Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Democrats say that Trump’s budget proposal is “dead on arrival”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal went to Congress last week, while Trump was on his first overseas trip visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Palestinians, the Vatican and NATO. Trump’s $4.1 trillion plan is titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”

Predictably, upon release of the proposal Democrats burst forth to condemn the budget. A couple of Congressional Democrats eagerly, and with as much flourish as they could muster, termed the proposal “dead on arrival” which, like so much of what they say, is much ado about nothing. Every budget proposal from every president is “dead on arrival,” the word “proposal” being the operative word. A president’s proposal is merely a starting point.

Since you can’t swing a dead cat without seeing the negative coverage of everything Trump says or does, this article will summarize the positive elements of the proposal.

Trump’s proposal focuses on national defense areas by boosting spending on the military and border security. This focus is what Trump campaigned on, budget director Nick Mulvaney said.

As reported on, Mulvaney said, “There’s not a single thing [cut] from Social Security or Medicare. Why? Because that’s what he promised.” However, other programs such as Medicaid and food stamps will see cuts.

"We look at spending differently," Mulvaney explained. “We are not going to measure compassion by the number of programs or [the number of] people on them.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in support of the budget plan that “We can finally turn the page on the Obama era of bloated budgets that never balance.” “President Trump has proven his commitment to fiscal responsibility with a budget that … prioritizes American taxpayers over bureaucrats in Washington.”

Focusing on national defense through restoring the military and tightening our borders are badly needed corrections to critical failures of the Obama administration. The last eight years saw serious weakening of the military and policies that encouraged illegal entry into the country.

While Obama foolishly reduced the size and strength of all military forces, the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano tells us that the “most neglected of all U.S. national security elements are our strategic forces. Here, President Obama has reined in development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses,” and “cut all advanced missile defense programs designed to keep the United States ahead of the ballistic missile threat in the future.” And, “to curry favor with Russia, he pulled the plug on planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, simultaneously alienating those allies while displaying weakness to Moscow.”

The plan addresses the dangerously high national debt of nearly $20 trillion and takes a fiscally responsible approach aimed at beginning the process of reducing the large annual deficits to zero in ten years, and perhaps produce a relatively small surplus by 2027.

While this year’s deficit will be a little higher than last year’s, the initiatives contained in the plan will turn the habit of annual deficits around, if they are successful. Trump depends upon producing growth in our economy, although many economists say his goals are too optimistic.

Modifications to the tax system are an important part of Trump’s plan, and include reducing tax brackets from seven to three with rates of 10, 25 and 35 percent, and will eliminate tax breaks to balance the loss of income to the Treasury from lower tax rates.

Lower rates are a good thing; they leave taxpayers with more spendable dollars, which increases consumer spending and spurs economic activity that produces jobs, and new jobs produce additional taxpayers and increase tax collections.

Big government types, which include most Democrats and liberals, believe cuts in federal spending are always a bad thing. But cuts can be made without hurting people who truly need the government payments they receive.

The Trump proposal cuts almost $3.6 trillion from an array of benefit programs, domestic agencies and war spending over the coming decade, including Medicaid, student loan subsidies, food stamps, and the highway formula for the states.

“We are not kicking anybody off any program who needs it,” said Mulvaney, who explained that the proposal doesn’t cut Medicaid, just grows it more slowly over 10 years.

However, while cutting some federal spending, the plan features one major new domestic initiative: paid parental leave estimated to cost $25 billion over the next decade.

But in this discussion of cuts let us not forget that waste, fraud and abuse account for billions of dollars of federal spending annually that accomplish nothing. reports on federal estimates showing “Improper payments account for about 5 cents of every Medicaid dollar, … or about $29.1 billion of the $547.7 billion program in 2015 alone,” through intentional deception or misrepresentation; inappropriate use of services and resources; and practices inconsistent with sound fiscal, business or medical practices.

And that is just one federal program. Ending or reducing those problems will go a long way to counter spending cuts.
Those who believe the federal government cannot spend less and accomplish just as much good are living in Fantasy Land. Too many people automatically believe the scare mongering of those who profit politically from supporting high levels of spending.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Restoring government’s three branches to Constitutional balance

The unequaled genius of the Founders produced an original form of government that included a system of checks and balances to maintain its integrity. That design has been substantially abandoned, and all three branches of government are guilty of creating this situation.

The Legislative Branch is now weaker and the Executive Branch now stronger due to malfeasance by the Congress and the eager acceptance of extra-constitutional power by administrative agencies. Likewise, failure of the duty to the Constitution’s original language and intent has increased power to the Judicial Branch.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress, and only Congress, the authority to pass laws. But through laziness and other misfeasance through the years Congress has abdicated much of that duty by allowing administrative agencies to pass rules that are in effect laws. That is how the EPA is able to implement a rule that absurdly allows it to tell a farmer in Iowa that the drainage ditch along his dirt road is a waterway that falls under federal control.

That is also how the Department of Education justifies using SWAT teams to break down the doors of people because their education loan payments are past due. There are dozens of other examples of this unconstitutional over-reach by federal agencies.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee confirms this unconstitutional transfer of power, and blames lawmakers, saying, “We are not, in fact, the victims, we are the perpetrators.” He went on to tell The Daily Signal that this was done to make Congress’ job easier, because it is less politically risky to let others do the lawmaking through the rule-making function.

Speaking at the Federalist Society’s 5th annual Executive Branch Review Conference, Lee talked about his efforts to combat this situation through the Article One Project. He outlined three pieces of legislation designed to address the problem.

The REINS Act would require both Congress and the president to approve any administrative rule with an economic impact of $100 million or more. Lee said that ultimately, “Congress would be responsible for every major regulation that went into effect.” The Act has passed the House, but not the Senate.

The second measure is the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), which Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe told The Daily Signal would reverse the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision that established the “Chevron doctrine” that “determined that courts must defer to agencies’ interpretation of ambiguous laws as long as their interpretation is deemed ‘reasonable.’”

“This bill would end the dysfunctional status quo that tilts the legal playing field in favor of bureaucrats,” Lee said. SOPRA passed the House last year, and Ratcliffe has introduced it again this year.

Currently, federal agencies use funds received through fines, fees, and proceeds from legal settlements at their own discretion, thereby avoiding the formal appropriations process, and escaping congressional oversight. It may also encourage agency action aimed at raising funds. The Agency Accountability Act will require funds acquired by agencies outside the appropriations process to be turned over to the Treasury.

Lee commented, “You see the Constitution has this pesky little provision that … Congress has the power and the responsibility to direct spending of federal dollars. The power of the purse is one of Congress’ most potent tools for controlling bureaucracies.”

The Judicial Branch also has strayed from the straight and narrow path created by the Constitution through increasingly liberal interpretation of the language and intent of the Constitution and federal laws, citing how society has changed over the years as the need to reinterpret them. Amending them is too slow and difficult, you see.

Carson Holloway, author of “Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration,” explains another liberal judicial technique. President Donald Trump’s revised Executive Order temporarily halting travel to the U.S. from several countries with ties to terrorism was found unconstitutional by some lower courts, which agreed with opponents that the order actually bans Muslim immigration.

The order does no such thing, Holloway notes, since it applies to only a fraction of Muslim countries, and that the lower courts reacted not to the language of the order, but to things Trump said during the campaign. In other words, the courts abandoned interpreting actual written language in favor of reading the president’s mind, and finding a hidden agenda there.

Looking back in history to the days of Chief Justice John Marshall, Holloway explains that while Marshall acknowledged both the letter and spirit of the law, Marshall said, “the spirit is to be collected chiefly from its words,” not the imagination of judges.

Holloway said, “rule of law does not mean rule by judges acting on their whim,” but that it requires “judicial modesty.” And Marshall noted in Fletcher v. Peck that “an inquiry into the subjective motives of the lawmaker quickly leads judges into a realm in which there are no clear, compelling standards of judgment.”

Holloway concludes with the hope that the Appellate Court “follows the path of judicial modesty … and not the endlessly debatable intentions that may lie behind” the order.

Our government is badly out of balance, and a quick return to constitutional government and originalism in the courts is essential.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wind and solar energy have failed to perform as advertised

The bad news for what we have been told are superior energy sources keeps piling up. Even European countries, with their strong preference for things that don’t work, like socialist government, have begun pulling back from wind energy as a major energy source, and solar energy isn’t doing so well, either.

German-owned solar panel producer SolarWorld has filed for what it termed “insolvency” in a European court, saying it was “over-indebted” and did not have a “positive going concern prognosis.” Translated into the plain language of American business, SolarWorld is filing for bankruptcy.

In America bankruptcy does not necessarily mean the end for a company, so perhaps “insolvency” is only a temporary side trip, but it certainly falls well below the description of a successful company.

Here at home, that raises concerns over the company’s U.S. division, SolarWorld America, Inc., which operates a $600 million panel plant in Hillsboro, Oregon. Democrat Gov. Ted Kulongoski praised the plant as an economic development beacon “in the Silicon forest” during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, also attended by Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and then-Rep. David Wu.

The facility was purchased in 2007 from Japan's Komatsu Group, and by 2012 had collected $57 million in Business Energy Tax Credits from the state. Reports say it now has received $100 million in tax breaks just from state and local government. It also benefitted from a $4 million grant from Barack Obama’s Department of Energy.

SolarWorld notes, however, that despite its problems in Germany, the Hillsboro plant that employs 800 people continues to operate. The question now is how long before the Oregon plant, which its previous owner wanted rid of, joins the infamous Solyndra and Solar Trust green energy fiascos, that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars?

Across the country in Rhode Island a new offshore wind farm just went online last week. The five-turbine farm cost $300 million and currently powers just 2,000 homes, which works out to a bargain-basement price of only $150,000 per household. Ultimately, it is expected to power 17,000 homes, which will lower the cost per home, but progressives and environmentalists believe the price per home isn’t important. They believe that “it’s the precedent that counts,” according to

The Daily Caller News Foundation calculated the difference in wind and nuclear power by comparing this wind farm with a new nuclear plant, Watts Bar Unit 2, which cost $4.7 billion to build. The important difference is not the price, but the result: the nuclear facility will power 4.5 million homes at a comparatively cheap $1,044 per house.

Even with 17,000 customers, the wind farm is still 17 times more expensive than nuclear. Despite this ridiculous situation, the feds want to use offshore wind to power 23 million homes by 2050. However, Germany has finally been shocked into reality as to the inefficiency of wind power, and now plans to stop building wind facilities.

Further illustrating the calamity of the world’s environmental mania is the condition of the environment. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), which because of its European connection ought to have more credibility with the environmental faction than do Americans who don’t buy into the green energy hype, made data public recently that even the most strident greenie ought to consider.

As published by the UK Telegraph, “ever since December temperatures in the Arctic have consistently been lower than minus 20 [degrees]C. In April the extent of Arctic sea ice was back to where it was in April 13 years ago. Furthermore, whereas in 2008 most of the ice was extremely thin, this year most has been at least two metres thick. The Greenland ice cap last winter increased in volume faster than at any time for years.”

The Telegraph goes on to say that “as for those record temperatures brought in 2016 by an exceptionally strong El Niño, the satellites now show that in recent months global temperatures have plummeted by more than 0.6 degrees, just as happened 17 years ago after a similarly strong El Niño had also made 1998 the ‘hottest year on record.’”

The DMI reported actual measurements of climate information, rather than the results of climate models, which are projections that are often wrong. The DMI data shows there has been no additional warming for the last 19 years, which is “an inconvenient truth,” to environmental zealots.

The shortcomings of wind and solar power and the mounting evidence that fossil fuels have not caused the environment to warm significantly cast doubt on the idea that we need expensive “green” energy. In addition to their high costs, wind and solar energy are inefficient, and not as “green” as they are advertised. Both cause environmental harm in their construction and operation.

Non-fossil fuel energy sources are not yet ready to replace coal, oil and natural gas, but they may be in the future.

As with most things the secret to better, cleaner energy is through natural processes, not government force. As technology develops, improvements in how we use fossil fuels make even the dirtiest sources of much cleaner and less objectionable. This process may also make wind and solar energy more efficient, and therefore desirable.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away! Or, maybe not!


U.S. airlines have been attracting enormous amounts of negative, but well-deserved attention recently.

The most notorious of these outrages is the dragging of a paying, seated United Airlines customer off an airplane so that an employee could take the seat, instead. United CEO Oscar Munoz finally got it together, backtracked on his lame initial statement, and told a Congressional committee that he realized how badly his airline had screwed up and explained what it was doing to repair its policies. Time will tell about that.

A Delta flight more recently had an incident where a customer was told that a seat he had purchased for one of his children, but that was occupied by a different child, was no longer his, and he and his wife were threatened with jail time and losing custody of their children for breaching a federal law if he did not comply with the airline’s demand to give up the seat he paid for to another flyer.

And then there were the thousands of stranded passengers and many cancelled or delayed flights because Delta‘s mid-20th century communications system failed.

The airlines are within their “rights” in the first two of these incidents, by virtue of their passenger agreements that cover aspects of flying on their planes.

Passenger agreements run to dozens of pages and contain all the fine print necessary to allow an airline to pretty much treat the people it depends upon for survival any way it pleases. United’s Contract of Carriage Document, for example, takes 37,531 words covering 63 normally formatted Word document pages to explain what it can do with/to you.

That’s as long as two or three chapters in a good book. How many people actually read these things? Is this document even easily available to people booking a flight?

Located online, United’s document says, in part: “Each United Carrier reserves the right to … change or modify any of its conditions of contract with or without notice to ticketed passengers.” If you have read this tiny piece of those 35 thousand words, you have been forewarned that United can have its way with you, and you have apparently no recourse, no matter how stupid, violent or unfair its actions may be.

While airlines have the right to do what their agreements state they can do, they first and foremost have an obligation to treat their customers with respect and deference and bend a little sometimes, because it often makes more sense to treat people well than to strictly follow the rules, especially with passengers that airline personnel have allowed to board a plane. A good rule to follow is: Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it.

The United and Delta incidents demonstrate that some airlines tend to view their customers more as cargo than as customers. How did this idiotic situation come to be?

The “Economic Letter” of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from January 2002 provides some insight into how the airline industry has changed from 1975 to 2000.

When airline deregulation began in 1979, it started an increase in passengers that tripled by 2000, while average fares dropped by about two-thirds. So, in 2000 there were three times as many passengers as in the 70s paying a third the price per ticket (in 1983 dollars).

With more people flying at fewer dollars per ticket, filling every seat became important. To address this factor airlines adopted the practice of deliberately over-booking seats, so that there are more passengers with tickets than seats on the plane, meaning that even no-shows don’t prevent every seat from being filled, maximizing revenue per flight. The need for revenue may also explain the explosion of fees and crazy rules.

However, over-booking also means that lots of people don't get on their chosen flight, unless some passenger fails to show up, or is dragged off a plane. Perhaps ticket holders are aware of that going in, being placed on standby status, or some other similar situation.

As bad as it may be to not be allowed to board the flight you paid for, it is far worse to have bought a ticket and be seated on the plane with your luggage also on the plane and be asked or told to vacate the seat because the airline needs it for an employee.

If the airline needs seats to move employees from place to place, they should reserve them prior to letting paying customers be boarded. That’s just common sense. If they can’t do that, the employee should wait, not the customer.

Perhaps turning a profit in the airline industry is particularly difficult because of the highly competitive nature of that market. Even so, taking paying customers out of a seat on a plane they have paid for and already occupy is not what you would call a smart business plan.

Inexpensive airline tickets certainly attract passengers, but many flyers are able and willing to pay a little more for better accommodations, and knowing they will not be beaten into submission and dragged from paid-for seats to make room for an employee.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Left declares war on expressing ideas, except for their ideas

In many American colleges, students expect to be protected from any material that is at odds with their limited ideas. Easily frustrated when their expectations of ideological isolation are breached, petulance results and protests are organized.

This same fear of and intolerance for different ideas brings out older protesters who also are intolerant of having to work to convince non-believers of the superiority of their ideas, which leads to breaking, burning, and otherwise damaging and destroying things, and bullying their way along, because that is an easy substitute for the arduous work of intellectual persuasion.

The ideological divide is so great that many on the Left will not listen to, read, or otherwise have any contact with ideas that disagree with their millimeter-wide field of views, and worse, they will try to prevent even those who choose to explore those ideas from doing so.

The protests of old, once an activity to show one’s disagreement with disliked ideas in a constitutional, legal and peaceful protest with marchers carrying signs, has devolved into crime-laden events where black-clad, mask-wearing, anti-free speech mobs commit violence, property damage and personal injury.

Increasingly violent protests at the University of California - Berkeley prompted officials to cancel a speech by conservative writer and activist Milo Yiannopoulous in February. More than 1,500 people gathered to protest Yiannopoulous, at the time was an editor for the Breitbart News website. Protesters held signs that read "Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech,” pledging to shut down the event, all the while demonstrating their profound ignorance of the First Amendment.

What began as a peaceful demonstration degenerated as the night wore on, police said. Protesters threw smoke bombs, knocked down barriers, set fires and started fights.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was slated to speak at UC - Berkeley late last month at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans. But the school said the event couldn’t be held on campus because of the potential for violent protests between pro-Coulter groups and anti-Coulter groups. Berkeley was unwilling to discourage violence and protect people on its campus, so the speech was moved off campus.

Ironically, these two events occurred at the site where the free speech movement originated in the 60s when Berkeley students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom. Is UC - Berkeley now the home of the anti-free speech movement?

Ultimately, the speech was cancelled when UC – Berkeley caved in its duty to uphold its noble defense of free speech.

Not all of the Left is opposed to different ideas, or the concept of free speech. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., while condemning Coulter’s ideas, to his credit defended her right to express them, and said “people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.”

“Berkeley used to be the cradle of free speech. Now it’s just the cradle for [expletive deleted] babies,” said Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time. “… I feel like this is the liberals’ version of book burning. It’s got to stop.”

An anonymous email is the reason that Portland, Oregon cancelled last weekend’s annual Rose Festival parade, according to The Washington Post. Angered by the participation of the Multnomah County Republican Party, two self-described antifascist groups pledged to protest and disrupt the event.

“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the email said, referring to the post-election violence last year. “This is nonnegotiable.” The groups threatened to “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those Republicans participating.

Many of these protesters are victims of coddling and protective treatment that has convinced them that they are somehow special and entitled to play by their own rules, which more and more reflect a tendency toward exercising strong dictatorial control where people are not allowed to disagree with them – in a word: fascism. More confusion by the Left was demonstrated when the people who call their movement “antifascism” depend upon fascist tactics to accomplish their fascist goals.

Many people, including those on the right who are the target of these criminal acts, are fed up with this behavior to the point of taking action. Some of them are willing to meet violence with violence, as was cited by UC-Berkeley in the Coulter speech calamity. This fascist behavior is a large pimple on the face of the Left, making Democrats and others on that side of the political spectrum look particularly foolish, and un-American.

The Democrat Party is generally regarded as the head of the American Left, but the Democrats are in disarray, desperately searching for a leader – will it be Schumer, Obama, Biden, Hillary, Perez (Heaven help us) – and a sensible course to follow, other than merely stomping their feet and holding their breath protesting the election of five months ago, and obstructing everything.

And the fascist wing needs to very quickly be educated the about the freedoms this great country provides that they apparently didn’t learn in school.