Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts on the Target Campaign

It seems that some time ago the Target Corporation donated some money to a group that supports a Republican candidate (Tom Emmer) for Governor. Emmer is opposed to gay marriage, just like a majority of Americans. But since this has come to light, Target is now facing a huge outcry from the usual suspects. The main bone of contention seems to be that the corporation donated to a conservative cause.

Both the original CBS News story and today's Yahoo News story are fairly representative of the media reaction. CBS wrote,
Here's something Target Corp. isn't advertising in its Sunday circular: The discount retailer is now a major donor to a group backing the Republican candidate for Minnesota governor.

And that's not sitting well with every Target shopper.

CBS begins their story with a very negative tone, implying that this donation is a Bad Bad Thing. And as shown by their later comments, they appear to have no problem with the fact that the opponents of Target are trying to censor the corporation's freedom of speech. CBS continues,
In Minnesota, where Target has its headquarters and opened its first store 48 years ago, Democrats are grumbling about the large donation, and some are talking about striking back at the popular brand.

A few voices are even calling for a boycott in the state, one of Target's top three for sales. One Democratic-backed group is reaching out to Target employees through Facebook ads urging them to sign a petition opposing the donations.

"I think Target is making a huge mistake," said Laura Hedlund, a former Democratic campaign worker who picketed outside a suburban Minneapolis Target store on Saturday, urging shoppers to spend their money elsewhere.

At least CBS (for once) mostly identified the opposition as Democratic Party and left-wing activists. This is stark contrast to the usual media pattern of refusing to identify left-leaners and Democrats - they are suually presented as 'civic-minded people' or some such.

But the real problem is that left-wing contributions by business are treated by the media as both desirable and of no particular news-worthiness at all. How many stories have been run about George Soros' contributions to the plethora of left-wing groups he bankrolls? How many media stories are run about the left-wing contributions of say, Apple? But when Target makes a donation to a Republican, the media suddenly thinks this is a terrible idea.

The Associated Press (via Yahoo News) continues this meme, writing,
Target and its corporate retail cousin Best Buy are continuing to suffer fallout from donations to a Minnesota group that backed a gay-marriage opponent for governor. On top of organized consumer boycotts and public pressure campaigns, some of the retail giant's investors are up in arms, according to the Associated Press.

Notice how the meme is that opposition is rising? And notice how they can only come up with three very minor stockholders? Funny how these three minor stockholders are placed front and center by the AP. If it were a liberal company donation and three minor conservative-leaning stockholders protested, would they be given such positive press? I think we all know the answer to that one.

What all this really comes down to is that the media-Democratic complex wants free speech for me but not for thee. Like so many other closet totalitarians, they want the power to speak to be reserved to themselves so they are attempting to bully anyone of opposing views into silence. This is why whistleblowers during Republican Administrations are treated like gods even when they lie (Joe Wilson) but whistleblowers during Democratic Administrations cannot get the time of day from the media (see J. Christian Adams). I find both their views and their tactics repugnant. If they can win the argument, then let's have a real debate. but trying to bludgeon one's opponent into silence via threats only shows the hollow nature of one's argument. And by this standard, so have those who are so unhappy with Target shown the clay feet of their own golden idols.

The TSA Strikes Again

The TSA is supposed to be the first line of defense for threats crossing into our country via the airlines. They are also supposedly created to ensure that our flying experience is safe. According to the TSA website, their mission is,
The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.

The TSA website continues with their core values:
To enhance mission performance and achieve our shared goals, we are committed to promoting a culture founded on these values:

* Integrity:
o We are a people of integrity who respect and care for others and protect the information we handle.
o We are a people who conduct ourselves in an honest, trustworthy and ethical manner at all times.
o We are a people who gain strength from the diversity in our cultures.
* Innovation:
o We are a people who embrace and stand ready for change.
o We are a people who are courageous and willing to take on new challenges.
o We are a people with an enterprising spirit, striving for innovations who accept the risk-taking that comes with it.
* Team Spirit:
o We are a people who are open, respectful and dedicated to making others better.
o We are a people who have a passion for challenge, success and being on a winning team.
o We are a people who will build teams around our strengths.

Not a single one of these core values applies to the TSA's performance, as any traveler can testify. And as for their 'mission, the simple fact is that the TSA is utterly incompetent at every job is purports to perform. The TSA has stopped not a single terrorist attack since its institution - every single major attempt has been thwarted either by passengers or by the terrorists' own incompetence. Examples of the TSA failures can be found in the Shoe Bomber, the Crotch Bomber and the fact that TSA screeners fail the vast majority of tests every time they are tested.

But they are certainly vigilant about trying to take passengers' personal possessions - especially if they are valuable. According to a story today by Daniel Rubin in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the TSA once again has ignored a citizen's Constitutional rights (they are VERY good at ignoring citizens' rights, though they are signally bad at actually doing their jobs) and treating an innocent passenger as a criminal. Writes Rubin,
At what point does an airport search step over the line?

How about when they start going through your checks, and the police call your husband, suspicious you were clearing out the bank account?
Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.

"It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says.

She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money."

This is absolutely infuriating. Citizens are under no compulsion to tell government officials anything and police and TSA personnel have absolutely no right whatsoever to behave with this kind of contempt. Congress needs to make the individual TSA screeners liable for their actions and the police officers in question need to be sued for civil rights violations and hopefully fired. Have any of these people ever heard of the United States Constitution and its prohibitions on unreasonable searches? How about search warrants? How about the presumption of innocence?

i hope this poor woman sues and gets a massive payout from those who utterly ignored her rights. I hope the TSA screeners in questions are fired (oh, wait, they are government workers. You could kill someone and not lose your job - see Ted Kennedy. At the very least the ignorant police officers who showed an equal disregard for the law need to be brought into court and at the very least have their badges stripped.

The TSA is looked about with justifiable contempt by anyone who has ever had to deal with their low-grade, ignorant and incompetent employees - which is just about everyone who has ever flown. Incidents like this simply reinforce the case for the immediate disbandment of the TSA. They are not in any way an improvement on the private firms that formerly did airport security. And like most government workers, they have an inflated sense of their own importance. I hope that the first thing a new Congress does is strip the TSA of their law enforcement status. These people are not law enforcement as they clearly do not know the most basic law of the United States. And the second thing they should do is get rid of the TSA and return its duties to the private firms - at least they have no illusions as to their status!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reagan vs Obama?

Kevin Williamson writes in today's National Review Online edition,
News flash: This is not 1982, and Obama is not Reagan.

The important difference is this: There was a good reason for the Volcker-Reagan recession: defeating inflation. American voters may not be terribly economically sophisticated, but they sure as heck did notice when inflation went from 13.5 percent to 3.2 percent — in two years.

This is a salient point - Ronald Reagan was trying to reduce the damage done by the previous Administration's ham=handed and inept economic policies. And it worked - as Williamson notes, inflation dropped drastically in only two years. Mission accomplished!

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be clear to our friends on the Left side of the political spectrum. One of the commenters writes,
Reagan was an incredible deficit spender, I don't think you can distinguish between Obama and Reagan on that factor.

Unless this is a joke, this comment displays a distressing lack of understanding both of history and of international relations. Yes, Reagan did do some large defiicit spending. But, as was the case with the economic policies, there was a reason. A good one. Reagan believed that the Cold War needed to end and he did not think (correctly, as it turned out) that the Soviet Union could keep pace with the US if the Cold War turned into a competition between economic methodology. By spending freely on the US military, he forced the Soviets into an arms race they simply could not win. And his full-throated defense of liberty and freedom gave heart to the millions of enslaved Eastern Europeans. Essentially, Ronald Reagan put his money where his mouth was and bet that the US could win an economic showdown with the Soviet Union. And he was right.

In 1980, when Reagan came into office, the world was resigned to the grim menace of Soviet tanks and proxy wars. Reagan ended that, at least as far as the Soviets were concerned. Proxy wars will go on forever, but the specter of Russian tanks crossing into Western Europe is gone. Ronald Reagan performed two vital actions during his eaight years in office - he won the Cold War (though the Soviet Union did not finally collapse until his successor was in office) and he crushed the inflation caused by Jimmy Carter and his de-regulation put the US on a solid economic course that has lasted by and large until the current Administration.

I don't see how you can compare Reagan and Obama either, but not for the reasons our commenter friend listed. I don't see how you can compare actions taken with a firm goal in mind - a goal that was achieved in both cases largely by the time Reagan left office - to Obama's destructive spending. If Obama's goal is to make the entire country dependent on government and to make the political class into feudal masters, then I guess he is succeeding. But to me there is a fundamental difference between spending to defeat an enemy and spending to make government more powerful. Reagan was all about smaller government. Obama? Not so much.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Limiting Spending

Mark Tapscott has a column today in the Washington Examiner online edition about the Constitutional Amendment introduced by three members of the US House of Representatives - Mike Pence (R, IN), John Campbell (R, CA) and Jeb Hensarling (R, TX). His money quote is,
Put another way, the SLA would cap Uncle Sam's take from our wallets at one of every five dollars we earn. Is it too much to ask our elected representatives in Washington that they not spend more than one of every five of our dollars?

Yes, is it really too much that Congress restrict themselves to taking only one fifth of our money, instead of trying to seize it all? Is it too much to ask that they live within the same kinds of spending restrictions that we must abide by? I do not think so and to that end have written and sent the following letter to my three members of Congress, with appropriate personalization:
Dear [congressperson],

As you are probably aware, Greece is undergoing some serious financial problems as a result of its out of control deficits. What you may not know is that the United States is currently on course for the same financial problems that currently plague Greece. Greece's problems began occurring as their deficit reached thirteen percent of their GDP. Currently, the United States has a deficit that takes up 10 percent of the GDP.

The problem is not that American taxpayers so not pay enough to the various layers of government. The problem is that the government - like an alcoholic - simply does not know when to stop. Would you spend more than your paycheque every month until you had your home foreclosed and your assets seized? Would you regard your salary as a 'guideline' as opposed to an actual limitation on your personal spending? If not, then why would you do this with American taxpayers' dollars? This is not Monopoly money that is inexhaustible.

I understand that a bill has been introduced by three members of the House (Congressmen Mike Pence, John Campbell and Jed Hensarling) that would amend the US Constitution to restrict Congress from spending more than twenty percent of GDP. The bill is HJ Res 79.

Unless you enjoy the thought of your children and grandchildren facing the same crushing debt that my children face, unless you like the prospect of the kinds of social unrest Greece is seeing and unless you honestly have no qualms about spending money that you did not earn, I would urge you to sign on to this bill as a sponsor or introduce it in the Senate if that has not already been done. Only by forcing Congress to rein in their appetites for spending other people's money can we get this looming financial disaster under control.

Please sign on to HJ Res 79. This is one bill that absolutely must proceed if we are to have any chance of saving our country before we end up like Greece.

I hope that anyone who reads this (and who is a US citizen or legal resident) emails their Congressperson and their Senators, urging them exactly the same thing. The problem, as Ronald Reagan once famously put it, is the government. Only by forcing government to live within the same means that we the people must are we going to climb out way out of this looming pit. And since Congress and the current Administration seem to have neither the will nor the leadership to do it, we must force them to do it against their own wishes. After all, it's our money their wasting and out children they are saddling with this frightful debt.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Term Limits and other suggestions

Over at Michelle Malkin's place on the Net, one of the commenters suggested that three terms in the House of Representatives is more than enough. Writes hawkeye54,

Nah, that’s too drastic. There are some worth keeping. I say, though, after 3 terms in the House, find another job. 6 yeas is enough exposure to DC swamp gas. There are other places and ways good people can be politically effective.

That is a good suggestion to start, but I think that it is not enough. After all, Senators serve six-year terms. Thus a Senator with only two terms' experience has been in the Washington, D.C. cesspool for twelve years. So let's make Representatives have term limits of six terms, Senators have a two-term limit and Supreme Court justices have to retire at or before age 75. But that alone will not clean up the Washington corruption. We need to do more. So here are a few suggestions:

  • Pass a Constitutional amendment stating that Congressional spending cannot exceed twenty percent of GDP. All existing spending promises are counted. Any overspending must be paid back by the elected officials who voted for it, their staffs and federal employees, other than the military.

  • Pass a Constitutional amendment stating that the federal government can under no circumstances compete with or have any financial interest in any private industry or business in any field except those specifically stated in the Constitution (eg. Post Office). Fields aside from those specifically mentioned in the Constitution are forbidden for the federal government to interfere in any way aside to verify that the products offered are accurately being described. No false advertising - it must accurately reflect the product and any attendant risks.

  • Pass a Constitutional amendment stating that the federal government may not mandate the purchase of any product or service under any circumstances.

  • Define the Commerce Clause as referring ONLY to services or businesses that cross State lines - it give the Feds no power whatsoever to interfere in any business or enterprise that is entirely inside one state.

  • Congress must use the same accounting rules applied to corporations.

  • Congress may not mandate the purchase of any product or service.

  • Public servants may not be members of unions. Period.

  • Any public servant must answer any citizen question in full. No government department may ignore any FOIA request. Failure to comply within the specified time will result in a fine, paid directly to the citizen requesting of not less than 1000 dollars per day for each day of delay.

  • Get rid of EPA, Transportation Dept, the Fed, all foreign aid, all tuition support and all government subsidies. And I'd also eliminate any other Federal department not specifically mentioned in the Constitution and move the CIA's duties back to military intelligence - they're doing a far better job than the CIA at present.

  • Get rid of the income tax and either make it a flat tax or replace it with a sales tax. the income tax is repressive and inherently unfair as most taxes are paid by a minority.

Anyway, that's where I would start. I'm sure my readers can come up with a few others.

More TSA Follies

I have long maintained that the TSA is a massive scam to get unqualified people jobs in the federal government. And the fact is that TSA has managed a complete and epic FAIL at it's core mission. Consider the following:

This is pretty good evidence that TSA, at least as currently constituted, is a useless waste of everyone's time and money. The so-called screeners are inefficient, ignorant (they cannot seem to differentiate musical instruments from bombs), arrogant when questioned, arbitrary, fond of cruel jokes that would get a passenger arrested and completely inconsistent in their methodology not only between different airports but even between different screeners AT THE SAME AIRPORT!!!

However, it seems that TSA screeners also are busy engaging in pre-adolescent humor as to their colleagues private parts. Humor that resulted in violence. For our far-left Obama propagandists at MSNBC, the New York Times, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC, that would be real, physical violence - the kind caused by leftist protests like those against Arizona's attempt to actually enforce existing immigration law - as opposed to the entirely nonexistent violence the media keeps breathlessly claiming the Tea Partiers MIGHT cause. some day. As (unexpectedly) reported by the website,
A TSA worker in Miami was arrested for aggravated battery after police say he attacked a colleague who'd made fun of his small genitalia after he walked through one of the new high-tech security scanners during a recent training session.

So, to recap. TSA employees are perfectly fine mocking, insulting and thoroughly inconveniencing travelers while managing to miss ever serious threat to this country's security. Oh, and they also apparently enjoy child porn - the TSA is pushing to electronically strip search your child (and your spouse, of course). But when their own personal body parts are mocked (with admittedly juvenile and exceedingly crude humor), they immediately think it is OK to resort to violence.

Hmmm. So, what does this tell us about the TSA? Well, for this writer it confirms that this is an agency that never should have existed in the first place and ought to be disbanded as soon as possible. Return all these incompetents to the depths from which they came (probably welfare for most of them based on their demonstrated lack of intelligence). And the bloviating members of Congress who thought this was an excellent idea should be forced to fly coach class (especially including Speaker Pelosi) without access to any VIP treatment at all domestic airports. Perhaps a dose of what the little people have to endure might cause an outbreak of common sense. Oh, wait. These are politicians we're talking about. With very rare exceptions they don't HAVE any common sense. Or much intelligence, seemingly, if their comments on CSPAN are any indication!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Those 'Tolerant' Muslims

There is much angst and whining in these United States over the recent Arizona law that (gasp!) actually required state officials to enforce already-existing national immigration law. The open-borders lobby is insistent that enforcing existing law is intolerant and racist.

So I'm sure that the same grievance-mongers who are so upset about Arizona's law will be quick to take offense at the restrictions Dubai (and most other Muslim countries) place on visitors. According to a story in the United Kingdom's Daily Mail website, these restrictions include the following:

  • Alcohol is only allowed in licensed restaurants, pubs, clubs, private venues. And to drink at home, you must have a special alcohol licence. Alcohol can only be consumed by over 21s.

  • Drugs are strictly forbidden, and even having a residual amount in your bag or on clothing could result in a four-year jail sentence. Even if you are importing prescription drugs you may need to get permission from the UAE authorities first.

  • Sex outside of marriage is illegal and sharing a hotel room could land you in a police cell.

  • Holding hands is tolerated if you are married, but kissing and hugging is considered an offence against public decency.

  • Dancing is only allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs. Dancing in public is classed as indecent and provocative.

  • Offensive language, spitting and aggressive behaviour (including hand gestures) is though to be unacceptable. British offenders have been known to receive a six-month jail sentence for such an act and some have been deported.

  • Drink-driving is illegal and the UAE has a ZERO-tolerance policy. Even having the smallest amount of alcohol in your system is banned. Tailgating, speeding, racing, lane jumping, or using a mobile phone while driving are also against the law.

  • Addressing women in public, or taking their photo without permission is strictly frowned upon and it is forbidden to take pictures of government buildings.

So to recap. Enforcing existing immigration law in the United States is racist. But it is perfectly OK for foreign countries to place far more restrictive limits on visitors. As an aside, how does Mexico treat visitors? I think we all know the answer to that - they are famous for their shakedown tactics and the corruption and arrogance toward foreigners are well-documented. I'll take all this outrage over the Arizona law with more than a grain of salt when and if they adopt open-borders policies in their own country. And when the professional open-borders lobby targets countries other than the United States.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Were the Nazis Socialists?

The early-twentieth century National Socialist (Nazi) Party of Germany are usually classified - at least in the United States - as adhering to a 'right-wing' political philosophy. However, Professor Ilya Somin over at the Volokh Conspiracy wrote an interesting post on the question of the German Nazis as Socialists. His main premise seems to be as follows,
The idea that Nazism was an extreme form of "capitalism" and Hitler primarily a tool serving the interests of "big business" is a longstanding myth that even now retains a measure of popularity in some quarters. This, despite the fact that the full name of the Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and that Nazi political strategy was explicitly based on combining the appeal of socialism with that of nationalism (thus the choice of name). Once in power, the Nazis even went so far as to institute a Four Year Plan for running the German economy, modeled in large part on the Soviet Union's Five Year Plans.

I find this interesting, as I have long wondered why Nazism is usually classified as 'right-wing' when in fact it appears to hold more in common with the 'left-wing' philosophies such as Communism than it does with modern right-wing thought in the untied States. However, the answer is that the United States is in fact almost unique in its political divisions. In this country, the modern political Right is in fact closer to classical liberalism - standing strongly for individual rights, equality for all, small government and less regulation. On the other hand the modern political Left stands for big government, economic control by the State, identity politics and individual freedoms subject to regulation and dispersal by the elites. Therefore the correct classification -at least for American political schools of thought - would be to classify the divide as between statists and individualists.

The modern political Right cannot be said to have any real connection to statism, although some post-war Republican Presidents have shown fondness for Big Government - notably Richard Nixon and both Bush presidents. But the main philosophy on the political Right in the United States seems to be a consistent call for smaller government, more individual freedom and less regulation. Ronald Reagan is the most consistent practitioner of these principles, but they have been among the modern conservative planks for some time.

The American Left in contrast is and has been for some time a powerful supporter of statist totalitarianism. Leftist support for Josef Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh and other totalitarian leaders who are thought to have socialist or communist policies has been a marked aspect of the Left for over a century. Remember that until that fatal day in June of 1941, the Left in the West were fervent supporters of both Hitler's Germany and Stalin's USSR, since they were allied. Therefore, i think it is a fair statement to say that the American Left - including a wide swath of the Democratic Party - is in favor of statist approaches. And Nazism is definitely a statist philosophy.

In conclusion, the labels Left and Right are not really valid in determining where Nazism lies in the political spectrum. but if one divides political philosophies into those who are in favor of State control and those that are not, it is pretty clear that National Socialism is far closer to Marxism and Communism than it is to any definition of free-markets and individual rights. At its core Nazism is a statist doctrine and as such it is far closer to the modern American Left than is the American Right.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Time for a Constitutional Convention?

Well, Lawrence Lessig and Mark McKinnon certainly think so. In today's Daily Beast, the two - one a conservative one a liberal - lay out their rationale for why a Constitutional convention might just be a good idea. Write the pair,
Washington is hopelessly addicted to money and thus to the status quo; drunk with power and incapable of getting sober and fixing itself. It’s time for an intervention—by the states.

As anyone with a cursory interest in the United States Constitution knows, there is a way to amend the Constitution without Congressional approval. As laid out in Article V, the Constitution states (emphasis mine),
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

This may be the only way we can rein in Congress. As Lessig and McKinnon state, Washington has long since abandoned any pretense of adhering to their constituents' wishes. Members of Congress engage in open graft, corruption and legal thievery to grease the palms of their corporate, nonprofit and governmental special interests. And thei spending is simply out of control. And if I were to propose amendments, they would be as follows:

  1. Any Act passed by Congress will apply to all elected, appointed and career members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

  2. No regulatory agency has authority to alter or amend its scope or requirements without said regulation being reviewed and approved by Congress.

  3. Neither Congress, the Executive nor the Judicial Branch may nationalize or have any ownership interest in any business, industry or other commercial endeavor.

  4. Neither Congress nor any State may mandate the individual purchase of any goods or services.

  5. Prisoners of War and non-legitimate combatants as defined by the Geneva Convention are not entitled to any access to any US court.

  6. No executive order may remain in effect for more than 365 days without Congressional review and approval.

  7. No Act of Congress may remain in effect for more than five years without Congressional review and approval.

  8. The President shall have a line-item veto as defined in California's Constitution Article IV, Section 10e

  9. The Second Amendment shall be interpreted as follows: The right of individuals to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

This would be a good place to start. We need to get the career corruptocrats out of Washington and remind Congress that this is a Federal system of checks and balances - not a parliamentary format where the national government has all the power!

Friday, March 26, 2010

At the One-Year Mark

When Barack Obama was elected, I made some predictions as to what his Presidency might look like. These predictions were as follows:

1. Fairness Doctrine is back- goodbye conservative radio. Rush will be either fined out of business or imprisoned for 'sedition'.
2. All conservative websites will be closed down- we're FAR more dangerous than those Islamic terrorists, didn't you know?
3. Taxes will skyrocket, our economy will tank.
4. The Second Amendment will be revoked by a liberal Supreme Court.
5. The US military will be emasculated and used solely as an international police force.
6. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two years.
7. Israel will no longer exist in two years.
8. Iraq will become another Islamic terror sponsor.
9. America will accept UN domination over all aspects of our foreign policy; we will sign a treaty giving the UN the power to control our treasury and our military.
10. No contrary opinions of an Obama Presidency will be tolerated- critics will be fined and possibly even imprisoned.
11. Congress will roll out universal health care and our health care system will become worse than Canada's. Americans will face huge long waits in line and many Americans will die from lack of timely care. Many doctors will go out of business due to their inability to get reimbursed. Getting health care will be worse than a trip to the DMV. (Advice- if you have anything that needs to be addressed health-wise, get it done now. In two years, our health care system will be a disaster).
12. Borders will be flung open- all illegal aliens will be legalized, provoking a fresh flood of illegals wanting citizenship.
13. Human Rights Commissions like those in Canda will form to prevent conservative speech from being heard. Any speech deemed 'hateful' (this only applied to comments made by conservatives, of course- liberals and leftists can do and say anything they wish) will be punished severely.
14. Starting January 20, expect to see the same economic numbers that were deemed to be bad for Bush spun as being wonderful under an Obama Presidency.

So. How accurate was I?

  1. Hasn't happened yet, but several Democratic members of Congress have talked about doing it. I would not be surprised if they ram it through before the 2010 midterm elections.

  2. Hasn't happened yet, although the Obama Justice Department thinks that Tea Partiers are a greater threat than armed Black Panthers.

  3. This is a given, especially considering the health care boondoggle, the 'Stimulus' the nationalization of Government Motors and the attempted takeover of student loans. Expect to see your taxes skyrocket next year.

  4. Second Amendment is still under attack, but Heller is so far holding firm. Don't expect to see the Left give up. Language actually in the Constitution (The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed) is MUCH less important than language based on 'emanations from a penumbra' (Justice Douglas' rationale for making up a new right to privacy found nowhere in the actual Constitution)

  5. To his credit, Obama hasn't actually done this yet, although he DID just cave to the Russians as far as nuclear weapons. How many actually expect Russia to keep its word? Yes, Barack, you can put your hand down. Anyone else? No? Hmmm...

  6. Likely. Iran is well on the way to nuclear weapons. While Obama sends them pitiful little Christmas messages. Sigh...

  7. Well, so far Israel has managed to resist Obama's best efforts to destroy them. But how much longer can they hold out if Obama is supporting their enemies? Only time will tell...

  8. Well, Obama doesn't get much credit here, but at least he hasn't utterly ruined the Bush plan of action in Iraq. So far, Iraq is still surpassing expectations. In the latest development, a secular, anti-Iranian leader beat out the Islamic PM. Good for them!

  9. Obama hasn't quite dared to do this, but the signs are certainly there. Let's hope for a Republican Congress so that he can't give away our sovereignty just yet!

  10. Here again, Obama's Justice Department hasn't taken the final steps, but the warning signs are here. They seem more concerned about Tea Partiers than actual terrorists and criminals like Bill Ayers and ACORN. Oh, wait. They support Democrats. Can't possibly be bad!

  11. Done. Now we are stuck unless we can somehow get rid of it before 2013. We'll be almost as good as Canada! Oh, wait...

  12. Congress and Obama have been talking about doing exactly this since 2009. Amnesty (and vast new votes of Democrats), here we come!

  13. Campuses already do this. It is only a matter of time before these get support from the Democrats. The only speech they want to hear is the echo chamber they and teh media inhabit.

  14. heh. You mean, like this (Obama) as opposed to this (Bush)?

Well, I am batting 4 for 14. In baseball that would be a wonderful percentage. Unfortunately, this isn't baseball. This is reality. And the reality is that most of these prophecies are either already complete (higher taxers, healthcare, media spin) in progress (immigration, speech restrictions on conservatives) or are being made more possible by Obama's policies (Iranian nukes, Israel's destruction, American decline). i only hope that the electorate does something about it in the next two elections. I don't like socialism, nor its kissing kin Communism! So, how's that Hope and Change working out for all your rubes who voted for the Marxists occupying our White House and Congress?

Government 'Efficiency' At Work

The government likes to tell us how much better they are than those eeevil corporations that only care about profit. Government will make our lives better!

However, in the latest failure of this meme, it turns out that the Energy Star rating, which is supposed to be given only to products that are genuinely energy-efficient, actually gave its stamp of approval to at least fifteen fake products. As (surprisingly) reported by the Associated Press,
Fifteen phony products — including a gasoline-powered alarm clock — won a label from the government certifying them as energy efficient in a test of the federal "Energy Star" program.
Investigators concluded the program is "vulnerable to fraud and abuse."
A report released Friday said government investigators tried to pass off 20 fake products as energy efficient, and only two were rejected. Three others didn't get a response.

Why this should surprise anyone is beyond me. Government programs by definition are usually inefficient and frequently corrupt (TARP, the Stimulus, etc). The Department of Motor Vehicles is famously incompetent and the US Postal Service's lack of service is so well known that going to the Post Office has become as enjoyable as having a tooth pulled out with pliers. And we haven't even gotten mentioned the power-hungry would-be overlords at the EPA or Congressional staffers.

But when Big Government takes over your health care, of course, it will all be different.


With the recent power grab by the federal government in the person of the health care takeover (which followed the automotive takeover) ther is some talk of a Constitutional amendment. These are difficult, but the States can call one at any time.

Over at the Volokh Comnspiracy, Randy Barnett has posted his suggestions, provoking some fascinating comments. Barnett writes,

The legislative power of Congress shall not be construed to include mandating, regulating, prohibiting or taxing the private health insurance of any person; nor shall the power of Congress to make all laws which are necessary and proper to regulate commerce among the several states be construed to include the power to mandate, regulate, prohibit or tax any activity that is confined within a single state and subject to the police power thereof, regardless of the activity’s economic effects outside the state, whether it employs instrumentalities therefrom, or whether its regulation or prohibition is part of a comprehensive federal regulatory scheme.

I commented with the following:

As long as we're dreaming brainstorming:

  1. The Commerce Clause shall be interpreted as follows: Congress may not regulate any commercial activities confined solely within the borders of a State.

  2. Congress may not nationalize or have any ownership interest in any business, industry or other commercial endeavor.

  3. Congress may not pass unfunded mandates.

  4. Congress may not link funding to any specific actions on the part of the States or the People.

  5. Neither Congress nor any State may mandate the individual purchase of any goods or services.

  6. States may not tax businesses not physically located within the boundaries of that State.

  7. No executive order may remain in effect for more than 365 days without Congressional review and approval.

  8. No Act of Congress may remain in effect for more than five years without Congressional review and approval.

  9. Any Act passed by Congress will apply to all elected, appointed and career members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

  10. Any Act passed by Congress must be on a pay as you go basis.

  11. No regulatory agency has authority to alter or amend its scope or requirements without said regulation being reviewed and approved by Congress.

  12. Prisoners of War and non-legitimate combatants are not entitled to any access in any US court.

  13. The Second Amendment shall be read as written. The right of individuals to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

  14. The rights and privileges enumerated in this Constitution are restricted to US citizens and legal residents only.

I'm no lawyer, but I think that by framing it this way, the Equal Rights parts are unaffected. We want to restrict the power of the feds to use the Commerce Clause to stick their noses into things they shouldn't be. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That data mining again...

Remember all the brouhaha over the supposedly illegal NSA data-mining and the Able Danger team? Well, it turns out that the Clinton Adminstration had a much more intrusive program going on - and one which was aimed solely at benefitting the Democratic Party. It was called Echelon.

Among other things, the program reportedly was used to eavesdrop on Republican congressmen and win contracts for American companies. As 60 Minutes host Steve Kroft said in an 2000 interview with Porter Goss and others,
Ms. NEWSHAM: It was definitely an American voice, and it was a voice that was distinct. And I said, 'Well, who is that?' And he said it was Senator Strom Thurmond. And I go, 'What?'

KROFT: Do you think this kind of stuff goes on?

Mr. FROST: Oh, of course it goes on. Been going on for years. Of course it goes on.

KROFT: You mean the National Security Agency spying on politicians in...

Mr. FROST: Well, I--I...

KROFT: the United States?

Mr. FROST: Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Sounds like the world of fiction. It's not; not the world of fiction. That's the way it works. I've been there. I was trained by you guys.

Rep. GOSS: Certainly possible that something like that could happen. The question is: What happened next?

KROFT: What do you mean?

Rep. GOSS: It is certainly possible that somebody overheard me in a conversation. I have just been in Europe. I have been talking to people on a telephone and elsewhere. So it's very possible somebody could have heard me. But the question is: What do they do about it? I mean, I cannot stop the dust in the ether; it's there. But what I can make sure is that it's not abused--the capability's not abused, and that's what we do.

KROFT: Much of what's known about the Echelon program comes not from enemies of the United States, but from its friends. Last year, the European Parliament, which meets here in Strasbourg, France, issued a report listing many of the Echelon's spy stations around the world and detailing their surveillance capabilities. The report says Echelon is not just being used to track spies and terrorists. It claims the United States is using it for corporate and industrial espionage as well, gathering sensitive information on European corporations, then turning it over to American competitors so they can gain an economic advantage.

I was reminded of this by the tumult over Google's disagreement with China. I do believe that companies should be subject to national laws of the country in which they do business. but I also believe that China is a growing threat and think that if we are to have any influence over them, we must demonstrate that we are not always pushovers, no matter how much President Obama might genuflect.

Kudos to Google

Followers of this blog know I am no fan of Google. Their refusal to respect privacy (especially for organizations that the political Left hates - see their exposure of the location of Britain's main SAS base) and their history of preferring to kowtow to tyrannical governments as opposed to cooperating with Republican Administrations leave me suspicious of their intentions. And of course the founders are well-known for being enthusiastic supporters of Big Government - as long as said Big government is run by their friends in the Democratic Party.

However, with all that being said, I must congratulate them for showing a little spine and refusing to continue their cooperation with China's repressive government. Whether they have finally woken up to the reality of the Chinese government or whether they are simply seeking revenge for what is almost certainly government-directed industrial espionage is irrelevant. the fact is that for once Google is actually living up to their motto 'Don't Be Evil'.

A more evil form of government than that practiced by the Chinese Communists is difficult to imagine, though north Korea certainly qualifies, as does Cuba. And if Obama gets his way, the United States may well one day fall into that category as well. I would hope that the executives at Google are watching the current shenanigans in Washington, DC closely. They appear to have finally awoken to the folly of cooperating with tyrannies. Perhaps they might actually wake up to the ever-increasing threat of tyranny here at home.

An American Prophecy

The passage of ObamaCare (with all its corrupt bargains, un-Constitutional mandates and parliamentary skullduggery) has put the United States firmly on the road to decline and fall unless it can somehow be repealed by the Legislature (unlikely) or invalidated in the courts (even more unlikely based on the legal profession's long-standing love of Marxism, Socialism and all other social fads).

Now Mark Steyn has written a somber and probably accurate prophecy of what the future without the United States may hold. Writes Steyn,
Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once-golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.

The sad part? Speaking as someone with more than a casual knowledge of history, I think he's right. Decline is a choice, but history has proven time and again that most liberal nations eventually choose it. Athens, Rome, Byzantium and Britain are all great nations that allowed themselves (and in the case of Britain encouraged themselves) to grovel at their enemies' feet and profess their own inadequacies. So too does much of the self-elected elite in the United States celebrate barbarism and blindly follow social system and philosophies that have long been exposed as good only to the elites.

The United States has indeed had a great run, but once socialism has taken over, we are done as surely as the Western European nations who have lived off our backs for the past sixty years or so. And once America falls, who will protect Europe? Who will be the motor of the UN's corrupt coffers? As Steyn concludes.
One sympathizes with Americans weary of global responsibilities that they, unlike the European empires, never sought. The United States now spends more on its military than the next 40 or so nations combined. Yet in two rinky-dink no-account semi-colonial policing campaigns, it doesn’t feel like that, does it? A lot of bucks, but not much of a bang. You can understand why the entire Left and an increasing chunk of the Right would rather vote for a quiet life. But that’s not an option. The first victims of American retreat will be the many corners of the world that have benefited from an unusually benign hegemon. But the consequences of retreat will come home, too. In a more dangerous world, American decline will be steeper, faster, and more devastating than Britain’s — and something far closer to Rome’s.

And when that inevitable decline begins to make its effects felt, will the American media and Leftists who worked so hard to bring down their own country at last acknowledge their own responsibility for hat decline? Will they finally admit that they are the villains? Don't hold your breath.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Illegal lived on taxpayer money in DC

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we desperately need to fix our border security. And our immigration system. As reported in the Washington Examiner, an escaped Panamanian murderer lived high on the hog illegally in Washington DC for over a year - on the taxpayer's money! As The Examiner reported,
A Panamanian murderer who escaped a prison in the Central American country has been captured in the District, where authorities say he used a fake Social Security card to obtain federally subsidized housing and cruised around town in three luxury cars.

Barrera reportedly told authorities he used the bogus Social Security card to get the driver's license and secure his U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidized apartment, court documents said. A property manager for Brookland Manor Apartments told authorities Barrera paid his rent for one year in advance.
Authorities also found that Barrera had three cars registered to his alias in the District: a 1998 Lexus, a 2003 Infiniti and a 2008 Acura.
Barrera reportedly told authorities he entered the United States by sneaking in through Mexico, the affidavit said.

I don't have any problem believing it. Our border authorities are disgustingly, horrifyingly incompetent. I am referring of course to the TSA, the Border Patrol, the Customs agency and any other federal agency charged with protecting our borders. These folks are always ready to read you the riot act when you complain about being profiled for the 1,000,000,000,000,000th time as a white male or as a white female. While they pass Hispanic and Arabic men and women (including fully robed and veiled women) without even so much as a tough query. But yet they consistently fall far short of the standard that we as American citizens have a right to expect. They can't even be bothered to find and deport the millions of illegals who hang out in parking lots waiting for under-the-table work. Nor do they bother to do any investigation into the H1B abuse that is rampant among employment agencies - especially those who specialize in using natives of the Indian subcontinent.

Until our elected representatives take border security (and all other forms of national security) seriously, we are going to be in danger of a repetition of September 11, 2001. Except next time, it may not be so harmless as that attack was. And Barack Obama, Eric Holder and their fellow believers in the government will probably still blame George Bush.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nat Cole

The Power Line crew reminded me that today is the 101st anniversary of the birth of the great Nat 'King' Cole. Although Cole himself lived in times of serious racial, he and the other great jazz musicians of that era managed to transcend it and produce some of the greatest music ever recorded. Read the whole thing.

Here is a recording of Cole's 'Mona Lisa', one of my favorite songs by the great vocalist/pianist.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Deeming without Doing

Since Congress thinks it is perfectly acceptable to pass legislation without actually voting on said legislation, why don't they extend that right to the rest of us.

Lucidicus has a novel idea. He tweets,
Perhaps taxpayers should "deem" their taxes to be considered paid without actually sending a check this year.

That goes in the same category as the novel idea that when Congress creates sweeping social engineering for the little people, they better apply it to themselves as well.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Is the SEC over-lawyered?

Well, Harry Markopolos certainly thinks so. As reported by Gordon Smith at The Conglomerate blog, Markopolos (who blew the whistle on Madoff) says in an interview with Deborah Solomon,
Solomon: Are you saying the S.E.C. under Schapiro is about to catch fraud on Wall Street?
Markopolos: She has the wrong staff. They’re a bunch of idiots there.

Solomon: What do you mean?
Markopolos: The five commissioners of the S.E.C. are securities lawyers. Securities lawyers never understand finance. They don’t have the math background. If you can’t do math and if you can’t take apart the investment products of the 21st century backward and forward and put them together in your sleep, you’ll never find the frauds on Wall Street.

Solomon: So why doesn’t the S.E.C. hire finance people? Why don’t they hire you?
Markopolos: They’re overlawyered. They’re poisoned by lawyers.

Smith has a possible solution - hire some financial experts! He writes,
We now require at least one member of the audit committee of a public company to be a "financial expert," but where are the financial experts at the SEC? Maybe bolstering the investigative staff with forensic accountants would be sufficient, but if the leadership sets the tone for the agency, wouldn't the appointment of commissioners with experience in forensic accounting be worth exploring?

Makes sense to me. Most lawyers have little expertise or real understanding of most of the fields they litigate. Kind of like....journalists!

Of course this is the government we are talking about. So if something actually makes sense, there is probably very little chance the lawyers who make up large sectors of the government will actually do anything constructive. That would reduce their opportunities for bribery and graft, after all! Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Journalists and History...

...don't mix it would seem. According to Tom Elia at The New Editor blog, the Chicago Tribune's Ron Grossman sent a copy of the photograph reproduced below to his newsroom. Recognize it?

A sample of the reactions from Mr. Grossman's supposedly elite colleagues are reproduced below:
While some instantly recognized the image, others couldn't quite place it.

"I know I ought to know it," one co-worker said. "It was in the movie, ‘Flags of Our Fathers.' " Some, seeing uniforms, realized it must be a war photo. Maybe Vietnam? One got the era right but the battlefield wrong. She guessed it was D-Day, not, as it was, the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.

I have said many times before. Journalists are among the least skilled professionals in the world. They are not trained in any of the arenas they purport to explain to we the people and yet they expect those same people to listen to their analysis and instruction with respect and awe. Why? Tell me why should we give any respect or credence to what journalists say when they are so clearly deficient in both knowledge and comprehension?

As a bonus question, with what side did Japan and Italy ally with during the First World War? And what were the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente? (Hint: One included Germany). No Googling!

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds. His money quote:

Monday, February 01, 2010

Google, China and Reality

Recently Google was hacked by reportedly Chinese hackers. This was reported at the time by a number of news outlets, including the Telegraph of London. The US media were conspicuously silent - no surprise there, since they have a long history of publishing propaganda that suits their agenda (and ignoring news that does not - see teh ACORn scandal that the MSM are trying to bury. Or the John Edwards love-child they hushed up while salivating over Tiger Woods and Mark Sanford's marital affairs. Remember any of these events?

  • CNN colluded with Saddam Hussein to hide the atrocities that were ocurring in Iraq. Real atrocities, not the much-ballyhooed antics of some out-of-control prison guards.

  • The New York Times colluded with Josef Stalin's massacre of Ukrainians in the person of their far-left propagandist Water Duranty - whose Pulitzer they have yet to admit was awarded on the blood of the people who desperately needed Duranty to tell the truth.

  • CBS used forged documents to try to sway election results to elect their preferred candidate.

Now we learn, once again courtesy of The Telegraph, that the hacks may have been an inside job by Google's own Chinese employees. As the Telegraph article says,
Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that Google is investigating the possibility that employees with access to specific parts of Google's networks could have played a role in the cyber attacks, which saw the email accounts of human rights activists compromised, and prompted the search giant to announce that it was considering closing its Chinese operation unless it could offer the country's citizens access to an uncensored web.

Hmm. No surprise there either. China, like most repressive, totalitarian governments, believes in free speech only for those with government authority behind them. Ordinary citizens are not allowed to exercise free speech - especially when said speech contains items that the Chinese government disagrees with. And when it comes to industrial espionage, the Chinese have been infamous for years for their aggressive thievery. The question is why we remain so ignorant that China and many other countries that wish us ill DO NOT PLAY BY OUR RULES! So why the HELL are we blathering about things like 'torture' that these buggers could not care less about. They want us destroyed.

China is a seriously imperialist power - their recent weakness vis-a-vis the West has only made them greedier to regain what they feel is rightfully theirs. Remeber what the REAL name for China is? Take a look at the characters - they mean 'Middle Kingdom' - literally the center of the world. And China behaved like that for centuries. Sheesh. Our government - especially clueless dimwits like Obama, Pelosi, etc - should all be taught a lesson in power politics. The Chinese are playing fo keeps. Are we?

As for the useless socialist cowards in Europe, I hope you're happy. You've done your best over the past sixty-plus years to undermine the United Sates - most recently in your dealings with Iraq and Iran. While the US pays for your socialist fantasies by protecting you. Well, hope you like what you get - you deserve it! See how you like kow-towing to China's wishes - I suspect you will soon be pining for the good old days when the US was a superpower.

Hat tip to my friend the Drunken Economist.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Georgia???

In 2008, twenty-two Gerogia state legislators failed to pay taxes, according to a report filed at the time by the Associated Press. This year, twelve more failed to pay taxes, as reported by the Georgia Public Broadcasting website. Georgia's state legislature, which is currently led by Republicans, had an interesting response to this - they have a pending bill that would make it illegal for anyone who is delinquent on his or her taxes to serve. Said Republican State Senator Dan Moody, as quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
“They’re being compensated with a part-time salary for a full-time job. “Hurting in the General Assembly should not come as a surprise to anybody.”

The best comment I have seen in years was posted at the bottom of the original story on the TaxProf Blog. Commenter Just A Grunt wrote,
There is no danger of any of these elected officials losing their seats. Just like the crop from last year, if any of the names are ever known they will turn out to be Democrats and as everybody should know by now this is known as a resume enhancement for them. Besides Democrat voters don't really care about issues, they just care about the (D) after the name.

Regrettably, I agree with him. And I wish that more of our so-called 'public servants' took the 'servant' part of their title seriously, instead of thinking they were some kind of aristocrat. Just a thought guys - 2010 elections aren't THAT far away...