Monday, May 27, 2019

EU Unraveling

At long last, the EU is dying.  And I'm not sorry one bit.

The EU was, from the start, impossible.  It was based on the idea that a central commission would set a common economic and immigration policy for each country, with each country relinquishing the majority of its self-determination in favor of the whole.  The central EU commission would ensure that "maker" countries would provide the largest amount of funding and control, and the "taker" countries would accede to the decisions made on their behalf.

Sound familiar?

Ever heard of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?

Ok, let me make it simple: the implementation of the EU was based on ... socialism.

France, England, and Italy have held elections and the "nationalists" have won by a fairly wide margin.  The "nationalists" want their countries to regain a large piece of their autonomy - especially over both economic and immigration controls.

Yes, cross-border trade makes sense, and the reduction of cross-border tariffs makes sense as well.  But the open-borders policies in France, Germany, and England have resulted in "no-go" zones: regions where localities have instituted their own laws, and where police either cannot go... or are afraid to go.

Quite naturally, the governments in these countries have forbidden press coverage of these violations of their own sovereignty for fear that they would be held to account for the crimes being committed against their own citizens by "refugees" from the Middle East (predominantly Syria).  But the internet neither hides nor forgets - and stories  of crimes and violence are leaking out to the free world.

The recent elections were no surprise to anyone watching what was really happening inside the EU and who have been reading the reports leaking thru "the iron curtain" (intentional reference) of  government censorship of the press.  The only surprise is how long the EU "commissioners" managed to keep their fingers in the legislative "dike" to keep it from collapsing - and that collapse has now begun.  These elections were only the leading indicator of what's to come: BREXIT, FREXIT, ITEXIT, and several other "exits" from the EU.

Now, I don't think we're seeing a precursor to war or armed revolution... unless the immigrant "refugees" in the "no-go" zones refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of the country in which they live.  In that case, we could see some serious conflicts that can no longer be hidden by the MSM in the US.

Yes.  Hidden by the MSM.  In the US. Because the EU is an artificially created socialist construct.  And the MSM enthusiastically supports Democrats.  And Democrats enthusiastically support the same kinds of socialist constructs here in the US.

Imagine what would happen if, instead of showing us how "socialism works" in some EU countries (and we see only those countries with a small and culturally-secure population), the MSM showed the US how socialism is destroying some EU countries from within.  How would the Democrats be able to say "We should be more like Sweden!!" if the truth about immigrant violence in Sweden was accurately reported?

The EU is collapsing.  Politically, this sucks for the EU.

Politically, it is a huge warning to America.

Now the question is whether Americans will do what's needed to protect American democracy against the encroaching horrors of socialism, or whether they will accept and adopt a political system that has failed every time it has been tried.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Counting the heads that count

Today, Tuesday 4/23/2019, could change the face of politics in the United States - and no, that's not an exaggeration.

Today, arguments take place in front of the SCOTUS to determine whether the Census - specifically, the short form - should contain a question with earthshaking importance:

"Are you a US citizen?"

The current Constitutional guidance is as follows:

The Legislative branch passes laws and the Executive branch executes them.  

Unless the law is extremely explicit about how it is to be executed (most of the time, the law's enforcement mechanism is "the Secretary shall determine"), the Executive enforces the law using its own judgment.  If Congress is dissatisfied with how the Executive enforces a law, the remedy is for Congress to rewrite the offending sections of that law.  Or, to wait for a different Chief Executive to be elected who will appoint a different Secretary who will then change the rules accordingly.

Today's legal arguments at the SCOTUS aren't over the citizenship question per se, but over the "tactics" used by Wilber Ross (SecCommerce) to insert the question into the Census' "short form" - and whether the question should even appear on the "short form".  Did Ross "lie" about his reasons for wanting the question on the short form?  Does it matter whether he lied if, as he claims, he has legal authority to design the Census form?  If the decision does not violate Constitutional principles (it doesn't) and does not violate existing law (it doesn't), why is it wrong?

The heart of any law is its intent.  What is the intent of the Census?  Is it to just to count the full number of people in the US?  If the Census is used to determine apportionment of seats in the House, then shouldn't the census reflect the number of eligible voters in a district - and not just the number of residents?  After all, isn't it the America citizens who elect their representatives - or are we going to allow non-citizens to vote too?

What was Ross's intent?  Was it, as some claim, racist to not count non-citizens in the Census?  If some people of a specific race are American citizens and are counted, and some people of the same race are not American citizens and are not counted, where is the racism?  The Census is published in multiple languages specifically to encourage participation, even by American citizens who cannot speak English.  The goal is to be as inclusive as possible - but for American citizens, not foreign nationals (if you're not an American citizen, you are a foreign national by definition).

Let's look at the law, shall we? The regulations regarding the Census are found in 13 U.S. Code.  Subchapter 1 Section 4 makes it clear that the "Secretary ... may issue such rules and regulations as he deems necessary to carry out such functions and duties..."  And Section 5 reads, in its entirety, "The Secretary shall prepare questionnaires, and shall determine the inquiries, and the number, form, and subdivisions thereof, for the statistics, surveys, and censuses provided for in this title."

Hence, the content of the Census - including the determination of the questions themselves - is a plenary power of the Secretary of Commerce.  Unless Ross directly violates the law, his decision is legal, enforceable, and inarguable. 

Now let's examine a possible scenario that is directly affected by the results of the Census:

If one district in a large state contains a huge proportion of non-citizens and another district a different state contains a very small proportion of non-citizens, and if both districts contain an equivalent number of eligible citizen voters, why should the larger district be granted more representatives in the US House of Representatives than the smaller district?  Aren't the number of eligible citizen voters the same?

One of the goals of the plaintiffs suing against the Census' citizenship question appears to be to allow "undocumented aliens" to be counted.  This is tantamount to granting permission for "undocumented aliens" to continue to live in the US without fear of expulsion.  This is both wrong and extremely unfair to the aliens who followed the procedures to legally come to the US, receive documentation, and take part in American society.

Moreover, since undocumented non-citizens don't legally file federal taxes (very few do) but receive federally-funded services (very many do), doesn't this mean that the smaller district's eligible voter base citizens might be paying higher taxes to support the larger district's non-voting and possibly-illegal non-citizen population?  How is that fair??

My guess is that the government will prevail on the census citizenship question.  The Constitution requires a census (Article 1 Section II), but is silent about the contents except for "as established  by law".  The law already exists in 13 U.S. Code.  The only way to deny a citizenship question would be to pass a law modifying 13 U.S. Code to change the plenary powers of the Secretary - which would certainly be vetoed by Trump.

Ross may have gone about this the wrong way, but his intent was clear: to ensure that the enumeration counted only those who qualify for "taxation with representation" - American citizens.

Any other arguments, e.g. "undocumented aliens will hide in the shadows" or "we need to encourage participation in law enforcement activities" is a red herring and has nothing to do with the purpose of the census: enumeration to determine political representation.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The dog ate my homework - honest!

"Ok, so here's what happened.  I swear it's the truth!

We both knew for several months that my grade would depend on a book report being written by a very good friend of mine, someone who I have known and trusted for years.  Someone I had invited to my parties and socialized with, and who I believed was always on my side.  Heck, you knew him too and had approved of him as an honest guy.

Yes, it sounded strange for me to depend on someone else for my homework, especially when I used to do all of my homework myself.  But this time was different because I already knew everything I needed to know about the book -- or at least I thought I did.  No, I never read it, but I was absolutely sure of its author's other books, so I knew what the story line would be.   And since I knew that my friend was on my side, I knew what he'd say about it.

And, because of our past relationship, you never felt it was necessary to ask anyone else about this.  You depended on me - mainly because I had never given you any obvious reason to not believe me.

I told you what the progress was on the report every day, even though my friend never really told me how it was going.  I even kept you informed on some of the exact content that I thought would be in the report.  Heck, I even told you what my friend would be discussing in it!  I was absolutely certain that I knew how the book report would turn out.

Well, this is what happened.  My friend lied to me!  He told me that he was doing a book report on the book we had chosen, but he changed his mind about how he was going to review the book and wrote a completely different book report instead!  I had no idea that he had changed his mind! I thought he was my friend!  I thought I could depend on him!

Don't get mad at me!  I wasn't responsible for this letdown!  It was that asshole who I thought was my friend.  In fact, when the book report was summarized, the guy who gave the summary completely betrayed me!

What a jerk!  I hate him!  It's his fault that I was wrong!  It's his fault that the review came out differently than I planned!  I thought I could trust him!

I got an F!  Blame him, not me!  I should still get an A because I knew what the report should have said!  In fact, my friend is wrong!  I'm sure I can dig into his report and find the truth!"


"Well, kid, that's what comes from getting participation trophies for attendance rather than learning how to actually play the game.  Don't blame your friend for your own failure.  He's the one who did the work.  Maybe he really does understand the book better than you do.

By the way, that kid you hate?  The one you always make fun of?  The one on the other side of town?  The other one who depended on your friend's book report?  He didn't make any assumptions about the book, its author, or its content.  He didn't guess about the content of the report, but he did do a lot of his own background research... and got an A."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Voluntarily Self-Destructive Behavior

I try to be even-handed when looking at the nonsense from both political parties, because they are really just 2 sides of the same coin.  And, just like a modern penny, it's all glitz on the outside and worthless dross on the inside.

But this is just too good to pass up, so I had to comment on it.

The Democrats hate Trump so much that they've left hypocrisy behind and are heading toward complete insanity.  I mean, seriously: when you become so confused that you don't know what you stand for any more, it's probably time for a little self-reflection.  Ok, a lot of self-reflection.

Instead, all I see from Democrats is self-indulgence.

As an example, let's look at the #METOO issue (I briefly explore other hashtag-issues later in this essay).  Even though a huge number of Holly starlets prostituted themselves for stardom and claim they "regret" what they did (easy to say, now that they're successful), there is validity to being offended by the offer.

But that was then.

Along comes Joe "wandering hands" Biden as a possible 2020 candidate to run against Trump, and Democrats are quick to abandon #METOO to give their favorite VP a pass - for groping women.  The excuse is that he's "affectionate", although some women have said that they would have preferred he wasn't that affectionate.

Um....??????  So, it's ok for an old white male Democrat to grope women?  Who knew?!?!  I need to register as a Democrat so I can be more "affectionate" with women I don't know, sniff hair, put hands on shoulders (and lower), and get a pass on it!  Sheesh.  Once upon a time, we called guys these guys "perverts".  Now, we ignore their perversions if they have the right political ideology.

Let's get honest here.  Joe doesn't "touch".  He gropes.  When the Vice President of the United States is standing behind a woman with his hand on her shoulder (or lower - and there's photographic and video documentation), she's not going to make a public scene.  He's the VEEP, after all.  She may say something later, but not then and there.  And she may be too embarrassed to say anything at all - ever.

The unfortunate truth is that women sometimes feel they did something wrong when they were assaulted by "roaming hands".  Sometimes it takes them years to be able to talk about it with someone other than a close friend.  And sometimes they do say something - but long past the time when Mr. Law could prosecute the offense.

Note to women: report this behavior immediately.  Thank you.

It's one thing to shake a woman's hand in public.  And it's almost ok to shake a woman's hand while touching her upper arm in greeting - as long as you don't maintain physical contact for an uncomfortably long time.  But groping a woman while standing behind her?

I thought that was verboten in the #METOO era.  Apparently not... if you're a "beloved Democrat".

#BLACKLIVESMATTER was killed by Smollett's attempt to start a race war, and buried by Kim Foxx when she dismissed all charges and sealed the case files.  The Mayor and Chief of Police of Chicago are furious at the lack of accountability and the failure to prosecute, and much of the nation - including most of the major papers - are being very, er, ungracious towards the entire situation.  "Chicago justice", indeed.

So, we learned that only Hollywood black lives matter -- and not the lives of other Chicago blacks who are killed by the hundreds in Chicago.

Note to Chicago's judges: if you stopped releasing these killers on bail and kept them in jail until their trials, your crime rate might actually go down.

#BELIEVEALLWOMEN was also killed by the Democrat 2020 candidates for President when they, almost to a person, looked for reasons to disbelieve Biden's accusers.  But then, he's just "Uncle Joe", and the accusers had "other reasons" to make claims against Biden.

If I had an "Uncle Joe" who molested anyone I knew, I'd be the first to let him know, in no-uncertain terms, to keep his damned hands to himself.

So:

Thank you, Democrats, for openly and unreservedly demonstrating what many of us have been calling your deep-seated hypocrisy on almost every important social issue that you started yourselves.  I've listed some of them here, but there are many, many more.

Some of us knew that your indignation was nothing but hubris, and your recent behavior has proved it far more effectively than we had hoped.

Heck, we don't need to use the "if it was a Republican" watchword any more: the 2020 candidates have done a great job of tearing each other down.  Even Obama warned this group of "candidates" to be wary of turning into a "circular firing squad" and destroying any remaining hopes to win the White House in 2020.

A behavior is either right or wrong.  Don't give me this "based on the circumstances" nonsense, or "yeah, but it's his style" crap - or the "but he's a Democrat" excuse.  Either it's allowed or it isn't.  Either the rules are the same for everyone, or toss out the rule book.

BTW,  wasn't it the Democrats who ridiculed Pence for his refusal to be alone with a woman he doesn't know?  Interesting that he lives the #METOO standard -- but he's a Republican, so it doesn't count.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The TSA is unnecessary.

The partial shutdown has revealed a giant secret: the TSA is mostly unnecessary and unneeded.

From the San Francisco Airport web page: "Covenant Aviation Security, a private company under contract with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), provides passenger and baggage screening at SFO."

SF uses a private company to perform security screening. They operate independently, but according to DHS rules.

Maybe it's time to return airport security to the people most capable of doing it: the local airports themselves. And maybe the airlines should take more responsibility for passenger screening.

We keep hearing about TSA "screeners" and how they either fail to do their jobs or use "random checks" to verify whether that is a colostomy bag or a liquid explosive (really!), or doing a full body search on an infant traveling to Orlando with family (really!). Those are the least of the offenses. And because those TSA "inspectors" are government employees, they can neither be sued nor disciplined for their offenses.

Putting security in the hands of private companies would force more sensible security handling. Why? The private employees would be held to a "don't screw up because we'll fire you" standard.

And the private security company will have the freedom to experiment with more advanced and efficient screening measures such as "passenger profiling", something the government can't do because a federal judge will (and has in the past) prevent it.

Lastly, it would mean a reduction in the federal workforce accompanied by a reduction in expenditures at DHS. That's a win-win in anyone's book.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

We're leaving Syria.  GOOD.  We're leaving Afghanistan.  GOOD.  The questions remain: what are US interests in either country?  We don't have any strategic need to be in either country.  Not any more.

And if the reason was "oil", that reason no longer exists.  The US is now a net exporter of oil (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-06/u-s-becomes-a-net-oil-exporter-for-the-first-time-in-75-years).  Unlike Europe, the US is no longer dependent on the Middle East for our petroleum products. We don't need to keep troops in the Middle East to "keep our oil flowing" over there.

If Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, and the rest of western Europe want to keep their oil coming, then it's time that they make the deals with the local governments in the Middle East.  If they don't want Russia to be able to turn off its spigot and run Europe dry, then they need to send their troops to keep the oil flow coming.  It's really simple: the US should militarily defend its interests without feeling obligated to militarily defend the interests of other countries.

That's "America First".  We don't "stand alone" - but it's long past time for other countries to stand up and defend their own interests.

Mattis talked about the need for positive engagement with other countries, and he's right.  Yes - the US should be a willing partner in mutual defense treaties.  But those treaties should only relate to military attack.  They shouldn't relate to economic issues.  Yes, oil is a strategic asset - but each country should be responsible for independently obtaining its own strategic assets.  The US shouldn't be solely responsible (or responsible in huge part) for defending access to other country's strategic assets.

But Mattis is a general, and a general wants an army.  Trump's decision to bring troops home from Syria and Afghanistan was the opposite of what Mattis wanted to do and what his advisers (and too many hawkish neocons) wanted to do: keep the war machine going.  It's too much like Vietnam: we can't really define the mission, but we know we need to keep fighting.

That's why I completely agree with and fully support Trump's decisions to reduce our troops in both Syria and Afghanistan, and possibly end our involvement in Syria.  There will always be Islamic terrorism in the Middle East.  It goes back centuries and won't end until Islamic leaders decide to end it.  ISIS may be defeated, but some other group will crop up.  Maybe a resurgent Al Qaeda.  The Taliban.  Whatever.

The mission in Afghanistan - capture or kill OBL - is over.  Bring the troops home instead of leaving them there as targets.  Enough have been killed already.

There was never a clearly-defined mission in Syria, other than to keep Assad from gassing his own people again and from invading Israel (again).  Pull our troops out and bring them home.  Leave Russia with the job of providing refuge to Syrian non-combatants who have been displaced by its (Russia's) actions.  Israel is more than capable of standing off an attack from Syrian forces, and Russia won't attack Israel on Syria's behalf (it would put the US and Russia into direct conflict).

Bring the boys back home.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Constitutional text must always supersede ideology

From "The Hill":

Kagan said at a conference for women at Princeton University that over the past three decades, starting with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and continuing with Justice Anthony Kennedy, that there was a figure on the bench "who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way."

“It’s not so clear, that I think going forward, that sort of middle position — it's not so clear whether we’ll have it," Kagan said.


Let's analyze Kagan's words for a moment.

By stating that she thinks a Justice in the "middle position" might not exist on a future Supreme Court, she - Kagan herself - has admitted that she is incapable of being a justice in a "middle position".  This should, at the very least, disqualify her from service on the SCOTUS.  She has admitted that she cannot be impartial.  She has admitted that her bias will always color her decisions.  She has admitted that we cannot trust her judgement.

This is dangerous for the SCOTUS and for the US.

The job of a Supreme Court Justice is not to decide a case based on an ideology of any kind.  The job is to examine the brief presented by both sides and:

  • To determine whether the case in question has a basis in law;
  • To determine whether that law is in conformance with the Constitution - not some arbitrary definition of "Constitutional principles" determined by one's ideology, but the actual text of the Constitution; and
  • To determine whether that law was correctly applied.

Here's why an adherence to the actual text of the Constitution is vitally important: if ideology is used to stretch "the meaning" of the Constitution to find new "rights", then the Constitution has been subordinated to that ideology -- and lower courts must now adhere to an ideology that is not defined in the law.

To put it simply: either the Constitution is the law... or it isn't.

This is not about Kavanaugh per se, but it is about whether Supreme Court precedent can be trusted to be Constitutionally valid.  Bad decisions result when ideology is a primary guiding principle.  And bad decisions are tearing this country apart.

A perfect example of the impropriety of ideology in SCOTUS decisions can be found in Justice O'Connor's comments on Roe.  In 1983 and again in 1986, O'Connor criticized the Roe decision.  In later years, when asked whether she would reaffirm Roe, she said she would.  The Constitution did not change.  The text remained exactly the same.  Nothing in the text of the Constitution speaks on any medical procedures or the validity of taking an unborn's life without due process.  The Constitution leaves those decisions to the States (the 10th Amendment).  Yet Justice O'Connor's personal ideology changed, and thus her opinion on Roe changed as well.

The question of Roe as "bad law" has been discussed for decades, but it was the Roe decision that inflated passions on both sides of the debate.  The reason?  Ideology guided a decision, not the text of the Constitution.  The Supreme Court should have decided that Roe was a state-level decision, and that it - the Supreme Court - does not exist to overturn 10th Amendment State-level decisions except when they violate the actual text of the Constitution.

Clearly, the actual text of the Constitution should be the guiding principle for cases that come to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court should not be making new law in its decisions.  It should not co-opt the job of the legislatures, whether State or Federal.

It is often said that "the laboratory of the States" shows the genius of The Founders: those who had despised the monarchical control over the Colonies and designed a Constitution to prevent those abuses.  By designing independent States that operated under a common Federal code (the Constitution) that prevented those States from abusing each other's citizens, they designed a wondrous multi-layered system of government that encouraged freedom while simultaneously permitting State-level controls.

Our Republic requires that each State adhere to the Constitution, but that each State may decide - for itself and for its citizens - other laws and statutes that its citizens desire for themselves.  And when a State implements a law that violates the actual text of the Constitution, the Supreme Court's job is to strike down that law (e.g. Brown and, more recently, Janus).

We do not need a Supreme Court made up of conservatives, liberals, men, women or "smart Latinas".  We need a Supreme Court that examines each brief strictly according to the text of the Constitution, makes decisions solely based on the text of the Constitution, requires that States also adhere to the text of the Constitution, and will send a non-Constitutional case back to the State from where it originated.

One can only hope that a "conservative-leaning Supreme Court" will return to deciding cases on their merit according to the actual text of the Constitution, rather than becoming an engine that coerces all of the States to comply with a non-textual ideology.