Archive for December, 2010
December 16th, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Rahm Emanuel’s Residency Problem Poses a Serious Question About the Rule of Law

It’s one of the ironies of modern judicial interpretation that textbooks and master theses masquerading as court opinions go to great lengths to unearth vague notions of ‘legislative intent’ in arcane statutes, but brush aside the plain meaning of rules like residency requirements to run for public office.  Which poses the question: do all the laws matter except those that apply to candidates  running for office?

For example, there is precious little required to run for Mayor of Chicago.  A candidate must be:

  • 18 years old
  • A registered voter
  • A resident of the city of Chicago
  • Without any debt, unpaid tax, lien or other obligation to the city of Chicago
  • Without a felony conviction or conviction for any infamous crime, bribery or perjury

Candidates must also produce a minimum of 12,500 signatures and file at the Board of Election Commissioners between November 15 and November 22, 2010.

Note that a candidate doesn’t have to be married, literate, employed, able to speak English, or competent to read a budget.  One presumes that the reasons for the requirements that are listed is to ensure that a person running to become the most powerful local official: 1) has reached the legal age to contract, 2) demonstrates a current political stake in the community, 3) isn’t running to dodge a public debt, and 4) hasn’t been convicted of criminal dishonesty.

If a candidate for mayor cannot meet these slight – but important – criteria, he doesn’t deserve to run.  Everyone knows that Rahm Emanuel has not been a resident of the city of Chicago for the last year because he was living in Washington, D.C. with his family while working at the White House.  If the requirement is to have any validity, Emanuel shouldn’t be allowed to run for mayor until he reestablishes his residency.  The rule of law and common sense demand it.

December 16th, 2010 at 10:52 pm
Recent Obamacare Ruling a Pyrrhic Victory?

Christine Erickson at Free Enterprise Nation has a chilling analysis of Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional:

The idea behind the individual mandate is that it is a way to achieve universal coverage through the private market, rather than through a government-sponsored plan. When considering the regulations placed on insurance companies by the reform law, the individual mandate is necessary because it brings healthy individuals into the insurance pool. Under a major provision within the law, insurers can no longer deny policies to people with preexisting conditions. If this regulation is put in place without the individual mandate, a healthy individual can go without insurance, knowing that he or she can purchase coverage after having been diagnosed with a serious medical problem. For insurance companies that sell to the individual market, this would shift the makeup of their policy holders to the point where they would spend much more on claims than they make in premiums, leaving them with the decision to drastically raise premiums (15% to 20% by CBO estimations) or exit the individual market altogether. Once private insurers are forced out of the individual market, it is almost guaranteed that the government would step in and create a government-run plan.

With Judge Hudson’s ruling, as well as two other recent rulings that the mandate falls within Congressional limits, healthcare reform supporters now see two likely outcomes to a Supreme Court challenge: the law will be upheld in its entirety, or the individual mandate alone will be overturned. If the Supreme Court decides the latter, the country could be immediately set on a path towards a government-run, single payer system.

Oh, dear…

December 16th, 2010 at 10:15 pm
Re: Trimming the Fat in the Federal Budget
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On Tuesday, we told you about the potent case for cutting federal spending being made by Nick Gillespie and Veronique De Rugy over at Reason. Because, as the new omnibus spending bill makes clear, Democrats are congenitally incapable of entertaining the idea of reigning in expenditures, the plan has become the target of criticism for The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait. His response is worth reading, as is Gillespie’s comprehensive rejoinder, but one of his central arguments stands out for its unseriousness:

Another way of putting this [the budget situation] is that, to maintain the current level of services in the federal budget, we would need to spend $5.5 trillion. Gillespie and de Rugy would propose instead to spend $4.2 trillion in 2020. That’s their prerogative. I’m sure they could find at least $1.3 trillion in spending that they don’t like. But the point is that you would have to eliminate a lot of functions of the federal government, and/or reduce a lot of social benefits.

The definition of modern liberalism may be to believe that it would be a hardship for the federal government to get by on over $4 trillion a year. And if budget cuts are a non-starter under this rationale, it’s hard to see when they would be palatable to liberals (how much do you want to bet that national defense is the exception?)

Are we to believe that Mr. Chait is convinced that such bracing austerity would rip the national safety net asunder? And that every activity currently undertaken by the federal government is too sacrosanct to be pruned? There’s a mathematical equation for such worship of the state … and its product is Nancy Pelosi’s approval rating.

December 16th, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Happy 237th Birthday, Tea Party
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On this date in 1773, Samuel Adams and his Sons of Liberty hosted their original tea party in Boston Harbor.  Two hundred thirty-six years later, CNBC’s Rick Santelli refreshed the movement from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, and its momentum continues.  So happy birthday, Tea Party – federal judge Henry Hudson provided a fitting gift by declaring ObamaCare’s core mandate unconstitutional based on your underlying principles.

December 14th, 2010 at 11:30 pm
Trimming the Fat in the Federal Budget
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The folks over at Reason TV never miss a chance to make complex public policy simultaneously comprehensible and funny (how else to explain their decision to augment Nick Gillespie’s Ian Malcolm look with a chef’s hat?). Take a look at their new video on how to balance the federal budget and then visit the link where they explain their plan in detail. As a comprehensive look at how Congress could get the deficit mess under control without raising taxes, it’s a logical compliment to CFIF’s One More Vote campaign.



December 14th, 2010 at 10:40 am
Ramirez Cartoon: ObamaCare vs. the Constitution
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Below is two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez’s take on yesterday’s federal court ruling that Congress exceeded its authority by mandating all individuals buy health insurance in ObamaCare.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

December 13th, 2010 at 10:54 pm
Obama Makes Huckabee’s Jaw Hit the Floor
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Whether or not he ends up being a presidential candidate in 2012, Mike Huckabee is already making his mark as one of President Obama’s most insightful critics. After Obama spent last week’s press conference announcing a deal on the Bush tax cuts comparing Republicans to hostage-takers and bemoaning the intransigence of congressional liberals, Huckabee made what should have been an obvious point: you don’t celebrate bipartisan accomplishments by lambasting politicians on both sides of the aisle. Per CNN:

“The most bizarre part of the whole process was watching President Obama self-destruct at the podium yesterday,” Huckabee told the National Journal in an interview published Monday, when asked about the tax deal.

“I was just stunned – I really couldn’t believe that a man that was elected president was as amateurish as he was, and essentially launched from the podium at some of his own, taking aim and mowing down everybody in D.C. and walking away having not understood that he just lost a lot of people,” he said.

Presidents who are sore losers are deeply unbecoming. As for sore winners? Well, that’s a relatively new phenomenon. And there’s a reason for that, Mr. President.

December 13th, 2010 at 4:46 pm
In Rejecting ObamaCare, Federal Judge Rejects Orwellian Illogic
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In his opinion declaring ObamaCare’s central provision (the individual mandate) unconstitutional, United States District Judge Henry Hudson today vindicated the core concept of individual freedom that provides the foundation of our constitutional republic.  More than that, however, Judge Hudson provided a refreshing break from that loathsome parade of shameless judges who have insulted Americans’ intelligence through recent decades by mangling the English language beyond any logical recognition.

Namely, Judge Hudson rejected the Obama Administration’s central argument that economic inactivity somehow amounts to “economic activity.”  On Page 11 of his ruling, Judge Hudson neatly summarized the Administration’s core logic: “Critical to the Secretary’s argument is the notion that an individual’s notion not to purchase health insurance is in effect ‘economic activity.'”  Just as neatly, he rejected that Orwellian illogic in terms that should be etched permanently as a reminder on Obama’s teleprompter:  “This broad definition of the economic activity subject to Congressional regulation lacks logical limitation and is unsupported by Commerce Clause jurisprudence.”

Individual freedom and linguistic logic won a historic victory today.  For if inactivity was somehow contorted to constitute “commerce,” then there is no limit whatsoever to Congress’s reach.

The fight continues, but we should also stop to savor this important moment.

December 13th, 2010 at 1:51 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Thelma and Reid
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

December 13th, 2010 at 12:32 pm
Federal Judge Strikes Down ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that significant parts of ObamaCare are unconstitutional, including the mandate requiring individuals to purchase health care insurance.

As is reporting it:

In a highly-anticipated suit brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, District Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional as it “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

Hudson stopped short of blocking the law’s implementation until a higher court acts, but said he expects the administration to honor his ruling.

“The final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court,” Hudson wrote in his ruling. “In this Court’s view, the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”

In light of today’s ruling, the Obama Administration should immediately cease implementation of the unconstitutional individual mandate and all other provisions of ObamCare until the matter is fully resolved by the courts.  If the Administration refuses to act, Congress should act without delay to force the Administration’s hand.

December 11th, 2010 at 11:33 am
CFIF Asks Rep. Issa to Investigate Obama Administration Campaign Against For-Profit Colleges
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This week, CFIF formally petitioned House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman-Elect Darrell Issa (R – California) to investigate the Obama Education Department’s continuing campaign against for-profit colleges.

Career colleges have flourished because of their ability to nimbly respond to our evolving economy, offer an education focusing on hands-on occupational training, and excel at serving non-traditional students who often have children, are working, are typically older and are more diverse than their peers at traditional schools.  This is particularly important during the current period of job scarcity and worldwide economic competition.  The Obama Education Department, however, seeks to foist a proposed “Gainful Employment” rule that would declare academic programs ineligible for federal aid if some specified proportion of their graduates failed to meet an arbitrary income-to-loan payment ratio.

The natural consequence of such a rule:  vital for-profit career colleges would be eliminated.

The need for Congressional investigation became even more obvious this week.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) withdrew, then revised and republished a defective study originally released last summer in which it sent undercover “students” to several schools to capture information on recruiting policies, promises of post-graduation pay, federal and other funds for tuition and expenses, and more.  That GAO report had been cited as vital evidence for the Education Department and a Senate committee as they prepare to promulgate the Gainful Employment rule, and even the Washington Post (whose parent company owns one of the largest for-profit schools) ran an article exposing that defective report.  The GAO’s numerous revisions are all clearly slanted in one direction – the original report inaccurately cast career colleges in an unfavorable light, while the revisions indicate that the GAO’s undercover students may have intended to entrap career college admissions personnel.  By the GAO’s own estimate, only 1 percent of reports are corrected, so an inquiry into the reasons behind this particular revision – with its original report clearly biased – is justified.

That news comes on the heels of allegations that Education Department officials communicated with short-sellers to inform them of their intentions, providing certain traders with inside information potentially allowing for illegal financial advantage.  The cooperation, however, was allegedly a two-way street.  According to media accounts, these same short-sellers may have concocted elaborate schemes to cast a negative light on career colleges, helping them rationalize the proposed rule.   These allegations are sufficiently serious that Senators Tom Coburn (R – Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (R – North Carolina) have formally sought an investigation.

At a minimum, an alarming pattern has emerged that points to the Department of Education specifically working to inflict economic harm upon career colleges, while possibly collaborating in the shadows with the very short-sellers on Wall Street who would most likely benefit from such activity.

December 10th, 2010 at 7:03 pm
Policy Entrepreneurs

For those CFIF readers looking for intellectually stimulating Christmastime reading, I heartily recommend Walter Russell Mead’s extended blog post titled “The Crisis of the American Intellectual.”  Picking up and expanding on Alan Bloom’s thesis in “Closing of the American Mind,” Mead issues a frontal attack on our nation’s intellectual elites, a group Mead faults as failing to adapt to a changing world.  Himself a Democrat, Mead argues that intellectuals – the best credentialed, most influentially placed people in our society – across the political spectrum owe it to the people and causes they champion to get serious about constructing a workable, sustainable government.  Here is a too brief sample:

Right now, too many intellectuals try to turn this into a left/right debate rather than one about the past and the future.  There is a liberal case for the radical overhaul of our knowledge industries as well as a Tea Party one.  People who want to extend government protections to more groups need to be thinking how government can be radically restructured so it can be more effective at a lower cost.  People who want more education to be available for the poor need to think about deep reform in primary and secondary education, and they need to think up ways to reduce the spiraling costs of university education.  Those who like the public services provided in troubled blue states like New York, Illinois and California need to redesign state government and find alternatives to the tenured civil service bureaucracies built one hundred years ago.  Those who want more access and more equal access to education, to legal services and to medical care need to think about how we can use technology to radically restructure the way we organize and deliver these services — and the more you care about the poor the less you can care about the protests of the guilds.

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) is challenging the public education guild (i.e. teachers unions).  Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) challenged the bureaucratic leviathan and won key reforms.  Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is challenging the unsustainable structure of the Great Society.  Ryan once worked for Jack Kemp as a speech writer during the latter’s stint as Bob Dole’s vice presidential running mate.  Kemp challenged liberal statists and libertarian anarchists with his vision of an “Opportunity Society,” an approach to government policy that injected economic opportunity down into the roots of the welfare state.

The debate about government spending will dominate our politics for the foreseeable future.  Hopefully, policy entrepreneurs like Christie, Daniels, and Ryan will gain the attention – and the success – their ideas deserve.

December 10th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
It Must Be Friday

Who knew that a week beginning with liberal howling about President Barack Obama’s “tax deal” with congressional Republicans would end with bitter disagreements between conservative stalwarts about whether the deal is actually good?  Charles Krauthammer thinks it’s the biggest Keynesian stimulus in American history.  Jonah Goldberg disagrees.  So does Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), arguing that pro-growth tax policy is the key first step towards jumpstarting the economy (spending cuts are next).

For his part, President Obama prefers to outsource his public communications duties to predecessor Bill Clinton.  After Clinton started taking questions at a joint press conference, Obama excused himself to attend the White House Christmas party; as if the sight of him leaving Clinton to speak on behalf of the administration didn’t matter.  Either Obama doesn’t care that he looked like the impatient junior partner to Clinton’s elder, me-first statesman, or he failed to appreciate the optics of his televised abdication.

Hopefully, we can chalk up all this confusion to it being a Friday at the end of a long congressional session.  Otherwise…

December 10th, 2010 at 1:35 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  A Conservative Christmas List
Ellis: Pigford Settlement Fraud Opening Floodgates for Other Groups’ “Reparations” Claims
Lee:  Peggy Noonan Stalls on “New Start”
Ellis:  Jeff Flake: An Appropriator Conservatives May Come to Love
Release:  CFIF Statement on GAO Revisions to Report on For-Profit Colleges

Freedom Minute Video:  Opening the WikiLeaks Floodgate
Podcast:  Cochise County (AZ) Sheriff Discusses Arizona Immigration Law
Jester’s Courtroom:  Settlement Declined in Flying Fruit Lid Case

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

December 10th, 2010 at 11:45 am
Video: Opening the WikiLeaks Floodgate
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the huge breach in national security presented by WikiLeaks and the need to aggressively prosecute the website’s founder, Julian Assange.


December 10th, 2010 at 10:24 am
FCC Recreates ObamaCare Fiasco with “Net Neutrality” Secrecy
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Remember how ObamaCare was furiously crafted behind locked doors, despite Obama’s assurances it would be “on C-Span?”  The public revolted against those tactics, but Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) apparently thought it all went pretty well.  Look no further than its secrecy in concocting its latest “Net Neutrality” draft, despite FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski’s own promises of “transparency.”

In this way, “Net Neutrality” imitates ObamaCare beyond the broader fact that it seeks to commandeer 1/6 of the American economy.  Like ObamaCare, it is strongly opposed by the public and judicially suspect, and proponents know that exposing its manufacturing process to the sunlight would only help doom it.  Accordingly, Chairman Genachowski appears intent on concealing his “Net Neutrality” proposal as long as possible before dumping it on the public later this month.

Why all the secrecy?  What do Chairman Genachowski and “Net Neutrality” proponents fear so much?  Instead of secrecy, they should follow Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker’s call to immediately make the draft public.  Apply the same “openness” that you claim to desire for the Internet, Chairman Genachowski.

December 10th, 2010 at 8:41 am
Podcast: Sheriff Discusses Arizona Immigration Law
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Cochise County (AZ) Sheriff Larry Dever, honorary co-chair of, discusses why he strongly supports Arizona’s immigration enforcement law and his amicus brief in opposition to lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Obama Administration against Arizona and its sheriffs.

Listen to the interview here.

December 9th, 2010 at 5:30 pm
As 2012 Race Begins, Keep Your Eyes on Missouri
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Yes, the Show-Me State is virtually always an important bellwether of which way the presidential election is headed. But in 2012, it may say a lot about the future of the senate as well.

Freshman Democrat Claire McCaskill will be standing for reelection in 2012. She’s a canny political operator and a fairweather moderate — both of which are necessary in this most swinging of swing states.

The Missouri GOP looks to have a full bench — Jim Talent, the mainstream Republican who McCaskill defeated in 2006 is said to be mulling a comeback attempt. Yet the most interesting development may be that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint — the conservative senate leader who is apparently not content to let any grass grow under his feet — is already feeling out an alternative candidate.

That candidate is Sarah Steelman, the former Missouri State Treasurer who was nearly the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2008. Steelman is smart, articulate, accomplished, attractive and (best of all) an erstwhile economics professor. If you start to hear her name more often, it’s a good leading indicator that 2012 may follow the 2010 trend and bring another class of exceptional Tea Party candidates to the upper chamber.

December 9th, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Paul Ryan is Making Sense (Again)

Amid solid recommendations to put Medicare and Medicaid on a sustainable financial path, Obama Debt Commission member and Roadmap author Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) staked out very defensible ground for today’s conservative leaders to Roll Call’s Mort Kondrake:

And the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee described himself as having been mentored by the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), believing in “a prosperous opportunity society built atop a solid safety net.”

“I am not a laissez-faire, Hobbsian libertarian,” he told me. “I believe in a circumscribed safety net, one that helps people get back on their feet and is there for people who can’t help themselves. But I believe in a pro-growth, limited-government, free-enterprise society that encourages people to make the most of their lives.”

Anyone else for a one-on-one debate between President Barack Obama and Rep. Ryan on healthcare reform next January?

December 9th, 2010 at 12:59 pm
More Pigford Revelations

In a wide-ranging piece, The Daily Caller explains the continuing mainstream media bias against Andrew Breitbart and anyone else who dares to shine a light on government corruption.  Breitbart’s castigation during the Shirley Sherrod episode spurred him to research liberal claims he only spotlighted Sherrod’s discriminatory comments to an NAACP crowd as a quick gimmick.  After four and a half months of interviews, Breitbart is in the early days of a multi-stage release on the depth and breadth of the Pigford settlement scandal that so far has cost taxpayers over $2 billion.

Since President Barack Obama has a direct link to the newest $1.15 billion funding the Pigford II settlement round, don’t be surprised if the White House comes under continuing pressure to defend itself for its legislation-for-votes deal-making.