It is all in the timing to create a crisis Via Daily Mail A brownstone owned for decades by director Spike Lee’s father was tagged Friday with graffiti only days after his famous son went on a long-winded rant against gentrification in New York City. The Brooklyn home was spray painted with the words ‘do […]
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Spike Lee’s Father’s Brooklyn Brownstone Was Tagged With Graffiti Only Days After His Famous Son’s Rant
The FCC, the agency with the power to determine whether or not a radio or TV station is permitted to broadcast, is undertaking a “study” to (in their words): “chart a course to a more effective delivery of necessary information to all citizens“ In order to “chart a course” to this lofty goal they will […]
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December 31, 1983
Could have been a great commercial . . . if they sang it in English. Allen West says it best: I’m watching the Super Bowl, looks like good defense (Seattle) is trouncing good offense (Denver) when a Coca Cola commercial came on and it started rather patriotically with the words of “America the Beautiful.” Then […]
I’ll confess my bias up front: I’m a fan of Peter Schiff. He’s the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. and a successful author of several books. He’s perhaps best known as the man whom the experts laughed at in 2006 when he said that the housing bubble was about to burst, which I chronicled in this post . I don’t agree with everything Schiff says, and he strikes me as the sort who is not always politically correct, but I learn things listening to his radio show and think he’s a bright, insightful guy with a free-market outlook that I appreciate. So I am especially distressed to see how Schiff was misused by the clowns at Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Here’s the clip, which portrays Schiff as a clueless aristocrat who wants to put the mentally disabled into virtual slavery: The Daily Show Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes , The Daily Show on Facebook The whole thing is worth watching for the utter arrogance of the harpy (Samantha Bee) conducting the interview. But here is the key exchange that seems to have people in an uproar: BEE: Give me a picture of a person whose work would be worth $2 an hour. SCHIFF: You know somebody who might be? Maybe somebody who is, uh, you know, what’s the politically correct word for mentally retarded? You know, what’s the new . . .? BEE: [sporting a look of disgust] Okayyyy . . . Schiff sets the record straight in his latest column : When I accepted “The Daily Show”’s invitation to be interviewed about my opposition to a minimum wage increase, I knew that I was walking into a trap. But given how counterproductive I know such an increase would be to those the law proposes to help, I took the risk anyway. Of the more than four hours of taped discussion I conducted, the producers chose to only use about 75 seconds of my comments. Of those, my use of the words “mentally retarded” (when Samantha Bee asked me who might be willing to work for $2 per hour – a figure she suggested) has come to define the entire interview. Although I had no intention of offending anyone, I just couldn’t remember the politically correct term currently in use (it is “intellectually disabled”). Assuming she knew it, Bee could have prompted me with the correct term, but she chose not to. By including those comments in the final package, “The Daily Show” proved that they did not care who they offended, as long as they could make me look bad in the process. The volume of hate mail I have received in the show’s aftermath confirms their success on that front. Well, of course she didn’t provide the term. Anyone who watches the clip can easily see that she is far more interested in being snide than in getting an honest point of view. And by the way, “mentally retarded” is the term used by the government. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to Schiff: When asked the $2 per hour question, I responded that very few individuals would take a job at that pay, even if it were legal. In a free market, businesses compete for customers by keeping prices down, and for labor by keeping wages up. Any employer offering even low-skilled workers just $2 per hour would be outbid by others offering to pay more. However I did suggest two groups of people who might be willing to work for $2 per hour. The first group — which was edited out — was the unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. (In fact, “The Daily Show” staffer who booked me, and who was present during the interview, had been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern). Since many interns work for free, $2 per hour would be an improvement. Some interns are even willing to pay to work. Since employers are afraid to hire them without pay for fear of violating labor laws or inviting lawsuits, they often hire young people working for college credit. These individuals are forced to pay college tuition to get a job they could have had for free had there been no minimum wage. The other group was the intellectually disabled, who are in fact already exempt from the current minimum wage law by federal regulation . Although many have taken my support for this exemption as some sort of advocacy for modern slavery, I offered good reasons for the rule. While saying nothing about any person’s value as an individual or a human being, it is undeniable that the intellectually disabled have, in general, fewer marketable skills than the general population. Anyone arguing otherwise is just speaking from emotion. If an intellectually disabled person can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage. I further explained that since such individuals typically live with their parents or other caretakers, they are not working to support themselves or anyone else. They are working for the self-esteem associated with having a job — the pride of working and making a contribution. Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all. You know who agrees? As Schiff suggests, the answer is the federal government . The following quote is from a Department of Labor Fact Sheet (.pdf) on the policy that allows employers to apply for a certificate to pay certain disabled workers a wage less than the minimum wage, including those who suffer from the disability of — drumroll please — “mental retardation”: Section 14(c) of the FLSA authorizes employers , after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages – wages less than the Federal minimum wage – to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed . The certificate also allows the payment of wages that are less than the prevailing wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed on contracts subject to the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA). A worker who has disabilities for the job being performed is one whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those relating to age or injury. Disabilities which may affect productive capacity include blindness, mental illness, mental retardation , cerebral palsy, alcoholism and drug addiction. There is an audible gasp when Schiff mentions the concept that the work of the “mentally retarded” might be worth $2 an hour. But the federal government itself — the Department of Labor — recognizes that if a disability such as “mental retardation” “actually impairs the worker’s earning or productive capacity for the work being performed” then a wage lower than the standard minimum wage is appropriate. Samantha Bee doesn’t tell the Daily Show audience that, because in cutting up four hours of Q&A to make Schiff look as bad as possible, she is looking for shock value. She wants something that will make people laugh and be outraged at the rich guy. She’s not interested in something like truth. But don’t bother getting all outraged at Samantha Bee or Jon Stewart. They’re just comedians, you see. As Jim Treacher once explained: I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with him trying to have it both ways, being an increasingly self-righteous advocate and yet deflecting criticism with “It’s just a comedy show!” . . . I don’t think he necessarily needs to choose between pundit and comedian. He can do both. Just maybe not in the same breath. It was maddening when he lectured those guys and they wanted to talk to him about it, and he kept going, “Wait, I’m just a comedian!” Clown nose off, clown nose on, clown nose off, clown nose on. I expand on the concept here, in a post titled I Always See the Clown Nose on Jon Stewart . I say to Peter Schiff: the same concept that applies to Jon Stewart applies equally to Samantha Bee. These people like to pretend like they are the ones telling the real truth. Clown nose off. Until you take their mocking “journalism” and hold it to the standards that real news organizations abide by, and show how dishonest they have been. Then, they will say they are just a comedy show. Clown nose on. The solution, as I suggested in my 2009 post, is to treat them like comedians all the time. If they ever try to make a serious point, just say: who gives a rat’s ass what you think? You’re just a comedian. It is, perhaps, Schiff’s idealistic mistake to have talked to these people in the first place — and, having chosen to do so, it was almost certainly an additional error to treat them like people who might listen to him seriously and give him a fair chance to make his points. Instead, every answer of his should have been prefaced with: “You probably won’t understand this because you’re just a comedian who is here to unfairly edit me and mock me, but . . .” and then give his answer — and then insist on recording the whole thing himself and releasing the tape. That could have been funny and we might have all had some fun at their expense. But Schiff thought the subject was important enough to try to evade their trap and make some important points. Lesson learned, Peter, I guess. Next time, always see the clown nose on Jon Stewart.
As promised, this is my post addressing Robin Abcarian’s kinda sorta defense of her recent column. As you know, I recently blasted Abcarian on her partisan discussions of Benghazi and the IRS scandal, in two posts. Part One is here , and Part Two is here . The summary is here . The closest Abcarian came to defending her column was to retweet creepy banned troll timb: You’ll be shocked to learn that the evidence provided in the links does not show that I was wrong or that Abcarian was correct. The links back up what I originally said: while words like “progressive” or “occupy” showed up on BOLO (be on the lookout) lists, there is no evidence that they were used to actually target left-leaning groups. Moreover, there is no truth to Abcarian’s implication that the Inspector General did not look at the targeting of progressive groups because Issa gave him directions to focus only on conservative groups. The beginning of the first link sounds concerning, as lefty Sam Stein and his pal Michael McAuliff portray the matter: The inspector general behind the critical report about the IRS’ targeting of tea party groups acknowledged Thursday that the information in his report was not complete. J. Russell George, the IRS inspector general, told the House Oversight Committee that only in the past few weeks has he become aware of documents showing that the IRS screened progressive groups in addition to conservative ones. George said he was “disturbed” by the fact that these documents were not provided to his team of investigators prior to the audit’s release and that he was continuing to investigate the issue. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But if anyone reads the piece all the way through — and, more importantly, actually reviews the testimony that is the subject of the piece — one comes away with quite a different impression: namely, that the IRS told George that the groups they had actually targeted for extra scrutiny were tea party and conservative groups . . . and that the numbers bear this out. While it is true that George said the IRS had not disclosed all relevant documents before the audit was completed, there is no evidence whatsoever that the IRS’s treatment of left-leaning and right-leaning groups was equivalent, as Abcarian claimed. The thrust of the reporting at the two links centers around the testimony of Inspector General Russell George at a July 18, 2013 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rather than relying on the lefties at HuffPo for the content of that testimony, I offer to you the official testimony itself. It’s all on YouTube videos at this House.gov link . George’s testimony, before he was questioned, is here . Here is a critical quote from George: With respect to the 298 cases that the IRS selected for political review as of the end of May 2012, three have the word “Progressive” in the organization’s name. Another four used quote “Progress” Unquote. None of the 298 cases selected by the IRS as of May 2012 used the name “Occupy.” I know you have questions and so do we on the other Be On the Look Out listings, but from the date of the May 17th, 2012 document until we issued our report one year later, IRS staff at multiple levels concurred with our analysis citing “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” and “9/12” and certain policy positions as the criteria the IRS used to select potential political cases. Here’s how the HuffPo lefties characterize that: George spent his testimony and statement defending some of the original findings. He noted that of the 298 cases provided by the IRS for his office’s review, 96 of them involved tea party or conservative groups. Seven involved ones with “progressive” or “progress” in their name. Note how Stein and McAuliff partially obscure the fact that only three groups targeted had the word “progressive.” Three . And none had the word “occupy.” None. Stein does not mention that, either. The above quote from George makes it clear that according to the IRS itself , the additional scrutiny was targeted at tea party and similar groups. George made clear in his testimony that he didn’t set out to limit his audit to tea party and conservative groups, and that his report focused on the treatment of those groups because those are the groups that the IRS said they had set aside for increased scrutiny . This fact was reinforced by Assistant Inspector General Gregory Kutz in a statement made at 46:33 in this video (which has only 415 views as of the publication of this post) from the hearings: I just want to say, what Mr. George submitted at the beginning of the hearing is called the BOLO Advocacy Cases iterations. It was given to us May 17, 2012 and represented by the IRS to be the entire set of BOLOs that were used for political advocacy. We’re not making this up, we submitted it for the record. If IRS was doing something beyond that, they never made it apparent to us in an entire year of doing an audit. So I just want to make that clear. If other people were misused, we’re very concerned about that, but IRS is the one that asserted to us in this email and the document that Mr. George submitted for the record that the entire population of BOLOs used for political advocacy is on the document that says “tea parties” until Lois Lerner changed it to “advocacy” in July 2011. I just want to make that clear. That’s a key piece of evidence for us and they never changed their story for a year. When Ms. Lois Lerner came up May 10 she didn’t apologize for anything else except what the evidence that she gave us. I just want to make that clear to everybody. This is a point that bears repeating, I think. Once again: Lois Lerner kicked off public interest in this by apologizing for the treatment of Tea Party groups. From USA Today , May 12, 2013: The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for subjecting Tea Party groups to additional scrutiny during the 2012 election, but denied any political motive. Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews . Her remarks, which came at an American Bar Association gathering, were first reported by the Associated Press. Lerner didn’t apologize for targeting progressive groups. She apologized for targeting tea party and 9/11 groups. As for Stein’s second link, this quote, I think, says it all: Congressional Republicans have continued to argue that the screening was politically motivated, scandalous and worth further investigation. They’ve noted, correctly, that more conservative-leaning groups received scrutiny than did Democratic ones. And they’ve argued that even on the BOLO lists, IRS agents were told to apply enhanced scrutiny to Tea Party organizations. Issa spokesman Ali Ahmad told The Huffington Post via email, “There is no comparison between screening applicants for a known bad actor that was having its tax exempt status revoked after inappropriate conduct had come to light with systematic screening for groups who were subjected to inappropriate and disparate treatment above and beyond other groups simply because they had ‘Tea Party’ in their name. The fact that Emerge was initially approved for tax exempt status, but had it revoked after its improper behavior came to light, underscores how much more stringent the IRS was with Tea Party applicants.” So, the claim was that these links would prove I was wrong and Abcarian was right. Is that so? Let’s review what Abcarian said : Sure, conservatives went crazy after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s famous May 2013 audit found the IRS may have flagged groups with “tea party” in their names for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. But that’s because Issa had asked the inspector general to look only at how tea party-affiliated groups were treated. He didn’t care to know, as we later found out thanks to Democrats on his committee, that the IRS was also flagging applications from liberal groups that used terms such as “progressive,” “medical marijuana” or “healthcare legislation.” This was addressed in the testimony, and George said precisely the opposite of what Abcarian claims. I am going to break my Politico boycott here because they have by far the best summary and quote on this particular point : One of the more dramatic moments of the hearing came when Connolly asked George about statements Karen Kraushaar, his top spokesperson, made to the media about the narrow scope of the IRS audit. George said Kraushaar “misspoke” as she sat directly behind him. “It was not with my authorization and she misspoke,” George said. Kraushaar previously told media outlets, including POLITICO, that the inspector general didn’t expand the scope of the audit requested by Issa to include liberal and progressive groups. She said the inspector general was asked “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.” So the testimony at the actual hearing referenced by timb’s link refutes Abcarian’s claim. What happened, as George repeatedly explained at the hearing, was that he was looking at all groups that were targeted, and went where the evidence led him. Robin Abcarian, is that all you got? P.S. I wish I had noted where this came up, but one of the Congressmen made reference to Ms. Lerner’s statement that receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS is a “behavior changer.” That is something first broken on this blog, in this post . The person who gave me that tip — and they know who they are — can be proud that their tip ended up being discussed in a highly public hearing in Congress on an important issue.
Originally posted here:
Refuting Robin Abcarian’s Kinda Sorta Defense of Her Column