Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday. At last.

Just Like All the Other Days?

I finished the Alex Grecian book. This was the 2nd book after THE YARD. It was all right except at the end there was a loose thread, an important one at that, that didn't get resolved for us. Strange. 

I will be starting SUMMERSET ABBEY: A BLOOM IN WINTER by TJ Brown. This is 2nd of 3 in series. Here is a description:
As the icy chill of winter, 1914, settles on the magnificent country estate of Summerset Abbey, three young women seek comfort and warmth in the smiles of friends, the fire in their hearts, and the promise of spring…

Victoria Buxton

With her delicate constitution but strong, unflappable spirit, Victoria has never followed societal conventions, the rules of fashion, or the pursuit of a husband. Instead, she finds herself drawn into the controversial—and dangerous—fight for women’s suffrage. But her dream is compromised, and her heart divided, when her struggle for equal rights collides with unexpected love.

Rowena Buxton

After yearning to no avail for a certain young pilot to fly back into her life, Rowena fears her chances for happiness have been jeopardized by recklessness and scandal. Burdened with guilt for bringing her sister Prudence to Summerset Abbey as a lady’s maid while she herself led a life of privilege, Rowena hopes to one day make amends. But her desire to set things right is complicated by her passion for flight and a sudden engagement…to the wrong man.

Prudence Tate

Raised like a sister to Victoria and Rowena, then banished to the servants’ quarters when their father passed away, Prudence has seen both sides of life, upstairs and down. But once the truth about her parentage was revealed, Prudence forged a new life for herself, married to a penniless veterinary student. Living in poverty in a shabby London flat, she wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake—and there’s no turning back…
Published March 2013 and has 304 pages. I'll be picking it up from the library after work. 

Still cold, rainy and windy but supposed to clear up tomorrow. It would.

I've watched a couple episodes of a new TV show called Motive. I'm liking it. The female/male cop partners are great actually. At the beginning of each episode we know who the victim is and who the killer is. What is revealed as the story goes along is the why, the motive. I think it's found its slot on Thursdays but episodes are available online.

Off you go...

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - May 31, 2013

PK'S NOTE: Those low level employees did it again, dammit.

Who's Tracking Your Children?

By Michelle Malkin
The school year may be over for most American students, but parents must remain as vigilant as ever when it comes to protecting their children's privacy. Look no further than the shocking, invasive conduct of the Polk County, Fla., educational district last week. It's a surveillance-state sign of the times.

Two days before their Memorial Day weekend break, kids from at least three different public schools -- Bethune Academy (K-5), Davenport School of the Arts (K-5, middle and high school), and Daniel Jenkins Academy (6-12) -- were subjected to iris scans without their parents' knowledge or consent. The scans are essentially optical fingerprints, which the school intended to collect to create a database of biometric information for school bus security.

One mother took to Facebook to decry the outrageous breach after her son informed her of the unauthorized imaging. She posted a face-saving letter from Polk County Senior Director of Support Services Rob Davis notifying families only after the high-definition eye scans had been conducted.

The mom, April Serrano of Kissimmee, Fla., recounted: "I have been in touch with the principal at my son's school this morning regarding the iris scans. She verified everything my son told me. ... She said that she was following instructions from the Polk County School Board (PCSB), and that she knew very little, if anything, about this before it occurred. She just did as she was told."

The principal "did as she was told," no questions asked, just like a compliant servant of Big Brother is expected to do. Thank goodness for whistle-blowing parents unafraid to speak truth to mind-numbed power.

I phoned Davis, the school bureaucrat who oversaw the intrusive iris scan initiative, on Wednesday after education reform activists spread the word about Serrano's protest across social media. He confirmed to me that the Orwellian incident indeed took place. Davis sheepishly admitted that it was "a mistake on our part" that a notification letter to parents did not go out earlier in the month. He then blamed a secretary who had a "medical emergency" for the administrative mishap.

But this was far more than an innocent clerical error. Instead of verifying that parents received the letter and ensuring that any families who wanted to opt out had a chance to so, the schools allowed officials from Stanley Convergent Security Solutions into the schools to take iris scans of an unknown number of students as part of a "pilot" security tracking program for students who ride the bus. Stanley operates "identity management" systems using "Eyelock biometric readers" that "ensure maximum convenience with unprecedented accuracy."

The participating Polk County schools were all notified, but somehow the parents of students who ride on a total of 17 school buses to the three schools were all left in the dark. In addition, the district had planned to conduct a pilot scan program with another security company, Blinkspot.

Davis says all of the data have been destroyed. So has the trust parents had in these negligent educrats violating family privacy in the name of "safety." Parents have asked the school board for proof that the records have been wiped. Unsurprisingly, school officials have clammed up now that they are under public scrutiny.

"I am outraged and sickened by this blatant disregard for my son's constitutional right to privacy and my parental rights over my son," Serrano told me this week. Another affected mom, Connie Turlington, also publicly challenged the school district on local TV station WFLA: "This is a fingerprint of my child. Where does this information live? Who has a hold of it? ... My question is: How is it deleted, and how can we be assured as parents that it's gone?"

These parents are not alone. School districts across the country are contracting with private tracking firms to monitor students. Some are using radio frequency tracking technology (RFID) to log movements. Khaliah Barnes, the open government counsel with the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), spelled out the chilling implications for freedom of speech, religion and association in a recent CBN interview: "Imagine for example a student being dissuaded from attending a political interest group because she fears that the tracking technology will alert the principal or other administrators where her political affiliations lie."

Now, add the threat that the nationalized Common Core student databases pose to students and families. As I've reported previously, the feds are constructing an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system to aggregate massive amounts of personal data -- including health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status and even blood types and homework completion.

The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. EPIC is now suing the federal Department of Education over its regulatory sabotage of privacy protections.

Those who scoff at us "paranoid" parents for pushing back at Big Brother in the classroom suffer from an abject failure of imagination about government tyranny. Control freaks in public education understand all too well: The hand that tracks our children rules the world.

Kindergartener interrogated over cap gun until he pees his pants, then suspended 10 days

In the latest incident of anti-gun hysteria to erupt in a school setting, a kindergarten boy has been suspended from school for 10 days because he showed a friend his cowboy-style cap gun on the way to school.

The incident happened on Wednesday morning at about 8:30 a.m. on a school bus in Calvert County, Maryland, reports The Washington Post.

The kindergartener had brought the toy gun because his friend had brought a water gun the previous day. He later told his mother than he “really, really” wanted his friend to see it.

The suspended boy had acquired the menacing, plastic, orange-tipped weapon at Frontier Town, a western-themed campground with a water park, mini golf and the like.

School officials at Dowell Elementary School in the town of Lusby proceeded to question the five-year-old for over two hours before finally calling his mother, whom The Post also does not name.

The principal eventually called the boy’s mother at 10:50 a.m. By that time, the five-year-old had wet his pants (which the mother called highly unusual).

The principal told the boy’s mother that the boy had simulated shooting someone on the bus with the offending novelty. However, both the boy and his older sister, a first-grader, say the principal is not telling the truth.

The Post explains that the principal — Jennifer L. Young, according to Dowell Elementary’s website — told the kindergartener’s mother that things would have been even worse had the toy gun been loaded with caps. In that case, the school would have regarded the plaything as an explosive and called the police.

“I have no problem that he had a consequence to his behavior,” the mother told the Post. “What I have a problem with is the severity.”

The mother is also upset about the trauma her son experienced without her knowledge. “Why were we not immediately contacted?” she asked

The 10-day suspension is officially for possessing a look-alike gun, notes the Post. If the suspension is not lifted, the kindergartener won’t be able to go to school the rest of the year. The suspension will also be part of his permanent academic record.

The family has hired an attorney, Robin Ficker, who has managed to become something of a national legal expert in amazing overreactions by school officials over things that aren’t actual guns. (PK'S NOTE: Good!!)

Ficker appealed the suspension on the family’s behalf on Thursday. On Friday, there will be a disciplinary conference.

The attorney noted that the the boy’s age is an essential factor when considering the punishment and the school’s actions. “Kids play cowboys and Indians,” Ficker told The Post. “They play cops and robbers. You’re talking about a little five-year-old here.”

This incident is the second incident of anti-gun hysteria to erupt in a school setting in as many weeks. There have been many others over the course of this academic year as well.

Read more:

I’ve shared some bizarre horror stories about adults being victimized by anti-gun fanaticism, including the Washington, DC, man who got fined $1,000 for saving a child’s life and a British man who got arrested for finding a gun and turning it over to the police.

But I get more worried about the future of the country when I read reports of children being subjected to this kind of politically correct nonsense.

Consider, for instance, these absurd details from a local news report.
Lego gunA Massachusetts kindergartener has been given detention and could be suspended from the bus after bringing a Lego-sized gun to school last week. …the incident happened on an Old Mill Pond Elementary School bus in Palmer last week. A 6-year-old had the toy gun, which is slightly larger than a quarter, on the bus and it was seen by another student, who alerted the bus driver. The boy’s mother, Mieke Crane, said her son had to write a letter of apology to the driver, was given detention and could be temporarily suspended from the bus.

Reading that passage, I don’t know whether to be more angry with the bratty tattle-tale kid who told the bus driver, or with the bus driver who obviously must have informed the school.

Both of them could use some serious counseling.

But that’s just part of the story.

The school sent home a letter to parents explaining what happened, stressing no gun was on the bus and there was never any danger. “(The driver) said he caused quite a disturbance on the bus and that the children were traumatized,” Crane told WGGB.

A letter to parents about a tiny plastic toy gun?!? Are the bureaucrats in this school so under-worked that they have time to waste on such nonsense? If I was a parent in this school district, I would put my kids in a private school.

Especially if it’s true that “children were traumatized” by a piece of Lego. I wouldn’t want to take the risk that wimpiness and poor cognitive skills could be transmitted by proximity to my kids (perhaps causing them to need “emotional support” animals in college).

By the way, this is not an isolated example. To get depressed about the future of the country, read these posts about children being exposed to foolish thinking.
Stories like this make me wonder whether I should emigrate, though the rest of the world tends to be in worse shape so the moral of the story is that we need to save the United States from the brainless (and overpaid) bureaucrats who are trying to ruin our children.

Obama's Underhanded Trick to Undermine Opposition on the Broadcasting Board of Governors

 Amidst controversy of secretly monitoring reporters’ phone records and emails, the Obama Administration is attempting to replace the only Republican member or the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which would create a severe imbalance in favor of Democrats.

The BBG—an independent federal agency that has the executive power to oversee the running of Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks—is supposed to be bipartisan with nine members, four Democrats and four Republicans, the last seat being held by the Secretary of State or his designee.

Currently, the Board has only four members, Governor Victor Ashe is the only Republican. The Obama administration is trying to replace Ashe with Republican and former ambassador Ryan Crocker.

“Crocker is an excellent choice, but should join Ashe, not replace him,” Helle Dale of the Heritage foundation wrote last Wednesday. “This gambit would leave the board with a four–two imbalance in favor of the Democrats, and what should be a bipartisan foreign policy endeavor, a centerpiece of U.S. public diplomacy, could be accused of becoming a political tool.”

“The BBG has been a mess for a long time but in the context of all these other scandals—it seems to me this is one very clear that one could way to look at it--they really are trying to squeeze Republicans who want to hold them accountable,” Dale told Townhall.

“It’s not necessary for him to be replaced. There are several vacancies. They want to replace him because he is a real pain in the neck for them demanding transparency and accountability and demanding people observe the regulations of their own agency,” she said.

BBG meetings are now shown on the BBG website because of Ashe’s advocacy for transparency, angering his fellow board members. Ashe has also held the BBG accountable for waste and mismanagement at the agency, prompting International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives to lobby the White House to get him removed from the BBG board.

But the independent and nonpartisan Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) asked Senate Minority Leader to retain Ashe’s membership.

“Replacing Victor Ashe on the BBG board at this time is incomprehensible and looks to many as an attempt by bureaucrats and big financial political contributors to get rid of a Governor who annoyed them with his demands for accountability, transparency, and good performance for American taxpayers,” the Tim Shamble President of the CUSIB wrote.

Republican Matt Armstrong, director of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has also been nominated to the board, along with another Democrat—Jeff Shell, chairman of NBC Universal.

The Chairman of the Board, Democrat Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, had not attended a board meeting since December 14 and resigned Sunday.

The BBG’s current state according the is dysfunctional, according to the Inspector General’s (IG) report published in February and needs urgent Congressional attention.

According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2013 report, Press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, making the mission of BBG and its broadcasters—to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy—even more critical. 

Senate staffers offered classes on forgiveness, relaxation, sleep

Congressional staffers in need of a lesson on how to forgive, sleep, relax and other lifestyle issues are in luck. The government is offering lessons to teach them just that.

“Come learn the art of forgiveness. Learn how to ‘let go’ and move on!” reads an announcement for an hour-long June 10 forgiveness event that was sent to Senate staffers and obtained by The Daily Caller.
The forgiveness session, presented by the Senate Employee Assistance Program, promises to teach the “Definitions of grudge and forgiveness; Consequences of holding a grudge; Practical steps to forgiving and moving on.” It will be offered as a webinar.

“Why should taxpayers pay for Senate staffers to use an hour of their workday to learn about forgiveness?” Aaron Fobes, spokesman for Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, reacted to the event Thursday in an email to The Daily Caller.

Tuesday, Coburn called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to look at what he believes to be millions of dollars in wasteful spending at the Capitol, including printing costs, expensive perks provided to former House Speakers, costs for the money-losing Senate barber shop and gift shops, staff transportation, and other kinds of classes for Senate staffers on lifestyle issues.

In a letter to Boehner, Reid, Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer and the House Chief Administrative Officer, Coburn pointed out that the Senate and House have sponsored training programs, like the forgiveness class, that “frequently have little to do with legislation” for Congressional staff such as:
  • “A class to help staffers socially titled “Small Talk: Breaking the Ice in Social Situations”; and
  • A lifestyle class designed to help staffers titled “Lighten Up! Spring Cleaning for your Body and Your Life,” where staffers can learn about healthy eating and recipes to be “balanced, calm and focused and several practices that will support you in releasing the old and inviting in the new.
“Since Sequestration was implemented,” Coburn noted further, “both the House and Senate have continued to hold classes for staffers that have little if anything to do with legislating such as:
  • From Stress to Relaxation to help staffers with “exhaustion and lack of clarity” (Senate)
  • Your Credit Score – Friend or Foe (House)
  • Choose Your Attitude: Attitude is Everything (Senate)
  • What’s My Communication Style? (Senate)
  • Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep (Senate) 
The “forgiveness” program is the second in a webinar series EAP is providing through LifeCare, a self-described “leader in the Employee Productivity & Loyalty industry,” the first was the program on better sleep, a Senate EAP staffer told TheDC.

The staffer added that EAP contracts with LifeCare for their services.

When pressed for additional information about the program, the staffer declined to comment further, instead referring The Daily Caller to the EAP director, who referred TheDC to the program’s press office, which did not respond to request for comment.

Feds torpedo July 4th over 'sequestration'

But still find cash to teach landscaping, buy knitting supplies for inmates

Independence Day celebrations such as the annual public fireworks display at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey have been canceled due to sequestration-related cuts.

But somehow the federal government has found millions of dollars to buy yarn for prisoners.

The renowned Blue Angels of the U.S. Navy likewise must cancel shows throughout 2013 due to sequestration, the automatic budget cuts designed by President Obama. Critics have charged that the president is ordering budget cuts in the way that most dramatically hurts the public, such as closing the White House to public tours.

Surviving the budget ax, however, are U.S. penitentiary landscape-design classes, technical assistance to “increase climate resilience” in Mozambique and a planned survey of Indonesian mobile phone users, according to procurement documents WND located in routine database research.

The Department of Homeland Security’s seven-year, $22 billion information technology project, known as Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions II, or EAGLE II, also is proceeding unimpeded.

DHS recently awarded 15 additional contracts, largely to Beltway-area vendors. The companies stand to gain an unspecified level of contracts to provide a vaguely defined “full range of business and technical management services in support of DHS offices or programs.”

Some federal entities, indeed, have demonstrated discernment in the budgetary decision-making process. The Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, canceled its procurement of nearly three tons of cake mix.

The following list of federal procurement actions offers an additional snapshot of recent contracts, requests for proposals and other solicitations, both large and small. The nation-by-nation compilation is not a comprehensive list, but instead is designed to enlighten U.S. taxpayers about how the federal government is spending – or intends to spend – their money.

A $514,000 grant from the U.S. Trade & Development Agency will cover travel and hotel accommodations for an information and communications-technologies industry trip to Chile, where that sector will rely on taxpayer support to assess potential business opportunities.

USTDA is providing the “technical assistance” to the Chilean Undersecretariat of Telecommunications, which plans to build a National Emergency Network. The grant will cover Phase One of the project, which entails the hiring of a U.S. contractor to conduct a project needs-assessment and to craft medium and long-term plans for the Chilean government.

USTDA separately will provide a $610,000 grant to the Chilean company Empresa Eólica Tablaruca S.A., to carry out a feasibility study of a planned wind farm on the island of Chiloé.

USTDA is funding a feasibility study at the request of Ghana Grid Company Limited, or GRIDCO, which tentatively plans to build a power transmission line between the municipalities of Aboadze, Domunli and Prestea. The agency on behalf of GRIDCO will pay a U.S. vendor $655,000 to perform the study.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors wants to survey mobile phone users across Indonesia to improve its reach via Voice of America radio, television and social media services.

The board says it wants to tap into additional markets, leveraging extensive VOA programming that already reaches Indonesians through hundreds of radio station affiliates, TV programs in dozens of regional and national stations, and hundreds of thousands of followers via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Currently BBG is conducting a request for information from providers capable of conducting the mobile phone survey. A request for quotations has not yet been issued.

The U.S. Agency for International Development intends to spend about $15 million to strengthen the ability of Mozambique governmental and private institutions to “deal with current and future weather-related impacts as a result of climate change.”

The agency’s Coastal City Adaptation Project endeavor will hire a contractor to train the institutions to “incorporate climate change projections into their planning processes and to undertake adaptive measures.”

The U.S. State Department is buying 100 chaise lounges, 60 outdoor dining sets and 60 outdoor seating sets for the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. State issued a request for quotations but did not disclose an estimated cost.

The Rocky Mountain Region Law Enforcement and Investigation Officers unit of the U.S. Forest Service is purchasing about 100,000 rounds of service and training ammunition.

The acquisition includes 12 gauge 00 buckshot (2,500 rounds), 12 gauge slugs (2,500 rounds), S&W .40 (30,000 rounds ), 9mm. Luger( 4,000 rounds), .45 (2,000 .rounds), .380 (5,000 rounds), .223 (37,500 rounds), 22 long rifle (10,000 rounds) and 600 rounds of 45-70 Govt. 405 grain jacket flat nose/bear load.

Federal Prison Industries/UNICOR, a BOP component, awarded a $2.4 million contract to the Hickory, N.C.-based Shuford Yarns for 1.7 million pounds of yarn.

UNICOR provides job training to federal inmates, while its Clothing and Textiles Business Group sells textile products to support prisoner-related activities.

BOP separately is looking for a provider of landscape design and irrigation instruction for incarcerated students at the U.S. Penitentiary, Atwater, Calif. The selected occupational- training program provider weekly will offer 25 one-hour sessions to prisoners. BOP did not provide an estimated program cost.

BOP canceled, however, a national system-wide solicitation for 35,000 pounds of cake mix as well as a separate procurement of 3,000 pounds of garlic, 3,000 pounds of ground black pepper and 100 pounds of oregano.

USTDA will hire a contractor to perform an international “desk study” of potential opportunities for U.S. power transmission, distribution and smart-grid technology providers.

Although the procurement document did not provide an estimated cost for the initiative, it noted that USTDA, at its discretion, will consider budgeting $20,000 for contractor travel “to conduct in-region meetings and assessments of the project(s) under review.”

Protesters explain: Kochs must not buy LA Times because … tolerance

Yes, this is like shooting fish in a rain barrel, as Reason TV discovered when it began asking protesters in Los Angeles why the Koch brothers shouldn’t be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times. Zach Weissmueller finds that either the protesters couldn’t articulate any clear reason why the Kochs would be bad owners, or believe (erroneously) that the Kochs are hard-right activists (they’re actually libertarians).  But the best explanation — by which I mean the most stunningly hypocritical — comes at about the 50-second mark, as one protester explains that it’s all about tolerating other points of view.  As long as they’re reliably liberal, of course.

No, I am not joking:

PROTESTER: We’re at a point in our history where we need to be a little more open-minded. Um, a little bit more liberal on views all across the board.
WEISSMUELLER: [The] Kochs self-describe as libertarian, and they fund a lot of groups that are against the drug war. The LA Times came out against Prop 19, which would have legalized marijuana in LA, and they’ve pushed anti-dispensary measures.  Are you worried that in some sense they would push the LA Times to the left on those kind of issues?
PROTESTER: Um, I believe that regardless of their views, it’s not what the general populace needs.
Aaaaaand there you have the core of the protest.  These people aren’t interested in becoming more open-minded.  They want to control speech in order to allow the general populace only those points of view they need … in the opinion of the protesters.

I have no idea whether the Kochs will get the Tribune Company, or if they even really want it.  The hue and cry over just the notion that the Kochs might own a major newspaper has been in itself a very enlightening experience about the nature of the Tolerance Lords in American society.

Dick Morris: Obama Must Have Been 'Deeply Involved' in IRS Targeting

There's no chance President Barack Obama knew nothing of the IRS targeting conservative groups, says political pundit Dick Morris. Why else would IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman have visited the White House at least once a week?

"The incredible frequency of the White House visits — essentially weekly — indicate that Obama must have been deeply involved with the inner workings of the audits and harassment of conservative groups," Morris writes on his website,

Morris asks what other reason would have brought Schulman to the White House 157 times during the period that groups with "tea party," "patriot" and other conservative buzzwords in their names were being targeted for extra scrutiny.

"Not ObamaCare. Not without having (Health and Human Services) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in attendance, you wouldn’t," Morris says. "About Treasury issues? Deficit reduction? Not without Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner."

The reason, Morris says, is that Obama was following the IRS actions with an "obsessive, personal involvement."

The Citizens United ruling galvanized Obama into action, Morris says, and "tapped so deeply into his psyche that he was determined personally to supervise the castration of the wealthy people and groups whose access to the political system was opened wide by the (U.S. Supreme) Court."

Schulman held a subordinate, non-policy making position, Morris said, so to have seen him 157 times, Obama had to have been "a president on a mission."

The scandal is not one of a rogue agency, Morris says, but one of a rogue president using the agency for his personal purposes. "An instrument of vengeance, or self-defense, and of political influence."

President Richard Nixon was doomed, Morris says, when the public realized that his own paranoia had infected his entire administration.

"When Chuck Colson led the plumbers unit to investigate leaks and to use the IRS to terrify and intimidate his enemies, we realized that he was operating as Nixon’s man doing Nixon’s bidding based on the needs of Nixon’s psyche," he writes.

The public now realizes that the IRS harassment went deeper than was initally admitted, he said.

"This scandal will destroy him."

An Antidote to Cynicism Poisoning

Restoring public faith will require a full investigation of the IRS's politicization.

By Peggy Noonan
The Benghazi scandal was and is shocking, and the Justice Department assault on the free press, in which dogged reporters are tailed like enemy spies, is shocking. Benghazi is still under investigation and someday someone will write a great book about it. As for the press, Attorney General Eric Holder is on the run, and rightly so. They called it the First Amendment for a reason. But nothing can damage us more as a nation than what is happening at the Internal Revenue Service. Elite opinion in the press and in Washington doesn't fully understand this. Part of the reason is that it's not their ox being gored, it's those messy people out in America with their little patriotic groups.

Those who aren't deeply distressed about the IRS suffer from a reluctance or inability to make distinctions, and a lack of civic imagination.

An inability to make distinctions: "It's always been like this." "Presidents are always siccing the IRS on their enemies." There's truth in that. We've all heard the stories of the president who picked up the phone and said, "Look into this guy," Richard Nixon most showily. He got clobbered for it. It was one of the articles of impeachment.

But this scandal is different and distinctive. The abuse was systemic—from the sheer number of targets and the extent of each targeting we know many workers had to be involved, many higher-ups, multiple offices. It was ideological and partisan—only those presumed to be of one political view were targeted. It has a single unifying pattern: The most vivid abuses took place in the years leading up to the president's 2012 re-election effort. And in the end several were trying to cover it all up, including the head of the IRS, who lied to Congress about it, and the head of the tax-exempt unit, Lois Lerner, who managed to lie even in her public acknowledgment of impropriety.

It wasn't a one-off. It wasn't a president losing his temper with some steel executives. There was no enemies list, unless you consider half the country to be your enemies.

It is considered a bit of a faux pas to point this out, but what we are talking about in part is a Democratic president, a largely Democratic professional administrative class in Washington, and an IRS whose workers belong to a union whose political action committee gave roughly 95% of its political contributions last year to Democrats. Tim Carney had a remarkable piece in the Washington Examiner this week in which he looked for campaign contributions from the IRS Cincinnati office. "In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown." An IRS employee said in an email to Mr. Carney, "Do you think people willing to sacrifice lucrative private sector careers to work in tax administration . . . are genuinely going to support the party directed by Grover Norquist?" Mr. Carney noted that one of his IRS correspondents had an interesting detail on his social media profile. He belongs to a Facebook FB +0.04% group called "Target the Shutdown at the Tea Party States." It advised the president, during the 2011 debt-ceiling fight: "For instance, shut down air traffic control at airports in Norfolk, Tampa, Nashville."

Wow. I guess that was target practice.

Here is the thing. The politicization of government employees wouldn't have worried a lot of us 40, 30 or even 20 years ago. But since then, as a country, we have become, as individuals, less respectful of political differences and even of each other, as everything—all parts of American life—has become more political, more partisan, more divided and more aggressive.

There has got to be some way to break through this, to create new rules for the road in a situation like this. 

Because people think the IRS has always, in various past cases, been used as a political tool, they think we'll glide through this scandal too. We'll muddle through, we'll investigate, the IRS will right itself, no biggie.

But when a scandal is systemic, ideological and focused on political ends, it will not just magically end. Agencies such as the IRS are part of what Jonathan Turley this week called a "massive administrative state," one built with many protections and much autonomy.

If it is not forced to change, it will not.

Which gets us to the part about imagination. What does it mean when half the country—literally half the country—understands that the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government is politically corrupt, sees them as targets, and will shoot at them if they try to raise their heads? That is the kind of thing that can kill a country, letting half its citizens believe that they no longer have full political rights.

Those who think this is just business as usual are ahistorical, and those who think nothing can be done, or nothing serious should be done, are suffering from Cynicism Poisoning.

The House wants to proceed with hearings and an investigation itself, and understandably. One reason is pride. "We are the ones who got the IRS to do the audit," a congressman said the other night. Another is momentum: An independent counsel would take time and take some air out of the story. But Congress is operating within a lot of political swirls. The IRS certainly doesn't seem to fear them—haven't its leaders made that clear in their testimony so far? Congress itself is not highly regarded by the public. Didn't I say that politely?

Some members have been scared into thinking that tough hearings will constitute "overreach." But when you spend all your time fearing overreach, you can forget to reach at all. A defensive crouch isn't a good posture from which to launch a probe. And some members fear that if they pursue and give time to something that is not an economic issue, it will be used against them. But stopping the revenue-gathering arm of the federal government from operating as a hopelessly politicized and aggressive entity is an economic issue. It has to do with basic American faith in, and compliance with, half of the spending/taxing apparatus of the federal government. How could that not be an economic issue?

There will be more hearings next week, and fair enough. But down the road an independent counsel is going to be needed because the House does not have all the prosecutorial powers an independent counsel would—the powers to empanel a grand jury, to more easily grant immunity to potential witnesses, find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, indict.

Another reason to want an independent counsel: There are obviously many good, fair-minded workers in the IRS, people of sterling character. They deserve to be asked about what they were forced to put up with, what they felt they had to bite their tongues about. There may even be a few stories about people who stood up and said: "You know you're targeting Americans because they hold political views you don't like, right? You know that's wrong, right? And I'm not going to do it."

It would be worth an investigation that breaks open the IRS to find that person, and that moment. You have no idea how much better it would make us feel, how inspiring and comforting, too. 

White House: No special prosecutor for IRS scandal, despite public support

The White House will not be pushing for a special prosecutor to handle the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, even as three-fourths of Americans are calling for one.

Asked aboard Air Force One about a Quinnipiac University poll that showed 76 percent of Americans want a special prosecutor to handle the case, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration isn’t looking at that option.

“We’re not,” Earnest said, according to a transcript. “And the reason for that simply is that there is a new IRS commissioner in place, Danny Werfel, who is a career civil servant, who represented — who served in administrations led by Republican presidents and Democratic presidents. He’s conducting a 30-day review.”
Earnest said there are plenty of people looking at the matter — including House and Senate committees — and that the White House will cooperate with those probes.

“So there are a lot of people looking at this from a lot of different perspectives,” Earnest said. “And we’re confident that those who need to be held accountable for the wrongdoing that occurred there will be held accountable.”

Earnest’s comments echo President Obama’s remarks from two weeks ago, when he said he would not push for a special prosecutor. Some Republicans have publicly called for one, though.

As Rachel Weiner and Scott Clement reported today, a majority of Americans generally favor special prosecutors for major investigations, though the level of support for an IRS special prosecutor is higher than for other events from recent years.


Brokaw: Obama Scandals Not As Bad As Abu Ghraib

"Brokaw seems to be employing a tactic common among has-been journalists these days. They seem to be afraid that any story seen as "bigger" than the stories they covered in their day somehow diminishes their life work, and therefore any suggestion to this effect must be smacked down immediately."  (PK'S NOTE: More like pushing the liberal agenda, folks. This is my shocked face.)

Obamacare's Slush Fund Fuels A Broader Lobbying Controversy

 A little-noticed part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined “Prevention and Public Health Fund” over the next decade–and some of that money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer “calming techniques,” to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.

The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a “slush fund,” because the department can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, the department will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion. In perpetuity.

What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed “to improve health and help restrain the rate of, growth” of health-care costs.  That can include anything from “pickleball” (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.

“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”

The concerns are as diverse as the critics. The HHS Inspector General, in a 2012 “alert,” was concerned that the payments to third-party groups came dangerously close to taxpayer-funded lobbying. While current law bars lobbying with federal money, Obama administration officials and Republican lawmakers differ on where lawful “education” ends and illicit “lobbying” begins.  Nor have federal courts defined “lobbying” for the purposes of this fund. A health and Human Services (HHS) department spokesman denies that any laws were broken and the inspector general is continuing to investigate.

Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate have complained that much of the spending seems politically motivated and are alarmed that some of the federal money went to groups who described their own activities as contacting state, city and county lawmakers to urge higher taxes on high-calorie sodas and tobacco, or to call for bans on fast-food restaurants within 1,000-feet of a school, or total bans on smoking in outdoor venues, such as beaches or parks. In a May 9 letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Fred Upton (R,Mich) wrote that HHS grants “appear to fund lobbying activities contrary to the laws, regulations, and guidance governing the use of federal funds.” His letter included the latest in a series of requests for more documents and complaints about responses to previous requests.

Some Democrats, including Obamacare champion Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), are extremely unhappy with another use of Prevention Fund money. The Obama Administration plans to divert $453.8 million this year from that fund to use for administrative and promotional efforts to enroll millions of people in health insurance exchanges that are said to be vital to Obamacare’s success. Harkin calls this shift, which has not been authorized by Congress, “an outrageous attack on an investment fund that is saving lives.”

This extraordinary fund transfer coincides with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s much-criticized solicitation of health industry officials for large “voluntary” corporate donations — on top of hefty tax increases — to help implement Obamacare. Together, they give the appearance of a desperate Administration effort to avoid the kind of “train wreck” that Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), a principal architect of Obamacare, recently said he fears. That’s also one reason why Republicans who want to kill Obamacare refuse to provide additional funding for the exchanges.

An HHS spokesperson responded to an inquiry about the “lobbying” complaints by saying that “HHS is committed to proper oversight and monitoring of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.” As to the shifting of the $453.8 million, the spokesman said that it was necessary “because Congress did not provide the resources requested” and it would help individuals “sign up for affordable health coverage by supporting . . . call centers that provide customer service, consumer education and outreach.”

The lobbying controversy is akin to conservative complaints about the 2009 “stimulus” legislation, in which HHS directed some $373 million to a “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” fund to states, counties and cities and then onto to health advocacy organizations described in a Wall Street Journal editorial as “liberal pressure groups lobbying for fast-food taxes.”

With those stimulus grants largely spent, the Administration has used Prevention Fund money — dispensing more than $290 million in fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined — for very similar “Community Transformation Grants.”  As in the case of the earlier grants, HHS made the grants through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public documents, including CDC descriptions of grants’ goals as well as the reports that grantees must file, are honeycombed with references to seeking state and local policy changes, such as tax hikes on sugary beverages and tobacco and zoning restrictions on fast-food establishments.

Congressional investigators point to documents and federal websites, which detail the spending that critics call “illegal lobbying.” A few of the more than 100 examples cited by critics:
  • In Washington state, the Prevention Alliance, a coalition of health-focused groups, reported in notes of a June 22, 2012 meeting that the funding for its initial work came from a $3.3 million Obamacare grant to the state Department of Health. It listed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), “tobacco taxes,” and increasing “types of outdoor venues where tobacco use is prohibited” as among “the areas of greatest interest and potential for progress.”
  • The Sierra Health Foundation, in Sacramento, which received a $500,000 grant. in March 2013, described its plans to “seek local zoning changes to disallow fast food establishments within 1,000 feet of a school and to limit the number of fast food outlets,” along with restrictions on fast food advertising. A $3 million grant to New York City was used to “educate leaders and decision makers about, and promote the effective implementation of. . . a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.”
  • A Cook County, Ill. report says that part of a $16 million grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” More than $12 million in similar grants went to groups in King County, Wash. to push for changes in “zoning policies to locate fast-food retailers farther from . . . schools.” And Jefferson County, Ala., spent part of a $7 million federal grant promoting the passage of a tobacco excise tax by the state legislature.
Among those who have expressed concern about questionable and possibly illegal use of Obamacare Prevention Fund money to lobby — an ambiguous term that the Administration interprets narrowly and its critics broadly — are HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson; Sen. Susan Collins (R, Maine); and Chairmen Darrell Issa (R, CA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Fred Upton (R, MI) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Inspector General Levinson, a respected and veteran independent investigator, was first appointed to his position overseeing the vast HHS bureaucracy by President George W. Bush. He was retained in that job by President Obama, who also named him to the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. Last June 29, Levinson sent CDC Director Thomas Frieden an “EARLY ALERT.”

It warned that reports posted by CDC grantees “contain numerous examples of activities that, on their face, may violate anti-lobbying provisions,” and that “some of the CDC information, as well as the non-CDC resource materials posted to the CDC web site, appear to authorize, or even encourage grantees to use grant funds for impermissible lobbying.” The “alert” said that the IG would continue to “evaluate more broadly” compliance with lobbying restrictions. A Levinson spokesman declined recently to elaborate.

Collins, a leading Senate moderate, cited copious evidence in a May 1, 2012 letter to Sebelius that CDC has provided “official guidance to grantees that appears to include an expectation that federal funds are to be used for strategies that result in changes to state and local policies and laws.”

While stressing strong support for “the wellness and prevention mission of the CDC,” Collins cited examples including a report to the agency by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which received a $1.5 million CPPW anti-tobacco grant in 2010. Thanks to the federal money, the Health Department reported, “210 policy makers were contacted . . . 31 ordinances were passed . . . there were 26 community presentations made to local governments .. . and 16 additional ordinances were passed this quarter, for a cumulative total of 47.”

HHS and CDC say that not only have they heeded these complaints, but as HHS stressed in an April 1 letter to Upton, they have been committed all along to “proper oversight and management of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.”

Spending to influence state and local legislation, critics claim, violates a web of overlapping federal laws, beginning with the federal Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919, as amended in 2002, which says: “No part of the money appropriated by . . . Congress shall . . . be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, . . . telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended . . . to influence in any manner a member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.”

This language is clear, unambiguous, and much broader than the HHS regulations on lobbying. To be sure, these restrictions have long been interpreted narrowly by the executive branch, a bipartisan tradition that goes back at least to the administration of President George H.W. Bush. And the Justice Department has never enforced the law against anyone.

Still, the Sebelius interpretation of the Anti-Lobbying Act takes narrow interpretation to extremes, flying in the face of the statute’s very specific language. Sebelius testified on March 1, 2012 that the statute’s lobbying provisions don’t apply to “local lobbying” or lobbying by grantees, while acknowledging that a 2012 appropriation provision — which unlike the Anti-Lobbying Act provides no penalties for violators — barred such forms of lobbying.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea made a more detailed argument to the same effect in an April 1, 2013 letter to Rep. Upton, asserting that the statute prohibits “only large-scale, high-expenditure, ‘grass roots’ lobbying campaigns conducted by federal agencies that expressly encourage members of the public to contact their elected representatives with respect to legislative matters.”  But Esquea relied on strained interpretations of obsolete precedents predating major amendments that, in 2002, explicitly broadened the Anti-Lobbying Act to cover for the first time lobbying of state and local officials.

CDC guidelines permit the state and city agencies that it funds “to work directly on policy-related matters across their equivalent branches of state or local government.” That sounds reasonable enough. But to critics it sounds like the guidelines would allow, if not encourage, a city health department to spend federal money on lobbying (in the fullest sense of that word) state and local lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco and sugary beverages.

Some grants seem to fit this interpretation. A $7.6 million CPPW grant to the County of St. Louis to fund an anti-smoking “Community Action Plan” for local activists. Under that plan, “the Leadership Team will meet with the Governor and state legislators to advocate for the repeal of [the state law] that prohibits municipalities from levying their own cigarette excise taxes.” In quarterly reports to CDC for late 2010 through mid-2012 on how it had spent the federal grant, St. Louis County said: “Leadership Team members . . . met with officials from two municipalities about adopting a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. . . . Coalition members met with two County Council members and the County Executive about strengthening the County’s new smoke-free ordinance. . .. Several people, including restaurant owners, testified at three consecutive County Council meetings in support of removing exemptions from the County’s smoke-free ordinance.”

Finally, St. Louis County used almost $2 million of its federal grant to pay the public relations-lobbying firm Fleischman Hillard for a media campaign to strengthen an anti-smoking ordinance  and push related agendas.'
Many grantees and the federal bureaucrats who finance them maintain that they can legally engage in efforts to “educate” both the public and officials about, say, the public health benefits of taxing tobacco and sugary beverages so as to reduce consumption. Chairman Upton, on the other hand, rejected in an August 2012 letter what he called “the improper distinction made by CDC between lobbying and ‘education campaigns.’ ”

Enlisting other levels of government to do things [the federal government] can’t do openly on its own is the latest example of propaganda and politicizing efforts that only pretend to represent policy reform,” said Tom Miller, an expert in health policy and law at the American Enterprise Institute.

Other conservative health care policy advocates, such as Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix, complain that using federal dollars to lobby for more taxes and other liberal causes at the state and local levels is an abuse of power that skews the natural balance of state and local political forces. “With the hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars annually flowing their way, [health care advocates] are engaging in the lobbying equivalent of  ‘shock and awe’ to get ever more money for themselves and to thwart efforts at real reform”, said Dr. Novack.

Critics have also suggested that Sebelius (and Obama) “lack the legal authority,” as Rep. Issa put it in his April 19 letter to Sebelius, to divert $453.8 million in Prevention Fund dollars to help pay for the establishment and operation of health insurance exchanges. Argues Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia-based health-care think tank:
“The Obama administration is being very creative in devising programs it says fit within the definitions of ‘prevention’ and ‘public health.’ The reality is that this is a slush fund.  The administration is using taxpayer dollars to further its political goals, without any congressional input.  That is an open invitation to misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
But short of an unlikely bipartisan agreement, there’s not much that anyone in Congress can do about such complaints.

Strikingly, the most passionate denunciations of the $453.8 million diversion have come from a senior Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin, self-described author of the Prevention and Public Health title of the Affordable Care Act. Harkin succeeded the late Ted Kennedy, (D, MA) as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has vowed to carry on Kennedy’s legacy of seeking universal access to health care and, especially, full funding of prevention programs.

“It is ill-advised and short-sighted to raid the Prevention Fund, which is making absolutely critical investments in preventing disease, saving lives, and keeping women and their families healthy,” Harkin said in his May 7 floor speech. “When it comes to Prevention, this Administration just doesn’t get it. . . . To slash money from this fund . . . is to cannibalize the Affordable Care Act in ways that will cost both money and lives. It is a violation of both the letter and spirit of this landmark law.”

In other words, the Democratic Chairman of the Health Committee is calling the Democratic President’s “raid” on the Prevention Fund illegal. But an HHS spokesperson counters that “this short term investment will result in a long-term public health gain by helping millions of people get access to care and improve our nation’s health.” Other officials stress that with an October 1 Obamacare deadline to start enrolling millions of individuals online, finding the money to create and implement the insurance exchanges is a major challenge to the success of Obamacare.

And money for setting up the exchanges is very, very short, despite an overall Obamacare price tag of trillions over coming years. One reason is that the Administration underestimated the cost, in part because contrary to its expectation, only 17 states have chosen to operate their own insurance exchanges. Another reason is Congress’s refusal to appropriate more money for such administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, it may not be easy to convince young or healthy people without employer-based insurance — especially men, and especially with incomes too high to qualify for Obamacare subsidies — that it would be a rational economic choice to buy a government-approved insurance policy costing (the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2010) over $4,500 a year for an individual. By contrast, the Obamacare fine will be far smaller for some individuals.

The alternative choice of paying a relatively inexpensive Obamacare penalty for refusing to buy insurance may seem more attractive to many, especially after the Supreme Court stressed last June that such a choice carries no stigma of law-breaking. The Affordable Care Act set the penalty (which varies depending on income and the year) at only a fraction of what the insurance would cost people who don’t qualify for subsidies. At the same time, it guarantees a healthy person who chooses the penalty rather than the insurance the right to reverse course and buy the insurance at no extra cost not too long after he gets sick or injured.

So, as the Administration sets out to recruit enough young, healthy people to keep premiums from soaring, it may need every dollar it can find for advertising and outreach.

What some critics call a “slush fund,” may well turn out to be Obamacare’s own insurance policy.

Obama fiddles for Democratic money while US and Chicago burn

With (non--to him) scandals erupting around him our what, me worry?! president, Barack Obama jetted to his home city, Chicago, for a group of fund raisers--some hosted by IRS unthreatened liberal organizations--to raise money for the Democratic party to distribute to Democratic candidates.  

Speaking to the one per centers--at one funder "Tickets there ran from $10,000 for dinner and photo to $50,000 for a table, photo and preferred seating"--Obama warned the crowd:
Obama said he's willing to work with Republicans, but can get more done with Democrats in charge of the House.

"If day in, day out, what we confront is obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism, and what appears to be an interest only in scoring political points or placating a base as opposed to trying to advance the interests of the American people, then we've got to figure out a way to work around that," the president said. "And one of the best ways to work around it is to have a Democratic House of Representatives.

"We've got a politics that's stuck right now. The reason it's stuck is because people spend more time thinking about the next election than they do the next generation."

The president faces no more elections, but with some fellow Democrats criticizing him in the past for not focusing enough on the party's strength in Congress, Obama has promised to be more involved in the fundraising push this time out. The president intends to hold at least eight fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 


The fundraising is part of a broader strategy by Obama's team. After his 2012 re-election, members of the president's campaign organization retooled to form Organizing For Action, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money to get his agenda passed in part by helping congressional Democrats.

The retooled President Obama campaign organization had no IRS problems forming Organizing For Action.

While Obama was speaking, some of Chicago's citizens not in attendance at these funders were unproductively busy with other activities summed up by the Chicago Tribune headline: "Woman, 56, Among 4 dead 11 wounded in city shootings."

These shootings took place within several miles of the Obamas' Chicago home.  All the perps and many of the victims resembled the sons he would have had; the others resembled Michelle Obama.  According to real estate blog NeighborhoodScout, four of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America are in Chicago and that's where most of these incidents occurred. 

Although Obama didn't know about the mayhem when he spoke--apparently, as with the other scandals, his aides didn't tell him--even he realizes there is trouble, trouble right here in Chicago. 

While reciting a litany of difficulties the country still faces, Obama localized his pitch for gun control, noting Chicago's problems with street violence.

"There are still kids just a few miles from here who are threatened by gun violence, who aren't in a school that is giving them what they need to compete in this 21st century, and whose prospects are dim, if we're honest, not because they don't have the innate capacity, but because we as a society have decided that's not our priority," Obama said.

Uhm, apparently years ago, when Obama served so diligently as a state senator in the corrupt Illinois legislature voting "present",  his aides didn't tell him that Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation along with one of the highest murder rates...with guns.  And surprise!, like immigration laws and Iran sanction laws, most of the criminals ignore gun control laws. And governments can't and/or won't--enforce them.

As for society's priorities, oh dear, once again, his aides haven't informed our totally oblivious president that billions upon trillions of dollars have been spent on these "kids...who are threatened by gun violence, who aren't in a school that is giving them what they need to compete in this 21st century, and whose prospects are dim..." in the form of liberal decided and developed income redistribution schemes "giving them"  "free" food, "free" education, "free" health care, "free" housing, "free" i phones, "free" this, "free" that. 

Therefore, by the law of expected consequences, stated by those who the liberals would scornfully describe as "uncompassionate conservatives," these kids are not their parents' priority. Not that the parents don't care.  Many of them do.  But everything is "given to them." They don't build anything.  The majority of these kids are born into single parent families--no, not medical miracle births but households with an absent,  non working father; to teen aged or very young parents, minimally educated, no matter how hard teachers try--and they do.  The schools can't "give them" an education from any century because so many--not all but enough--of the students are so disruptive, come from unstable, chaotic homes and communities--re read the information above about dangerous neighborhoods--that teachers can't overcome the familial or communal negatives.  

Why work hard when deviant behavior is rewarded and responsible, hard working behavior penalized? The education messages are in conflict; cognitive dissonance in elementary (school) action.  

Will someone please inform the presidential aides so they can inform the president about the reality?
Feds to Spend $472,150 to Teach Fish Survival Skills
 A Department of Interior grant will allocate $472,150 to teach bonytails and sucker fish survival techniques, CNS News reports:
The Department of Interior will be spending $472,150 to teach survival skills to bonytails and sucker fish.
“The objective of the proposed project is to determine if training increases Bonytail and Razorback Sucker survival when exposed to predators,” the grant abstract states.
“This proposal builds upon the 2012 Bureau of Reclamation assistance agreement with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) tasked with investigating the potential for training Bonytail and Razorback Suckers to recognize and avoid predators,” says the abstract for the program.
“One of the early conclusions of the prior work is that the schooling behavior of Bonytail may allow untrained fish to show improved survival because they recognize predator avoidance behaviors exhibited by trained individuals,” the abstract states.
The abstract gives the three “components” of the almost half-a-million dollar project:
1) Pond restoration
2) Intensive predator avoidance training and marking
3) Remote sensing of marked fish to assess short-term post-training survival
The $400,000 grant to train fish is hardly the only recent example of questionable tax dollar use by the federal government.

A May investigation revealed a Richmond firm has received $500,000 in federal stimulus to build a recycling plant, yet has built nothing and created no jobs.

As of October 2012, the federal government had approximately 1,900 open cases investigating possible misuse of stimulus funds.

Trayvon, George, and the Homeless Man

At a pre-trial hearing on May 28, the attorney for accused murderer George Zimmerman, Mark O'Mara, slipped a time bomb into the public record that no one in the major media seemed to notice.  It had to do with a homeless man, and the relationship between that man and the victim of Zimmerman's alleged crime, Trayvon Martin.

O'Mara's allusion had particular resonance in this case because Zimmerman first surfaced publicly in Sanford, Florida, in a case involving a homeless man.  As it happened, in December 2010, a police lieutenant's son named Justin Collison sucker-punched a black homeless man named Sherman Ware outside a Sanford bar, with seeming impunity.

Although Ware suffered a concussion, and there was video evidence of Collison's action, no action was taken against Collison for nearly a month.  Upset at the lack of media attention, Zimmerman and his wife Shellie printed fliers demanding that the community "hold accountable" officers responsible for any misconduct.

They then drove the fliers around to area churches and passed them out on a Sunday morning.  Later, at a public meeting in January 2011, Zimmerman took the floor and said, "I would just like to state that the law is written in black and white.  It should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those that are in the thin blue line."

This meeting was recorded on video.  As a result of the publicity, Police Chief Brian Tooley, whom Zimmerman blasted for his "illegal cover-up and corruption," was forced to resign.

Ironically, perhaps, Zimmerman headlined his fliers with a famous quote from Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke:  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  He would have been better off quoting another Anglo-Irishman, Oscar Wilde: "No good deed goes unpunished."

The local NAACP, with whom Zimmerman worked on the Sherman Ware case, instinctively turned its back on him as soon as he was accused of racist profiling in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  On March 26, a month after the shooting, George's older brother Robert sent an impassioned letter to local NAACP head Turner Clayton asking him to "call off the dogs. Period. Publicly and swiftly."

As Robert reminded Clayton, Zimmerman's "was the only non-black face in the meetings for justice" in the Ware case.  "It's time for you to end the race issue in this matter and call for cooler heads to prevail," Robert pleaded -- but without success, or even the expectation of it.

Ware's attorney, in fact, was Natalie Jackson, now a key player on Team Trayvon.  When the Zimmerman family talked publicly about George's involvement in the Ware case, Jackson denied that Zimmerman had handed out any fliers and dismissed the family's attempt to establish Zimmerman's commitment to racial justice.  "It's a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign," said Jackson.  "His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting."

Although Judge Debra Nelson ruled against the inclusion of almost any negative information about Martin in the upcoming trial, the defense had managed to get much of that information into the public sphere.  CNN, for instance, headlined its article on the May 28 ruling "Marijuana, fights, guns: Zimmerman loses key pretrial battles."  Below the headline was a photo of the young Martin, a near-saint only months back, recycling a lungful of marijuana smoke.  If nothing else, the media were catching on to Martin's less than saintly behavior.

The media missed, however, O'Mara's reference to homelessness and Martin's attitude towards it.  O'Mara informed Judge Nelson that Martin had a keen interest in fighting and that he had video proof of the same.  The charmless Nelson made one of her rare stabs at humor by implying that if attendance at a fight were proof of criminality, half of America would be in jail.

O'Mara countered by saying that Martin not only attended fights, but that he also recorded them on video, including "one where two buddies of his are beating up a homeless guy."  The video recorded a crime.  The State of Florida had had this video in possession for months and took no follow-up action.  As O'Mara made clear at the most recent hearing, the State had concealed critical evidence all along.  He even produced a whistleblower from the state attorney's office to hammer home his point.

Judge Nelson made no comment on the beating of the homeless man.  She had a case to misdirect, and she wasn't about to quibble over something as insignificant as justice.