intersection

the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
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Posts tagged "Congress"

Yes, friends, this is the information the DOJ thinks you (and Congress) are entitled to review about the ATF Fast and Furious program:

DOJ redacted Fast and Furious file shown by Rep. D. Issa (R-CA)

Moe Lane has more, including the entire CBS Face the Nation segment on Fast and Furious with Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA):

…[This] is one of the pages that the Department of Justice considered to be an adequate response to an information request by the House Oversight Committee. About the only information that you can gather from that is that the Justice Department apparently has plenty of black ink.

Check it out.

On the “new civility” demanded from the Democrats, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal writes:

… Last Wednesday Thomas Friedman described the Tea Party as the GOP’s “Hezbollah faction.” The same day Maureen Dowd approvingly quoted “some Democrats” as describing the Tea Party as “the Republican ‘Taliban wing.’ " (In fairness we should note that the Times’s Roger Cohen registered a partial dissent: “Hatred of Muslims … is a growing political industry. It’s odious, dangerous and racist.”)
And it’s not just the Times. NewsBusters.org quotes liberal Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson: “There’s a nihilist caucus which is, ‘Listen, we want to burn the place down.’ I mean, they’re not, they’ve strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it.” NewsBusters also notes a cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star depicting President Obama ordering Navy SEALs to stage a bin Laden-style raid on the House side of the Capitol…
Hey, what ever happened to civility?
That’s not a rhetorical question. Back in January, after a madman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of her constituents, gravely wounding her and killing six, the liberal elite briefly developed an obsession with the supposed dangers of uncivil political rhetoric.
Before a suspect had even been identified, as we noted Jan. 10, Fitzsimmons, the Tucson cartoonist, was on CNN blaming “the right in Arizona” for “stoking the fire of heated anger and rage” and making the attack “inevitable.” Fitzsimmons later apologized, but former Enron adviser Paul Krugman did not. . .
Then it was February, and the liberal elite lost all interest in policing “the boundaries of public discourse.” The faux goo-goo group Common Cause held a rally where participants urged the lynching of Supreme Court justices. Liberals—including at least one Democratic congressman—employed actual violent rhetoric against Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, whose state budget reforms stripped government employee unions of many of their expensive privileges.
And now, of course, all of liberaldom is likening the Tea Party to terrorists. But really, that message is entirely consistent with the one in January, and indeed with the message the liberal elite has been propagating since the early days of the Obama administration: that the Tea Party is illegitimate.
"Terrorist," "racist," "uncivil," "insane," the list goes on—in this context, these words have no real meaning. They are mere epithets. The Obama presidency has reduced the liberal left to an apoplectic rage. His Ivy League credentials, superior attitude, pseudointellectual mien and facile adherence to lefty ideology make him the perfect personification of the liberal elite. Thus far at least, he has been an utter failure both at winning public support and at managing the affairs of the nation

Check it out while also reading the account in the Miami Herald of recent comments by the Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus:

The real enemy is the tea party –- let’s remember that,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, host of the meeting and jobs fair. “The tea party holds Congress hostage…They have one goal in mind, and that’s to make President Obama a one-term president.”
She got energetic applause from the crowd of hundreds at Mt. Hermon AME Church in Miami Gardens. So did Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who recently said the tea party should "Go straight to hell."
… The tea party opposing Obama, [the Rev. Jesse] Jackson said, should be called the “Fort Sumter Tea Party that sought to maintain states’ rights and slavery.” (Apparently he read this article in Salon.)
"The tea party is a new name on an old game," he said. "Dr. King fought a ‘tea party’ in Alabama…He had no weapons, but he confronted the tea party."…

Check it out, but don’t forget to listen to Rep. Allen West (R-FL), the only GOP member of the Congressional Black Caucus, for his take on the Democrats:

The people on that plantation [the Democratic party] are upset because they’ve been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about…I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the underground railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.

So the upcoming 2012 campaign season should be interesting, if not inflammatory.

At over 1,000 and counting, waivers granted to state and local governments, unions, and private businesses to opt out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) continue to grow. To find the complete list of who has been granted a waiver so far requires drilling down multiple levels at Health & Human Services (gee, it’s almost like they don’t want you to find it), but start there and then try and find the link to the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, then … actually, never mind—just google it. (As a matter of fact, the only list still displayed is an old one; it seems as though the “transparency” is gone.)

Three pressing questions worth considering (but I’m not addressing here) are:

  • If Obamacare is the panacea for health coverage problems in the U.S., why are so many clamoring for exemptions from it?
  • Why are some of those who pushed so hard for this legislation [unions and (former) Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) , I’m looking at you] among those requesting, and receiving, waivers from it?
  • Is it constitutional for the executive branch to unilaterally decide that legislation passed by the legislative branch allows for exemptions not mentioned in the law? For more, check out these two articles by Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He writes, in part:
More seriously, it raises questions about whether we live under a government of laws. Congress can pass statutes that apply to some businesses and not others, but once a law has passed — and therefore is binding — how can the executive branch relieve some Americans of their obligation to obey it?
Indeed, can even a small corporation get a waiver? Small businesses provide most new jobs, but the answer is obvious: Waivers are mostly, if not entirely, for politically significant businesses and unions that get the special attention of HHS or the White House. The rest of us must obey the laws.

Of course, the biggest practical question of all for businesses is who at HHS gets to decide who receives a waiver or not, and what criteria (if any) are they using to determine waiver status?

But, just so you know this isn’t something new, let’s take a look at the Great Toy Crisis of 2007. That was the year Mattel voluntarily issued recalls for over 19 million toys made in China because of concerns over lead paint and small magnets that could be swallowed. Congress immediately decided this, too, was a crisis that shouldn’t go to waste and called for legislation to (further) “protect” the consumer, even though there were no deaths reported from lead poisoning and only one death reported from swallowing magnets (and that was in 2005).

So 2008 saw the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), whose goal was:

To establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products …

One of the more onerous provisions of this new act was the mandating of independent third-party testing on all toys and children’s products (clothes, books, etc.) made for those 12 and younger. Small U.S. toy manufacturers were hit especially hard. They asked why their products, typically made of wood and natural material, should have to undergo expensive outside testing when lead was never a part of their manufacturing process. Small toymakers and toy shop owners banded together and formed the Handmade Toy Alliance to bring their concerns before Congress. In congressional testimony given in 2009, they reported that third-party labs were charging from $150 for testing simple wood blocks up to $4,000 for a wooden rattle—costs small manufacturers just could not afford.

Another unintended (aren’t they always?) consequence of this legislation was (and is) complete confusion in the second-hand resale market, with some bookstore owners removing all children’s books printed before 1985 in order to comply with very confusing and conflicting guidelines from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and some used-clothing vendors removing children’s clothes altogether.

But what does this have to do with government waivers?

Well, Mattel, the toy giant that first triggered the panic by bringing in contaminated toys from China, lobbied hard to get written into the CPSIA language that allows Mattel to oversee its own testing—no expensive independent third-party labs required.

Unlike the Obamacare waivers, Mattel’s exemption is allowed under the law, but the underlying issue remains the same: big government and big business, working together for their common good, or as the Beatles like to say,

I get by with a little help from my friends…

(Originally published on Ricochet)

From the National Catholic Register:

… We, Americans that is, like to think that the rules somehow do not apply to us. We watch Greece and Portugal go under for spending gobs more than they produce and we tut-tut. They should have known better, we say. Oblivious to the fact that we are behaving in exactly the same way. But no, we are different. Somehow we are different. Sure, we spend $1.40 for every dollar we take in, but we will make up the shortfall in volume, right? Wrong.
America is not exceptional. Sure, we may have been founded centuries ago upon some ideals that were exceptional at the time, or even today. But we were not up to the task of preserving it. True liberty requires morality and we have long been bereft of both…

Check it out.

The Mad Hatter from "Alice in Wonderland"

And why were hatters mad? Because in earlier centuries, hat makers used mercury to cure pelts used in some hats, and in so doing, inhaled mercury fumes. The result? Hatters often suffered mercury poisoning that caused neurological damage, damage that included confused speech, distorted vision, and lack of coordination.

Now the federal government has mandated that you put mercury in your home in the form of light bulbs (even as they warn you about it in your fish). As John Hinderaker of Power Line writes:

You could say that requiring Americans to remove pretty much all of the light bulbs now in use and replace them with bulbs that people don’t want is the ultimate in nanny statism, except that nannies don’t generally poison the children in their care.

In 2007, Congress passed (and to his eternal shame, Pres. George W. Bush signed) the Energy Independence and Security Act, an energy bill that placed strict efficiency requirements on incandescent bulbs in an attempt to phase them out beginning in 2012 and replace them with more expensive (but supposedly more energy-efficient) bulbs, the most popular being compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). One side effect of that legislation was the September 2010 closing of General Electric’s last major incandescent factory in this country and the laying off of 200 workers. Most of these jobs will head over to China, where many of the CFLs sold in the U.S. are made.

And what’s so bad about CFLs? The worst thing (among several) is that CFLs contain mercury, and exposure to mercury vapor is dangerous if the bulbs break.

So what happens when your new CFL does break? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) basically declares your house a hazmat area. (Please, go look for yourself, I’ll wait—check online here at epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.pdf)

Did you read the list? Before you can even start cleaning up, you’re supposed to do the following:

  • Have people and pets leave the room. (Why? Because mercury vapor is poisonous.)
  • Air out the room for 5 to10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. (Once again, why? Because the government has mandated that you put poison in your home.)
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one. (Because we don’t want the mercury poison to travel throughout your home’s air system.)
  • Collect materials needed to clean up the broken bulb. (To clean up an incandescent bulb just requires my hands and a trash can. Now, according to the EPA, I will need: stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes, and a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.)

Who wants to bet that many people won’t follow these guidelines, and that 10 or 15 years from now, we will hear from the environmentalists that our ground water and landfills are replete with mercury and will require massive amounts of government funds to clean up?

Already, hospitals warn that CFL bulbs can cause migraines and epilepsy attacks. Others point out that CFLs don’t work well in colder temperatures and Americans will then be forced to use more heat (thus negating any gains in energy efficiency). CFLs don’t work well with dimmer switches, can take up to several minutes to reach full brightness, and the lifespan of the bulb diminishes when it’s turned on and off frequently.

But all that “don’t make no never mind,” because beginning January 2012, 100-watt bulbs will be declared unacceptable to the federal government and therefore no longer available to you. (The state of California, just to show it’s in the forefront of foolish ideas, upped their date to January 2011, so as of now, no more 100-watt incandescent bulbs for sale there.) This diminution of choice will completely disappear in January 2014, when the last remaining wattage, 40-watt bulbs, will be declared enemies of the environment and removed from store shelves. Then you can start worrying about your deadly mercury bulbs … if you haven’t already.

Am I stockpiling incandescents?

Why, yes. Yes, I am.

(And check out this as well.)

Why does this not surprise me? From the Washington Examiner:

… Obamacare has completely trapped the Democrats on fiscal policy. In order to pay for Obamacare’s trillions of dollars in new spending, they had to raise taxes by $500 and raid Medicare by another $500 billion. As a result, all the low-hanging revenue and spending fruit are already gone. As even The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein admits, the Democrats must now argue for higher taxes, and not just on the wealthy. In order to pay for all their entitlement programs, the middle class is going to have to pay more, too. But Ezra can admit this because he doesn’t have to win elections; Democrats in public offices do. That is the reason you haven’t seen a Democratic budget since Obamacare became law and it is the reason you will not see another one till at least 2013

Check it out.

From Ace of Spades HQ:

Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee Approve the ISP Snooping Bill, HR-1981.
On Thursday legislation was approved that would force internet service providers to save information on customer usage for twelve months on the chance law enforcement might want to look at it sometime. The bill was mislabeled the “Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” in a nauseating attempt to cut off debate on its merits.
It eliminates the warrant requirement.
ISPs would be required to store customer names, bank account numbers, IP addresses, credit card numbers and home addresses. In other words, a gigantic database will be created for any snooping purpose. And, let’s be clear, since there is no warrant requirement, law enforcement will end-up simply grabbing all of the information available, whether or not there is an ongoing investigation, and storing it permanently.
Republicans did this.
There’s a point where right meets left. It’s where some in the Republican party would liberally use government power to further their ends…

Check it out.