Archive for June, 2011
June 30th, 2011 at 7:48 pm
California’s Brown Vetoes State ‘Card-Check’ Law

Kudos to Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) for vetoing a state version of “card-check,” a shift in policy that would replace the secret ballot with signing a card given to union organizers.  For those needing confirmation that eliminating the secret ballot is one of the last gasps of a dwindling union movement, the good folks at Western Farm Press report this little nugget:

Farmers lobbied mightily to turn back the legislation and convince Brown to veto it. The veto was a victory that ranks close to the triumph several years back when the taxes on farm equipment and agricultural fuel were rescinded due to a herculean lobbying effort. Passage of the card-check law would have created heightened union organizing efforts by a floundering United Farm Workers of America.

And how’s this for a bit of history:

The 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act gave wings to the United Farm Workers of America, which eventually reach 100,000 members. However, that number has plummeted to less than 20,000 today. The card-check rule would have breathed new life into the UFW.

Other unions like the Teamsters came in to challenge UFW, and growers simply increased wages and benefits to stave off unionization. UFW became unnecessary.

And so is card-check.  Good veto, Governor Brown.  Keep ‘em coming.

June 30th, 2011 at 6:44 pm
Obama Deserves No Respect

Please allow for a personal sentiment: I have no respect for Barack Hussein Obama. None.

Yes, I respect the office of the presidency. But I have no respect whatsoever for its current occupant.

There is a good reason why Mark Halperin used a nasty word to describe Obama after Obama’s press conference yesterday: because, if a not-so-nasty but otherwise entirely synonymous word had been used, Halperin would have been right on target. So was Sen. Marco Rubio.  This hugely egotistical man, Obama, has nothing to offer but demagoguery; has offered no leadership; has saddled us with debt; has no personal grace when challenged; has no dignity, but only petulance, when in the fray; has no respect for constitutional limits on his own power or those of his political appointees; has no real love for what this country is or has been but only for what he wants it to be after he “transforms” it; has little respect for the actual views of the American citizenry; has a dangerously radical belief in subjugating ethics for the sake of power; is fundamentally dishonest, not to mention horribly hypocritical on subjects ranging from the debt ceiling to the War Powers Act and plenty of other issues as well.

This is not a man who has ever achieved anything OTHER than self-advancement — indeed, he himself has admitted that he accomplished little as a community organizer; his legislative record is incredibly thin; and his presidency has been, in terms of results, disastrous.

In short, this is not a man to emulate either on the basis of character or significant attainments of any sort that are not self-aggrandizing.

There: ‘Nuff said.

June 30th, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Huntsman Hiring More McCain Staff

As CFIF reported earlier this month, presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (R-UT) is hiring staff that previously worked for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in the latter’s bids for the White House.  Byron York details how many conservatives are interpreting Huntsman’s personnel hires as accurate indications of how he thinks about policy.  (Hint: Not conservative.)

Huntsman’s top campaign aide is John Weaver, who was John McCain’s top campaign aide in 2000 and in the early stages of the 2008 campaign — campaigns that often raised the ire of the GOP base. (Weaver has also worked for some Democrats.) Other McCain veterans have signed on with Huntsman, as well. Still others, like Mark McKinnon — the aide who worked for McCain in the 2008 primaries but left because he did not want to campaign against Barack Obama — also favor Huntsman. (McKinnon is a co-founder of the “No Labels” movement, much derided by conservatives.)

When Huntsman took second place in the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in New Orleans recently, Politico reported that he benefited from the vote wrangling of former Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, whom conservatives well remember as the only Republican to vote for Obamacare in the House. There’s another mark against Huntsman. And that’s before conservatives consider the fact that Huntsman spent the past two years working for the Obama administration.

The conservative base pays close attention to the people who surround a candidate. In the eyes of some, personnel can trump policy. “At both the Republican Leadership Council and at Right Online (another conservative gathering), the majority of conservative activists I spoke to said they knew nothing of Huntsman’s positions,” says conservative activist Erick Erickson, “but his campaign team had the makings of the second coming of John McCain.”

Huntsman is McCain without the war record to paper over his liberal positions on illegal immigration, cap-and-tax, and healthcare reform.  Thus, he’s a left-of-center Republican hiring left-of-center staff.  If personnel drives policy, beware of a President Huntsman.

June 29th, 2011 at 5:39 pm
Meeting Bachmann, Beating a Stereotype

Add Kirsten Powers to the list of political professionals who have a deeper appreciation of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) after meeting the GOP presidential candidate in person.  According to Powers, Bachmann is a much more substantive person than her critics imagine.

In person, Bachmann seems eerily disconnected from the TV caricature. She is bright, quick, charming, and thoughtful. She will civilly and gamely debate any issue.

One might expect those qualities in a person who made a living as a tax attorney, raised more than a score of children (5 of her own, 23 through foster care), snagged Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund as a co-author, and convinced several high profile campaign operatives to sign on.

As her performance at the CNN debate showed, Bachmann is a serious campaigner willing to put in the work to win.  If she continues to get out her message in person to voters in Iowa and other early voting states, she’ll quickly move past Tim Pawlenty and make this a two-horse race with Mitt Romney.

June 29th, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Texas’ Castro Brothers Herald New Face of State’s Democratic Party

For anyone interested in whom the Texas Democratic Party will look to for leadership in the very near, consider rising twin brothers Julian and Joaquin Castro.  Both are Stanford and Harvard Law graduates.  Both represent San Antonio – Julian as mayor; Joaquin as a state representative.  Each is being groomed for higher office.

From his perch as San Antonio mayor, Julian could very likely seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014.  By then, current Republican Governor Rick Perry will either be in the White House or in an uphill battle for election to his fourth term in office.  (Perry doesn’t have a history of landslides.  In 2006, he won a four-way race with 36% of the popular vote.  In 2010, he won just 51% in a three-way primary after more than a decade as governor.)

For his part, Joaquin just announced a primary challenge to nine-term Democratic congressman Lloyd Doggett.  A new redistricting map connects south Austin with San Antonio, making the state legislator a natural fit to represent the two cities he’s spent the most time in since being elected to office.

Texas’ demographic trend mirrors California.  Currently, no race is a majority in Texas, but by the end of the decade, Hispanics will be.  With the state and federal legislative delegations increasingly split between Anglo Republican and minority Democrats, don’t be surprised if someday Julian Castro becomes governor while his brother Joaquin serves in the U.S. Senate.

June 28th, 2011 at 9:14 pm
Economics in One (Video) Lesson
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It’s as clear a statement of what works (and what doesn’t) in providing economic growth and well-being as you’ll find. It’s a guide to not only the rightness but the utility of freedom. And it can be viewed in the time it takes to wait for a stoplight to change. It’s the new video from the good folks (yes, we’re not afraid to say it) at the Charles Koch Foundation. The only thing wrong with this project? That there aren’t more videos like this one:

June 28th, 2011 at 6:22 pm
Crib Death

One of the important contributors to the ongoing recession is the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which continues to take an unbelievably godawful law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by an entirely clueless president Bush, and then make the law even worse by repeatedly using (and sometimes abusing) its discretionary powers to implement the worstmost burdensome, most costly, most bureaucratic, most job-killing — regulations that could possibly be issued in pursuit of Congress’ already idiotic mandates. (WHEW! — What a sentence!)

Yesterday, the Commission made things even worse, yet again. In a public statement for the record, dissenting Commissioner Anne Northup, an excellent former Member of Congress from Kentucky, explained why the Commission’s new rules for baby cribs are causing retailers to lose tens of millions of dollars unnecessarily:

The seeds for the majority’s decision were planted last fall when a six-month effective date for the new mandatory crib standard was set with insufficient consideration of its impact on retailers. The likelihood that retailers would be left with substantial unsellable stock at the end of the six months was increased when the Commission’s outreach efforts subsequent to the rulemaking failed to target retailers. Significant losses to retailers became almost inevitable when, in response to appeals for relief from the effective date, the Commission’s leadership failed to take adequate action to address the impending harm. Finally, the unjustifiable economic waste was assured when, after a bare majority of Commissioners agreed to hold a public briefing and vote on the issue, the Commission’s leadership directed insufficient resources toward understanding the scope of the problem. Simply put, the Democratic majority of this Commission is unmoved by economic harm to retailers….

In addition to the anecdotal accounts contained in these letters, NINFRA surveyed its members and 37 provided data on their numbers of noncompliant cribs in stock. Those 37 crib retailers had a total of 17,800 noncompliant cribs as of late May 2011. NINFRA’s representative also reported that their average wholesale cost was approximately $275 per crib….as of May 2011, a small fraction of the total retailer community still had at least 117,800 noncompliant cribs in inventory. Had I not asked during the hearing to have the data presented, it would not have been discussed. Incredibly, even after the data was introduced, the Chair asserted that she could not support an extension for “only 17,000 cribs” – completely ignoring both the Commission’s own survey, and the fact that our data was unquestionably incomplete….The Impact Report and oral staff presentation also failed to provide any estimate of the economic harm that would be suffered by the retailers maintaining noncompliant stock. Yet, I elicited through questioning the fact that staff was aware that the average wholesale cost of the cribs in inventory was $275. While I recognize that the Commission’s anecdotal data could not support a statistically significant extrapolation of the total potential loss, and that some number of additional cribs would likely be sold in the short time between when our data was obtained and the effective date of the rule, it would have been a simple matter to calculate the known potential losses: 117,800 X $275 = $32,395,000.

Again, these are cribs that while not compliant with the new regulations are also ones that have NOT been found unsafe. Yet the CPSC is requiring manufacturers to destroy them all. And this money-wasting, product-wasting, job-killing assault on slightly old baby cribs is just one facet of the CPSC’s war against scores of perfectly safe products of daily life. Follow the links within this blog post to learn more. If this isn’t an area that cries out for commonsense reform, and for some liberals Commissioners to be put in their own playpen without any power, then I don’t know what is.

June 28th, 2011 at 10:24 am
CBO On Obama Budget: “We Don’t Estimate Speeches”
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In February, President Obama unveiled his irresponsible deficit-inflating 2012 proposed budget.  By April, Obama hastily said “never mind,” scrapped that proposal and offered a vague Budget 2.0 speech after Congressman Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin) embarrassed him by unveiling his debt-cutting budget roadmap.

The problem is that the so-called leader of the Free World was too afraid to offer any specificity whatsoever, focusing on his reelection instead of the nation’s intensifying fiscal emergency.  At a House Budget Committee hearing last week, Rep. Ryan asked Congressional Budget Office (CBO) chief Douglas Elmendorf whether the CBO had yet been able to estimate Obama’s latest “budget.”  Elmendorf’s not-so-subtle reply:

We don’t estimate speeches.  We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.”

Come to think of it, a lot of voters probably think back to the 2008 presidential campaign and say the same thing.

June 27th, 2011 at 10:47 pm
Pray for Full Recovery for Bob Riley

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, the best “unknown” governor of the last few decades of any state in the union, had a rather bad motorcycle accident yesterday in Alaska. The good news is that he is expected to make a full recovery, although it sounds like he is more than a little bunged up and his injuries sound painful. The bad news is that this ruins the second half of a trip he had dreamed about for years.

Some of us wished that Gov. Riley had run for president this cycle. I personally know him as a good and decent man, kind and well-motivated. He did a great job for Alabama. Here’s hoping for a rapid recovery, and many good and enjoyable years ahead.

June 27th, 2011 at 5:42 pm
Tea Party Clash with GOP Establishment Will Continue in 2012
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You would’ve thought that the leaders of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — the Senate GOP caucus’s in-house mechanism for supporting candidates for the upper chamber — would have learned their lesson in 2010. Rather than waiting for Republican nominees to emerge before throwing their support behind them, the NRSC intervened in primaries throughout the nation, opposing such strong conservative candidates as Florida’s Marco Rubio and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey. It should have been a source of public shame. Yet it doesn’t look that way, based on a report in the New York Times’ Caucus Blog:

A group of placard-waving Tea Party activists converged on the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee early Monday afternoon, demanding that its leaders refrain from supporting incumbents facing primary challenges, and serving as a reminder that the intraparty fight over party purity continues…

One reason the activists are angry with the Republican senatorial committee is that it is holding fund-raisers for [Utah Senator Orrin] Hatch — they waved signs reading “Retire Hatch.” But more generally, they want the committee to withhold political or financial support from any incumbents in the primary.

“It’s like they haven’t learned the lessons of the midterms,” said Brendan Steinhauser, an organizer for FreedomWorks who urged on the marchers.

And indeed, the committee has heard this tune before, particularly in the 2010 Florida primary for United States Senate, when the committee initially backed Charlie Crist, then a popular Republican governor, over a scrappy challenger, Marco Rubio. Mr. Rubio did so well in polls that Mr. Crist abandoned the party, ran as an independent, and lost, badly, to Mr. Rubio, a Tea Party darling.

Of the 47 Republicans currently serving in the United States Senate, none is as likely to someday become president as Marco Rubio. And his ascendancy was nearly extinguished at the hands of the NRSC. If that isn’t a sign that they shouldn’t be weighing in during primaries, it’s hard to imagine what would be.

June 27th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
Perry, Paul, and Bachmann: The Tea Party Trinity

The New York Times reports of a “completely unscientific” voice-vote poll of about 100 Tea Party activists gathering at the D.C. offices of FreedomWorks.  The top vote getter for president was Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who announced her (formal) candidacy today.  Texas Republicans Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul were close seconds.

Each of the three has a unique mix of conservatism to attract Tea Party and larger GOP support.  All agree on fundamental themes like American Exceptionalism, low taxes, the free market, and traditional values.  Each differs, though, in the formula for achieving those goals.

That is a good thing.  Conservatives can – and should – differ about means, but not ends.  Goals are a matter of principle.  How we get there should be the subject of vigorous debate.

The reporters conducting their poll may think the results were “completely unscientific,” but they needn’t worry.  The boos for Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Jon Huntsman (R-UT), and the indifference toward Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), show that the media’s favorites are in real trouble with the people who will decide the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

June 27th, 2011 at 2:02 pm
5 Common Gimmicks States Use to ‘Balance’ Budgets

After California Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed the legislature’s budget bill, many questioned the definition of a “budget gimmick” since both Brown and the legislature accused the other of using accounting tricks and unrealistic assumptions to balance the state’s budget.

Thankfully, the Arizona Capitol Times has an answer.  Actually, it has five.  Here are the most commonly used gimmicks states employ to meet the technical (i.e. constitutional) requirement to balance their budgets.  (Note: Examples of states doing these are indicated by their two letter abbreviation.)

(1)   Putting off payments – can include delaying or skipping payments to schools and pensions (Ex: IL, MN, NJ)

(2)   Accelerating revenue – this gimmick collects taxes like those on sales early (TX)

(3)   Using temporary money for recurring expenses – spending ‘rainy day’ funds to cut the grass (HI)

(4)   Counting on savings that aren’t likely to materialize – one example is mandating less spending without enacting a specific policy change (CA, CT)

(5)   Counting on revenue that isn’t likely to materialize – such as counting on a federal bailout or stimulus funding that does not appear (NY, CA)

So, there you have it: A five-point B.S. meter for judging the seriousness of your state’s “balanced” budget.

I wonder if the Tea Party is readying state constitutional amendment drives to ban these practices and give their balanced budgets more credibility…

June 27th, 2011 at 11:40 am
RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

  • 4:00 p.m. CST/5:00 p.m. EST: Nina Sankovitch, author, “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading”;
  • 4:30 p.m. CST/5:30 p.m. EST:  Bob Dorigo Jones, Wacky Warning Labels and Legal Reform Update;
  • 5:00 p.m. CST/6:00 p.m. EST:  John Yoo, Presidential War Powers; and
  • 5:30 p.m. CST/6:30 p.m. EST:  Megan Brown, U.S. Supreme Court Update.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

June 27th, 2011 at 9:20 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Operation Fast and Furious
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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.

June 24th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
Of Elevator Eyes and Marsupial Justice

The great Michael Barone has (as usual) a wonderful column out about the latest outrage from what probably should be renamed the Obama/Holder “Department of (in)Justice, Political Hit Jobs and Racialist Authoritarianism” (DoIPHRA). It appears that DoIPHRA isn’t merely content with covering up for New Black Panthers, telling black voters they are too stupid to know their own interests, forcing seniors to accept Medicare coverage they don’t even want, putting up roadblocks against expanded military voting opportunities, and making a fetish of fighting anti-gay “bullying” without real authority to do so. Nor is it satisfied with screwing up the matter of detention of enemy combatants or refusing to defend the law of the land (DOMA), nor, in a burgeoning scandal, of providing guns to Mexican drug runners which were used to kill an American official.

Now, as Barone reports, the Obamites have given a tacit push to the terrorizing speech czars on college campuses to outlaw flirting, sexual double-entendres, and other highly typical behaviors of collegians:

What the seemingly misnamed Office of Civil Rights is doing here is demanding the setting up of kangaroo courts and the dispensing of what I would call Marsupial Justice against students who are disfavored by campus denizens because of their gender or race or political attitude. “Alice in Wonderland’s” Red Queen would approve….

Again, do read the entirety of Barone’s column. It’s one more example of how these radicals with frightening powers are trying to cram their agendas down our throats.

June 24th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
CFIF’s Weekly 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:  Obama’s Unfocused, Unrealistic Afghanistan Speech
Hillyer:  Only a Partial Win at Supreme Court Against Globaloney Environmental Lawsuit
Lee:  American Exceptionalism: Gallup Worldwide Survey Names U.S. Most Desirable Nation

Freedom Minute Video:  In Search of Standards
Podcast:  Afghanistan and Pakistan Expert Discusses Drawdown of U.S. Troops
Jester’s Courtroom:  Straight to Jail; Do Not Collect $1

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.

June 24th, 2011 at 9:42 am
Video: In Search of Standards
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While a long record of incompetence by those in government makes it hard for the American people to believe they have the answers to our nation’s problems, CFIF’s Renee Giachino ponders the question, “Shouldn’t we at least believe that those in government meet basic standards of decency and integrity?”

June 24th, 2011 at 8:40 am
Podcast: Afghanistan and Pakistan Expert Discusses Drawdown of U.S. Troops
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In an interview with CFIF, Jeffrey Dressler, Senior Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, discusses Afghanistan and Pakistan security issues and the decision to start drawing down U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Listen to the interview here.

June 23rd, 2011 at 4:10 pm
Illegals Get to Stay if They are Pro-Union

A hat tip to Michelle Malkin’s indispensable web site for this jaw-dropping report. It turns out that the Obama administration is encouraging the national immigration service to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in order NOT to deport illegal aliens if, among other reasons, they are involved in a fight for union privileges.

To avoid deterring individuals from reporting crimes and from pursuing actions to protect their civil rights, ICE officers, special agents, and attorneys are reminded to exercise all appropriate discretion on a case-by-case basis when making detention and enforcement decisions in the case of victims of crime, witnesses to crime, and individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints. Particular attention should be paid to:…. individuals engaging in a protected activity related to civil or other rights (for example, union organizing or complaining to authorities about employment discrimination or housing conditions)….

Holy Union Thuggery, Batman!!!  Since when is “union organizing” a “right” for somebody who isn’t even a citizen or legal resident of the United States?!?  Break our laws by violating our borders, stay here illegally, and start agitating for union representation against your employer, and suddenly you are untouchable! You’re now a protected class of lawbreaker. Nice deal, eh? What’s next — forgiveness in American courts for all breaking-and-entering offenses as long as the violator is in favor of card check?

Words fail. This administration now is managing to combine two of its pernicious initiatives, amnesty and feathering the nests of union bosses, in one fell swoop. Unionizing is now equated with a civil right; lawlessness is now a “discretionary” concept. This should be all over the front pages of all the big papers; it should lead the nightly newscasts; it should be the subject of congressional hearings — and it should get people fired, because it is an abomination.

June 23rd, 2011 at 11:06 am
Initial Unemployment Claims Rise, Fed Says “We’ve Done All We Can”
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So much for attempt number two on the “Recovery Summer” that the Obama Administration promised one year ago.

Today, the Labor Department announced that weekly initial unemployment claims jumped to 429,000, an increase of 9,000 from last week’s 420,000.  Even more ominously, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke explained yesterday that the Fed has already done all it is prepared to do to increase growth, and expressed the same sort of cluelessness as Obama on why their “stimulus” has failed:

We don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting.”

The Fed also issued “fairly significant” reductions in its 2011 growth forecast to 2.9% next year (down from a 3.3% growth expectation in April, and from 3.9% in January).  Another “Recovery Summer” like this, and Obama will be borrowing Jimmy Carter’s sweater for his own “Malaise Speech.”