Thursday, January 19, 2017
Loony Democrat wants the fraudulent hacking meme institutionalized. James Clapper lied to Congress so why believe him?
SACRAMENTO – History textbooks read by schoolchildren in California — and perhaps across the country — could include a lesson about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election if a bill to be introduced by a Marin County legislator becomes law.
The bill from Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, will ask the state to adopt high school history curricula based on a recent national intelligence assessment: that Russia interfered in the election through the production of fake news and hacking, according to the lawmaker.
In testimony this month, National Intelligence Director James Clapper did not say the alleged Russian hacking changed the outcome of the race, but nevertheless called the actions “an existential threat” to the United States.
High school students need to learn about that threat, Levine said in an interview Wednesday. “We need to make sure that we treat this attack on American democracy with the appropriate significance it has in our nation’s history,” he said.
In 2014, California passed a law requiring the state board of education to consider adopting social studies lessons on the significance of electing the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. Similarly, Levine said, the state’s Instructional Quality Commission would be asked to develop a lesson on Russian influence in the 2016 election and recommend it to the state board during its next revision of history and social studies standards.
“I’m not going to write the history book myself,” he said.
Another bill, introduced last week by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would require schools to teach children “media literacy” — including how to tell the difference between “fake news” and real news.
“During the final, critical months of the 2016 presidential campaign,” Dodd’s bill states, “20 top-performing false election stories from hoax Web sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on social media.”
One Republican lawmaker, Sen. John Moorlach, of Costa Mesa, called the proposed Russian-interference lesson “petty,” an example of “showmanship.”
Asked whether kids needed to learn the difference between real and fake news, he said, “I’d just be happy if we taught kids how to read and write and do arithmetic.”
Ever since 2012 we have warned that one of the biggest threats arising from the US student loan bubble - which is no longer disputed by anyone except perhaps members of the outgoing administration - is not that it is soaring at an unprecedented pace, that's obvious for anyone with the latest loan total number over $1.4 trillion , rising at a pace of nearly $100 billion per year, but that the government - either on purpose or due to honest miscalculation - was not correctly accounting for the true extent of delinquencies and defaults. Today, we finally got confirmation that, as speculated, the US government was indeed fabricating student loan default data, making it appear far lower than it was in reality.
An the WSJ reported overnight " many more students have defaulted on or failed to pay back their college loans than the U.S. government previously believed."
The admission came last Friday, when the Education Department released a memo saying that it had overstated student loan repayment rates at most colleges and trade schools and provided updated numbers. This also means that the number of loan defaults in various cohorts is far greater than previously revealed.
A spokeswoman for the Education Department said that the problem resulted from a "technical programming error."
And so, the infamous "glitch" strikes again.
How bad was the data fabrication? When The Wall Street Journal analyzed the new numbers, the data revealed that the Department previously had inflated the repayment rates for 99.8% of all colleges and trade schools in the country. In other words, virtually every single number was made to appear better than it actually was. And people mock China for its own "fake data."
According to an analysis of the revised data, at more than 1,000 colleges and trade schools, or about a quarter of the total, at least half the students had defaulted or failed to pay down at least $1 on their debt within seven years. This is a stunning number and suggests that the student loan crisis is far greater than anyone had anticipated previously. It also means that the US taxpayer will be on the hook for hundreds of billions in government-funded loans once attention finally turns to who is expected to foot the bill for years of flawed lending practices.
As the WSJ adds, this isn’t the first time data problems have affected the Education Department: a recent government report criticized how the department tracks information including the budgetary implications of student loan forgiveness. “This is a quality control issue with a Department of Education that has been facing criticism already for other data issues,” Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. The department “needs to be regularly audited so these issues can be discovered sooner.”
There is another interpretation: as we reported yesterday , when we revealed that a Chinese province admitted it had fabricated fiscal data for the period 2011-2014, the reason the data were made up "because officials wanted to advance their careers." One can imagine that the career pressure for those government workers who would report, and be held accountable, for revealing the true picture of America's disastrous student loan bubble, would be likewise staggering.
* * *
Going back to the report findings, the student loan repayment rates were originally released in 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s College Scorecard, which followed an aborted attempt to rate colleges and tie federal funds to those ratings.
At the time, the Journal reported that at 347 colleges and vocational schools, more than half of students had defaulted or failed to pay down their debt within seven years. Those figures were based on students were supposed to start repaying loans in 2006 and 2007. In September, the Department released data tracking students who should have begun repayment in 2007 and 2008, and that number rose to 477. But with the updated number released last week, that number grew to 1,029. Worse, no college saw its repayment rate improve under the revision, and some schools saw their seven-year repayment rates fall by as much as 29%.
The worst offender was the University of Memphis which had one of the largest drops in its repayment rate following the recalculation. Previously, the Department said that 67% of its students were repaying loans within seven years of entering the repayment period. That number fell to 47% after the recalculation.
The University was not happy. In a statement, the school said it “was not contacted by or made aware of the data changes” from the Education department. “Given the magnitude of the numerical changes in the report released by the Department of Education, the University of Memphis will be challenging the accuracy of the newly adjusted data,” the statement said.
The far more dire implications, however, are for broader student loan market, because if the latest unfabricated data suggesting that loan delinquencies are rapidly rising toward 50% across most of America's colleges, then the US is facing a default problem of staggering proportions. Recall that back in December 2014, The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee forecast that in an aggressive scenario, as much as $3.3 trillion in student loans could be oustanding by 2024. Incidentally, that is the scenario that has captured the growth of student loans since it was presented.
Apply default rates of 40-50% to this number, and the bill to the US taxpayer for the next mass bailout starts taking shape.
By Bob McManus
January 18, 2017 | 8:55pm | Updated
What is it about progressives like President Obama — and even pretend progressives like Gov. Andrew Cuomo — that makes them so forgiving of terrorists?
Obama, on his way out the door, Tuesday commuted the effective life sentence of Puerto Rican nationalist-terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera — an architect of the wave of terror that led to the murder-by-bombing of four at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan in 1975.
Cuomo, for no apparent reason other than to plant a wet one on Black Lives Matter, last month gave an early out to one-time Weather Underground conspirator Judith Clark — convicted of murdering two cops and a security guard during the infamous Brinks armored car robbery in Rockland County in 1981.
Obama actually spent Tuesday papering the wall with pardons and commutations. The best-known recipient was the emotional Dumpster fire formerly known as Bradley Manning — a onetime Army intelligence analyst who traitorously funneled hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks and then went on to become an icon of the transgender movement.
But while Tuesday may have been among the least auspicious days of the Obama incumbency, at least he was true to his established principles. He’s the fellow who could barely bring himself to say the word “terrorist” — so it’s no surprise that he chose to coddle one on his way out.
Rivera has been a hero for decades to hard-left anti-America types — including Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, both of whom were beyond delighted by Obama’s action.
“It’s been a long road emotionally and personally, and I have been very invested in this case,” said the speaker. “It’s overwhelming.” (So, too, for Rivera’s victims — but obviously they don’t count.)
“Thank you [President Obama],” tweeted de Blasio. “Congratulations to all who fought for this day.”
Rivera, not that it seems to matter, was involved directly or otherwise in at least 146 bombings, leaving nine dead in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. Among the wounded were NYPD bomb squad officers, one of whom was blinded.
Fraunces, where Gen. George Washington delivered his farewell to his military officers in 1783, is as iconic a target as America-haters could hope for. So it really is hard to fathom how the mayor of New York City could celebrate Rivera’s release.
Actually, no, it’s not. Just the opposite: FALN and Rivera were hard-core Communists operating at the height of the Cold War. Why would a mayor who honeymooned in Havana fail to recognize — pardon the expression — a fellow traveler, even decades down the road?
Cuomo’s motives in freeing Clark are less clear. Apart from a press release and the necessary legal paperwork, the governor has uttered scarcely a word concerning the commutation.
That is, what seized him to visit Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, interview Clark, deem her worthy of an early out and then grant it, is his secret.
Clark was affiliated with the bomb-throwing radicals of the Weather Underground (as was Obama intimate Bill Ayres; isn’t it amazing how circular these things can be?), and she drove the getaway car after the bloody robbery.
In other words, both Clark and Rivera were guilty as sin. They deserved the lengthy prison sentences they received — and in a just universe, they would serve every day. (Or, more likely, die behinds bars.)
But they won’t. Why not?
Again, Cuomo is keeping his own counsel and Obama slathered his actions with rhetorical boilerplate. So those seeking motives must speculate.
So let’s guess it was to send a message.
To wit, in Progressiveland, that some lives matter more than others; that dead and maimed cops and unlucky bystanders matter less than justly convicted and incarcerated radicals — and that in the final analysis, benevolent government is meant to stand with the bad guys. (And gals, as the case may be. Isn’t everybody a victim these days?)
This is just the sort of bird Obama might be expected to flip America as he departs. Cuomo, meanwhile, is a onetime centrist trapped in a sharply leftward-drifting state. Since he essentially stands for nothing anymore, if he ever did, it’s no surprise he chooses to drift with it.
Meanwhile, to put a tin hat on this bizarre episode, Lin-Manuel Miranda — the star around whom the Broadway mega-vehicle “Hamilton” orbits — announced he’ll stage a personal performance of the play for Rivera once the terrorist is sprung.
Whether Miranda will set tickets aside for the survivors of Rivera’s depredations, or Clark’s, isn’t clear. Probably not. Certainly that would mix the progressive message.
Bob McManus is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.
The headline on the new CNN poll is: "CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition."
But inside the poll is another story: only Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis have a higher approval rating than President-elect Trump according to Americans asked to consider 11 world leaders.
The main story doesn't mention the comparable numbers, and even undercuts Trump's approval ratings.
It opens: "Washington (CNN) Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40 percent, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president."
Actually, Trump's approval rating in the poll is 44 percent. Some 40 percent approve of his transition.
The details of the poll show that Trump has the same approval of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and soars over others including Germany's Angela Merkel and many others.
— Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, 79% approval.
— Pope Francis, 66% approval.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Singer Jennifer Holliday told ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday that she backed out of performing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration because she “was receiving death threats from black people.”
The broadway star stopped by “The View” and discussed her recent decision to cancel her performance set for Thursday on the eve of the inauguration.
Holliday was going to sing at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” but she canceled two days later. The performer said she got a call on Wednesday asking her to perform and claimed her social media went crazy with negative comments by Friday morning, when she backed out.
“I live a pretty reclusive life and then one morning you wake up and everyone hates you. I was like, what could I have possibly done to have these things thrown at me,” Holliday said.
“I’m an artist and I love America,” she said. “It just didn’t dawn on me. I performed for four other presidents. I didn’t think anything of it.”
Holliday informed the Trump team in an email that she would be unable to perform due to the harassment.
“I was receiving deatht threats at this point,” Holliday said. “I was receiving death threats from black people, the N-word from black people. They were saying they were going to kill me.”
Holliday was shocked by the comments, thinking white people were “messing” with her.
“Are these white people just messing with me? I’m going, ‘Oh my God, these are black people calling me this. They were saying I should kill myself,” Holliday said.
The Senate Democrats expected to grill education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos have received nearly three quarters of a million dollars from teachers unions over the course of their careers.
The two largest teachers unions in the country have donated heavily to the eleven Democrats serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The National Education Association has contributed more than $376,000 to the senators on the committee, while the American Federation of Teachers has given more than $361,000, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of federal election records.
The two unions represent about 4.5 million teachers and education employees across the country and are among the most influential labor groups in the country. Their willingness to shower politicians with campaign contributions and outside spending, as well as supply volunteers on the ground during election campaigns, has helped to boost their profile in Democratic circles.
The NEA spent more than $35 million to help Hillary Clinton and national Democrats in 2016, making it one of the top 10 biggest spenders in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), an avowed socialist and Clinton’s sole serious challenger in the 2016 primary, has been the biggest career recipient of NEA money on the committee, raising more than $100,000 from the union’s PACs, employees, and members over the course of his career. Those donations have made NEA one of his 20 largest career contributors.
The AFT, a member of the AFL-CIO, was also a big spender in 2016, finishing among the top 40 contributors in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It shelled out $15 million in 2016 with nearly all of those donations going to Democrats. One of the largest recipients of AFT cash has been Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the committee. She has received more than $63,000 from the union.
DeVos has been a longtime champion of charter schools and vouchers aimed at helping students in low income areas or failing schools attend private schools. Her support for education reform has attracted criticism from Senate Democrats, including some who had previously supported charter schools. Freshman Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) attempted to increase spending on charter schools by during her tenure as governor, but said she was “very concerned” about DeVos’ support for them after meeting with the nominee. Hassan raised about $21,000 from the NEA and AFT during her Senate campaign.
DeVos comes from a family of GOP activists whose political contributions have been criticized by liberal groups. Phillip Stutts, a former Department of Education appointee who has assisted the Trump transition team’s preparation for DeVos confirmation hearing, said that the large political donations from the NEA and AFT demonstrate that they are desperate to retain influence on education policy.
“They’re a dying dinosaur. They’re trying to hold on to power, which is why their speeches are rarely about children—they’re about protecting unions,” he said.
The hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Obamacare has cost roughly 300,000 small business jobs due to higher health care costs, according to a new report.
The American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, released findings Wednesday that rising premiums and regulations under the Affordable Care Act have had “dire” consequences for the labor market.
The report found the law has cost $19 billion in lost wages per year and forced 10,000 small businesses establishments to close their doors. The study covered employers with 20 to 99 employees.
“Research from the American Action Forum (AAF) finds regulations from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are driving up health care premiums and are costing small business employees at least $19 billion in lost wages annually,” the report said. “These figures varied by state, but in 2015 the ACA cost year-round workers $2,095, $2,134, and $2,260 in Ohio, New York, and North Dakota, respectively.”
“Premium increases, a prospect regulators predicted when issuing the first ACA regulations, also significantly diminished the number of business establishments and jobs nationwide,” the report said. “Across the country, small businesses (20-99 workers) lost 295,030 jobs, 10,130 business establishments, and $4.7 billion in total wage earnings. Florida lost 17,950 jobs; Ohio lost 19,000; Pennsylvania lost 15,680; and Texas lost 28,010 jobs due to higher sensitivity to rising health care premiums and the ACA.”
Ben Gitis and Sam Batkins, the authors of the report, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for their findings.
The report used different data sets for small businesses with less than 50 employees, which were exempt from the law’s employer mandate. However, this group also suffered job losses and lower wages after Obamacare went into effect. The paper compared data from up to six years before the law was passed to show a clearer picture of Obamacare’s impact on small business.
Before Obamacare became law, workers still saw an increase in their average weekly pay when health insurance premiums went up.
“After the ACA became law, however, a one percent increase in total premiums was associated with a 0.012 percent decrease in average weekly pay,” the report said.
The numbers add up to roughly $3.9 billion in lost wages for small businesses with between 20 and 49 workers, which account for 20 million workers in the United States. The average worker for those businesses has lost $1,202 in annual pay.
Aside from wage losses and job cuts, Obamacare has cost the economy $51 billion and added 172 million hours of paperwork through regulations, the American Action Forum said.
“To put that in perspective, it would take more than 86,200 employees working full-time (2,000 hours annually) to complete a year of new ACA paperwork, roughly the population of Miami Beach, Fla.,” the report said.
The incoming Donald Trump administration has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare, and congressional Republicans have already begun the process to repeal the health care law through the budget reconciliation process.
“There are many reasons policymakers have called for significant amendments to the ACA,” the American Action Forum said. “Higher premiums are typically cited as a top concern. However, these higher premiums have broader consequences for the labor market. As AAF’s research has shown, ACA regulations have contributed to at least $19 billion in lost wages, 10,000 fewer establishments, and nearly 300,000 lost jobs.