Saturday, May 25, 2013

Scalia Resigns Post as Scoutmaster. So they say.

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM  May 24, 2013
I don't know if I believe this, but I think it's funny, and I wish it really happened. In the meantime, I'm pleased as punch to go along the gag. No, I'm sure of it. It's phony as an Obama campaign button.

Posted by


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who for the past forty-seven years has served as a weekend scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, angrily resigned from that position yesterday, effective immediately.
Justice Scalia quit his post in a terse resignation letter that read, in part:
“Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined. Ruined.”
Shortly after sending the letter, Justice Scalia destroyed his scoutmaster uniform in the blazing fireplace of his Supreme Court office.
Later, he went across the hall to share his decision with his close confidant on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, telling him, “There’s nowhere I feel safe anymore, Clarence. The military? The N.B.A.? Nowhere. I guess the only place I still feel safe is the Supreme Court. This is still a safe place, isn’t it?”
Justice Thomas said nothing in reply.
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Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty.





Friday, May 24, 2013

The Obama Medicare Agenda: Why Seniors Will Fare Worse . . .

Verne Strickland / USA DOT COM / May 24, 2013!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/siegel22e-1-web.jpg


All the ills of fatally-flawed Obamacare can't go into one article -- but a lot of it's here!

   By and

May 23, 2013

Today’s seniors are facing higher Medicare costs. Over the next five years, current law, as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, already guarantees higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors. Beyond the current law, President Obama’s latest budget proposal would increase seniors’ costs even more. Many seniors will experience a reduction in their Medicare Advantage benefits or even a loss of their existing plan. Medicare “as we know it” is already a thing of the past—the only way to preserve the Medicare benefit for current and future retirees is through structural reform.
Today’s seniors are facing higher Medicare costs. Over the next five years, current law, as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare), already guarantees higher out-of-pocket costs for today’s seniors. Beyond the current law, the President’s latest budget proposal would increase seniors’ costs even more. So, notwithstanding “progressive” politicians’ rhetorical promise to “keep Medicare as we know it,” the Obama Administration is formally committed to increasing seniors’ out-of pocket costs, while the President and his allies in Congress have already enacted major Medicare payment reductions that threaten their access to care. Beyond the payment reductions to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health care agencies, many seniors will also experience a reduction in their Medicare Advantage benefits or even a loss of their existing plan.

Obamacare Radis Medicare to Pay for Other New Programs

Status Quo Hikes

The 2012 Medicare trustees report says that between 2012 and 2017, seniors’ standard Medicare Part B monthly premiums will jump from $99.90 to $128.20, while their Part B deductibles will rise from $140 to $180.[1] Seniors’ Medicare hospital deductible will increase from $1,156 to $1,336, while their daily hospital co-insurance will climb from $289 to $334. For seniors who remain in the hospital beyond 90 days (lifetime reserve days), the per diem co-insurance costs are estimated to reach $668 by 2017.[2]
Obamacare: Impact on Access to Care. Obamacare mandates $716 billion in Medicare payment reductions over the next 10 years.[3] However, contrary to the way they are often portrayed, these cuts are not aimed at specific instances of “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Rather, they are across-the-board changes in Medicare payment formulas for hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, hospice agencies, and Medicare Advantage plans.
Notwithstanding the tiresome rhetoric that Medicare payment reductions affect only providers and not beneficiaries, funding cuts for Medicare services directly affect those who depend on those services. If these major reductions are implemented by Congress over the coming decade, seniors’ ability to access Medicare services will surely be compromised. In fact, the Medicare Trustees said that “[a]bsent other changes, the lower Medicare payment rates would result in negative total facility margins for an estimated 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies by 2019, and this percentage would reach roughly 25 percent in 2030 and 40 percent by 2050.”[4]
Seniors Face Severe Access Programs Because of Obamacare Cuts
This means that seniors would have an increasingly difficult time accessing care. As the Trustees explain,
Medicare’s payments for health services would fall increasingly below providers’ costs. Providers could not sustain continuing negative margins and would have to withdraw from serving Medicare beneficiaries or (if total facility margins remained positive) shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers. Under such circumstances, lawmakers would probably override the productivity adjustments, much as they have done to prevent reductions in physician payment rates.[5]
Moreover, these “savings” are not even reserved to enhance the solvency of the financially troubled Medicare program. Instead, the “savings” are used to finance new spending for non-Medicare coverage expansions in Obamacare.[6] Despite the simple fact that the same dollar cannot be spent twice, the Obama Administration simultaneously claims credit for extending the life of the Medicare trust fund, financing expanded health insurance coverage outside Medicare, and reducing the federal deficit.
Higher Medicare Taxes. The PPACA will also increase Medicare taxes. The law raises the standard Medicare payroll tax, which funds the hospital insurance (HI) trust fund, on high-income earners (individuals with an annual income of $200,000 and couples with an annual income of $250,000) from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent and also extends the 3.8 percent Medicare tax to investment income. Together, this is the largest tax increase in Obamacare, costing taxpayers almost $318 billion between 2013 and 2022.[7]
Once again, however, the new Medicare payroll tax revenue is double-counted: It is paying for new spending, while also extending the life of the trust fund.[8] As for the new Medicare tax on investment income, Medicare trustee Charles Blahous explains that “[t]hough termed an ‘Unearned Income Medicare Contribution’ (UIMC) under the law, this revenue would not come from Medicare’s traditional contribution base and it would not be allocated to a Medicare Trust Fund.”[9] (Emphasis added.)
Obamacare: Impact on Seniors’ Medicare Advantage Coverage. Currently, 27 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. MA plans are attractive to beneficiaries because they offer more comprehensive coverage than traditional Medicare. Most notably, unlike traditional Medicare, MA plans cap out-of-pocket costs, which eliminates the need for beneficiaries to pay extra and purchase separate supplemental insurance, and these plans also routinely offer drug coverage. Further, since 2007, between 85 percent and 94 percent of participating seniors have had the option of enrolling in these private plans while paying no premium other than the standard Medicare Part B premium.[10]
The PPACA reduces payments in the MA program by $156 billion between 2013 and 2022. When the law was enacted in 2010, the Medicare actuary projected the impact of these cuts: “We estimate that in 2017, when the MA provisions will be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plans will be lower by about 50 percent (from its projected level of 14.8 million under the prior law to 7.4 million under the new law).”[11]
According to the Medicare actuary, then, an estimated 7 million seniors will leave Medicare Advantage over the next four years, but that means that they will have to re-enroll in the less generous traditional Medicare program.[12] Not only will these seniors face the loss of their existing comprehensive health plan, they will somehow have to fill big gaps in their Medicare benefits—which would mean substantial increases in their out-of-pocket costs. To compensate for gaps in traditional Medicare coverage, nearly all seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare purchase separate drug coverage and supplemental health insurance coverage, which are projected to cost on average $42 a month and $230 a month, respectively, in 2017.[13]
An analysis by health care economists Robert Book and James Capretta shows, “By 2017, Medicare beneficiaries who would have enrolled in Medicare Advantage under prior law will lose an average of $1,841 due to the MA changes alone and $3,714 when the effects of the entire bill, including the FFS [fee-for-service] cuts, are considered.”[14]
But those seniors who remain in MA will also face increased out-of-pocket costs because of other features of the President’s health care law. Obamacare imposes a special “fee” (a tax) on all health insurance plans beginning in 2014, including MA plans. Of course, as with all taxes on firms in any market, the costs of the tax increases are routinely passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices or, in the case of insurance, higher premiums. In this particular case, Oliver Wyman, a leading benefits consulting firm, has estimated, “In the Medicare market, the premium tax would increase the expected cost of MA coverage per enrollee by $3,604 over the ten-year period.”[15]
Obama’s FY 2014 Budget: Higher Seniors’ Premiums. In his fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget proposal, President Obama has proposed additional Medicare changes that would also increase costs for seniors.[16]
For Medicare Parts B and D, the President’s budget plan would expand “means testing” in the Medicare program for upper-income seniors, resulting over time in a total of 25 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries paying an income-adjusted premium. Under current law, there are four income-adjusted brackets; seniors in these income brackets pay progressively higher premiums, ranging from 35 percent to 80 percent of total Medicare program costs. In his latest budget proposal, President Obama expands the number of brackets from four to nine, requiring seniors to pay from 40 percent to 90 percent of total Medicare premium costs. For the lowest bracket, an individual with an income of $85,000 to $92,333 who is enrolled in Part B and Part D would have a combined premium increase of about $401.76 in 2017, compared to what he would pay under current law. For an individual with an annual income between $178,000 and $196,000, his combined premium increase would be an estimated $1,615 in 2017 (at 85.5 percent of total costs).
Reduction of taxpayer subsidies for high-income Medicare recipients is sound policy. There is indeed a large and growing bipartisan consensus among a variety of analysts on the need to expand the scope of Medicare “means testing.” While it makes sense to gradually reduce taxpayer subsidies for an expanded pool of upper-income seniors, it is not necessary to require one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries to pay more than the standard Medicare premiums.[17]

Obama’s Budget: New Fees

President Obama’s FY 2014 budget would also impose new fees on baby boomers joining Medicare beginning in 2017. His 2014 budget proposal introduces a $25 increase in the Part B deductible for new beneficiaries in 2017, 2019, and 2021, a $75 total increase by 2021, plus a $100 co-payment for home health services in certain cases.
Traditional Medicare incurs excessive costs resulting from “first-dollar” coverage by Medigap and other supplemental insurance. This first-dollar coverage increases utilization of medical services and drives up Medicare costs for seniors and taxpayers alike.
President Obama is right to address the need to curb the first-dollar coverage that drives up Medicare costs. His solution, however, is hardly the best available option. The President proposes a premium surcharge—a kind of “premium tax”—for new beneficiaries who choose a Medigap plan with first-dollar or near-first-dollar coverage. This approach would affect a majority of new beneficiaries in Medigap.[18] The surcharge would be equivalent to 15 percent of the average Medigap premium, adding an estimated $413.60 a year to these seniors’ premium costs.[19] While there is general agreement that supplemental coverage drives up overall Medicare costs, a much better approach would be to restructure Medicare’s cost-sharing arrangements, instead of imposing yet another federal “tax” on seniors.[20]

Obamacare and Obama’s Budget: New Prescription Drug Costs

The Obama Administration’s proposed new out-of-pocket costs will be coupled with a general increase in premiums for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D, the Medicare drug program.
The PPACA designates an estimated $48 billion to reduce out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those who find themselves faced with a gap in coverage for their drug costs, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” The President’s policy is to close this Medicare Part D donut hole.[21] Under the law, the donut hole is slated to close by 2020.
While out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D will be reduced, the changes enacted under the new health law will only come at a higher premium price for seniors. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2010 estimate, “enacting those changes would lead to an average increase in premiums for Part D beneficiaries of about 4 percent in 2011, rising to about 9 percent in 2019.”[22]
These Medicare prescription drug premium increases must be understood in terms of how the Part D donut hole actually affects today’s seniors. While the average premiums of all Part D beneficiaries will increase, of all 48.6 million Medicare enrollees in 2011, only 3.6 million actually fell into the donut hole.[23] Moreover, approximately 11 million enrollees receive low-income subsidies for drug coverage, including coverage in the donut hole. Today, most private health plans already provide additional coverage for beneficiaries who might find themselves in the donut hole. For 2012, 52 percent of all plans provide generic or some generic and some brand-name drug coverage in the donut hole.[24]
The President’s FY 2014 budget proposal would close the Part D coverage gap for brand-name drugs in 2015, five years sooner than under current law. For the small minority of seniors who fall into the donut hole annually, that would be a welcome development; but most seniors should also realize that while assisting the small number of seniors who fall into it, the President’s proposal makes the drug benefit more expensive and thus will result in a general increase in seniors’ Part D premiums.
A Backdoor Tax on Seniors. Today in Medicare Part D, private plans and drug manufacturers negotiate a discounted price; it is a market price. The government is not involved at all in these negotiations. The result: Market efficiencies have been dramatically successful in controlling Medicare drug costs and stabilizing the growth in seniors’ premiums.
The President’s recent budget proposal, however, would require drug companies to pay the government the difference between the privately negotiated Medicare price and the price (the “rebate”) the government sets for the sale of drugs in the Medicaid program for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. These seniors today receive subsidies, and they account for about 30 percent of all Medicare Part D enrollees.
The President’s proposed Medicare “rebate” would act as a tax on the drug companies doing business with the federal government, but it would also function as a price control on Medicare drugs. In other words, the new rebate policy would distort the Part D market by fixing artificially low prices for one group of beneficiaries, and creating powerful incentives for the companies to try to make up the revenue losses by charging higher prices in other sectors of the Medicare market. This means that most seniors would experience increased premiums. Analysts with the American Action Forum estimate that a Medicaid-style rebate for Part D would increase beneficiary premiums by anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent.[25]

Out of Options

President Obama’s latest budgetary scheme is not a serious prescription for long-term Medicare reform. While it tweaks Medicare’s administrative payment systems, it simply retains the current structure and provides for more cost shifting to seniors.
The President’s budget is another indication that the Administration and its allies on Capitol Hill are running out of consequential options. They have already cut Medicare Part A and Medicare Advantage provider-reimbursement rates to levels that even government actuaries have stated, in print, to be unrealistic. They have instituted a new Medicare tax on the “unearned” income of upper-income Americans (such as investment income) that will not even be exclusively used to enhance the solvency of Medicare. The vaunted Medicare “savings” from Medicare provider payment reductions and other changes enacted through the PPACA will also finance health insurance coverage mandated by Obamacare.[26]
America needs a sound Medicare policy. The Obama Administration’s agenda for increased costs for Medicare beneficiaries, plus the latest budget tweaks to administrative payments, will not reverse the troubled program’s unsustainable course.[27]
Americans differ on Medicare reform. They may disagree on the right future for Medicare. But one thing is certain: Under the Obama agenda, seniors will pay more—much more—and they will pay this steep price in many different ways, including a loss of access to care resulting from demoralized doctors and other medical professionals cutting back on Medicare practice or, in some cases dropping out of Medicare practice altogether. Doctors and other medical professionals are facing a bleak future of continued reimbursement reductions and the higher administrative costs of complying with an even larger set of increasingly complex rules and reporting requirements.
The bottom line: Medicare “as we know it” is already a thing of the past and the only way to preserve Medicare for current and future retirees is through major, market-based structural reform.[28]
Robert E. Moffit, PhD, is Senior Fellow, and Alyene Senger is Research Assistant, in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

London Mayor: “It Is Completely Wrong to Blame this Killing on Islam.”

 Verne Strickland / USA DOT COM / May 24, 2013

London Mayor Boris Johnson called the murder of a British soldier by two Muslims, “a sickening, deluded and unforgivable act of violence.” Unfortunately, he continued to talk.


May 24, 2013 By  


On his Twitter account, London Mayor Boris Johnson called the murder of a British soldier by two Muslims, “a sickening, deluded and unforgivable act of violence.” Unfortunately, Johnson continued to talk.

Boris Johnson has said the blame for the brutal murder of a soldier in Woolwich lies with the ‘warped mind-set’ of his killers. ‘One obvious point, it is completely wrong to blame this killing on Islam.’

It would appear that Johnson is the deluded one here. The point that Mayor Johnson deems so obvious that it need not even be backed up with obvious proofs or verifications is that two Muslim terrorists quoting the Koran and carrying out an attack in line with Islamic beliefs had nothing to do with Islam.

Certainly it’s so obvious that it had nothing to do with Islam. Also the bombings of London by the Luftwaffe had nothing to do with Nazism. It’s so obvious, it’s barely worth commenting on.

Boris Johnson is correct that the ‘warped mind-set’ of his killers is to blame. But that ‘warped mind-set’ has a name. It’s called Islam.

Mayor Boris Johnson used to know that. Here’s what he wrote after the 7/7 bombings.
That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.
To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. As the killer of Theo Van Gogh told his victim’s mother this week in a Dutch courtroom, he could not care for her, could not sympathise, because she was not a Muslim.
The trouble with this disgusting arrogance and condescension is that it is widely supported in Koranic texts, and we look in vain for the enlightened Islamic teachers and preachers who will begin the process of reform. What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?
Apparently it won’t be Mayor Johnson. That much is obvious.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Major Dave puts forth vision for NCGOP in interview with Verne Strickland of USA DOT COM

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM / May 21, 2014

"Don't make waves? It's time we did make some waves, to restore the standards that define us as a civil and decent society."

Major Dave Goetz

VS: Major Dave, in the closing weeks of this campaign to select the Vice Chair of the N.C. Republican Party, what message would you like to get across?

The focus of my campaign has been to stand up for what I believe is the conservative majority of North Carolina. Not just those conservatives who are registered Republicans, but all of those conservatives – 60 + percent that overwhelmingly voted to approve the Marriage Amendment. That told me there are people out there who do vote values over party labels. And that is the conservative base that is the future of the Republican Party in North Carolina. 

Three times in Charlotte last year, we saw the Democrats try to take God out of their platform. Because of that, numerous Democratic officials have left the Democrat Party. They know that is contrary not only to their party, but also contrary to the values on which our nation was founded.

VS: What else is important to you, as an American citizen, a patriot, a Republican, a Christian?

We have to go back to having the conversation amongst ourselves, and also among citizens and our neighbors – but just as important, in our classrooms, at the very earliest age -- of making sure that these younger generations understand the true nature of the birthright they inherited when they were born as a citizen of this country. Being taught that, whether it’s situational ethics, moral relativism: I’m okay, you’re okay, that sort of thing. If you were around in the 60s, you will remember that phrase. Go along to get along, just don’t make waves, Well, you know, it’s time we made some waves, because we have to restore the standards that define us as a civil and decent society. 

VS: You have impressed me with the way that you have swept across the state, literally, and addressed citizens from every walk of life, from every region of North Carolina. What has this taught you, and what have you left with these people?

The first thing was my campaign strategy, when I set out to serve my party, and that’s what this is all about. It’s not about wanting to be vice chair. I’m going to serve my party because I have a certain skill set that I believe will benefit the Republican Party. I didn’t pick those counties with just the highest number of delegate votes and visited them. I actually selected some of the smaller counties in the Eastern as well as the Western regions of the State that have been heavily Democrat for generations. I wanted to see just what we were up against in those locations.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PJM EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Diplomats Report New Benghazi Whistleblowers with Info Devastating to Clinton and Obama

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM 

Whistleblowers may topple Obama, Clinton? We can only hope!


Obama and Clinton debate.


May 21st, 2013 - 12:05 am

According to the diplomats, what these whistleblowers will say will be at least as explosive as what we have already learned about the scandal, including details about what really transpired in Benghazi that are potentially devastating to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The former diplomats inform PJM the new revelations concentrate in two areas — what Ambassador Chris Stevens was actually doing in Benghazi and the pressure put on General Carter Ham, then in command of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and therefore responsible for Libya, not to act to protect jeopardized U.S. personnel.
Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.
Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted “to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.”
This left Stevens in the position of having to clean up the scandalous enterprise when it became clear that the “insurgents” actually were al-Qaeda – indeed, in the view of one of the diplomats, the same group that attacked the consulate and ended up killing Stevens.
The former diplomat who spoke with PJ Media regarded the whole enterprise as totally amateurish and likened it to the Mike Nichols film Charlie Wilson’s War about a clueless congressman who supplies Stingers to the Afghan guerrillas. “It’s as if Hillary and the others just watched that movie and said ‘Hey, let’s do that!’” the diplomat said.
He added that he and his colleagues think the leaking of General David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was timed to silence the former CIA chief on these matters.
Regarding General Ham, military contacts of the diplomats tell them that AFRICOM had Special Ops “assets in place that could have come to the aid of the Benghazi consulate immediately (not in six hours).”
Ham was told by the White House not to send the aid to the trapped men, but Ham decided to disobey and did so anyway, whereupon the White House “called his deputy and had the deputy threaten to relieve Ham of his command.”
The White House motivation in all this is as yet unclear, but it is known that Ham retired quietly in April 2013 as head of AFRICOM.
PJ Media recognizes this is largely hearsay, but the two diplomats sounded quite credible. One of them was in a position of responsibility in a dangerous area of Iraq in 2004.
We will report more as we learn it.

A fascinating map of the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries: U.S., China, India, Russia, North Korea, Israel, Syria, Germany, Venezuela.


Verne Strickland USA DOT COM May 21, 2013
Anglo and Latin countries most tolerant. People in the survey were most likely to embrace a racially diverse neighbor in the United Kingdom and its Anglo former colonies (the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and in Latin America. The only real exceptions were oil-rich Venezuela, where income inequality sometimes breaks along racial lines, and the Dominican Republic, perhaps because of its adjacency to troubled Haiti.

Click to enlarge. Data source: World Values Survey
Click to enlarge. Data source: World Values Survey
Update: A professor who studies race and ethnic conflict responds to this map.
When two Swedish economists set out to examine whether economic freedom made people any more or less racist, they knew how they would gauge economic freedom, but they needed to find a way to measure a country’s level of racial tolerance. So they turned to something called the World Values Survey, which has been measuring global attitudes and opinions for decades.
Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks, the Swedish economists found one that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance for other races. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose “people of a different race.” The more frequently that people in a given country say they don’t want neighbors from other races, the economists reasoned, the less racially tolerant you could call that society. (The study concluded that economic freedom had no correlation with racial tolerance, but it does appear to correlate with tolerance toward homosexuals.)
Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.
If we treat this data as indicative of racial tolerance, then we might conclude that people in the bluer countries are the least likely to express racist attitudes, while the people in red countries are the most likely.
Compare the results to this map of the world’s most and least diverse countries.
Before we dive into the data, a couple of caveats. First, it’s entirely likely that some people lied when answering this question; it would be surprising if they hadn’t. But the operative question, unanswerable, is whether people in certain countries were more or less likely to answer the question honestly. For example, while the data suggest that Swedes are more racially tolerant than Finns, it’s possible that the two groups are equally tolerant but that Finns are just more honest. The willingness to state such a preference out loud, though, might be an indicator of racial attitudes in itself. Second, the survey is not conducted every year; some of the results are very recent and some are several years old, so we’re assuming the results are static, which might not be the case.
Here’s what the data show:
• Anglo and Latin countries most tolerant. People in the survey were most likely to embrace a racially diverse neighbor in the United Kingdom and its Anglo former colonies (the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and in Latin America. The only real exceptions were oil-rich Venezuela, where income inequality sometimes breaks along racial lines, and the Dominican Republic, perhaps because of its adjacency to troubled Haiti. Scandinavian countries also scored high.
• India and Jordan by far the least tolerant. In only two of 81 surveyed countries, more than 40 percent of respondents said they would not want a neighbor of a different race. This included 43.5 percent of Indians and 51.4 percent of Jordanian. (Note: World Values’ data for Bangladesh and Hong Kong appear to have been inverted, with in fact only 28.3 and 26.8 percent, respectively, having indicated they would not want a neighbor of a different race. Please see correction at the bottom of this post.)
• Wide, interesting variation across Europe. Immigration and national identity are big, touchy issues in much of Europe, where racial make-ups are changing. Though you might expect the richer, better-educated Western European nations to be more tolerant than those in Eastern Europe, that’s not exactly the case. France appeared to be one of the least racially tolerant countries on the continent, with 22.7 percent saying they didn’t want a neighbor of another race. Former Soviet states such as Belarus and Latvia scored as more tolerant than much of Europe. Many in the Balkans, perhaps after years of ethnicity-tinged wars, expressed lower racial tolerance.
• The Middle East not so tolerant. Immigration is also a big issue in this region, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which often absorb economic migrants from poorer neighbors.
• Racial tolerance low in diverse Asian countries. Nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines, where many racial groups often jockey for influence and have complicated histories with one another, showed more skepticism of diversity. This was also true, to a lesser extent, in China and Kyrgyzstan. There were similar trends in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
• South Korea, not very tolerant, is an outlier. Although the country is rich, well-educated, peaceful and ethnically homogenous – all trends that appear to coincide with racial tolerance – more than one in three South Koreans said they do not want a neighbor of a different race. This may have to do with Korea’s particular view of its own racial-national identity as unique – studied by scholars such as B.R. Myers – and with the influx of Southeast Asian neighbors and the nation’s long-held tensions with Japan.
• Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, also an outlier. Although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch.
Update: I’ve heard some version of one question from an overwhelming number of readers: “I’ve met lots of Indians and Americans and found the former more racially tolerant than the latter. How can these results possibly be correct?” I’d suggest three possible explanations for this, some combination of which may or may not be true. First, both India and the U.S. are enormous countries; anecdotal interactions are not representative of the whole, particularly given that people who are wealthy enough to travel internationally may be likely to encounter some subsets of these respective populations more than others.
Second, the survey question gets to internal, personal preferences; what the respondents want. One person’s experiences hanging out with Americans or Indians, in addition to being anecdotal, only tell you about their outward behavior. Both of those ways of observing racial attitudes might suggest something about racial tolerance, but they’re different indicators that measure different things, which could help explain how one might contradict the other.
Third, the survey question is a way of judging racial tolerance but, like many social science metrics, is indirect and imperfect. I cited the hypothetical about Swedes and Finns at the top of this post, noting that perhaps some people are just more honest about their racial tolerance than others. It’s entirely possible that we’re seeing some version of this effect in the U.S.-India comparison; maybe, for example, Americans are conditioned by their education and media to keep these sorts of racial preferences private, i.e. to lie about them on surveys, in a way that Indians might not be. That difference would be interesting in itself, but alas there is no survey question for honesty.
Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. Ashirul Amin, posting at the Tufts University Fletcher School’s emerging markets blog, looked into the data for Bangladesh and discovered the mistake. My thanks to Amin, who is Bangladeshi and was able to read the original questionnaire, for pointing this out. His analysis is worth reading in full, but here’s his conclusion:
The short answer is, yes, someone did fat finger this big time. “Yes” and “No” got swapped in the second round of the survey, which means that 28.3% of Bangladeshis said they wouldn’t want neighbors of a different race – not 71.7%.
26K Facebook likers and 2.5K Tweeters, take note.
Amin adds, “Bangladeshis are a tolerant bunch — it’s ok to come visit.” The error in the Hong Kong data, first discovered by Chinese-speaking users on Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai. Ng Chun Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor who was the principal investigator on World Values’ survey there, confirmed via e-mail that the data had been transposed on the survey company’s Web site. He added that he has written the World Values Survey team to alert it to this and ask it to remove the faulty data. My thanks to him, as well as to Lai and the Reddit users who dug through original Chinese-language survey forms to demonstrate the error.

Chief IRS Counsel Got Jeremiah Wright's Church out of IRS Probe Before Joining Agency

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM May 20, 2013

News reports from the time indicate the now-chief counsel of the IRS, William Wilkins, helped a church connected to President Barack Obama’s friend Rev. Jeremiah Wright get out of an IRS probe in 2008 while working as a private attorney.

“Lawyers from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr have won the dismissal of an IRS case against United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's denomination,” The American Lawyer’s Zach Lowe wrote on May 22, 2008.
The IRS initiated an investigation early this year after a speech by Obama at a 50th anniversary celebration of the church last June. It was a reference by Obama to his presidential candidacy in a talk otherwise focused on faith that caught the agency's attention. Tax laws prohibit non-profits--including churches--from engaging in political speech or promoting candidates. The IRS can withdraw an organization's tax-free status if the organization is found to violate the rule.
Lowe noted that Obama had been a “member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago--a UCC congregation--for more than 20 years. The church has been in the headlines for several months now as the congregation lead by the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”
William Wilkins, then a WilmerHale law firm partner, said, “We were so interested in the case we offered to do it pro bono."
Lowe wrote that Wilkins and other firm lawyers worked with the church’s national counsel, Donald Clark, and proved they had invited Obama to the event before he announced his candidacy for president. “Evidence presented in a letter sent to the IRS in late March pointed to ground rules the organization had established for Obama's visit; the church even cautioned churchgoers against engaging in any political activity,” Lowe wrote. “Had the IRS pursued the matter, it would have raised serious questions about the First Amendment's application to church activities, Wilkins says.”
When President Obama nominated Wilkins to be the IRS’s chief counsel on April 17, 2009, his White House cited Wilkins’ experience as an attorney on issues relating to tax-exempt status organization. “He has a broad tax practice that includes counseling nonprofit organizations, business entities, and investment funds on tax compliance, business transactions, and government investigations,” according to the White House release announcing Wilkins' nomination.
Prior to joining WilmerHale, Wilkins was Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Finance. Wilkins joined the Democratic staff of the Committee in 1981 and served as tax counsel before becoming Staff Director and Chief Counsel in 1987.
In the release, which included the announcement of a second Treasury Department nominee, President Obama himself said he was "confident in the abilities of these two fine public servants as we work to turn our economy around and give American families the relief they need during these difficult times. Under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, they will work to serve the American people and bring their unique areas of expertise to the job as we work to put America on the path to prosperity."
Upon the resignation of Steven Miller, several news outlets have pointed out that Wilkins will likely become a public target of congressional investigators digging into the scandal surrounding the IRS’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party organizations.
Reuters wrote that GOP lawmakers’ aides said their bosses will soon “focus” on Wilkins as they “seek to determine whether the White House acted improperly.”
“Wilkins' office was made aware of the targeting of conservative groups as early as August 2011, according to the inspector general report,” Reuters wrote. “The report does not make clear whether Wilkins - who reports to the Treasury Department's general counsel - himself knew of the targeting in 2011, or when he first learned of it.”
“Another question is whether Wilkins, whose office employs about 1,600 lawyers, might have taken the matter elsewhere within the Obama administration,” Reuters added. “The IRS issued a statement saying Wilkins did not participate in the August 2011 meeting, which the agency said involved ‘staff attorneys several layers below Wilkins.’”
As Town Hall magazine highlighted recently, White House spokesman Jay Carney has already been pressured by reporters on Wilkins' role in this scandal.