Author Archives: Katherine Revello

Unemployment Rate Becomes Political Football

Somewhat unsurprisingly given the intense polarization that exists today, the announcement of the drop in November’s unemployment rate has become a political issue, as both sides of political leadership claim it supports their position in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that during November, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9%. The labor force added 146,000 new jobs last month, but the number of unemployed individuals remained at 12 million.

The BLS stops counting individuals as unemployed after 27 consecutive weeks of joblessness. Essentially, this means the unemployment rate fell because the labor force shrunk.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who has been vocal about the need to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, stated the number proves the economy is improving, but a tax hike on middle class families could reverse the progress.

“There is no doubt our economy is moving in the right direction. The only question is whether Republicans will jeopardize the progress made so far by forcing a $2,200 tax hike on middle class families,” said Reid in a statement released on Friday.

But Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner believes the economic recovery promised by Democrats is progressing too slowly.

“Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable. Today marks the 34th consecutive month of unemployment above eight percent,” said Boehner last Friday.

January 1, the so-called fiscal cliff, marks the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. This will trigger a return to the higher income tax rate of the Clinton era. On the same day, automatic spending cuts will also go into affect.

Democrats, led by Reid and President Obama, want to extend the cuts for families making under $250,000, but let them expire for people making above that rate.

Republicans are seeking to extend the tax cuts for all Americans.

Rhode Island’s Ongoing Christmas Tree Controversy

For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is refusing to call the state’s Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree.

Championing secularism, Chafee is insisting on calling the tree a ‘Holiday Tree’ because he believes that one religion shouldn’t be promoted over another in the Rhode Island State House.

“I did what the previous governor did, called it a Holiday Tree. So this goes back to the 90’s,” said Chafee, whose position has once again, been met with outrage by Rhode Islanders who have pointed out that changing the name does not change the symbol.

Chafee further enraged Rhode Islanders last week when he announced the state’s tree lighting ceremony a mere half hour before the actual event in order to stop protestors from attending. During last year’s ceremony, chaos broke out when protestors began singing “O Christmas Tree” over a children’s chorus.

However, Christmas loving Rhode Islanders have been invited to attend the Fall River, MA tree lighting ceremony by Mayor William Flanagan.

” We just feel all Rhode Islanders were gypped. They didn’t have an opportunity to go to their state house lighting of the tree and enjoy the tradition,” said Flanagan, who also believes Chafee is bowing to political pressure in his characterization of the tree.

But Chafee’s statement that no religion should take precedent in state buildings is undermined by a recent announcement that the state will hold a Menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate the beginning of Chanukah.

Doreen Costas, who protested the “Holiday Tree” controversy last year by holding a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in her office, has pointed out the hypocrisy of this statement, because unlike a Christmas tree, a Menorah is an actual religious symbol.

“If we have a Menorah in the State House, what are we going to call it – a candle with sticks?” said Costas.

For Chafee, the controversy shows no sign of abating.

Super PAC Spending in Maine’s Senate Race

Despite running against spending from non-local groups, Maine’s Senator-Elect Angus King’s campaign benefitted from money spent on his behalf by Super PAC’s.

King’s campaign was opposed to recent campaign finance reform measures that created Super PAC’s. Super PAC’s do not have to disclose their donors and can contribute unlimited amounts of money. However, they cannot give money directly to a candidate.

“Angus is opposed to the involvement of Super PACs in local elections because they have the capacity to wield unprecedented financial influence in campaigns while also shielding certain donor categories from disclosure,” said campaign policy analyst Eliza Bryant.

During the campaign, King attempted to get Republican candidate Charlie Summers and Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill to sign a pledge stating they wouldn’t take money from Super PAC’s.

“It’s kind of ironic that Angus King has run around the state of Maine descrying outside money and how bad it is, yet he’s down in Michael Bloomberg’s living room two days ago raising a half a million dollars,” said Summers during the campaign.

However, Super PAC’s are prohibited from donating directly to political candidates. They can only donate to campaign committees, which are not allowed to coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. Therefore, King has no control over what money Super PAC’s spend advertising for his campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, Super PAC Citizens Elect spent over a million dollars ($1,234,520) on television advertising, polling and media consulting for Angus King. It spent an additional $193,000 on advertising against Charlie Summers. By contrast, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the leading Super PAC contributor supporting Summers, spent only $117,000.

“The majority of the outside money in this election has been spent in attack ads against Angus King. In total, outside influences have spent over $3 million on these ads, comprising 75% of the money that has been spent on ads in this race,” said Bryant.

In total, about $3 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against King. About $1.7 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against Summers. Of the $6.4 million spent on the race, only about 46% of the money spent by Super PAC’s was used for negative ads against King.

Companies Begin Layoffs Following Obama’s Re-election

With the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ looming at the end of the year, many companies had warned that if President Obama were re-elected, they would be forced to lay off workers. Company officials listed the skyrocketing price of health insurance and the taxes contained in Obamacare as a primary reason for job cuts.

Some job cuts are also the result of the likelihood that Congress will be increasing taxes thereby raising the cost of doing business. Other staffing cuts are also an attempt to avert the “fiscal cliff” and the economic reality caused by spending cuts and increased taxation in the Obama-favored budgetary tactic known as sequestration.

And three days after the re-election of the President, many big companies have already kept their promise. Among them are:

  • Energizer, which is restructuring its company, and as a result, announced it expects to lose about 1,500 jobs.
  • Boeing, who expects to shrink their executive staff by roughly 30% at the Boeing Defense, Space & Security unit.
  • US Cellular, who is moving manufacturing plants out of Chicago, and as a result will cut roughly 640 jobs in the area. Overall, the company estimates it will cut 980 jobs, about 12% of its workforce.
  • Power tool giant Husqvarna, who is cutting around 600 jobs, a move that they expect will save them roughly $33 million per year.
  • Darden Restaurants, which owns popular chains like the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse. They are expected to cut back the hours their employees work to 28 hours per week. The Obamacare law defines full time employees as working 30 hours a week. The law requires full time employees to have employe-provided healthcare, or the company must pay a fine.
  • Murray energy corp will layoff more than 120 employees to avoid expenses due to Obama regulations and taxes
  • Welch Allen will layoff 275 employees (10% of their workforce) as a “pro-active response” to taxes in Obamacare
  • Dana Holding Group – auto parts manufacturer will make numerous cuts in response to $24 million in costs due to Obamacare
  • Stryker will be eliminating 5% of its workforce (1,170 jobs) due to additional taxes in Obamacare
  • Boston Scientific will be dropping between 1,200 and 1,400 jobs and shifting operations to China to avoid Obamacare taxes
  • Smith & Nephew will drop 770 jobs
  • U.S. Cellular will eliminate 980 jobs
  • UtahAmerican Energy will cut a huge number of jobs as “204 American coal-fired plants” are shut down by 2014 – basically maiming the coal-mining industry
  • Lockheed Martin is expected to notify 123,000 employees of coming layoffs
  • Consol Energy to layoff 145 employees
  • much, much more coming…

These are just a few of the big companies affected. Many other smaller companies are also saying they will have to either cut back employee hours or fire some of their employees. Other companies are closing plants in an attempt to save money.

Target has already announced the closing of several locations, including a store in Kissimmee, Florida. Kmart is another company that has announced its intention to close several stores.

These announcements come on the heels of two very grim days for the stock market. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 2.4%, which is the fifth worst single day drop in history. The S&P 500 also fell 2.37%. The markets continued to plummet on Wednesday. The Dow fell another 0.94%. And the S&P fell another 1.22%.

Investors cite concerns over Europe’s struggling economy and President Obama’s re-election. It is believed that Obama does not have a serious plan to regrow the economy or control the United State’s burgeoning debt.

 

Conservatives- It’s Time to Stand Up

There are a lot of different factions being blamed for Mitt Romney’s loss last night- the media, voter intimidation, fraud, the Tea Party.

None of these is the real reason. The right wing continues to lose because we continue to care about what other people think about our identity. Pundits say we’re racists, we push Marco Rubio and Mia Love to the front of the party. Pundits say we’re too extreme, we run a moderate in an attempt to assuage independent voters.

When are we on the right going to stop worrying about public opinion? As long as we allow others to define our party’s image and message, and focus on identity politics and not message, we are going to lose. And deserve to.

Time after time, we run moderate candidate after moderate candidate, arguing we’ll appeal to more people.

And does it work?

No. Not only did Mitt Romney lose last night, but nearly every conservative running for Congress, except for Michele Bachmann, was defeated.

People had a hard time believing Romney as a person? No wonder. He was running as a conservative, a moderate, and a centrist. He can’t really hold all of those positions. Of course he’s going to come off as fake.

And the idea that conservatives can’t win because of their religious social positions is absurd.

Exactly how is making no exception for rape or incest any more extreme than believing in partial birth abortion, or late term abortion? It’s not. They’re both legitimate arguments. Yet, Barack Obama supports third trimester abortions, and no one screams about how evil he is.

The only reason this is an issue is because of fear mongering from the media.

As Barack Obama stated in his race against John McCain, when you can’t run on a record, you make issues out of nonissues. Sound familiar?

And yet, the main stream media is continuing to spin the race. MSNBC started talking about how the evil right wing gun nuts were going to rise up against Obama even before the results had finished coming in.

Enough of the rhetoric. Our silence, and our willingness to let these pundits frame political talking points, is only making this worse. It’s also helping us lose elections. How much time did we spend talking about social issues instead of the economy?

Conservatives- it’s time to stand up and say enough. It’s time to stop letting others define our values. It’s time to stop being distracted by racial, gender and class politics.

It’s the only way we can win.

 

 

Electoral College Analysis: Forecasting a Romney Victory

Up until the first presidential debate, polling for Romney looked pretty bleak. Recently, there’s been a recent Romney surge in polling on the popular vote. But this close in the election, is it enough for Romney to win?

Let’s take a look at the state of the polls.

The following map from Real Clear Politics shows the breakdown of states that are either solid or leaning Republican or Democrat, as well as swing states.

According to this morning’s Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll, Wisconsin has Obama and Romney tied at 49%. Last week, Obama had a 2 point margin over Romney. Given that Wisconsin is quite literally, the home of the progressive movement, this is an impressive swing.

(There are many who would dismiss Rasmussen’s polls as ‘right leaning’ or ‘suspicious’ because they don’t release their methodology. However, during the past two election cycles, Rasmussen has been the most accurate polling outfit, which gives some legitimacy to their poll numbers.)

If Mitt Romney can win Wisconsin, he scores a major victory over Obama.

Two other important swing states are Virginia and Florida.

Depending on the poll, Romney has anywhere from a 1 point to a 5 point margin over Obama in Florida. The Real Clear Politics Average has Romney up by 1.8 points.

Romney is also currently up by 2 points in Virginia according to Rasmussen.

To clench the electoral college, Romney must win both Florida and Virginia. Florida has 29 electoral votes, and Virginia has 13.

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes. If Romney wins Virginia, Florida and Wisconsin, along with the solidly Republican states in the South, he has 243 of the 270 electoral votes he needs to win.

In swing state North Carolina,  Romney has been ahead consistently in the polls for the past month. Colorado also has had Romney up, albeit by a slim margin. If Romney takes both of these states, he adds another 24 electoral college votes, giving him 267 of the 270 needed to win.

Of the remaining swing states, Obama is ahead in Nevada by about a 2 point spread. He holds Michigan by between 3 and 7 points, depending on the poll.

In New Hampshire, Obama is currently up by 1.1 points, according to the RCP average. However, Rasmussen has Romney up by 2.

If Romney wins all of the swing states mentioned above, then he only needs New Hampshire’s 4 electoral votes to put him at 271 electoral votes- 1 vote over the 270 needed to win.

Even if Obama wins Pennsylvania, where he’s up by 5, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Nevada, along with the solidly Democratic state, he only has 267 electoral votes.

The map below depicts this outcome.

The result of this scenario is a Romney presidency. It would be historical in that, for the first time since 1972, the presidency could be won without Ohio.

Obviously, this is only one of many scenarios that could unfold on election night, and it is a bit of a stretch for Romney- his triumph depends on a series of wins in tough battleground states, including some where he’s currently behind in the polls. But it is possible. And much more likely than polling from a month ago shows. And with just under two weeks until the election, it may become more likely.

Romney needs to focus on messaging as election approaches

What’s the first thing people think about when someone mentions Mitt Romney? It seems to be something along the lines of he has great hair and is generally considered to be a nice guy. He may be the nicest guy in the world, but kindness doesn’t stop rogue regimes from committing acts of war; bold words backed up by action do. And that precisely is Mitt Romney’s problem- his messaging is virtually nonexistent. Considering how close the election and debates are, this is a serious problem. Romney’s favorite ice cream flavor may be vanilla, but to win this election, he must be anything but. And he needs to start doing that immediately.

Of the many things Barack Obama can be accused of, blandness is not one of them. After running on the promise of change, he delivered. From day one, he’s been clear about his policy goals, and for the most part has accomplished them. And he stands by his policies.

Does Mitt Romney have any policies? Yes, but do most voters know what they are? And why isn’t he articulating them in his television appearances and ads? Yes, this election is a referendum on Obama’s policies. But a referendum is only effective if an opponent provides a clear contrast; a choice. How can Americans make a choice if they’re unsure about what the opposition plans to do once he gains office?

To see how much Romney’s murky message has hurt his campaign one need look no further than polling on the economy, the biggest issue of the election. Romney is a highly successful business owner. Obama was a community organizer, and since assuming the presidency has had 43 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent. Logically, based on past experience, Americans should trust Romney to handle the economy. Yet, Romney leads by a slim margin. Why? We know Obama’s plan- a combination of raising taxes on the wealthy and various government investments to jump-start the economy.

So far, Mitt Romney’s platform for spurring economic growth consists of an 87 page long, 59 point plan. What average, working American with a family has time to read that? Chances are, not very many. No wonder Mitt Romney has such a slim advantage over Obama in polling cataloguing trust in handle the economy. How can you trust someone if they don’t tell you what they’re going to do?

And if Mitt Romney really wants the full support of conservatives, who are still highly suspicious of him, he needs to stand for something. He can’t give speeches after momentous healthcare legislation is upheld by the Supreme Court and make milk toast speeches about repealing but replacing some aspects of that legislation. He can’t speak in generic, politically correct platitudes. He can’t be afraid of offending some special interest group- they’re going to find something to be offended about. The same holds true if he really wants to bring moderate and swing voters into the 2012 Republican fold. He needs to be himself- advance the policies he believes will benefit the country and stick by them.

In the end, most Americans understand they’re not going to agree with everything a candidate stands for, but character matters. For the most part, Americans would rather hear a strong advocate for something they disagree with than the incoherent question-dodging of politicians hoping to avoid saying something real and in doing so dissuade someone from voting for them. Americans are not that easily fooled, and don’t like being treated as if they are.

That’s why Romney needs to actually start standing up for something, anything. He comes across as distant from the American people because by attempting to appease various voting blocks his character is lost and ends up standing for nothing. And all the money in the world can’t buy enough 30-second ad spots to make up for this. Only Mitt Romney, the real Mitt Romney, can do that.

Allen West responds to Obama’s U.N. address

Earlier today, President Obama addressed the United Nations General Council in New York. Amonsgst other things, Obama addressed the “Innocence of Muslims” Youtube video, supposedly responsible for the recent anti-American uprisings in the Middle East. Obama stated “The future must not belong to those who slander the propher of Islam,”

Watch the comment in context below:

And Florida Congressman Allen West, never one to mince words, responded with outrage, stating his response  to the uprisings would be in the form of an “Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle,”

Read the note, posted to his Facebook page, in its entirety below:

In his speech today to the United Nations, President Obama stated six times that the attacks across the Islamic world are attributed to a silly video. Furthermore, he refused to use the words terrorist attack in referring to what occurred in Benghazi Libya at our US Consulate on the 11th anniversary of 9-11. He continues to offer up apologies instead of defending our hard earned First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. There is no message to this silly video trailer, and it is beneath the dignity and esteem of the Office of the President of the United States to mention it at all. When tolerance becomes a one way street it leads to cultural suicide. I shall not be tolerant of the intolerant. I know about the UN Resolution 1618 which would make any statement deemed by the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) “offensive’ to Islam a crime…..NOT ON MY WATCH FELLAS!

My statement to the United Nations would have been, “The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence”

Job Creation: The True Narrative

There’s been a lot of hype about job creation in the news lately.

The Obama administration is basking in the glow of Friday’s report from the U.S. Labor Bureau that unemployment has made the monumental leap from 8.3% down to 8.1% (still a lot higher than the 6% we were told the stimulus would bring).

And the prevailing rhetoric at the recently concluded DNC, other than the insistence that free, Constitutionally-guaranteed contraception is the only issue women care about (and as a strong, independent woman, what else am I to do but run to the federal government when the big, bad Republicans deny it to me?) was the insistence that under a Romney-Ryan administration, all the jobs would be shipped overseas and the middle class would be left to rot in the streets, and under Paul Ryan’s plan, without even Medicare or Social Security to sustain them.

Because as Bill Clinton assured us, Democrats have created twice as many jobs as Republicans since 1961. (And we all know, Bill Clinton would never lie, especially not under oath.)

Unfortunately for the folks at the DNC, Political Math put together the following chart, using statistics from the Bureau of Labor:

Obviously, Bill Clinton paints a wildly different story than the facts do. Yes, Democrats have created slightly more jobs since 1961, but much of that has to do with the state of the economy when they took office.

But, since Obama likes to whine about how much worse the economy was than he could possibly imagine, let’s take a look at his job creation compared to the man he likes to both demonize and emulate- Ronald Reagan. Despite the absolute trainwreck of an economy Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter, he managed to create 16.7 million jobs in his two terms. In comparison, Obama created 0.1 million as of May 2012. In the first 23 months of the Reagan recovery, an average of 285,800 jobs per month were added to the economy. During the same time period under Obama, an average of 23,000 jobs per month were added.

How did Reagan do it? Tax cuts (yes, even for those evil rich people who ‘don’t need them’) and ‘trickle down fairy dust’. Not the ‘wild eyed socialism’ Obama ascribes to Reagan. Perhaps President Obama should tone down the class rhetoric and fearmongering and take a page from the Reagonomics book.

Obama Releases Ad Questioning If Romney Paid Taxes

Amidst the controversy over Harry Reid’s claim that a Bain Capital employee told him Mitt Romney has failed to pay taxes over the past 10 years, President Obama has remained noticably silent.

Until now.

A new ad entitled ‘Son of Boss’ released by Obama for America ominously questions whether Romney has paid 10%, 5% or 0% of his taxes.

The ad, which is specifically approved by Obama, also attempts to make a connection between Romney’s refusal to make his tax records public and the Son of Boss tax shelter scandal.

The Marriott family, owners of Marriott international, used the Son of Boss tax shelter from1993 to 1998, an action that the IRS labeled abusive. At the same time period, Romney sat on the Marriott board of directors, as he is friends with the Marriott family.

Because Romney was the audit chair at the time, he would have had to approve the transaction. The Obama for America ad uses this to insinuate that Romney may have also used the tax shelter, and that is the reason for his refusal to release his tax returns.

 

IRS Punishes Excellence: The Tax Burden on Olympic Athletes

This week, the best of American athletes, who’ve spent years putting hard work and effort into training for their respective sports, are in London for the Olympics.

It’s a wonderfully capitalistic competition- the best, the most talented, the hardest working from around the world competing to see who is the best. Excellence is rewarded with medals, international recognition and the personal satisfaction of knowing that your dedication has propelled you to victory.

Yet, how does America, the supposed bastion of the free market, reward the excellence of their athletes upon their return home?

By taxing them of course.

United States tax law states that U.S. athletes, who face a top tax rate of 35%, must add their Olympic medals and prizes to their taxable income.

Americans for Tax Reform notes that a gold medal is worth $675, a silver medal is worth $385 and a bronze medal’s worth is under $5.

Their is also a cash prize that accompanies each medal won- $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

The following chart, from Americans for Tax Reform, shows the tax burden, graduated by medal type, that athletes pay on each individual medal they receive:

  Medal Tax Prize Tax Total Tax Burden
 

Gold

 

$236 $8,750 $8,986
 

Silver

 

$135 $5,250 $5,385
Bronze $2 $3,500  

$3,502

This astounding tax on excellence is made even worse by the fact that U.S. athletes are virtually the only competitors who are taxed for their winnings, because the U.S. is one of the only countries that taxes worldwide income- income earned overseas by taxpayers.

However, Tea Party favored Florida Senator Marco Rubio is making an attempt to end the tax. Calling the American tax code a “complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success”, Rubio introduced a bill that would end the tax on Olympic medals.

Martin Luther King’s Dream in the 21st Century

Martin Luther King had the courage to stand up for what he believed in- the idea that regardless of a man’s skin color, he should be treated equally. He should be judged on his character not his skin tone. It is appalling that in 1963 he should have to make such a statement. Just as it is appalling that in 2012 it is justifiable to call a conservative a terrorist merely because they are conservative.

I have a dream that I and those who believe as I do will not be called names, that our beliefs will not be the subject of fear mongering and vicious slander merely because of their position on the political spectrum. I have a dream that one day, I will be judged on the content of my character, the courage of my convictions and the merits of my beliefs, not a party affiliation.

I have a dream that one day reason will overcome prejudice. That some day a person will look at me and say, “I disagree with your opinion, but I respect your right to express it because I have the same right. And I will debate the merits of your ideas, not attack your character.”

That debate will be arbitrated by the pursuit of truth through ideas, not by the double-speak and half-truths of dishonest politicians seeking support.

That one day the desire to do the right thing, purely because it is the right thing, will be the motivator of public policy, not the desire for power. That men whose ideologies are different can overcome their differences when they agree and work together because it is the right thing to do.

That people idolize the merits of men-  a desire to serve truth,  a commitment to honesty, a dedication to equal justice for all, that they have integrity in all their actions. That they can look at someone they disagree with and say “At least he is living by the principles he believes in” and respect that.

That one day those whose actions are driven by a lust for power, and who believe the ends justified the means will be universally despised, because these actions show no respect for the rights of others.

That change for the sake of change becomes suspicious because there is personal motive behind it. That change be based on objective, rational analysis and a genuine desire to improve.

I dream that we can meet on the battlefield of ideas, where the primary objective is to seek out and serve truth. Where the desire to avoid uncomfortable thought does not trump the pursuit of the truth. Where the fallacies of a man’s argument are willingly surrendered to right.

I dream that one day the motto of all men will be to question with boldness because the truth has no agenda.

Most of all, I have a dream that one day the following statement will be the governing principle in the minds of men when their ideas conflict-

When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will. One of us will win but both of us will profit.-Ayn Rand

This is Martin Luther King’s dream in the 21st century. It is now universally appalling to judge a man because of his skin color. Let’s hope that someday very soon, the same thing can be said for ideologies- that men will be judged on the content and character of their ideas, not becaues they can apply an ideological label to themselves.

Harry Reid in 1995: I Think We Should Audit the Fed


Yesterday the House of Representatives  finally voted on, and passed, Ron Paul’s signature legislation the Audit the Fed bill, by a vote of 327-8. The bill had wide bi-partisan support; 89 Democrats joined all but 1 of the House Republicans in voting for the bill.

Despite the broad bi-partisan support the bill has, it will be dead upon arrival at the Senate, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed not to bring the bill to a vote.

But apparently, that’s not always how Harry Reid has felt about auditng the federal reserve.

Video from 1995 that has recently surfaced shows that at one time, Harry Reid felt very strongly that the Federal Reserve should be audited:

I have sponsored legislation every year that would call for an audit of the Federal Reserve system. I offer that amendment every year, every year it gets nowhere. I think it would be interesting to know about the Federal Reserve. I think we should audit the Federal Reserve — it‘s taxpayer’s money that’s being used there. But we don’t do that.

Watch Reid’s comments, in their entirety, below:

NCAA Decimates Penn State Football, But is it Justified?

A day after Penn State removed its statue of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, the NCAA brought crippling sanctions against Penn State’s football program.

The NCAA fined the program $60 million, a sum equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program, which must be given as endowments to programs preventing child sex abuse. The NCAA also banned Penn State from the postseason for 4 years and will cap the number of scholarships awarded to the program at 20 below the normal level of 85 for 4 years. On top of this, the football program will be under probation for 5 years, and any current or incoming football players are free to transfer and compete at other schools, essentially reducing the entire team to free agency.

Joe Paterno, formerly the winningest coach in college football, will also lose all wins accredited to him from 1998 through 2011, a totall of 112 wins. This makes former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden the winningest coach in college football.

The NCAA also reserves the right to levy additional penalties against Penn State.

These sanctions stop just short of the ‘death penalty’, which would shut down Penn State’s football team, many are calling for on the back of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s conviction for child sex abuse and allegations of cover ups by high ranking school officials, including legendary coach Joe Paterno.

An internal investigation conducted by Penn State reports Joe Paterno not only covered up Sandusky’s abuses, but dissuaded others from reporting incidents to authorities.

Paterno’s family has vehemently denied these allegations, calling into question the objectivity of former FBI director Louis Freeh, who conducted the investigation. The family claims Paterno is being used as a scapegoat, since his death prevents him from defending himself, and maintain Freeh’s findings are an indictment that is unofficial and not representative of the entire truth.

Although the internal investigation suggested Paterno covered for Sandusky, Paterno’s actions in incidents in 1998 and 2001, when he reported his suspicions to authorities in the college, do call this finding into question, as does his willingness to have Freeh investigate.

The point is, there is contention, not clarity, about Paterno’s involvment. And this is a society where a man is innocent until proven guilty, so does Paterno really deserve to have his reputation destroyed before his involvment is conclusively proven?

And even if Paterno and other school officials are guilty, is that really justification for crippling the school’s football program? How does punishing the players vindicate the victims of Sandusky’s behavior or Paterno’s alleged cover ups? The players are not responsible for Paterno’s or Sandusky’s actions.

NCAA president Mark Emmert justified the harsh sanctions against Penn State by stating, “The sanctions needed to reflect our goals of providing cultural change.”

But is ‘providing cultural change’ really the prerogative of a collegiate athletic organization? Or is that the prerogative of the legal system? The NCAA exists to regulate the activity pertaining to the sports clubs within their organization, to make sure the teams play the game honestly and fairly, to make sure the players aren’t being endangered. As Paterno wrote in a letter to the Penn State community before his death, this is not a football scandal. The scandal does not revolve around actions committed when the individuals involved were acting in their capacity as part of the football team. And the football players do not deserve to be so completely decimated because of it.

If it is proven that Paterno is guilty of covering up Sandusky’s crimes, then his reputation as a coach deserves to suffer, since he championed success through honor. But certainly not before anything has been proven. This situation is precisely what John Adams was warning against when he stated that we are a nation of laws, and not men. Jo Paterno, and his football team, deserve to be fairly tried by concrete evidence, not just on the insinuations and allegations of the court of public opinion.

 

Piers Morgan Confronts Justice Scalia on Citizens United

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a rare media appearance yesterday when he sat down for an interview on Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN.

During the interview, Scalia dismissed recent reports that he and Chief Justice John Roberts are feuding over the contentious health care ruling. Scalia also commented on Bush v. Gore, saying he doesn’t regret the decision and told those still upset over the issue to ‘get over it’.

And what rare interview of conservative favorite Antonin Scalia would be complete without an insinuatingly insulting discussion of the Court’s reaffirmation of Citizens United?

Piers Morgan expressed his incomprehension at Scalia’s ‘interpretation of the Constitution’. He believes the decision, which doesn’t put limits on the First Amendment, allows super PAC’s led by millionaires to buy elections. (He conveniently forgets this allows unions to spend enormous amounts of money as well.) He also stated that he doesn’t believe money is speech.

“That cannot be what the Founding Fathers intended. Thomas Jefferson didn’t sit there constructing something that was going to be abused,” Morgan stated. Of course, Thomas Jefferson did not construct the Constitution. (he was serving as the U.S. ambassador to France during the time of the framing)

Scalia, of course, did not back down. “I think Thomas Jefferson would have said the more speech the better. That’s what the First Amendment is all about,”

As for money not being speech, Scalia dismissed the idea, making the point that newspapers frequently endorse candidates, and no one regulates what they spend. “Could you tell newspaper publishers you can only spend so much money in the publication of their newspaper? Would they not say this is abridging my speech?”