Thursday, October 31, 2013

Your Privacy Is Not Violated If They Don't Get Caught...

The chair of the House Intelligence Committee – Mike Rogers – said yesterday in an NSA spying hearing which he led that there is no right to privacy in America.

Constitutional expert Stephen I. Vladeck – Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Scholarship at American University Washington College of Law – disagreed.

Here’s the exchange:
Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven’t had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.
Vladeck: But who would be complaining?
Rogers: Somebody who’s privacy was violated. You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.
Vladeck: I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you’re there to see it or not.
Rogers: Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law. We’re going to have this conversation… but we’re going to have wine, because that’s going to get a lot more interesting…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The race-hustlers among us

Years ago, someone said that according to the laws of aerodynamics, bumblebees cannot fly. But the bumblebees, not knowing the laws of aerodynamics, go ahead and fly anyway.
Something like that happens among people. There have been many ponderous academic writings and dour editorials in the mainstream media lamenting that most people born poor cannot rise in American society anymore. Meanwhile, many poor immigrants arrive here from various parts of Asia, and rise on up the ladder anyway.

Often these Asian immigrants arrive not only with very little money, but also very little knowledge of English. They start out working at low-paid jobs but working so many hours, often at more than one job, that they are able to put a little money aside.
After a few years, they have enough money to open some little shop, where they still work long hours, and still save their money so that they can afford to send their children to college. Meanwhile, these children know that their parents not only expect, but demand, that they make good grades.
Some people try to explain why Asians and Asian-Americans succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have. That may be true, but their success may also be a result of what they do not have; namely, “leaders” who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on “leaders.

Such “leaders” are like the people who said that the laws of aerodynamics showed that the bumblebee cannot fly. Those who have believed such “leaders” have, in fact, stayed grounded, unlike the bumblebees.

 A painful moment came for me years ago, when I was on the lecture circuit, after a talk at Marquette University, when a young black student rose and asked: “Even though I am graduating from Marquette University, what hope is there for me?”
Back in the 1950s when I was a student, I never encountered any fellow black student who expressed such hopelessness, even though there was far more racial discrimination then. We knew that there were obstacles for us to overcome, and we intended to overcome them.
The memory of that Marquette student came back to me, years later, when another black young man said that he had wanted to become a pilot, and had even planned to join the Air Force in order to do so. But then, he said, he now “realized” that “the Man” would never allow a black guy to become a pilot.
This was decades after a whole squadron of black fighter-plane pilots made a reputation for themselves in World War II as the Tuskegee Airmen. There have been black generals in the Air Force.
Both these young men — and many others — have learned all too well the lessons taught by race hustlers, in their social version of the laws of aerodynamics, which said that they could not rise.
You don’t hear about racial “leaders” such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among Asians or Asian-Americans. Here and there, you may see some irresponsible academics peddling that line in the classroom — some of whom are of Asian ancestry, since no race of human beings is completely lacking in fools.
But they do not get the same attention, or draw the same following, as race hustlers operating in black or Hispanic communities. By and large, Asian youngsters rise and fly.

Read the rest of the article here:

Small Government Is the Cure for Voter Ignorance

Limited government will do less damage.

My fellow Americans, we are one ignorant bunch.

This is particularly true with regard to politics and government, subjects about which the public is a howling void of nescience. To say Americans don’t know much about politics and government would be more than just an understatement. It would be like saying a Galapagos tortoise doesn’t know much about medieval French literature.

Ilya Somin — a law professor at George Mason University in Fairfax — has written a book on the subject: Democracy and Political Ignorance. In it, he shows that Americans know woefully little about their political system, have known very little for a long time, and are not likely to change in the foreseeable future — because they have a very good reason not to.

For instance: In 1964, only 38 percent of Americans knew the Soviet Union, NATO’s principal enemy, was not a member of NATO. In December 1994, the month after Republicans led by Newt Gingrich took control of Congress, 57 percent of Americans had never even heard of him. In 2003, 70 percent of Americans were unaware of the passage of Medicare Part D, “the biggest new government program in several decades.”
Fifty-eight percent of Americans cannot name the three branches of government; 70 percent cannot name their state’s senators; 72 percent cannot name two or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Before you start cursing, note that Americans have very little incentive to know such basic things, and even less to study more abstruse details such as the content of specific legislation. (In 2009, only a quarter of Americans knew “cap and trade” addressed environmental issues rather than, say, health care or finance.)

This is because the cost, in time and effort, of becoming an informed voter is fairly high. And what do you get for it? Precious little. It isn’t polite to say so, but votes usually matter only in the aggregate. Your one vote in, say, a presidential election will have almost no chance of changing the outcome, and therefore roughly zero effect on your life personally. Hence, Somin writes, “For most people, the benefits of devoting more than minimal time and effort to learning about politics are greatly outweighed by the costs.”

Granted, there are exceptions — the political junkies who get the same enjoyment from politics that sports junkies get from sports. Sports fans often know a great deal, even though they cannot affect the outcome of the games. (Not even with their lucky hats.) Political fans, Somin writes, likewise “derive enjoyment from rooting for their preferred parties, candidates, ideologies, and interest groups, while deriding the opposition. They … also derive satisfaction from having their pre-existing views validated, and from a sense of affiliation with a group of like-minded people.”

So does the team-sports model rescue democracy from the pit of ignorance? Hardly — because partisan activism is, in important ways, even worse than disengagement. Partisans may know more, but their knowledge is often selective. On top of that, they use it in highly biased ways — primarily to reinforce their existing views and reject new information that challenges their cherished dogmas. And they often tune in to news sources (Fox News, MSNBC) that facilitate close-mindedness.

This renders partisans more susceptible to false beliefs that cement their team loyalty: Democrats are more likely than independents to believe “truther” conspiracies alleging that George W. Bush knew in advance about 9/11, and Republicans are more likely than independents to believe “birther” claims that President Barack Obama was born abroad. It also leads partisans to reject truths that do not square with their partisan leanings. In one series of studies, Democrats completely ignored a factual correction in George W. Bush’s favor. Republicans were even worse, believing a false claim in Bush’s favor even more strongly after seeing it corrected.

Are there any remedies? Perhaps. We could delegate more decision-making to experts. But this only adds a layer to the problem. The experts still would have to be held accountable by elected officials, and ignorant voters “are likely to be poor monitors of elected officials’ supervision” of the experts. On the other hand, if the experts are not supervised, then there is no way to ensure they are pursuing the public interest.

We also could limit voting to the knowledgeable. But not only would this be grossly undemocratic, it wouldn’t improve matters, for the reasons just described.

Somin suggests two structural remedies. One involves handing over more decision-making to smaller political units — states, or even municipalities — which would allow people to vote with their feet. People who vote with their feet tend to educate themselves first. (Think about how much research you put into buying a house or a car.) And they educate themselves because they know their “vote” — to live on a cul-de-sac, or move to Seattle, or buy a Toyota instead of a Ford — will be the decisive one. When you vote with your feet, the “election” is heavily rigged to produce the outcome you want.

The other structural change? Limit the scope of government. For Somin, the reason is straightforward: A smaller government means deeper knowledge. If the public will learn, say, only 100 things about the executive branch, then it will know a lot more about each agency if there are five agencies rather than 50. There is an “inverse relationship between the size … of government” and “the ability of voters to have sufficient knowledge” to vote intelligently.

For the rest of us, there may be another reason: A smaller government, even in the hands of Those Ignorant Bums on the Other Side, will do less damage than a big one can. When power is decentralized, you can flee to another state if things get too bad in your current one. When Washington is in charge of everything, the cost of voting with your feet gets much, much higher.

Each of these approaches has downsides — though not necessarily the ones you might think. For instance, the cost of moving would seem at first blush to impede “foot voting” by the poor. In fact, Somin notes, “households with an income under $5,000 per year are actually twice as likely to make interstate moves as the population as a whole.”

That’s just one of the many insights to come out of a book on ignorance that is, perhaps paradoxically, highly informative.

Copied complete for your reading pleasure from:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The State of Republicanism Today

National Review: Krauthammer More Sympathetic to Obama's Statism than Tea Party's Limited Gov't

The Tea Party movement arose in part against the Republicans of the last decade, specifically President George W. Bush expansion of domestic spending and the federal government. National Review's Andrew McCarthy called out Charles Krauthammer for revealing on The Daily Show that he is one of those Republicans who has accepted modern statism. 

McCarthy wrote that Krauthammer, a former Walter Mondale adviser, is "more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.”

"The statement may have been provocative in the sense of expressing a truth that people on the political Right prefer not to talk about. But it was not controversial because it is indisputably true," he writes.

He writes that today's "smartest Republicans, self-aware enough to know their core views deviate significantly from those of conservatives in the tradition of Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan, are more likely to say what they think to Jon Stewart."

"His audience is apt to be receptive, maybe even won over, by a mature progressivism portrayed as what conservatives really think," he writes.

McCarthy criticizes Krauthammer for accepting Stewart's premise that the “responsibility of governance” embraces the "massive, centralized welfare state" and for pronouncing that today's "conservatives" accepted "the great achievements of liberalism--the achievements of the New Deal, of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare. The idea that you rescue the elderly and don’t allow the elderly to enter into destitution is a consensual idea [accepted by] conservatives, at least the mainstream of conservatives."
McCarthy slams Krauthammer for conflating conservatives with Republicans, which often occurs in Washington.

"With due respect to Charles, no, the New Deal and the centralized welfare state that is its progeny is accepted by the mainstream of Republicans," he writes. "What Charles describes, moreover, is as fanciful a portrayal of what the New Deal did as it is of what conservatives believe."

As McCarthy notes, "conservatives, including most of those who were against the New Deal, are not opposed to social welfare for the truly needy," but believe "in the constitutional framework, which reserves the promotion of social welfare to the states and the people":

If welfare policy is made at the state level, there are important disciplines in the equation that can prevent the programs from bankrupting the state and unduly punishing productivity. Economic conditions vary widely in a nation of our size, so welfare programs are best designed and run at the local level, by elected officials directly accountable to the people who live with the consequences--officials who can easily alter the programs if conditions change. States know they are in competition with each other, and if wealth redistribution is too onerous in one state, people and businesses can move to others. States and localities also may not print money, and they have incentives (and often constitutional requirements) to balance their budgets that do not exist at the federal level. At the state level, there can be a sensible balancing of “internal order, improvement, and prosperity.”

Such is not the case at the federal level, which McCarthy acknowledges is a poor delivery system of such services and notes that "Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are" "prosperity killers" and not, as Krauthammer contends, “great achievements of liberalism.”

"By loading everyone onto the gravy train, even if that meant the poor and middle class would subsidize the rich and near rich, progressives hoped to ensure that no one would object to the arrangement — people would just expect to get theirs in due course," he writes. "Unlike transparent, accountable welfare programs, however, these 'entitlements' never had a sound relation between what was paid in and what was to be paid out."

The massive federal entitlement state, though, creates and sustains the "permanent political class" by "promising more benefits to ever more people and demagoguing all who resist or attempt even the slightest reforms."

There is, furthermore, an equally destructive corollary. Once one accepts the premise of federal control over these matters of social welfare, there is no principled case against federal control over any matters of social welfare. Every aspect of life becomes potentially subject to central-government regulation. And so it has, through a metastasizing federal code and bureaucracy that regulates everything from cradle to graves.

In the Framers’ construct, the states would experiment and compete, developing best practices--or at least practices that best suited the conditions and sensibilities of the local communities. By contrast, there is no disciplining or escaping Leviathan. And if, as is inevitable, federal officials expand their outlandish schemes and promise favored constituencies more than they can deliver, they just borrow or print ever more money: Government borrows from its tapped-out self, monetizing its debts, degrading our currency to reward sloth and punish thrift even as it steals from future generations.

McCarthy writes that what Krauthammer calls “the great achievements of liberalism” have "undermined the Burkean intergenerational trust at the core of conservatism" because the "welfare state is a betrayal of our constitutional traditions: It is redistributionist gluttony run amok, impoverishing future generations to satisfy our insatiable contemporaries." Many so-called neoconservatives became Republicans due to foreign policy matters but have favored more liberal social policies, leading conservatives to believe there is not that much difference between these Republicans, many of whom supported No Child Left Behind and the TARP Bailouts and support comprehensive immigration reform:

The Republican establishment aspires to preserve the Washington-based entitlement culture. Charles Krauthammer thus suggested that Jon Stewart look to Paul Ryan as the best exemplar of today’s “conservatism.” It made perfect sense. Representative Ryan, as I’ve observed before, has supported creation of the Bush prescription-drug entitlement (adding trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities to our burden), TARP, Keynesian “stimulus” spending, and the auto-company bailout.

This is not constitutional conservatism. It is moderate statism. Or, to repeat, the current Republican establishment “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.”

A Leftist View Of The People Who Drive The Left....

 In a discussion with pfunky, I pointed out that the left is a group of huddled 'I wanna give mes' and that they are driven by ideological extremists...  radicals of the feminist, socialist, gay and communist groups. So when someone votes for.. say... equal rights for women, they are voting for a progression to the extreme.  This article exemplifies that.....   

Redskins and Gay Marriage: Media Says '*Poof* You're a Bigot'

You know, things have really changed around here. One night I go to bed, secure in my place in society as a Friend of the Gay Man. The next morning I wake up, and I'm a bigot. One day I'm walking around blissfully indifferent about the name of the football team representing our nation's capitol. The next day, I'm a bigot. How does the media do this?

For two decades I was a flaming liberal on the issue of gay rights. I vigorously defended the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) to my conservative friends, immediately embraced the idea of giving committed same-sex couples all the same rights as married couples through civil unions (this was the mid-nineties), never skipped a beat in my relationships with friends and family who came out, and always admired the rebellious, f**k you attitude of a gay community that thrived economically while not giving a damn if anyone accepted them or not.

Then, literally, overnight, I'm no longer a Friend of the Gay Man. Instead, *poof* I'm a H8-ful Nazi bigot because I don't want to alter the definition of the two-thousand year-old institution of marriage. This, even though, I don't want to alter the meaning of marriage for anyone -- gay or straight, atheist or Mormon. But that is just one perfectly logical and acceptable reason to oppose same-sex marriage. I do have another reason...

From a mile away, I can see the wicked politics at work in the same-sex marriage movement (not everyday gay couples who simply want to get married, but the political left driving it), and the politics have nothing to do with treating gays with respect and humanity. It is all about the left's never-ending crusade against Christianity and the Church.

Look around. We're already way beyond live and let live. My most cherished rights as an American are already being trampled by an Orwellian-named fascist called Tolerance. +

And who is responsible for all of this? Not the permanently outraged on the fringes of the left forever on the prowl to tell others what to think and do. No, it is their closeted allies within the mainstream media. Grabbing their talking points from Media Matters, the Center for American Progress, and Barack Obama -- *poof* we're bigots. Yesterday, we were fine; today: bigots.

Somewhere, someone in the hollowed-out JournOlist volcano flips a switch, and just like that the media is collectively screaming homophobe at anyone who dares to bitterly cling to Barack Obama's 2011 definition of marriage.

Now we are seeing the same thing with the Washington Redskins football team. One day nobody thinks twice about the name Redskins. The next day the switch is flipped and if you still hold the position everyone else did the day before, *poof* you’re a bigot. Apparently 80% of us just don't understand, including 91% of those who are apparently too ignorant to know they are being slurred.

If I may be so bold as to disagree with Charles Krauthammer, although he is correct that language evolves over time, he is incorrect as to how the word Redskins has evolved. In the case of the word "Redskins," what was once a slur is no longer a slur, thanks in large part to a football team revered for decades by millions. Why would we want to turn back the clock on this small victory for racial progress?

But none of the nuance, reason, logic, tradition, history, or science matters when a small group of elite bullies who command 95% of our nation's media coordinate to manufacture a sinister magic wand that goes *poof*.

Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC       

+ Emphasis added       

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Venezuela government creates happiness agency

Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Americans may insist on the right to pursue happiness, but Venezuela now has a formal government agency in charge of enforcing it.

President Nicolas Maduro says the new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness will coordinate all the "mission" programs created by the late President Hugo Chavez to alleviate poverty.

Wags had a field day Friday, waxing sarcastic on Twitter about how happy they felt less than 24 hours after the announcement.
Oil-rich Venezuela is chronically short of basic goods and medical supplies. Annual inflation is running officially at near 50 percent and the U.S. dollar now fetches more than seven times the official rate on the black market.

In downtown Caracas, fruit vendor Victor Rey said he's now waiting for Maduro to create a vice ministry of beer.
"That would make me, and all the drunks, happy," he said.

A TV journalist whose show was recently forced off the air after he refused to censor political opponents of the ruling socialists, Leopoldo Castillo, called Maduro's announcement an international embarrassment.

Housewife Liliana Alfonzo, 31, said that instead of a Supreme Happiness agency she'd prefer being able to get milk and toilet paper, which disappear off store shelves minutes after arriving at stores.
"It's a Calvary getting the ingredients for any meal," she said.

Maduro blames the shortages on speculation and hoarding, but merchants say they would go broke if they adhered to government price controls.

Chavez spent billions on social programs, from benefits for single mothers to handouts of apartments and major appliances.

Maduro was elected April 14 as Chavez's chosen successor.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why do public school teachers send their own children to private schools at a rate 2X the national average?

In his latest weekly column, economist and GMU professor Walter E. Williams presents these facts about where various groups of parents send their own children – private or public schools:
General public: Nationally, 11% of all parents enroll their children in private schools, and 89% of American students attend public schools.
Public School Teachers: Nationally, more than 20% of public school teachers with school-age children enroll them in private schools, or almost twice the 11% rate for the general public.
Philadelphia Public School Teachers: 44% enroll their own children in private schools, or four times the national average.
Cincinnati Public School Teachers: 41% enroll their own children in private schools, more than three times the national rate.
Chicago Public School Teachers: 39% enroll their own children in private schools, more than three times the national average.
Rochester, NY Public School Teachers: 38% enroll their own children in private schools, or more than three times the national rate.
San Francisco-Oakland Public School Teachers: 34% enroll their own children in private schools, slightly more than three times the national average.
New York City Public School Teachers: 33% enroll their own children in private schools, three times the national rate.
Members of Congress: 33% to 44% enroll their children in private schools, three to four times the national average.
Walter concludes that:
The fact that so many public school teachers enroll their own children in private schools ought to raise questions. After all, what would you think, after having accepted a dinner invitation, if you discovered that the owner, chef, waiters and busboys at the restaurant to which you were being taken don’t eat there? That would suggest they have some inside information from which you might benefit.
In a 1995 article in The Freeman called the “Educational Octopus” I wrote:
What would you conclude about the quality of product or service X under the following circumstances?
1. The employees of Airline X and their families are offered free airline tickets as an employee benefit. The employees refuse to travel with their families on Airline X and instead pay full fare on Airline Y when flying.
2. The employees of Automaker X are offered a company car at a substantial discount and they instead buy a car at full price from Automaker Y.
3. Employees at Health Clinic X and their families are offered medical care at no additional cost as a benefit and yet most employees of Clinic X pay out-of-pocket for medical services at Clinic Y.
In each case, the employees’ willingness to pay full price for a competitor’s product or service and forgo their employer’s product or service at a reduced price (or no cost) makes a strong statement about the low quality of X. What makes the inferior quality of X even more obvious is that the employees at Firm X, since they work in the industry, would have better information about product (service) X and product (service) Y than the average person.
What then should we conclude about the quality of public education in the United States given the following facts? Public school teachers send their own children to private schools at a rate more than twice the national average–22 percent of public educators’ children are in private schools compared to the national average of 10 percent.
Bottom Line: Public school teachers are giving public education a failing grade by their disproportionate patronization of private education when it comes to the education of their own children

Seattle uses eminent domain to turn a parking lot into a parking lot

City of Seattle abuses eminent domain so a parking lot can become a parking lot

Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously Monday to use eminent domain to take private property. They say they must seize the private property, which is currently being used as a parking lot, in order to turn it into … a parking lot. (Here is the link to the original notice). Local Station Q13Foxnews discussed this story here.

In addition to eminent domain abuse, the City of Seattle has recently been in the news for hiding public records, and sinking the farm boat. The common thread among all three of these stories is that, in Seattle, central planning takes priority over people. In this case, they decided it was critically important to seize a parking lot from its 103-year-old owner so that it can be a parking lot. At least this is their stated justification.Public Benefit

Seattle has a history of complete and total incompetence in managing parking, well-documented at the Pacific Place parking garage. Instead of abusing eminent domain, the City Council should have passed a resolution that would prevent Seattle from ever getting into the parking business again. For people familiar with eminent domain abuse, however, this is just another example of how Big Government Central Planners use their power to crush the dreams and aspirations of the “little people.”

The desire of the Central Planners for control is once again permitted to outweigh the people’s need for government to make rational decisions that benefit taxpayers and citizens (Of course, the City of Seattle just banned using the term "Citizen"). In this case, a 103-year old lady’s property is slated to be taken “for the greater good.” Yet that “good” is really just the personal aspirations of city planners and officials.

As has been pointed out, the City of Seattle actually has plans to “redevelop” this property and turn it into a parking garage or mixed use development once the Viaduct is gone. Most observers believe that when Seattle’s Big Dig is done and the Viaduct construction is over (assuming this ever happens), this woman’s land will be prime real estate worth far more than what the City of Seattle will pay by seizing it now. This might be true (although the City wants us to believe there is nothing to see here), but the property owner appears to have a plan to donate this property to charity at the maximum value so that her desired charity will benefit:

"...Seattle is being impatient with Woldson (property owner), who he (Gary Beck, president of Republic Parking Northwest, which operates the parking lot) says plans to bequeath her lot to a charitable group.

“I will guarantee you," he said, "that when Miss Woldson passes away, and whoever the beneficiary of this property is, they will sell and take the money."

Beck said he understands the city wants this property, but wonders why it’s spending the money to force a sale, which is going to happen eventually..."

(Seattle Business Journal - "City of Seattle plays Darth Vader in propety fight with elderly woman"- Oct 22, 2013)

The City of Seattle’s Central Planners are in a rush to use limited taxpayer resources to purchase prime property, but for no reason. Either way, this property will function as it does now – as a parking lot – for many years. If the land is worth purchasing after the viaduct is gone, surely there will be private developers who will do just that. It can be developed without the City of Seattle squandering taxpayer funds, abusing eminent domain, and (if past performance is any indication of future results) probably botching the job in the process.

Eminent domain reform is need in Washington State. As this story shows, these types of pointless efforts to abuse the process are completely unnecessary. It is one more case where government, given a tiny bit of power, constantly works to expand that power, resulting in abuses like this.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fundamental Change

Under Obamanomics, America Morphs Into Welfare Nation 

 Poverty: Any lingering doubts about the deficiencies of Obamanomics can be dispelled with one piece of data: The U.S. has spent $3.7 trillion on welfare in the past five years, with virtually nothing to show for it

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Politics without Philosophy

Borrowed in its entirety from:

It may surprise some readers to know that I am a conflict avoider when it comes to arguing politics in social gatherings.  There are a variety of reasons for this, not the least of which is often a desire to escape substantive issues in the off-hours of my life. 
However, one important reason I don't like discussing current events or other weighty issues with people (particularly in groups) is that many of the people I meet don't really have an underlying philosophy, but rather a hodge-podge of political positions stitched together from a variety of sources.  This makes it almost impossible to have a substantive conversation with them.
When I have a disagreement with someone on matters of politics or economics or whatever, there are really only two satisfying outcomes:
  1. To discover that we share the same basic premises and philosophy, but have reached different conclusions from these premises.  Trying to figure out where we diverge is an interesting and generally informative exercise
  2. To discover that we have very different fundamental premises or assumptions about the nature of existence.  While perhaps not satisfying, this can at least save a lot of useless discussion.  For example, if you believe that we are all born with an obligation or requirement, kind of like original sin, to provide our fellow man with material comforts, while I do not, there is not a lot of point in the two of us arguing about redistributive taxation.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to reach either of these conclusions with people who have no underlying philosophy that drives their ethics and political positions.  I remember one discussion with a woman who was taking all all comers over abortion, defending a woman's right to choose for her body.  So I asked her if she was therefore opposed to the government ban on breast implants.  "No, that's different, those are totally frivolous.  Women shouldn't have breast implants, its demeaning".  But, I asked,  isn't the FDA telling women what they can and can't put in their bodies.  "But its necessary, she says, because people don't always know enough to make the right decisions".  So, I follow-ed up, its part of the FDA's job to hold up drugs like the morning-after pill?  "No, that's just christian-right bullshit".
How can you argue with this, when there is no consistent underlying philosophy?  Essentially her position boils down to "I support government intervention except when I oppose it".  And this is not unusual.  In fact, the positions she took are entirely consistent with the positions on these same issues taken at the NOW web site.  Hell, the entire Republican and Democratic platform each boil down to "we support government intervention except where our major donors oppose it".
The reason for this brief, really tangential rant was this morning when I was reading through some recent emails from a trade group I belong to called the NACS, or the National Association of Convenience Stores.  Because of changes in the market, the NACS represents a large percentage of the gasoline retailers in this country.  In the last two weeks, the NACS has:
  1. Opposed government "price gouging" regulations aimed at how gas stations price their product.
  2. Advocated government intervention in the pricing of credit card processing services, arguing that gas stations are getting gouged by banks today
Could anything be more stark?  There are no values here, no philosophy, no core assumptions about the nature of man and man's existence.  Just a bald desire to be left alone yourself, but have the government intervene in your favor with everyone you do business with.
PS:  Credit card processing rates piss me off as well, but you don't see me asking for the government to intervene.

Duh !

Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000.00
* Fed budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000.00
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000.00
* National debt: $ 16,271,000,000,000.00
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000.00

Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:

* Annual family income: $ 21,700.00
* Money the family spent: $ 38,200.00
* New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500.00
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $ 162,710.00
* Total budget cuts so far: $ 38.50

Got It ?????

OK now,

Lesson # 2:
Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let's say, You come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood....and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.
What do you think you should do ......

Raise the ceilings, or remove the shit?


And another thing...........


This Minimum Wage Conversation is Not a Hypothetical -- I Have It All The Time

Don Boudreax writes:
Here’s a project for all unemployed young people – say, ages 18 through 21 – in America today.  Go to a nearby supermarket or restaurant or lawn-care company or pet store and ask for a job at the minimum wage.  If you are denied, offer to work for $4.00 per hour.  The owner or manager will almost surely decline, saying that it’s against the law.
“Would you like to hire me at $4.00?” you ask.
“Well yes I would” is the answer you’re likely to get in reply.
“So, hire me at that wage.  I’m an adult, I’m sober, and I have no mental issues.  I’m willing to work for $4.00 per hour.”
“You don’t get it, kid.  I can’t hire you at that wage.  I’ll get fined, or worse.  Go away.”
“Ok, I’ll leave.  But no one – including you – will hire me at $7.25 per hour.  What am I supposed to do?”
“Look kid.  That’s your problem.  I’m sorry.  I don’t make the laws, but I gotta follow them.  Go away now.”
I know that this is a realistic scenario because I have this conversation with employees all the time.  Except in my case, applicants are generally not 18 years old but 70 years old.

A bit of background:  My company operates campground and other recreation areas mainly using retired people who live on-site in their own RV's.  Few of my 400+ employees are under 65 and several are over 90.
There are several reasons this conversation occurs:
  • As my employees get older, and perhaps sicker with various disabilities, their work slows down to the point that it falls under our productivity expectations.  Employees may come to me saying they want to stay busy but they know they don't work very fast but they would be happy to work for $5 or $4 an hour if they could just keep this job they love.  (There is a Federal law that allows waiving of minimum wages for disability situations.  We tried it -- once.  The paperwork was daunting and the approval came 7 months after the application -- 2 months after the seasonal employee had already gone home for the year).
  • Many people like to stay busy but face wage caps where they begin to lose their Social Security.  They want to keep their total income under the wage cap.  We try to create some jobs that require fewer hours so they can get their wages down that way, but in many cases we have a limited number of on-site living spots and a fixed amount of work such that each person occupying a living spot must do a certain amount of work to make sure it all gets done.  So at some point we can't give them fewer hours, and then they will ask for lower pay.
I frequently have to tell people I simply cannot pay them less.  They ask if they can sign a paper saying they want to be paid less, and I tell them something like "no, the law assumes you are a gullible rube and that I am evil and infinitely powerful so that if you sign a paper, it just means I forced you to do it."  Which is all true, that is exactly the logic of the law.

People look at me funny sometimes when I say the minimum wage law limits employee rights by putting a floor on what they may charge for their labor.  This is an odd way of putting it for them, because minimum wage laws are generally explained in the oppressor-oppressed model, but it makes perfect sense from my experience.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Question for discussion....

Many people complain about the functioning of the government and what it means to daily life. Many find the  U.S. Constitution to be out of date and dysfunctional.  What would you do to bring the document up to date while still exerting controls on the scope of government in individual live and insuring that the 'tyranny of the majority' does not cull segments of the population or control their behaviour in ways inconsistent with equal justice under the law.

What would you make the constitutional basis for all the laws in our land to be penned on?

I will start with: The repeal of the 17th amendment.

There are several reasons for my dislike of this amendment and indeed how it came to be.  If facts are right, it never should have been added to the constitution because it was never properly ratified by the states in the first place.  Beyond that I believe that it is truly invalid because it denies States the representation that they are entitled under article 1 section 3 “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.  This language was repealed by the 17th amendment but nothing was stipulated to change the statement in Article 2 Section4 which states that: The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators. 

Many will say that place of choosing is still the state so no fowl.  That however nullifies the meaning of the word “Legislature”.  In addition, we have the words of Article 5 about amending the constitution which states that: and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.  The key word here is “suffrage” or right to vote. 
Again people will say that the states are represented by the people and “the people are the government”.  While that may be true in some colloquial sense, elected representatives are in fact the government.  That is borne out by the fact that many times the government does not execute the will of the people.  The bank bailouts are a very good example of the difference between the will of the people and the will of the government. 
Also the constitution is quite clear that it differentiates people and state on a couple of occasions:

1.    the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2.    the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.  – This is particularly telling given the contention and the supreme court ruling between ‘people’ and a state organized militia.

3.    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,....

4.    The full 9th amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

5.    The full 10th amendment - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

With respect to the word “suffrage” we can understand again the differentiation between the governments of the states (Legislature)  and the citizens (People) of those states

In Federalist 59, Hamilton explains in summary:

Hamilton defends the provision in the Constitution for national control over the scheduling and regulation of elections to the House. He argues that if state governments were given control over national elections, then the national government would find itself at the mercy of states. Hamilton does recognize that state governments do have the right to control the elections of senators and that this creates the opportunity for states to delay or prevent the election of senators. However, he argues that this was a necessary compromise so as to maintain the federal principle of shared power between the states and the national government.

I contend that with this one amendment, used to fix a mouse size problem with a bear size solution, the principle of distributed government was destroyed and much of the dysfunction that we see today is as a direct result of states being removing from their role in the federal administration.  This direction of course is intention on the part of two power structures. 

1. Those who believe that only a directly elected democracy is ‘free’.  I would contend that history has shown direct democracy to be a failure and pushing our country in that direction is a mistake. 

2. Those who wish to bend an influence government are more than happy to have to only buy off 536 people rather than the legislatures of the various states who have different needs and interests....

More over, if the states had sent representative to the senate, Obamacare, not favored by many states and indeed the debt ceiling problem, would have been settled differently, some time ago, because states are finding out just how true the statement: "There is no such thing as a free lunch" really means.....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Boy Scout Leaders - Always getting their rocks off.

Can you believe those jerks really want us to believe that they were doing it for safety reasons?

Probably the same guys who throw garbage in to Geyser holes. Wouldn't want anyone getting scalded by hot water.  Maybe their eagle scouts can go hunt some pesky eagles.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conservatism And The Debt Ceiling

Submitted by James E. Miller of The Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada,
I am not very good at self-identifying. When asked of my political affiliation, I waffle between libertarian, Rothbardian, or just straight out anarchist. Perhaps the best answer is “none.” Explaining the immoral nature of the state is too big of a feat for casual conversation. Regardless of my anti-state views, there is a soft spot for conservatism somewhere in my inner political makeup. And when I reference conservatism, I mean real conservatism; not its bastard third cousin known as neoconservatism that was birthed by Trotsky.
Hayek’s critique notwithstanding, libertarianism and conservatism overlap slightly when it comes to public policy.Both recognize the tendency of the state to become excessive with authority. The fundamentality of law is paramount in both viewpoints. The virtue of temperance is held in high regard for followers of both Rand and Burke. At times, there is conflict on the boundary of rights whether the greater good is worth violating the individual liberty of some. But fiscal issues are where the conservative and libertarian find the most common ground.
As the United States government remains partially shut down, Washington is hurtling toward its statutory debt limit of $16.7 trillion. Come sometime this week, Congress will either have to pass an extension of the cap or no more money can be borrowed. Some writers of the conservative bent have expressed worry there will be a default on the national debt if a couple of ideological Congressmen keep getting their way. Rod Dreher claims a small band of Tea Party Republicans are using the “prospect of a sovereign default as political leverage.” Commentary editor John Podhoretz calls the strategy (if there were really a tactic of shorting bondholders) “suicide of the right.” Ross Douthat, the estimable token conservative of the New York Times,labels the whole gambit “blackmail” and “much dumber and more dangerous” than the debt limit acquiescence during Reagan’s second presidential term.
These critics, for all their esteemed insights, are mistaken in their belief of the infallibility of Uncle Sam’s credit. That the thieves in Washington collect enoughin tax ransom to make interest payments is not considered. Neither is the inconvenient truth that buyers of government securities are not engaging in a riskless activity – they too made an investment and thereby accept the possible consequences involved. The state’s inherent ability to fleece money for operation is limited by decree and the impending furor of a plucked populace. Placing undeniable confidence in the full faith and credit of a government is nothing but ignorant reverence to force.
That aside, Washington will still not default on owners of its bonds. Talk of such an event is downright scaremongering. President Obama and the media are leading the chorus of fearfulness in this regard, and some otherwise sharp fellows are falling under the siren song. It’s unfortunate yet understandable. The failure to pay creditors in full would be a painful blow to America’s prestige. It would also hold ramifications for the global economy if investors began a fire sale of U.S. Treasuries. Nevertheless, that hypothetical is far from realistic in the immediate future.
That doesn’t make defaulting an impossibility however.For the superior economic productivity within its borders, the U.S. government is gifted with a sizeable tax base. Still, the politicians in charge can’t help but borrow close to .40 cents of every dollar spent – and that’s just on-the-books accounting. In reality, Washington is in possession of $222 trillion in unfunded liabilities largely due to entitlement programs. Such a number is so astronomical that default is already in the cards. The question is when it will occur. Like most things in life, the medicine can be swallowed now or later down the road.
The conservative case against another raise in the debt ceiling is not grounded in politics. It is made by the prudential character of anyone who firmly understands that well-being cannot flourish by using a disease as a cure. As Russell Kirk wrote,
A conservative is not, by definition, a selfish or a stupid person; instead, he is a person who believes there is something in our life worth saving.
Debt on debt is no way to run a country, a household, or an individual bank account. By borrowing in seeming perpetuity, you preserve the good times. But it only lasts as long as your credit rating remains intact. There is always the appearance of stability in a drunk who maintains his level of intoxication. As long as the bottles of bottom-shelf whiskey keep coming, the inebriated will not have to go through the painful correction of sobering up. Not many would disagree that the comedown after a party is a necessary part of existence. But when it comes to debt, the circumstances apparently change.
The virus of progressivism, at its essence, is the belief that paradise can be created on Earth. In practice, it’s presented in a variety of efforts that attempt to hurdle the natural barriers of life that keep us from being gods. The minimum wage, hate crime prohibition, public housing, income redistribution, and tax funding for welfare are all byproducts of an ideology that thinks it can it simply wipe away the laws that govern the world. What is not realized, or is willfully ignored, is the unseen, pernicious results of all government policy. Public debt brings the pretense of prosperity while avoiding the true cost. There are several economists who assert that government liabilities don’t really matter because, in the end, we owe it to ourselves. As Rothbard wrote back in the heyday of supply-side economics,
…at least, conservatives were astute enough to realize that it made an enormous amount of difference whether — slicing through the obfuscatory collective nouns — one is a member of the “we” (the burdened taxpayer) or of the “ourselves” (those living off the proceeds of taxation).
Since taxation is always and everywhere theft, the onlyjustified approach to government debt is total repudiation. The money that passes through the state’s hand to the creditor is tainted with the mark of crime. The correction would be tough, but the world would not end in flames. Another, less radical path is simply for the U.S. Treasury to cancel its debt held at the Federal Reserve. Since the Fed cannot go bankrupt due to the recent adoption of aquestionable accounting scheme, both entities would pretty much keep to their respective gimmicks to outrun an inherent insolvency.
The whole fulcrum of the bloated American state is beyond ready for a radical deconstruction. The same goes for most nation-states in the West. The continual borrowing, serviced indiscreetly by an accommodating central bank, has made an entirety of the populace fat and happy off of debt. Large pools of capital continue to be depleted with little refreshment. In 2008, there was a massive correction in this wholly destructive process, but it was averted through government intervention. The same easy credit policy that fueled the asset bubble-and-burst is beingreplicated at an unprecedented rated.
This is no realistic method for operating any institution. Something has to give eventually. The conservative will often pride himself on taking a realistic view on affairs. Refusing to see the train wreck that is Washington finances means putting one’s head in the sand and hoping for sunshine and lollipops. It’s the polar opposite of a sustainable yet measured outlook toward good living.
Any conservative who places high value on civil society over the intrusion of government should balk at the prospect of a higher debt load. It makes certain that the ruling political class will not cease in their effort to infiltrate private life. Unfortunately it appears as if some otherwise sharp minds have fallen prey to the liberal device of alarmism. Keeping the status quo is a nice goal if the present state of affairs is bucolic enough. But with an increasingly militarized domestic police presence combined with a massive surveillance apparatus that has made privacy into an anachronism, the times are far from serene. Taking a hardline on the national debt would go far in reducing both of these highly viable threats to peace.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A contrary view

Well, after finishing my first class for Nurse Practitioner school, I have a few days before the next class starts next week. Glancing at headlines here, life clearly goes on and changes very little. I read an article today here that I agree with quite a bit. It's actually quite a bad thing for Democrats so a few of you here might actually enjoy it.

I've long held the belief that herds of human beings are wrong. When stocks are going parabolic and sucks in the public, that is when the pros are selling. Politics is the same thing. Ever since Bush was elected in 2000, I watched shriekers from both political spheres of America confidently claim the end of somebody or something. And they have been wrong.

The Democrats right now seem to think they will gain something from this, and they are wrong. Not because I think a vast majority of people like the shutdown, but instead it's because it's no longer a big deal. Republicans in congress are truly hated. But the verbal abuse means nothing, and in fact, I think they enjoy it. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of them come from specially made districts they can't be turned out from. While people may yell about this and be pissed about it, the majority of America, essentially, can't do dick about it.

When Hilary Clinton pushed for national health care, the shrieking was endless, but we now have the ACA. When Newt shut down the government, there was a price paid. But just a short time later, America rewarded the Republicans with all three houses. Since Reagan, we have seen unions get destroyed, wages destroyed, benefits destroyed and the stage has been set to begin dismantling social security. Many claim we regulated ourselves to death, but, there is nothing but punditry to back that up and today we have mega corporations that, ironically, have a much bigger effect on small business than regulations do.

I've joked in the past that being out of power is the best thing that Republicans could hope for and it's pretty much no longer a joke. 30 states are under Republican control and increasingly, they are negating as much federal law as possible by, ironically, creating a buttload of local laws. National elections are essentially becoming a moot point. If you don't like something and can manipulate the rules to get your way, you can claim that what you are doing is to support the constitution by blocking it's power to legally enforce law.

It's disheartening to watch and school has actually been a nice distraction. But also a sad reminder. In school, you get to engage your brain with weighty intellectual pursuits. That shit means nothing to people who still believe Obama is from Kenya and who believe the government dominates their every move. This too will pass, but not for quite awhile. The new deal had a pretty long run before it became abused, and I say we have at least ten to fifteen years of the Reagan equivalent called the NO DEAL. About the time I'm 65, maybe we will have some years of peace and moderation. It's about all I'm looking forward to politically right now.

Let's Make A Deal!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate announced a last-minute deal on Wednesday to avert a historic lapse in the government's borrowing ability and a potentially damaging debt default, and to reopen the government after a two-week shutdown.
But even if the Senate and House of Representatives manage to overcome procedural hurdles to seal the deal before Thursday - when the Treasury says it will exhaust its borrowing authority - it will only be a temporary solution that sets up the prospect of another showdown early next year.
Major U.S. stock indexes rose more than 1 percent on optimism that lawmakers were finally reaching a deal to end the weeks-long fiscal impasse.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced the agreement on the Senate floor, where it was expected to win swift approval after a main Republican critic of the deal, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would not use procedural moves to delay a vote.
Weeks of bitter fighting among Democrats and Republicans over President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law led to a partial government shutdown on October 1, sidelining hundreds of thousands of federal workers. Cruz and other Republicans backed by the conservative, small government Tea Party movement want to repeal or delay the healthcare law.

The Government Shutdown and Our Permission Society

 Many private harms caused by the government shutdown are due to its own insistence on meddling in our lives.

“We need to get the government back to work so that America can get back to work”.  A curious statement from the Commerce Secretary.
This statement epitomizes the reasons why smaller government is a must. It is the main focus of Libertarians.  While the talking heads in Washington talk about the 800,000 federal workers who we now find will be held harmless in this shutdown, it is the tens of thousands of private workers who will bear the brunt of and out of control federal government that creates this dysfunction. 

The federal government has its tentacles into every facet of our lives and we become numb to their rules.  Commerce, much of which is only taking place within individual states, must comply with mountains of federal regulations and red tape to operate.  America was never meant to be that way.

One overriding example of this is the requirement for employers to check the citizenship status of anyone they wish to hire with E-verify.  E-verify is closed so positions, some perhaps essential to the business, can’t be filed.  This is a federal shift of responsibility to employers when the federal government refuses to do one of its primary functions.... secure the border.  

Craft brewers have many of their operations stymied because, regardless of the distribution, the federal governments ATF must approve applications for new or expanding breweries, recipes, and even labels.  This is how intrusive and abusive the Commerce clause has taken.  A micro brewery in Milwaukee will lose $8000 a month and people he had lined up to hire are all on hold, not just for the period of the shutdown but for the amount of time it will take to clear the backlog.
Fishermen in the Northwest require a federal license to catch fish and crabs......  It is now moving in to crab season but they can’t fish because of federal laws in coastal waters. Crab prices will rise as a result but you won’t see that as part of any inflationary effects because food isn’t factored.

Because the Johnson Space Center is closed, 3200 federal workers are furloughed.  They will receive back pay but the 11,000 private contractors who work there will not. They are not laid off and eligible for unemployment.... they are just out of work.

Probably the one thing I find so egregious about the size and impact of the federal government is the number of private business that are in dire straits because the derive much of their income from federal employees... eateries, convenience stores, cleaners etc.  Why are these people not supporting other workers in private enterprise?

The government is so involved in our lives that even basic commerce—simply hiring people—is threatened by political jockeying. Democratic Sen. Harry Reid attacked Republicans as “anarchists” for bringing about the shutdown. Nothing could be further from anarchy than fishing boats sitting idle, waiting for a government functionary to give sailors permission to work. And yet, the common response is anger about the government shutdown, not anger about having to jump through so many hoops in the first place.

We are hearing some encouraging signs though.... Washington is starting to experience a brain drain of junior staffers who, because of tightening budgets, must choose between a government job and a more lucrative position in a private firm... They are reluctant though... Job security with the federal government is so much better... Besides, with pockets as deep as the American taxpayer can dig, its only a matter of a ‘resolution’ that they get lost wages because of a shutdown... private industry doesn’t have the luxury, regardless of how fat you think the cats are....

Thoughts as to why we need a 27,000+ page tax code or regulations that implement the affordable healthcare act that are about 30 times the volume of the original law?  Why we allow the Commerce Law to effect private business that has nothing what so ever to do with interstate commerce?  Why private business is forced with the burden of so many federal regulations when, at the end of the day, it is the employer who puts up the time, money and risk to provide jobs and add to the real GDP?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exclusive: US Army Defines Christian Ministry as 'Domestic Hate Group'

Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values.
The briefing was held at Camp Shelby in Mississippi and listed the AFA alongside domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam.
A soldier who attended the briefing contacted me and sent me a photograph of a slide show presentation that listed AFA as a domestic hate group. Under the AFA headline is a photograph of Westboro Baptist Church preacher Fred Phelps holding a sign reading “No special law for f***.”
American Family Association has absolutely no affiliation with the controversial church group known for picketing the funerals of American service members.
“I had to show Americans what our soldiers are now being taught,” said the soldier who asked not to be identified. “I couldn’t just let this one pass.”
The soldier said a chaplain interrupted the briefing and challenged the instructor’s assertion that AFA is a hate group.
“The instructor said AFA could be considered a hate group because they don’t like gays,” the soldier told me. “The slide was talking about how AFA refers to gays as sinners and heathens and derogatory terms.”
The soldier, who is an evangelical Christian, said the chaplain defended the Christian ministry.
“He kept asking the instructor, ‘Are you sure about that, son? Are you sure about that?’” he said, recalling the back and forth.
Later in the briefing, the soldiers were reportedly told that they could face punishment for participating in organizations that are considered hate groups.
That considered, the soldier contacted me because he is a financial contributor to the AFA ministry.
“I donate to AFA as often as I can,” he said. “Am I going to be punished? I listen to American Family Radio all day. If they hear it on my radio, will I be faced with a Uniformed Code of Military Justice charge?”
The soldier said he was “completely taken back by this blatant attack not only on the AFA but Christians and our beliefs.”
It’s not the first time the Army has accused conservative Christian groups of being domestic hate groups.
Earlier this year, I exposed Army briefings that classified evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremism.
Another briefing told officers to pay close attention to troops who supported groups like AFA and the Family Research Council.
One officer said the two Christian ministries did not “share our Army Values.”
“When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values – don’t just walk by – do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem,” the officer wrote in an email to his subordinates.
At the time the military assured me those briefings were isolated incidents and did not reflect official Army policy.
If that’s true, how do they explain what happened at Camp Shelby?
I contacted the Pentagon for an answer but they referred me to Army public affairs. And so far – they haven’t returned my calls.
And their claim that the classifications are “isolated” is not washing with AFA.
“The American Family Association has received numerous accounts of military installations as well as law enforcement agencies using a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which wrongfully identifies and defames AFA,” reads a statement they sent me.
Bryan Fischer hosts a talk show on American Family Radio. He called the Army’s allegations “libelous, slanderous and blatantly false.”
“This mischaracterization of AFA is reprehensible and inexcusable,” he told me. “We have many military members who are a part of the AFA network who know these accusations are a tissue of lies.”
Fischer said their views on gay marriage and homosexuality are not hate – it’s simply a disagreement.
“If our military wasn’t headed by a commander-in-chief who is hostile to Christian faith, these allegations would be laughed off every military base in the world,” he said.
Hiram Sasser, of the Liberty Institute, told me the Army’s briefing is a smear.
He recalled what President Obama said last year when Muslim extremists attacked our diplomatic outpost in Libya.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths,” President Obama said. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
Sasser said he wished the president and the Army would treat the American Family Association with the same deference and respect they show those who mean to harm us.
“Why must the Army under this administration continue to attack Americans of faith and smear them?” Sasser wondered.
I fear the answer to that question.
Because it appears the Obama administration is separating the military from the American people – and planting seeds of doubt about Christians and some of our nation’s most prominent Christian ministries.

Media Silent as Democrats Take Country 'Hostage' to Demand More Spending

Who are the "hostage-takers" now? Convinced by opinion polls that the media will let them get away with it, Democrats are now refusing to pass a "clean" continuing resolution to end the government shutdown, as well as a straightforward debt ceiling increase, in order to undo the sequester cuts that went into effect earlier this year. They are the ones holding a gun to Republicans' heads, threatening default if their demands are not met.

 Just like Obamacare, the sequester--passed in the Budget Control Act of 2011--is the "law of the land." And yet Democrats want to undo it--or else they will keep nearly 400,000 federal employees out of work and let the country risk not paying its bills. Where is the outrage at this disgusting hypocrisy? Where are all the dire warnings about children with cancer and catastrophic interest rates and the end of civilization as we know it?

Democrats are threatening to destroy the economy unless they can increase government spending. And yet the media are silent, their corruption and mendacity on full display. The Wall Street Journal, for its part, is more interested in settling political scores than pointing out Democrats' hypocrisy: according to its editorial Monday, this is all Ted Cruz's fault: he weakened the GOP, provoking the Democrats, you see. Absurd.

So hell-bent are the mainstream media--even its nominally conservative elements--on punishing the Tea Party that they blame it for Democrats' misdeeds. Know that whenever a Democrat or a journalist (they are virtually one and the same) is accusing conservatives of putting politics ahead of the nation's welfare, he or she is exhibiting what psychologists call projection--accusing others of what you do. So it is with the sequester.

The Democrats' new demand should re-invigorate and unite House Republicans. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick "Dinner" Durbin and the rest want to change the Budget Control Act and increase spending, then they must swallow a one-year delay in the individual mandate of Obamacare. That would still be a bad deal for the country, which needs to cut spending and get rid of Obamacare. But it's politically fair.

And note where President Barack Obama is in all of this: nowhere. He, who in his imperial swagger declared Republicans arsonists for failing to pass a continuing resolution or a debt ceiling hike, has done nothing to insist on a deal, or keep his own party in line. Vice President Joe Biden, normally a back-room wheeler-dealer, spent the weekend on vacation at Camp David, open in the shutdown. And where are the media? Disgrace.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Google's new policy

Google announced that it can now use your name, photo and other personal information in advertisements.  If you do not wish for them to use your personal information in this way you can opt out. Here is part of the announcement:

When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.