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3701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Barone: The meaning inside the political numbers on: May 07, 2013, 02:18:48 PM
Some interesting political points here.  
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323628004578461302387618518.html

Michael Barone contends that both parties have a problem or two.  For the Democrats, it is clustering. Their loss in the house was not only because of re-districting in certain states, but because their support and turnout came from a smaller number of large urban centers.

"Democrats carried the popular vote in black-dominated districts 80%-17% in 2012. They made significant gains in Hispanic-dominated districts, which George W. Bush lost by 11% but Mitt Romney lost by 32%."  Republicans had a 52%-46% in the remainder.  Only two House Republicans represent Hispanic-dominated districts.

Republicans need to improve their standing with black and Hispanic Americans.  Democrats need to improve their standing out-state.  "Both parties have reason to feel insecure."
3702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics: Employment report wasn't just bad, it was Ominous on: May 07, 2013, 02:04:34 PM
A different view:

Part time is replacing full time employment because of Obamacare.

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/05/06/why_fridays_jobs_report_was_ominous_100301.html

May 6, 2013
Why Friday's Jobs Report Was Ominous
By Louis Woodhill   Forbes contributor / Real Clear Markets

Excerpts:

"The April jobs numbers describe a mass replacement of full-time workers with part-time employees, coupled with a fall in the length of the average workweek. This happens to be precisely what you would expect, given the perverse incentives baked into Obamacare, which took effect on January 1."

"During April, the FTE jobs ratio fell for the fifth month in a row, to 53.09." (Now that jobs are part time, the totals are measured in 'full time equivalent'.)

"there also has never been a case where the FTE jobs ratio fell for five months in a row and a recession did not follow."

"If labor force participation had remained at the level it was when Bush 43 left office, April's unemployment rate would have been reported at 10.9%." (Confirming Crafty's recent post.)

"During the first 76 months of the Reagan recession/recovery, the value of the dollar in terms of gold actually went up by 6.47%. During the equivalent period of [this] recession/recovery, the gold value of the dollar fell by 56.9%."

"The dollar debasement under Bush 43 and Obama has been driven by three rounds of the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing" (QE), which have produced a massive (and completely unprecedented) 257.19% increase in the monetary base."

"The recent five-month decline in the FTE jobs ratio coincides exactly with Ben Bernanke's QE3."
3703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 06, 2013, 11:41:48 AM

“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him,” Bradshaw said. “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ ”


Palm Beach County was home for Mohamed Atta and other 911 hijackers briefly, but the example they give to watch for is the right wing kook.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/encounters-with-911-hijackers-still-haunt-palm-bea/nLxgP/
3704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: May 06, 2013, 10:31:06 AM
"Colleges Cut Prices by Providing More Financial Aid "

It is a strange system, almost modeled after the airlines where every customer pays a different price.  My daughter is in her first year at college.  I almost never discuss with other parents what she is paying, receiving, or was offered at other places because everyone seems to have their own arrangement.  Like the airlines, I suppose someone is willing to pay full price so they keep that number really high.

The easiest to compare academic measure for colleges I found is the 25th and 75th percentile ACT score.  The goal for the college is not to take a kid who is above the minimum, but to enroll the kids who move the college's percentiles upward.  People need to know in advance that colleges pay cash for ACT scores.  (SAT too I'm sure.)  We thought the tests were only for admittance.  My advice even for students who do will great anyway on these tests is prepare all you can and take the test more than once.  If you bump your score up just slightly, it doesn't just change where you are admitted, it changes the price.
3705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 06, 2013, 09:34:10 AM
My own rambling 2 cents: CCP identified the problem far before Romney butchered it, far too many people are reliant the government.  Of those, far too few realize a government check, deserved or undeserved, is dependent on the health and vigor of the private economy and the free market.  Liberals make an even more explicit argument: by aiming at the top 1 or 2% to fund it all they are saying the dependent percentage is 98-99%.

Romney mangled together what only has limited overlap.  He said there are 47% who just won't consider voting for him.  It turns out that number was 51%.  And something like 47% or 50% get a check every month from the government.

But the Obama coalition is a large, weird mix: rich elites, young people, Democrat voters with middle incomes, plus the underclass who see themselves as vulnerable and dependent.  The people receiving support from the government include a very wide range too, including veterans who earned it, Social Security recipients who paid in their entire working life, government employees who do real work, etc.  I would guess that it is 0% who see themselves as taking an undeserved check.

Politically you can't lump together in one statistic, the deserving with the waste, with the innocent people responding to the perverted incentives of our welfare system - and a badly designed welfare system is not the fault of the recipient.  You will not win people over by blaming them.  So we need to be aware of the CCP Principle, that 50% of families have a direct tie to a government check and this affects voting, but we move forward only by putting the focus on the positive: grow the economy with the policies of economic freedom.

Reagan doubled revenues to the Treasury in the decade of the 1980's.  Funding for programs grew similarly.  Obama is limiting his own big government spending ideas with his policies that cause economic stagnation.
3706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: No Separation of God and People on: May 06, 2013, 08:26:11 AM
This is good to see recognized in all the constitutions at the state level.    If there was a separation between man and God, it would be an artificial, man-made one.
3707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bloomberg refused second slice of pizza on: May 02, 2013, 06:23:41 PM
Bloomberg is fully deserving of this, but I have to think this one is a great spoof.

His taxi driver should give him a ride half way back, pull over, open the door, and tell him that walking the rest would better for him.
-------

The story reminds me of Scott Ott's writings on Scappleface:

Weeping First Lady Pushes Chicago to Ban Stolen Guns
April 11th, 2013 Scott Ott

First Lady calls on Chicago to ban stolen guns

First Lady Michelle Obama, in an intensely personal speech Wednesday, called for Chicago to ban stolen handguns, the most commonly-used murder weapon, in a city that tallied more than 500 murders last year.

-----
April 18th, 2013 Scott Ott

Obamacare to Cover Train Wrecks, White House Says
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April 1st, 2013,   Obama Declares April 1 ‘Fiscal Responsibility Day’

http://scrappleface.com/
3708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Harry Reid's great-great uncle on: May 02, 2013, 06:01:28 PM
Sen. Reid was a congressman back when Paul Laxalt held that Senate seat.

Very funny writing!  I hope that line never gets into my obit:  He "passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."
3709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria's Chemical weapons and locations? on: May 02, 2013, 01:19:06 PM
Syria's Chemical weapons and locations?

A citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows black smoke rise from buildings due to government forces shelling in Aleppo, Syria, on March 19. (Aleppo Media Center/AP)

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/02/where-are-syria-s-chemical-weapons.html
“We’ve lost track of lots of this stuff,” said one U.S. official. “We just don’t know where a lot of it is.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303644004577523251596963194.html
July 13, 2012:  U.S. Concerned as Syria Moves Chemical Stockpile

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/world/middleeast/obama-threatens-force-against-syria.html
Pres. Obama Aug 19, 2012:  “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.”

What is a "red line for us"?  NY Times calls it "Mr. Obama’s first direct threat of force against Syria".  Question remains, what is a "direct threat of force" translated from the original weasel-speak?

Obama's Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper of 'Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular' fame, clarifies:  “It would be very, very situational dependent to render an assessment"
http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/intel-chief-uncertain-us-ability-secure-all-syrian-chemical-arms/

3710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 02, 2013, 12:56:02 PM
CCP, you make good points.  Still there is nothing acceptable about the status quo of our immigration policy, which is look the other way for people already here, run our economy in a way that attracts no new workers, and advertise unlimited free food for anyone not interested in work.

The GOP options are: 1) Put enforcement with a mass deport or 'self deport' platform on the ballot for 4 more years, 8 more years, 12, 16, or the rest of our lives even though we know it will never happen - and lose ground on all other issues in the meantime.  2) 'Compromise' which means surrender and sign on with a very bad bill.  Or 3) Go where Rubio was before the rotten details of this bill were exposed.  Pursue in good faith some kind of reasonable, acceptable, permanent solution.

All indications are that Obama, Schumer, Durbin, Pelosi et al want an issue for 2014, not a solution in 2013.  That makes the GOP negotiating strategy harder, if not impossible.  MHO.
3711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: May 02, 2013, 11:34:56 AM
"Isn't the US track record on nuke weapon program detection a tad weak after Iraq?"

The final word I read (Iraq Study Group) was that Saddam was 6 years away from being fully nuclear - 11 years ago.  I don't know about our track record, but our credibility is gone.  One of the stories from the WMD elusive stockpile hunt was that the chemical weapons were being trucked to Syria.  If true, we were twiddling in meeting rooms with a seven month delay while they were moving, hiding, saving chemical weapons that perhaps still haunt us.  We still don't know what happened.  I don't hear anyone even ask the question now, where did Assad's chemical weapons originate?

If our President is planning to do nothing, drawing a lot of red lines for rogue states to cross isn't particularly helpful.  'If you gas your people one more time, we will, we will, we will help the rebels with bandages and medicine!'
-----------
Israel has a different way of expressing concern about Syrian weapons:

September 6, 2007, Operation Orchard was an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. The White House and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) later confirmed that American intelligence had also indicated the site was a nuclear facility with a military purpose.  http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jWIBgbzyBkHnJzQeMi80gXfjX0-Q

Jan 30, 2013, Israeli jets bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border, apparently hitting weapons destined for militant group Hezbollah.  http://www.france24.com/en/20130131-israel-tight-lipped-over-air-raid-syrian-military-facility
3712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 01, 2013, 02:12:38 PM
Two good points:

"... the immigration bill introduced to the U.S. Senate a week and a half ago would, if passed, allow illegal immigrants to access state and local welfare benefits immediately"

Yes, this seems implied by the constant reference to no receiving no federal benefits.  But the receiving of state and local benefits should also make the applicant a 'charge' and therefore not eligible for citizenship.  That loophole/exception is a perfect example of what ought to be tightened in order to win anyone's support.

"Separately I wonder why the need to grant citizenship instead of simply having a "statute of limitations" concept that would allow for legalization of status, but not citizenship."

Agree in concept and I think that statute of limitations thinking does figure in to why we are addressing this.  Failure to prosecute and deport for such an extended period became de facto legalization.  The 14 year time frame, or whatever it is, is also a reflection of this.  But a big part of this problem is political.  If you live here and work here permanently and don't ever have voting rights, it reminds people of injustices of the past, not of the new immigrant's original wrongful entry.  If there is no path ever, the issue remains front and center forever.
3713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi - Prosecute Hillary on: May 01, 2013, 02:02:26 PM
Similarly, the House charged Attorney General Eric Holder with a Contempt of Congress over its non-responsiveness in the Fast and Furious, Dead Mexicans and Border Guard scandal.  It turns out that the Attorney General declined to prosecute himself.  Allowing that to go unanswered was the set up for the next coverup.  http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/29/politics/holder-contempt/index.html
3714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: May 01, 2013, 01:52:04 PM
My 3 point plan for no ground troops in Syria: Day 1) Take out the nuclear facilities in Iran with air strikes.  Day 2) Take out the North Korean missile threat with air strikes.  Day 3) Call Pres. Assad and ask if we can talk.
3715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: May 01, 2013, 12:18:07 PM
We are lucky the constitution only grants to the federal government authority over housing that is transported across state lines.  Right? 
3716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: May 01, 2013, 11:53:50 AM
Yes, unfortunately the electric car is a government program.  General Motors still needs a subsidy?? In the US the electric car runs on coal more than any other fuel source, so the fuel emission argument over gasoline is false.  Like Ethanol.  Don't tell the taxpayers and motorists paying for it.  If we shifted our electricity to all-nuclear, the electric car would be CO2-free, but we aren't.  The best advancement we could make right now would be to encourage more vehicles to run on compressed natural (CNG).  To go down that road we would have to legalize fracking.  The environmental protesters don't want us to even use sand:  http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/04/29/cops-35-arrested-in-two-winona-sand-fracking-protests/
3717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marco Rubio pivots slightly on Immigration Bill on: May 01, 2013, 10:46:58 AM
The details of how to re-write the Immigration bill can go on that thread.  Here, I was wondering how Sen Rubio could take back his support for the current flawed bill and recover his reputation.  He has been ripped by almost everyone on the right for this.  I think he is handling it the best he can now under the circumstances.  He acknowledges the validity of some of the criticism and is asking for help in writing the bill better and tighter.  He admits this bill as written is the beginning, not the end-product, and admits it will not, as written, pass in the House.  At the link he also comments on Syria and Benghazi.

Rubio interviewed yesterday by Hugh Hewitt:  http://www.hughhewitt.com/marco-rubio-on-obamas-foreign-policy-press-conference-and-more-on-immigration-bill-concerns/

Selected excerpts regarding waivers, the fence, e-verify, family members, and unilateral actions by Pres. Obama:

HH: ...How about the argument there are too many waivers to make this bill work?

Sen. Rubio: Well, look, first of all, I think that’s a legitimate and valid point that we should look at. I mean, if there’s ways to tighten this up, we should. We certainly, I mean, I think we need to start accepting the notion that Janet Napolitano will not be secretary forever. I mean, this bill, for example, has a ten year implementation window before people can even apply for green cards. At best, she has three and a half years left there. So she won’t even be there when the first five years are completed. But that being said, I think if there are legitimate concerns out there about the number of waivers in the bill, we should tighten that. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. And I’ve always been open to that. I’ve always said that I’m looking for ways to make the bill better. Some waivers, quite frankly, some, not all, but a few, might be justified. They’re not all created equal. I’ll give you an example. We have a work requirement. You know, when you go and apply for your temporary permit to be renewed, you have to have been required to be working. But if you got hit by a bus and you’ve been disabled for six months? There should be a waiver for someone that’s in a hardship like that. So the waiver is really for exceptional circumstances. It’s not for, you know, we don’t like the law, so we’re not going to apply it. So I’m, look, I’m open to tightening the bill and making sure that that and other legitimate concerns are addressed. I think one of the things that we have forgotten in Washington is that legislating is not a take it or leave it proposition. I mean, I know that that’s how the way has been done, and maybe that’s the big problem that we have. People come up with a bill, and then they feel like they have to protect any changes against it, because it wasn’t their idea. I don’t view it that way. I think our job is to come up with a starting point. And I’ve always and consistently said this, that now other people get a chance to look at it. If they find things that they think can be improved or that are wrong with it, let’s deal with it. And so for those that are serious about improving it, I’m all open to that, and I think that’s in important part of this process.

HH: I watched your floor statement on the point about bringing forward amendments from late last week, and so if an amendment is brought forward mandating construction of a double sided fence over a specified length, and I think it ought to be at least half the border, a thousand miles or so, would you support such an amendment, Senator Rubio, that mandates it?

Sen. Rubio: Let me tell you, I’m fine with that. I am fine, and by the way, I believe that the enforcement mechanisms in this bill, in order for the bill to pass in the House, will have to be strengthened. And so I don’t, now I’m going to tell you, the debate against the fencing, from our side, is going to be people that don’t believe that the fencing is the most effective way to deal with this, that there are other ways that are more effective. I personally, and I’ve consistently said this, I personally believe that double fencing is a very effective, not 100%, but a very, we’ve seen it be effective in the San Diego area and the Tijuana area, for example. So I personally am supportive of that. Others have different views about what would be more effective. But the point is, I could support that personally, and I would just say to you that I am, what I can tell you is that what is pretty clear here is that there is such a lack of confidence in this administration’s willingness to enforce the law, and in particular, in the federal government’s ability to enforce the law. We’re going to have to address that in order for this bill to be able to become law, because I think the goal here is not to pass this. For those of us who are interested in immigration reform, the goal is not to pass the Senate bill. The goal is to pass a law. And you’re not going to pass a law if those elements are not dealt with effectively.

HH: And the e-verify program?  There are concerns that the e-verify program has a gap in this law. Can those be addressed by amendment?

Sen. Rubio: Well, I’ve read that concern. I actually don’t think that that’s true, that they’re talking about that e-verify will not be in effect for a certain number of years. That’s actually not accurate. It’s complicated to explain why, but we’re going to put something up on the web to explain it to people. But actually, that is not accurate. But what is more accurate is that the existing e-verify will be replaced with a more effective and more robust e-verify system.

HH: Senator, if an amendment comes forward that mandates construction of a double sided fence over, say, a thousand miles, as Charles Krauthammer said, from east to west, except for the mountains, would you vote for that amendment?

Sen. Rubio: Yeah, again, I mean, I don’t know if a thousand miles is the right number, but whatever that number is that wins people’s confidence, I’m for it. I have no problem with constructing fencing across the border. I’ve advocated for that. In fact, I advocated for a specific pot of money in the bill set aside just for fencing. ...And I’d be more than happy to expand it to be the effective ring. As you said, there are parts of the border that do not need fencing, because it’s high mountain or it’s a river, or what have you. I’ll leave that to experts and others. But I can say to you that I believe that double fencing in the right places has been highly effective, especially, for example, in the San Diego area where it’s really been effective.

HH: All right, well, the specifics, we’ll come back to. Eligibility for welfare, this has not actually concerned me, because I think the bill addresses it. But some of the conservative critiques out there are that immediately upon passage, millions of people will be eligible for welfare. How do you respond to that, Senator?

Sen. Rubio: That’s just not, I mean, there’s a specific provision that says they do not. Now if someone has found some sort of legal interpretation of it that needs to be tightened up, I’m open to it. But the clear intent of the bill is that they not qualify for federal benefits. They do not. And in fact, I saw some line somewhere, somebody had quoted in a report that one of my fellow senators came up with, they ignore the predicate to the entire paragraph, which is they specifically do not qualify for federal benefits, including Obamacare. That is the intent of the bill. I believe that is what the bill actually reflects. If someone has come up with a creative legal interpretation that someone can use to get around it, then we should close the loophole on that, because this bill will become unaffordable if that’s not the case. The reason why we want to prevent access to welfare benefits, by the way, and Obamacare and food stamps, is not because we’re trying to harsher than anybody else. It’s because the bill will become too expensive, and we will not be able to afford it if 11 million, 10 million, 9 million people become eligible for federal benefits. But I believe that the bill accurately accomplishes that. But if someone has a language they’d like to see included to double down and make sure that that doesn’t happen, I think everyone would be open to that.

HH: Another argument, …is that chain migration is not actually dealt with, and that the 11 million will instantly be able to bring in relatives up to 30 or 40 million people. What’s your…

Sen. Rubio: Quite frankly, I don’t know what they base that on. Again, if someone has found some creative interpretation that allows that, I’d like to see it, because we’ll address it. But I don’t think that’s true. And in fact, I know it isn’t. These folks, once they get temporary status, the only thing they qualify for under temporary status is the right to work and pay taxes and travel. They do not, you cannot, in fact, non-immigrant visa holders today under existing law cannot claim relatives to come to the United States. Beyond that, we have tightened the categories moving forward. So one of the categories that people used to use to bring up a bunch of relatives over was you were able to bring your siblings, et cetera. You won’t be able to do that anymore under the new modernized legal immigration system. That, in addition to only limiting it to minor children and spouses, will also weigh more towards the skills and job offers and the merits that you bring to the country. So again, that’s just not accurate.

HH: ...one of the things I don’t like, is I think kicking a border fencing plan to DHS to come up with, and then taking it to this commission, is a huge hole. I believe in just writing mandates in. I think he wants to do the same thing on biometrics. And it comes back to a crisis of confidence in the DHS. Nobody really trusts them and the enforcement mechanism.

Sen. Rubio: Well, that’s a big problem. Yeah, that’s the big problem we’re facing here. I mean, the number one obstacle we have faced here, quite frankly, is not people who don’t want to deal with the 11 million. It’s people that say look, we understand what you’re trying to do, but we don’t trust the government, and we don’t trust Republicans or Democrats in the government to make sure that this happens. And if we don’t do it right, we’re going to be right back here again in the future. And my answer to that is I think that we’ve come up with a pretty good starting point to make sure it happens. The law specifically says they must do these things. If there is a way to tighten it up, if there is a way to make it better, if there is a way to assure that it happens in a better language, or additions we can make to the bill, I’ll certainly be open to that, because I think that’s critical to see it happen. But again, that’s why, that’s the way the legislative process is supposed to work. You’re supposed to offer a bill, and then other people are supposed to offer ideas about how to improve it. That’s why we have hearings, that’s why we have what they call markups, that’s why there’s such a thing as amendments. And I think people should fully participate in that. If they are serious about solving this problem, that’s what I want to see happen. Otherwise, we’re going to get stuck with the status quo. And what we have now is even worse.

HH: ... this President does not inspire much confidence, and he didn’t like the law, so he just chained it on the DREAMers when you were prepared to bring in law to keep the DREAMers in status. How does anyone trust him on anything?

Sen. Rubio: Well, and that’s exactly why I’m involved in this bill, because here’s the problem, that what the President did for the DREAMers, he can do for everybody else. He can use the exact same authority to decide you know what? Everyone over a certain age who passes a background check and has been here for three years or more, I’m going to grant them the same thing I gave the DREAMers. He can do that right now, the same way as he did it for the DREAMers, but you won’t have e-verify, you won’t have border security, you won’t have any of those other things. And so what I’m saying is let’s not let that happen. Let’s get ahead of that by passing a bill that does e-verify, that does the border security stuff. If we want to improve the border security stuff, let’s improve it by passing an entry/exit tracking system, by prohibiting being able to get Obamacare and welfare and all these sorts of things. I think if we don’t do anything, that’s precisely what he can do right now.
3718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IL State Sen opposed 'Born Alive' legislation, 4 Pinnochios for the denial on: April 30, 2013, 12:32:17 PM
Specifics of the bills to protect the born alive that Obama voted down while still in IL:

The 2001 bill:  http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/legisnet92/status/920SB1093.html
The 2002 bill http://ilga.gov/legislation/legisnet92/sbgroups/sb/920SB1662LV.html

... "A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law."

His stated reason for opposing was that the bill would somehow jeopardize the whole Roe v Wade man-made right to abortion.  http://www.ilga.gov/senate/transcripts/strans92/ST033001.pdf

Sen. Obama: "..it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute."

[We elected this guy President? Twice?!]

Fact checkers at the Washington Post were partially snowed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/did-obama-vote-to-deny-rights-to-infant-abortion-survivors/2012/09/07/9852895a-f87d-11e1-8398-0327ab83ab91_blog.html

Still they write:  "we could have awarded Four Pinocchios to the former Illinois senator for his comments to the Christian Broadcasting Network (denying the bill said what it said), but that interview is several years old now, and it’s not the focus of this particular column."

The US Senate (pre-Obama) passed essentially the same bill the same year (2002) at the federal level by unanimous consent, proving the obvious, that Barack Obama was furthest to the Nazi-Stalinist Left in the Senate even before he even arrived.
3719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gosnell's abortion atrocities no 'aberration' on: April 30, 2013, 10:45:45 AM
Gosnell's abortion atrocities no 'aberration':
Kirsten Powers April 29, 2013  USA Today

Closing arguments leave questions about clinics elsewhere in America.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/04/29/gosnells-abortion-atrocities-no-aberration-column/2122235/
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Read it at the link.  The facts coming out of this trial are sickening and too gruesome for me to post. ("one of the severed feet found in jars at the clinic belonged to her aborted baby.") This creature of death and human carnage they call a doctor faces the death penalty for doing things that Illinois State Senator Barack Obama wanted to legalize.  The difference between prosecutable 1st degree murder happening in the operating room in at least 4 provable cases and what these so called doctors and clinics do legally for a living is slight.

How do so many people, voters, media, health inspectors, religious leaders, advocates for women, girls, for the poor and minorities, pretend to be unaware, morally neutral, or stay silent about this whole industry? 
3720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues - Immigration with Annexation? on: April 30, 2013, 10:13:17 AM
A modest proposal by John Hinderacker is that if we should take one fourth of Mexico's population, would it be too much to ask to include a little land with the deal?

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/04/a-modest-proposal-re-annexation.php

A Pew survey released today found that 35% of Mexicans say they would come to the United States, given the opportunity. With the unlimited chain migration provided by the Gang’s legislation, the choice will be theirs.
3721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues: 33 million on: April 30, 2013, 10:06:40 AM
This story went by last week.  Wonder if people saw it.  I don't find the study credible but it sheds light on the fact that the 11 million number is also made up and it validates what Crafty has been saying about the flow of family members that will follow legalization.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/26/anti-immigration-group-immigration-bill-to-bring-in-at-least-33-million-people/

Immigration bill to bring in at least 33 million people, says group

"The majority of the inflow, or roughly 17 million people, would consist of family members of illegals, ..."

-----
"Numbers USA" is an anti-immigration group.  At least someone is studying it.
3722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People - The Gun President on: April 30, 2013, 09:56:28 AM
Also known as the food stamp President, no one has sold more guns in America than Pres. Barack Obama:

http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2013/04/25/after-the-obama-surge-a-new-rush-on-gun-stores/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-29/barack-obama-gun-salesman-of-the-year.html

Funny how policies have unintended consequences.  Who knew?
3723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Left on: April 29, 2013, 01:33:21 PM
Two unrelated stories today regarding Cognitive Dissonance of the Left:

1) AP reports that 'African Americans' had higher voter turnout than pale-Americans last year for the first time in history [to vote for Obama].  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/29/in_a_first_black_turnout_passes_white_turnout_118158.html

2) Urban Institute reports that Minorities Lose Their Shirts under Obama:
http://www.urban.org/publications/412802.html
http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/04/29/minorities-lose-their-shirts-under-obama/
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/business/racial-wealth-gap-widened-during-recession.html?ref=us&_r=0

[Relying on CRAp and the rest of the failed GSE/Fannie Mae programs] "Black families were hit disproportionately by the housing collapse, because heading into the recession housing constituted a higher proportion of their wealth than for white families, leaving them more exposed when the market crashed. Higher unemployment rates and lower incomes among blacks" [that got worse under the Pelosi-Reid-Obama's war against enterprise] "left them less able to keep paying their mortgages and more likely to lose their homes, experts said".
3724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: April 29, 2013, 12:29:02 PM
Bringing this over from 'Constitutional Issues' by request.

Does the Right to Privacy apply to gun ownership?

If not, why not?

OK, but Griswold says [first, third, fourth, fifth and ninth]. With its specificity, my answer to "does" would still be no.

I very much appreciate Bigdog's answer, provided in the context of precedent and settled case law.  I need to go back and re-read Griswold to better understand the meaning.  A follow up question for BD, if I may ask: Should a right of privacy apply to gun ownership?  (And if not, why not?)

This question is crucial in the gun control debate.   The biggest point of contention remaining is whether or not the government at any level should be keeping a registry.  The publishing of the gun owners and addresses in one area reportedly led to break-ins of those homes.  Once a gun purchase is approved, the ownership of that gun is a fundamental right.  Shouldn't there be a privacy right associated with that transaction and resulting ownership?
-----

It seems to me (mentioned previously) that a real 'right of privacy' is something we recognize quite selectively and step on quite freely when it doesn't fit with our other objectives.

A right of privacy was recognized by the Court in the Griswold decision to protect the choice of using birth control.  Privacy applies to homosexual acts in Lawrence, but not to everything that happens in a bedroom.  Privacy guarantees the right to slaughter your unborn young in Roe, up to a point, and less so after the decisions of Webster and Casey.  Where else does privacy apply? Where else should it apply?  Are tax returns private?  Gun ownership?  Census questionnaire information disclosed?  Is a Colorado medical marijuana license list private - even if it is a violation of federal law?  Why is there no right of privacy associated with the procurement of health care services?  

Did the right of privacy originate in these Court decisions or did it pre-exist, on all private matters, as a fundamental right, and require a compelling state interest in order to limit or violate it?
---------------

Crafty:  "Good point about privacy and the procurement of health care.  Although obvious, I confess I had not made that connection."

The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches did not make that obvious connection either.

The answer could have been that it was over-ridden by a 'compelling government interest' but that is of course nonsense.   Strict scrutiny was not applied to Obamacare (narrowly tailored??), therefore your privacy was not recognized as a fundamental constitutional right.  Instead they selectively ignored privacy on this one issue while relying on it completely to decide others.
3725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: SDO on Bush v. Gore on: April 29, 2013, 11:34:15 AM

"Looking back, O'Connor said, she isn't sure the high court should have taken the case."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-sandra-day-oconnor-edit-board-20130427,0,1201477.story

State court rulings that struck down the constitutional process of selecting electors should have been left alone? 

Her career on the Court was marked by a lot of things of which she was uncertain.  Being a Supreme Court Justice without a core principle must have been a heart-wrenching experience.  Her 25 year affirmative action / unequal protection need was derived from which article or amendment?

"When I go and sit in the courtroom and look at the bench and see three women, it perks me up," she said.

When I see a Justice Alito of any gender sitting in her seat, it perks me up!
3726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 29, 2013, 11:15:09 AM
Does the Right to Privacy apply to gun ownership?

If not, why not?

OK, but Griswold says 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. With its specificity, my answer to "does" would still be no.

I very much appreciate Bigdog's answer, provided in the context of precedent and settled case law.  I need to go back and re-read Griswold to better understand the meaning.  A follow up question for BD, if I may ask: Should a right of privacy apply to gun ownership?  (And if not, why not?)

This question is crucial in the gun control debate.   The biggest point of contention remaining is whether or not the government at any level should be keeping a registry.  The publishing of the gun owners and addresses in one area reportedly led to break-ins of those homes.  Once a gun purchase is approved, the ownership of that gun is a fundamental right.  Shouldn't there be a privacy right associated with that transaction and resulting ownership?
-----

It seems to me (mentioned previously) that a real 'right of privacy' is something we recognize quite selectively and step on quite freely when it doesn't fit with our other objectives.

A right of privacy was recognized by the Court in the Griswold decision to protect the choice of using birth control.  Privacy applies to homosexual acts in Lawrence, but not to everything that happens in a bedroom.  Privacy guarantees the right to slaughter your unborn young in Roe, up to a point, and less so after the decisions of Webster and Casey.  Where else does privacy apply? Where else should it apply?  Are tax returns private?  Gun ownership?  Census questionnaire information disclosed?  Is a Colorado medical marijuana license list private - even if it is a violation of federal law?  Why is there no right of privacy associated with the procurement of health care services?  

Did the right of privacy originate in these Court decisions or did it pre-exist, on all private matters, as a fundamental right, and require a compelling state interest in order to limit or violate it?
3727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Internet sales tax on: April 28, 2013, 01:18:47 PM
In general should we be broadening the base and lowering the rate of most of our taxes ?  Yes. 

Does the 'internet sales tax' do that?  No.  This is just more taxes on more transactions.  Why give that away without the winning the accompanying lower of the rates?  It is a continuous and permanent transfer of more and more private sector resources over to the public sector. 

Why are the Feds getting involved with state and local tax collections anyway?

We already tried to kill off the supply side of the economy.  Now we are trying to kill off demand.  We hit the savers.  We hit the employers.  It's time to hit the consumers a little harder. 

The policy of the Fannie Mae, government-knows-best Left has gone from risking economic failure to guaranteeing it.
3728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria, the ball is in your court Mr. President on: April 26, 2013, 01:47:02 PM
They make a good starting point. But the 'botched intelligence' or botched credibility of the US, UK and Israel exists in the same world as the botched credibility of Putin, Russia, the politburo of China and the UN itself.  The botched intelligence was regarding stockpiles of WMD, 8 months later.  Failure to find those (maybe they were transported to Syria) did not change the fact that Iraq had used chemical weapons on his own people and his neighbor, admitted in the article, and would have become a nuclear power by now without the action taken.  Going to the UN over chemical weapons in Syria is like passing more laws in Washington against illegal gun use here.  If we prove that Syria is a rogue nation, axis of evil, used chemical weapons on its own people, then what?  Compliance will require military action.  Who will do that?  And then what?

"Obama has an opening thanks to Asad’s use of chemicals, but it is fraught with peril if handled recklessly."

Our Syrian policy is fraught with peril no matter what course we take. 
3729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: It's not Dependency per se ... on: April 26, 2013, 01:16:52 PM
On the previous, thanks Crafty.  That was his speech format.
------
This piece expands on that theme IMO.  It answers a point I have pondered.  People start off dependent, born with no marketable skills, then move slowly and hopefully to self-sufficiency.   But dependency on people who know you, love you, set expectation for you, and followup on your progress is not at all the same as dependency without obligation as we have in our welfare system.
-----

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/346517/more-dependency

More Than Dependency
By  Yuval Levin
April 24, 2013 11:20 AM

...The term dependency and the concept it describes point us toward a radically individualist understanding of that problem that is mistaken in some important ways. We are all dependent on others. The question is whether we are dependent on people we know, and they on us—in ways that foster family and community, build habits of restraint and dignity, and instill in us responsibility and a sense of obligation—or we are dependent on distant, neutral, universal systems of benefits that help provide for our material wants without connecting us to any local and immediate nexus of care and obligation. It is not dependence per se, which is a universal fact of human life, but dependence without mutual obligation, that corrupts the soul. Such technocratic provision enables precisely the illusion of independence from the people around us and from the requirements of any moral code they might uphold. It is corrosive not because it instills a true sense of dependence but because it inspires a false sense of independence and so frees us from the sorts of moral habits of mutual obligation that alone can make us free.

We reach for the idea of dependency because of the kind of arguments we often respond to from the left—arguments that seem like calls for common action instead of individual action. But we should look more carefully at those arguments. The problem with the “you didn’t build that” mindset, as becomes particularly clear if you read what the president said before and after that line, is not just that it denies the significance of individual initiative (though that’s an important part of the problem, and our culture of individual initiative, which is far from radical individualism, is a huge social achievement in America) but also that it denies the significance of any common efforts that are not political. The president took the pose of a critic of individualism, but in fact the position he described involves perhaps the most radical individualism of all, in which nothing but individuals and the state exists in society. Alexis de Tocqueville saw where this would go long ago:

    I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

    Above all these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

It is not hard to see why this kind of infantilization would strike us as first and foremost raising problems of dependency, but what Tocqueville shows so powerfully is that the trouble does not arise from a dearth of individual independence but rather from the error of radical individualism itself—from the separating of people from those around them. And that separation is not accidental but essential to a certain kind of liberalism.

To summarize (and so necessarily oversimplify some, to be sure): The utopian goal of the most radical forms of liberalism has always been the complete liberation of the individual from all unchosen “relational” obligations—obligations to the people around you that are a function of the family and community in which you live. Resentment against such obligations was a central and powerful motive in the radical late-18th century thought that gave us some (though not all) forms of modern libertarianism and the modern Left, and the defense of such obligations was central to the counter-arguments that yielded modern conservatism. (I might mention here, by the way, that these somewhat unfamiliar origins of the Left-Right divide are the subject of a forthcoming book of mine, which will be out later this year.)

These radicals originally thought that the liberation of the individual could result directly from the application of key liberal principles to politics, but when liberal ideals did not bring about their utopian aims, some of them abandoned the liberal principles rather than the utopian aims and sought to pursue that liberation by other means. The Left-leaning, and ultimately progressive, form of this resentment of unchosen obligations dealt with the fact that dependence cannot really be eradicated by calling for dependence only on a distant and (supposedly) morally neutral provider of necessities on whom everyone else is equally dependent.

We often think of this peculiar objective in terms of equality, but I think it is better understood in terms of the liberation of the individual from the constraints of community and family—from the obligations imposed by the place and time in which we happen to find ourselves. Breaking apart clusters of people into individuals who then all have the same relation to the state is a way of freeing those individuals from one another.

This is not a counter-force to individualism (as even serious people on the left sometimes suggest it is) but rather the most radical form of individualism—using government to atomize and pulverize society’s institutions. It is a mode of living that liberates us from local and generational attachments by subjecting us to intricate but morally indifferent rules imposed from a distance. Liberals like to think of such rules as morally neutral but they are more properly described as morally neutralizing—imposing on society the social libertarianism that liberalism takes for granted by defining society as legitimately consisting only of individuals and a state that is largely indifferent to their moral choices, with nothing in between.

What this engenders certainly involves some material dependence on the state, and that is what conservatives often react against, but more significantly it seeks to advance a sense of non-dependence on anyone else—a sense that you don’t need to depend on anyone you know and (perhaps more important) that no one you know needs to depend on you. That is how the welfare state really does encourage failures of responsibility, what we tend to loosely call dependency: If no one depends upon your working when you can and meeting your obligations, you’re simply less likely to do so. This is not quite dependence, and indeed at times it is its opposite. And if your needs are met without a reciprocal obligation on your part to those who help you meet them, you are less likely to be in the habit of work and discipline. This can be even more morally corrosive than mere dependence on the state, because it encourages the illusion of independence, and lifts us out of the layered networks of social obligation and commitment that give a thriving human life its form.

The problem created by the welfare state is thus not best understood as a problem of dependence but as the illusion of an impossible independence—an individualism so radical it renders all human relationships, including our relationships to the weakest and most needy of those around us, into non-binding optional arrangements, ignoring the realities of human life that make it necessary to guard human beings in their most vulnerable moments through an array of unchosen—or at the very least non-optional—obligations, especially in the family. The Left’s statist radical individualism that masquerades as a kind of communitarian collectivism pretends to offer a way for people to act together, but in practice it offers an escape from all mutual dependence and from the neediness of people who are not well positioned to pretend to be utterly autonomous.

Conservatives buy into this confusion when we describe the foremost vice of this system as dependency. Dependency is a fact of the human condition. The denial of that fact, along with the other facts of the human condition, is the characteristic vice of modern liberalism—a denial undertaken by bold assertion in liberalism’s libertarian form and by an exercise of technocratic prowess in its progressive form. Conservatism at its best acts as a restraint on this vice, and a reminder of the basic facts of the human condition. But of course we are not always at our best.
3730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Drop in borrowing squeezes banks on: April 26, 2013, 12:09:05 PM
Drop in Borrowing Squeezes Banks
"we didn't expect the wall we hit,"
..."I think all of us are trying to figure out what happened."

Unexpected?  Trying to figure out what happened??  Someone thought killing off businesses wouldn't affect the banks that rely on the business of businesses?  Did the people who didn't expect a business investment pullback not know about these new regulations, during a recession, to implement one new program alone, or that they would have a negative impact on commerce and commercial lending?

Obamacare's new regulations.  Is THIS what Madison had in mind?
http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/
3731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Fed zeroes in on rate rise risks on: April 26, 2013, 11:54:45 AM
... a panel of federal regulators charged with identifying market risks warned that a sudden rise in interest rates could have a destabilizing effect on financial markets
... interest-rate risk as one of seven major vulnerabilities to financial stability.
...the scenario, which featured a mix of moderate recession, rising consumer prices and rapid increases in short-term interest rates, as might occur if oil prices were to shoot sharply higher.
... The longer the low interest-rate environment persists "the more very low interest-producing assets accumulate on their balance sheets,"
..."At some point the Fed's going to have to raise rates, and the market value of those lower-yielding assets are going to go down."

"At some point the Fed's going to have to raise rates..." 

But why?  If it is a great policy, healthier for job growth than having market rates for interest , why would we ever stop manipulating the market for something as harmless as money?

It's almost as if the architects of the quantitative easing policies, trying to solve a non-monetary problem with monetary flooding, are admitting these policies are unsustainable, and that the longer the wrong policies continue the harder the fall will be.  (Other than the readers of this forum), Who knew?

3732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 25, 2013, 11:27:50 AM
With a 4% agency "cut" due to the sequester, Team Obama is cutting aircontrollers 10%; this on top of refusing authorization to have the cuts focused on non-essential employees.

Oddly, Washington DC airports will be spared from the cuts. 
3733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Sen. Mike Lee at Heritage on: April 25, 2013, 10:45:02 AM
(MARC:  Awesome piece, that was driving me crazy with every single sentence being a paragraph of its own-- so I took the liberty of editing it into what I perceive to be the paragraphs that should have been there to begin with.)

http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/4/what-conservatives-are-for

... making the positive case for conservatism: what conservatives are for.

In Washington, it is common for both parties to succumb to easy negativity. Republicans and Democrats stand opposed to each other, obviously, and outspoken partisanship gets the headlines.  This negativity is unappealing on both sides. That helps explain why the federal government is increasingly held in such low regard by the American people.
But for the Left, the defensive crouch at least makes sense. Liberalism’s main purpose today is to defend its past gains from conservative reform.  But negativity on the Right, to my mind, makes no sense at all.  The Left has created this false narrative that liberals are for things, and conservatives are against things.

When we concede this narrative, even just implicitly, we concede the debate… before it even begins.

And yet too many of us – elected conservatives especially – do it anyway. We take the bait. A liberal proposes an idea, we explain why it won’t work, and we think we’ve won the debate. But even if we do, we reinforce that false narrative… winning battles while losing the war.

This must be frustrating to the scholars of the Heritage Foundation, who work every day producing new ideas for conservatives to be for. But it should be even more frustrating to the conservatives around the country that we elected conservatives all serve.

After all, they know what they’re for: why don’t we?

Perhaps it’s because it’s so easy in Washington to forget.  In Washington, we debate public policy so persistently that we can lose sight of the fact that policies are means, not ends.

We say we are for lower taxes, or less regulation, or spending restraint. But those are just policies we advocate. They’re not what we’re really for. What we’re really for are the good things those policies will yield to the American people.  What we’re really for is the kind of society those policies would allow the American people to create, together.

Together.

If there is one idea too often missing from our debate today that’s it: together.

In the last few years, we conservatives seem to have abandoned words like “together,” “compassion,” and “community”… as if their only possible meanings were as a secret code for statism.  This is a mistake. Collective action doesn’t only – or even usually - mean government action.

Conservatives cannot surrender the idea of community to the Left, when it is the vitality of our communities upon which our entire philosophy depends.  Nor can we allow one politician’s occasional conflation of “compassion” and “bigger government” to discourage us from emphasizing the moral core of our worldview.  Conservatism is ultimately not about the bills we want to pass, but the nation we want to be.

If conservatives want the American people to support our agenda for the government, we have to do a better job of showing them our vision for society. And re-connecting our agenda to it.  We need to remind the American people – and perhaps, too, the Republican Party itself – that the true and proper end of political subsidiarity is social solidarity.
Ours has never been a vision of isolated, atomized loners. It is a vision of husbands and wives; parents and children; neighbors and neighborhoods; volunteers and congregations; bosses and employees; businesses and customers; clubs, teams, groups, associations… and friends.

The essence of human freedom, of civilization itself, is cooperation. This is something conservatives should celebrate. It’s what conservatism is all about.  Freedom doesn’t mean “you’re on your own.” It means “we’re all in this together.”  Our vision of American freedom is of two separate but mutually reinforcing institutions: a free enterprise economy and a voluntary civil society.

History has shown both of these organic systems to be extremely efficient at delivering goods and services. But these two systems are not good because they work. They work because they are good. Together, they work for everyone because they impel everyone… to work together. They harness individuals’ self-interest to the common good of the community, and ultimately the nation.

They work because in a free market economy and voluntary civil society, whatever your career or your cause, your success depends on your service. The only way to look out for yourself is to look out for those around you. The only way to get ahead is to help other people do the same.

What, exactly, are all those supposedly cut-throat, exploitive businessmen and women competing for? To figure out the best way to help the most people.  That’s what the free market does. It rewards people for putting their God-given talents and their own exertions in the service of their neighbors.  Whatever money they earn is the wealth they create, value they add to other people’s lives.

No matter who you are or what you’re after, the first question anyone in a free market must ask him or herself is: how can I help? What problems need to be solved? What can I do to improve other people’s lives?

The free market does not allow anyone to take; it impels everyone to give.

The same process works in our voluntary civil society.

Conservatives’ commitment to civil society begins, of course, with the family, and the paramount, indispensable institution of marriage. But it doesn’t end there.  Just as individuals depend on free enterprise to protect them from economic oppression, families depend on mediating institutions to protect them from social isolation.  That is where the social entrepreneurs of our civil society come in.  Just like for-profit businesses, non-profit religious, civic, cultural, and charitable institutions also succeed only to the extent that they serve the needs of the community around  them. 

Forced to compete for voluntary donations, the most  successful mediating institutions in a free civil society are at least as innovative and efficient as profitable companies.  If someone wants to make the world a better place, a free civil society requires that he or she do it well.

Social entrepreneurs know that only the best soup kitchens, the best community theater companies, and the best youth soccer leagues – and for that matter, the best conservative think tanks – will survive.

So they serve.

They serve their donors by spending their resources wisely. They serve their communities by making them better places to live. And they serve their beneficiaries, by meeting needs together better than they can meet them alone.

Freedom doesn’t divide us. Big government does.  It’s big government that turns citizens into supplicants, capitalists into cronies, and cooperative communities into competing special interests.  Freedom, by contrast, unites us. It pulls us together, and aligns our interests.  It draws us out of ourselves and into the lives of our friends, neighbors, and even perfect strangers. It draws us upward, toward the best version of ourselves.

The free market and civil society are not things more Americans need protection from. They’re things more Americans need access to.

Liberals scoff at all this.  They attack free enterprise as a failed theory that privileges the rich, exploits the poor, and threatens the middle class but our own history proves the opposite.  Free enterprise is the only economic system that does not privilege the rich. Instead it incentivizes them put their wealth to productive use serving other people… or eventually lose it all.  Free enterprise is the greatest weapon against poverty ever conceived by man.  If the free market exploits the poor, how do liberals explain how the richest nation in human history mostly descends from immigrants who originally came here with nothing?

Nor does free enterprise threaten the middle class. Free enterprise is what created the middle class in the first place.  The free market created the wealth that liberated millions of American families from subsistence farming, opening up opportunities for the pursuit of happiness never known before or since in government-directed economies.

Progressives are equally dismissive of our voluntary civil society. They simply do not trust free individuals and organic communities to look out for each other, or solve problems without supervision.  They think only government – only they – possess the moral enlightenment to do that.

To be blunt, elite progressives in Washington don’t really believe in communities at all. No, they believe in community organizers. Self-anointed strangers, preferably ones with Ivy League degrees, fashionable ideological grievances, and a political agenda to redress those grievances.  For progressives believe the only valid purpose of “community” is to accomplish the agenda of the state.

But we know from our own lives that the true purpose of our communities is instead to accomplish everything else.  To enliven our days. To ennoble our children. To strengthen our families. To unite our neighborhoods. To pursue our happiness, and protect our freedom to do so.

This vision of America conservatives seek is not an Ayn Rand novel. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a society of “plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too.” 

The great obstacle to realizing this vision today is government dysfunction. This is where our vision must inform our agenda.

What reforms will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses? For young couples to get married and start new families? And for individuals everywhere to come together to bring to life flourishing new partnerships and communities?

What should government do – and just as important, not do – to allow the free market to create new economic opportunity and to allow civil society to create new social capital?
We conservatives are not against government. The free market and civil society depend on a just, transparent, and accountable government to enforce the rule of law.

What we are against are two pervasive problems that grow on government like mold on perfectly good bread: corruption and inefficiency.  It is government corruption and inefficiency that today stand between the American people and the economy and society they deserve.

To combat those pathologies, a new conservative reform agenda should center around three basic principles: equality, diversity, and sustainability.

The first and most important of these principles is equality.

The only way for the free market and civil society to function… to tie personal success to interpersonal service… to align the interests of the strong and the weak… is to have everyone play by the same rules.  Defying this principle is how our government has always corrupted itself, our free market, and our civil society.  In the past, the problem was political discrimination that held the dis-connected down. Today, government’s specialty is dispensing political privileges to prop the well-connected up.

In either case, the corruption is the same: official inequality … twisting the law to deem some people “more equal than others”… making it harder for some to succeed even when they serve, and harder for others to fail even when they don’t.

And so we have corporate welfare: big businesses receiving direct and indirect subsidies that smaller companies don’t.  We have un-civil society: politicians funding large, well-connected non-profit institutions based on political favoritism rather than merit.

We have venture SOCIALISM: politicians funneling taxpayer money to politically correct businesses that cannot attract real investors.

We have regulatory capture: industry leaders influencing the rules governing their sectors to protect their interests and hamstringing innovative challengers.

The first step in a true conservative reform agenda must be to end this kind of preferential policymaking. Beyond simply being the right thing to do, it is a pre-requisite for earning the moral authority and political credibility to do anything else.

Why should the American people trust our ideas about middle-class entitlements… when we’re still propping up big banks?  Why should they trust us to fix the tax code while we use their tax dollars to create artificial markets for uncompetitive industries?  Why should they trust our vision of a free civil society when we give special privileges to supposed non-profits like Planned Parenthood, public broadcasting, agricultural check-off programs, and the Export-Import Bank?

And perhaps most important, why should Americans trust us at all, when too often, we don’t really trust them? When we vote for major legislation… negotiated in secret… without debating it… without even reading it… deliberately excluding the American people from their own government?

To conservatives, equality needs to mean equality for everyone.

The second principle to guide our agenda is diversity. Or, as you might have heard it called elsewhere: “federalism.”

The biggest reason the federal government makes too many mistakes is that it makes too many decisions. Most of these are decisions the federal government doesn’t have to make – and therefore shouldn’t.  Every state in the union has a functioning, constitutional government. And just as important, each state has a unique political and cultural history, with unique traditions, values, and priorities.

Progressives today are fundamentally intolerant of this diversity.

They insist on imposing their values on everyone. To them, the fifty states are just another so-called “community” to be “organized,” brought to heel by their betters in Washington.  This flies in the face of the Founders and the Constitution, of course. But it also flies in the face of common sense and experience.

The usurpation of state authority is why our national politics is so dysfunctional and rancorous.  We expect one institution – the federal government – to set policies that govern the lives of 300 million people, spread across a continent. Of course it’s going to get most of it wrong.

That’s why successful organizations in the free market and civil society are moving in the opposite direction.  While government consolidates, businesses delegate and decentralize. While Washington insists it knows everything, effective organizations increasingly rely on diffuse social networks and customizable problem solving.

We should not be surprised that as Washington has assumed greater control over transportation, education, labor, welfare, health care, home mortgage lending, and so much else… all of those increasingly centralized systems are failing. Conservatives should seize this opportunity not to impose our ideas on these systems, but to crowd-source the solutions to the states.

Let the unique perspectives and values of each state craft its own policies, and see what works and what doesn’t.   If Vermont’s pursuit of happiness leads it to want more government, and Utah’s less, who are politicians from the other 48 states to tell them they can’t have it? Would we tolerate this kind of official intolerance in any other part of American life?

A Pew study just last week found that Americans trust their state governments twice as much as the federal government, and their local governments even more.

This shouldn’t be a surprise – it should be a hint.

State and local governments are more responsive, representative, and accountable than Washington, D.C. It’s time to make them more powerful, too.  In the past, conservatives given federal power have been tempted to overuse it. We must resist this temptation. If we want to be a diverse movement, we must be a tolerant movement.
The price of allowing conservative states to be conservative is allowing liberal states to be liberal.

Call it subsidiarity. Call it federalism. Call it constitutionalism. But we must make this fundamental principle of pluralistic diversity a pillar of our agenda.

And that brings us to our third guiding principle.

Once we eliminate policy privilege and restore policy diversity, we can start ensuring policy sustainability.  Once the federal government stops doing things it shouldn’t, it can start doing the things it should, better.  That means national defense and intelligence, federal law enforcement and the courts, immigration, intellectual property, and even the senior entitlement programs whose fiscal outlook threatens our future solvency and very survival.

Once we clear unessential policies from the books, federal politicians will no longer be able to hide: from the public, or their constitutional responsibilities.  Congress will be forced to work together to reform the problems government has created in our health care system.  We can fundamentally reform and modernize our regulatory system.  We will be forced to rescue our senior entitlement programs from bankruptcy.  And we can reform our tax system to eliminate the corporate code’s bias in favor of big businesses over small businesses… and the individual code’s bias against saving, investing, and especially against parents, our ultimate investor class.

That is how we turn the federal government’s unsustainable liabilities into sustainable assets.

The bottom line of all of this is that conservatives in that building need to start doing what conservatives in this building already do: think long and hard about what we believe, why we believe it, and most of all, remember to put first things first.

For conservatives, the first thing is not our agenda of political subsidiarity – it’s our vision of social solidarity.  It is a vision of society as an interwoven and interdependent network of individuals, families, communities, businesses, churches, formal and informal groups working together to meet each other’s needs and enrich each other’s lives.

It is of a free market economy that grants everyone a “fair chance and an unfettered start in the race of life.”

It is of a voluntary civil society that strengthens our communities, protects the vulnerable, and minds the gaps to make sure no one gets left behind.

And it is of a just, tolerant, and sustainable federal government that protects and complements free enterprise and civil society, rather than presuming to replace them.

This vision will not realize itself. The Left, the inertia of the status quo, and the entire economy of this city stand arrayed against it.

Realizing it will sometimes require conservatives to take on entrenched interests, pet policies, and political third-rails. Many of these will be interests traditionally aligned with – and financially generous to – the establishments of both parties.  And sometimes, it will require us to stand up for those no one else will: the unborn child in the womb, the poor student in the failing school, the reformed father languishing in prison, the single mom trapped in poverty, and the splintering neighborhoods that desperately need them all.

But if we believe this vision is worth the American people being for, it’s worth elected conservatives fighting for.  What we are fighting for is not just individual freedom, but the strong, vibrant communities free individuals form.  The freedom to earn a good living, and build a good life: that is what conservatives are for.
3734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Clinton in 2002: "BUSH KNEW" of terror attacks prior to 9/11/01 on: April 24, 2013, 12:49:33 PM
"We have a responsibility to ask for information, and I think that is not only appropriate but necessary."

A flashback caught by Drudge.  Interesting in the context of all the terror information in Benghazi that Hillary Clinton had prior to 9/11 - 2012.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/05/18/wh.hillary/

May 18, 2002   WASHINGTON (CNN
 ...
The former first lady responded by saying she is simply "seeking answers and information" about recent revelations that President Bush was alerted prior to September 11 of possible terrorist attacks.

The row between the White House and the Democrat from New York began Thursday when Clinton appeared on the Senate floor and held up a copy of the New York Post with the headline of "Bush Knew."

"The president knew what?" she asked. "My constituents would like to know the answer to that and many other questions, not to blame the president or any other American, just to know."

Fleischer responded in his daily news briefing.

"I have to say, with disappointment, that Mrs. Clinton, having seen that same headline, did not call the White House, did not ask if it was accurate or not," he said.

"Instead, she immediately went to the floor of the Senate, and I'm sorry to say that she followed that headline and divided."

Hours later, the freshman senator fired back.

"What I said is completely in line with what was said by other senators on both sides of the aisle who are asking respectfully for information to respond to questions that are legitimately being posed by the American public," she told reporters.

"We have a responsibility to ask for information, and I think that is not only appropriate but necessary. You know, nobody is more entitled to answers to these questions than the people of New York, and I take that responsibility very seriously."

She added: "I am seeking answers and information. I am not looking to point fingers or place blame on anybody."
3735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Flying the government skies on: April 24, 2013, 12:27:29 PM
Flying the Government Skies
The 4% FAA spending cut that somehow delays 40% of flights..

Just thinking aloud, I wonder if the outcome would have been different if an Executive Order such as this had been issued: 

All federal government department heads and middle managers who cannot find a 4% efficiency gain in their area of responsibility in this, the fifth year of trillion dollar deficits, will be put under review, reassigned or terminated, and if terminated will receive no pension.

Instead the message from the administration was make this as painful as possible.
3736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hunt for the elusive Tea Party murderer continues on: April 24, 2013, 11:06:35 AM
Remember how they yearned to find a tea party connection to the Tucson and Aurora shooters?
-------------------
Hunt for the elusive Tea Party murderer continues

Liberal hopes were dashed with the revelation that the Boston Marathon bombers were a couple of Chechen Muslim immigrants.  The Left was so sure they had finally bagged the elusive Tea Party murderer!  The bombings occurred in Boston on Tax Day.  Surely, at long last, the opportunity to smear libertarians, small-government conservatives, anti-tax crusaders, and the whole hellish tri-corner hat crowd was at hand!  ”Two plus two equals…?” Michael Moore burbled happily...
http://www.redstate.com/2013/04/20/hunt-for-the-elusive-tea-party-murderer-continues/
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/04/hunting-that-elusive-tea-party-bomber.php
--------

Now that it turns out that the political tie to bombing innocent people in our furthest left state was to the anti-war left, the relevance of their political motivations diminishes.
3737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, American Freedom: Terrorists and welfare on: April 24, 2013, 10:49:00 AM
People are wondering how the events in Boston will affect the immigration debate.

Maybe we should also question how our WELFARE policies affect terror and violence.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/tamerlan-tsarnaev-and-family-received-welfare_719056.html

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/04/tamerlan_tsarnaev_got_mass_welfare_benefits

In the threads 'America's Inner City' and 'Government Programs' I have attempted to present the problem in welfare-state America that able bodied Americans on welfare end up with idle time on their hands that potentially turns into a force for negativity and evil.  Others such as George Gilder in 'Wealth and Poverty' and 'Men and Marriage' argue that the responsibilities associated with productive work and supporting a family tend to turn men away from drug traffic, crime and violence.  When you are invested, you have something to lose.

Maybe if these Chechen-American-Massachusites were required to go out and work for a living they might have assimilated, made friends and set some goals and behaviors other than the blow up America message they were receiving over at the Jihad.  Interesting that the inner city gangs and the Jihad largely go after the same 18-34 year old male demographic.
3738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: House of Representatives releases Benghazi report on: April 24, 2013, 10:22:43 AM
http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/294375-boehners-hand-forced-on-benghazi
From the article:
Speaker John Boehner is trying to head off a GOP rebellion over his handling of the investigation into last year’s fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, by releasing an interim report of evidence by his panel chairmen.



Full Report, 46 page pdf: http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/benghazi.pdf
3739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury: Single Family home sales up in March on: April 23, 2013, 09:11:19 PM
New Single-Family Home Sales Rose 1.5% in March, to a 417,000 Annual Rate

Up, up, up... to an annual rate less than half of what is was in 2005.  Other than the current crisis, this is the lowest rate of new home sales roughly since a time when this country had just 48 states, less than half the population and Harry Truman was President. 

http://www.census.gov/econ/currentdata/dbsearch?program=RESSALES&startYear=1963&endYear=2013&categories=ASOLD&dataType=TOTAL&geoLevel=US&adjusted=1&submit=GET+DATA

When the new home sales rate fell in 2008 to a rate of 526,000 per year, a rate 26% better than now, it triggered a global financial meltdown.  But now the glass is half full.
http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/31845819/new-home-sales-plunge-526-000-annual-rate

Not mentioned also is that we tear down 300,000 homes per year so we are barely ahead of replacement demand.
3740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: April 23, 2013, 02:00:06 PM
Ashley Judd out.  Why?  Can't win in a 'freedom' state.  Tim Johnson (D-SD) out.  Same reason.  Now Max Baucus out.  Ditto.  He tested the waters for reelection with an anti-Obamacare statement last week.  Maybe he learned that he can win in Montana but would lose power in his party because of his anti-gun-control vote and the other positioning moves needed to win again.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee, will retire from the Senate after 36 years, becoming the sixth Senate Democrat to leave the chamber in the 2014 elections...Democrats will now be defending open seats in Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and West Virginia.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/us/politics/baucus-wont-seek-re-election-to-senate.html?_r=0
3741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Grannis and friends: on: April 23, 2013, 01:44:08 PM
The 'Austrian' already answered the points in the post, but I offer this:

1) "In our fractional reserve system, the banks control the other 90% or so of the money supply."   - The Fed controls the 10% and controls the fractions and rules that govern the other 90%.  If M1 or M1 plus M2 is the money supply, why do we have M3, M4, etc. and still have no way of accurately measuring money supply in a largely electronic monetary system?  The precedent for what we are doing today and where it worked out just fine is WHEN?

2) "The truth is little of this money [QE in the trillions of dollars] finds its way into the stock market."   - Absurd IMHO to think this market movement was not largely driven by the monetary expansion.  The Fed also set interest rates to zero which effectively shut done the alternatives to investing in equities like fixed rate bonds and savings accounts.  Without QE-infinity but with the current anti-investment policies, where would the DOW be?  Same?  Surely you jest.

3) "there really has been no inflation"  - I don't agree that inflation of the currency is equal to the current CPI change.  Milton Friedman's theory for example says that Price level in a stagnant output economy is proportional to Money Supply times Velocity, not money supply alone.  When Velocity returns, what happens to Price level, or is stagnation permanent?

4) "The ascending trend [QE did not cause high gas prices] came well before we knew what QE even was, in the 2002-2007 period."   - A distinction without a difference, QE is one golf club in the bag of easy money.  The period 2002-2007 was a period of easy money.  Right?  The only reasons energy prices aren't even worse: a) demand has been subdued by the depression, and b) production increased in spite of federal government attempts to stop it.  If gold is the 'gold standard' of money, isn't it interesting that the oil in gold price is nearly the same today as it was in 1973.  Can we say that for Fed management of the dollar?

5) "QE has [not] debased the dollar."  - The author ridicules the "yet" argument because he hasn't seen spiraling price increases during any part of this long, pathetic period of stagnation.  April 2013, FYI to the author, is not the finish line for measuring the results of this policy.
----

Let's ask the question backwards.  If not for the "dual mission" of the Fed where they are charged with fighting a non-monetary problem of unemployment with monetary tools only, would the QE-infinity policy, to the scale of multiples of trillions, have been exactly the same?  If not, why not?

And what about federal debt explosion?  Would the trillion dollar deficits have persisted for FIVE YEARS AND COUNTING if not for the enabling of the Fed?  The federal spenders have not had to pay market price for money or face a market reaction or even find willing buyers of bonds in order to 'borrow' and spend. QE enables them to not have to borrow in amounts equal to the over-spending. If not for that enabling in the trillions of dollars, would the deficits have been that large and irresponsible?  I highly doubt it.  The laws of nature, unimpeded, would have resulted in interest rates that would have made over-borrowing and generational theft at anywhere near these levels prohibitive. 
3742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: April 23, 2013, 12:43:46 PM
For quite some time, I have been making this point here about China having some seriously weak links in the chain of the story of how it is going to take over the world such as its inverted demographic profile, seriously dishonest bookkeeping, and the fact that it is a worsening toxic dump.

I agree 100%.  If China challenges us to be the number one economy in the world in our lifetime under their current regime, it can only be because of catastrophic policy failure in the U.S.
3743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) Boston on: April 23, 2013, 12:32:14 PM
The mass murderers of Massachusetts may be in some real trouble as it turns out the guns used to hijack a car, kill a police officer, and have a firefight with other law enforcement officers were not legally registered.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/5_constitutional_issues_raised_by_Boston_bombings.html
"The brothers reportedly had a stockpile of ammunition and exchanged hundreds of rounds with police."

It would seem that strict gun laws only deter people who strictly follow gun laws.
3744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: April 23, 2013, 12:02:01 PM
We may question the dangers of CO2, the gas that plants breathe, but filth in the air is another matter.  There is a quite a difference between a 'clean coal' plant and just burning coal.  Likewise for cars.  Maybe dissatisfaction with air quality will lead to a weakening or undoing of the regime.  Breathing is a pretty important human right, even if freedom of speech, assembly and consent of the governed are not.
3745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'Gang of 8' Immigration Bill S744 on: April 23, 2013, 11:18:27 AM
I favored the attempt to put together a comprehensive bill that would meet all of the stated criteria.  I oppose this one.  I also oppose the mudslinging going on between conservatives on both sides of this. 

The challenge for Rubio in negotiations was to come out with a bill so clean and so tough that it would pass the Republican House, not just be good enough for him or to get through the Democratic Senate.  Anything short of that just leaves a divisive political issue on the table for 2014 campaign demagoguery. 

My first objection is that this bill is loaded up with exceptions and special giveaways for votes like Obamacare.  They wrote a bill so long that it looks like the sponsors haven't read it all, then start right in unprepared with press appearances and rushed hearings.  Secondly, the border security enforcement mechanism looks to be a farce.  If they didn't mind this bill reaching 900 pages, they had the space to spell out what a sealed, staffed and controlled border will look like and they didn't.  The commission mechanism is not a solution.  Perhaps this could be fixed in the amendment process but not when all the proponents think they already have it right.

Yes it looks like Rubio was taken to the cleaners. Still I think one can attack the bill without throwing the tea party Senator from Florida under the bus. He got some toughness on pathway into the bill that I like.  He got some funding for border security, but I don't see how out-year funding is not contingent on appropriations by out-year congresses.  Again the mess reminds me of Obamacare.  I like that the pathway is only open to people who can pay their own way and not rely on government assistance.  Again, I don't know where in the bill that is guaranteed. 
---------------

Most of the criticism of this bill comes from people who oppose all bills that include any "pathway".  That is not a politically helpful position either IMHO unless you think mass deportation is realistic or the status quo is acceptable.

Here is the testimony of Kansas Sec of State, Kris Kobach, a big opponent of the bill that got an invitation to the committee:
http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/04-22-13KobachTestimony.pdf

And here in its entirety is the testimony of the other opponent invited, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Stuidies:

There may be circumstances under which an amnesty for certain illegal aliens would make sense. Given the pervasive and deliberate non-enforcement of the immigration laws for so many years, and the resulting large population of illegal aliens, one could make a case for clearing the decks, as it were, and making a fresh start. This would be a distasteful proposition, to be sure, given that virtually all illegal aliens are guilty of multiple felonies, among them identity theft, document fraud, tax evasion, and perjury. Nonetheless, for practical reasons conferring legal status on established, non-violent illegal aliens may well, at some point, be a policy option worth discussing.

But only after the problem that allowed the mass settlement of illegal aliens has been addressed.

S 744 takes the opposite approach. It legalizes the illegal population before the necessary tools are in place to avoid the development of yet another large illegal population. As such, it paves the way for yet more demands for amnesty a decade or so in the future, as those who entered in, say 2015, are so well-established by 2023 that we will be told that we have to permit them to stay as well.

What’s more, the legalization provisions of the bill make widespread fraud very likely.

Much has been made of the so-called triggers in Sec. 3 that would permit the Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) to receive permanent residence. Tying the green card to achievement of these benchmarks – which include an employment authorization system for all employers, biographical exit tracking at airports and seaports, and substantial completion of two border strategies – is presented as a guarantee that this scenario of serial amnesties would not happen. Unfortunately, those triggers are, in a very real sense, beside the point.

The other triggers mentioned in Sec. 3 – those allowing the granting of the initial RPI status – are the submission by the Department of Homeland security of two plans: A “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy” and a “Southern Border Fencing Strategy”. Since similar plans have been frequently offered over the years, this isn’t much of a hurdle.

And yet it’s the only hurdle that matters because receipt of Registered Provisional Immigrant status is the amnesty – that is to say, it represents the transformation of the illegal alien into a person who is lawfully admitted to the United States.

RPI status brings with it work authorization, a legitimate Social Security account, driver’s license, travel documents – in effect, Green Card Lite. It is only the upgrade of this status to that of lawful permanent resident – Green Card Premium, if you will – that is on hold until the enforcement benchmarks are satisfied. But the political and bureaucratic incentives to press for the achievement of those enforcement benchmarks are blunted by the fact that the amnesty has already happened. With people “out of the shadows” and no longer “undocumented”, the urgency to meet enforcement deadlines would evaporate, especially in the face of determined opposition to enforcement by business and civil liberties groups.

To use an analogy, if you’re flying to the West Coast, it doesn’t ultimately matter whether you’re in coach or first class – your destination is the same. By the same token, whether or not the beneficiary of the RPI amnesty is upgraded to a green card, the destination is the same – the ability to live and work in the United States. An upgrade from coach to first class may actually be more consequential than the upgrade from RPI to permanent residence; while the former results in wider seats and free drinks, all a green card offers that RPI status does not is the right to apply for citizenship, something most recipients of green cards from the IRCA amnesty had not done a quarter century after the enactment of the law.

And many of those who receive the RPI amnesty are likely to do so fraudulently. Reading Sec. 2101 harkens back to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act’s Special Agricultural Worker program, which the New York Times called “one of the most extensive immigration frauds ever perpetrated against the United States Government”. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General described it this way:

    To be eligible for adjustment of status under the SAW provisions, the applicant had to prove with documentation that he or she had worked in an agricultural enterprise in the United States for 90 days in each calendar year from 1984 through 1986, or for 90 days between May 1985 and May 1986. The evidence of having engaged in such work, INS employees believed, was often forged and sold to undocumented individuals seeking U.S. residency. Given the crush of applications under the program and the relative fewer investigative resources, INS approved applications absent explicit proof that they were in fact fraudulent.

(“An Investigation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Citizenship USA Initiative”, USDoJ OIG, July 2000, http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0007/listpdf.htm, p. 72; emphasis added)

When Sec. 2101 of S 744 is considered in this light, the sources of fraud become apparent:

• If IRCA created a “crush” of applications when only 3 million people applied, what should we call the workload that DHS will face when triple the number of people – at least – apply for the RPI amnesty? The administrative capacity does not exist to handle this properly, which all but guarantees that most applications will be rubber-stamped by overwhelmed DHS staff.

• The bill says DHS “may interview”, not “shall interview”, applicants for the RPI amnesty. Given the aforementioned crush, it is unlikely many will be interviewed. In fact, the current DACA amnesty (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a good model for how the administration would manage S 744′s amnesty provisions. DACA processing is almost entirely paper-based, with few interviews, resulting in the approval of 99.5 percent of applications. And yet the number of cases so far decided amounts to perhaps one-fiftieth the number likely to apply for the RPI amnesty.

• S 744 allows affidavits by non-relatives regarding the work or education history of RPI amnesty applicants. Fraudulent affidavits were common among IRCA applicants, with some small farmers claiming to have employed hundreds of illegal-alien farmworkers. The temptation to fraud will be great in any program giving away something as valuable as the RPI amnesty, but the ability to investigate fraudulent affidavits will be extremely limited given the millions of applicants. And there is no realistic level of fees or penalties that could raise enough money to hire enough staff to follow up on questionable affidavits. They will be approved, as in the 1980s, absent specific proof that they’re fraudulent.

• The current bill also contains a confidentiality clause, prohibiting the use of any information provided by illegal alien applicants for other purposes. This means illegal aliens with little likelihood of approval are free to apply and try their luck, knowing that there’s no downside, and a significant upside.

• As a corollary to this, there is no requirement that rejected applicants be immediately taken into custody and deported. In fact, the bill specifically says that failure to qualify does not require DHS to commence removal proceedings. Again, unqualified applicants would have nothing to lose in applying, in the hope that they could fall through the cracks and get approved, something certain to happen to a significant number of people.

• As an additional incentive to fraudulent applicants, S 744 provides de facto work authorization to those merely applying for the RPI amnesty, pending the adjudication of the application. Application alone also forestalls removal, making a frivolous application an attractive option for illegal aliens with no chance at amnesty.

We don’t have to speculate about the consequences of such widespread fraud. Mahmoud “The Red” Abouhalima was an Egyptian illegal alien driving a cab in New York when he fraudulently – and successfully – applied for amnesty as a farmworker. This legal status allowed him to travel to Afghanistan for terrorist training, which he put to use in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

A co-conspirator, Mohammed Salameh, also applied for the 1986 amnesty but was, remarkably, turned down. But since that amnesty, like the one in S 744, did not mandate the removal of failed applicants, Salameh was able to remain and assist in the 1993 bombing.

S 744 thus places amnesty before enforcement, and ensures an amnesty process that would reward fraud. A better approach would be to make the initial legalization dependent on the bill’s enforcement provisions, rather than a future upgrade in status. The enforcement provisions themselves would have to be strengthened by requiring, for instance, biometric exit-tracking at all ports of entry, not just airports and seaports – as it already required in current law and as was recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Another trigger for initial legalization would have to be an explicit statement by Congress that states and localities are not preempted from en forcing civil immigration law.

And any future amnesty would need to be constructed differently. Not only should all lies, however small, be punished with criminal prosecution, but the amnesty might best be conducted piecemeal, rather than addressing millions of people effectively all at once. That is to say, candidates might be considered as they are apprehended for traffic stops or factory raids or what have you, with those who fail to qualify be removed.
3746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left - April Fools or serious? on: April 22, 2013, 04:36:52 PM
Keeping up with the left in the interest of balance on the board:

Paul Krugman claims unemployment is too high today because of our irrational fear of debt. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/opinion/krugman-the-jobless-trap.html?_r=0


Thomas Friedman argues that the correct response to the Boston bombings is a carbon tax. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-put-america-back-together-again.html?ref=opinion&_r=0


New Sec of State John Kerry says our number one foreign policy priority is climate change.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/01/24/senator-john-kerry-confirmation-hearing-for-secretary-state-post-begins-with-bipartisan-praise/uts3l1lbwSHTeR6vXfzfRL/story.html
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/anthropogenic-climate-change-priority-kerry-asia

Gabby Giffords believes law abiding citizens can stop mass shootings by disarming. 

You can't make this stuff up.
3747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: April 22, 2013, 12:15:47 PM
One of the articles suggested that Cruz ran for Senate to raise his visibility to then run for the position he really wanted, [Texas] Attorney General.  The thinking then was that he had no chance running in the primary against the sitting Lt. Governor.  In a very short time he has earned that level of visibility at the national level.

I am glad to hear of BD arriving at the same logic on Heller and the gun debate.  

It looks to me like Cruz' clear and concise logic prevailed in Bush v. Gore, 2000:

In his brief, Cruz wrote:

"The Constitution grants state legislatures, not state courts, the power to pick presidential electors."  http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20001201_cruz.html

After the noise settled, that was the argument the Chief Justice used in the decision.
3748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: What's behind the funding of the welfare state on: April 22, 2013, 11:49:07 AM
Re-posting by request:
"This seems to me a very powerful observation by Will.  Would you please post it in the American Creed thread as well please?"  TIA, Marc

To the reader, this means please read it twice.  )
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"unfettered executive government uses debt-financed consumption and “regulatory conscription of private markets” to force spending “vastly beyond what Congress could have appropriated in the light of day.”
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-f-will-whats-behind-the-funding-of-the-welfare-state/2013/04/17/8686d412-a6bd-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html

What's behind the funding of the welfare state
By George F. Will,

The regulatory, administrative state, which progressives champion, is generally a servant of the strong, for two reasons. It responds to financially powerful and politically sophisticated factions. And it encourages rent-seekers to exploit opportunities for concentrated benefits and dispersed costs (e.g., agriculture subsidies confer sums on large agribusinesses by imposing small costs on 316 million Americans).

Such government inevitably means executive government and the derogation of the legislative branch, both of which produce exploding government debt. By explaining these perverse effects of progressivism, the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth explains contemporary government’s cascading and reinforcing failures.

Executive growth fuels borrowing growth because of the relationship between what DeMuth, in a recent address at George Mason University, called “regulatory insouciance and freewheeling finance.” Government power is increasingly concentrated in Washington, Washington power is increasingly concentrated in the executive branch, and executive-branch power is increasingly concentrated in agencies that are unconstrained by legislative control. Debt and regulation are, DeMuth discerns, “political kin”: Both are legitimate government functions, but both are now perverted to evade democratic accountability, which is a nuisance, and transparent taxation, which is politically dangerous.

Today’s government uses regulation to achieve policy goals by imposing on the private sector burdens less obvious than taxation would be, burdens that become visible only indirectly, in higher prices. Often the goals government pursues by surreptitious indirection are goals that could not win legislative majorities — e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases following Congress’s refusal to approve such policies. And deficit spending — borrowing — is, DeMuth says, “a complementary means of taxation evasion”: It enables the political class to provide today’s voters with significantly more government benefits than current taxes can finance, leaving the difference to be paid by voters too young to vote or not yet born.

Two developments demonstrate, DeMuth says, how “delegation and debt have become coordinate mechanisms of legislative abnegation.” One is Congress’s anti-constitutional delegation of taxing authority to executive-branch regulatory agencies funded substantially or entirely by taxes the agencies levy, not by congressional appropriations. For example, DeMuth notes, the Federal Communications Commission’s $347 mil­­lion operating expenses “are funded by payments from the firms it regulates,” and its $9 billion program subsidizing certain Internet companies is funded by its own unilateral tax on telecommunication firms. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, another freebooting agency not tethered to the appropriations process, automatically receives a share of the profits of the Federal Reserve banks.

A second development is “the integration of regulation and debt-financed consumption.” Recently, a Post headline announced: “Obama administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit.” Here we go again — subprime mortgages as federal policy. Is this because lowering lending requirements and forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to securitize the loans worked so well last time? This illustrates DeMuth’s point about how unfettered executive government uses debt-financed consumption and “regulatory conscription of private markets” to force spending “vastly beyond what Congress could have appropriated in the light of day.”

High affluence and new technologies have, DeMuth believes, “led to unhealthy political practices.” Time was, the three basic resources required for effective political action — discretionary time, the ability to acquire and communicate information and persuasion skills — were scarce and possessed only by elites. But in our wealthy and educated society, interest groups can pressure government without being filtered by congressional hierarchies.

Legislative leaders — particularly, committee chairs — have lost power as Congress has become more porous and responsive to importuning factions using new media. Congress, responding to the increased difficulty of legislating, has delegated much lawmaking to specialized agencies that have fewer internal conflicts. Congress’s role has waned as that of autonomous executive agencies has waxed. The executive has driven the expansion of the consumption of benefits that are paid for by automatic entitlement transfer payments, by government-mandated private expenditures and by off-budget and non-transparent taxation imposed by executive agencies.

Government used to spend primarily on the production of things — roads, dams, bridges, military forces. There can be only so many of such goods. Now, DeMuth says, government spends primarily for consumption:

“The possibilities for increasing the kind, level, quality and availability of benefits are practically unlimited. This is the ultimate source of today’s debt predicament. More borrowing for more consumption has no natural stopping point short of imploding on itself.”

Funding the welfare state by vast borrowing and regulatory taxation hides the costs from the public. Hence its political potency. Until the implosion.
3749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / American Creed: Comments on the Rasmussen makers vs takers piece on: April 22, 2013, 11:24:28 AM
The Rasmussen piece is actually good news, that people mostly don't see themselves as dependent on government.  It clears the way for a pro-growth economic argument to gain ground.  As JFK put it, a rising tide lifts all boats.  The pro-growth argument is also the answer to funding the programs that benefit the people in real need.

OTOH, the turnout operation of the 11% who do see themselves dependent on government methodically identified by the Obama campaign was the key to the President's second victory.

Rasmussen:  "If they want to seriously compete for middle-class votes, Republicans need to get over the makers vs. takers mentality. We live in a time when just 35 percent believe the economy is fair to the middle class. Only 41 percent believe it is fair to those who are willing to work hard. Those problems are not created by the poor."

Some of that effect is driven by media and the endless class envy politics.  The message (which I think is mostly false) is pounded into our heads, then we poll that question and make further news with the polls.  The rich are richer than the poor and the middle class.  But: a) these groups change; there is still amazing income mobility in our economy, and b) chopping off big wealth only puts the poor and middle class in a worse situation.

Rasmussen has the ending exactly right.  Because of this widely held perception, Republicans need to be all the more vigilant against supporting any subsidies, credits, deduction or rules that don't apply the same way to everyone.
3750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: Funding the Welfare State - Until the Implosion on: April 21, 2013, 12:44:58 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-f-will-whats-behind-the-funding-of-the-welfare-state/2013/04/17/8686d412-a6bd-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html

What's behind the funding of the welfare state
By George F. Will,

The regulatory, administrative state, which progressives champion, is generally a servant of the strong, for two reasons. It responds to financially powerful and politically sophisticated factions. And it encourages rent-seekers to exploit opportunities for concentrated benefits and dispersed costs (e.g., agriculture subsidies confer sums on large agribusinesses by imposing small costs on 316 million Americans).

Such government inevitably means executive government and the derogation of the legislative branch, both of which produce exploding government debt. By explaining these perverse effects of progressivism, the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth explains contemporary government’s cascading and reinforcing failures.

Executive growth fuels borrowing growth because of the relationship between what DeMuth, in a recent address at George Mason University, called “regulatory insouciance and freewheeling finance.” Government power is increasingly concentrated in Washington, Washington power is increasingly concentrated in the executive branch, and executive-branch power is increasingly concentrated in agencies that are unconstrained by legislative control. Debt and regulation are, DeMuth discerns, “political kin”: Both are legitimate government functions, but both are now perverted to evade democratic accountability, which is a nuisance, and transparent taxation, which is politically dangerous.

Today’s government uses regulation to achieve policy goals by imposing on the private sector burdens less obvious than taxation would be, burdens that become visible only indirectly, in higher prices. Often the goals government pursues by surreptitious indirection are goals that could not win legislative majorities — e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases following Congress’s refusal to approve such policies. And deficit spending — borrowing — is, DeMuth says, “a complementary means of taxation evasion”: It enables the political class to provide today’s voters with significantly more government benefits than current taxes can finance, leaving the difference to be paid by voters too young to vote or not yet born.

Two developments demonstrate, DeMuth says, how “delegation and debt have become coordinate mechanisms of legislative abnegation.” One is Congress’s anti-constitutional delegation of taxing authority to executive-branch regulatory agencies funded substantially or entirely by taxes the agencies levy, not by congressional appropriations. For example, DeMuth notes, the Federal Communications Commission’s $347 mil­­lion operating expenses “are funded by payments from the firms it regulates,” and its $9 billion program subsidizing certain Internet companies is funded by its own unilateral tax on telecommunication firms. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, another freebooting agency not tethered to the appropriations process, automatically receives a share of the profits of the Federal Reserve banks.

A second development is “the integration of regulation and debt-financed consumption.” Recently, a Post headline announced: “Obama administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit.” Here we go again — subprime mortgages as federal policy. Is this because lowering lending requirements and forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to securitize the loans worked so well last time? This illustrates DeMuth’s point about how unfettered executive government uses debt-financed consumption and “regulatory conscription of private markets” to force spending “vastly beyond what Congress could have appropriated in the light of day.”

High affluence and new technologies have, DeMuth believes, “led to unhealthy political practices.” Time was, the three basic resources required for effective political action — discretionary time, the ability to acquire and communicate information and persuasion skills — were scarce and possessed only by elites. But in our wealthy and educated society, interest groups can pressure government without being filtered by congressional hierarchies.

Legislative leaders — particularly, committee chairs — have lost power as Congress has become more porous and responsive to importuning factions using new media. Congress, responding to the increased difficulty of legislating, has delegated much lawmaking to specialized agencies that have fewer internal conflicts. Congress’s role has waned as that of autonomous executive agencies has waxed. The executive has driven the expansion of the consumption of benefits that are paid for by automatic entitlement transfer payments, by government-mandated private expenditures and by off-budget and non-transparent taxation imposed by executive agencies.

Government used to spend primarily on the production of things — roads, dams, bridges, military forces. There can be only so many of such goods. Now, DeMuth says, government spends primarily for consumption:

“The possibilities for increasing the kind, level, quality and availability of benefits are practically unlimited. This is the ultimate source of today’s debt predicament. More borrowing for more consumption has no natural stopping point short of imploding on itself.”

Funding the welfare state by vast borrowing and regulatory taxation hides the costs from the public. Hence its political potency. Until the implosion.
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