Monday, June 30, 2014

History according to Salon

Heather Digby Parton is not too bright.  Give me Dolly, anytime. Her attack on the Tea Party below appeared in "Salon", surprise, surprise

To fail to see the religious roots of the Tea Party mantra – or the ways in which it reverberates as a divine imperative – is to blind oneself to a fundamental feature of American conservatism.

If you would like to see how this is being expressed in our current election cycle, look no further than this fine fellow, the Tea Party-endorsed talk radio host  Jody Hice, who is running for Congress in Georgia’s 10th District. Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution tells us:

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Hice wrote in his 2012 book. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection."

These guys seem to agree with Mr Hice, not Ms Parton

And as Ed Kilgore points out, he’s not the only one down there in Georgia running on a Christian right platform. In the 11th District, Barry Loudermilk is in a runoff with former impeachment manager Bob Barr (who also happens to be an actual, real live libertarian) and he’s a true believer too:

"Loudermilk is an eager member of the Glenn Beck wing of the GOP. He is also an apostle of faux historian David Barton, who preaches that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to create a conservative Christian government. Like Hice, they reject the notion of a separation between Christianity and state, and argue that the First Amendment was intended only to keep government from favoring one particular Christian denomination."

Has she READ the constitution?  It forbids an established church only.  The separation of church and state is just an interpretation loaded onto it later.  Loudermilk is just quoting.  Ms Parton is not



Regulators put the squeeze on ride-sharing companies

Free enterprise is a victim of taxi cronyism

The commonwealth of Virginia has stepped up its attack on ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. It’s just the latest example of crony capitalism and government favoritism toward the wealthy and powerful.

“Earlier this year, Virginia officials slapped the app-based services with more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating without proper permits.” The Washington Post noted recently, and on June 5, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Richard D. Holcomb sent a cease-and-desist letter to each company.

The opposition from Mr. Holcomb and regulators in other states and municipalities makes about as much sense as trying to crush automobiles in favor of horses would have made in 1900. Uber, Lyft and similar services have developed a new business model based on smartphone technology. It enables nearly anyone with a car to give rides to others, and taxi operators and their regulators are coming together to crush the upstart competitors.

“Regulatory capture” is the term economists use to describe regulators who see their job as, first and foremost, protecting the businesses they regulate. The regulated capture the regulators. To a large extent, that’s what we have here. In addition to Virginia, regulators in cities and states including California, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania are threatening the ride-sharing services with fines or regulations that would make it almost impossible for them to stay in business.

The opposition is international. Taxi drivers in many European cities recently used their vehicles to snarl traffic to protest Uber and Lyft.

Here’s what they’re so afraid of: The services link people who own vehicles and want to give rides to people who need rides. Uber and Lyft do not own the vehicles or supervise the conduct of the drivers. Users of the services like them. They often receive quicker responses than from traditional taxi services, and the vehicles are usually cleaner and often have amenities such as bottled water or chocolates or mints for passengers.

Because users can immediately rate the quality of the service they receive, the ride-sharing apps give drivers a strong incentive to be prompt, courteous and clean. When people call for a ride, they can see the ratings other people have given the driver who is coming to pick them up and cancel the ride if they dislike what they see. Too many poor ratings, and drivers are dropped from the services.

And in another good twist, drivers can rate their passengers. Rude, unruly, drunk or otherwise boorish passengers may not get picked up again.

There are no set fees. Lyft drivers accept donations, and Uber drivers receive a percentage of a fee that floats with demand for rides.

Compare this to the taxi services in most major cities, where the prices are fixed regardless of demand, the taxis are sometimes smelly or dirty, and the costs and bureaucratic hurdles to go into business against the established taxi companies are monumental.

Last November New York City held its first taxi medallion auction in five years. No taxi is allowed to operate without a city-issued medallion. The New York Times reported the auction results: “On Thursday, at the city’s first medallion auction in over five years, the largest bid for a ‘mini-fleet’ of two medallions exceeded $2.5 million, by far the highest ever recorded. At the last auction, in 2008, the high bid on a similar package was a little over $1.3 million.”

Imagine having to spend more than $2.5 million just to win permission to run two taxis in New York. This shows what a protection racket for the established companies taxi regulations have become. Costs are outrageously high in other cities as well, which explains why taxi rides cost so much. The profits pour in to the owners and managers of the taxi companies, while the drivers receive a relative pittance.

The taxi companies fear losing customers to Uber, Lyft and similar services; the regulators fear losing control over the taxi industry; and the politicians fear losing the political clout that pulls in campaign donations and electoral support from the taxi companies.

Many taxi drivers no doubt resent the difference between their paltry paychecks and the fat profits their companies make. Uber and Lyft give these drivers the chance to use their personal cars to become their own bosses.

In doing this, they’d strike a blow against their taxi company bosses and the political bosses who have been strangling competition and free enterprise.



Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Obama for 12th and 13th Time Since 2012

Did you know the Obama administration’s position has been defeated in at least 13 – thirteen — cases before the Supreme Court since January 2012 that were unanimous decisions? It continued its abysmal record before the Supreme Court today with the announcement of two unanimous opinions against arguments the administration had supported.

First, the Court rejected the administration’s power grab on recess appointments by making clear it could not decide when the Senate was in recess. Then it unanimously tossed out a law establishing abortion-clinic “buffer zones” against pro-life protests that the Obama administration argued on behalf of before the Court (though the case was led by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley).

The tenure of both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder has been marked by a dangerous push to legitimize a vast expansion of the power of the federal government that endangers the liberty and freedom of Americans. They have taken such extreme position on key issues that the Court has uncharacteristically slapped them down time and time again. Historically, the Justice Department has won about 70 percent of its cases before the high court. But in each of the last three terms, the Court has ruled against the administration a majority of the time.

So even the liberal justices on the Court, including the two justices appointed by President Barack Obama — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — have disagreed with the DOJ’s positions. As George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin told the Washington Times last year, “When the administration loses significant cases in unanimous decisions and cannot even hold the votes of its own appointees . . . it is an indication that they adopted such an extreme position on the scope of federal power that even generally sympathetic judges could not even support it.”

Those decisions are very revealing about the views of President Obama and Eric Holder: Their vision is one of unchecked federal power on immigration and environmental issues, on presidential prerogatives, and the taking of private property by the government; hostility to First Amendment freedoms that don’t meet the politically correct norms; and disregard of Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless government intrusion. These are positions that should alarm all Americans regardless of their political views, political-party affiliations, or background.

While yesterday’s Supreme Court decision unanimously rejecting the administration’s argument that a search warrant wasn’t required for the government to look at cell-phone records and data got a lot of attention, it’s not the first time the Obama administration has taken an anti–civil liberties stance. In last year’s case of U.S. v. Jones, the Justice Department essentially tried to convince the Supreme Court that the Fourth Amendment’s protections against search and seizure should not prevent the government from tracking any American at any time without any reason.

Justice argued that the police should be able to attach a GPS device to your car without a search warrant or even any reason to believe you committed a crime. Fortunately for those who fear the ever-growing power of the federal government, particularly its abuse of new technology, all nine justices agreed that the Fourth Amendment prevents the government from attaching a GPS to your car without getting a warrant.

Even Justice Sotomayor, President Obama’s own nominee to the Court, agreed that the government had invaded “privacy interests long afforded, and undoubtedly entitled to, Fourth Amendment protection.” But Eric Holder wanted to ignore the Bill of Rights and believed that his agents should be able to track all of your movements in public by attaching a GPS device to your car without permission from a judge. This is a frightening view of government power enhanced by new surveillance technology that would have directly threatened our liberty. When will liberals wake up to the fact that this administration takes positions on executive power that would make Richard Nixon and John Mitchell, his attorney general, blush?



Research & Commentary: Right to Work in Kentucky

Implemented in 1947, the Taft-Harley Act (THA), Section 14(b), allows states to adopt right-to-work laws. Right-to-work laws give employees the freedom to choose whether to join a labor union and pay union dues as a condition for employment in a unionized company. Since the Taft-Hartley Act was adopted, 24 states have enacted right-to-work laws, including Indiana in 2012 and Michigan in 2013. Kentucky remains one of the 26 states without a right-to-work law protecting workers’ freedom.

Opponents of right-to-work laws contend they lead to lower wages, hurt unions, and lower people’s standard of living. But states that have enacted right-to-work policies have experienced positive economic progress across the board. A study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found, “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states showed a 42.6 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011, while non-right-to-work states showed gains of only 18.8 percent.” The study also found inflation-adjusted gross personal income in right-to-work states increased 86.5 percent between 1990 and 2013, versus 51.3 percent for forced-unionization states.

Kentucky borders two states, Indiana and Tennessee, that have experienced economic prosperity as right-to-work states. According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, 45 companies have communicated to the Indiana Economic Corporation that Indiana’s enactment of right-to-work will factor into decisions they make about where to locate new and current projects. All new auto plants built in the United States during the past several decades were built in right-to-work states, including one by Hyundai, which declined Kentucky’s offer of land and tax incentives and instead located in Montgomery, Alabama—a right-to-work state.

Using years of economic data and empirical evidence from each state, the 2014 American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual economic competitiveness study, Rich States, Poor States, ranked Kentucky 28th in economic performance and 39th in economic outlook. The study found right-to-work states outperformed their forced-unionization counterparts, providing their citizens with critical economic opportunities and a path to greater prosperity.

Kentucky lawmakers should consider implementing right-to-work and remove other barriers to economic growth, such as high taxes (particularly on capital and income) and burdensome regulations. As the experience of other states shows, right-to-work has positive effects on states’ economies, workers, and population growth.



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