Thursday, October 3, 2013

Harry Reid on "What right do they have"

Harry Reid often says some outlandish things, sometimes bordering on libelous, but none more so than his recent response to a question from a CNN media journalist.  It was outlandish on multiple levels and points. However these two stand out as cruel, heartless, and arrogantly incorrect.  His only intent is political gain, apparently at the risk of throwing children under the bus.

Here is the video of the question and Harry Reid's scurrilous response
Her main question was "but if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you want to do that".  His response: "why would we want to do that!"

To be fair, though not sure why, that response may be less about being in context to her question, than his dismissing the real questions about financing the government.  I doubt such fairness would be afforded were it a Republican who had made such a statement

The main issue in his statements for him as a constitutional officer of the U.S. Senate is his comment
"what right do they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded"

Perhaps Harry Reid should review the basic document of government, the US Constitution
Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution!
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

While he tries to shift the blame and call Republicans "reckless and irresponsible" it is obvious that this is no more than a game to he and President Obama.  Their stated position and strategy of absolutely no compromise is reckless.  Their strategy of closing open air parks and staffing them with more officers than Benghazi to keep closed than existed when "open" is truly irresponsible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Playing the Debt Blame Game

From the floor of the Senate:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Is this another "horrible idea" floated by, as Betty McCollum has described, those "Tea Party Republicans" who simply want to drive the American Economy into recession and destroy the "full faith and credit" of the United States?
From Rep Betty McCollum's web site:
"Tonight's vote was nothing less than Republican game playing with our government's debt obligations. This is a dangerous game that puts our national security, the U.S. economy, and millions of jobs in jeopardy. Congress had an opportunity tonight to ensure there are funds for our troops in harm's way and to protect America's fragile economic recovery as Congress and the President work to address the long-term fiscal crisis facing our nation. Instead the House Republican majority is signaling to global markets that it is willing to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States."
Does this meme sound familiar?  Heard it from the left, or far left ( example MSNBC) leaning mainstream media enough to make it a mantra you could recite in your sleep?  The Republicans are to blame for shutting down Government, blocking the ability to pay Government's Bills.  Perhaps this will come as news, news I am sure you might initially reject if you are of such a mind.  Clearly those of a mind with Rep Betty McCollum reject this notion, when its convenient, and would blame Rand Paul or Ted Cruz for, in her words, "National Security, U.S. Economy, and Millions of Jobs in Jeopardy".

But the initial statement above was from then Sen. Barack Obama’s Floor Speech, March 20, 2006, providing a screed against President George W Bush's request for a debt increase. However now he is on the opposite side of the debate, speaking with equal disdain in his recent speech Sep 15, 2013
“If we continue to set a precedent in which a president … is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to put — pay the bills unless you give us … what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely,” Obama said.
House Republicans, seeking to defund and delay implementation of the president’s signature health care law, have sought to use the upcoming debt ceiling and government funding fights to extract concessions from the White House.
Obama says he is drawing a line in the sand.
“What has never happened in the past was the notion that in exchange for fulfilling the full faith and credit of the United States, that we are wiping away let’s say major legislation like the health care bill,” he told Stephanopoulos.
“Never in history have we used just making sure that the U.S. government is paying its bills as a lever to radically cut government at the kind of scale that they’re talking about,” he added.
At that time, 2006, our National Debt was moving to $9 Trillion, now it currently is $16.7 Trillion, nearing double.  Each citizen owed roughly $45K, now its $52,864.93.  For a family of four, that's essentially the lifetime savings for the average American.

Every Democratic Senator in 2006 voted against the debt increase.  And in the house Betty McCollum has similarly been chameleon in her voting record:
McCollum, for example, voted against raising the debt limit every time it came up for a vote between 2002 and 2005. Since the Democrats won the House in the 2006 elections, though, she’s been a supporter of half-a-dozen measures with debt ceiling increases attached to them, including some straight increases, budget resolutions and three major economic recovery packages in 2008 and 2009 (the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac takeover, TARP, and the stimulus package).
Were his initial statements about George W Bush hyperbole, social gaffe, lack of of leadership, or is it as as Guy Benson stated entirely self interest:
Blowing through Obama ‘red lines’ isn't typically that big of a deal if you’re a foreign butcher.  This president usually gets more animated about defeating his domestic political adversaries, so don’t worry too much about the Hitler comparisons, Bashar; the administration has likened Republicans to terrorists and segregationists, so you only rank slightly above Mitch McConnell on the rhetorical hierarchy of evil.  In any case, Obama’s definition of preserving the “constitutional structure” tends to vary, and by pure coincidence, his conclusions often align with his immediate political interests.
That was $8 trillion ago.  Obama’s decision wasn't just throw-away symbolism, either.  Democrats fell just three votes shy of defeating a debt ceiling increase to “make a point” about Bush’s (comparatively modest) spending and borrowing.  Now, 2006 Barack Obama’s actions are being lambasted by 2013 Barack Obama as reckless threats to the republic.
Under President Barack Obama and Democrat Betty McCollum we now have a much more severe threat to our Country, one might say near double the threat under their "lack of leadership". A threat fed by the continual profligate spending of those who simply denigrate opposition rather than attempt to really work on the problems.   That's "lack of leadership".

And is it not reasonable to consider the crippling impact of the unpopular Obamacare in any discussion of debt?  Even Obama's favorite go to billionaire guy Warren Buffet has said, in an article released by Money Morning;
"What we have now is untenable over time," said Buffett, an early supporter of President Obama. "That kind of a cost compared to the rest of the world is really like a tapeworm eating, you know, at our economic body."
Buffet does not believe that providing insurance for everyone is the first step to take in correcting our nation's healthcare system.
"Attack the costs first, and then worry about expanding coverage," he said.
Democrats, like Barack Obama and Betty McCollum, have never been serious about the debt.  To them it is simply a hammer to use to bludgeon opposition into following their desires, or get punished!  Yes we can do better.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria - Agreeing with Betty McCollum?

I currently find myself in agreement with the early Betty McCollum opposition to Syrian intervention. Probably not for the same reasoning, but the end result is agreed.  However will that agreement be longer than a fleeting moment?

Betty McCollum has always been consistently and vocally against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sometimes to the detriment of truth to the American people (relating to the level of the Al Qaeda threat, while Betty McCollum has stated "Al Qaeda is not longer a threat", they really still are, as Lara Logan explains the lie).  But now that it is a Democrat President, and her mentor Nancy Pelosi is solidlyhere and here acting as a war hawk, seeking authorization for War, is Betty McCollum showing signs of reversing her heretofore solidly anti-war stance?

Betty McCollum voted against authorization for use of Military Force against Iraq.  She was steadfastly against Iraq and Afghanistan actions.  This action similarly based but one of its several rationales on use of chemical weapons. Later the evidence was found lacking, but prior to that point all intelligence agencies, notably the French, were saying they were there.  However at the time there were also UN approved authorizations, world wide acknowledgement, Congress voted 296 to 133 for action, the American people were predominately for such action as well.  Several months (18 or more) were spent working with the UN and Congress to provide diplomatic efforts and sanctions to try to get Saddam Hussein to change.

So is she changing her tone now?  This action has but one rationale, the use of chemical weapons.

2/9/2013 from her website she voices strong condemnation, no hint of intervention

I strongly support President Obama's efforts to work with America's western and Arab allies to stop the bloodshed. Though China and Russia have chosen to stand with Assad, the world will not. Already, nations across the Middle East and throughout the world are expelling Syrian diplomats, tightening sanctions, and ratcheting up pressure on the Syrian government. The time has come for President Assad to step down, and for the Syrian people to determine their own future.

 from her website hints at possible escalation, though undesirable
Now is the time for measures that will bring strategic pressure to prevent an escalation of the conflict, rather than add to the wanton violence of a situation already out of control. Unilateral U.S. military action against the Syrian regime at this time would do nothing to advance American interests, but would certainly fuel extremist groups on both sides of the conflict that are determined to expand the bloodshed beyond Syria’s borders.”

9/3/2013 from her website  hints at possibly being convinced
As I have stated previously, the U.S. should not take unilateral military action, but it is clear the Obama Administration is making significant diplomatic efforts to seek support from a host of nations, especially Arab League nations, for a limited military strike. President Obama’s plan can only be successful if the world is standing with the U.S.”

“It is my intention to return to Washington tomorrow, attend additional briefings, and consult with the Administration and Congressional colleagues.  President Obama must make the case and earn the support of the American people and Congress, including this representative, for limited and effective military action against the Syrian regime.  I applaud the President for fully engaging Congress in this critically important decision.”

So will she continue to be strident in her opposition for military action? Or will Betty McCollum follow her mentor Nancy Pelosi in now voting for Obama's Second War?  Her last statement would seem to indicate her evolution in thinking.  She also voted NO on on banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval. Hinting at a new openness to military action by Democrat President Obama.

But wait, the verdict is still out on the validity of the basis for the entire argument.  Intelligence sources have been mixed at best.  There was an Israeli interception of Assad communication that would imply Assad was taking such an action.  However there have been UN reports (from Huffington Press) that the syrian rebels, many if not most now are Al Qaeda terrorists, may have been the source of the sarin gas, and a Russian report to the UN where Putin claims:
Russia says a deadly March sarin attack in an Aleppo suburb was carried out by Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and it has delivered a 100-page report laying out its evidence to the United Nations. 
The later, Aug 21, sarin gas attack does seem more likely to be an Assad forces action.  However in this chaotic environment one would want to be a little cautious about exuberant behavior here.  There are no "good guys".

Nevertheless its getting embarrassing as previously anti war liberals jump forth to support Obama's Second War, with Howard Dean being one of the most recent nonsense talking heads.

Military action is not always a bad thing, nor one that should be dogmatically opposed.  But the mission rationale for US involvement, which seems sadly lacking, planning, both the action and the followup must be carefully planned, and well executed.  And here is where we see the most damning case against military action in Syria.  The utter incompetence of this CINC and his cohorts in the State Department.  A perfect military action can be not merely wasted but turned into a complete disaster by the political mismanagement that is evidenced in Obama's First War in Libya. An outcome that has benefited no one but Al Qaeda.  More on that next time.

Perhaps Betty McCollum needs some reinforcement about constituent views, which are overwhelmingly, 60%, against action in Syria.  If you would like to send her an email contact her here.

Update: bringing new meaning to the word fleeting, as I did a final look at email I found the Betty McCollum has made the transition to supporting military action.  Who knew..  Call and tell her your displeasure.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Betty McCollum, Does she mean Open Borders?

Congressional District 4 Representative Betty McCollum held what was termed a listening session on immigration policy on July 22nd at the Minnesota State Capital.  There were two presentations that spoke to the primary message that was the "take away".
1) Betty McCollum's introductory remarks, a full court press demeaning Republican intentions
2) Hector Garcia's that let slip the mask to see the desired end point.  Open Borders, not immigration "reform".

The participants were:
US Rep Betty McCollum 
MN Sen Sandy Pappas
Matt Bostrom, Sheriff, Ramsey County
John Keller, Immigration Law Center
Michehe McKenzie, MN Advocate for Human Rights
Bruce Thao, Hmong American Partnership
Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council
Abdullah Kiatamba, African Immigrant Services
Steve Hunter, MN AFL-CIO
Bernie Hess, Local UFCW
Matt Kraemer, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Juve Meza, Student
Rev. John Guttermann, Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
Joanne Tromczak-Neid, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

The panels were as devoid of any balance in viewpoints as they could possibly be.  Immigration is a complex subject, with many aspects that must be discussed and thought out to form good immigration policy.  Is that possible, or intended, when only one view is considered?  It works very well for partisan politics, but not for real resolution of differences.

In her introductory remarks (shown in entirety in the video here) Betty McCollum stated:
"It is time for us to listen to the American People and pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Our communities need our Nation to provide a bill that meets the needs of our economy, keep families to gather, improves border security and interior enforcement, without compromising our values, or dividing communities. And something that will provide a pathway to earned citizenship for qualifying undocumented immigrants.  Unfortunately there are too many members in the house Republican caucus that want to block any attempt on comprehensive immigration reform.  Thats in the papers, I'm not, that's not a secret, people have heard that loud and clear.  So let me be clear, I fundamentally reject the solution by some of the Republicans in the, that the United States should just detain and deport eleven million individuals.  The opportunity to earn citizenship should not be out of reach in the Nation where immigration is such a fundamental part of our American story.  There should be a pathway for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and into the sunlight.  So that they can fully participate and investing our communities.  The Senate, US senate, should be commended for taking a concrete step to meeting this need."

While it is not a trait exclusive to her, Betty McCollum takes an extremist view of the Republican position.  Discounting completely the desire of virtually all Republicans to achieve immigration reform. Both fair and just. Just not taking the form that Rep McCollum would demand.  Yes the "papers", lead by an almost universally Democratic group of journalists (and here), do say Republicans want to block reform.  However, that is simply a canard to marginalize all but their own view.  Demagoguery will never achieve a solution to the problems they use as a wedge to stir dissatisfaction.

A key difference between the two views is that of securing the borders. Supporters of the Senate Bill, such as Rep McCollum, say that there are strict measures in the bill for border security.  However the DHS has full authority to simply say no to its implementation.  Leaving any such measures as impotent as if they were not present.

The US currently has one of the, loosest, most open enforcements of immigration.  Consider the Mexican policy  
Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.
The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

Article 27 of the Mexican constitution states: “Foreign citizens cannot own land within 100 km of the borders or 50 km of the sea; however, foreigners can have a beneficial interest in such land through a trust (fideicomiso), where the legal ownership of the land is held by a Mexican financial institution.” Of course Mexican immigrants to the United States can own land outright.

The restrictions in China are even more confusing, especially if you are Chinese

In Europe there are regions where there exists a Schegen Border Code for those Nations. There are practically open borders between them, for a period of 90 days, with proof of travel health insurance (also here).  However there is strict enforcement at the external borders.

This is essentially what the participants in the Betty McCollum listening session would appear to have really wanted.  For the United States to have completely open borders, without the limits of Schegen, with no enforceable laws to impede anyone from unfettered immigration or migration across what used to be national boundaries.  Could any national economy long survive and ultimately provide even basic services under those conditions?  Or is it intended to?

That was the clear message from Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council presentation on "Globalization" and immigration.  video
The context in which immigration is discussed is domestic, when it is really an international matter.  The immigrant, particularly the undocumented immigrants really are the primary social controversy in all these discussions.  Don't appear just after they cross the border, they have existence prior to that.  And I, I'm an immigrant myself from Mexico, now a citizen of the US.  I promoted the American Free Trade agreement, since before it was named as such, in 1990.  And that was the first agreement in the current stage of globalization.  And that to me is the context within which people from poorer nations are moving to more affluent nations.
And that has to be taken into account because they were not the ones who promoted globalization, it was promoted by the West, lead by the United States.  So if they end up here, it as a lot to do with the decisions that were made in Congress.  And this information is unfortunately not given out to the public as often as it should. Although academics know this quite well, there are a lot of researches throughout the country that know what the sources of undocumented migration are.  It is not publicized.  And so I think its never going to be possible for us to make appropriate decisions on immigration reform unless we understand the context.  And in that regard I believe that by acknowledging the context of globalization we will not only be able to resolve the challenging issue of undocumented migration, we will also be able to live more in keeping with the realities of globalization.
So these individuals are primarily here because they come from poverty stricken areas in their countries of origin, primarily Mexico and Central America and they have been cornered into an economic situation that does not give them many options, except to move to the United States, which is the wealthiest nation in the world.  Some others unfortunately have taken other directions which are even more dangerous, like joining the drug cartels of Mexico.  These problems will continue to mushroom until we decide that we have to manage the flows of labor that are part and parcel of international relations under globalization.
We cannot only think in terms of flows of trade, flows of capital, we need to acknowledge that people are going to go where the jobs are.  And if we change the game on them, their going to go where the new game is at. So I think by making their status official, in accordance with their countries of origin we will be better able to place them in those industries and jobs that most need their services.  Without that official status I don't think the undocumented migrants will ever be treated fairly or justly, because they don't have an official status.  They will be treated the way they are being treated now, and its not very justly.
But justice alone cannot be the only reason why they should be treated in a different way.  Economically in addition to the justice side would really make more sense of whats going on in the world that keeps changing around them and we're not helping them to understand what's going on and we're not helping them manage the consequences of those changes.  So which ever way we can help them, you [Rep McCollum] and others who are making these decisions to understand better the origins the repercussions how to better manage those flows. 

Further examination of the term "globalization" was given in a paper on the topic of Population, Migration, and Globalization.  Spelling out in more concise and explicit detail what this is really about:
Globalization, considered by many to be the inevitable wave of the future, is frequently confused with internationalization, but is in fact something totally different. Internationalization refers to the increasing importance of international trade, international relations, treaties, alliances, etc. Inter-national, of course, means between or among nations. The basic unit remains the nation, even as relations among nations become increasingly necessary and important. Globalization refers to the global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, mainly by free trade and free capital mobility, but also by somewhat easier or uncontrolled migration. It is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. What was international becomes interregional.
The word "integration" derives from "integer," meaning one, complete, or whole. Integration is the act of combining into one whole. Since there can be only one whole, it follows that global economic integration logically implies national economic disintegration. As the saying goes, to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. The dis-integration of the national egg is necessary to integrate the global omelette. It is dishonest to celebrate the benefits of global integration without counting the consequent costs of national disintegration. 

So if the goal of your view is open borders, it was an exciting discussion.  If you desire both fair and manageable immigration policy, while maintaining the ideals of American Exceptionalism as the greatest entity for good in the world, it was far more troubling!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Misrepresentation of Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground is a legal concept that is being too often deliberately misrepresented. Charles Cooke at National Review  states it even more clearly: "By dint of an unholy marriage between genuine ignorance and political opportunism, the Zimmerman trial has this week led to a peculiar dispute as to the propriety of so-called Stand Your Ground rules."  Mr Cooke goes on with a very thorough and excellent analysis of stand your ground.  See also the review at Hot Air.

It is part of and an extension to the Castle Doctrine.
The legal concept of the inviolability of the home has been known in Western Civilization since the age of the Roman Republic. The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle." This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628. The dictum was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "English" from the phrase, making it "a man's home is his castle", which thereby became simply the Castle Doctrine. The term has been used in England to imply a person's absolute right to exclude anyone from his home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.
What SYG does is add two key components to self defense legal definition.
1) That the right to defend yourself, without having to first retreat, where ever you have a right to be.  It is not lost simply because you are not on your home/property.  The lack of that right gave tremendous advantage to criminals.
2) Extension of statutes that shielded people from any criminal/civil suits for using force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. Without that, people were too often driven to penury to provide their own legal defense by unreasonable prosecutions.

One of the misrepresentations is the deliberate misapplication of the Fourth Amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons" is often where they stop in their protestations.  However the application is evident from the reading of the entire amendment. It is protection from the government partaking in unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause.

Another, and one of the more egregious, misrepresentation comes from President Barack Obama.  As one that lays claim to the title "Constitutional Lawyer" should know his statement is incorrect, said in a recent Nationally televised speech:
From American Thinker
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?
It is instructive to compare what Mr. Obama said to the facts, as stated by Florida's criminal code (emphasis is added):
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

"Stand your ground" does not, therefore, entitle you to shoot somebody just because he makes you uncomfortable.  That's unless the discomfort is the physical kind that results from a violent assault.

The best study of Stand Your Ground cases in Florida was done by the Tampa Bay Times, in reviewing the almost 200 cases that they have documented in Florida.   Their diffusive analysis looks at a variety of situations and "explanations" of the application of the law in cases, some inconsistent, some unexpected like drug deals gone wrong.  A variety of weapons, other than guns, were evident in about one third of the cases.

The paper did a series of articles on their research.  The most significant for purposes of the current discussion dominated by Al Sharpton (who brought us the Tawana Brawley scandal revisited by the NYTimes ) and many people active in the progressive movement against the Constitutional 2nd Amendment, is an article reviewing racial aspects of the data.

They made two key observations, the rest mainly speculations and simple discussion
Point 1 ) Whites who invoked the law were charged at the same rate as blacks.
Point 2 ) Whites who went to trial were convicted at the same rate as blacks.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 cases — the first to examine the role of race in "stand your ground" — found that people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time.
Overall, black defendants went free 66 percent of the time in fatal cases compared to 61 percent for white defendants — a difference explained, in part, by the fact blacks were more likely to kill another black.
"Let's be clear,'' said Alfreda Coward, a black Fort Lauderdale lawyer whose clients are mostly black men. "This law was not designed for the protection of young black males, but it's benefiting them in certain cases.''
The Times analysis does not prove that race caused the disparity between cases with black and white victims. Other factors may be at play.
The analysis, for example, found that black victims were more likely to be carrying a weapon when they were killed. They also were more likely than whites to be committing a crime, such as burglary, at the time.
The use of "per cent" typically implies the use of statistical treatment, which is not really present.  There is no discussion of "standard error" in the statements or descriptions.  The further discussion that shows the myriad reasons and situations found, demonstrate that any reasonable statistic for error would be so large as to dwarf the differences they report. Hence their basic 2 statements. That would run counter to the ability to make any but a personal emotional statement about what it means.  Many are more than eager to make their emotional accusations for a variety of reasons.  Chief among them is the desire for political gain.

From Wikipedia another study that diminishes the racial argument
Another analysis of stand-your-ground laws by economists at Georgia State, using monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics, found a significant increase in homicide and injury of whites, especially white males.[8] They also analyzed data from the Health Care Utilization Project, which revealed significantly increased rates of emergency room visits and hospital discharges related to gun injuries in states which enacted these laws.
The perplexing cases in application of the law is by no means limited to Florida.  Many states have cases where information is murky and defendants can do some strange things.  In Texas a black woman was clearly threatened by a black male with a knife.  After taking out her gun and shooting him, she then takes pictures.  None of which lessens her right to protect herself from deadly force.  The whole thing was recorded by a surveillance camera.  Perhaps she did not know that, and thought pictures might protect her.

Another case that closely parallels Zimmerman - Martin is that of a black man who killed a white teenager when the teenager charged him.  Mr Roderick Scott was acquitted.  The best summary of this case that I have seen is at Snopes.  However another site which calls everyone comparing the cases "racist", a common theme amongst those misrepresenting the Stand Your Ground laws, states:
Scott, we must remember, was on his own property, defending his own property originally, from three individuals – not one – who were actively engaged in undisputed criminal behavior.
There are two reasons why the racist site is wrong.  The most important is, the action of the other committing a crime often means little as a defense against manslaughter.  If Mr Scott had simply walked up and shot the criminal, he would have been convicted.  The other is that, as Snopes stated, Scott heard a disturbance on his property, told his girlfriend to call the police, but left his property to confront two people rummaging through his neighbors car.  The third was walking away.  And finally, calling people racist or accusing them of being complicit of murder because they analytically review reports and disagree with the Al Sharpton's of the world is more about defamation than fair discussion.

So here is the obligatory review of some of the facts about Stand Your Ground and the Zimmerman - Martin case, from Hot Air
Had he chose, Zimmerman could have demanded a “Stand Your Ground” hearing in the pre-trial phase. If the judge had ruled in his favor, the charges would have been thrown out. He waived his right to that hearing, which means the media obsession with SYG is a total non sequitur, sort of like their obsession with gun laws post-Newtown that would have done zip to stop Adam Lanza. Right? Not exactly. The concept of standing your ground, i.e. having no duty to retreat when force is being used against you, is also part of the general self-defense law that Zimmerman did successfully invoke in being acquitted.
Don’t take any of this too seriously, though. Like I said yesterday, the SYG outcry is less about the particulars of the Zimmerman case and more about giving liberals something to rally around for the midterms when the DOJ inevitably decides not to prosecute Zimmerman. This is politics. 
Since President Obama has inserted himself in this case, as he did in the "Beer Summit", what views has he held on Stand Your Ground in his political life.
President Obama may currently be calling on the states to review their respective “stand your ground” gun laws, but he wasn’t always so opposed to the right-to-carry rule.
In 2004, while a senator in Illinois, he co-sponsored legislation that allowed for the same rights.
The text summary read: “Provides that it is an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another. Effective immediately.”
The Illinois General Assembly website indicates then-Sen. Obama signed on as a co-sponsor on March 25, 2004.
As is usually the case with any legislation, there are several aspects that lead to a politician to vote for legislation. From they examine some of the "nuances" in Obama's positions.
Before one examines the validity of that claim, perhaps it’s best to revisit what the president said last Friday about SYG.
“It may be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations, confrontations, and tragedies as we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations,” Obama said.
Obama went on to acknowledge that SYG was not explicitly mentioned during the Zimmerman trial, which ended with the acquittal of the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but said that the self-defense law should still be examined because the message it sends to society.
“If we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed has a right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from the situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?”
He then posed the question of whether Martin would have been justified in shooting Zimmerman if he had felt threatened when Zimmerman followed him in a car, concluding that  “if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
So, it’s pretty clear that Obama has a problem with the SYG law, which would make him a hypocrite if he did vote to expand Illinois’s “Stand Your Ground” law — so, did he?
The short answer is: yes.  But there’s way more to the story, so it’s not a clear-cut case of hypocrisy and/or flip-flopping.
. . .
S.B. 2386 went on to clear both Democratically controlled chambers, the state House and Senate, by a near unanimous votes.  As the National Review noted, at that time Stand Your Ground laws weren’t a partisan issue.  They were merely viewed as common sense self-defense laws by both Democrats and Republicans.

National Review reviews that there was much less partisan issue when Florida passed the SYG law, nor since, until the opportune moment.
There was little outcry about the change from minority communities. Perhaps that’s because, as The Daily Caller discovered, “African Americans benefit from Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing ’stand your ground’ would help African Americans.”
A third of Florida’s Stand Your Ground claims in homicide cases are made by African-Americans, a rate nearly double the black percentage of the state’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that of Florida whites.
The "racist site" I discussed before, also claims that Zimmerman is being used as a poster child by racists and bigots.  They are projecting their own prejudices.  It would never have been brought to national prominence, had it not been that it fit the political meme they were looking for. They continually bring up Zimmerman to force their agenda and to force response within the context of Zimmerman.  The real issue should be a discussion about treatment of individuals in the judicial system. There are so many other cases that really should be receiving focus to achieve real "social justice", or the more preferable, simply justice.  But that's not the goal of Zimmerman baiters.

There are two cases here in Minnesota that really should be the focus.

First: Police brutality in Brooklyn Park.  An inadequate treatment is shown here.

Second: The case of Mrs Dorothy Dunning.  It is an egregious case of the use of "best interest of the child" in keeping a grandmother from adopting her grand children.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why is it Always Racism?

There once was a very liberal family who had two conservative friends, husband and wife.  The husband would attempt to strike up a discussions on politics and current events, contrasting liberal and conservative views.  Which made him rather unpopular, so he thereafter strove to never rock the boat (i.e. discuss politics), regardless of what was said to him.

At a Father's Day backyard party the matriarch of the very liberal family was giving all the male members of the family a Father's day gift.  It was a combination meat fork and digital thermometer.  The one son, who was the most conservative of the family made a remark as he studied the fork,

More Conservative Son: "It evidently won't let you cook pork rare!"

Very Conservative Friend of the family, who striving not to upset, goes over to More Conservative Son  and whispers a joke quietly in his ear.  More Conservative Son often posts Facebook links to news articles, and is expected to catch on to the "nanny state" reference:

Very Conservative Friend: "It must be a NY Mayor Bloomberg approved product."

More Conservative Son: Laughs politely.

A storm (slight double entente) begins, driving everyone to grab things and rush into the house.  The Very Conservative Friend heads to the bathroom as the More Conservative Son catches up to him and declares:

More Conservative Son, smiling and laughing: "I just got the joke! The joke about Bloomberg. Funny."

The More Conservative Son must have then told the joke to the rest of the family. When the Very Conservative Friend returns to the group he overhears the Extremely Liberal Patriarch:

Extremely Liberal Patriarch: "I don't think that was a racist comment", (turning to Very Conservative Friend  "Was it racist?  Was it about pork, is Bloomberg Jewish. Its a Jewish name isn't it?

Very Conservative Friend, in stunned disbelief: "No it was not."  Unable to stammer more in the face of the standard, but still wildly unexpected, fare of viewing everything a conservative says as racist.

Very Liberal Matriach: "Was it about the sale of large pops?"

Hopefully the entire family finally "got" the joke. The Very Conservative Friend will never know, since he can't press to find out.  But once again makes a mental note to NEVER again broach the realm of a political joke amongst liberal friends.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Moral Dilemma

Its odd how sometimes the actions of the Democratic Legislative majority create a moral dilemma they seem completely ignorant of.  The current bills that show this moral contradiction are the "Bullying Bill" and the "Childcare Unionization Bill".

The anti-bullying bill
Named the "Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act," the legislation (HF 826 / SF 783  ) would outlaw speech interfering with a student's ability to “participate in a safe and supportive learning environment." 
Nothing like solving a perceived bullying issue with an open door to the complete negation of free speech.  How it is applied is entirely in the potentially irrational perception of those who may also have alternative agendas.  The potential for complete violation of free speech and religious freedom is almost a certainty, because it only takes one person to "feel" they have been slighted to bring down the full weight of the Minnesota Judicial system on the target of their ire.  Thus forming a perfect storm of bullying that can be unleashed on a whim.  With a complete lack of accountability.

Then follows the Childcare Unionization bill (house article ,  HF950,  SF877).  The egregious bullying that is embodied in this bill is real and made worse by the intentional violation of constitution rights to equal representation. The author claims  “It’s simply about giving a group of individuals … the ability to try and form a union.”  But only a small group of the providers affected will be allowed to vote on the formation of the union.  It is rare that the Star Tribune comes out publicly against a DFL driven legislative plan, but even they see the faults in this bill.
From the Star Tribune
The legislation also appears to stack the odds in favor of a pro-union vote by child-care providers by unfairly excluding potentially thousands [ed. an understatement at best] of licensed child-care providers from the election process.
How can supposedly reasonable people rationalize this moral ambiguity of pushing for a bill to supposedly prevent "bullying" while simultaneously pushing to bully a group of people into participating in something they do not want to?  The one thing that appears consistent is that the bill would payback major donor blocks to the Democratic Party.

Again from the Star Tribune
The legislation would provide a union membership boost and a steady stream of new dues conveniently collected from providers’ subsidies. Providers who receive subsidies but don’t want to join a union would still have to pay “fair share” fees for representation.
Given that unionization’s success involves the public paying more, it’s hard to see how this legislation — or a lesser-known proposal that would allow collective bargaining for some home health care workers — is good financial stewardship of taxpayer dollars in an era of persistent state budget challenges.
So bullying appears acceptable, when its for their constituency.  For those legislators who voted against these bills, congratulations and thank you!  You withstood the pressure, and have voted against bullying.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Denying Your Vote

Have you gone into the election booth Nov 6, looked at the ballot for Judges feeling that glassy eyed fugue come over you?  That fugue is being used as the basis for making changes in how we elect judges.  To change from allowing you choosing to vote for someone, to only being able to vote against a governor appointment, six years later.

This was the topic of a recent Speechless Show.  Tim Kinley shows testimony from the recent hearings at the legislature.  This is a must see to follow the issue of electing judges.

The first problem is there is still much confusion about having Judges inform us where they stand on issues.  There is a perception that having them be silent on the issues maintains a higher level of "judicial independence and impartiality".  In reality ideology is present in everyone, and partisanship will be present always.  Shirley Abrahamson (in a MN State Bar Pub) wrote:
In Republican Party of Minnesota v White, decided on June 27, 2002, the United States Supreme Court held that the portion of Canon 5(A)(3)(d)(i) (2000) of the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct, providing that a “candidate for a judicial office, including an incumbent judge” shall not “announce his or her views on disputed legal or political issues,” violates the 1st Amendment.  In response to the United States Supreme Court decision in White, the American Bar Association amended its Model Code of Judicial Conduct.
So if they choose, the Judges can inform us of their principles and ideology, what informs their world view.  An unlikely event, but no longer restricted by rules.

The second problem is the election process itself.  The Minnesota Constitution states that we the people directly elect our judges.
Article VI, Sec. 7. Term of office; election.
The term of office of all judges shall be six years and until their successors are qualified. They shall be elected by the voters from the area which they are to serve in the manner provided by law.
But when election day comes around we almost universally find incumbent Judges running unopposed. Typically Judges announce retirement well before the election, giving the Governor the ability to appoint the successor. They later enter an election with the word "incumbent" beside their name, allowing for a virtual lifetime appointment if they choose.  In 2010 Washington County Judge Thomas Armstrong and his law clerk Dawn Hennessy both filed for election to "his" seat 3, followed by Armstrong withdrawing, a rather transparent attempt to "pass" the office.  Because it was a unique open seat, there were 25 candidates filing for the seat ultimately won by Tad Jude, and all the other District 10 seats were unopposed.  When asked why they did not run for the other seats, responses were that incumbency identified on the ballot made the probability of overcoming extremely low, and the subsequent threat of retaliation against their clients unacceptably high.

Two plans have been presented to address two very different ideological views.  The first is a very simple solution to that which the candidates have said was a huge issue.  Drop the word incumbency.  This continues the ability of the people to vote FOR a candidate.  Leaving the people in control.

The second plan is far more pervasive and is currently being presented as an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution to entirely change the constitution, giving full power to the Governor to appoint judges recommended from a merit selection commission. This will be dominated by lawyers, and judges, with some non-lawyers appointed by the governor. All of who will bring their partisan views to the selection process.  It eliminates voting for a candidate, but only redacting a governors appointment 6 years later.  Leaving self and special interests in control.

Minnesota Legislature: Bill seeks amendment vote to change how judges are elected
Voters would vote "yes" or "no" on an incumbent. No other candidates would appear on the ballot. If a majority of those voting on the retention question voted "no," the governor would appoint a replacement judge from a list of nominations by a merit selection commission.
Washington County District Judge Tad Jude said the proposed system would let the state's political and legal "establishment" pick judges and disenfranchise rank-and-file voters. Besides, he said, "I don't know what problem you're trying to solve."
This amendment will eliminate your current freedom to select the judges that could decide your fate if you appear before them for legal issues.  Rather than eliminating partisan influences, it will result in a very partisan biased process, appointment by the governor, a partisan politician, an unelected board of lawyers and judges who have an ideological (possibly fiducial) interest, and partisan appointees.  Senator Julianne Ortmann gives the definitive summary to the bill in a 1:18 minute presentation.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

MNCD4 2013 Convention a video retrospective

The 2013 Minnesota Congressional District 4 Convention was held Saturday 3/23/2013.  If you have never been to a convention here's a very brief guide.

The party business is conducted to elect officers for the next two years in the "off year" of the legislative election cycle.  The process of certification of the delegates and alternates, who are elected during the election year precinct caucus, takes much of the early part of the day. Then the possible constitutional issues, amendments and by-laws are considered and discussed.  The final order of business is the election of the new Chair, Deputy Chair, Vice Chairs,  and State Executive Rep. The day is filled with long periods where votes are counted or other preparation steps have to be done.

So these "lull" periods of the day are filled with often great speeches from many people seeking party office, endorsement, and legislators giving speeches of both information and encouragement to the people who have help in support for the party and the campaigns.  The speeches are a great vehicle to let citizens know what is happening at the many levels of government and to introduce candidates to the district supporters.

So here are the great speeches at the CD4 convention:

Candidates for State Party Chair
Bill Paulsen
Bonn Clayton
Don Allen
Keith Downey

Candidates for State Party Deputy Chair
Corey Sax
Kelly Fenton

Senate Minority Leader, Senator David Hann (48)
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (31A)
Senator Dave Thompson (58)

National Committee-man and woman:
Jeff Johnson  (one I always consider a must hear..)
Janet Beihoffer

Minnesota State College Republican Chair candidate
Danny Surman

Announcement of the 2013 Candidates Award
Tony Hernandez

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen

On my YouTube channel I found an interesting exchange between two commentors on one of the videos.
Commentor 1
Democrats don't care for the facts. They follow the old adage "One lies and the other swears to it..." The other being the media.  and so weak minded people are convinced that the "lie" is the truth.
Commentor 2
It is in fact "the facts" that the Democrats are interested in. Clearly not a large enough number to have stopped the liars and thieves that run the Republican party.  [commentor 1] Instead of just pointing fingers how about distributing some "facts" to justify your pejorative? How about the Iraq war? Jack Abramoff? Tom Delay? Plame? etc. You are showing your ignorance in an astounding fashion. The media is profoundly ruled by the right wing and their corporate agenda that the truth is forever gone.
My reaction:
LOL!  Oh you really meant that?
So let's take Commentor 2's arguments and consider each point.  Is what he presents really a collection of objective "facts", or misleading subjective reality?

"How about the Iraq war? Jack Abramoff? Tom Delay? Plame?"

I am not sure where he is going with that.  As an argument for "Republican lies" I find this stream of consciousness particularly un-convincing.

The usual liberal theme on Iraq was that there was no reason to go into Iraq.  An argument that will go on for eternity.  Was there a tie (of mutual support) between Sadaam Hussein and Al-Queda?  Not particularly.  They didn't really like each other either.  Sadaam was a singular threat to peace in the middle east, and murderous to people on a horrific scale. Intelligence agencies from France to Russia thought and reported he was nearing a nuclear capability. The latter of which was essentially "disproven", once it was all over. The world is a far better place with him removed.

For a Jack Abramoff, I'll raise you a Norman Hsu, John Corzine, Jesse Jackson Jr, Steve Westly And Steve Spinner.

For a Tom Delay there is Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich,  Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Senator John Edwards, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the list goes on.

Valerie Plame was "outed" by Richard Armitage, who is often ascribed as being a Democrat (though that seems unlikely) working for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.  The left's insistent theme was that Joe Wilson's statements undermined the Bush administrations arguments for invading Iraq (never mind his subsequent statement was at odds with his own congressional testimony about Saddam's interests in uranium rich yellow cake) causing a reprisal against his wife. Liberals claimed that it was Karl Rove who "outed" her, and could never get over the fact it wasn't. In fact they already knew she wasn't a covert operative and had found out the name of the leak. Armitage wasn't punished, didn't face trial, and wasn't even indicted. He said he was sorry, and the news moved on, while the trial continued.

The real message is that corruption is not really tied to political ideology.  All mankind falls short of righteousness irrespective of ideology.

The media is profoundly ruled by the right wing and their corporate agenda that the truth is forever gone.

This is a theme that makes me laugh every time it is spoken. There is so much evidence to the contrary that it cannot be seriously thought true.  It only "feels true" because so many people cannot distinguish the difference between "relative bias" and "absolute bias".  Comparing Keith Ellison to Collin Peterson may make Peterson seem conservative, but in any real analysis Collin Peterson is still liberal, with a 61% progressive advocacy score.

So starting first with real factual analysis of media bias:

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist
By Meg Sullivan December 14, 2005  
"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."
"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co-author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.
Five news outlets — "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," ABC's "Good Morning America," CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and the Drudge Report — were in a statistical dead heat in the race for the most centrist news outlet.  Of the print media, USA Today was the most centrist.
That was 2005, and the bias has become even more pronounced since then.

Washington Whispers Poll: Fox, O'Reilly Most Trusted News Sources
By Paul Bedard May 20, 2011
In a stunning rejection of network news and nightly news anchors, cable news, driven by the Fox News Channel and mouthy Bill O'Reilly, is now the top most trusted source—by a mile.
In a new poll from Boston's Suffolk University, more than a quarter of the nation says Fox is tops when it comes to who they trust the most and O'Reilly is the most believable.
Book: Liberal Media Distorts News Bias
By Paul Bedard June 16, 2011
The liberal bias of the mainstream media tilts so far left that any outlets not in that political lane, like the Drudge Report and Fox News Channel, look far more conservative than they really are, according to a UCLA professor's new book out next month.
"Fox News is clearly more conservative than ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and National Public Radio. Some will conclude that 'therefore, this means that Fox News has a conservative bias,'" he writes in an advance copy provided to Washington Whispers. "Instead, maybe it is centrist, and possibly even left-leaning, while all the others are far left. It's like concluding that six-three is short just because it is short compared to professional basketball players."
What's more, he says, "this point illustrates a common misconception about the Drudge Report. According to my analysis, the Drudge Report is approximately the most fair, balanced, and centrist news outlet in the United States. Yet, the overwhelming majority of media commentators claim that it has a conservative bias. The problem, I believe, is that such commentators mistake relative bias for absolute bias. Yes, the Drudge Report is more conservative than the average U.S. news outlet. But it is a logical mistake to use that to infer that it is based on an absolute scale."
And what about that ever popular meme that Fox viewers are less informed an assertion by comedian Jon Stewart (though the left thinks of him as "astute political commentator")
Similar single-issue reports exist on subjects like global warming, Obamacare, and the Ground Zero Mosque. If these were the only polls that existed on the knowledge of Fox News viewers, then one could see how Stewart could confidently claim Fox News viewers are always the most misinformed.
But all of these polls were conducted by ideologically liberal organizations out to prove that Fox News is biased and that conservatives are misinformed. What if a more centrist organization asked more factual questions on a broad array of issues? Turns out the Pew Research Center does such a poll and on a regular basis. And the results contradict Stewart’s claims.
Second: anecdotal evidence that even the son of Ted Turner, who has worked at CNN in the past, agrees that CNN is basically un-watchably liberal, and watches mostly Fox News.  Which leaves open the question of where that would place the ridiculously liberal MSNBC/MediaMatters.

So in review, it would seem the commentors facts and  assertions are dreadfully lacking as useful facts for his argument against Republicans.  Although it does fit handily in as baseless political strategy for discrediting the opposition.  All that aside, it does show the very real problem with extensive media bias and induced subjective reality.  People become easily confused about reality vs reinforcement induced beliefs.  Three people telling you something (reinforcement) does not make it true. But it will seem to be.

It’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.  –Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

For further examples:
PEW Study Winning the Media Campaign 2012 November 2, 2012
Both Candidates Received More Negative than Positive Coverage in Mainstream News, but Social Media Was Even Harsher

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Betty McCollum on the Sequester

The first event at the Saturday Mar 9 Woodbury town hall was a 3 round knock down debate on specific details about the sequester.  During her introductory comments Rep Betty McCollum made a statement about the sequester. See in the complete video from 4:40 to 7:30.  Or in this tubechop version of just the clip.

[Betty McCollum] If your family really had to make some tough decisions in spending and you were sitting around the kitchen table would you say well let's cut everything by 8%. Let's cut our mortgage payment by 8%, let's cut our food by 8% let's cut our moving budget by 8%, our transportation by 8%, our health insurance, we're just going to cut it all by 8% and that's how we're going to balance everything.  Now not one of you would do that in your real life. Unfortunately that's what the sequester is a real basic. There are some carve out's, department of defense is in one pot of money with VA and State and the other discretionary is another.  But the military came and testified, I'm on the military sub-committee, you know we don't need to cut our military teachers by 8% because if the schools aren't open...

[Voice from the back] Ma'am, ma'am tell us the truth. Its not 8%, [many voices come in] It 2.4.. Don't tell us..   Thank you..

[Betty McCollum] Sir, sir...[Betty trying to overwhelme the voices] ...  I have a limited voice, people came to hear, I'm going to make comments, and then we're going to open it up to comments.

[Voice from the back] We don't want to hear lies.. We don't want to hear lies..  [others adding..] Its 2%..

So for all the discord, what's the real history and facts of the sequester.

Both Betty McCollum's 8% and the 2.4% are "correct", just misleading or not complete descriptions, because of the varied way's statistics can be created to create a wide variety of impressions. Though probably a "bit" more misleading on Rep McCollum's part, because her use of "everything" is simply not correct.  The original proposition about the sequester was to cut 8% from parts of the military budget and some entitlements. So she is "technically" correct, the wording did use 8%. The combined areas that were subject to the cut comprises near 25% of the spending, that's how we get to 2.4% of the entire budget.  We can't really call it a budget since no budget has passed the Democrat controlled Senate since Barack Obama became President.  I am somewhat surprised Betty McCollum did not state this to quiet the detractors. As a member of the budget and appropriations committee's she would certainly know the exact terms.  Tactically [and that's what politics is all about, in the new Obama world] it wouldn't support her and President Barack Obama's meme of horribly damaging/draconian cuts. So she probably doesn't want to have it remembered as such, the "8%" certainly has much more flair.  The White House stance is too make the sequester look as painful as possible with immense histrionics, and has sent emails to that effect, committing to make it that way for the public.

The sequester was an idea originating in the Obama White House and submitted to Harry Reid and Congress as a way to get agreement to raise the debt ceiling once again by "balancing" increases with some cuts.
Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute, Impact of the Sequester
"Of the $85 billion in scheduled cuts, $71 billion will come out of discretionary funding, and $14 billion will come out of entitlement programs. Within discretionary funding, defense (excluding military personnel accounts) will be cut by around 8% across the board, and nondefense funding that’s subject to the automatic reductions will be cut by between 5 percent and 6 percent."
To follow Rep Betty McCollum's analogy, and correct it to match the actual sequester language and effect, you would have to modify her statement to be [noting "we're" = anthropomorphizing of federal government spending, which Rep McCollum agreed later in the discussion "we have a spending problem"]:
If your family had to make some tough decisions about reducing spending, you can't choose your fixed mortgage or health insurance, but might choose expenditures on gas and say we're going to cut all non-work related use of gasoline 8%.  And since we're more than a little over weight, we're going to go on that long needed diet and cut the, non child related, food bill by 8%  To get a 2.4%  reduction in our total spending.
Throughout the town hall discussion Rep Betty McCollum kept saying we shouldn't be doing these "across the board, dumb cuts". It would seem she would want to support an alternative to be able to make more scalpel like decisions in what to cut. Did she support the Inhofe-Toomey bill that would have given President Barack Obama the ability to do just that, "smart/targeted" cuts?  He said he didn't want that authority, did she support him in that?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Government by Histrionics Part II

Remember the Y2K scare?  It was hyped as Armageddon.  It would destroy the economies of nations and topple civilization as we know it, in particular ours.  It all ended with a predictable thud as the date passed and nothing happened.  Partly because businesses and governments were doing the right things to solve the problem, but the media paid little attention.  The largest part of why it was predicable to many, was because while the media was hyping about "clocks", it was evident that in many cases the clocks were simply crystal driven pulse timers (very precise frequency pulses that engineers call "clocks") that really knew nothing about the calendar.  The two digit year issue in software programs were corrected in time, as planned.  The media just has to have doomsday to sell.

Now we have Armageddon predicted once again by President Barack Obama as a result of the sequester that he originated and championed in 2011 (see Part I for more). This montage is a video showing President Barack Obama caught in the lie about who originated the sequester:

President Obama, spoke in complete histrionics, 10 days before his sequester is to take effect.

Note the gratuitous use of people as props for his performance.
Text of the speech (excepts)
And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite.  It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.  It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day.  It doesn’t make those distinctions.
Emergency responders like the ones who are here today -- their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded.  Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced.  FBI agents will be furloughed.  Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.  Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.  Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.
The histrionics also come from others in his administration, trying to prove the pain that will be a result, he starts to assure that:
1) Obama’s first sequester move: Releasing “waves” of illegal immigrants from detention centers

2) LaHood: Sequester will disrupt air travel even though we get more money for fewer flights now

Sad news: Sequestration might hamper more renewables projects and “investments”

Wall Street Journal
Flanked by emergency medical personnel, Mr. Obama made his usual threat of Armageddon if automatic spending cuts go forward on March 1. Americans can expect more such melodrama in the coming days, so as a public service we thought we'd break down the President's three biggest political tricks.
Americans need to understand that Mr. Obama is threatening that if he doesn't get what he wants, he's ready to inflict maximum pain on everybody else. He won't force government agencies to shave spending on travel and conferences and excessive pay and staffing. He won't demand that agencies cut the lowest priority spending as any half-competent middle manager would.
 But this is a message that Barack Obama is starting to lose and the truth.
Obama has just taken about double the sequestration amount out of the economy by his recent tax increases.  Those of course will not cause any ripples like the sequestration will. Hooey!

Charles Krauthammer flays the Obama histrionics argument [Video].

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: This is the most ridiculously hyped armageddon since the Mayan calendar. In fact, it looks worse than the Mayan disaster. Look, this, as you say, can be solved in a day, in an hour by allowing a transfer of funds. It's incredibly soluble, easily soluble. And the president is the one who ought to propose it. He won't, of course, because he is looking for a fight and not a solution. But secondly, look at this in perspective. 

In terms of the gross domestic product of our economy this is .003, it's a third of 1% of our domestic economy. On the domestic side, overall, it's 2.5 cents on the dollar. And overall, on the non-defense side, it's a penny-and-a-half on the dollar of reductions. Here we are with a debt of $16 trillion and the argument today is if we cut a penny-and-a-half on non-defense spending in one year it's the end of the world. If so, we are hopelessly in debt and we're going to end up like Greece. (Special Report, February 20, 2013)

So today Barack Obama starts the message shift to, "it won't be so bad". After spending weeks to instill, in the minds of the media and the low information voters, the panic that he wanted and needed, so he can get a Democratic Congress in 2014 to give him a blank check, no compromise needed. Playing both sides on the record, to give himself the option of saying "see I said it wouldn't be that bad", after spending weeks proclaiming the impending Armageddon
From Politico
He said the automatic, across-the-board cuts won't have an immediate impact except on those whose businesses are directly tied to the Defense Department but noted that other impacts will be felt, for example, if Head Start slots disappear.
"This is not a cliff, but it is a tumble downward," Obama said.
He predicted it would be a "big hit" on the economy, stifling economic growth, which could shrink by 0.6 percent. And he added that the "worst part" is that it is "entirely unnecessary."
So what has President Barack Obama been doing about the sequester?
Washington Times He's giving the Congress a whole 7 minutes!
Never let it be said that President Obama has failed to spend time with Republican leaders in seeking an alternative to automatic budget cuts that are due to hit most federal departments Friday. On Wednesday, for example, the president gave GOP lawmakers as much as seven minutes, a rare face-to-face encounter that the White House described as a “meeting.”
The White House’s characterization of this momentary huddle at the Capitol as a meeting illuminates Mr. Obama’s strategy in dealing with Republicans on the budget cuts and other fiscal deadlines.
A GOP aide: By the time Obama meets with the leaders, the cuts–$85 billion worth over the next seven months–could have already started to take place. It all depends on when Obama issues an order to let them begin. He has until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday to issue the order, according to an official with the Office of Management and Budget.

A senior congressional Republican chided Obama for the timing of the meeting.

"Either someone needs to buy the White House a calendar, or this is just a – belated – farce," the Republican said. "They ought to at least pretend to try."

From  2 great points:

1) Just how far has Barack Obama traveled to avoid reaching a deal on the sequester?  The House Republican Conference put together this clever video illustration of the President’s travels over the last two weeks, showing an itinerary of over 5,200 miles of jet-setting to gripe about the sequester.  The distance between the West Wing and Harry Reid’s office?  Why, that’s less than two miles:
2) Here’s what Woodward wrote in the op-ed that didn’t get them hot and bothered on Twitter, even though it should have: “[Months] of White House dissembling further eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans. (The Republicans are by no means blameless and have had their own episodes of denial and bald-faced message management.)”

Lest you be caught up in the histrionics and still cower at the thought of the sequester taking effect tonight, you can read 
Reason TV: 5 facts that will keep you from committing sequestration seppuku

or watch the video

 And finally this chart is the reality of the cuts.
President Barack Obama is using the sequester as a tool to campaign for midterm elections.  To smear the Republicans with his actions.  If you buy into his histrionic arguments, you are part of the problem, not the solution!