August 2010

Social Security: Show Us the Money

by Bill O'Connell on August 31, 2010

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President Obama wants to have it both ways.  He wants to appear to be fiscally responsible and he knows that to do so, that something has to include Social Security.  However, to try to keep as many Democrats in office that he can he has to play that other favorite card of the Democrats, that Republicans want to push grandma in her wheelchair down the stairs by privatizing Social Security.

In a campaign stop in Racine, Wisconsin the president had this to say, “”I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street. Because you shouldn’t be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you’ve worked so hard for—all you’ve earned—at risk.”  Oh, really, Mr. President?  Then perhaps you can show us where all the Social Security money is that you don’t want to put at risk.  The problem is that the government spent it all.  That’s right, there’s no lock box, no account, no bank vault, no hole in the ground were the money is buried, earning nothing.  I only wish I was able to put “at risk” all the money that the government took out of my paycheck along with my employer’s contributions. 

Based on my last annual statement from the Social Security administration, the government collected about $170,000 from me and my employers on my behalf.  Had I the opportunity to put that “at risk” in the stock market, the Dow Jones 30 industrials to be precise, including all the ups and downs, that $170,000 would be worth about $800,000 today.  Thank you Democrats for keeping me safe from accumulating that amount of wealth and instead “investing” it in ethanol, turtle crossings in Florida, bridges to nowhere, airports in John Murtha’s district that no one flies to, etc.  By Social Security estimates, that money they took from me and my employers, will be paid back to me and run out about ten to twelve years before I expire.  So instead of having a real nest egg that I can live off of and pass the rest on to my heirs, my getting Social Security will depend on the next generation getting taxed to the eyeballs to pay me and they can hope the next generation does not rise up in arms when they get the bill.

Everyone who supports the Social Security system as it is today, acknowledging that we have to fulfill our commitment to those who have retired or are very near to retiring, should join Bernie Madoff in cell block C, for the Ponzi scheme the government created.  President Obama, it is time to stop lying to the American people.  We don’t want government to run our lives.  You have crammed your left wing agenda down our throats and we will give you our rebuttal on November 3.  Then your one term will be up two years hence.

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Progressives in Full Panic

by Bill O'Connell on August 29, 2010

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When 300,000-500,000 of your closest friends, depending on who is doing the estimating, show up for a rally on the Washington Mall you would think it was somewhat newsworthy, no?  Of course it is, that’s why the New York Times published the story on page fifteen.  If you were walking by a newsstand and glanced at the front page, you wouldn’t have know that a half million of your fellow citizens got together with Glenn Beck to restore honor in America.  The front page would entice you with:

  • Graft-Fighting Prosecutor Fired in Afghanistan
  • For Obama, Steep Learning Curve as Chief in Time of War
  • Upstarts Chip Away at Power of Feudal Pakistani Landlords
  • Years Later, No Magic Bullet Against Alzheimer’s Disease
  • In Hard Times, One New Ban (Double-Wide)

 

I guess our friends at the times couldn’t find any fabricated stories of someone shouting the “N-word” at Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece Alveda King, who was one of the featured speakers, to elevate the story to the front page.  Perhaps it would have been too embarrassing to mention on the front page that Al Sharpton’s counter-demonstration where “several hundred people packed a football field at Paul Laurance Dunbar High School to stage a rally commemorating Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”  Yesterday, you would have thought both rallies were the same size with crowd estimates of several thousand for each.  Perhaps this shows the true value of racial politics today.  America is tired of the race baiting and the false charges.   President Obama was elected with hope and change to become the post-racial leader of the country.  It appears the country has moved on without his leadership.

In another piece in the Times two Progressive women pine for a “Palin of Our Own”, to win the hearts and minds of America.  The problem is America doesn’t want to listen to Janeane Garofalo or Joy Behar sneeringly spouting off about Sarah Palin.  As far as any women Progressive politicians, who is there other than Hillary Clinton and we’ve seen that act and passed on it.

In another piece titled “Party Down”, Marc Ambinder tells us about the anti-incumbent mood, “Unlike parties, which often recruit candidates who would appeal to the average voter in a general election, these activists care only about nominating the person who accurately represents their own views and frustrations.”  Appeal to the average voter?  The problem with the Republican Party in the past is that they have been listening to the main stream media reports about who the “average voter” is.  So they have elected so called “moderates” who get their clocks cleaned by real Progressives in the election.  The left snickered in their sleeves while growing the government into the bloated, ineffective, couch potato that it is.  It alarms those on the left that the Tea Party movement has changed all this and tone deaf incumbents are getting tossed left and right.  They have unmasked the average voter to be conservative and by measuring candidates against a conservative yardstick, they have struck a chord with the voters who have long felt ignored and disenfranchised.  Now those voters are energized and can’t wait to get to the polls.  Reason for panic on the left, indeed.

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An Historic Event by Any Standard

by Bill O'Connell on August 28, 2010

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To say today’s “Restoring Honor” event in Washington will be historic is an understatement.  Gauging by the biased reporting on the news pages of the New York Times and the seething, sputtering outrage from Bob Herbert and Charles Blow on the Op-Ed pages should give you a pretty good indication of the focus this event will garner.

Kate Zernike opens her report, titled “Where Dr. King Stood, Tea Party Claims His Mantle”, saying it is the ultimate “thumb in the eye” to stand on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in the place he stood and talk about restoring honor.  How dare he?  Isn’t that what racists said of Dr. King when he stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial with these words?

“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.”

 

Ms. Zernike reminds us of the case of Shirley Sherrod, who was fired by the Obama administration when a videotape of her redemptive speech about how she first discriminated against a white farmer but later helped him was shown across the Internet.  She writes about video tape being heavily edited by failing to show how she mended her ways and helped that farmer.  But Ms. Zernike doesn’t finish the story where later in her speech Ms. Sherrod says that those who opposed Obama’s health care plan had racist motives because President Obama is black.  Ms. Sherrod’s redemption is far from complete.

She then says that the Tea Party’s talk of states’ rights raises the specter of Jim Crow and George Wallace.  But it was the federal government that passed and enforced the Fugitive Slave laws and it was independent states of the north, exercising their states’ rights, who supported the Underground Railroad and refused to actively assist returning slaves to the South.  So states’ rights cut both ways.

She concludes that, “Even if Tea Party members are right that any racist signs are those of mischief-makers, even if Glenn Beck had chosen any other Saturday to hold his rally, it would be hard to quiet the argument about the Tea Party and race.”  It’s hard to quiet the argument because those on the left keep falsely making it.  They cannot prove racism so they feel that by repeating often enough, they can make it stick.

I was at a street fair manning a booth for a Tea Party organization this spring.  An African-American teacher approached us tentatively to ask what we were about.  I asked her if she wanted the rumors or the truth and she opted for the truth.  I told her that we were a policy based organization focusing on accountable government, fiscal responsibility, limited federal government and following the Constitution.  She said she didn’t know any of that, she got e-mails from Moveon.org all the time and before leaving she signed our e-mail list.  When the truth reaches the ears of people over the screeching of the New York Times and the main stream media, it is generally well received.  The racial of mix of the Tea Party rallies will change over time when we can speak to the folks one on one without the lies of the left.

The Opionators

Bob Herbert begins his Op-Ed piece in a very open minded fashion, “America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure.”  Thank you for sharing that, Bob, but there’s no need to pull punches here.

“There is a great deal of hatred and bigotry in this country, but it does not define the country. The daily experience of most Americans is not a bitter experience and for all of our problems we are in a much better place on these matters than we were a half century ago.”

 

So why to you and your fellow travelers throw down the race card every time someone disagrees with a policy, if they are not of the same race?  Object to ObamaCare, that’s racism.  Object to the stimulus, racism.  Wanting Obama to fail to turn America into a socialist states, racism straight up.  Yes there is hatred and bigotry in this country, but it is primarily coming from the left.

Not to be outdone in the outrage department, Charles Blow titled his Op-Ed piece, “I Had a Nightmare.”  Mr. Blow said the following, “I find it curious that many of the same people who object so strenuously to the Islamic cultural center proposed for Lower Manhattan, many on the grounds that it is inappropriate and disrespectful, are virtually silent on the impropriety and disrespect inherent in Beck’s giving a speech on the anniversary of King’s address.”  This would be an excellent point, if he could point to 3,000 blacks that Glenn Beck has murdered in the name of restoring honor.  But Mr. Blow can make no such connection, so his analogy to the Ground Zero mosque falls flat.  Curious indeed.

After venting his spleen, Mr. Blow suggests we re-read Dr. King’s speech “and to recommit ourselves to the nobility of righteous pursuits.”  Let’s do that.

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” –“I Have a Dream Speech”

 

How do the actions of the left, throwing down the race card at every turn, accusing everyone who disagrees with Barack Obama to have racism at the core of that disagreement comport with not “drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred”?  It arrogantly assumes that it is impossible not to see the glorious benefit of the government running every last aspect of our lives, therefore the only reason to disagree has to be racism.  With regard to violence, where do we see the violent demonstrations on the left or the right?  Breaking windows, looting, SEIU members beating down street vendors for selling anti-Obama buttons, etc. are all on the left.  When the police show up at rallies organized by the left they show up in riot gear, at Tea Party rallies the mounted police have to decide whether to let people pet their horses or not.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” –“I Have a Dream Speech”

 

Didn’t America elect an African American President of the United States with 53% of the vote?  More than voted for Clinton either time, or Jimmy Carter?  Barack Obama wasn’t elected by minority votes alone.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” –“I Have a Dream Speech”

 

Who more closely shares that dream, Glenn Beck, or those on the left who insist that forty years after Dr. Martin Luther King gave his speech that blacks can’t get into college or get a job without affirmative action; that black families have not been destroyed by government programs like welfare that drove fathers away; that government run schools that can’t graduate its students are far better for blacks than school vouchers that will let them escape those hellholes?  Dr. King’s speech says nothing about racial preferences.  Dr. King’s speech talks about color blindness.  Dr. King’s speech says give us an equal chance.  Glenn Beck believes that.  Those on the left do not.  It is those on the left who believe African Americans cannot compete without more government programs to help them.  Glenn Beck believe they can succeed if government gets out of their way and if the left stops the lies of dependency that hold them back.  It is the New York Times, Charles Blow, Bob Herbert who wrap themselves in racial division and then say, “Why can’t we come together?”  If you want us to come together, stop standing in the way.

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Going Down?

by Bill O'Connell on August 27, 2010

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Revised GDP numbers suggest that going down is exactly what the economy is doing.  The government revised second quarter GDP growth from 2.4% down to 1.6%.  Even Paul Krugman is saying the stimulus didn’t work, but his solution is to drive the country into bankruptcy faster.  Krugman’s complaint was that the stimulus wasn’t big enough.  He also believe we should,” use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders, to engineer mortgage refinancing that puts money in the hands of American families.”  Fannie and Freddie have already sucked $160 billion out of the Treasury and Mr. Krugman wants to back up and re-inflate the housing bubble.  Talk about failed policies of the past, sheesh!

The solution to the jobs issue is private industry.  The problem is that this is the most anti-business government in memory.  Business is the target of the administration’s ire, tax policies, health care policies, cap and trade schemes, repeal of the Bush tax cuts, card check, financial regulation, have I left anything out?  So business is sitting on its hands.  No matter how much cash it may be accumulating it does not want to take any steps, like expanding, until the full weight of all these choking policies are understood and priced out or until the Democrats are run out of the Congress and the anti-business sentiment is lifted there.

So let the Joe Biden show continue.  The man who says he know little about economics and proves it with every speech will go on telling us how the stimulus is working exactly as planned.  President Obama will continue to take a new vacation about every 90 days and we will cross our fingers that there is something left to recover when we recover our government from these inexperienced, clueless dolts.

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Another Paul Krugman Rant: Tax the Rich, Tax the Rich!

by Bill O'Connell on August 24, 2010

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In the August 23, 2010, New York Times, Paul Krugman decries that if we don’t let the Bush Tax cuts expire and thus have a massive tax increase in the midst of a weak Obama recovery, it will be so unfair, so evil… 

First let’s look at how twisted the logic of the left has become.  Mr. Krugman says, “These same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.” Er, not really, Paul, unless the richest 120,000 people are stupid enough, with all their financial advisors, to have that much tax withheld from their incomes.  You see, Paul, the only reason the government would have to cut them checks is if they paid too much in taxes during the year, and since the current rates are already in place it is unlikely that they would change their behavior to suddenly have an extra $3 million sent to Washington.  Here’s the problem with your thinking, Paul.  It is not your money, it is not my money, it is not the government’s money to begin with.  It belongs to the people who have earned it.  It is the people to provide revenue to the government.  It is not the government who gives money to those who produce.  Got it?

Like most on the left Mr. Krugman always associates tax cuts with a loss of revenue and tax increases with a gain in revenue, and ignores how people change their behavior with regard to these changes.

 

 

As this chart shows, at the end of the Clinton administration and the dot.com bubble the economy fell into recession.  The Bush tax cuts were implemented in 2001 and they were across the board tax cuts, not just for the wealthy.  A second set of tax cuts came in 2003.  As you can see revenues started to fall before the tax cuts, but bounced back sharply after the cuts in 2001 and 2003.  But Mr. Krugman would have you believe that if you cut taxes, revenues fall and if you leave them along or increase them, revenues increase.  You can also see that Clinton’s tax increase in 1993, didn’t have much effect in changing the rate of revenue growth, but when the Republicans took over Congress in 1994 and instituted tax cuts in 1997 you can see the slope of the curve bend upwards and it is even steeper with the Bush tax cuts.  So in the absence of the 2001 recession, revenues collected increased with tax cuts, not tax increases.

Let’s look at who is paying what share of the taxes.  The follow chart shows what percentage of the tax burden was paid by what percentile of the income earners by Adjusted Gross Income.

Year Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50% Bot 50%
1999 36.18% 55.45% 66.45% 83.54% 96.% 4.00%
2007 40.42% 60.63% 71.22% 86.59% 97.11% 2.89%

 

So even as the Bush tax cuts reduced tax rates across the board, the “evil” rich still ended up carrying a larger share of the overall tax burden than they did before the cuts.  So just what is Mr. Krugman’s beef? 

I argue that were are nearing a dangerous threshold politically, where the majority of voters may soon find they pay no taxes and the minority pays all.  If that tipping point is reached, what is to prevent this majority from voting for massive tax increases that will only affect the minority?  All Americans should carry some share of the cost of government.  It should not be a free ride for some and a minority pays the tab. 

To further emphasize the fairness issue look at the following chart from the IRS in 2004.  The brown bars show the share of the income that the percentile on the vertical axis earns.  The blue bar shows the share of the total income tax bill they pay. 

 

 

The problem folks is spending.  As the first chart makes pretty clear, we have not been suffering from a revenue problem, we have been suffering from a spending problem.  This administration and their instigators, like Mr. Krugman, have been urging reckless spending upon reckless spending and even decrying that the administration has not spent nearly enough.  Krugman is sloppy in making his case and tries to convince his readers that we will be carrying buckets of money to the wealthy when the truth is that he wants to open the spigot wider from those who produce in this country to the profligate government who can then spend it on more turtle crossings in Florida, and to prop up the unions, and bankrupt states.  Stop spending, cut taxes, shrink the federal beast, and we will be in good shape in short order.

As many people have said, “I never got a job from a poor man.”  In looking back at my own career, I have worked for several companies that were started by entrepreneurs and who became wealthy. Do I care if they were wealthy?  No.  Do I wish they were taxed to the eyeballs?  No.   If they were, those are jobs I would probably wouldn’t have had.  Opportunity is what made America the country where people around the world fight to get into, not bashing the successful.  All who stive to come here want to become those wealthy successful people and give the same opportunity to their children.

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Rick Lazio’s Strange Campaign Strategies

by Bill O'Connell on August 23, 2010

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In today’s New York Times there is a story about Rick Lazio latching on to the Ground Zero mosque issue as his new campaign theme.  The first television ads I have seen regarding his run for governor are about this issue.  He is strongly opposed.  Okay, but he wants us to  elect him governor to do what, exactly?  New York has a lot of problems, from a state government that is completely dysfunctional to being broke and since everyone seems to agree that the mosque at Ground Zero is not about the right to build there but about the propriety of building there, what does it have to do with the office of governor?

When he pinch hit for Rudy Giuliani running for the senate against Hillary Clinton, after Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the race with prostate cancer, Mr. Lazio took a similar tack.  You probably remember their first debate when Mr. Lazio famously walked across the stage to a startled Mrs. Clinton and asked her to sign his pledge on campaign finance reform.  She refused and that was his theme.  The problem is that although many people feel our political process is corrupt, when it comes to campaign finance reform, most people don’t care about it.  Those who care about it are incumbents, who want to cripple those who run against them.  Some of the so called “reforms” have politicians spending so much time chasing $50 donations that they can’t do what they were elected to do.  Either that or we can only run multi-millionaire candidates who can spend their own money without limits.  (Simple solution: let anyone contribute any amount to any campaign at any time and just post the information on the Internet within 72 hours in a database that is fully searchable. Done.)  It only took a little time for the novelty of the debate video to fade and Mr. Lazio had no campaign.

Another challenger in this year’s governor’s race, Carl Paladino, one of the aforementioned millionaires, has been hitting the airwaves more frequently and more effectively than Mr. Lazio.  He is not a one trick pony.  His first ads hit Andrew Cuomo on being a career politician and that he, Paladino, was a business man who knows how to create jobs.  What do we desperately need now?  Jobs.  What are we sick of? Career politicians, like Mr. Cuomo, who played a role as HUD Secretary in the Clinton administration of feeding the real estate frenzy and the subsequent housing collapse that created the financial crisis.

On the mosque situation, agree or disagree with him but Mr. Paladino says exactly what he will do about it.  He will take the property away under Eminent Domain (thanks to the activist judges on the Supreme Court who gave us Kelo v. City of New London) and use the property to create a war memorial.  He doesn’t just say he will oppose it he tells us what he will do about it.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I contributed to Rick Lazio’s senate run in 2000 and I have no connection with the Paladino campaign.  But if Mr. Lazio is serious about defeating Andrew Cuomo for governor, he has to find some issues that not only resonate with the people of New York but that are the responsibility of the governor to address.  If not, rather than split the conservative vote, he should step aside and help ride the anti-incumbent wave that Carl Paladino is surfing.

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The Little Church that Couldn’t

by Bill O'Connell on August 21, 2010

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St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood in the shadows of the World Trade Center until September 11, 2001.  It was destroyed when one of the towers fell on it.  For nine long years the congregation has been trying to rebuild the church but has been stonewalled by government officials.  In 2008 a deal was struck with the Port Authority where the Port Authority would provide land and $20 million to rebuild the church, but the deal appears to be dead.  According to the Port Authority:

 “the church was making additional demands — like wanting the $20 million up front and wanting to review plans for the surrounding area. They say the church can still proceed on its own if it wishes.

“’The church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site, and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building,’ a spokesperson with the Port Authority told Fox News.”

The church sees it differently:

“But Karloutsos [assistant to the Archbishop] called the Port Authority’s claims ‘propaganda’ and said the church has complied with all conditions. He said the government should honor agreements that date back to 2004, under former New York Gov. George Pataki.

“Pataki, speaking with Fox News on Tuesday, agreed that the church should be rebuilt.

“’I don’t understand it,’ Pataki said. ‘Why the Port Authority now has so far put roadblocks in the way of its reconstruction is beyond me. It’s not the right thing to do.’”

Contrast this nine year marathon to the sprint that the mosque at Ground Zero is running.  The proponents are waving the flag of religious freedom, but is that the real flag?  Or is it a triumph of the radicals who knocked down the World Trade Center and now want to plant their victory flag in its place?  Consider the following:

  1. It is called the Cordoba Initiative.  Historically speaking Cordoba was the high point of Islamic advance in Europe in the Middle Ages.  They built their grand mosque on the foundation of a cathedral.  If nothing else it’s an interesting choice of names.
  2. The Imam behind the project said, only days after 9/11, that the US was an accessory in the attack and that Osama bin Laden was “made in the USA”
  3. Who is funding the project?  If this is to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims in America, why isn’t being funded by all the moderate Muslims in America?  It is believed that money is coming from Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Why is that necessary?

The primary objection to the mosque is not that they don’t have a right to build it but that in building it so close to Ground Zero that it is incredibly insensitive.  How do you begin to build bridges by sticking your thumb in the eye of the people you are trying to win over?  It seems to suggest other motives.  Remembering the glee around the Middle East immediately following 9/11, I can imagine a similar celebration upon the completion of a mosque at Ground Zero.  If that is their real motive and it gets built, it will forever be a stake piercing the hearts of the families of those who died.

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Moderate Islam Could be Caught in the Crossfire

by Bill O'Connell on August 20, 2010

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The controversy surrounding the Ground Zero mosque remains at the top of the news.  The battle over who stood where on the issue is shaping up to be a key campaign issue for November.  In New York, one of the candidates, Randy Altschuler has been pounding the Democrat incumbent Tim Bishop to say where he stands.  After considerable foot dragging, Bishop finally came out as opposed to the mosque being built in the shadow of Ground Zero.  Why did it take so long?  Was he putting his finger in the air to determine which answer would score the most political points?

What about some of the other politicians?  Altschuler is strongly opposed as is indicated on the front page of his website.  Chris Cox, who is running against Altschuler and Bishop, it is not so clear.  It doesn’t appear on his website, at least not in any of the obvious places.  Newsday gives a rundown on those already in office.

  • Those opposed: Peter King (R), Tim Bishop (D), Steve Isreal (D)
  • It wouldn’t be fair to say the following politicians favor the project, they more judiciously say they are not opposed;
    • Kirsten Gillibrand (D), the unelected Senator appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat is in a special election this fall
    • Carolyn McCarthy (D) takes no stand other than to say it is emotional.  Ms. McCarthy was propelled into office on the sympathy she garnered when tragedy struck her family at the hand of LIRR gunman Colin Ferguson. Afterwards she felt compelled to travel the country and fight for gun control, making it harder for her fellow law abiding citizens to protect their homes and families.  But when 3,000 of her neighbors are slaughtered in the name of Islam, she has no opinion about a mosque being built nearby other than to say it’s an emotional issue.
    • It has been said that the most dangerous place on earth is the ground between Chuck Schumer (D) and a television camera.  Chuck’s been in hiding on this issue, but through a spokesman he says he’s not opposed.
    • Gary Ackerman (D) is on vacation and apparently his office doesn’t know his position or how to contact him to ask.

The more interesting thing is an article in the Daily Caller that reports about moderate Muslims who are opposed to the mosque on the same grounds as most Americans.  They feel it is insensitive and inappropriate.  There may be a majority of Muslims here and around the world who are appalled by the actions of the radical extremists, but they are not very outspoken.  They were not outspoken on 9/11 nor are they very outspoken regarding the mosque.  Their voices are muted at best, when they should be screaming from the rooftops that these miscreants are hijacking their religion.  It could be for fear of reprisal from the radicals, who will kill anyone at the merest provocation.  However, if they don’t speak up, their silence will speak for them.  The radicals will become more strident and non-Muslims will take the moderate’s silence as acquiescence.  If the moderates truly believe what this article says, the mosque would not be built and healing the rift between Muslims and non-Muslims could begin in earnest. They need to be more vocal and take the lead in the War on Terrorism, to root out this evil from Islam.

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So Called Conservatives and Birthright Citizenship

by Bill O'Connell on August 18, 2010

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, newly elected Republican Congressman from Hawaii Charles Djou called Birthright Citizenship a GOP Achievement.  And to think I was happy to hear Mr. Djou was elected in an unusual special election where he ran against two Democrats simultaneously.  They split the vote and he won.  Birthright Citizenship is not a GOP achievement it is an accomplishment of judicial activism, pure and simple.  Mr. Djou says, “The Citizenship Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment provides that a person born in the United States is automatically a citizen, regardless of the race, ethnicity or citizenship of his parents.”  Where the hell does it say that? 

The Amendment actually reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”  These, so called conservatives, like the first part of the clause but seem to go ignorant or blind at the second part.  If you are a Constitutional Originalist, you look to the meaning of the Constitution first in the actual text, then to any information that you can glean from what was discussed at the time of its passing.  This is a case where that information could not be any clearer.

Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio was the author of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment.  He said:

 “[E]very person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.  This will not [emphasis added] , of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.  It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are not citizens of the United States. “

How much clearer could “not include aliens” be?  Aliens are outside the jurisdiction of the United States and are subject to their home country.

Linda Chavez, who presents as her conservative credentials that she served in the Reagan and Bush administrations, points to English Common Law as the basis of the Birthright Citizenship.  Since under Common Law you are immediately and forever a citizen of the place of your birth.  However, with the Declaration of Independence we did away with that custom of English Common Law.  Under Common Law, you could not renounce your citizenship, and if we are still under that law, we are still all Englishmen.  It was also one of the causes of the War of 1812.  The British did not recognize our process of Naturalization.  They were stopping our merchant ships and taking off sailors they deemed to still be English citizens and pressed them into service in the Royal Navy.  The concept that Ms. Chavez is arguing supports Birthright Citizenship is from feudalism, where the serfs belonged to the land.  They received the lord’s protection and in return gave their lord a lifetime of service.

At the time of passage of the 14th Amendment, whose purpose was to grant citizenship to the freed slaves, the debate was whether it would also confer citizenship on the American Indians.  Under Mr. Djou’s logic and Ms. Chavez’s they were born here, it was automatic.  But it wasn’t.  Not because of discrimination but because they were members of their tribes which were considered sovereign nations.  The United States signed treaties with them.  In the Supreme Court case Elk v Wilkins the court ruled:

“Indians, born within the territorial limits of the United States, members of and owing immediate allegiance to one of the Indian Tribes, an alien though dependent power, although in a geographical sense born in the United States, are no more born in the United States and ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ …than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children, born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign Nations.”

That was the law until 1898 in the Supreme Court case United States v Wong Kim Ark, where the majority used the Common Law argument to ignore what was written in the text of the Amendment, what was discussed at the time of the Amendment by the author of the Amendment and its supporters and the prior Supreme Court case.  This is judicial activism at its baldest.  In the dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Fuller he made it clear:

“when the sovereignty of the Crown was thrown off and independent government established, every rule of the common law and every statute of England obtaining in the colonies, in derogation of the principles on which the new government was founded, was abrogated.”

The American Revolution did away with that definition of Birthright Citizenship under the Common Law.

So along comes Lindsey Graham, who can’t decide if he is for open borders or against them, so his suggestion to amend the Constitution to end Birthright Citizenship sounds somewhat hollow.   It is also irrelevant.  Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly grants the Congress the power “To establish an (sic) uniform Rule of Naturalization..”  This does not require an amendment, just a simple clarifying law that Birthright Citizenship does not exist in the United States.

The irony is that the 14th Amendment was created to make it more difficult for future Congresses to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which said pretty much the same thing as the 14th Amendment and it was changed with the stroke of the pen of an activist Supreme Court.  Perhaps we need to consider the idea of Mark Levin in that perhaps we need to have a legislative veto of Supreme Court decisions.  If the role of the Supreme Court is to interpret laws written by Congress, why not let Congress with a two-thirds vote, explain what the Supreme Court misinterpreted?

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The Morality Malaise

by Bill O'Connell on August 13, 2010

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Steven Slater tells off a plane load of Jet Blue customers, grabs a couple of beers, pulls the emergency chute and dramatically exits the plane, his job, and his career.  He is soon hailed across the Internet as a hero.  People walk away from home equity loans saying, “I’m not going to be a slave to the bank.”  Challenge after challenge to any reference to God in the public square as part of an effort to drive faith underground.  Our is government telling us that the only way we can survive is by a government handout.  We cannot make it on our own.  If you wonder why we are heading in the wrong direction as to 70% of your fellow Americans believe, perhaps we should give morality a closer look.

The story on Mr. Slater is unclear.  He says one thing, witnesses say another.  It will eventually get sorted out, but let’s assume for a moment that Mr. Slater is correct in that a passenger’s behavior set him off.  In a more moral society, Mr. Slater could have done one of two things.  One, he could have taken a deep breath, held his tongue and just written it off to that passenger having a bad day.  He would have won the admiration of those who watched him behave with self-control and dignity.  Or, two, he could have asked the pilot to inform the authorities to meet the plane on the ground because an unruly passenger defied the instructions of the flight crew.  That passenger would have been arrested on the ground and would be facing federal charges.  But instead Mr. Slater took the route of immediate gratification.  He got on the intercom and told off the whole plane, grabbed a couple of beers from the beverage cart, triggered the emergency escape chute and then like a giddy child went down the slide and ran home.  A moment’s thrill of control followed a world of grief.  Was his moral compass broken or pointing in the wrong direction?

Shawn Schlegalis a real estate agent in Arizona.  Since moving there in 2005 he bought several houses with each one financing the next.  He is currently in default for $94,873 and is basically saying tough luck, I’m not paying.  The lender got a court order garnishing his salary, but that was eighteen months ago and he hasn’t heard anything since.  “The case is sitting stagnant,” he said. “Maybe it will just go away.”  While I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for any bank that would approve this chain of financing, I don’t know if the lender was aware of what the home equity loan was for, but it is Mr. Schlegal’s attitude that disturbs me.  He made the decision to do this and he feels it is not his fault.  True he will be impacted if he tries to borrow again in the near future, but he doesn’t seem to care.  This is reinforced by the commercials flooding the airwaves advising consumers how they can walk away from their credit card debt.  How about selling the flat screen TVs and sports cars you purchased on the plastic, and pay it back?  Meanwhile our government continues to use your taxes to help people who are over their head pay their mortgages.  Why do you have to pay your mortgage and theirs?  You were responsible, they were not.  The very concept of such a program would have been baffling to the Founding Fathers.

Our current government reinforces the idea of Americans as imbeciles.  The mortgage companies took advantage of you, they were predatory lenders, while it was government programs that told the predators to get busy.  We have to have more home ownership, we have to help people achieve the American Dream, so Andrew Cuomo at HUD, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and the good folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who made millions on pushing these products, all pushed these government programs on more people, encouraging them to buy houses they couldn’t afford and when the bubble burst they pointed the finger at everyone but themselves.  They believe the American people are helpless idiots who cannot fend for themselves and if by some accident someone does succeed, it is the government’s responsibility to take as much of what they earned by the sweat of their brow and give it to the simpletons they claim to be responsible for.  That is a racist, sexist, class warfare point of view that unless our Ivy League educated elites give us our daily instruction, we will shrivel up and die.  It is anything but the American Dream.

We see efforts to ban the Pledge of Allegiance because it contains the phrase “under God”; to ban the display of the Ten Commandments in court houses; the ban of religious displays on publicly owned land; and to ban prayer in any form at school graduations, football games or other gatherings.  While atheists, a small percentage of the population, do not believe in God, why is another person who believes in God so offensive to them that they can’t bear hearing it?  But as faith is driven further and further from the public square, boorish behavior becomes more and more acceptable.  There is something to be said about eternal damnation curbing one’s baser appetites than responding to the statement, “You want me to stop it?  Make me.”  There is something to be said for fulfilling one’s obligations because it is the right thing to do, but the right thing to do does not come from living in the here and now.  That is self-gratification.  Doing the right thing comes from a set of morals that say, “Character is what we do when no one is watching.”  Those who believe in a God believe someone is always watching.  Perhaps John Adams said it best:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.  Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

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