About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

John Cox, California Governor Candidate, Provides Key To Reversing Sanctuary State Ruinous Policies

"As a city, Babylon exists no more.  When those energizing human forces that built & maintained the city for thousands of years were withdrawn, it soon became a deserted ruin."  - George S. Clason, The Richest Man In Babylon, page 138 – first published in 1926.  Although writing about Babylon, Mr. Clason describes the downfall that lies ahead for California if the state does not renounce its sanctuary state policies.  John Cox, candidate for Governor of California, offers the leadership to reverse California's own slide into ruin as described hereinafter.
click on graph to enlarge
California runs a gubernatorial primary on June 5 & the top two vote getters move to the general election in November regardless of party affiliation, meaning that Republicans have a chance to be on the general election ballot with John Cox – shown in the above graphic in second place in the March 21 poll.  The January poll showed Lt. Governor Newsom ahead 25% to 7% so it has somewhat tightened & is much improved from the December poll.  Otherwise the general election for California governor would be between the former mayor of San Francisco (Newsom) versus the former mayor of Los Angeles (Villaraigosa) – both Democrats.
Readers of this blog first learned of John Cox in January 2007 when Al Stern, Vice President of the Sun City Hilton Head FairTax Club, reported in the Island Packet that Mr. Cox was the first presidential candidate to visit Beaufort County, SC – a regular hotbed of presidential candidates every four years.  Mr. Cox had been the guest of the aforementioned FairTax Club earlier that month & as Mr. Stern reported his "impassioned support of the FairTax" was very impressive.
In 2007 Mr. Cox was an Illinois businessman & many of the readers of this blog, after looking @ his positions on the issues, thought we were more in agreement with him than any of the other candidates @ the time, & accordingly tried to get him in the June 5 New Hampshire presidential primary debate – which he had been excluded from for more reasons than one – like he had little or nothing to do with the establishment positions of the two major political parties & he was simply for America. 
John Cox is first & foremost a successful businessman & CPA who built his own business from scratch to a $200 million company with approximately 100 employees – just about my most desirable qualification & first requirement to be able to run for President.
During his business career Mr. Cox made time to serve on Jack Kemp's national steering committee & as Newt Gingrich's California Finance Chair.  He is endorsed by the California Pro-Life Council.
Mr. Cox strongly opposes California's "Sanctuary State" policies & laws, such as Senate Bill 54, that mandates & expands protections for undocumented immigrants including actually prohibiting state & local police agencies from notifying U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials when illegal immigrants in their custody, who may be subject to deportation, are about to be released. 
Thirty-two year old Kate Steinle was killed on July 1, 2015 in the arms of her father by a bullet shot from a gun by Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a criminal & illegal alien who had been deported from the U.S. five times, & was again released from custody instead of being turned over to ICE before Kate's death @ his hands.  Zarate has since been acquitted both of murder & involuntary manslaughter charges after his attorney successfully convinced a San Francisco jury that the shooting was accidental & the bullet ricocheted off the ground & traveled 80 feet before killing Kate.  This of course overlooked the fact that Zarate should not have been in the country in the first place & that if he wasn't Kate would still be alive today.
Current California Governor Jerry Brown has gone even further than just not cooperating - by choosing to not have his state live under federal law & has instructed California's counties, cities, & businesses to follow suit or face state criminal charges.  That's right California will fine businesses &/or imprison people who cooperate with federal immigration law.
But so far a rapidly growing list of a combination of 19 cities & counties have started to resist or fight back, including Los Alamitos, Yorba Linda, Buena Park, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Fountain Valley, New Port Beach & most recently San Diego County – the second largest county in California - by planning to file a law suit against California challenging the legality of state mandates that expand protections of illegal aliens.  And the Orange County Board Of Supervisors voted to join a Trump administration lawsuit that contends that the California laws obstruct federal immigration laws & violate the Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article  VI, Clause 2) – a conflict-of-laws rule specifying that certain national acts take priority over any state acts that conflict with national law once federal power has been validly exercised.
In addition, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens intends to publicly post online the release dates of jail inmates — including those in the country illegally.
Of course John Cox is totally behind the cities' & counties' resistance & if elected Governor will work to reverse all of Jerry Brown's destructive work in the Golden State.
California has the highest marginal state income tax rate (13.3%) in the country, the highest state sales tax rate (7.25% but varies by district with 9.5% in LA), sky-high gasoline taxes including a recently passed $52 billion gas tax increase, car registration fees, traffic fines, high utility rates, & high crime rates & large homeless encampments in many areas.  The state ranks dead last in friendliness to business, has the highest poverty rate in the country, a growing unfunded public pension liability that has reached a critical stage, & a huge public retiree healthcare liability that has not even begun to be funded – all of which hurts the middle class & that is why they are finally fighting back as described above – or leaving California. 
People have talked about the one way U-Haul contracts going form California to Texas for years – this may be an exaggeration because the U-Hauls are going from California to plenty of other states as well – like Oregon, Michigan, Arizona, & Idaho. 
The Orange County Register reported that in 2016 (July to July), 142,932 more residents exited California to live in other states than arrived from other states.  This domestic net outmigration was the second largest in the country behind New York & just ahead of Illinois & New Jersey – there is a clear pattern here of the type of states Americans are leaving for other states.  But California's population increased by 240,177 (source – Census Bureau) in 2016 primarily through foreign immigration & a natural increase of 214,000 (i.e., more births than deaths - 1 birth every 8 seconds in the U.S. & 1 death every 11 seconds).
In short, in 2016 the number of people of higher education & means that left California was exceeded by the number of poorly educated low skilled people who entered California – hardly a winning combination for economic growth & prosperity that you would want to raise your family in. 
Up until now career politicians like current Governor Jerry Brown & Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who is leading in the above graphic poll for governor, found nothing wrong with any of the above financial facts but the Trump tax cut bill added a new wrinkle – like how is the above level of financing going to continue in light of the the state & local tax (SALT) deduction restriction in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 that is likely to accelerate people of substance & means leaving this high tax & high cost state.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Californians will lose a collective $12 billion because of the caps on the SALT deduction with 43,000 people who make over $1 million per year paying three quarters ($9 billion) of that money.  This comes to an average of over $209,000.
You can judge for yourself why Nancy Pelosi called the Trump tax cut bill the "worst bill in the history of Congress" by looking @ her Financial Disclosure Report of 2016 – Pelosi has assets that very well could generate $10 million of income per year thereby putting her well into the category of Californians with large federal income tax increases as described above.  It is safe to say that Pelosi is more concerned about her own personal 2018 federal income tax liability than she is about the $2,000 worth of "crumbs", as she called them, that people in the middle class will receive in lower federal income taxes in 2018.
See graphic below for comparison of the share of federal personal income taxes that residents of the four largest states pay in 2017 & 2018.
  click on graphic to enlarge
By electing John Cox Governor of California this fall the people of the state have a real chance to turn around, both financially & culturally, the terrible manner, way, & mode of life described above - lousy conditions that no one in their right mind would want to live under where the state government fights the federal government using American citizens as disposable pawns @ every turn while favoring illegal aliens wherever they find them.
But it is not just California that is involved in the sanctuary state imbroglio – other states & their municipalities across the nation have been drawn in.  For instance, on a positive note, Iowa passed legislation earlier this month that directed Iowa law enforcement agencies to fully comply with ICE detainers & banned sanctuary city policies in the state.  But on a negative note, New Jersey's new governor Phil Murphy has signaled a desire for New Jersey to become a sanctuary state.
If you live in California, or have relatives or friends who live in California – & I know of several such subscribers to this blog, & have already talked to some – I urge you to alert California voters to consider John Cox's candidacy for governor & check out his website
A movement has started & California has a top notch candidate for governor, as described above, to reverse the certain ruin that lies ahead, so Californians have a chance – I hope they make the most of it.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Animated Version Of The Income Tax System Explained In Beer

Thanks to a charter member of RTE for sending me, just in time for income tax day, the animated version of how ten men who want to pay their beer bill the way we pay our income taxes run into problems.
Long time readers of this blog will remember the referenced post below of August 2012 that presented the unanimated version of this same lesson.
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan research group, has estimated both the incomes & federal income taxes for the 175 million American households by dividing them into quintiles, each consisting of about 65 million people, for 2017 & 2018.  See graphic below that shows in 2018 people in the four bottom quintiles are all projected to pay lower shares of the federal income tax – i.e., tax cuts – & only people in the top quintile are projected to pay a larger share than they did in 2017.
 click on graphic to enlarge
Actual data from the IRS are not available for a few years after returns are filed but the above estimate pretty much follows previous distributions of income & federal income taxes – see graphic below for 2014.
Reference Post:  The Income Tax System Explained in Beer – original unanimated version from August 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Judicial Review Timeline Shows Rise Of Judicial Activism

"There's nothing in the Constitution that grants to the Supreme Court the final word as to whether or not an executive act or a Congressional enactment is constitutional.  This is a power that the Supreme Court simply arrogated to itself early in our history.  The Constitution enumerates the preeminent powers of Congress in Article I & gave the President the authority to veto any enactment subject, however, to a veto override vote by a super majority of Congress.  Nothing in the Constitution suggests that the Supreme Court could override the acts of both the President & the Congress & certainly its drafters could not possibly foresee a situation where hundreds of Federal District Court Judges could do the same with each of their decisions to be given nationwide effect.  It's time for both Congress & the President to reclaim their constitutional prerogatives." – Robert Levetown commenting directly on WSJ.com regarding my letter published March 20 in both the print edition & the online edition of the WSJ.  My letter showed how the elected branches of both major parties have given up their turf over the years in favor of the courts providing cover regarding contentious political issues they have no business being in.
Students of landmark Supreme Court cases will instantly recognize that the above highlighted parts of Mr. Levetown's comment refers to the decision in the Marbury v. Madison case of 1803 in which Chief Justice John Marshall & the Supreme Court unilaterally "determined that it had the power to decide cases about the constitutionality of congressional (or executive actions) & – when it deemed they violated the Constitution – overturn them.  The shorthand label given to this Court-made authority is 'judicial review'." – Mark Levin, Men In Black, page 30.
Originally, "the courts followed British common law.  They ruled on criminal law, matters of equity between individuals & businesses, & other legal matters."  Ibid, page 24.
In short, the Constitution contains no such judicial review clause meaning Chief Justice John Marshall & the Supreme Court made the largest power grab in the country's history – & it is the basis of judicial activism today.
Background – In the two week lame duck session from when the election of 1800 was decided by the House of Representatives until President-elect Jefferson took office President John Adams made several changes to the judiciary designed to hinder Jefferson's new administration including, on the day before Adams' term expired, appointing 16 Federalist circuit judges & 42 Federalist justices of the peace.  William Marbury was one of these so-called Midnight Judges
The Federalist Senate approved all of the appointments but in order for the commissions to go into effect they had to be delivered to those appointed.  The problem was that there was not enough time for all of them to be delivered before the swearing in of Jefferson who immediately, upon becoming president, told his Acting Secretary of State to not deliver the remaining appointments.  Jefferson considered the undelivered appointments void.
Marbury brought his case to the Supreme Court petitioning SCOTUS to command Secretary of State James Madison to deliver his commission.  Now we know that John Marshall
sided with Marbury because, for goodness sake, it was Marshall & his brother who were delivering the commissions the day before Jefferson's inauguration – Marshall was not only the Chief Justice of SCOTUS but John Adams' acting Secretary of State.  See the referenced post below for my letter published in the WSJ on November 4, 2011.
If there ever was a person who should have recused himself from a case it was John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, but even so Marshall heard the Marbury case in spite of everything & found that section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that enabled Marbury to bring his claim to the Supreme Court was itself unconstitutional because it purported to extend the Court's original jurisdiction beyond that which Article III of the Constitution established - thereby denying Marbury's commission.
In essence the case was decided on a technicality, 4 to 0 by the Supreme Court, in President Jefferson's favor in that the Adams' appointments which had not been delivered on time were now null & void. In addition the now Jeffersonian controlled Congress enacted the Judiciary Act of 1802 which abolished the new judgeships created by Adams & the Federalists as described above meaning the electoral process worked – with no need for the judiciary to be involved in the case.
But John Marshall was much more of a master politician in 1803 than he was a Chief Justice of SCOTUS.  With a Republican majority elected to both chambers of Congress in 1800 thereby complimenting the Republican President Jefferson, Marshall was scared to death politically of Jefferson.  Marshall wanted to stake out what territory he had left & he thought establishing judicial review in the Marbury case was his best way forward – thereby turning a blind eye to both his Federalist friend-Marbury's claim to a judgeship & more importantly to his belief that Madison's refusal to deliver the commissions was illegal & correctible.  Another recent comment I received sums this one up – "Doug, I'm sure you are aware of the fact that justice & the U.S. legal system have nothing to do with each other."
Marshall realized the two elected branches could remove him from office & even impeach him.  Marshall knew that if he ordered Madison to deliver Marbury's commission that Jefferson would order Madison to ignore the Supreme Court writ thereby weakening the Court's authority.  Better to let Jefferson win the case & deliver the coup d'├ętat regarding the Court's judicial review self-proclaimed authority that upset the Constitution's balance of power – a masterful political stroke only if he got away with it.
But Jefferson was not satisfied with a win in the Marbury case because he knew the judicial review part of the ruling was just not right – he immediately saw the danger of judicial review & the plans of the declining Federalists to retain power through the courts when he wrote after the Marbury decision "They (the Federalists) have retired into the judiciary as a stronghold.  There the remains of federalism are to be preserved & fed from the treasury, & from the battery all the works of republicanism are to be beaten down & erased."
Jefferson spent the rest of his life arguing against judicial review like in his letter to William Jarvis: "To consider the judges arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, & one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.  Our judges are as honest as other men & not more so.  They have with others the same passions for party, for power, & the privilege of their corps . . . & their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life & not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elected control.  The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time & party, its members would become despots.  It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal & co-sovereign within themselves." 
Think for yourself – if someone is going to decide whether an action of the elected branches is constitutional, or not, would you rather take your chances with the possibilities of terrible decisions by our elected representatives who can be replaced every two, four, or six years or have unelected judges with life tenures overrule your elected representatives with no remedy for decades, if ever in your lifetime.  In any case it is going to be human beings deciding the matter – people with human imperfections & frailties just like the rest of us as Jefferson pointed out above regarding judges.  It is just common sense for me to want to have every decision as close to home as it can be so that We the People of the United States control our own destiny.
But Jefferson never had to personally worry about the effects of judicial review again during his presidency, or during his life for that matter, because John Marshal never invoked, cited, referred to, or mentioned judicial review again during Jefferson's term in office.  Indeed, Marshall died on the bench as Chief Justice in 1835 never bringing up judicial review again after Marbury v. Madison.  Only once in the first 81 years of our young constitutional republic was judicial review invoked – in Marbury v. Madison.  Presidents Washington, John Adams, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Fillmore, & Pierce never encountered judicial review during their presidencies. 
I refer to the period from our founding to the Civil War as the liberty to abundance stage of our history – the period in which liberty & freedom were cherished & even worshipped by  the people including the elected representatives.  The only entitlement people living in this age were looking for was the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights – summarized as the freedom from government intrusion in their lives – & there was no judicial activism during this time to turn the world upside down. Today rights are most often thought of as entitlements to something from government like the aid relief package from Superstorm Sandy.  People living in the first third of our country's history never had problems waiting for relief packages because the government did not offer any in the first place & the people relied on themselves & were better for it.
After Marbury v. Madison the next case in which the Supreme Court found a law (the Missouri Compromise of 1820) unconstitutional was the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision of 1857 in which seven members of SCOTUS ruled in one of the worst decisions in history that Blacks could not be citizens of the United States.  Seven people held that power after all the progress made over the years – a very sad commentary but one that would be corrected.
President Lincoln described judicial review & the Dred Scott decision clearly when he said in his first inaugural address "The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of that eminent tribunal."
The graph below shows the timeline for how the judiciary has increased the use of judicial review to the point it has become a major tool of judicial activism – what can't be won @ the ballot box is taken to the courts, where judges with lifetime tenures provide cover for our One Big Government party with Democrat & Republican wings who take turns being in power like the one big happy family they are.  Since 1999 there have been 22 occurrences of the Supreme Court declaring a law unconstitutional thereby matching the total on the entire 19th century.
The WSJ listed the following examples of recent judicial activism involving state Supreme Courts hijacking policy debates: 1) blocking a teacher tenure reform in NC, 2) pension reform in IL, 3) a charter school law in WA, 4) education savings accounts in NV, & 5) usurping the legislature's authority by redrawing the state's congressional map in PA that will help liberals pick up three or four House seats in November's midterm election.
To paraphrase the great libertarian Rose Wilder Lane - For sixty known centuries millions of people lived on this earth in slavery & famine, suffering one human hardship after another.  But not until the unleashing & releasing of human energy, & then only in the United States, did peoples' lives improve so that they no longer lived in floorless hovels without windows & chimneys unable to feed themselves.  After six thousand years it took one century for the American genius of limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise to create the whole modern world where every convenience is taken for granted.
Judicial activism is one of the self inflicted setbacks to our continued prosperity & progress moving away from statism & its occurrences are increasing as the graph below shows.  One of the mindset changes needed today is to recognize the excellence of the first third of our history as described above & work to return to it.  Judicial activism is one of the main thieves preventing this return. 

Reference Post:  The Needed Activist Judge Mindset Change 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A First Hand Experience - Court Intervention Fraught With Danger

"Executive branch implementations and Legislation branch laws must rarely be addressed by judicial branch.  I believe our Founders envisioned this quite firmly.  However, the Elite Left has been quite successful in securing many high level judicial positions bringing in their judicial activism. As a result, in addition to the Left, even some conservatives seek court intervention when they should not. Best immediate policy is for Trump to continue filling judicial openings with strict Constitutional lawyers/judges." – Economics 501 responding to the last post that featured my letter published in the WSJ that showed how the elected branches of both major parties have given up their turf over the years in favor of the courts providing cover regarding contentious political issues they have no business being in.
Now I have first hand experience regarding the most disastrous time in my memory where conservatives sought a court solution to a problem best handled through the court of public opinion known as elections.  I have documented over the years that nothing good comes when the elected branches take their political problems to the judiciary for a solution.
It was early June 2012 & Carol & I were attending a seminar in NYC where Leonard Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society, was a major speaker.  The topic was the  Supreme Court case brought by 26 states & individual plaintiffs Kaj Ahburg & Mary Brown who were trying to overturn ObamaCare by claiming it was unconstitutional.  Oral arguments had been heard in March, 2012 & a decision was expected before the end of June 2012.
The Federalist Society is a nationwide organization of conservative lawyers that can exercise enormous influence in Washington without playing a direct role.  In particular, Leonard Leo, is in effect responsible for one third of the justices of the Supreme Court having played a crucial part in the nominations of John Roberts & Sam Alito, & of course most recently preparing the list of 19 judges & lawyers that President Trump used in selecting Neil Gorsuch as his first nominee to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Leo's presentation @ the seminar made it clear that he had played a similar influential role in bringing the aforementioned case against ObamaCare.
So here I was sitting in the middle of a room filled with people, most of whom I didn't know, who believed ObamaCare was going to be found unconstitutional by the SCOTUS in just a few weeks.
Nevertheless, I raised my hand @ just about the most triumphant part of the presentation, & when acknowledged I told Mr. Leo that I thought he had made a mistake bringing the case & that the Supreme Court had made a mistake accepting it.  I explained that I too thought the conservatives would win this one but my larger point was that asking the courts to decide matters like the constitutionality of ObamaCare was a treacherous dicey approach to solving problems resulting from loses @ the ballot box – like when BO won the presidency in 2008 & had control of the House for his first two years & control of a filibuster-proof Senate for just enough time to pass ObamaCare with 60 all-Democrat votes. It is easier to go to the SCOTUS than to win such majorities @ the ballot box – but you get a real crapshoot @ the SCOTUS that results in the loss of liberty while establishing judicial tyranny.
Before the seminar adjourned @ least half the class told me they agreed we should scrap the lawsuits & fight to change laws @ the polls. 
When the SCOTUS ruled later that month that ObamaCare was constitutional no one was more surprised than me.  To my horror the fear that I expressed to Leonard Leo & the class had happened – ObamaCare was still the law of the land, as it would have been if no case had been brought, but now in addition to the ObamaCare law being on the books we also have another dangerous new legal precedent as if we needed another new dangerous legal precedent to help bring down our Republic.
Chief Justice John Roberts had gone out of his way to find ObamaCare constitutional.  BO's attorneys had argued that the penalty for not buying ObamaCare policies on the exchanges was not a tax but a penalty.  Roberts found that ObamaCare's requirement that most Americans obtain healthcare insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress's power to levy taxes.
Republicans had campaigned for seven years to repeal ObamaCare & then worked fruitlessly for all of 2017 to repeal, repeal & replace, or repair ObamaCare before finally being able to weaken it with the passing of the GOP tax bill last December that eliminated the individual mandate penalty (tax) provision starting in 2019 – thereby highlighting the point of this post; namely, it is less work for politicians to bring a case to the judiciary than it is to try to win their points through elections. 
But the decision to want a handful of people, unelected judges, including justices on the Supreme Court, that no one every heard of or could identify if their life depended on it, to overrule our elected representatives, is fraught with danger to our liberty, our prosperity, & uncertainty for many parts of our lives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mindset Change Needed To Avoid Judicial Tyranny

Below is my letter that was published today in the WSJ under the headline We'd Need Fewer Courts If Congress Would Do Its Job.
The letter highlights the mindset change needed to avoid judicial tyranny.  It shows how the elected branches have given up their turf over the years in favor of the courts deciding issues they have no business being in – but the elected branches are content thinking they have some cover to play the innocent party hoping the electorate never discovers their game of irresponsibility.
One reader of the WSJ looked me up on the internet & commented on RTE that I may be understating the current state of affairs when he wrote "The notion of judicial supremacy has become so engrained that instead of a Constitutional Republic, we now have a Judicial Oligarchy."
Dear Editor,
I was disappointed to read in your editorial "The National Security Tariff Ruse" (March 13) that "steel users should challenge this in court as the unlawful ruse it is."  More and more the elected branches look to the courts for resolution of matters best resolved by the court of public opinion – namely, elections.  I cringe every time I hear turning to the judicial branch for resolution of some problem best handled by the people – who are superior to any of the branches.
The Founders never envisioned that the two elected branches would allow the judicial power grab that has developed where a district court judge or a five-justice majority of the Supreme Court decide cases they have no business hearing.
The citizenry learns no good lesson if the courts, time after time, spare us from the problems that would ensue from our election decisions.  Please be careful not to promote ideas that will encourage or accelerate the court's ill-gotten power that is well on its way to becoming judicial tyranny.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Students For Liberty

In June 2012 Carol & I attended a seminar in NYC co-hosted by our dear friend the late Whitney Ball (Donors Trust) & Adam Meyerson (The Philanthropic Roundtable). 
Notable speakers included Leonard Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society – the man who prepared the list of judges & lawyers that President Trump used in selecting Neil Gorsuch as his first nominee to the Supreme Court, & Heather Higgins, President & CEO of the Independent Women's Voice – an organization that has done extensive studies of ObamaCare that have been featured on RTE.
Attendees of the seminar were introduced to the Atlas Network – an organization, much like the two firms who co-hosted the event, dedicated to educating the public about the importance of free markets & limited government. 
With regard to today's youth, the Atlas Network partners with Students For Liberty, an international libertarian advocacy & education organization whose goal is to enable young people who are interested in the ideas of individual liberty, free-market capitalism, limited government, & restrained foreign policy to thrive.
Students For Liberty began in 2008 when a group of 100 people thought they were attending a single event @ Columbia University.  Today Students For Liberty is a very dynamic & exciting international movement that has built a network of over 50,000 students, connecting over 900 pro-liberty groups on college campuses all over the world.  As such, Students For Liberty is a network of pro-liberty students from every corner of the globe working to educate fellow students on the ideas of individual, economic, & academic freedom.
Much like Hillsdale College, in order to maintain its independence, Students For Liberty accepts no government funding.
I have developed a first hand respect for the Atlas Network working with them over the past almost six years & it was no coincidence that Students For Liberty was highly endorsed independently by Gordon Cummings @ my annual meeting with Donors Trust in Alexandria, Virginia earlier this month.  Accordingly, I recommend anyone in college today to contact Students For Liberty to see if there is a good fit between the work they are doing & your own pro-liberty goals for helping America.
Find out more @ www.studentsforliberty.org
Just let me know if you have trouble reaching SFL & I will help. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Airport Quiz

click on graphic to enlarge
Although I saw the subject quiz on the National Museum of Mathematics website (www.MoMath.org), after it appeared in the WSJ, it really has little to do with math & a lot to do with reasoning & common sense.
I think just about the entire readership will find it enjoyable & just a little bit challenging.
Please let me know your answer – I will post all correct answers or alternatively will send the solution privately to anyone who requests it if no one figures it out.
Airport Quiz
As a ticketed passenger walks to their gate in the airport they realize they have to stop for 30 seconds to tie their shoe.  A moving walkway is in view ahead of them.  The passenger walks @ a constant speed relative to the ground or walkway when they are walking.
Should they tie their shoe before getting on the walkway, wait to tie their shoe while on the walkway, or does it matter in getting to the gate @ the earliest time?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Judiciary's Connection To The Importance Of Winning The Presidential Popular Vote

The last time the Supreme Court heard a case decided by a district court, without an appeal being decided by a U.S. Court of Appeals,  was 2004 – prior to that it was 1982 so it doesn't happen often.
Last week the Supremes announced they would not hear, out of turn without going through the appeals process, a case challenging the legality of President Trump's decision to end BO's DACA program that is scheduled to start phasing out on March 5 in accordance with Trump's executive order from last September.  For background – see referenced post below for complete details regarding how the DACA program was created & Trump's plan to phase it out.
The Trump administration had asked the Supreme Court to bypass the appeals court to expedite the proceedings & obtain a final decision thereby wrapping up a contentious issue that has gone on too long for all concerned including the DACA recipients.
District Judges William Alsup, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, & Nicholas G. Garaufis, of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, both blocked Trump's plan to end DACA & even ordered Trump to resume accepting applications.  Judge Alsup said that his nationwide injunction was "appropriate" because "our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law & policy."
But that "strong interest" has not been great enough for Congress to act – it is Congress that is responsible for immigration laws under the Naturalization Clause of the Constitution -Article I, Section 8, Clause 4.  Congress has barely started discussing a DACA matter even though the aforementioned March 5 deadline is @ hand.  Who thinks Congress will solve the DACA problem, or any problem, without a deadline to work against?
And that "strong interest" also has not been great enough for the Supreme Court to circumvent the immediate appeals court process & render a clear decision regarding a contentious issue that obviously both the Legislative & Judicial branches want no part in solving.
But even worse both district judges ruled without following existing law – their rulings were based on an executive order written by BO in 2012 & their own personal feelings for the most part.
Judge Garaufis cited Trump's anti-immigrant tweets & public statements saying he was "sympathetic" to those who did not apply for DACA before September 5 – the date Trump's unwinding process of DACA began.  Garaufis was concerned 1) that up to 1,400 DACA recipients a day could lose their deportation protection, 2) that some could lose healthcare thereby imposing burdens not only on the immigrants themselves but on public hospitals, 3) that employers will be hurt as DACA recipients lose their jobs resulting in "staggering adverse economic impacts" that could include up to $800 million in lost tax revenue, 4) that ending DACA would also have "profound & irreversible" social costs as hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are separated from their families, 5) with Trump's "recurring redundant drumbeat of anti-Latino commentary" saying "it's extreme, it's recurrent, & it's vicious", & 6) with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying Sessions "seems to think that courts don't get to have their own opinions". 
What was missing with all of the above was either judge citing chapter & verse from the Constitution or any existing statute – which is what they are supposed to do.  Garaufis's above list sounds like something a lawmaker should take into account – not a judge.  When the court makes a ruling that is not based on existing law they have violated the separation of powers & have become activists that are determined & resolved to shape policy themselves if the other two branches of government will let them – which they have for decades.
In the simplest of terms a court ruling, other than one based on following clearly stated existing law, is not lawful.  A law can only can be written by Congress & signed into law by the President.
So what the Legislative & Judicial branches have let stand is two district judges in California & Brooklyn overruling the President of the United States regarding a matter that affects the entire country.  Doesn't this sound ridiculous?  Who could possibly think this is right or what our Founding Fathers fought for – to let unelected judges, including those on the Supreme Court, that no one every heard of or could identify if their life depended on it overrule our elected representatives?
The Judiciary has usurped the power of the Legislative branch & in the process bullies the President – the Judiciary has gone far afield from what Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 78: "the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them."  What we were given by our Founders as the "least in a capacity to annoy or injure" we have let turn into the actual ability & power to tyrannize the elected branches & therefore ourselves.
Well, Governor Mike Huckabee has never agreed with this judicial power grab.  Click here to hear the gov present his latest lesson of 9th grade civics that both the Members of Congress & the Judiciary know full well but are avoiding @ all costs to themselves.  In fact Mike points out that Trump is complicit & equally in violation of his oath for not simply ignoring the district judges & handing each of them a copy of the Constitution to read.  Note the Huckabee video specifically refers to travel bans but the DACA matter equally applies.
Trump is quite often seen standing before a portrait of President Andrew Jackson who is the best example of a president who ignored the Supreme Court in fulfilling his own oath to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States."  In short judges & the Justices of the Supreme Court are not the only ones who pledge to support the Constitution or to interpret it & Trump being a fan of Jackson knows this. 
But Trump is not in the same position as Andrew Jackson who was regarded as a popular war hero.  Jackson won 56% of the popular vote & 68% of the electoral college vote in 1828 & 56% of the popular vote & a whopping 82% of the electoral college vote in 1832.  Trump won 45.9% of the popular vote & 56% of the electoral college vote in 2016.
So we have finally found the importance of winning the presidential popular vote.  If Trump tried to change the mindset of the citizenry's erroneous understanding of the role of the Judiciary, by ignoring rulings that overstep their bounds, it would join the hateful list of fictitious grounds for his impeachment. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Awful Responsibility Of Time

In the early 1990s I took a Time Management course that presented many impressive techniques for making your day more efficient – knocking many more items off your to-do list than you would have otherwise been able to accomplish.  Then the last half hour of the course the instructor inspirationally explained that the course was not really about knocking items off a list – it was about making sure the items on the list were important to you to ensure you were getting the most out of life – getting the most out of your most precious commodity: Time.  Now that is really the utmost in time management.
With the above as a backdrop I have wondered why so many Republican Congressmen have been announcing their retirements, resignations, or deciding to run for different offices – 35 House Republican incumbents leaving the House is more than twice the number of Democrats leaving.  After all current Republican Congressmen probably have the last Republican president of their lifetimes to work with – none of the other 16 Republican presidential candidates in 2016 could have beaten HRC, as rotten as she was, & Trump is a once in a lifetime high energy figure to lead America for the next seven years away from the political correctness that is destroying the country.
The biggest retirement surprise to me was Jason Chaffetz, Utah Congressman & Chairman of the powerful high-profile House Oversight & Government Reform Committee who won  re-election in November 2016 by a margin of 74% to 26%.  In April 2017 Chaffetz suddenly announced he would not run again in 2018 & then one month later announced he was retiring effective June 30, 2017 – less than six months into his 5th term.
I heard Chaffetz tell Brian Kilmeade on Brian's radio program that he had spent more than 1,500 nights away from his family in eight years – many of these nights in distasteful fund raising functions - & had missed too many family birthday parties & other celebrations.
Now all of this unpleasant hard work is certainly known when anyone decides to run for Congress which made me suspicious that something else was in play & that something else was the February 9, 2017 town hall meeting in Brighton High School in Chaffetz's congressional district in Utah that was more unpleasant than any fund raising function.  Click here to see Chaffetz peppered with questions from a disorderly, disrespectful, disruptive, out of control crowd inside the High School & here to see the uproarious protesters outside the building that far outnumbered those inside.
Chaffetz accused the crowd of being paid protesters.  Either the great majority of the 26% of the district that voted against Chaffetz all came out or the crowd was organized by social media & many were not even from the district.  I choose the latter.
In short, who would want to face this again?  Chaffetz never did. 
As bad as Chaffetz's town hall was it was child's play compared to NJ Congressman Tom MacArthur's Willingboro town hall on May 10 that ran for over five hours.  I saw more than two hours of the town hall including this belligerent menacing tirade by a man I thought several times was going to physically attack MacArthur.  In 2016 Trump had won 9% of Willingboro & MacArthur won 12% so this crowd seemed much more representative of the anger prevalent in the town than did Chaffetz's crowd in the High School.  MacArthur really walked into the lion's den but has not indicated he is resigning.
Now NJ Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen certainly did not need the Chaffetz-Mac Arthur examples to forsake in-person town hall meetings; he had replaced them with telephone town hall meetings for quite some time before 2017 when the rash of belligerent town hall meetings began – in this respect Frelinghuysen derogatorily was a man ahead of his time.  So instead the protesters come every week to Frelinghuysen's district office to draw attention to both his votes to repeal ObamaCare & against the December tax reform bill – in other words Frelinghuysen can't win in NJ despite being in his 24th year in Congress.  Without giving a reason, Frelinghuysen – eligible to continue serving as chairman of the powerful
Appropriations Committee until 2023 – announced he is retiring after this session of Congress.
But SC Congressman Trey Gowdy's announced retirement is sincere & truthful & exemplifies the Time Management lesson explained above.  Congressman Gowdy has been the subject of or played a prominent part in several posts on this blog during his seven years in Congress.  Click here & go to the 33:00 minute mark to hear Congressman Gowdy tell Martha MacCallum that two thirds of his life is in the rear view mirror & that he wants to make sure the time he has left is spent on things he can make a difference in – & government service is not one of those things.  This is very similar to the message SC Senator Jim DeMint sent when he resigned from the Senate on January 1, 2013 saying he could get more done for America as the President of the Heritage Foundation than he could in the Senate.
In the last post I challenged the readership to use the insight gained from reading RTE over the years to make a clear, definite, & tangible contribution to the future success of our country.  Because ultimately, none of us have the luxury to think we will not be held to account or be affected as America slips away.  We are all no different than Trey Gowdy - going "into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history & the awful responsibility of Time."1 
1. Robert Penn Warren, All The King's Men.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Increased Government Spending Means Less Robust Economy For America's Youth

"It seems the only thing we can do on a bipartisan basis is spend more money than we have." - Senator Jeff Flake (R, AZ)
click on tweet to enlarge
The graphic below clearly shows what President Trump was referring to in the above tweet after he signed a short-term 640-page funding bill known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 on February 9 that reopened the government by funding it until March 23 following a brief overnight shut down.  Before March 23 detailed appropriation bills must be developed into an omnibus spending bill based on a two year budget outline that was part of the Bipartisan Budget Act which added $300 billion in new spending for military & nondefense programs plus $90 billion in disaster relief aid.  Note: in the graphic below federal government payments to individuals (69.2% of the federal budget in 2019) are well over 4 times larger than payments for national defense (15.6%).  Net interest on the national debt is 7.4% of the federal budget in 2018.  69.2+15.6+7.4 = not much left for other programs going forward meaning deficit spending will continue as far as the eye can see.
click on graphic from WSJ to enlarge
The following graph shows the growth of federal government payments to individuals – 71.3% of the total 2016 federal budget was dedicated to payments to individuals, up from 28% in 1966.   
click on graph to enlarge
Click here to hear part of Rand Paul's excellent protest to deaf ears in the Senate on the evening of February 8 & the early morning hours of February 9 pleading for his colleagues to show some financial responsibility.  In summary Senator Paul says "The bill is nearly 700 pages.  It was given to us @ midnight last night & I would venture to say no one has read the bill . . . the dirty little secret is Republicans are clamoring for military spending but they can't get it unless they give the Democrats welfare spending so they raise all the spending, it's a compromise in the wrong direction . . . when Democrats are in power Republicans appear to be the conservative party, but when Republicans are in power it seems there is no conservative party." 
In brief, the budget bill lifts the sequester spending caps that were put in place in 2011 to control both defense & non-defense spending with all of the money agreed to earlier this month ($390 billion) adding to the deficit which may now exceed $1 trillion in the next two years.
The Treasury Department shows the national debt increased under GW Bush from $5.73 trillion in 2001 to $10.63 trillion when he left office in January 2009.  BO took the national debt from there to $19.95 trillion.  As of February 6 the official debt of the United States government was $20.5 trillion.  In June 2017 the Congressional Budget Office projected the national debt would rise to $30.7 trillion by 2027.
The federal government divides the national debt into two main categories: 1) $14.8 trillion in publicly held debt like that held by individuals, corporations, local governments, & foreign governments like China, & 2) $5.7 trillion in intergovernmental debt which is owed to special funds like the Social Security Trust Fund.
The national debt is sometimes called the Federal Debt Held By The Public (see graphic below) to distinguish it from the debt totals that include unfunded liabilities tabulated @ the close of fiscal year 2016 like: 1) $8.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities for federal employee retirement benefits & other miscellaneous unaccounted for items, 2) $29.0 trillion in obligations for current Social Security participants above & beyond both projected revenues from their payroll & benefit taxes & the IOUs in the Social Security Trust Fund, & 3) $32.9 trillion in obligations for current Medicare participants above & beyond both projected revenues from their payroll & benefit taxes & IOUs in the Medicare Trust Fund.
Accordingly, @ the end of fiscal year 2016, the federal debt held by the public plus the unfunded liabilities detailed above comes to $84.3 trillion after subtracting the value of assets like cash on hand.
The enormity of the above debt figures is incomprehensible to even the 1,000 richest men in the world combined as far as visualizing the debt's magnitude compared to anything any human being has ever grasped.
The above statistics are from the excellent work done by Just Facts. 
Over six years ago I presented four solutions to problems like the out of control spending problem described above.  The last two posts have re-presented the solutions specifically for Social Security & Medicare which were the first two points of the post Four Points Highlight The Needed Change In Mindset made on January 31, 2012.
The third point of the aforementioned post specifically addressed budgetary matters; namely, it endorsed the "cut, cap, & balance" plan of Ken Blackwell & others in which federal spending would be controlled so that projected borrowing is cut in half the first year (not 10 years from now), spending would be capped @ 18% of GDP - the norm of much of the past 65 years - (it's 21% of GDP now with a projected deficit of 4% of GDP this fiscal year), & under a balanced-budget amendment the president would be required to submit a balanced budget within the foregoing spending guidelines that call for super congressional majorities to raise future debt limits or tax rates.
The balanced budget amendment part of the plan would work hand in glove with the cut & cap parts of the plan – i.e., you need all three in order for it to work.  Professor Friedman taught that he is more worried about how much money government spends than he is about deficits & the cut, cap, & balance plan meets his test.
But the Congress has shown no appetite for cutting anything or living within the means of a spending cap that is 3% of GDP lower than the current level of spending.  Senator Flake points out above that Congress is only good @ spending more money than they have.
Students of economics know that the budget is always in balance from an accounting standpoint – there is no such thing as an unbalanced federal budget. The staggering numbers of the deficits & national debt resulting from out of control government spending really mean that there will be a less robust economy especially for younger & future generations.
And younger generations don't understand this because they have been taught a sanitized history with regard to socialism – a history that leaves out the fact that socialism has failed dramatically, often disastrously, everywhere it has been tried. 
A recent study found nearly half of all Millennials said they would rather live in a socialist or even communist country than a capitalist republic with heavy reliance on democracy – like the U.S.  Witness Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, who received overwhelming support from young people in the 2016 Democrat Party presidential primary – receiving nearly three-fourths of the total vote of Millennials (18 – 29 year olders).  Source: Hillsdale College.
The following graphic from a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in January shows 50% of Americans want more spending on Social Security & only 5% want less; 45% want more on Medicare & 7% less; & 38% want more on Medicaid & 12% less.
click on graphic to enlarge
Every indication is that the majority of Americans want more government – in fact big government.
But as a reader of RTE you know better.  What you do with the insight you have gained is crucial to the future success or failure of our country.