Friday, March 30, 2012

Obama the traitor

Pandering to a Fascist regime and hiding his intentions

This week, Americans were given a window into the way world leaders speak to one another in private. A conversation between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was caught on a microphone that neither man realized was live.

"On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved," Obama said. "But it's important for [incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin] to give me space ... This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."

"I understand," Medvedev responded. "I will transmit this information to Vladimir." The exchange comes two-and-a-half years after Obama scrapped Bush-era missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, bowing to pressure from the Russians.

This unfortunate hot-mic exchange will have security implications, and it will surely sour our relations with allies in that part of the world. But as much as America's allies might be angered by Obama's words, Americans should be even more so. Their president -- the man charged with conducting America's foreign policy and overseeing its defense -- told another world leader that he is willing to make concessions on an important issue once he has finally and permanently escaped accountability to them. At that point, Obama said, he will have "more flexibility," presumably to do something they might disapprove of in an election year or view as not in the nation's best interests.

Set aside the important question of missile defense -- Obama was a skeptic on that long before he ran for president. This magic microphone moment calls into question Obama's concept of government service. If he is acting in Americans' interests, why must he hide his intentions until his second term? The incident also suggests a rather dim view of American citizens -- as rabble unable to grasp the pros and cons of issues like missile defense.

This is not the first time Obama has behaved in this way. During the 2008 campaign, he and presidential rival Hillary Clinton were trying to outdo one another with populist, anti-free-trade rhetoric ahead of the Ohio primary. Obama went so far as to say he might try to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, causing some consternation for our Canadian neighbors.

Then the Associated Press obtained a Canadian diplomatic memo revealing that top Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee had met with Canada's consul general in Chicago. The memo states that Goolsbee reassured the Canadians that all of Obama's talk about NAFTA "should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

This new incident with Medvedev, like the earlier one with Canada, sends a message about Obama. His real foreign policy is not necessarily the foreign policy he wants Americans to think he is conducting.



The slipperiest of slippery slopes

Thomas Sowell

When a 1942 Supreme Court decision that most people never heard of makes the front page of the New York Times in 2012, you know that something unusual is going on.

What makes that 1942 case -- Wickard v. Filburn -- important today is that it stretched the federal government's power so far that the Obama administration is using it as an argument to claim before today's Supreme Court that it has the legal authority to impose ObamaCare mandates on individuals.

Roscoe Filburn was an Ohio farmer who grew some wheat to feed his family and some farm animals. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined him for growing more wheat than he was allowed to grow under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, which was passed under Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.

Filburn pointed out that his wheat wasn't sold, so that it didn't enter any commerce, interstate or otherwise. Therefore the federal government had no right to tell him how much wheat he grew on his own farm, and which never left his farm.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution says that all powers not explicitly given to the federal government belong to the states or to the people. So you might think that Filburn was right.

But the Supreme Court said otherwise. Even though the wheat on Filburn's farm never entered the market, just the fact that "it supplies a need of the man who grew it which would otherwise be reflected by purchases in the open market" meant that it affected interstate commerce. So did the fact that the home-grown wheat could potentially enter the market.

The implications of this kind of reasoning reached far beyond farmers and wheat. Once it was established that the federal government could regulate not only interstate commerce itself, but anything with any potential effect on interstate commerce, the Tenth Amendment's limitations on the powers of the federal government virtually disappeared.

Over the years, "interstate commerce" became magic words to justify almost any expansion of the federal government's power, in defiance of the Tenth Amendment. That is what the Obama administration is depending on to get today's Supreme Court to uphold its power to tell people that they have to buy the particular health insurance specified by the federal government.

There was consternation in 1995 when the Supreme Court ruled that carrying a gun near a school was not interstate commerce. That conclusion might seem like only common sense to most people, but it was a close 5 to 4 decision, and it sparked outrage when the phrase "interstate commerce" failed to work its magic in justifying an expansion of the federal government's power.

The 1995 case involved a federal law forbidding anyone from carrying a gun near a school. The states all had the right to pass such laws, and most did, but the issue was whether the federal government could pass such a law under its power to regulate interstate commerce.

The underlying argument was similar to that in the 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn: School violence can affect education, which can affect productivity, which can affect interstate commerce.

Since virtually everything affects virtually everything else, however remotely, "interstate commerce" can justify virtually any expansion of government power, by this kind of sophistry.

The principle that the legal authority to regulate X implies the authority to regulate anything that can affect X is a huge and dangerous leap of logic, in a world where all sorts of things have some effect on all sorts of other things.

As an example, take a law that liberals, conservatives and everybody else would agree is valid -- namely, that cars have to stop at red lights. Local governments certainly have the right to pass such laws and to punish those who disobey them.

No doubt people who are tired or drowsy are more likely to run through a red light than people who are rested and alert. But does that mean that local governments should have the power to order people when to go to bed and when to get up, because their tiredness can have an effect on the likelihood of their driving through a red light?

The power to regulate indirect effects is not a slippery slope. It is the disastrous loss of freedom that lies at the bottom of a slippery slope.



Job Killers

John Stossel

Politicians say they "create jobs." In fact, only the private sector generates the information needed to create real, productive jobs.

Since this current post-recession job recovery is the slowest in 80 years, you'd think that even know-it-all politicians would want to sweep away the labyrinth of government regulations that hinders job creation. Successful job creators like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Staples founder Tom Stemberg tell me there are so many new rules and taxes today that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them to create the thousands of jobs they once made.

The feds now have 160,000 pages of rules. Does anyone read all that? I doubt it. (Members of Congress don't read the bills they vote on.) Do the rules make life safer? No. A few new rules are useful, but most are not. Their sheer volume makes us less safe and less free.

In fact, the thick rulebooks help cheaters by giving them an indecipherable screen to hide behind. They also mislead consumers by giving them the illusion of protection. "I don't need to worry because regulation protects me." It's why some sophisticated people gave all their savings to Bernie Madoff.

A false sense of security is worse than none at all.

And the waste! Americans will spend $46 billion a year to obey just the new regulations the Obama administration imposed. Think of the money diverted to lawyers, accountants and "compliance officers" -- money that might have created jobs and financed products that could make our lives better.

Alison Fraser, who keeps track of these things for the Heritage Foundation, points out that George W. Bush's administration was a big regulator, too. "President Bush ... had 28 major new rules passed in the first three years alone," said Fraser. "We've had a virtual explosion -- almost a regulatory assault on our system of free enterprise and on our job creators."

The mainstream media portray Bush as a deregulator and blame his nonexistent deregulation for the housing and financial debacle. But the opposite is true. Bush hired thousands of new regulators. He only looks good in comparison to Obama -- which is not saying much.

Advocates of regulations don't acknowledge the law of unintended consequences. The Department of Energy demands energy-efficient appliances. But the extra cost deters some consumers from buying new appliances, so they stick with the old, wasteful ones.

On top of doing little good, endless rules kill the freedom that made America the land of opportunity. We preach entrepreneurship, and try to teach children the value, satisfaction and excitement of starting their own businesses. Then we let entrepreneurial opportunity be crushed under the weight of the regulatory state. The byzantine rules send this message to Americans: Don't try. Don't build anything. Don't innovate. Don't create anything new.

Let's not overlook the fact that big businesses often have no problem with this. They frequently benefit from complex regulation because it increases the chance that potential competition won't even get off the ground. Big business's hand has been behind the regulatory state at least back to the Progressive Era.

I could give you endless examples of small businesses crushed by big government. Here are two:

Shelly Goodman paid millions to buy a 13,000-square-foot mansion on 10 acres in Arizona in order to create a wedding reception center and bed-and-breakfast. Local bureaucrats forced her to spend thousands of dollars on studies to show that her business would not create burdensome traffic or noise. She did. The studies said it wouldn't. Yet the big house sits empty because her local government refuses to let her operate a business, even on her own property.

In Virginia, Greg Garrett started farming oysters. His neighborhood is zoned for livestock. He could raise buffalo, but local bureaucrats decreed that he could not sell oysters. Why not? My staff talked to the zoning official, and we still have no clue. That's the case with a lot of American law. It's arbitrary power. Regulations are so numerous and complex that no one really understands them. This diminishes our ability to flourish.

Big government makes us all small.



Stalinism in El Paso

El Paso Mayor to Indict Voters Who Don't Support His Agenda? Lerftist arrogance on display, using Stalinist methods

In El Paso, Texas, Democrat Mayor John Cook is literally doing whatever he can to cram his political preferences down the throats of El Pasoans who voted against him. His latest effort in this regard has been convening a grand jury in El Paso to possibly indict those who oppose his policies, based solely on their speech.

It all began in 2010, when the City Council passed a measure granting taxpayer-paid benefits for same-sex couples. The citizens responded by passing a city-wide referendum overturning the measure. Not pleased that his policies were thwarted by the people, Cook went to the City Council again and instituted the benefits anyway, basically telling the people whom he represents that they’re not running the show—rather, he is.

Making matters worse, Cook himself cast the tie-breaking vote in the City Council vote that “overrode” the referendum and the will of the people.

As a result, various citizens, including pastors, people associated with ministries, and pro-family groups throughout the city, have united and collected the signatures needed to hold accountable public officials who threw out their vote. Not to be outdone, the Mayor has now sued these Christians and is using a Texas election law to stop the recall election. The city’s district attorney has even convened a grand jury and is threatening to prosecute every church member he can who took part in gathering petition signatures.

If this seems like a Rod Serling moment to you, and if you’re listening now for the Twilight Zone music to start playing, I regret to inform you that this is reality. This is really happening. This is how those in power abuse that power. Just as President Obama has ignored the rule of law and the will of the American people via his abortion pill/birth control mandate, so too the mayor has run roughshod over the citizens of El Paso and doesn’t plan to do anything but continue his stampede.

The very mayor who told one woman at a city council meeting, “You can take your freedom of speech outside,” is not about to be challenged.

We have to remember—for ideologues, the vision they want to implement is always more important than the people they represent.

Fortunately, the Christians in El Paso who have fought against this measure are not without a voice and legal representation. The Alliance Defense Fund has come along beside them and has collected more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts.

ADF understands that the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor – unless El Paso has suddenly relocated to Communist China.

The citizens of El Paso deserve better, and ADF is trying to make sure they get it by seeking a change in the Texas election law so that there is no longer any ambiguity about every state law’s need to respect rights protected by the First Amendment. In the meantime, the mayor cannot abuse this election law, intended to regulate financial political contributions, to stifle the political activity of his opponents. That battle is on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court on an expedited basis.

This isn’t Cuba or North Korea: it’s the United States of America. And here, where religious liberty and freedom of speech and assembly are constitutionally protected, the will of the people takes precedence over the arrogance of those who wish to set up their own kingdoms.




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