Wednesday, October 24, 2012

President Obama's secret kill list | Fox News

NOTE: Judge NAPOLITANO is a libertarian... I agree with him.

President Obama's secret kill list

The leader of the government regularly sits down with his senior generals and spies and advisers and reviews a list of the people they want him to authorize their agents to kill. They do this every Tuesday morning when the leader is in town. The leader once condemned any practice even close to this, but now relishes the killing because he has convinced himself that it is a sane and sterile way to keep his country safe and himself in power. The leader, who is running for re-election, even invited his campaign manager to join the group that decides whom to kill.

This is not from a work of fiction, and it is not describing a series of events in the Kremlin or Beijing or Pyongyang. It is a fair summary of a 6,000-word investigative report in The New York Times earlier this week about the White House of Barack Obama. Two Times journalists, Jo Becker and Scott Shane, painstakingly and chillingly reported that the former lecturer in constitutional law and liberal senator who railed against torture and Gitmo now weekly reviews a secret kill list, personally decides who should be killed and then dispatches killers all over the world -- and some of his killers have killed Americans.

We have known for some time that President Obama is waging a private war. By that I mean he is using the CIA on his own -- and not the military after congressional authorization -- to fire drones at thousands of persons in foreign lands, usually while they are riding in a car or a truck.

He has done this both with the consent and over the objection of the governments of the countries in which he has killed. He doesn't want to talk about this, but he doesn't deny it. How chilling is it that David Axelrod -- the president's campaign manager -- has periodically seen the secret kill list? Might this be to keep the killings politically correct?

Can the president legally do this? In a word: No.

The president cannot lawfully order the killing of anyone, except according to the Constitution and federal law. Under the Constitution, he can only order killing using the military when the U.S. has been attacked, or when an attack is so imminent and certain that delay would cost innocent American lives, or in pursuit of a congressional declaration of war. Under federal law, he can only order killing using civilians when a person has been sentenced lawfully to death by a federal court and the jury verdict and the death sentence have been upheld on appeal. If he uses the military to kill, federal law requires public reports of its use to Congress and congressional approval after 180 days.

The U.S. has not declared war since World War II. If the president knows that an attack on our shores is imminent, he'd be hard-pressed to argue convincingly that a guy in a truck in a desert 10,000 miles from here -- no matter his intentions -- poses a threat to the U.S. so imminent and certain that he needs to be killed on the spot in order to save the lives of Americans who would surely die during the time it would take to declare war on the country that harbors him, or during the time it would take to arrest him. Under no circumstances may he use civilian agents for non-judicial killing. Surely, CIA agents can use deadly force to protect themselves, but they may not use it offensively. Federal laws against murder apply to the president and to all federal agents and personnel, wherever they go on the planet.

Since 9/11, the United States government has set up national security systems that function not under the Constitution, not under the Geneva Conventions, not under the rule of law, not under the rules of war, not under federal law, but under a new secret system crafted by the Bush administration and personally directed by Obama, the same Obama who condemned these rules as senator and then extended them as president. In the name of fighting demons in pick-up trucks and wars that Congress has never declared, the government shreds our rights, taps our cellphones, reads our e-mails, kills innocents abroad, strip searches 87-year-old grandmothers in wheelchairs and 3-year-old babies in their mothers' arms, and offers secrecy when the law requires accountability.

Obama has argued that his careful consideration of each person he orders killed and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. The Constitution provides for no such thing. He has also argued that the use of drones to do his killing is humane since they are "surgical" and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect. And he has argued that these killings are consistent with our values. What is he talking about? The essence of our values is the rule of law, not the rule of presidents.

To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit


Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written six books on the U.S. Constitution. His latest is " It is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Flat Tax Is the Answer | Daniel J. Mitchell | Cato Institute: Commentary

A Flat Tax Is the Answer

by Daniel J. Mitchell

This article appeared on US News and World Report Online on January 31, 2012.

The class-warfare crowd is predictably outraged that Mitt Romney supposedly paid just 13.9 percent of his income to the crowd in Washington. Surely this is a sign of both inequity and iniquity. Meanwhile, previewing a theme for the general election, President Obama said in his State of the Union address that "millionaires and billionaires" should cough up at least 30 percent of their earnings to the IRS.

This is bad policy based on inaccurate data.

Let's deal first with the flawed numbers. Capital gains taxes and dividend taxes are both forms of double taxation. That income already is hit by the 35 percent corporate income tax. So the real tax rate for people like Mitt Romney is closer to 45 percent. And if you add the death tax to the equation, the effective tax rate begins to approach 60 percent.

Here's a simply analogy. Imagine you make $50,000 per year and your employer withholds $5,000 for personal income tax. How would you feel if the IRS then told you that your income was $45,000 and you had to pay full tax on that amount, and that you weren't allowed to count the $5,000 withholding when you filled out your 1040 form? You would be outraged, correctly yelling and screaming that you should be allowed to count those withheld tax payments.

Welcome to the world of double taxation.

The Obama approach is also bad economics. Every economic theory — even socialism and Marxism — agrees that saving and investment are the key to long-run growth and higher living standards. So does it make sense to deprive the economy of productive capital by imposing punitive layers of double taxation? To make matters worse, double taxation means transferring the money to the buffoons in Washington, where it will be squandered on inefficient and wasteful programs.

Europe's welfare states are on the brink of collapse because they adopted the mentality that government spending was better than private saving and investment. Should we copy their failures?

The right way to ensure both fairness and growth is the flat tax. Get rid of the 72,000 pages of corruption and complexity in the Internal Revenue Service code and replace it with a postcard-sized flat tax. One low tax rate with no double taxation. That's good for the economy and competitiveness.

And if Mitt Romney makes 100,000 times more than me, he'll pay 100,000 times more in tax.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jack Welch: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report -

Jack Welch: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report


Imagine a country where challenging the ruling authorities—questioning, say, a piece of data released by central headquarters—would result in mobs of administration sympathizers claiming you should feel "embarrassed" and labeling you a fool, or worse.

Soviet Russia perhaps? Communist China? Nope, that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn't make sense.

Unfortunately for those who would like me to pipe down, the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that's why I made a stink about it.

Before I explain why the number is questionable, though, a few words about where I'm coming from. Contrary to some of the sound-and-fury last week, I do not work for the Mitt Romney campaign. I am definitely not a surrogate. My wife, Suzy, is not associated with the campaign, either. She worked at Bain Consulting (not Bain Capital) right after business school, in 1988 and 1989, and had no contact with Mr. Romney.

The Obama campaign and its supporters, including bigwigs like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, along with several cable TV anchors, would like you to believe that BLS data are handled like the gold in Fort Knox, with gun-carrying guards watching their every move, and highly trained, white-gloved super-agents counting and recounting hourly.

Let's get real. The unemployment data reported each month are gathered over a one-week period by census workers, by phone in 70% of the cases, and the rest through home visits. In sum, they try to contact 60,000 households, asking a list of questions and recording the responses.


Some questions allow for unambiguous answers, but others less so. For instance, the range for part-time work falls between one hour and 34 hours a week. So, if an out-of-work accountant tells a census worker, "I got one baby-sitting job this week just to cover my kid's bus fare, but I haven't been able to find anything else," that could be recorded as being employed part-time.

The possibility of subjectivity creeping into the process is so pervasive that the BLS's own "Handbook of Methods" has a full page explaining the limitations of its data, including how non-sampling errors get made, from "misinterpretation of the questions" to "errors made in the estimations of missing data."

Bottom line: To suggest that the input to the BLS data-collection system is precise and bias-free is—well, let's just say, overstated.

Even if the BLS had a perfect process, the context surrounding the 7.8% figure still bears serious skepticism. Consider the following:

In August, the labor-force participation rate in the U.S. dropped to 63.5%, the lowest since September 1981. By definition, fewer people in the workforce leads to better unemployment numbers. That's why the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in August from 8.3% in July.

Meanwhile, we're told in the BLS report that in the months of August and September, federal, state and local governments added 602,000 workers to their payrolls, the largest two-month increase in more than 20 years. And the BLS tells us that, overall, 873,000 workers were added in September, the largest one-month increase since 1983, during the booming Reagan recovery.

These three statistics—the labor-force participation rate, the growth in government workers, and overall job growth, all multidecade records achieved over the past two months—have to raise some eyebrows. There were no economists, liberal or conservative, predicting that unemployment in September would drop below 8%.

I know I'm not the only person hearing these numbers and saying, "Really? If all that's true, why are so many people I know still having such a hard time finding work? Why do I keep hearing about local, state and federal cutbacks?"

I sat through business reviews of a dozen companies last week as part of my work in the private sector, and not one reported better results in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. Several stayed about the same, the rest were down slightly.

The economy is not in a free-fall. Oil and gas are strong, automotive is doing well and we seem to be seeing the beginning of a housing comeback. But I doubt many of us know any businessperson who believes the economy is growing at breakneck speed, as it would have to be for unemployment to drop to 7.8% from 8.3% over the course of two months.

The reality is the economy is experiencing a weak recovery. Everything points to that, particularly the overall employment level, which is 143 million people today, compared with 146 million people in 2007.

Now, I realize my tweets about this matter have been somewhat incendiary. In my first tweet, sent the night before the unemployment figure was released, I wrote: "Tomorrow unemployment numbers for Sept. with all the assumptions Labor Department can make..wonder about participation assumption??" The response was a big yawn.

My next tweet, on Oct. 5, the one that got the attention of the Obama campaign and its supporters, read: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers."

As I said that same evening in an interview on CNN, if I could write that tweet again, I would have added a few question marks at the end, as with my earlier tweet, to make it clear I was raising a question.

But I'm not sorry for the heated debate that ensued. I'm not the first person to question government numbers, and hopefully I won't be the last. Take, for example, one of my chief critics in this go-round, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Obama administration's Council of Economic Advisers. Back in 2003, Mr. Goolsbee himself, commenting on a Bush-era unemployment figure, wrote in a New York Times op-ed: "the government has cooked the books."

The good news is that the current debate has resulted in people giving the whole issue of unemployment data more thought. Moreover, it led to some of the campaign's biggest supporters admitting that the number merited a closer look—and even expressing skepticism. The New York Times in a Sunday editorial, for instance, acknowledged the 7.8% figure is "partly due to a statistical fluke."

The coming election is too important to be decided on a number. Especially when that number seems so wrong.

Mr. Welch was the CEO of General Electric for 21 years and is the founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.

A version of this article appeared October 10, 2012, on page A19 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Good Read... Why Today’s BLS Jobs Numbers Make No Sense | RedState

Why Today's BLS Jobs Numbers Make No Sense

Every month, we try to break down the monthly employment report from the BLS and analyze it in plain English.  Today's report of September employment is so bizarre that it's hard to comprehend, much less give over.

The BLS puts out two surveys:  1)the establishment survey, which shows the growth in non-farm payroll jobs (as well as a breakdown by specific industry), surveys businesses and 2) the household survey, which measures broad census data, such as total number of employment-age population, size of the labor force, the U3 unemployment rate, and total number of employed and unemployed, surveys individual households.  It's always hard to get a precise picture of the employment situation because you need to conflate data from both surveys; however, the surveys usually complement one another in a coherent fashion.

That is not the case with today's report.

To begin with, we must recognize that we are coasting along near the bottom of the employment nadir – a steep trench that was created by the 2008-2009 recession.  Unlike every other recession, including the one in the early 80s, this one was not followed by a steep climb out of the trench.  We're not even creating enough jobs per month to keep up with the population growth, much less recover the millions of jobs lost in the recession.

Yet, despite the fact that we've added less than 150k jobs during most months of the recovery, and less than 100k during many of them, the U3 rate has steadily declined.  This all made sense because there was an unprecedented shrinkage of the labor force – a symptom of a permanently lethargic economy.   Paradoxically, this led to a steady decline in the unemployment rate as the universe of the job market shrunk.  It's not that the BLS was purposely making Obama look better.  You just needed to look beyond the U3 number to understand how the unemployment rate dropped.

This brings us to the September jobs report.  According to the establishment survey, only 114k non-farm payroll jobs were added last month.  That's well below the 206k increase in the working-age population, according to the household survey.  But once again, the U3 rate dropped, this time down to 7.8%.  As always, I expected this to be the result of a dramatic shrinkage in labor force participation.  Yet, shockingly enough, the labor force actually grew by 418K in September, even more than it shrunk the previous month.

So the labor force shrinks during a month of tepid job growth, and the U3 declines.  Now the labor force grows during a month of tepid job growth, yet the U3 rate….still declines!

The culprit?  Under the "employed" data point of the household survey, you will find that there was an increase of 873k among the ranks of the employed population!  That's the largest gain since the Reagan years when the economy was growing by 6-8%.  We know that the household survey is a different measure of employment with a different methodology than the establishment survey (it's a smaller survey), but when did we ever have such a divergence between the two surveys?

In September 1984, at this time through the Reagan recover, non-farm payroll increased by 311k, well above the 180k increase in working-age population.  The household survey showed an increase of 327k in the employment population, pretty close to the non-farm payroll numbers.  It made sense that the U3 rate dropped to 7.3% from 7.5%.  Today's report is just screwy.

Now BLS solves this enigma for us by explaining that the lion's share of the employment growth comes from part-time jobs:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Now, I have no problem concluding from this report that a surge in people giving up full-time employment in favor of part-time work is endemic of Obama's sickly economy and the new normal of permanent stagnation.  That could still jive with the slow growth in non-farm payroll and 1.3% GDP growth.

However, in order for this to make sense, we would need to see a relatively long-term trend in growth of part-time jobs.  How in the world are we experiencing such wild swings from month to month?  We had 360k people dropping out of the labor force in August; now we have 418k reentering, despite the steady trend towards a smaller workforce.

Most of all, how do you have a 600k jump in part-time employment in just one month before the beginning of retail season with nobody realizing it until the BLS published today's report?  There are times when you see methodological adjustments or population adjustments in the January report, but it is usually accompanied with a footnote.  In order to fully understand the employment situation, we would need to know about any adjustments or at least an explanation of how there was such a precipitous swing towards part-time work in a matter of a few weeks.  Most likely, this month's household survey is just one of those surveys that is a casualty of the margin of error in any sample.

There is no good news in this report from any of the numbers that actually make sense, except for the revisions of the July and August numbers.  There is clearly a statistical anomaly here – one that is skewing the numbers counter to the current trend of the economy.  But somehow, despite the internal numbers of the household survey and the payroll numbers of the establishment survey, the topline U3 number always seems to decline…..

Pay no attention to that 14.7% U6 broader measure of unemployment!

Fuzzy Math?: CNBC Describes New Unemployment Numbers as 'Contradictory'


As soon as ex-General Electric CEO Jack Welch fired off a tweet questioning today's just released "unbelievable jobs numbers," the media went into a frenzy talking about how "conservatives" were launching conspiracy theories. Well, that's handy for the media and the Obama campaign, but it's not just "conservatives" who are confused by a full 0.3% drop in unemployment when only 114k jobs were created.

CNBC is as confused as the rest of us:

Job growth remained tame in September, with the economy creating just 114,000 net new positions though the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent, the first time it has been below 8 percent in 43 months.

The report presented a slew of contradictory data points, with the total employment level soaring despite the low net number.

The falling jobless rate had been a function as much of the continued shrinking in the labor force as it was an increase in new positions.

On the air, CNBC seemed equally perplexed by the biggest one-time drop in the unemployment rate in 29 years!

ABC News' Chris Cuomo is also skeptical of the numbers:



That "not fixed" tag smells a little like sarcasm to me.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the U-6,  the longtime underemployment and unemployment number, remained fixed at a dismal 14.7%.

What this .03% drop means is that the number of unemployed people dropped by 456,000 when only 114k jobs were created--well below the monthly average, and below population growth. Where did 342k people go to lower the number so dramatically just 31 days before a presidential election? Did they retire, leave the planet, die of old age in the unemployment office?

Moreover, just 30 days before the election, 342K people dropped off the unemployment rolls and lowered the unemployment rate to below 8%--a benchmark number vitally important to President Obama who promised his stimulus would ensure we wouldn't hit 8%.

Finally, this is the second hinky looking report/revision from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in as many months. Just days ago, 400,000 jobs were "discovered"--almost the exact number Obama needed to have a record of creating more jobs on his watch than were lost.

The Obama-friendly media is rolling out some very convenient talking points, with NPR crowing in its half-hourly news bulletin: "The unemlpoyment rate is now back where it was in when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009." Except it isn't, exactly.

No one's crying "conspiracy" here, but any journalist worth a damn always remains skeptical and looks to connect the dots of counter-intuitive good news released just weeks away from a major election.

Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC

BLS benchmark revisions: Government finds 386,000 new jobs.

The BLS Just Discovered Almost 400,000 Missing Jobs in Its Rebenchmarking


When it comes to economic data, as with much else in life, the media tends to overweight the new relative to the true. So each monthly jobs report is scrutinized, but later revisions tend to get ignored. Yet today the Burea of Labor Statistics did a rebenchmarking and found 386,000 new jobs.

As you'd expect, that doesn't utterly transform our understanding of the economy. The job market is still weak, all things considered. But it's not as weak as the data we've been seeing imply. And that can help us explain things like "why has the unemployment rate been falling despite weak payroll growth?" or even "how can Mitt Romney be losing with the economy doing so poorly?" The payroll growth maybe wasn't quite as weak as we thought, and the economy overall was perhaps doing a bit better.

And these are just revisions through March. We won't have the real data story of what was going on this fall and summer until long after the election is done, and by then probably it'll just get ignored.

Note that the benchmarking added a net of 386,000 jobs. In gross terms it actually subtracted 67,000 government jobs so the rebalancing of the American economy away from government employment and toward the private sector has actually gone somewhat further than we realized. Note that this also means that the Obama Era has crossed the symbolically important zero line. More Americans are employed today than were when he took office.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Missed Opportunity on Housing Policy | Madison Project

A Missed Opportunity on Housing Policy

There's nothing that exemplifies the deleterious effects of government intervention into the private sector than the housing market.  Bill Clinton's National Homeownership Strategy did to the housing sector what Obamacare will do for the healthcare sector.  His administration created entire offices and programs dedicated to forcing banks to underwrite risky mortgages under the dubious goal of universal home ownership.  Concurrently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought up the lion's share of the subprime mortgage securities and fueled the toxic asset bubble.  The bubble popped, bringing down the entire economy with it.

Investor's Business Daily explains it like this:

When bankers resisted being saddled with so many additional risky loans, Clinton tapped Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take them off their books, while freeing bankers to originate more of the political loans. He directed HUD to hike Fannie's and Freddie's goals for underwriting affordable loans, which remained in force throughout the 2000s.

When the mortgage giants pushed back, complaining it would be hard to meet the higher targets, Clinton pushed them to load up on subprime loans.

He also authorized Fannie and Freddie for the first time to buy subprime securities to earn credits against the HUD goals. The mortgage giants jumped at the chance, since it allowed them to meet the onerous new goals.

A 2005 HUD report attributed the explosion in subprime securities between 2001 and 2004 to HUD's tougher goals, along with tougher CRA enforcement. Between 2004 and 2006, the mortgage giants bought $613 billion, or 20%, of the private-market securities created to meet their demand under HUD rules.

For good measure, Clinton late in his second term installed several of his cronies, including Franklin Raines, on the inside of Fannie and Freddie. They in turn bought loans from Countrywide and other subprime lenders, who signed "fair lending" contracts with HUD obligating them to meet lending quotas.

Thus the government created a feeding frenzy for subprime loans by putting Fannie and Freddie and private lenders in competition through quota systems enforced by HUD and Treasury.

If there is one thing that should be a rallying cry for Romney in this campaign, it is pinning the blame of the economic calamity on the Clinton/Obama housing policies (Obama is continuing all those policies), and pledging to wind down the failed GSEs.  This is especially vital at a time when Obama, with the help of Clinton's hubris, has successfully deflected blame for the economy and foisted it upon his predecessor.

To that end, the Romney campaign released a white paper on housing policy last Friday.  Oddly, they chose to bury it amidst the news of him releasing his tax returns.  However, after examining the white paper it's not hard to comprehend why he chose to bury it.  It says absolutely nothing.

Instead of a wholesale indictment of Obama's coddling of Freddie and Fannie and his continuation of Clinton era "fair lending" and universal homeownership programs, Romney offers a few parsimonious jabs about the "lack of a clear vision" and "poorly administered programs."  He could have ripped Obama for his hand in class action suits against banks for so-called discriminatory lending practices while he was a community organizer in Chicago.  He could have castigated Obama for continuing the juiced up goals of the Community Reinvestment Act that underwrote risky loans.

This is endemic of his entire campaign against Obama.  It's as if he is saying that Obama is a poor and apathetic manager instead of telling the American people that he is a malevolent purveyor of central-planning along with the very failed policies that have led to the housing disaster.

And what about Romney's solution?  Does he promise to wind down Fannie and Freddie?  In what has become his pale-pastel trademark, Romney merely mentions his desire to "reform the GSEs" without ever explaining his plans for reform.

Folks, this is not how you win over Independent and swing voters.

None other than right-wing extremist, John McCain, has a bill (S.693/H.R 1182) that will shut down the GSEs, albeit in a gradual way and with the understanding that they currently back 90% of all mortgages.  His bill would impose a two-year limit on the current conservatorship and chart a course to complete privatization after 5 years.  It would immediately end all affordable housing mandates, force the GSEs to pay back the taxpayer bailout money, cap their maximum portfolio size, reduce their market share and shrink their competitive advantage over private capital.

As Governor Scott Walker said this week, Romney needs to step up his game by showing some fire in the belly.  He must convey a genuine sense of outrage over specific Obama policies that have destroyed specific sectors of the economy.  He must then offer his specific free market solutions and take that ideological contrast straight to the voters.  The strategy of complaining about the general direction of the economy and saying that Obama is in over his head is obviously not working.

A robust assault on housing policy would be a great start.  Housing policy might not sound like a momentous issue, but it was the catalyst of the Great Recession.  The blood of the entire housing and financial meltdown is on the hands of those who subscribe to Obama's housing policies.  It's time someone nail them on it.