About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

Joke of the Day

A Groaner

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mint announced that a new fifty-cent piece was being issued to honor two great American patriots.

On one side of the coin would be Teddy Roosevelt and on the other side, Nathan Hale.

Asked why two people were going to be on the same coin, the spokesman replied, “Now, when you toss a coin you can simply call…. ‘Ted’s or Hale’s’.”

New Town Management

No doubt, most of us have probably seen or at least heard of the demonstration of EPA civility. If you have, it bears another look. If you haven’t, this article is a good synopsis of events. As you read and watch,  just imagine if this were the Bush adminstration and Inhofe was maybe, Chuckie Schumer. Imagine the theatre, the spectacle, the wailing and nashing of teeth by every news outlet in the land. We all assume this administrator was speaking metaphorically, but with bunch, who knows.

 

From Craig Bannister at CNS News:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor today to draw attention to a video of a top EPA official saying the EPA’s “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies – just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience.

Inhofe quoted a little-watched video from 2010 of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, admitting that EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies.

In the video, Administrator Armendariz says:

“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.

“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

“It’s a deterrent factor,” Armendariz said, explaining that the EPA is following the Romans’ philosophy for subjugating conquered villages.

Soon after Armendariz touted the EPA’s “philosophy,” the EPA began smear campaigns against natural gas producers, Inhofe’s office noted in advance of today’s Senate speech:

“Not long after Administrator Armendariz made these comments in 2010, EPA targeted US natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

“In all three of these cases, EPA initially made headline-grabbing statements either

Indoctrinate the Children

insinuating or proclaiming outright that the use of hydraulic fracturing by American energy producers was the cause of water contamination, but in each case their comments were premature at best – and despite their most valiant efforts, they have been unable to find any sound scientific evidence to make this link.”

In his Senate speech, Sen. Inhofe said the video provides Americans with “a glimpse of the Obama administration’s true agenda.”

That agenda, Inhofe said, is to “incite fear” in the public with unsubstantiated claims and “intimidate” oil and gas companies with threats of unjustified fines and penalties – then, quietly backtrack once the public’s perception has been firmly jaded against oil and natural gas.

Is That Your 401k?

I recall speaking to some folks a few years ago about the possible confiscation of peoples retirement as the government runs out of money. I also recall, everyone I spoke with called me a crazy person. Well, here we are a few years later and looky, looky. They aren’t proposing full confiscation yet, but it’s a start.

Feds eye retirement-fund tax to cut $16 trillion-plus deficit

By GREGORY BRESIGER

Uncle Sam, in a desperate attempt to fix its $16 trillion-plus deficit, is leering over Americans’ retirement nest egg as its new bailout fund.

Capitol Hill politicians are assessing tax changes that could let the Internal Revenue Service lay claim to a portion of the $18 trillion sitting in 401(k) accounts and other tax breaks used by middle-class workers, including cutting the mortgage tax deduction.

A commission looking for ways to close the deficit, and, noting the extent of 401(k) tax breaks, recommends an examination of the system as one way to prevent government bankruptcy.

Besides 401(k)s, other possibilities include the mortgage-interest deduction on second homes, as well as benefits from employer-provided health insurance, which are untaxed now.

Under current 401(k) rules, total employee/employer contributions can’t exceed $50,000. In the proposed rule change, employer/employee contributions would be limited to 20 percent of the employee’s compensation, with a maximum of $20,000, the so-called 20/20 proposal.

Another proposal being discussed in Congress says all tax deductions on 401(k)s and IRAs to be replaced with an 18 percent credit. The credit, according to a proposal that has been endorsed by economist William Gale, would be placed directly in a person’s retirement account.

“Unlike the current system,” Gale told Congress, “workers’ and firms’ contributions to employer-based 401(k) accounts would no longer be excluded from income and would be subject to taxation, contributions to IRAs would no longer be tax-deductible and any contributions to a 401(k) plan would be treated as taxable income.”

In other words, the employee and employer would no longer get a deduction under the Gale plan, they would qualify for a credit. And the credit would “increase [government] revenues by about $458 billion,” Gale says.

Last week a group of retirement industry experts went to Capitol Hill to criticize these proposed changes in retirement-plan rules. “These changes could have unintended consequences,” warns Lynn Dudley of the American Benefits Council (ABC).

Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee about the proposals, Randolf Hardock, of ABC’s board of directors, said, “[The idea] could seriously undermine the retirement savings system.”

Jack VanDerhei, research director of Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), believes either of the two proposed 401(k) changes under review would have a “catastrophic” effect on the current retirement saving system.

The 20/20 plan provisions curtailing non-taxable contributions would freeze out many higher-paid employees from signing up for a 401(k), which could lead some companies, according to critics, to question if plans would still be worth offering employees.

Reducing retirement-plan contributions for those at the higher end of the wage scale will inevitably have a bad effect on those in the middle and at the bottom, ABC’s Dudley says.

Joke of the Day

Two men were out playing golf on a nice Saturday afternoon.

They were getting frustrated, though, because the two women who were playing right in front of them were quite slow, and were holding up the men’s game.

“Don’t they know their supposed to let us play through?!” asked the first man.

The other man shook his head. “I’m going to go ask them if we can play through,” said the first man, emphatically, “Enough is enough!”

He started walking over toward the women, but as he got close, he suddenly turned around and came back, white as a ghost.

“Oh God,” he said to his friend, “This is awful. You’re going to have to ask those women if we can play through. You see, one of them is my wife, and the other is my mistress!”

The other man shrugged, and said “No sweat.”

He walked over toward the women, and just as he was getting close, turned around and came running back to his pal. His eyes wide open, he said – “Small world isn’t it!”

Constituion 101 (10)

Lesson 10: “The Recovery of the Constitution”

Study Guide

Overview:

Statesmanship, for Franklin D. Roosevelt, entailed the “redefinition” of “rights in terms of a changing and growing social order.” Fulfilling the promise of Progressivism, President Roosevelt’s New Deal gave rise to unlimited government. In contrast to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his ideological successors, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan sought the restoration of limited government. Today, our choice is clear: Will we live by the principles of the American Founding, or by the values of the Progressives?

Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his campaign for the presidency in 1932 by emphasizing the Progressive understanding of history and by calling for the “redefinition” of the old idea of rights. His “New Deal,” a series of economic programs ostensibly aimed at extricating America from the Great Depression, vastly enlarged the size and scope of the federal government. Unelected bureaucratic agencies—“the administrative state”—became a fact of American life.

Roosevelt’s call for a “Second Bill of Rights” sought to add “security” to the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Describing the “old rights” of life and liberty as “inadequate” without underlying economic security, Roosevelt called for new economic rights for all, including the right to a job, a home, a fair wage, education, and medical care. With these rights guaranteed, Roosevelt argued, real political equality finally could be achieved.

Following President Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” and Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” continued the transformation of the relationship between the American people and their government. President Johnson redefined the government’s role by redefining equality itself: equality must be a “result” rather than a “right.” Expanded federal control over education, transportation, welfare, and medical care soon followed.

Announcing that “with the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Ronald Reagan appealed to the principles of the American Founding in seeking to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Maintaining that Progressivism and the consent of the governed are incompatible, Reagan called for a return to individual self-rule and national self-government.

Medicare DisAdvandage

An $8 billion trick?

By BENJAMIN E. SASSE & CHARLES HURT

Call it President Obama’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President — a political slush fund at the Health and Human Services Department.

Only this isn’t some little fund from shadowy private sources; this is taxpayer money, redirected to help Obama win another term. A massive amount of it, too — $8.3 billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a B.

Here is how it works.

The most oppressive aspects of the ObamaCare law don’t kick in until after the 2012 election, when the president will no longer be answerable to voters. More “flexibility,” he recently explained to the Russians.

But certain voters would surely notice one highly painful part of the law before then — namely, the way it guts the popular Medicare Advantage program.

For years, 12 million seniors have relied on these policies, a more market-oriented alternative to traditional Medicare, without the aggravating gaps in coverage.

But as part of its hundreds of billions in Medicare cuts, the Obama one-size-fits-all plan slashes reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage starting next year — herding many seniors back into the government-run program.

Under federal “open-enrollment” guidelines, seniors must pick their Medicare coverage program for next year by the end of this year — which means they should be finding out before Election Day.

Nothing is more politically volatile than monkeying with the health insurance of seniors, who aren’t too keen on confusing upheavals in their health care and are the most diligent voters in the land. This could make the Tea Party look like a tea party.

Making matters even more politically dangerous for Obama is that open enrollment begins Oct. 15, less than three weeks before voters go to the polls.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster for a president than seniors in crucial states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio discovering that he’s taken away their beloved Medicare Advantage just weeks before an election.

This political ticking time bomb could become the biggest “October Surprise” in US political history.

But the administration’s devised a way to postpone the pain one more year, getting Obama past his last election; it plans to spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage funds so that seniors in key markets don’t lose their trusted insurance program in the middle of Obama’s re-election bid.

The money is to come from funds that Health and Human Services is allowed to use for “demonstration projects.” But to make it legal, HHS has to pretend that it’s doing an “experiment” to study the effect of this money on the insurance market.

That is, to “study” what happens when the government doesn’t change anything but merely continues a program that’s been going on for years.

Obama can temporarily prop up Medicare Advantage long enough to get re-elected by exploiting an obscure bit of federal law. Under a 1967 statute, the HHS secretary can spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.”

Past demonstration projects have studied new medical techniques or strategies aimed at improving care or reducing costs. The point is to find ways to lower the costs of Medicare by allowing medical technocrats to make efficient decisions without interference from vested interests.

Now Obama means to turn it on its head — diverting the money to a blatantly nonexperimental purpose to serve his political needs.

A Government Accounting Office report released this morning shows, quite starkly, that there simply is no experiment being conducted, just money being spent. Understandably, the GAO recommends that HHS cancel the project.

Congress should immediately launch an investigation into this unprecedented misuse of taxpayer money and violation of the public trust, which certainly presses the boundaries of legality and very well may breach them.

If he’s not stopped, Obama will spend $8 billion in taxpayer funds for a scheme to mask the debilitating effects on seniors of his signature piece of legislation just long enough to get himself re-elected.

Now that is some serious audacity.

Benjamin E. Sasse, a former US assistant secretary of health, is president of Midland University. Charles Hurt covers politics in DC.

Liberal Nostalgiacs

Liberal Nostalgiacs Don’t Understand Jobs of the Future

By Michael Barone

 

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable retirement.

As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal nostalgiacs, which is that people hated those jobs.

The assembly-line work was boring and repetitive. That’s because management imbibed Frederick W. Taylor’s theories that workers were stupid and could not be trusted with any initiative.

It was also because the thousands of pages of work rules in United Auto Workers contract, which forbade assembly-line speedups, also barred any initiative or flexible response.

That’s why the UAW in 1970 staged a long strike against General Motors to give workers the option of early retirement, 30-and-out. All those guys who had gotten assembly line jobs at 18 or 21 could quit at 48 or 51.

The only problem was that when they retired they lost their health insurance. So the UAW got the Detroit Three auto companies to pay for generous retiree health benefits that covered elective medical and dental procedures with little or no co-payments.

It was those retiree health benefits more than anything else that eventually drove General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and into ownership by the government and the UAW.

The liberal nostalgiacs would like to see an economy that gives low-skill high school graduates similar opportunities. That’s what Barack Obama seems to be envisioning when he talks about hundreds of thousands of “green jobs.”

But those “green jobs” have not come into existence despite massive government subsidies and crony capitalism. It’s become apparent that the old Detroit model was unsustainable and cannot be revived even by the most gifted community organizer and adjunct law professor.

For one thing, in a rapidly changing and technologically advanced economy, the lifetime job seems to be a thing of the past. Particularly “lifetime” jobs where you work only 30 years and then get supported for the next 30 or so years of your life.

Today’s young people can’t expect to join large organizations and in effect ride escalators for the rest of their careers. The new companies emerging as winners in high tech — think Apple or Google — just don’t employ that many people, at least in the United States.

Similarly, today’s manufacturing firms produce about as large a share of the gross national product as they used to with a much smaller percentage of the labor force.

Moreover, there’s evidence that recent growth in some of the professions — the law, higher education — has been a bubble, and is about to burst.

The bad news for the millennial generation that is entering its work years is that the economy of the future won’t look like the economy we’ve grown accustomed to. The “hope and change” that Barack Obama promised hasn’t produced much more than college loans that will be hard to pay off and a health care law that lets them stay on Mommy and Daddy’s health insurance till they’re 26.

The good news is that information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and interests.

As Walter Russell Mead writes in his brilliant, the-american-interest.com blog, “The career paths that (young people) have been trained for are narrowing, and they are going to have to launch out in directions they and their teachers didn’t expect. They were bred and groomed to live as house pets; they are going to have to learn to thrive in the wild.”

But, as Mead continues, “The future is filled with enterprises not yet born, jobs that don’t yet exist, wealth that hasn’t been created, wonderful products and life-altering service not yet given form.”

As Jim Manzi argues in his new book “Uncontrolled,” we can’t predict what this new work world will look like. It will be invented through trial and error.

What we can be sure of is that creating your own career will produce a stronger sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Young people who do so won’t hate their work the way those autoworkers hated those assembly line jobs.

This SUV is not for Everyone

You might not think that there would be much overlap between Lamborghini lovers and SUV drivers.

After all, the flashy sports cars are usually driven by stars and musicians, while rugged off-road vehicles are more the preserve of farmers and outdoorsmen – or, in recent years, suburban soccer moms.

But the two worlds are about to collide, as the luxury Italian firm launches its own four-by-four, for the lumberjack who wants to look smart as he traverses the forest.

The Lamborghini Urus was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show this week, and it could be coming to a road – or dirt track – near you before too long. Although Lamborghini has not yet revealed the price,  it is expected to hit the market in 2015.

It arguably looks more like a sports car than like the average SUV, with its aerodynamic shape, sleek design and glossy finish. This “crossover” has huge 24-inch wheels and a 600 horsepower engine. Like most of Lamborghini’s cars, the Urus has full-time all-wheel-drive with a focus on on-road performance.

At just 5ft 6in high, the car is also significantly shorter than most other four-wheel drives, making it more attractive to the city-dwellers who provide Lamborghini’s usual customer base.

And its more hi-tech features are a world away from the rural origins of the the SUV, as it is equipped with all sorts of clever gadgetry.

Instead of wing mirrors, it has cameras feeding video to screens positioned next to the driver.

The Urus – named after an extinct ancestor of the cow – is packed with carbon fibre, which is exceptionally strong relative to its weight.

And the car even changes its own shape, with a front spoiler which adjusts its position depending on whether the driver is off-road or speeding down the freeway.

Surprisingly, this is not the first time Lamborghini has tried to launch an SUV.

From 1985 to 1992 they made the LM002, a less fashionable model which did not find success as just 300 were ever sold.

The company is determined that the Urus will be different, and is planning to turn out as many as 3,000 per year.

That would make the SUV Lamborghini’s most popular model – but it remains to be seen whether the firm is ready to shift from boy racers to rednecks.

 Attribution: INAutoNews, Mail Online