Friday A/V Club: Mort Sahl’s Guide to the Political Spectrum

How did the political spectrum look in 1967? Here's Mort Sahl with an answer:

So social democrats were in the middle of the road, it was the far right that had a reputation for too many meetings, and it was still possible to describe Bobby Kennedy's politics in terms of his actual messy record rather than the hopes people projected onto him. (Remember, he hadn't been shot yet.) Note also the charmingly chaste bit at the end—when's the last time you saw a comedian cracking jokes about how many dates it takes a woman to "kiss" a man?

Bonus link: If you want to compare and contrast that with the political spectrum of 1972, check out Mad's guide to left and right.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)


The right way to criticize the H1-B Visa program

The H1-B Visa program is a lightning rod. Conceptually it’s a great idea: Find a way to bring productive, skilled people into the United States to boost our economy. In practice it’s become a mess of big government micromanagement, which has made it an easy target for anti-immigration critics.

Here’s how we need to fix H1-B, and mollify the (somewhat legitimate) fears of those in high-tech industries, without attacking legal immigration.

First off, don’t forget that the H1-B program is working as advertised. In 2014, of the 315,857 H1-B petitions that were approved, 404 of them were given to people with less than a Bachelor’s Degree. And that number includes all the fashion models which are included in the program. The idea that H1-B is being used to bring in janitors or underqualified individuals is silly.

Look at the firms that are the biggest users of the program. All the firms bringing in large numbers of them are big business consultancies, IT services firms, or big Internet companies. Some critics of H1-B would lead us to believe that a Google, a Deloitte, or an IBM are going to damage their reputations or risk major contracts by bringing in substandard labor at nice salaries. That asks us to pretend the entire market system doesn’t work, and I reject that.

The top H1-B firms are Indian, or already have Indian or other foreign subsidiaries. What do you think would happen if we ended the program? Do you think they’d just shrug and stop hiring foreigners? No, they’d just close offices in America and open them in Bangalore, Shanghai, and other countries. America would lose out, and other countries would gain investment. That’s bad for all Americans. H1-B is the opposite of Ex-Im: In Ex-Im companies make money as the government ships money overseas. With H1-B, companies pay the government to bring salaries from abroad instead to be paid here in America.

So then what is the problem with the H1-B program? Simply, the problem is that it’s too regulated. Government micromanages the program, bringing in multiple agencies, watching out for union interests at every step, and preventing enough of a free flow of labor. How do we fix that? The solution is to let H1-B visa holders enter the marketplace for labor.

That idea would get pushback from those big consultancies. You see, they’re paying $2,000 per person per year. Which means Infosys gave the US government $12.5MM last year just to have the right to bring and hire 6,250 (primarily Indian) professionals. If they spent that kind of money, only to have the visa holders be able to walk away and get another job, they’d be unhappy.

I say, tough. The concept of the H1-B program is that we have a shortage of talent for certain growing sectors of our economy, and we don’t want companies to have to set up shop overseas in order to keep growing. So we let companies come here, and bring talent here, enriching America. That’s an important idea. But if this talent being imported is in such demand, then we need to make sure that market forces are acting on the salaries.

Reform H1-B by letting visa holders, on their own, find new jobs if they see fit to do so. Let the visa holders renew their visas on their own dimes. Sever the tie between employer and employee after the initial hiring and approval. Let the full free market come to bear on professional service labor.

That’s how you fix H1-B without sounding like a South Park sketch.

Photo by Baigal Byamba on Flickr

The post The right way to criticize the H1-B Visa program appeared first on RedState.


Boy Scouts Can’t Squirt Squirt Guns at Each Other and Must Use Goggles

Water gunBoy Scouts can’t shoot squirt guns at each other. Here’s the rulebook (see page 99). And here’s the article for Boy Scout leaders that points out some additional (absurd) safety requirements:

 “Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”

Water balloons, meanwhile, have a size limit: “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.”

First off, I was not even aware biodegradable balloons exist. And filling any balloon to only the size of a ping pong ball is like saying, “Please do not grow a pair. Ever.”

But in terms of the squirt gun rules: Why can’t kids shoot each other with a stream of water?

Because it’s harmless? Because it’s good clean fun? Because it’s a time-honored thing for kids to do?

Or is it because of a sort of blind belief that if we outlaw every activity that involves boys being boys—even an activity with the word “Boy” in its name—somehow we will have triumphed over original sin and avoided all possible lawsuits?

Boys do not end up killers because they shoot squirt guns, any more than they end up as rampaging nut jobs because they knocked down some building blocks as kids. For that matter, playing Transformers does not mean a boy grows up to become part robot. Kids are allowed to play without us reading a dark future into every shove.

And I say this as a mom who really loves the Scouts. Both my sons belong to the organization and it has been great for them. I admire the troop leaders and all the volunteer parents who help out. And at our troop, at least for as long as my sons have been involved, there has never been any anti-gay discrimination.

But there’s a reason most kids don’t wear their uniforms to school or even discuss their involvement much. It’s the uncoolness factor. That factor is not mitigated by these rules. 

If anyone is going to go on a rampage as an adult, maybe it’s the kids who were forced to wear goggles to shoot a squirt gun at a non-human target.


NYSE Launches Bitcoin Index

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Francis Cianfrocca to discuss the new Bitcoin NYSE index, if this helps legitimize the currency, and if our economy is in a “Great Reset.”

Related Links:

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The post NYSE Launches Bitcoin Index appeared first on RedState.


Gay Marriage Study Retracted After Allegations One of Its Authors Falsified Data

A widely-circulated study about how having conversations with people who are gay can change an individual’s views on same-sex marriage has been retracted by one of its authors.

Retraction Watch, an academic blog, reports that Donald Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, has retracted the study after his co-author “confessed to falsely describing at least some of the details of the data collection.”

Green and Michael LaCour, a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at University of  California Los Angeles, published the study in Science last December.

The study, titled “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” concluded that having short, personal conversations with people who are gay could significantly change an individual’s views on same-sex marriage.

According to the summary of the study, the authors “demonstrate that simply a 20-minute conversation with a gay canvasser produced a large and sustained shift in attitudes toward same-sex marriage for Los Angeles County residents.”

In addition to changing the views of the participants in the study, the authors say that their views remained changed “up to 9 months after the initial conversation.”

According to Retraction Watch, researchers trying to conduct a similar study wrote to Green about inconsistencies in their findings.

Green confronted LaCour, who was unable to provide the original data from the study.

Retraction Watch obtained the letter Green wrote to Science, requesting that they retract the study.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” he wrote.

As of publication time, LaCour has yet to respond to the allegations. He posted on his website that he is “gathering evidence and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response. I will do so at my earliest opportunity.”

Ryan Anderson, the William E. Simon fellow in religion and a free society at The Heritage Foundation, said that “for too many of our neighbors, the argument for marriage as the union of husband and wife hasn’t been heard and rejected; it simply hasn’t been heard.”

“We must make that argument in new and creative ways. When people do hear a compelling case for the truth about marriage, they respond accordingly,” he said.

The post Gay Marriage Study Retracted After Allegations One of Its Authors Falsified Data appeared first on The Daily Signal.


Transparency, Clinton Style


The Barack Obama administration has, by all accounts, been a travesty when it comes to transparency – a point on which both liberal and conservative watchdog groups agree. At least, however, when Obama assumed office, people had reason to believe that he might possibly have meant it when he promised with a straight face that he would lead the “most transparent administration ever.”

Imagine, then, the horror show we are in for if Hillary Clinton is elected President. Before Clinton was even elected President she openly declared that she had violated Federal law and Obama administration regulations by hosting her own email server during her tenure as Secretary of State and then summarily deleting tens of thousands of emails of her own choosing. As emails have slowly leaked out from other sources that clearly indicate that at least some portion of these deleted emails were substantive and confidential discussions (not, as Hillary hilariously claimed, emails about her “yoga schedule”), Hillary has not even had the decency to appear even marginally embarrassed.

Now comes the latest series of revelations in the slow rolling Clinton Foundation transparency disaster. Recall that it has already been exposed that the Clintons set up a Canadian counterpart to the Clinton Foundation for the express purpose of shielding donor identities in violation of the ethics agreement that Hillary signed for the Obama administration. Recall that the Clinton Foundation has been caught on numerous previous occasions not disclosing its own donors on its website. Last night the foundation revealed yet again that it had failed to disclose foreign donors (and further shed light on the staggering speaking fees the Clintons have been charging over the years):

The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.

The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.

The money was paid as fees for speeches by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Foundation officials said the funds were tallied internally as “revenue” rather than donations, which is why they had not been included in the public listings of its contributors published as part of the 2008 agreement.

* * *

According to the new information, the Clintons have delivered 97 speeches to benefit the charity since 2002. Colleges and universities sponsored more than two dozen of these speeches, along with U.S. and overseas corporations and at least one foreign government, Thailand.

The payments were disclosed late Thursday on the organization’s Web site, with speech payments listed in ranges rather than specific amounts. In total, the payments ranged between $12 million and $26.4 million.

The paid appearances included speeches by former president Bill Clinton to the Ni­ger­ian ThisDay newspaper group for at least $500,000 and to the Beijing Huaduo Enterprise Consulting Company Ltd., an investment holding company that specializes in the natural gas market, for at least $250,000. Citibank paid at least $250,000 for a speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I suppose this raises some fairly interesting questions on its own merits – such as, “How does a Nigerian newspaper group have a spare $500K laying around to pay Bill Clinton to give a speech they could just as easily have seen on television” ?

But more importantly, it illustrates a larger point that I hope the American public fully understands. The Clintons are openly opposed, as a philosophical matter, to transparency. They don’t even have the decency to pay lip service to it. They are of the strong belief that everything connected to their life – including the public service aspects of it – are private and that they are under no obligation to share any of it.

The way the Clintons operate with respect to information is that they will absolutely control the flow of it to the press, and they will make no bones about it or offer any apologies. If you want information about the Clintons that is in any way damaging to either Bill or Hillary or sheds any sort of negative light on them, you will have to dig it up yourself, while they are busy obstructing and opposing you at every turn (and, if they can manage it, having the IRS audit you). And if they are caught having hidden information that they had previously claimed to have fully disclosed, they will shrug and dare you to try to make the American people care.

This is your world if Hillary is elected, press. This is how things operate when Clintons are in office, voters of America. If you have any interest at all in actually knowing what your government is doing, the Clintons want you to know that you should consider voting for someone else.

The post Transparency, Clinton Style appeared first on RedState.


U.S.-China Tensions in South China Sea, Grand Jury Indicts Baltimore Cops in Death of Freddie Gray, Octopus Skin Can See: A.M. Links

  • The Pentagon is challenging the building of islands by China on the reefs of the South China Sea, a disputed area.
  • A grand jury indicted the six Baltimore police officers in whose custody Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury on most of the charges the prosecutor was seeking—but Marilyn Mosby dropped charges of "false imprisonment," based on the legality of the knife police said they found in Gray's possession. In the meantime, protests followed the shooting of two unarmed black men in Olympia, Washington accused of shoplifting beer—they survived, and the investigation into the shooting was handed over to an outside Critical Incident Team.
  • The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, settled a lawsuit filed by the mother of Jonathan Ferrell, fatally shot by a police officer in 2013 while seeking assistance after a car accident, for $2.25 million, and says the payment is not an admission of guilt.
  • The president of the Boy Scouts of America called on the organization to lift its ban on gay leaders.
  • The pipeline that ruptured along the coast of California near Santa Barbara was operating at about two-thirds capacity.
  • A three year expedition around the world by the Tara Oceans Consortium to collect genetic information from plankton uncovered thousands of new viruses living in the ocean. Researchers from the University of California in Santa Barbara, meanwhile, have confirmed some species of octopus can see with their skin.

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Kurt Loder Reviews Tomorrowland and The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

TomorrowlandTomorrowland has so much going for it that you wonder, as you watch it stretch past the two-hour mark, why it isn’t actually going anywhere—or anywhere you feel able to go with it, anyway. The director, Pixar genius Brad Bird, is a master of both digital animation (The Incredibles,Ratatouille) and complex live action (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). The top-billed lead, George Clooney, is a star of well-established charm. And the script that Bird has fashioned with cowriter Damon Lindelof (Lost, alas) tells a cute sci-fi story with a bright shiny message of a sort not much heard in these days of dark movie dystopias.

All of which sounds perfect for this Disney film’s target PG audience, and you can’t help hoping it is. But the story is a little jumbled right from the start.

View this article.


Jeb Bush Criticizes George W. Bush for Spending Too Much—But as Florida’s Governor He Also Increased Spending

After spending a week awkwardly defending his brother’s legacy of failure in the most recent Iraq war by saying things like, “News flash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those,” Jeb Bush, when questioned, tentatively broached an issue yesterday on which he might actually have a kinda-sorta disagreement with his brother: government spending. So he claims anyway. The New York Times reports:

“I think that, in Washington during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money,” Mr. Bush said Thursday when asked to describe where there was a “big space” between himself and his brother George W. Bush. “I think he could have used the veto power. He didn’t have line-item veto power, but he could have brought budget discipline to Washington, D.C.”

… He did qualify that his criticism of the government spending during his brother’s tenure as president “seems kind of quaint right now given the fact that after he left, the budget and deficits and spending went up astronomically.” 

For a remark that is supposedly about describing Jeb’s disagreements with his brother’s presidency, there’s an awful lot of hedging here.

Notice, for example, the way that Jeb Bush attempts to limit his brother’s responsibility for the rise in spending under his watch by first saying broadly that “Republicans” were the ones spending too much money, and then noting that Bush II didn’t have the power to go through budgets line-by-line. And then check out the move-on-nothing-to-see-here wrap-up line, which comes across as a half-hearted attempt to insist that, sure, whatever responsibility his brother may have had for ramping up government spending and public debt, it’s not really worth worrying about now because President Obama has been ever so much worse. As they say: to be sure!

Actually, let’s spend a little bit of time dwelling on the federal government’s spending under President George W. Bush, and how it compares to other presidents. Go back to the end of 2009, when data for Bush’s last year as president was released, and it’s immediately clear that the Bush administration set records for both spending levels and spending increases. Under Bush, total federal spending increased from $1.8 trillion to a little more than $3.5 trillion. That means he presided over the most significant increase in federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson was president in the 1960s.

The record of increase is important, because it paved the way for the big spending of the Obama years. Yes, President Obama has spent more than President Bush every year—and it’s been too much on every occasion. But federal spending under Obama has increased at a far slower rate than under President Bush. Obama took Bush’s baseline and built on it, but George W. Bush’s spending increases were a big part of what made Obama’s spending possible. So while Jeb Bush is right that deficits went up astronomically under Obama (they’ve also come back down quite a bit, at least temporarily), he’s not on strong ground when he says that “spending went up astronomically” under the current president, at least in terms of the amount of increase. Spending went up astronomically under George W. Bush, and then stayed high, too high, under President Obama. 

It’s nice, of course, to see that Jeb Bush has chosen to single out runaway spending and bad budgeting as a problem for Republicans in Washington, D.C. during the last time they controlled the White House, but it shouldn’t be dismissed in favor of an exclusive focus on Obama-era fiscal foul-ups.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush’s theoretical commitment to spending restraint should probably be questioned a little given his own budgetary record during the Bush years: Between 1999 and 2007, when Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, general fund spending in the Sunshine State rose 57 percent, from $18 billion to $28.2 billion, and total spending grew 45 percent, according to data from the National Association of State Budget Officers, as the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards noted last year. The libertarian think tank gave him a C grade for his final year in office, noting his propensity for both cutting taxes and letting spending grow.

So, Jeb Bush's record is one of tax cuts paired with spending increases. That sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it?

Jeb may now disagree with George W. Bush’s freewheeling spending during the bulk of the 00s, but as the duly elected Republican executive of one of the nation’s biggest states, Jeb Bush wasn’t exactly a spendthrift himself. Practically speaking, it's hard to see a very "big space" between how Jeb Bush and his brother handled government spending during those years. 

(My colleagues and I will have much more on the spending records for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and a slew of other presidential wannabes in the very next issue of reason. You should subscribe right now!)


On H1B Visas: Scott Walker Will Fight For American Workers, Senators Cruz and Rubio Not So Much.

Why Scott Walker FLip-Flopped.

Why Scott Walker FLip-Flopped.

One of the few intelligent and worthwhile things that John Maynard Keynes contributed to society is the following quote “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?” Governor Scott Walker’s information has recently changed.

Remember that Governor Walker had the guts to back down the Progressive Establishment in The Democratic Party of Wisconsin. It thus comes as no surprise that he also has the guts to take on the increasingly progressive and less pro-American pro-immigration caucus in the GOP. Walker explains his qualms concerning this headlong rush to replace domestic American workers below.

Walker said Monday in an interview with Glenn Beck that the first priority in considering legal immigration policy should be the wages and jobs of American workers. “In terms of legal immigration… it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today, is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages,” he said, according to Breitbart News.

Why would Governor Walker become so xenophobic and perform such an 180-degree Olympic flip-flop? Well here’s what the Congressional Research Service found when examining data on immigration and cost of labor.

Wages and share of income for the bottom 90 percent of American wage-earners declined over the past 40 years, as the foreign-born population increased dramatically, data requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee shows. Since 1970, the foreign-born population of the U.S. increased 325 percent, the Congressional Research Service found, while wages for the bottom 90 percent of earners decreased by 8 percent and their share of income by 16 percent.

But isn’t correlation insufficient proof of causation? Don’t we all enjoy gains from trade in labor, just like we would any other commodity openly hawked in unrestrained trade? This is what Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post had to say in a recent assault against Governor Walker’s proposal to examine immigration policy based on how it impacts the earning power of American labor. Anything other than the unlimited opening of the borders to immigration is now “nativist” you see.

“It’s not clear whether he understands that immigration is one way to boost economic growth,” Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote condescendingly. “(There is replete evidence that immigration boosts revenue, growth and does not take jobs away from native-born workers.)” “We have remarked that the temptation in the GOP primary is to play to the loudest voices and the staunchest segment of the party, even though they do not represent a majority of voters in the party, let alone in the general electorate,” Rubin added.

And this should come as no surprise. The weight of “enlightened” opinion falls heavily on the American IT professionals being replaced by H1B Visas. Particularly in Florida, the home state of Presidential Contender Marco Rubio. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 100% responds to the misery being inflicted on intelligent, hard-working Floridians in the IT field as follows.

Rubio’s “I-squared” bill would triple the number of temporary guest workers businesses could bring into the country every year, and allow for a virtually unlimited number of university-based green cards. The big businesses backing this bill and clamoring for more guest workers insist they can’t find enough Americans willing or able to fill certain “high-skilled” jobs. Rubio obviously agrees and has argued more guest workers and immigration generally will result in more jobs for Americans.

And that hard-charging, tea-party ultra-conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100%? He’s no ally of the American Citizen either on the H1B Visa issue. Senator Cruz wants to increase the H1B Visa cap by 500%.

Cruz, who announced his presidential bid this morning, once proposed an immediate increase in the base H-1B cap from 65,000 to 325,000. Cruz offered the H-1B increase as an amendment in 2013 to the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill. Cruz’s amendment was defeated by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which approved an 180,000 H-1B cap increase in the comprehensive immigration bill. The House never acted on this legislation.

Here was how our Tea Party Hero fought to protect American-born STEM workers.

So if you’re at Disney and you’re sitting next to your replacement worker training him right now, you can listen once again to that flowery oratory from Senator Cruz about how we just can’t find enough qualified engineers, mathematicians and IT guys to keep our modern economy humming. It just must make you proud to be an American – if there is such a thing anymore. Oh, and like Disney CEO Bob Iger ordered, you’d better keep a nice, sunny attitude going while you train that replacement worker.

The post On H1B Visas: Scott Walker Will Fight For American Workers, Senators Cruz and Rubio Not So Much. appeared first on RedState.


Friday Funnies: Training the Amtrak Way!


Brickbat: We’ve a Loveable Space

With no debate, the Santa Monica, California, city council unanimously banned short-term residential rentals. The new law bans renting an entire housing unit for less than 30 days and allows owner to rent space, such a a bedroom or couch, only if they buy a business license and pay the city's 14 percent hotel tax.


Just a Common Soldier: A Moving Tribute for Memorial Day

For many years, Stephen Clouse has made videos designed to inspire donations to worthy causes. Recently, he made a different kind of video. It’s not designed to solicit donations but to honor those who have given so much for our country.

In this video, veteran Hollywood actor Tony LoBianco reads a poem called “Just a Common Soldier.” It’s a moving tribute to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who have served our country. As Tony reads the poem, viewers are treated to emotional images of our honored vets. As they were on the battlefield; and as they are now.

Clouse is asking Americans to share the video with their followers on Facebook and other social media channels such as YouTube and Twitter. The goal is to get 21 million “likes”—that’s one for every one of the estimated 21 million living veterans—between Memorial Day on May 25 and Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11.

The post Just a Common Soldier: A Moving Tribute for Memorial Day appeared first on The Daily Signal.


Kirsten Powers on the War Against Free Speech and Why Most on the Left Don’t Get It

I spoke with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers this week about her new book, “The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech.”

Powers gives example after example of how those who oppose a particular political or cultural view will pull out all the stops to silence and shame their opposition. I begin by asking if this is just a problem of those on the left wanting to silence conservatives and whether those waging such campaigns are willing to do so no matter the costs.

You can watch the full seven-minute interview or see her answers to each of my questions by going to the time codes in the video listed below:

  • 1:55: Did she ever question whether it was a good idea to write this book—and if she would suffer backlash for it?
  • 2:48: How does she rate the state of free speech and debate on America’s college campuses?
  • 4:10: Why does she believe “The Silencing” is a must read for moderates and those left of center?
  • 5:00: She explains why there is so much animus from the left, including President Obama, against Fox News.
  • 6:10: Conservatives want to know: How is it that someone who seems so smart and principled remains a liberal?

The post Kirsten Powers on the War Against Free Speech and Why Most on the Left Don’t Get It appeared first on The Daily Signal.


Overnight Jam: Todd Rundgren, “Secret Society” and “Something to Fall Back On”


Two awesome songs by Todd Rundgren, from a 1990 concert in Japan with his great "Nearly Human" band. This is Todd at his best, singing his heart out.

When we were young they would break our hearts
You and I had to go undercover
We knew in time we would be pulled ...


Obama Fights Climate Change (Cartoon)