Just In Time for Tax Day: Remy to the Rescue

So it’s everyone’s favorite day of the year tomorrow.  Just in time, our pal Remy Munasifi and ReasonTV bring you a remake of Pharrell Williams’ tune “Happy.”  Lyrics at the link to the left.  About two minutes long. (more…)

The Hillary-Boeing-Russia triangle

We will, I suspect, be reading other stories about Hillary Clinton like this one, if the mainstream media is willing to pursue them. From today’s Washington Post, under the headline “For Clinton and Boeing, a beneficial relationship”:

On a trip to Moscow early in her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton played the role of international saleswoman, pressing Russian government officials to sign a multibillion-dollar deal to buy dozens of aircraft from Boeing.

A month later, Clinton was in China, where she jubilantly announced that the aerospace giant would be writing a generous check to help resuscitate floundering U.S. efforts to host a pavilion at the upcoming World’s Fair.

Boeing, she said, “has just agreed to double its contribution to $2 million.”

Clinton did not point out that, to secure the donation, the State Department had set aside ethics guidelines that first prohibited solicitations of Boeing and then later permitted only a $1 million gift from the company. Boeing had been included on a list of firms to be avoided because of its frequent reliance on the government for help negotiating overseas business and concern that a donation could be seen as an attempt to curry favor with U.S. officials.

The Post’s Rosalind Helderman doesn’t pull her punches. She writes: “Clinton functioned as a powerful ally for Boeing’s business interests at home and abroad, while Boeing has invested resources in causes beneficial to Clinton’s public and political image.” How so?

Boeing’s largesse on behalf of the U.S. pavilion at the Shanghai expo was helpful to Clinton at a critical moment as she made it her priority to woo support from corporations to revive the American presence at the event.

She was widely credited with orchestrating a turnaround, and the can-do image she cultivated as secretary of state has contributed to her status as a Democratic front-runner ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

In addition:

In 2010, two months after Boeing won its $3.7 billion Russia deal, the company announced a $900,000 contribution to the William J. Clinton Foundation intended to rebuild schools in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The foundation, which Hillary Clinton now helps lead with her husband and daughter, has become a popular charity for major corporations.

And, inevitably:

The company’s ties came into play again this month when its in-house lobbyist, former Bill Clinton aide Tim Keating, co-hosted a fundraiser for Ready for Hillary, the super PAC backing her potential presidential run.

The Post doesn’t speculate about the concessions, if any, Clinton made to Russia on behalf of the United States in exchange for the Boeing purchase. However, given the one-sided Obama-Clinton “reset” of relations with Russia, such speculation may not be untoward. Ed Morrissey writes:

The jet deal took place in November 2009. Notably, this was several months after the “reset button” fiasco with Sergei Lavrov that all but shrugged off efforts by the previous administration to get tough with Moscow after the invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008. The Post’s Rosalind Helderman mentions this deal as the Obama administration’s “enticing symbol” of their diplomatic “reset.”

What isn’t mentioned in this piece was the cancellation of the US missile shield program with Poland and the Czech Republic two months earlier than the Boeing sale. Russia had long opposed the missile-shield program in eastern Europe, pushed by the Bush administration as a response to Iranian development of both its missile and nuclear-weapons programs. At the time, no one could quite figure out what we got in trade for this retreat. Now it appears all we got was a sale of some commercial airliners to Aeroflot.

That’s not a beneficial trade for the United States. But it’s a pretty good deal for Hillary Clinton.

Get Your Munch With Your Crunch

When Colorado and Washington state moved to legalize consumer use of marijuana, it seemed obvious to me that setting up snack food carts (and Girl Scout cookie stands) outside of pot dispensaries was the obvious growth industry.  Well behold–the nation’s first pot vending machine, coming soon to Avon, Colorado.  So now you will be able to get your munchies next to your crunchies.

Pot Vending Machine copy

But wait! Like ATM’s, won’t pot vending machines reduce employment?  I hope someone asks the former head of the Choom Gang for his thoughts on this.  Prediction: This story makes it on The Daily Show tonight.

Lilly Ledbetter and the lie that will not die

When a lie becomes an article of faith not just for a movement for an entire political party, that lie is probably here to stay. So it is with the Lilly Ledbetter lie, repeated most recently by Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post.

Ledbetter, who danced with President Obama at his first inaugural ball and has had a federal statute named after her, lost her pay discrimination case because she waited longer than legally allowed to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. During the proceedings, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, she never argued that she didn’t know she was being paid less than similarly situated men until it was too late to complain to the EEOC.

Ledbetter didn’t make that argument for a very good reason; it wouldn’t have been true.

Ledbetter waited until 1998 to file her discrimination charge. According to her own testimony, she knew by 1992 that her pay was out of line with her peers. And in 1995, she spoke to her supervisor about the problem, telling him “I knew definitely that they were all making a thousand at least more per month than I was and that I would like to get in line.” Hans Bader has laid all of this out.

However, once judicial proceedings were over and the penalties for perjury no longer stood in her way, Ledbetter changed her story. She claimed that she didn’t learn about the pay disparities until, shortly before she filed her charged, she received an anonymous note.

This claim cannot be reconciled with the testimony Ledbetter gave under oath. But that hasn’t stopped feminists, and indeed the Democratic Party, from building a religion around her false claim.

The Post’s Ruth Marcus is the latest offender. In an April 9 op-ed, she wrote:

Ledbetter. . .was stymied by the fact that — in part because of company policy banning the sharing of salary information — she did not know she was being paid less than male counterparts; by the time she realized and filed suit, according to the Supreme Court, the statute of limitations was up.

Unlike Obama and so many others, Marcus can’t be accused of spinning Ledbetter’s case for partisan or ideological purposes. The quoted passage is something of a throwaway line in a column that castigates Democrats for “equal-pay demagoguery.” Her misuse of Ledbetter demonstrates how deeply ingrained the Ledbetter lie has become, not dishonesty on Marcus’s part.

However, I understand that after Marcus’s column appeared online, Hans Bader pointed out her error. Nonetheless, her column made its way into the print edition with the same misstatement of fact.

Since then, Bader and at least one other knowledgeable lawyer have written separate letters to the editor pointing out Marcus’ error. Will the Post publish them or is Ledbetter’s lie too good to challenge?

Honor killing, Brandeis-style

I am advised by a knowledgeable source that Brandeis University has engaged or is in the process of engaging a crisis management firm. Brandeis finds itself needing to manage the crisis created by its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree, followed by the withdrawal of the invitation in compliance with the wishes of CAIR and the subset of the Brandeis “community” that is of like mind with the Hamas front group. As I understand it, the crisis management firm is scheduled to meet with the Brandeis administration today. If so, there is no time to waste. They will want to get right on top of Zev Chafets’s “Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Victim of an honor killing, Brandeis-style.”

The Lois Lerner files

This past week House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp announced that the Committee, acting had voted out a criminal referral letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding actions taken by IRS employee Lois Lerner. Camp’s press release is posted here. Camp’s letter of referral and exhibits are posted here.

Camp’s letter covers a lot of ground. Kim Strassel devotes a good Wall Street Journal column sorting through it, as does Jay Sekulow a good Fox News column. The New York Times provides the mainstream media’s take in an article by Jeremy Peters.

The Times notes the existence of an ongoing Department of Justice Investigation. Yet it fails to note that three months ago that “law enforcement officials” leaked word that they doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the IRS misconduct, or that Obama promptly weighed in with his analysis that the events disclosed “not even a smidgen” of wrongdoing. The investigation continues, but what manner of investigation is this?

The Ways and Means Committee’s criminal referral is going nowhere, but it deserves attention. It is to be viewed in the context of the administration’s “investigation,” which is suggestive of wrongdoing and of a coverup extending beyond Lois Lerner. The committee’s referral thus provides illumination even if it does not lead to prosecution.

Why the left’s dream is the Twin Cities’ nightmare

Relying on the excellent work of Katherine Kersten, we’ve written before about the left’s big plans for the Twin Cities. The Metropolitan Council, an unelected body, wants to steer new jobs, homes, and economic development to areas within one half mile of major transportation stops. These stops will mostly be in the urban core and inner-ring suburbs.

In these favored areas, tax dollars will be lavished on high-density housing, bike and pedestrian amenities, and subsidized retail shops. The money thus lavished will come from people who live elsewhere.

The transportation needs of the rest of the metropolitan area will take a back seat. Money to improve highways and bridges will shrink. Congestion will grow and traffic safety will suffer. Residents will be pushed into “stack and pack” high-density housing.

As Kersten observes in her latest column on the subject, such a regime “is a tough sell in a democracy in which people believe they have a right to govern their own towns with their neighbors.” Accordingly, it is being promoted as the price the Twin Cities region must pay to remain “economically competitive” with peer regions. The Council insists that without its program — which it markets as Thrive MSP 2040 — the Twin Cities will lose jobs and creative young professionals to more enlightened metro areas like Portland and Seattle.

Intuitively, though, it seems obvious that, in Kersten’s words, people don’t move to a metro area for light rail; they move for opportunity. Similarly, intuition tells us that rigid central planning around a leftist agenda does not promote opportunity.

The facts bear this out. According to the Council’s own data, between 2000 and 2010, while the Twin Cities were was losing population and New York and Los Angeles were experiencing a mass exodus, Atlanta gained 415,000 residents; Dallas-Fort Worth 318,000; Houston 241,000, and Raleigh, North Carolina 190,000.

What do these “people magnets” have in common? Less burdensome government regulation and fewer land use restrictions. Both are strongly correlated with greater economic growth. Thus, Kersten concludes that the Council’s plan will push the Twin Cities in exactly the wrong direction.

In reality, though, Thrive MSP isn’t about competing with other areas for jobs and creative professionals. Rather, it’s about implementing a vision of how, as a matter of leftwing ethics and aesthetics, we should live. People always seem to vote with their feet against this top-down, authoritarian approach.

The Council’s other rationale for Thrive MSP is concern about the economic plight of the region’s low-income households. Here, the Council may be sincere. However, as Kersten shows, these households are likely to suffer most from its misguided policies:

The council deplores our region’s lack of “affordable housing.” Yet its drive for densification likely will significantly increase housing prices, which will harm low-income residents. Rents will rise, too. In Portland, for example, income-adjusted median gross rents in high-poverty areas rose more than 2.5 times the increase in the rest of the metro area during densification from 1999 to 2009.

The “gentrification” that accompanies transit-oriented development often disproportionately displaces low-income households, driving them from the urban core to more dispersed areas with less transit. Low-income families also suffer disproportionately when bus service must be cut to pay for light rail serving well-heeled suburbanites, as frequently occurs.

Kersten reminds us that the Twin Cities already has a very low rate of business formation and, in recent years, taxes as well as labor, property and energy costs have escalated substantially. Thrive MSP seems designed, almost diabolically, to exacerbate these trends and render them irreversible.