July 2010

When Does It Become Obama’s Economy?

by Bill O'Connell on July 30, 2010

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The talking points have been established that it was eight years, eight, of failed Bush and/or Republican policies that got us into this mess and President Obama and the Democrats are working hard to get us out of it.  Let’s take a closer look.

What blew up in 2008?  It was the housing market.  The underlying cause of the problem has Democrat/liberal/progressive fingerprints all over it going back to Franklin Roosevelt who created Fannie Mae.  Add into that mix Lyndon Johnson privatizing Fannie Mae to hide it from the budget and creating HUD; Jimmy Carter creating the Community Reinvestment Act; Bill Clinton pushing for more home ownership among those who could least afford it, Andrew Cuomo as HUD Secretary pushing Fannie and Freddie to take on riskier mortgages; Barney Frank and Chris Dodd fighting against regulation before they were fighting for it (and where have we heard that formulation before?); and when housing prices run out of gas and the house of cards that the Democrats built collapses, it’s all Bush’s fault.

Let’s look at the timeline.  When he took office, President Bush was handed a recession from Bill Clinton resulting from the dot.com bubble.  In less than a year we had 9/11.  In spite of that, Bush pushed through tax cuts and got the economy to grow through most of his presidency.  The Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007 and in December 2007 the economy went into recession.  One year later Barack Obama is elected President of the United States.  Now, more than a year and a half after Obama is in office the economy looks like it is slipping into a double dip recession, and this is the Republican’s fault?  Who has been spending like a drunken sailor?  Who wasted almost $1 trillion on a stimulus plan that was so ineffective the Obama administration had to invent a new statistic, “jobs saved”, to hide its dismal performance.  They add on ObamaCare, which no one in Congress read before voting on it and no one knows what is in it and so no small business is going to hire anyone until they know what it costs.  How is that the Republican’s fault or Bush’s?

We are just a few months away from the tax cuts put in place by President Bush expiring.  President Obama wants them to expire.  This will place an additional massive burden on small businesses and just about everyone else and he wonders why aren’t companies hiring?  The man came into office with no executive experience and the year and a half he has been in office he hasn’t seemed to pick up any.  Could it be because he is surrounded by advisors who have little to no executive experience themselves?

To my fellow Americans I say, hang in there it is less than 100 days to vote the bums out.  Perhaps not all of them, but at least we can bring in some adult supervision.  It’s time to stop steamrolling the American people with the socialist programs and to let “We the People” take back our government.

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Who Is Elena Kagan?

by Bill O'Connell on July 29, 2010

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We have come to expect a fight whenever a seat opens up on the Supreme Court as there are distinct battle lines between conservatives who believe the Constitution should be interpreted how it was written and liberal/progressives view it in light of what they feel it should be today.  In other words, conservatives approach the Constitution with a magnifying glass while liberal/progressives approach it with an eraser and pencil.

I happen to believe that elections have consequences and that for the most part the president should be allowed to nominate who he chooses to fill a Supreme Court vacancy and have them approved.  However, as Democrats like to point out when a Republican sits in the White House, the Senate has a Constitutional role to give advice and consent on such nominees, not just rubber stamp them, which is true enough.  Unfortunately, today the advice and consent process is almost a sham, because the nominees have learned how to keep their mouths shut and defer from answering all but the blandest questions under the cover that it may come up before them in a case on the court.  We can thank Ted Kennedy for this as he turned the advice and consent role into an opportunity to smear a nominee, Judge Robert Bork, in the most vile and mendacious way to pander to the base of the Democratic Party.  Since then, it’s been lights out on any serious probing of the thought process of nominees to our highest court.

But what about Elena Kagan?  After the Senate Judiciary panel approved her nomination along nearly party lines (Lindsey Graham – R voted in favor) most Americans (87%) believe she will be confirmed, according to Rasmussen.  However, in the same poll Americans oppose her nomination 42% to 36%.  Is she qualified to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court?

One of the arguments against her is that she has never been a judge before.  That is true, but it is also true for about one-third of past Supreme Court justices.  However, among those past Supreme Court justices who were not judges, they had on average 20 years experience in the private practice of law.  Ms. Kagan has two years experience in private practice, two years.  The rest of her experience in academia or government service. 

Before her current position of Solicitor General, she had never argued a case at a trial.  She has no judicial experience, next to no private practice experience, and thanks to Ted Kennedy, she revealed as little as possible about her judicial philosophy to get confirmed.  Her key strength, according to Barack Obama, is her ability to build consensus.  I’ll give you a translation of what that really means.  Her job will be to vote with the liberal bloc of the Supreme Court and use her persuasive powers on Anthony Kennedy to peel him off and generate as many 5-4 wins as possible.  President Obama does little without a purpose and his purpose is to pull the Supreme Court in the same direction as the laws he has jammed through against the will of the American people.

Despite the approval of the Judiciary committee, an effort must be mounted to reject or filibuster her approval.  How can we accept someone with so little in the way of qualifications to a lifetime appointment?  We know next to nothing about her judicial philosophy.  There are no cases on which she has written opinions that can be examined.  With regard to what she has written in the government service she simply says I was acting as an advocate for my client, and those are not necessarily my views.  Who could argue with that?  So what are her views?  We don’t know and like Nancy Pelosi claimed with the health care monstrosity, “we’ll just have to pass it to find out what’s in it.”  With a lifetime appointment, you can’t take it back later if you disagree with her eventual positions.  The track record of the “Trust me” presidency is downright frightening.

With all due respect to Elena Kagan, I don’t see how we can idly sit by and silently accept another Obama abomination of ramming through his agenda without regard for the people who elected him.  He is essentially asking us to grant a lifetime appointment that could profoundly affect our liberties, to someone who is a blank slate that we know little about. He should withdraw the nominee and submit another candidate.

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It never ceases to amaze me how the political class thinks they are so much smarter than the rest of us.  They think they can write a 2,000 page law that will really “fix” things and don’t believe that all the intellectual horsepower in America can’t disassemble their work in a matter of days.  Today’s political class is too dumb to realize Thomas Paine was right and still is, “that government is best that governs least.”

This is from Fox Business News.  Goldman Sachs has figured out a way to get around the Volker Rule’s restrictions on trading that was just enacted in the Dodd-Frank Act. It is doing this by changing its “risk taking- traders into asset managers.”

The move is designed to exploit a loophole in the Volker Rule, part of the recently signed financial-reform legislation named after presidential economic adviser and former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. The Volcker Rule is supposed to scale back on Wall Street risk taking by ending what’s known as proprietary trading, where firms use their own ideas and capital to make market bets.

But by having the traders work in asset management, where they will take market positions while dealing with clients, Goldman believes it can meet the rule’s mandates, avoid large-scale layoffs and preserve some of the same risk taking that has earned it enormous profits, people close to the firm say.

This is really about the arrogance of those who have been breathing the heady air of Washington, DC for too long.  From way up in those ivory towers they can’t see that among those on the ground are the most brilliant minds in the world and before one of their lofty laws tossed from the tower hits the ground, the huddled masses will turn it into mince meat.  Why does Medicare/Medicaid lose $60 – $100 billion a year to fraud?  Because for every beltway pinhead writing a regulatory rule, there are 100,000 people reading that same rule and finding all the ways to get around it and how to use the same rule to tie the government in knots so it can’t stop them.

Are they really that arrogant?  When asked that question John Kerry sniffed and said, “Let them pay taxes.”  He then cackled, stepped on to his 74 foot yacht Isabel and sailed off into the sunset, quaffing champagne as he went.

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Control of Congress and the Economy

by Bill O'Connell on July 25, 2010

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The Democrats like to point to the Clinton presidency as proof of their fiscal responsibility.  It was a period of strong growth, balanced budgets, and prosperity.  They then point to the Bush presidency, all eight years of it, and deride it for deficits, and ultimately a very severe financial crisis.  But it is worth taking a moment to recall that the federal government is made up of three co-equal branches of government with built in checks and balances.  The Congress is not subordinate to the president and it does not work for him.  It is an equal branch of government that checks and balances the power of the presidency.  For the purpose of this discussion, I will leave out the third branch, the judiciary.

Despite the famous 1992 Clinton campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” the recession had already ended in March 1991.  When Clinton took office he had a Democratic Congress and he pushed through a massive tax increase in 1993 without a single Republican vote.  We know what happened to Congress in 1994, the Republicans took over for the first time in 40 years.  Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tried to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which was included in the Republicans’ Contract with America.  It passed in the House but failed by one vote in the Senate.  After losing this round, Gingrich met with the Republican leadership and put forth  the idea of acting as if the amendment had passed and just start submitting balanced budgets.  They succeeded in the last three years of the Clinton presidency to produce budget surpluses and decrease the national debt.  This included a tax cut by the Republican Congress in 1997, and the economy grew much stronger after the Republican takeover of Congress than under an all Democratic government.

In the 1996 election, the Democrats regained control of the Congress under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  Up until that point the economy had grown steadily under President Bush despite two wars.  With Bush in the White House and the Republicans in control of Congress we had tax cuts and seven years of economic growth.  In December of 2007  the economy went into recession, almost one year after the Democrats regained control.  Now with a Democrat in the White House, and the Democrats in control of Congress we are looking at massive growth in government, a whopping tax increase bearing down on us that will hit on January 1, 2011, and a growing debt that may eventually bankrupt us.

So what is all this talk about eight years of failed Republican policy?  Under Clinton and a Democrat Congress it was two years of a tax increase and modest growth.  Under Clinton and a Republican Congress it was six years of tax cuts, budget surpluses and strong economic growth.  Hmmm….same president, different parties controlling Congress.  Under Bush we had seven years of growth and tax cuts with a Republican Congress.  Under Bush and a Democratic Congress, recession, fiscal crisis.  Hmmm…same president, different parties controlling Congress.

But don’t expect honesty on the campaign trail from the Democrats.  It’s just not the Chicago way.

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Here Come the Dodd-Frank Unintended Consequences

by Bill O'Connell on July 23, 2010

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The rush to push through the Dodd-Frank Act, unread by those who voted for it, is working to bring the greatest economy on earth to a grinding halt.  Here is exhibit A.

The Wall Street Journal reported that The Ford Motor Company wanted to issue bonds that were backed by packages of auto loans, but had to pull the issue because of the new Dodd-Frank Act.  Dodd-Frank requires that issuers include credit ratings in its offering documents, that is, it has to disclose what credit rating agencies such as Moodys, Standard and Poors, and Fitch say about the quality of the bonds.  Those rating agencies, however, have refused to allow companies like Ford to use their ratings in their offering statements because  the Dodd-Frank Act now holds them legally liable for the quality of their ratings.  In other words, if those credit rating agencies say the bonds are high quality, and it later turns out they don’t live up to that rating, the rating agencies could be sued for damages.  This has brought the $1.4 trillion asset-backed securities market to a standstill.

Ratings companies argued that the new law effectively would render them “experts,” which brings with it potential new liability akin to those held by auditors and lawyers.

“The inclusion in the offering documents are an unacceptable risk,” Dan Curry, president of DBRS Inc., a bond rater, said. He said the expert liability is “really the standard for an auditor” and shouldn’t be used for rating agencies, since their opinions are “an attempt to predict future outcomes.” – WSJ, July 21, 2010

Gee, how long did that take to gum up the economic works?  Less than twenty-four hours.  This legislation was rushed through without waiting for the report from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to tell Congress what the root causes were so, perhaps like grown-ups, they could actually craft legislation that would address the root causes rather than hamstring the economy.

The Securities and Exchange Commission just issued a six month waiver to the requirement that credit ratings must be included in bond offerings.  That should give us enough time to send all these overpaid progressive chowderheads packing and reclaim our country.

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Fire, Ready, Aim

by Bill O'Connell on July 22, 2010

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The Sherrod incident is the latest in a long line of shoot from the lip misfires from the Obama administration, from the president on down.  Here is a review of some of the more egregious of them:

  • President Obama, without waiting for the facts says the Cambridge, Massachusetts police department “acted stupidly,” in an incident involving African American  professor Henry Louis Gates.  A picture from the “beer summit” shows the president confidently striding toward the cameras while in the background Sergeant Crowley takes Professor Gates arm to help him negotiate the stairs, as Professor Gates walks with a cane.  Racist?
  • With 13 dead Americans at the hands of terrorist Nidal Hasan, Janet Napolitano comes out and claims, “The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.”  A few days later she would eat those ridiculous words.
  • Not to be outdone by herself, after another terrorist attempt on our soil in Times Square, Secretary Napolitano quickly came out to label the attempt a “one-off” and the suspect a lone wolf.  As the investigation picked up steam there were all sorts links to terror groups in the Middle East.
  • When the president of Honduras tried to override term limits and become the next Hugo Chavez, the Honduran government enforced its laws against the changes that its president was trying to illegally implement.  The Obama administration immediately labeled the legitimate actions of the democratically elected Honduran government a coup.  Hillary Clinton’s State department cancelled the visas of all members of the Honduran Supreme Court.  Not to be intimidated by Chavez, Castro, or Obama, Honduras stood its ground.  The Congressional Research Service looked at the Honduran Constitution and the actions of its government and found that the government acted properly and within the law.
  • When Arizona reached the end of its rope and could not get the Obama administration to enforce the law on the border, they passed a law to give their police greater flexibility to determine the legal status of people stopped for another police matter.  The Obama administration immediately called the law unconstitutional.  When asked if they read the massive 10 page law, that’s right 10 pages, both Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Janet Napolitano (yes, her again) both said they hadn’t read it before declaring it unconstitutional.  This administration pushes through legislation running thousands of pages each and they can’t find time to read a ten page law before condemning it.
  • Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod gave a speech to the NAACP where she spoke about her transformation from having a racial bias in a decision she made 24 years ago, to today where she tries to treat all individuals regardless of race.  Only the first part of the story was headed toward the airwaves, the part about her past discrimination, and before the news hit the air she was fired by the Obama administration.  Had they watched the whole tape before acting, they wouldn’t be swimming in apologies right now.

 

Is this just the lack of experience or does the Obama administration need adult supervision?  They jump to these wild conclusions and then end up backtracking days later.  After eighteen months in office you would think they would have learned by now how to govern.

Another case without as quick a trigger is the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.  After taking office President Obama appointed a commission, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the root causes of the crisis.  A prudent person might say, let’s hear what the commission finds out and then write legislation to address those root causes.  With months more to go before that commission’s work will be done, we have another 2,000+ page bill coming out of Congress and signed by the president to put new regulations in place on the financial services industry.  Why the rush?  Wouldn’t it be better to fix the real problems rather than what Chris Dodd and Barney Frank think are the problems and let them paper over their own culpability in the creating the crisis?  Why were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac excluded?  In one of the hearings before the commission an argument was made that AIG did not have to be bailed out, that there were measures in place to ride out the crisis and that in the long run their policies would be fine.  Whether that is true or not, will have to wait for the final report, but the “just don’t stand there, do something,” mentality is disconcerting.  I certainly hope we are never faced with another Cuban Missile Crisis with this team in place.

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Obama’s Bizarre Jobs Strategy

by Bill O'Connell on July 20, 2010

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This week we saw President Obama come out swinging to that old class warfare tune.  Lashing out at Republicans in Congress for not adding to the deficit by extending unemployment benefits, he implied they were heartless and cruel.  The president used the same tired prop of the straw man, that is, accusing “the same people” without naming any of those people.  He uses this tactic because if he actually named the people he was accusing he would have to produce facts to back up the charges and Obama, as usual, doesn’t have any.

But here’s what he does have.  He has a record of focusing his energy on passing ObamaCare instead of focusing on growing the economy.  He is layering on more uncertainty of huge government programs and impending taxes that are scaring most small businesses from any hiring until the dust settles and they can tally up the bill.  He has Republicans who are ready to go along with the extension in benefits, if and only if, they are paid for.  With only about half of the $787 billion stimulus bill money spent, which is working fabulously by the way, taking the needed $30 billion from that kitty should be obvious. 

President Obama also has a chief economic advisor named Larry Summers.  Mr. Summers wrote an article on unemployment for the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics while at Harvard and in it he raised the following points:

  • Government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work.
  • Unemployment insurance also extends the time a person stays off the job. [Colleague Kim] Clark and I estimated that the existence of unemployment insurance almost doubles the number of unemployment spells lasting more than three months.
  • If unemployment insurance were eliminated, the unemployment rate would drop by more than half a percentage point, which means that the number of unemployed people would fall by about 750,000.
  • Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization. High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy. Also, those who lose high-wage union jobs are often reluctant to accept alternative low-wage employment.

It seems as if President Obama has painted himself into a corner.  The stubbornly high unemployment numbers are poised to ravage the Democrats in the mid-term elections.  But if his advisor, Mr. Summers, is to be believed, the unemployment benefits he is trying to use as a campaign issue against the Republicans is probably propping up the unemployment numbers.

The American people have reached their limit on deficit spending and want it reined in.  The Democrats put in place something called Paygo, which means pay as you go.  If you want something, you have to pay for it.  However, the Democrats are bypassing their own rule at every turn.  You can’t have it both ways, ceremoniously pass a Paygo rule for the purpose of the photo op and to look responsible, and then spend recklessly once the klieg lights go dark.

What prompted this president to conduct his Rose Garden show with three unemployed Americans used as props?  Could it be that Nancy Pelosi is hopping mad that this president has not been helping Democrats to get reelected in the fall?  If so, perhaps that was the point of the Rose Garden performance, nothing but election year politics.  And you wonder why the American people are becoming increasingly cynical about their government?

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Obama’s Memory Quiz

by Bill O'Connell on July 17, 2010

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President Obama’s new tack on the campaign trail is to get people to forget the last year and a half and try to scare the voters by saying, “Remember who got us into this mess and who is getting us out of it.”  Is that supposed to rally the voters to the Democrats jamming budget busting program after budget busting program down their throats?  Let me make two points to any voter to whom that strategy may give pause.

  1. George W. Bush isn’t running for office
  2. According to the Bureau of Economic Statistics, the recession started in December of 2007.  Who was in control of Congress for a full year by December of 2007?  That’s right, the Democrats.

So if you want to punish those who were in charge when the recession hit, with Bush gone, that leaves the Democrats.  Fire away.

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NAACP: From Pride to Prejudice

by Bill O'Connell on July 16, 2010

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The NAACP was once a proud organization with a noble cause, to advance the lot of people of color.  Today it has abandoned those principles to become just another attack arm of the Democratic Party.  This week they released a resolution condemning racism within the Tea Party movement.

I have been to a number of Tea Party events with hundreds of thousands of peaceful orderly participants and racism was not evident, surprisingly so.  I say surprisingly because with any gathering of that magnitude to have a few fringe elements at either end of the spectrum would almost be expected.  So is it possible there are racist elements at any given event? Sure.  It is routine in the Tea Party?  It is so rare, you have to aggressively search to find it and when you do, what proof is there that they are really Tea Party members or supporters or just some wacko who walked into the crowd with a sign?

Let’s look at the Strategy

The left has tried vainly to paint the Tea Party as racist because that is the most toxic label that they have.  The racist label brings out the black electorate, polarizes  the progressives, mortifies the moderates, and makes conservatives cringe.  If they can make it stick it is very effective.  It is also overused and as such, it is losing its sting.  So how do you make it stick? 

One way is to follow what the NAACP is doing.  Pass a resolution condemning racism and demand the Tea Party repudiate racism in their ranks, which by the way is virtually non-existent.  If you can cow the Tea Party members to take the pledge, then the liberal/progressives  can plant racists at each rally with nasty signs, videotape them and then blame the Tea Party for failing to honor their pledge and thus “proving” racism is in the ranks of the Tea Party and it cannot be eradicated.  This is straight out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

Let’s Look at the Facts

This is from the NAACP web site:

“Today, NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.”

I was a marshal at the Tea Party rally in New York on April 15th this year.  We were concerned about reports on the street that infiltrators with racist signs might show up to garner media attention, which to that point had been rather thin.  What were we to do?  We couldn’t take their signs away, we couldn’t touch them as they had as much of a right to be there as we did.  We came up with the idea that we would carry signs repudiating the person that our signs pointed to.  We would approach the person, politely, tell them that their sign did not comport with the values of the Tea Party and ask them to put the sign away or leave.  If they did not comply, we would surround them with our signs that said those views of that individual were not consistent with the Tea Party so that any media picking up their sign would see ours as well.  If things got aggressive we would call in the police that were on hand.  To my knowledge we never had to use our tactic as there were no racially offensive signs at the rally.  We did not need a resolution by the NAACP to develop our counter strategy.  It was part of our core beliefs, which puts the big lie to the NAACP’s resolution.

More from the NAACP web site:

“The resolution came after a year of high-profile media coverage of attendees of Tea Party marches using vial, antagonistic racial slurs & images. In March, respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a Washington, DC health care protest. Civil rights legend John Lewis was called the “n-word” in the incident while others in the crowd used ugly anti-gay slurs to describe Congressman Barney Frank, a long-time NAACP supporter and the nation’s first openly gay member of Congress.”

The first part of this passage was almost laughable.  High profile media coverage?  The lame stream media has been trying to bury the Tea Party by not covering them.  What main stream media coverage was there in Washington in September of 2009 where several hundred thousand Tea Partiers rallied?  It was dismissed as a couple of thousand.

Nancy Pelosi’s stunt to march through a crowd of Tea Party members to pass the Obamacare bill, did draw a lot of media attention and controversy.  Show us the money!  Andrew Breitbart put up $100,000 to anyone who could produce any video evidence that the things claimed in the above quote from the NAACP actually happened.  There were media cameras and microphones all over the place, hundreds if not thousands of people with cell phone cameras and miraculously not one of them captured what the NAACP claims happened as fact.  John Lewis was invited on several news programs to give his side of the story and he declined.  Mr. Breitbart is still waiting to write that check.  As Groucho Marx famously said, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?”

NAACP President Ben Jealous had this comment.  “I give a 42-page speech. Half a page is focused on the tea party,” Jealous said. “We need the media to pay attention to the issues that are most important to this country” such as jobs, education, and crime.  Uh, what did you expect sir?  If you wanted the media to pay attention to the other 41 ½ pages of your speech, perhaps you should have dropped to bogus charge against the Tea Party.

I scoured the NAACP web site for any mention of the New Black Panther party and the case against them that was dropped by the Obama Justice Department.  The site lacks a search feature so it made it more of a challenge but I looked through the site’s blog and found nothing.  Now here is a case that is plainly caught on video tape and other video tape is found of King Samir Shabazz, spewing racial epithets and advocating murder of whites or “crackers” and their babies, but we hear nothing about this from the NAACP.

So, we have the NAACP issuing a resolution about alleged racism in the Tea Party for which they have no proof (there are some still pictures on their websites of people holding signs, but no reference to where the pictures were taken or who the sign holders were.  They could have just as easily been a plant to smear the Tea Party).  They ask the Tea Party to pledge to oppose racism, which I have demonstrated that opposing racist messages is standard operating procedure among the Tea Party, but they make no mention of the overt racism among their followers, where that racism is clearly on full display in living color with sound and includes not only racist sentiments but a call to actually murder whites.  This apparently is considered worthy discourse to the NAACP leadership.

I call upon all members of the NAACP who really believe there is no place for racism in America to cancel your membership in the NAACP and join the Tea Party.  We do not tolerate racist messages among our members.  We have many African Americans in prominent positions in the Tea Party and we would have more if you join us.  Our positions to end wasteful government spending and free up our economy will probably do more to advance you and your fellow NAACP members than fighting for the next government program.  The NAACP has run aground on the shoals of petty squabbles to help the Democratic Party.  It’s time to abandon ship and swim for shore.

The above opinions are my own.  I do not speak in an official capacity for the Tea Party.

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Government Gridlock

by Bill O'Connell on July 12, 2010

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We currently have a commission investigating how to deal with our ballooning deficit and Brobdingnagian debt.  In the past we have had a commission on military base closings and I am sure there were others that don’t immediately come to mind.  Why do we need them when Congress and the President have the necessary power to make these changes?  Cowardice.  It may be a harsh charge, but that is basically it, no one wants to go on record making tough choices, but if they can get an unelected bipartisan commission to make a recommendation that Congress can vote “all or none” then there are plenty of political fig leaves to go around.

“Well, I didn’t vote for that one, I voted for this one, but it was an all or nothing deal so I couldn’t separate them out.”  We pay these people $174,000 each in base pay and they punt the hard choices to a commission.  Why?  Because they see their primary job as keeping that $174,000 per year job, something that gets easier once you are an incumbent, so long as you don’t make a major mistake, like a hard decision for the benefit of the country.

If you look at the Constitution, the powers granted to the federal government were few and defined, as Madison put it in Federalist No. 45.  With such limited and defined powers, the federal government should focus on a limited number of items and deal with them directly.  But the size and scope of the federal government has grown enormously and the current administration wants to grow it even more enormously.  So don’t look for any tough choices.  Look for more and more commissions to deliver up “solutions” that the weak kneed members of Congress can vote up or down for.  This is gridlock by design.

Once you move most government functions to the federal level, how can anything possibly be accomplished?  How do you pass a law that benefits New York and doesn’t harm Alaska?  How much do Alaska and New York have in common?  Perhaps that is why most major pieces of legislation coming out of Congress run into thousands of pages?  Look at it this way, if a bill of twenty pages is applied differently to fifty states, you soon have 1,000 pages.  But what the Constitution says is that there are a few enumerated powers given to the federal government and everything else is left to the states and the people.  Let the people of Mississippi pass a law of twenty pages that suits the people of Mississippi and let the people of Idaho pass their own.  This will bring about the ability for the other 48 states to look at these two examples and decide for themselves which one would work better in their state or choose a completely different path or none at all.  But if it is all at the federal level you can yell and scream and jump up and down on your Congressman’s desk for all that matters and he can say, “Gosh, I’m just one of 435 members here.  I agree with what you are saying, but…”  If  the issue is at the state level you have more clout and at the local level even more so.

But what we have is a government whose spending is out of control.  We have a commission that will not report until after the mid-term elections and as sure as I draw a breath, their report will be full of new taxes including a Value Added Tax (VAT) to bring buckets of tax revenue to put out the spending conflagration.  Sure there will be some spending cuts, mostly in the discretionary areas that don’t add up to much of the budget anyway, but probably make for good media coverage.

We need to shrink the monster.  We need to take away from the federal government those responsibilities that are not spelled out in the Constitution and let the states and their residents decide how to handle the rest, if at all.  If we don’t take these steps, the gridlock we see today will continue.  The only difference will be that our Congressional representatives will be making over $200,000 a year before long to do what would get them fired in the private sector.

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