A conservative state lawmaker with a penchant for controversial comments said Friday he will run for Congress in Maryland's 2nd Congressional District.
Del. Patrick McDonough of Baltimore County, who filed his candidacy with the State Board of Elections on Friday, criticized incumbent Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of being too cozy with the Obama administration, and suggested that the Democrat had "lost touch" with the district's voters.
"He has become a 100 percent 'Obama-Dutch,'" McDonough said in an interview. "The point is, you have to live with your record."
The meandering 2nd District, includes portions of Harford, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties as well as a few slices of Baltimore City. It is widely considered safe for Democrats, though Ruppersberger's votes have reflected a more centrist constituency than in some other parts of the state.
State Sen. Nancy C. Jacobs challenged Ruppersberger in 2012 -- a year after the 2011 redistricting -- and lost by a wide margin. Ruppersberger captured 66 percent of the vote that year. Two years later, Ruppersberger beat Republican David Banach with 61 percent of the vote.
Echoing other Republicans running in Maryland, McDonough said that last year's victory by Gov. Larry Hogan paved a path for a Republican to win in the 2nd District. Hogan did pick up support from several Baltimore County neighborhoods that are part of Ruppersberger's district.
McDonough said Ruppersberger, previously the top-ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, had "failed in his responsibility," citing the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the rise of the self-described Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
"The President and 'Obama Dutch' have been absent without leadership, actively reducing the size and effectiveness of our national defense," McDonough wrote in a campaign announcement on Friday.
McDonough, who hosts a radio program on WCBM, came under fire in 2012 for suggesting that "roving mobs of black youth" were terrorizing Baltimore. He received national attention for suggesting the government should take away food stamps from parents whose teenagers who rioted last year following the death of Freddie Gray.
In a statement, Ruppersberger spokeswoman Jaime Lennon said the congressman has "always respected anyone willing to throw their hat in the ring, so it's a shame to hear Pat McDonough is going negative already. As always, Congressman Ruppersberger will run on his record of putting our country and his constituents first."
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Friday, January 29, 2016
The percentage of American wage and salary workers who belonged to a union was only 11.1 percent in 2015, but the percentage of union members who worked for government was 48.9 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014,” the BLS said in press release published today.
But the 7,241,000 government workers whom the BLS estimates were members of unions in 2015 equaled almost half of the estimated total of 14,795,000 union-member wage and salary workers in the nation.
And these unionized government workers outnumbered the Census Bureau’s estimated 2015 populations for all but 12 of the states.
The 7,241,000 unionized government workers, for example, exceeded the populations of Washington (7,170,351), Arizona (6,828,065), Massachusetts (6,794,422) Indiana (6,619,680) and Tennessee (6,600,299).
The BLS has comparable data on union membership going back to 1983 and the percentage of wage and salary workers who belong to unions has generally been declining since then.
The highest percentage in any year in the 1983 through 2015 period was in 1983 itself. That year there were approximately 17,717,000 wage and salary workers who were members of unions and they equaled 20.1 percent of the total of 88,290,000 wage and salary workers estimated that year.
In 2012 and 2013, the percentage who belonged to unions was 11.3 percent. In 2014 and 2015, it was 11.1 percent.
Of the approximately 133,743,000 wage and salary workers employed in the United States in 2015, according to BLS, 14,795,000 were members of a union. (See Table 1.)
But of those 14,795,000 union members, 7,241,000—or 48.9 percent—worked for government. (See Table 3.)
Of the estimated 14,576,000 union members in 2014, 7,218,000—or 49.5 percent—worked for government.
Government wage and salary workers were far more likely to belong to a union than private-sector wage and salary workers, the BLS reported.
“Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.2 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent),” the BLS said in the press release that accompanied the release of the data.
Union membership was most prevalent among local government workers.
On the federal-government level, said BLS, there were approximately 3,591,000 wage and salary workers and 979,000—or 27.3 percent—were union members.
On the state-government level, there were 6,875,000 wage and salary workers and 2,079,000—or 30.2 percent--were union members.
On the local-government level, there 10,126,000 wage and salary workers and 4,183,000—or 41.3 percent—were union members.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Story HighlightsGee, maybe if the employee's actually had a monetary stake in the company's performance, they'd be more engaged, think?
Employee engagement has barely budged in years
Measuring engagement isn't sufficient to improve it
Five proven strategies can improve employee engagement
The world has an employee engagement crisis, with serious and potentially lasting repercussions for the global economy.
Though companies and leaders worldwide recognize the advantages of engaging employees -- and many have instituted surveys to measure engagement -- employee engagement has barely budged in well over a decade.
Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. since 2000. Though there have been some slight ebbs and flows, less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged in their jobs and workplaces during these 15 years. According to Gallup Daily tracking, 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged -- meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Worldwide, only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged.
Why Aren't the Numbers Moving?
With so many organizations focusing on engaging their employees, the question is: "Why aren't engagement levels across the world increasing?"
Many different factors can lead to stagnant levels of engagement. Executives can find clues to answer this question for their company among the various ways organizations provide employee engagement data.
Gallup sees a clear divide emerging within the engagement industry. On one end of the spectrum are scientifically and experientially validated approaches that lead to changes in individual and business performance, supported by strategic and tactical development and performance solutions that transform organizational cultures. Though these approaches require more intentionality and investment, companies that use them are more likely to see increases in employee engagement.
At the other end of the spectrum are invalidated, unfocused annual surveys. Much like a traditional employee satisfaction survey, this type of survey usually measures a multitude of workplace dimensions that often have limited alignment with other business objectives and can be difficult to take action upon after receiving results.
Technology also makes it easy to create an "employee survey" and call it an engagement program, which allows a company to fulfill an apparent organizational need and "check a box." But metrics on their own don't drive change or increase performance. Many of these survey-only approaches measure employee perceptions and provide metrics instead of improving workplaces and business outcomes.
In reality, when companies focus exclusively on measuring engagement rather than on improving engagement, they often fail to make necessary changes that will engage employees or meet employees' workplace needs. These shortcomings include:- viewing engagement as a survey or program instead of as an ongoing, disciplined method to achieve higher performanceThough most approaches are well-intended, with an ultimate goal of improving the workplace and performance, too many contribute to a status quo that is not helping the business. Businesses must choose among these different approaches, and procurement departments often make decisions based on cost and proposed deliverables rather than on a close evaluation of the end-game deliverable of an improved workplace and performance.
- focusing more heavily on survey data or reports than on developing managers and employees
- defining engagement as a percentage of employees who are not dissatisfied or are merely content with their employer instead of a state of strong employee involvement, commitment and enthusiasm
- relying on measures that tell leaders and managers what they want to hear -- "We're doing great!" -- rather than research-based metrics that set a high bar and uncover organizational or management problems that are hindering engagement and performance
- "feeding the bears," or measuring workers' satisfaction or happiness levels and catering to their wants, instead of treating employees as stakeholders of their future and their company's future
These flawed approaches pose significant barriers to improving engagement, increasing performance, promoting manager development and achieving lasting change. Companies that base their engagement strategy on a survey or metrics-only solution can find themselves caught in a "rinse and repeat" pattern, focusing on engagement periodically -- usually around survey time. The result is that these companies make false promises to employees, pledging change through intensive communication campaigns but providing little actual follow-through.
Ways to Improve Engagement
By studying and working with highly engaging and high-performing organizations, Gallup has identified five best practices that improve engagement and performance:- Integrate engagement into the company's human capital strategy. High-growth companies have a clear purpose behind their strategy for engaging employees, Gallup research shows. This approach includes leadership involvement and commitment, a communication strategy, systems that hold leaders and managers accountable for follow-up and for using engagement data, and learning and development that align with the engagement elements. The most effective approach to engagement isn't "start and stop" -- instead, it's an ongoing process that works alongside regular business activities.Creating a culture of engagement requires more than completing an annual employee survey and then leaving managers on their own, hoping they will learn something from the survey results that will change their daily behavior. It requires a company to take a close look at the critical engagement elements that align with performance and with the organization's human capital strategy. Managers and leaders should keep employee engagement top of mind -- because every interaction with employees can have an impact on engagement and organizational performance.
- Use a scientifically validated instrument to measure engagement. Since the engagement industry began in the late 1990s, it has taken on a life of its own. Almost every employee survey, regardless of its purpose, is referred to as an "engagement" survey. But few instruments have been validated or subjected to academic peer review. As a result, many companies are attempting to increase engagement by focusing on problems that may not affect engagement or by tackling problems in the wrong order.
- Understand where the company is today, and where it wants to be in the future. Many businesses seek to chart the same one-, two- or three-year journey to improved engagement. But every company's starting point is different, as is its internal capabilities and how fast it can change. After a company takes a baseline measurement, a three-year road map is a recommended strategy; however, it should be based on the company's needs for improving engagement. This approach will help create realistic milestones and actions.
- Look beyond engagement as a single construct. Some companies focus on moving the overall engagement number while overlooking the tactical elements that drive improved performance. Engagement isn't determined by an abstract feeling; it's the result of concrete performance management activities, such as clarifying work expectations, getting people what they need to do their work, providing development or promoting positive coworker relationships. For example, "expectations" are more than a job description. And "doing what you do best" has more to do with productively applying individual strengths than with general competencies.
- Align engagement with other workplace priorities. Engagement shouldn't be "something else" an employee, manager or leader has to do -- instead, it should be how work gets done. Engagement is about investing in everyday working moments and incorporating engagement concepts into the workflow, even as businesses change and adopt new initiatives. When leaders prioritize new initiatives, managers may need to reset employee expectations, provide workers with new resources and ensure employees have opportunities to do what they do best.
Monday, January 25, 2016
This January 26, 2016
7pm – 9pm
Harford Vineyard and Winery
1311 Jarrettsville Rd
Forest Hill, MD 21050
This Tuesday, January 26th at Harford Campaign for Liberty!
Special Guest Ron Ely, founder of Maryland Drivers Alliance, will give us an overview of speed and red light cameras – how they’re privately operated, how the camera system promotes corruption, and how many cameras have been discovered to be misplaced, mis-calibrated, and illegally used.
This legislative session a bill to repeal speed cameras, red light cameras and construction zone cameras has been introduced in the House, with 22 co-sponsors AND COUNTING in agreement to rid the state of illegal “Scameras”.
Has your Representative signed the bill?
Bring your questions for an informative presentation, and let’s get ready to rally our local officials in the fight!
Then, long-time local activist Scott DeLong will begin a two-part discussion on unrest in the Middle East, and America’s role in world politics.
Are the major media networks giving you the whole picture – or just a biased slice of the story? Is it even possible to practice Non-Intervention in today’s world? Should we stay out of the crisis in Syria and surrounding countries, or should we “see if sand can glow in the dark”?
Your own comments and news during Open Mic – Share what’s going on!
Wine Tasting, wines by the glass or bottle, and light refreshments
Share the Facebook Event and invite your friends to join us for a interesting and informative two hours!
Harford County Coordinator
Maryland Campaign for Liberty
January 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm
Harford Campaign for Liberty Cancels January 26th Meeting
Harford Campaign for Liberty regretfully announces the cancellation of its January 26th meeting. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to seeing everyone in February.
STAY SAFE HARFORD COUNTY.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Trump hit a record-high 39 percent support in December, and Rubio hit his high-water mark of 14 percent in mid-November. Cruz’s current 20 percent is his highest, which he hit for the first time earlier this month. Carson hit 23 percent in October when he briefly flirted with Trump for the top spot.Fox Poll 1/22/16
Cruz tops the list as the “second choice” among Trump backers -- and vice versa.
Lemon socialism is a pejorative term for a form of government intervention in which government subsidies go to weak or failing firms, often with the intent of preventing further, systemic damage to what might otherwise be considered a free marketplace. These subsidies can even take the form of a full or partial bail-out, as happened during the 2008 financial crisis. The pejorative comes from the perception among free-market economists that failing companies are defective lemons that a working free market would replace with better-functioning companies in response to market demand, and the public-sector involvement this type of state intervention shares with socialism.- Wikipedia entry for "Lemon Socialism"
Confusingly, lemon socialism may also refer to government efforts to transition from capitalism to actual socialism; in this case it refers to a deliberate strategy of absorbing the losses entailed in saving jobs within the worst-performing sectors of the economy — the lemons — before the nationalization of more profitable industries
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a $42.3 billion spending plan Wednesday, promising an array of tax cuts and stashing money in savings.With his sky-high high popular approval numbers, it's disappointing to see how little political capital the governor was willing to spend to reign in spending in Annapolis.
The proposal set the stage for months of debate on what to do with the state's projected $450 million budget surplus.
The budget provides for tuition to not increase by more than 2 percent at the state's public colleges and universities. It would fund every mandate for K-12 education and give every school district in the state more money per pupil than last year.
State employees would get a raise of up to 4 percent, but as many as 150 people would lose their jobs as the state privatizes positions at hospitals.
Budget Secretary David Brinkley said he was confident the state could find private-sector jobs for that "handful" of workers. He said the budget delivers on the governor's promises.
The proposal would also deliver $36 million in fee and tax reductions this year, partly by speeding up tax breaks already approved by the legislature and partly by making new cuts.
Taxpayers would see "more money in their pockets," Brinkley said. He said the budget reflects Hogan's belief that his policies are encouraging employers to expand, which he said would eventually put more money in state coffers.
"People in Maryland are having a newfound faith in Maryland, especially job creators," he said.
Hogan has described his tax plan as "modest." Legislative analysts suggest it would reduce revenues by more than $100 million a year when fully implemented.
With that amount of money on the table, the legislature's chief budget analyst said, lawmakers could consider broader tax cuts instead of the more targeted ones Hogan proposed.
"The big issues are: Are we going to cut taxes? And if so, by how much?" Warren Deschenaux said. "And are we going to be playing to interest groups? Or are we going to be focusing on competitiveness?"
Much of the state's budget is controlled by laws that mandate spending. Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, the Democratic vice chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said most of Hogan's budget "is on autopilot."
The spending plan does not include any of the money promised to help Baltimore demolish vacant houses, which Hogan this month announced would be part of a $700 million investment in the city.
Most of that figure would come from existing programs, and only an estimated $74 million would be new spending.
Democrats, particularly from the city, were dismayed to see Hogan had not included it.
"The announcement was about $700 million," said Baltimore Del. Maggie McIntosh, the Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. "Where's the other money? Where's it coming from?"
Hogan spokesman Matthew Clark said the first $150 million was in the current year's budget.
Brinkley said he would put money for demolition in a separate, supplemental budget. The maneuver means that Hogan could use the additional spending as a bargaining chip with lawmakers.
City schools will see a $24 million reduction in state funding next year, thanks to a formula that reduces aid when enrollment declines and as jurisdiction's wealth increases.
The city saw a similar reduction in last year' budget. McIntosh and Baltimore Democratic Del. Mary L. Washington have proposed tweaking the formula to prevent such cuts in the future.
The governor proposed allocating $5.6 million in a onetime grant to three rural school districts where enrollment has been declining.
Democratic leaders said they left a 90-minute briefing with Hogan on Wednesday morning with more questions than answers.
"We look forward to going through the budget and working through it in some details," House Speaker Michael E. Busch said after leaving the meeting held over egg casserole and scrapple at the governor's mansion.
Busch said it was difficult to render an opinion on Hogan's spending plan.
"We don't know until we get all the details," Busch said.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. noted that the proposal also left out money for Prince George's Hospital Center, a priority for the state's second-largest jurisdiction.
"I guess what that means is it's going to be supplemental budgets," Miller told reporters.
The operating budget leaves about $450 million unspent, even after the state stashes more than 6 percent of its surplus in its 'Rainy Day Fund.' Bond agencies recommend saving 5 percent.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expect to debate whether to spend that money, hold on to it, or return some of it to taxpayers.
Hogan's spending plan suggests he intends to revive debates from last year, including whether the state should create a way to help students pay for tuition to private schools. The governor proposed creating a $50 million pool for tuition grants. The legislature last year resisted using state money to give a tax credit to businesses that donate to private schools.
Another $20 million was set aside in what's known as the "Sunny Day Fund," which is used to induce businesses to stay in the state or expand. In recent years, the fund has either been depleted or lawmakers have used it to bolster a controversial film tax credit.
Separately, Hogan proposed spending $11.5 million on the film tax credit, up from last year.
The governor has proposed eliminating 550 jobs, which would bring the state's workforce to fewer than 50,000 employees. Legislative analysts said that the governor did not specify which agencies would absorb those cuts, nor how many of the jobs are currently occupied.
Patrick Moran, president of the largest state workers union, said the pay bump proposed by Hogan would benefit most, but not all, state employees.
While he allowed that "any raise is a good raise," Moran said the increase wasn't especially generous in view of a large budget surplus and the sacrifices state workers made during recent lean years.
"This is all about marketing and spin," said Moran, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3.
Sen. Andrew A. Serafini, a Washington County Republican on the Budget and Taxation Committee, said the governor's plan was "prudent" and "fulfills what the governor said he would do."
"We would love him to go further on tax cuts," Serafini said. But he said residents will understand the governor's more moderate approach. "They want government to stay within its means."
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
The federal budget deficit is expected to increase this year for the first time since 2009, according to estimates released Tuesday.I suppose when "Republicans" are in power, they can spend as much as it takes to pay off both Republican AND Democrat donors... the kleptomaniacal corporatocracy and its' krony capitalists must not be starved of the funds necessary for their self-replication and GROWTH.
This year’s budget shortfall is expected to rise to $544 billion, about $105 billion more than last year, according to a decade-long economic outlook released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The size of the deficit amounts to about 2.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest level since it peaked at 9.8 percent during the depths of the recession in 2009.
The outlook through 2016, while more grim than those of the last five years, also projects that the overall economy will "expand solidly."
The new estimates mark an abrupt shift from CBO estimates released in August, when the agency lowered its projections for the deficit by about a half-trillion dollars. That figure was a seven-year low for the government’s annual budget shortfalls.
Since then, President Obama and GOP leaders negotiated a massive $680 billion spending and tax package that included retroactive tax breaks for companies and individuals.
Accounting for that legislation, the newest CBO estimates reflect a deficit $130 billion larger than its projections in August.
Another driver of the deficit is steady growth of mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicaid. The costs of those programs will rise $168 billion compared to last year’s spending.
Spending on federal health programs alone — including Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies from the Affordable Care Act — will increase 11 percent compared to 2015 levels.
Discretionary spending is also expected to grow in 2016, with $32 billion more budgeted this year than the previous year. That increase largely stems from the 2015 budget deal struck by congressional leaders in November.
The congressional budget scorekeeper also offered a dimmer forecast for economic growth over this year: It's now estimated at 2.7 percent growth, down from its 3 percent projection last August.
Within 10 years, the deficit will grow to $9.4 trillion – more than a trillion over what had been projected in August, before Congress passed its massive package of tax breaks.
Monday, January 18, 2016
from The American Interest, by Walter Russell Mead
Not since he fought with Nicholas Biddle over the future of the Bank of the United States has Andrew Jackson been this controversial or this central in American political life. Jacksonian populism, the sense of honor-driven egalitarianism and fiery nationalism that drove American politics for many years, has never been hated and reviled as often as it is today, and many American academics and intellectuals (to say nothing of Hollywood icons) are close to demanding that Jacksonian sentiment be redefined as a hate crime.
For President Barack Obama and his political allies in particular, Jacksonian America is the father of all evils. Jacksonians are who the then Senator had in mind when, in the campaign of 2008, he spoke of the ‘bitter clingers’ holding on to their guns and their Bibles. They are the source of the foreign policy instincts he most deplores, supporting Israel almost reflexively, demanding overwhelming response to terror attacks, agitating for tight immigration controls, resisting diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, supporting Guantanamo, cynical about the UN, skeptical of climate change, and willing to use ‘enhanced interrogation’ against terrorists in arms against the United States.
He hates their instincts at home, too. It is Jacksonians who, as I wrote in Special Providence back in 2001, see the Second Amendment as the foundation of and security for American freedom. It is Jacksonians who most resent illegal immigration, don’t want to subsidize the urban poor, support aggressive policing and long prison sentences for violent offenders and who are the slowest to ‘evolve’ on issues like gay marriage and transgender rights.
The hate and the disdain don’t spring from anything as trivial as pique. Historically, Jacksonian America has been the enemy of many of what President Obama, rightly, sees as some of America’s most important advances. Jacksonian sentiment embraces a concept of the United States as a folk community and, over time, that folk community was generally construed as whites only. Lynch law and Jim Crow were manifestations of Jacksonian communalism, and there are few examples of race, religious or ethnic prejudice in which Jacksonian America hasn’t indulged. Jacksonians have come a long way on race, but they will never move far enough and fast enough for liberal opinion; liberals are moving too, and are becoming angrier and more exacting regardless of Jacksonian progress.
Just as bad, in the view of the President and his allies, Jacksonians don’t have much respect for the educated and the credentialed. Like William F. Buckley, they would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the phonebook than by the Harvard faculty. They loathe the interfering busybodies of the progressive state, believe that government (except for the police and the military) is a necessary evil, think most ‘experts’ and university professors are no smarter or wiser than other people. and feel only contempt for the gender theorists and the social justice warriors of the contemporary classroom.
Virtually everything about progressive politics today is about liquidating the Jacksonian influence in American life. From immigration policy, touted as ending the era when American whites were the population of the United States, to gun policy and to regulatory policy, President Obama and his coalition aim to crush what Jacksonians love, empower what they fear, and exalt what they hate.
Jacksonian America is many things; well organized isn’t one of them. Jacksonians are found in both political parties; most are habitually indifferent to national politics, seeing all politicians as equally corrupt, equally useless. Other than the NRA, there are not many national organizations organized around the promotion of a Jacksonian agenda. In the world of think tanks and elite media, the Jacksonian voice is seldom heard and never heeded.
It is hard for Jacksonians to mobilize politically. Neither party really embraces a Jacksonian agenda. Combining a suspicion of Wall Street, a hatred of the cultural left, a love of middle class entitlement programs, and a fear of free trade, Jacksonian America has problems with both Republican and Democratic agendas. Any Jacksonian political movement will start as a party insurgency, and the Jacksonians will on the whole be less well funded, less experienced and less institutionally powerful than their party opponents. Jacksonians are neither liberal nor conservative in the ways that political elites use those terms; they are radically egalitarian, radically pro-middle class, radically patriotic, radically pro-Social Security. They are not, under normal circumstances, joiners in politics; they are individualists who organize in response to threats, and their individualism goes to their stands on what outsiders sometimes think are the social issues that unite them.
Many Jacksonians, for example, are not evangelicals and not even Christian at all. While some are strongly anti-abortion, others believe that individual freedom makes abortion nobody’s business but their own. Some stand strongly behind the drug war; many indulge in recreational drugs and some Jacksonians grow or manufacture them, much like the moonshiners who have been evading ‘revenuers’ since the Washington administration.
There’s another obstacle in the face of a Jacksonian rising: Jacksonians have been hard hit by the changes in the American economy. The secure working class wages that underpinned two generations of rising affluence for the white (and minority) industrial working class have disappeared. That isn’t just about money; the coherence of Jacksonian communities and family life has been seriously impaired. These are the points Charles Murray makes in his harrowing Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010; they have been recently reinforced by studies documenting a holocaust of lower and lower middle class whites.
These devastating changes, utterly ignored by an upper middle class intellectual and cultural establishment that not so secretly hopes for a demographic change in America that will finally marginalize uncredentialed white people once and for all, make Jacksonians angry and frustrated, but they also make it harder to develop an organized political strategy in response to some of the worst and most dangerous conditions faced by any major American demographic group today. Strong in numbers (though not a majority), awakening to a new sense of anger and endangerment, Jacksonians are still groping for a movement and a program.
What we are seeing in American politics today is a Jacksonian surge. It is not yet a revolution on the scale of Old Hickory’s movement that transformed American politics for a generation. Such a revolution may not be possible in today’s America, and in any case the current wave of Jacksonian activism and consciousness is still in an early and somewhat incoherent phase. In the past, moderate leaders on the center left and center right alike have found ways to capture Jacksonian energy. FDR was able to steal the demagogic energy of Huey Long; Richard Nixon marginalized George Wallace even as he responded to some of Wallace’s concerns about bussing and crime. (He did not, however, give way to Wallace on the core issue of racial equality.)
Donald Trump, for now, is serving as a kind of blank screen on which Jacksonians project their hopes. Proposing himself as a strong leader who ‘gets’ America but is above party, Trump appeals to Jacksonian ideas about leadership. Trump’s Jacksonian appeal has left the Republican Party in deep disarray, demonstrating the gulf between contemporary conservative ideology and Jacksonian nationalism. Indeed, one of the reasons that Trump hasn’t been hurt by attacks that highlight his lack of long term commitment to the boilerplate conservative agenda (either in the social or economic conservative variant) is that Jacksonian voters are less dogmatic and less conservative than some of their would-be political representatives care to acknowledge. Jacksonians like Social Security and Medicare much more than most Republican intellectuals, and they like immigration and free trade much less.
Whatever happens to the Trump candidacy, it now seems clear that Jacksonian America is rousing itself to fight for its identity, its culture and its primacy in a country that it believes it should own. Its cultural values have been traduced, its economic interests disregarded, and its future as the center of gravity of American political life is under attack. Overseas, it sees traditional rivals like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran making headway against a President that it distrusts; more troubling still, in ISIS and jihadi terror it sees the rapid spread of a movement aiming at the mass murder of Americans. Jacksonian America has lost all confidence in the will or the ability of the political establishment to fight the threats it sees abroad and at home. It wants what it has always wanted: to take its future into its own hands.
The biggest story in American politics today is this: Andrew Jackson is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.
Friday, January 15, 2016
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
Defendant Allegedly Received Money from Individuals Overseas to be used for “Operational Purposes” in the United States
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Mohamed Elshinawy, age 30, of Edgewood, Maryland, with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization; providing and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; terrorism financing; and making false statements in connection with a terrorism matter. The indictment was returned late on January 13, 2016.
The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland; Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin; and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Baltimore Division.
“This case demonstrates how terrorists exploit modern technology to inculcate sympathizers and build hidden networks, but federal agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly and using every available lawful tool to disrupt their evil schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenstein.
“According to the allegations in the indictment, Elshinawy conspired to provide material support to ISIL and received funds in order to carry out an attack,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “When confronted by the FBI, he lied in order to conceal his support for ISIL and the steps he took to provide material support to the deadly foreign terrorist organization. This indictment is the next step in holding Elshinawy accountable. The National Security Division remains committed to protecting the nation from terrorist threats, and we will continue to pursue and disrupt those who seek to provide material support to ISIL.”
The four-count indictment alleges that from February 2015 through about December 11, 2015, Elshinawy conspired with others to provide material support and resources, including personnel, services (including means and methods of communication) and financial services, to ISIL. Elshinawy and his co-conspirators utilized various methods of surreptitious and other forms of communication in order to conceal their criminal association, the substance of their communications and their criminal activities from law enforcement.
As part of the conspiracy, Elshinawy and Co-conspirator 1, an Egyptian national and childhood friend of Elshinawy, allegedly recruited and sought to recruit others to join ISIL and further its cause of violent jihad. Elshinwy and Coconspirator 1 also provided themselves as personnel to assist ISIL. The indictment alleges that on Feb. 17, 2015, during a discussion with Co-conspirator 1 over social media, Elshinawy pledged his allegiance to ISIL, described himself as its soldier, asked Co-conspirator 1 to convey his message of loyalty to ISIL leadership and commitment to perpetrating violent jihad. From March 11, 2015, through May 29, 2015, Elshinawy had several discussions over social media with an individual believed to be his brother, during which Elshinawy repeatedly encouraged his brother to join ISIL. During the conversations, Elshinawy also spoke of his support for ISIL and his desire to become a mujahideen and die as a martyr. Over the course of the conspiracy, Elshinawy and Co-conspirator 1 discussed obtaining or making an explosive device and possible targets.
To conceal his illegal activities, the indictment alleges that Elshinawy purchased a cell phone, which he registered under a fake name and address, to communicate securely with Co-conspirator 1 and other ISIL operatives. Elshinawy also directed his brother to take steps to conceal their communications regarding ISIL. In an effort to conceal his connection to ISIL operatives, Elshinawy removed the name of an ISIL sympathizer from his list of friends on his social media account and blocked Co-conspirator 1’s access to that same account.
According to the indictment, Elshinawy received money from overseas through transfers of funds by a company headquartered overseas into his online financial account, wire transfers and other methods to be used to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL. On July 17, 2015, in an effort to conceal and minimize his criminal involvement with ISIL, Elshinawy falsely claimed to FBI agents that he had only received a total of $4,000 from an ISIL operative overseas, and later amended the statement by falsely claiming that he had received no more than $5,200 from the ISIL operative.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to provide and for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization is 15 years in prison; the maximum sentence for collection of terrorism financing is 20 years in prison; and the maximum sentence for making false statements in a terrorism matter is eight years in prison. If convicted, Elshinawy’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. No court appearance has been scheduled. Elshinawy has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 11, 2015, on related charges.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Carlin commended the FBI for its work in the investigation, and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian of the District of Maryland who is prosecuting the case, with assistance provided by Trial Attorneys John Gibbs and Jason Denney of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
STANFORD – As 2016 begins, an historic contest is underway over competing development models – that is, strategies to promote economic growth – between China, on the one hand, and the US and other Western countries on the other. Although this contest has been largely hidden from public view, the outcome will determine the fate of much of Eurasia for decades to come.- Francis Fukuyama
Most Westerners are aware that growth has slowed substantially in China, from over 10% per year in recent decades to below 7% today (and possibly lower). The country’s leaders have not been sitting still in response, seeking to accelerate the shift from an export-oriented, environmentally damaging growth model based on heavy manufacturing to one based on domestic consumption and services.
But there is a large external dimension to China’s plans as well. In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced a massive initiative called “One Belt, One Road,” which would transform the economic core of Eurasia. The One Belt component consists of rail links from western China through Central Asia and thence to Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. The strangely named One Road component consists of ports and facilities to increase seaborne traffic from East Asia and connect these countries to the One Belt, giving them a way to move their goods overland, rather than across two oceans, as they currently do.
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which the US earlier this year refused to join, is designed, in part, to finance One Belt, One Road. But the project’s investment requirements will dwarf the resources of the proposed new institution.
Indeed, One Belt, One Road represents a striking departure in Chinese policy. For the first time, China is seeking to export its development model to other countries. Chinese companies, of course, have been hugely active throughout Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade, investing in commodities and extractive industries and the infrastructure needed to move them to China. But One Belt, One Road is different: its purpose is to develop industrial capacity and consumer demand in countries outside of China. Rather than extracting raw materials, China is seeking to shift its heavy industry to less developed countries, making them richer and encouraging demand for Chinese products.
China’s development model is different from the one currently fashionable in the West. It is based on massive state-led investments in infrastructure – roads, ports, electricity, railways, and airports – that facilitate industrial development. American economists abjure this build-it-and-they-will-come path, owing to concerns about corruption and self-dealing when the state is so heavily involved. In recent years, by contrast, US and European development strategy has focused on large investments in public health, women’s empowerment, support for global civil society, and anti-corruption measures.
Laudable as these Western goals are, no country has ever gotten rich by investing in them alone. Public health is an important background condition for sustained growth; but if a clinic lacks reliable electricity and clean water, or there are no good roads leading to it, it won’t do much good. China’s infrastructure-based strategy has worked remarkably well in China itself, and was an important component of the strategies pursued by other East Asian countries, from Japan to South Korea to Singapore.
The big question for the future of global politics is straightforward: Whose model will prevail? If One Belt, One Road meets Chinese planners’ expectations, the whole of Eurasia, from Indonesia to Poland will be transformed in the coming generation. China’s model will blossom outside of China, raising incomes and thus demand for Chinese products to replace stagnating markets in other parts of the world. Polluting industries, too, will be offloaded to other parts of the world. Rather than being at the periphery of the global economy, Central Asia will be at its core. And China’s form of authoritarian government will gain immense prestige, implying a large negative effect on democracy worldwide.
But there are important reasons to question whether One Belt, One Road will succeed. Infrastructure-led growth has worked well in China up to now because the Chinese government could control the political environment. This will not be the case abroad, where instability, conflict, and corruption will interfere with Chinese plans.
Indeed, China has already found itself confronting angry stakeholders, nationalistic legislators, and fickle friends in places like Ecuador and Venezuela, where it already has massive investments. China has dealt with restive Muslims in its own Xinjiang province largely through denial and repression; similar tactics won’t work in Pakistan or Kazakhstan.
This does not mean, however, that the US and other Western governments should sit by complacently and wait for China to fail. The strategy of massive infrastructure development may have reached a limit inside China, and it may not work in foreign countries, but it is still critical to global growth.
The US used to build massive dams and road networks back in the 1950s and 1960s, until such projects fell out of fashion. Today, the US has relatively little to offer developing countries in this regard. President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative is a good one, but it has been slow to get off the ground; efforts to build the Fort Liberté port in Haiti have been a fiasco.
The US should have become a founding member of the AIIB; it could yet join and move China toward greater compliance with international environmental, safety, and labor standards. At the same time, the US and other Western countries need to ask themselves why infrastructure has become so difficult to build, not just in developing countries but at home as well. Unless we do, we risk ceding the future of Eurasia and other important parts of the world to China and its development model.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
While the Labor Department reported 292,000 net new jobs in December, the U.S. labor-force participation rate, 62.6%, has remained at near record lows after more than five years of steady decline. It increased a bare tenth of a percent over November. Meanwhile, labor-force participation in Great Britain stayed flat through the downturn; and for 25 to 54 year olds, it increased 2.2 percentage points from 2000 to 2014. Over the same period in the U.S., the labor-force participation from ages 25 to 54 dropped 3.1 percentage points.The problem isn't government assistance. The problem is corporate monopolization of the private sector. Where are all the small businesses and their employee's? The legal and tax systems favor "too big to fail".
Running New York City’s welfare program for six years in the Bloomberg administration until 2013 taught me that employment is central to the well-being of families and the economy. The fact that so few Americans are holding or actively seeking a job is a serious problem, especially for those at the bottom.
I am not an economist, but one likely reason for the dismal labor-force participation is that many U.S. assistance programs act more like work replacements than work supports. The U.K., by contrast, has been more active in pushing recipients toward employment.
In a study published last month, University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan concludes that in response to the recession, several U.S. safety-net programs changed in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance, for example, was made more generous in multiple ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.
The U.K.’s fiscal “stimulus” took a very different path. Increases to benefit programs were smaller, Mr. Mulligan notes, and largely involved cutting tax rates on income and consumption. To encourage more low-income individuals to work, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith reformed the disability program to make more accurate and frequent assessments of recipients’ ability to work, and imposed benefit caps. He has also begun to roll out the Universal Credit system to help the unemployed find work faster, stay in their jobs longer and earn more.
“The American stimulus reduced average incentives to be employed” during the recession, Mr. Mulligan writes, “whereas the British stimulus did the opposite.” His research suggests that as of 2013 incentives to work in the U.S. still remained below what they were in 2007.
Mr. Mulligan is not alone. President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers acknowledged in its 2015 Economic Report of the President that among the factors fueling the U.K.-U.S. divergence were British policy changes that “introduced more stringent job-search requirements for some welfare recipients.”
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, in a September 2014 speech cited reforms to Britain’s welfare system as a possible explanation for why the U.K. labor market is outperforming America’s and Europe’s. Increasing employment is vital for the flourishing of American families. Only 3% of working-age adults who work full time, year-round, are in poverty. To help low-income Americans move up, the U.S. should take a page from the British playbook by sending strong messages about the importance of work.
Consider the 45 million recipients of food stamps. While touring the country with the National Commission on Hunger, I often heard from recipients that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was good at providing electronic-benefit transfer cards, but not so effective at helping them get a job. This fall the Obama administration launched a SNAP Employment and Training Center of Excellence, dedicated to helping food-stamp recipients obtain jobs. This may be an indication that the White House has awakened to the program’s shortcomings.
A clear expectation of having to work is the most effective way to move recipients of public assistance into employment. States should receive bonuses for finding work for their food-stamp recipients and refer all able-bodied adults applying for benefits to an employment program. The states also should establish performance contracts based on job placements for all government contractors who provide job-placement services.
Over the past decade, some U.S. benefits have become easier to obtain without having to comply with paperwork, employment or training requirements. This may have reduced what advocates for these changes call “barriers to assistance.” But the British experience shows that proper reforms of the safety net can help individuals return to work—which is crucial for lifting them and their families out of poverty.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Friday, January 8, 2016
Here's the first time...
from Gateway Pundit
from Gateway Pundit
The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley reported on the State Department’s latest release of emails from the private home brew server used exclusively by former Obama secretary of state Hillary Clinton during her four-year tenure from 2009-2013.
Included in the CBS report by Nancy Cordes was an email exchange via the home brew server between Clinton and her Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan, a loyalist who now works for Clinton’s presidential campaign, in which Clinton demands Sullivan email a statement housed on the State Department’s classified email system with the apparent subject matter of then Secretary General of the Organization of American States Jose Miguel Insulza. Clinton’s email has a date stamp of 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, February 10, 2010.
Sullivan refused, saying he could not access the statement on the classified system and would have to wait until it was declassified.
“Cordes points to one exchange in which Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan tells Clinton he can’t forward her a document she wants because it’s “on the classified system.”
“Clinton writes back, “It’s a public statement! Just email it.”
“Sullivan responds, “Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified email system, there is no physical way for me to email it. I can’t even access it.””
Email image via the Daily Caller.
Shannen W. Coffin, a former George W. Bush administration attorney, wrote at the National Review on Tuesday that Clinton’s direct exchanges via her home brew server with Tony Blair while he was a special envoy for the Middle East Quartet Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were automatically deemed classified by an executive order issued in 2009 by President Barack Obama declaring information received from foreign government officials was considered classified.
Coffin noted that the emails were redacted for public release by the State Department with markings noting that much of the information in the emails from Blair to Clinton were deemed classified at the moment they were received by Clinton on her home brew server regardless of whether they carried classification notices.
“Blair e-mailed Clinton again the next day, copying Sullivan, Clinton’s aide, apparently on a private e-mail account of his own. The entirety of that e-mail has been redacted from public disclosure as part of the FOIA release. Why? Because it has now been acknowledged as classified information and formally marked “Confidential” by State Department reviewers. The markings that accompany the redactions (which took place just this week as part of the release) explain that the redacted portion is classified under parts 1.4(B) and 1.4(D) of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526. Thus, it falls within the categories of information classified as “foreign government information” — 1.4(B) — and information relating to “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources” — 1.4(D).
“Those markings are relevant because they blow up the Clinton campaign’s insistence that Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues did not know that the information at issue was classified at the time. Clinton is, of course, correct that the e-mails were not formally marked classified at the time they were exchanged, but that is only the result of a failure by Mrs. Clinton and her staff to mark them and handle them through the proper channels used for such foreign communications. The information contained in the e-mails was plainly classified at the time they were sent and received — by order of the president.
“Executive Order 13526, issued by President Obama at the beginning of his term, addresses the classification and handling of national-security information. It provides that “foreign government information” — which includes “information provided to the United States Government by a foreign government or governments, an international organization of governments, or any element thereof, with the expectation that the information, the source of the information, or both, are to be held in confidence” — must be treated as classified. The president made a determination in the Executive Order that disclosure of these confidential foreign communications “is presumed to cause damage to the national security.”
“Since a reasonable expectation of harm to the national security is the threshold for whether to classify information, the president’s determination necessarily establishes the classification of any foreign communications provided to the U.S. with the expectation of confidence. The Executive Order leaves no doubt on this point, when it directs that an agency “shall safeguard foreign government information under standards that provide a degree of protection at least equivalent to that required by the government or international organization of governments that furnished the information.”
Sean Davis writing at The Federalist reported that several emails initiated by Clinton were later redacted by the State Department with notations that the information in the emails was deemed to have been classified on the day Clinton sent the emails.
As The Gateway Pundit has reported, Clinton was trained in 2009 in the handling and protection of classified information by the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Also, Clinton was one of a select few high ranking government officials granted authority by Obama to exercise “Original Classification Authority” to classify national security information on sight.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Congressman Andy Harris’ Statement on President Obama’s Executive Action on Gun Control
WASHINGTON, DC: Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement of his executive actions on gun control:
“President Obama’s executive actions on gun control infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing to prevent the true origins of gun violence. Cities such as Baltimore, Washington, and Chicago have among the strictest gun control laws and background check systems – and yet have among the highest gun violence rates in the country. If the President was truly serious about protecting American lives he would get serious about the threat of terrorism. I will continue to work to support the rights of every American under the Second Amendment and to resist what I believe are the many unilateral unconstitutional actions taken by the current administration.”