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Michelle Malkin - Want a real anti-poverty plan?

It is now all the fashionable rage in Washington, D.C., to proclaim solidarity with America's working poor in front of the cameras — while stabbing them in the back behind closed doors.

Privileged Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and others have taken to Twitter, posting photos of themselves eating tuna sandwiches and buying Ramen noodles to show how much they empathize with minimum-wage workers. On the other side of the aisle, GOP Rep. Paul Ryan has wrapped himself in a cloak of compassion, putting a cheesy Taylor Swift hand heart around conservatism by proposing government "life coaches" for those in poverty.

Message: They care! Reality: They fake. The cognitive dissonance on Capitol Hill is so thick you need a V8-powered chainsaw to slice it.

While cynical politicians prattle on about protecting the American Dream, they're working together to destroy it. If these elected officials care so much about reducing poverty, why are they working so hard to import more of it from around the world? Leaders in both political parties have thrown struggling Americans under the bus to feed the cheap illegal alien labor machine.

The working poor are the biggest losers in D.C.'s amnesty game. U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has been a lonely voice warning about the impact of mass illegal immigration and perpetual amnesty on low-income black Americans. "The country's economic woes have disproportionately harmed African-Americans, especially those with little education," he warned this spring. "The economy has a glut of low-skilled workers, not a shortage," which is driving wages down.

Stagnant wages and depressed economic growth affect working poor Americans of all colors, while illegal alien amnesty beneficiaries cash in. Steve Camarota and Karen Ziegler of the Center for Immigration Studies reported last month that "since 2000, all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).
This is remarkable given that native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population. Though there has been some recovery from the Great Recession, there were still fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level."
President Obama has already granted administrative amnesty to an estimated two million illegal aliens and renewed "temporary" work permits for 520,000. The administration is planning an expansion that would grant amnesties to at least six million more lawbreakers.

Where is the opposition? Appeasement Republicans refuse to support Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz's on-target proposal to repeal Obama's "DREAM" magnet and Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions' clarion call to block any more executive amnesties as a precondition to border bill negotiations. According to my sources on the Hill, the staffs of Sens. McCain, Flake and Murkowski met privately and opposed any changes to Obama's DREAM passes for illegals — which makes them willing and suicidal accomplices in the perpetual Democratic voter recruitment drive. On the House side, GOP House Speaker John Boehner is also openly opposed to stopping the DREAM nightmare.

There are no longer two separate parties in Washington. There's just one big Amnesty Inc. conglomerate addicted to Big Business donations and Big Government grievance politics. The Obama White House needs to buy off Hispanic voters, keep immigration lawyers employed and secure a left-wing permanent ruling majority. Establishment Republicans need to pay off the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pander to minority lobbyists and curry favor with open-borders CEOS led by Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

The real crisis is not at the border. It's being fomented inside our nation's capital. The "border crisis" is a bipartisan D.C. catastrophe of craven politicians abandoning their constitutional duties to defend our sovereignty and put American workers first.

(Columnist Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies". She lives with her family in Colorado.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:21

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Susan Estrich - The American way of death (penalty)

I will readily admit that I have been all over the map when it comes to the death penalty.

As a young lawyer and law professor, I was opposed to it. Actually, it was easy to be against it. The evidence that it was being administered arbitrarily and unfairly was so overwhelming that the Supreme Court had effectively placed a moratorium on it. When it came back, in the late '70s, I was there, literally.

The first man to be executed after the moratorium was Gary Gilmore, who wanted to die. The second was a murderer named John Spenkelink, who didn't. His last appeal, the night before his death, was to the United States Supreme Court. He needed one justice to sign a stay before midnight to keep him alive. He needed four justices the next morning to agree that the case was worthy of the court's review and to keep the stay in force.

All the clerks were warned. It automatically went to the circuit justice, who was expected to deny it. Then they could go to one of the two justices, William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, who were absolute opponents, but whose votes wouldn't get him past morning. Or they could go to one of the votes he would need in the morning, probably Potter Stewart. We all figured he'd go to Brennan or Marshall, and we could go home. He came to us — us being the court's junior member.

I drove an old yellow Maverick, and the overhead light was broken, so my co-clerk, who went on to become a leading death penalty defense lawyer and scholar, read out loud with the flashlight as we drove over to the justice's apartment. When we got there, we read it again with him, issue by issue: Was there any basis for concluding that a mistake was made?

We didn't come up with much, and then he called the other justice "in the middle" and went over it with him, and then we drove back with the unsigned papers and the windows down in case we threw up.

What if we had missed something? What if his lawyers had? We hadn't read a transcript; we just read the papers. Was he the white guy picked to go first and head off a parade of minorities? Why him?
We got back to the court at 11:45 p.m. and found Marshall, then in his later years, waiting with his pen out. The execution took place the next day.

By the time he retired, Justice John Paul Stevens was among the most outspoken critics of the way the death penalty is administered. We reminisced, decades later, about the care we had taken to review that application. It doesn't work that way anymore.

Even so, I came to view that, as a matter of principle, a society has every right to punish the worst of the worst. It was the murder of a pregnant woman at an ATM that did it for me — stabbed her in the stomach for some cash. It was a month after my son was born. Get the right guy, and you won't find me fighting to save him, I heard myself say. And it was true.

The "get the right guy" problem is not insignificant. Most of those on death row are brutal murderers. But no system is perfect, and ours doesn't aspire to be. So what percentage of error is tolerable when death is the penalty? And just how much are we willing to pay to achieve a tolerable error rate? The work of The Innocence Project, and other organizations, seems to show pretty clearly that it isn't enough.

Now there is the newest problem. Killing people isn't so easy. Or rather, as anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer could probably tell you, dying can be very hard. The drug companies don't want to be a part of the debate by way of making these drugs, states are afraid to disclose what they use, and the last execution took so long that the lawyers filed for a stay.

Did the dying man suffer? They're not sure. It's a public embarrassment, or so death penalty opponents are treating it. Is that an argument that we shouldn't be in the business of killing people? Maybe. I just can't help but think about how most people suffer in death, and none more than those who are viciously murdered.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 10:53

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Pat Buchanan - Compulsive interventionism

With the party united, the odds are now at least even that the GOP will not only hold the House but also capture the Senate in November. But before traditional conservatives cheer that prospect, they might take a closer look at the foreign policy that a Republican Senate would seek to impose upon the nation.

Specifically, they should spend time reading S. 2277, the "Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014," introduced by Sen. Bob Corker on May 1, and endorsed by half of the Senate's GOP caucus. As ranking Republican on the foreign relations committee, Corker is in line to become chairman, should the GOP take the Senate. That makes this proposal a gravely serious matter.

Corker's bill would declare Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine "major non-NATO allies" of the United States, move NATO forces into Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, accelerate the building of an ABM system in Eastern Europe, and authorize U.S. intelligence and military aid for Ukraine's army in the Donbass war with Russian-backed separatists. U.S. aid would include antitank and antiaircraft weapons.

S. 2277 would direct the secretary of state to intensify efforts to strengthen democratic institutions inside the Russian Federation, e.g., subvert Vladimir Putin's government, looking toward regime change.

If Putin has not vacated Crimea and terminated support for Ukraine's separatist rebels within seven days of passage of the Corker Ultimatum, sweeping sanctions would be imposed on Russian officials, banks and energy companies, including Gazprom.

Economic relations between us would be virtually severed.

In short, this is an ultimatum to Russia that she faces a new Cold War if she does not get out of Ukraine and Crimea, and it is a U.S. declaration that we will now regard three more former Soviet republics — Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia — as allies.

A small, weak country might accept this dictation from a superpower. But Russia, where anti-Americanism is virulent and rampant and the Russian people support Putin's actions in Ukraine, would want him to tell the Americans just what to do with their ultimatum.

And how Russia would respond is not difficult to predict. Our demand that she get out of Crimea and leave her two-century-old naval base at Sevastopol in the custody of President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev and his U.S. allies, would be laughed off. Putin would tell us that Crimea has voted to return to Russia. It's ours, and we're going to keep it. Now deal with it.
To make good on our latest red line, we would have to start shipping weapons to Kiev, in which case Russia, with superior forces closer, would likely move preemptively into East Ukraine.

What would our NATO allies do then?

The U.S. directive to the State Department to work with NGOs in Russia, blatant intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, would be answered with a general expulsion of these agencies from Moscow. We would not sit still for this kind of open subversion in the United States. What makes us think they would? And where do we come off telling the Russians what kind of government they may have? Do we do that with our friends in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Is there more freedom in Egypt, to which we send billions annually in foreign aid, than in Russia?

Is there more freedom in China? How do we think Beijing would respond if Corker & Co. openly declared not only their right but their intent to funnel U.S. fundsto civic organizations to bring about an end to single-party Communist rule?

The Russian people, today backing Putin by 80 percent, seem happier with their government than we Americans do with ours.

But it may be this idea of installing a ballistic missile defense, an ABM system, in Poland and the Czech Republic, that is most dangerous of all. Putin has already signaled that this would cross his red line, that if we start implanting antimissile missiles in Eastern Europe, he will reply by installing offensive missiles.

The Reagan-Gorbachev INF treaty to eliminate all intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe — the USSR's triple-warhead SS-20s, and our Pershing II and cruise missiles — could wind up in the dumpster. We could have a mini-Cuban missile crisis in Eastern Europe.

And how would our German allies react to Russian missiles rising in Kaliningrad, the former Prussian capital of Konigsberg, wedged between Lithuania and Poland?

Russia and Ukraine have been like Siamese twins for a thousand years. When did where and how they separate become our strategic concern?

Under Obama, the U.S. has declined to intervene in civil wars in Syria, Ukraine and Libya, or to go back in force in Iraq. He is pulling us out of Afghanistan. The American Imperium is folding up. Retrenchment is underway.

If the Republican counteroffer to Obama's is a return to the compulsive interventionism of Bush II, this is where some of us will be getting off.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Michael Barone - Democrats lose their big bet on health exchanges

Words mean what they say. That's the basis for the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Halbig v. Burwell invalidating the Internal Revenue Service regulation approving subsidies for Obamacare consumers in states with federal health insurance exchanges.

The law passed by Congress, Judge Thomas Griffith explained, provided for subsidies in states with state-created exchanges, but not in states with federal exchanges. That's factually correct, and under the Constitution, the government can't spend money not authorized by Congress.

This has not prevented Democrats from calling the decision "judicial activism," which makes as much sense as the claims that the Supreme Court decision overturning the Obamacare contraception mandate cuts off all access to contraception.

"We reach this conclusion," wrote Judge Griffith, "with reluctance." Judge Roger Ferguson, writing for the Fourth Circuit whose King v. Burwell decision upholding the IRS was announced the same day, wrote that those challenging the government "have the better of the statutory construction arguments."

One has a certain sympathy with both judges. They're being asked to overturn a regulation that has paid most of the cost for health insurance for some 4.7 million Americans. But the problem arose not from sloppy legislative draftsmanship.

Under previous court decisions, Congress can't force state governments to administer federal laws. So congressional Democrats, seeking to muscle states into creating their own health insurance exchanges, chose to provide subsidies only for those states. Those opting for the federal exchange would have to explain to voters why they weren't getting subsidies.

This attempt to muscle the states failed. In August 2011, when the IRS issued its regulation, only 10 states had created their own exchanges, and 17 states explicitly refused to do so. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius kept extending deadlines to force states to create their own exchanges.

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration bet that they could force the states to do their will. When they lost their bet, the administration ignored the Constitution and ordered the spending of monies that Congress never authorized.

This was lawless behavior, and reckless as well. It promised to individuals acting in reliance on government regulations money that was subject to being clawed back if a court applied the statute as written.

The alternative was, to be sure, politically unpalatable. The administration could have gone back to Congress and asked it to authorize subsidies in states with federal exchanges. House Republicans, now in the majority, would have demanded other changes in the law.
So today the strongest argument for upholding the administration's reckless regulation is that people might be hurt if the law is enforced as written. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Congress meant to give money to lots of people — so who cares what the law actually says?

The irony here is that the Obama Democrats, in passing Obamacare in its present form, and in betting that it could pressure the states into doing their will, have discredited big government generally and have weakened the federal government's power to commandeer and control the states.

They expected Obamacare to be popular. Give people what Mitt Romney called "free stuff," and they'll be grateful.

It hasn't turned out that way. Most Americans have bridled at Obamacare's centralized command-and-control approach and have instinctively preferred more market-based or locally regulated alternatives. The fiasco of the healthcare.gov rollout and the administration's multiple suspensions of various provisions of the law have sapped confidence in big government's competence.

On the legal front, it has generally escaped notice that in its NFIB v. Sebelius decision upholding Obamacare, the Supreme Court also invalidated its Medicaid provisions — and by a 7-2 vote that is unlikely to be overturned by one or two new Democratic-appointed justices.

Obamacare provided that states must accept new Medicaid provisions requiring higher spending or lose all their federal Medicaid money altogether. Not valid, said the justices. Congress can't take command of state governments by threatening to cut them off if they don't spend more.

Few legal experts thought this challenge to the statute would prevail. But it did, and it provides a basis for discouraging or challenging any future massive expansion of federal programs that require, as most do, matching spending by the states.

The Obama Democrats have succeeded in expanding government, temporarily. But they've also discredited it and provided a basis for limiting it in the future.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 10:10

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Sanborn — Lakes Region Residential Sales Report, June 2014

People often ask if we see a lot of cash transactions on houses so I thought I'd take a look and see how often it occurs. According to the MLS, so far in 2014 of the 409 residential sales 181 of those were cash deals compared to 159 for the first six months of 2013. That means 44 percent of sales are in good old greenbacks. And just so you don't get visions of some guy with Tommy Bahama shorts, a Panama hat, and sunglasses driving up in a Caddy and coming in with a big suitcase of $100 bills to buy a waterfront, 110 of those sales were for properties under $250,000. Just 37 were for waterfront properties with 6 of those being in excess of $1 million.

Not everyone has a bag of money under their bed. Conventional financing accounted for 161 or 39 percent of the transactions this year. That compares to 197 or 44 percent of the sales in the first half of 2013. FHA, Rural Development, VA type loans were used in 61 (14 percent) of the transactions this year compared to 81 (18 percent) times in the same period last year. I get a call every now and then from someone looking for a seller to do owner financing. Seller financing just doesn't happen a lot. In fact, it happened only once so far this year and just three times all of last year. Rehab type loans are a little tough to get so there were only two of those in the first half of this year and last.

According to the MLS, there were 66 bank owned sales so far this year compared to 88 bank owned in the first six months of 2013. So it seems like the bank owned properties are becoming fewer, but still too many!

Condo sales are down a tiny bit so far this year with 86 sales compared 89 in the first half of 2013. Cash accounted for 49 of those sales this year and 44 sales last year. Buyers used conventional financing on 31 sales this year and 41 in the first half of 2013. Because of the strict government regulations, FHA loans only accounted for 5 transactions this year and just 2 in the first half of last year.

Waterfront sales continue to be a big part of our market with 74 lakefront homes and 73 shared private water access homes selling in the first six month this year. For the first half of last year the numbers were 78 and 79 respectively.

In the communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report, there were 87 single family residential homes sold in June at an average price of $290,778. That compares to 98 sales last June at an average price of $332,836. For the first six months of the year there have been 409 transactions at an average sales price of $299,893 with a median price point of $204,100. That compares to 444 sales at an average of $275,314 and a median of $180,000 for the first six months of 2013. I guess this is the new normal folks. It certainly isn't stellar, but at least it is steady.

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 7/20/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 06:54

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