“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, February 4, 2011

Glenn Beck's Alternative Theory On Egyptian & Mideast Revolutions

Certainly one of the major political stories of the week has been the Egyptian uprising against longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

It seems clear that the clamor for Mubarak's ouster began as a popular uprising stimulated by the exit of the Tunisian dictator, thanks to popular discontent only a week or so ago.

However, upon seeing the overthrow of the Tunisian strongman, and the popular discontent with Mubarak erupting in the  streets, there seems to be evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim organizations hoping for a theocratic Caliphate, have joined the uprising with hopes of eventually turning it to their aims.

Glenn Beck seems to have been the first to try to alert the US public to this possibility. As you might expect, liberals immediately jumped all over him for pushing a conspiracy theory to scare said public.

While it's not crystal clear that Beck is correct, there seems to be a lot of troubling evidence suggesting that he's not too far wrong.

For example, the Muslim Brotherhood's stated aims include destroying Israel and basically killing all the Jews they can. And several American organizations, like Code Pink, are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, without acknowledging their intended violence toward Jews.

Then there's Beck's contention that several Muslim-related sites discuss 'freedom' in English language versions, with a prominent picture of a child, but have radically different Arabic site versions. In the latter, the child is gone, the tone is violent, and the words are not about freedom, but, rather Islamic power.

While I haven't had the time or inclination to check out that allegation, it's very believable. Language differences in this instance offer a great opportunity for misinformation and misdirection by Islamist revolutionaries for American and Western consumption.

If Beck is correct, then a popular Egyptian uprising is quite vulnerable, eventually, to becoming a cog in a larger system of pan-Mideast Islamic revolution aiming for theocratic states. Others obviously debate whether or not Islamist revolutionaries will gain control of whatever subsequent government takes over Egypt. But Beck's theory is slightly different.

He's suggesting that what have begun as non-religious, popular uprisings in a few Mideast countries will be hijacked by the waiting Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups.

It's a provocative view, because, as one anti-Beck interviewee on another Fox News program contended, now that people are rising up for freedom from Mideast dictators, people like Beck are criticizing and doubting them.

I do realize that Beck may be off on one extreme. But his warnings are worth considering. It wouldn't be the first time that a popular uprising gets taken over by differently-motivated extremists.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unions, Municipalities & The Democratic Party's Future

Last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting editorial by Doug Schoen, Bubba Clinton's former pollster. Schoen, though a Democrat, has become, with Carter's former pollster, Pat Caddell, a more moderate teammate trying to rescue their party from the grip of far-leftists and unionists.

Schoen's editorial, chock full of details concerning union spending and various state crises, contends,

"Unless the party confronts its allies in the public-employee unions, it will continue to lose credibility with voters around the country."

Essentially, Schoen believes that the Democrats' long term strategy of turning to unions, especially the government workers unions, for funding and votes, will now, after 50 years, come back to ruin them by alienating the voters who now realize they are paying the exorbitant tab for this unholy alliance.

Schoen contends,

"A key reason for the Democrats' extraordinary defeat in the mid-terms is that the party lost critical support from independent swing voters. In large part, as polls consistently show, this is because of the party's big-government programs such as health-care reform, the bailouts, and the stimulus packages.

If the Democrats want to be competitive in 2012, they must move decisively back to the center. And unless they're able to break the stranglehold that government-employee unions have on the party on policy, as well as in financial and political support, it will be virtually impossible for Democrats to restore fiscal health to states like New York and California."

Thus, the long run effect of the Democratic party's bedding down with the public sector employee unions it allowed has been to alienate the key swing voters who now realize they are paying for the expensive, unaffordable result.

It's a very insightful, concise argument that makes a lot of sense. Personally, I don't see the Democrats being capable of severing that link, so it's a decent bet that if the GOP can just maintain a focus on spending cuts and entitlement reforms, at all governmental levels, they may enjoy a decade-long run of electoral dominance in America.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Judge Vinson Rules: ObamaCare UnConstitutional!

It's official! US Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson has ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional.

According to various sources I've read and heard, his is the most authoritative ruling on the case. Some detractors are claiming it's really just still '2-2,' with two other judges refusing to hear the case, and the Virginia judge also ruling against the law, but less expansively.

Vinson's ruling is clearly a product of his awareness of context and deep reasoning. It runs 78 pages and makes references to the government's own language in their defense, as well as Madison's Federalist Papers No. 51, his Constitutional Convention notes, and John Marshall's rulings.

Essentially, Vinson finds that choosing not to buy health insurance is a non-activity and, thus, can't be regulated by Congress under the Commerce Clause. Then he finds that the government's other argument, the Necessary and Proper Clause, a/k/a the Elastic Clause, also falls short.

Because the Democrats who wrote this law didn't see fit to include any sort of severability language, Vinson appropriately struck down the entire law, in deference to and accordance with the government's analogy to "a finely crafted watch." Allowing for the urge to be sick when comparing ObamaCare to a finely crafted watch, Vinson showed remarkable restraint in refusing to attempt to legislate from the bench, and simply tossing the whole mess out.

The pundits are all over this one as to whether the parties will agree to expedite its appeal directly to the Supreme Court, or not. And whether Elena Kagan will behave responsibly and recuse herself, though nobody can force her to do so. If not, it's obvious to everyone this will go down as a 5-4 decision, turning on which way the unpredictable Justice Kennedy will blow.

Regardless, it certainly has given new life to the various states which are refusing to plan for the law, and Mitch McConnell's efforts to get a floor vote on repeal in the Senate.

I forget which Congressman it was, a Democrat, who said that, basically, Congress may pass anything it wishes. Perhaps it's the nature of a chamber designed to be the repository of hot-tempered, less-educated and -sensible elected Representatives that one of its number would make such a callous, egregious statement. Perhaps that's why having a branch of career jurists is, when well-functioning, so necessary.

For once, it seems that the Judicial branch of our federal government may actually do its job and prevent Congress from a final, lethal trampling of the Constitution.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Newt Gingrich's Glaring Weakness

The Wall Street Journal's lead staff editorial yesterday criticizing Newt Gingrich's stance on ethanol was entitled Professor Cornpone. It's priceless. And, if true, completely reverses my earlier preferences for Gingrich as the GOP presidential candidate in 2012.

Apparently Gingrich lashed out at the Journal, indirectly, in a speech to the Renewable Fuels Association in Des Moines, Iowa. The editorial contends, early on,

"Mr. Gingrich explained that "the big-city attacks" on ethanol subsidies are really attempts to deny prosperity to rural America, adding that "Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill it because it's working, and you wonder, 'What are their values?'"

Mr. Gingrich traced the roots of these supposed antipathies to the 1880s, an observation that he repeatedly tendered "as an historian." The Ph.D. and star pupil of futurist Alvin Toffler then singled out the Journal's long-held anti-ethanol views as "just plain flat intellectually wrong." "

I confess to not having known of the Toffler-Gingrich connection. But it doesn't matter. Gingrich is displaying an unfortunate politically-convenient streak in his remarks.

The piece continues,

"Here's how he put in Des Moines, with that special Gingrich nuance: "The morning that I see the folks who are worried about 'food versus fuel' worry about the cost of diesel fuel, worry about the cost of commodities on the world market, worry about the inflation the Federal Reserve is building into our system, all of which is going to show up as higher prices, worry about the inefficiencies of big corporations that manufacture and process food products—the morning they do that, I'll take them seriously."

The morning Mr. Gingrich read the offending editorial, if he did, he must have overlooked the part about precisely those concerns. He must have also missed our editorial last month raising the possibility that easy money was contributing to another asset bubble in the Farm Belt, especially in land prices. For that matter, he must have missed the dozens of pieces we've run in recent years critiquing Fed monetary policy.

Given that Mr. Gingrich aspires to be President, his ethanol lobbying raises larger questions about his convictions and judgment. The Georgian has been campaigning in the tea party age as a fierce critic of spending and government, but his record on that score is, well, mixed.

So along comes Mr. Gingrich to offer his support for Mr. Obama's brand of green-energy welfare, undermining House Republicans in the process. In his Iowa speak-power-to-truth lecture, he even suggested that the government should mandate that all new cars in the U.S. be flex-fuel vehicles—meaning those that can run on an ethanol-gas mix as high as 85%—as if King Corn were in any danger of being deposed.

Yet there are currently dozens of flex-fuel models on the market, and auto makers already get a benefit if they sell them, via the prior fuel-economy mandates that did so much to devastate Detroit. The problem is consumers rarely want to pay more for flex-fuel cars when they get 25% to 30% fewer miles per gallon with E85, according to Energy Department data.

Some pandering is inevitable in presidential politics, but, befitting a college professor, Mr. Gingrich insists on portraying his low vote-buying as high "intellectual" policy. This doesn't bode well for his judgment as a president. Even Al Gore now admits that the only reason he supported ethanol in 2000 was to goose his presidential prospects, and the only difference now between Al and Newt is that Al admits he was wrong."

Ouch! Being compared poorly to Al Gore should make Newt cringe.

Seriously, this piece has completely changed my view of the former Speaker of the House. His explanations concerning ethanol, which now soaks up immense amounts of corn that would have other uses, including food, are unbelievable. We don't need bogus uses for corn sending its price even higher when food inflation is on a tear.

I can't see Tea Partiers embracing a guy who calls for mandatory flex-fuel for all new US-made cars.

You can't make this stuff up. Could it really be that Gingrich's putative White House bid will founder on such a base slip-up as pandering to Iowa corn farmers by boosting ethanol subsidies?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Keith Olbermann's Departure

Bret Stephens wrote a refreshing editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week commenting on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's imminent departure. Like me, Stephens expressed support for explicit political purity in media.

Stephens wrote of Olbermann,

"He put MSNBC on the map. He pushed CNN into third place. He earned his $30 million contract.

Nor was Mr. Olbermann only good for capitalism. For a long time, the dominant mode of liberal argument was to ironize, or tut-tut, or dissemble, or manipulate the terms of discourse, or stack the deck in debates that are supposed to be balanced. The "Countdown" host did away with the old-fashioned liberal snigger and replaced it with a full-frontal snarl.

Put simply, Mr. Olbermann had a genuine faith in populism, something liberals more often preach than practice."

Contrary to the incumbent mentality which, at the FCC, now seeks to mandate balance within either networks or programs- I'm not sure which- I agree with Stephens in preferring that programs simply espouse what they wish, and let consumers choose.

I don't personally find Olbermann's views sensible nor attractive. Nor am I fond of his manner, what little I've seen of it. But I do think it's best to let him have whatever pulpit the market will offer, on mutually-agreeable terms.

He'll probably land somewhere with his trademark narrow-minded, wrong-headed liberalism. But, so be it. Better he gives an unvarnished view of ultra-liberal zaniness and insensibility than that he be muzzled or governmentally 'balanced.'