Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Today’s GOP: Proud of going to the left of Obama with the Farm Bill

I told you a while back how I get email from politicians that I never asked for and from which I can’t opt out because they don’t give any mechanism for that. I got a real doozy yesterday.

It’s from Marlin Stutzman, Congressman from Indiana, bragging about separating the Farm Bill out from a bunch of other Ag Department stuff: 

Transparent government won an important victory today. Conservatives seized an opportunity to split the Farm Bill, a landmark reform that breaks the unholy alliance between food stamps and agriculture policy. For the first time since the 1970’s taxpayers will have an honest look at how Washington spends their money on agriculture and food stamp policy.

At first I thought that sounded pretty good. Then I read what Heritage had to say about this “landmark reform” (found via Instapundit and Megan McArdle):

Supporters of this farm-only farm bill wasted the golden opportunity that separation could have provided: the ability to promote policies that benefit taxpayers, farmers, and consumers in a fiscally responsible way. With the passage of this bill, the House has gone even further to the left than the Senate bill. It would spend more money than Obama on the largest farm program, crop insurance [emphasis mine].

On top of all this, the process House Republicans used to get this 600-plus-page bill to the floor in a mere 10 hours essentially violates their own promise to conduct business in an open and transparent manner [emphasis mine]. They prohibited legislators from introducing amendments. And, they played a game of bait and switch by claiming this bill was the same text from the failed House farm bill of a few weeks ago.

In fact, they made this new bill even worse—by making sneaky changes to the bill text so that some of the costliest and most indefensible programs no longer expire after five years, but live on indefinitely. This means the sugar program that drives up food prices will be harder to change, because it doesn’t automatically expire. It also means the new and radical shallow loss program that covers even minor losses for farmers will indefinitely be a part of the law.

Note the sleazy irony. Congressman Stutzman starts by bragging about transparency in a bill that was passed in a process that was about as transparent as toxic sludge.

This is today’s GOP – paying off their corporate cronies and bragging about how transparently they did it. 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 11 Jul 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.2 points to -27.3 in the latest week, which is a 5-year high.

Initial jobless claims rose 16,000 to 360,000. The 4-week average rose 6,000 to 351,750, while continuing claims rose 24,000 to 2.977 million.

Export prices fell -0.1% in June, while import prices fell -0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are up 0.8% while import prices are up 0.2%.

June’s US Treasury budget shows a rare surplus of $116.5 billion, more than half of which is a bailout repayment of $66 billion by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Fed reports that the M2 money supply grew by $81.1 billion in the latest week.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Reid under pressure to use “nuclear option” to limit minority party power (update)

You remember the post I did about the presidential appointments to the NLRB that were deemed by all but the Democrats to be illegal?

Well, there’s a move afoot to use what is being referred to as the “nuclear option” to fix that.  The Washington Examiner explains:

Senate Democrats are considering invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” which would curb the minority party’s use of the filibuster and prevent Republicans from blocking presidential nominations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled privately to President Obama that he may change Senate rules this month so it would take only 51 votes – instead of the current 60 – to approve judicial and executive branch nominees.

Democrats now control 55 Senate votes. Republicans have 45, but the GOP often still asserts itself by using the filibuster to keep nominations or legislation from coming to a vote.

Republicans charge that imposing the nuclear option would virtually eliminate the minority party’s chief means of keeping the majority in check and jeopardize any potential bipartisan agreements on top-priority legislation, including immigration reform, the budget and tax reform.

So, what would happen in the case of the NLRB appointments?  If Reid (who by the way, adamantly opposed such a rule change when he was in the minority and spoke eloquently  – well as eloquently as is possible for Harry Reid – about how it destroyed the rights of the minority) does this, then 51 Democrats will dutifully line up and “legalize” the NLRB without the minority party having had any voice in the matter.

That’s not how our republic was supposed to function.  In fact, our founders were just as adamant as Reid was previously about minority rights.  James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, “the great danger in republics is that the majority will not respect the rights of minority.” President Thomas Jeffersonproclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”

Reid, of course, now believes that to be poppycock.  Instead he’d prefer that the minority simply hush and let he and the Democrats appoint whomever they wish whenever they wish.  Of course, we all know how quickly his position would change should he suddenly become the minority leader again.  And that should tell you all you need to know about why this is a terrible idea and one that he nor the Democrats would stand for were they on the other side of the line.

But then, political expediency seems to trump statesmanship today and we’re all the worse for it.

UPDATE: Ah, the other shoe drops:

The Hill reports: “The nuclear option strategy is gaining momentum in the Senate in part because of growing pressure from organized labor, which wants Reid to break the impasse over the NLRB.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka … will call for rules changes at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, Wednesday morning.”

Payoff time.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Arrogance and ignorance on display on D.C. City Council

What they’ve done is pretty typical of liberal governments everywhere.  They are arrogant with their power and totally ignorant of the economic impact their decision will have on the city.  But boy did they strike out at big box stores and do they feel good about it:

D.C. lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill requiring some large retailers to pay their employees a 50 percent premium over the city’s minimum wage, a day after Wal-Mart warned that the law would jeopardize its plans in the city.

That’s right, the hated Wal-Mart must pay more because retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger will be required to pay employees no less than $12.50 an hour.

No arbitrary or capriciousness there, huh?  Not a discriminatory law at all.  And who cares, right, because as one of the council members says:

“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” said council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a lead backer of the legislation, who added that the city did not need to kowtow to threats. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

Yeah, retailers need them.

Really?  That’s what he thinks.  What if retailers decide they don’t need them?  Not only do the goods go away, but so do the jobs.  So $12.50 times zero gives you what?  It gives you this:

“Nothing has changed from our perspective,” Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said in a statement after the vote, reiterating that the company will abandon plans for three unbuilt stores and “review the financial and legal implications” of not opening three others under construction.

So 6 stores and the jobs that go with them … poof, gone.  Oh, and this is gone as well:

Well before it had any solid plans to open stores in the District, Wal-Mart joined the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and began making inroads with politicians, community groups and local charities that work on anti-hunger initiatives.

The campaign was matched with cash. Through its charitable foundation, Wal-Mart made $3.8 million in donations last year to city organizations including D.C. Central Kitchen and the Capitol Area Food Bank, according to a company spokesman.

Yeah, there you go.  That’s worth it isn’t it?  6 x no jobs and about $4 million in charitable contributions to help those in need in the area … gone.  Just to make a political statement and display for all their insufferable arrogance and their economic ignorance.

Of course, all of these unintended consequences will likely go unnoticed by the usual suspects while they cheer the council slapping Wal-Mart around.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Congress? Who needs Congress? And the Constitution? Forget about it

That’s preciesly what this administration and president have done. Bypassed Congress and trashed the Constitution:

The employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act contains no provision allowing the president to suspend, delay or repeal it. Section 1513(d) states in no uncertain terms that “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.” Imagine the outcry if Mitt Romney had been elected president and simply refused to enforce the whole of ObamaCare.

This is not the first time Mr. Obama has suspended the operation of statutes by executive decree, but it is the most barefaced. In June of last year, for example, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, and met a variety of other criteria. This was after Congress refused to enact the Dream Act, which would have allowed these individuals to stay in accordance with these conditions. Earlier in 2012, the president effectively replaced congressional requirements governing state compliance under the No Child Left Behind Act with new ones crafted by his administration.

The president defended his suspension of the immigration laws as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. He defended his amending of No Child Left Behind as an exercise of authority in the statute to waive certain requirements. The administration has yet to offer a legal justification for last week’s suspension of the employer mandate.

There’s even talk of impeachment, although you know that will go nowhere (see my last post).  No one has the stomach to really enforce any rules up there and that goes for both sides.  But, as the Constitutional scholar that wrote the above points out, the Constitution pointedly charges the executive with “the faithful enforcement of the law”.  In fact it is his or her constitutional duty.

The Supreme Court has been pretty clear on this too.

Of all the stretches of executive power Americans have seen in the past few years, the president’s unilateral suspension of statutes may have the most disturbing long-term effects. As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress “would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.”

And that’s pretty much where this is headed.  We are being subjected to the arbitrary enforcement of law.  The rule of men.  In the case of the statutes for ObamaCare, it’s because of politics.  That’s why you hear no outraged voiced by Democrats.  They will benefit electorally by not having to face the uproar sure to come with it’s implementation should that happen before the 2014 midterms.  However, as noted above, if Mitt Romney had been elected and was the one doing this, Democrats would be squealing like stuck Constitutional hogs.

Another recent example of Obama’s arrogance is his “recess that wasn’t a recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.  How can anyone have confidence in the rulings of the NLRB when it appears to have been illegally constituted – another arrogant example of ignoring the lines between executive and legislative power.  If a board is illegal, how are its rulings enforceable?

These are important questions that demand an answer.   Instead, they’re ignored, the corruption and arrogance grows and we’re subjected to arbitrary rule with no check.

If I’m not mistaken, we once based a revolution on those sorts of abuses.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Leftist collectivism fulfills the dreams of the segregationists

Over at Just One Minute, Tom takes a look at a couple of articles on the Zimmerman trial, and finds an astonishing admission from a black pastor.

If you’ve been paying attention to the trial, you know that it’s almost over, and every observer with a shred of objectivity thinks Zimmerman will get a “not guilty” verdict.

Problem is, the local black community was convinced from the beginning that Zimmerman was guilty. The media led them right to that conclusion with misleading reporting. For at least one outlet, NBC, it went beyond misleading into outright fraud.

Naturally, those craven journalists will never take responsibility and set the record straight. They even continue to fan the flames with race-baiting articles like the one Tom cites from the New York Times, which included this quote:

Mr. Oliver, the Sanford pastor, said he remained optimistic. “You can feel a little sense that anger is re-emerging,” he said.

You don’t have to be a trained sociologist* to know what that means – possible civil violence, maybe on the scale of the Rodney King riots.

Why anger? Isn’t an innocent man walking free a good thing? Ah, but we’re back to the world of post-modern narrative. Truth doesn’t matter, only narrative matters, and narrative doesn’t have to have any relationship to truth. In the black community, the dominant narrative is that Zimmerman is guilty. As that race-baiting article put it:

Still, black pastors, sociologists and community leaders said in interviews that they feared that Mr. Martin’s death would be a story of justice denied, an all-too common insult that to them places Trayvon Martin’s name next to those of Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and other black men who were abused, beaten or killed by police officers.

That paragraph only makes any sort of logical sense if you assume from the outset that Trayvon is innocent and Zimmerman is guilty.

Out in the real world, where people are watching the trial, there is a dawning realization that the media got it wrong in the first place, and Zimmerman deserves acquittal. Some of us actually went beyond the fraudulent reporting of the major media and realized that months ago.

But the local black community, and others like it across the nation, sounds like it is not prepared to accept that message. They’ve been told for too long how they are victims and Trayvon is just another one.

Despicable race baiters such as the author of that New York Times article, and the sociologist quoted in it, carefully nurture that attitude. Local leaders pick up the tune, amplifying it. The local educational system, mostly dominated by left-leaning teachers unions, reinforces it while simultaneously ensuring that the locals are handicapped in trying to ever break out of that cultural matrix.

The end result is a community culturally isolated from its larger society. It’s members reinforce each others prejudices, and nurture old grievances. They find themselves unsuited for life outside their local community, because they lack the education to fit in anywhere else. This becomes yet more evidence that the outside world has it in for them.

Thus is fulfilled the dreams of the southern white segregationists. Blacks are encouraged to stay in their own culturally isolated communities.** They are encouraged to believe they are somehow different and cannot mix with outside communities. Their poor education marks them as second class citizens.

Who would have thought that government dependence programs, corrupt Democratic city politicians, and a biased leftist media would accomplish what the white segregationists could not?

For me, it’s one more reason to despise the American left. I hate what they have done to my fellow citizens. I despair when I realize that a typical inner-city resident has no reasonable hope of social mobility, and is stuck in a cycle of government dependence, generation after generation. I shake my head at the nonsense peddled to them by the left and by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama.

I hate that one of the more likely outcomes of the Zimmerman trial is that, like the Rodney King affair, black neighborhoods will end up getting torched and looted – by blacks.***

Hey, New York Times and all your “compassionate” leftist race-baiters – does this make you happy?

 

* Like the race-baiting one in the article, who complained that the non-credible, borderline illiterate star witness for the state was “mammyfied”.

** As one of the effects, just look at how many wealthy suburbs of major American cities are lily-white.

*** I hope it doesn’t happen, and my incurable optimism says maybe the evidence is so clear in this trial that it won’t. But lately, my pessimistic side has a better track record than my optimistic side. 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 9 Jul 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell a point in June to 93.5.

Thanks to the long holiday weekend, ICSC-Goldman is reporting retail sales rose 3.0% last week, up 2.9% from last year. Redbook also shows retail sales strength, with 3.6% year-over-year sales growth.

Consumer credit rose a sharp $19.6 billion in May, the largest gain in a year.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Accountability? Not requiring it or enforcing it leads to corruption

It really is that simple. And you don’t need a PhD to figure that out. It is a “Human Nature 101″ course. If there’s no incentive for you to behave correctly and every incentive not to (i.e. no punishment), then why behave correctly?

Now, consider the government we have today and all the various scandals. Who is the last person who blatantly violated the public trust that you’ve seen frog-marched to jail? Hmmm. But it takes a bunch of academics to again remind us that human nature still rules:

In a new study, Stern School of Business assistant professor of economics Vasiliki Skreta and co-authors, Karthik Reddy of Harvard Law School and Moritz Schularick of the University of Bonn, examine statutory immunity provisions that obstruct or limit the criminal liability of politicians, and which exist throughout much of the modern democratic world.

…The researchers quantified the strength of immunity protection in 74 democracies and verified that immunity is strongly associated with corruption on an aggregate level. They also developed a theoretical model that demonstrated how stronger immunity protection can lead to higher corruption. The model suggested that unaccountable politicians under immunity protection can enhance their chance of re-election by using illegal means, namely supporting interest groups through lax law enforcement, non-collection of taxes, and other forms of favoritism that will go unpunished.

Where’s Charley Rangel? Chris Dodd? Barney Frank? Oh, enjoying retirement. Turbo Tax Tim Geithner? Well, not in jail.

And how about Lois Lerner? From what does she want immunity? Well in reality, she wants immunity from accountability.  There’s no other reason to seek immunity otherwise.

Unfortunately, she’ll probably get it and we’ll watch the level of corruption within government continue to grow, and grow and grow.

You want to know why people don’t trust government?

That’s why.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!