Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Rule of Law as a Weapon

By every news account, Cliven Bundy does not have the rule of law on his side. Yet there is much in the rancher's Nevada standoff with armed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents that warrants sympathy for him, particularly when the subtext of the story strongly suggests that the rule of law has become a tool used selectively by government to harass citizens rather than protect them.

It's stunning how much of the western states are "owned" by the federal government (noted in red in this graphic) and, as a consequence, how much more western citizens' lives are micromanaged by government agency bureaucrats.

In The Lesson of Nevada, C. J. Box writes @
In the west, the BLM is usually thought of as the least tyrannical federal land management agency. Unlike the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there aren’t a lot of stories of rogue BLM toughs oppressing taxpayers. I guess that’s changed now. Hovering over all our federal agencies is the EPA, which doesn’t need no stinking land (they control the air we breathe and the water we drink) in order to impose their will. They have armed agents of their own.

When the managers of federal lands turn into an army of occupation amidst the people who pay their salaries, bad things are going to happen.
Kevin Williamson @ NRO argues that harassing the country has become federal policy. In The Rule of the Lawless, he writes:
Strangely, many of the same people who insist that Mr. Bundy must be made an example of for the sake of the rule of law protest at the same time that it is not only impossible but positively undesirable for the federal government to deploy federal resources to rectify the federal crime of jumping the federal border.

The relevant facts are these: 1) Very powerful political interests in Washington insist upon the scrupulous enforcement of environmental laws, and if that diminishes the interests of private property owners, so much the better, in their view. 2) Very powerful political interests in Washington do not wish to see the scrupulous enforcement of immigration laws, and if that undercuts the bottom end of the labor market or boosts Democrats’ long-term chances in Texas, so much the better, in their view.

This isn’t the rule of law. This is the rule of narrow, parochial, self-interested political factions masquerading as the rule of law.
Williamson offers a solution in a follow-up article, The Case for a Little Sedition:
If the conservatives in official Washington want to do something other than stand by and look impotent, they might consider pressing for legislation that would oblige the federal government to divest itself of 1 percent of its land and other real estate each year for the foreseeable future through an open auction process. Even the Obama administration has identified a very large portfolio of office buildings and other federal holdings that are unused or under-used.

By some estimates, superfluous federal holdings amount to trillions of dollars in value. Surely not every inch of that 87 percent of Nevada under the absentee-landlordship of the federal government is critical to the national interest.
His solution would solve two problems: bring desperately needed revenue into the debt-depleted federal treasury, and reduce the number of armed bureaucrats wielding selective rules of law on behalf of special interests.

Tax Day: Where All the Money Goes

From The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell:
In 2013, the major entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care consumed 49 percent of all federal spending. These programs, and interest on the debt, are on track to consume an even greater share of spending in future years, while the portion of federal spending dedicated to other national priorities will decline.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Solution to Illegal Immigration Problem

"The left intends to pummel American society into granting, out of pity, the right of anyone to come to America to live," writes Bruce Walker at American Thinker. But those who care about these people should look at why they are coming to the US and seek for them something better than submersion in the American underclass.

He argues that the US faces no tide of immigrants from Western Europe (or Canada, with whom we share one of the longest borders in the world) because those nations are more like America in terms of "religious tolerance, representative democracy, ordered liberty, and most of all, the rule of law..."
The American “immigration problem” of Hispanics is really a problem of misrule by many nations in Latin America.  Endemic government corruption, widespread gangsterism, and Marxist thuggery have kept lands that ought to be happy and prosperous into prisons from which millions of captive natives wish to flee.

The solution, then, is not for poor and desperate people to sneak into America and create a shadow life as illegals, and it is not to open America’s doors to let these people into our country. ...

What will end the pain of those who creep across our borders is not to change America, but to change the government, the politics, and the moral culture of those lands from which our illegal immigrants flee.  The very worst thing, of course, is to so flood America with illegal immigrants that this land of hope instead becomes another appendage in the empire of despair – yet that is what the left surely wants.

OCare: Like Paying $5 Per Text Message

Former NY Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey (pictured) explains the out-of-pocket costs of new Obamacare plan deductibles in a way that even the youngest cell phone user can understand (emphasis added):
First-time insurance purchasers, especially those living paycheck to paycheck, will be shocked by ObamaCare’s high deductibles, about $3,000 for the silver plan (the most commonly selected) and $5,000 for the bronze plan (the most affordable).

Basically, you’ll have to pay thousands out of pocket for appointments, tests and prescriptions until you reach your deductible.

Millennials who heard Obama say on “Between Two Ferns” that they can buy a health plan for the price of a cellphone contract won’t be laughing when they realize what the $5,000 deductible means. (It’s like a cellphone contract that makes you pay $5 a text for your first thousand texts.)
Read her full article, The Next ObamaCare Disasters.

"It's the Lying that Gets Toxic"

Ross Douthat at the New York Times finds self-deception and blatant dishonesty in the official institutional statements put out in the immediate aftermath of two recent controversies: the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brenden Eich and the withdrawal, by Brandeis University, of the honorary degree it had promised to the human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released. ...
Douthat argues that "what both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America."
The defect, crucially, is not this culture's bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it's the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to "free expression" or "diversity" affirmed in mission statements and news releases. ...

Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B.Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Moore: Game Up for Climate Change Believers

In a review of Rupert Darwall's new book, The Age of Global Warming, Charles Moore offers a helpful summary of an era of catastrophic global warming predictions that ended last month with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report's admission that "the answer to the problems of climate change lay in adaptation, not in mitigation." [Fox News reporter Doug McKelway filed this news report on the latest IPCC study and Washington's reaction to it.]
Most of us pay some attention to the weather forecast. If it says it will rain in your area tomorrow, it probably will. But if it says the same for a month, let alone a year, later, it is much less likely to be right. There are too many imponderables.

The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more. However interesting the scientific inquiries involved, therefore, it can have almost no value as a prediction. Yet it is as a prediction that global warming ... has captured the political and bureaucratic elites. All the action plans, taxes, green levies, protocols and carbon-emitting flights to massive summit meetings, after all, are not because of what its supporters call “The Science”. Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t. ...

Like most of those on both sides of the debate, Rupert Darwall is not a scientist. He is a wonderfully lucid historian of intellectual and political movements, which is just the job to explain what has been inflicted on us over the past 30 years or so in the name of saving the planet.

The origins of warmism lie in a cocktail of ideas which includes anti-industrial nature worship, post-colonial guilt, a post-Enlightenment belief in scientists as a new priesthood of the truth, a hatred of population growth, a revulsion against the widespread increase in wealth and a belief in world government. ...

These beliefs began to take organised, international, political form in the 1970s. ... The G7 Summit in Toronto in 1988 endorsed the theory of global warming. In the same year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up. The capture of the world’s elites was under way.  Its high point was the Kyoto Summit in 1998 ...

The final push, brilliantly described here by Darwall, was the Copenhagen Summit of 2009. ...The warmists’ idea was that the global fight against carbon emissions would work only if the whole world signed up to it. Despite being ordered to by President Obama, who had just collected his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the developing countries refused. ... The developing countries were perfectly happy for the West to have “the green crap”, but not to have it themselves. The Western goody-goodies were hoist by their own petard.

Last week, the latest IPCC report made the usual warnings about climate change, but behind its rhetoric was a huge concession. The answer to the problems of climate change lay in adaptation, not in mitigation, it admitted. So the game is up. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Liberal Senators' Gender Pay Gaps

Liberals' gender pay gap ploy is flopping badly, even among some liberals. The Washington Post's Fact Checker awarded President Obama 2 Pinocchios for his '77-cent' gap claim, and Ruth Marcus post is headlined Democrats' Revolting Pay Demagoguery.

There's plenty from the right on it, but the best on the web is Jennifer Rubin's Right Turn post, in which she lists several embarrassing 'oops' cases where "the war on women is causing Democratic casualties," including this:
Next, the folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee are blasting out an e-mail telling the press that it started looking at the pay rates in offices of incumbent red-state Democratic senators. You guessed it:
It turns out President Obama isn’t the only hypocritical Democrat, in fact Senate Democrats have their own problems when it comes to equal pay. We pulled the official payroll records of various offices and calculated the average pay for men and women in each office for the most recent 6 month period available. Since some employees only worked a portion of the six month period, we calculated how much each person was paid per day in order to give an accurate representation. Here’s what we found:
  • Mark Udall pays women 85 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Mary Landrieu pays women 88 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Mark Begich pays women 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Mark Warner pays women 75 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Gary Peters pays women 67 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
That means on average, these five Democrats on the ballot in battleground states pay women in their office 79 cents for every dollar made by a male employee.
Yup, oops.