Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hillary is calling in sick.

She was scheduled to testify on Benghazi next week, but not anymore:
The State Department says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who skipped an overseas trip this past week because of a stomach virus, sustained a concussion after fainting.
She's now recovering at home and being monitored by doctors.

4. Bastiat ~ The Complete Perversion of the Law

Frederic Bastiat was a French economist and statesman. During and after the Revolution in 1848, he warned of the inevitable degeneration of socialism into communism. Previous Bastiat posts can be found here.

From The Law:

But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.

Well, the Marines were born in a bar...

The Marines will begin an alcohol testing program similar to drug testing programs that have been in place for many years. Do you think this finding had anything to do with it? 
Focus groups have revealed that some Marines believe “responsible drinking” amounts to 15 to 18 beers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

From Blog Althouse: "Most of these comments are horribly insensitive."...

Today a 20 year old man murdered 27 people in a Connecticut elementary school, 20 of whom were children. He is also dead, with a death toll of 28. His cause of death is unknown, though frequently in these situations it is by self-inflicted gunshot. Following on the heels of the mall shooting in Portland where 2 people were murdered, this is another unimaginable tragedy. Althouse links to a NYT article regarding today's school shooting. She highlights one of the comments there:
Althouse: "Most of these comments are horribly insensitive."...: "Are you not capable of mourning the horrific loss of these poor dear innocent souls without turning this into a vituperative bromide about your personal views on gun control?"
Before any blaming, I wish there was a way we could wait to get the true facts, not speculated facts. Once we are able to reflect on the truth of the matter, then it would be appropriate to move forward to find solutions. Instead, the blaming comes in long before the facts, and effectively locks people into positions before an objective view of the situation can be formulated. More gun control is not a solution as violence, as gruesome violence can still be accomplished without a gun (in China 22 children were slashed by a man wielding a knife). It is the thing that instigates the violence that needs attention, not the weapon used.

"Big Wheel" Marsee, union Vice-Griever

Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has some good background on one of the union members featured in Steven Crowder's video (found here). Click over to see Wheeler "Big Wheel" Marsee in a light I am sure he would much prefer: Union “Vice-Griever” who shouted expletives at Michigan protest is city councilman
He is not the one throwing punches, he is only flinging F-bombs.

The lie unions like to tell about "free riders"

Steven Crowder's video posted here begins with a union member telling why he is against right to work laws. Right to work laws allow employees to work without being forced to join a union and have dues automatically deducted from their paycheck. The union member on the video stated (shouted) that these workers who don't join unions are allowed to reap the benefit of collective bargaining but don't have to pay for it. Factually, this can be true - unions tend to negotiate for nonunion members, but the union does not have to allow it. They are free to negotiate on behalf of union members only, but the unions don't do that. Why not?

The unions allow the "free riders" because to do otherwise would serve to highlight the right not to have to join the union. It's a political calculation, not an unfair burden forced on the union!

The National Labor Relations Act permits, but does not mandate, unions to negotiate as the "exclusive representatives" of all employees at a unionized company. This means that all workers must accept the union's representation. They may not negotiate separately with their employer. Whether they like it or not, the union represents them.
Thus, unions have considerable leverage when bargaining with employers—they speak for every employee. But unions also have leverage over individual employees, since workers cannot bargain for themselves and must accept what their union negotiates. This enables unions to impose terms like mandatory dues on workers. . . .
The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so. Under the Act, unions can also negotiate "members-only" contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.
The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act's coverage "is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … 'Members only' contracts have long been recognized."
To be fair, most union activists are honestly mistaken on this point. Unions rarely negotiate members-only contracts. And when unions negotiate as exclusive representatives they must represent everyone equally. They cannot negotiate one wage for their members and the minimum wage for everyone else. But the law does not force them to represent non-members in the first place.
Unions do so anyway because their contracts hold some workers back. Seniority-based layoffs, for example, guarantee the job security of workers with more seniority at the expense of new hires. No matter how well new hires perform, they are laid off first. 
Instead, if unions negotiate members-only contracts (where employees are free to join or not), unions could not force newer members to accept less favorable conditions than those granted to more senior members - because newer members simply would not join (this shows free market forces at work). For example, "Milwaukee Public Schools recognized Megan Sampson as an "Outstanding First Year Teacher" in 2010 - but laid her off a week later." In a right to work state, merit, and not seniority, can be rewarded - Megan Sampson, as a non-union member would not have lost her job. Someone else - someone whose performance was not as good would have been a more likely choice for layoff. 
Unions negotiate as exclusive representatives so they can force employees to accept provisions they would otherwise reject.
To be sure, seniority is a valid consideration when cuts must made, but not to the exclusion of merit. In order to provide incentive for productivity or excellence, merit must trump seniority, but all else being equal, seniority is a legitimate claim. Seniority incentivizes loyality, a quality that employers who care about longevity will hold essential in their work force. 

Unions do not want to be forced to compete with the market. After all, it is estimated that in Michigan a quarter of union workers would not join if it were not mandated by the terms of their employment. Unions would lose $100 million dollars in dues if they lost 25% of their dues. You can see the massive financial implications and why unions tend to get a bit wound up when there is interference with this stream of income.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"And the Republicans are losing to these guys."

A very nice wrap of the day's news by Jonah Goldberg, at National Review. Is today Opposite Day again? Because any one of things would doom un-Democratic causes:
A Democratic senator hired an unpaid intern who was an undocumented immigrant but a documented sex offender. Apparently Senator Menendez needed an immigrant to do sex offending that Americans won’t do. 
Meanwhile, Representative Jim Moran is “embarrassed” by the revelation that his voter-fraud-orchestrating son smashed his girlfriend’s face into a garbage can and pleaded guilty to assault. The girlfriend appears to be doing what she can to make the story go away. But don’t worry, the phrase “war on women” may still only be used to describe people who don’t want to pay for someone else’s birth control. No word if anyone on the left will be expressing their gratitude for the Violence Against Women Act for this.
Over in Michigan, defenders of the union protestors who tore down an Americans for Prosperity tent are heading toward trutherism, suggesting that it was all a set up, the canvas-and-rope equivalent of the Reichstag fire. No word yet if anyone is claiming the Jews inside the tent got advance notice. 
Oh, and after months — nay years — of rhetoric from the president and his proxies about how taxes are simply a sign of neighborliness and the dues we pay to live in this great country, we learn that Obama’s staff owe nearly a million dollars in back taxes.

Word of the Day: Appeasement

New Army Manual Orders Soldiers Not To Criticize Taliban | Judicial Watch
[T]he new manual, which is around 75 pages, suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture— not Taliban infiltration—is responsible for the increase in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces. . . .The draft leaked to the newspaper offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism towards Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam.”
At least the Marines are thinking clearly:
At least one high-ranking military official had the backbone to publicly criticize the new manual, albeit through a spokesperson. U.S. Marine General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, doesn’t endorse it and rejected a proposed forward drafted by Army officials in his name. “He does not approve of its contents,” according to a military spokesman quoted in the story.

State Department won't release information on Benghazi survivors

In addition to the attacks at Benghazi dropping out of the news, the State Department has not released information on those that survived Benghazi. They should be able to provide helpful information. There are still a lot of questions that have yet to be answered:
“My understanding is that we still have some people in the hospital. I’d like to visit with them and wish them nothing but the best but the State Department has seen it unfit for me to know who those people are—or even how many there are,” Rep. Chaffetz said. . . . “This is so patently different than any other experience I’ve had. Unfortunately, people have been killed and maimed and in harm’s way in Afghanistan and Iraq and in points beyond. It’s typically been the case that they would release those names but in this case, they won’t. My challenge is to the media. You try and figure it out. They won’t let Congress know. They won’t seem to let the media know either.”
Hillary Clinton is finally scheduled to testify about Benghazi later this month. Remember, these attacks occurred on September 11, more than 3 months ago, and this will be the first we hear from the Secretary of State on the facts (if she does say anything substantive). We haven't heard from those present during the attacks. Petraeus spoke behind closed doors, without being sworn in. And Susan Rice, who is completely outside the chain of command for Benghazi and not an appropriate spokesperson for this incident, gave false information. Clearly, The Most Transparent Administration in the History of the United States is not being forthcoming about what happened.

What is being hidden? There are at least two related factors Obama wants to hide or downplay. First, the U.S. is providing lots of help (including weapons) to the Syrian rebels, some of whom we are now designating as terrorist organizations associated with al-Qaeda.
The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists. 
Second, because Benghazi occurred during the last few weeks of the election, it was a political decision to cover up the assistance and arms transfers, as well as the inadequacy of the security surrounding the ambassador. The fact that al-Qaeda affiliates mounted this attack contradicts Obama's claim that al-Qaeda was in disarray and his implication that it was no longer a threat.

This information had the potential to threaten Obama's reelection, but it was never fully presented in the mainstream media. The media is supposed to be the honest broker - or at least it was intended to be by our Founders. Freedom of the press was intended to be a check on political power. Instead, the press has thrown in with the administration and now only serves to obfuscate the truth.

It takes a little more work on our part, but thank God for the internet. The truth is till out there if you seek it.

This makes me want to join the union!

UPDATE: Union thugs also leveled an innocent man's hotdog cart. His crime was that he was contracted by Americans for Prosperity to provide chow for the people under their tent that was also destroyed. More info here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Happiness is now defined not as having the basics I need, but as ensuring that someone else does not have more."

Victor Davis Hansen at National Review:
Obama has successfully appealed to the oldest and basest of human emotions — envy and jealousy, masked with the notion of enforced fairness — and for now they trump even the human desire to be free. . . .
The traditional conservative antidote to Obamaism has fallen short. That is, the arguments of principled conservatives about the perils of big government, redistributionist economics, and diminutions in personal freedom seem for a majority of Americans to be outweighed by the attraction of government subsidies and entitlements. If there is going to be a check on Barack Obama’s redistributionist agenda, it will probably have to come from upper-middle-class independent voters and blue-state residents. Such Obama supporters may soon notice that the new federal and state tax rates, the envisioned end to traditional deductions such as those for blue-state high taxes and for mortgage interest, and means testing for most government services are aimed precisely at themselves. When the Palo Alto resident grasps that his total income- and payroll-tax burden will be well over 50 percent, his tax deduction for the mortgage interest on his million-dollar-plus, 1,000-square-foot home will be eliminated, and his $250,000 salary still gets him counted as “rich” even after huge taxes and mortgage costs, we may see change — perhaps not in terms of the number of large swings in actual votes, but in the nature of campaign donations, political commentary, and campaign organization. Blue-state elites do not yet believe the voracious Obama tax monster is coming for them, but it is — as they will see.
We can only hope.

Judge Posner, writing for the majority in Moore v. Madison on the Second Amendment

In a split opinion, released today from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the court reversed a lower court ruling in two cases downstate that upheld the state's longstanding prohibition against carrying concealed weapons.
"We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home," Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court's majority opinion. . . . 
The Second Amendment states in its entirety that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The right to “bear” as distinct from the right to “keep” arms is unlikely to refer to the home. To speak of “bearing” arms within one’s home would at all times have been an awkward usage. A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home. . . .
"The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense," he continued.

Understanding the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

What does it mean? Let's get some guidance from our Founders:

"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence ... From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that is good."
~George Washington

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
~Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner. ~Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, Second Session (February 1982)

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."
~Patrick Henry, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

The Czech Republic

Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online:
I have a particular admiration of the Czech Republic — for the Czechs’ defense of liberty and Western civilization; for their perseverance under Communism; for their near unique support of the Cuban people; for their willingness to stand alone, or virtually so; for many things.
In the U.N. the other day, the Czechs were the only European nation — the only one — to stand with Israel, as the Palestinians were again seeking their state without negotiating with Israel, as the Oslo Accords demand.
There is something in the water there, in the Czech Republic. I wish other nations would drink it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

If only tax cuts did reduce spending . . .

Michael Medved at the Daily Beast discusses the Tax the Rich animated video put out by California Federation of Teachers:
The most obnoxious element in the new animated fairy tale from the Golden State’s education establishment is its demonization of malevolent and immoral “rich people,” depicting them as a separate, subhuman species and not merely a privileged class. In one outrageous image, the rich perch on top of the scales of justice and urinate in a golden waterfall on the unsuspected poor, who are huddled beneath them on the lower plate of the balance.

Of course Asner himself, and the other millionaire Hollywood activists who clamor for higher tax rates, could rain their own showers of gold on supposedly starved parks and schools and firehouses. But they prefer to fund propaganda, demanding the seizure of even more money from their fellow plutocrats. In the last election cycle, Democrats received and spent more than $3 billion in donations; imagine the acreage of wilderness and open space that might have been purchased with even a small portion of those contributions. . . .  
The bottom line in federal outlays also shows that tax cuts of the Reagan and Bush era did nothing to force a reduction in overall levels of spending. In 2000, the last full year of President Clinton’s purportedly perfect reign of peace and prosperity, the federal government spent 18.2 percent of the gross domestic product. Eight years later, after two rounds of major tax cuts and in the last full year of the  Bush presidency, Washington spent 20.8 percent of GDP, a substantial explosion of additional spending, not the imposition of some brutal austerity budget. After four years of Obama’s leadership, with the Bush tax rates still firmly in place—for a few weeks more, at least—we now spend 24.3 percent, another perilous rise. While Grover Norquist, purveyor of the now notorious “no new taxes” pledge, popularized the phrase “starve the beast” as a demand for leaner, more effective government, it ought to be obvious that the beast in question now suffers from an acute obesity problem.

The Royals of America

Mark Steyn compares the Obamas to the Royals, who are surprisingly less expensive to keep in the style to which they've become accustomed, than are Mo, Bo, Barack, and the girls:

In his recent book Presidential Perks Gone Royal, Robert Keith Gray, a former Eisenhower staffer, revealed that last year the U.S. presidency cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion. Over the same period, the entire royal family cost British taxpayers about $57 million. There’s nothing “royal” about the current level of “presidential perks”: The Obama family costs taxpayers more than every European royal house put together.
In the American republic, even the dogs cost more. The Queen is a famous corgi lover and has been breeding them since she was a young girl. Now in her late 80s she’s slowing down and only keeps four. The president has one pooch, a photo-op accessory called Bo, who unlike the corgis requires a full-time handler. In contrast to the stingy remuneration offered by the royal household, the presidential dog-walker is one of 226 White House staff earning over $100,000 a year. For many centuries, the King had a courtier whose somewhat intimate duties were reflected in his title: the Groom of the Stool, a position abolished in 1559. Now, after two and a third centuries, the American presidency has evolved to the point that it has a full-time six-figure Groom of the Canine Stool. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ann Althouse has a good short take on Scalia's likely position on gay marriage, and it has little to do with morality, and everything to do with states' rights.

Althouse: "Justice Antonin Scalia believes the law can and s...: In the L.A. Times. Why is it so hard to read Scalia's Lawrence v. Texas dissent ? Experts — purported experts — like Savage, insist on see...

P.S. The Lawrence case was the one where the Supreme Court struck down a state law criminalizing sodomy.

If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less of something, tax it.

So then it makes perfect sense to tax income more - we want less of it right? Not quite:
Dan Mitchell, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, on rejecting class warfare tax policy.