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After Controversial ‘Hands Up’ Gesture, St. Louis Rams Donate $50K to Police Charity



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Relations between St. Louis law enforcement and the St. Louis Rams have been cool of late, but this may help. Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The St. Louis Rams presented a $50,000 donation before Thursday night’s game to The Backstoppers Inc., a charity that helps fallen police. The move comes after five players displayed a pre-game “hands up” gesture last month that offended many officers.

The team gave an equal amount to Reinvest North County to help small businesses and schools in Ferguson.

The Backstoppers also supports families of firefighters and EMS officers killed in the line of duty.

It is not an apology, but it might, in the long run, be better.

Portraits in Loyalty



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A $50 contributor to National Review Online’s year-end fundraising drive writes:

As a near minimum wage earner, I’ve made the excuse to myself that I’m poor, and I can leave the donating to wealthier folks. But, after thinking how much time I spend on this website, and how much money I spend on other entertainment, (far too much in both cases) a donation was in the budget. Keep up the good work!

Along with $100, another says:

I’ve trusted NRO with my mind for years.  Now it’s time to start trusting NRO with my money.
Merry Christmas to all of the great writers and staff at NRO

And with $50, another reader notes:

I have been reading since I began picking up hard copies at the Yale co-op in the Fall of 1992. 

Donate here.

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Gruber Documents Subpoenaed



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Representative Darrell Issa, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, has followed up on his vow to get to the bottom of the Jonathan Gruber Mystery. Why did the MIT economist, an architect of Obamacare, refuse over a half-dozen times to provide details of his contracts with federal and state governments on Obamacare? Issa has subpoenaed all of Gruber’s records, although it is highly unlikely they will be delivered before he steps down as chairman in January.

“As one of the architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber is in a unique position to shed light on the ‘lack of transparency’ surrounding the passage of the President’s health care law, however he has so far been unwilling to fully comply with the Oversight Committee’s repeated requests,” Issa said in a statement. “The American people deserve not just an apology, but a full accounting, which Dr. Gruber must provide.”

Gruber is clearly hiding something, as I note in my piece on the homepage. It may be the total amount he collected from the federal government and the states (which some estimate at $6 million). Or it may be the highly derivative and duplicative nature of the work he delivered to some state governments. Or it may be the background of how he got a non-competitive contract from the Obama administration to do economic modeling that would paint Obama in a fiscally sound light. Or it may be the details of how he influenced the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Obamacare with his models while at the same time serving on their health-care advisory panels — in effect, sitting on both sides of the analysis table.

Whatever the reasons, the Issa subpoena calls for delivery of the following:

1. All documents and communications to or from any federal, state, or local government employee, including, but not limited to, any document or communication referring or relating to the Affordable Care Act or federal and state health care exchanges. 

2. All documents and communications referring or relating to funding, for research or otherwise, from any federal, state, or local government agency, including, but not limited to, any contract(s) with a federal, state, or local government agency.   

3. All documents and communications referring or relating to work product produced to any federal, state, or local government agency, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, the results of any and all economic models or simulations. 

Web Briefing: December 19, 2014

Confirmation Bias?



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The Los Angeles Times has an op-ed today that discusses “police shootings of young men of color” in terms of “confirmation bias.” Now, I’m prepared to believe that people tend to perceive ambiguous situations in ways that confirm their existing views, but that seems quite inapposite to, for example, the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. While one can criticize the police response in Mr. Garner’s case, no one misperceived what he was doing or about to do (and there were nonwhites among the police involved there as well as whites), and of course there is no doubt that Michael Brown was a criminal and that there is strong evidence that his being perceived as a threat was, to put it mildly, quite reasonable. 

No, the best example of “confirmation bias” in the headlines today is, instead, the willingness of the Left to swallow hook, line, and sinker the Rolling Stone campus-rape story, as Linda Chavez explains in her column this week.

Oh, and as long as I have the floor, let me link here to a piece I did for NRO in March 2008, right after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave his widely-praised speech in Philadelphia on race relations (prompted by criticism of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, an unpaid campaign adviser and pastor at Obama’s Chicago church). My piece was entitled, “Want to Hear a REALLY Honest Speech about Race in America?,” and with all due modesty I think what it says on race relations in the United States remains true and is quite relevant in light of the ongoing Ferguson protests.

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Surprise: Americans Unlikely to Learn Executive Amnesty Specifics Until After It’s Implemented



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The Department of Homeland Security’s memos outlining the recent executive action on immigration withhold details about new guidelines and regulations the Obama administration will use to implement amnesty, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies. One memo shows how DHS intends to change the definition of a key component of the provisional-waiver program — the element of “extreme hardship” — so as to provide even more protection for illegal immigrants. Another memo directs the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agencies to develop new regulations, revise existing regulations, and seek out other areas where policies can be changed.

In addition, the report suggests, the Obama administration may bypass the public-comment process by which the American people can voice their concerns about new rules. It notes that in 2012, the administration began accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before it had even begun soliciting public comments. “These memos are only the beginning and much more policymaking from the executive branch should be expected,” the report states. “It is very possible that Americans will not know how Obama’s new immigration scheme will operate until it is already up and running.”    

Friday Links



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This video compilation will help you start your day with a smile: dogs that forgot how to fetch.

Ten real stories behind famous food mascots.

Motorcycle doing stunts on a roller coaster.

Funny warning labels.

The origin of the myth of the poisonous poinsettia. Related: why we kiss under the mistletoe and how the plant got that strange name (spoiler — it literally means “dung twig”).

Here are 24 animals that are just trying to stay warm this winter.

ICYMIMonday’s links are here, and include how bourbon and Scotch tape are made, 1964 auditions from The Addams Family (and why their black-and-white living room was really pink), and the cost of 5,000 years of chewing gum.

Not the Highest Form of Patriotism?



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CNN’s Eric Bradner, whose prose makes me suspect that he is some sort of cleverly designed cliché-bot, warns that the CRomnibus fight “offers a grim glimpse at the paralyzing levels of dissent” likely to plague the next Congress.

Grim, is it?

Never mind “the highest form of patriotism,” which is what all the best people insisted dissent was until five minutes ago, there is no way in which what Mr. Bradner calls “dissent” is distinguishable from “democracy.” Mr. Bradner’s assumption that there is a self-evidently sensible strain of “centrism” detectable by CNN reporters and identical to their own sensibilities, and that dissent from the CNN-endorsed weltanschauung constitutes noxious extremism, is one of the oldest forms of political trickery, one to which the Left in its institutional capacity (media, universities, etc.) brings a masterly touch: Set the table and offer a choice of policy entrees ranging from moderately Left to robustly Left. It’s sneaky.

Allowing government spending authorization to expire — it is too much to call these episodes “shutdowns” inasmuch as the government does not shut down — may not be popular, and it may not be politically prudent, but it is not illegitimate. Congress has the power of the purse for good constitutional reasons, and using that power to pursue the policies they think best is the reason we send elected representatives to Washington.

That’s all terribly messy and inconvenient if you think that you have everything already figured out, if you think that governance is a math problem that can be reasoned out in advance by clever kids from Georgetown. Fortunately, our system was designed by men who knew better, and who rather than regarding it as “grim” thought so highly of dissent that they used it as the organizing principle of our national  government. 

GOP Rep: House Leaders Made False Promise to Get My Crucial Vote



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Representative Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.) accused House Republican leadership of reneging on a deal made with him to get his support on a crucial procedural vote that almost killed the $1.1 trillion cromnibus funding bill.

“I was very surprised and even more disappointed to see the cromnibus back on the floor,” Stutzman said in a Thursday evening statement. “The American people deserve better.”

Stutzman was one of the last Republicans to cast his ballot in favor of a rule allowing the House to vote on the cromnibus. National Review Online reported that Stutzman backed the rule at the last minute after leadership told him that they would pull the bill, once the rule was passed, and replace it with a short-term continuing resolution favored by rank-and-file conservatives. With the last-minute help of Stutzman and outgoing representative Kerry Bentivolio (R., Mich.), leadership won the vote 214–212.

“I supported the rule because I was informed by leadership that the cromnibus was dead and a short term CR would take its place,” Stutzman said. 

After President Obama came out in favor of the funding bill, Republican leaders spent the day whipping their members and hoping that Democrats would deliver the requisite number of votes.

“The cromnibus bill, over 1,600 pages long, does many things but what is most important is what it does not do,” he said. “It fails to directly address President Obama’s dangerous executive action on immigration and fails to include many of the solutions that could have been passed in January with a Republican House and Senate in an open process.”

Tags: Budget Battle

The Point of Ferguson Protests Is Disruption



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I understand why people are so upset by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But that message has been well communicated. The protests now ongoing — and I am not discussing the rioting or looting — seem to me to be about causing disruption for disruption’s sake.

That is the subject of my First Things column this week. From the piece:

What is now being accomplished by preventing tired commuters from getting home for dinner? Or by impeding Christmas shoppers at Macy’s? Where is the progressivism in blocking a San Francisco Bay Area freeway for hours last Monday night, requiring the emergency evacuation of a woman in labor from the miles-long traffic jam? No justice, no birth!

It seems to me that these protests are about disruption for disruption’s sake. Blocking roads does not enlighten. Disrespect doesn’t challenge consciences. Using raw mob intimidation to coerce a legal result does not further justice.

I describe how the current howling is reminiscent of the angry — but successful only in the sense of being disruptive — “On strike, shut it down!” protests after the Kent State killings.

Then, as now at Harvard and Columbia law schools, college students demanded freedom not to do their work because of the trauma, and were allowed by spineless administrators to skip exams.

Believe me, we took full advantage of that laxity, whether involved in the protests or not.

I conclude my piece by pointing out that support for these kinds of actions depends on whose ox is being gored: 

It is a telling indictment of our times that Ferguson protesters enjoy media sympathy and the winking encouragement of liberal elected officials up to and including the President of the United States. These same progressive political and media types supported harsh jail sentences for Operation Rescue demonstrators who nonviolently impeded the business of abortion clinics. Disruption mattered then.

And remember the intense media hostility toward the peaceful—and clean—Tea Party protests, whose participants were slandered as somehow racist? It seems social protest is only worthy when it marches on the left side of the road.

That’s life these days in the United States of Double Standards. It’s not a pretty picture.

Boehner: GOP Will Make ‘Direct Challenge’ Of Obama’s Immigration Orders Next Month



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House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) didn’t allow rank-and-file conservatives to attach language targeting President Obama’s administrative amnesty to the just-passed cromnibus spending resolution, but he promised that a “direct challenge” to the executive action is coming.

“With a bipartisan vote, the House has passed a responsible bill to keep the government running and address the American people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a statement following the passage of the bill. “This measure puts us on track to save taxpayers more than $2.1 trillion while protecting jobs and supporting our national defense. In addition, by the House’s action, we are setting up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration next month, when there will be new Republican majorities in both chambers. The Senate should act on this bipartisan legislation in short order.”

Tags: Budget Battle

Jeff Sessions: ‘We Are Going to Fight Harder Than We Ever Have Before’



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Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) faulted the House for passing a $1.1 trillion spending package that does not include “any effective action to block” President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

“We are going to fight harder than we ever have before,” Sessions said in the statement. “Those who think that this issue will recede, or fade away, are mistaken. The voice of the American people will be heard.”

Here is his full statement:

For the sake of the Constitution and our constituents, Congress should fund the government but not fund the President’s unlawful amnesty.  In plain violation of law, the President’s order gives amnesty and work permits to 5 million illegal immigrants – allowing them to take jobs directly from struggling Americans.

Unfortunately, not only has Congress so far not attempted any effective action to block the President’s amnesty, but the legislation that passed tonight funds through September of next year many policies that the House itself rejected only a few months ago.  In effect, the omnibus provides the Administration with billions of dollars to carry out President Obama’s resettlement plan for illegal immigrants in U.S. communities.  The legislation also continues to allow the recipients of the President’s amnesty to receive billions of dollars in government checks in the form of tax credits and to participate in programs through myriad government agencies such as Social Security and Medicare.

The American people are justly worried about their jobs, their schools, and their communities.  They have rightly demanded a lawful system of immigration that serves their interests – not the special interests.  They have correctly pleaded with their lawmakers to finally adopt immigration policies that put their needs – the needs of American citizens – first.  So, to them I say: we are only just beginning.  We are going to fight harder than we ever have before.

Those who think that this issue will recede, or fade away, are mistaken.  The voice of the American people will be heard.

Tags: Budget Battle

Harry Reid Hails House Passage of Cromnibus



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Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) is glad that House Republicans passed the cromnibus spending bill tonight rather than going to their fallback plan.

“It’s not a perfect bill,” Reid said on the Senate floor, per Politico. “But this bill is so much better than a short-term CR.”

Reid has plenty of reasons to be happy. The bill almost failed because of a change to campaign-finance laws that he had inserted into the bill, according to a House Democrat.

“Harry Reid wanted that in because he wants the political parties to take greater control of the electoral process, because if there is a vacuum than individual contributors who have their own agenda — oftentinmes its to deregulate their own industry or to cut their own taxes — they fill up vacuums,” retiring Virginia Representative Jim Moran told reporters after a House Democratic caucus meeting. “So, Reid and [Democratic National Committee chairwoman] Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others want people to be able to contribute to the political parties.”

The campaign-finance change has more often been seen as incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s handiwork. The provision strengthens the ability of leaders in both parties to control their respective campaign processes.

Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) said it wasn’t clear who inserted the controversial provision into the spending package.

“Since no one has taken paternity ownership of these new items, we can’t even identify who ordered them,” Fattah told reporters, referring to the campaign-finance change and the Dodd-Frank rider that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) denounced.

Tags: Budget Battle

House Passes Cromnibus



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An aide to House whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) says that the proposed government funding measure gained Republican support throughout the day today, ahead of the federal government’s running out of funding authorization tonight.

Ultimately, 219 House members voted in favor of the bill and 206 opposed. The House is expected to pass a very short-term continuing resolution to give the Senate time to pass the bill without going through a government shutdown of any duration.

Tags: Budget Battle

Advent Light in Darkness



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These weeks approaching Christmas can be chaotic. Deadlines and to-do lists and people to see and greet and parties and purchases.

To what end? What is it all about? For Christians, it’s preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation of God. Preparing room in our hearts for the Savior of the world to transform out lives has been known to take second seat to the busy-ness of life and the season.

If you happen to be in the nation’s capital this weekend, there is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and go deeper into this season of Advent, and consider what the greatest gift of the season entails.

Br. Athanasius Murphy, O.P., a student friar at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. (yes, they keep busy — do you know about their new CD?), talks with me about the Advent station service that he and some of his fellow friars are putting together this coming Saturday night.

All the logistical details are here. For anyone curious or in need of a little Advent break, read on.

 

KJL: What are “Advent stations”?

Br. Athanasius Murphy, O.P.: Advent stations are a mix of the readings and songs of Lessons and Carols with the movement and pace of Stations of the Cross. During one hour six Dominican priests will read Scripture and preach from different spots around the church. The readings will cover thousands of years of salvation history — from the fall of Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, Abraham’s offering of Isaac, Ezekiel’s vision of the temple, to David’s psalm of kingship (Ps. 110). The traditional “O Antiphons” and “O Come Emmanuel” verses are sung between each station to weave the night together. The whole night leads up to a reading of John’s prologue (Jn 1:1-14) and a veneration of some ancient relics dealing with Christ’s nativity.

 

KJL: Is there one way to do them or are there some options/variations?

BR. ATHANASIUS: I’d say the greatest variety is in the style and type of music and in the choice of readings. There are so many readings in Scripture that point to the coming of Christ in the Incarnation. For this year St. Dominic’s church decided on six passages that show a dramatic step in salvation history or a vision given to a prophet.

 

KJL: What’s important about them? How can they help one prepare for Christmas?

Br. ATHANASIUS: Advent stations can help us see the ways that God wants to talk to us. As humans we live a historical existence. God has chosen to speak to us in that history of ours by signs, wonders, and prophetic visions that lead us to see who Jesus is. Advent stations can help underline that message of God speaking to us in history about His Son and His coming.

 

KJL: What are the highlights of Advent stations?

Br. Athanasius: The big highlights are that most of the night will take place in a dark church with hundreds of candles. There will always be some kind of movement around the church, along with additional candles being lit on the altar after each station is completed. Since we have six Dominican friars preaching for the night, some have called this event the night of the six preachers.

 

KJL: Are there any surprises in the Advent stations?

BR. ATHANASIUS: One surprise is that we’re having the reading for the seventh station of John’s prologue chanted instead of just read. Another surprise is that we’ll have a relic of the True Crib in which Christ was laid two thousands years ago.  

 

KJL: The Stations that most Catholics are used to have to do with sorrow and pain and penance. What’s the Advent difference? Can these Advent stations be seen in any kind of continuum?

BR. ATHANASIUSThe Stations of the Cross that most Catholics know about take place over about six to seven hours of Christ’s earthly life when he was condemned, beaten, and rejected by the Roman soldiers and the people in Jerusalem he had come to save.  The Advent stations are taking place centuries before Christ’s coming in the Incarnation, but you could still see a connection in how God offers His people salvation and tries to communicate His love to them by all these signs, wonders, and covenants he made with them. Both are a story of God’s patience and love for His people.

 

Keep reading this post . . .

Cromnibus Fight Stokes Warren 2016 Talk



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At least one member of the House Democratic caucus suspects that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) worked to scuttle the cromnibus over a proposed change to the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law in order to boost her profile ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I would not be surprised if Mrs. Warren’s position has something to do with the 2016 campaign,” retiring Representative Jim Moran (D., Va.) tells National Review Online, although he allowed that he was speculating. “I assume it does,” he says.

Warren owes her success in driving the Democratic caucus as much to her rivals as her friends, he suggested minutes earlier.

“There are a lot of people in the caucus that understand that the public at large, at least their more liberal constituencies, feel that this is a giveaway to Wall Street,” Moran told reporters. “And I think frankly there are some people that — they’re not going to let Elizabeth Warren get to the left of them.”

House Dem: GOP Gave Dems ‘Virtually Everything’ We Wanted



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Retiring representative Jim Moran (D., Va.) says that Democrats got “virtually everything” they wanted in the cromnibus package that’s going to a vote in the House tonight, as he praised the bill in terms that could double as the conservative critique of the legislation.

Moran says that “the Republicans are indicating they need 80 Democrats” and he’s frustrated that Democrats won’t provide the votes.

“In 20 years of being on the appropriations [committee], I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities. Implementing the Affordable Care Act, there’s a lot more money for early-childhood development — the only priority that got cut was the EPA but we gave them more money than the administration asked for,” Moran told reporters Thursday evening after exiting a Democratic caucus meeting in which White House chief of staff Denis McDonough tried to convince members to back the bill.

“There were 26 riders that were extreme and would have devastated the Environmental Protection Agency in terms of the Clean Water and Clean Air Act administration; all of those were dropped,” Moran continued. ”There were only two that were kept and they wouldn’t have been implemented this fiscal year. So, we got virtually everything that the Democrats tried to get.”

Moran warned Democrats that if the cromnibus failed, Republicans would be able to run over Democrats next year when they control the House and Senate.

“What’s going to happen next year is that we’re going to lose all of the money that was put into Democratic priorities. Some of it will be shifted over to defense, but they’re not going to put in the money to implement the Affordable Care Act, they’re not going to put in the early childhood money, they’re going to put in all the anti-environment riders back and we’re going to have the same provisions that we’re arguing about,” he says.

House Democrats especially opposed two riders that change campaign-finance law and repeal a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law.

Tags: Budget Battle

Cromnibus



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I am reliably informed that Speaker Boehner is energetically working with the Obama White House to entice Democrats to come aboard the CRomnibus — and is deaf to conservative Republicans who are pushing for a very short term CR with a mechanism for denying funding for President Obama’s lawless unilateral amnesty for illegal aliens. We’ll see what happens, but the Speaker evidently thinks he can get over the goal line by teaming up with Dems.  

Tags: Budget Battle

What’s the Dodd-Frank Fight That Could Shut Down the Government? (And What Does It tell Us About Liz Warren?)



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One section out of hundreds in the so-called cromnibus spending bill is driving Republicans and Democrats apart just hours before the federal government runs out of funding. (The cromnibus hasn’t passed the House yet, where Democrats are needed to get to a majority because some Republicans oppose the bill for other reasons.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the popular Democrat from Massachusetts, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, are assailing Section 630 as a giveaway to Wall Street and a dangerous move for our financial system, pledging that they won’t vote for a bill that includes it. Specifically, the section repeals a provision in Dodd-Frank that bars banks with federally insured deposits from being dealers in special types of derivatives. Those banks will instead have to have separate subsidiaries deal in the market for certain specialized “swaps” (a type of derivative), or push out the business into said subsidiaries, which is why it’s sometimes been called the “swaps push-out.”

The rule is definitely not meaningless — some big banks badly want it undone — but it’s also a very marginal regulation that can’t be said to shift the riskiness of the financial system definitively one way or the other. Serious liberal financial reformers (see Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute here) believe the rule would do some good. But Warren and Pelosi have picked a fight with big banks that really can’t be said to help or hurt the economy, the financial sector, or ordinary Americans a ton either way. What they do have, of course, is a regulation that sounds intuitively appealing and allows them to say they’re standing up to big banks.

The upside to this specific Dodd-Frank rule is that banks the federal government may feel, legally or informally, obligated to rescue from bankruptcy will have to stay away from a somewhat arcane and potentially risky business. But the case for getting rid of the regulation isn’t uncompelling: By making it harder for banks to deal in this business, it raises the costs of this kind of derivative. Specialized swaps, while they sound exotic, are not intrinsically risky or speculative. The kind of swaps we’re talking about here are complicated than, say, a derivative a farmer buys to hedge against the risk of corn prices’ dropping. But that doesn’t make them risky per se, or an exclusively Wall Street business: There are plenty of good uses for specialized or “bespoke” swaps. Sometimes dealing in them will increase the risk a bank is carrying, and sometimes they’ll decrease it.

As the Cato Institute’s Mark Calabria points out, a rule change like the federal government’s recent decision to drop down-payment requirements for federally backed mortgages to just 3 percent creates magnitudes more risk in the financial system than any amount the pushout provision could ever remove. A decent argument against banks’ being able to use these specialized swaps is the idea that regulators have a harder time monitoring them than they do regular derivatives, but that’s a little flattering to regulators. They don’t do a very good job of assessing the risk in any part of the financial system.

In fact, the debate is murky enough that there have often been Democrats on the side of getting rid of the pushout provision: Connecticut Democratic congressman Jim Himes proposed almost exactly the same language that went into the cromnibus as a standalone bill in 2013, and it passed the House with 70 Democratic votes.

Himes, it should be noted, is a former Goldman Sachs banker and represents a slice of southwestern Connecticut. It’s easy to see why he would be sympathetic to letting banks get back into the swaps business. But the impulses driving the original creation of the pushout were hardly august: It was inserted by Senator Blanche Lincoln as Lincoln was facing a primary challenge from her left and facing criticism that she was too easy on Wall Street. There are two simple and appealing aspects to the provision: People hate the idea of banks “making bets” with money that’s backstopped by the federal government and there were some kinds of derivatives involved in spreading the 2008 Wall Street meltdown (remember credit default swaps? Push them out!).

People who know a bit better are not huge fans of this rule. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, no free-market crank, opposed the provision, as did then–Treasury secretary Tim Geithner; Bernanke has said it ought to be fixed. The general counsel of the Fed said it ought to be revisited, too, just “to make sense of it” because “you can tell that was written at 2:30 in the morning.”

The cromnibus isn’t exactly a careful revisiting of the issue — it gives relatively big banks what they’re asking for — but liberal financial reformers know this is hardly a hill to die on.

Yet, congressional Democrats, in the wilderness for the next two years, are going to start picking fights. It may be telling that Elizabeth Warren, once hailed as an indefatigable academic who could take on Wall Street, has picked a fight more convenient in its politics than convincing on its policy merits.

Tags: Budget Battle

House Dem: WH Chief of Staff’s Sales Pitch Failed



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White House chief of staff Denis McDonough failed to convince a “significant number” of House Democrats to support the $1.1 trillion cromnibus, according to one lawmaker who listened to the pitch.

“Absolutely not,” Representative Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) replied when a reporter asked if McDonough was able to convince a “significant number” of Democrats to back the bill, despite a legislative riders related to Dodd-Frank and campaign finance laws that the House Democrats oppose.

McDonough walked out of the caucus meeting unwilling to say anything other than “it was a great opportunity” to talk to the Democrats. “I really appreciate it,” he said repeatedly.

Pascrell said he opposes the bill even though its failure would likely result in Republicans being able to renegotiate the appropriations package next year, when they control the Senate.

“I think it’s always a good time to fight,” he said.

That approach frustrates the House Democratic appropriators who worked to cut the deal with House Republicans and Senate counterparts.

“It is true that if you are dead set against these provisions that came up at the last minute, you might think that the world begins and ends with defeating those add ons — or one of the two of those add ons — that that is the whole ball game,” Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Penn.) told NRO. “If you’re an appropriator like myself and you’ve been working all year on various parts . . . you may think that, hey, getting these appropriation items done is the most important even if you have to live with the add-ons.”

 

New Data: It’s Still about Black-on-Black Crime



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The FBI has just released its supplemental homicide data for 2012, including the numbers of interracial killings. These are highly relevant for the current rallying cry that “black lives matter.”

Unfortunately, the FBI continues its usual practice of combining whites and Hispanics into the single category “white,” thus overstating white crime and victimization rates. Even so, the data are telling.

A “white” homicide victim is over twice as likely to be killed by a black than a black homicide victim is to be killed by a “white.” Sixteen percent of “white” victims in homicide incidents involving a single victim and single offender were killed by blacks, compared with only 7 percent of black victims who are killed by “whites.” Given the fact that blacks are less than 13 percent of the national population, their homicide rate against whites and Hispanics combined is vastly disproportionate to their share of the population. There were 431 black killers of “whites,” compared to 193 “white” killers of blacks. Undoubtedly a large percentage of interracial killings involve gang killings among black and Hispanic gangs; the number of non-Hispanic whites who kill blacks is undoubtedly far lower than 193. (The number of non-Hispanic whites killed by blacks is also presumably lower than 431.)

Blacks are also disproportionately represented among cop killers. In 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop killers whose race was known.

It is tempting to say in response to this latest data, drearily repetitive of everything that went before it, that “white lives matter.” Of course that would be racist. But it is precisely in response to the disproportionate criminality among the black population that the police are deployed in much higher numbers in black neighborhoods, where they are trying to save innocent lives. There are thousands of law-abiding inner-city blacks who live by bourgeois values and who need protection from criminals. Only the police are willing to provide that protection. Their mantra could be “black lives matter.” The 200 or so reported killings of blacks by police officers — nearly all justified — pale in comparison to the 6,000 or so killings of blacks by other blacks.

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