Friday, December 23, 2011

U.S. exit from Iraq leaves a power void - And ensures Obama's Place in History as Worst U.S. President

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commande...Image via WikipediaNever before in US History has an American president surrendered to a foreign power. Never before have we lost a war. Never before has a president surrendered after victory was final, total, complete, and a resounding success for all sides involved.

Barack Hussein Obama has ensured his status as the worst president in the history of the United States of America. All that remains is to watch, helplessly, as Iraq descends into chaos, anarchy, and either an Al Queda haven or an Iranian puppet state - or both...T

The Iraqi government lost more than a fighting ally when the last U.S. troops left the country Sunday.

Since the 2003 invasion, U.S. service members had woven themselves into the fabric of Iraq’s power structure - its politicians, soldiers, village elders and tribal sheiks.

Army and Marine Corps officers acted as small-town mayors. They had authority to spend nearly $4 billion over seven years on local construction and humanitarian projects via the Commanders Emergency Response Program.

U.S. military personnel - whether sergeants, platoon leaders or brigade commanders - helped settle major political disputes in Baghdad and brokered talks at local levels among various tribal chiefs.

Their power base: as many as 170,000 U.S. troops, M1 tanks, advanced jet fighters and the American military uniform.

Now all that persuasive power is gone. Left to fill the void are the State Department and a limited diplomatic presence at the U.S. Embassy and two stations outside Baghdad.

It took only one day after the U.S. exit for Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority to move against the highest-ranking Sunni, accusing the country’s vice president of terrorism and provoking a government crisis in the process.

“Our pullout is not just the number of brigades, it’s not about the numbers,” said retired ArmyMaj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, who has been to Iraq as an independent adviser and has interviewed returning soldiers.

“The Army had a postgraduate course in how to kill insurgents and work with the people,” he said. “They became toward the end the glue that tied together these factions in Iraq whose natural condition is to spiral apart.

“The Iraqis relied on us not just to kill insurgents and train the Iraqi army or do nation-building; they relied on us as an excuse to stay together.”

The Pentagon’s counterinsurgency strategy embodied more than killing. Protecting and winning over the population stood as a major goal, particularly after 2006, when Gen. David H. Petraeus rewrote the doctrine and took command in Baghdad.

It put emphasis on the commanders’ pocket money through the emergency response program. Officers could make spot decisions to build or fix a building, start electric power or make a condolence payment - without a lot of red tape.

In one town, cash on the spot enabled the Army to build a sports/community center, renovate a fruit-and-vegetable stand and complete a water-sewage treatment plant.

Then there was the pivotal 2004 battle to defeat Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr’s marauding militia in southern Iraq, a beating that told the fiery cleric that he would not rule Iraq by force. The militia had taken over several towns - including Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Diwaniyah - and imposed harsh Islamic law with terrorism and executions.

The Army’s 1st Armored Division executed Operation Iron Saber in stages, first destroying the enemy, then shifting to people-to-people programs that made soldiers part of the town’s leadership.

“I’ve got to think this was a watershed operation in terms of how to do things as part of a counterinsurgency,” Brig. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, an assistant division commander at the time, told The Washington Times.

The battle over, the Army began hiring local Iraqis for construction projects and reassembling the security forces who had fled.

“We crossed over from bullets to money,” Gen. Hertling said.

Gen. Scales told The Times that Iraqis no longer will have U.S. soldiers at the ready to make sure the local security forces fulfill their missions.

“Those in uniform maintain their cohesion based on their associations with us,” he said. “There still is value in being around a cohesive Western power that is essentially an army of a democracy.

“You know the old adage ‘leading by example.’ The Iraqis’ natural tendency is to break apart, especially at the midlevel management of the army in the past, was often assuaged by the moral presence of a respected U.S. Army.”

By 2011, lieutenant colonels who had been to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 are generals and have made as many as five tours to the country. “They had built long-standing friendships with Iraqis,” Gen. Scales said.

One such player is Army Col. John Paul Digiambattista, who did three tours, the last as a brigade commander.

He spoke with about the noncombat chores his brigade carried out in 2010 as it worked within a provincial reconstruction team to improve local governments.

“There are still efforts we can make to improve the government, improve what the government does for the people,” he said. “Democracy does not come easy.”

It is this intangible that the Iraqis will miss - the presence of Americans in the background who can step in to prod the government or help settle disputes.

“For those forces in Iraq whose aim was to keep the state together and rely on the U.S. Army for being a builder of the state, there was real trepidation about the American military leaving so precipitously,” Gen. Scales said. “A residual force is not just a bunch of privates sitting around Camp Victory eating hamburgers. A small residual force, had it remained in Iraq, would really have punched above its weight because of who it was by that time.”
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Retirements Confound Democratic House Quest

How does that song go, again? Let's see: "Happy Days are Here Agaiinnn!"

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s announcement Monday that he won’t run for re-election marks the 17th Democratic departure from the House this year, compared with only six Republicans. Those numbers don’t bode well for Democrats in their effort to take back control of the House in next year’s elections, Politico and The Hill report.

Democrats and Republicans alike see tough times ahead for House Democrats. “Members of the House don’t focus on their own politics. They focus on whether they are going to be in the majority and can push an agenda,” former Democratic Alabama Rep. Artur Davis told Politico.

“There are very few Democrats who see the prospect of the House shifting. I predict there will be five to 10 other senior Democrats that will announce their retirements in the coming months.”

The Democratic retirements fit a historical pattern. When either party loses a majority, its representatives get discouraged — and some hang it up. After the GOP ceded its House control in 2006, 27 Republicans opted for retirement, compared with six Democrats.

“Members of Congress don’t retire when things are good. They just don’t,” Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told The Hill. “I think they’re looking at it right now and saying, ‘It’s unlikely we’re going to win the House back. If anything, it’s likely we won’t have the Senate, and the White House is a 50-50 shot, at best.’”

Democrats also may be worried that it will be many years before their party returns to power in the House, especially with the economy looking like it won’t recover anytime soon, Chris Perkins, a GOP pollster in Texas, told The Hill.

“What it does is allow the Republicans to build a narrative,” he said. “It makes the recruiting efforts for the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]that much harder, when potential candidates see a lot of senior members bailing.”

Democrats also are fearful of the recent redistricting moves that will make some of their races a lot more difficult. Frank cited changes in his district’s boundaries as a reason for retirement.

California Rep. Dennis Cardoza, whose district was greatly reshaped, put the problem bluntly, telling Politico: “You have to represent people [who] you’ve never represented before. To represent nearly half of new voters . . . well, that’s not my idea of a good time.”

Some of the retirees aren’t too happy with their party leaders. Four of the nine Democrats who are departing and not seeking another office in 2012 voted against Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader.

Cardoza is upset with the White House, saying he is “dismayed by the administration’s failure to understand and effectively address the current housing foreclosure crisis.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Is a Progressive, or, is Obama a Totalitarian Fascist?

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...Image via Wikipedia

The first appearance of modern totalitarianism in the Western world wasn’t in Italy or Germany but in the United States of America. How else would you describe a country where the world’s first modern propaganda ministry was established; political prisoners by the thousands were harassed, beaten, spied upon, and thrown in jail simply for expressing private opinions; the national leader accused foreigners and immigrants of injecting treasonous "poison" into the American bloodstream; [and] newspapers and magazines were shut down for criticizing the government[?]

[N]early a hundred thousand government propaganda agents were sent out among the people to whip up support for the regime and its war; college professors imposed loyalty oaths on their colleagues; nearly a quarter-million goons were given legal authority to intimidate and beat "slackers" and dissenters; and leading artists and writers dedicated their crafts to proselytizing for the government.

Obama calls himself a "progressive". I take him at his word...T

When is the last time you heard a liberal describe himself as a "liberal"? It’s probably been a long time. These days, those on the left are more likely to call themselves "progressives."

Writing in The New York Times, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs said there have been two progressive eras — one in the early 20th century and the second under Franklin Roosevelt. He called on modern liberals to usher in a third era.

But what exactly is "progressivism"? To many people, the term "Progressive Era" evokes fond caricatures of Teddy Roosevelt and such reforms as safe food, the elimination of child labor and the eight-hour work day. Yet real progressivism was far more sinister. Here is how Jonah Goldbergdescribes the World War I presidency of Woodrow Wilson:

The first appearance of modern totalitarianism in the Western world wasn’t in Italy or Germany but in the United States of America. How else would you describe a country where the world’s first modern propaganda ministry was established; political prisoners by the thousands were harassed, beaten, spied upon, and thrown in jail simply for expressing private opinions; the national leader accused foreigners and immigrants of injecting treasonous "poison" into the American bloodstream; [and] newspapers and magazines were shut down for criticizing the government[?]

It gets worse. According to Goldberg:

[N]early a hundred thousand government propaganda agents were sent out among the people to whip up support for the regime and its war; college professors imposed loyalty oaths on their colleagues; nearly a quarter-million goons were given legal authority to intimidate and beat "slackers" and dissenters; and leading artists and writers dedicated their crafts to proselytizing for the government.

At the time of the Wilson presidency, progressives did not view the exercise of state power and the violation of individual rights as a war-time exception to be set aside in times of peace. To the contrary, Herbert Croly (founding editor of the New Republic), John Dewey (father of progressive education), Walter Lippmann (perhaps the century’s most influential political writer), Richard Ely (founder of the American Economic Association) and many others saw war as an opportunity to rid the country of classical liberalism and the doctrine of laissez faire.

Wilson, our first Ph.D. in the White House, made clear his complete rejection of the ideas of Thomas Jefferson and classical liberalism in his books and other writings. As Ronald Pestritto notes, liberty in Wilson's view was "not found in freedom from state actions but instead in one’s obedience to the laws of the state."

The primary domestic objective of progressives was to create in peacetime what Wilson had accomplished during war. They were able to do so a little more than a decade later. Franklin Roosevelt was assistant secretary of the Navy under Wilson, and when he led Democrats back to the White House in 1932 he brought with him an army of intellectuals and bureaucrats who shared the Progressive-Era vision. Indeed, most of the "alphabet soup" of agencies set up during the Great Depression were continuations of various boards and committees set up during World War I.

At that time it was commonplace for intellectuals on the left to be enamored of Lenin’s communist regime in Russia. And almost everyone who was enamored of Lenin was also an admirer of Mussolini’s fascist government in Italy. For example, General Hugh "Iron Pants" Johnson, who ran Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration (NRA) kept a picture of Mussolini hanging on his wall. The admiration was often mutual. Some writers for publications in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy wrote of their fascination with Roosevelt’s New Deal. As Goldberg explains:

The reason so many progressives were intrigued by both Mussolini’s and Lenin’s "experiments" is simple: they saw their reflection in the European looking glass. Philosophically, organizationally, and politically the progressives were as close to authentic, homegrown fascists as any movement America has ever produced. [They were] militaristic, fanatically nationalist, imperialist, racist, deeply involved in the promotion of Darwinian eugenics, [and] enamored of the Bismarckian welfare state.

The progressives saw the state as properly involved in almost every aspect of social life. Herbert Croly envisioned a government that would even regulate who could marry and procreate. In this respect, he reflected the almost universal belief of progressives in eugenics. These days, there is a tendency to think that interest in racial purity began and ended in Hitler’s Germany. In fact, virtually all intellectuals on the left in the early 20th century believed in state involvement in promoting a better gene pool. These included H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb (founders of Fabian Socialism), Harold Laski (the most respected British political scientist of the 20th century) and John Maynard Keynes (the most famous economist of the 20th century). Pro-eugenics articles routinely appearedin the left-wing New Statesman, the Manchester Guardian and in the United States in the New Republic.

One of the ugliest stains on American public policy during the 20th century was the internment of 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II by the Roosevelt Administration. Another stain is the resegregation of the White House under Wilson. Bruce Bartlett argues that these acts were consistent with the personal racial views of the presidents and that the Democratic party has along history of racial bias it would like to forget.

The worst excesses on the right in the 20th century are usually associated with Senator Joe McCarthy; the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), including pressuring Hollywood actors to reveal their political activities and name the identities of their colleagues; and domestic surveillance of political enemies.

Yet all of these activities have roots in the Progressive Era as well. Joe McCarthy started his political life as a Democrat (and later switched to be a Republican) in Wisconsin — the most pro-progressive state in the union. As Goldberg observes, "Red baiting, witch hunts, censorship and the like were a tradition in good standing among Wisconsin progressives and populists." The HUAC was founded by another progressive Democrat, Samuel Dickstein, to investigate German sympathizers. During the "Brown scare" of the 1940s, radio journalist Walter Winchell read the names of isolationists on the radio, calling them "Americans we can do without."

Civilian surveillance under American presidents in the modern era (for example under Republican Richard Nixon and under Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson) are extensions of what went on earlier in the century. However, modern surveillance does not begin to compare in magnitude to what went on during the Wilson and Roosevelt presidencies.

Bottom line: the next time you hear someone call himself a "progressive," ask him if he knows the historical meaning of that term.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Congressional Supercommittee Is Super Divided - But has Time-Tested Solution at Hand!

"The Kennedy across-the-board tax rates in the 1960s. The Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s, followed by the broader and bipartisan tax reforms of 1986 that got rid of a number of tax breaks, exemptions and other loopholes in order to lower the rates, cutting the top marginal rate to 28 percent as Toomey would do now. And let's not forget the Republicans' pro-growth capital gains tax cut President Clinton signed in his second term that unleashed a wave of high tech capital investment that led to full employment and a budget surplus"

So we are apparently to see from this "Super Committee" a package of phony budget cuts and massive real time defence cuts, all because the democrats will agree to cut NOTHING after Osama has increased spending by 4 trillion $ in 3 years, more that all the previous administrations in US history, combined, from Washington through Bush.

The above quote demonstrates 2 things:

- 1: There is a time tested alternative that would work, as it always has, and would raise revenues, as the democrats demand, which also means ...

- 2 The democrats DON'T WANT REVENUE, they want to tear down those who have, in the name of fairness. Whatever happened to the concept of "a rising tide lifts all boats"?

Conclusion: It ain't gonna happen! Our best alternative for now is to let the sequestration occur, and next time, don't cave when time to raise the debt limit comes. When Romney or Newt is president, and we control the Senate, all this can be reversed...T

Sen. Pat Toomey, the GOP's fiercest anti-tax warrior, stunned the supercommittee when he proposed raising taxes to break the impasse over cutting the government's monster debt.

The freshman Pennsylvania Republican has impeccable conservative credentials. Before he ran for the Senate last year, he ran the Club for Growth, an anti-tax, pro business political action committee that supported GOP House and Senate candidates who fought tax hikes, even knocking off some pro-tax Republican incumbents in party primaries.

Toomey's move was denounced by the Democrats who refused play his game, saying his plan didn't do enough to raise revenues. It also opened up a deeply divisive split in his own party.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the Republican co-chair of the supercommittee, has sided with Toomey, as have other Republicans, including party leaders. But dozens of members see his plan as a betrayal of the GOP's position against raising taxes at any time, especially in the middle of a weak, high unemployment economy.

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who calls Hensarling one of his mentors, gathered more than 70 signatures from House Republicans this week on a fire-breathing letter to the panel's leadership that called any tax increases "irresponsible and dangerous to the health of the United States."

But the headlines and the stories about Toomey's tax plan leave out a critical component. While it would cap a number of itemized deductions that taxpayers take, thus raising their taxes, it would also offset those increases by lowering the income tax rates across the board.

Under Toomey's plan, all of the income tax rates would be reduced by as much as 20 percent -- lowering the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent. The 10 percent bottom tax rate, created under President George W. Bush's 2001 tax cut law, would drop to 8 percent.

The details of these deduction caps are not clear right now and, as a chief analyst of a major business lobbying group told me this week, "the devil is in the details."

Overall, Toomey's plan would reportedly raise $400 billion in additional tax revenue, though an estimated $110 billion of that would be derived from higher economic growth and increased employment.

Supercommittee Democrats argue that his plan would hand huge tax cuts to the wealthy. But GOP aides say that most people in higher income brackets usually take many more deductions to lower their taxable income, so they would on average see their taxes go up.

President Obama and the Democrats are fixated on raising taxes on people who make more than $200,000, as well as small businesses who file as individual taxpayers, major corporations, and investors by raising their capital gains tax rate.

But these taxpayers pay the lion's share of all income taxes. Raise taxes on capital gains and you will get less venture capital investment and a weaker economy. Fewer Americans will sell assets they hold to plow their gains into higher performing, growth investments if the capgains tax rates take a bigger bite out of their profits.

Without knowing the full details of Toomey's plan, he is following a tried and true fiscal path to economic growth. We've had many recessions and downturns in the last five decades, and lowering the tax rates have always helped our economy recover and made it stronger than before.

The Kennedy across-the-board tax rates in the 1960s. The Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s, followed by the broader and bipartisan tax reforms of 1986 that got rid of a number of tax breaks, exemptions and other loopholes in order to lower the rates, cutting the top marginal rate to 28 percent as Toomey would do now.

And let's not forget the Republicans' pro-growth capital gains tax cut President Clinton signed in his second term that unleashed a wave of high tech capital investment that led to full employment and a budget surplus.

Even the Bush tax cuts in in 2001 and 2003 helped us get through several financial catastrophes, cut the deficit in half and produced a 4.7 percent unemployment rate in 2007 just before the subprime, home foreclosure scandal drove us into severe recession.

Still, it is hard to see this bitterly divided supercommittee producing a well thought out growth incentive plan under such a tight deadline, before Thanksgiving.

The driving force behind its creation in the federal debt limit battle was a series of annual budget deficits under Barack Obama's presidency that climbed to $1.5 trillion in his first year and hit $1.3 trillion this year. The total federal debt now stands at a whopping $15 trillion.

But the members of the supercommittee say they are no nearer to a deal now than when they began. They have agreed on a large number of spending cuts, but clearly the stumbling block remains the issue of taxes. Maybe the best course would be to set that issue aside for the time being, turning it over to the tax-writing panels of Congress, and concentrate on a plan to cut spending.

The supercommittee's mission is to cut at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That comes out to a little over $100 billion a year out of a nearly $4 trillion annual budget that wastes more than that sum each and every year.

If they can't agree on even that amount in savings, then I say, let the automatic budget cuts -- triggered under the debt limit deal -- begin.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Updates to the Site

A brief message to update everyone on changes to this site, and thanks so much for your readership these many years!

- 1: I have changed the e-mail subscription newsletter so that it now contains only a paragraph or two of text, with links pointing to the full post, here on the site. As it had worked out, people were just reading the emails, and never visiting the site, and I have made an effort to make the site more interactive. So, to that end...

-2: There are newer, more user friendly social media sharing buttons to allow more sharing amongst site visitors (see each post's footer!), and...

- 3: I have added Poll questions, which will rotate. You can vote multiple times, and for more than one answer. The questions will rotate every few days. Currently, the questions ask: "Worst US President?". You will find the poll in the right hand column, just below the list of followers. Please come join me, and vote early, and often (as do the democrats each and every election cycle!)

Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy the site!...Ted

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ObamaCare Goes to Court: A historic showdown on the constitutional limits of federal power

Category:Federal courthouses of the United StatesImage via WikipediaCommerce power under the Constitution meant the power to regulate, meaning in the English language of the day, "to make regular" the rules under which the various states would conduct trade and commerce. It was NEVER intended to be a huge federal entitlement to control all US and individual commercial liberties. The constitution, after all, was adopted to redress the failings of the articles of confederation, under which the various states had placed tariffs on each other, and adopted differing currencies.
This was so clearly the intent of the founders that it cannot be disputed. Only ignored.
Well, not this time. Obama care is such a monstrous expansion of federal power, that were it to be upheld, there would no longer be ANY limitation on what the federal government could command the individual to do, as this article makes clear.
For these reasons, the US Supreme Court will overturn Obama care this spring, and that outcome is not seriously in doubt...T
The "constitutionality" of the Obama health care law, Harvard Law School's
Laurence Tribe wrote in the New York Times earlier this year, "is open and
shut," adding that the challenge against it is "a political objection in legal
In announcing yesterday that it will consider the law's constitutionality,
the Supreme Court said it would give an historic five-and-a-half hours to oral
arguments. Perhaps by his Cambridge standard, Mr. Tribe thinks the nine Justices
are a little slow. We prefer to think this shows the Court recognizes the
seriousness of the constitutional issues involved. It makes those who cavalierly
dismissed the very idea of a challenge two years ago look, well,
constitutionally challenged.

Other critics of the constitutional case have suggested that its outcome
before the High Court will be a wholly "political" decision, a repeat of
Bush v. Gore. We trust the justices won't fall for this slur against
their reputation.

The issue at the heart of the ObamaCare challenge brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business is whether the federal government has the constitutional authority, under the Commerce Clause, to order everyone in the United States to purchase health insurance—the so-called "individual mandate." If that is so, critics argue, then there is no limit to what commercial activity the government can command. And make no mistake: Future governments would order specific "commercial" activity under this authority.

The latest spin to be directed at the constitutional challenges is that conservative judges on the lower courts are divided. In fact, it isn't just conservatives who are divided over the law's constitutionality. One of the appellate judges on the 11th Circuit in Atlanta who overturned the law in the case the High Court accepted is a Democrat. Open and shut? Not quite.

Among the conservative opinions on behalf of ObamaCare in the lower courts, the two that we'd call the most idiosyncratic and misguided were issued separately by Judges Laurence Silberman and Jeffrey Sutton.

Judge Silberman, in an opinion joined by Judge Harry Edwards, acknowledges that Justice's lawyers defending the ObamaCare individual mandate couldn't cite "any doctrinal limiting principles" to this new, expansive reading of the Commerce Clause. But somehow Judge Silberman found a justification anyway in a 1942 Court precedent involving limits on wheat-growing for personal consumption, because these personal decisions ultimately might affect interstate commerce.

As a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Silberman may have felt he was bound by that precedent as he interprets it. But the Supreme Court can revisit such precedents, or their misapplication, especially in light of its own more recent attempts to put some limits on federal government power under the Commerce Clause.

Judge Silberman also explicitly notes that an affirmation of such a broad Commerce Clause interpretation could become a "federal police power" to the disadvantage of the states—though he seems surprisingly unconcerned about it.

In a pro-ObamaCare decision in July, Judge Sutton abstracted the law's mandate in a way that allowed him to find it constitutional, rather than address the mandate's provisions as they are written into the law. But Judge Sutton did address the stakes in the case with unmistakable clarity: The High Court, he wrote, "either should stop saying that a meaningful limit on Congress's commerce powers exists or prove that it is so."

The Obama Administration's answer to the law's multiple discrepancies, contradictions and nuances has been to go all-in on the argument that overturning the mandate will overturn the entire law. It's true that without the mandate the law is unlikely to work, but the law is such a Rube Goldberg contraption that it won't work with the mandate.

We'd like to see the entire law overturned, but the mandate deserves its own constitutional judgment. It shouldn't be found constitutional merely because Justice's lawyers say its excision would ruin the entire law. Congress can't drop unconstitutional provisions into laws hoping that the Court will bless them simply because not doing so would invalidate the larger law.

Perhaps the most intriguing nugget in the Supreme Court's announcement is that it will take arguments on the law's Medicaid provisions. Intriguing because the Court was under no obligation to touch the law's Medicaid piece, which none of the lower courts invalidated. ObamaCare vastly expands Medicaid to the middle class and hammers hard any state that refuses to comply. It appears some of the Justices want to hear someone justify this federal aggrandizement as well.

The Court itself deserves credit for deciding to take this case this year, even though it probably means issuing a decision in an election year.

The law is already speeding the ruin of U.S. health care, increasing costs and reducing competition. It is easily the most unpopular major reform in decades and the most unpopular entitlement expansion ever. More broadly, it is impossible to duck the matter of whether this law's powers would stop at health care, as its backers insist, or whether it will be merely the first wave of other such mandated enforcements, if the federal government is given the power to compel individuals to participate in commerce, rather than merely regulate it.

These are issues involving the nation's core understanding of the citizenry's relationship to its government. Voters should have the chance to include the Court's verdict on the law when they go to the polls in 2012.
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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Who lost Iraq?

This may not be an impeachable offense: But it should be. The worst president, in terms of competance, ever to serve (and yes, that includes Jimmy Carter)...T

Barack Obama was a principled opponent of the Iraq war from its beginning. But when he became president in January 2009, he was handed a war that was won. The surge had succeeded. Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been routed, driven to humiliating defeat by an Anbar Awakening of Sunnis fighting side-by-side with the infidel Americans. Even more remarkably, the Shiite militias had been taken down, with U.S. backing, by the forces of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They crushed the Sadr militias from Basra to Sadr City.

Al-Qaeda decimated. A Shiite prime minister taking a decisively nationalist line. Iraqi Sunnis ready to integrate into a new national government. U.S. casualties at their lowest ebb in the entire war. Elections approaching. Obama was left with but a single task: Negotiate a new status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to reinforce these gains and create a strategic partnership with the Arab world’s only democracy.

He blew it. Negotiations, such as they were, finally collapsed last month. There is no agreement, no partnership. As of Dec. 31, the U.S. military presence in Iraq will be liquidated.

And it’s not as if that deadline snuck up on Obama. He had three years to prepare for it. Everyone involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was meant to be renegotiated. And all major parties but one (the Sadr faction) had an interest in some residual stabilizing U.S. force, like the postwar deployments in Japan, Germany and Korea.

Three years, two abject failures. The first was the administration’s inability, at the height of American post-surge power, to broker a centrist nationalist coalition governed by the major blocs — one predominantly Shiite (Maliki’s), one predominantly Sunni (Ayad Allawi’s), one Kurdish — that among them won a large majority (69 percent) of seats in the 2010 election.

Vice President Biden was given the job. He failed utterly. The government ended up effectively being run by a narrow sectarian coalition where the balance of power is held by the relatively small (12 percent) Iranian-client Sadr faction.

The second failure was the SOFA itself. U.S. commanders recommended nearly 20,000 troops, considerably fewer than our 28,500 in Korea, 40,000 in Japan and 54,000 in Germany. The president rejected those proposals, choosing instead a level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.

A deployment so risibly small would have to expend all its energies simply protecting itself — the fate of our tragic, missionless 1982 Lebanon deployment — with no real capability to train the Iraqis, build their U.S.-equipped air force, mediate ethnic disputes (as we have successfully done, for example, between local Arabs and Kurds), operate surveillance and special-ops bases, and establish the kind of close military-to-military relations that undergird our strongest alliances.

The Obama proposal was an unmistakable signal of unseriousness. It became clear that he simply wanted out, leaving any Iraqi foolish enough to maintain a pro-American orientation exposed to Iranian influence, now unopposed and potentially lethal. Message received. Just this past week, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurds — for two decades the staunchest of U.S. allies — visited Tehran to bend a knee to both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It didn’t have to be this way. Our friends did not have to be left out in the cold to seek Iranian protection. Three years and a won war had given Obama the opportunity to establish a lasting strategic alliance with the Arab world’s second most important power.

He failed, though he hardly tried very hard. The excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

But surely the obligation to defend the security and the interests of the nation supersede personal vindication. Obama opposed the war, but when he became commander in chief the terrible price had already been paid in blood and treasure. His obligation was to make something of that sacrifice, to secure the strategic gains that sacrifice had already achieved.

He did not, failing at precisely what this administration so flatters itself for doing so well: diplomacy. After years of allegedly clumsy brutish force, Obama was to usher in an era of not hard power, not soft power, but smart power.

Which turns out in Iraq to be . . . no power. Years from now, we will be asking not “Who lost Iraq?” — that already is clear — but “Why?”
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Obama: Campaigning Like It's 1936

Don't take just the author's word: Read "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg" and/or "New Deal Or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America" By Burton Folsom Jr. Both of which document in devastating fashion that it was FDR who prolonged and deepened the great depression, and is was his death, not the end of WWII, that finally ended it...T

While Republican presidential candidates are looking forward by proposing
variations of a flat income tax, President Barack
’s tax-the-rich campaign strategy is looking backward—to
Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 reelection campaign. FDR won his reelection, but the
American people lost: Roosevelt’s new taxes on business and the “economic
royalists” gave us the “Roosevelt recession” of 1937-38.

By August of 1935, Roosevelt had achieved some of his signature pieces of
legislation: a new entitlement program known as Social Security, banking reform,
pro-union reform, infrastructure expansion and massive transfers of wealth to
the poor and middle classes. Sound familiar?

FDR also ran up federal spending significantly: from 6 percent to 9 percent
of the economy.

However, FDR needed more revenue to support his big-government schemes. More
importantly, he needed a villain to explain why, given the passage of his New
Deal legislation, government spending and regulations, the economy was still

So he proposed raising taxes on the rich, which he dubbed a “Wealth Tax.” As
he explained to Congress in June 1935, “Our revenue laws have operated in many
ways to the unfair advantage of the few, and they have done little to prevent
the unjust concentration of wealth and economic power. … Social unrest and a
deepening sense of unfairness are dangers to our national life which we must
minimize by rigorous methods.” President Obama couldn’t have said it better

There were several components to FDR’s plan. First he wanted very high taxes
on the rich—up to 79 percent—and to lower the thresholds so that more
high-income earners paid more taxes. He also wanted to increase the estate
tax. As for business, he wanted to close the “loopholes,” a graduated corporate
income tax and a tax on intercorporate dividends.

But the bill that actually passed the Democratically controlled Congress in
1935 would not raise much money—estimated at about $250 million, which initially
seemed like enough to cover budgetary shortfalls. FDR’s associates acknowledged
at the time that the Wealth Tax was more about politics than policy, or as
Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau put it, “it was more or less a campaign

However, by 1936 Roosevelt needed yet more revenue and had apparently grown
to relish his new class warfare and railing against “organized money.” So he
proposed another business tax: an undistributed profits tax.

Like Obama, FDR faced what he saw as a big problem: Businesses had a lot of
cash on hand but weren’t spending it. “Regime uncertainty,” the reluctance of
business to hire and invest when faced with a growing onslaught of new taxes and
regulations, suppressed capital spending. No one knew what the future held so
businesses held on to their cash hoping to survive. Again, sound familiar?
Roosevelt believed that forcing businesses to spend that money would create
jobs. So he proposed, and got, his undistributed profits tax. If the
government were going to tax idle money anyway, maybe businesses would put it to

The irony, of course, is that the more FDR dreamed up new taxes and
regulations to get the economy moving, the more regime uncertainty he created.
And those efforts had a predictable effect: the economy began to turn south in
1937, resulting in the Roosevelt recession. Unemployment had fallen from a high
of 24.9 percent in 1933 to 16.9 percent in 1936, the year of FDR’s first
reelection—still significantly higher than the post-war high of 7.5 percent
during Reagan’s 1984 reelection and the current, and likely to remain, 9.1
percent unemployment rate under Obama.

However, unemployment under Reagan and Roosevelt were dropping quickly in
their reelection years, which boosted voter confidence. Not so with Obama. And
Obama’s embracing of FDR’s “soak the rich” tax policies—as FDR’s critics called
it—will do just as much economic harm now as they did then. While the
unemployment rate fell to 14.3 percent in 1937, it rose to 19 percent in 1938
and only declined to 17.2 percent in 1939.*

If President Obama is trying to draw lessons from FDR’s 1936 reelection, he
is learning the wrong ones. FDR had a huge majority in both houses of Congress,
so he was able to get his class-warfare agenda passed—though his efforts
expanded the growing divide between conservative and liberal Democrats. Obama
may complain about the need to tax the rich; Republicans won’t let him do

In addition, the country leaned more to the left then, with several national
demagogues—including Louisiana Senator Huey Long, Francis Townsend and Father
Charles Coughlin—constantly pulling FDR leftward (whether FDR really resisted
that leftward tug is a matter of opinion). There really is no strong national
voice to the left of Obama, except for MSNBC and perhaps Occupy Wall Street.
The lesson Obama should be learning from the 1936 election is that FDR’s
Wealth Tax and class warfare set the economic recovery back years. Obama’s
effort to channel FDR’s policies and reelection success would have exactly the
same impact.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy
Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow at

* For a discussion of the best figures for pre-war unemployment rates see
Robert A. Margo, “Employment and Unemployment in the 1930s,” Journal of Economic
Perspectives, Spring 1993.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Obama's Behavior Is Getting Worse

"I've never seen an adult in an important leadership position -- especially not the president of the United States -- show such frightening immaturity and self-absorption."

That encompasses Obama to the tee. Clinton was a liar, but this guy is a sociopath!...T

Obama's Thursday news conference was a sober reminder of the nature of the man in the Oval Office. I infer that even many of his supporters in the liberal media are finally catching on to the magnitude of his personality disorders.

How could a man in his important position continue to act so childishly, accepting no responsibility for his policies and behavior and demonizing everyone who dares to disagree with or oppose him? It's worse than embarrassing; it's unsettling.

From the conference we are reminded that Obama believes that:

--Only "big and bold" intervention by the government can get an economy moving; so long as he cites a few "expert economists" who agree with him, there can be no other legitimate opinion.

--Anyone who disagrees with or opposes him is engaging in partisan politics rather than acting in good faith, on principle and in the best interests of the country. Republicans have blocked him for partisan reasons for not just the past six months, but the past 2 1/2 years. He has "gone out of (his) way in every instance to find common ground" with Republicans. You know, as with "I won, John" and "I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talkin'" and "stay in the back seat."

--If Republicans continue to oppose his jobs bill, it will be because they don't want laid-off policemen, firefighters and teachers working again.

--The failure, waste and corruption in his $868 billion stimulus package are irrelevant when considering whether to embark on another such reckless venture. He doesn't need to explain away the damning empirical data on his stimulus bill, because economists told him it would work and therefore it did work. If he hadn't spent all that borrowed money, we would have experienced another great depression. Anyone who disputes this is either a rube or improperly motivated.

--It doesn't matter that he famously breached his promise that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent if Congress passed his stimulus bill or that studies show that only 7 percent of the stimulus money went toward infrastructure despite his commitments to the contrary. Nor does it matter that he cavalierly joked about having lied about the existence of a plethora of "shovel-ready jobs." He is a well-meaning liberal, after all.

--His good intentions also exempt him from accountability on the Solyndra scandal, because his ideology inclines him toward a blind faith in the existence of cataclysmic man-made global warming, which in turn requires him to mandate government subsidization of "green technologies." Those allegedly noble intentions further entitle him to a pass for ignoring those who warned the government not to proceed with the project. His intentions relieve him from responsibility for Solyndra's abject failure to meet the projections of the same kind of geniuses he is berating us for not following on his jobs bill.

--He still isn't the slightest bit concerned about our national path toward bankruptcy, addressing it only with a few throwaway lines about how this bill would pay for itself, even though no bill of his has paid for itself.

--He is going to stick to his lies that a) his bill is a "jobs bill," b) it would implement the "Buffett Rule" when Warren Buffett himself said he is only for raising taxes on the super-rich, c) the "rich" aren't paying their fair share of taxes, and d) Republicans have not put forward an economic plan.

--He is going to continue to pretend or fool himself into believing that the American people still back his socialist approach to economic problems, his class warfare approach to influencing public opinion, his demagogic approach to entitlement reform and his hyper-partisan approach to problem-solving.

--He has complete confidence in Eric Holder, so he doesn't need to worry about the facts on "Fast and Furious," either; Holder's dubious testimony is of no concern to Obama, and he doesn't have to answer for it, because he trusts Holder, and therefore, so should we. Besides, even if it should turn out that Holder did something wrong, Holder is the attorney general and Obama's not responsible for him.

--He is never going to stop blaming everyone and everything but himself for the problems he has caused. Thursday, he told us yet again that our economic mess was created by George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the two wars, the Republicans' gamesmanship over the debt ceiling, and Europe's financial instability. Oh, yes, and many of our problems even "predate the financial crisis."

Our chief executive either is a mastermind at Machiavellian manipulation or has deep psychological and emotional problems. I've never seen an adult in an important leadership position -- especially not the president of the United States -- show such frightening immaturity and self-absorption
David Limbaugh

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Aimless Obama walks alone

Jimmy CarterCover of Jimmy CarterNo comment necessary on Barack O'Carter...T

The reports are not good, disturbing even. I have heard basically the same story four times in the last 10 days, and the people doing the talking are in New York and Washington and are spread across the political spectrum.

The gist is this: President Obama has become a lone wolf, a stranger to his own government. He talks mostly, and sometimes only, to friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett and to David Axelrod, his political strategist.

Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions.

The president’s workdays are said to end early, often at 4 p.m. He usually has dinner in the family residence with his wife and daughters, then retreats to a private office. One person said he takes a stack of briefing books. Others aren’t sure what he does.

If the reports are accurate, and I believe they are, they paint a picture of an isolated man trapped in a collapsing presidency. While there is no indication Obama is walking the halls of the White House late at night, talking to the portraits of former presidents, as Richard Nixon did during Watergate, the reports help explain his odd public remarks.

Obama conceded in one television interview recently that Americans are not “better off than they were four years ago” and said in another that the nation had “gotten a little soft.” Both smacked of a man who feels discouraged and alienated and sparked comparisons to Jimmy Carter, never a good sign.

Blaming the country is political heresy, of course, yet Obama is running out of scapegoats. His allies rarely make affirmative arguments on his behalf anymore, limiting themselves to making excuses for his failure. He and they attack Republicans, George W. Bush, European leaders and Chinese currency manipulation -- and that was just last week.

The blame game isn’t much of a defense for Solyndra and “Fast and Furious,” the emerging twin scandals that paint a picture of incompetence at best.

Obama himself is spending his public time pushing a $450 billion “jobs” bill -- really another stimulus in disguise -- that even Senate Democrats won’t support. He grimly flogged it repeatedly at his Thursday press conference, even though snowballs in hell have a better chance of survival.

If he cracked a single smile at the hour-plus event, I missed it. He seems happy only on the campaign trail, where the adoration of the crowd lifts his spirits.

When it comes to getting America back on track to economic growth, he is running on vapors. Yet he shows no inclination to adopt any ideas other than his own Big Government grab. His itch for higher taxes verges on a fetish.

Harvey Golub, former chairman of American Express, called the “jobs” bill an incoherent mess. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, he said that among other flaws, the bill includes an unheard of retroactive tax hike on the holders of municipal bonds.

“Many of us have suspected that economic illiterates were setting the economic policy of this administration,” Golub wrote, adding that the bill “reveals a depth of cluelessness that boggles the mind.”

The public increasingly shares the sentiment. A new Quinnipiac polls finds that 55 percent now disapprove of Obama’s job performance, with only 41 percent approving. A mere 29 percent say the economy will improve if the president gets four more years.

The election, unfortunately, is nearly 13 months away.

The way Obama’s behaving, by then we’ll all be talking to portraits of past presidents, asking why this one turned out to be such a flop.
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Gone in 60 nanoseconds

Fascinating stuff! But not entirely accurate: Einstein always speculated on the possibility of neutrinos, the particles that could only exist at POST light speed (while all sub-light matter cannot pass this threshold, the same would be true for neutrinos, in reverse!)...T

We don’t allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here,” says the bartender.

A neutrino walks into a bar.

— Joke circulating on the Internet

The world as we know it is on the brink of disintegration, on the verge of dissolution. No, I’m not talking about the collapse of the euro, of international finance, of the Western economies, of the democratic future, of the unipolar moment, of the American dream, of French banks, of Greece as a going concern, of Europe as an idea, of Pax Americana — the sinews of a postwar world that feels today to be unraveling.

I am talking about something far more important. Which is why it made only the back pages of your newspaper, if it made it at all. Scientists at CERN, the European high-energy physics consortium, have announced the discovery of a particle that can travel faster than light.

Neutrinos fired 454 miles from a supercollider outside Geneva to an underground laboratory in Gran Sasso, Italy, took less time (60 nanoseconds less) than light to get there. Or so the physicists think. Or so they measured. Or so they have concluded after checking for every possible artifact and experimental error.

The implications of such a discovery are so mind-boggling, however, that these same scientists immediately requested that other labs around the world try to replicate the experiment. Something must have been wrong — some faulty measurement, some overlooked contaminant — to account for a result that, if we know anything about the universe, is impossible.

And that’s the problem. It has to be impossible because, if not, if that did happen on this Orient Express hurtling between Switzerland and Italy, then everything we know about the universe is wrong.

The fundamental axiom of Einstein’s theory of relativity is the absolute prohibition on speed faster than light. Einstein’s predictions about how time slows and mass increases as one approaches the speed of light have been verified by a mountain of experimental evidence. As velocity increases, mass approaches infinity and time dilates, making it progressively and, ultimately, infinitely difficult to achieve light speed. Which is why nothing does. And nothing ever has.

Until two weeks ago Thursday.

That’s when the results were announced. To oversimplify grossly: If the Gran Sasso scientists had a plate to record the arrival of the neutrinos and a super-powerful telescope to peer (through the Alps!) directly into the lab in Geneva from which they were being fired, the Gran Sasso guys would have “heard” the neutrinos clanging against the plate before they observed the Geneva guys squeeze the trigger on the neutrino gun.

Sixty nanoseconds before, to be precise. Wrap your mind around that one.

It’s as if someone told you that yesterday at drive time Topeka was released from Earth’s gravity. These things don’t happen. Natural laws don’t just expire between shifts at McDonald’s.

Not that there aren’t already mysteries in physics. Neutrinos themselves are ghostly particles that travel through nearly everything unimpeded. (Thousands are traversing your body as you read this.) But that is simplicity itself compared to quantum mechanics, whose random arbitrariness so offended Einstein that he famously objected that God does not play dice with the universe.

Aphorisms don’t trump reality, however. They are but a frail, poignant protest against a universe that often disdains the most cherished human notions of order and elegance, truth and beauty.

But if quantum mechanics was a challenge to human sensibilities, this pesky Swiss-Italian neutrino is their undoing. It means that Einstein’s relativity — a theory of uncommon beauty upon which all of physics has been built for 100 years — is wrong. Not just inaccurate. Not just flawed. But deeply, fundamentally, indescribably wrong.

It means that the “standard model” of subatomic particles that stands at the center of all modern physics is wrong.

Nor does it stop there. This will not just overthrow physics. Astronomy and cosmology measure time and distance in the universe on the assumption of light speed as the cosmic limit. Their foundations will shake as well.

It cannot be. Yet, this is not a couple of guys in a garage peddling cold fusion. This is no crank wheeling a perpetual motion machine into the patent office. These are the best researchers in the world using the finest measuring instruments, having subjected their data to the highest levels of scrutiny, including six months of cross-checking by 160 scientists from 11 countries.

But there must be some error. Because otherwise everything changes. We shall need a new physics. A new cosmology. New understandings of past and future, of cause and effect. Then shortly and surely, new theologies.

Why? Because we can’t have neutrinos getting kicked out of taverns they have not yet entered.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Questions Never Asked About Palestine

British Mandate of Palestine, 1920s. Created b...Image via WikipediaThere has NEVER been a Palestine! The words "Palestine" and "Palestinian" derive from the word, and the people, "Philistines" co-opted by the conquering Romans to name the province after they destroyed the kingdom of Israel. The very concept of a Palestinian and a Palestine are simply tactics and strategy to exterminate all the Jews. Following is a great history lesson that proves this point...T

As the Palestinian-Arabs and their friends make their latest push for "Palestinian" statehood at the United Nations this week, once again the wrong questions are being asked, while the pertinent questions every reporter, activist, and foreign minister should be asking never arise.

Why do "Palestinians" need a state of their own? Who are these "stateless" people? What is their history? Where have they been for all of these years?

In the spirit of "you don't know what you don't know," here are some Hansel-and-Gretel-like bread crumbs to guide journalists and others to the questions they might ask:

Where does the name "Palestine" come from and who have been the people who've lived there? Of course, it was coined by the conquering Romans to add insult to injury to a Jewish nation they sought to obliterate. The Romans conquered the land, but there was always a remnant of Jewish people living there.

While throughout the ages the land was under control of various powers, none called themselves "Palestinian," and there was never a nation with that name. It was that Jewish remnant and those Jews who joined them over time who became the "Palestinians."

In modern times, the Ottoman Turks controlled this territory and, following World War I, the British (under the auspices of the League of Nations). In this period, there were many "Palestinian" institutions, though all of them were Jewish in character and membership. The most famous of these was, perhaps, the Palestine Post, which lives on today as the Jerusalem Post. There were Palestine orchestras and chess teams and the like. But the names of the players were Jewish, not Arab.

As Jewish nationalism in the region gained strength, the Arabs and Muslims committed massacre after massacre of Jews throughout Palestine.

Meanwhile, in 1922, the British took 78% of territory that was promised for a Jewish homeland by the World War I victors and the League of Nations and gave it to the Arabs. The outcome was the heretofore nonexistent Arab nation of Transjordan. Transjordan later became simply Jordan.

This should be the end of the story, as the land of Palestine was divided (though quite unfairly) and an Arab state was created out of the Jewish homeland. "Two states for two peoples."

Being handed 78% of a territory would satisfy most people -- if their true interest were a state of their own. Instead, over the past seven decades, what the world refuses to see is the desire by the Arabs to obliterate Jewish nationalism, and later the Jewish nation that was its culmination.

Violence and terrorism by the Arabs against Jews continued, and as the Arabs stepped up their pressure on the British and the League of Nations, in an attempt to appease the Arabs, the remaining 22% of the land left for the Jews was divided further. The Arabs again got the bigger portion. The Jews accepted the offer and, when the mandate expired, declared independence as the nation of Israel.

The Arabs declared war.

Though they were unable to defeat the Israelis, the Arabs did gain more territory. The Jordanians expanded into what they renamed "the West Bank" so as to erase the Jewish connection to Judea and Samaria (as those areas were called for millennia), while Egypt grabbed the Gaza Strip.

The Arabs who lived in those areas never cried out for independence or claimed to be oppressed, nor threatened to go to the United Nations. Why? Because they were part of, rather than distinct from, the Arab Nation.

Instead, there were incessant terror attacks. In 1964, the Arabs formed the "Palestine Liberation Organization" -- three years before Israel would gain control over the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria (aka "the West Bank"). So: what were the Arabs bent on liberating, and whom were they liberating it from? Did they demand a state from Egypt and Jordan? This is the same PLO that today controls the Palestinian Authority -- and has never renounced its appetite for all of what was once dubbed "Palestine."

It was only after Israel's miraculous victory in 1967 that "the West Bank" and "Gaza Strip" suddenly had relevance to their Arab inhabitants, and it was then that the Arab propaganda machine revved up. It eventually inverted much of the world's perception of the Middle East: transforming tiny Israel from its natural role of "David" against the massive Arab population and lands, to one of "Goliath" against the "stateless," "oppressed," and "occupied" "Palestinians." It made the notion of changing straw into gold seem like child's play. And it worked.

That the Palestinian-Arabs have spilled much innocent blood to get their "cause" out there -- murdered Olympics athletes, airline passengers, bus riders, diners -- seems to have faded from memory. But it was these headline-grabbing crimes that got them to the head of the line.

The lesson: crime pays. Terror works.

So, journalists, activists, and foreign ministers of the world: you still have time to ask yourselves and others these questions; still have time to prevent a great wrong from being done; still have time to save untold lives; still have time to avoid a terrible precedent; still have time to prevent the creation of another terrorist state. Will you?
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Authors of Social Security Believed It Was Unconstitutional

Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts. The balance...
Image via Wikipedia
It was, is, and always will be unconstitutional. As the old saying originated: "The switch in time that saved nine" that destroyed most of our constitution. That may all be about to change with this court. We can hope...T

Mitt Romney may believe Social Security is constitutional, but he would have a hard time convincing some of the people who pushed the Social Security Act into law.

As I wrote in my book, "Control Freaks," some of the main players involved in creating Social Security believed it was unconstitutional -- and for good reason.

Yet, for them, not unlike many in today's Washington, the ultimate questions were not: Is this good for the long-term future of the country, and does Congress have authority to do it? They were: Will this serve our immediate political interests, and can we get away with it?

At Monday's Republican presidential debate, Romney attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for, as Romney put it, holding the view that "Social Security is unconstitutional."

It is important to note that neither Perry nor any other contemporary Republican leader is calling for the abolition of a program that has been in place for more than seven decades.

But was it founded on a sound constitutional basis? Is there anything to be learned from how it was forced through?

Thomas H. Eliot, a future Harvard Law professor, served as counsel for the Committee on Economic Security, the body that President Franklin Roosevelt created to draft the Social Security Act.

In 1961, 26 years after the bill was enacted, Eliot gave a speech at the Social Security Administration in which he said he was relieved he had never been called to testify about the constitutionality of the "old-age insurance" provision in the bill.

"The opponents rallied as soon as the bill was introduced," said Eliot. "Those opponents were spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Counsel for the latter, John Gall, made effective and strong arguments against that phase of the bill (old-age insurance). He questioned the constitutionality of the bill.

"These arguments I found rather difficult to refute," said Eliot, "and I'm glad I wasn't really called upon to do so as a witness before the committees of Congress because I had very grave doubts at that time about the likelihood of the Court's upholding the old-age insurance section of the bill."

Edwin E. Witte was executive director of Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security. In 1955, he gave a speech to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Social Security. "And at all stages there hung over the Social Security bill uncertainty as to its constitutionality," Witte said. "These doubts were increased during the pendency of this bill in Congress by the decision of the Supreme Court holding the Railroad Retirement Act to be unconstitutional."

"A majority of the members of the Senate Committee on Finance believed old-age insurance to be unconstitutional," said Witte, "and it is my belief that several voted for it in the expectation that it would be invalidated by the Supreme Court."

Why did the Railroad Retirement Act decision make people believe the Supreme Court would toss Social Security? Because it was a small-scale version of Social Security. It ordered all railroad workers into a compulsory government pension program funded by a payroll tax apportioned between them and their employers.

The Roosevelt administration argued that the Commerce Clause -- which gives Congress the power to "regulate commerce ... among the several states" -- gave the federal government the power to force railroad companies and workers to fund and participate in a federal retirement program.

The court slapped this down 6-3. Justice Owen J. Roberts -- the Anthony Kennedy of that era -- wrote the opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the other swing vote of that time.

Roberts clearly envisioned how the Railroad Retirement Act could open the door to a massive federal welfare state.

"If that question be answered in the affirmative, obviously there is no limit to the field of so-called regulation," wrote Roberts. "The catalogue of means and actions which might be imposed upon an employer in any business, tending to the satisfaction and comfort of his employees, seems endless. Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry."

Two years later, in 1937, the Social Security Act came before the same court. The Democrats and FDR had just won a massive election victory in November 1936. In his 1961 speech at the Social Security Administration, Thomas Eliot was asked: "Just what do you think caused the Supreme Court to reverse itself in its decision to declare the Act constitutional?"

"What happened in 1937 was that in February the president came out with a scheme to 'pack' the Court," said Eliot. "No one knows, and there is some dispute about it, but I think that probably it's fair to say that the Court was not unmindful of this attack."

"There were nine justices on the Supreme Court; one or two of them had to change their positions pretty fundamentally to thwart the threat of that number of nine being added to by six new justices appointed by the president," said Eliot. "The old saying about that particular change of front is that, 'A switch in time saved nine.'"

And significantly expanded the control the federal government has over the lives of individual Americans.
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