Monthly Archives: April 2010

Evidence Against Michigan Militias Sketchy

AP reports that the judge in the case where militia members are being detained for planning an attack on police in order to foment a national rebellion, is questioning the prosecution’s case.

“Mere presence where a crime may be planned is not a crime. … How does this add up to seditious conspiracy?” Roberts said.

Judge Roberts also notes that no one actually instructs anyone to take any illegal action.  They just demonstrate the anger against current government policies in private.

The prosecution highlights what they feel are seditious comments:

“It’s now time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny. Time is up,”

This could have been part of any campaign speech or rally.  In fact the lawyers for one of the defendants pointed out how the militia members’ frustration with the current direction of the country mirrored a large portion of  America.

“Millions of people” are talking about “taking our country back,” Weiss said.

Certainly there is a line between venting frustration and being a traitor to the United States.  That line has to be carefully drawn and guarded by the judiciary – lest all of us get thrown in jail for wanting to “take our country back”.

What’s Really Happening with Arizona’s Immigration Law?

jan brewer Gov. AZArizona Governor, Jan Brewer signed her State’s new tough immigration bill (full unedited text of SB1070) into law this week.  There is heavy support from Arizona residents, but firm opposition from liberal-leaning organizations.

Arizona has been pleading for assistance from the Federal government for years, so this is not a new problem, nor did Obama cause it.  Immigration was a problem Obama had promised to solve in the first year of his presidency and his failure to follow-through has given Governor Brewer no choice but to act at the State level.

The opposition comes from mainly religious, civil liberty and Latino organizations.  The bill is even being compared to the Japanese internment camps of WWII and South African apartheid.  Some complications with those comparisons are that those were injustices against people who had not committed a crime.  Being Japanese and a rightful citizen of the United States is not a crime.  Any race or ethnicity that chooses not to apply through the existing processes and laws, but reside in the U.S. anyway, is breaking current Federal law.  The opposition tries to downplay the criminal aspect of illegal immigration by calling the law-breakers “undocumented workers”.  Whether they work or not, they aren’t documented because they are only here by breaking the law.

Brewer is right to point out that this is a public safety matter.  Crime will go down if there are fewer illegals.  There are studies that have been done over the past ten years that say that illegal immigrants commit crimes at the same rate as citizens, and other studies that say the criminal rate is higher among them – especially for sexual predation.  Assuming that the crime rate among illegal aliens is identical to citizens, those are still crimes.  If the illegal aliens weren’t there, should it be assumed that some other person would go commit that same crime in their stead?  The large number of illegal aliens in the justice system also increases costs for state and local governments.

Day laborersThe law does not give state law enforcement any new powers for search and seizure.  The law still requires reasonable suspicion, the same tests applied for other crimes committed by both citizens or aliens.  The law actually mandates that they must enforce the existing federal law to its full extent.  Some might find it puzzling that they weren’t already doing that.  A few new state provisions make the federal crimes into state crimes, such as failing to apply for or carry alien documentation.  Perhaps the only contentious provision is that which makes it illegal to impede traffic while picking up day laborers as not all day laborers have violated immigration law.  The point of contention is that perhaps they could have put this into a traffic safety bill instead, there is certainly nothing illegal or unconstitutional about it.

Many are also ignoring the economic drain these workers represent.  They are undocumented and therefor do not pay federal income tax or state income tax, but they do need the roads, hospitals, services, and infrastructure provided with such taxes.  Additionally, a significant sum of money is sent to Mexico directly from the migrants that do work.  That money is pulled out of the U.S. economy – probably the largest reason for the objections of the Mexican government.

Should we stop immigration – surely not.  We must stop illegal immigration.  Immigrants should apply, be screened, documented and subject to our laws, including taxation.  The screening process can help us identify undesirable criminal applicants (or weed them out naturally as they might not apply at all).  They are welcome to share our country and what it has to offer, but they surely should also share the burdens that come with working and living in the United States.  If health reform continues to mandate insurance, they should also be forced to buy a plan.

The process for legal immigration should also be simplified.  Many argue that illegal aliens do many of the jobs that a citizen would not.  Well, then open the floodgates for those skills – by allowing more in through the legal process, but don’t just tear down the gate.

President Obama has called Governor Brewer’s actions, “irresponsible”.  The Governor is the chief of the executive branch for her State and so charged to enforce the laws applicable within that State.  She has now had to sign a law explicitly saying that Arizona will enforce Federal laws, because the Federal government won’t.  She’s performing her responsibility, by taking action when the Obama administration failed to perform theirs.

Obama's Choice for Deficit Reduction Panel Left Huge Deficits at SEIU

As I reported last month, Obama has nominated Andy Stern, the leader of the Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU).  Now the concerns are mounting over the quality of this choice and Obama’s true motives for his fiscal policy group.

The Washington Times reported that Mr. Stern has left SEIU in ruin while having protected his own benefits.

SEIU’s pensions are in even worse shape. Both of SEIU’s two national pension plans, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund and the Pension Plan for Employees of the SEIU, issued critical-status letters last year. The Pension Protection Act requires any pension fund that is funded below 65 percent of what it needs to pay its obligations to inform its beneficiaries of the deficit ..  Unlike SEIU’s pension plans for rank-and-file members and union employees, SEIU’s officer pension plan, the SEIU Affiliates Officers and Employees Pension Plan, was funded at 102 percent in 2007.

The motivation for SEIU to support health care reform is becoming more clear each day.  The union will likely become insolvent if it can’t push a huge portion of it’s benefit liability on to the tax payers.  SEIU’s political agenda is even more in-questions when we learn that many of their protests against Bank of America were at a time when it owed $80 million to the same bank.

Not only did Stearn shirk his responsibilities to the union members by not funding their benefits, he increased the union’s liabilities from $7.6 million to $120 million (more than 15 times) from 2000-2009 while only increasing assets from $66 million to $187 million (just 3 times) and a large portion of that asset growth comes from IOU’s from it’s own local union organizations.

Obama’s self-touted Deficit Reduction Panel is looking more like a political machine intended to only further his free-spending agenda.  Andy Stern has shown no propensity for fiscal responsibility and no history of controlling liabilities.  The only reason Stern is on this panel is to thank him for the $85 million he spent to get Obama and his party members elected, $85 million that should probably have gone to the SEIU member retirement and benefits funds.

Auto Insurance Reform on the Horizon

Many in the politcal arena would compare compuslive heath care coverage to that of required automobile insurance.  So let’s do that.

Health Care Insurance Reform is in the books.  No one is quite sure what they will get or what it will cost, but it does seem that most feel that something like it should be done.

Why not for automobile insurance?  We should require that everyone buy the insurance (whether they have a car or not), we should certainly require that regardless of their previous driving history (pre-existing conditions) that insurance companies should cover them (and their 26 year old children).

Certainly we should continue to cover them regardless of how bad their driving record gets.

These may seem like ludicrous comparisons, but, are they?  Why would we turn someone down because of some unfortunate accidents but protect their coverage due to unfortunate health conditions?  Neither are controllable?  Both will require that others bare their burden.

Tea Party: Serious or Just Pissed Off?

I am one of those Conservatives that has disassociated themselves from the GOP.  The Republicans weren’t manging our money any better than the Democrats.  The only difference is that the Liberals would spend more and tax more, the GOP would only spend more.

Seeing the Tea Party focus so much on the tax side of the equation without spelling out exactly what they want to see on the spend side is disconcerting, if not a total turn-off for me.  Our entitlement spending is more than 75% of our federal costs and I haven’t heard a single candidate talk about cutting any of that.

I have not seen a demand for a delay in Social Security or Medicare benefits until the age of 70 or 75.  I have not heard anyone offer to return unemployment benefits to a six or even nine month period.  I haven’t heard anyone looking at the big spend items for cuts.

Running around saying that we pay too much in taxes is not going to cut it.  We need to get our debt under control with current tax policy before we worry about wanting tax cuts.

I would gladly sacrifice my income at the current tax levels if we could get a commitment to the following:

  1. Increase Medicare and Social Security eligibility ages to 70
  2. Drop the unemployment benefit to something reasonable.. say nine months for now and reduce to six months next year
  3. Repeal the health care reform act.. that thing is an atrocity of spending with no benefit
  4. Enforce pay-go  (I call it  pay-fo, but you get the point)
  5. Reduction in the pay and benefits for all federal employees (the rest of us took pay cuts, lost jobs.. they can too)

Everyone wants to make excuses for why one thing of the other cannot be cut or why this tax break or another can’t happen.  I say, give up on the tax breaks, but it better come with a plan to balance the budget within a year and some laws to make sure that it’s kept that way.

I want to hear specifics.  What will the candidate cut and by how much?  How will that affect the average person?  If the tea party isn’t pushing for direct answers to how the deficit will be cut, I’m not buying any of it.

Good News on the Economy Questionable

Reading through headlines like “Online ad revenue up 2.6 pct in 4Q to $6.3 bln”, would point to some type of revenue-driven recovery.  With the huge number of recent print media failures and the terrible ratings results for the evening news outlets, why is only 2.6% considered good?  It should not be.

2.6% is somewhat indicative of inflation.  With the decline in ratings of NBS nightly news, ABC, and CBS, we should see much higher gains in online media revenues.  Consider the slow death of print media and one is left wondering, where did all that money go?

In reality, this is just another attempt to build economic “confidence”.  Basically, it’s the government’s attempt to create a recovery where none exists.

We have a fractional reserve system, and if Americans continue dropping debt (de-leveraging) at the rate they did last month, the false recovery we have been led to believe exists.. will disolve in a pool of deflation.  Which is exactly why we see interest rates risiing (.24 in the last 2 weeks) and 10 year bond yields going through the roof.

So the question remains.. are we recovering, or is the government lying to us in the hopes that we might create a recovery for them?  My sincere hope is that the economy is truly recovering, my analysis is leading me to believe that being debt-free is the only way to deal with what is coming.