Friday Digest

Digest

Sep. 16, 2011

Essential Liberty

Join thousands of Patriots who have already signed on to the Oath Accountability Civil Action for Constitutional Integrity.

To enforce our Constitution’s limits on the central government, we believe a formal legal action is necessary. This action, if successful, would require that all members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, first and foremost, abide by their oaths “to support and defend” our Constitution, under penalty of law, and comport with its enumerated limitations on the federal government. The current scope of federal activities provides abundant evidence that many members of those three co-equal branches have long since abandoned their oaths, and, at present, there is no recourse for prosecution to enforce compliance.

To that end, please sign on to this action, and join Patriots across the nation in this effort to establish legal standing as citizens, particularly those in our Armed Services who defend their oaths with blood and life. If we are unsuccessful in our effort to seek remedy for the lack of any proscription against, and penalty for breach of oath, it is because the judiciary refuses any such accountability regarding the wanton violation of our Constitution. Such rejection would in effect render Americans once again condemned to the abuse previously characterized in American history as “Taxation Without Representation.”

The Foundation

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” –James Madison

Government & Politics

The Social Security Debate

The GOP presidential race this week boiled down to two words: Social Security. Specifically, which candidates have said what about the public retirement program set up by socialist Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The kindling has long been there for a fiery debate about the government’s massive obligations to an aging population, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s previous comments about Social Security being a “monstrous lie” and a “Ponzi scheme” lit the spark in Monday’s Republican debate when several other candidates took issue with his position. So, is Social Security a Ponzi scheme?

Mitt Romney says no, and he seized the opportunity to cast the rhetoric of his main Republican rival as “over the top” and “frightful to many people.” Romney warned, “If we nominate someone who the Democrats can correctly characterize as being opposed to Social Security, we would be obliterated as a party.”

Frankly, both men have a point, though Romney used similar language in his own book to describe the program. Numerous figures on the Left have also over the years, dating back at least to a 1967 Newsweek column by liberal economist and Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson.

Strictly speaking, Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, in part because it’s not against the law. Indeed, it is the law. (Try not paying payroll taxes – i.e., “investing” in the system.) But it is structured exactly like a Ponzi scheme, and it will eventually fail for the same reasons. Today’s workers are paying for the checks of today’s retirees, and it has always been that way. From the start, politicians have raided the Social Security “trust fund” and spent the money on other general fund projects. What was left were worthless IOUs. Now that benefits paid exceed taxes collected, that problem has become acute. According to the Social Security board of trustees, in 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree; the current ratio of three workers to every retiree is unsustainable.

Perry later wrote a USA Today op-ed to clarify his position. He thinks Social Security must be reformed so that it can both be saved for those in and nearing retirement, as well as for younger workers. Still, Perry’s problem is exactly as Romney indicated: Democrats (and apparently other Republicans) will demonize him for wanting to “destroy” Social Security. The program is still popular, and if voters think that a politician is going to take away their money, they will object vehemently. (Of course, their money has already been taken away, but that seems to escape the notice of far too many people.) Republicans have to walk the tightrope of calling for reform without being successfully demagogued.

The GOP candidates are shying away from any mention of Medicare, however, which is in far worse fiscal condition than Social Security. Annual spending on Medicare and Medicaid is now 5.5 percent of GDP, and by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that it will reach nearly 10 percent. Medicare by itself is already the biggest spender on medical services in the U.S., and that $525 billion in 2010 is influencing the market for everyone else.

Perhaps Herman Cain said it best: “I don’t care what you call it, it’s broken.” He’s right. And no matter what we call these programs, the important thing is to recognize that they will cause the nation to go broke if we don’t fix them. But they can’t be fixed unless conservatives win elections, and winning elections might require a more tactful approach.

Open Query

“A healthy 30-year-old young man” without health insurance ends up in the hospital. “Who’s going to … pay for that? … Are you saying that society should just let him die?” –CNN’s Wolf Blitzer with a “gotcha” question for Rep. Ron Paul in Monday’s GOP debate

Paul’s answer is here and it’s excellent.

News From the Swamp: Stimulus Jr.

Barack Obama gave details of his “jobs” proposal Monday, and then quickly hit the road, urging everyone at every appearance he made to support its quick and complete passage. “If you love me,” he crooned, “you’ve got to help me pass this bill.” Obama maintains that his $447 billion plan will fix America’s unemployment problem, which has grown increasingly worse under his watch. The bill will create 1.9 million jobs, he says, and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point. Yet Stimulus Jr. merely repeats many of the proposals that didn’t work when they were passed in 2009.

For instance, the employee payroll tax would be expanded. There is also a $49 billion extension of unemployment benefits. The current maximum for the unemployed to draw benefits is 99 weeks (just three weeks short of two whole years), and when that line in the sand was drawn in 2009, Democrats said they would never have to cross it. They now support the extension, however, because they claim the added money will flow back into the economy through consumer spending – despite all evidence to the contrary. Also, $60 billion will be dedicated to infrastructure spending and the creation of an infrastructure bank to finance projects when and if they become shovel-ready.

Obama maintains that this plan “is fully paid for.” How, you ask? Well, the president has rolled out the same solutions for that, too. Tax increases to the tune of $467 billion – over 10 years. Remember, the spending would occur this year. Tax rates would go up for families making over $250,000 per year, and some deductions such as charitable donations would be limited. (We can all watch charitable giving plummet if that happens.) Obama would also end tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jet owners, and raise the tax paid by hedge funds and investment partnerships. Republicans and some Democrats have previously rejected these proposals because they would hit precisely the small business job creators that are needed to jumpstart the economy. Besides, if wealthy leftists feel guilty about their prosperity and want to give more to the government, they’re perfectly free to do so.

House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have both stated publicly that they won’t support any elements of the program that call for more stimulus spending – and rightly so. Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute said in her House testimony on the subject this week, “Those who believe that the 2009 stimulus simply was not enough … should admit that if $1 trillion did not work in 2009, then $447 billion is unlikely to solve an even larger problem in 2011.” Furthermore, conservatives and far-left Democrats reject the idea of an extended payroll tax cut because it will reduce the amount of money paid into an already fragile Social Security system.

It’s hard to imagine that Obama has much of a chance of passing his jobs plan intact with such an array of Republicans and Democrats aligned against him. In fact, that’s exactly what he wants, because he can then run against the “do-nothing Congress” in 2012. Indeed, it’s a rerun of Harry Truman’s 1948 campaign. Obama says, “This Congress, they are accustomed to doing nothing, and they’re comfortable with doing nothing, and they keep on doing nothing.”

A final note: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) snagged the name Obama had chosen for his boondoggle – The American Jobs Act – for his own piece of legislation, H.R. 2911, which proposes a tax cut to stimulate the economy. Tellingly, no Democrat had yet submitted the president’s latest emergency, pass-it-right-away bill. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that other bills will receive attention first – such as one on bike trails.

This Week’s ‘Braying Jenny’ Award

“I’ll put it this way, you don’t deserve to keep all of [your money]. It’s not a question of deserving, because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together.” –Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) pontificating about the money you earn

On Cross-Examination

Obama has a little work to do to gain support for Stimulus Jr. – from his own party.

“I have serious questions about the level of spending that President Obama proposed.” –Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

“I am not supporting a repeal of tax cuts for the oil industry unless there are other industries that contribute. … That offset is not going to fly, and he should know that. Maybe it’s just for his election.” –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

“When you start singling out certain industries [oil and gas], there’s an unfairness to it. On the pay-fors, I have a problem.” –Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)

“Every dollar that is spent on the jobs bill … is not going to be available to Congress to deal with the debt. And to me, the top priority of ours should be long-term major debt reduction.” –Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT)

Constitution Day 2011

Tomorrow, Sept. 17, 2011, marks the 224th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution at the Philadelphia (Constitution) Convention in 1787. Of course, these days, Memorial Day may be a more apt description.

Hope ‘n’ Change: ObamaCare in Court

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner ruled this week that the individual mandate in ObamaCare is unconstitutional. Conner, appointed by George W. Bush, wrote that the mandate extends Congress’s power under the Constitution too far. At this point, the law has several rulings in its favor and several against it. Why, again, did the Supreme Court insist that, before they take it up, the law must run its course through the lower courts?

New & Notable Legislation

The House passed H.R. 2587 by a 238-186 vote Thursday. The legislation prohibits the National Labor Relations Board from dictating where corporations may establish factories. The law is a response to the NLRB’s decision earlier this summer to sue Boeing for opening a manufacturing plant for the 787 Dreamliner in right-to-work South Carolina instead of union-shop Washington state. Unions, predictably, didn’t like the move, regardless of how many jobs it might create. The bill is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Special Election Win for GOP in Blue Territory

Republican Bob Turner shook the political world this week by winning a special House election in deep-blue New York District 9. Turner, a retired businessman, defeated New York State Assemblyman David Weprin 54-46. Weprin, a machine Democrat whose family has been a mainstay in New York politics for years, was initially expected to handily win the seat recently vacated by scandal-plagued Anthony Weiner. The district, which straddles the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, is predominantly Jewish, and Democrats enjoy a 3-to-1 voter registration advantage there. Voters in the district have not sent a Republican to Washington since 1923, and Weprin and members of his family have served several terms in local and statewide office in the area. These advantages ended up meaning nothing, as Weprin’s fortunes diminished rapidly in the closing weeks of the campaign. Democrats even pulled out the big guns in an attempt to save him, but to no avail.

The upset spoke volumes about the current state of affairs for Democrats, but they are unlikely to learn any lessons judging by their response to the outcome. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz provided the most laughable excuse when she claimed, “It’s a very difficult district for Democrats.” The White House, of course, rejected the idea that it was a referendum on the administration, though they used the opposite spin on the special election victory House Democrats won in upstate New York earlier this year.

The fact is that the race was precisely a referendum on the Obama presidency, and particularly his ghastly economic record. Obama’s poor treatment of Israel on the international stage also angered many Jewish voters in the district, and they expressed their sentiment at the ballot box. Turner may not serve long, however, since District 9 is targeted for elimination when redistricting takes place next year, but his victory has sent a clear message as the crucial 2012 campaign season approaches.

National Security

Warfront With Jihadistan: 9/11 Remembrance Omits Key Element

The victims of 9/11 were appropriately remembered and honored in ceremonies across the country last Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the jihadi attacks on America. Yet if you were listening for information about their murders and what motivated them, there was only silence. Even though we’re still at war with Jihadistan, political correctness invaded most ceremonies, and any mention of the dreaded “I” word, Islam, was strictly verboten. Indeed, about the only mention of Islam came from the Left, where some did their best to make it seem as if Muslims were actually the main victims of 9/11. Other leftists reported on how benign Sharia law really is, and argued that “jihad” is actually just a nonviolent struggle. It’s doubtful that the Americans on Flight 93, or the New York City police and firemen of the World Trade Center, would agree with that definition.

One had to leave the U.S. to find sources that would dare speak the truth. In London, Tony Blair pointed to all of the Middle Eastern countries that harbor terrorist ideologies, saying, “It’s completely wrong to think the struggle to defeat extremist ideology is won.” Israeli sources were even more blunt, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, “Therefore, the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism, which is, in effect, a description of the past decade, is at its peak; it is not yet over. We must all unite, countries that aspire to life, certainly the democracies that cherish life, and act in concert against this blight.”

Al-Qa'ida certainly noted the anniversary. Its new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, claimed credit for this year’s Arab uprisings, saying the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. paved the way for the “Arab volcano” that is sweeping through the Middle East. A stretch, to be sure, but also an indication that the radical Islamists of al-Qa'ida are still in the game, even if American politicians and the press are afraid to say so.

Testimony Under Pressure

U.S. Air Force Gen. William Shelton dropped a bomb this week when he alleged that the White House had pressured him to modify testimony before Congress to make it more favorable toward a company that made donations to Democrats. The four-star Air Force general oversees U.S. Space Command, and he was scheduled to testify before a House committee on Aug. 3 regarding a new wireless project of a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared. Shelton’s testimony was leaked in advance, revealing that he was prepared to tell the committee that LightSquared’s project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities.

The majority owner of LightSquared, however, is an investment fund run by Democrat donor Philip Falcone. The company saw that the testimony could damage their business, and the White House intervened. Shelton says the White House requested that he alter his testimony to voice support for the administration’s policy of adding more broadband for commercial use and to say that the Pentagon would work to resolve questions regarding LightSquared with testing in only 90 days. It seems that this administration will stop at nothing to politicize any issue in favor of their donors. Congress has a duty to investigate and find out just who pressured Shelton, and from whom those orders came.

U.S. Air Force Birthday

Relentlessly committed to the defense of liberty, the United States Air Force celebrates its 64th birthday Sunday, Sept. 18. The Air Force began life as the Army Air Corps but became a separate Armed Services Branch when the National Security Act of 1947 created the Department of the Air Force. As the U.S. Air Force continues its critical mission “to fly, fight and win … in air, space and cyberspace,” we ask that you pray for these brave Patriots prosecuting the Long War against Jihadistan, and for their families awaiting their safe return.

Profiles of Valor: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer

Former U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer Thursday became the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, Meyer struggled for words, saying, “It’s hard, it’s … you know … getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it’s … it’s a really tough thing.” It was his worst day because of the friends he lost.

On Sept. 8, 2009, Meyer and his platoon were on patrol in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, when they were ambushed. When several team members were cut off from the main group, Meyer sought to rescue them. According to the official citation, “With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area.” Despite a shrapnel wound in his arm, Meyer led a total of five trips into the kill zone to “recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members.”

Meyer’s final trip was on foot, and he recovered the bodies of four of his friends – Marine 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson, and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton. Two of Meyer’s fellow Marines, Capt. Ademola Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, the driver, were awarded the Navy Cross.

Business & Economy

Income Redistribution: Some Energy Bleeds Green

Solyndra is becoming a household name, but not for the intended reasons. Despite being given a 2009 “stimulus” loan of $535 million, the solar panel maker filed for bankruptcy last week – and it’s not the only one, either. Joe Biden spoke at the groundbreaking of the company’s new factory and said “renewable energy” is “exactly what the Recovery Act is all about.” Barack Obama also praised the company last May at an on-site visit, saying, “companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” Solyndra CEO and founder, Dr. Chris Gronet, called Barack Obama “instrumental” in securing the loan.

With that high-profile backing, the fallout from the firm’s collapse isn’t pretty. Congress and the Treasury Department are both investigating what the White House knew and why so much money was invested in a failing operation. There were warnings months before the loan and Obama’s photo-op at Solyndra headquarters, including from accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers, who indicated “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” Internal administration emails reveal that some people worried about default – primarily over how it would affect Obama’s re-election campaign. Yet Energy Department officials sat in on the company’s meetings and concluded that the loan was worth it.

No doubt more will be revealed in the coming days and weeks, but what is perhaps even more galling is that, despite the malfeasance in the Solyndra case, the Department of Energy is set to issue another $1.2 billion loan to Mojave Solar for a 250-megawatt solar generation project in San Bernardino County, California. Aside from Solyndra, this new move comes after a Washington Post report saying, “A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began…” While only $17.2 billion has been spent to date, just 3,545 new jobs have been created, at a cost of nearly $5 million per job. Even if all 65,000 jobs had materialized, though, the cost per job is obscene. Perhaps that’s still better than $19 billion in erroneous unemployment payments. Some lessons, it seems, are never learned.

Regulatory Commissars: Turn on the Jobs Spigot, Please

Over the last few months Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil have each announced the finding of vast oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an opportunity to create thousands of real jobs and perhaps begin to dent the persistently high fuel prices and unemployment plaguing the nation. All told, the new discoveries in deep water areas of over 4,000 feet in depth have the potential of producing billions of barrels of oil, and helping our nation achieve a degree of energy independence while at the same time adding to the 9.2 million domestic jobs already provided by the oil and natural gas industry. If only these companies were free to determine areas in which to drill and build up the infrastructure for safe extraction and transport.

Yet an unsustainable pace of regulatory approvals since the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill may force U.S. oil rigs out of the Gulf. As many as 20 rigs could be relocated to other oil hotspots around the globe such as Brazil or Nigeria. We realize that some jobs in the energy industry may not be the “green” jobs Barack Obama desires, but in an era where solar power companies go belly-up and take millions of taxpayer dollars with them, why not speed up the regulatory process and let the oil industry use its own private funding to create lasting employment for thousands of Americans? Seems like a no-brainer to us.

Bank of America to Cut 30,000 Jobs

If you limit the amount of income a service provider can receive, it follows that they will have less money to invest in retaining staff. Over the next three years, 30,000 Bank of America employees will learn this truism the hard way as they’re downsized out of the company. An amendment to the 2009 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill will cost the financial giant $475 million in just one quarter this year once the rule takes effect in October, so as part of a makeover to slash an overall $5 billion in corporate expenses, these workers must go.

The Dodd-Frank rule cuts the amount banks can charge retailers in transaction fees by roughly half. While populists from both parties chortled about “exorbitant” debit card transaction fees, they didn’t realize this income stream was what kept other fees, such as fees for checking accounts or interest rates on credit cards, lower.

A look at recent history shows this is nothing new for a beleaguered banking industry. Once the boom times of the Bush years went bust and consumers slipped into unsustainable debt, along came federal regulators to stick companies (and responsible credit card holders) with the bill. Beginning with the 2009 Credit CARD Act, which led to general interest rate increases for most creditworthy consumers, the trend of recent federal regulations has served to make the credit card business less lucrative for banks. While average Americans fall prey to the class envy aspect of regulating bank fees, it may be their neighbor who loses his job thanks to the new rules.

Around the Nation: Poverty Increases

Everywhere we turn, we hear grim news about the economic health of this country. In 2010, income in the U.S. was at a 10-year low and poverty was at a 17-year high. The Census Bureau now reports that one in six Americans is now considered poor. In the midst of this economic turmoil, Obama is asking us to spend another $447 billion, in part to help the “disadvantaged youth” by giving their low-income parents “ladders out of poverty.” This poverty, however, is the hallmark of Obamanomics.

On the other hand, when most of us hear the word “poverty,” we think of hunger and homelessness, a life starved of even basic needs. Yet according to a recent Heritage Foundation report, “Understanding Poverty in the United States,” that is not as prevalent as we are often led to believe. The report’s authors, Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, found the following: According to the Department of Agriculture’s 2009 statistics, 96 percent of low-income parents reported that their children were never hungry due to lack of money, and 83 percent of poor families have enough to eat. Also, while 4 percent of the poor were temporarily homeless, 42 percent own their own homes. Car, computer and TV ownership is even higher.

The report also speaks to the causes of poverty, and a lack of government aid is not among them. In fact, the government only makes things worse. As blogger Ed Morrissey quipped, “It seems that Obama loves the poor so much that he’s going out of his way to create more of them.”

Culture & Policy

Second Amendment: The Right to Carry

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel ruled this week that issuance of concealed carry permits is a matter of discretion for state authorities and isn’t an individual right. Furthermore, guns are scary. “The underlying activity of possessing or transporting an accessible and loaded weapon is itself dangerous and undesirable, regardless of the intent of the bearer since it may lead to the endangerment of public safety,” Seibel wrote, quoting a previous decision on the case. Carrying a loaded weapon on a public street, she said, “creates a volatile situation vulnerable to spontaneous lethal aggression in the event of road rage or any other disagreement or dispute. For all these reasons, I hold that the state has an important government interest in promoting public safety and preventing crime.” Declaring that people intent on committing a crime don’t have legal access to a gun is not going to stop them – it will only disarm their victims.

In related news, Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Shuler (D-NC) have introduced H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. The bill would ensure that all state-issued concealed carry permits are recognized by all other states. Illinois is the only state that still maintains that the Second Amendment doesn’t exist.

Climate Change This Week: Gore’s 24

Continuing his quest to rid the world of global-warming skeptics, Al “It’s Not Easy Being Green” Gore has announced that he will air 24 straight hours of global warming television this week. “24 Hours of Reality” will play on Current TV, which Gore co-founded (after all, what other channel would give Gore 24 hours of airtime?). According to Trewin Restorick, chief executive of Global Action Plan, the broadcast’s UK partner, “There will be a full-on assault on climate skeptics, exploring where they get their funding from.” This approach is hardly surprising, as “assault” is the only option available to the crusade that is steadily losing in the court of public opinion. A recent opinion poll, for example, showed that concern over climate change has dropped in the U.S. from 62 percent in 2007 to 48 percent this year.

All that aside, let’s assume for a minute that man-made climate change is real. Does Gore really think his leftist partisan approach is going to turn the masses in his favor? If he hasn’t been able to convince the world through three decades of scare tactics and selective science, 24 hours of hot air isn’t going to do the job. Just in case you’re thinking of tuning into Gore’s production, though, you should probably know that the broadcast has been rated “U” for “Unsubstantiated.”

And Last…

In an effort to help supporters “get the facts” and “fight the smears,” the Obama campaign has launched a new website called AttackWatch. Arrayed in warning colors of red and white, with a black background for added eeriness, the goal is for people to rat out their neighbors for saying naughty things about the Obama administration. For example, saying, “The stimulus was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent; it’s now over 9 percent,” could get you reported. “ObamaCare is a regulatory nightmare that is already costing jobs,” is another reportable smear. Various charges are countered with the same old platitudes regurgitated at every teleprompter recitation.

We’re not alone, however, in getting a good laugh out of the Obama campaign’s paranoia. Even The Washington Post called the site a “laughingstock.” Meanwhile, Misfitpolitics came up with a hilarious parody, and others are lining up to mock the effort. For our part, we’re just hoping that we’ll get reported.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team

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