Author Archive

Put Strings on Our Money and Free the World

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Saturday, September 29th, 2012

This is article 404 of 526 in the topic Government Spending

I approve of this wholeheartedly.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s plan to transfer $450 million in cash to Egypt hit a roadblock Friday as a top House committee chairwoman blocked the move, saying it warrants further review.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the State Department had notified Congress of plans to move the money to the new government of President Mohammed Morsi as Cairo struggles economically. The money is part of the nearly $1 billion in debt relief that President Barack Obama had promised Egypt earlier this year.

‘‘This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S.-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so,’’ the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations said in a statement. ‘‘I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time. … I have placed a hold on these funds.’’

And she should hold those fund just as long as she possibly can, until the money is pried from her fingers.

Look, I’m not one of those folks who thinks we ought not send out gobs of foreign aid. We are a ridiculously wealthy nation. We can afford to send a few billion dollars to countries that can use it to build or reinforce their civil societies. But (and clever readers will see what I did in that last sentence) that money should always arrive at its destination with more strings attached to it than a marionette recreation of the last ten minutes of The Blues Brothers. We, our government, gave away almost $53 billion in foreign aid in 2010 (PDF link) more than the GDP of nations like the Dominican Republic or Bulgaria (and not quite a quarter the GDP of Egypt). That is a considerable sum of money.

Now look at the leading recipients of our foreign aid and consider how many of those nations have a strong and free civil society. Out of the top ten, I see one. Israel. Still, we give hundreds of millions of dollars to regimes that could care less about the welfare of their people, who use them as tools to get more money from us. We can change that with a few conditions on the money we give them.

Let me suggest one such condition, a little string that could make a big difference. We ought to ask any country that takes our money to enact its own version of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. If you’ve forgotten how that reads, let me quote it for you:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In other words, no State can make a law that deprives you of what you get as a citizen of the United States. It originally protected newly-freed black citizens against laws that would strip them of voting or other civil rights; however, it easily applies to laws you might find in other countries that routinely strip citizens in good standing of their basic civil rights (*cough*Sharia*cough*).

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Dear MSM, You’re Part of the Problem. Stop Being Part of the Problem.

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Monday, September 17th, 2012

This is article 98 of 117 in the topic Muslims/Koran

Oh, William Saletan, you are so close. Just drop the blinding stupidity of political correctness and you’ll be able to write what you should write with real boldness.

Dear Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Jews,

You’re living in the age of the Internet. Your religion will be mocked, and the mockery will find its way to you. Get over it.

If you don’t, what’s happening this week will happen again and again. A couple of idiots with a video camera and an Internet connection will trigger riots across the globe. They’ll bait you into killing one another.

Stop it. Stop following their script.

Here’s the thing. Christians don’t riot when their religion, whichever Christian religion they practice, is mocked. If we did, Hollywood would have burned decades ago and Broadway would be a ruin after “The Book of Mormon” opened in its first theater. Jews don’t march in the streets when someone mocks their faith, or even their very existence. I know this because the faithful Jews of New York City didn’t shut down the whole town when Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with our government’s permission, spoke at the United Nations last year.  Hindus don’t…

…come on, people. Do you really believe a Hindu would riot over a video? Ever? I know a couple Hindu folks and the thought that they would take to the streets to rampage, burn, and kill over anything less than a mass slaughter of their own is laughable. If the religious of this nation were as twitchy about insults to their faith as Muslims of the world are about insults to theirs, Bill Maher would be dead right now, or living somewhere far, far from other human beings under an assumed name. That he can make his bilious, blasphemous, bigoted show every week and beam it to millions of homes is a testament to the deep tolerance of the American people and the immeasurable power of our First Amendment. It’s painfully obvious to me that Saletan doesn’t know a single devout Christian, observant Jew, or faithful Hindu just as he doesn’t know a serious Muslim of the sort that, right now, is burning buildings and spewing hate from every orifice like a perfect Fountain of Rage.

I assume William Saletan is an intelligent man, with at least enough upstairs to be able to tie his shoes and whang on a keyboard until intelligible sentences happen. I also assume that because he is intelligent, he knows that Jews don’t riot, Christians don’t slaughter Ambassadors, and Hindus don’t drive authors and newspaper publishers into hiding. So why the mass grouping of all religious people into the Great Bundle of Hyper-Sensitive Maniacs? Simple. He lacks the courage to face the real problem. Islam today is controlled almost entirely by people who want the religion placed on a pedestal far above every other. This is a point I made in the latest episode of The Delivery and it bears repeating here. While there are no doubt millions of otherwise tolerant Muslims living peacefully around the world, they are not in charge of their own religion. They don’t run nations. Their voices are not heard in the halls of the United Nations of the Oval Office.

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The Shame of Soldier Disenfranchisement

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Thursday, September 13th, 2012

This is article 963 of 1300 in the topic 2012 Elections

This is what voter disenfranchisement looks like:

A 92 percent drop in absentee-ballot requests by military personnel in Virginia is raising concerns that the Pentagon is failing to carry out a federal voting law.

With only 1,746 military voters in Virginia requesting absentee ballots so far this year — out of 126,251 service members in the state —the Military Voter Protection Project says the system has broken down.

And it’s not just in the Old Dominion. MVPP Executive Director Eric Eversole reports significant declines in absentee-ballot requests by service members across the nation.

Compiling data from Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Alaska, Colorado and Nevada, Eversole’s organization found that military families have requested 55,510 absentee ballots so far this year. That’s a sharp decline from the 166,252 sought in those states in 2008.

Why is this, I wonder? I doubt that soldiers are less enthusiastic about voting, considering how many issues will bear directly on them as members of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. Our government must get smaller over the next six years. We have no other reasonable option. The next President will help decide whether the cuts that will inevitably come to the defense budget are made with great wisdom and insight or whether they’ll be handed over to a political hack who knows as much about the military as a brain-damaged chimp knows about string theory. What happens during the next Presidential administration is likely to set the composition of our armed forces and the compensation we give our brave warriors during and after their service. It is vital that all our soldiers have as much of a chance to vote as the rest of us do.

Right now, that isn’t the case.

According to the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, all military installations throughout the world, with the exception of those located in warzones, must operate a voter assistance office to provide troops with access to voter registration and absentee ballot materials. While the law said the installation voting assistance offices (IVAOs) would open in 2010, an investigation by the DoD found that only 114 of the 229 IVAOs listed by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) were operational.

“To assess effectiveness of DoD efforts to establish IVAOs, we attempted to contact 100 percent of the installations identified by the FVAP website,” reads the report, which was published in late August. “Results were clear. Our attempts to contact IVAOs failed about 50 percent of the time.”

And this from the initial link:

Robert Alt, director of the rule of law program at the conservative Heritage Foundation, calls the situation “a national disgrace.”

He pointed to a 2011 study of 24 states alleging that a paltry 4.6 percent of military absentee ballots that were requested and returned were actually counted in 2010.

“The military is one of the most underrepresented groups in the country. It doesn’t seem like correcting this problem has been a priority for this administration,” Alt said.

Why should it be? The Obama administration has its pet constituencies and, clearly, soldiers are not one of them. He’d much rather use our government’s formidable power to prevent states from securing the rights of legitimate voters.

He is not the ultimate power, though.

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The Recovery that Isn’t

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Monday, September 10th, 2012

This is article 82 of 117 in the topic Unemployment

The White House has good news for us today. The economy is getting better, thanks to Barack Obama’s brilliant policies and, if we give him another four years, he’ll do even better!

While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007…

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 103,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 96,000. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 30 straight months, for a total of 4.6 million jobs during that period.

The household survey showed that the unemployment rate declined from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August.

I am just a blogger, not a highly-credentialed and well-paid economics adviser, but I know that the word “recovery” means that whatever malady you have is getting better, yes? One could assume that this jobs report would be better than the last one, or at least that this year would be better than the year before.

That’s not happening. Jim Pethokoukis skimmed some of the numbers the White House didn’t mention and they don’t show an economy in recovery at all. In fact, they show an economy that’s wobbling like a tired duck flying behind a 767.

Since the start of the year, job growth has averaged 139,000 per month vs. an average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.

In other words, we created 14,000 fewer jobs per month this year than we did last year.

- While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% from 8.3% in July, it was due to a big drop in the labor force participation rate (the share of Americans with a job or looking for one). If fewer Americans hadn’t given up looking for work, the unemployment rate would have risen.

– Reuters notes that the participation rate is now at its lowest level since September 1981.

– If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.2%.

– If the participation rate had just stayed the same as last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4%.

I want to stop here for a moment. The Civilian Labor Participation Rate measures the percentage of people in the job market out of the total of all the people who could be in the market. So if you’re able-bodied, of working age, and a civilian and you’ve given up looking for work, you’re out of the market. We want a bigger number here — as close to 100 percent as we can get. Right now, the participation rate is 63.5 percent. The rate has dropped like a rock since Barack Obama was inaugurated, even though the recession he likes to blame for all his woes ended in 2009.

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The Truth Behind President Obama’s Attack on Success

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Thursday, July 19th, 2012

This is article 37 of 83 in the topic Redistribution of wealth/socialism

Last Friday, President Obama gave a speech in Roanoake, VA in which he excoriated business owners and the “successful” for their rampant greed and confronted them with the truth about how they built their businesses. The short answer? They didn’t build a darned thing. We built it for them. And by “we”, Barack Obama means “the government”.

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

This is, of course, a rip-off of famous 1/32 Cherokee Indian Senatorial Candidate Elizabeth Warren’s statement that “the rest of us” paid for the roads on which the rapacious captains of industry move their goods.

Not only is it a rip-off, but it’s also bog-standard left-wing cant and nonsense on stilts. Yes, the President was wrong, and I’ll give you some numbers in just a moment to prove it, but he was also boring. What he said is what progressives have said for more than a century. It wasn’t true in Soviet Russia, in Nazi Germany, in fascist Italy, in poor and oppressed Cuba, or in starving and shivering North Korea. It has not been true anywhere nor at any time. Free markets bring innovation, health, and prosperity for any who will work hard enough to get it. Collectivism brings stultification, sickness, and desperate want for everyone. Everything our government builds in this country, from roads to schools, we pay for. The beauty of our system of government is that we all pitch in to pay for the things we all find worthy of our money. Now, that system has been perverted horribly, mostly by those of Barack Obama’s ilk who demand we pay for things they find worthy of our money but not theirs, but that doesn’t mean the system is bad. We simply need to readjust it by tossing the would-be totalitarians out of office and voting in people who believe in limited and responsible government and will fight for it every day they are in office.

But let me examine a couple of the President’s contentions and bring some numbers to the game.

Barack Obama said that “someone” built the roads and bridges and Internet and he’s right. Someone surely did, and that someone, thanks to our progressive income tax system, was a rich person.

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On the National Day of Blogger Silence, Stand Up for the First Amendment

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Friday, June 8th, 2012

This is article 64 of 113 in the topic Free Speech

The ongoing saga of lying felon Brett Kimberlin has advanced this week with news alternately good, bad, and good again. Aaron Walker, arrested thanks to a judge’s inexcusable disregard for the law has legal help on the way. First Amendment legal giant Eugene Volokh has agreed to help Walker’s defense. Parts of the story, particularly the parts where Kimberlin or someone acting in sympathy with him and his goals “SWAT” innocent Americans, have reached the MSM. David Hogberg of the Investor’s Business Daily’s Politics and Markets Blog has written about the story and ABC News (not CNN, who had one of its commentators SWATted) has reported on the SWAT-related part of the story in some detail.

The National Bloggers’ Club, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting and promoting new media, signed on to help Walker get a good legal defense. That act of civic engagement, however, put the group’s President Ali A. Akbar squarely in Kimberlin’s sights. A photograph of his mother’s house and a lengthy post about Akbar and the NBC appeared on an anti-Andrew Breitbart site — a website about which Kimberlin to my knowledge claims no connection — and shortly after that he received a threat of legal action from a lawyer who claimed to represent Kimberlin’s Justice Through Music Project.

One might question the timing.

So that was the good news, then the bad news. The second helping of good news? The American Center for Law and Justice has stepped in to represent Walker in his appeal of what I believe are bogus charges against him. The ACLJ is one of the true heavy hitters on First Amendment issues. It is a mortal lock that if some judge like C.J. Vaughey tries to pull his “Hey, let’s get this thing wrapped up in ten and to hell with the Supreme Court” routine, the ACLJ will have him for lunch. Also, today, the story reached Congress. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) have asked for the Attorney General to investigate the SWATting cases. Given the predelictions of our current Attorney General, it’s not likely their requests will be taken seriously, but they’re out there and where there are two, there can be many more.

That is the story, at least the broad strokes of it at any rate, to date. I understand if it seems confusing. It’s sometimes confusing to me. It’s not necessarily important, though, that you know all the details. Here is what is important.

The goal of Kimberlin and those who act like him is simple. They want you to be afraid, so afraid that you will not speak out freely and boldly in the public arena. Their message, so plain any reasonable person can see it is this: if you disagree with us in any way in public, we will make a spectacle of you. Kimberlin and his ilk have assaulted the First Amendment in a way we have not seen in this country in a very long time. They want our silence and, today, that is what they will get. Ace has called for a National Day of Blogger Silence in which I will participate. This will be the only post I write at The Sundries Shack today (my co-bloggers might have posts of their own later).

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So What’s a Few Crucifixions, If It Keeps Everyone in Line?

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

This is article 41 of 79 in the topic EPA

When we last saw the EPA’s Al “Crucify ‘Em All and Let Obama Sort ‘Em Out” Armendariz, he was stuttering his way through a mea culpa like Jackie Gleason through an episode of The Honeymooners. Today, he finally got his story straight, well, straight enough to know that his candid speech two years ago was something he should never have said out loud. He handed in his resignation on Sunday and bumbled off into the sunset.

“Over the weekend Dr. Armendariz offered his resignation, which I accepted. I respect the difficult decision he made and his wish to avoid distracting from the important work of the agency. We are all grateful for Dr. Armendariz’s service to EPA and to our nation,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement Monday.

In his resignation letter to Jackson, Armendariz reiterated that the 2010 comments did not reflect his approach to the job.

“As I have expressed publicly, and to you directly, I regret comments I made several years ago that do not in any way reflect my work as regional administrator. As importantly, they do not represent the work you have overseen as EPA Administrator,” he wrote.

This, as we know, is manifestly untrue. Armendariz reflected perfectly the work to which Lisa Jackson has set the EPA. As I noted last week, the EPA did find themselves a perfectly innocent target called Range Resources, and promptly crucified them right out where every other oil and gas drilling company could see. Jackson and her horde of legionnaires have done everything in their power to make sure that we do not drill for our own oil or gas, even if that meant trumping up charges against innocents.

The real story of L’Affaire Armendariz is that he unwittingly spoke truth to power about what our government under the extremists who currently run it thinks of us and the society we have built. We are flawed people in need of their guiding hands and if we resist, well they’ll just nail a few of us to the trees as a little lesson to everyone else about who truly wields the power in Progressive America.

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So Long and Thanks for All the Vision

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

This is article 659 of 1300 in the topic 2012 Elections

Newt Gingrich ended his campaign yesterday with a statement I’m sure people on both the left and right will ridicule whenever his name comes up over the next couple of years. I won’t be one of them. See, I backed Newt for the Republican nomination and, quite honestly, I’m sorry to see him go. I won’t go into all the reasons I supported Newt (see here and here) except to say that, in answer this question, I am glad I did. I don’t think he ran a joke campaign and I don’t think his ideas are worthy of ridicule, grandiose though they may be.

Newt was a good candidate — a man of wide vision, with real plans to pry the government off our throats and a track record for making government smaller. Indeed, he was the only candidate who could claim he made decreased the power and scope of government when he had his hands on real political power. Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum could claim that, though they both tried in some form or another. After a big win in South Carolina, Newt got buried by the Mitt Romney money machine in Florida and spent a lot more time carping about negative campaign ads than he did talking up his optimistic vision for America (which, I believe, is what made him an early front-runner).

That turn in the tone of his campaign after South Caroline ultimately doomed his candidacy. Not only did he turn his attention from the incompetence of the Obama administration and the perfidity of the lapdogs in the MSM, but he changed the tenor of his message from optimism to complaints about his Republican rivals’ tactics. More than that, though, he changed (from my POV at least) the way his campaign ran — from a hungry and creative money-poor message machine to a more extravagant operation. Except that Newt, who hadn’t been running for President the past 6 years, didn’t have the money and GOP insider help Romney has. That change in operation put Gingrich in debt and unable to capitalize on his opponents’ many mistakes.

I still like Newt. We conservatives need someone to remind us, insistently at times, that our goals ought to seem ridiculous and grandiose sometimes. He tool a lot of heat for his talk about neuroscience and a moon base, but I’d rather have more of that. Aspirations are important. Vision matters. If we conservatives want to grab and hold America’s imagination, so that they let us do all the things we want (mundane and otherwise), we’re going to have to spin tales of the amazing things America can do once we get utopian progressive government out of the picture.

Democrats no longer dream big dreams. They talk about bringing down the achievers, about paving over the grand accomplishments of our parents and grandparents. When once a Democrat challenged us to go to the moon, our current President challenges us to build windmills and bridges. We can do those things — indeed we almost certainly will in some form because they must be done — but we need greater challenges.

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Wow, That’s Some Expensive Health Care

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This is article 280 of 695 in the topic Healthcare

Well smack my bottom and call me Shecky! Obamacare is actually going to drive prices higher instead of lower. Who could possibly have guessed?

 

Range of impact on insurance carriers. http://t.co/7PVbpjyG

@bdomenech

Ben Domenech

Note here who is going to absorb the lion’s share of the cost hikes. In a world where market forces helped set the cost of your health insurance, individual cost would be lower because individuals would be the consumers. In Obamacare, as in the system we have now, individuals — that’s you, by the way — are costs. Your health insurance company will only need to deal with you when they’re paying money out on your behalf. You will still have no power to decide what you will and will not pay for your care nor with whom you do business. You will get a government-mandated policy with a government-mandated cost that provides government-mandated (or government-permitted) care.

And you will have no say in any of that. You will get what the bureaucracy gives you and pay what it tells you to pay because that’s what government-run health care does.

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Our President Shows Off His Scholarity with Much Unintentional Hilarity

by Jimmie Bise Jr. on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This is article 26 of 59 in the topic US Supreme Court

Has anyone mentioned lately that our President, Barack Obama, is a constitutional scholar? I ask because he didn’t seem to have a very good grip on matters Constitutional yesterday when asked about the possibility that the Supreme Court might overturn his signature piece of legislation.

I want to give you his full answer as recorded by Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times. It’s long, so I’ll jump in once in a while with a little commentary of my own just to break the seemingly endless stream of Constitutional scholarity.

“I actually continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law. And the reason is, because in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.

“That’s not just my opinion by the way. That’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.”

Oh, so if some legal experts agree with you, and a couple of them happen to be members of a party not your own (even if one of them voted for you and you named the other one Ambassador to Malta), your law is constitutional? We don’t need to consult the actual Constitution or anything else written on the subject by the guys who wrote the Constitution? Well, that does make things handy. The converse, of course, would mean that if we conservatives could find a couple left-wing legal experts who believed Roe v. Wade was wrongly-decided, then we could get it overturned. Do you think the President really wants that to be the standard?

No. Neither do I.

The bigger problem with his opinion is that he’s not really offering a learned legal opinion as befits a former Harvard Law Review President and constitutional scholar. His answer, basically, boils down to “It’s constitutional, because shut up, that’s why”. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that ipse dixit would get you laughed out of every courtroom on the planet.

“I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument. People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of healthcare, the inaffordability of healthcare, their inability to get healthcare because of preexisting conditions.

“The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people healthcare that wouldn’t otherwise have it. There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have healthcare right now because of this law. Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get healthcare because they can’t be prevented from getting healthcare as a consequence of a preexisting condition. That is part of this law.

“Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law. Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to the insurance companies, and are getting preventive care because of this law.

“So, that’s just the part that’s already been implemented. That doesn’t speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

Pardon my cruel conservative heart here, but so what? Not everything that is good is constitutional.

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