Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

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A few thoughts on Ferguson

As I watch this nonsense in Ferguson, I’m simply reminded of the daily fare of poor television that reality shows bring us.  That’s all Ferguson is.  Give a promise of fame, indulge self-importance, ignore facts and film. That’s the formula.  It’s “good TV” and the media has been as complicit as anyone in the result.  In fact, they’ve egged it on.  Remove the spotlight and the interest wanes.

Instead we’ve seen a steady drumbeat of coverage, almost a countdown to the Grand Jury findings and, as usual, a trial by media.

The facts don’t matter.  The findings of the Grand Jury have to be racist because the court of public opinion, sans few if any concrete facts, has already found the officer guilty.  Does anyone even pretend to believe that if that crowd last night had been able to find officer Wilson that he wouldn’t have later been found hanging from a lamp post?

This, as with the Trayvon Martin case, is a media event.   You only have to look at all the disparate groups who’ve camped out in Ferguson since the Brown killing to gather that.  The usual groups have gone through some incredible contortions to make Brown’s death relevant to their cause.   And, of course, with the media lights on, the usual suspects among the race baiters are there as well, preening and goading.

Are there grievances?  I’m sure there are.  But burning out your neighborhood isn’t the way to settle them.  I’m still trying to figure out what Panera Bread did to deserve to be torched other than be in the wrong location.  This is beyond “civil disobedience”.  This is criminal destruction.  And yet, when this is all said and done, the denizens of the neighborhood are going to demand these businesses build again.  I know what my answer would be – “you made a desert, now live in it”.

Anyway, the bottom line here is I don’t take reality shows seriously.  Nor should you.

~McQ

Legalizing their servants

Short one today (Hagel is gone … meh, no surprise), but so indicative of the leftists we’re most familiar with – in this case Hillary Clinton:

While speaking at a swanky event Friday night in New York City, Hillary Clinton speculated about the immigration status of the people serving food and beverages at the gala.

“This is about people’s lives, people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight.”

Ah, the “little people.”  The people there to serve her highness and her ilk (and to fall in line and vote properly, of course).  Can’t have a plantation without a few slaves.

What do you say about something like that? Amazingly disconnected.  Absurdly condescending.  And, of course, a slap in the face of all those who played by the rules and did it within the law.

But she wants to be your chief law enforcer if you’ll just vote for her.

~McQ

Poverty at 50 year high, labor participation at 36 year low – we need more low wage workers!

It simply doesn’t make sense in any sort of context that says the job of the President of the United States is to look after the welfare of the country’s citizens:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

The true indicator of the actual unemployment rate is the labor participation rate. It is at a 36 year low. The fudged numbers used by the US government hides the actual depth of joblessness problem. And, frankly, it’s a “buyers market” in the labor market. Lots of labor competition for few jobs. That’s one reason you don’t see incomes rising and you do see underemployed Americans.

So let’s introduce about 5 million illegal workers from other countries and enable them to compete in an already depressed labor market and while we’re at it, let’s agitate for a raise in the minimum wage.

Mind blown.  How do you square that sort of action with your oath of office if you’re the President of the United States?

Idiot-in-chief.

~McQ

The media strikes back

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise:

Several networks won’t be carrying President Obama’s prime-time address on immigration Thursday night from the White House.

ABC, CBS and Fox are saying they won’t air the president’s speech live; NBC also reportedly isn’t planning to carry his address.

With polls saying that only 38% of Americans support his intent to use his executive power to provide amnesty to a portion of illegal aliens here in the US, there’s certainly no ratings upside to televising it.  And, in fact, there may be a little payback involved:

There was also griping among the White House press corps Wednesday at Mr. Obama using a Facebook video post to announce the timing of tonight’s address, rather than using the traditional media.

A television correspondent asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest if the move was “a thank you” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who helped launch the immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us that is aiding the administration’s push for immigration changes.

Mr. Earnest denied the White House was playing favorites with Facebook, but said it was a good way to reach the president’s audience.

“The good news is that the wires, the networks and the press corp are all on Facebook,” Mr. Earnest said. “We don’t have to choose.”

The denial comes as no particular surprise – this administration denies everything.  As for choice, the White House did choose, and it chose to snub the White House press corps and the networks.  Apparently it finds their reaction to the snub problematic.

White House officials are expressing annoyance with the networks’ decision, saying that all major networks aired a prime-time address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 when he announced the deployment of national guard troops at the U.S-Mexico border.

Well perhaps that was because the Bush administration included the networks in its announcement of his speech.  The fact that the big 4 (if NBC refuses to carry it as well) are not going to carry it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen live if you’re so inclined to view it:

Two networks with Hispanic audiences, Univision and Telemundo, will air the president’s address live. CNN, MSNBC and PBS also plan to broadcast live.

But the bottom line of this little dust up is it appears that at least some of the networks are willing to strike back a bit at the White House press operation and it’s treatment of an unhappy White House press corps.  Now if we could get some actual unbiased and factual coverage from that press corps that would be a bonus.  Being water carriers hasn’t worked out very well for them, has it?

~McQ

Would the GOP actually have the will to do this?

If, no, when President Obama issues his executive orders addressing immigration, Republicans are going to be faced with making some decisions about how to address those EOs. One of the ideas recently floated comes from the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and considers involving the House’s “power of the purse”, aka, defunding. The interesting point is that the rescission power rests with the President granted under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. However, Congress has used it in the past (without presidential direction) as Chairman Rogers notes:

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pitched GOP colleagues on a plan to rescind funding for targeted programs in the next Congress to respond to President Obama’s planned executive amnesty, throwing a new idea into a ring already full of them.

“Chairman Rogers just got up and said if we pass an omnibus and then the president does this executive amnesty, he said we can rescind it, and we can rescind it with 218 and 51 and we don’t need the president. That’s what he just told me. I’ve never heard that before,” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a key conservative lawmaker who has emerged as a leader in crafting strategy on the issue.

The idea startled GOP members who, according to Salmon, hadn’t contemplated the strategy until now. And Rogers had difficulty explaining the idea to a scrum of reporters given that the last time it was used was the 1990s. “I don’t think any of you have ever seen a rescission bill!” Rogers said.

“There’s any number of possibilities including rescission of spending after the fact. One of the difficulties we’re having is we really don’t know what actions he plans to actually take. When Livingston took over as chairman, he proposed and passed rescissions of spending bills that after the fact took away money that had been appropriated for an agency,” Rogers added.

The reason he’s talking about “after the fact” is Congress is currently engaged in trying to pass a huge spending bill and that will likely take priority. Once passed, then it will likely address anything that Obama has directed via EO.  Also note that rescission bills are very rare – Congress isn’t about cutting spending or defunding much of anything.

However that are a number of Republicans that don’t even want the spending bill passed until next year:

Many Republicans are pushing to punt significant legislative action, including an omnibus spending bill, until the next Congress, when the GOP will have more leverage and control, given their control of the upper chamber.

Whatever the eventual plan, the next two months should be quite interesting.  However, should they pass the spending bill before the next Congress, rescission provides a path for the GOP to cut funding to the programs that Obama targets with his EOs and trigger quite a nasty political battle next year.

~McQ

For Senate Dems, ideological loyalty trumps collegiality

Desperate for something positive to put before Louisiana voters prior to her Senate run-off, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is looking for an apparently illusive 60th Senate vote – from her Democratic colleagues.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and other supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are stuck at 59 votes — one vote shy of the supermajority they need to move their bill forward on Tuesday.

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Monday that they would vote against moving forward with the legislation, making it unclear whether supporters had a path to the magic number of 60.

Rockefeller had appeared to be one of the last possible converts Monday evening, and supporters were pressuring the retiring senator to join their side.

But he told reporters on Monday that he was firmly against the proposed pipeline: “I’ll be voting ‘no,’ ” he said.

Landrieu seems to think she has it, but the numbers don’t add up, at least at this point.  There may still be some hope for her, but it is slim:

Every Republican in the Senate is expected to back the measure, and 10 Democrats have signed on to legislation that Landrieu is sponsoring, along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) have also promised Landrieu that they will vote in favor of the pipeline, which would carry fuel from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast.

That gives Landrieu a firm 59 votes, but it’s not enough to move forward.

With Rockefeller a “no,” the best hope for Landrieu might be Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), who told reporters on Monday that he is leaning against the measure.

Noting that he could be a pivotal vote, King also said of the roll call vote on Tuesday: “Wait till they get to the Ks.”

Sen. Chris Coons, who was previously considered a firm “no” on the Keystone vote has been talking to Landrieu about the bill.

“He cares for Senator Landrieu a lot, so he’s listening to what she has to say,” Coon’s spokesman Ian Koski said in an email Monday evening.

“But I have no reason to believe his position has changed,” Koski added.

And, of course, even if she does manage to convert one of those two, which seems unlikely, there’s Obama:

Even if the legislation is approved by the Senate, however, it is likely to be vetoed by Obama.

He said last week that lawmakers should not “short-circuit” the federal review of the pipeline that is already underway.

“I’ve been clear in the past. … My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed,” Obama said at a press conference in Burma.

This is Obama thinking he’s playing “hard ball”.  In fact, it is Obama playing his favorite game, throwing someone under the bus.  So it’s likely “good bye Senator Landrieu”.  The fact that Keystone would create jobs in a down economy is moot.  Ideology trumps.  And it is much more important, after the drubbing the voters gave the green agenda early in the month, to keep the Tom Steyers of the world happy than it is to support one unimportant Senator in a mostly red state anyway.  Her reward for voting for and supporting ObamaCare in the Senate?  Stiffed in her hour of need by her party.  Irony.

Landrieu, naturally, will blame her pending loss on the “racism” and “sexism” of the South – after serving 18 years in the Senate.

~McQ

Immigration: Political integrity, or the lack thereof

In his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope”,  then Senator Barack Obama laid out the argument against illegal immigration:

“[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border—a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before.”

”Not all these fears are irrational,” he wrote.

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama noted. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole—especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan—it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

So why is he now contemplating doing, in a down economy with high unemployment and high deficits (and stretched welfare system), exactly what he previously claimed was harmful to America and its workers?  Has he somehow “evolved” in his thinking to a belief that his logically sound 2006 argument is now poppycock?  That flooding the US with immigrant workers will somehow keep wages up and not put a strain on the “already overburdened safety net?”  It seems pretty counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

But then, let us not forget that this is the guy who condemned George W. Bush for his use of executive orders and executive overreach and promised not to do it if he were elected to the presidency:

 “I taught constitutional law for ten years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that were facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.”

Of course, he hasn’t “reverse[d]” it, has he?  And past public polls have shown an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t support the use of executive orders to circumvent Congress (and let us not forget that he had an overwhelming Democratic majority for his first two years in office and essentially ignored the immigration issue).

Ross Douthat summarizes:

So there is no public will at work here. There is only the will to power of this White House.

Which is why the thinking liberal’s move, if this action goes forward, will be to invoke structural forces, flaws inherent in our constitutional order, to justify Obama’s unilateralism. This won’t be a completely fallacious argument: Presidential systems like ours have a long record, especially in Latin America, of producing standoffs between executive and legislative branches, which tends to make executive power grabs more likely. In the United States this tendency has been less dangerous — our imperial presidency has grown on us gradually; the worst overreaches have often been rolled back. But we do seem to be in an era whose various forces — our open-ended post-9/11 wars, the ideological uniformity of the parties — are making a kind of creeping caudillismo more likely.

But if that evil must come, woe to the president who chooses it. And make no mistake, the president is free to choose. No immediate crisis forces his hand; no doom awaits the country if he waits. He once campaigned on constitutionalism and executive restraint; he once abjured exactly this power. There is still time for him to respect the limits of his office, the lines of authority established by the Constitution, the outcome of the last election.

Or he can choose the power grab, and the accompanying disgrace.

And there’s little doubt, he will choose the latter and further add to his reputation as someone who has no political integrity at all.

~McQ

If anyone else did this, it would be prosecuted as “FRAUD”!

Actually, the “American voter” wasn’t as stupid, as Jonathan Gruber claimed, because, as he admits numerous times, they had to resort to outright fraud to get the ACA past those voters.  Brian Faughnan summarizes:

So Gruber is previously on the record saying Obamacare subsidies are available ONLY in states that set up exchanges – not in all states. He has also said the law was sold in a deceptive way to fool stupid voters. Now we see him claim that the Affordable Care Act was actually a way to get rid of employer-provided health care, but it had to be done secretly so the American people would go along with it:

“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans…

Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.

“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans,” Gruber said.

But to these ethically crippled jerks, it’s not fraud, it’s “clever(ness)”:

A video that surfaced this week shows Gruber telling a Rhode Island audience in 2012 how the feds will collect a tax on high-end policies without families realizing they’re actually paying the tax via insurers: “(I)t’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

Basic “exploitation” – comforting to know that your government actually and purposely was deceitful with the aim of  fooling the public into accepting something the law wasn’t.  Name a fraudster anywhere who doesn’t think he’s “clever”.

Now tell me — what do we usually call such attempts?

FRAUD.

And what do we do with those who attempt to defraud the public?

We put them in jail.

But, you know, that would be “accountability”.

We apparently don’t do “accountability” in the US.  So fraudsters are free to brag about how they did what they did without worrying about facing any consequences.

And the left – well, here’s what they’re worried about:

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Gruber’s remarks in general were “very harmful politically to the president.”

~McQ

It’s not about “climate change”, it’s about power and control

Concerning “climate change” and Obama’s “deal” with China, Roger L. Simon nails it:

1. Most Americans don’t think Obama tells the truth about anything, let alone something as controversial as climate. They just made that clear by voting him down in about 237 elections, if you believe Obama’s own assertion that his own policies were on trial.

2. No one really knows if “climate change” exists or, if it does, whether its danger is remotely worth the money to correct it, although we do know that “global warming” has not occurred for eighteen years and counting and there is, if anything, global cooling with record lows being set everywhere, the Antarctic ice cap also at record levels, etc.  (Yes, yes, climate is not weather, blablabla.  Climate is… anything you want to say it is.)

3.  Anyone who still believes in “climate change” is likely to be:  a. a profiteer (like the financial wizards who put together those “carbon exchanges” a few years back, making off with billions before they went belly up), b. a scientist looking for a handout,  c. a bureaucrat or official of a Third World country looking for a handout, d. an official of the UN (virtually the same as c),  e. a moral narcissist, preferably rich, who thinks he knows better than us idiots, scientific training not required (cf. Tom Steyer, this year’s George Soros wannabe),  f. a true-believing liberal camp follower of the sort that doesn’t care when Nancy Pelosi says you have to pass Obamacare in order to know what’s in it (this is the largest group), or g. a journalist blinded by panic about losing their job if they dare to tell even part of the truth or wander off the reservation.

However it is the opponents of this scam who are reviled and called “deniers”.

The fact is, there is no proof that what the alarmists fear exists or will exist.  Science doesn’t support their hypothesis and reality doesn’t support the conclusions of their modeling.  But the man who said that “science” would take precedence in his administration has yet to demonstrate that.  This is about control.  Power.  This is the crew that would tell you every step of the way how you should live your life.  They’ve now gotten their claws into your healthcare.  And this helps them control what energy you use and, by the way, literally creates a revenue stream out of thin air.  Revenue streams are important, because that’s one way they exert their control.

As for China – they too know this man as Simon points out:

How do the Chinese figure in all this? Since they break into practically every computer we own, we can assume they also read our newspapers and watch Fox News (maybe even MSNBC, Heaven help them).  Besides Obama’s being a lame duck who was clobbered in the last election, they are fully aware of his myriad lies and prevarications from “If like your plan…” to red lines in Syria.  No one trusts him, even members of his own party.

The Chinese therefore know any deal with Obama is just for show, meaningless.  But to make doubly sure, they arranged for the language in the agreement to say “intend” to reduce their emissions by such-and-such by 2020 — “intend,” the mother of all wiggle words.  (I “intend” to win the Oscar in 2016, even though I have not written the script yet.) Actually, the Chinese, as usual, did a brilliant job of using Obama for their own propaganda, knowing full well that he was desperate to be back in the news for something positive, preferably as far from D.C. as possible.

January, 2017 can’t come soon enough.

~McQ

 

Climate change “deal” with China just an excuse for executive action

Given this “deal”, Obama seems to be a used car salesman’s dream, but I’ve come to believe there is a method to this madness.  And it is madness:

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. has set a new goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 percent and 28 percent over the next 11 years as part of a climate change agreement with China. 

The new target is a drastic increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. By contrast, Obama’s counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not pledge any reductions by a specific date, but rather set a target for China’s emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels. China’s emissions have grown in recent years due to the building of new coal plants.

“This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama told a news conference in Beijing, with Xi at his side. “It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”

No.  No it’s not anywhere near a “milestone” at all.  If that’s the “deal”, he was owned by the Chinese premier.  Instead it is another bad deal used to push an ideological desire.  This certainly won’t be ratified as a treaty with a GOP Congress (if it is even submitted as a treaty).  And anyone who thinks China won’t ignore, or unilaterally extend its 2030 peak use simply knows nothing about how China works.

So the “King” will, apparently, do further damage to the economy by using this bit of nonsense as his catalyst for umpteen executive orders because, you know he has a pen, a phone and an ideology.

Thank goodness that only lasts for 2 more years with a GOP Congress (assuming the GOP Congress has any fiscal balls when it comes to defunding the stupidity he commits to his “executive actions”).  If you loved ObamaCare you’re going to rave about this bit of economic stupidity.

In the meantime, grab your wallets and bend over, here it comes again.

~ McQ

 

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