Monthly Archives: January 2013

Against “Absolute Moral Authority” And Selective Outrage: I Don’t Care If The Father From Newtown Was “Heckled” Or Not.

The left says he was, the evidence says he wasn’t.

Other than exposing yet another case of liberal media bias, I simply don’t care one way or the other.

I’m not a fan of heckling or interrupting a speaker in general simply because I think it’s rude but it goes on everyday in political and government meetings across the country. I’m not any more or less upset or annoyed at what happened here than I am about those cases. The standing of the person being interrupted is irrelevant to me, it’s the interrupting I take issue with.

I certainly wouldn’t support or condone taunting anyone about the death of their child but no one is suggesting that’s what happened here.

But as he gave his emotional testimony, pleading with lawmakers to improve mental health options and to ban assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used to murder his child and 25 other people, his speech was interrupted by dozens of audience members, The Connecticut Post reported.

“I still can’t see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort. You’re not going to use them for hunting, even for home protection,” Heslin said.

Pro-gun activists responded by calling out: “Second Amendment!”
Undeterred, Heslin continued. “There are a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened.”

Any one upset or outraged by this better be just as upset every time Code Pink or any group infiltrates an event with the specific intention of disrupting it.

If someone is going to make their private tragedy and pain a lever with which to alter public policy, then they are not exempt from the give and take of debate. A simple response like that is well within the bounds of polite discourse.

The idea that someone cannot be criticize or challenge because they have suffered a personal tragedy isn’t to protect the advocate, it’s simply a way to silence opposition and that has no place in a free society.

When someone plays “The Absolute Moral Authority” card they are engaging in a sort of reverse “heckler’s veto”. Neither tactic is a legitimate exercise.

If you wish to be treated with the deference properly afforded to a grieving parent then don’t engage in the arena of ideas. But if you do wish to promote an agenda understand upfront that no advocate is above the debate and challenge. That is essential to enabling We The People to come to informed conclusions.

Yes, It’s Amnesty

Language is very important in politics. The earliest stage of a political fight is often the fight to gain control of the terms used in the debate. Supporters of the bland sounding “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” really don’t like it when opponents call their various schemes “amnesty”. Why? No one wants to be seen as rewarding criminal behavior even when that’s EXACTLY what they are doing. So supporters of amnesty will go to great lengths and intellectual contortions to make sure no one dares use that term.

Take a look at how Marco Rubio, one of the key figures in the most recent amnesty push, phrases the argument.

We have de facto amnesty right now

No we don’t.

If we did, why are we going through this whole process in the first place? If we had de facto amnesty, we wouldn’t hear about how hard it is for illegal immigrants to live in the shadows. If we had de facto amnesty, we wouldn’t be deporting anyone. If we had de facto amnesty, there wouldn’t be a thriving black market for illicit work documents and identity theft.

Amnesty supporters will tell you it can’t be amnesty because illegal immigrants will say there are “tough but fair” penalties for illegal immigrants such as paying a fine of some sort, have to pay back taxes and “go to the back of the line” behind those waiting to come here legally for permanent residency and citizenship.

The last bit is particularly deceitful. The “back of the line” language is designed to make it sound like a real penalty is being imposed on illegals. The reality according to amnesty supporter Chuck Schumer is they would get big rewards up front with no penalties of any sort.

“On day one of our bill, the people without status who are not criminals or security risks will be able to live and work here legally.”

According to Rubio, the “penalties” will come years down the road when illegal aliens apply for green cards.

As for the path to citizenship, as Rubio explained when he rolled out his ideas a couple of weeks ago, the senators envision a temporary legal status and then the opportunity to obtain a green card, upon payment of back taxes, learn English, and a background check “among other requirements.” (Although there was no mention of Rubio’s suggestions for fines or community services is made.) The path to citizenship provisions also emphasize that none of the illegal immigrants could jump ahead of those who have legally been pursuing a green card.

In short…illegals will gain immediate legal status upon enactment of the law with no penalty until some unidentified time far off in the future. How is that not amnesty? Until we see the actual legislation, we don’t even know if illegals will have to apply for a green card or citizenship. It’s very possible whatever category of visa they get upon passage of the scheme will entitle them to stay for as long as they want.

Who is really punished by this system? People waiting to come here legally. The legal immigration system is already a mess but now we’ll be dumping upwards of 11 million new people into the system. They will all have to be processed and have background checks done to claim their new status.

How is an overworked system going to handle that new workload without A- skimping on real checks and B- adding more delays to people who are playing by the rules (pdf)?

One of the supposed penalties illegals will have to pay is to prove they have been paying taxes all along or pay taxes owed.

How will that work?

The IRS is already strained by implementing new ObamaCare regulations but now they will have to process millions and millions of new returns? Will current tax payers see delays in returns or other services? Or will the checks on this condition be cursory and incomplete at best?

And if illegal immigrants have been working and paying taxes by definition they are using fraudulently obtained documents, often committing Identity Theft.

Illegal immigrants are not “undocumented.” They have fraudulent documents such as counterfeit Social Security cards, forged drivers licenses, fake “green cards,” and phony birth certificates. Experts suggest that approximately 75 percent of working-age illegal aliens use fraudulent Social Security cards to obtain employment.

Illegal immigration and high levels of identity theft go hand-in-hand. States with the most illegal immigration also have high levels of job-related identity theft. In Arizona, 33 percent or all identity theft is job-related (as opposed to identity theft motivated simply by profit). In Texas it is 27 percent; in New Mexico, 23 percent; in Colorado, 22 percent; California, 20 percent; and in Nevada, 16 percent. Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of illegal aliens in their total population are among the top 10 states in identity theft (Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, Nevada, New York, Georgia, and Colorado).

Will they be prosecuted for crimes that a citizen would? Of course not. But don’t call it amnesty!

Like Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie, amnesty supporters will waive their hand and say, “this isn’t amnesty” and hope the weak minded who oppose amnesty will just let them move along with their plans.

The first battle over amnesty is for the word “amnesty”. If those of us who oppose this policy lose this battle, we will undoubtedly lose the war.

The Problem With Bobby Jindal’s Big Speech To The RNC

The bottom line message of Bobby Jinal’s speech to the RNC is the path to victory for GOP is  to stop focusing on the federal government and instead focus on American prosperity.

Government does not order greatness. Government cannot command outcomes that exceed those in other nations.

But free individuals…taking risks…building businesses…inventing things from thin air…and passing immutable values from one generation to the next…that is the root of America’s greatness.

And that is our mission as we build a new Republican Party.

We must shift the eye line and the ambition of our conservative movement away from managing government and toward the mission of growth.

It falls to us to show the younger generations the wisdom and the great benefit of the American path.

It falls to us to unleash a new dawning of the American Dream – the dream my parents came to America for – a dream of growth, prosperity, and equal opportunity.

I agree with the sentiment behind Jindal’s speech, I don’t think his diagnosis of what Americans want is correct.

When Democrats lose they always blame the messenger not the message. We usually laugh at that.

I fear that’s what conservatives are now doing. Society has been moving ever left for over 80 years now. There have been no conservative reversals of this trend, just some temporary slow downs followed by big leaps to the left. This isn’t an accident. It isn’t because liberals and leftists have tricked Americans for decades, it’s because people keep electing politicians who give them what they want.

Jindal is saying stop focusing on “root canal” politics (Jack Kemp’s term) and focus on offering a vision sweeping ideas of individual empowerment and opportunity to oppose the left’s statist worldview. Well, we tried that from Reagan onward and the result is people wanted…both. Big government benefits and relatively low levels of taxation.

How’s that working out for the country?

The problem with this approach is if we don’t focus on shrinking the federal government, it will simply continue to grow at a rate greater than the increase in national prosperity and consume whatever gains have been made. Starving the beast doesn’t work because the beast discovered the joys of borrowing. Either we slay the beast once and for all or it will devour us.

I’m not saying that pre-New Deal America was some sort of libertarian utopia but I simply don’t see any evidence that what people are really yearning for is some sort of diminished collectivism and a rise of a Burekian ideal. People will continue to vote for “Both” until they can’t.

I think what people want is comfort. Whatever seems to maximize that will win out.

Boehner Commits House GOP To A Plan To Balance The Budget In 10 Years. And The GOP Death Spiral

Paul Ryan is reworking his budget to conform.Here’s the problem: People rejected the original Ryan plan as being to harsh and it balanced sometime around mid-century.

This is a huge conundrum….spending cuts aren’t popular. We need to accept that no matter what polls say. But to get its voice back the GOP needs to double down on unpopular things. If every loss leads to doubling down we’re in a death spiral (much like the one the country is in) that will likely lead to more Democrats winning and increased spending and more doubling down…….

I’m not hitting the GOP for this, it’s a no win situation. The problem is voters. We lost the argument about the size and scope of government. We aren’t going to win it through a new 10 year plan that will be unpopular and never go anywhere.

The fight we need to have is not one the GOP or any political party is designed to wage. We should stop demanding that they try.

This is why Let It Burn isn’t a pro-active course, it’s simply an acknowledgement of reality.

Mitch McConnell’s Statement On Obama’s Gun Control Event

Via email:

“Sen. McConnell will continue to defend the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Kentuckians. While the administration acknowledged that there is much more to be done to enforce existing law, Sen. McConnell’s first test of any new legislation the majority leader decides to bring before the Senate will be on whether or not it infringes on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

Better than Boehner’s.

 

Report: Syria Used Chemical Weapons. What Should We Do About It? And Red Lines

Well now.

A secret State Department cable has concluded that the Syrian military likely used chemical weapons against its own people in a deadly attack last month, The Cable has learned.

United States diplomats in Turkey conducted a previously undisclosed, intensive investigation into claims that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, and made what an Obama administration official who reviewed the cable called a “compelling case” that Assad’s military forces had used a deadly form of poison gas.

The cable, signed by the U.S. consul general in Istanbul, Scott Frederic Kilner, and sent to State Department headquarters in Washington last week, outlined the results of the consulate’s investigation into reports from inside Syria that chemical weapons had been used in the city of Homs on Dec. 23.

Clearly this means the US should do….absolutely nothing. This is a problem for the Syrians, not us. Of course, given how many al-Qaeda types are now part of the Syrian opposition, we may even owe Assad a big thank you.

The real problem is Obama issued a red line saying if the Syrians moved chemical weapons we’d act. Then they moved and we did nothing but moved the red line to use of chemical weapons. Apparently the Syrians were unimpressed.

Again, I don’t care how this fight goes. The longer the better as far as I’m concerned but Obama was has also issued red lines against Iran. Who will take him seriously? Of course, Chuck Schumer received “assurances” from Chuck Hagel so no worries.

Is Congressman Phil Gingrey Going Soft On The Second Amendment?

Greg “I can’t define “assault weapon” but we should ban them” Sargent is pretty excited that GOP Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia might be open to some gun control measures.

Along these lines, this is interesting: GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia — who has an “A” rating from the NRA — has now signaled that he very well may support both of those provisions. The Marietta Daily Journal has this account of a town hall meeting Gingrey held yesterday:

Gingrey said he was open to considering certain gun control measures in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

“There are some problems, and maybe these huge magazines even for someone who says, ‘look, I just use an AR-15 for target practice,’ but do you really need to be standing there shooting at a silhouette a shot a second or even quicker with that kind of weapon? For what purpose?” Gingrey asked. “I would be willing to listen to the possibility of the capacity of a magazine.”

Congressman, it’s none of your business why people need or want to own these things. Banning them will have zero impact on mass shootings for a couple of reasons.

1- Many localities already ban their sale and possession (though those laws are unevenly enforced).

2- There exists a thing called “reloading“.

Gingrey also says he’s open to requiring background checks for private sales. That’s simply an unworkable idea unless you are also promoting a national gun registry. BTW- You know who already sells guns with no background checks and will continue to do so even if it’s required? Criminals selling to other criminals. More laws won’t change that.

Gingrey’s musings aren’t even a small crack but they need to be shutdown as quickly as possible.

Not every rare problem is a cause for federal action. If supposedly conservative Republicans don’t get this, we’re in deep trouble.

Dana Milbank Wrote Something Stupid. Related, The Sun Rose In The East This Morning

Underneath the layers of idiocy in this risible Dana Milbank column is…more idiocy.

And Hagel is worth fighting for. The Republican former senator from Nebraska should and probably will be confirmed by the Senate, despite irresponsible claims that he is anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-gay and a coddler of Iran. Most of that is false and the rest is irrelevant: As head of the Pentagon, Hagel would not determine foreign policy.

Which of those charges are false and which are irrelevant? Don’t know, Milbank never bothers to make an argument or provide any proof to backup his assertions.

Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) called Hagel’s record “extremely concerning.” Sen. David Vitter (La.) said Hagel’s confirmation “would send exactly the wrong message.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said Hagel’s views send “the worst possible signal.”

Neither Cornyn nor Vitter lists military service in his biography. Graham was an Air Force lawyer.

Ah, yes. Chicken-hawks (it’s actually the front page tease on The Post’s homepage for this column).

Put aside the casual dismissal of Graham’s service (he did deploy to Iraq and if being a lawyer doesn’t count, Milbank should tell Joe Biden to stop bragging about his son Beau’s service) and notice that Milbank picked two Senators who didn’t serve to illustrate the fight against the heroic Hagel to set up his “chicken-hawk” argument (I mean that genuinely, Hagel is a hero for his service).

I guess that settles it. Only chicken-hawks oppose Hagel. Wait, that’ s not true. There’s also John McCain whose service is at least heroic as Hagel’s. There’s also Roger Wicker who served in the Air Force, James Inhofe and Jeff Sessions, both veterans of the Army.

Like Cornyn and Vitter all these veterans are members of the Senate Armed  Services Committee which will hold hearings on the Hagel nomination.

Oh and one last thing. Is Milbank suggesting that veterans should get a pass from non-vets about military issues? If so, can he explain why he (a non-veteran) wrote scathing columns about Donald Rumsfeld a 35 year veteran of the US Navy and Navy Reserves?

Of course he can’t. He’s an idiot.

What You Think Of The Debt Deal Depends On What You Prioritize More: Lower Taxes Or Controlling Spending

This year the morning after hangover came on January 2nd. The Senate partied into the wee hours of New Years’ morning before passing the McConnell-Biden compromise package before the House relieved them and spent all day deciding what to do with the Senate bill. In the end, they didn’t do much and wound up passing it un-amended at around 11pm.

Today we wake up to survey the damage and begin to clean up the mess.

Some Republicans like Jen Rubin hail the deal as a great victory for conservatism.

The answer to why the Democrats did so badly is three-fold. For starters, the president has never been able to rally the public on a major policy initiative and he failed to do so again here, merely annoying his opponents, who dug in their heels. Second, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knew exactly what he was doing — seeing that Democrats were so focused on one big item (raising the rate for the very wealthy) he recognized that he could scoop up a lot of goodies (estate tax relief, a two-month buydown on the sequestration). And finally, once House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) let on that there would be flexibility on taxes, he found the Democrats’ weakness: a total lack of credibility on spending cuts. Well, if they are not really going to cut much, then the tax hikes have to be moderated, and indeed they were.

Making 98% of the “Bush tax cuts” permanent is the supposed victory. In an ideal world this would be a great accomplishment. But this is far from an ideal world. In reality, the de-coupling of taxes from spending is a huge trap for the conservatives (whether or not it is for Republicans is a different story). As Rubin notes, the Democrats have shown themselves to be entirely disinterested in spending cuts. The “victory” has disconnected 98% of tax payers from the direct consequences of supporting big government.

Oh but the GOP will have the leverage of the debt ceiling hike to extract concessions on spending, Republicans will say. There’s no reason to believe this is true.

First, the concession the GOP got from the last debt ceiling hike was $1.2 trillion in cuts that have now been postponed. Assuming the next debt hike is in the same range that means we’ll have to get another $1.2 trillion in cuts for a total of $2.4 trillion just to keep pace with the debt hikes.

Does anyone honestly believe that’s going to happen in two months when we couldn’t find the first set of cuts in over 15 months?

So these “huge” $2.4 trillion cuts (that will never materialize) won’t even begin to touch the $16.5 trillion and growing debt we already have rung up.

And even in some fairy tale world where these cuts are made and are real, the Democrats will want more revenue as part of any deal (remember the $800 billion Boehner offered up instead of a tax rate hike? Now it will be in addition TO that hike).

And what leverage does the GOP have to get anything for a debt hike? The threat to not raise the ceiling? Well they blinked last year on that and they blinked at going over the cliff when the stakes were “only” tax hikes that could easily be undone quickly. Yet we’re supposed to believe the GOP is willing to hold firm on the ceiling, even if it means irreversible damage such as the “full faith and credit” of the US, an interest rate spike that will balloon our out of control debt exponentially overnight and a global recession as the cherry on top?

It’s not going to happen and everyone knows it.

The last pressure point the GOP will have is the upcoming fight on a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The only leverage they will have then is the threat of a complete government shutdown.

After blinking on the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, do you really think they will shut the government down? Really?

So yes, the GOP “won” as much as they could on taxes but the Democrats win on what’s important…the continuing growth of government.

Suddenly my hangover headache is back.

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