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Moving Left Isn’t Right

April 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Written in a time filled with the gasps and death of the Soviet Union, and its satellites’ declarations of their independence, I found Alvin Rabushka’s “The Failure of Socialism in China” capturing my attention. In it, the author mentions the method that Mao Zedong attempted to use to incite the communist Chinese economy to grow – namely central planning. The author also illustrates why the planning did little to anything at all on its own in the way of economy-building or growth.

As many economists critical of socialist governments point out, central planning heavily relies on a number of measures, so that it can claim to function better than alternative forms of economies.

Find the complete post here: Conservative Daily News

Those who ignore history…

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Obamacare Has Been Breathed Life – Where Do We Go From Here?

June 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I awoke this morning, too late to catch live news of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Obamacare, and its Constitutionality. A quick look at Twitter, however, both shocked and stupefied me. Confirmation came about the forgone conclusion, that the justices’ votes would be split along a 5-4 line. However, the actual members’ votes, and the way that they split, came as a shock to most on the right.

The Supreme Court Justices

The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

We know now, that the court found the Obamacare fiasco/law, legal and Constitutional. The man who most on the right worried about, Justice Anthony Kennedy, actually voted against upholding the law. Kennedy was also credited with one of the harshest opinions for the minority dissent. On page 65 of the dissent, the justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas found that: “For the reasons here stated, we would find the Act invalid in its entirety.” (emphasis mine)

While many on the right may have heard the decision, and immediately decided to fret, and engage in their best Chicken Little impressions, I think that there are some very important take-aways from today’s proceedings:

  • The battle for universal healthcare is far from over. Indeed, that the battlefield that Obamacare is fought upon is merely shifting, from the Supreme Court, back to Congress, as the law and its funding mechanism, is finally classified as it should have been all along – as a tax, and not as a penalty. It was penalty-based funding that would have sunk the whole thing under the Commerce Clause. As tax-funded, it is my understanding that it will now be actually easier to kill in Congress.
  • The short, but powerful, addendum by Justice Thomas, which stated, yet again, that the Commerce Clause is not a club, used  to  compel action, but that it is a whip, used to correct actions already taking place.
  • The ruling decided, once and for all, that Congress cannot compel Americans to purchase anything by threat of force or penalty.
  •  Unfortunately, today also showed some people on the right, can be as easily stirred up, and they will react like those on the left. While I will admit to being confused at first to the ruling, as I let it slowly process, my reactionary feelings ebbed, and as usual, I began to see some of these silver linings emerge.
  • I found it interesting too, in dissent that the Justices mention that the job of the Supreme Court is to promote and protect the structural freedoms of the American people. I sort of took that as  a, “hey – people wake up, and realize what is going on in this country – pay attention to what is occurring in your name.”

All in all, the result was depressing to me, but with so many doors opened by the decision, I think the sum of the eventual outcomes will paint Roberts as less a goat, and more a hero. The only problem now is, will Congress actually step up to the plate and do what the people want – and will those same people hold that same Congress responsible in November?

Leftwing Logic Fails Again

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

When I am in the mood for some nonsensical, ludicrous, rantings and ravings, there is a very good chance that someone (or some agency) that embraces a left-wing ideology, will come through. This week, I was not let down. The left came through with a couple of highly visible, and highly questionable, actions. One of which is on-going, and currently in the legal system, and the other has received so much blow-back, it has already been withdrawn.

IUOE 150

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150

First, in response to Indiana’s new labor law, making Indiana a right-to-work state, a union decided to file a lawsuit. The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, filed suit in Northern Indiana District Court, against Governor Mitch Daniels, Attorney General Gregory Zoeller, and Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner, Lori Torres. The union claims that they must be allowed to continue to collect dues from non-union workers, because the non-union workers also benefit from the union’s negotiations and receive similar pay to unionized workers (I think of it as a knee-capping being sold under the guise of “fairness”). While I understand that the union has to coordinate various activities and pay assorted administrative costs, when I see unions in different states, throwing millions of dollars at campaigns to recall governors, and donating millions of dollars to get “friendly” candidates elected, my empathy wanes.

It appears that the union wants the methods it uses to exact goodies from the employers, to be used on the workers as well. The union is saying that they need someone or someway to compel people to give them capital, so that they can perform operations. The Indiana law removes that compelling force, and makes unions responsible for actually creating a tangible return on payee money. Instead, the union wastes more money on a lawsuit that they are more than likely to lose, and as if that were not a big enough fiasco, the lawsuit claims without that compelling force, the state is acting in a manner that is tantamount to slavery. Citing the 13th Amendment, the union claims that they are being forced to provide a service, without payment, which is therefore, “involuntary servitude.” The union mentions too, that the new law violates Article I, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution, because the union would have to provide their services “…without just compensation.” Yes, that is correct – the union is claiming that they are being made slaves to their members, since the members would no longer have to pay dues. Never mind the fact that the union can choose to not provide services to non-paying members…

The second liberal logical misstep occurred when it was revealed that the United States Department of Labor wanted to change rules regarding child labor laws regarding farming. For Americans already fed up with what they consider government meddling, hearing that the government wants to dictate to parents, that they can no longer have their kids farming beside them was a step too far. The proposal would have allowed for some older children to work around animals and equipment (banning nearly all teens under 16 from working around power equipment), but only after completing a new “90 hour federal government training course”, which would replace tried and true training from other entities (like 4-H). Farming families were shocked to learn that they now were at the mercy of the government as to the things that they could teach their children. Thousands of angry emails and messages later, the administration decided that, perhaps this was not such a great idea to waste their non-existent political capital on. Trying to spin the reversal, the Labor Department said they wanted to help “…protect the rural way of life.”

These two failures of the left to use some common sense and insist that their way is the only way, is precisely why a large amount of the country does not trust the left, or do they any longer accept anything that the left says with an open mind. The continuous nonsense that the left has tried to sell the U.S. for the past decade, has created a hyper-cynical and disbelieving public, which has had the effect of also infecting the media, due to their strong support of the policies. We now have a highly ineffective media, and a political wing, whether it may ever stumble on a good idea or not, that is not even taken at face value. The country now faces one large group of angry, entitled special interests, and an administration and press that reinforces their (incorrect) belief that they should be entitled. What could go wrong?

A Fluke Occurence

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Recently, the United States was once again turned into a rhetorical battleground for all things reproductive (and, it seems  contraceptive). Allegations flew, heated rhetoric issued, slurs uttered, and rumors became rallying points for one side or another. The Democrats in Congress, seeking to make some points with another one of their astroturf-victims, chose Sandra Fluke to stand in for as a witness before Congress. She was billed to the American public as a poor college student, a victim of the rising prices of education in this country, who was having trouble paying for all the necessities for college.

Birth Control

Contraceptive or valid medical necessity? Fluke blurs the line.

The truth is that Ms. Sandra Fluke was not the young college co-ed we expected (she was actually 30) nor was she an undergrad at just any random university (she was in the Catholic, Georgetown’s prestigious law program). While these sins of omission normally may not have been in and of themselves particularly damning, she bemoaned the fact that she could not pay for both the $60k tuition, and another $3k for contraceptives, and that the government should pay for her contraceptives.

This seeming inability to balance time and money, really caused this writer to pause – something did not smell right here. This woman has had time for the rigors of Georgetown’s law school, a full-time summer job, (we later learned she is an activist as well) and yet still manages to amass $3k in contraceptive bills? How does a person have so much time on their hands? Did Ms. Fluke really not know that a Catholic University would balk at covering contraceptives? I find this very hard to believe.

I have seen on Twitter and elsewhere in the media, any number of people, trying to conduct a sort of “damage control,”  claiming that either Fluke did not claim that $3k was for contraceptives (which Fluke certainly did), or by attacking others’ essays on her disingenuous testimony. Time and time again during her testimony, Fluke called the measures she wanted covered, “contraceptives.” What effect this had, was only to further blur the lines of already sketchy legislation (Obamacare and other health coverage) and their rationale for requiring blanket coverage of afflictions. I have no problem covering legitimate, necessary, medical conditions – but we must draw a line when the issue is a personal choice, or in this case, a seeming lack of self-control. Fluke, by trying to attach the coverage of her contraceptives to other, legitimate medically necessary treatments, does a disservice to women who suffer from, and actually need, those treatments/medications.

My problems with her testimony: Fluke also used charged language, like calling the insurance companies’ reviews of student need for the thousands of dollars of contraceptives, “interrogation.” While that plays perfectly into a victimized narrative the left loves to write, I doubt there was an insurance agent taking students to a grubby room, with a single light bulb. Another thing she did was use the plight of a hospitalized, close friend, with complications of polycystic ovarian syndrome. The problem I have with that is if Fluke were honest from the beginning, and not chosen to make a political football from the issues on the stage she was given, far more sympathy could be given to her. Instead, she undermined her credibility from the onset, and may have caused long-term damage to female healthcare (ironically, the supposed thing she and her Democrat advocates espouse). Attacking the Catholic Church is no way to reach a tenable resolution either, and depending on the government to step in and overrule Church dogma sets a very dangerous precedent.

Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke shakes hands with Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-GA)

It would have been far more powerful to have the actual victims of the policies at the hearing, but instead, we had a single person relaying all these concerns. Do these sympathetic friends even exist? Maybe – with shaky credibility, I cannot say. But to rely on a woman whose mission is to further her own, and others’ political goals, instead of actually helping raise awareness of overlooked women is disgusting and reprehensible.

Sandra Fluke’s Testimony is found here, via Current TV (PDF)

Mitt-ila The Hun

January 13, 2012 1 comment

The man came from the east, and rode aboard a midnight black steed, with angry fire in its eyes. The steed seemed reluctant to allow anyone but its rider to even get close to it. The mount whinnied uneasily, and lived for moments it could swoop in and, with its rider cause confusion and destruction. Once its rider saddled up, they were unstoppable. Always riding all-out, and never looking back, they rode without care nor conscience.
One of the most infamous raids, that so many remember, came one day in the 90s, in the middle of the country. Mitt-ila with his steed, Bain, came to the steel mill, licking his lips, and casing everything that he would soon own and be able to plunder and turn asunder. Sparks flew from the horse’s hooves  as they rode onto the grounds. The horse and its master began the blood-letting – the guild members, their pay, the equipment – they began laying waste to everything in sight…Soon, their nefarious plans were complete, and the tiny factory was no more.

What is this? This is the Newt-would-approve-if-he-read-it-version of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. This is the, politically-expedient version of what happened in Kansas City. Mitt of course, the ardent anti-capitalist and destroyer of all that he touched, only wanted the companies Bain invested in for their liquidity values, right? I mean, why would anyone invest in a company that they may be able to resurrect, and restore to profitability (and make far more money, than just relying on the liquidity value)? Once a company is seen to have its best days behind it, the person who attributes this “un-profitable operating” designation could never have any ways of turning it around – its only value is in plundering anything and everything that still has any value. Right? So it is raid and plunder away.

Except – that is not always the way that business happens. I would venture to guess it is seldom that a capital company step in and buys a company solely for its liquid assets, before it has declared bankruptcy, when the investing company can buy it for a song. That seems like paying extra for the “privilege” of going through bankruptcy proceedings and haggling with creditors. With the intention of retrofitting and upgrading the facilities at Kansas City located “GST Steel”, Bain made investments and attempted to turn the troubled steelmaker around. After investments of $100 million were sunk into the plant, due to myriad mismanagement issues, tons of cheap Chinese-made steel (made and sold at a loss, to gain market share), and the debt-load created to save the plant, it still had to be closed. 750 people lost their jobs as a result.

It should be mentioned, but seldom seems to be, that the Chinese steel is probably more to blame for GST’s failure than any other factors, including: Bain Capital’s “raiding”, more competitive American steel foundries, and obsolescing equipment. Add to that, some of the most misguided management that I have ever read about (like hiring managers for this steel plant, that had previously worked in retail for Wal-Mart), and it appears that the factory was always doomed. Some 40+ other American steel companies went under in the same time GST was slowly rusting away.

My main issues with the attack of Romney (and attacks of him, under the guise of attacks of Bain) are the fact that supposed conservative and right-wing candidates are making the majority of them. The fact that some are using Romney’s time at Bain as a way to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and his criminal Ponzi scheme (that was James Clyburn), is also disheartening. As a matter of fact, Mitt wasn’t even with Bain at the time GST finally gasped and was shuttered. Now it’s like all hands on deck for a thrashing of the mechanism that built this country, and gave so many people the lives we enjoy.

The way that I see it, if a person is going to attack a function of capitalism, and stand behind their point, whether it is legitimate or not, it would also mean that the same arbitrary condemnation could apply to any function of capitalism. You don’t like paying some of your bills – then don’t, because you think it’s “unfair.” You don’t like having to pay a manufacturers’ makeup? Well, don’t pay it then – you’ve deemed it “unfair” too. When we slip into a mindset of the left, where, this is fair, that is unfair, this group over here has more than you (and you really deserve it more than they do), and that some big, bad, government boogie-man is piling on with those filthy rich fat cats, it is easy to find yourself getting angry. The trick is to channel that anger and frustration – almost like using that destructive feeling for something…Creative.

Political Machination and the Middle Class

December 29, 2011 2 comments

When I mention the “Middle Class”, I would suspect most Americans immediately think, “Hey, that’s me!”, and they pay attention. However, it is an over-used, hackneyed phrase in politics. Whenever a politician wants instantly to grab attention of the American populace, they bring up the “Middle Class”. Since it is usually used by politicians in a “threatened-species” manner, the Middle Class members sit up straight, and listen intently. The Upper Class pays attention, because they are out numbered by the Middle Class (and despite what some people claim, more votes certainly do still count). The Lower Class pays attention because they see the Middle Class as the destination that they are struggling to earn their way into. Politicians, belonging to a class all their own, notice these behavioral tendencies of the three main groups, and smell opportunity.

Something for everyone?

The government is NOT Robin Hood!

For the politicians to use the knee-jerk reaction of the Lower Class, I find their methods very insidious. Usually, what the politicians will do is tell the L.C. that their “gravy train”, their government-granted entitlements, or any other government-dolled goodies are in dire jeopardy because of the actions of the filthy rich. While this will not cause as large a reaction, because the L.C. is less mobile and likely to show up at their Congressman’s office. Anytime someone is given something, and then they are told it is threatened – watch the anger at losing that entitlement explode.

For the politicians to use the reaction of the Upper Class, they can threaten that the M.C. will push for higher wages or take a larger part of the Uppers Class’s wealth in any other number of ways. The U.C., then finding themselves threatened may decide to react by using their money and friendships in Washington to affect change in their favors. Most recently, I think that the more common method of trying to keep goodwill is for the constituents to offer to pay higher taxes (knowing that it will never come to that).  I find it interesting to think that a class so often seen as miserly and “above-it-all”, still seems to be so easily swayed by this type of rhetoric.

The dirty trick is, according to where the politicians put their measuring sticks, the Middle Class could be made to be any group. From an income of $30,000 up to $120,000? You are Middle Class. From $28,000 to $150,000? Boom – you are Middle Class. It is all about political expediency. The politicians constantly play fast and loose with rules, regulations, and our money, so why should their rhetoric be any different? If there is a political point to be made, or some “points” to be earned for their next election, they will paint you in any shade that they need to, to make their point (or to engage fully in their fear-mongering). The Middle Class has to be the most bandied-about segment of America.

These methods of politicians to get various classes to argue and fight with one another, while the politicians get away with murder, creates this huge positive feedback loop. Costs increase with every promise and entitlement given. While it seems to have been this way as long as this blogger can remember, I do not expect it to change (especially since blowing that class-dog-whistle works so well). The government has given goodies to pry support from certain groups, and now it is nearly impossible to reduce it. They need constantly to keep money flowing, while others, seeing these sweet deals, want their “fair share” too. Ever-increasing funds are needed as more and more people join the rolls. Where is it supposed to all come from? Sometimes, I wonder how much a little critical thought is worth – well politicians are attempting to figure that out for us all.

(This post took me forever, due primarily to the fact I started Tweeting, and that’s like Internet crack. I told those responsible that they’d be noted as my distractions): @tamale102280, @iteabellsingers, and @apologyispolicy
They’re good people – follow ’em if you don’t already!

Insider Trading; Not for the Hoi Polloi

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Nancy Pelosi

I made HOW MUCH from that tip?! Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

So, beginning with a CBS, 60 Minutes exposé this past Sunday evening, politicians began scrambling to attempt to explain their habit of using inside information to make themselves rich. So far, the biggest names involved are: former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, Senator Diane Feinstein, current Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Representative Spencer Bachus. While the posts held by Pelosi and Emmanuel seem to lend the most leverage to playing the market unfairly, Bachus finds himself being held accountable by his own party. His seeming lack of knowledge of the stock market evaporated after he joined the House of Representatives.

Got a hot tip on how a new law’s fine print may affect a company, or how companies may benefit from pending legislation? Call your broker. While you are a member of the U.S. Congress, unbelievably, there is no rule against profiting. CBS.com notes, “Out of 975 federal entities, Congress and the Supreme Court are the only two that have no rules or laws prohibiting them from trading securities based on nonpublic information.” Things that have gotten traders on Wall Street hauled into jail, mean nothing to legislators in the United States. Raj Rajaratnam must be banging his head on his desk, knowing that he could have beat his insider trading case, if only he had run and won a Congressional seat first. For his efforts, Rajaratnam is estimated to have made somewhere around $19.7 million.

Raj Rajaratnam

A simple trader, found guilty of insider trading. Serving an 11-year prison sentence.

The massive amount of backlash against these practices has lead to Rick Perry producing a new advertisement saying legislators guilty of these practices should be thrown into jail. Senators Scott Brown(R-MA) and Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced legislation to prevent Congressman from partaking of the money-making activities. The “Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge” or STOCK Act of 2011, will be introduced today. It bars not only legislative members from profiting on their inside knowledge, but executive employees as well. That would apply to the former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, who made a bundle dumping Fannie Mae stock before the agency crashed and burned during the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

It is far from a partisan issue – everybody, it seems, is taking advantage of the inside info. Spencer Bachus is said to have shorted the market in 2008, just as the entire market fall hard. Andrew Breitbart has both lead the charge, calling for Bachus’ resignation, and closely monitored ongoing information about all the indicated, enriched legislators. Senator Feinstein invested $1 million in a biotech start-up, shortly before the company received a $24 million government grant. The following year, the company held an IPO where they netted $85 million.

Even putting stocks into a blind trust may not be enough of a bulwark against trading on privileged information – all a legislator would have to do is call up the holder of the securities, and tip-toe around subject matter that would affect the portfolio. A sort of “wink-wink, nudge-nudge”, buy or sell signal. Plausible deniability would be the order of the day. In the past, there has been legislation introduced in the House of Representatives attempting to ban Congressional insider trading. It never received more than 14 supporters.