Concerns over immigration from our neighbors to the south have loomed large this primary season, with the GOP candidates in agreement regarding the dangerous exports of one country in particular: Mexico. However, before we erect more walls between us and our third largest trading partner, it behooves our would-be presidents to walk the streets of Mexico City, or tour the Baja California region, and see Mexico through the lens of its most recent market trend: craft beer.
In 2010, SAB Miller and ACERMEX (a trade association representing Mexican microbrewers) launched a complaint with Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission (CFC) castigating the two largest beer producers, Grupo Modelo and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, for abusing market power by forcing exclusivity agreements on their customers. (The duopolists, who control 98% of the Mexican market, provide incentives and disincentives to restaurants, bars, hotels and convenience stores that effectively keep their competition off the shelves.) After three years of debate, the CFC ruled in favor of SAB Miller and ACERMEX, though fell short of full market liberalization. Currently, the CFC guarantees open and unrestricted access to “on-trade” channels (bars, restaurants, hotels) and caps exclusive arrangements made on “off-trade” channels, (convenience stores) to 20% of market. The result has been a doubling of the total number of craft breweries and triple-digit growth for the larger Mexican craft brewers such as Cerveceria de Baja California (Baja) and Cerveceria Minerva (Minerva).
Historically, Mexico’s duopolists offered just two types of beer: standard lager and stout. But younger Mexicans, with their thirsty, youthful palates, demand greater selection and a quality product. Unsurprisingly, the west coast American beer culture has found a natural home in the Mexican state of Baja California, birthplace of Baja and their Cucapa line of beer. The selection of craft products is dazzling for a region with limited beer selection. Next to standard fare like Cucapa Clasica, a blonde ale, one can pick up Cucapa Chupabras, an American inspired pale ale, the Cucapa Barley Wine, or the Cucapa La Migra Imperial Stout. And while the combined craft beer market still holds less than 1% of the marketplace, it has been growing at more than 50% a year. Minerva, which started in 2004 with three employees, now has a staff of 48 and a new production facility that will likely push production beyond 1.5 million liters next year.
The Obama administration spent the last two years telling lawmakers and reporters that any deal with Iran would require the Iranians to provide International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors robust access to the Parchin military base, where the Iranians conducted hydrodynamic experiments relevant to the detonation of nuclear warheads. The IAEA needs the access to determine how far the Iranians got as a prerequisite to establishing a verification regime. Here's Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in 2013: the Joint Plan of Action requires Iran to "address past and present practices... including Parchin"; Sherman in 2014: "as part of any comprehensive agreement... we expect, indeed, Parchin to be resolved"; State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf in 2015: "we would find it... very difficult to imagine a JCPA that did not require such [inspector] access at Parchin"; etc.
Last month Republican senator Jim Risch suggested in an open Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing that the West had collapsed on the requirement and that instead the Iranians had worked out a secret side deal with Iran under which the Iranians would be trusted to collect their own samples for the IAEA. Kerry refused to confirm the arrangement citing classification issues, but the Associated Press's Vienna reporter locked it down anyway.
White House officials and validators continued to declare that in no way would the IAEA ever agree to that kind of arrangement, since it would preclude the agency from securing a chain of custody over the evidence. But the administration refused to transmit the side deal to Congress—which would have resolved the debate—and instead claimed that the U.S. couldn't get the text because it was a confidential Iran-IAEA bilateral agreement. Business Insiderconfirmed that in fact U.S. diplomats can call for the agreement at any time because Washington sits on the IAEA's Board of Governors. Nonetheless Kerry told Congress that not only did the U.S. not have the text, but that he hadn't even seen the final wording, though he added that maybe "Wendy Sherman may have" (she subsequently clarified she hadn't either).
A government watchdog is calling on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to review its policies after an investigation found the agency paid a patent examiner $25,500 for time spent allegedly doing other things, like golfing or playing pool.
The fraud was uncovered with typical federal alacrity as an investigation found the employee’s work dropped off significantly starting in 2012, and that he received the lownest performance ratings and nine warnings in the three subsequent years as an
investigation found the employee’s work dropped off significantly starting in 2012, and that he received the lowest performance ratings and nine warnings in the three subsequent years.
When things finally got too hot for our civil servant, he resigned
... at the advice of a union representative
The inspector general's office referred the alleged time abuse to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia, which did not pursue any charges.
The IG also
… advised the PTO to explore other legal avenues to recover the $25,500.
Lots of luck with that, one thinks. They might have to find a hustler who can get it back from the guy on the golf course playing an $8,500 dollar Nassau.
Amy Kass’s family and friends, students and colleagues, will testify to her many virtues—her love and devotion to husband, children, and grandchildren (so amply reciprocated by them in these last painful months), her keen intellect and sensibility, her faith in Judaism as a heritage and ethic, her passion for her country. For this and much else, I count Amy as a dear and memorable friend. More memorable still is another rare and precious virtue—a mind and heart at one.
In her reflections on the teaching of the Great Books, Amy made a large point of the lesson she imparted to her students – that the principles they learned from the Ancients were meaningful only if they were applied to their personal lives. Philosophy, she insisted, was not merely an academic discipline but a course of instruction in practical ethics as well. And ethics was more than morality in the usual sense; it meant living a life that was spirited, soulful. When Amy is remembered and commemorated as a superb teacher, as she is by generations of devoted students, it is this vision of learning and living they have in mind.
As Amy personified that meeting of mind and heart, so did her marriage with Leon. Most marriages, it is my impression—very good marriages—are complementary, husband and wife bringing different talents and qualities to the marriage, different means to a harmonious end. Amy and Leon were alike, in means and end, in mind, and heart. This is evident not only in their personal lives but in the books they collaborated on, the seminars and meetings they presided over, their joint courses at the university. If they sometimes differed in approaching a subject, it was only to make their common conclusion more compelling. I have witnessed and been amused by this again and again in our dinner conversations. They might start by offering a somewhat different interpretation of a book or event, but only to reconcile that difference by dessert time.
As I so often felt, in those dinner talks, the spirit of my husband hovering over them, so I now hear his voice joining me in paying homage to Amy, a rare human being and a very dear friend.
We are very sorry to have to inform our readers of the death last night of our friend, our teacher (in class and out), and above all a woman whom we thoroughly and unreservedly admired, Amy Kass. Amy's character and her work will be the subject of many well-deserved tributes in the days and weeks to come; you can begin with this fine appreciation by her Hudson Institute colleague William Schambra.
For now, it is perhaps enough to point out the obvious: Amy was a truly remarkable woman. A legendary teacher at the University of Chicago and a very fine scholar, she was at once a most perceptive student of great literature and a spirited and enlightened patriot. She was able to combine in an unusual way philosophic detachment and moral seriousness, a rare kind of enriching gravity and a wonderfully enlivening wit. Her marriage to Leon was a model for all; her friendship was a blessing for those of us fortunate to have known her.
In quickly looking over some of Amy's work this morning, I came across this short piece that Amy wrote with Leon a few years ago. It seemed to me to capture unusually well, in just two paragraphs, several features of Amy's moral and intellectual outlook:
Republican presidential candidate John Kasich told a voter in New Hampshire Wednesday that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States is the "law of the land."
"I would like to ask whether you can respect the Roe versus Wade decision, and I ask because as a lifelong libertarian, I'm looking for a candidate to support who is both a fiscal conservative and not a threat to a woman's right to control her own body," said a voter at a town hall event in Salem, New Hampshire.
"Obviously, it's the law of the land now, and we live with the law of the land," Kasich replied. Watch the video below:
Earlier this week, in an interview with CNN, Kasich suggested Republicans focus "too much" on the issue of abortion at the expense of other issues like "early childhood, infant mortality, the environment, education."
A request to Kasich's campaign from THE WEEKLY STANDARD for further comment about Roe v. Wade has not yet been returned. (The campaign has responded. See update.)
Update: Kasich campaign spokesman Chris Schrimpf responds by noting that in a press availability after the event, the Ohio governor touted his pro-life record. Here's what Kasich said, according to Schrimpf: "There are restrictions that we put in, we've done a lot of things in Ohio effecting abortions after 20 weeks, but until that law changes, that's the law. If the court makes a ruling, they make a ruling, but I think there are absolutely legitimate and constitutional restrictions that can be put on it."
Asked about Kasich's own judicial appointments if he were elected president, Schrimpf did not say whether Kasich would apply a "litmus test" with respect to overturning Roe. "He respects the constitutionally-proscribed independence of the judiciary, but in the judicial appointments he has made as governor he has consistently sought judges who, as President Reagan said, practice ‘judicial restraint,’ and understand that the courts are not 'vehicles for political action and social experimentation’ and he would pursue that approach as President," said Schrimpf in an email.
Even if they disagree with his politics, Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues, such as Douglas Carswell from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), acknowledge that he is a nice, down-to-earth fellow; certainly not one of his party’s grandees. Unpretentious, rarely seen wearing a suit and a tie, he’s also been one of the most parsimonious MPs, claiming only the bare minimum needed to sustain the office in his constituency in North London.
There is something almost endearing about the sincere, old-school leftism of the Labour candidate for leadership, reminiscent of Bernie Sanders. Like one of the Japanese imperial soldiers found on a Pacific island decades after the Second World War, Corbyn comes across as someone from a slightly different era, fighting battles that most think are over.
He wants, for example, the Bank of England to jeopardize its mandate and directly finance investment in new homes and infrastructure projects. He advocates re-nationalizing the railways, postal service, and the six large energy providers -- British Gas, SSE, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and EDF. To curb excessive executive pay, he believes the UK should introduce a ‘maximum wage.’
But Corbyn’s economic illiteracy pales in comparison to some of his foreign policy views and the friends he keeps. It goes without saying that he thinks that the conflict in Ukraine is a result of NATO’s “belligerence,” that he appears frequently on Russia Today, and that he is widely quoted by Putinist propagandist sites.
Most church groups and prominent religious voices speaking to the Iran nuclear deal are supportive. Most notable among them is the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
In April, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who leads the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote members of Congress to hail the accord as an "important step in advancing a peaceful resolution." He quoted Pope Francis, who prayed that, “the framework…may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”
Cantu cited the "unacceptable prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons," and he noted "Iran’s statements and actions have threatened its neighbors, especially Israel, and contributed to instability in the region." But he warned against congressional interference, concerned that the "alternative to an agreement leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church."
In July, Bishop Cantú again wrote Congress to commend the "remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement" and urging Congress to "support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding."
Liberal Evangelical activist Jim Wallis of Sojourners similarly hailed the accord for pursuing options that will "prevent further war with more dangerous weapons," which is the "right course of action in a highly imperfect world." He warned that "those who oppose deals like this often proclaim a binary world of simple good and evil, which we don't have -- and believing so is a dangerous illusion."
For good measure, Wallis recalled the "democratically elected prime minister of Iran who was overthrown by the CIA in 1953'" and "subsequent United States-imposed brutal dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who became the Shah of Iran." Unlike Bishop Cantú, Wallis at least did warn there should be "no illusion that Iran will instantly change its destructive and disruptive behavior because of this agreement." And he urged the U.S. to "insist that Iran cease funding armed groups throughout the Middle East, improve its human rights record, and end its hostility toward Israel, through "focused diplomatic and economic pressure." He concluded: "Giving serious diplomacy and international pressure a chance before contemplating military action is both a better strategic option and a more Christian one."
In April, Wallis organized 50 Christian leaders to endorse the Iran nuclear deal, a list that was mostly liberal Mainline Protestants plus a few Evangelicals like Florida pastor Joel Hunter, a spiritual counselor to President Obama. Their statement warned that, "military strikes would be, at best, premature, as well as highly unpredictable and morally irresponsible in creating yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country."
K Street is banking on Hillary Clinton, with more than twice as many Washington lobbyists donating to the former secretary of State’s presidential campaign than any other candidate.
While many lobbyists are holding their pocketbooks in the early stages of the 2016 election cycle, Clinton — the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination — received at least $625,703 from 316 registered lobbyists and corporate PACs during the first half of the year, according to disclosure form
These are the “everyday people,” who get up every morning and put on $3,000 suits, drive to work $80,000 automobiles, eat $300 expense account lunches, and return to hearth and home full with the satisfactions of good and honest labor.
And they know they can count on Hillary Clinton, as president, to do the right thing.
In an interesting footnote,
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has eschewed the involvement of lobbyists and corporations in elections, only took $420.
The good news is that Australia is close to acknowledging the obvious: Digital currency should be treated as currency. The bad news is that this same thing hasn’t happened in the United States. Bitcoins can now be used to buy almost anything from coffee to surgery, but the government still doesn’t know what to think of this new innovation.
Treating digital currencies as currency relieves Bitcoin and other crypto-currency users and companies from many additional costs associated with its previous treatment in Australia. Previously Australia treated digital currencies as an intangible asset which included additional economic barriers such as the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST). The Australian change wasn’t made just because of the obvious good public policy reasons- treat a currency as a currency. The change was made for the second best reason, at least for an economist, the change was made in reaction to Australia’s recent loss of a large Bitcoin company CoinJar. In December of 2014 CoinJar left Australia for the the UK to avoid the GST and take advantage of the decision in the UK to exempt digital currencies from their VAT. Therefore, Australia is making this choice in order to compete for business on the world stage.
In this global competition- soon all eyes will be on the U.S.
Currently, the U.S. treats digital currency as property. The IRS, in response to the growing market – that includes people getting paid in Bitcoin, produced a Guidance document in early 2014.
“The notice provides that virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes. General tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency. “
This guidance was produced at approximately the same time that Australia started to look into changing their policies and the time that the UK decided to exempt digital currencies from their oppressive Valued Added Tax. What this means is that in the U.S. a lower amount of transactions are encouraged and according to the IRS Guidance users must calculate capital gains or losses on each transaction. For instance, using a common example, if Bitcoins bought for $1 are used to buy a $2 cup of coffee the Bitcoin payer would need to report $1 in Capital Gains and the Coffee Shop owner would report $2 in gross income.
This slight difference in treatment of currency and property means that Australia and the UK are better places to use bitcoins, better places to mine crypto-currencies, and therefore have higher potential for digital currency growth.
A change from property treatment to currency treatment is something that even this broken Congress might be able to accomplish. Bitcoin values have decreased since the 2014 Guidance by almost 50% and therefore any legislation should score as a revenue increase because Capital Losses from bitcoin would no longer be expected. This marginal revenue difference would also open up the market for digital transactions and put the US back in the lead of this global economic competition.
Liberals and progressives go to great lengths to keep church and state separate. Just try to have religious schools share in a voucher or other government program that provides relief to students trapped by the teachers’ unions into failing schools. No can do. It violates the separation of church and state.
Just have some poor baker refuse to bake a cake for a gay married couple, and he will be told that he can’t impose his religious beliefs on that couple, the law of the land overriding any individual right to obey religious beliefs. Note: this is not a monopoly electric utility denying an essential service to that couple: it is a baker, one of dozens easily available in Colorado and eager for the business of the gay couple which were married, by the way, in Massachusetts, a state unlikely to have as many religious bakers as does Colorado.
But when the president needs support for his climate plan he calls upon the anti-capitalist Pope to rally his religious legions on the side of the American state. No separation allowed. And when the administration wanted to establish relations with a Cuban dictatorship still rounding up dissidents, it looked to Pope Francis for a blessing. And got it, presumably so that capitalist America could ship to the island the goods that would relieve the shortages inflicted on Cubans blessed to live in the Castros’ communist economy. Only the deeply cynical would claim that the Pope’s moral authority is less coercive than the legal authority of the state. Coercive separation or merger of church and state coercive power – whichever suits the administration’s needs.
We are indeed, one nation under God – some of the time.
The Internal Revenue Service announced in May that hackers had gotten into its system, and it estimated then that 114,000 taxpayers' accounts had been compromised. But a thorough review of activity on the IRS site throughout the 2015 tax-filing season revealed that the intrusion affected nearly three times that many accounts, the agency said Monday.
From the former Secretary of State to the Office of Personnel Management to the Internal Revenue Service, this government doesn’t seem to do cyber security very well. But, then, there are a lot of things it doesn’t do well. Consider that river in Colorado.
I’ve got no idea what communications operative decided to run with this inane spin (in my experience they’re nearly all dumb enough to do such a thing) but it has the potential to torpedo Steven Kaplan’s nomination.
The issue is simple: it’s hard not to look at the events surrounding the 2008 financial market meltdown and ascribe some portion of blame to Goldman Sachs, the 800 pound gorilla on Wall Street. As Michael Lewis’ book The Big Short made plain, its bankers were selling mortgage-backed securities they were fairly certain would crater, while also allowing other customers to bet on precisely that outcome.
When the bottom fell out of the market, Goldman Sachs emerged more or less unscathed despite its exposure--largely thanks to a massive government bailout of AIG, which had sold them “insurance” on billions of dollars of their investments that turned out to be worthless, a fact that would have become evident had Goldman’s alleged geniuses given it even a cursory thought. But they didn’t, in part because they knew that they were too important (or politically plugged in) to fail. Having a Goldman alum running the Treasury helped assuage any fears.
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, not a few people are rightly suspicious of the sort of self-dealing that occurred in the crisis and are wary of allowing more foxes in the financial regulatory hen house. The days where a Goldman Sachs banker practices his version of noblesse oblige by volunteering for government service after making his millions seemed at an end.
Until yesterday, that is, when the Federal Reserve bank of Dallas appointed Kaplan to be its next president. It’s an important job: it will make him a regular voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, which meets six times a year to help decide monetary policy. Normally these positions go to economists who spent their career thinking about monetary policy. Reaching into the ranks of Wall Street isn’t all that common.
The people at the Dallas Fed apparently recognized there was an incipient PR problem with this appointment and came up with two approaches--both of which happen to be asinine and offensive.
The first objection, floated in John Hilsenrath’s piece in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, was that Goldman Sachs was started by Jews at a time when they couldn’t be hired by other white-shoe investment banks, and while those days are long past it still has a fair number of Jews working there. Therefore, opposing the appointment of one of its employees for a high-level job makes one an anti-Semite.
"Do you have a secret server you need to wipe clean?" reads the product description. "Having trouble clearing out those pesky Top Secret emails? Well Hillary's got just the thing: the Secret Server Wiper." See a photo of the cloth below:
The product is a reference to a joke Clinton made Tuesday during a press conference in Nevada. Asked about whether she had wiped or attempted to wipe the private email server she maintained while secretary of state, Clinton responded, "What, like with a cloth or something?"