Saturday, June 30, 2012

Public unions lose automatic political cash from nonmembers

Examiner Editorial: Public unions lose automatic political cash from nonmembers

Photo - The Supreme Court on June 21 agreed that the SEIU Local 1000 in Sacramento acted illegally when it leveled a special assessment to support political activity without allowing nonmembers to opt out. (AP Photo)
The Supreme Court on June 21 agreed that the SEIU Local 1000 in Sacramento acted illegally when it leveled a special assessment to support political activity without allowing nonmembers to opt out. (AP Photo)

Examiner Editorial
And then this week, organized labor received yet another blow in the form of the Supreme Court decision Knox v. SEIU. The 7-2 ruling blocks public employee unions from padding their political coffers with contributions from unwilling no-members. It applies to closed-shop states, such as California, where the government deducts union representation fees even from the paychecks of nonmembers.

In 2005, the SEIU Local 1000 in Sacramento leveled a special assessment explicitly to support political activity, without giving nonmembers a chance to opt out. In fact, the union used part of those nonmembers' money to fight a 2006 ballot proposition that would have safeguarded those same nonmembers' right not to fund union political campaigns.

The 7-2 majority -- which included a concurrence by liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- agreed that the union had acted illegally. But the sharpest cut comes from the court's narrower 5-4 majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. It held that for unions to deduct special political contributions from nonmembers' paychecks -- as occurred in this case -- those workers must explicitly opt in, as opposed to having to opt out. Otherwise, as in this case, the union will at best receive a free loan for political activity at nonunion employees' expense. At worst, employees burdened with the normal concerns of life may well forget to claim their full rights, and the unions' political activities will thrive by default at their expense.

"Public-sector unions have the right under the First Amendment to express their views on political and social issues without government interference," Alito wrote. "But employees who choose not to join a union have the same rights." It should come as little surprise that nonunion workers do not want to contribute to union political initiatives, especially ones that attack nonunion workers' rights.

Labor unions provide a service to their members -- a service that is worth whatever those members are willing to pay, but not a cent more. The Supreme Court's ruling affirms this valuation. It continues a welcome trend across America of plugging up and sealing off unfair revenue streams that public-sector unions, over the years, have managed to extract from the unwilling -- from taxpayers, governments and nonmembers.

When Leaders Lie

When Leaders Lie

How many lies does a man have to tell before we can call him a liar?

The Ancient Romans said only one, when they gave us the legal dictum Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

That was a pretty stringent requirement. Most of us are not George Washington and one wonders if even George was perfect in his honesty, the cherry tree fable notwithstanding.
Barack Obama is another matter. According to Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith (normally a loyal member of the administration’s media claque), no less than thirty-eight documented falsehoods in the president’s memoir Dreams from My Father were revealed by David Maraniss’s new book Barack Obama: The Story.
What’s interesting about those falsehoods (can we call them lies?) is that they were unprovoked. We are used to presidential lies, most notably from Nixon and Clinton, but we know full well why those men were lying. In fact, in their cases it was obvious. In Obama’s, we do not.

Why was he lying? Self-aggrandizement? To sell books? For political purposes? Dreams from My Father was written before Obama supposedly had presidential ambitions. Or was there a hint, dare I say it, of pathology?

Maraniss almost farcically excuses him by saying the young author’s motivation was to make literature. The historian differentiates between memoirs, in which he says untruths are permissible, and autobiography. As a recent author of a memoir, permit me to say that is utter nonsense.

Whether you are writing a memoir or an autobiography (not that there is much difference in their dictionary definitions other than length), you are well aware that others who know the real story could be reading and judging it. You lie at your peril. Obama did so anyway.

Despite being a professional historian, Maraniss is evidently unable to free himself from membership in that same administration claque. (For the view of another professional historian, see my colleague Ron Radosh.) Maraniss may have delivered the facts, or some of them, but he has tried to explain them away in a manner that is both tendentious and ridiculous. You don’t have to be an Ancient Roman to believe there are a lot more lies where those 38 came from. You don’t even have to think, as some do, that Obama didn’t even write the original book by himself, although that accusation is becoming suddenly more credible. Recent events have made them so. (Maraniss should be embarrassed – future historians beware.)

When I speak of “recent events,” I am of course referring to the sudden invocation of executive privilege in the matter of the Fast & Furious scandal in which the president has associated himself with that other documented liar, Eric Holder, our attorney general.

Now I don’t pretend to know what is in the documents that are being hidden from the Congressional committee by presidential fiat, nor, for the moment, do I care. A bigger story overrides that. The odd confluence of the publication of the Maraniss revelations makes this declaration of executive privilege by Barack Obama almost nauseating because we now know something unequivocally:

The president is a liar.

How then do we believe anything he says when he asserts a privilege? This depends on trust but we can’t even respect him when he’s such a small time prevaricator. There’s a good chance he’s hiding something; one could almost say a certainty. We don’t know where this will lead, but the chances are that it is nowhere good.

We all remember that famous quote, oft mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare, from Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion. It’s worth quoting in its entirety here, if by chance some random scribe from the mainstream media happens by. This was their man, after all:

Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun
Must separate Constance from the nun
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
A Palmer too! No wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye

I just want to add one thing. I didn’t write any of this to gloat and say “I told you so” because I never supported Barack Obama for the presidency. We are in too sorry a pass for that.
Suppose this man wins and we once again have a documented liar in the presidency, worse yet a man who lied repeatedly before the election and supported his attorney general, the leader of our justice system of all things, who is also a documented liar?

What a horrible situation for our country. Barack Obama, win or lose, is forever tainted. And so is America if he remains our leader.

The silver lining? Now Obama owns his tax hikes

HURT: The silver lining? Now Obama owns his tax hikes

Conservatives gathering now for a low-tech lynching of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. need to take a quick breath of air and think about what he managed to accomplish by upholding President Obama's highly unpopular, signature piece of legislation.

Though he shocked many by joining the left plank on the high court, Justice Roberts. pretty much did what he was supposed to do. He finally put a boundary on how much freedom the federal government can gobble up from states and individuals under the "commerce clause" — that most specious scheme for so much federal thievery.

Then he told President Obama and his kleptocrats in Congress that they can have their health care law, but they cannot keep lying about it. A tax is a tax and they are liars if they call it anything else. And they just stuck the crippled American taxpayer with one of the biggest, broadest, most regressive tax-hikes in history — and during a deep recession!

Finally, Justice Roberts turned to the bumbling, tongue-twisted and goofball opposition party — sometimes called the "Republican" party but usually called the "stupid" or "slow" party — and told them to man up, quit whining and fix the horrific mess that they are so much responsible for. They may have messed their diaper, but he's not changing it for them.

OK, fine, maybe Republicans didn't vote for Obamacare. Woo-hoo! And that got us, well, Obamacare anyway.

Yes, Republicans are nearly equally responsible for Obamacare because they set the stage perfectly for Mr. Obama's unquestioned ascent to the White House and handed his kleptocrats complete control of Congress for the first two years of the Great Taxus Interegnum.

So badly had they mishandled the economy and everything else and so badly had they compromised and corrupted themselves that even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid became viable options for leadership.

It was under the dazed gaze of San Fran Pelosi and the fat-fisted leadership of Vegas Reid that we got stuck with Obamacare.

In response to an ocean of debt, out-of-control spending and taxpayers running out of money, Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and Mr. Obama decided to double down on the debt, spend even more money we don't have and take away what little money taxpayers had left.

And in response to the highest unemployment in decades, they decided to take even more money away from the companies that provide jobs. And then they yoked those companies with Obamacare.

Somehow, Republicans were not able to make a coherent argument against all of this. They could not make the simple argument that if you don't like your postal service, you aren't going to like health care brought to you by the federal government either.

Now, going into the election, President Obama has his law and now he must live with it. He must own it. And he must be judged for the massive taxes his law will levy on innocent Americans.
And then it will be up to Mitt Romney and a new set of Republicans to clean up this legislative cesspool.

Because, as Justice Roberts eloquently writes:

"Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our nation´s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

Charles Hurt can be reached at

Friday, June 29, 2012

Conservatives’ consolation prize

Conservatives’ consolation prize


Conservatives won a substantial victory Thursday. The physics of American politics — actions provoking reactions — continues to move the crucial debate, about the nature of the American regime, toward conservatism. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has served this cause.

The health-care legislation’s expansion of the federal government’s purview has improved our civic health by rekindling interest in what this expansion threatens — the Framers’ design for limited government. Conservatives distraught about the survival of the individual mandate are missing the considerable consolation prize they won when the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional rationale for the mandate — Congress’s rationale — that was pregnant with rampant statism.

The case challenged the court to fashion a judicially administrable principle that limits Congress’s power to act on the mere pretense of regulating interstate commerce. At least Roberts got the court to embrace emphatic language rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale for penalizing the inactivity of not buying insurance:

“The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. . . . The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. . . . Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and — under the government’s theory — empower Congress to make those decisions for him.”

If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power — the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration’s Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: “Under our written Constitution . . . the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.”

The court held that the mandate is constitutional only because Congress could have identified its enforcement penalty as a tax. The court thereby guaranteed that the argument ignited by the mandate will continue as the principal fault line in our polity.

The mandate’s opponents favor a federal government as James Madison fashioned it, one limited by the constitutional enumeration of its powers. The mandate’s supporters favor government as Woodrow Wilson construed it, with limits as elastic as liberalism’s agenda, and powers acquiring derivative constitutionality by being necessary to, or efficient for, implementing government’s ambitions.

By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. By rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale, Thursday’s decision reaffirmed the Constitution’s foundational premise: Enumerated powers are necessarily limited because, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, “the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.”

When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asked where the Constitution authorized the mandate, exclaimed, “Are you serious? Are you serious?,” she was utterly ingenuous. People steeped in Congress’s culture of unbridled power find it incomprehensible that the Framers fashioned the Constitution as a bridle. Now, Thursday’s episode in the continuing debate about the mandate will reverberate to conservatism’s advantage.

By sharpening many Americans’ constitutional consciousness, the debate has resuscitated the salutary practice of asking what was, until the mid-1960s, the threshold question regarding legislation. It concerned what James Q. Wilson called the “legitimacy barrier”: Is it proper for the federal government to do this? Conservatives can rekindle the public’s interest in this barrier by building upon the victory Roberts gave them in positioning the court for stricter scrutiny of congressional actions under the Commerce Clause.

Any democracy, even one with a written and revered constitution, ultimately rests on public opinion, which is shiftable sand. Conservatives understand the patience requisite for the politics of democracy — the politics of persuasion. Elections matter most; only they can end Obamacare. But in Roberts’s decision, conservatives can see that the court has been persuaded to think more as they do about the constitutional language that has most enabled the promiscuous expansion of government.

Curl's analysis: Roberts to the rescue for Romney

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  • CURL: Roberts to the rescue for Romney


    Traitor! Turncoat! Benedict Arnold!

    Those contemptuous epithets and more were hurled by Republicans and conservatives at Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. moments after he single-handedly saved Obamacare, joining liberals on the bench to break a 4-4 tie.

    The Supreme Court has abandoned us,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared. “Simply disappointing,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott moaned. “Activist court,” Rep. Michele Bachmann cried.

    Even Ari Fleischer, the former spokesman for George W. Bush, who appointed Chief Justice Roberts to the court, joined in. “I miss Justice Harriet Miers,” he whined.

    But they all miss the point, and, more, by looking purely at the political, miss the forest for the trees.
    In voting to uphold Mr. Obama’s disastrous health-care overhaul, the chief justice took away the president’s main line of attack that surely would have been deployed had the court voted 5-4, along party lines. The Divider in Chief, already bent on stoking cultural warfare — upper-middle class vs. lower-middle class, white against black against Hispanic, gay against straight, believers against non-believers — had no doubt hoped to win one more target for his bilious bifurcation.

    Were the five justices appointed by Republican president to have stuck together in opposition, Mr. Obama would have toured the country (at taxpayer expense) to decry the court’s action as nothing more than an act political usurpation — how dare those five men take away the will of the people?!
    But Justice Roberts did just the opposite (and, bonus, also strictly adhere to the original intent of the Constitution). Obamacare is unconstitutional if it were to be enacted via the Commerce Clause, but not if it’s simply a tax, the justice wrote. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

    In so doing, Justice Roberts has just busted Campaign 2012 wide open. The high court’s ruling leaves in place 21 tax increases costing nearly $700 billion. Of those taxes, 12 would affect families earning less than $250,000 per year.

    Now that Obamacare’s penalty is a “tax,” not a “fee,” Mr. Obama is breaking a 2008 campaign pledge not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $250,000. This new “tax” will hit across the economic spectrum, despite his campaign declaration that health care should “never be purchased with tax increase on middle-class families.” Now, Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats have enacted the largest tax increase in history.

    Chief Justice Roberts has given Mitt Romney a key attack: The president is a tax-and-spend liberal bent on expanding government to unprecedented levels. And the presumed Republican nominee knows it: “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama,” he said from a rooftop in Washington overlooking the Capitol. “What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president.”

    Mr. Obama, of course, gloated about the win. “The highest Court in the land has now spoken,” he said. Indeed it has: And a majority of the justices are calling your “fee” a “tax.”

    So, for Campaign 2012, it’s game on. And for his part, Mr. Fleischer regained his pithy pundacity after digesting the high court’s ruling. “Mitt Romney will appeal this decision to the American people on November 6th. Oral arguments are already taking place.”

    Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at


    Who is Barack Obama, etc.?

    Who is Barack Obama, etc.?
    by Scott Johnson in Barack Obama, Books

    Following up on Paul Mirengoff’s “Who is Barack Obama and why is he saying untrue things about himself?,” I want to draw attention to Andrew Ferguson’s brilliant Weekly Standard cover story of a few weeks back, “Self-made man.” The subtitle given to the article is “Barack Obama’s autobiographical fictions.” (I have met and corresponded with Andy; I take the liberty of refering to him by his first name in this post.)

    There is an unstated backdrop to Andy’s recent article. In “The literary Obama,” back in 2007, Andy expressed great admiration for Dreams From My Father. With the 2007 article in mind, one can observe that Andy was taken in by the story on offer in Dreams. He took it at face value. His current essay is the work of a disenchanted former admirer of the book.

    In 2007 he astutely observed: “I don’t think anyone who reads it could doubt that Dreams from My Father is the work of a real writer; a young writer, it’s true, with a young writer’s mannerisms. The story as he tells it is a bit overstuffed with epiphanies; one event after another sends waves of significance through the narrator’s vast reservoir of sensibility.” Toward the end of the article, Andy delivered high praise:
    Obama’s themes are universal–far grander and more enduring than the difficulties of American race relations. His memoir is about the crosswise love between fathers and sons, the limits of ambition and memory, the struggle between the intellect and the heart. And what gives the book its special force is the writer’s own sensitivity: He teases his themes only out of the experience of real human beings. He relies on the power of the particular. He shuns abstraction and the easy generality. The author of Dreams from My Father is after bigger game.
    Unlike so many political journalists, Andy had actually read Dreams. Having now read David Maraniss’s long reconstruction of the story Obama had on offer in Dreams, Andy is not amused. That is not to say the essay is lacking his trademark humor. Drawing on Maraniss, he observes of Obama:
    Through high school​—​he apparently lost the taste for pot sometime in college​—​Obama’s ardor reached Cheech and Chong levels. His circle of dopers called themselves the “Choom Gang,” after a Hawaiian word for inhaling pot, and the phrase is already threatening to enter the common language, ironically or otherwise. (I Googled it today and got 560,000 hits, pardon the expression.)
    Obama politically indemnified himself against charges of youthful drug use by admitting them in his memoir, though he was smart enough to avoid the words “Choom Gang.” Even at 33, when he wrote his book, he had his eye on a political landscape that would require acknowledgment if not full disclosure of youthful “experimentation,” as the charming euphemism went. In Dreams, he treats the drug use as another symptom of his singular youthful confusion. Maraniss’s explanation is less complicated: Obama really, really liked to get high.
    Of the epiphanies that impressed him the first time around, Andy now writes:
    [A] memoir is just realist fiction unless the ‘composite’ says and does things that were done and said by someone. In Dreams many of the crucial epiphanies, the moments that advance the narrator’s life and understanding to its closing semi-resolution, didn’t happen.” Alluding to his previous admiration of the book as memoir, Andy writes: “[T]he epiphany-per-page ratio in Obama’s memoir is very high. The book derives its power from the reader’s understanding that the events described were factual at least in the essentials. Maraniss demonstrates something else: The writer who would later use the power of his life story to become a plausible public man was making it up, to an alarming extent.
    He adds: “Going back to Dreams after several years, and after reading Maraniss’s impressive book, you can get a bad case of the jumps.” He expands on the point:
    What’s dispiriting is that throughout Dreams, the moments that Obama has invented are precisely the occasions of his epiphanies​—​precisely those periodic aha! moments that carry the book and bring its author closer to self-discovery. Without them not much is left: a lot of lovely writing, some unoriginal social observations, a handful of precocious literary turns. Obama wasn’t just inventing himself; he was inventing himself inventing himself. It made for a story, anyway.
    Andy’s essays on Dreams make for an excellent companion to Paul Mirengoff’s observations here, and I want to bring them to the attention of the interested reader.

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Tea Party Isn't Waging A War On Women—Its Women Are Waging A War

    Tea Party Isn't Waging A War On Women—Its Women Are Waging A WarThu, Jun 21 2012 00:00:00 EA13_ISSUES
    Ironically, much of the Tea Party leadership is made up of a new generation of powerful conservative women.

    The truth is that Tea Party women are leading the charge to tackle the fundamental problems brought on by the ever-expanding Big Government agenda. Women are not only the most protective of loved ones. They are also the most familiar with how policies will affect their family on a micro level.
    So, whether it's talking to their communities, organizing volunteers and campaigning, or leading their states out of the shackles of overwhelming debt and stagnating job growth — women are fighting to take our country back.

    Looking back, it was just 3-1/2 short years ago that I was a stay-at-home mom fed up with the out-of-control spending in Washington. I was sick and tired of yelling and screaming at my television and radio and decided to get off my couch and do something about my frustration.

    I found a way to channel my frustration into political action. I was one of the founding 22 mothers and fathers of the modern-day Tea Party movement that organized the first Tea Party rallies following Rick Santelli's seminal rant at the Chicago Board of Trade.

    Since then I have given my life to this movement because I could not look my daughter in the eyes without knowing I had an opportunity to stop the policies that were destroying our country.
    The Tea Party movement, along with my role as chairwoman of Tea Party Express, the nation's largest Tea Party political action committee, has given me a voice. But I am just one of many stories.

    Leading Ladies

    Gov. Sarah Palin has become a rock star in the Tea Party movement and a powerful voice for the conservative cause. Rep. Michele Bachmann is a loud voice for the Tea Party movement in the House and was the founder of the Tea Party Caucus there.

    The movement has also given rise to now-prominent bloggers and commentators such as Tabitha Hale, who is revolutionizing online citizen activism, and Dana Loesch, who has become a powerful voice on radio and television.

    There are other powerful Tea Party women that were elected in 2010 against all odds. Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in Wisconsin rode a wave of Tea Party momentum to victory.

    These leaders have epitomized the ambitions of the Tea Party and women's role in the movement. They have helped lead their states by cutting wasteful spending and creating a business-friendly environment that allows for real job growth.

    Palin described herself as being a "mama grizzly." Well, that's how I would describe every conservative woman who's part of the Tea Party movement.

    The left and its Big Government, big-spending, big-debt policies are destroying the American dream that should be afforded to every citizen. It's strapping trillions of dollars of debt on the backs of our children, and is failing to leave our nation a better and more prosperous place for future generations.
    That is exactly what is motivating conservative women to get involved in this movement.

    The left may fall back on its tired and desperate smears, calling us racists, enemies of the poor, old, disadvantaged and what is absolutely laughable — sexists. However, as we learned by the elections of 2010, it doesn't matter what they say about us; at the end of day there is only one war being waged, a war against big and intrusive government policies. Policies that keep the poor tethered to entitlements; that pick winners and losers; that stifle innovation and job growth; and that destroy the American Dream.

    In 2009, this movement was born out of frustration with both political parties pushing a Big Government agenda. Common-sense conservative women are now driving the movement to shrink the size of government and rein in the out-of-control spending.

    If not us, then who? If not now, then when? We are going to get this country back on track, and thanks to the millions of conservative mothers, sisters, wives and daughters across this nation, we are going to restore the American dream for our children's generation and all future generations to come.

    • Kremer is chairman of Tea Party Express and one of the 22 founding members of the modern-day Tea Party movement.

    This Election Just Became About Obamacare

    This Election Just Became About Obamacare


    In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, the principal choice now facing Americans on November 6 will be whether to keep Obamacare or to repeal it. The question is a binary one, and the answer — expressed almost entirely through their presidential vote — will go a long way toward determining the future course of this great nation.

    Yes, the economy is extremely important; and, yes, Obamacare is hurting the economy. But the reason why this election is the most important since the Civil War is not because Mitt Romney would make a far better steward of the economy than President Obama (though he would). Rather, it’s because we are about to decide whether to put what will soon be one-fifth of our economy under the control of the federal government; whether to funnel previously unthinkable amounts of power and money to Washington; and whether this nation conceived in liberty will continue to prioritize liberty.

    It is understandable why President Obama has no interest in framing this election as a referendum on Obamacare. His party already suffered perhaps its worst defeat since the 19th century thanks to his centerpiece legislation. With the Supreme Court’s ruling now behind him, he will have even less incentive to remind voters about Obamacare going forward. As far as he’s concerned, the less the American people think about it, the better.

    This means, of course, that the more they think about it, the better it will be for Mitt Romney. It also means (of course) that Romney should encourage them to think about it, reminding them at every turn that this election isn’t merely — or even principally — about the economy; that it’s about something bigger; that we need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform. And he should convey to them what real reform would look like, thereby bringing into the fold those independents who don’t want to go back to the pre-Obamacare status quo. He should start playing to win people’s votes, instead of merely trying not to lose them.

    Yes, the fate of Obamacare will be the most important outcome of this election. On some level, the American people know this. There’s a reason why Romney gets standing ovations simply for mentioning repeal.

    The question is whether either candidate will convey that he knows what this election is really about. Obama can’t say it’s about Obamacare — even though that’s what he considers it to be about — because he’ll lose if he does. Romney so far hasn’t said it’s about Obamacare — perhaps because that’s not what he considers it to be about — even though he’ll likely win if he does.
    Regardless, the Court has cleared the field. The stakes are historic. The citizenry will decide.

    Obama as Nixon

    Obama as Nixon

    by John Hinderaker in Obama Administration Scandals

    There is such a thing as executive privilege. It has been recognized and defined in a number of cases in the federal courts. Under circumstances where it applies, there is nothing wrong with asserting the privilege. But where the privilege does not, in fact, apply–which is the case with respect to the Fast and Furious documents now under subpoena, as I wrote here–its assertion can only be part of a cover-up. Thus the Obama administration has entered into the world of Richard Nixon. Obama and his minions will spend the next five months furiously trying to prevent the voters from learning the truth about Fast and Furious because, whatever is in those documents, it is worse than the controversy that now will dog them until November.

    Michael Ramirez makes the parallel explicit, and also points out how inconsistent is the Obama administration’s dedication to confidentiality:

    Government wants more people on food stamps

    Government wants more people on food stamps @CNNMoney

    The federal government is running radio ads to boost enrollment in food stamps.The federal government is running radio ads to boost enrollment in food stamps.
    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More than one in seven Americans are on food stamps, but the federal government wants even more people to sign up for the safety net program.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been running radio ads for the past four months encouraging those eligible to enroll. The campaign is targeted at the elderly, working poor, the unemployed and Hispanics.

    Obama's economy: A snapshot
    Here's a look at where the economy stood when the president took office in 2009, and what's changed since.
    The department is spending between $2.5 million and $3 million on paid spots, and free public service announcements are also airing. The campaign can be heard in California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and the New York metro area.

    "Research has shown that many people -- particularly underserved seniors, working poor, and legal immigrants -- do not understand the requirements of the program," said Kevin Concannon, a USDA under secretary.

    The radio ads, which run through June 30, come amid a bitter partisan fight over the safety net program. Republican lawmakers want to reduce funding for the benefit or turn it into a block grant program, which would also minimize the cost. Democrats, however, are not willing to make major cuts.

    The issue has become so heated that Newt Gingrich called President Obama the "food stamp president" to show how he's increased government spending.

    Food stamp enrollment certainly shot up during the Great Recession, though it had been rising for more than a decade.

    President Bush launched a recruitment campaign, which pushed average participation up by 63% during his eight years in office. The USDA began airing paid radio spots in 2004.

    President Obama's stimulus act made it easier for childless, jobless adults to qualify for the program and increased the monthly benefit by about 15% through 2013.

    Some 46.4 million people are in the food stamps program, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That's just a touch below the record high hit in January.
    Still, more than one in four Americans eligible for food stamps do not participate, according to USDA records.

    And the rate is much lower among the the elderly and people just above the poverty line. Nearly two-thirds of folks in these categories aren't enrolled.

    In one ad, an elderly woman is surprised to learn that her friend is on food stamps. The friend explains that now that she's retired and on a fixed income, the program "helps me eat right when money's tight."

    "Millions of low-income seniors struggle to afford life's necessities like food and medicine," said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Enrolling in SNAP can help ease that struggle."

    Deficit hawks, however, don't want to see the government spend more money on food stamps at a time when lawmakers are trying to reduce the size of the federal government. The deficit for fiscal 2012 is projected to top $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row.

    In fiscal 2011, the federal government spent more than $75 billion on food stamps, up from $34.6 billion at the end of fiscal 2008, according to the USDA.

    "We ought to be looking for ways to save money in the program, not to encourage more people to use it," said Chris Edwards, an economist with the Cato Institute, a libertarian organization. To top of page

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    A Sermonette on the Administrative State

    A Sermonette on the Administrative State
    by Steven Hayward in Dodd-Frank, US Constitution

    So yesterday I teed off on Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous explanation for her 2010 remark about Obamacare that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” She was far from the only liberal who said this, recognizing the inner truth of what it reveals to us about how we are actually governed by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats rather than elected representatives. Sen. Christopher Dodd said of his equally egregious Dodd-Frank Act; “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.”

    Indeed, Dodd-Frank is as unconstitutional as Obamacare, and it is likewise heading for a Supreme Court challenge on grounds that it violates what still remains of the separation of powers. C. Boyden Gray (President Bush 41’s White House counsel) and Jim Purcell explain the case in today’s Wall Street Journal. Sample:
    Ordinarily, when regulators wield broad power, their discretion is still limited by checks and balances. The Constitution empowers the president and Congress, as well as our courts, to prevent regulators from running amok with excessive, arbitrary or even partisan regulations.

    But Dodd-Frank does not honor checks and balances. It eliminates them. The CFPB is not subject to Congress’s “power of the purse,” which James Madison knew to be Congress’s “most complete and effectual weapon.” Instead, Dodd-Frank lets the CFPB claim more than $400 million from the Federal Reserve each year and prohibits Congress from even reviewing that budget. The president’s control over the CFPB is limited because by law he can remove the agency’s director only under strictly limited circumstances. Finally, Dodd-Frank limits the courts’ review of CFPB’s legal interpretations.
    And while we’re looking at evidence for Congress abdicating its responsibility, let’s not forget Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus, who said: “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health care bill. . . We hire experts.”

    Question for the senator: If you’re going to hire experts to do the heavy lifting, why should we bother with you in the first place?

    The Fast and Furious scandal is turning into President Obama's Watergate

    The Fast and Furious scandal is turning into President Obama's Watergate  

    Obama is repeating many of the mistakes that led to Nixon's resignation in 1974

    Fast and furious hasn’t been discussed a lot in the mainstream media, which is why the facts can seem so preposterous when you read them for the first time. But the story is slowly unraveling and the public is catching up with the madness. On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over his decision to withhold documents related to the “gun walking” operation – documents that President Obama tried to keep secret by invoking executive privilege. The question of why the Prez intervened in this way will surely hang over the investigation and the White House for many months to come. Be patient, conservatives. It took nearly eight months for the Watergate break in to become a national news story. But when it finally did, it toppled a President.

    Here’s what Fast and Furious is all about – and for the uninitiated, be prepared for a shock. In 2009, the US government instructed Arizona gun sellers illegally to sell arms to suspected criminals.
    Agents working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were then ordered not to stop the sales but to allow the arms to “walk” across the border into the arms of Mexican drug-traffickers. According to the Oversight Committee’s report, “The purpose was to wait and watch, in hope that law enforcement could identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case…. [The ATF] initially began using the new gun-walking tactics in one of its investigations to further the Department’s strategy. The case was soon renamed ‘Operation Fast and Furious.”

    Tracing the arms became difficult, until they starting appearing at bloody crime scenes. Many Mexicans have died from being shot by ATF sanctioned guns, but the scandal only became public after a US federal agent, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, was killed by one of them in a fire fight. ATF whistle blowers started to come forward and the Department of Justice was implicated. It’s estimated that the US government effectively supplied 1,608 weapons to criminals, at a total value of over $1 million. Aside from putting American citizens in danger, the AFT also supplied what now amounts to a civil war within Mexico.

    It’s important to note that the Bush administration oversaw something similar to Fast and Furious. Called Operation Wide Receiver, it used the common tactic of “controlled delivery,” whereby agents would allow an illegal transaction to take place, closely follow the movements of the arms, and then descend on the culprits. But Fast and Furious is different because it was “uncontrolled delivery,” whereby the criminals were essentially allowed to drop off the map. Perhaps more importantly, Wide Receiver was conducted with the cooperation of the Mexican government. Fast and Furious was not.

    So Obama’s operation is subtly different. But just as concerning is the heavy-handed way that the administration has handled criticism. Obama says that the Oversight Committee has been hijacked by Republicans who would rather talk about politics than creating jobs (because Obama is oh so very good at generating those). But there has been Democratic criticism too, and the Prez’s determined defence of Holder will only encourage conspiracy thinking that the scandal has hidden depths.

    Executive privilege is usually associated with protecting information that passes through the Oval Office. What did the documents reveal about Obama’s association with the operation?

    Again, it’s important to contextualise. Executive privilege has been invoked 24 times since Ronald Reagan, and attempts to over-ride it rarely reach the courts. Moreover, Holder’s request for executive privilege made no reference to White House involvement in Fast and Furious, which seems to have been run exclusively by the ATF. Nevertheless, by refusing to sack Holder or push him to come clean, Obama may have made a very Nixonian mistake.

    A lot of conservatives are writing at the moment that not only is Obama turning into Nixon Mark II, but Obama is worse because no one actually got killed during Watergate. The comparison is based on the myth that Nixon ordered the Watergate break in and that’s what he eventually had to resign over. But that’s not true. Nixon’s guilt was in trying to pervert the course of justice by persuading the FBI to drop its investigation of the crime. Mistake number one, then, was to involve the White House in covering up the errors of a separate, autonomous political department. Mistake number two was that when Congress discovered that evidence about the scandal might be recorded on the White House bugging system, Nixon invoked executive privilege to protect the tapes. In both cases, it was the cover up that destroyed Tricky Dick – not the original crime.

    And, forty years later almost to the day, here we have Obama making the same mistake. Perhaps it’s an act of chivalry to stand by Holder; perhaps it’s an admission of guilt. Either way, it sinks the Oval Office ever further into the swamp that is Fast and Furious. Make no mistake about: Fast and Furious was perhaps the most shameful domestic law and order operation since the Waco siege. It’s big government at its worst: big, incompetent and capable of ruining lives.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Why Republicans should say “hell no” to this lawless president

    Why Republicans should say “hell no” to this lawless president
    by Paul Mirengoff in Obama administration

    There’s been much speculation about whether the Obama administration has a Plan B ready in case the Supreme Court strikes down all or some of Obamacare. But it’s clear that the White House was ready today when the Court rejected its challenge to the constitutionality of an Arizona law requiring local law enforcement officers, during routine stops, to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

    The White House promptly reacted to the decision, which also struck down three important provisions through which Arizona attempted to counteract the federal government’s unwillingness to do anything much about the flood of illegal aliens into the State. First, and predictably, Obama renewed his call for comprehensive immigration reform. Sen. Harry Reid quickly echoed the White House, tweeting that “[Republicans] must join [Democrats] to forge fair, tough, practical solutions.”

    Next, the administration announced measures designed to undermine the portion of the Arizona law that was upheld, unanimously, by the Supreme Court. The Department of Homeland Security said it would exclude Arizona from a program known as 287(g), which allows the feds to deputize local officials to make immigration-based arrests. A Homeland Security official explained that the administration finds such agreements “not useful” in states that have Arizona-style laws. I guess the program is “useful” only in states that aren’t taking meaningful measures to identify illegal aliens.

    Accordingly, local police in Arizona will have to rely on federal officials to arrest illegal aliens. But federal officials have made it clear that the feds will not respond to calls from Arizona law enforcement unless the person detained meets certain criteria, such as being wanted for a felony. Being an illegal alien is not enough. As Obama showed with his unilateral mini-DREAM act, this administration is no longer interested in enforcing the immigration laws except perhaps against illegal aliens who are shown to have engaged in felonious conduct.

    In addition, the Justice Department set up a hotline through which people can complain about having their immigration status checked by Arizona law enforcement officials. Obama thus hopes to drum up complaints against Arizona law enforcement agents. He wants to make the federal government a party to the harassment of those trying to do what Obama won’t – enforce the law. Obama hopes to intimidate them into not using their authority to address the severe problem of illegal immigration — authority granted by the state legislature and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.
    Given all of this, it’s quite clear that the Republicans should say “hell no” to Obama’s call for comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans must not permit themselves to be coerced into writing a new immigration law by Obama’s refusal to enforce the law we have.

    Moreover, what is the point of legislating with a lawless administration? Legislation on an issue like immigration requires compromise, and that’s fine – I have no objection in principle to compromising. But suppose a compromise is reached. This president has demonstrated that his response would likely be to ignore the provisions the Republicans insisted upon – because ignoring them is “the right thing to do.”

    Immigration reform, if it is to occur, must await the election of a president who, unlike Obama, is willing to enforce the law as written, not just the portions of the law he finds palatable. Indeed, I’m tempted to say that the passage of compromise legislation on any important issue should await the election of such a president.

    Don's Tuesday colmn: Heroic sheriffs, greedy unions, pols, PG&E

                THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson     Red Bluff Daily News   6/26/2012

    Heroic sheriffs, greedy unions, pols, PG&E

    As you may know by now, the Support Rural America Constitutional Sheriffs event was a huge success. The next one will be in Crescent City on July 14 at the fairgrounds (hint: good time for a trip to the coast); further information is at Reported statements in nearby newspapers, including elsewhere in today’s Daily News, accurately convey the determination of these heroic advocates for the rights, property, recreation and resources of their citizens and constituents. They face government bureaucracies and policies determined to impose outside agendas on rural areas and ways of life.

    Decades of spotted owl-inspired and wrong-headed anti-logging policies have wrought economic devastation and raised the fuel loads (tree overgrowth) to levels endangering mountain towns with death by conflagration. Thinly veiled dam removal plots, and arbitrary, exorbitant water fee hikes clearly designed to drive people to financial exodus, create the equivalent of a virtual war on rural America. It is an existential struggle for survival that will require determined opposition from “we, the people,” our representatives and law enforcement. It will require new leadership at the top in Washington by someone in the White House willing to reverse the anti-rural and anti-resource agenda now dominating the Forest Service, BLM, Fish and Game and water agencies.

    I owe anyone who attended the Sheriffs event an explanation of the sound and microphone difficulties that aggravated and irritated several of us at the beginning. The wireless mics would cut out after a few words, suggesting dead batteries. However, new batteries were installed the day before, and tested to assure they worked. The singer’s microphone worked fine for most of an hour; however, we kicked off the program and both mics failed us.

    Out of exasperation, I removed digital recording devices, with their own small microphones, which were attached to each wireless mic, designed to provide a seamless digital record of the audio. Great plan in theory but, in fact, the voice activated feature and whatever else about the recording pods interfered with the radio signal from the mics to the antennae/amplifier, allowing a couple of words before seemingly dying. Thankfully, with devices removed, we had one fully functioning microphone for the sheriffs to use for the program. Whew! Technology’s just grand, when it works.

    And now, some things that just get to me. In “Twilight of the Unions” by John Fund, searchable by title and posted at my blog, “Polecat News and Views” (, we have an incisive analysis of the near-death spiral of public sector union power. San Diego and San Jose voters passed initiatives to curb public employee union benefits, universally more generous than those available to comparable privately employed workers.

    Then there’s the devastating (to union bosses) Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice of unilaterally jacking up union dues for political campaign spending. Yes, those forced to join unions can be assessed reasonable fees for services provided, depending on state laws, but no more piggy banks for hard left union hacks to fund their candidates, which are coincidentally always Democrats. With the drastic decline in public employee union membership in Wisconsin after the ultimately successful measures by Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans, we may perhaps return to the standard that FDR and union leader George Meany held: public employees cannot unionize as they are negotiating against the taxpayers by proxy, through elected officials who often accept union contributions.

    Note two items, showing the irritating pattern of Sacramento politicians misappropriating our money, in the May 30 Daily News, “Calif. 9/11 fund raided for deficits” and June 21, “Supes warn governor on OHV funding.” I have had a 9/11 special plate, “We Will Never Forget,” on my van since they were first offered. Like many others, including those with relatives lost to those terrorist attacks, I considered that the money raised over and above the normal license fee was for a “California Memorial Scholarship Program.” Instead, both Brown and Schwarzenegger raided the money for deficit reduction, including “Millions [that] have been spent on budget items with little relation to direct threats of terrorism …” Tar and feathers, anyone?

    Similarly, politicians on the Resource and Transportation Subcommittee are trying to steal funds that come from the state gas tax, to spend keeping state parks open, even though the “Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund” money is dedicated to managing “27 million acres of public land for OHV use.” Tell prison guards and other public employees to cough up some concessions to keep our parks open, not the taxpaying drivers and off-road enthusiasts.

    In the June 23rd Daily News, I read that PG&E is offering how you can “Save money with the special utility plan.” Really? By signing up for the SmartRate pricing plan, you can rearrange your life, sweat a little more and still get to pay 60 cents per kilowatt-hour instead of 13 to 35+ cents. Sounds “smart” to me. Not! Especially considering that the cost of our electricity has gone up about 10 percent per year for 3 years. Oh, and they lowered your baseline by 4 percent (bumps your kwh usage up to higher tier rates) and increased, as of January, the two lowest rates by 5 percent. Warm fuzzies toward PG&E, anyone?

    Obama’s Revisionism--but blames his failure on Bush

    Obama’s Revisionism

    He predicted a strong economy, but blames his failure on Bush.
    By John R. Lott Jr.

    Americans’ patience is running thin. Unemployment has been above 8 percent for 40 months. Since the recovery started, over 7.2 million Americans have given up looking for work and left the labor force. It is during recessions, not recoveries, that people are supposed to give up looking for work.

    But it is obviously all Bush’s fault. At least, that is President Obama’s new take. During his big economic address on Thursday, Obama repeatedly said that the economic problems we face today were “a decade in the making.”

    But there is a problem with Obama’s logic. Over the last three-and-a-half years, the president and his administration have continually claimed that the stimulus was working and that a robust recovery was starting. If the legacy of the Bush administration policies was going to hinder the recovery so badly, why did Obama keep on predicting that things were going to get better soon?

    Recall that Obama told the Today show’s Matt Lauer in February 2009: “We’re starting to make some progress. But there’s still gonna be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s gonna be a one-term proposition.”
    What about his economic predictions concerning the stimulus? On January 9, 2009, the incoming Obama administration predicted that the unemployment rate was going to peak at 7.9 percent during July, August, and September of 2009 and then gradually fall to 5.8 percent in May of this year. Not even close to 8.2 percent, last month’s actual number.

    After the stimulus was signed into law in February 2009, following the fourth quarter of 2008’s 6.2 percent drop in GDP, the administration put out new predictions claiming that unemployment would peak at 8.1 percent in 2009 and drop to 6.3 percent by now. Again, that is not even close to what has happened.

    In March 2009, when some economists, such as Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, questioned whether the stimulus would produce the promised benefits, Obama supporter Paul Krugman attacked their honesty. In one blog post at the New York Times entitled “Roots of evil,” Krugman accused Mankiw of “more than a bit of deliberate obtuseness” and claimed that “we can expect fast growth.”

    Claims that the economy was on the verge of improving go back to the very beginning of the administration. Larry Summers, who then served as Obama’s chief economic adviser, promised on January 25, 2009, that the economy would start improving “within weeks” of the stimulus plan’s being passed. Indeed, Summers touted the “shovel ready” nature of the jobs program as being “timely, targeted, and temporary.” It was supposedly targeted at hiring unemployed workers quickly, within 90 days, and lasting until the private sector was able to get back on its feet.

    In March 2009, just five weeks after passing the stimulus, President Obama perceived an upswing and started off a press conference by announcing: “We’re beginning to see signs of progress. . . . This plan’s already saved the jobs of teachers and police officers. It’s creating construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges.”

    Obama declared later, in May, that the massive spending program was “already seeing results” and had created or saved almost 150,000 jobs.

    By September 2009, Vice President Biden was gushing: “In my wildest dreams, I never thought [the stimulus] would work this well.”

    In April of the following year, the unemployment rate was still at 9.8 percent, but Biden thought that now, for sure, the economy was just about to boom: “Some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month.” The administration touted the summer of 2010 as the “Summer of Recovery.”

    But by the end of the next summer, in August 2011, the unemployment rate was still at 9.1 percent. It was no longer possible to claim the stimulus had worked well, so the Obama administration began its strategy of blaming the slow growth and high unemployment on everything but its own policies.
    The earthquake in Japan, the debt crisis in Europe, the Arab Spring, and the rise in oil prices have all been blamed for the unprecedentedly slow recovery. But economic growth had already ground to a halt before those events transpired, during the first three months of 2011 — when GDP grew by just 0.1 percent.

    If Obama’s economic predictions had come true, he surely would have claimed the stimulus was a success. But with a bad economy, he acts as if he knew that Bush’s policies would keep the economy from growing. Why should anyone trust Obama when he can’t even admit that all these predictions were wrong?

    John R. Lott Jr. is a contributor and the co-author of the just released Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future (John Wiley & Sons).