Archive for politics

IRS as a political tool – it’s a slow drip

The various scandals about misuse of the IRS by the administration have not yet died. Congress may not have been able to pry loose IRS records and correspondence but private lawsuits are showing fruit as a result of court orders. John Hinderaker has a good summary about how the IRS scandal rears its head.

What does this tell us? 1) Based on Mr. Goolsbee’s comments several years ago, there is every reason to believe that Barack Obama’s White House has illegally received confidential taxpayer information from the IRS. 2) Confronted by a lawsuit, the Obama administration, instead of responding forthrightly, has danced around the issue for years and erected every possible procedural barrier. 3) When finally brought to heel by a court, the administration asks for a ridiculously long period of time to produce a tiny number of documents on its own investigation of criminal behavior by the IRS and the White House.”

“This particular story is farce, not tragedy. It will wend its absurd way through the court system for years to come, probably arriving at no conclusion until the scofflaw Obama administration is safely out of office. In the meantime, federal criminal laws governing the privacy of IRS data, like the criminal laws generally, are a source of hilarity among Democrats. Democrat cronies sip Scotch and light cigars–I hope not with $100 bills–laughing at the rest of us who work to pay the taxes that support them in the luxury to which they have happily become accustomed. I have always thought that the term “ruling class” was ridiculous as applied to the United States, but the Obama administration is causing me to re-think that view.

How many members of the Nixon administration ultimately went to jail? I think no more than five or ten. The Obama administration has violated criminal statutes with an abandon that Nixon and his minions never dreamed of. An accounting remains; I think there are a considerable number of Obama minions and cronies who should be behind bars.”

The real question is about why the administration has been able to get away with it – at least so far. That question is also gaining some attention as well.

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Lies of the WoT

Stephen Hayes introduces a statement as An Interrogator Breaks His Silence

“What follows is the document written by Jason Beale — a pseudonym for a longtime U.S. military and intelligence interrogator with extensive knowledge of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA on some high-value detainees. Those techniques are scrutinized a forthcoming report prepared by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Beale would not confirm to THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he worked in that program, but others with knowledge of the program and its personnel tell TWS that he served as a senior interrogator beginning in 2004.

Beale tells TWS that his document was reviewed, redacted, and cleared by a U.S. government agency. A CIA spokesman would not confirm that the CIA was the agency in question. Beale says he made minor edits for grammar and flow after the document was cleared.”

The interrogation of captured terrorists is one of those issues that was used in the political war starting about 2005 when a newspaper revealed a secret program. At that time, the left was going to any extreme to backtrack on its support for its earlier endorsement of the War on Terror. Beale describes the assault on reason and integrity in the area of intelligence gathering.

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Stonewalled

A book review by Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel, military analyst, and author on national-security issues is for the ‘not wooried, yet’ crowd. For him, it was deja vu all over again. The book is Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington (Amazon affiliate link) by Sharyl Attkisson.

“Full disclosure first: I was one of those military analysts regularly seen on network television until a 2008 New York Times expose accused us of succumbing to improper influences by the Rumsfeld Pentagon. Because congressional Democrats howled for our heads, it took three years, four federal investigations and more than $2 million in tax dollars before The Times report was discredited and we were exonerated.

“Ironically, we were accused of precisely the same pattern of government-media corruption at the heart of Sharyl Attkisson’s new blockbuster,”

“Mrs. Attkisson’s phones and computers began acting strangely. As she prepared to confront Ambassador Thomas Pickering about his Benghazi report, “Suddenly the data in my computer file begins wiping at hyperspeed before my very eyes. Deleted line by line a split second: it’s gone, gone, gone.” While they might have been remaking the movie “Enemy of the State,” an exhaustive forensics analysis of Mrs. Attkisson’s iMac found evidence of classified documents planted deep in her hard drive; systematic intrusions allowing remote control of her personal files; most damning of all, “a backdoor link to an ISP address for a government computer.” It was slam-dunk confirmation of a deliberately planned government penetration, all predictably denied by Eric Holder Jr.’s Justice Department.”

“The differences between my 2008 experience and what Sharyl Attkisson reveals in this marvelous book: Intelligence has become more intrusive, the media more ideological and the government incomparably more powerful — and all seem determined to squelch either people or issues that get in their way. Just ask Dinesh D’Souza.”

Something’s not right here. Is anybody listening?

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Elucidating the differences

A top ten list going around (see Hayward at Powerline). “I vote Democrat because …

Number 10.  I love the fact that I can now marry 
whatever I want. I’ve decided to marry my German Shepherd.

Number 9. I believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon at 15% isn’t.

Number 8. I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

Number 7. Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

Number 6. I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves. I am also thankful that we have a 911 service that gets police to your home in order to identify your body after a home invasion.

Number 5. I’m not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive and comfy.

Number 4. I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits, and we should take away Social Security from those who paid into it.

Number 3. I believe that businesses should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrat Party sees fit.

Number 2. I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

And, the Number 1 reason … I think it’s better to pay $billions$ for oil to people who hate us, but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle, gopher, or fish here in America. We don’t care about the beetles, gophers, or fish in those other countries.

a concise contrast and comparison between the ideological views at issue in U.S. politics?

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Observing political zoology

“1) If you’ve ever known anyone with a serious addiction, the easiest thing for friends and family to do is pretend it’s not a big deal. Who wants to have a confrontation? Far easier to let things slide and have a good time. “Let’s have a nice Thanksgiving without any arguments, OK?”

“The tea party is like the cousin who’s been through AA and refuses to pretend anymore. As a result, he spoils everyone’s good time. For the enablers, and others in denial, he’s the guy ruining everything, not the drunk.”

John Hawkins lists The 20 Best Quotes From Jonah Goldberg.

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Some are worried – may have reason to be

A make it up world?

“Progressives thought that because traditional protocols, language and standards were usually created by stuffy old establishment types, the rules no longer necessarily should apply. Instead, particular narratives and euphemisms that promoted perceived social justice became truthful. Bothersome facts were discarded.

“So far, political mythmaking has become confined to popular culture and politics, and has not affected the ironclad facts and non-negotiable rules of jetliner maintenance, heart surgery or nuclear plant operation. Yet the Ebola scare has taught us that even the erroneous news releases and fluid policies of the Centers for Disease Control can be as likely based on politics as hard science.

“If that is a vision of more relativist things to come, then we are doomed.”

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He seems worried. Should you be as well?

Then there’s Christopher Harper who says Hard numbers can’t alter media narrative on vote fraud. An assertion that there isn’t any voter fraud is one that the Left uses to oppose such anti-fraud measures as Voter ID. Who’s right?

“A significant study detailing an incredible amount of voter fraud in the past two national elections was released recently, but few news organizations gave the results any notice.

“The study found that noncitizens registered to vote in U.S. elections and have cast ballots, largely supporting Democratic candidates.”

Sometimes the ‘make it up world’ becomes an effort to create a fantasy by trying to manipulate reality. Perhaps there is cause for worry.

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Government sponsored religion – by lawful coercion?

Robert P. George: Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist:

“Same-sex marriage proponents “uncritically, then, not knowing what they’re rejecting, not knowing what the alternative is, conceive marriage precisely as sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership, laying aside, ignoring altogether, its defining social purpose, imagining somehow, I suppose, that the law has some interest in people’s romantic relationships just as such.”

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. He delivered the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture, Washington, D.C., October 16, 2014.

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DWEM vs Modern academia

John L. Hancock says it’s The Left and the Distortion of History. The example is one of a statue of King Alfred.

“At the heart of the controversy was the newly-installed statue of King Alfred, the medieval English monarch after whom the town and school was named. Ten years prior, when the monument was commissioned, no one could foresee the controversy it would eventually cause. Yet, its placement offended the sensibilities of the university’s history professors.

By the strong and negative reaction one would think that Alfred must have been a tyrant, an oppressor of his people, a man deserving of the title Alfred the Terrible. Surprisingly, it is the opposite that that is true.”

“Linda Mitchell, who specializes in Medieval history, was one of the protesting professors. As she explained in a New York Times interview, Alfred “is not a good logo to promote a modern university because virtually any historical figure who had any social or political influence is undoubtedly going to be a D.W.E.M. — dead white European male,” she said, “it would be foolish to choose a symbol so exclusive and effective in emphasizing the straight white male power structure of history.”

For Alfred, being a DWEM (Dead White European Male) means that his great achievements are to be ignored because they do not fit into the ideologically-driven, anti-Western civilization, revisionist history that is currently being taught in schools.”

Then there’s the anthropologist who tried to figure out why his field and history seemed at odds. It seems something happened in the 1950 to 1970 period where history departments in academia changed their values and chose only one particular DWEM to honor, Karl Marx. That has grown to be a source of conflict in the Common Core debate and a concern in other areas as well.

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The puzzle: how can it be?

Burt Prelutsky says that RINOs are not the Enemy and then gets into the rather puzzling beliefs that seem so common.

“In spite of the fact that states that allow their citizens to carry concealed weapons, liberals are convinced that the Second Amendment should be made null and void. In spite of falling temperatures, they believe that Al Gore’s warnings about global warming are as close to gospel as they care to get. In spite of his lies about ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS and Ebola, they are convinced that Obama is an honest man.

“Furthermore, they believe that the Republican House is filled with obstructionists who stay awake nights trying to figure out ways to thwart the people’s’ will in spite of the fact that Harry Reid stops every House bill in its tracks, refusing to even allow the other 99 members the opportunity to do what they’re paid to do; namely, vote.”

“Again, I understand that some people hate to confront reality and prefer to say that both parties are the same, and if there isn’t a Ted Cruz or a Mike Lee on the ballot, they prefer to stay home on Election Day, indulging in the luxury of feeling themselves superior. Which would be bad enough, but they then spend the next two, four, six or eight years, whining about how the liberals are ruining the country.”

“It seems that Mayor Parker is unaware of the fact that sexuality, for better or worse, has been a legitimate concern of religion at least since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s only been in recent years that liberals have managed to turn these matters into political fodder as they’ve gone trolling for votes and financial support in some very peculiar places.

“Yet at the same time that Christian pastors are being hassled, Muslim ministers go their merry way, indoctrinating our prison population, long an ideal recruiting ground, particularly among black inmates, for Islamic terrorists.

“In the meantime, our State Department, which often seems to get its marching orders from our sworn enemies in the Middle East, endorsed a Muslim handbook that promotes Sharia law and refers to jihad as a noble pursuit.”

It doesn’t make sense. It is a puzzle. But then, that’s assuming that people actually think and hold intellectual integrity as a positive value.

Worried, yet?

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What can be done?

Scott Johnson says it’s The Gathering Storm, Part CLVI.

“Watching the Obama administration sell us out to Iran, as in the interim agreement entered into late last year, I feel despondent and hopeless. It’s the way I felt when the Democrats cut off American support of the South Vietnamese government and assured its fall to the Communists rolling into Saigon, or, more recently, when Obama withdrew all our forces from Iraq. What is to be done? I have no idea.

“John Kerry provides an element of continuity in Democratic politics going back to the fall of Saigon. He rose to prominence as a player in the Democratic production leading to our abandonment of South Vietnam. Kerry’s contribution was the dissemination of a demoralizing set of lies asserting the routine commission of war crimes by American forces. I bought his act at the time, but I was a sophomoric student who didn’t know any better. What is our excuse now?”

This is the lead to worries about capitulating to Iran’s nuclear intents. Such worries are also visible on a leftist blog Vox in its Threats to Americans, ranked (by actual threat instead of media hype) where WW III is number 5 and ISIS number 7. How can you tell it’s a leftist blog? Guns (#3) and climate change (#4) are in the list as well as all that stuff you own as a result of capitalism (Your own furniture, #8).

In Nevada, the ballot initiative for a margins tax illustrates the problem as well. It is another push by the teacher’s union for more money for education. It is promoted on the idea that big corporations should pay their fair share to help educate the children. What is frightening is what it says of the teachers’ abilities to think critically and learn from history and measure. The never ending campaign for more money for education over the last fifty years or so has yet to show positive results despite massive infusions of money. The thresholds to define those evil, greedy big businesses is low enough to catch many small businesses. The tax is on the margin and not the net so it may well end up creating a loss in some businesses (restaurants, for example). History also has a clear record that higher taxes tend to diminish and inhibit economic activity or drive it underground.  

The common thread: thinking driven by fantasy and not by reality. The results have often been tragic. Why do it over and over and over? Isn’t one definition of insanity when one keeps doing the same thing over and over and hoping that, this one more time will yield different results? As Scott says: “What is our excuse now?”

worried yet?

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The search for equality: will they ever learn?

At the end of the 18th century, there were two great Western revolutions — the American and the French. Americans opted for the freedom of the individual, and divinely endowed absolute rights and values.

“A quite different French version sought equality of result. French firebrands saw laws less as absolute, but instead as useful to the degree that they contributed to supposed social justice and coerced redistribution. They ended up not with a Bill of Rights and separation of powers, but instead with mass executions and Napoleonic tyranny.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration is following more the French model than the American.”

Professor Hanson describes Obama’s Ideal Revolution and the inevitable outcome.

“Official stories change to fit larger agendas.” … “We are back to the daily revisionism” … “Once-nonpartisan federal agencies are now in service to the goal of changing America from cherishing an equality of opportunity to championing an equality of enforced result.

“Our revolutionary inspirations are now Georges Danton, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien de Robespierre, not the Founding Founders.”

Think about it. Take a look at the actual history of nations and the health and welfare of their peoples. Why do so many ignore the misery to delve into fantasies again and again? Why do they expect different results this time?

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Vietnam redux

Bruce Walker describes Obama’s Vietnam

“The very preventable Holocaust that Cambodia and Vietnam endured happened because of gutless American presidents and in spite of the courage and honor of our fighting men.

“Whatever the faults of George H. Bush, he fully grasped the reasons we failed in Vietnam, and he scrupulously avoided those in Desert Storm, a war against a much more powerful Iraq (we tend to forget that the battle-tested Iraqi army had outfought, in a decade-long war, an Iranian army three times as big.) We had a specific goal, and we used every weapon we had to achieve that goal. Leftists at the time predicted that this would be “another Vietnam,” but they were utterly and pathetically wrong.

“Obama, now, is demonstrating that it is possible to repeat all the mistakes of Vietnam.”

This is just another example of conveniently distorting history. Columbus Day used to be a celebration of exploration and discovery and now many try to make it an example of Western Culture oppression. Forget the context of the times or what really happened. Paint the picture to suit one’s fantasies. Again, in the mid-East, the effort is to squash the oppression of Western Culture and bash the U.S., especially. Overlook the tragedy and try to ignore the suffering. Again.

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Political tactics: hit job on the ‘enemy’

The left adores the ad hominem and Fox News is near the top in its pantheon of candidates for ‘most evil.’ Jeffrey Lord describes another example in how a hit job on Fox News in a Veterans’ letter attacking Bolling, Gutfeld, hid liberal activists.

It was a hit job. Sixty veterans signing a much publicized “Open Letter to Fox News” — yet the signers were mysteriously never identified beyond the military branch in which they served.

No wonder. I have been through the list of sixty, and it is filled with Obama campaign workers, one ex-Obama White House aide, liberal activists, Democratic Party congressional candidates, Democratic Party state legislators, and more. The letter was sponsored by the Truman Project, a ten-year-old think tank with a focus on national security. Its board of directors includes Hunter Biden, the son of the Vice President. None of which was even whispered in the haughty “Open Letter” that was distributed to a media all too eager to go along with an attack on Fox News and two of the co-hosts on the Fox show The Five — Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld. Instead the letter was presented as a source of genuine outrage from average, non-partisan American veterans — while keeping the real identity of the signers secret.

And you wonder why Americans are cynical about politicians?

The Truman Project has quite deliberately and deceptively made this “Open Letter to Fox News” appear to the media and the wider public as if its signers are nothing more than outraged veterans. Nothing to see here more than that…just look, report it and move on. Which, in fact, is what all those “news” outlets above not to mention the wider social media did. Not a one of them published the backgrounds of the signers.

But in reality this snarky letter is filled with signers who have either worked directly in the Obama White House, have served in or have run for state or federal office as Democrats, or have worked as activists for various liberal causes.

The lack of honesty is a problem because it rubs off on all. It suffers from the tendency to think ‘everybody does it’ if they are a politician. Only when the body politic begins to make distinctions between those that do and those that don’t will such tactics fade.

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Partisanship on criminalizing the opposition

John Hinderaker presents the detail on the partisan attack on free speech and gutting the First Amendment so as to be able to further efforts to criminalize political opposition.

On Thursday, Harry Reid brought SJ Res 19, to repeal the heart of the First Amendment, to the Senate floor for a vote. The result must be considered stunning by all Americans who value their freedoms. Every Senate Democrat–every one, a 54-vote majority–voted for First Amendment repeal.

To my knowledge, not a single Democrat, either inside or outside of the Senate, has spoken up in opposition to that party’s war on free speech.

Worried, yet?

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Endemic corruption

It started with a misplaced telephone call. That revealed the collusion to obstruct investigation. Arnold Ahlert describes The Obama DOJ’s Subversion of the IRS Investigation

It’s going to be an uphill climb for Democrats. In a Fox poll taken in June, a whopping 76 percent of Americans, including 90 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats said they believed that Lois Lerner’s emails were “deliberately destroyed” by the IRS. The gaffe committed by Fallon would be amusing were it not for the reality that it is yet another indication of the endemic corruption that infests the Obama administration, their Democrat colleagues and a willfully somnambulant mainstream media. All of them seemingly prefer to run interference for one of the most powerful agencies in government, than allow the truth, no matter how inconvenient, to come out.

It will take the people to demonstrate that this corruption must end and the people are, at present, rather weak in opposing such behavior.

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aspirational vs envious

It’s New York measured against Hong Kong. Richard W. Rahn – Hong Kong, an aspirational society to emulate – “The currency of Hong Kong is effort, rather than envy”

Why is Hong Kong succeeding while New York City is receding? They are both world-class cities with about the same per-capita income and great natural harbors.

Hong Kong, like Singapore, South Korea, Chile and Switzerland are aspirational societies, rather than societies consumed with envy, like France. Work, saving and investment are not punished in aspirational societies, and there tend to be less social conflict and a higher level of civility. The United States used to be an aspirational society, but has increasingly become an envious society.

The leaders of China understand that aspirational societies work and those based on envy do not — but an aspirational society requires both economic freedom and individual liberty. Those who seek to control the lives of others, whether they are in Beijing, Paris or Washington, fear aspirational societies and thus, seek to regulate them — out of existence.

Envy, hate, and greed – it isn’t capitalism but rather the take from those who have to give to those who appear to need (or those who are friends of those in power). Powerful emotions overwhelm the ability to learn from history or from reality.

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Criminalizing politics

Paul Mirengoff takes a look at the McDonnel case and the matter of criminalizing politics. This is after the battle criminalize Governor Walker.

But how does one distinguish these offenses from the common situation in which individuals, companies, and unions give money to candidates substantial amounts of money in the hope that they will favor them in some fashion? In theory, the distinction turns on whether the recipient accepts the donation with the understanding that he or she will perform official acts in exchange.

The problem, as professor Bellin observes, is that a jury is permitted to infer such an understanding from circumstantial evidence. If the jury thinks it sees “knowing winks and nods” (these words actually appear in the jury instructions in McDonnell’s case), it can render a verdict that will send the public official to prison for a long time.

The “knowing winds and nods” standard, if one can even call it one, leaves prosecutors with enormous discretion to go after public officials they dislike for personnel reasons or want to injure for political purposes. The ridiculous, politically-motivated attempts to portray Governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker as criminals demonstrates that prosecutors will take advantage of this opening.

Such prosecutions are being used as political weapons by unscrupulous ideologues but is also a part and parcel of that ideology the presumes guilt in certain classes.

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Agenda driven scientific conclusions

Reihan Salam describes The Agenda.

It’s all too common: The backers of a broad-based political movement claim their cause is steeped in evidence, but a perusal of the research reveals more hope than substance.

After the drafting stage, the validation committee also recognized that the standards were informed by intuition as much as real research.

developers were warned by some researchers that the link between standards and achievement was tenuous, and that other reforms (“enabling conditions”) would be necessary to see real progress.

But the truth is that we know little about the connection between standards and achievement, and it will be difficult to justify standards-based reform without knowing more.

The subject for Salam is Common Core but the same principles apply to Global Warming and other efforts supposedly based on science (but only with a good deal of imagination supported by ideological bias).

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Hate speech

It appears that the election season is off to a good start and some candidates are already in desperation mode. Andrew Stiles describes how Outrageous and False, Democratic Attack Ads Reek of Desperation and offers advice from the past.

“Good ads communicate with people and don’t yell at them,” a former Clinton strategist told POLITICO in August. “These ads yell at people [and] they’re not believable. They’re not going to create a relationship between the viewer and the ad.”

The overriding strategy seems to be trying to replicate the 2012 strategy of attacking Mitt Romney as a heartless vulture capitalist who literally kills people by injecting them with cancer, though it seem unlikely to achieve the same success given the nature of midterm elections, and the fact that most Obama voters will be too busy watching John Oliver clips to go out and vote in November.

Of course, the real problem is that so many suspend disbelief and take even the most ridiculous assertions as gospel. There is no consideration at all for implications or reality and that provides the temptation to indulge in such personal attacks and innuendo.

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Shakedown

Kudlow describes a shakedown of epic proportions and how it is being used for political gain.

the solution is not to call them names. Or question their patriotism. Or attack “rich people” and “fat-cat bankers.” Or tell America, “You didn’t build it.” The solution is to reform the corporate tax code by slashing the rate to 20 percent. Or better yet, abolish the corporate tax altogether. The biggest winners, by the way, would be wage earners.

So what does all this have to do with billion-dollar bank penalties? Everything. The timing is more than coincidental.

And now, in the saddest of ironies, the Obama administration is again loosening credit standards for “affordable” home purchases and expanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is incredibly stupid. The same mistakes are being made.

But it’s all part of Mr. Obama’s election-year strategy. Blame it all on the big boys. Pull out the class-envy cards. Rekindle divisive resentments and anger.

Follow the money. Where’s it go? Then examine the tactics. Then examine the implications and what actually happens. 

The people that end up bearing the burden are not those subject to political assault and that is another dishonesty that needs to be properly addressed.

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