Friday, December 2, 2011

Bill of Rights or Bill of Restrictions

I've had a few crazy days in a row, and I have not had time to write a new column for today, so I am reposting one that I wrote when I first started the blog. Enjoy!

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.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Final Five: December 1, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 1, 2011

News of Note:

- Spain and France sell bonds

- Boeing union dispute may be settled

- Former SEIU head argues against capitalism

- Congress considering extending payroll tax holiday, jobless benefits

- Welcome to state-controlled media censorship

- No more public funding of campaigns?

- Amazon killing small business jobs

Tonight's Crazy Story:
'Frosty the Snowman' Arrested at Town Parade
A man dressed as Frosty at a Chestertown, Maryland parade was arrested after kicking a police dog and scuffling with police.

The Final Five: Number 5
Between Christ and Capitalism
Douglas Baker discusses the way liberals try to connect Christ and socialism. "As a result, inequality has become the modern theological understanding of sin in its fullest form, even as atonement and justification have been redefined as economic remedies to cure the ailing wounds of poverty. In the words of the modern Wallace—Jim Wallis—"'Matthew 25 Christians' are truly Christians when they are protecting 'the least of these.'" As word spreads about the abuse and fraud seemingly endemic to the entitlements of the American government (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security prominent among them), spirituality—particularly the words of Jesus—seems to be the shield du jour of those who seek to protect any reform of programs that arguably keep the poor trapped in downward spirals of poverty. It is ironic that the United States teeters on the edge of bankruptcy somewhere between Christ and capitalism."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Speaking of NBC, did you guys see this? Last night, Brian Williams continued with the ‘NBC Nightly News’ while a high-pitched fire alarm went off in the studio. Yeah, he kept talking over a loud screeching sound - or as that's also known, ‘The View.’"
-Jimmy Fallon, 11/30/11

The Final Five: Number 4
We Asked Obama for Change, Got Lousy T-Shirt Instead
Ezra Klein argued that Obama's popularity problem is due to his taking on change in the wrong areas. "But President Obama soon found himself faced with a choice: he could change U.S. politics, or change U.S. policy. He chose changing policy. The stimulus package passed amid constant congressional horse trading, and ultimately required an 11th- hour deal that shaved $100 billion off the total and infuriated his supporters. He broke a campaign promise when he signed the 2009 budget, which was larded with earmarks. The crucial negotiations that led to health-care reform did not take place in front of C-SPAN’s cameras, as Obama had promised, and to secure the bill’s passage, the Democrats agreed to a special deal for Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson that quickly acquired the name, “the cornhusker kickback.” The legislative process proved stronger than Obama’s campaign promises. His election didn’t usher in a new post- partisan era. If anything, partisanship grew stronger."

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government spent $56,334,939,505.48 more than its revenue, meaning the national debt now stands at:

The Final Five: Number 3
So, Whose House is it Anyway?
Daniel Horowitz analyzes the current state of the supposedly conservative House of Representatives. "Last year, the American people voted overwhelmingly for a Republican House of Representatives. Based upon their campaign pledges, the prevailing expectation of a “Republican House” was a body of revitalized Republicans who would not fund Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, downsize Freddie/Fannie, oppose appropriator-concocted omnibus bills, and fight for at least some of their priorities in the Ryan budget. A year later, the prevailing sentiment amongst the GOP ruling class within the House is antithetical to those ideals. First it was the minibus; then it was the omnibus; now there’s talk about a megabus (coupled with unemployment benefits and tax extenders). Instead of demanding that Democrats pass a proper budget and allow both chambers to vote on one bill at a time, they are willing to genuflect before Harry Reid and Senate Democrats."

Tweets of the Day:
Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith): @nielslesniewski Which is the more ridiculous name: Wolf Blitzer or Kermit the Frog?

The Final Five: Number 2
The Wrong Kind of Entitlement Reform Could Be Worse than No Entitlement Reform
Dan Mitchell argues that when considering entitlement reform, Congress must make sure to solve the problem instead of making it worse. "To elaborate, not all entitlement reform is created equal. As I explained in this set of videos, good reform means putting individuals back in charge and restoring market forces. It means personal retirement accounts for Social Security. It means vouchers for Medicare. And it means block-granting Medicaid back to the states. To the Washington establishment, however, entitlement reform means price controls such as the infamous “doc fix.” The problem with this approach is that price controls are notoriously ineffective and politically unsustainable."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree."
-James Madison

The Final Five: Number 1
Dreams From My President
Randall Hoven describes what recent Obama comments show that he truly believes. "I don't know how much clearer it could be. What he considers undesirable is "private, individual," and what he considers lovable is "collective transformation." He literally wants to quash our dreams, at least if those dreams are our own individual ones, and not his collectivist, transformative, and global one. Obama loves the idea of putting the collective above the individual -- not just in the sense of "common defense," but in the very way we each carry out our lives. A self-reliant person, pursuing her own "private, individual" dream, is the cynic without hope. (Obama can read minds, apparently.) To be on the side of the angels, you must be part of the collective, transforming the world."

Tomorrow in History
December 2, 1930 - President Herbert Hoover asks Congress to pass a $150 million public works package to stimulate the economy and create jobs. (Sound familiar?)

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'Peaceful Protesters' Aren't So Peaceful

I have seen many comments on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media about the treatment of "peaceful protesters" at the Occupy protests. The incidents of police pepper-spraying protesters at UC-Davis and breaking up the protests in Los Angeles have become especially hot topics in the news. I would certainly welcome a discussion of whether or not police used some excessive force in these instances (my initial inclination is that it is possible), but to claim that these protesters were "peaceful" is absolutely incorrect.

Peaceful is defined by the Random House Dictionary as "1. characterized by peace; free from war, strife, commotion, violence, or disorder: a peaceful reign; a peaceful demonstration. 2. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a state or time of peace. 3. peaceable; not argumentative, quarrelsome, or hostile: a peaceful disposition." While the protests have not started a war (yet), it is hard to argue that they fit most of the words used in definitions one and three. In the UC-Davis incident, there was definitely strife, commotion, and disorder: by one protester's admission, the protesters being sprayed had linked arms together and surrounded the police and dared them to "clear a path." Trapping and challenging police officers definitely falls well outside the realm of "peaceful." At Occupy LA, the protesters were warned in advance to disband by a particular day. Once again, the protesters have challenged the rule of law by refusing to leave. Even after vacating their campsite, some protesters broke through police barricades in an attempt to return.

The protesters and their defenders have claimed the First Amendment as their defense. However, there are a few problems with this claim. First, the First Amendment only guarantees peaceful protests, not the type of protests described above. Second, this amendment only says Congress cannot pass any laws restricting peaceful protests; local authorities are free to do as they choose. Third, requiring permits or approval does not inhibit the ability to peaceably assemble. If the protesters want to camp out on public property or block a bridge, then they need to go through the proper procedures in order to be allowed to do it. If a group of people suddenly decide to run on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, they will be a nuisance to traffic and will probably be arrested if they refuse to leave the road. However, the city has no problem with the Chicago Marathon taking up multiple lanes of traffic every summer. The difference is no more than the fact that the marathon's organizers went through the proper process to obtain a permit for their actions. This is not a restriction; it is a simple matter of organization and efficiency.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Final Five: November 30, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
November 30, 2011

Thought of the Day:
Perhaps the President should take a lesson from Rhode Island and try replacing the failed 'Christmas Tree' tax with a 'Holiday Tree' tax.

News of Note:

- And I thought his sermons were a reality TV show

- People spend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday despite pessimism

- There will be no Christmas trees in Rhode Island, only holiday trees

- Virtual Arson: Hackers can set HP printers on fire remotely

- NLRB scales back proposal to keep quorum

- Elderly man returns stolen cash...with interest

Tonight's Crazy Story:
'12 Days of Christmas' Items Would Cost $100K
Hoping that your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife (hopefully not more than one of the above) buys you all the items in the song '12 Days of Christmas'? The Associated Press calculated the value of all 364 gifts at over $100,000.

The Final Five: Number 5
Grasshoppers in Winter: Quitting Time Postponed For Spendthrift Boomers
Walter Russell Mead analyzes the effects of the older generation working longer before retiring. "The failure of so many Boomers to save may not just reflect fecklessness and folly. People have been making a calculation that in fact they can work much longer than their parents and grandparents did. They haven’t saved for a thirty year retirement because at some level they didn’t think they would have to. Many of them were right, and they will now continue working that extra ten or so years their better health allows. ... In any case, my generation must get used to a working life that for many of us will go on past 65 or even 68. It’s not a tragedy, it’s a fact."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"I just saw this. Vice President Biden will travel to Turkey to speak at an economic summit. When he heard he was giving a speech to Turkey, Biden was like, ‘I am SO sorry about Thanksgiving.'"
-Jimmy Fallon, 11/29/11

The Final Five: Number 4
In Sickness or in Wealth
Christopher Conover explains how medical expenses have added 10 million to the poor and why this confuses the definition of poverty. (I do not agree 100% with the author, but I do agree with the discussion about how the definition of poverty depends on the means used to define it.) "The term poverty not only implies having less income than someone else in similar circumstances or less income than one would like, but it means an economic condition of sufficient concern to elicit sympathy from others and possibly to raise the question of social action to correct it. No single definition is possible. Whether one falls below this threshold varies by country, historical epoch, and even among citizens of the same country at a single time. In that regard, scientists or economists cannot define poverty. They can describe only what definition is being measured."

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government spent another $2,490,026,173.39 over its income, bringing the national debt to a "meager":

The Final Five: Number 3
Rich Nations That Went Broke By Spending Too Much
Jim Powell describes the cases of nations throughout history who spent their way into oblivion. "Historical experience suggests that rulers – whether kings, dictators or elected politicians — have a visceral urge to spend money they don’t have. They can’t control themselves. They’ll weasel their way around any efforts to put a lid on the cookie jar. This is why rich nations like Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States are spending money they don’t have and incurring chronic budget deficits. All of this has been has been going on for a very long time, a reminder that we’re dealing with one of the most potent forces in politics."

Tweets of the Day:
John Guardiano (@ResCon1): A con w/some flaws (Newt, Cain, Bachmann), is crucified. But a lefty w/some flaws (Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy) is exalted & praised. #media

The Final Five: Number 2
The Failed Chevy Volt That Just Won't Go Away
Kenneth Green describes the truth about the Chevy Volt and "green cars." "People who have looked into the history of automobiles have noted that while electric cars have never managed to rival internal combustion cars for their performance, comfort, reliability, or customer-attractiveness, they persist in inspiring a small segment of the public. And would-be social engineers have always loved them. As Robert Bryce points out in his book Power Hungry, electric cars are the "Next Big Thing. And they always will be." Bryce observes that EV-boosters have been flogging electric cars since 1911, when the New York Times declared that "the electric car "has long been recognized as the ideal solution" because it "is cleaner and quieter" and "much more economical." Of course, that all depends on how you define "ideal" and "economical.""

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day."
-Thomas Jefferson

The Final Five: Number 1
Game Show Government
James Arlandson compares entitlement programs to game shows, and warns conservatives to not disregard the power of entitlements in the election. "Democrats advocate Game Show Government. "Vote for us, and we'll give away cash and prizes. We'll send you a check!" ... Whoever wins the Republican primaries in 2012, conservatives must never "misunderestimate" the magical power of Game Show Government, or they will face electoral defeat in November. It will take decades to undo the spell, if it can be done. Move slowly, but surely."

Tomorrow in History
December 1, 1824 - The four-candidate for president ends without a clear winner in the electoral college, sending the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives for the second (and to date, last) time. The House would later select John Quincy Adams instead of first-place finisher Andrew Jackson.

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Was Obamacare 'Glitch' Intentional?

Almost three months ago, it was widely reported that there was a "glitch" in the (Un)Affordable Care Act that could result in uninsured residents of certain states losing the federal subsidies for health insurance. Under the law, states are expected to set up health insurance exchanges where those not covered by an employer insurance plan can purchase federally-subsidized health insurance. If a state refuses to set up an exchange, the federal government can set up an exchange. However, the law only provides subsidies for those in the state exchanges. While almost everyone considers this to be a "glitch," the lack of interest in fixing it makes me question whether this might have been intentional.

Let's consider the facts. First, this was initially reported in September, and almost everyone admitted that it was a problem. However, the administration that has both pushed to get this bill passed as quickly as possible and also repeatedly told Congress to pass bills "right away" seems to be in no hurry to even propose changing the law. It is understandable why this might not be the most pressing issue on the table, but it is not understandable why this president and the Democrats in Congress seem to have no interest in fixing this problem.

Second, we also know that the states least likely to set up these exchanges would be the ones that are controlled by conservatives. In fact, the two states considered least likely to set up an exchange--Florida and Louisiana--both have Republican governors. Furthermore, the list of states that already have legislation for the exchange on the table looks like a list of states that would be likely to go for Obama in 2012 (with a few exceptions).

When looking at these facts, it makes it seem as though this might be an intentional move rather than a mistake. Knowing that conservative governors would be the most unlikely to set up an exchange, the bill was crafted in order to cut the federal subsidies for those states without an exchange. This puts the governors in the difficult position of either showing an element of support for the law or losing the federal subsidies for his or her citizens.

Furthermore, when 2014 comes and residents of these states realize that they have to pay the entire cost of their insurance or pay the fine, the Democrats will have a great issue on which to campaign in the next gubernatorial election. Can't you just see the ads now: "Governor So-and-So refused to set up a health insurance exchange. This move has cost the uninsured residents of this state thousands of dollars in order to cover the cost of their health insurance, money that is being pulled from the pockets of these low-income citizens so that Governor So-and-So can protect his pride in opposing health insurance reform. This November, vote to return this money to the citizens instead of allowing it to be taken by the greedy insurance companies. Vote Candidate Me for Governor. 'I'm Candidate Me, and I approve this message.'"

Perhaps this really was a mistake that will be corrected, but the silence of those who worked so hard to pass this bill seems to speak otherwise. This bill is supposed to be the signature of the Obama Administration, and it is more likely that every detail was carefully thought out than that it was just hastily thrown together with a few 'issues' that need to be worked out. While there have been some issues, such as the 1099 provision and the long-term care provision, that have already been changed, the current lack of interest in changing this "mistake" leads me to believe that there might be a reason behind it.

Mid-Week Media: Character, OWS vs. Tea Party, Super Committees, and Flour

It's Wednesday, so let's take a look at some of the best videos and pictures from the week so far.

Bill Whittle's Afterburner takes a great look at the role of character in freedom.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus tells Neil Cavuto, "2012 is now setting up to be the ultimate decision for this country on where we’re going to end up and if it doesn’t go the right way, I pity all of us."

Here's a kid who is learning to take a lesson from Congress.

Yet another good comparison between OWS and the Tea Party.

Looks like the Super Committee did decide to go big and find some "Super Savings."

"Zuccotti Lung" is the latest disease being passed around at OWS. Apparently, it involves mixing lies with the spin.

Finally, to end the post on an up note, here's a video that shows what happens when two young kids get unrestricted access to a bag of flour in the living room. From the video description:
Mommy was not feeling well and had to stay in the bathroom longer than usual during which my two boys, ages 1 and 3 took my new bag of flour out of the cupboard and destroyed my house. This is from ONE 5lb bag. Don't believe me? Hand a full bag to a 3 year old and see what happens.
Looks like the kids had fun, but I don't think Mommy did.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Final Five: November 29, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
November 29, 2011

Thought of the Day:
Government Motors (GM) is reporting that a "small number" of Chevy Volt owners have requested a loaner vehicle. Could this be because only a "small number" of people have purchased the Chevy Volt.

News of Note:

- Will this be called a "tea party downgrade" or a "Bush downgrade"?

- New York lawmaker arrested for bribery...again

- DOJ says Alabama immigration law is complicating enforcement. Of what???

- Tea Party has to pay for what Occupy gets for free

- Obama's says not targeting his visits to swing states

- Guttman's headline is exactly what's on my mind

Tonight's Crazy Story:
iPhone 4S Self-Combusts On Australian Flight
A passenger's iPhone caught fire during an Australian flight.

The Final Five: Number 5
The Alternative to Scrutiny of Political Private Lives
Jonathan Tobin presents the case that there is an option to the high scrutiny of politican's private lives: no scrutiny of their lives, resulting in a JFK. "Kennedy’s conduct established a precedent that should remind those of us now inclined to believe that the media should back off of Cain or any other politician who might be caught doing something embarrassing that we pay a different kind of price when such things are covered up. JFK’s shenanigans may be the exception that proves the rule, but he also showed that when journalists treat a president like a buddy whose indiscretions must be covered up, it could lead to serious complications. Those members of the White House press corps who didn’t think it was their business to report about the president’s affairs eventually had to explain why they said nothing when the leader of the free world was sharing a mistress with a Mafia kingpin. His example shows that such concerns are not so much a desire to enforce a puritanical code as a matter of public safety."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"That’s right, Obama bought eight books for Sasha and Malia. Yeah, I was reading all about it on China’s credit card statement."
-Jimmy Fallon, 11/28/11

The Final Five: Number 4
Debt Crisis Must Be Solved in the Open
Robert Bixby argues that the debt crisis can only be solved through open discussion, not private negotiations. "The Concord Coalition's deficit-reduction exercises and other public engagement efforts in cities across the country have consistently shown that people of all ages and varied ideologies are willing to make hard budget choices -- as long as there is shared sacrifice, with everything on the table. ... Congress >still has much work to do, and public support will be required for the difficult reforms that are necessary to put the country on a more responsible path in the years ahead."

Debt Watch:
Yesterday, the government racked up extra debt amounting to $2,797,661,431.98, bringing the current debt total to:

Figures for today are unavailable because the government has not stopped its spending binge for the evening.

The Final Five: Number 3
Reaganomics and American Character
Former Senator Phil Gramm argues that America currently faces a battle not only for the economy, but also for freedom. "If you want to see the effect of bad government policy on character, simply turn on the news and see how Greek civil servants have been behaving recently. They are victimizers behaving like victims. Greek government policies have made them what they are. But what made Americans who we are is a historically unprecedented level of freedom and responsibility. The real danger today is not merely a loss of prosperity, but a loss of the kind of character on which prosperity is based. I occasionally hire a man to do bulldozer work on my ranch. He doesn’t know a lot about foreign policy, but he knows a lot about the economics of the bulldozing business. In his freedom to pursue that business and to be the best he can be at it, he’s the equal of any man. He’s proud, he’s independent, and he knows his trade as well as anybody else in America knows theirs. That’s what America is about. For me, today’s battle, as it was in 1980, is not just about prosperity or goods and services. It’s about freedom, and it’s about the kind of character that only freedom creates."

Tweets of the Day:
Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin): In @alecbaldwin 's warped world, MOM is a four-letter word.

The Final Five: Number 2
Elastic Currency, With a Vengeance
Alex Pollock explains the strange triangle between government mortgages, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. "This government triangle is composed of: 1) The Federal Reserve; 2) The government mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and 3) The U.S. Treasury Department. It works like this:

—The Federal Reserve buys $1 trillion of the debt and mortgage securities of Fannie and Freddie.
—But Fannie and Freddie are completely broke.
—So the Treasury buys $180 billion of Fannie and Freddie stock to support their obligations to the Fed and others.
—But the Federal Reserve is also lending $1.7 trillion to the Treasury (by buying Treasury debt).

What are we to make of this triangle? It’s certainly providing elastic currency with a vengeance, intertwined with real estate prices, and adding a new element—government mortgage companies—to Treasury and Federal Reserve interdependence. It does not appear that we have the ability to know how this will all turn out."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them."
-Alexander Hamilton

The Final Five: Number 1
Curing the Unemployment Blues
Richard Epstein contends that extreme regulation is what is holding America's job creation back. "Rather than go down the road of foolish grand public initiatives that bankrupt nations, government policy, both in the U.S. and the E.U., should start at the other end. It costs very little to eliminate elaborate forms of regulation. A thorough-going program of deregulation will reduce the wealth that is directed into costly compliance and unwise transfer systems, and increase the total level of goods and services produced in the overall economy, which in turn should reduce the fiscal drain of government transfer programs. Any comprehensive program that addresses labor markets at large cannot focus exclusively, or even mainly, on expanding job stimulus or transfer programs, both of which hamper the growth that is necessary to escape the current malaise. The systematic deregulation of labor markets offers the best, last hope of tackling unemployment. If only our political leaders understood that simple and powerful message. Unfortunately, they don’t. So expect more stagnation going forward."

Tomorrow in History
November 30, 1804 - Spanish representatives in New Orleans officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to France. The property would be transferred again to the United States 20 days later upon completion of the Louisiana Purchase.

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This Is What Communism Looks Like

While the majority of Occupy protesters are crammed into tents in a park, some of the members of Occupy Wall Street's finance committee slept in a $700/night hotel. Welcome to true communism, where those who divide up the money get to take what is left over.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Final Five: November 28, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
November 28, 2011

Thought of the Day:
In August, Obama argued that there was no need to cut any spending. Now, he promises to veto any attempt to avoid the automatic cuts. Did the President suddenly see the light, or does he simply see this as the opportunity to cut the defense department?

News of Note:

- A sign of Obama's economy? 14 million more bargain hunters this year

- "We are edging slowly closer to the depths of the crisis."

- TARP...times twenty

- Joe Biden, boldly going where the President won't go

- A reason to look forward to 1/3/13

- I'm sure this is helping the environment

- Throw political correctness out the window! It's a gun-slinging Santa!

Tonight's Crazy Story:
New Barbaric Police Tactic for Dispersing OWS Protestors
The People's Cube provides us with insight into what police plan to use to evict Occupy protesters. Can you believe that the police would use THIS?

The Final Five: Number 5
EU’s Democratic Deficit
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton argues that there is a problem in Europe that transcends the financial crisis: the perceived lack of democracy in EU institutions. "If democracy can be supplanted easily when “big issues” are at stake and actual voters are allowed to select governments only for unimportant questions, the vitality and longevity of democracy itself are at issue. Europe may survive its financial crisis without major disruptions to the euro or other EU institutions, but there is no doubt that the democratic deficit will have widened considerably in the process."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Microsoft is apparently designing rooms for a hotel in France. You can tell the rooms are from Microsoft. Every time you open the window, they just freeze and need to be reinstalled."
-Jimmy Fallon, 11/22/11

The Final Five: Number 4
Holder's Dept. of Retribution
Jessica Rubin analyzes the perversions of the Attorney General's office by Eric Holder. "targeted banks are warned to shut up over the threat of litigation. Even though no charges have been proven, several banks have settled to avoid having their names dragged through the mud. An additional 70 banks, including big names like Wells Fargo, are under investigation. The Obama administration should rename the DOJ the DOR - Department of Retribution."

Debt Watch:
Since the Final Five was off at the end of last week, here's a look back at government spending for the entire week. During the week, the government spent the small sum of $8,667,825,570.59 over its income, bringing the total debt to:

Figures for today are unavailable because the government has not put away its credit card for the day.

The Final Five: Number 3
Why Not Pay Higher Taxes?
Victor Davis Hanson gives 12 reasons why the 'rich' might not want to raise taxes. "The usual liberal complaint against the conservative opposition to higher income taxes is greed and the better-offs’ self-serving reluctance to pay their “fair share.” But while perhaps true in some instances, I don’t think that is an accurate writ against most of those in that now demonized $200,000 and above categories who resent forking over more."

Tweets of the Day:
Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty): Man, there are wars that have gotten less CNN on-air discussion than this latest Cain accuser.

The Final Five: Number 2
Entitlements, Not Tax Cuts, Widen the Wealth Gap
Michael Barone analyzes Paul Ryan's claims that income tax cuts aren't to blame for the growing gap in income inequality. "In effect, Social Security and Medicare have been transferring money from low-earning young people (who don't pay income but are hit by the payroll tax to increasingly affluent old people. The Democrats, perhaps following the polls and focus groups, have been protecting these entitlement programs that have done more to increase income inequality than the Reagan and Bush tax cuts put together."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine

The Final Five: Number 1
Indiana's Innovative System Clings to Life
Ben Domenech analyzes the successes of the Healthy Indiana Program in the light of the Obama administration's refusal to allow it to continue. "The Healthy Indiana Plan, which currently covers more than 45,000 Hoosiers and has an incredible 98 percent public approval rating, is based on a federal Medicaid waiver that was approved in 2007 and is up for renewal next year. There's a waiting list of more than 50,000 people who want to be on the program but can't because of budgetary constraints. Daniels' plan is based on an assumption that's controversial but principled: Empowering low-income Americans to make decisions for themselves in the health-care marketplace results in better outcomes, and less costly ones, than letting bureaucrats decide things for them."

Tomorrow in History
November 29, 1947 - The United Nations approves the Partition Plan, establishing the nation of Israel.

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Ignorance of Strict Constructionism

In a Politico article this weekend, Politico's Reid Epstein makes note of the supposed irony of Republican presidential candidates proposing amendments to the Constitution while also saying that they would only appoint strict constructionist judges. Epstein writes, "To hear the Republican presidential candidates tell it, the U.S. Constitution is the guiding light of democracy, a bedrock document so perfect and precise that it shouldn’t be challenged, interpreted or besmirched by modern-day judges. Except for all the parts the GOP candidates themselves want to change." This article shows that Epstein and Politico have a basic ignorance of strict constructionist ideals. A few points need to be addressed in response.

First, our founders realized that they did not give us a perfect document. However, they did give us a means by which to correct those imperfections: Article V. In fact, this article was used most frequently by those in the very generation that gave us the Constitution. By the year 1804--only fifteen years after the inauguration of our first president under the document--fourteen amendments had been proposed and twelve had been ratified. (In the 207 years since that point, only fifteen more amendments have been ratified.) Epstein's claim that "the Framers, for all their wisdom and foresight, forgot a few things" is exactly right, and it did not take long for the founders to realize some of those things and make changes.

Second, believing in a strict interpretation of the Constitution does not mean that it is a perfect document. During the past 100 years, we have seen all three branches of government exceed their constitutional boundaries. Strict constructionists like myself believe that our nation would be better off with a smaller government within the established boundaries of the Constitution, rather than an ever-expanding government with federal programs making its citizens dependent upon it.

However, this does not mean that strict constructionists believe in a perfect document; in fact, I believe that the vast majority of them--myself included--would welcome changes. What we are asking is that the government operate within the confines of the Constitution. While I believe there are changes that should be made to the U.S. Constitution, I also believe that the government should follow the procedures established in Article V in order to modify the document rather than doing it through laws, executive orders, or judicial decisions.

This difference seems to be lost on Epstein. He comments on Rick Perry's proposal to limit Supreme Court justices to 18-year terms by quoting Article III's provision for lifetime appointment of judges. Perry is not expressing an exception to his strict constructionist ideals; he is simply saying that we should consider doing what our founding fathers did to their own document twelve times.

Epstein quotes a former attorney who claims, "Supporting original constitutional interpretation while seeking amendments shows an element of cognitive dissonance." Nothing could be further from the truth. While strict constructionists want to restore the federal government within constitutional boundaries, one of those boundaries is the ability to change the constitution when necessary. Nothing could be closer to the original intent of the founders than to propose and implement changes through the process the Constitution's authors gave us.