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Rand Paul clarifies criticisms of Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney

Rand Paul clarifies criticisms of Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney

By Joseph Lawler

U.S. senator and likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul on Sunday criticized the recent suggestion of another possible GOP hopeful, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, that illegal immigration to the U.S. is an "act of love" rather than a felony.

When you say that entering the U.S. without authorization is an "act of love" but then "you don't follow it up with, but we have to control the border," Paul said, "people think ... that the whole world can come to our country."

 
Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why

piketty

Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why

Will Hutton

Will Hutton

Economist Thomas Piketty's message is bleak: the gap between rich and poor threatens to destroy us

Like Friedman, Piketty is a man for the times. For 1970s anxieties about inflation substitute today's concerns about the emergence of the plutocratic rich and their impact on economy and society. Piketty is in no doubt, as he indicates in an interview in today's Observer New Review, that the current level of rising wealth inequality, set to grow still further, now imperils the very future of capitalism. He has proved it.

It is a startling thesis and one extraordinarily unwelcome to those who think capitalism and inequality need each other. Capitalism requires inequality of wealth, runs this right-of-centre argument, to stimulate risk-taking and effort; governments trying to stem it with taxes on wealth, capital, inheritance and property kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Thus Messrs Cameron and Osborne faithfully champion lower inheritance taxes, refuse to reshape the council tax and boast about the business-friendly low capital gains and corporation tax regime.

Piketty deploys 200 years of data to prove them wrong. Capital, he argues, is blind. Once its returns – investing in anything from buy-to-let property to a new car factory – exceed the real growth of wages and output, as historically they always have done (excepting a few periods such as 1910 to 1950), then inevitably the stock of capital will rise disproportionately faster within the overall pattern of output. Wealth inequality rises exponentially.

The process is made worse by inheritance and, in the US and UK, by the rise of extravagantly paid "super managers". High executive pay has nothing to do with real merit, writes Piketty – it is much lower, for example, in mainland Europe and Japan. Rather, it has become an Anglo-Saxon social norm permitted by the ideology of "meritocratic extremism", in essence, self-serving greed to keep up with the other rich. This is an important element in Piketty's thinking: rising inequality of wealth is not immutable. Societies can indulge it or they can challenge it.

Inequality of wealth in Europe and US is broadly twice the inequality of income – the top 10% have between 60% and 70% of all wealth but merely 25% to 35% of all income. But this concentration of wealth is already at pre-First World War levels, and heading back to those of the late 19th century, when the luck of who might expect to inherit what was the dominant element in economic and social life. There is an iterative interaction between wealth and income: ultimately, great wealth adds unearned rentier income to earned income, further ratcheting up the inequality process.

 
Silicon Valley could force NSA reform, tomorrow. What's taking so long?

mark zuckerberg photos

Silicon Valley could force NSA reform, tomorrow. What's taking so long?

trevor timm

Trevor Timm

Tech CEOs are complaining, but bills are languishing. Time for web companies to pull an OKCupid and call out the NSA

The USA Freedom Act, the only major new bill promising real reform, has been stalled in the Judiciary Committee. The House Intelligence bill may be worse than the status quo. Politico reported on Thursday that companies like Facebook and are now "holding fire" on the hill when it comes to pushing for legislative reform.

The keepers of the everyday internet seem to care more about PR than helping their users. The truth is, if the major tech companies really wanted to force meanginful surveillance reform, they could do so tomorrow. Just follow the example of OKCupid from last week.

Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox browser, was under fire for hiring Brendan Eich as CEO because of his $1,000 donation in support of Prop 8 six years ago, and OKCupid decided to make a political statement of its own by splashing a message criticizing Mozilla before would-be daters could get to OKCupid's front page. The site even encouraged users to switch to another browser. The move made the already smoldering situation explode. Two days later, Mozilla's CEO was out of a job, and OKCupid got partial credit for the reversal.

The leading internet companies could easily force Congress' hand by pulling an OKCupid: at the top of your News Feed all next week, in place of Monday's Google doodle, a mobile push alert, an email newsletter: CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS. Tell them to SUPPORT THE USA FREEDOM ACT and tell the NSA to stop breaking common encryption.

 
Safe and Sustainable Food Gets Big in China

Safe and Sustainable Food Gets Big in China

A string of food scandals and a growing diabetes epidemic are prompting people to rethink the way they consume food. WSJ’s Wei Gu speaks to Joint US‑China Cooperation on Clean Energy's (JUCCCE) Peggy Liu about the new food movement in China.

 
What American Healthcare Can Learn From Germany

What American Healthcare Can Learn From Germany

Olga Khazan

Under Obamacare, the U.S. healthcare system is starting to look more like Germany's. Here's what Germans do right—and how Americans could do even better.

The sickness funds are Germany's version of a “public” health insurance system, and it covers nearly everyone. But a small segment (13 percent) of the population, generally the very wealthy, can opt-out and instead go with the private Krankenversicherung, which follows rules more similar the pre-Obamacare U.S. individual insurance market.

But those differences aside, it’s fair to say the U.S. is moving in the direction of systems like Germany’s—multi-payer, compulsory, employer-based, highly regulated, and fee-for-service.

All things considered, it’s good to be a sick German. There are no network limitations, so people can see any doctor they want. There are no deductibles, so Germans have no fear of spending hundreds before their insurance ever kicks in.

There’s also no money that changes hands during a medical appointment. Patients show their insurance card at the doctor’s office, and the doctors' association pays the doctor using money from the sickness funds. "You don’t have to sit at home and sort through invoices or wonder if you overlooked fine print,” Sophia Schlette, a public health expert and a former senior advisor at Berlin’s National Statutory Health Insurance Physicians Association, told me. That insurance card, by the way, is good for hospital visits anywhere in Europe.

 
Agenda 21: The U.N. Conspiracy That Just Won’t Die

top-box

Agenda 21: The U.N. Conspiracy That Just Won’t Die

In a new report, the Southern Poverty Law Center deconstructs the mythology that has surrounded the sustainability planning program since it was adopted at the U.N. Earth Summit more than 20 years ago.

It’s been called “the most dangerous threat to American sovereignty”; “An anti-human document, which takes aim at Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions,” that will bring “new Dark Ages of pain and misery yet unknown to mankind,” and “abolish golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads,” in the name of creating a “one-world order.”

It’s been the subject of several forewarning books and DVDs; there are organizations dedicated to stopping it and politicians have been unseated for supporting it. Glenn Beck has spent a good portion of his career making people scared of it.

While the name might sound a bit ominous, Agenda 21 is a voluntary action plan that offers suggestions for sustainable ways local, state and national governments can combat poverty and pollution and conserve natural resources in the 21st century. (That’s where the ’21’ comes from. Get it?) 178 governments—including the U.S. led by then-President George H.W. Bush—voted to adopt the program which is, again, not legally binding in any way, at the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

 
Eye of the needle

Eye of the needle

By Louis Putterman, Ph.D

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." So, is dislike of inequality built into the human psyche? Maybe so, but with an awful lot of wiggle room.

Over time, the human stance towards inequality has traveled a long and circuitous path.  Somewhere between the days (some six or seven millions years ago) when we shared an ancestor with today’s chimpanzees, and the time (say, sixty to a hundred thousand years ago) when our more recent ancestors became fully human, we appear to have become an unusually egalitarian species, by the standards of our extended family.  While descended from an ape-like ancestor that was probably family-typical in that it lived in groups with a dominant alpha male and a steep hierarchy, our species as such may at first have lived in remarkably egalitarian groups. 

This notion of egalitarianism in our hunter-gatherer past is inferred in part from studies of the remaining societies in which people live mainly by foraging for wild foods.  Those studies have yielded accounts of cultures in which people bend over backwards to avoid any assertion of being better and thus of deserving a larger share.  We read of hunters who present their catch to the community, or leave it at the edge of the encampment to be fetched by others, and who belittle their achievement.  We read of these successful hunters being given the least or worst part, or even none at all.

 
Gingrich: ‘Nut-cake ideologues’ behind failed Obamacare rollout

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Saturday marks the third and final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Gingrich gives Sebelius parting shot: ‘Nut-cake ideologues’ behind failed Obamacare rollout

By Associated Press

Newt Gingrich isn’t holding back in his criticism of the Cabinet secretary and others behind the troubled rollout of the health care law.

 
Paul: GOP not 'party of fat cats, rich guys and Wall Street'

Senator Rand Paul

Paul: GOP not 'party of fat cats, rich guys and Wall Street'

The senator from Kentucky said the GOP could not be "the party of fat cats, rich guys and Wall Street” and said conservatives must carry messages of justice, concern for unemployed workers and against government surveillance if they want to attract new people to the movement, including young people, Hispanics and blacks.

He added that the conservative movement had never been about rich people or privilege, and said: "We are the middle class.”

 
How Google altered power and politics

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt testifies on the Hill. (Getty)

How Google altered power and politics

Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold

Since opening a one-man lobby shop nine years ago, the search giant has become a corporate power player, spending more than most companies and moving to a White House-sized office.

The company gives money to nearly 140 business trade groups, advocacy organizations and think tanks, according to a Post analysis of voluntary disclosures by the company, which, like many corporations, does not reveal the size of its donations. That’s double the number of groups Google funded four years ago.

This summer, Google will move to a new Capitol Hill office, doubling its Washington space to 55,000 square feet — roughly the size of the White House.

Google’s increasingly muscular Washington presence matches its expanded needs and ambitions as it has fended off a series of executive- and legislative-branch threats to regulate its activities and well-funded challenges by its corporate rivals.

 
BLM releases Bundy cattle after protesters block southbound I-15

bundy412_0.JPG

BLM releases Bundy cattle after protesters block southbound I-15

More than 100 head of Cliven Bundy’s confiscated cattle were released from a corral outside of Mesquite after a 20-minute standoff between angry and armed ranchers and law enforcement officers Saturday.

With rifles pointing toward each side and tensions reaching a critical level, federal land officials backed off and agreed to give up the cattle to Bundy’s family and supporters.

The mid-afternoon release by the Bureau of Land Management was hailed as a victory among supporters who had forced the closure of Interstate 15 after marching to the holding pen on the sides of the highway, although environmentalists condemned the agency’s decision.

The BLM, upset that Bundy has refused to pay about $1 million in grazing fees to the federal government for two decades, had seized at least one-third of his cattle earlier this week in a raging debate that captured national attention and whose purpose was also to protect a critical habitat of the threatened desert tortoise.

 
Black Culture and Progressivism

Black Culture and Progressivism

Clare Sestanovich

What started as a discussion of Paul Ryan's comments has turned into a revealing debate on the nature of liberal politics in the United States.

Over the past two weeks, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait of New York have engaged in a comparatively spontaneous back and forth that has accomplished this to great effect, shedding light on the places where progressives thoughtfully but profoundly disagree. The conversation began with no particular rules in place or end in sight—and their debate has proceeded with the intensity and unpredictability that such an approach entails.

Coates and Chait occupy a similar niche of thoughtful progressive journalism; each freely acknowledges he has been inspired by reading the other’s like-minded work. But for the past several weeks they have not only read each other; they have actively responded to one another. In doing so, they have revealed an important fissure in liberal thought. Coates and Chait are not just splitting hairs; they are two writers with profound agreement on many issues, who have nevertheless arrived at different, and powerfully charged visions of our country's history.

 
Why Hillary v. Jeb Would Be Great for America

top-box

Why Hillary v. Jeb Would Be Great for America

Mark McKinnon

Mark McKinnon

They’re both qualified, respectful of each other (shocker!), and represent the vast majority of middle America. So what’s not to like about another Clinton/Bush race for 2016?

MIDDLE AMERICA—ITS REPRESENTED BY BOTH.

Contrary to the Pavlovian GOP notion of Clinton, she is generally centrist in her views and approach. Thinking of all the possible Democratic alternatives who might win the nomination should she decide not to run, they are mostly much worse for Republicans in terms of policy and politics.

Jeb Bush recently stuck a stick in the GOP beehive on immigration and common core education standards. He had the audacious decency and candor to say that people who came to the Unites States illegally in search of a better life for their children "broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love."  And Bush has been a vocal supporter of education standards that specify what math and reading skills students should achieve in each grade.

Which of course has set off the dog whistles among the local control jihadists in the GOP.

 
Chicago Teachers Union: Improving failed schools full of black kids is RACIST

 Eric Owens

YouTube screenshot/CTUTV1

 Still reeling from the closure of 50 schools in 2013, embattled Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis called the turnaround plan “a slap in the face to those of us who are attempting to negotiate for more resources” and “nothing more than school closings by another name.”

 
The Color of His Presidency

The Color of His Presidency

Optimists hoped Obama would usher in a new age of racial harmony. Pessimists feared a surge in racial strife. Neither was right. But what happened instead has been even more invidious.

A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher’s HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years. The rise of the tea party, explained Maher in a let’s-get-real moment, closing his eyes for a second the way one does when saying something everybody knows but nobody wants to say, “was about a black president.” Both Maher and Kristol carry themselves with a weary cynicism that allows them to jovially spar with ideological rivals, but all of a sudden they both grew earnest and angry. Kristol interjected, shouting, “That’s bullshit! That is total bullshit!” After momentarily sputtering, Kristol recovered his calm, but his rare indignation remained, and there was no trace of the smirk he usually wears to distance himself slightly from his talking points. He almost pleaded to Maher, “Even you don’t believe that!”

“I totally believe that,” Maher responded, which is no doubt true, because every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race. Likewise, every Obama opponent believes with equal fervor that this is not only false but a smear concocted willfully to silence them.

This bitter, irreconcilable enmity is not the racial harmony the optimists imagined the cultural breakthrough of an ­African- American president would usher in. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the sort of racial strife the pessimists, hardened by racial animosity, envisioned either, the splitting of white and black America into worlds of mutual incomprehension—as in the cases of the O. J. Simpson trial, the L.A. riots, or Bernhard Goetz.

 
Are Speculative Bubbles Good?

Are Speculative Bubbles Good?

Are bubbles a destructive sideshow, or were they vital to the creation of railways, radio, and the Internet?

If you glance at history, you can’t avoid noticing that the development and application of groundbreaking technologies is often accompanied by froth in the financial markets: it was true of railways, radio, and, of course, the Internet. But aren’t the bubbles just a destructive sideshow, sparked by the desire of investors to get in on the next big thing?

Despite its association with periods of speculative excess, many other countries envy the Silicon Valley-Wall Street model of financing innovation. Peter Jungen, a venture capitalist who is also on INET’s board, contrasted the American model to the situation in Europe, where, he said, innovation and entrepreneurship were lacking. If Europe were going to catch up with the United States, it needed to encourage the sort of market-based experimentation that takes place on this side of the Atlantic, Jungen argued.

 
What’s it like to take Air Force One?

Air Force One (Katie Zezima)

What’s it like to take Air Force One?

Flying in presidential style means real towels, snacks galore and a whole lot of waiting.

The press sits in what amounts to a first-class cabin (comfy large leather seats) and boards early. When the president touches down in the Marine One helicopter, we all head back out onto the tarmac, watch him board and hustle back. Takeoff happens almost as soon as the president boards.

Then there is the food. On Friday night, I got this text from my mother: "How was the flight? Do they serve snacks???" Yes. Lots of snacks. Even on a short flight to New York we got a light meal (French onion dip and small pieces of toast with cheese melted on them!). Then there are baskets of fruit and candy for the press to knosh on.

 
Frank Rich: Scandal Loves a Clinton

Scandal Loves a Clinton

By Frank Rich

Again? But the harder their enemies hit, the stronger the couple becomes.

The likelihood of her unannounced candidacy has stilled the rest of the slim Democratic field, forged a truce among most of the party’s congenitally warring factions, and induced past Clinton antagonists like David Geffen to disarm. At the fractured GOP, where the presidential timber is as thick as a forest if not as towering, Hillary is also a unifier of sorts as the de facto opponent-in-waiting. And Republicans are fine with that too. With the Clintons, you get scandal and the serious shot at victory that Clinton-scaled scandal seems to promise, even if you have no candidate of comparable stature to pit against them.

The sex talk began after New Year’s. Rand Paul, the closest the GOP has to a presidential front-runner, denounced Bill Clinton’s “predatory behavior” with women on Meet the Press. Fox News played host to Kathleen Willey, whose charge of an Oval Office sexual assault by Clinton, made on 60 Minutes in 1998, remains unsubstantiated, as does her insinuation that he played a role in her husband’s suicide. The Washington Free Beacon, a rising right-wing website, mined the Diane Blair papers, the archives of a deceased political-science professor and Hillary friend held at the University of Arkansas. The most breathlessly bandied discovery: an undated letter to an unknown addressee, circa 1976, in which Bill Clinton, just turning 30, “closed by confessing that he had fallen asleep the night before while reading an erotic love poem from the seventeenth century.” (That would be Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.”) At another right-wing outlet, the Washington Examiner, the pundit Michael Barone alerted his readers in late March that “a decade ago,” Clinton traveled on “the private plane of a man later convicted of having sex with a minor.” It apparently hasn’t occurred to these outraged moral arbiters that the projection of sex scandals onto a couple campaigning as beloved national grandparents—Bill Clinton turns 70 in 2016, Hillary 69—will strike many Americans as ludicrous.

 
Paul, Cruz and Trump gather in NH

donald trump

Paul, Cruz and Trump gather in NH

Paul, Cruz and the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, were among the scheduled speakers at the Manchester event, which is hosted by the conservative groups Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity.

 
Flight MH370 co-pilot tried to make mid-flight phonecall, report claims

Search for missing plane MH370

Flight MH370 co-pilot tried to make mid-flight phonecall, report claims

Malaysian paper says co-pilot's mobile phone was switched on as plane vanished from radar screens near Penang island

The co-pilot of the missing Malaysian airliner MH370 tried to make a mid-flight call from his mobile phone just before the plane vanished from radar screens, according to Malaysian newspaper reports.

The call ended abruptly possibly "because the aircraft was fast moving away from the [telecommunications] tower," the New Straits Times quoted a source as saying.

However, the Malaysian daily also quoted another source saying that while Fariq Abdul Hamid's "line was reattached", there was no certainty that a call was made from the Boeing 777 which vanished on 8 March.

The report - titled a "desperate call for help" - did not say who the co-pilot was trying to contact.

 
Former Justice Stevens Sees Trees But No Forest

Justice Stevens: The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment

By John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010. This essay is excerpted from his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

“a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

 
Unionization would 'destroy' college sports, senators say

Unionization would 'destroy' college sports, senators say

By Sean Lengell

Two Republican senators are warning that allowing college athletes to unionize would "destroy" college sports and "harm the entire U.S. system of higher education."

"While there may be some issues with intercollegiate athletics, the unionization of intercollegiate athletics is not the solution to the problem," Alexander said on the Senate floor. "The College Board estimates that a college degree adds $1 million to your earnings during a lifetime, so the idea that student athletes do not receive anything in return for their playing a sport is financially wrong."

 
Sarah Palin Searches for the Great Outdoors

Sarah Palin Searches for the Great Outdoors

By Alexandra Wolfe

The former VP candidate on politics and social media, running for office again, and her new TV show, 'Amazing America'

Crammed into two tiny rooms with eight other people—including her husband and two handlers—Ms. Palin doesn't want to be "burned" by unflattering photographs, which has happened in the past, she says. Wearing a V-neck shirt, black skinny jeans and a glittering "Girls with Guns" belt and buckle, she also doesn't want to wear the camouflage jacket that the photographer has brought for her, nor will she succumb to his French charm. She certainly doesn't want to perch on any furniture.

As the photographer clicks away, Jason Recher, a former George W. Bush aide and her longtime aide, tries to move things along. "Next frame, next frame, next frame," he says, glancing over the photographer's shoulder. Ms. Palin has a busy schedule this day. She has had back-to-back meetings and appearances, and over the course of the hourlong interview and photo shoot, she drinks several glasses of Diet Coke.

 
Obama Says G.O.P. Moves Will Limit Voting Rights

Obama Says G.O.P. Moves Will Limit Voting Rights

By PETER BAKER

Appearing at the annual convention of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Manhattan, Mr. Obama accused Republicans of trying to rig the elections by making it harder for older people, women, minorities and the impoverished to cast ballots in swing states that could determine control of the Senate.

“The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” Mr. Obama said in a hotel ballroom filled with cheering supporters, most of them African-American. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”

 
Is the tea party running out of steam?

 Is the tea party running out of steam?

 By Linda Feldmann

In Mississippi, the GOP Senate primary is a proxy for the national battle between tea party and establishment Republicans. But tea party favorite Chris McDaniel may be in trouble. 

Fairly or not, the outcome in Mississippi's primary will shape public views of the tea party nationally. If McDaniel beats Senator Cochran, it will be the third election cycle in a row in which a veteran Republican senator loses to a tea party upstart. The headline will read: "GOP establishment fails again to tame unruly hard-liners." If McDaniel loses, claims that "the tea party is fading" will only grow.

But five years after the movement burst onto the national scene, its reality is more complicated. Defying the GOP establishment, tea party muscle has sent some of this era's most charismatic Republican politicians to Washington, starting with Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. They have changed the debate in Washington, polarized their own party, and sharpened gridlock. House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio and the tea party are openly at war.

 
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