Friday, July 6, 2012

The Final Five: July 6, 2012



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Jim's Word:
Shouldn't our "post-partisan" President leave the country less divided than it was before his administration? Why are we more divided now than possibly ever before?


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Cat Interrupts Live TV Broadcast
FOX-17 reporter Nicole DiDonato was teasing an upcoming segment live when a cat climbed up her back and sat on her shoulder.


Topic One: The Unemployment Report
When you set low goals, it is difficult to not meet them. However, the June labor report did just that, coming in lower than economists predicted. Yet that report, showing the creation of a mere 84,000 jobs in June, is somehow a 'step in the right direction,' according to our President. The unemployment rate has remained steady at 8.2%. Unemployment is up for blacks (13.6% to 14.4%), women (7.9% to 8.0%), and youth (12.1% to 12.8%).

Daniel Horowitz analyzes at RedState: "It‘s hard to articulate just how terrible and ominous these numbers are for the future of our economy. Remember that just in order to break even with pre-recession levels, we need to create about 9 million jobs, at a clip of 300-500k per month. The deeper the recession, the more robust of a recovery that is needed to break even. Also, keep in mind that the population is still growing, so we must create even more jobs to accommodate that increase. The miracle of the American economy throughout the post-WWII era is that we have recovered from every recession stronger than we were before each downturn. At this point in the Reagan recover, we were creating over 300k new jobs each month – and that was when the population was much smaller."

DC Daily: July 6, 2012


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Senate
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



House of Representatives
The House stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
There were no significant proposed rules printed today.

Significant Final Rules:
There were no significant final ruled printed today.

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Final Five: July 5, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
San Diego July 4th Fireworks Show Malfunctions
People watching the fireworks in San Diego got quite the show, while it lasted. A malfunction in the computer system caused all the fireworks to fire at one time.


Topic One: ObamaCare
Democrats argue in favor of their health care bill by arguing that Republicans have not proposed any alternatives to curb health care costs. While this is not accurate, it is true that many of the Republican alternatives will work about as well as ObamaCare. James Pethokoukis presents a conservative health care alternative: "Rising healthcare costs have been driven by public policies which have insulated consumers from recognizing and bearing the true costs of their healthcare decisions. The most important flaw in this system is the tax preference given to employer-based health insurance. Employer payments covering premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes. If you go out and buy a health insurance policy on your own, you do it with after-tax dollars. If you employers buy the insurance for you, it is with pre-tax dollars."

13 ways ObamaCare will ruin your life: "Do you see the theme throughout this document? Free isn’t free! Who is paying for this wonderful new health plan for all Americans? YOU! Even more importantly, your freedom isn’t free. Your freedom to choose is being heavily taxed. Oh yes, and the lawmakers who think this is such a great idea – they have exempted themselves from participating. How nice for them! We must show our government our extreme dissatisfaction and disapproval, and vote these politicians, who are so willing to spend our hard-earned money for us, OUT OF OFFICE!"

D.C. Daily: July 5, 2012


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Senate
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



House of Representatives
The House stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



Executive Agencies
Significant Proposed Rules:
  • Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board: establish an advisory committee to assist on matters associated with comments received and responses to questions included in a previously published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards.

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
  • Proclamation 8840: designating certain articles as eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) when imported from a least-developed beneficiary developing country.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Declaration of Independence

Independence Day is a great day to take time to read our nation's founding documents. Printed below is the text of the Declaration of Independence, as found on the website of the National Archives:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Independence Day

On April 18, 1775, British troops were sent to Lexington, Massachusetts, to seize weaponry held by the Colonial militia. The famous ride by Paul Revere alerted the citizens, and the British troops arrived to see 77 American minutemen waiting on the village green. The 'shot heard round the world' was fired, and with it, the fight for America's independence had begun.

A little over one year later, the Second Continental Congress convened to address the latest efforts in the war and decide how to proceed. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution for independence, and on July 4, 1776, the members of Congress approved the official document explaining their decision, The Declaration of Independence. With its publication, America legally became an independent nation.

However, The Declaration of Independence actually did very little for the cause of independence. Fighting between the American army and the British army would continue for over five more years, and the official treaty ending the war was not signed until September 3, 1783. With the Treaty of Paris, the British crown officially recognized the colonies as independent, and therefore, America's independence was secured. Why do we celebrate July 4 as Independence Day instead of other dates such as September 3?

Tradition could be one reason. Although July 4 would not become an official federal holiday until 1870, the date was celebrated as early as 1777, one year after the Declaration was adopted. With the revolution still being fought, the only date that we had to celebrate was July 4. Bristol, Rhode Island, celebrated July 4 in 1777, and it hosts the longest-running Independence Day celebration, having been held continuously since 1785. Since celebrations of Independence Day were taking place before the treaty was signed, it certainly is possible that the tradition of celebrating it on July 4 was well-established before the war ended.

Another possible reason could be found in the way that the revolution ended. The fighting in America died down following Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. Following this defeat, political support for the war in Britian faded and forced the pro-war Prime Minister to resign the following March. The peace party took control of Parliament and voted to end the war in April 1782. A preliminary agreement for peace was reached in November of 1782, but the official treaty was not signed until September 3, 1783. The US ratified the treaty on January 14, 1784, and Britain ratified it on April 9, 1784. This period of two and a half years likely downplayed the significance of the treaty in the eyes of the Americans.

However, there could be a more intentional reason this day is celebrated. Our founding fathers were very wise, and they left us clues in many of their decisions. Perhaps this was another calculated decision by wise men to celebrate not the victory in war that gained our independence, but the bravery of men to stand up for their rights. What we celebrate on July 4th is the day when our founders stated that Americans will take no more encroachment of their rights. While it may have seemed easy to sit in a room and sign a paper (especially as troops were fighting at that very moment), that signature was considered treason by the British, and they certainly knew that anyone who signed that paper would be put to death if captured.

In the celebration of July 4th, we have a reminder that independence and freedom are won by those who put their foot down and refuse to tolerate anything which would take it away. As we look around America today, this is a message we desperately need to remember. As an expanding government begins to encroach on the rights of American citizens, we need a new generation of brave men and women to stand up to our government and tell them that we have had enough loss of freedom in this nation. As we celebrate this day with fireworks, grills, and parades, may we also remember that it is our job to defend the freedom that America enjoys. As Ronald Reagan put it, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." May America never experience the day when freedom is talked about, but not enjoyed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Final Five: July 3, 2012



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Jim's Word:
After ObamaCare, it is amazing how quickly the liberals forgot their hatred for 5-4 decisions.


Tonight's Crazy Story:
There's a Bear in my Garage!
One California woman discovered that the noises she was hearing in her garage were due to a bear cub playing on the garage door's track. Even more frightening, Mama Bear came along and opened the garage door to let her baby out.


Topic One: Student Loans
The bubble is ready to burst: "Today, many graduates are already jumping the tracks to become skilled manual laborers -- plumbers, electricians and the like. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that seven of the 10 fastest growing jobs in the next decade will be based on on-the-job training rather than higher education. And they'll be hands-on jobs that are hard to outsource to foreigners. If you want your toilet fixed, it can't be done by somebody in Bangalore. People pursuing these careers will have greater job security in today's economy and will be free from the crushing debt amassed by their more educated peers. Bubbles form when too many people expect values to go up forever. Simply put, the cost of higher education has far outpaced its actual value. The bubble is going to burst."

Is rising tuition related to cuts in state funding? "How did we get here? The crisis actually developed over several decades. It began some 30 years ago when the federal government severely cut funding to states. States responded by drastically reducing their support of higher education, forcing public educational institutions to look elsewhere for funding. Raising tuition was a partial solution, one made easier by the availability of student loans. But shifting the cost burden onto the backs of young men and women simply postponed the crisis. It didn't cause it. It was caused by decreased levels of state funding."

I would concur in part with the above article, but I would disagree with the assertion that cuts in public funding are the major driver of tuition costs. Rather, the main driver of tuition costs are the lack of spending restraint being exercised by schools. Colleges have focused their efforts on expanding not only educational opportunities, but also recreational opportunities. My alma mater recently completed a new student union, which has a large game room containing multiple big screen televisions and gaming systems. While it is a nice benefit, it is wholly unnecessary. Salaries continue to rise, with the average salary for a college professor approaching a six-figure level and the highest-paid professors earning close to half a million each year.

In most businesses, the excessive spending done by colleges would be controlled by the cost of their output. However, this does not matter to students when their education is being financed by student loans and grants. Colleges can get away with annual tuition hikes that approach ten times the cost of inflation, and the students say little due to the "importance" of a college education and the fact that most of them are paying--if anything--only a small portion of the cost up front. It is not until the loans come due that the students care about the cost of their education, and by then, it is too late to do anything about it.

Yes, decreases in public funding may have had some effect on the tuition at public universities, but there are many more culprits to look at than the legislatures.

D.C. Daily: July 3, 2012


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Senate
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



House of Representatives
The House stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.



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

Significant Final Rules:
  • Farm Credit Administration: amending regulations relating to lending and leasing limits and loan and lease concentration risk mitigation.
  • Forest Service: providing management direction for conserving and managing approximately 4.2 million acres of Colorado Roadless Areas (CRAs) on National Forest System (NFS) lands.

Presidential Documents:
  • Presidential Determination No. 2012-10: determining that it is in the national interest of the United States for the Export Import Bank of the United States to extend a loan in the amount of approximately $125,870,890 to the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Monday, July 2, 2012

BREAKING: Romney & Family Go to Church

An AP reporter visited a Mormon church where Mitt Romney and nearly 30 family members attended yesterday.

If you're having trouble sleeping tonight, the reporter's article should solve your problem.

The Final Five: July 2, 2012



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Jim's Word:
Starting tonight, I am going to begin writing a brief comment to kick off each night's final five. Sometimes it may be a humorous or interesting thought, and sometimes it may be a paragraph or more explaining my thoughts on a particular issue.

As you look through tonight's Final Five, you will find no mention of ObamaCare or John Roberts, despite the fact that the media has fixated on the Supreme Court's decision since it was announced last Thursday. Given the number of stories I read about the decision over the weekend, I could probably have produced a list of links to stories that would be longer than a typical edition of the Final Five. However, it is pointless to focus on analysis of the decision at this point. What happened last Thursday is over, and now we must turn our focus to repeal.

Overturning the mandate at the Supreme Court was never the "slam dunk" most people thought it should have been. No one would have been surprised if Ginsburg had read the court's decision, backed by the four liberals plus Kennedy. Even after the arguments, some people thought Kennedy had sounded too opposed to the mandate to actually be in opposition to it, and they speculated that he may have been playing devil's advocate with the attorneys. In the end, the only big surprise was that it was Roberts, not Kennedy, joining the liberal side of the Court to uphold the mandate.

While I am disappointed with Thursday's decision, there is a much greater prize that we must now focus on winning. From the time the law passed, we knew that November would bring one final chance to put this legislation to rest, and the Court's decision only makes the stakes of that day even greater. Trying to figure out what was going on in the head of John Roberts is not going to help us win this election. It is time we stop looking back to what happened on June 28th and start looking forward to getting the job done on November 6th.


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Cop Called For Drugs by Mistake 4 Times
Four people were arrested after a mistaken number resulted in a drug call being placed to a police officer. Despite the fact that the officer identified himself as a police officer, a meeting was arranged.


Topic One: The Entitlement Society
The Largest Theft Racket In World History: "Many people are so submerged in the entitlement system that they cast aside their ethical judgment to defend what is obviously robbery. The entitlement programs are the forced redistribution of wealth from the working young to the non-working elderly. If you object that there is a moral difference between a criminal theft racket and the entitlement programs, you might fire off a number of superficial dissimilarities between them. However, your ultimate argument, the one that manufactures a fundamental distinction between the two and which is the most accepted line of defense of the entitlements in the United States today, will be a monstrous philosophical concept called the social contract."

The economics of the welfare state: "You can look at the whole welfare state as a permanent, standing "stimulus" program, since it borrows trillions of dollars that are continually pumped into the economy by increasing the consumption spending of those who otherwise could not afford it. The Supreme Court just removed a major obstacle to a new expansion of that permanent stimulus state-which makes the question of why stimulus fails all the more urgent. A big clue to the answer is that stimulus fails because it always becomes permanent. The original Keynesian theory of stimulus was that the government would borrow and spend during an economic downturn in order to stimulate economic growth, and then once that growth took off, government would stop stimulating, cut its expenses, and pay down its loans. At least, that is how the idea is generally sold. The stimulators tell us that a recession is the wrong time to cut back spending, as if they ever thought that there might be a good time. But they never do, and there is an inexorable logic to this."

Chicago's Anti-Gun Day Funds NRA Gun Camp

Yes, you read that correctly. Chicago recently held a "gun turn-in" day, where over 5500 guns were handed over in exchange for $100 MasterCard gift cards. Sixty guns (plus several BB guns, which netted $10 each) were turned in by Guns Save Lives, a Champaign, Illinois-based pro-gun group. The group netted $6,420, which it plans to use to purchase ammunition for its NRA camp and four bolt-action rifles to give away to kids attending the camp.

The Chicago Police Department probably did not have this in mind when they planned the gun buyback program.

(h/t The Chicago SunTimes)

D.C. Daily: July 2, 2012


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Senate
Friday's Action:
During business Friday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed S. 1335, the "Pilot's Bill of Rights".
  • Passed S. Con. Res. 51, Adjournment Resolution.
  • Passed H.R. 6064, to provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund pending enactment of a multiyear law reauthorizing such programs.
  • Passed S. 2165, the "United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act".
  • Passed S. 3238, the "David F. Winder Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic".
  • Passed S. Res. 376, commemorating the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States.
  • Passed S. 3363, to provide for the use of National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Commemorative Coin surcharges.
  • Passed S. 2239, the "Veteran Skills to Jobs Act".
  • Resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 2237, the "Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act". A motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration was introduced, and a vote on cloture will occur at approximately 2:25 PM on Tuesday, July 10.
  • Agreed to the conference report to accompany H.R. 4348, by a vote of 74 yeas to 19 nays.

Today's Schedule:
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.


House of Representatives
Friday's Action:
During business Friday, the House took the following actions:
  • Agreed to the conference report to accompany H.R. 4348, by a vote of 373 yeas to 52 nays.
  • Passed H.R. 5972, the "Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013".
  • Passed H.R. 6064, the "Temporary Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012".
  • Passed S. Con. Res. 51, Adjournment Resolution.

Today's Schedule:
The House stands adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, July 9.


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

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.