Hell: Freezing?

The Star/Tribune Editorial Board, perhaps shockingly, called for a special prosecutor in the IRS Scandal:

That’s a necessary step, and the request should be expediently heeded by the Obama administration. Although there are two investigations underway in the Republican-controlled House, a nonpartisan review by an investigator with bipartisan respect and technological expertise is sorely needed. The public needs reassurance that the nation’s tax-collection agency is run with integrity and that anyone who may have abused its formidable authority has been held accountable.

So far, so good.

But then we swerve into the weeds:

The decision on whether to appoint a special prosecutor, officially called a special counsel, lies with the Department of Justice.

That’s long for Eric Holder.  The guy who’s been stonewalling several other investigations of Obama administration corruption, Fast and Furious chief among them.

IRS officials have insisted that the lost e-mails were just an unfortunate computer meltdown and that the extra scrutiny of groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names was a regrettable mistake. If this is trumped-up, as Democrats often and sometimes accurately deride other House investigations, there’s nothing to fear by appointing a special prosecutor to put this long-simmering scandal to bed.

Or – as Holder will do – whitewash it. 

Still – while the Strib’s editorial board exhibits its inner pollyanna about the DOJ’s inner gestalt, at least it’s heart is in the right place, kind of:

It’s foolish to think this is going to blow over — or that it should. A May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration unequivocally concluded that the agency used “inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions.’’…a thorough reading of the report underscores that conservative groups were targeted.

The real question is:  can we, The People, trust an Obama Administration appointee to police his boss? 

There was a time we could count on the media to ensure someone like Holder’s behavior would be above board. 

Perhaps we need a special investigator into that

Straw

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Naturally, I favor the dissent in the Abramski straw-buyer gun case.  This section caught my eye:

That Abramski’s reading does not render the Act’s requirements “meaningless” is further evidenced by the fact that, for decades, even ATF itself did not read the statute to criminalize conduct like Abramski’s. After Congress passed the Act in 1968, ATF’s initial position was that the Act did not prohibit the sale of a gun to an eligible buyer acting on behalf of a third party (even an ineligible one). See Hearings Before the Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 94th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 1, 118 (1975).A few years later, ATF modified its position and asserted that the Act did not “prohibit a dealer from making a sale to a person who is actually purchasing the firearm for another person” unless the other person was “prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm,” in which case the dealer could be guilty of “unlawfully aiding the prohibited person’s own violation.” ATF, Industry Circular 79–10(1979), in (Your Guide To) Federal Firearms Regulation1988–89 (1988), p. 78. The agency appears not to have adopted its current position until the early 1990’s. See United States v. Polk, 118 F. 3d 286, 295, n. 7 (CA5 1997).

The majority deems this enforcement history “not relevant” because the Government’s reading of a criminal statute is not entitled to deference. Ante, at 22. But the fact that the agency charged with enforcing the Act read it, over a period of roughly 25 years, not to apply to the type of conduct at issue here is powerful evidence that interpreting the Act in that way is natural and reasonable and does not make its requirements “meaningless.”

“Even if the statute were wrongly thought to be ambigu­ous on this point, the rule of lenity would defeat the Gov­ernment’s construction. It is a “familiar principle” that “‘ambiguity concerning the ambit of criminal statutes should be resolved in favor of lenity.’” Skilling v. United States, 561 U. S. 358, 410 (2010). That principle prevents us from giving the words of a criminal statute “a meaning that is different from [their] ordinary, accepted meaning, and that disfavors the defendant.” Burrage v.United States, 571 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 12). And it means that when a criminal statute has two possible readings, we do not “‘choose the harsher alternative’” unless Congress has “‘spoken in language that is clear and definite.’” United States v. Bass, 404 U. S. 336, 347–349 (1971). For the reasons given above, it cannot be said that the statute unambiguously commands the Government’s current reading. It is especially contrary to sound practice to give this criminal statute a meaning that the Govern­ment itself rejected for years.”

I wasn’t aware the government had reversed its interpretation of the statute and I never heard of a rule of lenity.  But the dissent makes sense to me.

Joe Doakes

Further proof that:

  • We have too many laws
  • The fact that our laws are enforced, not enforced, or overeenforced at the discretion of government according to political priorities is a sign that your government is becoming more lawless, and merely turning into the gang with the coolest guns.

Time to fix both.

Outsourced

Georgia town privatizes just about everything that’s not elected; the experiment has been a raving success.

Sandy Springs, Georgia has, for the past nine years, privatized just about every facet of government:

To grasp how unusual this is, consider what Sandy Springs does not have. It does not have a fleet of vehicles for road repair, or a yard where the fleet is parked. It does not have long-term debt. It has no pension obligations. It does not have a city hall, for that matter, if your idea of a city hall is a building owned by the city. Sandy Springs rents.

The town does have a conventional police force and fire department, in part because the insurance premiums for a private company providing those services were deemed prohibitively high. But its 911 dispatch center is operated by a private company, iXP, with headquarters in Cranbury, N.J.

“When it comes to public safety, outsourcing has always been viewed with a kind of suspicion,” says Joseph Estey, who manages the Sandy Springs 911 service in a hushed gray room a few miles from city hall. “What I think really tipped the balance here is that they were outsourcing just about everything else.”

Critics’ response, summarized?  ”Yeah, but Sandy Springs is wealthy!  And white!  And privatizing government leads to gated communities!”

Responses?

  • Sure, it’s wealthy! (And 30% minority).  And they get to keep a lot more of that wealth than if they were in a city where government was the biggest for-profit enterprise.
  • Flint and Detroit were wealthy, too, before successive waves of government and big-union rent-seeking gutted them like deer.
  • If people decide to vote with their feet and hard-earned money for “gated communities”, that’s more a verdict on government than on them.  But it’s irrelevant; Sandy Springs is not a “gated community”; it’s a city that privatized every government function that could be put into a contract.

Mention this in the Twin Cities, of course, and people will recall the Saint Paul suburb that tried to contract out its snow-plowing.  According to accounts (written by government union members), it didn’t work well.  Of course, the contract – written by those same government workers – didn’t spell out performance standards, or at least spelled them out in a form that befitted a group of unionized city workers, if you catch my drift and I think you do.

You can predict the panic in response:

The prospect of more Sandy Springs-style incorporations concerns people like Evan McKenzie, author of “Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.” He worries that rich enclaves may decide to become gated communities writ large, walling themselves off from areas that are economically distressed.

“You could get into a ‘two Americas’ scenario here,” he says. “If we allow the more affluent to institutionally isolate themselves, then the poor are supposed to do — what? They’re supposed to have all the poverty and all the social problems and deal with them?”

Evan.  Bubbie.  Listen up.

In Chicago, the places were Rahm Emanuel and the Obama family live are as safe as a pediatric ICU.  Mere blocks away, the streets are shooting galleries.  This, in one of the most over-governed, over-bureaucratized cities in the country.

We don’t have “two Americas” now?

Doakes Sunday: Stand And Deliver

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

California students sued, claiming teacher tenure laws were unconstitutional.

“The students argued that they had terrible teachers who were nearly impossible to fire and who kept them from getting good educations.”

Students won in California.  They’re talking about bringing an action in other states, including Minnesota.  Can’t wait.

Joe Doakes

One can hope.  But I have to think Education Minnesota has been more diligent about buying judges than California was…

“The Dog Ate Our Hard Drive”

Now the Administration is claiming that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was lost, destroyed or recycled, so her emails may be lost forever. 

I’m not a networking guy, but I still call BS.

Perhaps if…

  • Lois Lerner’s hard drive
  • Lerner’s work-group’s email server’s hard drive
  • The RAID (large redundant hard-disk) array(s) and/or backup tape(s) to which Lerner’s work group email server backed up its emails
  • Any of the number of tapes, and/or mirrors of RAID arrays, to which the emails had been backed up in the interest of “disaster recovery”…

…(in other words, the exact same level of backup to which any private entity would be required to adhere to by law, or face default judgment in the event of litigation, including (especially!) from the IRS, and the level of backup all levels of all serious business practice to make sure they can respond to legal action, to say nothing of things like, well, hard drives going bad)…

…had all been “lost, destroyed or recycled”, they’d have a point. 

Odds?

INCIDENTAL NOTE:  This post is #11,000 since November, 2006.  Apropos nothing.

Oceania Has Never Bullied Eastasia, Winston

The bill that the Metrocrats chose to call the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” passed the Senate. 

Let’s look at what’s in a name.  Because the name “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” is intensely misleading – almost to a geometric fault.

There are so many names for this bill that are more appropriate:

The Redundant Feel-Good Act:  Every school district already has a bullying policy.  It’s the law. 

The PC Payoff Act:  This bill - probably soon to be a law – is a chit being paid back to the DFL’s supporters by the party currently in power, creating not only a protected class of students, but a super-di-duper protected class. 

The Full Employment For Bureaucrats Act:  This bill – which creates a huge unfunded mandate on top of all the others foisted on our school systems, to the point where many districts are nothing but mandate delivery systems with occasional spurts of “education” – will create a whole new class of administrators.  And they’ll belong to unions, who donate their dues money to the DFL. 

The Full Employment For Trial Lawyers Act:  The bill makes the entire process of dealing with “bullying” even more legalistic than it already is.  Legalistic means “designed to be controlled, and especially litigated (at an exquisitely expensive hourly rate) by lawyers”. 

The Type-Cast Your Child For Life Act:  Everything related to everything that can be defined as “bullying”, no matter how torturously, will become part of a child’s permanent academic record.  Which will affect childrens’ future chances at higher education, jobs, the military, jobs requiring security clearances and the like, long after the child has grown out of whatever phase they were in when they were bullies (and that’s assume they were rightly and justly accused of “bullying”, since the bill is also…)

“Stasi Had The Right Idea!” Act:   Anonymous informants?  Giving those who accuse others of bullying complete immunity from consequences if it turns out that the accusations were fabricated? 

The “Further Proof That North Dakotans Are Smarter Than Minnesotans” Act:  Other states – including our grown-up neighbor, my home state of North Dakota – address bullying by addressing bullying, passing laws that address actual behavior rather than creating the infrastructure for a network of secret denunciations and…

The Ideology Police Act:  …making all beliefs that don’t toe the PC line, especially personal religious beliefs, however manifested or stated, a form of behavior that needs to be watched and suppressed, overtly or subtly, “for the good of the children”.       

The “Let’s Have More Bullying, Not Less!” Act:  Bullying tends to go up, rather than down, in places with bullying bills.   

The Metrocrat Power Grab Of 2014 Act:  The bill – which does nothing to address bullying of children that isn’t already covered by existing policies – does coalesce more power to indoctrinate, to punish dissent from the state-sanctioned social views, and to extort more from the taxpayer in the bargain.  And it does it during the last session during which the DFL is guaranteed absolute power.                 

Could someone in the legislature please see to this?

An Extra In The Security Theatre

I’m going to commit to you this longish piece by Jason Harrington, “Dear America: I Saw You Naked“, from Politico.  It chronicles his time as a grad student marooned as a TSA screener at O’Hare. 

Of course, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely as not you aren’t a huge TSA fan.  And for all that, there are probably things in Harrington’s piece that’ll still get you mad.

But I am linking to this because it’d seem Mr. Harrington and I must have met. 

Because this person:

Every now and then, a passenger would throw up two middle fingers during his or her scan, as though somehow aware of the transgressions going on.

That’s me. 

Every time I fly.

Pretty Much A Summation Of Relative Levels Of Government Spitefulness

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If you speak out against Chris Christie for Governor, you get stuck in traffic for a while.

If you speak out against President Barak Obama, you get audited by the IRS, even if you’re dying of cancer.

Joe Doakes

In politics, people who think their ends justify their means are pretty much at the root of every evil, from planned traffic jams to the Holodomor.

Blight of Day

Is Detroit’s new-found cause célèbre ignoring the past to cloud the future?

George Clooney had the Sudan.  Bono has Africa.  Anthony Bourdain – and much of the American media - apparently has Detroit.

Michigan’s So Not Grand Central Station: built in 1912 and on the national registry of historic places. It was closed in 1988 and is one of Detroit’s estimated 78,000 abandoned buildings.

In recent months, the city of Detroit has witnessed two narratives arise in Phoenix-like fashion from the economic ashes of the city, often in conjecture with themselves.  One is the purported economic revitalization of the city that gave birth to Motown and the American automotive industry.  It is a narrative fostered by Quicken Loans founder (and Cleveland Cavs owners) Dan Gilbert who, among others, has put millions into Detroit to try and restore its grandeur.  The other narrative, the so-called “ruin porn” seen in picture form below, depicts Detroit as a third-world ghetto.  A Somalia on the St. Clair River.

The former delights the denizens of Detroit with hopes of a better future.  The latter rankles them.  Gilbert himself expressed outrage when 60 Minutes balance their report on the Motor City between Gilbert’s altruism and the destruction of the out-lying portions of the city, comparing it to Dresden after the Allied bombing of World War II.  Gilbert tweeted a defiant message, stating “a city’s soul that will not die was the story & they missed it.”  But even a sympathetic, blue-collar soul as Bourdain, whose CNN show Parts Unknown highlighted the city last night, saw the need to balance Detroit’s attempts to pick itself up off the ground with the stark realities of a city undone.

The Fisher Body Plant: once part of the GM empire

Both narratives ignore the Chrysler in the room – how Detroit got to where it is today.

If the “ruin porn” industry renders pity without judgement, the acts of Dan Gilbert and others, as well-intended as they obviously are, seek a future for Detroit without acknowledging its past or present.  Not once in 60 Minutes‘ coverage did the story’s telejournalism deal with the political causes for Detroit’s decay - a corrupt, one-party institution burrowed like a tick into City Hall.  Equally, if differently, ignorant are the views of Gilbert et al who believe that once their plans to remove all of Detroit’s blight (78,000 buildings), capital will come easily rushing back into the city:

Gilbert is no fan of urban farming, though. When he envisions land cleared of  blight, he sees developers rushing in to build anew…

“When that blight is gone, maybe we don’t have to be talking about shrinking cities because it will be such a rush of people who want to get into low-value housing — when all the utilities are there and the land is pretty much close to free— not exactly free, but close to it — and all the utilities are there, it becomes very cheap for a builder/developer to develop a residential unit, and they are going to develop them and develop them in mass as soon as we get the structures down and maybe we don’t have to worry about raising peas or corn or whatever it is you do in the farm.”

The Highland Park Police Station: even Detroit’s police stations no longer want anything to do with the city

And what will cause developers (yet alone individuals or businesses) to return to a city with the highest property tax rate in the country?  What will encourage retail industries when Michigan’s sales tax is 6% on top of that?  Detroit’s backers can honestly claim that the city ranks no where near the top of the tax chain (Detroit ranks 92nd nationally; Minneapolis is 52nd by comparison).  But the tax climate is far from ideal, especially the dubbed ”most dangerous city in America” with a murder rate 10-times the national average.  Throw in a 58-minute response time for police, to attract businesses back, Detroit may literally need the fictional hero RoboCop (to whom a statue is being built - seriously).

There isn’t much evidence that Detroit is about to change its ways.

The Merrill Fountain at Palmer Park: has sat empty for 50 years since being moved from the Opera House.  Vandals have stolen much of it.

The Merrill Fountain at Palmer Park: has sat empty for 50 years since being moved from the Opera House. Vandals have stolen much of it.

Since Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to appoint emergency manager Kevyn Orr last spring, Detroit’s journey to bankruptcy has been managed with minimal (some would say no) input from City Hall.  As the case has headed to court, where Orr has testified about Detroit’s long-term debts of $18 billion, city officials have fought the measure almost every step of the way.  The election of Mike Duggan as mayor, the former head of the Detroit Medical Center, has been advertised as the promotion of a turnaround artist.  But while Duggan had success revitalizing the city’s Medical Center, Duggan also ran on opposing Orr’s decisions and comes as a political protégé of former Wayne County Executive Edward McNamara – an official who backed the cartoonishly corrupt Kwame Kilpatrick and had FBI agents and state police raid his own office in November 2002, over alleged corruption in airport contracts and campaign fundraising.  Meet the new boss.

The American Hotel: built in 1926, the hotel is 11 stories high with over 300 rooms. It has remained vacant since the early 90′s.

Oh, there have been the requisite platitudes.  Duggan and Orr have broken bread in what was described as a “very good first meeting.”  And Duggan has said all the right things that a reformer would state, such as being “a huge believer in lean processing. If you are not excellent at making systems work, you cannot survive…”

But the inertia of the status quo has been apparent even after only one week from the election.  The Michigan House Appropriations Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. is angry that Duggan hasn’t called him yet.  Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis essentially threw down a polite ultimatum that Duggan must “honor” his commitment to working families, while suggesting the labor doesn’t trust the new mayor.  Duggan claims he just wants a seat at the table as Detroit’s debts are solved, and if Synder and Orr are smart, they’ll allow it.

Wilbur Wright High School: closed in 2005, this building actually is among the few on this list that has been demolished. 10,000 buildings have been torn down in Detroit since 2010.

The decision to abrogate Detroit’s city government in the bankruptcy process may have been politically necessary (Detroit certainly hasn’t come to grips with its position despite many, many, many opportunities), but doing so has allowed Snyder and Orr to play the villain while the usual suspects who caused this economic disaster play the victim.  However, it’s also allowed Snyder to take all the credit too.  67% of Michigan voters approved the move back in March (including 41% of Detroit), and the decision has given Snyder a welcome bump in his approval rating.  That’s a short term political fix to a long-term structural problem.

Mike Duggan may be a product of the system that failed Detroit, but he’s viewed warily by both it.  Orr’s contract expires in the fall of 2014; Duggan and the City Council can vote whether or not to renew it – almost literally the only voice they have in the process.  If that’s the first time Duggan has to impact the process, he’ll have likely caved by then to labor, vote to end Orr’s tenure and – more importantly – work to undo reforms set in place.  Should Rick Snyder not return in 2015, an opportunity to address Detroit’s deeper fundamental problems will have passed and a new administration will slap a band-aid bailout on the city, and hope more journalists write about Dan Gilbert than urban hunters who live off of raccoon to supplement their meals.

Teacher Of The Year

Perhaps you’ve heard; Minnesota’s new “Teacher of the Year”, Saint Paul science teacher Megan Hall seems to have answered the question “are today’s public schools nothing but left-wing indoctrination centers” with a rousing “Hell yeah!”

This is from her acceptance speech, with emphasis added by me:

Teachers are persistent and responsible and generous because we believe that every child in America, regardless of circumstances of birth, deserves a decent chance at a good life. [Applause] From where I stand, teachers create equality of opportunity. From where I stand, teaching is a profession that takes a gritty patriotism. And from where I stand, teachers are American democracy’s last line of defense against the tyranny of the 1 percent

Don’t believe me?  Here’s the video

How over the top was it?  Even the City Pages’ Aaron Rupar seemed to feel a little uncomfortable: “Yeah, maybe that would’ve been a good line to save for when you’re having beers with your liberal buddies after the speech”.

For all I know Ms. Hall is a perfectly adequate teacher – and in my experience in the Saint Paul Public Schools, adequate would have been pretty superlative.

But I have to wonder:  if Ms. Hall is protecting the students from “the 1%”, who is going to protect them from the Saint Paul Public Schools?

Because between the child abuse, the brain-dead kommissariat masquerading as a bureaucracy, and the massive horde of intellectually-walking-dead union members Ms. Hall shares a district with?

I’ll take my chance with those gol-durned rich folks, thanks.

But look at it her way; I suppose if I taught for a district with the worst major-market achievement gap in the United States, with a minority graduation rate lower than Miley Cyrus’ neckline, a district that minority parents were decamping from as fast as they can find open spaces in charter schools or suburban schools via open enrollment, I’d look for a scapegoat too.

Pitch Meeting

Joe Doakes of Como Park emails:

The Capitol Shooting story is looking less heroic and more like a blunder. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence she was a threat, only that she panicked when she turned into the wrong driveway.

Might make a good opening sequence for an action/thriller movie.

Black, single mother, divorced from abusive spouse, lives in Maryland but commutes to work in D.C. for some government agency. Walking down the corridor, she hears raised voices. Her boss, a nice Latina woman, is being given orders by a flabby middle-aged White man in a wrinkled suit. He demands she harass the administration’s political opponents, a group of Black, lesbian, abused, single mothers called BLAM, or he’ll have Social Services take her kids away.

The man sees a shadow, realizes he has an eavesdropper, gives chase. She runs out of the building. She wants to blow the whistle to higher authorities but her cell phone rings – her kid at daycare has a fever and they insist she pick up the kid immediately. She gets the kid in the car and heads for the FBI to report the crime but D.C. traffic is a nightmare because of the shut-down, streets closed, veterans in wheelchairs protesting at a monument. She turns into the wrong driveway by mistake, the cops yell and draw their guns. She’s afraid they are after her because of what she overheard, panics, drives off, is chased down and shot dead by half-a-dozen Capitol Security cops. Her child is left crying by the side of the road.

A brave investigative journalist decides to take on the Administration to get justice for the child. This is her story. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

I was thinking Julia Roberts for the lead but since you have such a close, personal relationship with Scarlett Johansson, I thought maybe you two could do lunch and work it out. Have your people call hers, won’t you?

Joe Doakes

I’m on it.

Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work

Governor Dayton is going to pay back the unions that bought his office for him – and he doesn’t care how much of your money he spends to do it:

In his relentless effort to pay back the unions for his close victory in 2010, Governor Mark Dayton is sending the state’s lawyers into court Thursday July 18th to argue against a group of childcare providers who are trying to block implementation of a new law. The new law was passed over strong Republican opposition in the 2013 session and will force childcare providers, most of whom are small independent businesses, to join a union.

…unless they stop taking state money, which means the availability of daycare for low-income parents is going to drop. 

Thursday’s court action is just the latest in a long running battle between Mark Dayton and small childcare providers who take care of Minnesota children while their parents go to work.

  • Shortly after his election, Governor Dayton tried to force a union vote on childcare providers through executive order. That action was blocked by a Minnesota district court judge who ruled Dayton had grossly overstepped the limits of his power.
  • With the help of $11 million in campaign spending from his union allies, Gov. Dayton succeeded in flipping both the House and Senate in 2012 into a more union-friendly Democratic majority.
  • During the 2013 session, despite overwhelming opposition from childcare providers and parents, Dayton and his new legislature passed a law that will force small independent childcare providers into a union against their will. The law will also drive up the cost of childcare for all Minnesota families while leaving fewer choices for those with lower incomes.

If you’ve got time to make it to a court hearing, tomorrow (Thursday) would be the day for it.  It’ll be at 9:30AM in room 15E of the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis. 

Governor Dayton is turning his back on Minnesota families by asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Show your support for Minnesota families by attending the hearing.

You can be sure plenty of hangers-on in purple and yellow shirts will be there.

Keep Hacking At It Until Your Score Drops Below 100

The DFL’s mulligan on the Care Provider Union Jamdown bill worked this time.

This story is from Demko at the MinnPost:

The vote came just two days after the bill, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, stalled in the finance committee on an 11-11 vote. Two Senate DFLers — Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka, and Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights — joined all Republicans in voting against the controversial measure, which could affect upwards of 20,000 workers.

On the second vote, Bonoff joined her fellow DFLers in voting in favor of sending it to the floor. Goodwin again voted against the proposal.

Bonoff’s explanation was an early-morning chuckle:

Bonoff made it clear that her vote was not an indication that she supports the unionization proposal. “Make no mistake, I’m not changing where I stand on this bill,” she said.

But Republicans argued that a vote to move the bill to the floor — even without any recommendation — was no different than voting in favor of it. “Don’t fool yourself,” said Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R- Paynesville. “This is just like voting yes.”

The DFL are in a jam, of course; if the unions don’t get thousands of new dues-paying members, stat, the DFL’s major non-Alida-Messinger, non-plutocrat funding stream dries up solid pretty quick here.

If it stalls anywhere else, look for DFL legislators to go on hunger strikes, and then start taking hostages.

I almost wrote “more hostages”, but that’d be a little dramatic.

Wouldn’t it?

War Pigfords

The New York Times – the apogee of American journalism, yessirreebob – has reported that a government program started under the Clinton Administration to settle discrimination claims by black farmers in dealings with the Agriculture Department was rife with fraud.

It started out as a small, measured payout.   The Justice Department thought it might wind up costing less than they’d feared.

They were wrong.

On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.

“I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department’s associate general counsel. “You can’t spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep.”

You haven’t seen me say this often on this blog, but read the whole NYTimes piece.

And then ask yourself – where have you seen it before?

Oh, yeah – Andrew Breitbart covered it.

Two years ago.

And the paid leftymedia – led by Soros’ pet reporterettes at Media Matters – has spent the entire time since claming it was a symbol of conservative racism.

Kanarienvogel im Kohlebergwerk

Over the past couple of days, critics – and a few parents – are making the usual outraged noises about MSNBC chat-bot Melissa Harris-Perry and her notion that parents’ idea that they, rather than government and society, are responsible for their children.

On the one hand, the news consumer needs to allow for the fact that Harris-Perry is a media figure who needs to create some sort of commotion to rise above the fray, especially at flailing MSNBC.

On the other?  The notion that government and our “elites” really do believe that they are lending our kids to us at their own sufferance is out there in many slightly-less-obvious ways.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeik are a German couple.  They’re Christians, they’re from Germany, and they brought their three (now six) children to the US when they were threatened with imprisonment for trying to home-school their kids.

And as much opprobium as American society – pop culture, the educational-industrial complex and the like – put on home-schooling here, it’s nothing compared to Germany:

Home schooling has been illegal in Germany since 1918, when school attendance was made compulsory, and parents who choose to homeschool anyway face financial penalties and legal consequences, including the potential loss of custody of their children.

And so the Romeikes, like many before them, came to the US.

To escape such legal action, the family fled to the United States in 2008 and was granted political asylum in 2010, eventually making their home in Tennessee. U.S. law states that individuals can qualify for asylum if they can prove they are being persecuted because of their religion or because they are members of a particular “social group.”

Now – do you consider risking prison and losing your children over choosing to raise their children in a way that is considered perfectly more or less perfectly normal in the US a form of persecution?

I certainly do.

But not the Obama administration:

The board overturned the initial asylum decision, arguing that homeschoolers are not a particular social group because they don’t meet certain legal standards, The board said that the home-schooled population is too vague and amorphous to constitute a social group.

“People who reject the local educational system” – as millions do in the United States with varying but usually minimal repercussions – aren’t a “social group?”

Apparently the only “social groups” the Obama Administration recognizes are the ones that chant about “the 1%”…

Now the family is fighting that decision in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the case on April 23.

“We think we have a pretty strong case,” Romeike family attorney Michael Donnelly told ABC News. “We feel that what Germany is doing by preventing this family and a lot of other families from exercising their rights in the education of their children violates a fundamental human right,” he said.

Donnelly says the right of parents to decide the direction of their child’s education has been established in Article 26, section 3 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

Most people don’t realize that compulsory education was part of a process established by Prime Minister Bismark in the 1870s to keep the German government, military and economy fed with the proper ratio of people; 10% officers/management/professionals, 30% non-commissioned officers/foremen/tradespeople, 60% soldiers and sailors/laborers and farmers.  People in manufacturing and retail would call it “supply chain sourcing”.  And the Big System can no more allow parents a role in the supply chain than WalMart can allow a company to hand-whittle their furniture their own way.

Fewer people realize that the likes of Horace Mann adapted the system to the United States in the early 1900s, and for more or less the same reasons.

Over the decades since – decades where people placed misguided trust in government – it became largely accepted that the government school (or parochial schools that largely aped the government style, with uniforms and some carefully-measured religious instruction thrown in for good measure) was not just the best way to educate kids – it was the only way.  That was intentional; public schools are a supply chain source, no less than the ones in Germany; it’s just that the manufacturing standards have changed since the 1960s.

Which is why the idea of school choice – home schooling, charter schools and open enrollment – was so openly and actively denigrated by the establishment.

So the Romeike case will be an interesting barometer of how the Administration views this key human rights issue.

The Care-Provider Unionization Debate In A Series of Nutshells

The Shorter Anti-Unionization Activist: “Unionization would force us to,raise prices. Forcing us to unionize to accept state aid payments would cause me to stop accepting kids who get state assistance. Providers can already join the union; in eight years, out of 11,000 providers, exactly 57 have joined. I already work hard on improving the quality of the care I provide. By the way, the stories of unethical behavior on union reps’ parts in the card check process are true and omnipresent. We are independent businesspoeple! If we wanted to work inside of a larger organization, we’d have stayed with our old careers!

The Shorter Rep. Nelson (author of the union jamdown bill, and a carpenters union activist in his per-legislative life): Unions all help provide better quality care, training, and standards.

The Shorter Response To Nelson From Providers: Um, those are the job, in order, of existing licensing authorities, and myself.

The Shorter Pro-union Daycare Provider: I’m a loving nurturing person. I teach my kids. Aren’t teachers unionized?

The Shorter Union AFSCME Rep’s Case, with the actual thought completed in parentheses This bill won’t force anyone into a union! (It’ll merely give a mass of unlicensed fly-by-night providers the right to compel all you licensed providers to unionize to if you get state money.

The Shorter Committee Chair Joe Mullery: Unions don’t skim anything.  

The Shorter Mary Franson (leading opponent of jamdown, and a former provider herself):. This bill isn’t about improving care. It’s about enriching union officials and funneling dues money to the DFL-supporting unions.

The Shorter Carly Melin (27-year old second term rep who was carted directly to her district after graduating from Hamline Law just in time to meet residency requirements, and neither has kids nor any notable non-legislative post-law-school job history): Hey! Don’t insult the unions!

The Shorter Results:. Six in-the-bag-for-the-unions DFLers “yes”, five Republivans “no”.

Open Letter To The Entire American People

To:  Everyone in the USA
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant who’s been through it all before
Re:  ”Sequestration”

Hey, everyone,

You may not remember this, but we’ve been through all this before.  Remember the “partial government shutdown”, back in the nineties?  It was a whole big nothing-burger.

Oh, the Clinton Administration tried to make sure that the people felt whatever pain was generated – closing parks, cramping down on the voters.  But as a rule, the whole thing affected nobody.

And here in Minnesota, we had a “complete” shutdown two years ago (which, again, wasn’t – the courts kept most of the government going as “essential”).  It lasted a few weeks.  Then Governor Messinger Dayton abandoned it, when he realized Minnesotans, for all his efforts to squeeze and scare them – shutting down state parks and highway rest areas, threatening to lay off teachers – barely noticed any difference.  While the media did its best to prop up the Messinger Dayton line, the people of Minnesota heard the gales of calumny but saw and felt a big fat nada burrito.  Even Governor Messinger Dayton – as cosseted and isolated from reality as his staff keeps him – noticed; on his trip around the state to whip up support for the DFL budget, he saw tepid crowds of union droogs, and a few professional protesters, and realized he had nothin’ (which may be why Dayton makes so few public appearances these days).

So it’s time for “sequestration” – the “radical” budget cuts that Obama and the super-di-duper commission agreed to as a stick to lead everyone to the “carrot” of an actual federal budget.  We’ve been waiting nearly 1,400 days for a budget from the Democrat-addled Senate, so Washington figured a “stick” was needed.

By the way – how radical and drastic are those cuts?:

Yep. They’re not even cuts.  They’re reductions in the increase.  Indeed, almost completely worthless, if cutting spending is your goal, but really nothing but a fart in the wind; sort of like “dropping HBO” in your family budget, even though your gas bill is rising and your teenage kids are costing more and more.

Obama will try to make “sequestration” hurt; he’ll slow down the TSA lines, he’ll gundeck some ship overhauls and clamp down some military maintenance budgets, he’ll inveigle some big cities to lay off a few cops and teachers, he’ll shut down Yellowstone as the cameras record photos of crestfallen children.  Hell, Joe Biden may even personally try to close the gates at Disney World.

But there is no there, there.  It’s a scare tactic, engineered by Obama and his compliant media.

It needs to be ignored.

That is all.

 

And Happy Thanksgiving To You Too

The SEIU – who else? – is planning on protesting tomorrow at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

On Thanksgiving.

What exactly is SEIU protesting for? They say that an airport contract is breaking the city law on living wages – which, of course, is nonsense, since that would be prosecutable. They also say that the contractor has eliminated “affordable healthcare” for over 400 workers. Which is, again, bull. After all, can’t the SEIU just rely on Obamacare?

It’s California.  They’ll buy anything.