Friday, July 12, 2013

Why the Zimmerman Prosecutors Should Be Disbarred

American Thinker ^ | 07/12/2013 | Jack Cashill

Toward the end of his closing statement on Thursday, Florida Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda posted a slide on a screen in a fifth-floor Seminole County courtroom.
"Which Owner would be more inclined to yell for help?" read the banner on the top of the slide. The slide was divided in two. On the left was a photo of George Zimmerman's Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun, and on the right was a can of Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. Beneath the photo of the gun was the question, "Who followed?" Under the can was the question, "Who ran?"

So absurd was de la Rionda's presentation, and the whole case for that matter, that the can was turned sideways so the label could not be read. Throughout the trial, prosecutors have called the drink "iced tea" lest the word "watermelon" be said in court. "F***ing" was okay. De la Rionda said it more times than the average rapper, but "watermelon," apparently because of its racial connotations, was not.

Hiding the word "watermelon" was the least of de la Rionda's dishonesties. This one slide had several built in. As to who ran, Martin had four minutes to run the 100 or so yards to the house he was visiting. When he attacked Zimmerman, he was still 70 or so yards from that townhouse. Do the math.

Then, too, from the day the State took over the case, prosecutors knew that Zimmerman was the one screaming for help. All evidence supported that save for the dubious identification by Martin's mother. If the State's jobs were to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt, one could forgive them this deception, but that's not the State's job. That's the defense's.

(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

Amnesty's price: $12,433 for every legalized immigrant household

Washington Examiner ^ | 12 July, 2013 | Paul Bedard

A fight has erupted over the costs of granting amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America, with the White House claiming the cash benefits to the Treasury are huge and will slash the deficit, and critics showing it will cost Americans more and increase the deficit.


The White House late Thursday dispatched an email to President Obama's campaign supporters that provided a video claiming that immigration reform will result in a 5.4 percent growth in GDP as "highly skilled" workers and "entrepreneurs" add to the country's economic base. No mention was made of low-skilled workers, the bulk of illegal immigrants in the country.


"Here's one of the best things about immigration reform: It's going to make our economy a lot stronger," said the White House. "Not enough people are talking about the economic benefits of immigration reform, but it's exactly the conversation that will help us win the national debate on this issue."

Critics are pushing back hard, led by the Heritage Foundation. Among the key points: reform supporters suggest that immigrants will suddenly be paying taxes when they become legal, but that's already happening.

Heritage is highlighting a chart that details the taxes paid and government services received by all Americans, including illegal immigrants. It shows that after amnesty, immigrants will cost governments $12,433 in benefits over the taxes they pay per year. Over a lifetime of an adult illegal granted amnesty, the difference between benefits received and taxes paid would be a cost to taxpayers of $592,000.

Buried in a report from Robert Rector, the conservative foundation's authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration, the chart details taxes paid and benefits received by households headed by an illegal immigrant and how that will change after amnesty is granted.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonexaminer.com ...

Salt - It's Good Fro You After It Was Bad For You After Your Mom Told You It Was Good For You

Michelle Obama's Mirror ^ | 7-12-2013 | MOTUS

polls_believe_the_lie_1634_77659_poll_xlarge

In case you’re still shocked by the prosecutorial malfeasance in this country - most recently on display in Sanford, Florida – perhaps I can help. It is partially related to our dwindling interest in “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

Today we’re focusing on the “truth” part; apparently we’re to take it with a grain of salt from now on.

morton salt girl
Our Morton Salt Girl

In order to continue we must concede to this basic truth: your government lies to you. Shocking, I know, butt true. They don’t lie with maliciousness, or at least they never use to; they just thought they knew what was best for us. They still do – think they know better than us - butt I’m no longer comfortable addressing the “with malice” part.

truth-and-lies-jpg

As proof of the ongoing campaign of lies I submit this recent revelation: after years of harping at us, the truth about salt has finally been revealed. As it turns out, salt is NOT bad for you!

imagesCA9HPMOZWho knew?

In fact, it’s too little salt that could kill you. Sacré bleu!? Aside from real scientists and skeptics who could have seen that coming?

“The scientific question is whether this temporary phenomenon translates to chronic problems: if we eat too much salt for years, does it raise our blood pressure, cause hypertension, then strokes, and then kill us prematurely? The answer is no.”

(SNIP)

salt and lightw

Please, turn on the lights and pass the salt...
(Excerpt) Read more at michellesmirror.com ...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Admits Senate-Passed Amnesty Bill Is UnConstitutional

Freedom Outpost ^ | July 12, 2013 | Tim Brown

Texas Congressman Steve Stockman announced on Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now refusing to transmit to the House of Representatives the amnesty bill, which the Senate voted on and passed two weeks ago. According to Stockman he believes Reid fears it will be returned to the Senate on a “blue slip” resolution, which he threatened to use to kill the bill in the House.

“Even Harry Reid now admits the Senate’s amnesty bill is unconstitutional and cannot become law. Any bill that raises revenue must start in the House” said Stockman. “By creating their own amnesty taxes Senate Democrats broke the rules. Senate Democrats were so hell-bent on ramming through a gift to radical political activists they didn’t bother to check if it was even legal.”

“They got caught trying to sneak an illegal bill past the Constitution’s borders,” said Stockman.
A blue slip” is a resolution that automatically returns to the Senate any bill that violates the “origination clause” of the United States Constitution. The origination clause states “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The name comes from the blue paper the resolution is traditionally printed on.
Blue slip resolutions are immediately considered as a matter of constitutional privilege, are debatable for an hour and are not subject to amendment.
According to Stockman’s press release, “Section 2102 of the amnesty bill requires the payment of certain taxes and forgives the payment of other taxes as a condition of receiving amnesty and other benefits.
(Excerpt) Read more at freedomoutpost.com ...

Terror TV: ‘We aired lies’: Al Jazeera staff quit after being forced to be pro-Muslim Brotherhood...

Atlas Shrugs ^ | July 12, 2013 | Pamela Geller

More proof of why terror TV should be kept off the US airwaves.

At least 22 staffers at the Al Jazeera network in Egypt quit in protest of the network's coverage of events in Egypt. Al Jazeera is a Qatari-owned company. It's based in Doha, Qatar. The journalists claim that the network's management made them take a pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance on air during the military coup last week in Cairo.
Jihad murder mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki has praised Al Jazeera, and several years ago one of its most prominent reporters was arrested on terror charges. Al Jazeera also has for years been the recipient of numerous al-Qaida videos featuring Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and American traitor Adam Gadahn. Yet they never seem to be able to trace where these videos are coming from. They have repeatedly been set up at the point of attack right before a bomb went off, so that they could take the picture of the slaughtered, dismembered bodies.
Al Jazeera has provided material support for jihad terrorism. A number in their employ are members of al-Qaida. Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Afghanistan, who interviewed Osama bin Laden, was sent to prison for being an agent of al-Qaida. Al Jazeera’s first managing director was exposed as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the channel promoted the bloody jihad against American forces in Iraq.
Cliff Kincaid over at Accuracy in Media has been reporting for over six years, the anti-American channel works hand-in-glove with the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and Hamas. Nothing has changed. In fact, Al Jazeera has become more open about its work as a foreign policy instrument of Qatar, including the promotion of al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Syria.
We are at war. And there are many
(Excerpt) Read more at atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com ...

What Happened to Congress’ ‘Fast and Furious’ Fury?

Pajamas Media ^ | 07/12/2013 | Bill Straub

WASHINGTON – The controversy surrounding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ infamous Fast and Furious program has faded over the past few months but it’s unlikely to be relegated to the background for very long.
Last week it was revealed that a high-powered rifle employed in the unsuccessful gun-tracking program was used to kill a police chief and his bodyguard in the Mexican state of Jalisco, signaling that some of the weapons used in the enterprise are now in the possession of members of drug cartels – the same people Fast and Furious was supposed to entrap as a result of the operation.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, the panel that led the investigation into the brewing scandal, continues its efforts to gain access to documents in the possession of the Department of Justice. The House in June 2012 held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to comply with the panel’s request.
President Obama, for the first time in his administration, invoked executive privilege to thwart the committee’s demand. Justice Department officials insist they had no knowledge of the operation.
Any future congressional action on Fast and Furious, which first came to light in January 2011, likely depends on the committee and its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), gaining access to the withheld information. Ultimately the issue will be resolved in federal court.
Issa said the House remains “steadfast in its commitment to getting the full truth about this reckless gunwalking effort that has been linked to murders on both sides of our border with Mexico.”
The House actually issued two resolutions in June 2012, holding Holder in criminal contempt of Congress while also holding him in civil contempt, a move that provided the lower chamber with the authority to sue to gain access to the documents in dispute.
Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who technically works for Holder, rejected the House request to pursue criminal sanctions. But the lawsuit seeking access to the documents is alive and well before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee who nonetheless has expressed skepticism over the administration’s motion to dismiss the action based on the claim of executive privilege and the assertion that the courts should stay out of a dispute between the executive and legislative branches.
Attorney Kerry Kircher, representing the House of Representatives, told the court during an April 24 hearing that presidents would essentially have carte blanche to withhold documents from Congress and frustrate legislative oversight of federal agencies if the judiciary failed to intervene. Attorney Ian Gershengorn, representing the Justice Department, argued that the courts would appear to be “a tool of the political process” if it got involved.
Jackson noted the two sides have proved unable to reach a settlement after months of negotiations, leading her to surmise that a third party, like the courts, might prove beneficial to resolving the issue.
Jackson has yet to issue a ruling and the case remains open. If the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s effort proves successful, the panel can get its hands on documents it considers vital to the investigation of the operation and return the issue to public consciousness. Basically, the panel wants to know what the Justice Department knew about the operation and when did it know it.
On Feb. 2, 2012, the Justice Department sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, denying the existence of any gunwalking program. The letter was rescinded 10 months later when it proved to be inaccurate. House investigators hope the contested documents, should they be made public, will shed light on the department’s degree of knowledge.
The federal courts have taken a dim view of executive privilege in recent years. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the assertion is invalid if a suspicion of governmental wrongdoing is involved. Five years ago, during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration, a similar executive privilege claim aimed at blocking the testimony of several senior White House officials before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, reportedly for political reasons, was rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates.
“Fast and Furious” was a gunwalking operation conducted by the ATF in Arizona from 2006 to 2011. Basically, the agency abandoned its practice of immediately confiscating illegally purchased arms and instead allowed licensed firearms dealers in the Tucson and Phoenix areas to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers – middle men who purchase guns in behalf of those prohibited from doing so themselves.
The ATF hoped that by permitting these purchases agents could track the firearms that were provided to the cartels, resulting in the arrest of high-level drug kingpins. The agency monitored about 2,000 straw sales but only slightly more than 700 were recovered. Agents lost track of about 1,400 weapons. No high-level cartel figure has been arrested.
Guns purchased under “Fast and Furious” have been found on both sides of the border separating the U.S. and Mexico. On Dec. 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed during a firefight while on patrol near the border. Two AK-47s found at the scene were linked to Fast and Furious. The operation, which drew criticism from several agents and gun dealers while it was active, was made public shortly thereafter.
One estimate places the number of Mexican citizens killed by Fast and Furious guns at 300.
On Jan. 29, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, one of the guns was located at the scene of a shooting that led to the death of Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo. Gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. A bodyguard was also killed. Astorga’s wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.
A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, AZ, according to the Times. It was purchased on Feb. 22, 2010, about three months into the Fast and Furious operation, by 26-year-old Jacob A. Montelongo of Phoenix. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy, making false statements and smuggling goods from the United States and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Court records show Montelongo personally obtained at least 109 firearms during Fast and Furious.
Issa’s committee isn’t the only organization seeking documents. Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation that promotes transparency in government, has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking access to the Fast and Furious records being withheld from Congress.
Justice refused to comply and has asked the court to stay proceedings while it deals with the committee’s civil contempt claim. Judicial Watch opposed the motion and is asking the court to address the issue.
“Getting beyond the Obama administration’s smokescreen, this lawsuit is about a very simple principle: the public’s right to know the full truth about an egregious political scandal that led to the death of at least one American and countless others in Mexico,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people are sick and tired of the Obama administration trying to rewrite FOIA law to protect this president and his appointees. Americans want answers about Fast and Furious killings and lies.”

Step Up Before It’s Too Late, Mr. President

Canada Free Press ^ | 07-12-2013 | Arnold Ahlert

Dear Mr. President: From the moment you chose to insert yourself, and, as Judicial Watch has discovered, your minions at the Justice Department into a local incident in Sanford, Florida, a travesty of justice has unfolded. That your administration’s orchestrated discontent was aided and abetted by a media more than willing to alter reality with doctored audio, (courtesy of NBC, attempting to make George Zimmerman appear racist); doctored video, (courtesy of ABC, who purposefully covered Zimmerman’s head wounds with a strategically placed graphic); and the execrable New York Times, which referred to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” (which, by the way, makes you a “white African-American”) is unsurprising.

(Excerpt) Read more at canadafreepress.com ...

Obamacare: A Deception

Paul Craig Roberts website ^ | 03 February 2013 | Paul Craig Roberts

Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system.
You will learn how to purchase a subsidized plan at the Exchange, what will happen when income and family circumstances change during the year or from one year to the next, and other perils brought to you by Obamacare. It is one of the most important articles that will be posted on my website this year. Americans will be shocked to learn the extent to which they have been deceived. The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable.
The author shows that for those Americans whose income places them between 138% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, the out-of-pocket cost for one of the least expensive (lower coverage) subsidized policies ranges from 2% to 9.5% of Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), a tax base larger than the Adjusted Gross Income used for calculating federal income tax.
(Excerpt) Read more at paulcraigroberts.org ...

Another politicization scandal at the Federal Election Commission?

Hotair ^ | 07/12/2013 | Ed Morrissey

Let’s play Guess The Federal Agency in order to see where the next political scandal may originate. Here are a few hints: This bureaucracy supposedly has safeguards to prevent politicization, enforces a broad, arcane, and contradictory regulatory and statutory code, and treats potential targets of investigations as guilty unless they prove themselves innocent. Wait a moment … I just described nearly every federal agency in existence. My bad.

In this case, though, I’m talking about the Federal Election Commission, which is tasked with enforcing the Byzantine, irrational campaign regulations put in place over the last several decades on federal candidates and officeholders. Theoretically, as the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel explains, these investigations have to get bipartisan approval from the equally-apportioned commissioners. Lately, though, the FEC has lost control of its bureaucracy — and the White House likes that just fine, thanks to their choice of targets:
The FEC was created in the wake of Watergate, in part to remove primary power over political actors from the Justice Department. It sports an equal number of Democratic and Republican commissioners, so that neither side can easily impose a partisan agenda. This means a lot of deadlocks, a situation that infuriates the left, which prefers a fire-and-brimstone regulator.
It also frustrates the FEC’s staff, which has responded by going around the commissioners. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), for instance, makes it clear that staff may not commence investigations until a bipartisan majority (four members) of the commission votes that there is a “reason to believe” a violation has occurred. In theory, this provision should guard against IRS-like witch hunts.
Except that over the years staff have come to ignore the law, and routinely initiate their own inquiries—often on little more than accusations they find on blogs or Facebook. For a sense of how these investigations can go off the rails, consider that Lois Lerner—before serving as the center of today’s IRS scandal—was the senior enforcement officer at the FEC. A Christian Coalition lawyer has testified that during a (sanctioned) FEC investigation in the 1990s—in addition to generating endless subpoenas, depositions and document requests, Ms. Lerner’s staff demanded to know what Coalition members discussed at their prayer meetings and what churches they belonged to. Once staff gets rolling, there is little to stop them.
More troubling to some FEC commissioners has been the staff’s unsanctioned and growing ties to the Obama Justice Department. In September 2011, Tony Herman was named FEC general counsel. Mr. Herman in early 2012 brought in Dan Petalas, a Justice prosecutor, as head of the agency’s enforcement section. FECA is clear that a bipartisan majority of commissioners must vote to report unlawful conduct to law enforcement. Yet FEC staff have increasingly been sending agency content to Justice without informing the commission.
The structure of the commission is supposed to keep the lid on politicization. Any investigator at the FEC might have a particular political bias, which is why FECA requires a majority of the commission to refer cases to prosecutors. That is an important safety valve, not just for the potential targets of an investigation, but also for free political activity. If career bureaucrats can sic prosecutors on innocent Americans simply for engaging in political activities that go against the taste of the bureaucracy, then the FEC’s unaccountable organization will have plenty of leeway into squelching such activity even if it’s perfectly lawful.
This mirrors the kind of abuse we have seen at the IRS. It also has the same root cause — the labyrinth of irrational and arbitrary designations of money in politics. If the US reformed its campaign-finance regulatory regime to allow unlimited contributions directly to candidates and parties with immediate disclosure of the amounts and identities of all contributions, two outcomes would be produced. Most political money would go directly to candidates and parties, forcing them to be responsible for the messaging and providing a much higher degree of transparency. That would eliminate most of the IRS issues with tax-exempt classifications, and it would also simplify the FEC’s job to enforcement of disclosures. All of this would make compliance a lot easier for everyone, and encourage more political involvement.
Rearranging personnel in both bureaucracies misses the point. In order to solve the problems of abuse of power and eliminate the incentives for it, we have to reduce the power and reach of both agencies. That requires smart reform, not more arbitrary and irrational barriers to true transparency.

Zimmerman Final Jury Instructions

Legal Insurrection ^ | July 12, 2013 | William A. Jacobson

The Court has released the final Jury Instructions that will be read to the jury this afternoon.

For background on the argument leading up to the instructions, see Zimmerman Trial: The Jury Instructions.

If Zimmerman wins, these sections of the Instructions likely will be decisive:


JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE

The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the attempted killing.
JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE
An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the crime of Second Degree Murder, and the lesser included offense of Manslaughter, if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.
“Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.
In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.
If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.
However, if from the evidence you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved


I don't like them ... not one bit! 

Why Obama's Smart-Government Initiative is Dumb

Townhall.com ^ | July 12, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg


President Obama wants to make government "smarter." Who could disagree with that? After all, it's unlikely that even the biggest fans of big government believe the way government does what it does is the very best, very smartest way imaginable. Whether you're an anarchist, a Leninist or somewhere in between, everyone can agree that Uncle Sam could afford a few more IQ points.
Let's put it another way. If government is going to do X, it should do X the smartest way possible. On that proposition both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party agree.
Alas, this momentary flash of consensus disappears before our eyes like a shooting star the moment we ask a related but very different question: Is it smart for the government to do X in the first place? For instance: I think it's a dumb idea to tickle a grizzly bear cub while it's napping on its mother's belly. But if I'm given no choice but to do it, I'll eagerly inquire about what's the smartest way to do a very dumb thing. And if I'm told there is no smart way to do such a dumb thing (which I assume is true), I'll at least ask for tips on the least dumb way to do it.
In announcing his effort to make government smarter -- an idea with a very old pedigree -- Obama invoked two organizations he'd like government to emulate. The first was Google. We'll return to that in a moment.
For years, many of the president's critics, including yours truly, have complained that he's always in campaign mode. Obama is more comfortable whipping up enthusiasm among his fans on college campuses than he is working with his own Cabinet -- never mind members of Congress -- to actually get things done. So it was not without irony that the second exemplar Obama offered for the sorts of best practices the government should adopt was his own presidential campaign. It was "one of the most inclusive and most successful campaigns in American history," he assured an audience largely comprised of his own White House staff.
"We can't take comfort in just being cynical," the president admonished. "We all have a stake in government success -- because the government is us."
This is among the president's favorite formulations, and it gets to the heart of the problem. The government is not "us." The government is -- or is supposed to be -- a collection of agencies that do things taxpayers and voters want done. In short, it is a tool.
Sometimes the smartest way to use a tool is not to use it at all. A garden rake is a useful tool. But it's not useful for every task. No matter how smart the surgeon, there's no smart way for him to use a rake to remove a kidney.
Google is a wonderful company, but Google is as relevant to the tasks of government as a garden rake is to the tasks of a surgeon. Similarly, a presidential campaign is a vital tool for electing a president. It is utterly useless for enforcing contracts or repelling foreign invaders.
One of the advantages both a presidential campaign and a company like Google have is that they can fire incompetent employees quite easily. The federal government has no such luxury. According to a study by USA Today, death is the greatest threat to job security at the EPA, HUD and dozens of other agencies. In 2012, 0.4 percent of civilian employees were fired.
Similarly, when a campaign fails, it goes out of business (at least that was the case until Obama created Organizing for America). When a business fails, it doesn't necessarily go out of business, but it does stop selling its failed products. Coca-Cola stopped selling New Coke when no one wanted to buy it.
The day before the president announced his new initiative, the Washington Post profiled Marvin Horne, a farmer who owes the federal government $650,000 in fines. Why He failed to comply with the Department of Agriculture's national raisin reserve program, created by the Truman administration, which even liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan dubbed "just the world's most outdated law." The program stockpiles raisins in case of an emergency. Such emergencies -- if they ever existed -- ceased being a problem after World War II. It's no surprise, alas, that government programs are as hard to fire as the employees working for them.
Which raises yet another irony. The only people in the world who don't want the government to get much smarter are the ones working for it.

10 Points to Consider in the Great Natural Gas Vehicle Debate

Fuel Fix ^ | July 12, 2013 | Matt Smith

The perception of natural gas as a mainstream fuel for vehicles runs the gamut, dependent upon where you live: from the improbable…to the viable…to the everyday reality. So from recent burrito research expeditions, here are ten points to stir up the melding pot of the great natural gas vehicle debate.

1) Here is a breakdown of the total number of natural gas vehicles globally. The key takeaways: there are A LOT of natural gas vehicles already in the world (15 millionish in 2011) and the number is rapidly increasing. However, there are relatively few in North America (aka, the tiny sliver at the bottom of the chart).
2) In a recent IEA report, natural gas use in road transport accounted for 1.4% of global gas demand in 2012. This is projected to rise to 2.5% by 2018, accounting for nearly 10% of total natural gas demand growth.
3) The number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the world could reach 65 million by 2020, according to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV), which indicates an annual growth rate of 19%. Another study by Navigant Consulting puts this number at a much more modest (but still impressive) 35 million.
4) China is leading the charge in both total natural gas demand growth (accounting for 30% of global growth over the next five years) and natural gas demand growth for transportation, with consumption from the sector set to triple by 2018.
5) China already has 1.5 million natural gas vehicles on the road, and if its ambitious targets are achieved, it will be substituting 840,000 barrels of oil by 2030. That said, for this to occur it would need to see a tenfold increase in consumption from the vehicle sector.
6) The current leaders in terms of natural gas vehicles are Iran (2.86 million), Pakistan (2.85 million), Argentina (1.9 million), and Brazil (1.7 million). These four account for 60% of the total global count.
7) The number of natural gas vehicles in the US is now estimated at 250,000. According to the EIA, April’s natural gas vehicle fuel consumption was 2.7 Bcf for the entire month. This equates to 0.1% of total US consumption.
8) The US is seeing the most growth coming through from transit vehicles, with one in five now running on natural gas (although according to Twitter it is now one in three). There has been a flurry of companies such as Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble announcing recently that they are converting parts of their fleets to run on natural gas.
9) But just as studies on LNG exports have indicated that natural gas prices will be relatively unaffected, natural gas prices are projected to see a limited impact by rising demand from the transportation sector. All the while, by 2035 we should still see 99% of US vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
10) Finally, given the optimistic numbers presented above (well, I’m more bullish on NGVs than when I started this piece!), it seems prudent to highlight the harshest reality faced, at least by the US: that of infrastructure. According to the IEA, it can cost from $400,000 to $1.7 million to build a compressed-natural-gas filling station, and up to $4 million for a liquefied-natural-gas station. By comparison, a gasoline station costs from $50,000 to $150,000.
‘Til next time…thanks for playing!

What?The Only Reason To Find Prosecution Star Witness Rachel Jeantel Uncredible Would Be Racism

http://clashdaily.com/ ^ | 07/12/2013 | n/a

On Thursday, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda contended that the only reason to find prosecution star witness Rachel Jeantel uncredible would be racism.
“I had a dream that today a witness would be judged not on the color of her personality but the content of her testimony,” de la Rionda said.
Jeantel infamously testified that she did not believe that use of the word “cracker” was racist in any way.
(Excerpt) Read more at clashdaily.com ...

I WAS WRONG: OBAMA IS BEHIND RACE VIOLENCE



I owe a whole lot of people an apology. A real big one.
Soon after I first started writing about black mob violence two years for WND and other places, I started seeing comments about Obama.
A whole lot of people thought he was personally behind efforts to gin up the epidemic of black mob violence I was writing about – and the local and national media ignored.
I kind of brushed it off. No, I did worse than that: I mentally placed all these comments into my “black helicopter international banker kook” file.
The president of the United States personally encouraging racial violence? That struck me as crazy.
Yes, I knew Eric Holder said we were cowards on race. Though it was not until recently I came to fully learn what he meant: He was repeating a classic line from Critical Race Theory that says racism is everywhere. Racism is permanent. And white people are afraid to admit it. There’s the coward thing.
I thought it was strange the president would inject himself into the case of the black Harvard professor “Skip” Gates.
Stranger still when the president said Trayvon could be his son.
And when I saw the video last year (thanks to Breitbart) that showed Obama heaping warm praise on the inventor of Critical Race Theory during a party at Harvard, I thought it was just a bunch of pointy-headed academics with a theory that would never survive off campus.
Wrong again. Critical Race Theory is now taught in hundreds of school districts across the country. They brag how their children and teachers learn about the evils of White Privilege.
Now this week, thanks to the heroes over at Judicial Watch, we learn that the federal government of the United States has been sending community organizers to Florida to ratchet up the pressure to indict and convict George Zimmerman.
The Department of Justice people called themselves “peacekeepers.” As in: No justice, no peace.
I keep reading the documents, and I can scarce believe what I am seeing. The president of the United States is sending people to foment racial violence in Florida.
The liberals assure us that everything the Department of Justice did to help organize and facilitate collective action again the people who were refusing to indict Zimmerman had nothing to do with racial animosity.
The Orlando Sentinel describes it at the time:
When racial tensions flared in Sanford, a league of secretive peacemakers reached out to the city’s spiritual and civic leaders to help cool heated emotions after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in February.
When civil-rights organizers wanted to demonstrate, these federal workers taught them how to peacefully manage crowds.
They even arranged a police escort for college students to ensure safe passage for their 40-mile march from Daytona Beach to Sanford to demand justice.
As national figures and sign-waving protesters grabbed the spotlight after Trayvon’s death, federal workers from a little-known branch of the Department of Justice labored away behind the scenes, quietly brokering deals between the city officials and residents to help prevent violence and lay the groundwork for peace.
Like using the IRS to target the tea party, abandoning Americans in Benghazi and now sending “secretive” community organizers to orchestrate demonstrations and help build this case into the most racially charged trial since Rodney King, the Obama crew is once again pleading with us to answer the following question the right way:
Who are you going to believe: us, or your own lying eyes?
Washington, D.C., psychologist Lorraine Land calls it “gas lighting.” She writes about it at my blog at WhiteGirlBleedaLot.com. Gaslighting is a:
a form of psychological abuse that causes its intended victim to begin to question his or her own reality. The objectives of the gas lighting perpetrated by the Critical Race Theory proponents are as follows:
1) to discredit victims of racial violence … “Its all your fault. Nothing happened to you.”
2) to demoralize the victims: “it’s all your fault because of white privilege.”
3) to free black teens of responsibility, “its not your fault, you are underprivileged.” Hence infantilizing them.
4) to create a cohort of “willing victims” to continue to be part of the cycle of abuse and part of the “gas lighting” phenomenon.
Dr. Land reminded me gas lighting has been the plot of several books, movies and TV shows. In the book “1984,” Winston Smith was tortured until he agreed his captor held five fingers before him, when there were only four. Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise went through the same thing at the hands of the evil Cardassians.
Obama’s secretive peacekeepers failed in their stated mission. In “White Girl Bleed a Lot: The return of racial violence and how the media ignore it,” I documented more than a dozen cases of black mob violence connected to Trayvon Martin in the run up to the indictment of George Zimmerman.
Today, all over the country, police departments are on alert for the violence that could follow Zimmerman’s acquittal.
Like Winston Smith, we are now supposed to believe something that is transparently not true. They had nothing to do with the black resentment and animosity and violence connected to this case. And others.
Just like I believed last year when I refused to consider the depths of ignorance and malice this president would drag this country into.
Sorry about that, everyone.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/07/i-was-wrong-obama-is-behind-race-violence/#OLjwVWKYSE0sDmLd.99 

Ted Cruz Proposes Bill to Fully Defund Obamacare

Nice Deb ^ | 7-12-2013 | nicedeb

A Republican Senate gang of 10 are pushing Congress  to strip all funding from ObamaCare, even as Senate Dems, Thursday, struck down a separate effort to kill the law’s most controversial mandates.

With Senator Cruz leading the charge, the Senators  assailed the White House’s sudden decision to delay until 2015 the employer mandate, which requires businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to provide health insurance or pay fines.
Via The Washington Times:
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a bill with nine GOP co-sponsors to defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act, calling the 2010 law “a colossal mistake” just hours after fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Congress shouldn’t even pass any short-term stopgap spending bills unless they cancel funding for “Obamacare.”
***
Sen. Jerry MoranKansas Republican, tried to force the debate on Thursday, offering amendments to defund both the employer and individual mandates as part of the Appropriations Committee’s health spending bill. Both measures were defeated on party-line votes, 16-14.
Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to obstruct the law at every turn, which they said was why Mr. Obama had to delay the employer mandate.
Co-sponsors of the Cruz’s bill include Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jim Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Sen. Cruz issued the following statement:
“Consistent with my long-standing position that no continuing resolution or other appropriations measure should fund Obamacare, I am introducing a bill to permanently defund the law...continued here


(Excerpt) Read more at nicedeb.wordpress.com ...

Hospital Lobby Driving Medicaid Expansion

Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/9/2013 | Jack McHugh

People should understand the real reason we're here today. It's not "to help the poor," or because "Obamacare is the law," or because the reforms the House bill would supposedly require are so awesome.

We are here because a politically powerful special interest stands to collect billions of dollars if this Legislature approves the Medicaid expansion — and it is willing do almost anything to make that happen.

It's explained by the Medicaid expansion "1-2-3":

1. The medical services industry has become far more concentrated due to Obamacare, with a relative handful of big hospital corporations absorbing many formerly independent M.D. practices and clinics. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute reports that "by next year, about 50 percent of U.S. doctors will be working for a hospital or hospital-owned health system." This is making hospitals richer and far more powerful politically.
2. In plain English, what "expand Medicaid" really means is the Michigan Department of Community Health will deliver an additional $2 billion annually to this special interest starting next Jan. 1, mostly in the form of negotiated managed care contracts (think Medicaid HMOs). This increases to more than $3 billion by 2016.
3. These big hospital corporations (both for-profit and nonprofit) will make a lot of money on those contracts. That's why all year long they have been in the face of every state legislator, day after day. (Maybe when this is over some members will reveal the kinds of threats and promises they've been making.)
How powerful is this special interest? So powerful that it can cause Republican political careerists to perform politically unnatural acts like voting to implement Obamacare, thereby helping to prop up a law that is vulnerable on many fronts — legal, political, administrative, technological, it's absurd complexity, it's bizarre perverseness, and more.
What exactly does "vulnerable" mean, given that Obamacare can't be repealed under the current administration? When it fully kicks in on Jan. 1, the mayhem this law inflicts on families, employers and the nation's health care system may be so obnoxious that Congress — including the Democratic-controlled Senate — will be forced to open the law for major amendments that reduce the damage.
This is why those who oppose legislator collaborationism are not "bitter enders." A day may come when active resistance becomes counter-productive, but our core beliefs demand we be slow and grudging in accommodating that day's arrival. That applies to those of you who claim to share those beliefs.
~~~~~~~~~
Given all the above, it's almost an afterthought, but will taxpayers (and Medicaid beneficiaries) get a good value from the managed care contracts this state will deliver if you approve the expansion?
One stark expression of the dysfunctions in the current health care system is the fact that there are no real prices for medical services. This was revealed in a recent Stephen Brill Time Magazine piece, and by the federal outpatient procedure price survey released a few weeks ago. The relevance here is that neither taxpayers nor the state officials who negotiate those contracts will ever really know whether we're getting a good value.
That assumes (as I do) that those officials are earnest and will do the best job they can. But in the end they have to take the word of the providers on the other side of the bargaining table — the same people whose lobbyists fill this room today. This illustrates one of the many ways that Obamacare doubles-down on the current system's dysfunctions rather than doing anything to fix them.
One thing we can know about these contracts is that even with good faith on all sides, such arrangements will never deliver the increased efficiency and "disruptive innovation" so desperately needed in our health care system.
One final point: Back in your districts, many of you have given speeches condemning Washington's spendthrift ways. Well, the money for the Medicaid expansion doesn't come from some earmarked pot to be divvied between the states. It goes right onto the federal credit card.
If you approve the expansion, you will be adding $22.5 billion to the national debt through 2022. So among other things, a vote on this issue will show whether you really meant what you said in those speeches.

Foreign Aid

Put Off

The Medical Expert?

US posts surprisingly big budget surplus (No need to raise debt ceiling after Hussein's sequester?)

NBC News ^ | 7/11/13 | Jason Lange

The U.S. government posted an unexpectedly large budget surplus in June, a further sign of the rapid improvement in public finances that has taken the heat off Congress to find savings and raise the nation's borrowing limit.


Rising tax revenue, public spending cuts and big payments to the Treasury from government-backed mortgage companies helped the government take in $117 billion more last month than it paid out, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday.


Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a surplus of $39.5 billion.


June's surplus was the largest on record for that month.


While the government is still $510 billion in the red with three months to go in the fiscal year, June's big surplus will buy it time before it runs up against the limit on borrowing set by Congress. Analysts expect the Treasury to hit the debt ceiling by early November.

(Excerpt) Read more at nbcnews.com ...

IRS Made ‘Policy Decision’ to ‘Legalize Illegal Aliens’

Cybercast News Service ^ | 7/12/2013 | Terence P. Jeffrey

The question of whether to legalize illegal aliens and put them on a pathway to citizenship may be the most controversial legislative issue facing the U.S. Congress this year. But, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), seventeen years have already passed since the Internal Revenue Service made its own “policy decision” to “’legalize’ illegal aliens.”
That policy, made those many years ago, not only determined that the IRS would treat illegal aliens the same as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, but also that the IRS would not hand over to federal immigration authorities information about employers who appeared to be hiring large numbers of illegal aliens and about illegal aliens who routinely filed false documents with the IRS.
The story starts in 1996, when Democrat Bill Clinton was president, and the Republicans controlled Congress.
On May 2, 1996, the Senate voted 97 to 3 to approve the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act. This vote inspired Sen. Ted Kennedy to go down to the Senate floor and proudly proclaim that the Senate had taken bipartisan action to stop illegal immigration and protect American workers.
“This legislation, I think,” said Kennedy, “will be extremely important and, I believe, effective in stemming the tide of illegals, not just because of the expansion of the border patrols, although that will have some effect, and not just because of the increased penalties in smuggling, as all that will have an effect; it will have an important impact in helping American workers get jobs and be able to hold them and have the enhanced opportunity for employment.”
Four months later, on Sept. 25, 1996, a House led by Speaker Newt Gingrich approved the bill 305 to 123. President Clinton signed it on Sept. 30, 1996.
Section 642 of this law said that no other law or official could bar any agency or official from providing information about illegal aliens to the Immigration and Naturalization Service--the agency then responsible for enforcing immigration law.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law, a federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual,” said the law.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law,” it said, “no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a federal, state, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual: (1) Sending such information to, or requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2) Maintaining such information. (3) Exchanging such information with any other federal, state, or local government entity.”
On May 29, 1996—after this bill passed the Senate but before it passed the House—the IRS issued a regulation that directly contradicted it.
This regulation said the IRS would grant what it called Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) to aliens who did not qualify to work in the United States and did not qualify for Social Security Numbers. The IRS had three basic requirements for people receiving these numbers: 1) they had to be an alien, 2) they could not be qualified to work in the United States or have a Social Security Number, 3) they owed taxes in the United States.
In issuing this regulation, the IRS said Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code would apply to the aliens it granted these ITINs. Section 6103 says the IRS must keep tax information confidential and, with a few exceptions, may not share that information with other government agencies.
In September 1999, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which has oversight over the IRS, published an audit report on the ITIN regulation. It was titled, “The Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Tax Identification Number Program Was Not Implemented in Accordance with Internal Revenue Service Code Regulations.”
The IG pointed out that the IRS’s claim that it could issue ITINs to illegal aliens and then decline to provide information about those illegal aliens to the federal immigration enforcement agency—then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)—specifically contradicted the terms of the 1996 immigration reform law.
“The IRS provides disclosure protection to illegal alien applicants,” said the IG. “The Congress has clearly stated how the federal government is to communicate between agencies concerning illegal aliens. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (the Illegal Immigration Reform Act) states that information concerning illegal alien status should be provided to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) notwithstanding any other law. [Bold in the original.]
“However, in the ITIN regulations issued on May 29, 1996, the IRS states, ‘Generally, tax return and tax return information are confidential, as required by 26 USC 6103,’” said the IG. “Therefore, the IRS assurance of anonymity seems to be in conflict with a federal statute.”
The IG determined it was the IRS’s deliberate intention to withhold information about illegal aliens to the INS.
“IRS management and the Office of Disclosure Litigation indicated that the IRS intentionally will not provide information to the INS,” said the IG report. “The rationale for this policy is that the Illegal Immigrant Statute is a ‘general’ statute and does not change IRC Section 6103.”
By giving illegal aliens a tax identification number and allowing them to file tax returns as if they were citizens or legal immigrants, the IRS, according to the IG, was opening the door for illegal aliens to receive tax benefits Congress had intended for U.S. citizens.
“Some of the tax advantages that are being realized by illegal aliens treated as residents include receiving spousal exemptions, standard deductions, and even some erroneous earned income credits,” said the IG.
In sum, the IG concluded, despite the 1996 immigration reform law, the IRS had made its own policy decision to simply “legalize” illegal aliens.
“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made a policy decision to issue IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to illegal aliens so tax filing obligations could be met,” said the IG. “This IRS policy, to ‘legalize’ illegal aliens, seems counter-productive to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) mission to identify illegal aliens and prevent unlawful alien entry.”
In a November 2002 followup report, the IG said the IRS’s policy of issuing ITINs could be helpful to terrorists.
“Based on national security risks, the ITIN process is an area of vulnerability and concern,” said the IG. “With an accepted form of government-issued identification like an ITIN, it is easier for terrorists and their sympathizers to operate in an open society while planning hostile actions.”
In January 2004, in response to concerns raised by then-Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, TIGTA published another report about the problems caused by the IRS’s policy toward illegal aliens.
This report revealed that the number of tax returns filed by “unauthorized” aliens using ITINs was increasing, raising concerns about illegal aliens committing identity theft—by using stolen Social Security Numbers—and raking in refundable tax credits, such as the Additional Child Tax Credit.
On July 18, 2003, TIGTA’s Assistant Inspector General for Audit Gordon C. Milbourn sent a memorandum to then-IRS Commissioner Mark Everson citing TIGTA’s concerns.
“Specifically, unauthorized resident aliens filing U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns (Form 1040) identified with an ITIN would qualify for accelerated disbursements of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC),” Milbourn wrote.
He then restated TIGTA’s concern that issuing ITINs to illegal aliens conflicted congressionally enacted immigration law—this time citing the 1986 amnesty law.
“The presence of the Form W-2 issued in the filer’s name indicates that employment was secured,” wrote Milbourn. “Therefore, these resident aliens were apparently employed without authorization. Consequently, we believe that the IRS is at risk of conflicting with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which was designed to prevent unauthorized resident aliens from working in the U.S.”
Then Milbourn noted that tax returns that had a Form 1040 using an ITIN given to an illegal alien but that reported income on a W-2 using a Social Security Number indicated that the alien in question was not only working illegally in the United States but may be committing identity theft.
“[S]ome paper-filed returns appear to have been submitted to the IRS with inconsistent identification information, since the Form 1040 showed an ITIN and the filer’s Form W-2 showed and SSN,” wrote Milbourn. “This SSN often belonged to another person, indicating potential identity theft.”
In its January 2004 audit report TIGTA noted that it was a felony for someone to use someone else’s Social Security Number or a fake one. The report also noted that this was not at uncommon on tax returns filed by aliens using ITINs.
“The Social Security Act provides that whoever, with the intent to deceive, falsely represents a number to be his or her SSN when, in fact, that number was not assigned to that person, shall be guilty of a felony and subject to a fine,” said the report.
“Government agencies reported that hundreds of thousands of unauthorized resident aliens have used fraudulent documents, including Social Security cards to obtain employment,” said the report.
“Unauthorized residents submitted to the IRS an estimated 309,000 paper filed tax returns with an estimated 354,000 SSNs on Forms W-2,” said the report. “These Forms W-2 included 265,000 SSN that are assigned by the SSA to other individuals.”
The report also said they included 89,000 Social Security Numbers that the SSA had never assigned to anyone.
TIGTA noted that SSA Inspector General James G. Huse had testified in Congress that the misuse of Social Security Numbers had helped the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists.
“The Inspector General stated that improperly obtained SSNs were a factor in the terrorists’ ability to assimilate themselves into American society while they planned their attacks,” said the report. “The events of Sept. 11, 2001 heightened the urgency of protecting the integrity of SSNs.”
This 2004 TIGTA report recommended that IRS work with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the SSA on seeking new legislation on sharing IRS information on illegal aliens.
The IRS reiterated its position that, as it stood, Section 6103 blocked it from sharing information about illegal aliens with immigration enforcement.
“BCIS and SSA are knowledgeable about the type of information collected by the IRS,” the service said in its response to the audit. “A legislative change to Section 6103 of the code is needed before IRS can share tax information with these agencies.”
Meanwhile, the inspector general of the Social Security Administration began focusing on a corollary problem: Some businesses were filing massive numbers of bad W-2 forms for their workers—on which the names and the Social Security Numbers did not match. Because it could not assign credit for the Social Security taxes paid on these W-2s to an identifiable taxpayer, the Social Security Administration credited the money to an accounting limbo called the “Earnings Suspense File” (ESF).
“According to SSA officials, illegal aliens may be major contributors to this problem,” said a Feb. 7, 2000 audit report from SSA’s IG. “SSA suspects that employers in certain high turnover industries (bars and restaurants, services, and agriculture) compound the problem because they may knowingly hire illegal aliens with fraudulent identification and are able to do so because there are no penalties imposed for their actions. Consequently, those employers who knowingly accept fraudulent documentation are free to conduct business as usual without regard to the disruption and harm caused to SSA's customers and to unknowing individuals whose identities are falsely used.”
The SSA said that it had wanted to provide information from this file to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to help the INS identify employers who were habitually hiring illegal aliens but discovered that “privacy and disclosure limitations” would block the SSA from sharing information with the INS.
“The INS has oversight responsibility for illegal aliens,” said the IG. “SSA has the capability to provide the INS with valuable leads to identify employers who continually hire illegal aliens.
“The Agency included a project to collaborate with the INS in its December 1997 version of the ESF Tactical Plan,” said the IG. “The initiative was to involve SSA working with the INS to formulate and conduct a limited review of employers who (1) employ large numbers of immigrants and (2) experience high name/SSN error rates on their AWRs. SSA planned to use the results of this effort to revise, if necessary, current SSA policies, procedures, and systems as well as IRS regulations relating to AWR requirements. Because of privacy and disclosure limitations, the Agency determined it could not share such information with the INS, according to SSA officials. SSA subsequently dropped the project from later versions of the ESF Tactical Plan.”
Four years later, in October 2004, the SSA IG published another audit report revealing that employers who habitually filed the largest number of no-match W-2s were concentrated in certain industries in certain states.
One habitual no-match W-2 filer was a state government agency. The most egregious was an employer based in Illinois.
“Our analysis of the Top 100 employers by industry determined that the highest contributors of items to the ESF were concentrated in three industries: services, restaurants, and agriculture,” said the SSA IG. “We found that 95 of the Top 100 employers were in 1 of these 3 industries, representing 2.6 million wage items and over $9.1 billion in wages over the 5-year review period. Forty-three of the Top 100 employers were in the service industry, 32 were in the restaurant industry, and 20 employers were in the agriculture industry. Four of the remaining employers were in the hotel/retail industry, and one was a State agency.”
“We found that 54 of the 100 employers had registered addresses in three States – California, Texas, and Illinois – representing almost 1.5 million wage items and over $4.8 billion in wages during TYs 1997 to 2001,” said the IG.
The Illinois company that had the worst record had filed 131,191 no-match W-2s in tax years 1997 through 2001.
In the years since the IRS made its “policy decision” to “legalize illegal aliens,” the amount of money paid to illegal aliens through the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) has grown.
“In TY 2007,” said a 2009 TIGTA audit report, “more than 1.2 million (66 percent) ITIN filers received ACTCs of almost $1.8 billion. The ACTC is a refundable credit available to individuals with no tax liability.”
At that time TIGTA recommended that Congress pass legislation to specifically bar the ACTC from going to tax filers who do not have Social Security Numbers—i.e. aliens.
“We believe legislation is needed to clarify whether or not refundable tax credits such as the ACTC may be paid to filers without an SSN,” said the 2009 audit report. “Such a legislative change could result in cost savings to the federal government of $1.8 billion annually ($8.9 billion over 5 years). As it now stands, the payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the U.S. without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy to remove such incentives.”
On July 7, 2011, TIGTA published yet another audit report revealing that President Obama’s economic stimulus law had made the ACTC more generous and that the IRS had paid out $4.2 billion to illegal aliens through this refundable credit in 2010.
In July 2012, TIGTA published a report on an audit it had initiated because two IRS employees had alleged “that IRS management was requiring employees to assign Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) even when the applications were fraudulent.”
In this report, TIGTA revealed that in 2011 the IRS had sent $46,378,040 in tax refunds to what theoretically were 23,994 unauthorized aliens using ITINs and all sharing a single Atlanta, Ga., mailing address. Similarly, the IRS sent $10,395,874 in refunds to what theoretically were 2,507 unauthorized aliens using ITINs and all sharing a single address in Oxnard, California.
The same IG report said the IRS also sent $7,319,518 in refunds to 2,706 theoretical unauthorized aliens who all shared the same bank account.
The IG found that the IRS sometimes granted massive numbers of ITINs to unauthorized aliens who all used the same address. For example, according the IG, the IRS assigned 15,795 ITINs to theoretical unauthorized aliens all using the same address in Phoenix. It also assigned 15,028 ITINs to theoretical unauthorized aliens all using the same address in Dallas.
It has now been seventeen years since the IRS decided it should start issuing ITINs to illegal aliens—or, as the IG put it, made a “policy decision” to “legalize illegal aliens.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Spokesman Brandon Montgomery told CNSNews.com that SSA and the IRS still do not provide ICE with information about no-match W-2s or ITIN tax filings.
Since June 24, CNSNews.com has made multiple inquiries to the IRS asking whether at any time since TIGTA issued its 1999 audit report on the service’s ITIN policy had the IRS begun giving federal immigration enforcement agencies information about known or suspected illegal aliens who had applied for ITINs, or filed tax returns using ITINs, or about employers who had filed hundreds of no-match W-2s in a single year. The IRS has not yet responded.

Freeze possible on all promotions, recruiting, PCS moves (no freeze on $100M vacations)

Stars and Stripes ^ | 7/11/2013 | Tom Philpott

Failure by Congress to end budget sequestration could force the services in fiscal 2014 to freeze military promotions, suspend recruiting and halt all change-of-station moves, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned in letter Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Automatic budget cuts already are “severely damaging military readiness,” Hagel wrote to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), committee chairman, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican. Without relief, defense spending will take another $52 billion hit in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
If Congress lets that happen, by continuing to refuse to compromise on a debt reduction deal, the Department of Defense will keep a civilian hiring freeze in place, continue to neglect facilities maintenance, deepen cuts to weapon programs and impose “an extremely severe package of military personnel actions including halting all accessions, ending all permanent change-of-station moves, stopping discretionary bonuses and freezing all promotions,” Hagel wrote to introduce a budget “contingency plan.”
Levin and Inhofe had asked Hagel to describe how keeping sequestration in place would impact defense budgets and national security. They are worried that “many members of Congress and the American public still seem to have the view that sequestration is an effective way to cut government spending, and can be made workable simply by providing the Department with additional flexibility or making minor adjustments.”
Hagel explained that any debt-reduction deal to remove sequestration still would require Congress to make hard choices as defense budgets fall, to be able to preserve readiness, modernize weapon systems and sustain combat power. The hard choices, Hagel wrote, must include temporary caps on military pay raises and higher Tricare fees on military retirees.
Congress also must allow retirement of lower-priority weapons including older ships and aircraft, remove restrictions on the rate of drawdown for U.S. ground forces and support other cost-saving moves including a new round of base closings, Hagel wrote.
If sequestration continues and Congress won’t support these cost-saving proposals in President Obama’s budget, U.S. combat capability will take an even deeper hit in 2014 and beyond, Hagel suggested.
There are plenty of details in his plan to frighten legislators about deepening defense budget cuts. This Congress, however, has shown itself more immune than most to reasoned arguments and rational compromise.
If sequestration continues into the new fiscal year, Hagel said, there will be “serious adverse effects” on the “readiness and technological superiority of our military” even if the Congress were to provide some special flexibility in how the $52 billion in cuts are administered.
The department, Hagel said, “would seek to minimize cuts in the day-to-day operating costs most closely related to training and readiness.” It would keep in place a hiring freeze on civilian employees and continue to reduce facilities maintenance. That would mean more understaffing of units and offices, and some employees working in “substandard conditions.”
DoD wants to avoid another civilian employee furlough. But in fiscal 2014, if sequester takes another bite, DoD would consider an involuntary reduction-in-force and deeper training cuts for defense civilian employees.
Military personnel accounts were spared the brunt of sequestration in fiscal 2013. If, as expected, these accounts are not protected from new across-the-board cuts this fall, DoD predicts having to make draconian moves impacting promotions, change of station moves, recruiting and “discretionary” bonuses, presumably to include reenlistment bonuses to shape the military’s skill mix.
Hagel had ordered a Strategic Choices and Management Review to develop options to try to accommodate sequestration without serious damage to military capabilities. The resulting options won’t do that, he said.
A cut of $52 billion in defense spending would be large and steep, but the portion that could be taken out of military personnel accounts would be relatively modest, the report explained. That’s because cost-savings from force cuts would be offset by separation pay, exit travel costs, unused leave payments and, for some members, unemployment insurance.
So if personnel accounts were directed to absorb just a 10 percent share of the 2014 sequestration hit -- $5.2 billion – that would require the “extremely severe package” of personnel actions described earlier.
“The inability to reduce military personnel costs quickly would put additional downward pressure on other portions of the FY 2014 budget,” Hagel’s plan explained.
If Congress keeps sequestration in place, Hagel calls for a more rapid force drawdown than current law allows, with some involuntary separations likely, perhaps even affecting personnel recently returned from Afghanistan.
“Implementing sequester-level cuts would be made even more difficult if Congress fails to support the military pay raise of one percent proposed in the President's FY 2014 budget. If that raise grows to 1.8 percent, as some in Congress have proposed, it would add about $500 million in FY 2014 funding requirements, which would force even larger cuts in other spending categories,” Hagel’s plan explained.
One impact on readiness from a $52 billion cut might be reduced flight hours for two Navy air wings, which the plan calls key counter-terrorism assets. The Army already has cancelled many training rotations at its combat training centers, with more cancellations likely. The Air Force stopped flying one third of its “combat coded” active squadrons, significantly reducing training at more than half of its active flying units. Maintenance cutbacks could worsen, further threatening future readiness, Hagel reported.