Monday, January 27, 2014

The Unitary Executive becomes a singularity

The Unitary Executive becomes a singularity
John Hayward 1-27-2014

Nothing about President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address is a surprise. Of course he’s going to push the phony issue of “income inequality” as a massive distraction from the failures of ObamaCare, his domestic economic policies, his foreign policy, and all the rest of it. Of course he’s going to double down on the use of dictatorial powers to neutralize Congress and upset the Constitutional balance of power. If the day ever comes that a president uses this political ritual to say “I screwed up, I’m sorry I was wrong, and I apologize for savagely attacking the people who were right all along,” it will not be Barack Obama.

The status of the Union will never be downgraded from “strong” in the first paragraph of one of these speeches, no matter how badly the country is doing.  The subsequent paragraphs – about a thousand of them, if previous Obama speeches serve as any guide – will always be devoted to explaining “the challenges that remain,” and why the guy with low approval ratings parked behind the podium should be given even more power and money to address them.

This is not unique to Obama’s agenda or political style. No chief executive can afford to shut the coffin lid on the first year of his second term by declaring himself chastised and penitent.  Lame ducks do not waddle around Washington inviting everyone to sign the cast that will cover their broken legs for the next three years.  The president is also the titular head of his party. The party needs to be motivated and energized, at least for a couple of days.  Liberal presidents have a very easy formula for doing that: announce a hugely expensive agenda packed with wish-list goodies, talk about the cruelty and greed of everyone who opposes it, and let the editorial-page battles begin.  If nothing else, Obama will be able to count on plenty of ink from even his more disenchanted media supporters about his boundless compassion and good intentions. That counts for a lot, when you’re trying to trick three hundred million people into forgetting that you grabbed a trillion dollars of their money and used it to destroy health care.

It’s also easy to rack up a few political points by running against a perpetually unpopular Congress.  The big political lesson to be drawn from Shutdown Theater is that the public may not like or trust Big Government – the horrendously incompetent launch of ObamaCare has driven public faith in the State and our political system to remarkable lows – but they grow very angry when they think the political machinery they distrust has seized up entirely.  For all of this new skepticism, the public still expects government to function. Obama will attempt to reformulate this desire into support for an activist agenda.  If people want government to function, that means they want it to Do Something.  The President will present a long list of things he wants to do, while equating resistance to his agenda with that hellish shutdown-happy gridlock.

What makes this State of the Union address so disturbing, as its outlines emerge, is Obama’s plan to turn his already unitary office into a singularity. According to the Washington Post, his team thinks he hasn’t been arrogant or dictatorial enough:

Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer outlined the lessons learned in a three-page memo that Obama discussed with his Cabinet in recent weeks, according to several administration officials who have read the document.

Among its conclusions is that Obama, a former state legislator and U.S. senator, too often governed more like a prime minister than a president. In a parliamentary system, a prime minister is elected by lawmakers and thus beholden to them in ways a president is not.

As a result, Washington veterans have been brought into the West Wing to emphasize an executive style of governing that aims to sidestep Congress more often. A central ambition of Obama’s presidency — to change the way Washington works — has effectively been discarded as a distraction in a time of hardening partisanship.

Even Democrats on Capitol Hill have quietly grumbled that Obama doesn’t work with them closely enough. Obviously, Republicans are even less happy with the “unitary executive” approach, which is something liberals spent many years loudly complaining about, until abruptly and universally falling silent in 2009 for some reason.

The American president may not be “beholden” to lawmakers, but he still isn’t one. There is a separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislature, which Obama has worked for years to erase, with a frightening degree of success – abetted by congressional Democrats who made a political calculation to surrender the powers of Congress to their Party leader, confident in the knowledge they can almost instantly take them back if they find themselves opposing a Republican president in 2017. You won’t believe how obsessed the media becomes with the prerogatives of Congress, the separation of powers, and the correct procedure for amending laws, ten minutes after a Republican president is sworn in. If Democrats don’t hold both houses of Congress on that day, you’ll also suddenly hear a great deal about respect for the minority, and the filibuster will one again become the bright blazing torch held aloft in Lady Liberty’s steady hand, instead of a dusty old relic of political arcana that serves only as a foolish obstacle to Progress.

Obama’s model of the unitary executive – imposing his rule by executive order, modifying legislation as he sees fit, turning Congress into a rubber-stamp legislature and reducing the opposition party to a debating society with an exceptionally strict dress code – is an offense against the people of the United States, not just elected representatives in Washington. It represents the wholesale transfer of power into the hands of someone you’ll never get to vote against, someone who cannot be punished or restrained with anything short of an impeachment Armageddon.

The old chestnut holds that Congress is always unpopular, but every state and district basically supports its own representatives; the other 49 states, and the knuckleheads they vote for, are the problem.  The reality behind that amusing dichotomy is that members of Congress are more accountable to voters.  They go through tough legislative battles that leave scars upon their popularity.  The messy legislative procedures that drag congressional approval down are also a mechanism that protects our liberties, That mechanism looks a bit rusty and unappealing these days, but you’ll hate what happens when it stops working altogether.

One of the intractable problems with our centralized government is its arrogance. Everything from its misbegotten programs to their bumbling execution can be traced to the arrogant conviction that Washington knows best, and the main reason its plans have not secured Utopia is the stubborn intransigence of dissenters. Appearing on CBS’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Bob Schieffer that Obama should use the SOTU to deliver the kind of humble apology he knows we’ll never get:

And, you know, for the State of the Union, one of the things President Obama really oughta do is look in the TV camera and say to the over five million Americans all across this country who’ve had their health insurance canceled because of ObamaCare, to look in the camera and say, “I’m sorry.  I told you if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.

“I told you if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  And that wasn’t true.  I’m sorry.”  But then, Bob, here’s the real kicker. If you’re really sorry, you don’t just say you’re sorry.  You actually do something to fix the problem. The pattern we’ve seen over and over again with this president is he says he’s sorry and he expresses outrage but then he doesn’t fix the problem. He keeps doing it over and over again.

Do you think any corporate CEO enjoys admitting he made a hideous mistake that alienated consumers and cost his company a bundle? Of course not. They do it because they have to.  They discontinue failed programs, sack their architects, and grovel before customers because their survival depends on it.  Obama’s survival does not. He’ll get more mileage out of firing up his supporters and de-legitimizing his critics.  He sits at the head of a gigantic system that believes it can never run out of money, will never be prosecuted for fraud, and cannot lose its “customers” to competitors.

Obama, and those of like mind, are driven by the evangelical conviction that his system’s only flaw is that it’s not big enough. There is still too much room for what he thinks of as intransigence, but others call liberty. You are still allowed to make too many mistakes. Even within the realm of State control, you’re still allowed to cast too many unwise votes; your representatives have too much to say about the course our unitary executive charts for the nation. It’s so much more efficient to have one person calling all the shots, don’t you think? Then we’d have no “gridlock” at all.

To read another article by John Hayward, click here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Teaching to the Ten

Teaching to the Ten             
 1/15/2014 12:01:00 AM - Mike Adams

Dear CRM 381 Students:  Welcome back! I just wanted to write and let you know that the syllabus is up and running on the departmental web page. I have been instructed to direct you to the link rather than distribute individual copies. The university needs to save money on paper so the LGBTQIA Office can continue to offer orgasm awareness seminars and so the Women's Resource Center can continue to promote abortion. Remember kids, the more trees we save, the more babies we can kill!

 In addition to going over the syllabus on day one, I plan to introduce each one of you to my somewhat informal teaching philosophy. Actually, this will be the first time I ever make a statement of teaching philosophy, despite the fact that it is my twenty-first year to teach here at UNC-Wilmington. In a nutshell, that philosophy can be summarized in the phrase "twenty-seventy-ten." I'll explain it briefly, although I do plan to elaborate in class on Monday.

  Despite what Karl Marx says, there really are not just two kinds of people in this world. That's an oversimplification, although there are two types of communists - a) the ones who live off their more productive comrades and b) the dead ones. But when it comes to students, there are at least three distinct groups. They follow in order from the least pleasant to the most pleasant among you.

1. The Tweeny Twenty.

 2. The Sagacious Seventy.

3. The Tenacious Ten.

The first group, the Tweeny Twenty, derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are woefully immature, to almost preadolescent proportions. Fortunately, they are only a minority - about twenty percent of the student population.

  The Tweeny Twenty somehow managed to get out of high school without having even a vague sense of what they want to accomplish in life. But they are able to go to college for a few years to explore their options because a) anyone can get into college these days, and b) anyone can get a government-backed loan to help pay for college these days. And so they go. What else is there to do?

  Having no clue what they are doing in college, they behave as clueless individuals do. They come and go from class as they please - arriving late and leaving early. They dress inappropriately as if they are coming from a bar or are heading to the beach. In short, they come to college for social reasons. To party. To meet a spouse. Or maybe to meet a "connection" or someone who will "hook them up" with a job upon graduation.

  I will do everything within my ability to drive these people out of the classroom before the drop date. That is my sincere promise to the other eighty percent of you.

  The second group, the Sagacious Seventy, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are shrewder and more goal-oriented than the Tweeny Twenty. Fortunately - I only say "fortunately" because they are fairly well behaved and manageable - they are about seventy percent of the student population.

  Having some clue of what they are doing in college, they behave as rational individuals. They come to class pretty regularly and go through the motions in order to get their course credit. They have calculated that having a degree is better than not having a degree and that the amount they pay in student loans will be exceeded by the salary increase that accompanies having a college degree. Of course, many of these students have miscalculated and will never pay off their loans but that is another issue to be explored at a later date.

  In short, these students come to college to get credentialed. They know that employers want to see an applicant’s degree because that means they had the stick-to-it-ness to set a goal and follow through. They also know that it doesn't require much work to get their expensive degree so they divert study time toward work time. They take a part time job in order to keep their student loans down even if this means turning in sub-par work. They know their professors have come to expect sub-par work. Like most of our students, they are intelligent and keenly self-interested. They do the cost-benefit analysis and make a reasonable decision in a difficult situation that is becoming more difficult as college becomes more expensive.

  I will do everything within my ability to threaten these people into doing work that is only slightly sub-par, instead of clearly deficient. I know they are used to being given good grades for work that is clearly deficient. But I also know that they cannot risk failing my class. So I will threaten them and hopefully (through fear) motivate them to soar towards mediocrity in their academic work output. It's really the best I can hope for in an age of hyper-inflated hire (misspelling intentional) education.

The last group, the Tenacious Ten, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are highly determined and persistent and cannot easily be distracted from their goals. Unfortunately, they are only about ten percent of the student population.

 The Tenacious Ten may well have good genes. I don't know for sure. But I do know that they usually had good parents who taught them good life lessons. Also, more than likely, they had good counselors in their schools or in the churches. And so they are focused and ready from day one.

 In short, the Tenacious Ten are here because they desire specific knowledge that will help them attain a specific goal. As a result, they have an intrinsic appreciation of the material I plan to teach throughout the semester. So there is no need to threaten or cajole or manipulate them into performing at expected levels. They just do it because they come to college having already gotten into the habit of doing it on their own.

This message is just my way of reminding you that when I talk about “our” class I am not talking about all thirty of you. I am talking to about three of you - those who constitute the Tenacious Ten percent. You are the only reason I am still teaching. I look forward to finding out who you are. I don't suspect it will take very long to identify you.

I hope this message finds you well. If you are in the Tweeny Twenty, I hope it scares the hell out of you – so much so that you drop the course. Otherwise, I will see you in class on Monday.

To read another article by Mike Adams, click here.

Excerpt from My 'Thoughts For The Day' Post

Excerpt from My 'Thoughts For The Day' Post

The whole post can be viewed here.

1-18-2014 – Allow me to attempt to give you a little insight about why I hate it when people try to ram something down my throat. This is about Greg, whom I worked with in 1988 back when I worked for our local Parks Department. My job back then was a seasonal job, where I opened and closed and took care of the parks in the Cedar Hills area of our town. I didn’t do this job by myself; I usually had one or two people who helped me. I was unofficially their boss, but we would work as a team of equals and just do what needed to be done each day. Around this time I had been out of the regular U.S. Army for a few years, and I was in the local National Guard Unit part time (one weekend a month). This summer of 1988 I worked with Greg, who was several years younger than I was. Greg went to high school at Regis, which was a local Catholic high school from which I knew many people – so as a result we each knew many of the same people. I always got along good with Greg; he was a pleasant person who was interesting to talk with. He was also a good worker, which helped a lot. 

The reason I mention Greg is that he was gay, but he wasn’t ‘in your face’ about it. It was obvious mostly from his mannerisms, he was more feminine-like than masculine. I had worked with people who were openly gay before, and although I don’t understand their inclination, their gayness was never an issue with me. We didn’t talk a lot about his being gay, it was just understood, and he was comfortable with talking about it. I don’t think he lived a gay lifestyle openly, in other words I don’t think he lived with a boyfriend (at that time). Greg also had a sister who was gay, and he told me that his sister and he agreed that they weren’t born gay – it was more like a preference for them that was directly at odds with their Catholic religion. I told Greg that I knew several people (mostly in the service), who considered themselves to have switched from being straight to being gay, and vice versa. He believed me, and definitely believed that was possible. I often wonder if he still believes this to be true, because nowadays we are told that gays were born that way, and when we disagree, we are called a ‘homophobe’ or ‘bigot’ or ‘hater.’ In other words, most gays want it to be understood by everybody that it is normal behavior and they are just being who they are – they can’t help or change who they are. I know they are wrong. I have seen for myself that ‘gayness’ is not an identity, but a behavior that you choose. You may (or may not) be predisposed to this behavior, but a behavior it is. We can choose our behavior as humans. We can choose to be good or evil, or somewhere in-between. We can choose to be a murderer, or a thief, or we can choose to be a Christian who believes Jesus Christ is our savoir, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind.   

Unfortunately many gays have become militant and try to tell the rest of us what we must believe, and because their views of who they are conflict with the Bible’s teachings, they want to destroy the Bible and Christians, or convince people to marginalize the Bible’s teachings. This is just another way of saying they are trying to destroy their souls.  This is a conflict that is happening now, and it’s getting mean. Democrats are on the side of the Gay Agenda, and have become anti-Christian (not all gays and Democrats, but a significant number of them). Many other Democrats are duped by the mainstream media’s narrative, which is aligned with the Gay Agenda. This is part of what is to happen, and is happening in the end times. So directly gay = evil, and Democrat = evil because they are trying to drag you away from God (and in many cases – have succeeded). That is my belief, and much evidence backs me up. 

It would be interesting to see how this has all affected Greg and others like him over time. I heard that his sister has passed away from AIDS. Most Democrats (and/or gays) would read this post and think I’m a bigot or homophobe, but that would just show me they don’t understand the meanings of these words. I’m making my judgments based on my life experiences. Here is a funny coincidence about Greg. His father was the head football coach at his high school, and had a reputation for being tough. Greg grew up being neighbors with my future wife Cheryl. One day Cheryl changed a flat tire on Greg’s car (because apparently he didn’t think he could do it), and Greg’s father came outside and saw this happening. He berated Greg mentally and physically for having a female change his flat tire for him. So Cheryl knew Greg as well.

To read the Gay Rights thread, click here.

Obama Administration Mandates Racism in Schools

Obama Administration Mandates Racism in Schools                

1/17/2014 12:01:00 AM - Mona Charen

The Departments of Education and Justice have teamed up to make the lives of students in tough neighborhoods even tougher. Framed as a measure to combat discrimination against black and Hispanic children, the guidelines issued by the Obama administration about school discipline will actually encourage racial discrimination, undermine the learning environments of classrooms and contribute to an unjust race-consciousness in meting out discipline.

Claiming that African-American and Hispanic students are more harshly disciplined than whites for the same infractions, the Obama administration now advises that any disciplinary rule that results in a "disparate impact" on these groups will be challenged by the government.

"Disparate impact" analysis, as we've seen in employment law, does not require any intentional discrimination. It means, for example, that if an employer asks job seekers to take a test, and a larger percentage of one ethnic group fails the test than another, that the test is de facto discriminatory because it has a "disparate impact."

In the school context, the federal government is now arguing that if a disciplinary rule results in more black, Hispanic or special education kids being suspended or otherwise sanctioned, the rule must be suspect. The "Dear Colleague" letter explains that a disciplinary policy can be unlawful discrimination, even if the rule is "neutral on its face ... and is administered in an evenhanded manner," if it has a "disparate impact" on certain ethnic and other groups.

The inclusion of special education students is particularly perverse, as special ed students frequently get that designation because their emotional disturbances cause them to misbehave in various ways. So if a rule against, say, knocking over desks, is found to be violated more frequently by special ed than regular ed students, then the rule must be questioned? That's circular.

As the CATO Institute's Walter Olson notes, the federal guidelines pass over one example of disparate impact with no comment -- namely the dramatically more males than females who face disciplinary action nationwide. If we are to judge a rule's lawfulness by the disparate impact on males, no rule would survive the inquiry. Is it possible that more boys misbehave in the classroom than girls? To ask this question is to venture into an area the federal government would have us avoid. Actual infractions by individuals are not the issue. We must have group justice, not individual justice.

We've actually been down this road many times before. Various state and federal agencies have raised concerns about the large numbers of black and Hispanic students facing disciplinary action. Such concerns helped to generate the rigid "zero tolerance" policies the administration now condemns. Zero tolerance is a brainless approach to a subject that requires considerable finesse and deliberation, but the disparate impact rule is even more pernicious.

Under the new dispensation, teachers, principals and other officials will have to pause before they discipline, say, the fourth black student in a month. "How will this look to the feds?" they'll ask themselves. Will the student's family be able to sue us? A variety of solutions to the federally created problem will present themselves. School officials can search out offenses by white and Asian students to make the numbers come out right. Asian students are disciplined at rates far below any other ethnic group. Is this due to pro-Asian bias in our schools, or is it because Asians commit many fewer infractions? Oops, there we go into territory forbidden by the federal guidelines.

Another solution will be to ignore misbehavior by blacks and Hispanics. For classes with large numbers of minority students, this guarantees that the learning environment for the kids who actually want to learn will be impaired as teachers -- reluctant to remove troublesome students -- expend precious time on kids who are rude, threatening, loud or otherwise disruptive. Every minute of the school day taken up by bad kids is taken away from good kids. It's a true zero-sum game.

So the Obama administration's pursuit of group justice actually leads to injustice to individual students. Whites and Asians will be disciplined more than they merit it by their conduct, and fewer students of all groups will get the kind of classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Even the students who get a pass on their bad conduct are disserved, as they will not have learned that disrespectful language, tardiness and even violence are unacceptable in society.

Everyone loses. Obama strikes again.

To read more about racism, click here.

What Happened When North Carolina Slashed Unemployment Benefits? People Got Jobs…Weird

What Happened When North Carolina Slashed Unemployment Benefits? People Got Jobs…Weird                
1/17/2014 12:01:00 AM - Charlotte Hays
A recent report on Market Watch—hardly a right-wing hangout—should be required reading for every Democrat who believes that extending “temporary” unemployment benefits is always the humane thing to do.

An experiment in North Carolina indicates that—as is all too often the case—Democrats actually may be hurting the very people they claim to be helping in their quest, temporarily halted, to extend unemployment benefits.

North Carolina, it seems, pressed for money and under the cruel sway of a Republican governor, resorted to drastic measures: slashing unemployment benefits and, as if that wasn’t draconian enough, cutting the number of weeks the unemployed could receive even these meager benefits.

“Within several months, the unemployment rate fell a few ticks and by November it fell to a five-year low,” Market Watch reported. The jobless rates declined similarly, if less spectacularly, in Georgia and South Carolina, where benefits were also reduced in 2012.

Market Watch was cautious not to conclude that the news from North Carolina is a vindication of critics of extending unemployment benefits. It noted that several states that did not cut benefits had also shown a decline in joblessness.

Nevertheless the North Carolina experience deserves a look. What happened in North Carolina is even more relevant because the state was particularly hard hit during the Great Recession. In dire straits, North Carolina availed itself of federal loans to help pay for unemployment benefits, which lasted 26 weeks.

When North Carolina ended up seriously in hock to the feds, Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who took office in 2013, faced a choice: raise taxes, a course of action McCrory maintained would harm businesses (which, after all, create jobs) or cut unemployment benefits. The brave governor cut benefits.

The maximum weekly benefit was cut from the previous high of $535 to $350, a not insignificant reduction. The time people could collect benefits was cut from 26 weeks to only 12 or 20. But that was not the end of the cruelty.

McCrory’s cuts imposed a further hardship on the unemployed: unemployed North Carolinians became ineligible for certain cash payments offered by the federal government, which requires states to pay a certain level of benefits to qualify for these payments. About 70,000 North Carolinians lost out on these payments.

If the congressional Democrats (and a few wayward Republicans!) who supported extending the benefits were right, McCrory’s cuts should have ushered in a humanitarian crisis that made the Armageddon that ensued from the sequester mild. Oh, wait…
Market Watch’s Jeffrey Bartash wrote:
North Carolina’s jobless rate rose a notch to 8.9% in July and then began a steady descent: 8.7% in August, 8.3% in September, 8.0% in October and a preliminary 7.4% in November, according to U.S. Labor Department figures.

That’s the lowest rate since late 2008, though monthly numbers are prone to sharp revisions.
This data doesn’t tell us what happened to everybody who is no longer classified as unemployed.
Market Watch speculated that some may have retired, ended up on welfare, or moved in with family. In other words, some of them may have gotten out of the work force, as many former workers across the nation have done, thus helping bring down the still dangerously high national employment rate.
Still, while there may have been people who didn’t get jobs, it is undeniable that North Carolina's unemployment rate declined. It is unarguable that more people were working than before the cuts, thus reducing the pool of human suffering.

The North Carolina success story should have been a rallying cry for Republicans when extending the benefits was debated on Capitol Hill.

It is unfortunate that some chose instead to focus on how to “pay for” extending the benefits, as if extending these benefits is inherently good, if only you can find a way to afford them.

They should instead have been willing to talk about the morality and utility of long-term unemployment benefits. As it happens, this is something about which I know a thing or two.
In the 1990s, living in New York and tossed by a publisher who didn’t like my column (talk about cruel!), I found myself receiving unemployment insurance benefits. I have to confess that they offered me peace of mind, especially at first, when life was raw.

I’ve written before about my experience with unemployment benefits. I should have headlined my saga “How I Lost My Benefits but Found a Job.”

Yes, ladies and gentleman, this rock-rib right winger, advocate of pluck and grit and elbow grease had been dawdling in her job search. I didn’t really realize I was lackadaisical, though in retrospect I know that some of my ideas for employment were fantastical. I won’t tell you which intellectual journal I tried to sell on the idea of my doing a gossip column for them!

But then the benefits were about to expire and the wolf is at the door: Mr. Wolf makes you lose your pickiness and take any job you can get. For me, it was a job I didn't really want but which turned out to be a long-term, life blessing. I am so glad I took it, but I might have spurned the offer if the benefits hadn’t stopped.

I hope that the next time unemployment benefits come up in Washington—and believe me, the issue will come up again—the Republicans will remember North Carolina and make an argument that is both moral and utilitarian. We shouldn’t be trying to “pay for” a “benefit” that keeps people on the dole.

To read more about unemployment, click here.

Snapshot Comics

Snapshot Comics.

The following comics were discovered and posted here as a representation of what's currently going on in this new year.

click on picture to enlarge...




To read more comics. click here.