September 11, 2014

On Immigration, Jeff Sessions Totally Gets It

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:32 pm

This is from National Review, in full, reflecting a speech the Alabama senator gave today.

Sessions says many things I’ve been meaning to say in snips for months. Since they’re all in one place, do read the whole thing.

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Don’t Give the Masters of the Universe Their Amnesty
The Senate isn’t doing anything to stop Obama’s plans — thank the plutocrats.

By Jeff Sessions

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday evening about Senate Democrats’ refusal to support legislation to block the president’s proposed executive actions on immigration policy, and the interests supporting amnesty. Following is an adapted version of his remarks.

Earlier this week I spoke about the president’s promise that he would issue an executive amnesty to 5 or 6 million people. The planned amnesty would include work permits, photo IDs, and Social Security numbers for millions of people who illegally entered the U.S., illegally overstayed their visas, or defrauded U.S. immigration authorities.

The Senate Democratic conference has supported and enabled the president’s unlawful actions and blocked every effort to stop them. Not even one of our Democratic colleagues has backed the House legislation that would stop this planned executive amnesty or demanded that Senator Reid bring it up for a vote. Every Senate Democrat is therefore the president’s partner in his planned lawless acts.

Tonight I would like to talk about the influence of special interests on our nation’s immigration system. How did we get to the point where elected officials, activist groups, the ACLU, and global CEOs are openly working to deny American workers the immigration protections to which they are legally entitled? How did we get to the point where the Democratic party is prepared to nullify and wipe away the immigration laws of the United States of America?

Just yesterday Majority Leader Reid wrote in a tweet something that was shocking. He said: “Since House Republicans have failed to act on immigration, I know the President will. When he does, I hope he goes Real Big.”

Let this sink in for a moment. The majority leader of the Senate is bragging that he knows the president will circumvent Congress to issue executive amnesty to millions, and he is encouraging the president to ensure this amnesty includes as many people as possible. And the White House has acknowledged that 5 to 6 million is the number they are looking at.

Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to reject Mr. Reid’s statement? Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to say: I support the legislation passed by the House of Representatives that would secure the border and block this executive amnesty? Have they ever said they support that? Have they ever said: I will do everything in my power to see that the House legislation gets a vote in the Senate so the American people can know what is going on? No. All we hear is silence.

This body is not run by one man. We don’t have a dictator in the great Senate. Every member has a vote. And the only way Senator Reid can succeed in blocking this Senate from voting to stop the president’s executive actions is for members to stop supporting him.

Every senator needs to stand up and represent their constituents — not big business, not the ACLU, not activist groups, not political interests, but the American interests, the workers’ interests. That is what we need to expect from them, and we don’t have but a few weeks, it looks like, to get it done.

In effect, the entire Senate Democratic conference has surrendered the jobs, wages, and livelihoods of their constituents to a group of special interests meeting in secret at the White House. They are surrendering them to executive actions that will foist on the nation what Congress has refused to pass and the American people have rejected. They are plotting at the White House to move forward with executive action no matter what the people think and no matter what Congress — through the people’s House — has decided.

Politico reports that “White House officials conducted more than 20 meetings in July and August with legal experts, immigration advocates and business leaders to gather ideas on what should be included in the order.”

So who are these so-called expert advocates and business leaders? They are not the law-enforcement officers; they are not our ICE officers; they are not our Border Patrol officers; they are not the American working man and woman; they are not unemployed Americans. They weren’t in the room. You can be sure of that. Their opinions weren’t sought.

No, White House officials are meeting with the world’s most powerful corporate and immigration lobbyists and activists who think border controls are for the little people. The administration is meeting with the elite, the cosmopolitan set, who scorn and mock the concerns of everyday Americans who are concerned about their schools, jobs, wages, communities, and hospitals. These great and powerful citizens of the world don’t care much about old-fashioned things like national boundaries, national sovereignty, and immigration control — let alone the constitutional separation of powers.

Well, don’t you get it? They believe they are always supposed to get whatever it is they want. They are used to that. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, one report says they have spent $1.5 billion since 2007 trying to pass their desired immigration bill — $1.5 billion. They tried and tried and tried to pass the bill through Congress, but the American people said: No, no, no. So they decided to just go to the president. They decide to go to President Obama, and they insist that he implement these measures through executive fiat. And Senate Democrats have apparently said: Well, that is just a wonderful idea. We support that. Just do it. Go big. But, Mr. President, wait a little bit. Wait until after the election. We don’t want the voters to hold us accountable for what you are doing. We want to pretend we in the Senate have nothing to do with it.

One of the groups that have joined the chorus of special interests demanding executive action on immigration is FWD.us, run by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He just turned 30, and I understand he is worth about $30 billion.

Mr. Zuckerberg has been very busy recently. One of his fellow billionaires, Mr. Carlos Slim — maybe the world’s richest man — invited Mr. Zuckerberg down to Mexico City to give a speech. What did Mr. Zuckerberg promote in his speech? Well, this is a report of it.

I guess I will first note that young Mr. Zuckerberg maybe doesn’t know there is a deep American tradition — a tradition in most developed nations — that you don’t go to a foreign capital to criticize your own government. I suppose he doesn’t know about that. They probably didn’t teach him about that when he was at one of the elite schools he attended.

This is what he said in Mexico City: “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”

Well, the “masters of the universe” are very fond of open borders as long as these open borders don’t extend to their gated compounds and fenced-off estates.

I have another article from late last fall that was printed in Business Insider about Mr. Zuckerberg’s actions. The headline is “Mark Zuckerberg Just Spent More than $30 Million Buying 4 Neighboring Houses for Privacy.” The article says:

Mark Zuckerberg just made an unusual purchase. Well, four purchases. Facebook’s billionaire founder bought four homes surrounding his current home near Palo Alto,Mercury News Reports. The houses cost him more than $30 million, including one 2,600 square-foot home that cost $14 million. (His own home is twice as large at 5,000 square-feet and cost half as much.) Larry Page made a similar move a few years ago so he could build a 6,000-square-foot mansion. But Zuckerberg’s reason is different. He doesn’t want to live in excess, he just wants a little privacy.

That is a world the average American doesn’t live in.

So Mr. Zuckerberg — who has become the top spokesman for expanding the admission of foreign workers — championed the Senate immigration bill for which all of our Democratic colleagues voted. One of the things the bill did was double the supply of low-wage foreign workers brought into the United States for companies such as Facebook.

Many of us have heard for a long time the claim that there is a shortage of STEM and IT workers. This has been the central sales pitch used by those making demands for massive increases in foreign-worker programs across the board — programs that bring in workers for every sector in the U.S. economy. But we know otherwise from the nation’s leading academics, people who studied this issue and are professionals in it. I have a recent op-ed here from USA Today which reports that there is actually not a shortage but a surplus of Americans who have been trained in the STEM and IT fields and that this is why wages for these fields have not increased since 1999.

If you have a shortage of workers in a field such as information technology or science and mathematics, wages go up, do they not? If wages are not up, we don’t have a shortage.

So rich high-tech companies are using the H-1B visa program to keep wages down and to hire less expensive workers from abroad. Indeed, the same companies demanding more guest workers are laying off American workers in droves.

I would like to read some excerpts from that op-ed published in USA Today. The article was co-authored by five of the nation’s experts on labor markets and the guest-worker program. I think it tells a story that has not been refuted. We have partisans and advocates who have been claiming there is a shortage in these fields, but the experts say no. And since they have been speaking out on this issue, we have seen no real data that would dispute what they say in this article dated July 27, 2014.

Headline: “Bill Gates’ tech worker fantasy.” Sub-headline: “Silicon Valley has created an imaginary staffing shortage.”

Business executives and politicians endlessly complain that there is a “shortage” of qualified Americans and that the U.S. must admit more high-skilled guest workers to fill jobs in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. This claim is echoed by everyone from President Obama and Rupert Murdoch to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Yet within the past month, two odd things occurred: Census reported that only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job, and Microsoft announced plans to downsize its workforce by 18,000 jobs.

The five writers of this article — referring to themselves — go on to say:

None of us have been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.

The article was written by Ron Hira, Paula Stephan, Hal Salzman, Michael Teitelbaum, who has recently written a book on this subject, and Norm Matloff. These are labor-economics experts who have studied these issues for years. Many of them have testified before Congress. They say:

None of us have been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.

What a statement that is.

They go on to write — they all signed this article together — that:

If a shortage did exist, wages would be rising as companies try to attract scarce workers. Instead, legislation that expanded visas for IT personnel during the 1990s has kept average wages flat over the past 16 years. Indeed, guest workers have become the predominant source of new hires in these fields.

The “predominant source of new hires” in information-technology fields is guest-worker programs from abroad.

They go on to say:

Those supporting even greater expansion seem to have forgotten about the hundreds and thousands of American high-tech workers who are being shortchanged — by wages stuck at 1998 levels, by diminished career prospects and by repeated rounds of layoffs.

They go on to say:

There is an ample supply of American workers who are willing and qualified to fill high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether the supply is two or three times larger than the demand.

There is no doubt we have a surplus of IT workers. The question is whether the supply is two or three times as big as the number of job openings.

They go on to say:

Unfortunately, companies are exploiting the large existing flow of guest workers to deny American workers access to STEM careers and middle-class security that should come with them. Imagine, then, how many more Americans would be frozen out of the middle class if politicians and tech moguls succeeded in doubling or tripling the flow of guest workers into STEM occupations.

That is exactly what the bill before this Senate — the bill the House of Representatives rejected — would have done. It would have doubled the number of guest workers coming into America just to take jobs — coming in for the very purpose of taking a job that we need Americans to be taking.

The article goes on: “Another major, yet often overlooked, provision in the pending legislation” — that is the bill President Obama is pushing for, the Gang of Eight bill — “would grant automatic green cards to any foreign student who earns a graduate degree in a STEM field, based on assertions that foreign graduates of U.S. universities are routinely being forced to leave. Such claims are incompatible with the evidence that such graduates have many paths to stay and work, and indeed the ‘stay rates’ for visiting international students are very high and have shown no sign of decline. The most recent study finds that 92 percent of Chinese Ph.D. students stay in America to work after graduation.”

So there is this myth that we have thousands and thousands of students graduating from schools and being sent home. That is not accurate, according to the experts who study the data.

The article continues:

The tech industry’s promotion of expanded temporary visas (such as the H-1B) and green cards is driven by a desire for cheap, young and immobile labor. It is well documented that loopholes enable firms to legally pay H-1Bs below their market value and to continue the widespread age discrimination acknowledged by many in the tech industry.

I talked to a gentleman whom I knew a little bit who worked at a computer company. He is well into his 40s, maybe close to 50. I asked him what kind of security there is. He said, well, in the tech industry these companies go and fall. I said, what happens if you were to lose your job? He said, at my age, it would be very difficult.

The USA Today op-ed concludes by saying:

IT industry leaders have spent lavishly on lobbying to promote their STEM shortage claims among legislators. The only problem is that the evidence contradicts their self-interested claims.

So I would pose a question to Mr. Zuckerberg. I read in the news that Facebook is now worth more than $200 billion. Is that not enough money to hire American workers for a change? Your company now employs roughly 7,000 people. Let’s say you want to expand your workforce 10 percent, or hire another 700 workers. Are you claiming you can’t find 700 Americans who would take these jobs if you paid a good wage and decent benefits?

Let me just say one more thing: Facebook has 7,000 workers. Microsoft just laid off 18,000. Why doesn’t Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend Mr. Gates and say: Look, I have to hire a few hundred people; do you have any résumés you can send over here? Maybe I will not have to take somebody from a foreign country for a job an unemployed U.S. citizen might take.

There is this myth that we have surging employment in the high-tech industry.

As Byron York reported, Hewlett-Packard, a high-tech company, “laid off 29,000 employees in 2012” — 29,000. “In August of 2013, Cisco announced plans to lay off 4,000 workers in addition to the 8,000 cut in the last 2 years,” and Cisco was right in the White House this summer with a group of other companies demanding more workers from abroad. Cisco was signing a letter with a bunch of other companies: “United Technologies has announced 3,000 layoffs this year”; “American Express cut 5,400 jobs”; “Procter and Gamble announced 5,700 jobs cut in 2012”; “T-Mobile announced plans to lay off 2,250 employees in 2012.”

“According to a recent Reuters report,” York writes, overall “U.S. employers announced 50,000 layoffs in August of 2013, up 34 percent from the previous month, then up 57 percent through August 2012.”

There is no shortage of workers.

But FWD.us and other immigration lobbyists are working with the White House to extract executive orders from the president that provide them with the same financial benefits that were included in the Senate bill that was rejected by the House of Representatives. One proposal would increase by as much as 800,000 the number of foreign workers admitted for the explicit purpose of taking jobs in the United States.

A recent Associated Press article, entitled “Obama Weighs Broader Move on Legal Immigration” reports that “President Barack Obama is considering key changes in the nation’s immigration system requested by tech, industry and powerful interest groups.” Not by the American people was he being requested to do this, not by the national interest, but by “powerful interest groups” that are referred to here.

It goes on to say:

After recent White House meetings, top officials have compiled specific recommendations from business groups and other advocates.

“Other advocates.” Who are they? We know the ACLU has been there. We know La Raza has been meeting there on a regular basis. It goes on. The article says:

One of the more popular requests is a change in the way green cards are counted that would essentially free up some 800,000 additional visas the first year, advocates say. . . . Other requests would extend work permits to the spouses of all temporary H-1B skilled workers who have not been able to work.

But how about the fact that a single mom might like that job? An unemployed single mom or a single mom who has a job prospect that would pay $3 more than the job she is now working while trying to raise a family? Or an unemployed father? Maybe they would like those jobs first.

So these actions fall on the heels of previous executive action in which the president already acted unilaterally earlier this year to grant companies an additional 100,000 guest workers. He has already done that. In just the first year of this order, it adds 100,000 guest workers by providing work authorizations to the foreign spouses of temporary guest workers. It would increase the supply of guest workers by approximately 30,000 each year thereafter — this at a time when we have 58 million working-age Americans who are not working. Since 2009 the number of adults has increased by 13 million, while the number of people actually working has decreased by 7 million.

Median household income has dropped $2,300 since 2009. According to the National Employment Law Project, wages are down across all occupations.

A CBS report titled “Why American workers feel increasingly poor” writes of the NELP’s study:

Real median hourly wages have declined across low, middle and high income levels from 2009 to 2013, the study found. No matter if workers were in the lowest bracket ($8.84 to $10.85 an hour) or the highest ($31.40 to $86.34) median hourly wages declined when you take into account the impact of inflation.

It goes on: “Across all occupations, real median hourly wages slipped 3.4 percent since 2009. While even better-paid workers saw median hourly earnings erode, the worst hit segments were at the bottom” — the people who got hurt the most were at the bottom — “with declines in their wages of more than 4 percent.”

We have business CEOs, lobbyists, activists, immigration groups, and clever politicians who demand that we have to have even more workers brought into America even when we have a decline in wages and a decline in jobs. But what does the president do? His administration issues an executive order to provide foreign spouses — the citizens of other countries, not American citizens — with 100,000 jobs in the United States, precious jobs that many Americans would love to have. How many American spouses struggling to support their families would benefit from one of those jobs? How many single moms would benefit from a chance to earn a better paycheck?

Our Senate Democratic friends talk about paycheck fairness repeatedly. Yet they are supporting policies that take jobs and wages directly from American women by the millions.

Immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interest and the people of the United States, not the interests of a few activist CEOs and the politicians who are catering to them. We have had 40 years of mass immigration combined with falling wages, a shrinking workplace, and exploding welfare rolls. We know that, don’t we, friends and colleagues? It is time for a shift in emphasis. It is time to get our own people back to work, and our communities out of poverty, and our schools back on their feet.

Harvard professor Dr. George Borjas — who is probably the leading academic in this entire area and has been for many years — estimates that our current immigration rate results in an annual loss of more than $400 billion in wages for Americans competing with immigrant labor. Between 2000 and today the government issued nearly 30 million visas to temporary foreign workers and permanent immigrants, largely lower-skilled and lower-wage.

A recent Reuters poll showed that Americans wish to see record immigration reduced, not increased (as the Gang of Eight bill would have done), by a huge 3-to-1 margin.

Another poll from pollster Kellyanne Conway recently showed that 80 percent of Americans think companies should hire from among the existing unemployed rather than bringing in new workers from abroad to fill these jobs. Yet Senate Democrats have unanimously supported legislation to double the annual supply of labor brought into the United States. These workers would be brought in to take jobs in every field, occupation, and industry in America.

So what about the good, decent, and patriotic citizens of our country who fight our wars, who obey our laws, who follow our rules, and want a better future for their children? Should their needs not come first?

As National Review explained, we are “a nation with an economy, not an economy with a nation.” We cannot put the parochial demands of a few powerful CEOs ahead of an entire nation’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

The basic social contract is that citizens agree to follow the law, pay their taxes, and devote their love and loyalty to their country, and in exchange the nation commits to preserve and protect and serve their interests, safeguard their freedom, and return to them in kind their first allegiance and loyalty.

The job of elected officials is to answer to the people who sent them to Washington — not to scorn them, not to demean them, not to mock them, and not to sell their jobs and dreams to the highest bidder.

I yield the floor.

August 19, 2014

Prominent Progressive’s Email Suggests Defacing Cover of Paul Ryan’s New Book

Filed under: Activism,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:58 pm

Imagine that a prominent Republican activist proposed a campaign of malicious destruction against Hillary Clinton’s latest book. Does anyone doubt that the press would be all over it as proof that conservatives and Republicans are disrespectful and mean-spirited?

Well, Erica Payne is a prominent, aggressively self-promoting progressive. The advanced nature of her activist bona fides might cause you to assume that she would think before stooping to openly suggesting destruction of property. Nope. Via Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard (link is in original; bolds are mine):

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August 14, 2014

Barely News: Teachers Union Head’s Promise to ‘Punch’ Common Core Opponents ‘in the Face’

Give the New York Daily News credit for surfacing a video which originally appeared at Ed Notes Online, a publication whose “about” page says it opposes “the education corporate-based reforms … undermining the public school system” and exposes “the motives behind the education deformers.”

The video shows Michael Mulgrew, the president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, threatening to “punch you in the face and push you in the dirt” if you oppose the nationally imposed and controlled Common Core standards, and from all appearances laying claim to America’s children as the property of its teachers. Give the rest of the establishment press — which routinely pounces on inflammatory statements coming from the right and distorts others into making them appear to be — demerits for almost completely failing to expose an education tyrant. Video and excerpts from the Daily News’s coverage follow the jump.

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August 11, 2014

The U.S.-Mexico Border Is NOT Secure

Filed under: Activism,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:16 pm

Note: This post will stay at the top for the rest of Monday.

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James O’Keefe proves that the border isn’t secure (direct YouTube):

James O’Keefe as Osama bin Laden crosses border from Mexico to US

August 10, 2014

AP Fails to Mention DOJ’s Involvement As Judge Allows North Carolina Voter-ID Law to Stand

To read the Associated Press’s Friday evening coverage of a federal judge’s refusal to block North Carolina’s election law reforms from taking effect in the upcoming general election, you’d think it was an unsuccessful effort on the part of a group of poor Davids to defeat the Tar Heel State’s government Goliath.

As J. Christian Adams at PJ Media noted shortly after the decision, it was nothing of the sort. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice weighed in heavily, and is in fact listed as the plaintiff in one of the three cases Federal District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder decided. Additionally, a prominent national law firm took the case on a pro bono basis for the allegedly aggrieved groups. I’ll first look at a bit of what AP’s Michael Biesecker and Gary D. Robertson wrote, and follow it with Adams’s reality-based rendition.

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July 31, 2014

WaPo’s Kucinich Covers Bloomberg Ad, Misses How Having a Gun Would Have Prevented Domestic Violence

On Tuesday, Jackie Kucinich at the Washington Post wrote up a brief item about an ad released Monday by Everytown For Gun Safety, deep-pocketed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing group.

Kucinich reports that the ad “will air on cable television in Washington, D.C., and on network stations in New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada, according to a release,” in an attempt to affect U.S. Senate races in those states. If Kucinich had actually watched the ad, it’s hard to imagine why she wouldn’t have noticed that the victim of domestic violence portrayed would have been far better off if she herself had been armed:

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July 27, 2014

Federal Court Strikes Down ‘Nation’s Last Explicit’ Gun Ban; Press Mostly Ignores

On Saturday, District of Columbia Circuit Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. finally ruled that the city of Washington’s ban on residents carrying firearms outside their homes is unconstitutional.

Emily Miller at Fox News calls it a decision which “leaves no gray area in gun-carrying rights.” But a Google News search on “Washington DC gun case” (not in quotes, sorted by date), returned only 16 items, only one of which — a terse five-paragraph Reuters dispatch carried at the New York Times and appearing in Sunday’s paper on Page A16 — is from a U.S. establishment press outlet.

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July 21, 2014

TEA Party Demands that Senator Portman Renounce Support for Cochran in Mississippi

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:54 pm

Could not agree more:

TEA Party Demands that Senator Portman Renounce Support for Cochran in Mississippi

Kent, OH – Tom Zawistowski, Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, reacted angrily to Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s claims in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article this week that he had no idea that the $25,000 from his PAC would be used by the Thad Cochran Campaign in Mississippi to air racially charged attacks on the TEA Party. Portman was quoted in the article as saying ” I believe using race as a political issue, as these ads apparently did, was wrong.”

Zawistowski, said “Isn’t it convenient Senator Portman, that you had nothing to say about the horrific, disgusting, totally dishonest racist ads run by Thad Cochran’s campaign until you were identified as having provide funding for this despicable human being Thad Cochran? Where was your moral outrage the days after the ads became public? You know that the TEA Party is made up of hard working, God fearing, Patriotic Americans who do NOT hate blacks or any other minority, yet you did nothing to defend those TEA Party members from these vicious attacks by a person you supported financially! You say that “the TEA Party activists . . . must come together to take back the Senate, yet you support a man who votes with Democrats most of the time, and who told black voter that the TEA Party is affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan and that we want to deny blacks the right to vote. Why in hell should we support someone like Thad Cochran after what he did? Why would you even suggest that the TEA Party do so? Why would you or any other Republican support anyone who would commit such a heinous act against Chris McDaniel A LOYAL REPUBLICAN????”

Zawistowski concluded by saying “Senator Portman, actions speak louder than words. You must renounce your support of Thad Cochran immediately and demand that he drop out of the race. You must demand that your fellow Senators who supported Cochran do the same. Not to do so would show that you in fact condone the actions of the Cochran campaign and that you do not respect either the TEA Party movement or black voters. There is no place in our government, let alone in the Republican Party, for such a hateful, racist, person. So we throw your challenge back in your face and that of the Republican Party. If you believe that we must win the Senate this year, meaning with true Republicans like Chris McDaniel, and if you want to win the White House in 2016, you need to come together with the TEA Party and the social conservatives and black and latino conservatives. For I assure you, if you do not choose the moral path at this critical time, we will never forget your and their role in this sordid event, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that Thad Cochran and every RINO like him loses in the fall.”

Odds are overwhelmingly high that Portman will not take any of the necessary actions. Ohio Republicans should do everything in their power to oppose any presidential campaign attempt Portman might make, and to oppose him in the 2016 GOP Senatorial primary if he chooses that route.

July 18, 2014

Latest PJ Media Column (‘D’Souza’s Next Film’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

July 6, 2014

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Revisiting ‘Freedom Summer”) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

June 30, 2014

The Supremes’ Decisions: I Guess I’m Supposed to Be Thrilled …

… but I’m not. Far from it.

Today, the Supreme Court upheld Hobby Lobby’s position that it cannot be forced by the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage for “contraceptive” drugs which terminate preborn babies’ lives because doing so violates its owners’ consciences.

The court also struck down Illinois’ attempt to force collection of “fees” (read: “union dues”) onto private in-home care providers.

Those are obviously correct decisions. But they are decisions which should have been obvious to all nine justices. Instead, each decision was 5-4.

Make no mistake. The four dissenters are saying that the law means what they want it to mean, and that they could are less about what the Constitution says a law must be to conform to it.

Combined with other relatively recent 5-4 decisions, particularly those upholding self-evident natural law-based individual Second Amendment rights, it is clear that the country I have known and loved is literally hanging by a thread.

So while I’m breathing a heavy sigh of relief, there is no joy. So please hold the champagne.

November’s elections could not possibly be more important.

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UPDATE: Regarding Hobby Lobby, John Hayward at Human Events understands the need to curb the enthusiasm and to remain appropriately alarmed (italics are his; bolds are mine):

For one thing, it should be patently obvious to every citizen of a free republic that Hobby Lobby was right about this. The notion of Big Government sweeping aside religious faith to compel obedience to a collective agenda is utterly incompatible with the American model of government. Explaining this case to the authors of the Constitution would make for a long seance, because they’d keep laughing in disbelief and asking you to start over.

But instead, we get a 5-4 bullet-dodging decision, and it’s not one of those sweeping citizenship-redefining judgments liberal courts love to hand down. It’s very narrow in terms of who and what it covers. A different Court shouldn’t have too much trouble reversing this, and in the meantime it doesn’t fatally injure ObamaCare. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this decision folded into the talking points of single-payer socialists – they’ll cite it as proof that leaving any degree of private-sector control over health care corrupts the pure vision of government-administered Free Stuff For All.

So this isn’t really a sweeping First Amendment beatdown, as it should have been; it’s a narrow decision upholding a law signed by Bill Clinton, a law the left-wing justices are chomping at the bit to quash, because the ideal of a self-described “benevolent” tyranny using a thicket of laws to micro-manage the lives of its unworthy citizens is so close they can taste it. They’re growing quite insistent that the only alternative to that benevolent tyranny is anarchy, chaos, and hatred. The Supreme Court may have registered a judgment against ObamaCare’s silly mandates today, but the Left is still burning to render a far more terrible judgment against the people of the United States, and there won’t be any appeals once they hand it down.

As noted, November’s elections could not possibly be more important.

June 7, 2014

The Obama ‘Recovery’: As Bad (or Worse) Than the Great Depression?

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:23 am

In some respects, it’s awfully close.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.

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At West Point on Wednesday, President Barack Obama went to a variant of an economic theme he’ll probably reprise until the day he leaves the Oval Office once and for all (we hope) 32 months from now.

Obama told the assembled graduating Army cadets and their families:

When I first spoke at West Point in (December) 2009 … our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

What if I told you that nearly five years into the nation’s “long climb” out of the recession, the relative size of the economy compared to its prerecession peak is not all that different from the result achieved in the same amount of time after the Great Depression of 1928-1933 officially ended? The case for this claim is surprisingly, or maybe I should say “unexpectedly,” strong.

I’m certainly not contending that the level of human suffering in 2014 is anywhere near what it was during the 1930s. That said, readers should know, if they don’t already, that the press has been mostly ignoring significant increases in homelessness in New York City, which “has more homeless than it has in decades,” and elsewhere. Minor reductions in the number of people literally living on the streets and in shelters are being more than offset by the hordes of American individuals and families living in cheap weekly motels because they can’t even scrape together the money for a security deposit on an apartment. When the press does deign to ever so briefly open its eyes, unlike during Republican administrations, they don’t tie the situation to economic policies coming out of Washington, and certainly not to our country’s president.

I should also note that the government presented only annual economic growth statistics until 1947, but that the Depression itself and the recession of 1937-1938 officially began and ended at various times during the years involved. This necessarily required some estimation when attempting to compare that era to the current one.

Let’s start with where we are after Thursday’s dismal news that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in this year’s first quarter:

GrowthSince2008to2009Recession

The full post-recession history shows that the economy finally returned to its pre-recession peak in the second quarter of 2011, the eighth quarter after the recession’s official end. No other post-World War II economy took longer than three quarters to accomplish this.

The post-Depression economy took longer to get back to where it was in mid-1929, when the economy’s contraction and ultimate crash began — but it had crawl out of a hole that was nearly seven times deeper, at 29 percent, than the 4.28 percent hole the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy dug in 2008 and 2009:

DepressionEraContractionAndGrowth

The best estimate is that the Depression-era economy returned to its previous peak during the first quarter of 1937, 16 quarters after the downturn ended, and was an estimated 4.3 percent larger before the 1937-1938 recession began. That’s barely less than the 4.6 percent result seen 16 quarters after the end of the most recent recession.

How do the aforementioned Depression and Obama eras compare to the other post-downturn economies seen after World War II? Well, they’re in a class by themselves — a really, really horrible class:

PostRecoveryPeaks16Qrts1933toPresent

In every other recovery, the economy was at least 10 percent larger than its pre-downturn peak 16 quarters — or fewer, in several instances when an earlier subsequent recession occurred — into their respective recoveries. In this sense, the Obama economy bears a far greater resemblance to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s economy of the 1930s than it does any other we’ve seen since. Even given three extra quarters, the Obama economy is barely halfway towards matching what the worst other post-World War II recovery achieved.

Administration apologists will argue that the hole dug in 2008-2009 was extraordinarily deep by all but Depression-era standards. They will find taking that argument to its logical conclusion quite painful:

RecoveryGrowth16Qtrs1933toPresent

The post-Depression bounceback is as dramatic as it is because of the 29 percent contraction which preceded it. As seen previously, even that degree of expansion only got the economy to slightly above where it was in mid-1929.

The “deep hole” argument of Obama and his defenders would dictate that the current recovery should be the second-strongest on the chart, given that the 2008-2009 contraction was the deepest post-World-War II contraction on record. Instead, after 16 quarters of “recovery,” it was the worst. Even given a three-quarter mulligan, it is barely clinging to second-last place.

If Barack Obama and his administration were genuinely dissatisfied with these results, they would change course and start doing what worked during the other eras, particularly those which followed the 1960-1961 and 1981-1982 recessions. But it’s dreadfully obvious that they have no intention of changing their direction.

There is real danger that Obama will use his extra-constitutional executive authority to make things even worse. Obamacare continues to inflict its predicted economic damage. There’s already talk of a unilateral carbon trading scheme and other environmental mischief.

If the President’s opposition doesn’t grow a spine, and very soon, even a strong repudiation at the polls in November may not matter.

June 5, 2014

Passage of the Day: On Bergdahl, His Platoon, Obama, and ‘Non-Disclosure’

Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler (bolds are mine):

Obama’s Rose Garden ceremony with the Bergdahl parents provoked these men to put themselves on the line for us. Again.

Let’s suppose that Obama knew all about Bergdahl’s alleged desertion. If he knew about that, he also knew about the NDAs that silenced the soldiers and he had reason to believe that the soldiers who knew the truth could be kept quiet for fear of military prosecution. Obama therefore had reason to believe that even though he had traded five Taliban commanders for a deserter, the public might never know that all we got back was a worthless deserter, not a hero who served with honor and distinction. That part would never become part of the narrative. Bergdahl would come home, there would be video of his tearful reunion with his parents, the parade in his hometown, and Barack Obama presiding over it all as the man who pulled it off. Sure, there’s that inconvenient Michael Hastings story out there about Bergdahl. But Hastings is dead, so he won’t be going on Fox to talk about that story.

If the soldiers had not defied their NDAs, Obama would’ve gotten most of the PR win that he expected from bringing “the last American POW” back from Afghanistan. There would be questions about negotiating with terrorists, and freeing five of them, and breaking a law or two. But “He brought a hero home!” would have overwhelmed all of that before too long.

But Barack Obama doesn’t know the first thing about the kind of men who are destroying his pleasant narrative. These are not “psychopaths,” as Brandon Friedman speculated on Twitter. These are men who know why they’re in the military and who they ultimately serve. They are actually serving with honor and distinction. They deserve a medal for their courage. And they deserve to be awarded that medal by a president who isn’t a lying leftist who keeps working for the other side, when he isn’t busy just working for himself.

Being called “psychopaths” may just be the beginning. Pray for these brave men for what may be done to them privately.

As to what the administration might try to do them publicly, I’d say, “Bring it. We’d love to see you bury yourselves in the process.”

June 4, 2014

Remembering Tiananmen (‘Tell the world, they said to us’)

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:10 am

This post originally appeared at BizzyBlog on on June 4, 2009. Some additional material has been excerpted from Claudia Rosset’s June 4, 2009 Wall Street Journal column.

__________________________________

Claudia Rossett’s column on the 20th (now 25th) anniversary of the massacre at the Wall Street Journal is a must-read.

Go there for her eyewitness account. What I have excerpted here relates to her historical perspective and modern lessons:

What I Saw at Tiananmen
China will be a modern country when it no longer fears the memory of June 4.
June 4, 2009

It’s now 20 years since I ran through a cross-fire of tracer bullets, heading into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4 to witness the end of the uprising in which millions of Chinese, in the spring of 1989, peacefully seized control of their own capital and demanded democracy.

… Tiananmen was — and is — important because that spring of 1989 was the only time in the despotic, 60-year history of the People’s Republic of China that the people themselves enjoyed the chance to speak, debate and assemble freely. What they did with that freedom, by the millions, was call peacefully for China’s government to institutionalize those rights. They called for democracy and marched under banners bearing exactly that word. They asked for the right to choose their leaders and hold them to account.

…. Since the Tiananmen uprising of 1989, China’s rulers have loosened the economic strictures enough to allow remarkable growth — testament to the vibrancy of the Chinese people given even half a chance. Out of this, China’s rulers have devoted enormous resources to projects meant to suggest they run a modern nation — sending astronauts into space, convening conferences on the climate, and hosting the 2008 Olympics.

Count me unimpressed. The real sign of modernity will come when China opens up its political system enough so that the country’s leaders no longer fear June 4 but treat the Tiananmen uprising with the honor it deserves.

During the protests, on one of those warm spring evenings just before the crackdown, I was wandering around Tiananmen, notebook in hand, and came across a young man sitting in a beach chair on the monument where the demonstrators were soon to make their last stand. He had a question about what happens when you get your dream of democracy: What then? As he put it: “I know what China is dreaming. What is America dreaming?”

The answer of free societies, the old American dream, is that you may choose for yourself. Freedom, in the framework of a true democracy, allows individuals to weigh their own talents, skills and ambitions, choose their own trade-offs, and chart their own dreams. That gives rise to innovation, exuberance and prosperity of a kind that no government can plan or centrally command into existence.

China today supplies the world with a wealth of such stuff as gym shoes, extremely young gymnasts, loans to the U.S. Treasury, aid to North Korea, and investments in Iran and Sudan. But riches of the spirit are in short supply.

Someone tell Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, who, incredibly, believes that “we Chinese need to be controlled” (HT Yellow Menace). Such nonchalance is sadly not uncommon.

China still fears June 4. China is NOT a modern country.

Freedom isn’t just another word, folks.

Thousands died for it on June 4, 1989:

Someday, God willing, China will be free.

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2014 Addendum: The iconic raw footage of a man refusing to yield to a tank —

11 excerpted minutes of the PBS Frontline story on “Tankman,” whose identity has never been determined and the film of which had to be hidden from the authorities, are here. The full program is here.

Positivity: Archdiocese files suit against HHS mandate

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Philadelphia:

Jun 3, 2014 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its affiliated entities filed a lawsuit June 2 challenging federal mandates that require employers to provide or to help provide contraceptive services through their health insurance.

The federal rules force the entities “to violate their religious convictions by either directly supplying, or cooperating in the process to supply, contraceptive services that gravely conflict with Catholic belief,” the archdiocese said Tuesday.

“The court filing disputes the Government’s power to order Catholic entities to offer or cooperate in such services.”

The archdiocese and its charitable agencies have filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, and their secretaries.

The lawsuit seeks to block enforcement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s mandatory contraceptive coverage for employers. The lawsuit says the mandates violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires most U.S. employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some drugs that can cause abortions. Many Catholic organizations do not qualify for the narrow exemption from the mandate, despite their religious and moral objections to providing the coverage. …

Go here for the rest of the story.