April 02, 2014

Advantage Libertarians

The Supreme Court ruled today that individuals may not be limited in the number of political candidates to whom they can contribute during an election.  At the same time the justices left in place the maximum donation that can be made to a single candidate, which remains at $2,600.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in the controlling opinion in the 5-4 ruling, said that while the government has an interest in preventing corruption of federal officeholders, individuals have political rights that include being able to give to as many candidates as they want, in order to show support.

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” the chief justice wrote. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

Under the current limit, a donor can’t give more than $123,200 to candidates, parties and political action committees. Of that, just $48,600 can go directly to candidates.

That means if someone wanted to give the maximum donation, he could only contribute to nine candidates.

Chief Justice Roberts said it made no sense that someone couldn’t give to a 10th candidate or more — and said the government didn’t offer a clear line on where corruption would come into play.

Progressives were overwrought already, demonizing the libertarian leaning Koch brothers over their bankrolling of anti-ObamaCare political ads.  Democrats' fight for campaign finance reform has always been about limiting the voices of private citizens in the politics, while inviting massive spending and corruption by activist labor unions.  Fourteen of the top 25 political contributors are unions.

• The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.

• Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.

Democrats say that money from wealthy individuals will corrupt the system, but there are two sides to every transaction.  If influence can be bought, there is somebody to sell it.  While Democrats complain about money from shadowy groups they have no second thoughts about where their own money comes from.  Campaign finance limits are for the other side.  Remember when the Obama campaign disabled credit card address verification?  That meant campaign money was potentially untraceable.  If there is corruption it will be from rent seeking Democrats more often than not.

Make no mistake.  This is a victory for libertarians.

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April 01, 2014

Quote of the Day

From Susan Vass, under the pseudonym Ammo Grrrll writing in “Thoughts from the ammo line” on its diversity.

Contrary to anti-gun propagandists who assert that the only gun owners are certifiably insane old white men, the ammo line also reflects our diversity. The guy who beats me there on Saturdays is a black great-grandpa I’ll call Steve, on account of that’s his name. He shows up pre-dawn after his swing-shift job.  Today he is wearing a T-shirt that says “Ammo is scarce – there will be no warning shots.”

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Media -- Got the Memo

If Nate Silver is to be believed, the Democrats are in for a tough time this election season.  Silver gives the edge to a Republican takeover in the Senate.  Dragging the Dems down are a number of things:  failure of ObamaCare to deliver anything but higher costs and fewer options, politization of the IRS, Obama's pathetic responses to Bashar Assad's war on his citizens and the Russian incursion into Crimea to name a few. 

Unable to defend their policy choices, Democrats turn to a familiar game plan.  Demonize the Koch brothers.

The Nevada Democrat, in the first of two floor speeches on the subject Wednesday, questioned the veracity of new advertisements from Koch-backed groups that feature individuals sharing stories about the apparent hardships they've faced because of the Affordable Care Act.

One features a Michigan resident who said she was fighting leukemia and had her insurance canceled because of the new law. The woman says Rep. Gary Peters' vote to pass the law "jeopardized my health." Peters is the Democratic candidate for Michigan's open Senate seat.

Reid called that ads "absolutely false," and said it was part of an effort by the Koch brothers to "buy" the election.

But he returned to the floor hours later with a hint of a retraction, saying he was not in position to say that all ads from the group were lies —  only "the vast, vast majority of them."

But he went further in attacking the ads' fiscal backers.

"It's time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers, who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine," Reid said.

The Koch brothers are Un-American liars, said Harry Reid from the Senate Floor.  There's a reason he stood at the Senate podium to deliver his diatribe.  He's immune from any charges of libel when speaking in the Senate.  The news media are shielded from libel, too.  Rarely do public figures win libel suits.  So following along from Harry's lead, lefty news media outlets are jumping on the anti-Koch-brother bandwagon.  Here is The Nation hyperventilating in its headline:

What’s Really Behind the Koch Attacks on Democrats
Hint: it’s not about healthcare.

Do you want to guess what it's all about?  Here's a hint:  Oil.  Well, OK that was more than a hint.

The Kochs’ investments in fossil fuel include petrochemical complexes and thousands of miles of pipeline and refineries in Alaska, Minnesota, and Texas, an empire that emits over 24 million tons of carbon pollution every year, about as much as 5 million cars. Thanks to a recent investigation by the International Forum on Globalization, we now have confirmation of what was long suspected: the Kochs are one of the biggest investors in Alberta’s tar sands, with a Koch subsidiary holding leases on 1.1 million acres of land in the region, giving them a major stake in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline—despite their insistence otherwise.  [My emphasis]

Every couple of years the left breathlessly reveals the same nefarious plot.  It's the one where dull witted, unsuspecting Americans are lured into gas stations to fill up.  Fools.  And who's to blame?  Why, the Koch brothers, of course. 

There is, however, some dispute over the Koch brothers' interests as relate to the Keystone Pipeline.  According to PowerLine Blog, the Koch brothers have none, as John Hinderaker explained to the Washington Post, who also jumped on Harry Reid's bandwagon. 

On Thursday, the Washington Post published an article by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin titled “The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.” The article’s first paragraph included this claim:

The biggest lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the privately-owned cornerstone of the fortune of conservative Koch brothers Charles and David.

The theme of the article was that the Keystone Pipeline is all about the Koch brothers; or, at least, that this is a plausible claim. The Post authors relied on a report by a far-left group called International Forum on Globalization that I debunked last October.

So Thursday evening, I wrote about the Post article here. I pointed out that Koch is not, in fact, the largest leaser of tar sands land; that Koch will not be a user of the pipeline if it is built; and that construction of the Keystone Pipeline would actually be harmful to Koch’s economic interests, which is why Koch has never taken a position on the pipeline’s construction. The Keystone Pipeline, in short, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Koch brothers.  [All emphasis in the original]

Which is not to say that the Koch brothers don't support approval of the Keystone Pipeline.  To be honest, I don't know if they do or they don't, but I would be willing to bet that they do — not because they would profit from it, since apparently they would not, at least in the immediate term, but because it would strengthen America.  It would create American jobs. It would boost the economy.

But elements of the media have gotten the memo, so to speak.  There is so little that Democrats can campaign on in the current election season.  Their stewardship has been dismal at best, if we're talking about the economy.  Foreign policy?  A disaster.

That leaves only one thing.  Find a target and demonize it:  The Koch brothers.  Isn't it heart warming to know the media is there to help.

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March 31, 2014

Quote of the Day

Michael Goodwin of the New York Post:

"No president can win ’em all, but Obama’s foreign-policy record is unblemished by success."

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ObamaCare GOTV

Covered California, the agency in charge of implementing ObamaCare in the Golden State, is doing exactly what Obama had intended — they're getting out the Democratic vote.

LA MESA, Calif. - A local couple called 10News concerned after they received an envelope from the state's Obamacare website, Covered California. Inside was a letter discussing voter registration and a registration card pre-marked with an "x" in the box next to Democratic Party.

Just what we need — another government program dedicated to Democratic majorities.  Using ObamaCare this way was brought to light earlier in a PJ Media piece by J. Christian Adams.

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Leading From Behind -- Internet Crackdown

The Obama administration has apparently decided that it's unfair for the United States to maintain control over the domain-name system and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).  Well that's what the administration would like you to think.  The reality is more like this:

An Icann planning meeting last week in Singapore gave new reasons for alarm. No plan was even proposed to keep authoritarian regimes from censoring the global Internet. Steve DelBianco of the NetChoice trade association posed this question on the CircleID website, for which Icann had no answer: "What happens if governments advise Icann to remove [top-level domains] from the root in order to suppress dissent and free expression?"

From its inception the Obama administration has been relentlessly working to suppress opposing viewpoints.  An activist Federal Election Commission posed significant obstacles to conservatives looking to promote their message until Citizens United made it legal for corporations to spend money on political speech.  It was a setback for the administration, which it countered by transferring Lois Lerner from the FEC to the IRS where her war against the conservative message took a tactical shift.  Ms. Lerner oversaw the systematic delay and denial of conservative applications for 501(c)(4) non-profit status.  Any outfit with the words "tea party" or "patriot" have been targeted for special scrutiny.

Throughout all of this there has been the Obama's ongoing unhappiness over the internet and how there are these conservative blogs that get to say whatever they please.  His proposal to turn over Icann to international control is his solution that problem, as described by none other than Bill Clinton:

"A lot of people who have been trying to take this authority away from the U.S. want to do it for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empower their people."

Mr. Clinton asked Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia: "Are you at all worried that if we give up this domain jurisdiction that we have had for all these years that we will lose Internet freedom?"

"I'm very worried about it," Mr. Wales answered. People outside the U.S. often say to him, "Oh, it's terrible. Why should the U.S. have this special power?" His reply: "There is the First Amendment in the U.S., and there is a culture of free expression."

He recalled being told on Icann panels to be more understanding of differences in cultures. "I have respect for local cultures, but banning parts of Wikipedia is not a local cultural variation that we should embrace and accept. That's a human-rights violation."

Just earlier crackdowns on free speech were delegated to activist bureaucrats, Obama hopes to lead from behind on regulating the internet.  Countries sharing his distaste for political expression that might be considered regime unfriendly will be given greater control.  Who knows?  Someday they might be in position to do him a favor.

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March 29, 2014

DaTechGuy on DaRadio

Peter Ingemi invited me to be a panelist on his radio show today.  

In Hour two we bring on old friend Brad Waitt to the studio to talk about his race for State Rep and the Poison Poll and at 1:15 DaMagnificent Panel comes on board with Brad, Joe Mangiacotti, Maxine Baptiste from the left and old friend Tom Bowler of Libertarian Leanings. 

It was great fun.  

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March 28, 2014

The Broken Record

That would be me.  As we continue to marvel at the slow motion, never ending train wreck that is ObamaCare, we shouldn't lose sight of its purpose.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  ObamaCare is not about health care.  It's about power.  When, you may ask, might I have said that before?  Actually, I it was before ObamaCare was even passed.  For instance, August 15, 2009:

[W]hy go blindly along on health care reform when so often the president's arguments are not correct?  Why, when nearly every Obama claim is questionable or false, from the number of Americans who are uninsured, to scare stories about people currently being denied care, to his imagined cost savings.  What is the point?  And why are progressives so hot for a single payer system, when single payer systems have been shown time and again to result in reduced quality of care and government directed rationing?

It so happens, Bill Clinton delivered the answer at a convention for progressive bloggers in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH - Former President Bill Clinton told an audience of liberal online activists Thursday evening that the nation has “entered a new era of progressive politics” that could last for decades if Democrats can pass ambitious measures such as health care reform and climate change.

In a nearly hour-long keynote address to the fourth annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh, a gathering of roughly 1,500 progressive bloggers and activists, Clinton said the nation—and public opinion—has dramatically changed in the 16 years since he took office. But he noted that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress needed the support of the online community to achieve their agenda.

We have entered a new era of progressive politics which, if we do it right, can last 30 or 40 years,” Clinton said. “America has rapidly moved to another place on a lot of these issues.”

“The president needs your help,” he said, “and the cause needs your help.”

As we all know, ObamaCare passed, and the results were as expected, which means ObamaCare is nowhere close to what was promised.  Contrary to its billing, under the "Affordable" Care Act premiums are higher, deductibles are higher, choices are fewer, and the uninsured for the most part remain uninsured.  ObamaCare doesn't just fail to fix any of those problems.  It makes them worse.

We also know that when Obama promised, "If you like you plan, you can keep your plan — period," he was lying.  And he knew he was lying.  So what is the point of making an absolute mess of health care in America?  In one of his "Rule of Law" columns a couple of days ago J. Christian Adams gave us a concrete example of what is the point.:

A settlement between California and left-wing groups begins to reveal the political architecture of Obamacare.  From the ACLU press release: 

In a victory for voting rights, the state of California has agreed to mail voter registration cards to nearly 4 million Californians who have signed up for health insurance through the state health exchange, Covered California, and to ensure that Californians who apply for health benefits through the exchange going forward are provided voter registration opportunities...

Here’s the simple version:  Obamacare requires millions of people to interact with the government who never would have done so before. At the point of interaction, NVRA requires them to be pushed to register to vote.  Presto.  Millions of people are now touched by a political touch when they just wanted to see a doctor.  The politicization of health care has a GOTV component for the Democrat party.

That's my emphasis above.  In one way or another, that is what the Affordable Care Act was always intended to do — increase the number of voters who are more inclined to vote for a Democrat.  If it costs the rest of us an arm and a leg and our healthcare, so be it.

If you happen to be one of those people who knew that ObamaCare couldn't possibly add millions to the insurance rolls without making healthcare more expensive and less available, guess what.  You're the enemy.  Defeating you is the cause that Bill Clinton urged the Netroots Convention to get behind when he envisioned those 30 or 40 years of progressive politics. 

Now, you might be tempted to think progressives have embarked on their campaign to defeat you so that they can more easily implement their ever compassionate policies like ObamaCare.  You have it backwards.  ObamaCare is the means to defeat you.  It provides a taxpayer funded recruitment mechanism that is intended to keep Democrats in power by overwhelming the voices of Americans who might be averse to wasteful spending in Washington.  Democrats intend to keep the gravy train running.  And isn't it funny how the money seems to rub off.

Update:  The link I've been looking for! 

The fact that Harry Reid’s political and influence operation includes his five children has been established for some time. A few weeks ago, when I first heard Reid accuse private citizens of being un-American, I dredged up a Los Angeles Times article from 2003 with the headline, “In Nevada, the Name to Know Is Reid.” Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper’s meticulously researched and reported article begins with the story of the “Clark County Conservation of Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002,” a land bill of the sort that puts people to sleep. “What Reid did not explain” when he introduced the bill in the Senate, Neubauer and Cooper wrote, “was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.” I wonder why he left that part out.

Firms tied to the Reid family, the Los Angeles Times reported, earned more than $2 million from 1998 to 2002 “from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.”

Does it ever rub off!  This, along with that mess called ObamaCare, is what you get when you vote for a Democrat.

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February 27, 2014

A Constitutional Tipping Point

In testimony before Congress yesterday, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School warned that America has reached a constitutional tipping point.

We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority. No one in our system can “go it alone” – not Congress, not the courts, and not the President. We are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers—for better or worse. We may deadlock or even despise each other. The Framers clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period. Whatever problems we are facing today in politics, they are problems of our own making. They should not be used to take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years.

Mr. Turley believes that President Obama has exceeded his authority and that our system of government with its checks and balances is threatened, and that means our freedoms and our childrens' freedoms are threatened.  These are not the ravings of a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, but the concerns of a constitutional scholar with very liberal tendencies.  As he said in his testimony,

As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action.  Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they were done in the circumvention of Congress.  For example, when President Obama unilaterally acted on greenhouse gas pollutants, I was initially relieved. I agree entirely with the priority that he has given this issue.  However, it takes an act of willful blindness to ignore that the greenhouse regulations were implemented only after Congress rejected such measures and that a new sweeping regulatory scheme is now being promulgated solely upon the authority of the President.  We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.

Unlike Mr. Turley, I do not believe that the accrual of power in the executive branch is a side effects of Obama's good faith effort to bring about policy change.  It's the other way around.  Policy prescriptions chosen by this president are calculated to enhance progressive power.  It was always his plan to transform America, and so to accomplish that goal everything he proposes, from health care reform to action on climate change, requires enhanced regulatory power in government and reduced economic power for private citizens.  The power of Congress, and of the people, is diminishing by design.

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February 24, 2014

Piers Morgan Puffery

So, Piers Morgan gets canned, and David Carr of the New York Times thinks it's the accent.

There have been times when the CNN host Piers Morgan didn’t seem to like America very much — and American audiences have been more than willing to return the favor. Three years after taking over for Larry King, Mr. Morgan has seen the ratings for “Piers Morgan Live” hit some new lows, drawing a fraction of viewers compared with competitors at Fox News and MSNBC.

It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.

Oh, those provincial Americans.  What's a brilliant, sophisticated Brit to do, asks the brilliant and sophisticated David Carr?

Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard. Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech — the way he says the president’s name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) — that suggest that he is not from around here.

Oh, If only we could get over that accent.  Clearly, his departure from CNN is an opportunity lost for us American clods, but any hope that Piers would nudge us away from our provincial ways is gone now.  And it's only because he's a foreigner!  With an accent!  According to David Carr, anyway.

While I may share his feelings about the need for additional strictures on guns, having grown up in the Midwest, I know that many people come by their guns honestly and hold onto them dearly for sincere reasons.

Mr. Morgan’s approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies and wondering how to bring the savages to heel. He might have wanted to recall that part of the reason the right to bear arms is codified in the Constitution is that Britain was trying to disarm the citizenry at the time.

He regrets none of it, but clearly understands his scolding of “stupid” opponents of gun laws was not everyone’s cup of tea.

Perhaps "brilliant" and "Piers Morgan" don't really go together after all.  But then you knew I was kidding about the "brilliant, sophisticated Brit" part.  Come to think of it, the words don't really go that well with "David Carr" either.  He agrees with Pier's attitude towards guns, but seems only dimly aware — in hindsight of course — that Piers might have made a mistake when he labeled a segment of his CNN audience "'stupid' opponents of gun laws."  Sure, it sounded so good when he said it, but maybe it didn't help in the ratings war.

We don’t look for moral leadership from CNN, or from a British host on a rampage. Guns, along with many other great and horrible things, are knit into the fabric of this country,

No, "we" don't look for moral leadership from a British host on the rampage, but I'd be willing to bet that David Carr does.  And he seems to wish we would, too.  Tough luck, Carr.  We ain't listenin' to no damn foreigner!

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