. More...



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently you don't know the difference between the nhtsa and the justice department.

The nhtsa fined GM $35 million which is the maximum fine they are allowed to levy. The justice department fined Toyota $1.2 billion.

In the several years prior to the justice department fine of Toyota the nhtsa levied 3 fines against Toyota that totaled approximately $49 million.

The justice department investigation into GM is just beginning, but just like Toyota since their's is a criminal investigation, their fines and or prosecution will come many months or even years after the nhtsa fines.

You might argue that there should be legislation to empower the nhtsa to levy larger fines, but I'm sure Republicans in congress would block any increased fines by a government regulatory agency.