Recently in Politics, Government & Public Policy Category

We don't owe the system anything, it owes us. Read the rest for an up-to-date list of how the Democrats, the media, and the bureaucrats are pulling out all the stops to ensure Hillary's victory.

I'm not fond of Trump (ugh), but Hillary and her enablers are literal criminals who care about nothing except power and wealth for themselves.

We owe the system nothing. Nada. Zip. Instead, the system owes us fairness and honesty, and without them it has no right to our default acceptance of its results. That acceptance must be earned. This means that the system must aggressively police its own integrity, and this year it has utterly failed to do so.

The most important thing in a democratic republic, the keystone that holds it together and ensures the peaceful transition of power, is the ability for a loser to accept a loss. We used to be able to fight out our political differences and, if we came up short, shrug and say, "Well, next time we'll convince a majority." We could move on, confident that the playing field had been level, that we had been heard, and that we had lost fair and square.

Not anymore. Trump's wrong about a lot, but he's not wrong about this. He may very well lose, but it won't be fair and square. And Trump is not the problem for saying so.

Chris Wallace did a good job -- the best of any of the moderators this year. He asked both candidates tough questions.

Hillary evaded many tough questions, which is par for the course.

Trump should learn how to evade better... instead he tends to topics that are damaging to him. There's a reason politicians evade.

I don't have the energy to write much more than that. I doubt this debate did much to convince anyone of anything. If there's a real October surprise bombshell it will probably come soon, now that the candidates don't have another opportunity to respond to the public broadly.

Trump is right that our political system is rigged, and not just in one simple way -- as if someone were surreptitiously manipulating ballots after they've been cast. Trump's point is bigger, though he doesn't explain it very eloquently. This "rigging", the unified elite wielding power against the broader population, is why people are angry enough to consider voting for Trump.

GEORGE WILL: When Mr. Trump talks about it being rigged, he sweeps all his grievances into one big puddle. He talked about the media. He talked about the primaries. He talked about the polls. Talked about the Republican National Committee. I think when most persons hear that an election is rigged, they think of government action to rig the election. And there Mr. Trump has a point if he would just make it more clearly.

It is hard to think of an innocent reason why Democrats spend so much time, energy and money, scarce resources all, resisting attempts to purge the voter rolls, that is to remove people who are dead or otherwise have left the jurisdiction. It's hard to think of an innocent reason why they fight so tremendously against Voter I.D. laws. They say, well that burdens the exercise of a fundamental right. The Supreme Court has said that travel is a fundamental right and no one thinks that showing an I.D. at the airport burdens that fundamental right.

We know -- we don't surmise -- we know that the 2010, '12 and '14 elections were rigged by the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government, the IRS. You can read all about it in Kim Strassel's book Intimidation Game. She's familiar to all Wall Street Journal readers and FOX viewers. This is not a surmise. I have talked to lawyers in a position to know they say it's still going on. The IRS is still intolerantly delaying the granting of tax exempt to conservative advocacy groups to skew the persuasion of this campaign.

Andrew C. McCarthy writes that the worst thing about the 2016 election isn't the two awful candidates.

So we have one faction in the country that is willing to use the Constitution's powers; but that faction also happily undermines the Constitution whenever it proves an obstacle. That faction's vision is post-constitutional.

That is why the 2016 election is so harrowing. It is not just that the candidates are awful yet one of them will become president. It is that our political class has eviscerated the constitutional weapons that protect us from an awful president. Thus, what the Framers most feared is coming to pass.

As McCarthy says, the Constitution gives Congress plenty of power to rein in the President, but the Republicans were too cowardly to use it.

Loyalton, California, can't afford the $1.6 million cost of its four-person pension promise. Math always catches up to you eventually.

The problem for Loyalton, in other words, is just a more acute version of the problem besetting municipalities across the country: Namely, that state pension authorities have been assuming unrealistic discount rates and rates of return on their investments for decades. The purpose of this phony accounting is to conceal the massive shortfall in public pension funds that are often underfunded and consistently fail to meet overly optimistic investment targets. As long as the real numbers aren't released, politicians, investors and public union bosses can look the other way. But the real value of obligations racked up over the years is finally becoming clear, and it stands to ruin fading municipalities that were roped into the system on false pretenses.

Walsh notes that "some see a test case taking shape for Loyalton and other cities with dwindling means." There is simply no way for many small government entities in California to afford what the state pension fund says they owe. If Calpers follows through on its threat to cut off Loyalton's retirees, then the fiction of "bulletproof" public pensions will be permanently undermined.

Pensions are basically Ponzi schemes.

A simple numerical example may illustrate how important growth rates are to an aging economy. Let's say we have 99 workers and one retiree, and we want all of them to enjoy the same standard of living. Now say each worker can produce $100 worth of stuff. If each of our workers donates $1 apiece to the retiree, everyone gets $99 dollars.

But now let's say nine more people retire over the next nine years. Now we have 90 workers, generating total output of $9,000 a year. Split 100 ways, everyone gets $90 instead of $99. As more people retire, the math gets worse and worse. Eventually, the workers may well say "You non-workers are on your own."

Productivity growth could save us... if only we could regulate growth into existence.

BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump is vulgar and offensive! Go listen to the secret recording of him joking about how women let him grope them because he's a celebrity. Gross! I completely disavow Trump and this behavior.

If Trump's crudity is actually news to you then you haven't been paying attention. Do you think that Hillary, the Democrats, the Republicans, the media, or basically anyone is actually "shocked"?

No. They're all pretending to be shocked and appalled because they want to stay in power. They're pretending to be offended because they think other people will play along at being offended. They think this latest revelation will finally knock out Trump.

Think back on your own life... are there any moments you're glad were not secretly taped? Of course. And you're a way better person than any of our elites, I'm sure of it.

Maybe Trump's a dead man walking. I don't know. I'm terrible at predicting elections... I never thought Obama would get re-elected in 2012. Maybe this disgusting soundbite will do what the last 100 examples of his offensiveness didn't.

But anyway, Trump sure destroyed Hillary in the debate last night. Will it make a difference? You got me. Polls show Hillary with a big lead now. If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that Trump will win -- but mostly because that's the prediction that will make me look the smartest if I'm right.

Many people care a lot about Donald Trump's taxes, but I don't... nor have I ever really cared about any other candidate's tax returns. It's hard to imagine Trump getting away with illegal tax avoidance for decades, so I just assume that there's nothing interesting to see in his returns. Similarly, I doubt that the Clintons are illegally avoiding taxes -- the Clinton Global Initiative is basically a huge scam, but it doesn't break any tax laws. The big to-do about Trump's use of net operating losses to offset future earnings is a complete non-story.

"If someone has a $20 million gain in one year and a $10 million loss in the second year, that person should be treated the same as someone who had $5 million in each of the two years," says Alan Viard, a tax specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, who like all the other experts, seemed somewhat surprised that this was not obvious.

"There are definitely tax provisions narrowly targeted to various industries that you could take issue with," says Ron Kovacev, a tax partner at Steptoe and Johnson. "The NOL is not one of them."

I mean, the Times story is true as far as it goes: Losing $900 million dollars may save you $315 million or so on future or past taxes. But astute readers will have noticed that it is not actually smart financial strategy to lose $900 million in order to get out of paying $315 million to the IRS. Most of us would rather have the other $585 million than a tax bill of $0. ...

If Trump managed to pay no taxes for years, the most likely way he did this was by losing sums much vaster than the unpaid taxes. This is fair, it is right, it is good tax policy.

The most frustrating thing about Trump for those of us who want to bid farewell to the Clintons forever is his seeming inability to resist obvious traps. Conrad Black finds the perfect metaphor:

Yet Mr. Trump seems to have no concept of how to press the strategic advantage and stay clear of back alleys and side issues in which he can only dissipate his advantages. Like a not overly smart fighting bull, he allows the Democrats to cause him to charge diagonally past his real targets and squander political capital in nonsense. The presentation of Mr. Khan at the Democratic convention, father of a winner of a decorated war hero killed in action, was squalid and outrageous, as was the subsequent fawning of the press and the bunk about Mr. Khan's just "happening to have a copy of the Constitution in [his] pocket."

But Trump charged and dove into a trap in which he could not win. He should have said something like "All Americans share in Mr. Khan and his family's sorrow and in their pride, and in the circumstances it is not appropriate for me to comment on his partisan reflections on me." He should have said, when Mrs. Clinton threw "Miss Piggy" at him, that "that was a regrettable choice of words about someone who had violated her undertakings on entering the Miss Universe contest." He could have neutralized, or even won on, both issues but failed to see them as the baited traps they obviously were.

Americans are eager for a leader who sees citizens as more than irritants to be bought off, and Trump appeals to the widespread frustration many feel at being ignored by the elites for decades. But, to switch metaphors, every bad cop needs a good cop -- the bad cop alone isn't enough. Trump has shown mastery of bad-cop, but I sure wish he would demonstrate some proficiency with good-cop.

Trump extends his lead to 5 points in this Rasmussen poll of likely voters. It's not hard to see why, when you consider the popularity of his positions. These positions are anathema to American elites of both parties, which is precisely why Trump has managed to insert himself so successfully into the national conversation.

Most voters oppose Obama's plan to bring more Middle Eastern and African refugees to this country next year and view that decision as an increased danger to U.S. national security. Clinton supports the president's policy.

Voters, on the other hand, strongly support Trump's plan for temporarily restricting immigration from countries with a history of terrorism and for testing to screen out newcomers who don't share America's values.

The NYT describes the woes of a small California pension due differences between actuaries and economists.

The two competing ways of valuing a pension fund are often called the actuarial approach (which is geared toward helping employers plan stable annual budgets, as opposed to measuring assets and liabilities), and the market approach, which reflects more hard-nosed math.

The market value of a pension reflects the full cost today of providing a steady, guaranteed income for life -- and it's large. Alarmingly large, in fact. This is one reason most states and cities don't let the market numbers see the light of day. ...

The market-based numbers are "close to the truth of the liability," Professor Sharpe said. But most elected officials want the smaller numbers, and actuaries provide what their clients want. "Somebody just should have stopped this whole charade," he said.

In short: the actuaries justify low numbers that please their clients (the governments who administer the pensions) while the economists warn that the pensions are vastly underfunded.

Mega McArdle gives a good description of discount rates.

A discount rate is a way of accounting for the fact that dollars in the future are not quite the same as dollars you have right now.

You know this, don't you? Imagine I offered to give you a dollar right now, or a dollar a year from now. You don't have to think hard about that decision, because you know instinctively that the dollar that's right there, able to be instantly transferred into your sweaty little hand, is much more valuable. It can, in fact, be easily transformed into a dollar a year from now, by the simple expedient of sticking it in a drawer and waiting. It can also, however, be spent before then. It has all the good stuff offered by a dollar later, plus some option value.

Even if you're sure you don't want to spend it in the next year, however, a dollar later is not as good as a dollar now, because it's riskier. That dollar I'm holding now can be taken now, and then you will definitely have it. If you're counting on getting a dollar from me a year from now, well, maybe I'll die, or forget, or go bankrupt.

The point is that if you're valuing assets, and some of your assets are dollars you actually have, and others are dollars that someone has promised to give to you at some point in the future, you should value the dollars you have in your possession more highly than dollars you're supposed to get later.

Remember this? I wonder what Mrs. Obama thinks now.

(HT: Ed Driscoll.)

In a display of raw physical prowess, Donald Trump repeatedly lifts a baby over his head. Ok, this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but my first thought when I read this story was I bet Hillary couldn't lift a baby over her head like that.

trump baby 2.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lifted 18-month-old Tristan Murphy after his speech outlining a new childcare policy on Tuesday night in Aston, Pennsylvania.

Glenn Reynolds argues that President Trump and the Democrat-aligned civil service will check each others' abuses. This seems logical to me. The big question is: how can America restore a non-partisan civil service?

The reason, of course, is that the civil service, though supposedly professional and nonpartisan, has become a Democratic Party monoculture. Federal employees overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, donate to Democrats, and, by all appearances, cover for Democrats as a routine part of doing their job.

So if the choice in 2016 is between one bad candidate and another (and it is) the question is, which one will do the least harm. And, judging by the civil service's behavior, that's got to be Trump. If Trump tries to target his enemies with the IRS, you can bet that he'll get a lot of pushback -- and the press, instead of explaining it away, will make a huge stink. If Trump engages in influence-peddling, or abuses secrecy laws, you can bet that, even if Trump's appointees sit atop the DOJ or FBI, the civil service will ensure that things don't get swept under the rug. And if Trump wants to go to war, he'll get far more scrutiny than Hillary will get -- or, in cases like her disastrous Libya invasion, has gotten.

So the message is clear. If you want good government, vote for Trump -- he's the only one who will make this whole checks-and-balances thing work.

I hope that Trump and the Republican Party continue their engagement with African Americans, no matter what happens in November. The Democrats have dominated black political life for decades without doing much of anything to help the community other than lip service.

What, after all, does Hillary Clinton offer the black community? Does she promise to make our public schools better by demanding greater teacher accountability? Will she push to reverse decades of damage done by tenure and other rules that put union workers first and kids second? Does she promise to expand charter schools, so those tens of thousands of wait-listed African-American kids get a shot at the American dream? No, she does not. Hillary owes the teachers' unions, which promise to get out the vote and which have donated millions to her campaign.

Does Hillary promise to secure our borders and reduce the number of illegal immigrants vying for entry-level jobs? Does she embrace the new "gig" economy that attempts to circumvent the morass of red tape driving so many small businesses under? Does she back the law enforcement efforts that keep low-income urban communities safe? The answers are a uniform "no."

What Hillary Clinton offers African-Americans is four more years of Obama's policies, which Sean "Diddy" Combs, among others, have rightly described as failing the black community. Combs recently said that under Obama, blacks have been "a little bit short-changed" and that African-Americans should not automatically line up behind Clinton. "Hillary Clinton, you know, I hope she starts to talk to the black community directly. ... It really makes me feel, you know, almost hurt that our issues are not addressed, and we're such a big part of the voting bloc." Combs has recently opened a charter school in Harlem; no wonder he's not a Hillary fan.

As Instapundit is fond of pointing out, America's urban centers have been controlled by Democrats for decades -- why not give Republicans a chance to turn things around?


With news that foreign hackers have hacked state election infrastructure it seems like the time is right to return to paper ballots.

The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials.

The FBI warning, contained in a "flash" alert from the FBI's Cyber Division, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections.

It's more important that elections be trusted and trustworthy than that they be cheap, easy, or efficient. Paper ballots are superior to electronic voting.

Anderson Cooper admirably tries to pin down Hillary on why her behavior was acceptable for a Secretary of State but wouldn't be for a President. Hillary strangely decides to use a metaphor about smoke and fire that any other person would invoke to suggest her guilt.

COOPER: Why was it OK for the Clinton Foundation to accept foreign donations when you were secretary of state but it wouldn't be OK if you were president?

CLINTON: Well, what we did when I was secretary of state, as I said, went above and beyond anything that was required, anything that any charitable organization has to do. Now, obviously, if I am president, there will be some unique circumstances and that's why the foundation has laid out additional ...

COOPER: But didn't those unique circumstances exist when you were secretary of state?

CLINTON: ... if I am elected.

COOPER: Didn't those unique circumstances exist ...

CLINTON: No, no. And, you know, look, Anderson, I know there's a lot of smoke and there's no fire.

Apparently Hillary Clinton sold access to herself and the State Department while she was secretary.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million. ...

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

Isn't it worse that these bribes didn't violate the agreements signed by the Clintons?

This egregious corruption would sink Hillary if her opponent weren't Donald Trump.

On Monday, Bill Clinton said in a statement that if his wife were to win, he would step down from the foundation's board and stop all fundraising for it. The foundation would also accept donations only from U.S. citizens and what it described as independent philanthropies, while no longer taking gifts from foreign groups, U.S. companies or corporate charities. Clinton said the foundation would no longer hold annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative, and it would spin off its foreign-based programs to other charities.

If these activities would create conflicts of interest for President Hillary, why weren't they a conflict of interest for Secretary Hillary?

Obamacare has destroyed the insurance market in many areas of the country, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the hardest hit areas are dominated by President Obama's political opponents. It's no coincidence.

According to an analysis from the consulting firm Avalere, as of now, there will be just one insurer offering ObamaCare coverage next year in seven states: Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, Alaska, North Carolina and Kansas. It is possible that more insurers could enter these markets before next year.

In one county in Arizona, there might not be an ObamaCare plan available at all.

Aetna had been the only insurer offering a plan in Pinal County. Unless federal and state officials can find another insurer to fill the void in 2017, the county's 400,000 residents will not be able to buy coverage on an ObamaCare exchange.

The dearth of options in rural, sparsely populated areas is a far cry from what Democrats promised when selling the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats are quick to dismiss fears about voting fraud because Democrats benefit from the fraud.

But there certainly are examples of elections being overturned for reasons of fraud, including mayoral elections in Miami and East Chicago, Ind. We've also seen clear evidence of fraud in more important races. In 2008, illegal felon voters appear to have swung the outcome of the critical 2008 Minnesota Senate election. The day after the election, GOP senator Norm Coleman had a 725-vote lead, but a series of recounts over the next six months reversed that result and gave Democrat Al Franken a 312-vote victory.

Voting should be easy for every eligible citizen, and impossible for everyone else.

Ben Shapiro is right: the Democrats' moral preening over Hillary is absurd.

1. Hillary Is Worse Than Trump. Over the weekend, one major political candidate earned a four-Pinocchio rating from The Washington Post. That same candidate slurred Gold Star families as liars. That candidate was Hillary Clinton, who appeared on national television to explain that FBI Director James Comey had fully cleared her - he had even said she was honest! This, of course, was false. Then Hillary went on to claim that Benghazi Gold Star families must have misremembered her comments to them about a YouTube video being responsible for their children's deaths. Hillary can complain all she wants about Trump's connections with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but she's the one who handed him a reset button, then cut a nuclear deal that allowed the Russians into our uranium mines. For every Trump sin, there's one just as bad in Hillary's closet - and usually worse, since she was a government actor at the time.

I think we could do better than Trump or Hillary by drawing randomly from the phone book, but alas, that's not how our system works. (Same goes for Congress, and maybe the judiciary -- hey, it works for juries!)

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