Wednesday, March 31, 2010
As you'll note, with today's first newsbite my instinct is to give President Obama "props" for a policy decision announcing approval for new off-shore drilling.
Based upon reading the full article... based upon what some might term "cynical analysis"... I'm far from convinced that when all is said and done the country will gain - on balance - much from the President's decisions.
As I note in the newsbite itself... hopefully I'm simply being cynical.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
What comes to mind when you here the phrase "papers, please?"
(German accent... Hogan's Heroes...?)
Mary and I were coming home from visiting friends in Katonah tonight and as we crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge from Westchester into Orange we apparently entered the Twilight Zone where America is spelled "Amerika."
As we're crossing the bridge (at 10:30 at night) we see flashing lights ahead and traffic backed up.
At first we thought it must be an accident on the traffic circle, but, no... it turned out to be the New York State PARK Police stopping and questioning motorists with no probable cause!
I mean... I suppose it could have been an Amber Alert checkpoint or perhaps unbeknownst to me Orange County has been put on High Homeland Security Alert... but I'm guessing it was a DWI checkpoint.
Now I'm no lawyer, but here's what bugs me: The officer who stopped me asked where I was coming from.
Me being the wiseass I am... I initially answered "Carl's House" before Mary leaned over and said "Katonah."
The young lady with the holstered pistol then told us to precede.
Hey... truth be told... before she even said a word to me I had powered down my window and yelled out, "Hey... I hope none of you guys are on overtime - the state's broke!"
Hey... typical Bill, right? I had my fun; I know the officer leaned close in order to be able to detect a whiff of alcohol if there had been one... but in all seriousness... although Mary answered the officer's question seriously, I'm pretty sure the officer had no right to ask in the first place.
Where we were was - and is - none of the state's goddamn business!
Seriously... this is still America... right...???
Listen... I suppose DWI checkpoints are legal or else they wouldn't exist. That said, ask me if I'm having a good evening - don't ask me where I've been, where I'm coming from.
Lean in and ask "nice night isn't" if you want to smell my breath or see what shape my eyes are in; don't invade my right to privacy.
No... I'm not blaming Obama... not this time at least...
Seriously, though... this is America - not Amerika. I have no problem with being quizzed when I drive into the USMA at West Point for a concert or football game, but I don't want men and women with guns stopping me with no probably cause on a public roadway as if the Cold War were still going on and I was attempting to cross from East to West Berlin!
Friday, March 26, 2010
A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.
To end the practice of "birthright citizenship," all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment's first sentence: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."
From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.
A parent from a poor country, writes professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas law school, "can hardly do more for a child than make him or her an American citizen, entitled to all the advantages of the American welfare state." Therefore, "It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one which makes unauthorized entry into this country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry."
Writing in the Texas Review of Law and Politics, Graglia says this irrationality is rooted in a misunderstanding of the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." What was this intended or understood to mean by those who wrote it in 1866 and ratified it in 1868? The authors and ratifiers could not have intended birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants because in 1868 there were and never had been any illegal immigrants because no law ever had restricted immigration.
If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration - and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration - is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 begins with language from which the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause is derived: "All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States."
The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States.
This reasoning - divided allegiance - applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship. Indeed, today's regulations issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice stipulate:
"A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the 14th Amendment."
Sen. Lyman Trumbull of Illinois was, Graglia writes, one of two "principal authors of the citizenship clauses in 1866 act and the 14th Amendment." He said that "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" meant subject to its "complete" jurisdiction, meaning "not owing allegiance to anybody else." Hence children whose Indian parents had tribal allegiances were excluded from birthright citizenship.
Appropriately, in 1884 the Supreme Court held that children born to Indian parents were not born "subject to" U.S. jurisdiction because, among other reasons, the person so born could not change his status by his "own will without the action or assent of the United States." And "no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent."
Graglia says this decision "seemed to establish" that U.S. citizenship is "a consensual relation, requiring the consent of the United States." So: "This would clearly settle the question of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. There cannot be a more total or forceful denial of consent to a person's citizenship than to make the source of that person's presence in the nation illegal."
Congress has heard testimony estimating that more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles public hospitals, and more than half of all births in that city, and nearly 10% of all births in the nation in recent years, have been to illegal immigrant mothers. Graglia seems to establish that there is no constitutional impediment to Congress ending the granting of birthright citizenship to persons whose presence here is "not only without the government's consent but in violation of its law."
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Nope! Haven't given up, folks!
Nope... the last few days of "Barker Silence" haven't been Obama related... they've been St. Paddy's Day related!
As some readers are already aware, the Sunday following the "real" St. Paddy's Day (March 17) is the setting for the yearly Pearl River, New York St. Paddy's Day Parade.
The Parade serves as the excuse for a yearly "guy's night out" on the Saturday night of the weekend and for this occasion - from Saturday thru Monday - my buddy Ted comes down from New Hampshire.
So... basically... Saturday through today has been "personal time" - no blogging except for this post and the one preceding it.
Anyway... back to "newsbites" tomorrow!
Who's Oli Mackson?
Oli's a reporter for my local rag, The Times Herald-Record.
Between us, folks, Oli should be running the rag - in which case it wouldn't be a rag - but he's not and more's the pity...
Anyway... I've known Oli for, oh... probably a couple of decades now - perhaps over 20 years. We don't chat much nowadays, but Oli's a good reporter and every once in awhile we still exchange thoughts and opinions.
This afternoon Oli was kind enough to forward me a link to a retraction made by Politico concerning a story they had published on Friday which turned out to be based upon a fake memo.
The reason the above referenced link Oli sent me is of interest here is that the retraction concerned a story I highlighted within "Barker's Newsbites" on Friday.
Now I've already noted the "bad info" and provided the link to the retraction within the Comments Section of my Friday newsbite thread, but you guys know how anal I can be about separating truth from fiction.
Even as the scumba... er... incompetents at Politico have now seeming "replaced" the original story with a notification blaming certain "unnamed Republicans" I'll take direct responsibility for "forwarding" the Politico's blunder to my readers.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Folks... from the Heritage Foundation:
In theory, the federal government has $2.5 trillion stashed away in a nondescript office building in the sleepy little town of Parkersburg, West Virginia. That is where the Treasury Department keeps stacks of nonnegotiable Treasury bonds payable to the Social Security Administration.
* UNDERSTAND, FOLKS... THESE BONDS ARE NOT LIKE THE SAVINGS BONDS WE SOMETIMES BUY FOR CHILDREN (OR RECEIVED AS GIFTS OURSELVES). NO. THESE BONDS ARE DEBT! THESE BONDS ARE AN ACCOUNTING GIMMICK. THESE BONDS REPRESENT MONEY GOVERNMENT TOOK IN AND SPENT - THEY'VE ALREADY SPENT IT... THEY HAVEN'T SAVED IT.
But as the Associated Press reported yesterday, for the first time since the 1980s, the federal government will not be adding to that stack.
* UNDERSTAND, FOLKS... THIS ISN'T "GOOD." THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT DEBT IS NOT BEING CREATED. IT ACTUALLY MEANS MORE DEBT IS BEING CREATED, BUT THAT THE DEBT IS COMING FROM DIFFERENT "STRAIGHT" GOVERNMENT BONDING AND OPPOSED TO PAST PRACTICES OF SIMPLY SPENDING THE SOCIAL SECURITY SURPLUS "CONTRIBUTIONS" AND CREATING IOU "BONDS."
* BOTTOM LINE... IN PLAIN ENGLISH... THE FACT THAT "NEW SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUND BONDS" AREN'T BEING ADDED TO THE EXISTING PILE IS BECAUSE SOCIAL SECURITY IS CURRENTLY NOT RUNNING A SURPLUS... IT'S NOW RUNNING AT AN OPERATING DEFICIT!
Thanks to an aging population and slow economy, Social Security will pay out $29 billion more this year than it takes in. And the Congressional Budget Office reports that after small surpluses in 2014 and 2015, the program is projected to be in the red from 2016 until forever.
* FOLKS... DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE READING HERE...??? THE CRISIS HAS ARRIVED! (BUT HOW MUCH ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT IT OUTSIDE OF BARKER'S NEWSBITES...???)
But what about Al Gore’s Social Security “Lock Box?” Can’t we just spend that $2.5 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund? As Heritage experts David John and Brian Reidl explain, since 1939 federal law has required Social Security to “invest” its extra money in Treasury bonds. Those bonds are really just IOUs from the government to the government.
* AS I'VE EXPLAINED OVER AND OVER AGAIN...
The feds already spent that $2.5 trillion long ago....
(*GRITTING MY TEETH*)
Add the $2.5 trillion Social Security obligation onto our other obligations and our current national debt stands at $12.5 trillion, or nearly $42,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
And it will only get worse under President Barack Obama’s Budget [which] would: 1) borrow 42 cents for each dollar spent in 2010; 2) leave permanent annual deficits that top $1 trillion as late as 2020; and 3) dump an additional $74,000 per household of debt into the laps of our children and grandchildren.
* RE-READ THAT, FOLKS; YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS!!! IT'S REAL... IT'S HAPPENING... IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT...?!?!
Responding to such unsustainable borrowing, Moody’s rating agency announced Monday that the United States needs to make deep spending cuts or risk losing its AAA credit rating. From the report: “growth alone will not resolve an increasingly complicated debt equation. Preserving debt affordability at levels consistent with AAA ratings will invariably require fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion.”
* FOLKS... WHAT MOODY'S IS SAYING IS... "IF YOU DON'T ALREADY OWN RIFLES, SHOTGUNS, AND PISTOLS - WITH LOTS OF AMMO - YOU MIGHT WANNA DROP BY YOUR LOCAL GUNSHOP OR WALMART."
* FOLKS... SERIOUSLY... WHAT DO YOU THINK "TEST SOCIAL COHESION" MEANS...???
Losing our AAA rating would send interest rates higher, increase our borrowing costs, and send the percentage of GDP we spend servicing our debt sky rocketing. Bloomberg adds: “the U.S. will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other top-rated country except the U.K., and will be the biggest spender from 2011 to 2013.”
The message from Moody’s was clear: the U.S. federal government must change direction on spending or face economic disaster.
* FOLKS... OBAMA AND THE DEMS HAVE NO INTENTION OF "CHANGING COURSE." THEY'RE STEERING AMERICA FULL SPEED AHEAD INTO DISASTER!
The Leftist majorities in Congress and the White House are not listening. Instead of reining in federal spending and tackling our existing Entitlement crisis, they are locked in an all out push to create a brand new $2.5 trillion health care entitlement. The President may say his plan is deficit neutral, but the American people do not believe him. And they are wise not to. The President tries to pay for his plan with over half a trillion dollars in Medicare cuts over the next decade. The president’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that these cuts would cause one-fifth of all health care providers to go bankrupt.
Congress would never allow those hospitals to go out of business.
Congress will never actually make those Medicare cuts.
So already Obamacare is half a trillion dollars in the red, and we haven’t even tacked on the hundreds of billion of dollars the doc fix adds on.
Reducing our entitlement obligations is the only way to prevent our nation from becoming another Greece. We need to: 1) to show these programs’ long-term obligations in the budget; target these programs to only who that need them; and strengthen personal responsibility by making it easier for people to build personal retirement savings and use health care savings accounts.
But first we must avoid the fiscal insanity that is Obamacare.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
The economy is still limping along, but some members of Congress are nevertheless riding in style: At least 10 House members are spending more than $1,000 a month in taxpayer money to lease cars.
Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas)...is paying $1,628 to lease a GMC Yukon...
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.)...spends $1,230 per month on a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe...
Pedro Pierluisi, the Democrat who represents Puerto Rico, spends $1,400 each month on his hybrid GMC Yukon, but a spokeswoman said that figure includes insurance, repair and maintenance costs.
Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.) — one of the richest members of Congress, with a net worth of more than $36 million — spends $1,279 in taxpayer money on his vehicle, a 2009 Chevy Malibu that helps him traverse his expansive southern New Mexico district. His cost includes additional mileage to facilitate travel in the sixth-largest congressional district in the country, his office said.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) spent $1,259 per month last quarter for a hybrid Toyota Highlander
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who represents St. Louis, spends $1,059 a month on a hybrid Ford SUV.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) spends $1,026 each month on a hybrid Mercury Mariner, which he drives between his northern Pennsylvania district and Washington to avoid having to pay airfare.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) spends $1,143 each month for his vehicle.
Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) leases a hybrid Ford SUV for $1,108 a month.
]I]t’s possible that there are leases even more expensive on a month-to-month basis than those detailed here.
At least three members of Congress - Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Gary Miller (R-Calif.) - lease Lexuses with taxpayer money.
Miller - a construction entrepreneur with a net worth in excess of $13 million - spends $843 in taxpayer money to lease a Lexus RX 400h, marketed as “the world’s first luxury hybrid SUV.” He blames the high price on the energy-efficiency rule. And he says he’s hamstrung by his height - he’s more than 6 feet tall - and the need to sit comfortably during his twice-weekly, hourlong drive to and from Los Angeles International Airport.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Last night 21 stupid, cowardly Senate Republicans voted with the Democrats to pass without amendment H.R.4691 - a bill "To Provide a Temporary Extension of Certain Programs, and For Other Purposes" - which the CBO estimates will add over $10.3 billion to the national debt between 2010-2020... all this additional "emergency" deficit spending somehow exempt from the so-called PayGo "requirements" that Congress passed only weeks ago.
Consequently I introduce into the Hall of Shame the following:
Bond (R-MO); Brown (R-MA); Brownback (R-KS); Chambliss (R-GA); Cochran (R-MS); Collins (R-ME); Graham (R-SC); Grassley (R-IA); Inhofe (R-OK); Isakson (R-GA); Kyl (R-AZ); LeMieux (R-FL); Lugar (R-IN); McCain (R-AZ); Murkowski (R-AK); Roberts (R-KS); Shelby (R-AL); Snowe (R-ME); Vitter (R-LA); Voinovich (R-OH); and Wicker (R-MS).
So much for honor, intellectual integrity, and proclaimed allegiance to fiscal conservatism.
We've grown to expect such behavior from the likes of Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and the other "usual suspects," but from James Inhofe... Sam Brownback...
Of course McCain and Graham are part of the gang that can't shoot straight...
The American People deserve better. Conservatives, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, "Big L" Liberals all deserve better than this.
Remember these names, people... these are the folks we simply can't trust.
To be fair, though, not all Republican Senators "took a dive." There were actually 19 Republicans who stood on principle:
Alexander (R-TN); Barrasso (R-WY); Bennett (R-UT); Bunning (R-KY); Burr (R-NC); Coburn (R-OK); Corker (R-TN); Cornyn (R-TX); Crapo (R-ID); DeMint (R-SC); Ensign (R-NV); Enzi (R-WY); Gregg (R-NH); Hatch (R-UT); Johanns (R-NE); McConnell (R-KY); Risch (R-ID); Sessions (R-AL); and Thune (R-SD).
Of course Tom Coburn is "one of the good guys."
Interestingly... and I always try to give credit where credit is due... Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stood with "the good guys" and put his vote where his conservative rhetoric has been.
If only McConnell had fought alongside Bunning from the start perhaps the GOP could have engineered a real breakthrough... at least breaking through the sob story rhetoric of the Democrats and their Main Stream Media allies in order to use this specific bill as a case study in how and why dysfunction is the rule rather than the exception in Washington D.C.
Mitch McConnell... in the end you voted the right way... but as a Leader... you sir are a failure.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
President Barack Obama's latest budget proposal, released in February, includes a provision that would shrink deductions for mortgage interest, real-estate taxes, charitable contributions and other items for married couples with annual incomes of more than $250,000, or individual filers earning more than $200,000. Under the proposal, such taxpayers would save 28 cents of tax liability for every $1 of mortgage interest or other eligible expenses, down from 35 cents now.
Good for you, Mr. President!
As flawed by half-measures and a socialistic mentality as the proposal is, basically you call for a move in the right direction, Mr. President.
For that... kudos!
My position... there should be no "tax break" for home ownership - no tax deductibility.
You wanna buy a house...? Buy a house! Good luck! God bless ya! But don't ask the greater society to partially subsidize your lifestyle choice.
Government requires "income." We all "get" that. But for God's sake, make the means as fair and transparent as possible. Jeez... even the thickest reader out there must "get" that in order to balance out the bottom line on revenue for each "break" in the existing tax code there must be corresponding "compensation" in the form of higher overall taxes. In other words... there's no free lunch.
To reiterate my basic tax position, while I concede the inevitability of some level of "progressivity" in the income tax code, I reject the current Frankenstein's monster federal tax code as unfair, burdensome, and economically counter-productive.
If you're going to tax "income" then tax income in the most straightforward manner possible while staying true to the American ethos of personal freedom.
Everyone should pay at least a token "contribution" to the upkeep of government. Set the minimum at 5%... or 3%... or 2%... or 1%... but all Americans should share a part of the burden.
By the same token, in a nation founded upon the principles of liberty it seems to me that no American should ever - at least during periods of peace - be subject to federal income taxes of greater than a third (33.3%) of his or her income.
How Americans choose to spend their hard earned income is their business!
Government should neither "reward" nor "punish" personal choice.
Monday, March 1, 2010
The question posed in the thread title concerns... me.
You know... I'm a lucky guy. I really am! I may not have the status, salary, or all the common trappings of my more successful friends, but I have the time - the leisure - to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
The written word - theory, fact, analysis - is my oyster... my continuing education.
Of course I'm not so lucky as the folks who get paid to research and opine... but as those of you familiar with my "lifestyle" and travel related blog postings know... I do ok.
Here's what I want to know, though: Isn't a thirst for knowledge a trait that should be not only applauded, but advanced... passed on?
I'm very proud to be Godfather to my best friend's daughter. She's a lovely young woman of fifteen - a freshman in high school.
She's bright. She'll no doubt do well in life. She enjoys all the advantages of having loving, materially successful parents. On all counts she's a well-adjusted adolescent with a bright future ahead of her.
A while back I suggested to her father - my best friend - that he have her start reading my "newsbites" on a daily basis.
A bit of background: My buddy is politically aware, involved, and broadly knowledgeable. He holds a bachelor's in finance, an MBA, and after working for several years at IBM he decided to start a second career and so went to law school and is now a successful attorney in a midtown Manhattan business law practice.
My pal is as interested in the sort of social/political/economic/historical stuff I'm interested in. Like me he's been "a Wall Street Journal man" since high school. While he doesn't have my level of contextual and factual command...
...pertaining to certain areas of shared interest which I possess, truth be told, he doesn't have the time to spend on accumulating such knowledge that I do.
Few people do...
Nor does he have the academic background in history, political science, and foreign affairs which I possess.
Which is perhaps the secret to his success... but I digress...
(*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)
See... seriously... that's my point in wanting his daughter - my Goddaughter - to avail herself of my "newsbites."
Obviously I believe most folks would benefit from "piggybacking" upon the knowledge I pick up day in and day out via my reading and which I willingly pass on to anyone interested in taking advantage of my labors, but my Goddaughter isn't just anyone... she's my Goddaughter!
My buddy humors me... but I know he's not taking my request to heart; he certainly hasn't acted upon it. I think this is a bad decision.
As a freshman in high school... as a young woman who is destined to live the life of an upper middle class American - hopefully beyond "merely" upper middle class - it seems to me that getting her familiar with the sort of info she'd learn from reading my daily "newsbites" would only serve her well; will only serve to make her a wiser and more knowledgeable person than she'll likely turn out to be absent early and ongoing exposure to such information and insights.
Com'on... the average American is a relative ignoramus! Sure, in theory my Goddaughter is getting a fine education - and relatively she no doubt is! But look at where the bar is set!
The kind of info I highlight daily within my "newsbites" is - frankly - knowledge which I highly doubt many of my Goddaughter's teachers possess.
The kind of info I highlight daily within my "newsbites" is the sort of knowledge that all citizens should possess... but rarely do.
Anyhow... that's my position.
I'm posting this... er... post... specifically for my buddy's benefit.
Nah... in case anyone is wondering, no, he won't be pissed...
This post is just my way of reiterating the point that my pal should take me up on my... er... offer.
My... er... suggestion.
Remember pal... The Godfather Is Always Right!
Hey... I think it's in the Bible...!