Posted by hpayne on July 2, 2013
Two Michigan representatives are at center stage in the IRSgate investigation, but only one apparently wants justice done. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Democrat Sander Levin – co-top cop of the IRS hearings with Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Michigan – last week dropped a bombshell that “progressive” (read: liberal) groups has also been targeted by the IRS.
“Claims there was a White House enemies list or evidence of a culture of corruption — there’s zero evidence that there was any political involvement, and indeed the IG said that in his report,” said Levin, waving his letter to IRS Inspector General Russell George asking why he had not revealed that the target list was bipartisan. “This new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way.” Nothing to see here, folks. Please move on.
Trouble is, Levin’s revelation was untrue.
“The evidence only shows conservatives being systematically targeted by the IRS, not just flagged, but actually targeted. The IG has confirmed that, and the investigation by the Ways and Means and Oversight and Government Reform Committees also confirms that fact,” shot back Camp in his own press release just 24 hours later, publicizing George’s letter that contradicted Levin’s wild claim.
“We found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘Progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” wrote George, reaffirming that only tea party groups were specifically targeted by the IRS. “[O]ur audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases.”
Why the confusion? Levin’s office had deliberately twisted an IRS spread sheet asking agents to flag numerous organizations, including left-wing groups. But only conservative groups were comprehensively targeted and harassed by the IRS.
“Americans deserve better than to fear whether the IRS will unfairly target them,” added Camp in his rebuke of his Michigan colleague. Camp has been relentless in getting to the bottom of an egregious misuse of a government agency for partisan ends.
It is a single-mindedness that Levin once claimed to share. But his actions speak louder than words.
Along with Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, Levin appears more interested in performing public relations work for the Obama administration than in getting to the facts.
Levin’s diversion came just two weeks after Cummings, who sits on the House Oversight Committee’s parallel investigation of the IRS scandal, cranked up his own fog machine to help the bad guys get away.
Over the objections of Committee Chair Darrell Issa, R-California, Cummings released a full, 205-page transcript of a committee interview with Cincinnati IRS agent John Shafer that, Cummings said, proved – another bombshell! – the committee investigation was a “witch hunt” because no Washington link to tea party targeting could be found. Case closed. Please move on.
Except that Cummings revelation was also a fabrication.
The House committee investigation – and gumshoe work by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal – have uncovered substantial evidence that the targeting of conservative groups was orchestrated from Washington , including powerful testimony from Cincinnati field agents Gary Muthert and Elizabeth Hofacre.
Levin and Cummings show a disturbing pattern of Democrat investigators using their positions to complicate fact-finding. Yet their desperation only creates more suspicion. What are they afraid of?
Chairman Camp, meanwhile, continues to pick at the IRS’s culture of corruption. “(Your report) fails to deliver the accountability the American people deserve,” he told IRS principal deputy commissioner Daniel Werfel last week after Werfel failed the basic task of indentifying the D.C. source of the anti-tea party scheme.
Too bad Camp isn’t getting more help from his Michigan co-chair.
Posted by hpayne on June 18, 2013
Amidst Detroit’s financial emergency, two multinational companies are expanding in Southwest Detroit, bringing good-paying jobs and desperately-needed city revenue. Marathon Oil’s $2.2 billion expansion of its refinery to process Canadian oil has added 80 jobs and an estimated $230 million to city coffers by 2030. Nearby, Koch Carbon is taking the coal-like byproduct of Marathon’s refining process and selling it right back to Canadian power pants — expanding America’s energy exports and bringing life to Detroit’s abandoned, industrial waterfront.
Yet the two companies have received nothing but venom from Detroit politicians and their activist allies.
This week, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr announced a restructuring plan to get Motown’s fiscal house in order. But Detroit can’t just cut its way to prosperity. It also must grow. “The city cannot stabilize or pay creditors meaningful recoveries if it continues to shrink,” writes Orr in his restructuring plan.
Yet the experience of Marathon and Koch shows how treacherous Detroit’s business climate remains — even towards established manufacturing and commodities industries. Indeed, this hostility echoes a national problem as Democrats’ War on Carbon threatens growth in America’s struggling economic recovery.
Detroit is at the nexus of a North American oil revolution as Canada has tapped vast reserves from Alberta’s oil sands, reducing U.S. dependence on volatile regions like the Mideast and Venezuela. Much of that oil is processed at Marathon’s huge refinery off I-75. And in 2007 the Ohio-based company decided to expand to meet the demand — at great benefit to Detroit.
The expansion, completed last year, brought 5,000 contractor jobs and increased permanent refinery and subcontractor employment by 155 jobs —many of them well-paid, unionized, $30-an-hour maintenance positions, says Marathon Oil spokeswoman Angelia Graves.
An oil sands byproduct, petroleum coke, has brought more business to the city’s waterfront. An industrial center in the Motor City’s heyday, the Detroit River today is pocked with empty buildings and weed-choked loading platforms. In a neat twist, the coal-like, so-called “pet coke” is being sold back to Canada (among other countries) by energy giant Koch Carbon — where it is burned for electricity in a Nova Scotia power plant, adding millions to America’s trade balance sheet. That export operation has brought another 20 jobs — all paying over $45k a year — to Detroit Bulk Storage which loads the coke on Koch barges.
If you think this has brought smiles to Michigan politicians, think again.
Detroit Congressmen Gary Peters and John Conyers and state Rep. Rashida Tlaib have denounced Marathon and Koch for the mounds of pet coke storage. Congress needs to act against the material to protect “families and natural resources like the Great Lakes from the threat of contamination,” raged Peters from the House floor.
This is pure demagoguery. Pet coke has long been used in electricity and steel production. It is a non-toxic material that poses no threat under American clean air and water laws, says Brad Wurfel, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Indeed, the DEQ says the companies have met every state and federal regulation.
But that’s not good enough for Peters and environmentalists who are waging war on oil, coal, and working-class jobs in pursuit of their green Utopia. This war has cost the livelihoods of thousands of coal miners across Appalachia — as well as up to 20,000 more jobs promised by the oil sands-pumping Keystone Pipeline.
Never mind if Detroit companies have played by the rules, Peters wants to draft even more regulations for them to meet. And he is determined to take this harassment nationwide. “One of my main concerns with the Keystone pipeline is that we will be seeing piles of pet coke in a lot of other places in the U.S.,” Peters told London’s Guardian newspaper.
From Detroit to South Dakota to New Orleans, energy production means exports, growth and jobs. But green politicians seem more alarmed about its alleged impact on polar bears than its promise for America’s working class.
Posted by hpayne on June 4, 2013
“Governor Snyder cut corporate taxes,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer told the Frank Beckmann Show at the Mackinac Policy Conference last week, arguing that One Tough Nerd’s tax breaks have benefited wealthy special interests. “But we need an economy that works for everybody.”
Sure we do.
But, populist rhetoric aside, Schauer is not at all opposed to wealthy special interest tax breaks — so long as they discriminate on the behalf of politically favored industries that Democrats support. It is the same ol’ crony capitalism championed by Jennifer Granholm during Michigan’s lost decade.
“I’m for targeted tax breaks that create jobs,” Schauer double-spoke moments later, echoing Granholm handouts that aided rich Democratic special interests like Big Green, Big Hollywood, and Big Labor.
Not only would Schauer turn the clock back on Snyder’s flat tax reform, but he would market a Swiss Cheese of loopholes that has made the federal code so ripe for abuse by the IRS. Meanwhile, Snyder’s simplified tax reform has made Michigan a national model for a less-politicized tax system.
“We need to get rid of the crony-capitalist insider deductions and exemptions which have given the IRS so much power,” writes CNBC economist Larry Kudlow. That is exactly what Snyder has done here.
But for pro-government activists like Schauer, that is a problem. Their power derives from being tax code gatekeepers for the well-connected.
“We’re supporting a Green Manufacturing Loan Program that would help manufacturers retool to be more energy-efficient,” says Schauer of a buffet of loans and tax treats he has lobbied for as a national co-chairman of the Blue-Green Alliance, a consortium of Big Labor and Big Green special interests.
The plan is a clone of the Granholmnomics that showered tax breaks on green businesses last decade even as Michigan’s median household income dropped by 21 percent, which was three times the national average.
As a state senator, Schauer cheered Granholm’s $1 billion green “investment” as a job creator. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, green jobs are just 2 percent of Michigan employment today while Michigan’s landscape is littered with bankrupt firms that Granholm and Schauer lavished with taxpayer money. Four of the nation’s eight biggest green bankruptcies — A123 Systems, Azure Dynamics, United Solar Ovonics and Evergreen Solar — had operations in Michigan and received millions in state subsidies, reports the Mackinac Center’s Capitol Confidential.
Schauer claims Michigan’s economy has struggled since Snyder derailed the gravy train, but in truth Michigan has America’s sixth-fastest recovery. Yes, Snyder failed the cardinal rule of flat tax reform — slash rates as you cork loopholes. As a result, taxpayers have had no sugar with their castor oil. But the state’s stubborn 8.4 percent unemployment rate is a symptom of a national economy that has failed to gain traction because President Barack Obama repeated Granholmnomics.
Just like Michigan, Washington diverted billions of tax dollars to now-bankrupt firms like Solyndra and Beacon Power while crushing less-favored industries with regulation.
Just like Michigan, Schauer voted for Obama’s green goodies as a first term congressman in 2009-10.
And just like Michigan, the national economic playing field is tilted against the working class and in favor of politically connected fat cats. Democrats claim policies that favor “Main Street not Wall Street.” But the reality is much different.
“The average U.S. household has recovered only 45 percent of the wealth they lost during the recession,” according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which finds that two-thirds of the increase is due to rising stock prices. That rise has disproportionately benefited the rich.
From Granholm’s million-dollar subsidies to A123 Systems to Obama’s $7,500 tax breaks for Leo DiCaprio to buy six-figure electric cars, gubernatorial candidate Schauer has voted to line the pockets of the politically connected. Now he wants to make another sequel?
Posted by hpayne on May 21, 2013
In the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde existence of America’s Hope and Divide president, Hyde has ruled too often. The corrupt Benghazi-IRS-AP outrages are the lowest points in a year in which the campaigner-in-chief has politicized even White House school tours for party gain.
So it is refreshing when the brilliant Dr. Jekyll makes an appearance. He emerged at this weekend’s Morehouse College commencement for a memorable address.
America’s only all-male, historically black college – the alma mater of the great Martin Luther King – welcomed our first black president at a time when black unemployment is nearly double that of whites – 16 percent. But the president didn’t play the victim card. Instead, he spoke candidly to the Class of ’13 about responsibility and the biggest problem facing America today: Fatherless homes.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse,” said Obama after celebrating the graduates gathered before him. ” In troubled neighborhoods all across this country – many of them heavily African American – too few of our citizens have role models to guide them.”
“One of the things that all of you have learned over the last four years is there’s no longer any room for excuses,” he continued. “Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; we know those are still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil – many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did – all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned. Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. . . . And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and they overcame them. And if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.”
Powerful stuff. And what a break from the paralyzing victimization taught by a generation of Jackson, Sharpton, and Conyers.
“Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man,” Obama continued. “Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.”
The speech was a reminder of what might have been (and still can be) from this president. America’s#1 problem are inner cities (and rural areas like my home Appalachia) where family implosion has doomed a generation of young males. The #1 cause of poverty in America is single-parent homes – an epidemic in places like Detroit that breeds an endless cycle of illiteracy, joblessness and crime.
Rather than dividing America for political ends, Obama might have committed himself to cultural change. For the best of Barack Obama, you can read the entire speech here.
Posted by hpayne on May 20, 2013
Will the IRS and AP scandals distract from President Obama’s agenda?
The White House is reassuring its supporters that the flood of scandals won’t deter the president from pursuing an aggressive second term agenda. In truth, the scandals are more than a distraction – they are a direct warning against implementing Obama’s Big Government vision.
Prior to Trifecta-gate – Benghazi, IRS, and AP – Obamabots in government and media reacted to any pushback to their expansionist agenda of Washington power with dire warnings of a government-less world.
“One of the reasons I was opposed to these (sequester) cuts is because . . . they cut into muscle and into bone — like research and development. . . creating all kinds of spinoffs that create good jobs and good wages,” scared President Obama at Argonne University last month over a mere 2 percent cut in a $3.8 trillion budget.
“The sequester could also cost this country – and humankind – a cure for AIDS or Parkinson’s disease or cancer,” warned Harry Reid on the Senate floor.
Small government meant planes falling out of the skies, unpaid teachers, unemplyment. Now, the narrative has flipped.
The scandals have exposed Big Brother unleashed.
You want bigger government? How about the Justice Department taping AP phones? How about the IRS snooping into every corner of your non-profit? How about the IRS expanding into your health records to enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate?
Obama’s agenda – cap and trade, Obamacare, more spending – is about expanding Washington’s power into Americans’ lives. The scandals are a cautionary tale of what that means for civil liberties.
Posted by hpayne on May 15, 2013
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” said President Obama this week in reaction to the Benghazi scandal.
There is a kernel of truth in what Tricky Dick Obama says: Political junkies have known the IRS and Benghazi details for some time. Obama is now engulfed in these scandals – not because they are new – but because the election is over and the majority, Democratic media has stopped covering for him.
Consider: The Benghazi cover-up – that the president was lying about a YouTube video a full two weeks after the murder of U.S. personnel – was immediately exposed last September by Fox News and other conservative media. But the MSM abetted the cover-up (most famously Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate).
Consider: Congress has been receiving complaints from tea parties of unfair treatment since 2011- and holding hearings. IRS officials lied at those hearings when asked about politicized IRS investigations. The media ignored them. Wall Street Journal columnist Debbie Strassel’s superb reporting uncovered an Obama’s Enemies List of eight Romney donors (some, like Frank Vandersloot, have subsequently been harrassed) targeted by the Obama campaign for IRS scrutiny. The media ignored it. Michigan Rep. Sander Levin asked the IRS in April, 2012 to harass the conservative, non-profit Mackinac Center. Michigan’s media ignored it. In 2010, Senator Max Baucus asked the IRS to target conservative groups. The media ignored it. And so on.
The priority was getting President Barack Obama re-elected.
Some of the partisan press continue to ignore these stories – The Detroit Free Press, for example, didn’t print a single story on the Benghazi hearings last week while burying the IRS witch hunt on the inside pages over the weekend. But with the continued, relentless reporting of Fox News, Congressional hearings on Benghazi, and the stunning revelation – in a legal forum, not a press forum – of IRS corruption, the stories have become too big to ignore.
That, and with the partisan fever of the campaign past, journalists are returning to their jobs.
Posted by hpayne on May 14, 2013
Pat Caddell, the youngest Democrat on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List thanks to his staff position on George McGovern’s 1972 Democratic presidential campaign, knows dirty politics when he sees it.
“We have not had a White House where the incumbent tried to affect the other side’s primary since Nixon,” Caddell, now 62 and one of America’s most respected political analysts, told me last year after the Obama campaign’s unusual intervention in the Michigan Republican primary to try and affect an upset of Mitt Romney. “On the 40th anniversary year of Watergate, that’s worth pointing out. I am a Democrat and I am offended by it. There is a reason parties hold their own primaries to choose their own candidates.”
The Nixon parallels multiplied last week after the shocking revelations of House Oversight Committee hearings into the Benghazi cover-up and an IRS admission that it had targeted tea party groups during the 2012 election. Michigan primary interventions, enemies lists, Benghazi talking points, FAA sequester delays . . . while not illegal, the Obama administration’s actions portray a campaign-obsessed White House that sees every event as a partisan, political opportunity.
Tricky Dick, meet Tricky Barack.
The testimony of three State Department whistleblowers in Benghazi suggest election politics were paramount — to the point that the administration lied about the al-Qaida attack for fear it would compromise the president’s campaign theme of winning the War on Terror. Then came the IRS revelation targeting tea party groups, an eerie echo of Tricky Dick’s IRS intimidation tactics. That in turn was a reminder of an Obama enemies list that surfaced in April 2012 of eight Romney donors shamed by the Obama campaign for alleged legal irregularities.
“When you have the power of the presidency — the power of the IRS — what you have effectively done is put these guys’ names up on ‘Wanted’ posters in government offices,” former U.S. solicitor general Theodore Olson, told The Wall Street Journal.
From Michigan to Washington, the Nixonian echo is causing bipartisan unease.
“For anyone over 50, this news couldn’t help but stir memories of Richard Nixon’s Political Enemies Project,” wrote former Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Rivers in The Detroit News.com Monday. “To use Dan Rather’s ‘duck test,’ the IRS probe of ‘hostile’ ideological groups looks like, swims like, and quacks like government dirty tricks.”
“The IRS has admitted that its agents intimidated conservative groups based on their political beliefs,” says Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. “I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine.”
The American Center for Law and Justice represents tea party groups from 18 states concerned about IRS harassment, though none are in Michigan – perhaps because Michigan groups have not pursued fundraising strategies requiring non-profit IRA status. Political IRS probes were made famous by a Nixon administration memo that sought to “maximize . . . our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly — how we can use the (IRS) to screw our political enemies.”
Obama’s campaign-style tactics have continued this year as he exploited sequester cuts — targeting the public with flight delays and canceled White House tours as part of a Republican blame game.
In the February 2012 Republican Michigan primary, Democratic consultant Caddell called out the Nixon-like activity that attempted to influence a Santorum upset of frontrunner Mitt Romney. Consistent with what he called “Obama’s Chicago hard-knuckle politics,” Caddell cited $250,000 in Obama Super Pac ads targeting Romney, an Obama speech to the UAW on the day of the vote, Obama allies writing anti-Romney op-eds in Detroit newspapers and Democratic operatives like state Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer urging Democrats to vote Santorum.
“Why doesn’t anyone hold this president accountable for this?” Caddell demanded at the time. “Barack Obama says he’s for a new kind of politics.”
This week, more people are asking the same question.
Posted by hpayne on May 14, 2013
Talk about the fox watching the chicken coop.
The House Ways and Means Committee has announced that it will hold a hearing Friday to look into the IRS’s alleged political targeting of tea party groups. The Republican committee chair is Michigan’s Dave Camp. R-Midland. And the ranking Democrat? Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak.
That’s the same Rep. Levin who last year called for the IRS to engage in a political witch-hunt of the non-profit Mackinac Center.
“On its 2010 IRS Form 990, the Mackinac Center answered ‘no’ to the question, ‘Did the organization engage in lobbying activities?’ As described below, I am concerned about the response to this question,” wrote Levin in his letter.
That Mackinac – a champion of the grassroots tea party movement – is an outspoken advocate for small government reforms is no secret. Levin’s letter – leaked to Mackinac’s left-wing rival, Progress Michigan – was an attempt to intimidate the right-wing think tank and its donors.
Mr. Levin will no doubt bring his impartial reputation to the IRS’s attempt to intimidate other conservative non-profits.
Posted by hpayne on May 9, 2013
After an eight-month cover-up – by both the White House and the Mainstream Media – Benghazi-gate exploded on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the Deputy Ambassador to Libya (and the late Ambassador Chris Stevens) publicly testified on the facts behind the terrorist attack.
State Department careerist Gregory Hicks testified that ”my jaw dropped. I was embarrassed” when Obama appointee and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice lied on national television that the attack was the result of a spontaneous rally protesting a YouTube video. Hicks and his staff knew otherwise.
Hicks revealed that Hillary Clinton’s sham “independent” State Dept. investigation of the incident was woefully incomplete – indeed, whistleblower Mark Thompson, deputy coordinator for operations at the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, was not even interviewed about details. (Thompson’s revelation, incidentally, came duringquestioning by Michigan Rep. Mark Walberg, R-Tipton. Michigan Democrats were typically mute on the disturbing whistleblower testimony, as they have been incurious about the killing of a Michigan border patrol agent during Fast & Furious).
And Hicks told of Clinton’s chief-of-staff (and longtime Hillary fixer) Cheryl Mills dressing him down for refusing to clam up to Congressman Jason Chaffetz when he came to Libya on a fact-finding mission.
The administration didn’t want to know.
Having based his 2012 re-election on the slogan “General Motors is alive and Bin Laden is dead,” Obama’s admission of Al Qaida destroying a U.S. outpost on 9/11′s anniversary would have opened a significant front against the campaign narrative. So the administration coordinated a cover-up.
As Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard has reported, CIA talking points were altered to shade the truth, we watched Ambassador Rice’s nose grow on national TV – and two weeks after the attack, President Obama himself stubbornly stuck to the narrative, lying before a U.N. Assembly in New York that the video caused the deaths of four Americans.
Dead-enders in the MSM too continued the cover-up Tuesday with CBS Radio ignoring Hicks’ revelations and running a quote from a Democratic congressmen instead, questioning Hicks’ veracity on whether military forces should have been deployed. The Detroit Free Press ignored the hearing on its website. (Even The Daily Shill’s Jon Stewart played puppet to the Democrat ventriloquist.)
Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney desperately tried to dismiss the Hicks testimony as “something that happened a long time ago.”
But to the families of the dead Sate Department employees the memories – and the cover-up – are still fresh. “When she told me that they would catch the maker of the video, I know she wasn’t telling the truth,” said Charles Woods when Hillary lied to him about the cause of his son’s death.
Benghazi-gate. Another Nixonian political cover-up. And this time, abetted by journalists.
Posted by hpayne on May 8, 2013
Posted by hpayne on May 7, 2013
In the fall of 2011, major Metro Detroit politicians were conspicuously absent from the Occupy Detroit movement. So noxious was the leftist tantrum that even Detroit City Council members eschewed the protests that had become synonymous with public disorder and anti-capitalist rhetoric. But one area Democrat bucked the trend.
Congressman Gary Peters.
The millionaire former Merrill Lynch financial advisor donned a “We are the 99 Percent” button and marched up Woodward Avenue amidst angry unionists, anarchists and class warriors. Last week, the self-described political “moderate” and “independent” launched his campaign to fill the Senate seat of retiring Carl Levin. But if he is a centrist, why does Peters provoke such unusual disdain from even moderate Republicans?
His Occupy Detroit alliance is a glimpse at the real Gary Peters — an ideologically liberal politician who will do anything to stay in power.
“I’ve always believed that the things middle class families struggle with around their kitchen tables should define my work in Washington,” Peters said launching a Senate campaign in which he is the clear Democratic favorite. “Set politics and party aside: If it’s not right for Michigan’s small businesses and middle class, it’s never been right with me. I think that kind of independent approach is exactly what Michigan needs.”
But Peters is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He voted in lockstep with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda when Democrats controlled the House. Pro-global warming regulation. Pro-stimulus. Pro-Obamacare. His middle-class Oakland County constituents rebelled against his partisan vote for Obamacare, complaining that he was aloof and unresponsive. Only when the subsequent, tea party tsunami threatened his seat in 2010 did Peters row to America’s political mainstream. Overnight, Peters became a small government advocate, condemning Obama’s second, $50 billion stimulus and embracing the Bush tax cuts.
Peters temporary flirtation with those “centrist” issues is instructive.
Having secured his re-election in 2010, he lurched back left — cheering Obama’s agenda for even more spending (never mind $50 billion, now Peters supported Obama’s $450 billion Stimulus II) and burying the Bush tax cuts. In a 2012 Detroit News interview, Peters dodged questions about why it was imperative to shield Michigan small business from tax hikes in the difficult 2010 recovery — but not in the difficult 2012 recovery. Peters makes Mitt Romney look like a flip-flop novice.
“Peters has always presented himself as a reasonable business candidate, even as he votes left,” says Michigan political analyst Bill Ballenger. “It’s a total sham.”
“He’s a phony,” says Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson, a Republican with a true independent streak.
There is one conviction that trumps Peters left-wing politics: winning. His 2010 Congressional campaign was the state’s ugliest — tagging tea partiers with the crude sex term “teabaggers” and accusing his opponent, decorated Iraq veteran Rocky Raczkowski, of business malfeasance, a charge so low it provoked a slander suit.
“He has no moral compass,” says Raczkowski who once considered Peters an ally when they served in Lansing’s legislature. “He has mortgaged our future for his own personal gain. What a chameleon.”
After the elimination of his Oakland County 9th district, he ran for election in Detroit’s leftist, 14th district. His Occupy Detroit march was a signal to the union-heavy district that the anti-spending business ally of 2010 was just for show — even as he had amassed a rich war chest exploiting his stature on the House Finance Committee where he is a member of the elite “New Democrat” fundraising club, raking in corporate dough as gatekeeper for House financial reform legislation.
Like Debbie Stabenow, Peters will be a formidable Senate candidate thanks to his vote for the auto bailout. But his liberal, anti-small business advocacy for Obamacare and higher taxes seed doubt about the real Gary Peters.
Is he for what’s best for Michigan, or what’s best for Gary Peters?
Posted by hpayne on May 6, 2013
Subprime auto loans won’t work out any better than subprime home loans
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130506/OPINION01/305060302#ixzz2Se2aNFpJ
Posted by hpayne on May 1, 2013
Jason Collins is no Jackie Robinson, but his coming out as a gay NBA athlete sheds light on the difficulties of being a minority in an athletic culture – even as sports sets a noble example of meritocracy.
Some onlookers celebrated Collins as a 21st century Jackie Robinson, but the comparison diminishes the fire Robinson went through as Major League Baseball’s first black athlete. Black segregation was a horrible reality in the 1940s – segregated drinking fountains, buses, even a separate “Negro League” for black ballplayers. Robinson broke those barriers. The same-sex marriage debate aside, no equivalent barriers exist for the 7-foot tall Collins. Even so, being gay in the testosterone-soaked culture of male sports has surely been uncomfortable for Collins. I played competitive basketball through college – and while I don’t know if any of my teammates were gay, it would have been uncomfortable to admit in swaggering, cheerleader-chasing locker rooms.
Majority cultures work both ways. A talented male classmate of mine had his heart set on a career as a professional dancer in New York theater – but as a straight man he found it difficult to fit in to the gay theater culture and eventually left despite a bright future with a top New York dance company.
Collins “outing” this week also was a refreshing glimpse into sports meritocracy.
“Whether he is straight, gay, black, white, from Earth, or from Mars is immaterial. Just help us win,” tweeted the Miami Heat’s Sane Battier, a former Detroit Country Day High School superstar. Battier’s sentiments echoed that of most players and coaches who put a premium on skill – not color, sex, or creed.
That’s an example to the political and academic world’s which still insist on retro- “diversity” quotas for college admission. Higher ed’s lawsuit against Michigan’s civil rights law, for example. In a telling intersection of sports and politics during the MCRI debate in 2006, Michigan State Basketball Coach Tom Izzo was dragged out to the microphones to lend his support for his university’s admission quotas. A savvy MCRI student supporter – about 5’5″ and Asian – put on an MSU basketball jersey and attended the press conference to mock Izzo for the lack of short Asian players on his NCAA team.
Point taken. Regardless of his sexual orientation, Jason Collins belongs in the NBA because he’s qualified. The same standard should hold in the classroom as well.
Posted by hpayne on April 30, 2013
On Saturday night in Grand Circus Park, a tony Metro Detroit crowd paid up to $90 a ticket to fill the Detroit Opera House, laugh with comedian Martin Short and raise thousands of dollars for Detroit’s hungry. In just half an hour, for example, $14,000 was raised in a live auction of items donated by corporations like GM and Borg Warner.
That pays for 70,000 meals served by the Forgotten Harvest charity, which collects unused food from restaurants and distributes it to the poor. Corporate sponsors like Quicken Loans and Mercedes Benz headlined the evening, hosted by PVS Chemical executive and Harvest Chairman David Nicholson, who honored One Percenter Mitch Albom, a generous giver to the charity.
Walking through Grand Circus before the event (truth in advertising: I have been a Forgotten Harvest donor for years), I viewed a panorama of the business community’s commitment to the city — from Comerica Park to the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field to Ilitch-owned businesses to the Opera House itself. On Friday, multimillionaire Dan Gilbert encouraged Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores to move his team to the Grand Circus area where a stream of private investment has spawned restaurants and other small businesses.
Without the capital and charity of these extraordinary entrepreneurs, Detroit today would be a shell of abandoned storefronts and empty streets. Yet, these builders have collectively been met by America’s governing class with contempt.
Eighteen months ago, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Detroit, rallied in Grand Circus Park with Occupy Detroit protesters to demonize businessmen for not doing their fair share. “What did you do in the Class War, Daddy?” read one protest sign. At Central United Methodist Church on the park, former Obama preacher Jeremiah Wright was invited to rant against “rich folks” preying on Detroit’s poor. The Occupy protests — celebrated by the media and embraced by Obama’s re-election campaign — blamed “the wealthy” for our economic troubles.
Businessmen were the scourge of Detroit. Capitalism was their poison. “You didn’t build that!” claimed President Obama, caricaturing an America where government created jobs while entrepreneurs hid their profits in offshore bank accounts.
Detroit proves that vision is a fiction.
The biggest obstacle to Motown’s renaissance today is government. Despite the highest income and property taxes in the region, its poor services have driven the middle class — black, white and ethnic — out. Vice President Joe “They gonna put ya’ll back in chains!” Biden was in town last week for a Democratic fundraiser championing his party’s commitment to the middle class, yet liberal governance has made Detroit unlivable for the middle class.
Into this void has stepped Detroit’s business class.
Recognizing that a thriving urban center is vital to attracting young people, these wealthy industrialists have the means — and the thick skin — to endure the city’s poisonous government and union culture. In 2003, philanthropist Robert Thompson was run out of town for wanting to invest a quarter of a billion dollars in Detroit charter schools — yet he persisted, providing poor neighborhoods with school choice long enjoyed by the wealthy. Gilbert has moved Quicken Loans downtown — paying his employees’ 1.2-2.4 percent Detroit income tax to overcome that government obstacle. And One Percent homebuilder Bill Pulte has formed the Detroit Blight Authority to clear 40,000 abandoned structures, which serve as incubators for crime.
In the face of such commitments, the federal government this year has taken more of their money — a 60 percent rise in capital gains and other taxes — diverting needed dollars from Detroit and its charities to wasteful Washington.
Detroit’s government and media class reflexively tar Metro Detroit as the most segregated community in America. In truth, the region is a family (a diverse family that funds Forgotten Harvest with $80 million a year) that cares about its mismanaged city.
In a break from the Harvest fundraiser’s comedy routine, Huntington Bank president and Harvest contributor Mike Vezzey exclaimed to Martin Short’s Jimmy Glick character: “Detroit is coming back!”
Detroit will be back when government leaders join Detroit’s business leaders in doing their fair share.
Posted by hpayne on April 29, 2013
“We did not invite Nancy Pelosi here tonight because she is a Democrat,” said Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony at this weekend’s 58th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit. “We invited her here tonight because she has been a champion of the issues that are important to all of us.”
Pelosi then stepped to the podium to advocate an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour, a policy so destructive to young black employment that the Wall Street Journal dubbed it “The Minority Youth Unemployment Act.”
With friends like Pelosi, who needs enemies?
The last minimum wage hike – a 2007 Pelosi initiative that raised the federal mandate to $7.25 an hour – has led to the highest teen unemployment levels since records were first kept in 1948. Black teens in cities like Detroit have seen the worst of it, with their unemployment rate rising to 42 percent from 29 percent in 2007.
Pelosi justified the wage hike by claiming CEO salaries now average 350 times the wage of the average worker. So why not hike the wage 350 times?
Pelosi also told the NAACP that all children must have access to good schools. “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education,” she said.
Yet the Democratic Party and its union allies have stood in the school house door blocking Detroit charter school choice for inner city black families – denying the less privileged the same choice that wealthy black leaders like Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, have enjoyed (Conyers sent his children to Cranbrook private school).
So invite Nancy Pelosi to speak – then do the opposite of what she champions.
Posted by hpayne on April 26, 2013
Senate Democrats blinked.
With the public yawning over the Sequesterpocalypse that never happened, the White House took it up a notch this week with an air traffic controller furlough that snarled flights from LaGuardia to Detroit Metro to LAX. Obama’s political gambit got the public attention all right – and they took it out on Obama’s Senate Democratic allies.
With constituents screaming, and senators facing long flights home for this week’s recess to face the red faces, Democrats caved Thursday night in a hasty deal with Republicans (quickly joined by a gloating House Friday) to end the FAA cuts.
When faced with downsizing, businesses put customers first – but not the Obama White House. The sequester strategy was to target government’s customers first, from students scheduled for White House tours to airline travelers to Section 8 public housing recipients.
Loyal White House soldier Senator Harry Reid jumped the shark Wednesday in blaming cancer on the sequester. “Most of the headlines are focused on the hours the sequester has cost travelers in airports across the nation,” barked the Senate Majority Leader. “The frustration and the economic effects of those delays should not be minimized. But the sequester could also cost this country – and humankind – a cure for AIDS or Parkinson’s disease or cancer.” We’re not making this up.
But Reid’s army quickly melted away at the human – and airline economic cost – of Obama’s FAA cuts.
“The vote is a victory for House Republicans, who had been pushing for a restructuring of the $600 million sequester cut to the FAA to avoid air traffic controller layoffs. In contrast, Democrats were looking for a broader solution to the sequester that included new taxes,” reports The Hill. “But Democrats abandoned that line as passengers filed thousands of complaints about delayed flights.”
Give me your taxes or I won’t let your plane off the ground. Subtle.
“This was a manufactured problem by the administration,” said Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland. “This was playing politics with air safety issues.”
Yes it was. Memos from bipartisan, Bush and Clinton ex-administration counsels have noted that Congress and the sequester law give Obama brad authority on how to prioritize cuts. Obama just ignored it (except when flying aboard Air Force One, natch). Calling the FAA fix “no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester’s mindless, across-the-board cuts,” White House automaton Jay Carney threatened to continue the White House’s mindless, across-the-board cuts in other programs.
But his senators are sending him a signal: The sequester chess strategy failed. It’s never good to use voters as pawns.
Posted by hpayne on April 25, 2013
This week has been an unpredictable nightmare for the nation’s air passengers as President Obama’s sequester strategy targeted the nation’s airports, unnecessarily furloughing 10 percent of air traffic controllers in order to visit maximum pain on travelers (in order to provoke them into blaming Congress for the sequester, so the strategy goes). Despite legal discretion to prioritize cuts, the White House made no effort to do so – thus no priority was given to keep essential air controllers on the job over non-essential FAA community planners, and no priority was given to Detroit Metro Airport over Pellston Airport.
Priority was made, however, for the architect of the sequester flight delays.
Whereas flights in the Dallas area (like Detroit) had been beset with sequester delays, AIr Force One took off from Love Field in Texas with no problems Thursday night after the president’s day in the Dallas area.
“6:43 p.m. local, Love Field — potus and flotus emerged from Marine one, holding hands and talking to each other as they walked to AF One,” reads the president’s press pool report. ” They climbed aboard and we are rolling toward takeoff.” Off on time, back in DC at 10 PM – right on schedule.
Apparently it’s only the huddled masses that have to feel the sequester pain.
Posted by hpayne on April 25, 2013
“In this terrible situation, let’s be very grateful that we had a well-funded, functioning government,” demagogued former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank after the Boston bombing. “I never was as a member of Congress one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes. This is an example of why we need, if we’re going to be a civilized society, to put some of our resources into a common pool.”
Frank’s comments were tasteless – but half right. The impressive display of law enforcement in Boston shows the need for adequate public security. That’s an essential government function.
So what was the federal government doing diverting hundreds of millions of tax dollars to luxury automaker Fisker Automotive?
One week after the Boston Marathon bombing displayed government at its best – catching bad guys – Fisker displayed its bloated excess. The automaker defaulted on a $200 million loan from taxpayers, joining a parade of politically-connected fat cats that the Obama administration gave the keys to the Treasury. Frank is exactly wrong – less government and lower taxes would have kept those millions wasted on Fisker to be invested efficiently in the private sector. And less government and lower taxes would have concentrated resources where they belong – in tracking alleged criminals like the Tsarnaev brothers. Washington has become so bloated that politicians like Frank think they have the expertise to start auto companies.
Fisker and its $100k electric sports cars is following A123 Systems, Solyndra, Ener1, and other green Democratic fantasies into bankruptcy in a historic folly of government hubris. Leave public defense to government. And leave product development to the private sector.
Posted by hpayne on April 24, 2013
Replacing retiring President Mary Sue Coleman offers the University of Michigan a historic opportunity to reboot with an administrator who embraces a 21st century, colorblind admissions policy that is succeeding in states like California. The university’s board could signal the new era by including Jennifer Gratz on its presidential search committee.
Gratz is the courageous civil rights activist who took on Coleman, and her predecessor Lee Bollinger, in exposing U-M’s discriminatory admissions system. Gratz, who graduated from University of Michigan-Dearbon after race quotas denied her admission to U-M, spearheaded the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) ballot proposal in 2006, which banned the use of race in public university admissions and state employment.
Despite MCRI’s overwhelming support by Michigan voters, Coleman continued to fight the state law in court, clouding the university’s reputation as one of America’s elite academic schools with politically correct, racial politics. Worse, Coleman’s policies worked against the very minorities she claimed to advance. During her (and Bollinger’s) reign, blacks and Hispanics graduated at 20 percent lower rates than their white, Indian and Asian peers. Hailed for her determination in building an elite academic university — a $3 billion “Michigan Difference” fundraising campaign and world-class facilities — Coleman paradoxically patronized minorities with a lesser standard of admission in the name of “diversity.” The result doomed underqualified minority students to failure, casting them degreeless into the working world.
Meanwhile in California, where courts upheld that state’s similar Prop 209 civil rights initiative, black and Hispanic grad rates have bloomed as students have found admission to California state schools where they are best suited (as the Reason Foundation’s Shikha Dalmia and I first reported in a series of articles in 2006).
“Black and Hispanic students improved their academic performance and graduated at stunningly improved rates,” write UCLA scholar Rick Sander and legal journalist Stuart Taylor in their brilliant book, “Mismatch.” After Prop 209 passed, “the number of UC blacks and Hispanic freshman who went on the graduate in four years rose 55 percent.”
The remarkable success of California civil rights initiative is recognition that not all students are suited for elite colleges like Cal-Berkeley and UCLA (the UC system equivalents of U-M). With colorblind admissions, minority students thrived among their academic peers at colleges like Cal-Riverside and Cal-Irvine. The result was more minority students with degrees, on par with whites and ripe for employment. Meanwhile, Sander finds that U-M has doubled down on race preferences since MCRI, at a cost of fewer minority degrees.
“I think I am more prepared in terms of graduate school than I would have been if I had gone to UCLA,” a black UC-Riverside student told The New York Times.
Old Left academics like Coleman built a self-serving, bean-counting culture of diversity to the detriment of student success. One Michigan administrator admitted to me that most minority students didn’t come from Detroit but from affluent suburbs in Okemos and Bloomfield Hills to meet race quotas, denying needier, more-academically qualified white and Asian students admission.
One of those students was Gratz, who has spent her life advocating that Michigan follow California’s example. Gratz was the first person in her blue-collar family to attend college, a measure of diversity U-M’s cramped, racial definition did not recognize.
“The people of Michigan spoke loud and clear in 2006 when it voted to make preferences unconstitutional,” said Gratz in the wake of Coleman’s retirement. “We will see if U-M values true diversity or if they continue to see diversity as something that is simply skin deep.”
Embracing Gratz in its presidential search would re-establish Michigan’s university system as a meritocracy focused on graduating every student with a degree. And U-M would finally catch up with the state’s colorblind constitution.
Posted by hpayne on April 19, 2013
Senate Republicans should have bucked the NRA and passed the Toomey-Manchin background check bill. And Democrats should have bucked their anti-gun base and embraced licensed, concealed-carry laws. It’s common sense.
But a sensible solution to gun violence was another victim of Washington gridlock this week because there is a leadership vacuum in the White House.
Once again, America’s chief executive proved that he is less interested in solving problems than in scoring political points. Follow Obama’s daily schedule and there was zero attempt (when has there ever been?) to build a bipartisan coalition to solve the problem of gun violence. None. Obama bloodlessly exploited the Sandy Hook tragedy with a meaningless gun control bill that even the left-wing New Yorker conceded would have done nothing to prevent the Newtown massacre – much less the violence in Detroit. As in the Gabby Gifford’s shooting, Democrats shamefully exploited a shooting for political gain (and there was Giffords as a political prop at Obama’s Rose Garden ceremony condemning the Senate vote).
Obama has one goal in mind: Embarrassing Republicans with swing voters in order to swing the House to Democrats in 2014. Power is all that matters to him (MSM coverage was advocacy – the best reporting is by the WSJournal’s Kim Strassel here).
He has won a second term. Why not expend his political capital on legalizing drugs, which drives the gang warfare that consumes his Chicago and our Detroit? Why not use his political capital to reform welfare, which corrupts work and two-parent families and is the root of young male violence?
Why not? Then American could truly make progress on its most vexing issue: Violence.
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