The Obamacare Problem Isn’t Messaging, It’s Statism

July 1, 2013

You can bet your bottom dollar that, when the Republicans retake Congress and the White House and move to repeal Obamacare, Democrats will run to the mics to plead that it only needs “a few fixes.” Bunk. It’s a monstrosity and has got to go. Mitchell’s right: the problem isn’t Obamacare’s “messaging;” the problem is Obamacare.

International Liberty

The political elitists in Washington are worried that the American people are lukewarm – or even downright hostile – about Obamacare.

You can imagine two of them having a conversation, with the first saying, “Don’t these stupid peasants realize we’re giving them stuff?!?” and the second responding “We need the riff-raff in flyover country to feel grateful so they’re more likely to vote in favor of continued dependency!”

It never occurs to them that maybe, just maybe, people value freedom. Or, even if they don’t care about liberty, perhaps they object to the fact that government costs a lot and delivers very little. Nobody likes paying for a steak and getting a hamburger, after all.

But the statists think it’s just a matter of messaging, and this mindset is even seen in news coverage.

Here’s some of what Politico wrote today.

Obamacare MessagingThe Obama administration and its health-law allies are…

View original post 482 more words


Great moments in bureaucratic stupidity: requiring a disaster plan for a magician’s rabbit

June 30, 2013

And yet the bureaucracy wonders why we laugh and point at them. Magician Marty Hahne received a letter from the US Department of Agriculture ordering him to submit a disaster plan for the rabbit he uses in his act:

My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly.  I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.

Oh, he also has to prove he’s received training in how to implement Operation Save The Bunny.

My plan: In the event of disaster, Mr. Hippity-Hop is on his own.

File this under “Things so stupid, they have to be real.”

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Debunked: #IRS not targeting progressive groups like they did Tea Party groups

June 25, 2013

On Monday, The Hill and others carried a story that seemed to strongly change the narrative of the IRS “targeting scandal.” In testimony before the House Ways and Means committee, acting IRS head Danny Werfel said that the targeting had gone on longer than originally thought –into 2013– and that it had included liberal and progressive groups:

But Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said that the IRS told Congress for the first time on Monday that “progressive” was also a term used on BOLO lists. 

In a release, Ways and Means Democrats stressed that liberal groups were among almost 300 groups seeking tax-exempt status that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration reviewed for the May audit outlining the targeting of Tea Party groups. 

Levin said Monday that the audit left that information out, and called for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to bring Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George back for more testimony. 

“The audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of Congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way,” Levin said in a statement.

This would seem to weaken at least one aspect of what has been a major scandal for the Obama administration, that conservative and Tea Party groups were singled out inappropriately for special attention that amounted to political harassment and a denial of equal treatment under the law, based on their political views. If left-liberal groups were given similar treatment, then the charge becomes one of mere bureaucratic incompetence, rather than political persecution. And it would tie in with the administration’s favorite defense in scandals: “We’re not evil. We’re just stupid.”

But… Not so fast.

Writing for National Review, Eliana Johnson looks at this new revelation and finds yet another smokescreen:

Acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel on Monday told reporters that the now-infamous “Be On The Lookout” list was far broader than was originally disclosed in the Treasury Department inspector general’s report. Reports from outlets including the Associated Press, which I cited in my original report, and now Bloomberg News, confirmed Werfel’s account, indicating that various versions of the list not only included terms like “tea party,” but also “progressive,” “Occupy,” and “Israel.” 

A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word “progressive,” screeners were in fact instructed to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Whereas screeners were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” – 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activities – they were told to send those of tea-party groups off IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny. 

That means the applications of progressive groups could be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups were not. 

In other words, “Nice try, Representative Levin, but you might want to contact the White House to find out what’s next on the list of distractions.”

This does raise several questions, though. First, Acting Commissioner Werfel surely had to know of the disparate treatment of conservative and liberal groups and its significance in this scandal. Why bring this up as if it was exculpatory? A little “suggestion” from the White House? It may be time for him to come back to testify under oath to explain himself.

Second, this scandal has been known for weeks, and there have been days of testimony by various Right-wing groups complaining about mistreatment by the IRS. If lefty groups were similarly picked on, where were they? Why didn’t they demand to be heard? Why didn’t the Democrats produce them as witnesses? Surely they deserve justice, too, don’t they?

As Johnson’s research shows, they weren’t at the hearing because they had no complaint. The bureaucracy wasn’t interfering with the exercise of their constitutional rights.

Just ours.

RELATED: Evidence shows 12 different IRS groups targeted conservatives across the land. Those “rogue agents” sure got around. Jay Cost on the need for bureaucratic reform to protect the republic.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you, @SharylAttkisson

June 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, I mentioned CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s strong suspicions that her home and work computers had been accessed by unknown persons. Coming in the wake of revelations about the government’s seizure of phone records for journalists and editors at the Associated Press and a secret warrant for phone records and email belonging to Fox reporter James Rosen charging him with being an unindicted co-conspirator under the Espionage Act of 1917, Attkisson’s accusations couldn’t be dismissed as paranoia or mere attention-seeking.

In fact, she was right:

“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.

This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.

CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.”

Now, as an expert contacted by the Post’s Erik Wemple points out, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was the government:

Eugene H. Spafford, a Purdue University professor and specialist in computer security, said that Attkisson’s initial statements about computer intrusions left open a wide field of possibilities, from viruses to botnet activity to acquaintances to criminal gangs to the government. 

And an investigative reporter as determined as Attkisson, who’s looked into many sensitive topics –such as Fast and Furious… hmmm…–  could well have alarmed many different types of people who might want to find out what she knows, who she’s talking to, etc.

But, in late 2012, Attkisson was writing a series of articles on the Benghazi massacre that weren’t toeing the government line. Indeed, she was asking some tough questions, especially about the lack of a military rescue mission:

CBS News has been told that, hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.

The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

(hat tip: Ed Morrissey for the reminder of this)

That highlighted paragraph indicates anonymous sources. And if the government was forcing access to James Rosen’s phone records and emails (and his parents’ emails), and CBS was talking to anonymous sources giving out information embarrassing to the Obama administration, then it’s not at all hard to look at the break-in into Attkisson’s computers and wonder if something similar happened here.

It will be interesting to see what CBS discovers, and I suspect the relevant committee’s of Congress will have even more work when they do find out who was behind it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Not enough scandals for you? Here, have four more!

June 11, 2013

Via Gabriel Malor at Ace’s, who laments that the misbehavior at the EPA has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed so far by the IRS, NSA, Rosen, and so many other stories. He collects them all in a handy post, but here’s a summary:

  • Remember former Administrator Lisa Jackson’s hidden email account using a fake identity? Well, that non-existent person somehow won a departmental award.
  • The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to enhance government transparency by establishing procedures by which people can demand access to information. But, in the bureaucratic Mandarin Land of today’s EPA, only conservative groups have to pay for the information — and pay a lot. Naturally, leftist groups regularly get waivers.
  • Contractors turning public property into man-caves.
  • This is the bad one: the EPA released the personal information of 80,000 farmers and ranchers to radical environmentalist groups. But, don’t forget, we can trust the government with our private information.

Read the rest of Gabe’s post for more, and some acerbic analysis.

Meanwhile, I’m adding EPA to the list of government agencies that Congress needs to have taken out back and shot (1). It seems to be growing by the day (2).

Footnotes:
(1) Dear PRISM: that’s called a figure-of-speech. Don’t flag me, bro!
(2) Phineas’ List of Government Departments To Scrap, A Work In Progress:

  • EPA
  • IRS
  • HUD
  • HHS
  • Commerce
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Agriculture
  • Homeland Security

Some of these may well have necessary functions worth preserving — the Census, for example — but I’m willing to bet 80-100% of each could be dumpstered, saving us a lot of money and headache.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oh, no. This won’t set off conservative and libertarian alarm bells at all.

May 11, 2013
"The State watches over you"

“The State watches over you”

I mean, what’s so threatening about a biometric database of all adult Americans being in the immigration bill, citizen?

The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf)  is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.

This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.

Emphasis added.

Nah, there are no 4th Amendment illegal search and privacy concerns here. Nothing to see, carry on. After all, wingnuts, you demanded greater security in the immigration bill and, well, here ya go! The government will make sure only bona fide Americans get jobs by keeping track of each and every one of us. And if they should find other uses for the information, well, that will be for the public good, too.

And you thought Person of Interest was just fiction.

If this Wired story is true, this provision is reason enough to kill the bill.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day: On #GunControl, Obama, and lameducks

April 18, 2013

Writing in the Telegraph, Tim Stanley makes a trenchant observation in the wake of the defeat the gun-control bill in the Senate yesterday and the President’s angry reaction:

4. Barack Obama is a lame-duck president. Nobody listens to what he says anymore, nobody is interested in winning his approval and nobody much cares if he thinks they have “let the country down”. This is typical for a second-term president who has lost all their leverage because they’re no longer running for office and everybody is patiently waiting for the day when he quits the White House. But Obama’s difficult personality has doubled the size of the challenge. Gloating in victory, adolescent in defeat – the Prez doesn’t make it easy to work with him. Why should conservative senators give him a legislative victory after he has spent four years painting them as knuckle-dragging rednecks who hate women and the poor?

Narcissists just can’t stand it when their carefully nurtured inflated sense of self-esteem is punctured. When it happens, they take it personally and we get petulant tantrums, as we saw yesterday.

But this is just one victory for civil liberties against Progressive usurpations. Obama may have been checked in Congress on this, he may have little “banked political capital” left to shove major legislation through, but the presidency still has immense regulatory power, and Obama has often expressed regret that he couldn’t just bypass Congress.

The fact is that he can, quite effectively. So, while we indulge in a little justified satisfaction in this win for reason and constitutionalism, let’s also remain wary.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Hide your IRAs: Obama admin. — “We think you’ve saved enough!”

April 12, 2013
"Shakedown"

“We’re here for your fair share.”

Or maybe it’s the off-ramp to Cyprus.

Over at lefty blog Talking Points Memo (h/t Joel Gehrke), Brian Beutler has noted an interesting item in the White House’s latest budget proposal: a cap on the amount one is allowed to save in tax-deferred accounts. Anything over that is open to the taxman.

Per the budget, “Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-preferred savings vehicles are intended to help middle class families save for retirement. But under current rules, some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

But how would they close this loophole?

One way experts believe financial managers avoid the current annual contribution limit to IRAs is by using IRAs to participate in investments and assigning those investment interests a nominal value vastly below fair market.

Obama wouldn’t curb this practice directly. Instead his budget calls for an overall cap of about $3 million on the net balance across all of an individuals’ tax-preferred accounts. Only have one IRA? It can hold $3 million. Have three? Their holdings must sum to $3 million or less.

The $3 million figure is approximate. A formula would set the cap at a level just high enough to finance an annual distribution of no more than $205,000 per year in retirement for someone retiring this year.

Now, I can imagine TPM is just thrilled with this; it just reeks of class warfare disguised as “fairness.” We’ve got “reasonable levels” (Defined by whom? Oh, wait…) and the ever popular “loophole,” with its scent of someone getting away with something, cheating the rest of us.

What the administration is talking about, I believe, are self-directed IRAs  and other retirement vehicles that allow you to invest your money where you see fit (1). When you sell the stock and withdraw the funds, under the rules you’re taxed at a much lower rate. It’s a great vehicle for wealth creation and the encouragement of saving for retirement.

And that’s what they can’t stand. The rules as written prevent them from taxing this sheltered wealth to fund their bloated spending, so they’re going to change the rules. Oh sure, they say this is aimed the the “Romneys” of the world, those rich people who have sheltered more the $3 million, but how long do you think that barrier will last? About as long as it takes them to realize they need more.

Rocco always wants more.

This idea to tax sheltered money isn’t new; FDR, to whom Obama acolytes compare him, has his own undistributed profits tax, to punish businesses that were holding on to cash. (Look out, Apple!) That scheme blew up in Roosevelt’s face as business investment collapsed and the nation entered a new recession in 1937-38. You can bet a move like this would have its own unintended consequences, which the social engineers at Team Unicorn would blame on anyone but their own ham-handed, grasping, greedy policies.

This is progressivism showing its face as Leviathan. Forget that it was your skill and acumen and good habits that accumulated that wealth (and, through investing it, helped others by creating jobs, &c.); forget that this is, in the end, your money, yours to dispose of as you see fit, beyond that portion needed to fund the basic functions of government.

Forget all that.

The administrative state beloved by progressives knows what’s best. It has its plans and goals for us all, because it has divined the national will. Thus all the resources of the nation are at its disposal to meet those goals.

Including your retirement accounts.

This budget is dead on arrival, thank Heaven, but don’t think this scheme is going away. Oh, no. Once broached, it’s out there, waiting.

PS: I wonder if this is where Obama got the idea?

Footnote:
(1) You know: your money, your property, your liberty.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


So, one of the schmucks who designed Obamacare warns it’s “too complex.”

April 9, 2013

Now that he’s retiring and doesn’t have to face the wrath of voters, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) feels free to speak his mind:

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, one of the towering architects of Obamacare, on Tuesday openly criticized program managers for not moving quickly enough to build the system, warning that if it gets off to a bumpy start it will just get worse.

Decrying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as way too complex, he warned the acting Medicare director that Obamacare is “so complicated and if it isn’t done right the first time, it will just simply get worse.”

The retiring senator also told Marilyn Tavenner at her Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that Obamacare rivals tax reform in its capacity to confuse Americans.

Gee, ya think???

"Need a navigator, bub?"

“This? Confusing?? Surely you jest.”

Though I don’t see what Senator “I designed this monstrosity” is complaining about; people can always get a navigator and a translator.

And don’t you find Rockefeller’s naive faith that there was any chance in Hades that Obamacare’s implementation could ever be “done right” touching and quaint? He helped create it; surely someone can figure out how to make it work!

Why, I bet he believes in the tooth fairy, too.

Memo to those who voted for Obama in 2008 and, especially, 2012: We tried to warn you!

Next time, listen.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Eurozone Chief: Cyprus was just the start

March 26, 2013
"Obama loan officer at work."

“EU bureaucrat at work.”

Hoo, boy. I just had a feeling that, once the the EUrocracy learned it could take depositors’ money at will without a total meltdown, the temptation to do it again (and again and again and again…) would be too great to  resist. Thus we read in the Telegraph:

Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief

Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.

The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.

The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.

“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’,” he said.

“If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.”

Ditching a three-year-old policy of protecting senior bondholders and large depositors, over €100,000, in banks, Mr Dijsselbloem argued that the lack of market contagion surrounding Cyprus showed that private investors could now be hit to pay for bad banking debts.

Don’t you just love how Dijsselbloem puts it? “We’ll ask them to contribute.” As if Manuel the Madrid taxi driver, who’s put his life’s savings into a bank he thought he could trust, will get any chance to say no. If he’s lucky, he’ll wake one morning to discover that his masters in Brussels have left him anything at all.

This is just immoral. Depositors in Cyprus are being robbed to cover for the bad borrowing decisions of governments and the equally stupid lending decisions of bankers, and now Dijsselbloom and his fellow mandarins are casting their gaze across Europe and seeing a smorgasbord filled with tasty accounts waiting to have a bite taken out of them.

Let’s review an old principle of (real) liberalism that’s more and more forgotten these days: your bank account is your property, as it represents the fruits of your labor. Security in your right to property is essential to your liberty; if you do not have the first, then you lack the second. If some bureaucrat can come and take your property via a diktat dressed in legal finery, then you are not a free human being.

Desperate to save their precious Euro at all costs, the Eurocrats and the national governments are all but guaranteeing a future bank run and financial panic as frightened people take their money and try to put it beyond the reach of grasping, blundering officials and quite possibly creating the very crash they’re trying to avoid.

With establishment politicians like these, is it any wonder people turn in frustration and anger to radical politics?

PS: And I wish the EU would stop giving Obama ideas…

via Bryan Preston

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Interior Department destroys 100-year old small business

November 30, 2012

Drakes Bay Oyster logo

Because, y’know, we must all sacrifice for Gaia (1). Mary Katherine Ham summarizes at Hot Air:

It’s just a 100-year-old company and California’s only surviving cannery, a sustainable, family-owned operation employing 30 people. The Drakes Bay Oyster Company has been in a seven-year fight with the federal government and environmental groups over whether it’s 40-year lease would be renewed this week. The Lunny family, which owns the oyster farm, was among a group of families that sold their ranch lands to the National Parks Service in the 1970s to protect them from developers, with the understanding they would get 40-year-leases renewed in perpetuity. After buying and operating the oyster farm without incident— they were even featured as outstanding environmental stewards by the National Parks Service— the Lunnys learned in 2005 they were accused of bringing environmental damage to an area the NPS and environmentalists were anxious to designate as the nation’s first federally recognized marine wilderness.

And thus Secretary Salazar has decided to shut down a farm that accounts for 40% of the oyster harvest in California, in violation of the original lease agreement and on the basis of  “science” driven by an environmentalist agenda:

The trouble started in 2005, when Kevin Lunny, a local rancher, purchased the oyster farm from Johnson Oyster Co. He was required to get a special-use permit from the California Coastal Commission, which had placed a cease-and-desist order on the property as a result of previous problems.

In the midst of those negotiations and discussions about extending the 2012 lease, the Park Service came out with accusations of environmental damage, setting off a series of dueling scientific reports.

“What has happened is the National Academy of Sciences has shown that all the claims made by the National Park Service are wrong,” Lunny said. “It gives us a clean bill of health.”

Lunny and others claim Jon Jarvis, the Pacific West regional director of the National Park Service, deliberately misrepresented data to bolster his own ideological agenda.

Jarvis apologized Tuesday for mistakes that were made on the initial report but defended the Park Service’s handling of the science.

“They didn’t say our research was wrong. They just said it was incomplete,” Jarvis said. “What there really is here is a disagreement among scientists about the level of impact on the environment. That does not mean that one side is guilty of misconduct.”

The battle intensified in 2007, when the Park Service issued a report claiming, among other things, that oyster farming reduced the number of harbor seals and damaged eelgrass beds.

Lunny, who is trying to persuade the Park Service to renew a 40-year occupancy agreement in 2012, was furious. His case was helped by Corey Goodman, a biological scientist who reviewed Park Service studies on oysters.

They accused Park Service officials of fabricating environmental problems to drive the oyster company off the bay where explorer Sir Francis Drake purportedly landed more than 430 years ago.

Be sure to read the whole article. At best, the Park Service study was incompetent; at worst, it was a hit job meant to serve a Green objective (2), rather than objective science. Whatever the truth, a venerable business has been wrecked, livelihoods ruined, and the economy of California’s rural north, which has already suffered terribly (3) at the hands of environmental extremists, takes another blow.

This is another example of Washington-as-Leviathan, where abstract policy goals (and big donor groups) come before the needs of individual people, and science is a tool to be used to reach that goal, rather than a source of information leading to a wise, just decision.

(And didn’t Obama want to depoliticize science? Never mind…)

Of course, in the midst of this sad story is some irony, too. The Lunny’s farm is near Inverness, in Marin County, which is infamous in its liberalism. While we don’t know how the people of the area voted in the last election, Marin as a whole went 75% for Obama. (For comparison, California overall voted “only” 60% for the President.) Thus I think it’s safe to say a majority of the affected people likely were Obama voters.

How’s that for gratitude, folks?

That bit of snark aside, what’s happening here is unjust and needless, and one hopes that pressure from the public and Senator Feinstein’s office will find a way to undo the harm caused by Secretary Salazar’s arrogance. You can see a short documentary on the Lunny’s battle at Hot Air.

Afterthought: I suppose one can also take grim satisfaction at the thought of rich Bay-Area liberals having to pay more for their precious shellfish, given that Salazar’s decision will massively contract the available supply. Nah. They’ll never make the connection.

Footnotes:
(1) Except for the High Priests of the faith, such as Al Gore, who can jet around the globe as much as they need and just buy themselves absolution via the carbon credits scam.
(2) Of course, that’s S.O.P for Ken Salazar, who was found by a federal judge to have misrepresented the science in a report used to justify a moratorium on drilling permits in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
(3) Other than marijuana, of course, now that logging, mining, and fishing have been all but killed. If you eliminate legitimate industries, people will turn to what they have to in order to survive.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Relax! You’re not illiterate, you’re a victim with rights!!

January 2, 2012

Just because you failed to get your high school diploma or go back for a GED, don’t worry. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that employers who require a high-school diploma of applicants may be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The development also has some wondering whether the agency’s advice will result in an educational backlash by creating less of an incentive for some high school students to graduate.

The “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC said an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” The letter was posted on the commission’s website on Dec. 2.

Employers could run afoul of the ADA if their requirement of a high school diploma “‘screens out’ an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of ‘disability,'” the EEOC explained.

The commission’s advice, which does not carry the force of law, is raising alarms among employment-law professionals, who say it could carry far-reaching implications for businesses.

The EEOC of course disputes that this will have any far reaching affect in hiring  practices or discouraging people from  finishing high school. But… we know better. When a government regulatory agency rumbles, the first thing businesses do is try to figure out how to comply so they can avoid being sued. In this case, it would mean reevaluating each position to see if it really, really required a high school diploma to perform. And that costs money that could otherwise be required to expand a business and hire more people.

And I can already imagine the late-night commercials from plaintiff’s lawyers lining up for the inevitable discrimination lawsuits (and settlement fees).

“No job? No diploma? No problem! Call our attorneys at Dewey, Fleesem, and Howe, where we’re fighting for your rights!”

Now some may say I’m being unfair, because the EEOC’s discussion letter is aimed at discrimination against people whose disabilities prevent them from finishing high school. Yeah, well, I think I have a reason to be skeptical of the definition of “disability” when that same EEOC can define alcoholism as a protected disability and sue employers to prevent them from firing drunk truck drivers.

While a high school diploma isn’t worth what it used to be, having become so common, it does still demonstrate a basic level of achievement and education; it doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to require one for most jobs. We’re not talking about discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or religion, but an assumed minimum set of skills and learning ability.

What does seem unreasonable is the further expansion of government bureaucracy into the everyday workings of the economy, a place where it causes more problems than it ever fixes.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You have the right to drive while drunk, if it’s your job

September 1, 2011

And the US government will fight for you!

Feds to Trucking Company: You Cannot Fire Alcoholic Drivers

The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

Be sure to read the whole thing, and note that, while the company may not fire an alcoholic driver, it would still be liable for any damage or injury (or, God forbid, death) caused by the driver while hammered in a protected state of sobriety-deficiency. You can bet the company’s insurance agency has already sent them a notice of rate increase (if not outright cancellation) and that those increased costs will be passed along to Old Dominion’s customers, who will pass them along to their customers, until it reaches… us, the consumers.

But none of that matters to the EEOC, which will sue until you cry “uncle” to protect the God-given rights of rummies to drive 18-wheelers on the public highway.

Is it any wonder that the federal government comes in dead-last in a popularity survey?

via Zombie at PJM

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day, Weiner edition

June 8, 2011

Mark Steyn on Anthony Weiner’s peccadilloes as an argument against Big Government:

I don’t look to minor functionaries of the leviathan to be “role models.” Nuts to that: Weiner, Edwards, Rangel, [Your Congressman Here], “role models”? I’m just looking for the same level of integrity I expect from my hardware store or insurance agency. But by its nature Big Government will attract strange people drawn to “public service” for the boundless opportunities it offers the otherwise untalented for unearned perquisites and gratifications of one kind or another. As I said in my weekend column, you can’t have small government with big Weiners. The bigger the state gets, the more the modus operandi of its princelings will tend to the Weinerian.

Now all we need is “Weinerian opera.”


Restraining Leviathan III: when the IRS goes wild

April 24, 2011

Here’s a question, the answer to which may just be a hearty “WTF?” Why does the IRS want to turn US banks into deputy tax collectors for foreign governments?

Under a proposed regulation, the Internal Revenue Service would order banks to report interest on deposits from foreign investors, not to the US government, but to the home government of the depositor.

What’s the problem, you ask? There are five, but I’ll list two here:

  1. Foreign depositors have put trillions of dollars in US banks because of the very fact that we don’t report interest payments to their governments. Yes, it’s tax avoidance on their part, but the moneys deposited here help grow our economy through loans and investment capital. If this regulation is enacted, foreign depositors will have every reason to move their fortunes elsewhere, to places like Hong Kong or the Caymans, which don’t threaten to rat them out to their governments. That loss would be a tremendous blow to our already ailing economy and banking sector.
  2. Even worse, this regulation overturns established US law. Congress mandated this safe-harbor for foreign deposits 90 years ago in recognition of the benefits an inflow of capital would bring, and that law has been reaffirmed by our democratically elected legislators at least twice since then. Yet now a bureaucratic agency want to undue laws enacted by the legislature through simple fiat.

WTF, indeed.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has produced a video that goes into these and three other reasons why this regulation shows the IRS is Stuck On Stupid:

This proposed regulation and the harm it will do have attracted the attention of Congress, who’ve reacted in bipartisan opposition to this dumb idea. For example, Senator Rubio said in a letter to President Obama:

At a time when unemployment remains high and economic growth is lagging, forcing banks to report interest paid to nonresident aliens would encourage the flight of capital overseas to jurisdictions without onerous reporting requirements, place unnecessary burdens on the American economy, put our financial system at a fundamental competitive disadvantage, and would restrict access to capital when our economy can least afford it. …I respectfully ask that Regulation 146097-09 be permanently withdrawn from consideration. This regulation would have a highly detrimental effect on our economy at a time when pro-growth measures are sorely needed.

You can read more reactions to this bureaucratic usurpation at Mitchell’s International Liberty, though I have no doubt the statists in the Congressional Progressive Caucus think it’s just peachy.

LINKS: Other posts on Leviathan government.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The regulatory dictatorship

November 20, 2010

Back when I took Civics (and back when they still taught it), I was told that the role of making laws was assigned to the legislatures, as their members were democratically elected by the people. In fact, Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Near as I can recall, “all” means “every darned bit of it,” including the authority to rewrite laws.

So where does the Environmental Protection Agency get off rewriting the Clean Air Act to include things never intended, such as carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources?

This video from Energy Tomorrow talks about this and other examples of EPA’s regulatory power grab. Did you know EPA is proposing ozone standards so stringent that even Yellowstone National Park can’t meet them? Watch, there’s more:

Be sure to read my Twitter-buddy Jazz Shaw’s post on this for other examples of how our EPA is turning into Leviathan, and a link to a paper by Energy Tomorrow that provides an extensive list of EPA’s questionable activities.

You might recall the Left screaming about how the Bush Administration was “politicizing science.” Perhaps, but I suspect it is much worse under the Obama administration. The Progressive Left sees the environmental laws as a way to take control of the economy via regulation, well-beyond the laudable goal of protecting the environment. And we shouldn’t be surprised that this new regulatory imperialism has taken place after Obama came to office; his “Climate Czar,” Carole Browner, is a former EPA chief and was at least closely affiliated with, if not a member of, the Socialist International.

What an odd coincidence.

In any event, EPA’s “reimagining” of its authorizing laws are clearly unconstitutional and the agency needs to be reined in. The new Republican majority will have a lot on its plate when the 112th Congress convenes next year, but, given the damage these new initiatives can do both to the economy and our constitutional order, they should make holding the agency accountable a priority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Abusing the Constitution: health care and the case of the Commerce Clause

August 26, 2010

While we rightly agree to abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of what is and isn’t constitutional (barring changes via amendment), that doesn’t mean all its decisions are correct, or that its errors are without consequence. Among the more famous errors of the Court, consider Dred Scott v Sandford, which upheld fugitive slave laws; Plessy v Ferguson, which upheld segregation in state law; Buck v Bell, which upheld state laws mandating forced sterilizations; Korematsu v United States, which permitted the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII; and the recent Kelo v City of New London, which made a mockery of the 5th Amendment’s takings clause.

So, it should come as no surprise that another bad Court decision, Wickard v Filburn, is at the heart of the Federal government’s vast expansion of its power via an upside-down interpretation of the Commerce Clause. In the following short video essay, Reason.TV looks at the Commerce Clause, the expansion of federal power its abuse enabled, and frames it via interviews with two legal scholars: Erwin Chereminsky, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School and an advocate of the “living Constitution,” and John Eastman, Professor of Law at Chapman University and a constitutional originalist. I think you’ll find it worth the ten minutes:

I think for anyone who understands that the Constitution is a document intended to limit the Federal government’s powers, Chereminsky’s arguments are almost frightening. (Side note: Professor Eastman ran for the Republican nomination for state attorney general in the last election; I voted for him and I’m sorry he didn’t win.)

This debate isn’t just academic, as the video points out: rather, it is of immediate urgency as  Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration try to justify their statist health care plan and its individual mandate under the Commerce Clause. It also shows why Wickard, the foundation of Congress’ metamorphosis into Leviathan, needs overturning, whether through the Court in upcoming cases, or via a constitutional amendment that refines the meaning of the Commerce Clause.

If limited government is to have any meaning at all, this hole the Left has exploited must be plugged.

LINKS: More from Hot Air. Justice Scalia criticizes the theory of the living Constitution.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“Control the people?” Dingell’s gaffe

March 24, 2010

Michael Kinsley once said that the definition of a “gaffe” is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Michigan representative John Dingell (D-MI) may well have committed one when he said during a radio interview that ObamaCare’s benefits will take time to implement because it takes a while to control the people:

Let me remind you this [Americans allegedly dying because of lack of universal health care] has been going on for years. We are bringing it to a halt. The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.

And in case you don’t believe your lying eyes, here’s audio, courtesy of Hot Air:

At least he’s an honest statist, unlike his leader in the White House. Even if he didn’t mean to.

I’ll give Mr. Dingell half a point for being right about the Republicans: in the time they controlled Congress, they really did not do much to address problems in the health care system, thus ceding the issue to the Social Democrats*. However, it is an absolute untruth to say they have presented no plan during the current debate nor offered any cooperation. Republicans regularly asked to be included in negotiations and drafting, but were mostly excluded in repeated acts of high-handed arrogance. Ironic, to say the least, given the Democrats used to whine about being cut out when Tom Delay was Republican Majority Leader.

And they have a plan. It has been available for months. It was presented ably at the so-called “health care summit” with the President and the congressional Social Democrats, particularly by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). So, for Dingell to claim the conservatives have done nothing to help is … well, he either hasn’t been paying attention or he’s lying.

Maybe John will accidentally tell us the truth one day.

*(I’ve decided it’s wrong to refer to the Democrats as a “liberal, democratic party.” They are neither liberal in the classical sense of the phrase, nor are they really democratic these days. Instead, the Democratic Party is more of a statist, progressive party with much more in common with European social democratic parties. Hence it seems more accurate to call them “Social Democrats.” Or maybe “Progressive Statists,” as the mood takes me. Regardless, they’re sure not the Democratic Party anymore.)

LINKS: Sister Toldjah.


State legislatures revolt against ObamaCare mandates

February 2, 2010

Interesting:

Although President Barack Obama’s push for a health care overhaul has stalled, conservative lawmakers in more than two-thirds of the states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.

The proposals would assert a state-based right for people to pay medical bills from their own pocketbooks and prohibit penalties against those who refuse to carry health insurance.

In many states, the proposals began as a backlash to Democratic health care plans pending in Congress. But instead of backing away after a Massachusetts election gave Senate Republicans the filibuster power to halt the health care legislation, many state lawmakers are ramping up their efforts with new enthusiasm.

The moves reflect the continued political potency of the issue for conservatives, who have used it extensively for fundraising and attracting new supporters. The legal impact of any state measures may be questionable because courts generally have held that federal laws trump those in states.

Lawmakers in 35 states have filed or proposed amendments to their state constitutions or statutes rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit group that promotes limited government that is helping coordinate the efforts. Many of those proposals are targeted for the November ballot, assuring that health care remains a hot topic as hundreds of federal and state lawmakers face re-election.

Legislative committees in Idaho and Virginia endorsed their measures this past week. Supporters held a rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol. And hearings on the proposed constitutional amendments were held in Georgia and Missouri. The Missouri hearing drew overflow crowds the day after Obama urged federal lawmakers during his State of the Union address to keep pressing to pass a health care bill. The Nebraska Legislature plans a hearing on a measure this coming week.

Supporters of the state measures portray them as a way of defending individual rights and state sovereignty, asserting that the federal government has no authority to tell states and their citizens to buy health insurance.

There’s an argument to be made that requiring private citizens to buy a product as a matter of law violates both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The Ninth protects “unenumerated rights,” that is, those not specifically mentioned in the Constitution but still derived from natural law, while the Tenth specifies that powers not explicitly granted to the Federal government under the Constitution are retained by the states and the people. The argument over how to interpret these amendments and the proper balance of the roles of the federal and state governments is one of the oldest in American political history, going back to the Constitutional Convention itself.

I’m not an expert, but my guess is that an argument under the Ninth would be that the freedom to decide which products to purchase, if any, falls under the right of the individual to be sovereign over his property, including his money and his own person. Under the Tenth, it could be argued that, since the commerce in health insurance does not cross state borders*, Congress has no power under the Constitution to regulate it, and that state laws barring an individual mandate are therefore valid. Also, since no power to command the purchases of the people was granted, Congress has no authority.

*(I wonder if the Right is opening a can of worms by calling for interstate commerce in health insurance, since then Congress could regulate it under the Commerce Clause…)

I think an argument under the Tenth is probably correct; I have no idea about the Ninth, which, as I understand it, is rarely invoked in US law. Regardless, since I vehemently oppose socialized medicine and, in particular, ObamaCare, I hope these acts by state legislatures withstand constitutional scrutiny.

On the other hand, they do remind me uncomfortably of the Nullification Crisis

RELATED: A very good book on the Bill of Rights, with a chapter on the Ninth amendment.

UPDATE: I should point out that the Virginia Senate, which is dominated by Democrats, is one of the bodies voting to tell the Fed to stuff it.