Friday, June 15, 2012

The Final Five: June 15, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Semitrailer Leaks Fuel After Duct Tape Patch Fails
A semi truck stopped at a rest stop leaked approximately 100 gallons of diesel after the driver thought he had fixed the leak with duct tape.


Topic One: Immigration Confusion
Much of the news today centered around Obama's immigration plans. From the rose garden, Obama announced today that his administration would offer two-year deferrals for about 800,000 illegal immigrants. Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano stressed that this is not an amnesty program and it will not lead to lawful status or citizenship. According to the CNSNews article, those eligible must meet all five of these criteria: "1) Illegally entered the United States when they were under 16 years old; 2) Have continually resided in the United States for at least five years; 3) Are currently in school, have graduated from a U.S. high school, obtained a GED, or has been honorably discharged from the military or Coast Guard; 4) Have not been convicted of a felony or “serious misdemeanor,” multiple misdemeanors, or are a threat to public safety or national security; and 5) Is under the age of 30."

However, in doing this, is Obama disregarding immigration law? "In yet another demonstration of contempt for the rule of law and the separation of powers, the Obama administration has announced that it will no longer enforce our immigration laws (not that he’s been enforcing them until now). The Washington Times broke the story this morning about a secret memo from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that establishes new policies advising agents to release some illegals caught crossing the border. The new policy will encourage agents to suspend deportation proceedings and grant amnesty to those who ostensibly fit the criteria of the Dream Act – a bill that was defeated with overwhelming bipartisan support of Congress. Hence, the administration is publicly declaring that federal agents will ensure our laws are not executed faithfully."

Another potential problem with this plan is that it makes some people more illegal than others: "I'm pretty sure Congress is going to challenge his ability to declare one set of illegals not illegal, and keep the rest of illegals, illegal. Perhaps Obama has mistaken that cardboard crown he got from his last trip to Burger King for the real thing. He sure is acting like a king, isn't he?"

Obama on Immigration: Right Policy, Wrong Time

(Note: In this post, I am focusing on the ideas presented in Obama's immigration reform. I oppose his unilateral modification of policies without approval of Congress, and I plan to address that in a separate post next week. For today, I am focusing on the policy itself and what we must do in order to effectively fix our immigration system.)

In order to develop a proper policy on any subject, there are two items that the policymaker must get correct: a good policy must be developed, and the policy must be implemented at the right time. A good policy implemented at the wrong time is just as bad as a policy that was a poor idea in the first place. While Obama is certainly no stranger to proposing bad policies, the worst part about his reforms to immigration policy today is not the policy itself, but the timing of its implementation.

The timing of his policy is wrong because he continues to ignore our borders. Instead of focusing on policy affecting those currently within the county, we first need to focus on securing our borders. If we cannot control our borders, any further immigration policies will be useless. We can debate the positives and negatives of Reagan's immigration reform, but there is no question that we would be having an entirely different discussion now if our border had been secure over the past 25 years.

We certainly need to have an honest discussion on how to handle those who are currently here illegally, especially the youth. For many of the youth, America is the only home they have ever known. Some of them may have been born in America and have never even been to Mexico. It would be strange to tell these people who have grown up in America that they now must leave and go "back" to a country where they have never lived because of the actions of their parents.

However, any discussion we have on these subjects is pointless until we have secured the border. As we learned from Reagan's immigration reform, any type of amnesty without border control will only kick the can down the road. Before we make any changes in our policy for the people already here, we must first make sure that we will not see a repeat of this problem in another 10-15 years.

While I do not agree with everything Obama wants to do on immigration, and I certainly believe it is wrong to do it without Congressional approval, I believe that Obama's immigration policy is a decent policy that could be a workable foundation for real immigration reform if the borders were secure. We certainly need to have an open debate regarding what we should do regarding the millions of people already in this country illegally, but we must first do everything in our power to ensure that no one else is able to cross the border illegally. The time to address our policy involving the illegals already in this country is after we have addressed our border policy, not before.

D.C. Daily: June 15, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed H. Con. Res. 128, authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for an event to award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Montford Point Marines.
  • Considered the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 1940, the "Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act".
  • Agreed to motions regarding the consideration of the nominations of Erica Lynn Groshen to be Commissioner of Labor Statistics and Mary Geiger Lewis to be District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
  • Confirmed the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will not meet today. The next meeting of the Senate is scheduled for 3:00 PM on Monday, June 18.


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM for a pro forma session. The House will return to conduct business on Monday, June 18.


Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
There were no significant proposed rules published today.

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
  • Proclamation 8837: proclaiming June 14, 2012, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 10, 2012, as National Flag Week.
  • Notice: continuing the national emergency and ordering related measures blocking the property of certain persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Belarus.


Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Final Five: June 14, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Dot.everything: New Internet Domains Include '.cool,' '.apple,' '.love'
Imagine visiting a humor website that ends in '.lol'. Anyone willing to pay a $185,000 application fee, along with $25,000 per year, can now register a 'dot-something' internet domain.


Topic One: Education
Two interesting articles attacking some of the main arguments liberals make for improving education. First, The Blaze's Meredith Jessup asks whether or not we need more teachers: "public school enrollment has minimally increased over the last few decades, but teacher employment has exploded — the public school workforce has grown 11 times faster than student enrollment over the last 40 years. And how does employing more and more teachers affect our students’ performance? While the cost of education has steadily risen, academic scores have remained stagnate and in some cases actually declined. As Cato’s Andrew Coulson notes, if the U.S. returned to the student-to-staff ratio we had in 1970, we could save $210 billion… every year. Furthermore, on a per pupil basis, the inflation-adjusted average cost of a K-12 education has gone from about $55,000 to about $150,000."

Second, Terrence Jeffrey argues at CNSNews that increasing the school year will only result in more indoctrination: "The inherent nature and learning potential of American children have not changed since then. But our society has. Today, public schools think they have better things to do than make children learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic by sitting them in a seat and teaching it to them. Many parents think they have better things to do than parent their own children. Parents who like the idea of a government-run school keeping their child in class until 5:00 p.m. every day and incarcerating them in school 12 months a year are not looking for an education so much as a full-time, taxpayer-funded babysitting service. Public school teachers are not going to get any better at teaching children that 3 times 3 is 9 and that cat is spelled c-a-t if they get nearly full-time custody of American children. What they will have is more time to indoctrinate kids into their way of looking at life."

D.C. Daily: June 14, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Began consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 1940, the "Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act"
  • Resumed consideration of S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012".

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate is expected to consider consideration of S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act".


House
Yesterday's Action:
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next meeting of the House is scheduled for 10:00 AM on Friday, June 15. The House will return to conduct business on Monday, June 18.


Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
There were no significant proposed rules published today.

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential Documents published today.


Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Final Five: June 13, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
W. Pa. Man Blamed Dog for Apartment Arson
A man in Western Pennsylvania has been arrested after police concluded that his apartment fire could not have started the way he claimed: his dog kicked over a fan.


Topic One: Deficit Spending
The unsustainable fiscal path: "In 2008, the U.S. economy entered into a deep recession that bottomed in 2009, which we can observe in the chart with the decline in the nation's GDP per Capita coinciding with that year. During the time since, which corresponds with President Obama's entire presidency, we see that the federal government's spending has skyrocketed while its tax collections have fallen far below where they were for the same level of GDP per Capita in the years from 2003 through 2008, opening up a wide gap between the two. That's significant because both observed changes are directly due to policies implemented by President Obama during his term in office. In addition to significantly boosting the federal government's spending, the President has also implemented tax cuts that have contributed to the widening of the gap between the federal government's spending per capita and tax collections per capita - putting the nation onto an unsustainable fiscal path."

The biggest problem with Obama's policies is not the spending itself, but the lack of a plan to fix it: "Under Obama, federal spending has surged to unprecedented levels as a proportion of GDP! And since 100% is all there is of the pie, if the federal government takes proportionately more, the private sector accounts for proportionately less, and it is the private sector which is the wealth-generating part of the economy -- the part which carries the load of government and generates our standard of living. Spending got almost this high during the Reagan administration, but then there was a policy to bring it back down which was ultimately successful. There is no such policy now. The Obama administration is not even recognizing, at least publicly, that spending has increased as it has!"

Austerity is coming: "What do Europe's economic experiences portend for the U.S.? Obama will (hopefully) lose the 2012 election because of his incompetence and the state of the U.S. economy. Republicans will control government for the next two years. They will suffer the same fate as politicians who favor austerity in Europe if they try to enforce austerity, to cut spending here. Politicians, even Republicans, are self-interested people, and will prefer to stay in office rather than be removed. So they, too, will choose to ignore economic reality. Especially when Democrats and their lapdogs, the MSM, loudly depict every austerity measure, every spending cut, as hard-hearted. Whatever enthusiasm exists when Republicans gain control will soon dissipate when polls show the unpopularity of austerity with voters. But austerity will surely come. Economic reality must set in."

Mid-Week Media: The Life of Emily, Wrong Predictions, SuperHolder, and Fairy Tales

It's Wednesday, so that means it's time to take a look at some of the best media from the past week:

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity put out this video as an alternative to the Obama campaign's "Life of Julia":


And now, some great moments in liberal punditry, the Wisconsin Recall edition:


Before working to ban sodas, Bloomberg might want to enforce other New York laws:


Trying to prevent someone from voting (even if they are attempting to vote illegally), call SuperHolder!


Obama's "fine" fairy tale:

D.C. Daily: June 13, 2012

Senate
Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed S. Res. 491, commending the participants in the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad and recognizing the importance of education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to the future of the United States.
  • Passed S. Res. 492, designating June 15, 2012, as "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day".
  • Began consideration of S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act".
  • Began consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 1940, the "Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act".
  • Confirmed the nomination of Andrew David Hurwitz to be Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate is expected to consider two amendments to S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act".



House
Yesterday's Action:
The House met yesterday in a pro forma session.

Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next meeting of the House is scheduled for 10:00 AM on Friday, June 15. The House will return to conduct business on Monday, June 18.



Executive Agencies
Significant Final Rules:
  • Coast Guard: establishing an effective date for the Final Rule entitled “Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters”. (Effective 6/21/11)
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: establishing a herd certification program to control chronic wasting disease (CWD) in farmed or captive cervids in the United States.

Presidential Documents:


Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Final Five: June 12, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Steals Cars with Stolen Tow Truck
A Florida man stole a tow truck so that he could steal cars more easily.


Topic One: Government Spending
HUD spends $70 million to teach how to spend money: "At one federal agency, it takes money to spend money. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced it is spending $70 million to improve the way its grant recipients spend billions in taxpayer cash. Most of the $70 million will go to consulting companies that provide “technical assistance” to HUD-funded communities and non-profit organizations. The consultants will help the communities and nonprofits “improve their use of federal funds to revitalize neighborhoods, help the homeless and produce more affordable housing,” a May 15 new release said. CNSNews.com asked a HUD official, "If I’m reading this correctly, this is a grant to teach people how to spend money they already have?"

State Department buys Kindles for 3500% of retail: "The State Department will spend $16.5 million on 2,500 Kindle e-book readers from Amazon, which amounts to a whopping $6,600 per Kindle device that retails for $189. Nextgov.com first reported this news by looking at procurement databases and discovered the State Department awarded a no-bid contract to purchase the kindle devices at a 3,500 percent markup."

Townhall contributor Daniel Mitchell points out some other examples of government waste: "Should we send more money to Washington when the federal government is: Forcing taxpayers to pay millions of dollars for pro-Obamacare and pro-IRS propaganda. Doing interviews about erectile dysfunction for $6,000 each and sticking the tab on us. Hiring bureaucrats to monitor school lunches and replace healthy turkey sandwiches with processed chicken nuggets. And those are just examples of nickel-and-dime programs. The bigger outrage is that politicians have created costly, inefficient, and bankrupt entitlement programs that threaten our fiscal future."

Reagan's Line Turns 25


25 years ago today, President Ronald Reagan visited the Brandenburg Gate and spoke what are probably the most well-known words of his Presidency, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" However, many of his advisers were opposed to the inclusion of this call to tear down the wall, fearing that it would hinder the progress of relations that had been built. The New York Times writes, "Things were trending in the right direction in United States-Soviet relations. Most of Reagan’s foreign policy advisers opposed adding incendiary language. ... One of Reagan’s gifts, however, was not to care about the wisps of history, or the contrary advice of his advisers. He insisted that the line be included, and so, midway through the speech, the president said, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The lines were delivered crisply."

Reagan's speech may not have been the motivating factor in the destruction of the wall. The wall lasted another twenty months before the gate was opened and the wall began to be taken down. However, it is also foolish to believe that the speech had no impact on the eventual collapse of the wall and the U.S.S.R. The New York Times op-ed continues, "But something had changed in the atmosphere. A gate had opened. And two years later, it was exactly as he predicted. The wall fell — not because Mr. Gorbachev tore it down, but because he did nothing at all. ... Mr. Gorbachev deserves some of the credit, and in fact, the vast majority of young Germans in 1989 felt gratitude to him, not to Ronald Reagan. No one deserves more credit than the young graffiti-painters who protested against the wall for 28 years, and finally liberated themselves. But surely some recognition should go to a president who had the good sense to ignore the advice he was given, and read the writing on the wall."

In September 1990, Reagan, now a former president, would again visit the wall, this time armed not with words, but with a hammer. He delivered a few symbolic blows to the remnant of the wall. It was a fitting action for the man who defied his closest advisers and called for freedom in Berlin.

D.C. Daily: June 12, 2012

Senate
Friday's Action:
Yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Agreed to the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Andrew David Hurwitz to be Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, by a vote of 60 yeas to 31 nays.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Andrew David Hurwitz to be Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.


House
Friday's Action:
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule:
The House will meet at 10:00 AM today in a pro forma session. The House will return to conduct business on Monday, June 18.


Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Environmental Protection Agency: proposing standards for cooling water intake structures at all existing power generating, manufacturing, and industrial facilities as part of implementing section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). (Comment period ends 7/12/11)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service: establishing annual hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds for the 2012-13 hunting season.

Significant Final Rules:
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: amending the regulations concerning the importation of animals and animal products to prohibit or restrict the importation of bird and poultry products from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is considered to exist.
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: eliminating the requirement for drivers operating intermodal equipment (IME) to submit—and intermodal equipment providers (IEPs) to retain—driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any defects in the IME.

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Yesterday, the court issued decisions on the following cases:
  • Elgin v. Dep’t of the Treasury: The court affirmed a lower court ruling which said that the Merit Systems Protection Board (the board which considers challenges to the firing of federal employees) prohibits an employee from going to a District Court to challenge the firing as unconstitutional.
  • Parker v. Matthews: The court reversed a lower court ruling that set aside two murder convictions, ruling that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 does not allow federal courts to review reasonable and legal decisions of a state court.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Final Five: June 11, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Nevada High School’s Diplomas Misspell "Graduation"
Another high school--this time in Nevada--is having to reprint diplomas after the diplomas misspelled "graduation" as "graduataion".


Topic One: Voting Rights Are Not Free
Star Parker explains the cost for the right to vote: "Engraved large on one of the walls of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC are the words “Freedom is not free.” It is sad that so many are unable or unwilling to appreciate the truth of this simple phrase or are ready to heed those who have or seek power who distort it. I cannot think of anything hurting us more today than false and confused notions about the nature of the ideal of freedom."

"A free society will soon not be free if the citizens in it see their freedom as something that should arrive effortlessly, free of personal responsibility, like the appearance of the morning sun. Black leaders do damage to our nation, and to our black citizens, to call requirements for a modicum of personal responsibility in order to vote racism. A study published earlier this year by the Pew Center on the States characterized America’s voter registration system as "Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient."

The Media Shows Its Bias (Again)

You can see the media's bias when Romney's "I'm not concerned about the very poor" quote is plastered all over the media, but Obama's "the private sector is doing fine" quote gets buried by all except the right-wing blogs. Yes, context matters for both quotes, but that only makes the comparison even worse.

In Romney's quote, he specifically acknowledged the presence of a safety net for the poor and stated that he would fix it if it had holes. However, he was making the point that the middle class is hurting and Obama's administration is doing nothing to help. It was a poorly constructed statement, and it will make a very poor soundbite, but it was a reasonable statement when considered in context.

Obama's quote still makes little sense when considered in context. He was attempting to make the point that the private sector had created jobs and the public sector had lost jobs. This is true. However, 82,000 private sector jobs is not enough to keep up with population growth; it is certainly not "fine". Even when considered in context, Obama's statement makes very little sense.

Irrespective of one's opinion of either of the two candidates, it is absolutely baffling how the media can claim to be fair when they treat these two statements differently. Both statements--not just Romney's--deserve to be brought to light, discussed, and analyzed.

D.C. Daily: June 11, 2012

Senate
Friday's Action:
The Senate was not in session Friday.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act". At 4:30 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Andrew David Hurwitz to be Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, with a vote on the motion to invoke cloture at approximately 5:30 PM.


House
Friday's Action:
During business Friday, the House took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 5882, the "Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013", by a vote of 307 yeas to 102 nays.
  • Rejected the Broun motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 4348, by a vote of 82 yeas to 323 nays.
  • Passed S. 3261, to allow the Chief of the Forest Service to award certain contracts for large air tankers.

Today's Schedule:
The House will not meet today. The next scheduled meeting of the House is a pro forma session at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, June 12. The House will return to conduct business on Monday, June 18.


Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Federal Housing Finance Agency: seeking comments on a proposed rule that would amend FHFA's existing housing goals regulation to establish housing goals for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (collectively, the Enterprises). (Comment period ends 7/26/12)
  • Environmental Protection Agency: seeking comments on the proposed standards for cooling water intake structures at all existing power generating facilities and existing manufacturing and industrial facilities as part of implementing section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). (Comment period ends 7/11/12)
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: correcting technical and typographical errors in the proposed rule that appeared in the May 11, 2012 Federal Register entitled “Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Fiscal Year 2013 Rates; Hospitals' Resident Caps for Graduate Medical Education Payment Purposes; Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers and for Ambulatory Surgical Centers.”

Significant Final Rules:
There were no final rules proposed today.

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

The court has not issued decisions on the following cases: