After Action Reports

To say, for most of us, that yesterday was not a good day, is a large understatement.  I cannot describe how I felt. I listened to the usual pundits, Rush, Hannity, Levin, FOX, and never really got a good feel about Robert’s motivation. From some reports, Kennedy’s dissent had been the majority opinion until recently. some time in the last couple of weeks, Roberts changed his position.  I don’t know the validity of those reports and we probably won’t for a long time. If ever.

Roberts had a solid conservative record until this week. He upheld the 2nd Amendment and appeared to be an Originalist like Scalia, Alito and Thomas.  Kennedy frequently sided with the Originalists, too. On Monday, in the Arizona Immigration suit, he dealt a blow to state sovereignty. Yesterday, Thursday, June 28, 2012, he appeared to side with the liberals on the Court.

Or, did he?

The Independent Journal Review has a different opinion on Robert’s thinking and motives. The IJ Review believes that Roberts dealt a death-blow to several controversial issues.

  • Limited the “Commerce Claus.” He ruled that the mandate, under the Commerce Clause was unconstitutional.
  • That contrary to Obama’s claims, the penalty for failure to acquire healthcare is not a penalty but is, in fact, a tax. Obama and the libs must now defend that fact.
  • The Federal government cannot penalize states, by blocking other federal funding, who do not choose to comply.  This was the Medicaid component. Yes, the feds can block Medicaid funding but no other federal funding.

The article below is interesting. I am not a lawyer, just a curious citizen who reads a lot. The opinion in this article does bear some consideration.  And, we must remember, we can still repeal Obamacare—if we have a filibuster and VETO proof majority in the Senate.

June 28, 2012 3:59 pm

Before you look to do harm to Chief Justice Roberts or his family, it’s important that you think carefully about the meaning – the true nature — of his ruling on Obama-care. The Left will shout that they won, that Obama-care was upheld and all the rest. Let them.

It will be a short-lived celebration.

Here’s what really occurred — payback. Yes, payback for Obama’s numerous, ill-advised and childish insults directed toward SCOTUS.

Chief Justice Roberts actually ruled the mandate, relative to the commerce clause, was unconstitutional. That’s how the Democrats got Obama-care going in the first place. This is critical. His ruling means Congress can’t compel American citizens to purchase anything. Ever. The notion is now officially and forever, unconstitutional. As it should be.

Next, he stated that, because Congress doesn’t have the ability to mandate, it must, to fund Obama-care, rely on its power to tax. Therefore, the mechanism that funds Obama-care is a tax. This is also critical. Recall back during the initial Obama-care battles, the Democrats called it a penalty, Republicans called it a tax. Democrats consistently soft sold it as a penalty. It went to vote as a penalty. Obama declared endlessly, that it was not a tax, it was a penalty. But when the Democrats argued in front of the Supreme Court, they said ‘hey, a penalty or a tax, either way’. So, Roberts gave them a tax. It is now the official law of the land — beyond word-play and silly shenanigans. Obama-care is funded by tax dollars. Democrats now must defend a tax increase to justify the Obama-care law.

Finally, he struck down as unconstitutional, the Obama-care idea that the federal government can bully states into complying by yanking their existing medicaid funding. Liberals, through Obama-care, basically said to the states — ‘comply with Obama-care or we will stop existing funding.’ Roberts ruled that is a no-no. If a state takes the money, fine, the Feds can tell the state how to run a program, but if the state refuses money, the federal government can’t penalize the state by yanking other funding. Therefore, a state can decline to participate in Obama-care without penalty. This is obviously a serious problem. Are we going to have 10, 12, 25 states not participating in “national” health-care? Suddenly, it’s not national, is it?

Ultimately, Roberts supported states rights by limiting the federal government’s coercive abilities. He ruled that the government can not force the people to purchase products or services under the commerce clause and he forced liberals to have to come clean and admit that Obama-care is funded by tax increases.

The article above does have some appeal among all the doom ‘n gloom being spread by others. But it all depends if the dems will observe—and follow the law. Their record so far is poor and gives no assurance they will in the future.

If all of the positives in the above article is true, why do I feel like I’ve been raped? I can see no good coming from this.  Roberts could have nailed the Commerce Clause by ruling that the Mandate was unconstitutional under the Clause and therefore the entire law was unconstitutional.

There is one solid result of the Court’s decision. We can no longer rely on the Court for redress to our grievances.

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Waiting with baited breath

Yes, I know, the proper word in this post title should be “bated”, not “baited.”  Somehow, bait seems more appropriate.  Like Rush said yesterday, no matter what the Obamacare ruling will be, it will still be a mess.  Ditto for Holder’s Contempt of Congress vote in the House.

Personally, I don’t see how SCOTUS can decide anything other than to declare all of Obamacare Unconstitutional.  But the Law and human foibles are a factor too.  Who would have thought that Chief Justice Roberts would side with Obama and Holder on the Arizona bill? It makes you wonder if Roberts was under some coercion.

The bottom line is what we have always known. Government is not our friend—never has been, never will be. Our only means of survival is to keep government small and politically weak except for one mandate—to preserve the security of the country.

Along with the SCOTUS decision is the Holder vote. Acts by two different but equal branches of government. The democrats in the House are expected to support Holder. The Black Congressional Caucus plan to walk out during the vote.  That, too, is a meaningless gesture until they can prevent the House from achieving a quorum. I don’t think they have the numbers for that.

We are living in Interesting Times.  We’ve brought that Chinese curse upon ourselves by allowing our enemies within to gain control. It’s time to fix that situation.

Unions push to block member pay raises

This is a story that crossed my inbox today.  I doubt many of you have heard about it.  A bill was introduced by Sen. Marko Rubio (R-FL) in the US Senate to allow employers to provide incentive pay raises to union members. The idea was to provide incentive rewards for higher performance.  The SEIU and other union lobbyists were able to block this bill in a 45-54 vote.

The bill would allow employers to raise, not lower, but to reward good performance. Why would unions not want this? According to the Heritage Foundation, this was their motivation.

When you’re in a union, raises are usually all or nothing. They are not necessarily forbidden; the unions just have to sign off on them. Only about 20 percent of union contracts permit performance-based raises, less than half the rate in nonunion firms. This means 80 percent of workers can’t get an individual raise for doing good work—a raise must be negotiated for everyone. That certainly takes away the incentive to go above and beyond, because there are no performance-based bonuses or even merit increases.

Instead, unions typically base pay on seniority and job classifications—not individual effort or productivity. Workers cannot bargain individually for more. By law, hard-working union members get the same pay as those who slack off.

The bill would also weaken the union.  Members would suddenly realize that they could get raises, upgrade benefits, and other job improvements without a union.  All they would need was to work—hard and improve performance.  A radical idea!  For unions.

For over a century, unions were supposed to protect worker rights, working conditions, and job safety, among other work issues.  Somewhere along the line the unions went astray.  Instead of being primarily a worker support organization, they became a socialist power wielder.  Their first interest became expanding their personal (union) power and push their socialist agenda.  Unions became a leveler—equality across the board for the strong and willing as well as for the weak and lazy. Leveling lowers standards instead of raising them.

The RAISE Act, which has yet to garner a vote in the House but has been introduced there by Representative Todd Rokita (R–IN), would enable 2.8 million women and 4.8 million men to earn higher wages through their individual effort. Heritage research indicates that if Congress passed the RAISE Act, the average union member’s salary could rise between $2,700 and $4,500 a year.

But union bosses don’t want that. They want to preserve the collective bargaining agreements that keep union members’ wages down.

“Collective bargaining agreements are intended to prevent employers from making arbitrary decisions about wages,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. The word “arbitrary” can have negative connotations, often meaning that someone made a decision that wasn’t rooted in fact. But really, what worker would mind if his boss “arbitrarily” decided to give him a raise? He probably wouldn’t argue too much.

Obama’s NLRB has blocked previous attempts to provide union worker raises outside of the union contact. Unions no longer aim to improve their member livelihoods. Their prime purpose now is to wield political powerThe union effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was one such attempt. Fortunately, it failed. The Wisconsin union money laundering scheme was exposed and halted. Unions also lost a Supreme Court decision this week that would have allowed them to increase union dues to non-members in California and other states.

The score this week for unions is won one, lost one.  This action this week to block Rubio’s R.A.I.S.E (Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees) bill will not block the continuing losses of union membership. Such actions as this will only increase the reduction of union roles when members realize they don’t need a union, operating under a separate agenda, as their representative. Individuals can and do manage their employment quite well. I did for forty years. Union members can too.

Missouri Political Status: Good or Bad?

Missouri has been a bellwether state for over a hundred years, . That label has drawn attention to the state from across the nation.  This year it’s different.

In past elections, Missouri’s status has brought millions of dollars into the state, buying TV, Radio and Ads across the state. This election year the funding is going to other states like Ohio, Virginia and those called, “Purple” states.

In past election cycles, Missouri was a purple state too.  But the excesses of liberal policies at the state and federal level have had consequences. Missouri is now a solid Red state. We have not a hint of Blueness left. A column in USA Today expands on that shift.

Missouri slips from political bellwether status this fall

By Deirdre Shesgreen, Gannett Washington Bureau

Missouri has been a bellwether state for more than 100 years, with presidential candidates lavishing attention on Show-Me State voters and spending millions on field operations, glossy campaign mailers, and TV ads. But this election? Not so much.

This year, Missouri isn’t on the list of top swing states — those vote-rich battlegrounds that political experts and campaign strategists say will determine who wins the White House on Nov. 6. Most political handicappers instead have Missouri in the “leans Republican” column.

So even though Barack Obama lost Missouri by fewer than 4,000 votes in 2008, the president’s re-election campaign isn’t expected to make a major investment in Missouri this time around. And Mitt Romney probably won’t be tromping through the state for a bevy of big rallies or small meet-and-greets, either.

“We used to look to Missouri,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “We don’t anymore.”

There’s no question that other states, such as Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado, have bumped Missouri aside as an electoral battleground, because of demographic changes and political shifts within their borders. Virginia, for example, has seen a spike in affluent and politically moderate residents, particularly in the suburbs at its northern tip, outside Washington. And Colorado and Nevada have seen increases in their Hispanic populations, giving those Western states a purple hue.

An assumption in this column is that the influx of Hispanics will shift the demographics to the democrats.  In other words, the assumption is that voting Hispanics will be supporting more government handouts. More gimmes. The fact those handouts are paid by others is lost to them. That assumption says Nevada and Colorado are more likely to shift to the democrat camp.

I think that is a poor assumption.

More and more, Hispanic leaders are repudiating the left’s liberal policies and agenda.  They, like any other taxpayer, realize the hazards of the left’s unlimited and unsupported spending. It is foolish to think all Hispanics, like all Blacks, will vote, in lockstep, for democrats.  Some will. But all?  I don’t think so.

“Missouri is not on the presidential TV radar screen right now,” said Elizabeth Wilner, who conducted the analysis and is vice president at CMAG.

Wilner said to the extent some Missourians in the northern part of the state are seeing presidential ads, it’s “spillover” meant to influence voters in Iowa. That stands in sharp contrast to previous presidential contests, when Missouri airwaves were swamped with presidential TV spots early in the election season.

Wilner said the “issues menu” in this election, such as ballooning deficits and opposition to Obama’s health care law, make Missouri a tough state for Democrats.

Others echoed that assessment, saying Missouri hasn’t undergone any major demographic changes, but has seen a few subtle political shifts. — USA Today.

Subtle changes.  Yes, like a solid ‘Pub majority in both state houses. Roy Blount’s 13 point victory in his 2010 election for the US Senate.

The democrats poo-poo that shift. They refuse to acknowledge that Claire McCaskill’s three ‘Pub opponents all poll higher than she. If I remember correctly, Sarah Steelman polled 12 points higher than McCaskill a few weeks ago.

No, it should not be a surprise than Missouri is no longer a bellwether state.  The state must have the possibility of falling into either camp, to be borderline for either party. No more for Missouri. We’re solidly Red, now.

Missouri’s goal, now, is to shed the last tentacles of the left from our state and local governments. Come the Fall, I believe we will make solid progress towards that goal…if we don’t achieve it completely.

Our Town

James Taylor sang a song for the movie, Cars, titled “Our Town.”  It is one of my favorites.

The storyline is a small town that was once thriving but is no longer.  The town was located on the fabled US Route 66. Then the Interstate arrived and by-passed the town. Since then it has been slowly dying.

That scenario exists today.  Just substitute any small town in America for the one in the movie. Instead of the arrival of the interstate, substitute the liberal economic policies of Obama and the democrat leaders in Congress. 

You can see the results yourself. Just drive down any highway and look at the empty, abandoned buildings, the empty gas stations, small businesses, former construction lots…all empty, overgrown with weeds and covered with For Sale and realtor signs.

These are the lyrics of Our Town.  Substitute a word , here and there, and it becomes your town.

Long ago, but not so very long ago
The world was different, oh yes it was
You settled down and you built a town and made it live
And you watched it grow
It was your town

Time goes by, time brings changes, you change, too
Nothing comes that you can’t handle, so on you go
Never see it coming, the world caves in on you
On your town
Nothing you can do.

Main street isn’t main street anymore
Lights don’t shine as brightly as they shone before
Tell the truth, lights don’t shine at all
In our town

Sun comes up each morning
Just like it’s always done
Get up, go to work, start the day,
Open up for business that’s never gonna come
As the world rolls by a million miles away

Main street isn’t main street anymore
No one seems to need us like they did before
It’s hard to find a reason left to stay
But it’s our town
Love it anyway
Come what may, it’s our town.

[Thanks to gjcoram@yahoo.com for lyrics]

The Imperial Presidency

The term, Imperial Presidency, is not new. I first heard it before many of you were born.  It did not have a positive connotation.

Imperial Presidency is a term that became popular in the 1960s and that served as the title of a 1973 volume by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. to describe the modern presidency of the United States. The author wrote The Imperial Presidency out of two concerns; first that the US Presidency was out of control and second that the Presidency had exceeded the constitutional limits.[1]

It was based on a number of observations. In the 1930s, the President of the United States had few staff, most of them based in the U.S. Capitol, where the President has always had an office. The Oval Office is still used when the president is in the country and not traveling, but is most often used for ceremonial occasions, but, in 19th and early 20th centuries, presidents were more regularly based there with a small staff. However, Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s leadership during the Great Depression and World War II changed the presidency. His leadership in the new age of electronic media, the growth of executive agencies under the New Deal, his Brain Trust advisors, and the creation of the Executive Office of the President in 1939 led to a transformation of the presidency.

The President has a large executive staff who are most often crowded in the West Wing, basement of the White House, or in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is beside the White House and used by the Departments of Defense and State. Progressive overcrowding in the West Wing led President Richard Nixon to convert the former presidential swimming pool into a press room. — Wiki.

Dictonary.com has this definition of Imperial Presidency.

imperial presidency 

noun ( sometimes initial capital letters )

a U.S. presidency that is characterized by greater power than the constitution allows.

 

Origin: 1970–75

When Lincoln was in the White House, he had only a small personal staff.  People could, and did, walk into the White House from off the street and ask to meet the President. More often than not, they met Lincoln.

Since Lincoln’s time, Presidential staffs have grown. The “Executive Office” was officially established in 1939 for Franklin Roosevelt to help administer government programs created during his “New Deal” era. Initially, six agencies, including the actual White House staff were included in the Executive Office. During WW2, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion was added and remains to this day although inactive. More offices were added by Truman and additional offices has been added with every President.

When Obama was elected he added more personnel calling them “Czars” and granting them extraordinary power.

Today, I found this in my mail box.

Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. June 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

The United States was born when rebellious colonists declared their independence from an imperial ruler who had vastly overstepped his bounds. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States,” they wrote in their Declaration of Independence.

Today’s presidency lacks the regal air of George III. But imperialism is back, in a big way.

Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum instructing U.S. immigration officials to use their “prosecutorial discretion” to create a policy scheme contrary to existing law, designed to implement legislation that Congress hasn’t passed.

We can now see before us a persistent pattern of disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision-making without—and often in spite of—congressional action.  This violates the spirit—and potentially the letter—of the Constitution’s separation of the legislative and executive powers of Congress and the President.

Examples abound:

  • Even though the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, his Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
  • After the Employee Free Choice Act—designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
  • After an Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, even despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
  • Although Congress consistently has barred the Department of Education from getting involved in curriculum matters, the Administration has offered waivers for the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, all without congressional authorization.

Worse than the examples shown above is the disregard of the presidential duties. Duties that Obama is refusing to perform.

  • Since it objects to existing federal immigration laws, the Administration has decided to apply those laws selectively and actively prevent the state (like Arizona) from enforcing those laws themselves.
  • Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
  • DOJ also has announced that it would stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act or defending it from legal challenge rather than seeking legislative recourse. — The Morning Bell.

Now Obama is refusing to release documents to Congress in the Fast ‘n Furious scandal citing Executive Privilege.  That didn’t work with Nixon—as decided by the Supreme Court, nor will it work for Obama. The Supreme Court declared that Nixon could only exclude releasing documents if they related to national security issues and their release could harm the nation. Those exclusions do not apply to the DoJ documents sought by Issa.  In addition, the crime being investigated with Nixon was a simple burglary. The crimes being investigated in Fast ‘n Furious includes the murder of at least two US citizens, one, Brian Terry, a Border Patrol officer killed in the line of duty.

Earlier this year the President crossed the threshold of constitutionality when he gave “recess appointments” to four officials who were subject to Senate confirmation, even though the Senate wasn’t in recess. Gaziano wrote at the time that such appointments “would render the Senate’s advice and consent role to normal appointments almost meaningless. It is a grave constitutional wrong.”

There is no telling where such disregard may go next, but the trend is clear, and it leads further and further away from the constitutional rule of law.

The President has unique and powerful responsibilities in our constitutional system as chief executive officer, head of state, and commander in chief. Those powers do not include the authority to make laws or to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore. The President – like judges or Members of Congress – takes an oath to uphold the Constitution in carrying out the responsibilities of his office.

Indeed, the President takes a unique oath, pledging he “shall faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” We don’t need a new Declaration of Independence, but we do need a President who will defend and vigorously exert his or her legitimate powers, recognizing that those powers are not arbitrary or unlimited. — The Morning Bell.

This unconstitutional seizure of executive power must be stopped. When we remove Obama from office next January, the new Congress and Executive must take steps to insure that no future abuses of power can ever be made by another “Imperial” President.

A memorable day (Updated)

Today could be a historic day.  The US Supreme Court is expected to lay down some rulings on ten issues before the end of this month.  The two most discussed is Obamacare and the AZ Immigration law.  Rumor says those two may be announced later today.

One decision has already been announced—a decision about unannounced union dues increases.

Court: Union must give fee increase notice

AP 6/21/2012 2:12:50 PM

(AP) Court: Union must give fee increase notice. WASHINGTON
The Supreme Court says a union must give nonmembers an immediate chance to object to unexpected fee increases that all workers are required to pay in closed-shop situations.

The court on Thursday ruled for Dianne Knox and other nonmembers of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1000, who wanted to object and opt out of a $12 million special assessment the union required from its California public sector members. Knox and others said the union did not give them a legally required notice that the increase was coming.

The union, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the annual notice that the union gives was sufficient. The high court disagreed in a 7-2 judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito.

The remaining issues, Obamacare and AZ excepted, are:

First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards. A suit whether lawsuits under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which allows homebuyers to sue banks and title companies when they pay kickbacks for the closing of a mortgage loan, are constitutional if the kickback does not affect the price or quality of the services provided?

Federal Communications Commission v. Fox. This concerns whether the Federal Communications Commission’s standards for indecency on television are too vague to be constitutional. (Update: SCOTUS has ruled against the FCC declaring that the rules were too vague.  The justices said the FCC is free to revise its indecency policy.AP)

Knox v. Service Employees International Union. Another union issue whether a state can require its employees to pay a special union fee that will be spent for political purposes without first giving the employees information about the fee and a chance to object to it.

United States v. Alvarez. This is better known as the “Stolen Valor” case. It decides whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.

Southern Union Company v. United States. An interesting jury issue whether the Constitution requires that a jury, rather than a judge, must find beyond a reasonable doubt any fact that leads to a higher fine for a criminal defendant.

Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs. This concerns whether a sentence of life without parole for someone who was convicted of murder when he was fourteen violates the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. If I remember correctly, an earlier case prohibited life sentences for juveniles in non-homicide cases.

Dorsey v. United States and Hill v. United States (consolidated). I heard this one called a positive Ex Post Facto case. The key factor is whether the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentences for defendants who are convicted of crack cocaine offenses, applies to defendants who were convicted before the Act went into effect but sentenced after it.

The details above were scraped from SCOTUSBlog.

As the Chinese proverb says, today through next week could be interesting times.