POLITICO Chief Political Columnist Roger Simon is accusing Texas Governor Rick Perry of sending National Guard troops to the border so they can "shoot small children."
Rick Perry sending 1,000 National Guard troops to border to shoot small children. Could make good headlines -- in Russia.— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) July 22, 2014
First off, lets just mark this under most asinine statement of the day. Second, funny how Simon conveniently ignores why Perry is sending the troops: to stop cartels and gang members who actually shoot and murder small children from entering the United States. Here's one example:
Border Patrol documents newly obtained exclusively by Townhall detail the crimes MS-13 and other gang members in the Nogales processing center admit to committing.
In an interview with Border Patrol agents, 15-year-old self admitted MS-13 member with the last name Aguilar said he killed a member of rival gang 18th Street six months ago with a fully automatic Uzi before coming to the United States.
"He claims he walked over to the wounded rival, and emptied the magazine into the rival's body," interview documents show.
Aguilar also admitted to, "being involved in extortion for the gang," and "collecting money from local vendors and threatening them if they refused to pay."
Finally, the smear from Simon that National Guard troops are interested in "shooting small children" is abhorrent and disgusting. Border Patrol alone has gone above and beyond agents' job descriptions to care for children pouring across the border without their parents in a humane way. The National Guard will no doubt do the same.
It’s been almost a week since Israel launched its ground offensive into Gaza. Since that time, scores of IDF soldiers have been killed (including at least two American “lone soldiers”) and the civilian death toll (since the fighting first broke out) has now eclipsed 600. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strenuously argued that despite the high costs of war, the world’s only Jewish state, surrounded by hostile and malignant actors, has a right to defend itself. This is a sentiment both President Obama and Secretary Kerry have publicly affirmed.
But the politics of the situation became somewhat inflamed over the weekend when Secretary Kerry was caught on an open mic. Speaking to an aide before an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he said Israel’s excursion into Gaza was “a hell of a pinpoint operation.” This has raised suspicions, especially on the Right, that the administration isn’t fully backing Israel. The State Department vehemently denies this allegation.
Nevertheless, it’s abundantly clear that the American public stands firmly behind our Middle Eastern ally. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe Israel’s actions are warranted, according to a freshly-released CNN poll:
Monday Palestinians officials reported more killed, bringing the death toll to around 550. It's unknown how many were militants, but the United Nations has estimated that 70% are civilians. Israel announced Monday that seven more of its soldiers were killed, bringing to 25 the number of Israeli soldiers who have died. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.
According to the poll, 57% of the public said the Israeli actions against Hamas, the Palestinian organization that runs Gaza, are justified, with just over a third saying they are unjustified.
Forty-three percent of those questioned said Israel's using about the right amount of force, with 12% saying they're not using enough. Nearly four in 10 said Israel is using too much force in Gaza.
"Attitudes toward Israeli military action have been extremely stable over the years," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2012, an identical 57% thought that Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza were justified. And in 2009, the number of Americans who felt that way was only a few points higher, at 63%."
Not surprisingly, Republicans strongly support military engagement in Gaza:
Forty-five percent of Democrats questioned said that Israeli's military actions in Gaza are justified. That number jumps to 56% among independents and 73% among Republicans.
For what it's worth, the poll was conducted last weekend, and more than 1,000 U.S. adults participated.
UPDATE: Read Guy's post over at Hot Air about the appalling rise of anti-Semitism...in the United States.
I'll say this for Sen. Mark Pryor, the Arkansas Democrat who votes with Obama 90 percent of the time: At least he didn't go the full Reid by calling millions of Americans liars. No, he merely dismissed the documented phenomena of canceled policies and increased premiums as "anecdotal" evidence against the law for which he cast the deciding vote:
Various polls have shown that Americans who were negatively impacted by the healthcare overhaul far outnumber its beneficiaries. Millions of plans were cancelled due to Obamacare's regulations, including tens of thousands in Arkansas, in spite of repeated promises that consumers would be allowed to keep their preferred plans, with more many more dropped policies looming. The administration itself predicted that as many as 93 million Americans would eventually be stripped of their existing coverage. Also, numerous polls and studies have indicated that most Americans have experienced a rise in costs, including for many of the newly insured. The law was sold by people like Pryor as a robust and across-the-board premium reducer. Both Barack Obama and his eponymous healthcare law are deeply unpopular in Arkansas. Let's review some additional "anecdotes," shall we? Premium increases in Florida:
Florida Blue, the state’s dominant health insurer, snagged more than one in three consumers on the health law’s exchange this year, but many could face rate hikes as the carrier struggles with an influx of older and sicker enrollees, said the company’s top executive...“We will be under tremendous financial pressure initially given the age, risk profile and high utilization of the new membership,” he said. “It is far from clear that large enrollment in the marketplace is a financially beneficial place to be.” ... About 23 percent of those who bought exchange policies from Florida Blue this year were in the 18-to-34 age category, Geraghty said. That compares to 28 percent nationally. Initial federal projections were that 40 percent of enrollees nationally would be young adults.
We've been writing about Obamacare's risk pool and demographics problems for months. Now here's a story about a man in Oklahoma who's had a nightmarish experience trying to cancel his Obamacare plan. Thanks to Healthcare.gov's back end data problems (which won't be fixed anytime soon) and lack of customer service (hours of waiting on hold), it took him three months to terminate coverage that he no longer needed, and even then, he was stuck with a bill he shouldn't have owed:
Meanwhile, a legally-mandated and transparency-minded Obamacare database website...isn't working:
A long-awaited federal database designed to reveal doctor payments from the drug and medical device industries is plagued with confusing error messages, according to a report. Physicians told ProPublica that they are seeing long waits and error messages when trying to look up their entries on a preliminary version of the Open Payments website. "Doctors say it is taking them as long as an hour, sometimes longer, to verify their identifies and log in," reported Charles Ornstein with ProPublica. Those who make it through the system and do not have relationships with industry are reportedly met with the message: "You have the following errors on the page. There are no results that match the specified search criteria."
But never mind all that. Everything is working "incredibly well," we're told. People "love" Obamacare! In fact, I think it was Senator Mark Pryor who once gushed that Obamacare was "an amazing success story." What many Americans wouldn't give for an exemption like the free pass just extended to US territories by HHS -- after years of insisting that they didn't have the legal authority to grant such a waiver. Turns out the administration's definition of what counts as a "state" depends on the political imperative of the moment. Speaking of which, keep an eye on this court decision, which should be arriving any day.
Last night, an official Environmental Protection Agency Twitter account sent out a rather curious tweet:
"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is currently the top free app in the iTunes App Store. In the game, players create a "celebrity" avatar and attempt to make said character famous.
The tweet was posted for more than an hour before it was eventually taken down.
Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle raised an eyebrow to the bizarre tweet. Rep. Dingell (D-MI) was confused as to what a "Kardashian" was:
I'm the last original author of the Clean Water Act, but I have no idea who/what a Kardashian is and I rarely play games. You OK, @EPAwater?— John Dingell (@john_dingell) July 22, 2014
Whereas Rep. Stockman (R-TX) was a little more blunt:
I hope the Kardashians don't mind being associated with something that spends millions without contributing to society. @EPAwater— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) July 22, 2014
There has been no further word as to how the EPA's rise to online superstardom is progressing.
UPDATE: Rep. Dingell has been hilariously informed as to what a "Kardashian" is.
Staff has now informed me of what a Kardashian is. I'm only left with more questions.— John Dingell (@john_dingell) July 22, 2014
Yesterday Texas Governor Rick Perry announced the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas border with Mexico. Last night in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott stressed that the focus of the troops will be to stop cartels and criminals who have been operating with impunity as Border Patrol resources continue to be overwhelmed.
"This is one of the most important things I can convey. The purpose of adding more boots on the ground is not to address women and children, it's to address this growing reality that a lot of people coming across the border are here for criminal purposes. They're killing, they're raping, they're robbing, they're doing all kinds of harsh criminal activity," Abbott said. "Right now you should consider them [National Guard troops] to be a force multiplier."
Further, Abbott said the federal government and President Obama have "turned their back on Texas," but stressed that this is not simply a Texas issue but instead one that affects the entire country.
"This is a United States of America issue. Look at all of the different states in the country that are reacting to the situation," Abbott said. "The President has turned his back. Remember Greta it was two weeks ago the President was in Austin, Texas just a few hundred miles away from the border and he had his hand out taking money from people for political purposes and he could not trouble himself to go down to the border to see first hand for himself, the catastrophe that he is partly responsible for creating."
The US Department of Agriculture conducted a large experiment with school breakfast programs in public schools from 1999 to 2003, alternately providing either universal breakfasts or breakfast-in-class programs aimed at both expanding access and eliminating the stigma associated with the school breakfast program. Policymakers have long been concerned with low participation rates in the breakfast program and these experiments were designed to combat that problem.
It worked: participation in the school breakfast programs rose. The problem, a new study finds, is that the expanded participation brought largely no benefit to those it was intended to help.
As authors Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Mary Zaki of Northwestern University write:
Despite the increase in breakfast consumption under BIC, we find no positive impact on most other outcomes. In contrast to the earlier, quasi-experimental literature, we find no positive impact on test scores and some evidence of negative impacts. Similarly, there appears to be no overall positive impact on attendance rates or child health. There is suggestive evidence that BIC may improve behavior and health in some highly disadvantaged subgroups, though.
The authors urge that their results don't speak against the effectiveness of the school breakfast program as constituted, but merely against efforts to expand the program. They find that the increase in participation resulted largely from students who merely substituted school breakfasts for those they were already getting at home - and that a certain percentage of the increase in participation was from some children eating two breakfasts. The authors write that "the realtively modest measured benefits suggest that policymakers should carefully consider how to trade these off against the increased program costs."
Author James Bovard recently noted:
A 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association study concluded that "making universal-free school breakfast available" failed to change "students' dietary outcomes" or reduce the number of kids who skipped breakfast. Similarly, a 2006 Journal of Child Nutrition and Management study and a recent University of North Carolina study concluded that providing universal free breakfasts failed to improve academic performance.
This is a relatively small issue - "efforts to expand access to the federally-provided school breakfast program have largely been ineffective" - but it speaks to the challenge conservatives face in the public policy arena. Some children, and especially at-risk children from low-income families, are malnourished and the federal government has attempted to come up with a policy to increase participation rates in a program aimed at combating the problem; who could be against that?! But it turns out that federal efforts in this arena have been largely a waste of money, and sometimes actively harmful to the very children it's intended to help.
Pointing out that a relatively small program with a modest budget aimed at helping poor, at-risk children might be a waste of money is going to be unpopular. But one small, ineffective, well-intentioned program here, another small, ineffective, well-intentioned program there, and suddenly we're looking at a large, ineffective, well-intentioned government leviathan. In an era where the deciding electoral metric is "cares about people like me," it's hard to build a message that all those well-intentioned programs might not actually work well.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is taking the border crisis into his own hands and announced late yesterday afternoon that he's deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border in hopes to stem the wave of illegal aliens pouring into the United States with a focus on stopping criminal aliens who are exploiting overwhelmed resources. The troop deployment will bolster the ongoing law enforcement operation known as Operation Strong Safety, which is "focused on combatting criminal activity in the region resulting from the federal government's failure to adequately secure the border," according to Perry's office.
This deployment builds upon Operation Strong Safety by providing additional personnel that will work seamlessly and side by side with law enforcement officials. It also builds on the National Guard's existing border presence, which has been utilizing air assets to patrol the region looking for illegal activity.
The statistics on crimes committed by illegal aliens since 2008 in Texas are staggering.
Since 2008, more than 203,000 criminal aliens have been booked into Texas county jails. Over the course of their criminal careers, these individuals have committed more than 640,000 crimes in the state of Texas alone, including more than 3,000 homicides and nearly 8,000 sexual assaults.
"There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government's failure to secure our border," Perry said yesterday during a press conference. "The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America."
"It's been approximately a month since I visited a federal detention facility in McAllen and saw first hand the human tragedy unfolding on our southern border. The plight of these unaccompanied alien children has rightfully captured national attention as we learn details of their harrowing journeys," Perry said. "Equally as concerning however is the fact that unaccompanied children only make up 20 percent of those apprehended crossing the border illegally. As the brave men and women of the Border Patrol are pulled away from their law enforcement duties to give humanitarian aide, drug cartels, human traffickers, individual criminals are exploiting this tragedy for their own criminal opportunities."
It has been extensively reported at Townhall that violent gang members from MS-13 and 18th Street are being housed at federal Border Patrol processing centers and that they are exploiting overwhelmed resources in order to recruit more members and to gain easy access to the United States.
The IRS may be changing its tune a little bit when it comes to former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner's "lost" emails. IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane testified yesterday on Capitol Hill that all of the emails may not have been destroyed and that IRS officials need more time to look into what emails they still have.
According to Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, they're not sure yet what emails are still available for review and that further investigation is necessary. However, Issa said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren last night that there are more crashed hard drives at the IRS and that many questions surrounding Lerner's correspondence with other IRS officials and employees remain.
"They don't know what they should know because they haven't even looked and even today they're giving us ambiguous answers," Issa said.
Yesterday former advisor to President Bill Clinton, Lanny Davis, called for a special prosecutor to look into the IRS scandal.
Headlines broke in April surrounding an investigative report that revealed 40 veterans had died waiting for appointments at the Pheonix Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Further examination affirmed that this was not a singular instance, but rather a widespread case of bureaucratic corruption.
Between the falsification of waiting lists, the retaliation against whistle blowers, and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, all eyes have been on the VA the past few months. Should it come as a surprise, then, that numerous commissions, GAO investigations, hearings, and IG reports previously spoke to the inefficiencies of the VA? Nothing was done about this deep, institutional problem until it was too late.
Peter Schuck, Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School, has written a book titled “Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better” which chronicles the deep structural flaws that undermine the vast majority of federal agencies. Though the VA is a perfect case study for what he describes in his book, Schuck analyzes a large number of domestic programs and develops criteria for assessing their effectiveness.
At last week’s “Fixing the US Department of Veterans Affairs” panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Schuck outlined several features that contribute to the defective nature of large government service programs:
1. Ever-increasing budgets: In the case of the VA, the budget has doubled in real terms over the past 10 years. Big government agency budget hikes are often driven by demographics and interest group politics.
2. Little to no evaluation of cost effectiveness: Less than one percent of the federal budget is devoted to evaluating the effectiveness of the other 99 percent of the federal budget.
3. Outdated information systems: The storage of information is often antiquated and is usually paper driven. Record keeping is chaotic and files are lost. Additionally, the data relied upon to formulate policy is almost invariably much poorer than the data private market actors use to inform their decisions.
4. Rigid conditions for workforce: Schuck describes these government programs as having “rules so rigid, they would make a strong union blush.” It is very difficult to discipline workers and nearly impossible to fire them. If a problem arises, employees are often simply relocated.
5. Workforce size: The number of employees in these programs are not commensurate with the demands that are placed on them. Demand for service increases as qualifications for benefits ease.
6. Benefits take the form of entitlements: This reduces the amount of discretion that policy makers can exercise when adjusting benefits to accommodate emerging needs and changing costs.
7. Growing resistance of private actors to participate as contractors or workers: The programs are poorly managed and the reimbursement formulae are too often outdated and inflexibly managed.
8. Strong resistance to change: Implementation of reform is impeded by systematic obstacles that are deeply embedded in our governmental system. In terms of the VA, it is almost impossible to relocate a hospital to an area where veteran needs are far more pressing.
9. Fraud, waste, and abuse: Corruption as an extreme form of fraud is endemic and occurs in all of these agencies to some considerable degree.
10. Incentives: The incentives that drive these agencies are often very perverse. The objective of officials is often not to serve the goals of the program, but rather to achieve “bureaucratic objectives that are congruent only on occasion with the public interest that they’re supposed to serve.”
These problems are structural and have little to do with which party is in charge in Washington. Schuck aims to identify the endemic pathologies at large government agencies in order to take appropriate steps toward reform.
Watch Peter Schuck discuss his book on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart:
Additional reading: Check out Jim Geraghty's new book, "The Weed Agency: A Comic Tale of Federal Bureaucracy Without Limits."
Actors in the political arena often wield the buzz term “income inequality” to describe how the system can be unfair for hard working Americans. In December, President Obama even called it “the defining challenge of our time.” While the term may be a useful emotive tool, a recent study revealed it may not be a very burning policy issue; in fact, income inequality has actually been shrinking globally for the last 20 years.
George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen explained more on the subject Saturday in the New York Times:
“The economic surges of China, India and some other nations have been among the most egalitarian developments in history.
Of course, no one should use this observation as an excuse to stop helping the less fortunate. But it can help us see that higher income inequality is not always the most relevant problem, even for strict egalitarians. Policies on immigration and free trade, for example, sometimes increase inequality within a nation, yet can make the world a better place and often decrease inequality on the planet as a whole.
The evidence also suggests that immigration of low-skilled workers to the United States has a modestly negative effect on the wages of American workers without a high school diploma, as shown, for instance, in research by George Borjas, a Harvard economics professor. Yet that same immigration greatly benefits those who move to wealthy countries like the United States. (It probably also helps top American earners, who can hire household and child-care workers at cheaper prices.) Again, income inequality within the nation may rise but global inequality probably declines, especially if the new arrivals send money back home.
From a narrowly nationalist point of view, these developments may not be auspicious for the United States. But that narrow viewpoint is the main problem. We have evolved a political debate where essentially nationalistic concerns have been hiding behind the gentler cloak of egalitarianism. To clear up this confusion, one recommendation would be to preface all discussions of inequality with a reminder that global inequality has been falling and that, in this regard, the world is headed in a fundamentally better direction.”
The study’s authors, Christoph Lakner, a consultant at the World Bank, and Branko Milanovic, senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, mulled over the political implications of their findings. They suggest that it could weaken our democratic system to hollow-out the “vibrant middle class” that is so largely correlated with democracy.
Rather than focus on inequality within the nation, lawmakers ought to be focusing on wealth-maximizing policies, Cowen noted. The system ought to be fostering overall growth, not redistribution:
“If our domestic politics can’t handle changes in income distribution, maybe the problem isn’t that capitalism is fundamentally flawed but rather that our political institutions are inflexible. Our politics need not collapse under the pressure of a world that, over all, is becoming wealthier and fairer.”