Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Part Three: The Constitutional Powers of Congress

"Let the [federal] government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves; and our [federal] government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the specific power to

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

This is the famous, or infamous, "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution, known in the last century as the pry bar with which Congress has inserted itself into various areas of American life where it has no business. Thanks to a "progressive" interpretation of what is and is not "commerce," our government has strayed far beyond the intent of the Founding Fathers.

A key word is "regulate," which in the original sense meant "to keep regular." Simply put, to make sure that commerce continues to operate in a regular manner. The assumption of the Founders was that economic activity was governed by the unfettered choices of free individuals, working in a "for profit" environment. Capitalism, if you will.

A key principle of the Founders is that government may only exercise those powers granted to it by the people, and the people can only grant to a government powers they actually have as individuals. Regulating commerce is something individuals could do for themselves, but it made sense to "loan" this responsibility to the government for the sake of efficiency, because foreign governments and large individual states would more likely comply with a federal government enforcing the sovereign will of the individuals as a whole.

Simply: The federal government was charged with protecting an individual's right to buy and sell, without undue coercion or interference from anyone, including any government!

Why is a distinction made between Foreign Nations and "among the several States"?

While the federal government itself did not "trade" goods with foreign nations, its citizens did, and one of the responsibilities of the new national government was to make sure that American citizens were not poorly treated by foreign laws. The government thus monitored the conditions of trade and tried to create a level playing field if a particular government began imposing high import taxes (tariffs, duties or levies) on American goods.

Yes, we've been arguing the distinctions between fair trade and free trade for a long time.

Additionally, the new federal government realized that the imposition of tariffs at American harbors was a significant source of tax revenue. The Founders assumed that Congress would be smart enough to keep import tariff rates balanced so as not to make foreign trade irregular or unproductive. This hasn't always worked so well in practice. [See "Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1929".]

Yet Congress was given the power to regulate foreign commerce because that's what national governments did. So far, so good.

Keeping commerce "regular" among the several states principally meant that the federal government forbade the imposition of tariffs and import or export duties between the states. It was government's job to make sure that the citizens of Oklahoma could trade with citizens in Kansas or Texas without penalty. You also did not want a group of states ganging up on another state by erecting trade barriers.

This was no small concern. In the early days of our Republic, there were many who thought each State should "go it alone," be totally sovereign. It was too much of this "go it alone" attitude that doomed the Articles of Confederation, the first constitutional government of the fledgling United States. The central government was weak to the point of anemia, and conflicts among regions were common.

The new Constitution took care of that by carefully creating a government of limited overall powers, separated the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government and made absolutely sure that each branch could throw a wrench into any power grabs by any other. Yet, if the branches of government "played nice," then they would perform their constitutionally mandated roles smoothly and the people would be well served.

The Progressive movement has (successfully) expanded the scope of federal government by promoting a liberal interpretation of the commerce clause, claiming that any human activity that might in some remote way have an impact on interstate commerce is thus covered under potential federal regulation. A couple of unfortunate Supreme Court cases have upheld this view, even though it runs counter to the Founders vision of America and defies logic.

This is why Congress sees fit to authorize "Cash for Clunkers," which transfers money, via taxes, from one set of Americans to another based on their "need" to get rid of gas-guzzling automobiles. There is nothing in the Constitution that empowers this, save a ludicrous misinterpretation of the "commerce clause." The Founders would be aghast, as so should we.

An even worse example, however, is the Executive branch takeover of General Motors and its heavy-handed negotiated takeover of Chrysler in which majority ownership was stolen, through a strong-armed bankruptcy proceeding in which the government acted as the 600-pound gorilla in the courtroom, from those who owned stock and given to the United Auto Workers union (and the government).

Even if you agree that the "commerce clause" would allow Congress to legislate such an outcome, Congress was not involved. This was a naked and unconstitutional usurpation of power by the Executive branch.

I'm still waiting for someone to take a strong case to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is vital that this be overturned.

Finally, the Constitution gave the federal government the power to regulate commerce with "the Indian tribes." Sadly this became the vehicle by which the indigenous Americans were pushed out of their traditional lands, stripped of their pride and possessions, robbed of their individual liberties, confined to reservations or removed to Indian territory (now part of Oklahoma). By and large it is a tale of treachery and deceit largely white-washed by both liberal and conservative educators. It is a wonder the American Indians survived, but they have.

Today the federal government allows Indian tribes, as sovereign nations within the United States, exercise of a degree of autonomy unthinkable just a few years ago, although too often it is for the purposes of encouraging gambling and smoking, vices not necessarily conducive to a responsible citizenry. Since most of those participating are not Indians, I suppose you could rationalize that there is a certain amount of revenge taking place.

"Let vigorous measures be adopted; not to limit the price of articles, for this I believe is inconsistent with the very nature of things, and impracticable in itself, but to punish speculators, forestallers, and extortioners, and above all to sink the money by heavy taxes. To promote public and private economy; encourage manufacturers, etc."
-- George Washington, on the limited role of the federal government


Friday, August 21, 2009

Can't See the Forests for the Bureaucrats

The Chinese better keep up their tilapia ponds and rice paddies so they can help feed us.

Lord knows, we may be reduced to knawing on tree bark.
WASHINGTON — New forests would spread across the American landscape, replacing both pasture and farm fields, under a congressional plan to confront climate change, an Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows.

About 18 million acres of new trees — roughly the size of West Virginia — would be planted by 2020, according to an EPA analysis of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June.

That's because the House bill gives financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to plant trees, which suck in large amounts of the key global-warming gas: carbon dioxide.

The forestation effort would be even larger than one carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, says the U.S. Forest Service's Ralph Alig. The CCC, which lasted from 1933 to 1942, planted 3 billion trees, says the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, an alumni group for workers and family members.


The plan would, however, be hard on ranchers and farmers and potentially food prices, says American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young.
I have nothing against tree planting.

But I fail to see where the Constitution gives the federal government oversight over private lands, or tree planting. If it's in there somewhere, I can't find it. A tree breathing in carbon dioxide has no truck with interstate commerce.

Most people are unaware that there are many more trees in America today than there were 150 years ago. Really! Certainly a good number were planted in response to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, but the American love affair with trees started earlier. As pioneers moved into the grasslands and deserts, they brought their favorite trees and flowering plants with them to "beautify" things. That's the biggest reason why Arizona, which used to be the place they sent you when you had allergy problems or tuberculosis, now has places where the pollen counts are very high.

Another reason is because America moved into the cities and off the farm lands that were once cleared but have returned to forests and brush. There is a great deal of farm land that isn't farmed. Take a drive sometime and it will surprise you.

What I fear is a program of tree planting that will encourage productive farms to go out of production. Worse, I fear a coercive program where productive farms will be forced to plant trees in order to meet the CO2 reduction goals of some dumb-ass global treaty that the Obamatrons will negotiate and Harry Reid's feckless Democrats might just ratify.

Missing in this story about the rise in 2007 food prices was one of the chief culprits: the reallocation of corn crops to produce ethanol for gasoline blends.

When you read more of the story, it tends to reinforce the idea that this will be a "top down" mandate from the "experts" in Washington, D.C.
The latest EPA analysis does not say where the farmland would be lost. However, an EPA study done in 2005 that analyzed climate-change policies similar to the House bill found that trees would overgrow farms primarily in three areas:

• Great Lake states: Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

• The Southeast: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

• The Corn Belt: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio.

Forests once grew there, says study author Brian Murray of Duke University, so trees would sprout quickly in those areas if farmers got financial incentives. The House climate bill would allow landowners who reduce carbon dioxide to sell carbon permits to polluters, such as power plants.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week hailed the possibility that climate-change action could help forests. "We have our own deforestation problem right here in the U.S. of A," he said. "Just keeping forest as forest is a significant challenge."
Deforestation? Vilsack is so full of you-know-what that you can smell it from here. And tree farmers selling carbon permits to polluters? That'll feed a whole lot of hungry people, won't it!


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Part Two: The Constitutional Powers of Congress

We continue today with our series on the U.S. Constitution and the powers granted to the legislative branch of government, otherwise known as "The Congress," in Article 1, Section 8:

The second provision:

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

If the Founding Fathers could speak to us today, they might tell us they are sorry they inserted this clause into the Constitution. From the writings they left us there is no doubt that they had mixed feelings about granting the new government the power to borrow money. They realized that there would be times when it would be necessary, as it had during the Revolutionary War when men like John Adams and Ben Franklin, neither a fan of debt, were sent to Europe to obtain loans to finance the rebellion against Great Britain.

Franklin said, "Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty."

Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "The maxim of buying nothing without the money in our pockets to pay for it would make our country one of the happiest on earth." True, it was Jefferson who in his first term as president arranged for the $15 million Louisiana Purchase (as much for national defense reasons as any other). But he was also an advocate of quick repayment of debt, public or private.

Passing debts from one one generation to the next, the majority of the Founders believed, was immoral. It was, in a very literal sense, "taxation without representation." The despised the government of England for the practice of perpetual debt, and they had no intentions of repeating same.

It was this climate of frugality that allowed the framers to believe that the Americans would never allow their government to get too far behind in their repayment. It was unthinkable, at the time.

It took awhile before the worst of human nature reasserted itself. For the first 125 years of our nation's history, the national debt was kept in check. Wartime borrowing was quickly paid off. After 1915, however, the national debt began to rise rapidly, grew during two world wars, and then exploded in the 1960s, '70s and beyond.

Today's growth in the national debt is truly staggering, even by modern comparisons.

So what happened?

A change in philosophy and a new source of revenues encouraged the American government to spend. The significance of 1916 should be obvious. It was the year of the passage of the 16th Amendment authorizing an income tax on individuals. Although Americans were told that only the very wealthy would pay a very small percentage of this tax, it quickly expanded until it covered all income levels at much higher rates.

This came during the Woodrow Wilson administration. Wilson was the poster child for the Progressive movement which believes that humanity is evolving and needs evolving political and social structures to help shape this growth. The Constitution, as written and traditionally understood, was and is an impediment to Progressive achievement.

To a great extent Progressives have won the modern argument on debt, which is to say that they do not see it as a threat to individual liberty because, for them, individual liberty is less important than collective action to "improve" society.

Given our nation's headlong rush to crushing debt levels, one wonders whether we could ever return to the frugality of the Founders, and what it would take to get us there. Pain, undoubtedly, but will it be any greater than the pain that is in store for us if we continue, unchecked, on our present course?

We are not only spending our children's inheritance as a nation, we are now obligating our grandchildren and theirs to paying debt service and principle on debts so massive as to be unfathomable. And if the Founders were correct about the link between freedom and frugality, I very much fear for our posterity.

What is the fix?

Returning to other parts of the Constitution which limit the size and scope of the federal government. This will mean trimming back or eliminating programs, balancing operating budgets without economy-killing taxes, and basically saying "no" to any new expansions of government activity until we begin reversing the size of our public debt.

It means saying "no" to the Progressives among us who will not stop until they have government overseeing every aspect of our lives.

Can we fix the problem?

I doubt it. We are like a heroin addict who wants to blame the drug pusher for his problem, and who sees Methadone as his solution. He doesn't want to even think about withdrawal, which is the only way way he will break free of his curse.

A deep and frightening Depression -- as ugly as it would be -- is probably our only way out of the current mess. Yet that is the one unacceptable path on which our government leaders, of both parties, will not consider. Everything they are doing right now is exactly opposite of the cure. If debt is the problem, they are telling us that debt is the solution. If over-management of the economy is the problem, they are telling us that more management of the economy is the solution.

It is madness, but the borrowing is constitutionally permitted.

"Whenever vanity and gaiety, a love of pomp and dress, furniture, equipage, buildings, great company, expensive diversions, and elegant entertainments get the better of the principles and judgments of men and women, there is no knowing where they will stop, nor into what evils, natural, moral, or political, they will lead us."
-- John Adams, on foolish spending.


And the End Game in Afghanistan Is ...?

If you are, like me, increasingly disturbed by the aimlessness of our commitment to Afghanistan, I would direct you to read Mona Charen's article, "Can We Succeed in Afghanistan," posted at National Review Online.

The always thoughtful Charen evaluates new information from the ground inside that war-torn, poverty-stricken country, and asks whether we have reached a "brainlessly partisan" point in our history where "your nation building is a war crime. My nation building is a national-security necessity"?

She quotes Rory Stewart, a Scotsman who is a British Foreign Service Officer who wrote a book, The Places In Between about his journey, on foot no less, across Afghanistan after the initial fall of the Taliban. Stewart believes the new U.S. emphasis on Afghanistan is a mis-diagnosis of what is needed and is raising, as Charen describes it, "a yellow flag" of caution.
The rationale that President Obama has offered for our ramped-up engagement in Afghanistan, Stewart argues in a piece for the London Review of Books, runs as follows: We cannot permit the Taliban to return to power or they will revive the alliance with al-Qaeda and will plot more catastrophic attacks on the United States. In order to defeat the Taliban, we must create a functioning state in the country, and in order to create a functioning state, we must defeat the Taliban. Obama seems keen to increase our role in Afghanistan to highlight the contrast with his predecessor. Bush, Obama ceaselessly repeats, fought “a war of choice,” whereas Obama will fight only “a war of necessity.” [Emphasis DTO]
I'm not quite ready to pull the plug on our effort in Afghanistan, but I'm a lot closer today than six months ago. I fear that our nation's president is ramping up that war for unfathomable reasons, especially after his declaration that victory "wasn't necessarily" the goal of the conflict.

If victory is not the goal of military action, then pray tell what is? Our men and women in uniform deserve to know the broad outline of the end game.

More at some point.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Exit Strategy

Well, that was fast! Less than three hours ago I filed the following post.

Now the White House has announced that Cash for Clunkers ends Monday.

Hope the dealers -- other than GM and Chrysler -- get reimbursed quickly.


A "Cash for Clunkers" update ...

With millions -- perhaps billions -- of outstanding unpaid claims from car dealerships, the Obama administration is now concocting its exit strategy from the CARS program.

Says CBS:
(CBS/AP) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that after a wildly successful run, the cash for clunkers program will come to a close on Monday, August 24th at 8 p.m. EDT.

"This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work," Secretary LaHood said. "At the same time, we’ve been able to take old, polluting cars off the road and help consumers purchase fuel efficient vehicles."

LaHood reiterated his pledge that dealers would be reimbursed for the incentives.

"We don't want to run out of money. And I want to be able to substantiate what I'm saying here. If you do a deal with us, you submit the paperwork, you will be paid," LaHood said.


"We want to make sure that dealers know when we're getting close" to running out of the money that was allocated for the program, LaHood told reporters Wednesday. LaHood said he recognized that "dealers are frustrated. They're going to get their money."

On Thursday, both Chrysler and General Motors said they would begin providing cash advances to dealers to help cover any cash shortfalls related to the program. The automakers said they would provide the advances for up to 30 days for dealers who have already completed a sale and they will be available as long as the program remains in effect.
Isn't it sweet to know that the two automotive giants owned by The People's Republic of Obama are coming up with dollars to help their dealers!

Wonder where that money is coming from?


The Prophet Obama Says We Have Sinned

Those of you who have studied the health care reform bills and have spoken out against them have sinned.

So says the Right Rev. Barack Hussein Obama.

"There are some folks out there who are actually bearing false witness," he said Wednesday. He peppered his remarks with the "sins" of his political opponents: "lots of misinformation," "extraordinary lies," "all fabrications."

I'm not sure what President Obama was hoping for when he held a "telephone town hall" with members of mostly the squishy religious left, but he is increasingly sounding like a desperate man.

If "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," then it is quite possible that "religion is the last refuge of the incompetent politician."

In agreement is Victor Davis Hanson, who reports that there is "something creepy about the sudden invocation of Christian morality by the president to galvanize support for his state-run health care plan, as if his opponents are suddenly to be seen as somehow selfish or even un-Christian. This is an unfortunate, counter-productive tactic ..."

Hanson cites four very level-headed reasons for saying this. I guess my reaction is a bit more visceral, or perhaps less level-headed. As a Christian I am deeply offended when a man who is heavily in the tank for abortion rights and the abortion industry tries to pass himself off as Mr. Morality, and at my expense!

I am deeply offended when the president continues to claim that he has never spoken out in favor of a single-payer (government) health care system when there is video of him, on at least two occasions, saying exactly that! This is called "telling a lie" and it is covered by the commandment against false witness, in case Mr. Obama doesn't know this.

I am deeply offended when the president continues to tell the American people that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," when according to FactCheck.org (and others) this simply cannot be true.

In fact, there is so much the president said in his 40-minute program that there is no possible way I can express the depth of my revulsion at a president who is obviously co-opting Christian terminology and symbolism to cynically push his political agenda. It is an agenda that has little to do with compassion or health care but much to do with expanding government power into the private lives of every American.

Jesus did not once say, "Render unto Caesar so that he can provide health care for the unfortunate."

He did speak of an individual Christian's responsibilities: "For as often as you did this for one of the least of my brothers, you did it for me."

I will be judged by the Almighty for what I have done or failed to do in my individual choices, with my time, talent and treasure. I will get no brownie points for coercing my fellow citizens to do good works by raising their taxes or supporting new laws that would force them to bow down before an almighty government.

The Church may well insist on a preferential option for the poor as a policy for church activism. Our Republic has no such constitutional provision, and should it be given one it will no longer be a Republic.

That, in my view, is the essential creepiness of this latest Obama tactic.

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Obama's Odd Phone Call

President Obama held a conference call with Jewish rabbis today on health care reform, essentially asking for their help.

There were a couple of odd parts to the call.

First of all, at the end of the call, he wished the rabbis "shanah tovah," or happy new year.

The problem? The Jewish new year begins Sept. 18. It is, said Tevi Troy, a visiting senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, like wishing someone Merry Christmas on Thanksgiving.

But the oddest part of Obama's remarks came when he told the rabbis that "we are God's partners in life and death."

You'd think he'd want to avoid that kind of language after all the talk of "death panels" and "end of life counseling sessions" for senior citizens.


Your Bank Account Info & Uncle Sam

If letting one of Uncle Sam's bureaucrats sit between you and your doctor doesn't bother you, there are other provisions of health care reform legislation that might not settle on your tummy.

Turning Uncle Sam Into Peeping Tom
Buried in the 1,017 pages of the House Democrats’ health-care bill is a little-noticed provision that for the first time could give the government access to the checking or credit-card information of every American. Under section 163, which is entitled “Administrative Simplification,” the bill sets new “standards” for electronic transactions between individuals and their health-care providers.

According to section 163, the standards will “enable the real-time (or near real-time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service . . . ” In addition, they will “enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation with related health care payment and remittance advice.”

What is envisioned is a “machine-readable health plan beneficiary card” that, in addition to information about a person’s medical history, will contain checking-account or credit-card information, so as to allow electronic payments and, if a person is lucky, occasional remittances. Since under the proposed legislation everyone would be required to have health insurance, all Americans would have to provide this information.

The required collection of such data is unprecedented. At no other time has the government sought to collect this type of financial information from everyone in America.


The idea of wholesale collection of checking-account information by Uncle Sam raises many questions. Who would see it? How would people be protected from theft of their account numbers? Fundamentally, who would control this sensitive information?
The writer mentions how several federal employees have already pleaded guilty to spying on passport information, among other things.

My question, simply put, is where in the U.S. Constitution does it empower the federal government to require (mandate) and keep this kind of information on citizens?

You already know the answer. It doesn't.

Another damn good reason to stop the health care reform process.

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Part One: The Constitutional Powers of Congress

Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste by not filling it with good information, the Oklahomilist begins a series detailing what the United States Constitution actually says about the limited powers of the legislative branch, otherwise known as the Congress. These are found in Article 1, Section 8, under "Powers of Congress."

They begin with this:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Pay attention, class!

The Constitution was so strict on the ability to levy taxes that Congress eventually had to float the 16th Amendment in order to legally enact a personal income tax on American citizens. And that didn't happen until 1916, some one hundred and thirty years after the constitution was ratified. There are many solid citizens who believe the 16th Amendment should be repealed, as it has helped fuel the legislative ambitions of many a politician.

"Common Defence" is fairly well understood. Sadly, modern progressives attempt to define "general Welfare" beyond the original scope of the Founders. In short, "general Welfare" means that the government has enough tax money to carry out its basic duties as outlined by the constitution. That's it. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Founders' definition many times over the years.

The Founders of this Republic feared a large, powerful national government. They were all too familiar with governments that ignored the individual rights of citizens, and they knew only too well that the road to governmental hell would be paved with the "good intentions" of those who crave power. So they specifically addressed what Congress could do, and then broadly asserted that anything left unmentioned was essentially "off the table."

The Bill of Rights, otherwise known as the first ten "amendments" to the Constitution, add more prohibitions to government conduct. These were added in 1791, three years after ratification.

"The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many; ... Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [town or city] direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself, by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best."
-- Thomas Jefferson


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Scandal That Could Dwarf Watergate

Once upon a time a group of political operatives inside the White House decided to find out what the Democratic National Committee was up to in the run-up to the 1972 presidential election.

And so they recruited a group to break into DNC headquarters, in the Watergate Complex, to install eavesdropping devices. It didn't go well, and the five men were caught.

Thus began a months-long saga in which journalists uncovered a conspiracy among top level White House officials to cover up their knowledge and participation in this and a few other relative minor -- but significant -- trespasses against the constitutional rights of others.

Eventually suspicion went all the way into the Oval Office, and forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Watergate remains the gold standard of presidential scandals, chiefly because of how many people were involved in the coverup attempt of forbidden activities, including political dirty tricks.

But it may soon have a challenger.

There is a high presidential adviser to President Obama, by name of Van Jones, who is the "Green Jobs Czar." Yeah, weird name. But he's kind of a different sort of guy anyway. He started out as merely a black nationalist attorney, but became a committed Marxist since his imprisonment for participating in the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Later he "saw the light' of the environmental movement -- Green is the new Red, you know -- and hopped on that bandwagon.

Naturally, our new president saw great potential in Van Jones, and brought him into the fold.

Turns out Jones has many talents, not the least of which is to run a political operation against perceived enemies of the White House.

Jones was a founding member of a group called "Color of Change" that is pressuring advertisers to get off or stay off of Glenn Beck's TV show on "Fox." At this point several big advertisers have pulled their programs, including Geico and Progressive insurance companies, SC Johnson, and Wal Mart. There may be 20 in all, although that's somewhat hard to pin down.

You can get up to speed HERE, or HERE and HERE.

Now I don't have any problem with economic boycotts. It's still a free country -- barely.

But I do have a problem with a campaign against a political commentator, left or right, being directed from the White House. And that's exactly what looks to be happening. Van Jones has come under scrutiny -- thank God -- by Beck for his past behavior and associations. It is obvious that Jones is hitting back.

That the president hasn't seen fit to discipline his valuable "green jobs" czar is all you need to know.

If any other White House had behaved this way, there would be loud cries from the press and the Congress for investigations into "Jones-gate" or "Ad-gate."

So far the silence is deafening.

If the White House can orchestrate financial damage to a critic by employing affiliated outside groups, which are by the way funded with tax money and certain lefty philanthropists, or even better yet if it can force the cancellation of an opposing voice, you can bet that it will not stop there. At the least they apparently hope they can get Beck to back off his criticism of the White House. (They don't know Beck very well.)

This White House has signaled that it is only for free speech as long as you agree with it. President Obama has publicly declared that "those who created the mess" need to get out of the way "and stop talking." The mess defined as anything he doesn't like and intends to "clean up."

Apparently he and his commie buddy Van Jones believe that Glenn Beck needs to stop talking.

Not even Richard Nixon was this prickly, or tricky.

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Nat Hentoff Declares Against Obamacare

Nat Hentoff, often described as a libertarian liberal, has a column in the Jewish World Review entitled

I Am Finally Scared of a White House Administration
I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.
Hentoff goes into detail on how Obamacare will call for "end of life" consultations under rules written by board members who will not actually be faced with looking at patients face-to-face.
No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.
While the Senate version has dropped the "end of life consultation" from its provisions, the three House bills all contain it. There is no guarantee that the final version, or later revisions, will not put it back in.

Hentoff quotes researcher Wesley Smith on the dangers of Obamacare:
As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. ..."
Hentoff concludes with this:
Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.
Well said.

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Spending Our Tax $$ on Brazil's Offshore Drilling

We can't afford $3 billion to get our space program out of the existential ditch ...

... but we can afford $2 billion to Brazil so that it's government-run energy company, Petrobas, can do offshore drilling and create jobs using Brazil's natural resources.

According to Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, this further illustrates the absurdity of the energy policy that is the Obama administration:
For years, states rich with an abundance of oil and natural gas have been begging Washington, DC politicians for the right to develop their own natural resources on federal lands and off shore. Such development would mean good paying jobs here in the United States (with health benefits) and the resulting royalties and taxes would provide money for federal coffers that would potentially off-set the need for higher income taxes, reduce the federal debt and deficits, or even help fund a trillion dollar health care plan if one were so inclined to support such a plan.

So why is it that during these tough times, when we have great needs at home, the Obama White House is prepared to send more than two billion of your hard-earned tax dollars to Brazil so that the nation's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, can drill off shore and create jobs developing its own resources? That's all Americans want; but such rational energy development has been continually thwarted by rabid environmentalists, faceless bureaucrats and a seemingly endless parade of lawsuits aimed at shutting down new energy projects.


We deserve the opportunity to develop our resources no less than the Brazilians.
Where, in the U.S. Constitution, is the federal government empowered (or even encouraged) to finance the energy needs of other nations?

Of course, I could ask the same thing of the space program. You might be able to make a national defense argument, but not the way we're heading.

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The President's Great Post Office Prescription

Caroline Baum has a great column today at Bloomberg.com, discussing President Obama's apparent inability to talk off teleprompter and still connect with logic.

There are a couple of sections that are priceless. We'll quote one:
The proliferation of Obama’s gaffes and non sequiturs on health care has exceeded the allowable limit. He has failed repeatedly to explain how the government will provide more (health care) for less (money). He has failed to explain why increased demand for medical services without a concomitant increase in supply won’t lead to rationing by government bureaucrats as opposed to the market. And he has failed to explain why a Medicare-like model is desirable when Medicare itself is going broke.

The public is left with one of two unsettling conclusions: Either the president doesn’t understand the health-insurance reform plans working their way through Congress, or he understands both the plans and the implications and is being untruthful about the impact.

Neither option is good; ignorance is clearly preferable to the alternative.
She also has a good take on Obama's citing of the U.S. Postal Service as an example of a "public option" co-existing with private enterprise. Strange tactic, she says:
The only way the post office can stay in business is its government subsidy. The USPS lost $2.4 billion in the quarter ended in June and projects a net loss of $7 billion in fiscal 2009, outstanding debt of more than $10 billion and a cash shortfall of $1 billion. It was moved to intensive care -- the Government Accountability Office’s list of “high risk” cases - - last month and told to shape up. (It must be the only entity that hasn’t cashed in on TARP!)

That didn’t stop President Barack Obama from holding up the post office as an example at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, last week.

When Obama compared the post office to UPS and FedEx, he was clearly hoping to assuage voter concerns about a public health-care option undercutting and eliminating private insurance.

What he did instead was conjure up visions of long lines and interminable waits. Why do we need or want a health-care system that works like the post office?

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Going Nowhere Fast

You may find this exciting: Europe and Russia are going to Mars!

The United States, on the other hand, is going nowhere fast.

Actually, the agreement signed between the EU and Russia is a cooperative venture to land probes on Mars and Phobos, one of its two moons. Not as exciting as a manned expedition, but the significance is who isn't invited to the party.

Once our once vaunted space shuttle fleet -- what's left of it, anyway -- is retired next year, there will be no American missions anywhere unless we catch a ride with the Russians on their Soyuz, the workhorse Model T of the space age. Our replacement vehicle, the Orion, won't be through testing and development until 2015, if then.

The Orion, by the way, looks like a shinier, fatter version of the Apollo spacecraft, and is just as aerodynamic. Back to the Future. Sigh.

A presidential panel appointed by President Obama has begun to discuss its findings:
US ambitions for manned space exploration have hit a major hurdle in the wake of severe budget constraints, according to preliminary findings of a panel appointed by President Barack Obama.

Reaching Mars was deemed too risky while returning to the Moon by 2020 was ruled out barring an additional three billion dollars per year to replace the retiring space shuttle fleet and build bigger rockets, according to the group led by Norm Augustine, a former CEO of US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.

"Really, we've given the White House a dilemma. The space program we have today, the human space flight program, really isn't executable with the money we have," Augustine told PBS public television last week.
NASA has an $18 billion annual budget, about $10 billion allocated to human spaceflight. It would take an additional $3 billion a year to put us back in the space driver's seat, but that's apparently just not going to happen with Team Obama in the White House.

That happens to be the very amount devoted to "Cash for Clunkers." Cosmic irony.

You come in and spend $1.5 trillion in money we don't have, and are pushing to spend at least another $1 trillion during the next decade on health care, but you can't see the need to add a single dime to the space budget?

Okay, fine. Each to his own. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But don't then turn around and say this:
The White House could take months to decide its course of action, said John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

"We have inherited one of the many failed promises of the Bush administration -- to set out a very good program without providing the resources to fund it," he told AFP, urging a new direction.

"We have lived an illusion for five years."

The US space shuttle program and the ISS, he said, "were a mistake" when compared to the Apollo Project that landed man on the moon for the first time.
Logsdon seems under the impression that Bush was responsible for the space shuttle program and the International Space Station, when the shuttle dates back to the '70s and the ISS was designed in the '90s. Or does he just enjoy putting political spin on a subject of which he is supposed to be an expert?

It is a matter of faith, not science, for the Progressive Left, that all problems identified in 2009 are of necessity the fault of George W. Bush, the locus of evil in our American universe. I'm not saying that Mr. Logsdon is a crap-weasel; I'm only saying he sounds like one.

Apollo was a great project because it was a Big Dream that required ambition, courage and commitment. The shuttle was a great project because it was a Big Dream from an engineering point of view. It represented progress and it made the International Space Station possible. But the time for both Apollo and the Shuttle have come and gone.

The real deficit in this country, today, is a paucity of vision and courage, and a reluctance to "get the hell out of the way" and let the private sector take over if the government won't lead.

It's obvious Team Obama has no enthusiasm for space ventures. There's so much work to do here organizing our communities into little socialist collectives, engineering the government's takeover of auto companies, banks, investment firms, insurance companies and the health care industry. Everything, in fact, that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt did not accomplish; nearly a century's worth of unfulfilled socialist dreams.

Who needs Mars when you have Marx?

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Will We Be Over the Hump When the Day is Done?

It's "Hump Day" which means that if you make it through, you're "over the hump." But a look at the news this morning would seem to suggest otherwise for America.

Warren Buffett, once proclaimed as an economic adviser by our president, says that the massive debt piled up to "rescue" the economy now threatens to be a greater danger than the original crisis.
"... their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself."
With all due respect, Mr. Buffett, "well, duh!" A lot of people saw this coming well before now. The trick is how to deal with it, and I don't care much for Mr. Buffett's prescription:
"Once recover is gained ... Congress must end the rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio and keep our growth in obligations in line with our growth in resources," Buffett said. "With government expenditures now running 185 percent of receipts, truly major changes in both taxes and outlays will be required. A revived economy can't come close to bridging that sort of gap."
Major changes in both taxes and outlays? Maybe Buffett, being very wealthy, can afford more taxes. The rest of us are Taxed Enough Already!

Be glad you are not a car dealer waiting on thousands or millions of dollars in federal reimbursement for "Cash for Clunkers." Although the program has run through $1.7 billion in your tax money (on paper, at least) most dealers have seen very little reimbursement for money for which they are on the hook. One estimate is about 2 percent.

How long will it take for full reimbursement? What if it were life-saving surgery that hung in the balance?

The space program is in shambles -- more on that later -- and the Obamatrons are pointing the finger of blame at (who else?) George W. Bush for insufficiently accomplishing a space program makeover that they are reluctant to fund.

President Obama is flipping and flopping over "the public option" which is political speak for "government-run" health insurance. He knows "public option" is dead in the water unless Pelosi lines up the Blue Dogs at gunpoint in a forced vote. He also knows that the die-hard Left wants nothing less than a single-payer system and their not even very happy about the stealth version included in current legislative proposals.

This may or may not be good news for the rest of us. The best thing that can happen is nothing. The U.S. Constitution does not give Congress the authority to operate a health care insurance or delivery system. That should be the end of the discussion, Period.

Meanwhile, the president's withdrawals of troops from the cities of Iraq has led to the perception that the gates are wide open for a revival of the bombing terrorism, and so we witness events like 75 people killed and hundreds wounded throughout Baghdad overnight. We should be having a national conversation about this and Obama's ramped up operatons in Afghanistan, and if Obama were a Republican, you know we would be.

But the media is quiet. The Middle East just isn't that important, unless we're telling the Jews not to build settlements.

Hump day, indeed!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Was the FBI Up To?

Why would the FBI be training -- and more importantly employing -- a man to write stuff as a blogger designed to get people riled up?
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A New Jersey blogger facing charges in two states for allegedly making threats against lawmakers and judges was trained by the FBI on how to be deliberately provocative, his attorney said Tuesday.

Hal Turner worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an "agent provocateur" and was taught by the agency "what he could say that wouldn't be crossing the line," defense attorney Michael Orozco said.

"His job was basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner which would lead to their arrest," Orozco said.

Prosecutors have acknowledged that Turner was an informant who spied on radical right-wing organizations, but the defense has said Turner was not working for the FBI when he allegedly made threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die.

"But if you compare anything that he did say when he was operating, there was no difference. No difference whatsoever," Orozco said.

Special Agent Ross Rice, a spokesman for the FBI in Chicago, said he would not comment on or even confirm Turner's relationship with the FBI.
If it is true that the FBI trained and used this man, then the wrong people are being brought up on charges. I can't think of too many things much worse than agents of the federal government conducting disinformation operations using the cover of the First Amendment to flush out "right wing extremists." Or "left wing extremists," for that matter.

How do you know the flushing operation didn't push them into extreme positions? It's sounds an awful lot like entrapment.

Increasingly it seems we have a federal government that no longer remembers the limitations placed upon it by the U.S. Constitution.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Maybe Not the Best Example, Mr. President

You have to see the Youtube clip to have the appropriate appreciation for this major gaffe on the part of President Obama. Speaking at his very "managed" town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., the president answered a question thusly:

"I recognize," the president said, "that you have a legitimate concern. How can a private company compete against the government?"

"If you think about it," he continued, "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. Right?"

"It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

That doesn't exactly inspires one's confidence in government-run health care.


Asteroid Impacts As Seen From Space

Earth gets hit by space rocks all the time, but in the distant past some of them were quite large. The one shown is a crater in Canada, now ringed by a big lake.

Wired Science has a photo feature of quite a few such craters, including the one in Arizona. What's surprising is how many such craters are in Australia and Canada.

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Les Paul, R.I.P.

Les Paul, musician, inventor and legend, has passed beyond the veil at age 94.

Rest in peace!

He was one of my personal heroes for his contributions to society, including the Les Paul guitar and, more importantly, the invention of multi-track recording which changed the way we hear canned music and gave an industry rocket engines!

His obit is HERE. Or you can learn more about him HERE.

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Can You Hear the Thunder?

From the Land Down Under?

Australian Senate Rejects Cap-and-Trade Plan
Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s Senate rejected the government’s climate-change legislation, forcing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to amend the bill or call an early election.

Senators voted 42 to 30 against the law, which included plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe. Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, was proposing to reduce greenhouse gases by between 5 percent and 15 percent of 2000 levels in the next decade.

Rudd, who needs support from seven senators outside the government to pass laws through the upper house, can resubmit the bill after making amendments. A second rejection after a three-month span would give him a trigger to call an election.

“We may lose this fight, but this issue will not go away,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told the Senate in Canberra. “Australia cannot afford for climate change to be unfinished business.”
Yes, they can!

One lawmaker called it "a dog of a plan."

That dog won't hunt, I guess. You gotta love Australia.

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'Evil-mongers' Vs 'Crap-mongers'

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has a new word for those who attend town hall meetings to protest pending legislation:

Such "evil-mongers" are using "lies, innuendo and rumor," to drown out rational debate, Reid said.
Give me an example of "rational debate" and I might concede his point, but I've listened to a long list of congress-persons at their town hall events and I have seen very little actual debate. They want us to listen to them tell us that they know what they are doing, don't worry about the details, it's all in our best interest, the president and Congress are working very closely for the public good, blah, blah, blah.

Yet when asked the simplest question about a particular provision, they go into full defensive mode and claim that they are being hit with "lies, innuendo and rumor."

Enough of this horse manure! Under the Constitution of the United States, the people have a right to speak their minds and, horror of horrors, even ask tough questions of their elected representatives! If the elected reps don't want to answer, well, that's fine. Don't expect our support in the next election, Dingy Harry.

The same goes for Congressmen who won't even hold town halls, substituting instead "telephonic town halls" where they can control both who is in the "audience" and the questions. They can also disconnect you if you don't ask the right question. This technological cowardice is being employed by several elected officials, including 2nd Dist. Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, who couldn't hold a real town hall meeting because he just had to join an "around the world" junket with a bunch of other congressmen.

Most people are a lot smarter than Washington gives them credit. We may not have all the facts at our disposal, and we may not have the gilded tongue of the politician to employ, but we know bull crap when we are confronted with it.

And we know a Crap-Monger when we hear him in action.

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Health Choice Freedoms You Will Lose

John Hood reports today from NRO's "Critical Condition" blog that Shawn Tully, editor at large of Fortune magazine, has identified five basic freedoms related to health care that Americans will lose if the prevailing versions of ObamaCare eventually become law.

1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The blunt conclusion, Tully reports, is that employer-provided health insurance will probably disappear much more rapidly than the five-year "grace period" being discussed because paying an 8 percent payroll tax and enroling your employees on the "public option" will be cheaper than continuing to subsidize premiums for private insurance. Especially when the government begins increasing the cost of private insurance through regulatory requirements!
... it will happen, since it's likely that the tax will rise a lot more slowly than corporate health-care costs, especially since they'll be lobbying Washington to keep the tax under control in the righteous name of job creation.
So when the president tells you that "if you like your plan, you can keep it" or "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," he knows full well that this will be true only in the very short run.

In the long run, if your employer likes your plan, you may get to keep it, but maybe not, and there won't be a damn thing you can do about it.

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More Clunky Economic News

What are we to make of today's economic news that foreclosures were up in July, retails sales on everything but cars were down in July, and jobless claims for the last week jumped over a half million?

The Associated Press would like us to think that we need more "Cash for Clunkers" type stimuli.
While autos, helped by the start of the Cash for Clunkers program, showed a 2.4 percent jump -- the biggest in six months -- there was widespread weakness elsewhere. Gasoline stations, department stores, electronics outlets and furniture stores all reported declines.

Some of Europe's largest economies also benefited from government programs to support the auto industry. Germany and France returned to economic growth in the second quarter, raising hopes the recession in the 16-country euro area may end sooner than thought. Europe's two biggest economies each grew 0.3 percent from the previous three-month period, surprising analysts and technically ending their worst recession in decades.
The Euro-version of "Cash for Clunkers" has grown into a permanent plan, which has to be much appreciated in France where militant jihadists are burning hundreds of cars every month. But anyone with half a brain, even a government economist, knows that you aren't actually producing anything when you take one set of taxes (or borrowed funds, in our case) and redistribute it to another group. You temporarily alter behavior, true, but you produce nothing. In fact, you destroy since you are taking vehicles off the road that have serviceable life in them. That is waste, pure and simple.

Even with clunker cash, retail sales overall fell .1 percent in July. Spin that, Pillsbury Spokes-Boy!

There is much official hand-wringing over consumers' stubborn behavior of paying off debt and increasing their savings, which are historically laudable activities. Naturally you can expect our government to despise this trend.

There was one quote of which I approve:
"Households are in no position to drive a decent economic recovery," Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.
Amen to that. And households are in no position to absorb new taxes (direct or hidden) on health care and energy. You want to watch an economy in free-fall? Just keep pushing the socialist transformation of America!

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Another AP Economic Report That Misses the Point

I've got a bit of a problem with today's report that July foreclosures rose by 7 percent.

No problem with the numbers themselves. Just this part:
WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. households on the verge of losing their homes rose 7 percent from June to July, as the escalating foreclosure crisis continued to outpace government efforts to limit the damage. [Emphasis mine.]
What government effort? We've been told that the TARP program, originally designed to combat the "toxic assets" in the housing market, has been redirected to save banks.

The loan adjustment program touted by President Obama turned out to be a scam. The government web site redirects you to several lenders who are cherry-picking people who have the least travails as homeowners.
The Treasury Department said last week that banks have extended only 400,000 offers to 2.7 million eligible borrowers who are more than two months behind on their payments.
Naturally, the AP "real estate" writer thinks that mortgage companies are to blame for not getting "up to speed" with the Obama plan, when the reality is the Obama plan stinks. Doesn't anyone in the mainstream press do their research anymore? Don't they read the back files?

For what it's worth: This economy is not recovering.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Inconvenient Details of Obamacare

Defenders of ObamaCare are quick to point out that the bill doesn't specifically call for taxpayer funding of abortions or euthanasia of the elderly and inform.

And that is true. Only an idiot would spell it out in legislation he wants to get passed.

They conveniently ignore the fact that there have been five or six, I lost count, attempts in committee to ban the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions in the health care reform package, and all were voted down.

They also want to avoid discussion of the concept of rationing which IS mentioned in the bill and is the inevitable consequence of government-run anything.

If you are the least bit interested in what is in the bill, I highly recommend this list of interesting and heart-warming provisions of the health care proposals being floated in Congress. Here's a small sample of several dozen fascinating bullet points:

* Sec. 113, Pg. 21-22 of the Health Care (HC) Bill MANDATES a government audit of the books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self-insure in order to “ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure”!

* Sec. 122, Pg. 29, Lines 4-16 - YOUR HEALTH CARE WILL BE RATIONED!

* Sec. 152, Pg. 50-51 - HC will be provided to ALL NON-US citizens.

(That last one a fabulous reward for dodging immigration authorities and not going through the proper channels!)

* Sec. 163, Pg. 58-59 beginning at line 5 - Government will have real-time access to individual’s finances & a National ID health care card will be issued!

* Sec. 163, Pg. 59, Lines 21-24 - Government will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.

* Sec. 431, Pg. 195, Lines 1-3 - Officers and employees of HC Administration (government) will have access to ALL Americans’ financial and personal records.

* Sec. 441, Pg. 203, Lines 14-15 - “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it says that.

* Sec. 3121, Pg. 935, Lines 1-2 - The government will develop “Healthy People & National Public Health Performance Standards.” They will tell us what to eat?

There is so much more wonderful stuff in this, including an entire section dealing with "end of life" issues. Plus, people in SEIU and ACORN will have subsidized medical plans for their work promoting the new health care plan and signing people up. After all, they will "inform and educate" the rest of us as to our rights and responsibilities.

I can hardly wait.


The New Brownshirts

No, they aren't your conservatives voicing their opposition to ObamaCare.

But they are at the rallies. They call themselves Health Care for America Now, or HCAN, and they are an umbrella group for ACORN, SEIU, Moveon.org, and others. They even have a website, which is highly instructive of how they view regular Americans. We are, in their eyes, illegitimate. You should read it to understand the extent that they will go to silence your Constitutionally-guaranteed voice.

As the BlackListed article notes:

HCAN will organize brownshirt thugs — called “marshals” — to patrol crowds with local police assistance to make sure no opposition can be voiced. “Make sure that you assign marshals to take care of moving the crowd, keeping people organized and orderly, and acting as security should any need arise to ask noisy or disruptive protesters to leave. If you have cause to think that you will need more back-up, notify the police ahead of time.”

The corporate media should also be tightly controlled, according to the organization. “It’s important that you take away right-wingers opportunities to talk with reporters by making sure that your staff or leaders are in constant contact with the media who attend. You should set up a special table or area for the press to sit during the event and that area should be close t the stage and away from any areas of the venue where protesters may gather. Also make sure you have materials ready for the reporters so that they know the purpose and message of the event,” the website explains.

They've got plans for taking signs away from ObamaCare dissenters, and for limiting questions to congresspersons by inserting themselves in the process as the question screeners.

We are seeing all this come to pass.

I'm sure that some hot place in hell, Adolf is aware of these goings on and is smiling.


When Government Becomes God

North Carolina state law requires certain medical insurances to cover such things as contraception, sterilization and abortions. But it has an exemption for religious institutions.

However, the federal government wants to eliminate that exemption.

A Catholic college in Belmont, N.C., once more is afoul of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which has rules that Belmont Abbey College's decision to remove contraception from its faculty health care policy, in accordance with Catholic teaching, discriminated against women.

So do you obey your religious beliefs, or the federal government?

The capriciousness of putting politics into health care is at work in this case. The EEOC had already given the "all clear" to Belmont in March. Apparently someone at EEOC remembered that the new messiah lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and the decision was reversed.

College president Dr. William Thierfelder writes:
“The teaching of the Catholic Church on this moral issue is clear. The responsibility of the College as a Catholic College sponsored by the monks of Belmont Abbey to follow Church teaching is equally clear. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic College.”
Who knows how this one will shake out. But you can bet that if the government annexes health care into its bosom, there will be many more such stories and tough decisions to be made.

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Deficit Numbers to Get Worse Than Forecast

Don't look now but those deficit projections made earlier in the year are going to be wrong.

According to that bastion of conservative propaganda, USA Today, government officials are acknowledging that new budget deficit estimates for the current year will be worse than first forecast.
As the White House and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepare to release new deficit estimates this month, several economists say the news is likely to be as bad as or worse than forecasts.

"This is going to be a very depressing outlook," predicts former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, top adviser to Republican John McCain in last year's presidential election. "They have just a nightmare in terms of these health care bills, which do nothing but make things worse."

A fiscal year 2009 deficit of $1.8 trillion was anticipated by the White House, $1.7 trillion by Congress. Reaching that level would produce a deficit four times last year's $459 billion deficit, just as Congress is considering health care overhaul plans that could cost $1 trillion over 10 years.


While revenue continues to decline, government spending is rising as a result of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed six months ago. Stimulus spending will increase in the next few months, says Treasury chief economist Alan Krueger.

Deficits of $1.8 trillion this year and $1.3 trillion in 2010, as predicted by the White House, would add to the federal debt. The current $11.7 trillion debt already equals about $38,500 for every U.S. resident. The recession, now in its postwar-record 21st month, has dealt a worse blow to the budget than the administration expected:

• The economy is set to shrink by 2.6% this year, more than twice what the White House predicted in February and May.

• As a result, tax revenue is down by $353 billion over 10 months, which is about what the White House thought it would lose for the entire year.

• Unemployment, projected at 8.1% this year by the White House, was 9.4% in July. Spending for jobless benefits, Medicaid and Medicare has soared as people have lost work and health insurance. Jobless benefits are costing more than twice what was spent last year.
So why are we rushing headlong into nationalizing health care? The story suggests a theory:
Former CBO director Robert Reischauer, president of the non-partisan Urban Institute, an economics and social policy think tank, says administrations tend to believe that "the harder and faster one falls, the more rapid and steep the recovery."
Only if you strap on a jet pack, people.


Senator Specter, Retirement Looms

Just watched a very uncomfortable "town hall" meeting in Lebanon, Penn., with Sen. "Benedict" Arlen Specter, who despite all efforts to control the character of the people allowed inside, and the questions they asked, found it couldn't be done.

There was a handful of people who were there to support ObamaCare.

There was a super-majority of those there who despise it.

One woman challenged the senator to defend the U.S. Constitution, to return the country back to the vision of the Founding Fathers. She got a standing ovation.

Specter acknowledged the overwhelming applause, but then got booed when he told her, "That's what I've been doing." He cited a couple of instances in which he opposed President George W. Bush on "signing statements" and "warrantless wiretaps," obvious sops to the Democrat base he must please in order to win a primary next year.

And that's when it became obvious: Arlen Specter's career is nearly over. He cannot serve two masters -- and Arlen doesn't really acknowledge he has a master. He can play to the Democrats that are now his base, and he might narrowly win the primary next year, but will lose the general election. Or he can switch gears and support the people of Pennsylvania who are obviously disgusted with Washington politics and an out-of-control government, and Arlen will get trounced in the Democrat primary.

People are catching on. President Obama has already nearly equalled President Bush in the use of "signing statements" in which he declares his inpretations of bills passed by Congress. President Obama has surpassed President Bush in executive orders, already issuing more in just over six months than Bush did in eight years. If Arlen Specter were consistent, he would be on the floor of the Senate every day denouncing the trouncing of the Constitution.

But he isn't consistent, and people are catching on.

Retirement looms.


The Odds of Extremists Getting Pakistan's Nukes

Not exactly your Tuesday morning "feel good" moment when you read that Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities have been attacked three times by Islamic extremists.
WASHINGTON: Pakistan's nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts.

The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan's nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly.


Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.
No chance, eh?

That statement alone ought to chill your coffee. There is no chance that roosters will lay eggs, or that aliens will land at the Dept. of Treasury with a saucer loaded with ten tons of gold bullion as a gift to the American people.

But those jihadis are pretty determined. Their odds might be long, but I don't think they're zero.

Maybe we should take out Pakistan's nuclear capability. It would serve as a signature warning for other rambunctious nations in that area.

Then we could reassess those chances to be at zero.

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Who Teaches Us How to Parent?

Who teaches young adults how to be parents?

The traditional answer: Their parents.

The modern answer: The government.

Chuck Norris -- yeah, that Chuck Norris, but don't dismiss him too quickly (you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss George Clooney, wouldja?) -- has a column at Townhall.com which details one of the many "dirty little secrets" of the health care reform package considered by Congress.

Norris said he did so after seeing how much anger is bubbling up over Congress' failure to discuss the details with the American people. "... I decided to research the reasons so many are opposed to Obamacare to separate the facts from the fantasy. What I discovered is that there are indeed dirty little secrets buried deep within the 1,000-plus page health care bill."
Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."
As Norris says, "Are you kidding me?"

I don't know about you, fellow citizens, but I don't remember ever voting on anything that says "government controls your life from here on out." Apparently Mr. Norris agrees with me because he goes into some detail:
... whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?

Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?

One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."

Are we further to conclude by those words that low-income families know less about parenting?
Good questions, all.
Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right -- and government support -- to parent them without the fed's mandates, education or intervention in our homes.
I'll go Chuck one better. I don't even want the federal government's "support" of parenting. According to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has no role -- zero, zilch, nada -- when it comes to telling or advising anyone how to raise their brood.

We've gone so far down the road of interventionism that we have forgotten where the original boundary lines were drawn. It's time to peel back the pavement and the paint and find those boundaries again.

Some will say, "Tom, it's a small piece of a big picture, a voluntary program that isn't going to go anywhere." And I will reply, "Since when has the government ever backed away from exercising authority it has usurped? It will take a small hole and enlarge it. It is like an octopus, a spineless entity that can squeeze itself through very tiny openings to gorge itself on forbidden fish."

The tentacles are everywhere.

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