Iguess we’ve moved into the realm of “guilty until you prove yourself innocent”:
The Republican House of Representatives may soon follow the Democratic Senate and give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport on mere suspicion of owing taxes. There’s no place like home, comrade.
‘America, Love It Or Leave It" might be an obsolete slogan if the "bipartisan transportation bill" that just passed the Senate is approved by the House and becomes law. Contained within the suspiciously titled "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act," or "MAP 21," is a provision that gives the Internal Revenue Service the power to keep U.S. citizens from leaving the country if it finds that they owe $50,000 or more in unpaid taxes — no court ruling necessary.
Note … “mere suspicion”. Like the IRS screws up its audit and thinks you owe more than you do (and at least $50k), your passport is yanked without going to court.
Let freedom ring, eh?
And, as the lede points out, it isn’t just the Democrats. Another attempt by both parties to shred the Constitution.
This is not the sort of power an unaccountable agency should be given. Any idea of how many people will suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of a suspicion they owe $50k or more in taxes? Whether true or not, with the power to grab your passport and only a suspicion needed (no court order), the IRS will likely “suspect” many people owe at least that much.
That’s certainly consistent with the history of such granted power. Go to the extreme quickly – there’s no reason not too. No penalty for them, certainly. Oh, you don’t owe $50k? Here’s your passport.
“Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century”?
Since when is changing the IRS to a form of the KGB a “move ahead?”
Whore-gate? Who is going to hang the “gate” on the Secret Service scandal?
But it is interesting, isn’t it? The head of the Secret Service claimed yesterday that the behavior of this team was not “indicative” of the rest of the Service’s behavior.
Yeah, sorry, I find that hard to believe, at least at this point. Something gave this team the belief that they could do what they did and get away with it. Leaders claiming such nonsense are always suspect. I just don’t buy into this one advance team being an outlier.
I would assume, as a matter of leadership, that more senior members of the service make it a point to travel with advance teams without advance notice just to see how well the teams function and do their job. Or at least I’d hope so.
Leadership is about supervision. It’s about getting off your rear and checking out how well your unit functions, how closely they follow SOP and how well leaders junior to you do their jobs.
Why am I getting the feeling that’s not the case in the Secret Service? Because of this fiasco in Columbia.
Now its been revealed that the President’s schedule was laying around in the hotel rooms they brought the hookers too. Security? Where?
I’ve also heard it said, mostly as an excuse, that they were “off duty”. Sorry, that’s a no-go. There are certain standards of conduct that are required in particular organizations that really never allow one to be “off duty”. What a member of that unit does even when not actively engaged in their job reflects on their organization and could compromise their integrity.
For instance, in this case, how difficult would it be to blackmail a Secret Service agent who knows that revealing his consorting with prostitutes would cost him his job?
This isn’t the first case of Agent misconduct. But it is the most widespread and possibly one of the worst cases. It speaks of a leadership problem to me. Someone in a leadership position was trusted to lead an advance team. That means those in higher leadership positions trusted this person to carry out the job professionally, morally and with integrity. Someone was very mistaken. That puts the entire leadership of the Secret Service under the microscope, not just this team.
The seriousness of this had me shake my head when I read this:
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Secret Service, is weighing whether to launch an investigation into the prostitution allegations.
Weighing whether to launch an investigation?
Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court concerning his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and the possibility of it being over turned can’t help but make one wonder how such an attack would be received by the public at large.
Well, if this Rasmussen poll is to be believed, not very well:
While President Obama cautioned the U.S. Supreme Court this past week about overturning his national health care law, just 15% of Likely U.S. Voters think the high court puts too many limitations on what the federal government can do.
In fact, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that twice as many–30%– believe the Supreme Court does not limit the government enough. Forty percent (40%) say the balance is about right, while 15% more are undecided.
So in the great scheme of things, given this poll is accurate, more Americans than not (in fact about twice as many) are concerned the Supreme Court doesn’t limit the government enough. Hmmm …. no leverage there for the administration.
In fact, 70% of Americans find that SCOTUS is about right or needs to limit government even more.
It points to an argument the administration can start, but is unlikely to win. In fact, it would appear that most Americans, according to this survey, see the SCOTUS as a vital governor on the engine of run-away government. And they surely don’t agree that the court has acted out of the main for the most part.
That, of course, doesn’t bode well for a campaign to smear the court, does it?
Let’s see if this administration realizes that and backs off or, as it has many times in the past, blindly and arrogantly charges on.
The owner of “Hands On Originals,” a well-known t-shirt company in the region, declined to print the shirts for the city’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) because it would conflict with their Christian convictions.
The privately owned company is now accused of violating Lexington’s Fairness Act – which protects people and organizations from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
An attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the T-shirt company says:
“No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”
But the city says:
“Hands On Originals” will be “required by law to participate in the investigation.”
“We have subpoena power and have the backing of the law,” he said. “We are a law enforcement agency and people have to comply.”
Should the company be found guilty of discriminating against the homosexuals Sexton said they could be subjected to fines.
Yes, friends, a city has a “human rights commission” which is considered a “law enforcement agency” that can force compliance with a law that would do precisely what the ADF lawyer claims it shouldn’t have the power to do.
You’d think there’d be a solution that could be reached well before this is escalated to the use of government coercion, doesn’t it? That is if all the GLSO wanted to do was buy T-shirts.
And, a solution was offered:
GLSO wanted “Hands On Original” to print shirts for the city’s fifth annual Lexington Pride Festival. The store offered to find another company that would honor its price – but that wasn’t good enough for the GLSO.
“Our feeling on that is, separate but equal wasn’t okay during the civil rights movement and it’s not okay now,” Aaron Baker told the television station. Baker is board president of GLSO.
That’s right, it is agenda time. This isn’t about T-shirts at all. It’s about forcing their one-way version of tolerance on someone. The irony is that GLSO appears to have absolutely no tolerance for the principles of the owners of the T-shirt company.
Which set me to wondering. Here’s a hypothetical for you. What if the owner of the T-shirt company was gay? And what if Westboro Baptist Church placed an order for 10 dozen T-shirts which said “God hates faggots” on them? What if the T-shirt shop owner refused the order because of his principles?
I’d guess no. In fact, I’d guess precisely the opposite reaction.
The T-shirt company owner wrote an op-ed for the paper explaining his point of view:
“I decided to pass on the opportunity because, as a Christian owner, I cannot in good conscience endorse groups or events that run counter to my convictions,” Adamson wrote in the op-ed.
Adamson, who has been in business for more than 20 years, wrote that he “does not expect, or even ask, people to agree with my view.”
“All I ask for people is to respect my right as an owner to not produce a product that is contrary to my principles,” he wrote.
Adamson called on people to stand up for the rights of small business owners not “to be forced into producing a product with a message that conflicts with their beliefs and consciences.”
The reaction was anything but tolerant or understanding of a differing view:
“Hands On Originals” has faced a barrage of attacks since the accusations were made public. More than 2,000 people have joined a boycott movement on Facebook. Another group is trying to buy the company’s mortgage so they can be evicted.
The Fayette County public school system placed a temporary hold on buying t-shirts from the company until the issue is resolved. The University of Kentucky is also reviewing its future business with the t-shirt maker.
Even Lexington’s openly gay mayor has condemned the privately-owned t-shirt company, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”
“I’m against discrimination, period,” Gray said in a statement released to television station WKYT. “It’s bad for business and bad for the city. I support the Human Rights Commission in a full and thorough investigation.”
Real tolerance is apparently unacceptable. The hypocrisy of GLSO is palpable. And trying to use the coercive power of government is disgusting.
Tolerance isn’t a one-sided principle. If one wants people to tolerate their beliefs and lifestyle, it is incumbent upon them to do the same for others. If they actually believe in true tolerance, that is.
What is clear here is GLSO doesn’t.
More disgusting, at least to me, is the inclusion of this ridiculous city level “human rights commission” as a law enforcement agency and it’s obvious intent to force “compliance” against the conscience and principles of the owner.
There was a problem (GLSO wanted T-shirts, T-shirt company refused due to conscience), an offered solution (T-shirt company offers to find another producer at same price) which was reasonable and a rejection of that solution because the group has an political agenda and wishes to force the company to violate its principles and conscience. And which side does government take?
The side that wants to use its coercive power to force that violation.
Let freedom ring.
There are times when even I’m a bit surprised at what manages to work its way out of our President’s mouth. After all, included in what little we do know about the guy is the claim that he was a “Constitutional lawyer”. He even taught that in Chicago to law students, or so we’re told.
Yet yesterday, in a press conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada he was asked about the pending Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare and said:
“I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected congress.”
I can’t imagine a more supremely arrogant and yet profoundly ignorant statement than that. Of course, at least in my day, most school children would have understood the ignorance of that statement.
I’ll illustrate it for you if necessary by adding a bit to his words:
“I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected congress that allows whites to lynch blacks.”
Obviously he’d be clamoring for the SCOTUS to overturn a law like that. And he wouldn’t hesitate to condemn the “strong majority of democratically-elected” officials that passed such a law n the first place (and lets pretend this was signed before he assumed office – you know, Bush did it). Strong majorities (in the case of ObamaCare it was 219 to 212) passing anything are irrelevant if what they pass is in conflict with the Constitution – period.
In the hypothetical most of us would immediately identify the fact that a) murder and lynching are not within the power of any majority to sanctify and certainly not a power granted in the Constitution and b) it is the job of the Supreme Court to strike down laws that are unconstitutional regardless of how strong the majority voting for it.
I can’t imagine a supposed, or at least self-described, Constitutional scholar making such an ignorant statement to begin with … but there it is. He then followed it up with this:
“I just remind conservative commentators that for years we have heard the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example and I am pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”
Smartest guy in the room? I’m sorry, but that just doubles down on ignorance.
As we’ve discussed (most recently on the podcast) it isn’t the job of the Supreme Court to do the job of Congress. Instead, its job is to determine whether or not what Congress has done is compliant with the limits the Constitution places on it. That’s it. There is nothing which requires the Supreme Court to “fix” laws that Congress has passed.
Justice Kennedy alluded to this when he said that the removal of the individual mandate would completely change the law in a way that was clearly not what Congress intended. Thus the “conservative” thing for the court to do would be to strike down the entire law and tell Congress to go back to work. Of course the Democrats and Obama know that if the entire law is struck down, the likelihood of it being “fixed”, given the Republican House, are remote. Thus we hear the usual nonsense about “judicial activism” and the other garbage Obama tossed out above making the rounds on the left.
Then there’s the remark about “an unelected group of people”. My goodness Constitutional scholar, they’re “unelected” and appointed for life for a reason. And that reason is to remove politics, as much as possible, from their deliberations and allow them to focus entirely on the law and Constitution. Obviously, it seems, politics haven’t been kept out of the Supreme Court, but for the President to take a juvenile shot like that at the Court while it is in deliberations is fairly outrageous.
Bottom line: If those Obama quotes now illustrate “Constitutional scholarship” in this day and age, this Republic is in very deep trouble.
I have to admit watching this “discussion” over the who, what, when, where and how of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman with disgust. I refrained from commenting on it when it first hit the news because I have learned enough over the years to recognize stories where one needs to let it develop a bit for all the facts to come out.
Of course that didn’t at all stop the usual suspects from pouncing on what seemed a perfect story with which they could push their favorite racial themes (Jesse Jackson’s “Blacks are under attack” for instance) and for others to involve themselves in something that they really have no business involving themselves in.
It has laid bare the polarization within this country and how extreme it has become.
The story, if you’ve taken time to research it, is nothing like the cut and dried “whitey killed a black man because he was black” meme the race baiters are pushing. In fact, if you’ve bothered to research the story, it appears that race had little if anything to do with this tragedy. It is not a racial issue, even if it has been portrayed as such by the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons and Louis Farrakhans of this world.
George Zimmerman, if anything, appears to have been an overzealous neighborhood watch person with a history of calling in suspicious activities he saw in his neighborhood. Treyvan Martin, who lived 250 miles away from that neighborhood, was apparently acting suspiciously (rummaging through garbage cans, etc.) when Zimmerman spotted him. I doubt that Zimmerman cared one whit what Martin’s skin color was at the time. Apparently somewhere during that time, a confrontation took place, a fight ensued and Zimmerman killed Martin with a shot to the chest.
A witness has come forward saying he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman punching him in the face. Martin, aged 17 and 6 foot 3, was not the innocent “child” the media has tried to portray. He was a probably bigger than Zimmerman and was on a 10 day suspension from school. Obviously that doesn’t justify killing him but it sheds a little different light on the situation.
I can’t get inside the heads of either of these people but is it reasonable to assume, given the situation, that Zimmerman might have feared for his life? Possibly. I don’t know – and neither does anyone else.
Does that justify the shooting. Again, I don’t know.
But of course all the race pimps do. Just ask them. And so they’ve essentially initiated a vendetta against George Zimmerman, who, by the way, isn’t white even though that assumption was immediately made by many given his name. Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian and of Indian stock.
An example of the thoughtless incitement that is going on can be found with none other than Spike Lee who, uninformed jerk that he is, published Zimmerman’s address on Twitter. Numerous threats to Zimmerman have been published on Twitter as well. The New Black Panthers have put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head. Louis Farrakhan tweeted that the “law of retribution may soon be applied”, a not-so-veiled threat against Zimmerman.
The irony, of course, is this is a typical lynch mob mentality being stirred up here. These are calls for violence outside the law.
No one is claiming that George Zimmerman isn’t at fault here. He may very well be. We don’t know yet. That’s for a court of his peers to decide. Certainly not a marginally informed and inflamed mob. If something happens to Zimmerman before his day in court, you can most likely look to the digital lynch mob for the source. I’ve always considered the racist white lynch mobs of the past to be one of the most horrific and disgusting manifestations of the racism of the past. I find what is happening now no less horrific or disgusting.
There’s also another reason this is on the national radar. And it has nothing to do with race. I’ll let my favorite leftist hack columnist at the New York Times lay it out for you:
Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy — and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.
If you are inclined to want to see guns controlled or banned and citizens required to flee any sort of confrontation vs. defending themselves, Paul Krugman is right there with you and has the goods on this now “infamous” law.
Except, as usual, it is a mish-mash of half-truths and innuendo cobbled together to make you think that corporate America is actually the villain in all of this.
We talked about this case on the podcast last night. What is going on right now is all too predictable. And it again points out how polarized this country is. And it isn’t getting less polarized.
Final thought. As I recall, President Obama was supposed to be the “post-racial” President, or that was his claim. Yet he has inserted himself in two local incidents that I know of (the Skip Gates incident being the first) and inflamed the incidents with his remarks. That, my friends, is not leadership.
But then, he’s not a leader, and those of us who have actually been in leadership positions in our lives have known that from the beginning. Instead he has difficulty denying his liberal roots and not succumbing to their siren call.
He’s an agitator. And, as usual, he’s stepped in on something he should have stayed out of and made it far worse. Inserting himself has given impetus, cover and justification for the Frarrakhans, Lees, Jacksons, Sharptons and the New Black Panthers to do what they’re doing. Instead of calming the waters and talking about trusting the legal system and letting it do its work, he’s done exactly the opposite.
Congrats, Mr. Prez. If anything happens to Zimmerman, you’re on the hook too as far as I’m concerned.
The war against private property proceeds apace with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals deciding that while you have a right to keep and bear arms, that right doesn’t extent to you keeping or bearing a particular arm. Check out how the AP professionally and reports this in an unbiased manner:
A federal judge correctly dismissed a lawsuit against the city of New Orleans by a man who claimed that local law-enforcement authorities violated his constitutional right to bear arms, a divided panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Errol Houston Jr. sued after the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office refused to return a registered gun that police seized when he was arrested in 2008 on drug and firearms charges that were later dropped.
Emphasis mine. “Correctly”? No opinion injected there, huh?
At least one judge didn’t share that opinion on the panel. But back to the majority point:
U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey dismissed the claims in December 2010, saying Houston failed to allege sufficient facts to show how authorities violated his right to bear arms by retaining his pistol.
In its majority opinion, a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit said some regulation of firearms falls outside the reach of the Second Amendment, just as obscenity and defamation aren’t protected as free speech by the First Amendment.
"The right protected by the Second Amendment is not a property-like right to a specific firearm, but rather a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense," Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale wrote.
Emphasis mine. Well how the hell do you do that if you don’t enjoy a right to property, i.e. the right to the freakin’ gun necessary to exercise the right?
Imagine the police setting up a roadblock and confiscating all weapons while telling you that you’re still entitled to your 2nd amendment rights, just not the right to this particular gun for whatever reason they choose to invoke?
Seems to me the 5th Circuit would endorse that.
The dissenting judge wrote:
In her dissenting opinion, however, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said she disagrees with the majority’s conclusion that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual’s right to a specific firearm unless the government has prevented that person from acquiring others.
Elrod argued the majority impermissibly treated the Second Amendment as a "second-class right" by carving out an exception.
"It is particularly unfortunate for our circuit to endorse the atextual, ahistorical rule that the Second Amendment does not protect particular firearms," she wrote.
More importantly, this is government deciding it can violate the property rights of a gun owner whenever it wishes too with no penalty for doing so. This isn’t a 2nd amendment case. It’s a property rights case.
Remember my “hypothetical” about the traffic stop above. It’s not too far off the mark:
Houston sued the city, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and former Police Superintendent Warren Riley in July 2009, nearly a year after Cannizzaro’s predecessor dropped the charges against him stemming from a traffic stop.
Houston claimed Cannizzaro’s office had a policy of retaining firearms following arrests regardless of whether charges are filed. During an interview in 2009, Cannizzaro said his office decides on a "case by case basis" whether to return confiscated guns.
"There is no policy that we will not return weapons," he said.
Screw your policy or lack there of. The point is, Mr, Cannizzaro, you have no right to keep it. Keeping it is theft and a violation of the owner’s property rights, plain and simple.
For once, I’m with the ACLU … appeal this. This is a gross miscarriage of justice.
But suing to make the theaters reduce the price? Really?
Joshua Thompson loves the movies.
But he hates the prices theaters charge for concessions like pop and candy.
This week, the 20-something security technician from Livonia decided to do something about it: He filed a class action in Wayne County Circuit Court against his local AMC theater in hopes of forcing theaters statewide to dial down snack prices.
"He got tired of being taken advantage of," said Thompson’s lawyer, Kerry Morgan of Wyandotte. "It’s hard to justify prices that are three- and four-times higher than anywhere else."
I usually don’t go to movies. Believe it or not, since I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to get motion sickness in a theater if there is a lot of action on the screen. It’s weird but that happens to me (also happens with first person shooter games).
But, when I did go, I never went to the concession stand. I agree with Thompson, prices are too high and I’m not willing to pay them. However, I’m also not willing to use the force of government to “force” prices down, for heaven sake.
The way consumers make this point is to quit buying the stuff. Yeah, it takes will. It takes perseverance. It takes a collective action over time. But what it should never take is bringing government in to it.
The suit accused AMC theaters of violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by charging grossly excessive prices for snacks.
The suit seeks refunds for customers who were overcharged, a civil penalty against the theater chain and any other relief Judge Kathleen Macdonald might grant.
So who gets to decide what is a fair price? A judge? Or the consumer? How does the consumer decide what a “fair price” is? By not paying what he or she considers to be an unfair price. That’s how. Not by going to the state and attempting to use its power to force a lower price.
No one forces anyone to go to a movie, pay what they’re asking or eat their snacks. Everyone of those is an individual decision and choice. Just as we decide not to buy other products we can’t afford or think are priced too high, it is up to us to make the same sort of decision at a theater concession stand. If enough refuse to buy, it will eventually come to the attention of the theater chains. That’s how pricing is set by markets (you know, all that talk about pricing signals and such?). And the state has no business being involved in that system whatsoever, either legislatively or judicially (and the law suit probably won’t go anywhere, I understand that, but I’m addressing the mindset).
The invaluable Warren Meyer at Coyote blog (one of my all time favs) has a great article up on protectionism and why its something we should be avoiding.
President Obama used a lot of his state of the union address again teeing up what sounded to me like a new round of protectionism. Protectionism is the worst form of crony capitalism, generally benefiting a handful of producers and their employee to the detriment of 300 million US consumers and any number of companies that use the protected product as an input.
The example he uses? Sugar. What industry does it protect and subsidize in the end? The producers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). And what does the government tell us about HFCS?
It’s bad for us. Sugar would be preferable.
So why do we continue to use it in place of sugar? Protectionism. Look at the chart he includes:
The chart says it all. With the tariff added, look at the average US cost of sugar vs. the world’s average cost.
As Meyer points out though, that’s not how this gets spun:
Food activists on the Left often point to the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as one of those failures of capitalism, where rapacious capitalists make money serving an inferior product. But HFCS resulted from a scramble by food and beverage companies to find some reasonable alternative to sugar as the government has driven up sugar prices through a crazy tariff system that benefits just a tiny handful of Americans, and costs everyone else money.
Yup, the usual, convenient and usually wrong whipping boy – “market failure”.
When a tariff is involved, you’ve just moved out of the realm of real capitalism and into the realm of crony capitalism. This has nothing to do with markets failing. This has to do with the usual – government intrusion using their monopoly power of force which then distorts a market and causes users of the product whose price they chose to artificially inflate with a tariff to seek lower cost alternatives.
Remember, the same government that is claiming HFCS isn’t good for you is the one that’s also made it impossible to use a product that it claims is better for you (in relative terms of course):
For the last 10 years or so, HFCS-42 has actually traded at a price higher than the world market price for sugar, but lower than the US price for sugar. There is a lot complexity to prices, but this seems to imply that HFCS would not be nearly as attractive a substitute for sugar if US sugar tariffs did not exist (not to mention subsidies of corn which support HFCS). This can also be seen in the fact that HFCS has not been used nearly so often as a sugar substitute in markets outside of the US, even by the same manufacturers (like Coke) that pioneered its use in the US.
Or, if markets had been left alone, all indications are we’d be using lower cost sugar right now.
Meanwhile the government protects and subsidizes an industry that makes a product it says is worse for you .