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Free Markets, Free People

Things I’d Like To See: The 28th Amendment

How do you suppose Congress would react to this?

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States  Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law that  applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to  the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies  to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States”.

The founders of this country went to great lengths to ban titles of nobility from existence in the US. They wanted no entitled “elite” on these shores, understanding first-hand what such an elite would and could do to the common man. And one of the signature problems of Europe’s elite (nobility) was the fact that they made rules for their subjects to which they were never required to adhere. Instead they exempted themselves and thereby lost touch with the effect their rules had on others.  The French Revolution, among others, demonstrated the pure folly of such a system.

But that’s essentially what Congress does every time it exempts itself from laws it requires the rest of America to follow. It is also one of the reasons for the huge and growing disconnect between government and the people. When you don’t have to live by the laws you pass, it’s is hard to sympathize or empathize with those who do.

The concept of “nobility” or elite doesn’t necessarily require noble titles to exist. Congress making laws it doesn’t have to live by is enough for most to label those doing so an elite class.

Now I’m not particularly interested in parsing the language of the proposed amendment – you get the gist of the idea.  Don’t you think, in the overall scheme of things, that requiring those who make the laws live by them would help reconnect them with the mainstream (and perhaps have them making fewer laws)? Wouldn’t doing so also give them practical experience concerning the effect of the laws they pass on the daily lives of ordinary people? Why shouldn’t they be in the Social Security system instead of a different (and much better) pension system? Why are they exempt from sexual harassment laws? If this health care system they’re contemplating is good enough for us, why not them?

My guess is most state legislatures would have no problem with passing such an amendment (given the mandates Congress routinely shoves down their throats).  And my guess is it wouldn’t require much at all to get a popular groundswell behind it as well.

Last – aren’t you somewhat amazed we even have to have this conversation or propose such an amendment to begin with?

~McQ

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Challenging The Health Care Reform Bill On Constitutional Grounds – Is It Really An Option?

One of the more dishonest ways the Congress is able to portray various spending bills as not adding to the deficit or being revenue neutral is to push mandates onto the states and have them pay a large portion of the cost. That way, that cost is hidden from the original numbers churned out by Congress and validated by the CBO. That’s the case in this health care bill and one of the primary reasons Sen. Ben Nelson sought an exemption for his state of Nebraska before he’d support the current Senate bill.

Well that’s not sitting well with any number of states going through hard financial times right now and seeing even more spending mandates coming their way in the health care reform legislation. They’re threatening to go to court if what they’re calling the “Cornhusker Kickback” is left to stand in the legislation:

Thirteen state attorneys general have sent a letter to Congress threatening legal action against health care reform unless a provision in the Senate bill given to Nebraska is removed.

The provision is known as the “Cornhusker Kickback,” because it gives Nebraska a permanent exemption from paying for Medicaid expenses that would be required of all the other states. This means that taxpayers in other states would be paying for an increase in Nebraska’s Medicaid population. Medicaid is a federal-state health care program for the poor.

“This provision is constitutionally flawed,” the attorneys general wrote. “As chief legal officers of our states we are contemplating a legal challenge to this provision and we ask you to take action to render this challenge unnecessary by striking the provision.”

I bring this to your attention because I think this may be the primary way those who oppose the health care bill will have to fight it once it has passed – in court.  There are all sorts of problems and pitfalls with such a strategy.  But I’m also of the opinion much of the bill is “constitutionally flawed” and wide open to challenge. Of course, given the rather liberal interpretations of that document in the past by SCOTUS, it’s rather difficult to predict whether challengers will have any success. However, I think the mandate to buy health insurance, for instance, is something which can be challenged on constitutional grounds. And obviously these 13 States Attorney Generals think they have constitutional ground to challenge the kick back (I wish they’d challenge the mandate to the states instead).

We’ll see, but supposedly that’s what the court is there for – although since Kelo, I’ve had very little confidence in the court’s actual desire or aim to uphold the actual intent of the document.

~McQ

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Health Care Reform – Passage Now An Exercise In Pure Politics And Power

Yesterday we learned that the Congressional Democratic leadership has no intention of following it’s own procedures in order to get the unpopular “health care reform” bill passed:

Now that both the House and Senate have passed health care reform bills, all Democrats have to do is work out a compromise between the two versions. And it appears they’re not about to let the Republicans gum up the works again.

According to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps–not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate–that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.

“There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference,” the House staffer says. “There are too many procedural hurdles to go the formal conference route in the Senate.”

Of course the obvious implication of Jonathan Cohn’s report is that they’re doing so to avoid “procedural hurdles” with which Republicans will “gum up the works”. I.e. – the procedure that has been agreed upon for centuries to meld House and Senate versions into a single bill and allow proper debate of the particulars will be thrown out the window in an effort to deny Republicans a chance to challenge the legislation and attempt to modify it or defeat it.

But, it turns out, it isn’t only Republicans they’re interested in denying a say. The Progressive Caucus in the House is none too happy with the development either. Remember, they want a stronger bill which included the public option. And they, like Republicans, would be denied the opportunity to have their say should this plan to “informally” negotiate the bill be undertaken. That has prompted Rep Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to issue the following statement:

“I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.”

Greg Sargent claims that “many expect House liberals to ultimately support the plan no matter how this process plays out.”

Of course they do – it is at least a step in the direction that liberals want, single payer so this is a calculated political risk.  It can be added too incrementally to get there, or at least that’s what is being sold. That’s not at all a hollow promise as we’ve seen with programs like Medicare, SCHIP and Medicaid.

So it is indeed possible that is how this situation will play out. But it is also possible that Republican gains in 2010 and beyond will block further incremental additions such as a public option, etc – at least for a while. So Sargent wonders if, in fact, this shutting out of the Progressive Caucus may not be a bridge too far, assuming it isn’t eventally included in the “informal negotiations” and given some of what they demand:

But House progressives are already infuriated by the multiple concessions they’ve been forced to make, and cutting them out of the process could only bruise feelings more and harden their resolve to hold the line against the eventual compromise.

We’ll see – meanwhile this unpopular monstrosity moves forward as only it can – through procedural tricks which avoid debate and the use of raw power. Remember, once it becomes law (whatever shape “it” is in when that happens) it becomes almost impossible to repeal. The time to stop it is now. But it appears our “representatives” in power have absolutely no desire to let the people’s will have any effect on this naked power grab and will use any means necessary to pass it. This is something the Democrats have wanted for decades and they’re going to get it whether you like it or not. Politics and party rule the day.

~McQ

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Another Program FAIL?

It appears a number of economists and financial experts see it as a failure. Not only a failure but an impediment to recovery.

The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good.

The harm it has done is precisely the same harm that many of the larger programs have done, and something we warned about here at QandO at the time. Instead of letting the market take the hit it deserved for the bad  risk it undertook and giving it an opportunity to digest that and then begin recovering, both the Bush and Obama administration’s chose to try and manage the crash and avoid the pain. Consider this particular program a microcosm of what many experts believe we’ll see happen in the larger economy. And, as usual, while it was something done with best of intentions it has run afoul of the Law of Unintended consequences and as critics are saying, has seemingly done more harm than good.

Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Homes Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.

As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.

On the other side of the program are the lending institutions who some experts claim are using the program to delay an honest accounting of the toxic loans they have outstanding.

Only after banks are forced to acknowledge losses and the real estate market absorbs a now pent-up surge of foreclosed properties will housing prices drop to levels at which enough Americans can afford to buy, he argues.

Instead, we’ve chosen to string this all out:

Some experts argue the program has impeded economic recovery by delaying a wrenching yet cleansing process through which borrowers give up unaffordable homes and banks fully reckon with their disastrous bets on real estate, enabling money to flow more freely through the financial system.

In other words, government intrusion – with the best of intentions – has impeded the market’s ability to properly reconcile the losses and begin recovering and learn from the experience. Instead, both homeowners and financial institutions have been given false hope that they can avoid this pain and somehow benefit from the program without having to do what is really necessary. And this false hope, upon which reality will eventually intrude, is simply delaying the financial reckoning and further delaying a real recovery. Once that is done:

“Then the carpenters can go back to work,” Mr. Katari said. “The roofers can go back to work, and we start building housing again. If this drips out over the next few years, that whole sector of the economy isn’t going to recover.”

The article goes on to discuss proposed fixes, tweaks and alternatives. But the bottom line is the existing program doesn’t help, but instead hurt the chances for recovery within the housing market. And that’s the lesson here. There is pain in life, but pain’s usefulness is its warning not to do what one did to incur it and to modify behavior in the future to avoid it. The problem with removing the pain quotient is the lessons necessary to modify future behavior and avoid repeating the painful activity are lost. Additionally, by attempting to avoid the pain, the present problem isn’t quickly fixed, but instead drags out as false hope does its damage before reality finally takes its course.

No one wants to see people lose their homes, but the fact remains many took on homes they couldn’t afford and many lending institutions backed their acquisition. This program isn’t going to make their homes more affordable to them nor is it going to make their loans good ones. Time for the players, not the taxpayers, to pay the piper. Government needs to back away. Until they do and the financial reckoning necessary takes place, the recovery in the housing market will continue to be delayed.

~McQ

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Stimulus Fraud? Where’s “Sheriff Joe”?

You remember the promise by the administration that “Sheriff Joe” Biden would be monitoring the stimulus fund use and calling out those who engage in waste, fraud and abuse?

If that were true, he should be almost living in New Mexico. However, my guess is New Mexico is just the visible tip of a fraud, waste and abuse iceberg associated with the 787 billion dollar “stimulus”. First we had money going to nonexistent congressional districts. And Joe was silent. Now we have money traced to nonexistent zip codes as well:

Closer examination of the latest recovery.gov report for New Mexico shows hundreds of thousands of dollars sent to and credited with creating jobs in zip codes that do not exist in New Mexico or anywhere else. Moreover, funds reported as being spent in New Mexico were given zip codes corresponding to areas in Washington and Oregon.

The recovery.gov site reports that $373,874 was spent in zip code 97052. Unfortunately, this expenditure created zip jobs. But $36,218 was credited with creating 5 jobs in zip code 87258. A cool hundred grand went into zip code 86705, but didn’t result in even one person finding work.

None of these zip codes exist in New Mexico, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Phantom jobs, phantom spending and nary a Sherriff in sight. Maybe he’s busy setting up the mechanism for corralling the 60 billion of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare each year. You do recall that’s how they plan on “paying” for this new health care monstrosity, right? And they’re doing such a bang up job with the policing of the stimulus funds that we all ought to rest pretty easy, wouldn’t you say? I mean it’s obvious that Sherriff Joe has it all under control, isn’t it?

Hello?

~McQ

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Damn Global Warming!

One of the favorite things the warmists like to do is point to isolated temperature events that bolster their cause and claim them to be a result of man-made global warming. I have to wonder what they have to say about an entire winter such as this:

They predicted no let up in the freezing snap until at least mid-January, with snow, ice and severe frosts dominating.

And the likelihood is that the second half of the month will be even colder.

Weather patterns were more like those in the late 1970s, experts said, while Met Office figures released on Monday are expected to show that the country is experiencing the coldest winter for up to 25 years.


The cold weather comes despite the Met Office’s long range forecast, published, in October, of a mild winter. That followed it’s earlier inaccurate prediction of a “barbecue summer”, which then saw heavy rainfall and the wettest July for almost 100 years.

Paul Michaelwaite, forecaster for NetWeather.tv, said: “It is looking like this winter could be in the top 20 cold winters in the last 100 years.

I look forward to the creative spin warmists will try to use to explain away what could be one of the coldest winters in 100 years right smack in the middle of this unstoppable warming they’ve been touting. Oh, wait, we’ve been cooling for 10 years haven’t we? So that trend would support such a winter occurring wouldn’t it?

Your turn warmists – why are we seeing this horribly cold weather while in the midst of a “warming trend”?

~McQ

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Want A Little Cheese With That Whine, Mr. Williams?

You tell me – an entitlement mentality, an over inflated ego, or just a pathetic moron?

“You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years” — Brian Williams, anchor of the “NBC Nightly News,” speaking before New York University journalism students on the challenges traditional journalism faces from online media.

Apparently in William’s world, Vinny isn’t entitled to an opinion because he didn’t go to J School and hasn’t spent his life “developing his credentials to cover [his] field of work”, even though old Vinny has more readers than Williams has viewers and more credibility as well.

Words from a dinosaur that hasn’t yet picked up on the heavy impact meteor crash which has occurred in his world and spells eventual extinction for his kind. And, frankly, the sooner the better.

~McQ

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Need a good watchdog?

Does anybody want a puppy? I mean a registered, purebred puppy.  If so, drop me a line.  My Cane Corso female is about to drop a litter in two weeks or so.  If you’re in the San Diego/Southern California area, and  might be interested in a new baby Corso, drop me a line at “puppies -at- dalefranks.com”


Contessa



 



Purebred Italian Mastiff

Purebred Italian Mastiff



Corsos are large dogs, with females running from 80-100lbs, and males running from 100-130 lbs.  They are active dogs, with a working breed background, so they need to be regularly exercised.

They are extremely loyal and protective of their family and homes.  They love children, and make very protective watchdogs for them.

Here’s a video we did of her:

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Podcast for 03 Jan 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael  and Dale discuss the top stories of the past week.  And, with a shiny new Studio PC , I’m back in the podcast recording business!

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s):

The Crotch Bomber – “The system worked!” The trials and tribulations of government run airport security . Why weren’t some pretty obvious dots connected?

Do they just not get it? – Are Democrats misreading the anger among Americans as nothing more than the normal partisan nonsense from the out of power party? Are Republicans?

Obama’s foreign policy – Does our president really have any real interest in foreign policy? Or is his focus mostly on the domestic side of things?

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