Let's Fix This Country
foreign policy

Americans, Unclear Who We’re Fighting, Wish Obama Would Tell Us

Always witless, but after Orlando the semantic red herring over the phrase "radical Islam" turned moronic. Since the rise of ISIS and President Obama's pledge two years ago the coming September that, "We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL" (his preferred acronym for ISIS), those on the right have seized on the president's
failure to utter those two words alongside each other as the reason ISIS still exists. It is clear that the word went out to Republicans in Congress, the Wall Street Journal, and of course Fox News, where this gripe is almost daily program fare, that all should be making the case that Obama is unaware of the threat because he won't obey and identify the enemy with their two word incantation. Greg Gutfeld on the Fox afternoon show "The Five" admitted their obsession with, "We've talked about this so long our heads will explode". Not yet, unfortunately.

To the sensible, it is obvious that the holder of the presidency of the United States must steer clear of the antagonistic blunders of previous administrations that characterized adversarial countries as the "axis of evil", and in this case not label the entire religion of Islam as "radical". Where the president went wrong was his viewing what he called merely a "talking point" as something too brainless to be concerned with, failing to realize the effect of such sloganeering with a brainless public.

It was everyone's talking point after Orlando, especially on Fox News, which…


Is Your Newspaper Named Facebook?

The behemoth wants to control all you see

Something of a scandal erupted in May when the website Gizmodo reported that Facebook slants left in the stories it selects for the "Trending" news list it serves up on your Facebook home page. It had been thought that the supposedly impartial algorithms that comb newsgathering sources on the Internet were entirely in charge of deciding what you see. Instead, it was revealed that, at the fount where the algorithms spew their findings sit human "curators" all too susceptible, it is feared, of allowing personal biases to affect which news makes it onto Facebook's Trending list and what does not.

But the bias concern is not our topic. (Algorithms are created by humans and can also have biases baked in). What was startling was mention that a Pew Research study had found that 63% of Americans consider Facebook and Twitter to be news services and go there to get their news.

And that report proved to be from almost a year ago. The 63% is up from 52% of Twitter users and 47% of Facebook users who answered the same Pew question…


Memo to Congress: The IRS Is Where the Money Comes From »

The "tax gap" — the amount of taxes Americans owed but failed to pay — reached almost half a trillion dollars a year for the years 2008 through 2010 — an average annual loss of $458 billion, according to an analysis by the Internal Revenue Service.

That led Republicans in Congress to go on the warpath, naming the closing week of April "IRS Week" and summoning the IRS chief, John Koskinen, to answer for the agency's appalling inefficiencies in four hearings over eight days conducted by efficiently overlapping congressional committees.

To vent its wrath, the Republican-controlled House passed half a dozen measures to penalize the tax agency. "House Republicans are finding new ways to rein in the IRS", said the conservative Weekly Standard. No bonuses until service improves, is one of them. Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the…

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Court Papers Bring Trump Fraud Cases Into the Open

There has been a curious imbalance in the media throughout the presidential campaigns. Hillary Clinton's e-mail transgressions, under investigation by the FBI, have been a constant topic and daily fare on the Fox News channel. But there has been near silence about the fraud cases against Donald Trump and his purported university. That changed the first day of June. In response to a legal motion filed by The Washington Post, the federal judge hearing the cases unsealed documents from a trio of lawsuits filed by former students claiming that what they got for their money at Trump University was worthless. Front page stories in the Post and The New York Times reported that instructors were required to pressure attendees to sign up for ever more expensive courses, ultimately the $35,000 course that would “teach you better than the best business school”, as a promotional video promised. Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS NewsHour congratulated a newspaper that had come late to the story:
"My newspaper had a good story on the Trump University...And we sort of had the outlines of the story, but I think what was fresh...is the way that professors at Trump University were really pressuring people to get out their credit cards, to get multiple credit cards, to max out their credit cards, just to give all this money to Trump University,...it was the machinations of scamming these people that we learned today."
We say "late" because, if you follow us here, you read a full account of Trump University's scams back in March. It reported on exactly those high pressure sales tactics and the fraudulent claims Trump and company had made, as attested to by former students who say the teachings of how to make money in real estate were a sham. The question is, Why has the media been avoiding this story for so long? Is America about to vote for a crook?
Read more


Why Not a Basic Income for Everyone?

"If you want to end poverty, just give people money"

With growth stalled at 1.5%, with wages flat for decades and household income $4,000 less than when Bill Clinton left office, with a Federal Reserve survey finding that 46% of Americans could not cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something, here's an idea that's often floated. How about the government just paying everyone a basic income every year?

That surely must top the list of nutty ideas that bleeding-heart liberals have come up with.

Except they didn't. It's a Republican scheme, going back at least to Richard Nixon and Milton Friedman before him. Nixon proposed in a 1969 address on domestic programs that "the Federal Government build a foundation under the income of every American family". There were limitations, but the idea was given voice and it persists.

The Finns are considering the idea and the Swiss just voted on it in a referendum. It lost by a huge margin — 77% against to 23% in favor — but how much of that might have been the whopping amount proposed?: $2,500 a month to be paid to every citizen.

On these shores, the latest is an essay in the weekend Review section of The Wall Street Journal by Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, preceded by his 2006 Read More »


Exxon Contretemps Escalates as Congress Gets Into the Act

Expect lawsuits unto the end of time

Investigative reporting last fall by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon hid research into climate change, all the while funding groups to debunk
global warming. That led to investigations of their own by a growing number of state attorneys general, with New York's Eric Schneiderman leading the charge.

But in a don't mess with Texas backlash, Republican Representative Lamar Smith of that state and chair of the House science committee has started a firefight on behalf of Texas-based Exxon, alleging a conspiratorial collaboration between Schneiderman's office and climate change activist groups, and… Read More »

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