Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Real "Nuclear Option"


"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,[emphasis added] shall call a Convention for Proposing Amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; .....Provided that no State, without it's Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

In the face of continued abuses of individual rights and unconstitutional extensions of federal and judicial power, a call has arisen for an Article V Convention of the States.

The purpose of such a Convention would be the restraint of the federal government to it's Constitutional authority under the Enumeration of Powers and of the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts to their duty of applying Constitutional Law as written and understood at it's ratification (as opposed to the modern practice of exercising de facto legislative authority and interpreting the Constitution as a "living document" that must reflect the realities of the day), and a return of all rights and authority under the 10th Amendment to the States, to be exercised as their citizens see fit according to their individual State Constitutions.

While the Constitution has been Amended in the past (27 times, to be exact), each of those Amendments was the result of proposals from within Congress, itself.  A Convention of the States, as provided for within the same Article V, has never before been utilized and is distinctly different in it's application and scope.

To begin, what an Article V Convention of the States is not:  it is not a redrafting of the existing Constitution.  It is a process for the States to convene to propose and debate individual changes or additions to the existing Constitution; it is not subject to the approval of Congress.  The allowance for the States themselves to call for an Amendment to the Constitution was specifically meant as a curb against the federal governments abuse of power, a way for the States to preserve their Constitutionally guaranteed authorities and rights to conduct their own domestic affairs as they deemed best.

What an Article V Convention of the States is: it is a process provided for by the founders in the Constitution as a means for the several sovereign States to protect themselves from federal abuses of power by promulgating Amendments to the Constitution aimed at limiting federal authority;  it is, by definition, Constitutional and all Amendments thus approved by the Convention and further  ratified by three fourths of the (now 50) States shall have equal standing and authority with all other parts of the Constitution;  it's required by the Constitution that the Congress call the Convention upon receipt of declarations from two thirds or more of the States of the wish to convene such.  It cannot be refused.

Once called, a Convention of the States is hardly a free-for-all where the foundations of the United States can be dismantled, contrary to theories of alarmists.  The Convention is merely the framework wherein delegates from each of the States propose, debate, and vote on the suitability of several possible Amendments.  As such, it is unlikely any extreme measures will garner the necessary votes to be approved by a majority of the delegates and, if they were, they still would face the hurdle of gaining the ratification of three fourths of the States.  To take just two such examples, it is unlikely that any measure to allow a return to slavery in any State would survive nomination, and given that it only takes the votes of 13 of the States to block any proposal, it's equally unlikely that any proposal to curtail, abolish or repeal the 2nd Amendment would meet with any measure of success.

How it would work is that the Convention would propose, debate, and ultimately approve of a number of Amendments that would then be sent to the individual State Legislatures for ratification.  Given that the Convention as a whole would need to approve of any Amendments forwarded to the States, it's unlikely that the Amendments would number more than one or two, as is only suitable to such a serious matter.  The founders intended that the Constitution be open to amendment only for the most serious of situations and causes.

What would some of the potential benefits be and why should you care?  Firstly, there's the issue of individual liberty and rights guaranteed by the Constitution that have been subject to erosion due to the actions of government and activist federal and state courts over the last 150 years.  Every time the government assumes for itself jurisdiction over individual choices and actions, it takes the corresponding right and liberty away from the individual they claim to want to help.  Secondly, there's the issue of the right of people to govern themselves and arrange their societies as they deem proper.  Local control is almost always best, both as a means of police powers and a means of providing such charity as is necessary.  The individual members of a society or State are almost always better acquainted with their specific needs than any bureaucrat ensconced in a window-less cubicle in Washington, D.C.  The closer you can bring the potential solution to the problem, the more efficient and effective it will be.  If we can reign in the federal government and confine it to it's Constitutionally delegated authority, less money will be needed to be sent to Washington, leaving more resources to the disposition of the States.  If you don't send your money to Washington, you won't need to beg for it back in the form of "federal funding" for roads, bridges, schools, power grid regulation/construction, broadband, etc., etc.

Such a system would allow the greatest freedom and opportunity to each and every citizen to attain their ultimate potential.  It would also result in the eventual production of the best form of Republican government; as each State would be free to organize it's own affairs, the result would be 50 real-life laboratories experimenting with differing philosophies of governance.  Over time, the best practices would become obvious, and those systems that didn't work would fall by the wayside, relegated to "the dustbin of history".  It would allow people the ultimate in individual freedom, as well.  If your State began to institute social, taxation, and regulatory policies that you disagreed with, you could either attempt to change those policies through internal political action or you could simply "vote with your feet" and move to a State whose policies most aligned with your own ideals.  If you want a welfare state, where the government assumes responsibility for the well being of all of its citizens and determines the standard of living through such measures as price and wage controls, and you are willing to live under such a system and accept the high tax burden necessitated, no one would attempt to prevent you from moving to such a state.  That would be your right.  If you want a state where the government does little but administer the even-handed application of existing laws, protects individuals' rights and provides for the common defense, you could move to that kind of state, provided you are willing to take on the added responsibility of providing for yourself in return for the freedom to act as your reason and judgement deems best.

There is little not to like in the idea of an Article V Convention of the States and much that could accrue to our mutual advantage as individuals, States, and ultimately as a country.  I only hope that enough people can motivate their States to action in requesting the seating of such a Convention and that Washington hasn't become so lawless that they continue to ignore the Constitution, in favor of retaining their illegally arrogated powers and authority.

See the following links for more information:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Obamacare's Secret Weapon

First, we had "Barack O-Breezy" telling us to "Sign up Cause it's Hot":

Then, we had "Pajama Boy":

Those efforts at convincing young people (the 18-34yr old demographic) vital to the financial viability of Obamacare to sign up were widely ridiculed and largely ineffective, despite the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on the effort.  Now, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops.

BEHOLD! The ultimate, sure-to-succeed marketing campaign guaranteed to bring the young hipsters to Obamacare in droves:

That's right, Mr. & Mrs. America!  The controversy is over.  Those of you who foolishly resisted the advance of our beneficent government's attempt to take over our healthcare system and relieve us of the burden of responsibility for making sometimes difficult choices,  YOU are the reason the Obama administration had to resort to such hardball tactics.  You have only yourselves to blame.

Come on.  Seriously, now.  Who in their right minds could ever envision any of the administration's marketing attempts succeeding?  If anything, they seem carefully calculated to prevent young people from signing up.

Think about it.  Would any of these ads appeal to any member of a demographic whose foremost desire is to appear "cool", "suave", "sexy", "hip" or anything approaching a positive self image?  Hell, I'm over 50 and even I can see the target audience ridiculing and laughing at these images in contempt.  That begs the question:  "Why?"

Why would the administration spend millions of dollars in a marketing effort to convince the American people to participate in a program that only 35% (and falling) approve of?  And why would they do so poor a job of appealing to the 18-34yr old demographic that all agree is key to the success of the program?  And, if the 18-34yr olds are so vital to the success of Obamacare, why push for them to remain on their parent's healthcare plans until they are 26?  Doesn't that effectively give 50% of this vital sector an Obamacare "waiver"?

In spite of the erosion of the American educational system over the last few decades, most Americans can still do basic math and you've got two calculations working against the sign up of young people:   First, you've got the requirement that they be allowed to remain on their parent's insurance;  what young man or woman is going to volunteer to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket every year for insurance when they can remain on their parent's plan and pay little or nothing?  Ridiculous, right?  Second, you have the straight forward calculation of cost v benefit v penalty.  People in this demographic reasonably expect to not need insurance.  They are still young enough to retain the feeling of invulnerability all teens have, so they don't see any real need for it.  They also don't earn much money (especially in this Obama economy) and what little discretionary income they do have is earmarked for more important things (like girls, cars, & parties), so they have to do the math:  $100's/month and $1000's/yr in deductibles, co-pays, and premiums OR a $95 fine.  Even a graduate of a public school can do that math.

So again, why?

Some have said from the beginning that the ultimate goal of Obamacare is to tear down the existing healthcare system and replace it with true "single-payer", government-run Socialized healthcare similar to what they have in Canada and the UK and that the deficiencies in Obamacare and the botched roll out of was intentional, designed to generate such confusion and disgust with the whole thing that people would actually demand that the government step in and take over a system that has been "proven" not to work.

If so, then maybe, just maybe, Richard Simmons is the ultimate "useful idiot" and this latest marketing gambit by the Obama administration is the key to rendering Obamacare so ridiculous that virtually none of the supposed target audience will sign up, leading to the collapse of a system that is already so intertwined with the rest of the healthcare industry that all will become chaos, giving the government it's long sought after chance to ride to the rescue and implement it's single-payer dream.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

These Are The People Responsible

This is one of the people responsible.......

.....for helping to bring Detroit back from the economic and social disaster that it is.  George Cushingberry Jr. is a member of the City Council.  Last month, Detroit became the largest city in the U.S. (700,000) to declare bankruptcy.  As part of the restructuring plan, a new city charter was drawn up.  This new charter gave the city council the authority to elect it's own President and Pro Tem, as opposed to the previous process in which the positions were filled by the two highest vote getters in the election.  Mr. Cushingberry was elected to the position of Pro Tem by his fellow councilmen/-women.

The Detroit News blasted the appointment, calling him an  “old-school political operative” unlikely to  “support positive change or reform.”  He's seen as an example of the reason Detroit is in the straits it's in.

Mr. Cushingberry's response is/was quite colorful, indeed.  He fired back immediately, right there in the comments section:  “Dear Detroit News, Go to hell. Go straight to hell. Do not pass go and don’t even think about collecting $200."  This was on Tuesday.

This also happened, on that very same Tuesday:  Police found marijuana, open alcohol [container], and detected a strong odor of marijuana in Cushingberry’s vehicle during a routine traffic stop, according to WDIV-TV .

Councilman Cushingberry responded with what seems to be a pattern of eloquence and class:   “I was not coming out of any strip club.  I was coming out of the Penthouse Lounge, which is one of the places I’ve campaigned in all year."[emphasis added]  He elaborated further on his Facebook page,  “We never saw a t*t. Fox news is full of ___t.”  As I said, classy.  Rhymes, too.

A Detroit police patrol supervisor was called to the scene, WDIV noted, adding that the supervisor allowed Cushingberry to drive away after being ticketed for not signaling.  [T]he supervisor’s actions are now the focus of an internal investigation.  H/T to theBlaze for this story.


..........for ensuring the impartial application of the rule of law in the United States.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Attorney General Eric Holder is nothing more/nothing less than a political hack of the worst sort.  Well, he's outdone himself this time.  The federal DOJ has decided to involve itself in one of the most local of issues, school discipline.  Eric Holder's (in)Justice Department issued a letter Wednesday addressing  “nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline.”  The Department is now going to "monitor" racial disparities in school discipline policies and practices.  What this means is that if, in the opinion of AG Holder, or the Deputy AG head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division (this will be important later) find that blacks or Hispanics are seen as being disciplined "disproportionately" the federal government may take action against the school.

The DOJ justifies taking this step by referencing  unpublished data from the Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2011-2012 school year, stating the CRDC “has demonstrated that students of certain racial or ethnic groups tend to be disciplined more than their peers.”  The report goes on to assert  "While African-American students represent 15% of students in the CDRC study, they make up 35% of students suspended once, 44% suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. Further, more than 50% of students who were involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement are Hispanic or African-American."  You'll notice that the report makes no mention of whether the punishments were unwarranted, or that the students were innocent of the allegations of misconduct.

So, schools will now be punished if they dare to discipline one demographic over another, regardless of the facts of misconduct!  It's the same argument used by so-called civil rights "leaders" when pointing to the statistic that minorities make up a larger proportion of inmates than they do the population as a whole.  It's a straw man set up to divert the discussion away from any true sense of personal responsibility.  Anyone care to bet with me that once word gets out that schools will not be allowed to punish more black and Hispanic kids than whites or Asians that violence and other violations of school rules and disruption of the classroom won't increase?  It gets even worse when you consider Obama's newest DOJ nominee.

President Obama's nominee to fill the post of head of the Civil Right's Division of the DOJ appears to share AG Holder's activist leanings.  Debo Adegbile, currently senior council to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Sen. Patrick Leahy-D (VT), also worked for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), a civil rights law firm independent of the NAACP, from 2001 to May 2013.  In his role with the LDF Mr. Adegbile oversaw "the legal program and supervise[d] the legal staff in the areas Criminal, and Economic Justice, Education, and Political Participation, while remaining actively engaged in litigation and advocacy.”

During his tenure with the LDF, he also defended convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Abu-Jamal, a member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, stemming from a shootout that resulted after Abu-Jamal approached Faulkner, who had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s younger brother at a traffic stop.  He wasn't assigned the case pro bono as defense council, he volunteered to represent the murderer after he was convicted.  For reasons I'll never understand, Abu-Jamal, who confessed in front of several witnesses, has been a cause celebre' in liberal and activist circles for more than 30 years.  While Mr. Adegbile no longer serves as the President of the LDF and left the organization in May of 2013, the LDF continues to serve as Abu-Jamal's legal representation and is still attempting to appeal his conviction, despite the fact that they have exhausted all legal avenues of appeal.  Maybe they're hoping that they'll find something in foreign statutes they can bring before the U.S. Supreme Court?  After all, certain justices have said we should look to laws outside of the United States when deciding our legal questions.  Apparently the LDF shares Mr. Adegbile's view that when it comes to pursuing "justice" you can't allow yourself to be constrained by something a petty as the rule of law.

Eric Holder's activism is more important to him than his duty to ensure that the laws are applied equally and impartially.  He proved this shortly after he was appointed AG in the voter intimidation case in 2008.  For those who don't remember, the case involved members of the New Black Panthers standing in front of a voting place in Philadelphia intimidating white voters from going to cast their ballots.  From an article written in 2011:

In 2008, led by their leader King Samir Shabazz, members of the New Black Panthers (NBP) in Philadelphia intimidated voters by standing before a voting place in the city, dressed in their uniform of black beret, black jacket, black pants, and black boots and carrying clubs in their hands.  Last July 6, 2010, former DOJ official J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that attorneys in the civil rights division were instructed to ignore cases that involve black defendants and white victims. Adams said that “over and over and over again,” the department showed “hostility” toward those cases, including the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Adams said that some people in the DOJ  “argued that the law should not be used against black wrongdoers because of the long history of slavery and segregation. Less charitable individuals called it ‘payback time.’

If Adegbile somehow gets confirmed in his post (remember what I posted after Sen. Reid and Progressive Dems changed the rules on Executive Appointments?) we will have something worse than activist judges on the bench.  We'll have two of the most powerful people in the DOJ applying the law, and it's penalties, according to their own activist desires and views.

Speaking (writing) of impartial application of the law, the DOJ has finally named a head prosecutor to look into the IRS scandal of targeting Tea Party, Conservative, and religious organizations applying for 501c(4) status prior to the 2012 elections (in contrast, it took them less than 48 hours to begin an official investigation of "Bridgegate" involving Gov. Chris Christie of NJ) Barbara Bosserman, a Justice Department trial attorney, is leading the DOJ/FBI investigation of the IRS. She donated at least $6,750 to President Barack Obama’s campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Bosserman was also an Obama donor in the early stages of the president’s 2008 primary campaign.

Now why would the Department of Justice be the lead investigating party, rather than the FBI, as is customary?

The IRS admitted in May that it had targeted Tea Party and other conservative organizations who had applied for tax exempt status. Tea Party groups were asked to provide the tax agency with information such as the content of their prayers and [what] books they have read. Since the admission, acting IRS Commissioner Stephen Miller and exempt organizations head Lois Lerner resigned. But Congress still has many unanswered questions.

These are just some of the people (supposedly)  responsible to serve We the People as the public's servants, only to behave as if something as simple as an election somehow anointed them our masters.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

One For The Good Guys

Sometimes, when you're not sure what you're going to do, life hands you a "gimme".

I had no idea what I was going to post this week  until I saw this headline: "Local Labor Influence Takes A Hit".  I clicked the link and Voila!  Problem solved.

On Friday, Boeing machinists narrowly voted to accept the latest offer from the aerospace giant, going against the desires of the leaders of Local 751.  Approval was encouraged by state officials and national labor leaders, in order to keep the jobs (and the tax revenue) in Washington state.  There were 20 other states, most notably Texas and South Carolina, lobbying for Boeing to bring those jobs and set up in their states, promising that Boeing would receive the labor deals it needed to remain competitive. 

These same machinists had voted down a similar offer made in November by 67% before approving this deal by a slim 51%, a margin of about 600 votes out of nearly 24,000 cast.  Apparently, these workers, and the national leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, remembered what happened to the unions at Hostess when they got stubborn and greedy and refused to make concessions and realized that even if they don't get what they want, a job that pays so far above the national median wage is far, far better than no job at all.

The major point in the dispute seems to be pensions.  While not eliminating it's pension programs, Boeing sought to freeze current pensions and move current and future employees into defined contribution, 401k-type retirement plans.  This move was/is decried by some as "greedy" and an unfair exploitation of workers by a company that's making money (i.e., it's "profitable").

The attitude is fairly typical of those with an entitlement mindset.  The workers, under the influence of Progressive leadership, come to believe that the company and it's profits belong rightfully to them.  After all, they argue, they are the one's doing all the hard work.  The "suits" don't do anything to earn their salaries but fly around the world attending pointless conferences, take long $100 lunches, and spend the rest of their time figuring out ways to squeeze more production out of the poor bastard busting his ass working on the line.  Hey, you don't like it?  There's the door.  If working on the line for a 6 figure salary (including benefits) is such a burden, take a walk and let someone else have a chance.  They should be happy things didn't work out the way they did back in the days of Carnegie.  His workers decided they were the rightful owners of his largest steel mill and decided to not only strike for wages, they took over the mill and barricaded the entrances.  This led to the arrival of the Pinkertons and a confrontation that resulted in deaths of many of the workers (Hint: You should never throw rocks at the guys with the guns)

Something these people have forgotten:  IT'S NOT YOUR COMPANY AND IT'S NOT YOUR MONEY!  You are an employee.  You are hired to perform a certain set of tasks for a given wage and benefit package determined by the employer.  You don't have to accept the terms, but you don't have the right to force the employer to accede to your demands for ever greater wages and benefits, something that was largely responsible for the near collapse of the auto industry in Detroit and the city itself.

What I found most illuminating in the reporting on the situation with Boeing in Washington was the people chosen to comment on the deal:

Lynne Dodson, of the Washington State Labor Council said that "It's an indication of just how far Boeing will go.  It's more a reflection of corporate greed than [lack]of union power."  Ah, yes.  "Corporate greed".  Progressive-speak for any company that seeks to keep more of it's own money for it's own use.

Wilson Ferguson, President of a local unit of District 751, "Their fear and intimidation worked."  As opposed to the attempted "fear and intimidation" of threatened action by the union?  Strikes?  Walkouts?  Pickets intimidating Boeing executives?  The pressure brought by the NLRB?  Please. Boeing decided what they were willing to pay and the workers (keep in mind, the labor leaders get paid out of union dues) decided the old maxim "half a loaf is better than none" applied.

Leon Grunberg, a sociology professor at the University of Puget Sound and co-author of the book, "Turbulence: Boeing and the State of American Workers and Managers."  bemoaned the fact that the vote showed that "even a strong local is vulnerable" to the demands of a company that's "...doing very well financially."  Translation?  "They can afford to pay workers what they want, so they should."  How is a sociology professor qualified to comment on the financial situation and labor contracts of a billion dollar company like Boeing?

In order to buttress the article further they quote another sociology professor, Jake Rosenfeld, a professor at the University of Washington (coincidentally, he also has a book "What Unions No Longer Do." Maybe this article was just a way for them to promote their books?) who commented, "The very fact that Boeing was making these demands in the first place just has to be seen as discouraging ..."

Yeah, a company trying to come to an agreement with union extortionists in an effort to keep thousands of high-paying jobs in Washington, while at the same time remaining competitive with other giants in the industry, such as Airbus, is discouraging.  They should be happy Boeing's willing to bargain with them in the first place.  In a truly free market, Boeing wouldn't be obligated to spend millions of dollars going through these hoops.  If they could find a location better suited to their needs they'd be free to make their offer to the existing workforce with the understanding that it was "take it or leave it".  [They already know what would happen in that instance.  The NLRB has already interfered in Boeing's business model by threatening them with legal action when they were considering moving production of their new Dreamliner to another state.  It was the opinion of the NLRB that the company had no right to consider moving those jobs out of Washington simply because they couldn't afford the risk of frequent labor strikes shutting down production.  The NLRB said that such a move would violate the worker's rights. (?)]

"Discouraging" or not, these workers have at least guaranteed themselves jobs for the next 8 years.  They will have to start contributing to their own retirement plans, but they retain the current value of the pensions they have already accrued, as well as their healthcare coverage (at least, until Obamacare fully kicks in), something most American workers don't have.  And the Boeing corporation has the labor arrangement it needs to compete globally.  Sure looks like a win-win to me.  And by standing up to the demands of one of the largest labor organizations in the country Boeing has shown other large employers (job creators) that they don't have to cave to excessive labor demands and reduce their competitiveness (and profitability). 

Chalk one up for the good guys.