The absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.
By Shelby Steele
Two tragedies are apparent in the Trayvon Martin case. The first is obvious: A teenager—unarmed and committing no crime—was shot dead. Dressed in a “hoodie,” a costume of menace, he crossed paths with a man on the hunt for precisely such clichés of menace. Added to this—and here is the rub—was the fact of his dark skin.
Maybe it was more the hood than the dark skin, but who could argue that the skin did not enhance the menace of the hood at night and in the eyes of someone watching for crime. (Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black though we are only 12% of the population.) Would Trayvon be alive today had he been walking home—Skittles and ice tea in hand—wearing a polo shirt with an alligator logo? Possibly. And does this make the ugly point that dark skin late at night needs to have its menace softened by some show of Waspy Americana? Possibly.
What is fundamentally tragic here is that these two young males first encountered each other as provocations. Males are males, and threat often evokes a narcissistic anger that skips right past reason and into a will to annihilate: “I will take you out!” There was a terrible fight. Trayvon apparently got the drop on George Zimmerman, but ultimately the man with the gun prevailed. Annihilation was achieved.
By David S. Fallis, Scott Higham and Kimberly Kindy, Published: February 6
A U.S. senator from Alabama directed more than $100 million in federal earmarks to renovate downtown Tuscaloosa near his own commercial office building. A congressman from Georgia secured $6.3 million in taxpayer funds to replenish the beach about 900 feet from his island vacation cottage. A representative from Michigan earmarked $486,000 to add a bike lane to a bridge within walking distance of her home.
Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have acknowledged the public’s growing concern that they appeared to be using their positions to enrich themselves. In response, the Senate last week passed legislation that would require lawmakers to disclose mortgages for their residences. The bill, known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, would also require lawmakers and executive branch officials to disclose securities trades of more than $1,000 every 30 days. At the same time, the Senate defeated an amendment, 59-40, that would have permanently outlawed earmarks.
The House is scheduled to vote on the Stock Act on Thursday.
Earmarks have long been controversial, with the focus on spending that unduly favors campaign donors or constituents. The Post’s review is the first systematic effort to examine the alignment of earmarks with lawmakers’ private interests.
Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget, and the numbers uncovered by The Post are relatively small in the scheme of the overall Congress, but the behavior by lawmakers from both parties points to a larger issue at a time when confidence in Capitol Hill is at an all-time low.
The congressional financial disclosure system obscures certain relationships. Lawmakers are not required to disclose the addresses of their personal residences or the employment of their children and parents. The lawmakers are also allowed to put properties in holding companies without disclosing the properties’ locations. Current versions of the Stock Act would not change that. To provide a fuller portrait of congressional connections, The Post compared the financial disclosure forms with the public record to track spending on projects near legislators’ properties or on programs employing their relatives.
In interviews, lawmakers said their earmarks were needs brought to them by the city and state officials they represent to help pay for safer roads, nicer neighborhoods or improved local economies. They characterized questions about the nearby locations of their own holdings as irrelevant, insisting there is no conflict. Any potential personal benefit — financial or otherwise — is nonexistent, minimal or secondary to the needs of the public, they said.
S. 1302 / Public Law 112-119 View
To authorize the Administrator of General Services to convey a parcel of real property in Tracy, California, to the City of Tracy.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 341; 2 pages)
H.R. 3248 / Public Law 112-118 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 112 South 5th Street in Saint Charles, Missouri, as the “Lance Corporal Drew W. Weaver Post Office Building”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 340; 1 page)
H.R. 3247 / Public Law 112-117 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1100 Town and Country Commons in Chesterfield, Missouri, as the “Lance
Corporal Matthew P. Pathenos Post Office Building”. (May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 339; 1 page)
H.R. 3246 / Public Law 112-116 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 15455 Manchester Road in Ballwin, Missouri, as the “Specialist Peter J. Navarro Post Office Building”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 338; 1 page)
H.R. 3004 / Public Law 112-115 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 260 California Drive in Yountville, California, as the “Private First Class Alejandro R. Ruiz Post Office Building”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 337; 1 page)
H.R. 2767 / Public Law 112-114 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 8 West Silver Street in Westfield, Massachusetts, as the “William T. Trant Post Office Building”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 336; 1 page)
H.R. 2668 / Public Law 112-113 View
Brian A. Terry Memorial Act
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 334; 2 pages)
H.R. 2660 / Public Law 112-112 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 122 North Holderrieth Boulevard in Tomball, Texas, as the “Tomball Veterans Post Office”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 333; 1 page)
H.R. 2244 / Public Law 112-111 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 67 Castle Street in Geneva, New York, as the “Corporal Steven Blaine Riccione Post Office”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 332; 1 page)
H.R. 2213 / Public Law 112-110 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 801 West Eastport Street in Iuka, Mississippi, as the “Sergeant Jason W. Vaughn Post Office”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 331; 1 page)
H.R. 2079 / Public Law 112-109 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10 Main Street in East Rockaway, New York, as the “John J. Cook Post Office”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 330; 1 page)
H.R. 1423 / Public Law 112-108 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 115 4th Avenue Southwest in Ardmore, Oklahoma, as the “Specialist Michael E. Phillips Post Office”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 329; 1 page)
H.R. 298 / Public Law 112-107 View
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 500 East Whitestone Boulevard in Cedar Park, Texas, as the “Army Specialist Matthew Troy Morris Post Office Building”.
(May 15, 2012; 126 Stat. 328; 1 page)
H.R. 3606 / Public Law 112-106 View
Jumpstart Our Business Startups Ac
(Apr. 5, 2012; 126 Stat. 306; 22 pages)
S. 2038 / Public Law 112-105 View
Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012
(Apr. 4, 2012; 126 Stat. 291; 15 pages)
H.R. 886 / Public Law 112-104 View
United States Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
(Apr. 2, 2012; 126 Stat. 286; 5 pages)
H.R. 473 / Public Law 112-103 View
Help to Access Land for the Education of Scouts
(Apr. 2, 2012; 126 Stat. 284; 2 pages)
H.R. 4281 / Public Law 112-102 View
Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012
(Mar. 30, 2012; 126 Stat. 271; 13 pages)
S. 1710 / Public Law 112-101 View
To designate the United States courthouse located at 222 West 7th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, as the “James M. Fitzgerald United States Courthouse”.
(Mar. 14, 2012; 126 Stat. 270; 1 page)
S. 1134 / Public Law 112-100 View
St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act
(Mar. 14, 2012; 126 Stat. 268; 2 pages)
H.R. 4105 / Public Law 112-099 View
To apply the countervailing duty provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930 to nonmarket economy countries, and for other purposes.
(Mar. 13, 2012; 126 Stat. 265; 3 pages)
H.R. 347 / Public Law 112-098 View
Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011
(Mar. 8, 2012; 126 Stat. 263; 2 pages)
H.R. 1162 / Public Law 112-097 View
To provide the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection, and for other purposes.
(Feb. 27, 2012; 126 Stat. 257; 6 pages)
H.R. 3630 / Public Law 112-096 View
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012
(Feb. 22, 2012; 126 Stat. 156; 101 pages)
H.R. 658 / Public Law 112-095 View
FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012
(Feb. 14, 2012; 126 Stat. 11; 145 pages)
H.R. 588 / Public Law 112-094 View
To redesignate the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge as the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.
(Feb. 14, 2012; 126 Stat. 10; 1 page)
H.R. 3801 / Public Law 112-093 View
Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012
(Feb. 10, 2012; 126 Stat. 8; 2 pages)
H.R. 3237 / Public Law 112-092 View
SOAR Technical Corrections Act
(Feb. 1, 2012; 126 Stat. 6; 2 pages)
H.R. 3800 / Public Law 112-091 View
Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2012
(Jan. 31, 2012; 126 Stat. 3; 3 pages)
The denizens of Capitol Hill are remarkable investors. A new law meant to curb abuses would only make their shenanigans easier.
By JONATHAN MACEY
Members of Congress already get better health insurance and retirement benefits than other Americans. They are about to get better insider trading laws as well.
Several academic studies show that the investment portfolios of congressmen and senators consistently outperform stock indices like the Dow and the S&P 500, as well as the portfolios of virtually all professional investors. Congressmen do better to an extent that is statistically significant, according to studies including a 2004 article about “abnormal” Senate returns by Alan J. Ziobrowski, Ping Cheng, James W. Boyd and Brigitte J. Ziobrowski in the Journal of Financial and Qualitative Analysis. The authors published a similar study of the House this year.
Democrats’ portfolios outperform the market by a whopping 9%. Republicans do well, though not quite as well. And the trading is widespread, although a higher percentage of senators than representatives trade—which is not surprising because senators outperform the market by an astonishing 12% on an annual basis.
These results are not due to luck or the financial acumen of elected officials. They can be explained only by insider trading based on the nonpublic information that politicians obtain in the course of their official duties.
Strangely, while insider trading by corporate insiders has long been the white collar crime equivalent of a major felony, the Securities and Exchange Commission has determined that insider trading laws do not apply to members of Congress or their staff. That is because, according to the SEC at least, these public officials do not owe the same legal duty of confidentiality that makes insider trading illegal by nonpoliticians.
Reference: Issues concerning past Obama Nominees
By David Nakamura and Ylan Q. Mui, Published: December 8
An agitated President Obama accused congressional Republicans on Thursday of not standing up for ordinary Americans after the Senate derailed his nominee to head a new federal consumer protection agency.
At a brief news conference, the president charged that his Republican adversaries were not acting “on the level” after they blocked, by filibuster, his appointment of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“This makes no sense,” Obama declared. “Consumers across the country understand part of the reason we got into the financial mess we did is because regulators are not doing their jobs.”
Two days after signaling that he would make economic inequality a central pillar of his reelection effort, Obama seized the opportunity Thursday to restate his argument that Republicans were not acting in the interest of middle-class Americans.
Governor also OKs legislation to cap attorney fees, use test results to fire teachers
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 7, 2011
Madison – Homeowners who shoot intruders will have new legal protections, under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Scott Walker.
The Republican governor also signed legislation to limit attorney fees in lawsuits – a bill that conservatives said would end frivolous lawsuits but which Democrats said also would end many lawsuits with merit.
Under the intruders bill, courts in most criminal and civil matters would presume that people using deadly force had acted reasonably against anyone unlawfully inside their residence, business or vehicle, whether the trespasser was armed or not.
The proposal is sometimes known as the “castle doctrine,” a reference to the saying that one’s home is one’s castle. The bill passed the Senate and Assembly on bipartisan votes last month.
The legislation is one of 21 bills that Walker signed privately Wednesday after they were passed by the Republican Legislature in October and November.
“By signing the castle doctrine into law, I am standing with those individuals who chose to protect their family and property,” Walker said in a statement.
On Nov. 1, Wisconsin became the 49th state in the country to allow people to carry concealed firearms.
By Jerry Markon, Published: December 8
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. clashed with congressional Republicans on Thursday, defending the Justice Department in the face of criticism of its “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking sting and its refusal to turn over documents on the health-care law adopted last year.
Under exhaustive questioning from the House Judiciary Committee, Holder reiterated that his department would not provide Congress with more information about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s health-care-related role when she was President Obama’s solicitor general. Republicans are seeking internal e-mails and other documents, arguing that Kagan might have to recuse herself from the court’s decision on the health-care law if she was involved in the legislation.
Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s inexcusable for the bureau to use a controversial tactic known as “gun-walking” in its effort to identify and prosecute major arms trafficking networks along the Southwest border. (Dec.
Holder also was grilled over the Phoenix-based Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents targeting drug cartels allowed guns to flow illegally onto U.S. streets and into Mexico. The operation led to a storm of criticism from Republicans, many of whom have urged Holder to resign.
The attorney general, who has resisted calls to step down, said the controversial Fast and Furious tactic known as “gun walking,’’ was “wholly unacceptable” and “must never happen again.” But he also condemned his accusers, saying the congressional investigation of the gun sting has been political and calling for cooperation in fighting firearms trafficking along the southwest border.
“Each of us have a duty to act, and to rise above partisan divisions and politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,’’ Holder said. “The American people deserve better.’’
Tags: Stacking the Deck
By Ed O’Keefe
(Andrew Harrer – BLOOMBERG) Most of the 574,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service complete their appointed rounds and quickly move envelopes and packages to final destinations. But some postal workers steal mail, burn it, hoard it or claim thousands of dollars in fraudulent workers compensation claims, according to a new watchdog report.
There’s a Texas letter carrier who earned $207,706 in fraudulent workers compensation payments after submitting false travel vouchers over five years for approximately 96,000 miles in medical reimbursable transportation claims. Though she submitted a total of 480 travel reimbursement requests, the letter carrier only actually traveled to 13 medical appointments. She was sentenced in August to three years of probation and a year of home confinement, and she was ordered to pay $172,000 in restitution.
Details of the case appear in a semiannual report published this week by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General that reports on dozens of other postal employees who violated policies or broke the law: