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This “executive orders” thing is perhaps the most dangerous thing being done by Obama

February 15, 2014

I’ve heard it said that President Obama has not issued more executive orders than his predecessor as an excuse for the ones he has issued. Playing the numbers game is merely a diversion from the problem – not the number of orders, but what they contain.

Case in point is the recent executive order that pushes back the implementation of Obamacare for a particular group of employers, those who have from 50 to 99 employees. This group is not singled out in the actual law; it is only defined in the order. This piece by Hank Adler in Townhall.com explains the unconstitutionality of the order point by point far better than I can. I invite you to read it.

I cannot believe that the President and/or his staff may be unclear as to the use of executive orders, but I do believe they think the general populace is. How many people really know what an executive order is used for? How many knew about the Supreme Court case referenced in the Adler piece, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer?

There are three reasons why the tar is not being heated and the chickens plucked. First, I think in general people are sick of Washington politics. Second, it looks on its face as if this executive order is “helping small businesses.” It’s not, but only deferring the inevitable. Third, there is this stupid mindset some folks have that “those people in Washington should just stop fighting and get things done!” Obama is playing to that quite often, complaining about Congress’ inability to provide him with the legislation he wants and threatening executive orders to bypass them.

Dear friends, I have always maintained and I always will maintain that the best thing for our people in Washington to do is nothing. With a very few exceptions (all of which are delineated in the Constitution), a national government is not the correct tool to provide solutions. Time and time again it has proven to be expensive, unwieldy, and to tend to produce unexpected outcomes. But I’ve heard so many people say that the two parties should get together to iron out their differences, and get things done.

I figured as long as they were arguing they weren’t messing with us any more…but this activist President sees that as an opening to make law himself, and for reasons that absolutely defy explanation, even by the standards of Washington, no one is opposing him. This is far more dangerous than the meddling done by Congress – I think Obama views the Congress as a diversion for the American people, pointing the blame at them while running the country by fiat.

And nobody stand up to it. Again, I believe the only way to begin to fix this is by voting every incumbent out of office. I wish Mark Levin’s plan was workable, but I don’t know how to implement it in the short term. I don’t see Congress, the executive branch, or the Supreme Court doing anything to check the progress of this juggernaut.

“Who Is John Galt?” Asked. Answered.

January 25, 2014

On my other blog I report what I’ve read about the casting for Part III of the “Atlas Shrugged” film series. Each film has had a different cast, and mostly, I don’t prefer this one. The film is going to be out just before the November 2014 elections.

OK, we don’t like what’s happening around us! But, what can we do?

January 10, 2014

Here’s a piece I found on civil disobedience and how we can fight back as the government tries to roll over us. Food for thought, citizens.

This is not a “representative democracy”

November 19, 2013

A recent discussion on Facebook (of course) led me to try to explain what the Framers intended our Congress to be. It’s really pretty simple – but it was not a direct “representative democracy,” for a few reasons.

First, Senators were to be selected by the state legislatures. This tied the states to the Federal government much more strongly than they are today. The passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 changed this. A major component of the  reasoning was that there was too much corruption in the election process and that direct election would make this less likely.

Senators were intended to be more of an American aristocracy. The Federalists were certainly not against such a class, but they though it would be beneficial because those men would be less prone to manipulation and more willing to look to the good of the country first. The aristocracy part they got right, but it was not the Framers’ plan that they become a permanent political class.

Second, the Federalists wanted to protect the rights of the minority. They knew that pure democracy was just as dangerous as monarchy – in a pure democracy the majority will always overrun the minority. The Anti-Federalists pushed the Federalists even harder for the protection of the minority, and the result was, among other things, the Bill of Rights.

Parts of the Constitution have been interpreted in ways never intended by the Framers. For example, I don’t think any of the Framers could have imagined how the Commerce Clause has been used to infiltrate every transaction make in the US. They purposely left the Federal government at the mercy of the states to provide funding; the Sixteenth Amendment (1913) established a Federal income tax and from that moment on there was no turning back. Activist government needed money, and there were no checks on the taxing power.

So on the one hand, we have lost a representative body that would have perhaps provided a little sanity in the legislative process. On the other hand, we have gained an enormous bureaucracy supported by our tax dollars, by taking our property without our consent.

But we elect our leaders, do we not? Yes and no. Gerrymandering has made it nearly impossible to flip many of the seats in the House of Representatives, making it a game of inches in that body in most elections. State populations have grown so large that a senator needs huge amounts of money to run, and that means large donors, and today, PACs. That makes senators beholden far too much to interests other than the people of the state, or even their party.

Incidentally, the Federalist/Anti-Federalist arguments begat the first political parties in the new government, before it was even born. The Federalists held power until Jefferson was elected, and by then the two-party system was already pretty well-established. However, a two-party system was not an intention of the Framers, but a by-product of the dynamic of political thought.

The second decade of the 20th century is very interesting, by the way – in many ways it was very much like today. “Progressives” advocated populist ideas in all possible arenas, from women’s suffrage (19th Amendment, 1920) to environmentalism (see Teddy Roosevelt) to socialism (See Eugene V. Debs, et. al.) Many of the same arguments were used then as now.

I’m not being as clear here as I would like to be. Some of these distinctions  – and their historical bases – take far more explanation than I have given here. I suggest two sources for those who would like to know more:

First, Mark Levin’s book, The Liberty Amendments. Not only does he talk about the Framers’ intentions, but he has concrete suggestions on how to get closer to their intentions.

Second, Joseph Kobylka’s course, Cycles of American Political Thought, part of the Great Courses series. This is a very enlightening series and I highly recommend it. It takes some time to get through, but the instructor does an excellent job of making the material engaging. I have the digital audio version.

Well, this is something I would never expect.

October 17, 2013

Did you know that the United States is the largest producer of oil? You would think that would be trumpeted from the rooftops. The reason, of course, is shale oil. And fracking.

No, silly, not frakking. Get your mind out of the gutter.

But the Media Hulk says, ‘fracking bad.” So it must be bad, right? This piece from, of all places, Scientific American, says we will be the world’s largest oil producer in about 2020. Well, that was off by a little bit.

The rest of the piece is the usual global warming bull hockey, except for bringing out the increased production of natural gas as well. This is a very good thing, because the Current Occupant of the White House has said, repeatedly, that he is going to kill off the coal-fired power plants in the US.

But the Scientific American article referenced above also says that US coal producers are selling coal like crazy to China and India. If anybody ought to be nailed for air pollution from industry, it’s China. (But they are now trying to fix that, apparently.)

The reason I’m bringing this up is because this should have a profound effect on public policy. This growth is occurring even with the crushing regulations of the Federal Government. What would things be like if regulations were eased, even a little? We could become totally energy self-sufficient in a very few years! The economy could take a huge jump – industry, exports, the stock market (just from an improved long-term outlook alone).

And this growth wouldn’t even involve any blue-sky advances in technology, either. Or relaxing the regulations on nuclear plants, although I think it would be a good idea. I don’t know if nuclear is as economically viable in a time of cheap natural gas, but new designs of nuclear power plants are far safer and less expensive than the aging ones we now have.

But then, it could go the other way, of course:

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What is this from, you ask? Glad you asked that. This is Dagny Taggart, watching the oil fields of Colorado burning. Ellis Wyatt set fire to them just before vanishing into thin air. He was protesting the latest round of oppressive legislation of the Federal Government.

If President Obama would like to be remembered for doing something of lasting benefit for the people of the US, he should focus on encouraging those industries. But he won’t, of course. We’ll have to do it without him, or in spite of him.

Well, that bit of positivism was dashed in a hurry. And McConnell.

October 16, 2013

I said yesterday, after the House GOP leadership decided not to take a spending bill to the floor because they knew they didn’t have the support of conservatives, that maybe those conservatives were in the drivers’ seat after all. But today McConnell caved to Harry Reid and gave away the store. Now we know why:

The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) criticized U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Wednesday for allowing a $2 billion Kentucky earmark to be added to the debt deal he negotiated with U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins made the following statement:

“Americans are familiar with the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson was given in exchange for his vote on Obamacare. Well now Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has an Obamacare earmark of his own.

“The McConnell-Reid deal not only funds Obamacare and suspends the debt limit, it also includes a provision in Section 123 that increases funding for the Olmsted Locks and Dam in Kentucky from $775 million to $2.9 billion.”

Yep. Plain old business-as-usual Washington politics. McConnell didn’t need to feel he should be loved by the Democrats in the Senate – they will just consider him weaker now. It can’t be because he felt he was doing the right thing. I think it was just because he wanted this liability the government slowdown was becoming to end, and fast, and if he could get a couple of billion dollars to ship back to the voters of Kentucky, well, that’s icing on the cake.

Yeah, a couple of billion dollars. Not a few million for a bridge to nowhere or something small like that. Why has no one else mentioned this? “Look, my fellow Kentuckians, I brought almost three billion dollars in new jobs to you in one quick stroke of the pen. You know you want to keep electing me over and over, right? No matter how much damage I do to your personal lives and livelihoods, or to the country.”

This is what I’ve said over and over. #1: Term limits for Congress. #2: somehow limit the amount of taxes that the government can extract. Now there’s no seniority and the end of the privileged political class. (Or at least close to it.)

But how do we get this through Congress? They would never deliberately take away their own gravy trains.

We don’t need to. The state legislatures can do it. See Mark Levin’s “The Liberty Amendments.” It can be done, as Ronald Reagan used to say.

And by the way, if you’ve not read it, read Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.” It put so many things into context for me I still cannot believe it.

Looks like we might be in the driver’s seat, after all. Heh.

October 15, 2013

According to this piece on Fox News, the House Republicans had to cancel a vote today on a new budget bill. Sounds like they lost the support of the “Tea Party members,” whoever they might be. So the conservatives in the House are keeping the squishy ones honest, holding them to their original intentions.

The Senate is another story, since they have a Democratic majority. They could push anything through, of course. Then what? Still have to get something through the House sometime…and the hysteria about the debt ceiling limit is ramping up pretty fast. Two days to go for the deadline, which is of course far less of a problem than they want us to believe it is.

Is it time for a REAL third party?

October 14, 2013

Apparently Sean Hannity brought up that old conservative trope – that we need a conservative third party – today on his radio show.

It’s not a new idea, but it may be that this time it’s a good one. In the past, a third party has served as spoiler in Presidential elections – especially in the 1992 election, when Ross Perot received almost 19% of the vote. According to this interactive map, practically every state won by Bill Clinton would not have been, had Perot’s votes gone to George W. Bush instead.

So maybe all of Perot’s votes would not have gone to Bush. (Although I think the majority of them would have.) Still, it would have been a different election, if for no reason other than eliminating the distraction from the messages of the two main parties.

If a third party was created before the 2016 Presidential election, or if the Tea Party folks decided to co-op the standing US Conservative Party, the Republican Party would have exactly zero chance of winning the White House – and if that new party got involved in Congressional elections, they could lose the majority in the House as well.

I think the leadership of the GOP knows this. I think they believe there isn’t a chance of such a thing happening, for a couple of reasons. First, I think they arrogantly believe there is really no way the people in the Tea Parties around the country could ever organize at that level. Second, I think they believe that the Tea Party voters will be there to vote Republican because they for sure would never vote Democrat.

The Democrats were fairly confident for years than their more conservative voters, especially those in the South, would never vote Republican – then came Ronald Reagan. He resonated with a whole segment of the Democratic Party, especially those who were concerned about the Cold War. (For you youngsters, there used to be a bear in the woods.)

I won’t say at this moment that Ted Cruz is that guy, but he is a principled conservative who is not afraid to defy the Republican Senate leadership – and he has a few years to fine-tune his message.

Sarah Palin seems a bit more of a stretch, but she won’t go away. By the time the next Presidential Election comes around, the character assassinations from 2008 will be ancient history. She has shown herself to be more than just a one-term governor from Alaska. She continues to travel the country, speaking to all kinds of groups. Last weekend she, Cruz, Senator Mike Lee and others were involved in the citizen reopening of the Washington Mall…when the group picked up the barricades and dropped them in front of the White House.

And Sarah is a household word, and pretty darned charismatic, in a very unaffected way.

So Hannity may be right. I can’t see a presidential election won by a third party in 2016, not at this moment, but I also think the establishment Republicans, should they continue to malign the Tea Party, could easily make themselves the minority party for generations to come.

And the GOP blinked…again.

October 11, 2013

From what I can gather tonight (10:30 PM on Friday 10.11.13), the House and Senate Republicans are falling all over themselves to give the President what he demanded in order to stop the “slimdown” and raise the debt ceiling. He hasn’t accepted anything yet, and probably will extract as many concessions from them as possible before giving them the OK.

Various folks have referred to the last couple of weeks in Washington as “kabuki theater” – although the term is used incorrectly – but it gets the point across. All of this was done for show, except for the full-court press led by Ted Cruz, who is still a believer that something can be done about this mess in Washington. I think the Senate GOP leadership never wanted any of this to happen, and were forced into it by the House and by a few conservatives, notably Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Cruz. Apparently the polls show that Americans know Obamacare will be a total disaster, and if they had had a voice in it in the first place it never would have become the nightmare-in-waiting we have on our doorstep.

The debt ceiling thing just complicated matters. The GOP really doesn’t want to hold fast on the debt ceiling any more than the Democrats do – they want the money to throw around too, after all – but they think they need to look like they are against it. In that way they are as big a bunch of liars and hypocrites as the Democrats.

And the Imperial President finally deigns to give them an audience, then tells them what to do. Again. And they cave, again. And they pat themselves on the back for how tough they were. Again.

And we get screwed. Again.

Both Hannity and Levin have come out saying today that the GOP Congressional leadership needs to be replaced. I agree wholeheartedly. But Boehner is a lock in his district for probably forever, and who wants that job? It practically has to go to somebody who isn’t very bright or very dynamic – and certainly not anyone principled.

There is at least one Constitutionalist-type Republican challenger for Mitch McConnell’s seat, maybe more. hard to believe Kentucky elected Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, but there it is. Illinois has a squishy Republican (Mark Kirk, still not up to full speed from his stroke) and a real hard-left Democrat (Dick Durbin), so I guess anything is possible.

Waiting for the slow change of elections looked good from the Framers’ point of view, where it could take weeks to travel to the capital by horse. The whole pace of life was so different from today. Now a totally bullshit 10,000 page bill can be rammed through Congress in a heartbeat, and no one even reads it. I don’t know if the Republic can survive until we can clean these idiots out.

Finally…a post! The fundamental problem with the Federal Government.

October 9, 2013

It’s been a long time since I had much to say here, for a variety of reasons. First, I had some family issues (illness and death of a parent). Then the subsequent disposition of the estate, which is going to take another year, probably.

Also, I was pretty unhappy with the progress of practically everything going on in Washington, and in Springfield, Illinois, since the election of Barak Obama. I never thought George W. Bush was the most brilliant President we’ve ever had, but I do think he was one of the most moral. Because of that I think he and his Administration were completely blindsided by the machinations going on in the fall of 2008 – the manipulation of stocks and currencies than tipped the economy over into recession. I’ll not get into that here, but the evidence is pretty clear now that in September of that year a number of financiers started seriously messing with the economy. It was in tender shape to begin with, but they knew exactly where to push to start the slide. Granted, Dodd-Frank and other incredibly stupid legislation was already setting up a house of cards that only needed a little more stress to completely collapse.

Anyway, that set up the possibility for a first-term senator with meager government experience to win against one of the worst candidates the Republicans had ever fielded. Well, except for Bob Dole, probably.

Since then the Republican Party has failed to do anything to mount a serious challenge. I don’t know why, and that’s a story for another piece.

This piece is about why the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution was a fundamentally bad idea.

Yep, that’s the one that made income tax legal. It was supposed to be a more equitable way of providing the Federal Government with funding than the excise taxes that had been in place. The western and southern states thought it was a good idea because the wealth was still concentrated in the northeast, and it was thought the income tax would be hit them the hardest.

Oh, wait – so even in 1913 it was a class-warfare issue? Or at least one where the the have-nots could outvote the haves? (If anyone has a counterargument, I would be happy to hear it.)

It had been tried before, during and immediately after the Civil War. But it was lifted in 1872 and the government went back to excise taxes.

Then three things happened. Great Britain, Japan, and the major European countries were building up increasingly large militaries. The rapid industrialization of the US created a larger imbalance in wealth. The growth of Socialist-leaning groups that championed the rights of the industrial worker, and the “Progressive” and populist movements caused more people to lean toward a more activist government. All of this set the stage for the passing of the amendment.

In the past hundred years a lot of things really haven’t changed. The same arguments have been made for a larger government ever since the passing of the Amendment: we need a strong military to protect us; we need a strong Federal government to protect the rights or the worker from the big bad corporations, and the government will take care of all sorts of things for us. (The redistribution of wealth, the way we think of it today, really became a big thing after the New Deal.)

It probably helped justify the income tax when the US entered the First World War in 1917. Prior to the beginning of the war the US had a very small army and navy. Semi-isolated as the US was by major oceans and no threats on her borders, it was not seen as a significant need. The military buildup that started slowly while the war raged in Europe could not have been possible without a steady source of revenue for the government.

Anyway, just over a decade later came the Great Depression, and the subsequent New Deal activist initiatives. Then there was the World War 2 mobilization, and the Cold War, and Great Society, and the Vietnam War, and then we were off to the races with things like the EPA, the Department of Education, and so on – an expansion of powers and interference that is reaching its crowning “achievement” in Obamacare.

Here’s why the income tax, no matter how well-intentioned, because a problem: voters received benefits from the Federal Government, and those benefits didn’t have to be apportioned equally. The temptation to redistribute government-acquired tax dollars to buy votes was a temptation Congresscritters have found impossible to resist for generations. It is thoroughly ingrained into the Washington culture – lobbyists have become an institution unto themselves. If there was anything the Framers did not anticipate, it was how much money would be available to members of the government.

Worse, those who should be holding back the growth of government – the Congress – is exactly the group of people who benefit most from greater increase in tax revenues. The checks and balances so carefully built into the Constitution do not work in this instance.

And that’s why the growth of government has been allowed to continue unchecked. How do we stop this? I don’t know how. We’re so far down the path, and sliding faster all the time, I don’t see a way out.

While so many have been complaining about the Congress doing nothing, hopelessly deadlocked, it is perhaps the best thing we can hope for. We have essentially four political parties in Congress right now, all with their own goals and interests. We have the incredibly far-left liberal Democrats, a group of more moderate Democrats who can sometimes be persuaded to vote with the Republicans, the establishment Republicans, who are center-right at best, and the conservative Republicans, some of whom have ties to the Tea Party. There is a belief many folks have that the Congress should just “do something,” despite all the evidence that often a lack of Congressional activism is the best policy.

Alliances in both the House and Senate should be fluid, instead of all members of a party being in lockstep all the time. A Democrat in Washington state could have a completely different view of the world from one from, say, Georgia. That’s what is most important about the Congress – its members were supposed to represent the interests of their constituencies.

But life inside the Beltway was not supposed to separate the representatives of the People from their constituents. In fact, the job of a senator or representative was supposed to be part-time. Back when Washington D.C. was founded it was a miserable location. As I recall it, the location was a source of great chuckles among Southerners – the Northern states were so interested in appeasing the South that they were willing to take low, swampy ground that was virtually uninhabitable in the summer. (I believe the Federal Government started on its long slide when air conditioning was invented, and Congress could remain in the city year-round.)

So give a group of people unlimited funds they can use to make their own lives better, and ensure they can maintain that lifestyle by essentially bribing the voters in their districts, and add the fact that these folks are by nature a bit narcissistic, and you have what we have today…a Congress with the lowest approval rating since such things were recorded, but which spends more money than any in history.

And of course, that also means there is a huge machine for collecting those taxes. It can be used for other purposes, too, like harassment. But that’s for another day.