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Sep 29, 2015

The Difference Between Free Speech and Buying Votes

There’s a big difference between buying ads to explain your political positions and buying elections.  To help you understand this, let me explain how elections are actually bought. It's by literally bribing voters to vote for you.

I'll start with this historical example. Originally, Senators were chosen by state legislators. In 1899, William A. Clark, a millionaire "Copper King," bribed the Montana state legislature to elect him as US Senator. That's buying an election. It's also a big part of why voters, rather than legislatures, select Senators.

The traditional Chicago election includes a lot of "walking around money," which is used to bribe voters directly or to bribe people who have a lot of influence on voters. The classical direct vote buying method was chain voting. The man with the money hands the voter a marked ballot. The voter goes into the polling place, gets an unmarked ballot and puts the marked ballot in the voting box. Outside the polling place the voter hands the man with the money an unmarked ballot and gets paid.


What Sheldon Adelson does is the same thing George Soros, Tom Steyer or the AFLCIO does. They buy political ads, pay for political pamphlets and pay staffers to make phone calls and walk door to door to get out the vote. All of this is free speech, whether you agree with the message or not. If you don't like it, back the Democrat's attempt to amend the Bill of Rights.

Why The Republican Base is Angry

On the Republican side, the anger is about the leadership's failure to even state a case. Harry Reid filibusters everything in sight, but Republican leaders are not on every talk show complaining about the Democrats' Senate obstructionism. The House passes 5 out of 12 appropriation bills. The Senate passed 0, again due to Democrats' obstructionism. Republican leaders sound like crickets on this subject. Why do we have to pass one big continuing resolution year after year? Because the Democrats refuse to pass any smaller bills funding pieces of the government. Why do the Democrats want to pass one big bill? Because then they can hold the whole government hostage to get every little thing they want. During the last government shutdown, Republicans in the House passed several funding bills for pieces of the government. All of them got filibustered. Because the Democrats want to shut down whatever will inconvenience voters the most, especially Republican voters.

The Pravda Press will never say anything about the Democrats' tactics. The "mainstream" reporters are all Democrats. That's how they get to be "mainstream" reporters. No out of the closet Republicans are allowed. Without Republican leaders who will get in front of TV cameras and explain over and over and over why we end up with one big bill every year, nothing is going to change.

Democratic budget tactics are relatively subtle. I don't see how Republican leadership expects the facts to get out unless they explain repeatedly what's going on. Much more obvious things are hushed up. Press coverage is so biased in not covering events which would contradict the liberal narrative that about 9 out of 10 people don't realize that South Carolina elected a black tea party Republican Senator in 2014, the first black US Senator ever elected from South Carolina, where the electorate is over 65% white. And 99 out of 100 don't know that former doctor Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder for killing 3 babies in his abortion mill and manslaughter for killing one of his patients. All the facts that fit the narrative is the new motto of the Pravda Press.

Republican Leadership has to realize that they need to get out more to counter the narrative the Pravda Press spreads for the Democrats. It doesn't matter whether it's fair or not. It's reality. If we don't start talking, we will keep getting rolled at the end of the fiscal year by Democrats who take the whole federal government hostage. 

Sep 23, 2015

Approval of Terrorism Makes Muslim Refugees Less Sympathetic

There were some complaints last week that Muslims would try to turn countries that gave them refuge into replicas of the countries they fled.  Voting to repeat the same policies that wrecked the place you left is not a uniquely Muslim characteristic. Liberal California "expats" continue to vote liberal Democrat in places like Texas even though they had to leave California to escape the results of liberal policies they are still voting for.
The uniquely Muslim problem is that a large minority of Muslims seems to approve of men, women and children blowing themselves up as long as they can take a few infidels with them. The Muslim culture as a whole does not seem to strongly condemn these acts. This is a dynamite combination of facts that result in innocent Muslim high school students being arrested for bringing home made clocks to class. While the incident sounds stupid, the conditions behind it are deadly serious. The Muslim community has to have the moral and physical courage to denounce religiously motivated terrorism. If they are reluctant to do this, how can they expect any country, even any Muslim country, to resettle Muslim refugees on their territory. The physical risks to any host country may be low, but the political risks are quite high. How can any politician argue that we should help these people when doing so means we are importing potential terrorists, even if the fraction of potential terrorists is only 1%. The Boston Marathon bombers were Muslims who sought and received political asylum. In addition, the public sees news videos of Muslim street celebrations of terrorist attacks, and news stories of stipends paid to the relatives of dead Muslim terrorists. Does anyone think this is good public relations when it comes to allowing the immigration of Muslim refugees? The public is asking why should we take the chance? Charges of racism are wearing out from over use. The suspicions of Muslim refugees are well founded and based on the Muslim community's reluctance to openly and loudly condemn the religious violence that travels with them. If Muslims want quick acceptance as refugees, Muslims have to denounce religious violence in their communities.

Reacting to this article:
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/424121/european-refugee-migrants-immigration

Sep 21, 2015

Putin's Middle East Goals are More Economic Than Political

Putin’s goal in the Middle East is to raise the price of oil.  If war and chaos stop or even just reduce Middle East oil exports, the value of Russian oil production goes up.  Putin profits from chaos, so that's why he's selling weapons to the Iranians and putting troops in Syria.  If the Persian Gulf is closed to shipping due to war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it's good for Putin's business. 

Putin's Russia has only one big money world class export sector, energy. Many of their major competitors in the world energy market are based in the Middle East. Putin hopes war and chaos in the Middle East will result in less oil and natural gas production in the region, which would drive up the price of oil. Putin probably needs an oil price of at least $100 per barrel to keep his regime out of bankruptcy. Today, the price of oil is about $46 per barrel. All of the prestige arguments are nice extras for Putin. But Putin's rise to power came after Russia's financial crisis in 1998 when the price of oil collapsed, Russian inflation topped 80% and Russia defaulted on its debts. The aftermath of the 1998 crisis forced Boris Yeltsin to leave power and Yeltsin choose Putin as his successor. Putin knows he can't survive another Russian financial meltdown. He needs a much higher price for oil and natural gas. So Putin is stirring the pot in hopes that he can foment a major war or at least continued chaos which reduces or completely shuts down oil exports from the Middle East. 

The fact that Putin is openly putting Russian troops on the ground in the Middle East says bad things about President Obama.  In 1973, when the Soviet Union was getting ready to send 6 paratroop divisions to Egypt, President Nixon raised the DEFCON alert level of all US Armed Forces.  I was a computer programmer in the 26th Air Division Headquarters, a huge concrete blockhouse near Phoenix, Arizona, that controlled air defense for the Southwestern United States.  My war time duty was to use prevailing wind direction and speed to predict fallout radiation levels at Air Force bases downwind from nuclear ground bursts.  I got a phone call at about 9:30 PM calling me back to base.  Since we had a practice war that morning, it was not a drill.  Nixon, in effect, was threatening to get nasty if the Russians sent troops to help the Egyptians.  The Russians backed down.  I did not find out until the next morning why the DEFCON alert level had been raised.  My superiors had their orders, but were not given the reason for them.

The president we have today would never think of ordering a higher DEFCON alert level.  Barry the Brilliant has stopped the US from protecting innocent Syrian civilians from the choice of either barrel bombs and poison gas from Bashir al Assad, Iran and Russia, or holy terror, beheadings and sex slave auctions from ISIS.  However, Obama can't stop the Israelis from defending themselves against Russian aggression. 

The Russians have just entered a very tough neighborhood.  They probably have forgotten the lesson of the Israel-Syria Air War of 1982. The Russians, then as now were Syria's main arms supplier.   During a few days in June, 1982, the Israeli Air Force wiped out Syria's ground based air defense systems and shot down 82 Syrian fighter planes. Both the crews of surface to air missile sites and the fighter pilots were officially Syrian, but actually mainly Russian.  IAF losses were 0.  That's right, no Israeli aircraft were lost.  Although times and technologies have changed, the motivation of the IAF has not diminished.  They know that they either win or their families will be slaughtered. 

Putin probably has no intention of trying to win in Syria.  Realistically, I think a Russian win in Syria is beyond Putin’s reach.  Israel will not permit a Russian base which provides unlimited military supplies to their enemies in Lebanon and Syria to exist, and they have the means to destroy it militarily.  Putin just wants to extend the chaos in the Middle East for as long as possible.  If he gets a permanent naval port and airbase out of it, so much the better.  But chaos itself is good for Russian business and thus good enough for Putin.



Sep 20, 2015

An Explanation for Trump Coverage

Brace yourself for a complete change of tune in the Trump coverage. The Pravda Press slants everything in a way they think will benefit the Democrats. Right now they want to sow as much confusion as possible in the Republican primary. At the moment Trump gets a boost because the media, rightly or wrongly, see him as less threatening or more divisive than the other candidates near the top of the polls. It’s a bonus for them that Trump draws big audiences, but the Pravda Press would cut him dead if he really looks good to win the general election, audience or no audience.  If Trump begins to flame out, lame stream media will boost whoever they think is the next most divisive or least threatening candidate.  Once the Republican nomination is settled, then whoever it is, including Trump, will suddenly become the worst thing since VD. Since the general election "debates" are going to be everybody against the Republican, it's good practice for the front runner to have an everybody against him debate. Remember moderator Candy Crowley's assist for Barack Obama in the 2012 debate when Benghazi was the topic? She interrupted Mitt Romney to tell the audience that Obama had declared the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism. In fact, that was definitely not true. So don’t get lulled into a belief the Pravda Press has suddenly seen the light.  The reality is the Pravda Press operates based on its prevailing ideology, even to the point of bankruptcy. The reason FOX News is so roundly criticized is because they don't play the bias game almost everybody else does.

Sep 13, 2015

Obama's Legacy May Be A Constitutional Convention

The US is gradually losing the rule of law, from the top to the bottom. In the courts, the Constitution expected judges to rule on what the law is, whether they liked it or not. We have come to the point where judges in important cases rule according to what they would like the law to be. This is the Humpty Dumpty school of law, where the Constitution means whatever 5 Supreme Court Justices say it means, and neither more nor less. The gay marriage ruling is a classic example of this attitude. I think the justices should have ruled that a marriage legally performed in one state had to be recognized in all states. It would have been a ruling consistent with previous rulings. Like the ruling overturning DOMA, it would have been a ruling that left the power to the states. Ruling that way would have settled the matter without leaving any loose ends for future advocates to use to expand future "rights." Instead the court stretched the 14th Amendment to cover gay marriage. This stretch was ridiculous. In 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified, homosexual acts were illegal in every state. But the effect of stretching this far is pervasive fear about how far any wacky group of 5 Supreme Court might go in some future case.

If you are comfortable with the Supreme Court acting in arbitrary fashion, think about how you would feel about a 5 to 4 vote that went the wrong way from your point of view. Given the way Roe v Wade was decided, nothing prevents a future Supreme Court from reversing the ruling totally. There's no Constitutional Amendment and no legislative process in place to backstop the ruling. Another group of justices can rule 5 to 4 that life begins at conception and all abortions are henceforth illegal, and all state laws to the contrary are overturned. I would not want this outcome. But the way Roe v Wade was decided, there is nothing to stop it from happening. I think this hypothetical is definitely possible. So do the supporters of the Roe v Wade outcome, who panic every time there's another vacancy on the Supreme Court for exactly that reason.

In the regulatory agencies, we have gradually moved to a concentration of power that was not supposed to happen under the Constitution. Regulatory agencies combine executive, legislative and judicial function all in a one stop shop. They make the rules, a legislative function. They decide where to send investigators, an executive function. And finally they hear the cases with their own administrative judges, a judicial function. They get away with all of this because the courts defer to regulatory agencies' expertise. If you sue a regulatory agency, the deck is heavily stacked against you.  Under Obama, they no longer bother to follow the law authorizing their existence and purpose.  They do whatever the president wants.

At the presidential level, the Smartest President Ever is ruling by decree using his pen and phone. He unilaterally decided not to collect taxes on employers mandated by Obamacare, which in most contexts is "settled law." He has granted visas to illegal aliens, contrary to law. If I listed all of the ways Barry the Brilliant has flouted the law, it would take me until tomorrow at 6 AM to get through all of them.

If we do elect a Republican president in 2016, it will be interesting to see the left's reaction to a Republican Executive Branch using a pen and phone approach to canceling Obama's pen and phone decrees.  I imagine pen and phone activity on the right will become a gross abuse of Constitutional process.  The rules change depending on who's in office.  Under the rule of law, everybody has to obey the same law, no matter who they are or what political alignment they have.  It’s just another indication that the rule of law is disappearing.

The Supreme Court needs a check on it. I think that if the legislatures of a majority of states vote to "ratify" a minority opinion that disagreed with the majority opinion in a Supreme Court case within 2 years of the decision, then the minority opinion should come into force as if it were the majority opinion. This has several benefits. For one thing, the Justices would be encouraged to moderate reasoning to justify decisions and prevent dissents which would attract support in the states. For another, unlike term limits or other removal from office mechanisms, this goes to the heart of the problem. It changes the offending decision itself. There are plenty of judges who would be glad to be removed from office if their decision would stay in force.

The regulatory agencies need to be reined in. The best way to do that would be to force Congress to vote to ratify all regulations before they go into effect. Since the agencies are executive branch, the President's position would be that he was proposing the regulations for Congress to ratify. Congress could refuse to ratify any part of the proposed regulations as well as rejecting the whole package. Just to put some extra teeth into it, all regulations and laws should have an expiration date of 50 years or less. This is another Constitutional Amendment with no chance in Congress or on almost any conceivable President's desk.

All regulatory administrative proceedings need to be subject to strict judicial review.  Deference to regulatory findings should be ended by statute.  Special knowledge lower courts should be established by Congress as the initial courts of appeal for each regulatory agency.  The judges in these courts would not necessarily have to be lawyers, but they would have to be knowledgeable on the area of regulation they were hearing appeals for.  Rulings in regulatory agency enforcement hearings should not take effect if appealed by the regulated party until a court ruling sustains them.  All of these changes could be enacted by Congress without any Constitutional change.

Given recent Democrats’ willingness to vote whichever way President Obama or Harry Reid tells them to, I don’t expect any amendment that changed the Washington power structure would have a chance of getting passed in Congress.  I think we are going to have to go with a Constitutional Convention called by the states.

Many, even most of you, are concerned about the risks of a Constitutional Convention.  You have to remember that the Constitution we have now means whatever 5 Supreme Justices say it means. Anything a Constitutional Convention drafts would have to be ratified by 38 states. While Congress has shown a number of times that it will vote for 1,000 pages of mumbo jumbo, I think the legislatures of 38 states are likely to have better sense.

The loss of the rule of law is, to reuse Biden's phrase, a BFD. I think we need a Constitutional Convention called by the states to fix it.  I think enough folks in Flyover country are tired of the generally lawless behavior at the federal level that we are reaching a tipping point. If no reasonable amendments can get through Congress, the states will call a Constitutional Convention under Article V. Harry Reid ain't the only politician with a nuclear option. If the Supreme Court tries to stop a Constitutional Convention, liberals will finally find out the real reason the Second Amendment is in the Bill of Rights.


Iran Agreement: They Don't Want to Talk About It

Democrats are so proud of their Iran nuclear agreement with Iran, they don’t want to talk about it.  Last week 42 Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the consideration of the Iran nuclear agreement that they voted for when they passed the Corker bill, officially the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.  The Corker bill was supposed to force a vote in the Senate and House on the merits of the Iran agreement.  It was also supposed to force disclosure of the whole agreement including all of the secret side deals.  The Corker bill failed at both of these tasks due to the total lack of good faith from Democrats, who never really wanted to subject the agreement to any discussion at all.  The reason the Democrats voted for the filibuster was to spare the president from the embarrassment of having to veto a bill disapproving the Iran Agreement.  Evidently, the terms of the agreement itself are not embarrassing, but having to veto a bill disapproving it would be.

The successful filibuster is hailed by the Pravda Press as a great success for President Obama.  I guess I’m just a redneck, but I don’t get it.  The agreement is opposed by a large majority of Americans in every poll.  The Democrats could not get a majority of either House to vote for it, let alone the 2/3 of the Senate normally required for a treaty.  The secret side deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, basically allow the Iranians to stall any inspection for 24 days and also let the Iranians inspect themselves in areas where they refused to allow foreign inspectors.  It’s likely there are more secret provisions that have not been revealed publicly.  The US achieved none of our original negotiating objectives.  We have not stopped Iran’s nuclear enrichment.  We do not have inspections anywhere anytime.  Barry the Brilliant has just agreed to pay the Mad Mullahs about $150 billion to take our surrender.  The Mad Mullahs are thrilled because their oil revenues run only about $55 billion a year.

All of this ruthless action was to provide President Obama with a legacy agreement with Iran.  The Middle East is on fire because Obama needed Iran’s approval to get his legacy agreement.  We could not leave troops in Iraq to support a nonsectarian regime, support the civilian protests in Tehran against a rigged election or get rid of Bashir Al Assad no matter how many Syrian civilians he killed with barrel bombs or poison gas.  Any of these actions would have upset the Iranian government and made the legacy nuclear agreement impossible.  This agreement was worth the deaths of several hundred thousand Syrians.  This agreement was worth allowing the rise of ISIS.  This agreement was worth trashing the Constitutional treaty ratification mechanism.  And the agreement is so bad, Democrats filibustered it in the Senate because they don’t want to talk about it.  

Given that Iran's leadership believe Allah has ordered them to wipe Israel off the map and kill us if we don't convert, would you want to talk about it?