Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 25, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, a daily wrap-up of all the important news of the day.

We'll start tonight's update in Africa...

First Lady Says One Thing, Does Another
First Lady Michelle Obama was videoed by Reuters purchasing fat cakes and french fries while on her trip to Africa. This would not make news except for the fact that Michelle Obama has made healthy eating a priority. Furthermore, she was in Africa to promote health. Seems like a strange and unhealthy thing to do. You can view the video here.

Staying on the Continent...

Muslim Brotherhood Calls for United Islamic State
An interview with a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood has called for the elimination of borders from imperialism and the creation of a united Islamic state. The Muslim Brotherhood was the "largely secular" group (according to our Director of National Intelligence) that helped to organize the Egypt protests that brought down the Mubarak presidency. This certainly is concerning, but it should not be surprising. It does finally put the goals of the group in the open. You can read the interview here.

Moving back home...

Americans Split on Debt Ceiling
A recent Associated Press poll shows that Americans are divided on raising the debt ceiling. According to the poll, 41% of Americans are opposed to raising the debt ceiling while 38% support it. Just over half of Americans expect an economic crisis to occur if the US defaults, but among that group, even 37% oppose raising the debt ceiling. Contrary to popular opinion, not raising the debt ceiling will not automatically result in a default. It is simply a matter of priorities. We will only default if we choose to spend so much that we cannot make our payments. Second, the only way to avoid an economic crisis is to stop spending. Default will result in an economic crisis, as will printing more money and inflating the dollar. If America is to avoid a crisis, we must cut spending quickly. You can read more about the poll results here.

And in Indiana...

Taxpayer-Funded Abortions Allowed to Continue in Indiana
A federal judge blocked implementation of a bill that prevents Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions. The ruling states that Indiana should not be allowed to restrict freedom to choose a healthcare provider because of other services they offer. This is another case of judicial activism going too far. My health plan (provided by my employer) restricts my freedom to choose my provider to those in their network. Why should people receiving medical care paid for by the taxpayers be given more choices than anyone else on a private plan? I am not proposing that we restrict care under Medicaid to only certain clinics, but states should have the right to disallow funding for clinics provided that it is done in accordance with established regulations. You can read more on this story here.

Finally...

On a bizzare note, the Blaze has a story about a woman who died at her funeral. If this doesn't make sense to you, you can read the story here. I'm sure that Russia's government-controlled healthcare system had nothing to do with this mistake. These stories could become commonplace in the US under ObamaCare.

That's The Daily Dose for tonight. The Daily Dose will usually take Sundays off, but I will post if an important story breaks. However, it will return again on Monday, so be sure to check back then for all the latest news affecting your freedom!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 24, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, a daily update on all the news affecting your freedom.

Tonight, we will start in Florida...

Atheist Claims Harassment by Sheriff Because of Non-Christian Views
An atheist in Tampa, Florida has filed a suit against the county sheriff claiming that her recent arrests are retaliation for her non-religious views. EllenBeth Wachs is claiming that her arrests have occurred because she spoke out against the county jail's donation of basketball hoops to churches. If this is a case of harassment, then I believe that the sheriff should be removed from office. However, the evidence seems to suggest that the arrests have been justified, and she therefore should have no legal grounds to complain. Either way, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. Due to some of the content related to one of the arrests, I will not be posting a link to this story.

And moving to Washington...

Treasury Secretary Says Raising Small Business Taxes is 'Fair'
In a hearing on the Obama Administration's budget plan Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner agreed that the administration's budget will raise taxes on small business, but he stated that it is a necessary move because it is "fair to people as a whole." While we are on the subject of fairness in taxes, how is it fair that approximately half of Americans pay no income tax to the government? How is it fair that Americans are being forced to pay higher taxes while the government refuses to stop ridiculous spending? You can view the video of Mr. Geithner's testimony here.

And in Congress...

Cantor Announces House Will Consider Balanced Budget Amendment
In an announcement yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that the House would take up the Balanced Budget Amendment. I commend the House leadership for taking on this issue, although I do realize that its passage is unlikely. It will take two-thirds of both houses of Congress to agree followed by ratification from three-fourths of the state legislatures. You can read about the announcement here.

That's all for The Daily Dose tonight. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest!

It's Not My Money

This is the second article in the State of America's Finances series. The first article, "How Much Should We Cut", is available here.

The Federal Government is setting itself up for a financial crisis. Deficits and debt are rapidly spiraling out of control, and the economy continues to show negative signs despite the numerous programs which were promised to help. Government spending is at an all-time high, even as tax revenues continue to shrink, and despite all the talk on reducing fraud and waste in the government, we continue to read stories showing exactly how our tax dollars are being misspent. At the heart of the issue is the sentiment expressed on a recent ad for the Postal Service, “It ain't my money. I seriously do not care.” (If you haven't seen the ad, you can view it here.)

It's great to save money when the money saved goes into your pocket. However, when the money is coming in from the pockets of every American, it seems as if the government feels that it is not necessary to be concerned about savings. Americans have enough problems staying away from the credit cards when they know the bill will eventually come, so imagine the problems that have resulted from giving thousands of government employees access to money that they know they will never be responsible for repaying. Furthermore, departments and programs that spend more money will have an easier time lobbying Congress for additional funding in the next budget. This sets up a system where increased and even wasteful spending is rewarded, not discouraged.

Trying to keep track of every dollar spent can also be a problem given the size of budgets today. The smallest budget for any executive department in 2009 was for the Department of Commerce ($15.77 billion). With over 43,000 employees, it is difficult to track down the spending of each employee. Increase this to the Department of Health and Human Services, with 67,000 employees, and an $879 billion dollar budget, and the problems only become magnified.

These problems are not just limited to the executive department. Congressional appropriations also waste money. We hear regular reports of ridiculous appropriations that are stuck into bills at the last minute. Usually, the more popular a bill is—meaning that its passage is almost assured—the more “pork” is attached. Monies spent on unnecessary building and transportation projects usually go this route. These monies are paid out above the federal budget that Congress approves every year.

How can we fix these problems? First, we can restore the Presidential power of impoundment. Impoundment is a power that is given to an executive branch officer to refuse to spend money that is allocated by the legislature. Currently, forty-three of the fifty governors have this power. Thomas Jefferson was the first President to make use of this power, and all Presidents up to Richard Nixon had this power. However, in 1974, Congress became frustrated by what they viewed as excessive use of this power and passed a law that basically ended its practice. Presidents can still attempt to impound funds, but that impoundment must be approved by Congress within 45 days. Since Congress is not even required to vote on the matter, most attempts have gone unrecognized by Congress.

Second, we can give the President the power to strike down individual appropriation measures contained within bills. Unlike impoundment, which would only require passage of a bill in Congress, this would require a Constitutional amendment to implement, since a line item veto law passed by Congress was declared unconstitutional in 1998. However, this would force Congress to vote on individual appropriations vetoed by the President in an override vote, rather than forcing the President to sign a bill full of waste or suffer the criticism for vetoing a popular bill.

Third, we must expect all leaders to be responsible for controlling spending. Instead of being able to spend at will and bill the government, each department manager must be responsible for keeping the department within its budget. The annual budget passed by Congress should not be regarded as a suggestion that can be changed with another appropriation from Congress; it must be treated as a firm cap on spending.

Unlike the CEO of a company, the President has very little control over the majority of the budget. The President may submit a budget each year, but the final budget that makes it out of Congress rarely looks anything like the original budget. Giving the President these powers will make the President more like a CEO and less like an observer in the budget process. This will still require the President to want to reduce spending, but given the current state of our economy and finances, a reduction in spending is quickly becoming necessary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 23, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, your daily update on all the latest news affecting your freedom.

Starting with news from our airports...

Delta Agreement to Ban Jews on Flights to Saudi Arabia
An agreement between Delta and Saudi Arabian Airlines may have the unintended consequence of forcing Delta to ban Jews and Israeli passport holders from flights to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Correspondence from Delta shows that they are blaming the Saudi Arabian government. However, it appears that their voluntary involvement in this alliance is resulting in this discrimination against Jews, not government involvement. You can read the article from World News Daily here.

And in news from Jamaica...

Clinton Lashes Out At Congress...from Jamaica
While on a trip to Jamaica, Hillary Clinton attacked Congress by asking the question, "Whose side are you on?" regarding the conflict in Libya. First, why was this matter addressed in Jamaica? Are the Jamaicans really pressing us for answers on this issue? Second, and most importantly, I know what side I am on. I am on the side of the Constitution. The Constitution forbids the President from sending troops without Congressional approval. The War Powers Act grants the President approval to use troops for 60 days and allows another 30 days to withdraw them. Since the 90 days have passed and further approval has not been maintained, why are our troops still in Libya? That's whose side I'm on. You can read the short article from NewsMax here.

And moving back to Washington...

Obama Releases Oil from Strategic Reserves
President Obama announced the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves today in order to combat disruptions that are occurring in Libya. These reserves were not created to be used to combat high gas prices, they were created to be available in a major crisis. In my opinion, this is a very poor decision that will only increase our vulnerability to oil problems in the future. Perhaps if we allowed drilling again, fuel prices would drop without the need to jeopardize our security. You can read the update from The Blaze here.

Finally...

This was pointed out to me by someone today. Type "how much does" into a Google search box and it will tell you the sad state of our morality today. Really sad.

Sorry to end on such a depressing note, but that's The Daily Dose for tonight. Be sure to check back tomorrow afternoon for the next article in our series on the state of America's finances.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 22, 2011

It's time for today's Daily Dose, a nightly update of news and information regarding your freedom!

We will start with new news on the TSA...

TSA Not Limited to Airports
Every time you travel by air, you get to experience our government-authorized TSA as they force you to walk barefoot through scanners, and sometimes even feel every part of your body or take a digitally-assisted peek under your clothes. Now we learn that we can experience the TSA elsewhere, like at the bus stop. Last week on Tuesday, TSA chief John Pistole told a Senate committee that it has conducted over 8000 security sweeps during the past year. How much more of this will the American people take? You can read the article from American Thinker here.

And in climate change news...

Gore Says Key to Curbing Pollution is 'Fertility Management'
At the Games for Change convention in New York City, Al Gore talked about his usual subjects: pollution and climate change. However, he is now approaching it from a new angle as he is now including 'fertility management.' He says that we need to be more comfortable having smaller families so that we can lessen our impact on the environment. He can't be suggesting that we become more like China, can he? We can certainly see how well that is working out for them. The Blaze has coverage and video of this story here.

Moving to Washington...

Obama Signs Executive Orders on Cyberwarfare
President Obama has signed executive orders on how the government may conduct 'cyberwarfare.' I understand that online threats may soon be as threatening as other threats, and I can understand why policies would be put in place to handle them well in advance of the times they might actually become necessary. However, the fact that these secret policies are being adopted by using executive orders is very concerning. What is the definition of a cyber threat? Could a post on this blog or any other be considered a threat and warrant action? There is much that needs to be explained. You can read more on this here.

And in economic news...

CBO Report Says US Could Be On Verge of a 'Sudden Financial Crisis'
A CBO study released today says that the national debt is on track to eclipse the nation's GDP and reach an all-time high of 109 percent by 2023. The report also warns that the country could experience a sudden fiscal crisis where investors lose confidence in US bonds and force unaffordable interest rates. The report states that earlier action regarding the deficit and debt will permit smaller changes, but will still require sacrifice. You can read a summary and download the full report here.

Finally...

Does the Federal Government really have a budget? Or is all this budget talk just for show? How can we reduce waste in our government? The second part of our look at America's finances will answer these questions. Check it out on Friday!

That's The Daily Dose for today. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 21, 2011

Welcome to The Daily Dose, a daily collection of important issues affecting your freedom.

We'll start today's update in Libya...

Cynthia McKinney Praises Libya's Healthcare and Education
The Blaze has a clip of former US Representative Cynthia McKinney on Libyan television admiring Libya's free healthcare and education systems. Since she thinks Libya is so wonderful, maybe she should just stay there and become a citizen. You can read the article and see the clip here.

And in a strange case of opposites becoming teammates...

Tea Party teams with ACLU in Free Speech Case
Two political opposites have teamed up to have a Redding, California city ordinance struck down. The American Civil Liberties Union and the North State Tea Party Alliance filed suit saying that Redding's rules restricting where and when pamphlets could be handed out was in violation of the state constitution. I commend the ACLU for actually being on the constitutional side of an issue for once. You can read the Huffington Post article here.

And on the opposite coast...

Atheists Upset over Honorary Street Name
Richards Street in Brooklyn recently received a new honorary name, “Seven In Heaven Way.” The street is named after seven firefighters who were killed in the September 11 attacks and have known collectively by that name. However, atheists groups are upset, claiming that the renaming constitutes a government endorsement of religion. You can read the article from Brooklyn Paper here.

And moving to Washington...

Senate Proposes Bill Making Itself Even Less Important
A bill co-sponsored by Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell (among many others) and introduced to the Senate today will eliminate the requirement for the Senate's advice and consent on a number of Presidential nominees. Senators claim that the approval process takes up time they need to be spending on more important legislation. If doing their constitutionally-required duty is too much of a hassle, then maybe they need to find a different job. And if it really is taking up too much time, then maybe we need to shrink the number of Presidential appointments, not let them be appointed without any oversight. If you want to contact your representatives, you can reference the bill as S.679. You can also read the article on Redstate here.

Finally...

Last Friday, I commented on the strange occurrence of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut being drawn to play each other in the same round of the same tournament where they held their record-breaking 11 hour tennis match last year. I made a “totally uneducated guess” that the match would be over in three sets, with a score something like 6-2, 6-0, 6-1. As it turned out, I was partially right. Isner defeated Mahut today 7-6, 6-2, 7-6. While the scoreline was much closer than I predicted, the match was over in three sets.

That's The Daily Dose for tonight. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest updates.

Bill of Rights or Bill of Restrictions

As debate over whether to ratify the new constitution raged across the thirteen states, one criticism voiced by many people was the lack of a bill of rights. In many states, ratification was secured upon the promise that a bill of rights would be added as soon as the new government was put in place. After taking office, the First Congress then proposed twelve amendments, and ten of them were ratified by the states to become the Bill of Rights. (In 1992, one of the two amendments that had not been previously ratified passed the three-quarters threshold and became the twenty-seventh amendment, but it is still not usually considered as part of the Bill of Rights. The other proposed amendment remains unratified.)

The wording of the Bill of Rights is very specific as to the Rights that are protected. It is not protecting the rights of government; it is protecting the rights of the people. As it grants right to the people (and some to the states), it becomes a bill of restrictions to the government. The first amendment bars Congress from infringing on rights of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petitioning. The second amendment stops Congress from taking away the right to bear arms. The third keeps the military from forcing people to allow soldiers to live in their homes. Through all ten amendments, we see freedom given to the people and restrictions given to the government.

Over time, however, Congress and the courts have turned the Bill of Rights into a bill of restrictions on the people. The first amendment is the one this has happened to most often. The first amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” This simple phrase has been used multiple times to prohibit mention of religion in any form. Mentioning how God changed your life in your graduation speech does not involve Congress in any way, but this amendment is used to restrict the speech of students. Instead of giving people the right to exercise their religion free from government interference, this phrase of the first amendment is now being used to restrict both free exercise of religion and free speech.

Freedom of speech is also being threatened today. Throughout America's history, the freedom of speech has been protected by the government except in cases where it created actual harm. Defamation and the commonly cited example of “yelling fire in a crowded theater” qualify as cases where actual harm can be inflicted by speech. However, some people are now asking the government to outlaw “hate speech.” This type of speech, while it may be offensive and incorrect, does not cause actual harm. Should this type of speech be tolerated? Yes and no. Attempts by the government to restrict freedom of speech should not be allowed; however, just because someone has the right to say something does not mean that they should say it. However, if they do engage in that type of speech, individuals still have some recourse. If the person is a business owner, we can refuse to patronize their business. If the person has a radio or television show, we can refuse to watch the show. Even if it is just someone who lives down the street from you, we can use our right to free speech to oppose their speech.

There are plenty of other examples of other rights that are being violated by our government. Freedom of the press was threatened recently when the White House wanted to allow an interview with the “press pool” (a collection of news agencies that share costs of covering political events), but refused to allow one member network to be a part of it. The White House did back down under pressure from all the media outlets. The freedom to assemble is threatened by an endless permit process just to hold a public meeting. Certainly, permits should be necessary for some types of assemblies, such as those that need large amounts of space or that will close streets. However, I believe that in general, groups should be allowed to hold meetings free of public restrictions. The freedom from unwarranted search and seizure is violated every time we go to an airport and have to be searched by federal agents before boarding a plane.

The authors of the constitution gave us a Bill of Rights, but the government today is turning it into a bill of restrictions. The only limitations on these rights were placed upon the federal government, not upon the people. However, the government is now using these rights to restrict these rights. Freedom is threatened, and it is up to us to make sure that “the land of the free” does not become “the land of the restricted.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 20, 2011

The Daily Dose is back after a Sunday hiatus!

We'll start at The US Open golf tournament...

NBC 'Mistakenly' Omits Words From Pledge...Twice
NBC is apologizing today after they opened their coverage of the US Open Sunday with a clip showing children saying the pledge of allegiance. The children go through the pledge twice, but there were two words that were edited out both times. I'm sure that you would never guess that those two words were: “Under God”. NBC's apology says that it was a mistake in editing. You can see the video at the bottom of the article available here.

And in yet another example showing the wonderful state of our healthcare and prison systems...

Man Robs Bank for Free Health Care
A man in North Carolina walked up to a bank teller with a noted that stated, “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.” Upon receiving his dollar, he told the teller he would sit in the sofa and wait for the police to arrive. His reason for this robbery: free health care for prisoners. The man is without a job and he states that he has a growth on his chest, two ruptured disks, and a problem with his left foot. You can see an interview with him here.

And as we take a look at affairs from our capital...

Holder Announces Reinstitution of Civil Rights Division
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today in a speech that the Justice Department has reopened its civil rights division. Holder pointed out that the Justice Department has filed a record number of civil rights cases during Obama's first term, yet Real Clear Politics points out that it was Holder who dropped a case of voter intimidation against the New Black Panthers. You can read the
RCP article here.

And we have to talk about un-American activity taking place today...

Columnist Says Low Revenue Is Un-American
Columnist Mark Shields told PBS on Friday that the low revenues (meaning, low taxes) are unsustainable and un-American. Maybe he should apply un-American to some other things, such as redistribution of wealth, high deficits, corporate bailouts, and extreme regulation of industries. Of course, in his mind, those are perfectly American! You can see the video here.

Finally...

I must apologize for an incorrect link provided on Saturday's Daily Dose. I did not copy the correct link for America's Dirty Spending Secrets, and I also failed to check it before posting. The link has been corrected, but you can also access it here.

That's tonight's Daily Dose. On the blog tomorrow, I will post a new article dealing with the loss of freedom. Has the Bill of Rights become a Bill of Restrictions? Check back tomorrow for more!