Parks And Wreck

April 29, 2013

The California state legislature is currently entertaining a bill that would make it legal for homeless people to live in city parks, sleep in parked cars, to cook, bathe and relieve themselves on public property, and to panhandle with impunity.

The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (AB 5), the brainchild of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, is a monstrosity of run-on sentences, grandiose pronouncements, and baffling non sequiturs, all composed in a verbose, convoluted & euphemistic language that only superficially resembles English.  In and of itself, the composition of AB 5 shows why our nation is suffering slow strangulation by legislation.

The actual proposals and underlying intent of AB 5 are extremist, threaten to disrupt civic cohesiveness, erode the quality of life, and undermine the rule of law, while offering little of substance to the homeless.

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Homeless Haven

With their mild climates, profusion of charitable groups, and lax attitudes,  California’s cities prove hospitable to those who live permanently on the street.  Current PC conventions refer to such people as “the homeless”. In the past, they’ve been known as hobos, vagrants, or bums (derived from the German Bummler, or ‘drifter’, and akin to the Irish term ‘traveler’.)   “Homeless” was coined to elicit empathy by conjuring the image of otherwise respectable people & families temporarily displaced by bad fortune.   Homeless families, though, tend to avail themselves of shelters, and their average stay is three weeks — enough time for them to sort out their problem and arrange for a place to stay.

The vast majority of people living on the street do so on a permanent basis.  Most are addicts and/or mentally ill, some are runaways.  For various reasons, they decline offers of temporary shelter, and cannot or will not work toward finding a regular home.  Homelessness is their preferred state of existence. A surprising number of individuals and advocacy groups feel that weakening or abolishing vagrancy laws is an adequate solution to their problems.

Mental Diarrhea as Legislation

AB 5 begins — though it’s hard to say where or even whether Ammiano’s mental diarrhea has a beginning, middle or end — with the fallacious argument that, since California had unjust ordinances in the past (e.g. the so-called Ugly Laws prohibiting “people with ‘unsightly or disgusting’ disabilities to appear in public”), any ordinance that makes it hard to be a vagrant is also unjust. He notes that, while the California constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, disability, orientation etc., a person’s “housing status” is not covered.  If that was Ammiano’s real concern, a one-sentence bill adding the words “housing status” would have sufficed — and probably already been passed on a voice vote.

Next comes a litany of the mistreatments endured by the homeless, who’ve been denied:

  • “Housing and employment as a result of not having a fixed or residential mailing address“;
  • “The ability to make certain purchases or enter certain contests as a result of not having a fixed or residential mailing address….”  (No Publishers’ Clearing House for you!);
  • “Access to safe, clean restrooms, water, and hygienic supplies … especially with the proliferation of closures of public restrooms”;

And so on. Public shelters are chided for not properly respecting the “dignity” of lesbians, trans-people, pet owners, et al.  The lack of adequate mental health services is also mentioned in passing, but merits no specific provisions in the bill.

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The Privileged Underprivileged

Despite repetitious, long-winded assertions that new legislation is required to give the homeless equal protection under the law, AB 5 would actually afford vagrants special rights and immunities not enjoyed by the rest of us.  These would include the right to:

  • Remain in any public space “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” even after the “homed” must exit;
  • Stand, kneel, squat, sit, lie down or sleep indefinitely on benches, sidewalks, etc.;
  • Place or set down an unlimited quantity of personal possessions in public indefinitely;
  • Store scavenged goods on public property for reuse and recycling;
  • Representation by a public attorney for offenses & citations for which “homed” citizens do not receive free counsel;
  • Prepare and share food, bathe, and attend to personal hygiene in public.  The phrase “urinating in public” was struck in committee, but the broader provisions of the bill would still legalize it.  (It’s a bit amazing that in the midst of drafting AB 5, Ammiano forgot that humans also produce large quantities of feces.)

Civil servants, who on their own initiative allow the homeless to make use of public buildings or who distribute public supplies to them, would be immune from punishment.  Panhandling would also be decriminalized, on the grounds that the homeless have a “right to self-employment.”

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Parks and Wreck

Panhandling and vagrancy have long been banned by cities, for good reason: they are anti-social behaviors that make a city unpleasant to live in or to visit.

Panhandling is begging, often done in an aggressive, threatening manner, something I’ve personally experienced.  Traveling by BART to San Francisco one Friday night years ago, I exited onto a deserted Market Street and was immediately accosted by a panhandler.  He ignored my “sorry, no change on me”, got into my personal space and started demanding dollar bills.  I spent several, tense minutes staring him down, bracing for the fight he alluded to, before my ride showed up.  Had I been a tourist, instead of visiting a new girlfriend, I likely would have written off San Francisco for good.

Vagrancy defeats the entire purpose of public parks and other areas: to provide aesthetically-pleasing spaces to be shared and enjoyed by all.  Vagrants abuse and monopolize a public space by converting it into their private space, and in doing so, spoil its appeal and accessibility to others.

Yet, under AB 5, A city would be permitted to implement its local ordinances only if:

  1. Its county provides 24-hour “health and hygiene centers” for the homeless, and;
  2. The municipality does not lie within a federally-designated “area of concentrated unemployment or underemployment or an area of labor surplus”, and;
  3. “The public housing waiting list maintained by the county contains fewer than 50 persons.”

As the League of California Cities points out, all of these requirements are beyond the control of a city.  Further, “AB 5 would create costly mandates, blur the line between local jurisdiction authority, and undermine the local decision making process.”

Now, this might be Tom Ammiano’s way of indirectly pressuring for social reforms, but it sure is a dumbass way to run a government.

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The Beggars of Calcutta, California

Some on the Right would like to force vagrants to ‘take personal responsibility’ for themselves.  The thing is, they have taken personal responsibility, and living on the street was what they came up with!  These people are constitutionally incapable of doing better.  If a quadriplegic fell overboard, you wouldn’t shout, ‘it’s sink or swim, buddy!’

Science writer Malcolm Gladwell explored the case of one homeless man in Denver, a substance abuser with personality disorders, who after years of repeated run-ins with the police and visits to the ER, froze to death.  Gladwell ran the numbers on the cost of the public services expended on this one man, and discovered it would have been cheaper for the city to have given him an apartment and a full-time caretaker for life.

One might imagine such a ‘socialist’ approach appealing to Ammiano and his  ilk.  In truth, they are no different from the brahmins of Calcutta, perfectly fine with their lowest caste living in squalor.

A truly compassionate society would never consider permission to camp in parks a valid solution.  Instead, vagrants would be removed from public spaces and placed in shelters.  This would be compulsory, for the very act of choosing permanent homelessness indicates an incapacity to care or reason for oneself.  Rather than being tossed spare change to buy Night Train, these fellow human beings would receive — in addition to proper shelter and basic amenities — professional treatment, counseling, and support for their addictions, mental conditions, or familial issues.

AB 5 is not a real solution, and it’s certainly not compassionate. At best, it’s demagoguery; at worst, a plan to convert our precious parks and plazas into lawless refugee camps.  No sane society would contemplate such a step.

(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh.  All rights reserved.


How obama Turned Liberals into Zombies

October 26, 2012

The Neo-Con Democrat
The spectacle of the presidential foreign policy debate, with the republican and democratic candidates stumbling over each other to agree on the use of drones, staying for another decade in Afghanistan, Gitmo and such, was proof once again that barack obama is no liberal.

In fact, obama’s policies of endless war, nation-building, and disregard for international law mark him as a neo-con. With his predilection for assassinations and indiscriminate bombings with mounting ‘collateral damage,’ obama has turned the United States into one of those ‘rogue nations’ our rhetoric execrates.

On the home front, obama has also proven himself no liberal. He readily signed extensions of the Patriot Act and FISA, thus denying us our Fourth Amendment rights and strengthening the surveillance state established by his mentor predecessor, Bush.  obama next took away our right to free assembly by signing the Trespass Law, then negated the Constitutional right of habeas corpus by signing into law the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA.  obama routinely ignores the Constitutional separation of powers, issuing executive orders that contravene the will of Congress, while brazenly ignoring the War Powers Act by starting wars at his fancy.  The obama administration has been the worst in history for punishing whistle-blowers.
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The Corporatist Lapdog
Many on the Right label obama a ‘socialist’, which is slanderous, considering obama’s domestic policy reveals him to be a corporatist lapdog. His greatest achievement, healthcare reform (sic), was in actuality a restructuring of the health insurance market, written by the insurance lobby to benefit the insurance lobby. Forty million Americans are still left without healthcare.

When the big banks were caught in a trillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, obama railed loudly against the bankers, then slapped them across the wrist with a $12 million token fine. The much-heralded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established by obama crony Elizabeth Warren, has yet to indict a single malfeasor.

Candidate obama promised to ban lobbyists from working in his administration.  President obama has more lobbyists in his White House than any previous administration.

Large campaign bundlers found obama amenable to pulling strings to aid their businesses — for example: an FCC waiver allowing LightSquared to encroach on vital military GPS bandwidths; a billion dollar HHS contract to Siga for a useless vaccine.
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The Sham Green Economy
Vaingloriously, obama predicted his inauguration would be remembered as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”  Yet under obama, the environment has suffered greatly.

Following the disastrous BP oil spill, obama promised to place his “boot on the throat” of that reckless conglomerate, then allowed BP to get away nearly scot free.  Later, obama gave BP the go-ahead to drill in Alaska.

Since 2008, obama has breathlessly told us how he wants to expand “solar, and wind, and bio-diesel”,  and now brags about having doubled the electricity produced by renewables.  That sounds impressive, until you learn that solar and wind still provide a mere 3% our total energy. Four years on, and the US is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

obama’s grand(iose) “Green Energy Economy” turned out to be a boondoggle, a false front to hide kickbacks to obama’s biggest campaign donors. Real renewable solutions do exist to meet a majority of our energy needs, yet obama wasted billions of taxpayer money on Solyndra, Beacon, A123, and a dozen other sham companies that went bankrupt.

At the international climate conferences in Copenhagen and Rio, obama personally intervened to side with China and other major greenhouse gas producers to thwart efforts to curtail global warming, thus ensuring that the oceans will indeed keep rising.

At home, obama refused to implement EPA regulations on air quality.  To his credit, obama was against the XL pipeline before he was for it. To keep up with fellow republican, Mitt Romney, obama is now calling for rapid expansion of offshore drilling, mining of coal, and frakking.
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Letting Down the Common People
On the bread & butter economic positions that for a century defined liberalism in America, obama has let down working families time and time again.

His buyout of GM may have provided temporary relief, but it did nothing to address the endemic flaws in our auto industry. His continuation of TARP was nothing more than a cash bonus to bankers for losing risky bets.

As a candidate, obama promised to end the Bush tax cuts on the rich in his first hundred days. He stalled for two years, then promised to end them in 2011. He now promises to end them sometime in his second term. obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he added another $5 trillion.

Other than endlessly repeating the words “roads and bridges and schools”, obama has offered no real plan to jump-start a stagnant economy. He amused himself by joking that all those “shovel-ready” projects he was going to fund “weren’t all that shovel-ready, after all.”

Only by heavy manipulation of workforce statistics has obama been able to claim he is finally a “net job creator.”  Two-third of those new jobs are low-wage. Household wealth has sunk 39%. Sixty percent of mortgages are under water.  One in five Americans still can’t find a job they can live on.  While unemployment soared, obama fiddled and diddled. His insipid “jobs bill” was a pastiche of hiring incentives and retraining programs already long proven ineffective. At best, it would have created a million jobs; independent analysts calculated it would have created practically none.

While ordinary Americans suffer, obama has been content to blame his inability to do more on the intransigence of Congress. Yet obama had no trouble working with both Dems and Gops to sign a slew of so-called “free trade” treaties that in truth expedite the off-shoring of hundreds of thousands of American jobs. obama has spent 50% more time on the golf links than in economic briefings.

obama promises to protect Social Security and Medicare.  Yet his “payroll tax cut” robbed S.S. of 16% of its funding. Had his putrid “jobs bill” passed, it would have cut S.S. funding by half, and gut Medicare with half a billion dollars in reckless cuts. To underwrite obamacare, $700 million will be taken from Medicare.
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The Zombie Left
Among the Left, all but the most severe kool-aid addicts admit that obama has been a major disappointment. Still, they plan on voting for him as the ‘lesser of two evils.’  ‘We must protect women’s rights’, they implore.  Are not the right to a speedy trial, to protection from illegal search and seizure, to due process, the rights of women as well?  So long as obama remains president, the Left condone unliberal affronts they would never tolerate from a republican president.

To assume that in a second term obama will suddenly ‘get it’, or miraculously change his nature, is folly. Things would get even worse. True, Romney’s plan to fix the economy will also fail. But obama’s bolloxes have ensured that the country will give the GOP a shot, if not now, then in 2016. Massachusetts survived one term of Romney; America can, too.

The Left, however, cannot survive four more years of obama. In service to obama, the Left now advocate jingoism in foreign policy, and a surveillance state at home. The Left now accept zero progress on jobs or economic fairness, and mutely watch as corporate criminals go unpunished. Thanks to obama, liberals and progressives have abandoned protecting the environment and the fight for universal healthcare. The Left are nothing but mindless zombies, so long as they remain under the sway of obama’s false promises and lies.
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Vote Like a True Liberal
Now is the time for all true liberals to do their duty. To stand up for liberal values by voting for a candidate that also stands up for liberal values. barack obama is not that candidate.

Jill Stein is a true liberal. Her New Green Deal is a comprehensive plan to revitalize the American economy and restore American liberties. Patterned on FDR’s successful programs, Stein’s New Green Deal is a bold yet eminently feasible solution to our pressing problems, a solution that relies on the best liberal principles.

On November 6th, vote as a true liberal. Say ‘enough!’ with the lesser-of-two-evils crap. Vote for Jill Stein.
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(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Warren’s Lies Catching Up With Her

September 28, 2012

Elizabeth Warren, Democrat candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, can’t shake free of unflattering revelations from her past.  First to be exposed was her unverified claim to be a Cherokee, which upset actual Cherokees and raised ethical questions.  Then came accusations from fellow academics that Warren had fudged data for a book, followed by the discovery that the former mortgage fraud czarina had herself made a tidy profit flipping foreclosed homes.  Now comes the shocking news that, not only did Warren represent a string of big businesses in cases against workers, she seems to have been practicing law for over a decade without a license.
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Family Lore vs. Hard Evidence

The first setback to Warren’s maiden election campaign came in April, when it was revealed that she’d publicly listed herself for years as a “Person of Color”, specifically, a Cherokee. (See earlier post for details.)   Despite Warren’s insistence that the Cherokee controversy has been “put to rest” it keeps dogging her, partly because her opponent, Scott Brown, has made it a question of her character, partly because of Warren’s own bizarre compulsion to keep raising the subject.

Brown hit Warren on her false Cherokee claim in the first question of their first debate.  Warren insisted Harvard’s decision to hire her had nothing to do with her claim to minority status, yet refused to comply with Brown’s request for her to release her Harvard paperwork.   Brown and the debate moderator then moved on to other issues, but a few minutes later Warren felt the need to retell the thoroughly-debunked fable of her family’s claims to Cherokee and Delaware ancestry.

Not content to leave it be, Warren released a TV ad insisting yet again that the family lore she heard as child makes it OK for her to call herself a Native American.   This subject is not a winner for Warren, as: 1) exhaustive research by the Cherokee genealogist, Twila Barnes, has proven conclusively that Warren has zero native american ancestry;  2) even had Warren’s claim to 1/32 Cherokee blood been true, under federal law, that was not sufficient for her to claim minority status as a native american.
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Underdog Champion or Hired Gun?

Warren’s claim to fame, which made her the darling of proglodytes, is as a champion of the underdog against avaricious corporations.  In the debate, Brown cast doubt on this image when he questioned Warren’s decision to represent Travelers Insurance in its 2009 attempt to avoid paying compensation to thousands of workers with asbestos poisoning.  Warren insisted that by representing Travelers (“it was an insurance company versus another insurance company” she later explained), she actually helped the poisoned workers by getting Travelers to set up a trust fund, which was better than nothing.  The settlement was later negated by the Supreme Court, leaving the victims with nothing.

Less clear is how Warren was aiding the downtrodden when she represented LTV Steel in 1995, when they attempted to renege on health & pension benefits to thousands of retired coal miners.

Warren has also served, in an advisory or litigating capacity, the following clients in their attempts to use Chapter 11 legalities to avoid liabilities for asbestos poisoning:

  • Kaiser Aluminum
  • Dow Chemical
  • Johns Manville
  • National Gypsum
  • Fuller Austin
  • Fairchild Aviation
  • Piper Aircraft
  • Babcock & Wilcox Company
  • Pittsburgh Coming Corporation
  • Owens Coming Corporation
  • Armstrong World Industries, Inc.
  • W.R. Grace & Company
  • G-1 Holdings, Inc.
  • United States Gypsum Corporation
  • Federal-Mogul Global, Inc.
  • North American Refractories Company

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Unlicensed Practice of the Law

All this scrutiny into Warren’s legal work (conducted primarily by the blog Legal Insurrection) has uncovered a potentially devastating blow to Warren’s Senate aspirations.  It now seems certain that Warren has been practicing law for years in Massachusetts without a license.  That’s a felony.

Warren admits she’s never passed the Mass. bar,  but insists it doesn’t matter as:  1) She’s never really practiced law in Mass, just “dabbled” a bit;  2) She maintains no law office in the state;  3) She’s never appeared in a Mass. court regarding Mass. law;  4) She’s a member of the TX and NJ bars.   All four statements are lies.

Warren has engaged in continuous practice

The long list of clients above, most from 2002 and discovered by chance, belie Warren’s claim of “dabbling.” Warren refuses to release a comprehensive list of clients, but her annual tax returns list six-figure earnings from legal work.

Warren has maintained a permanent law office

Warren insists she has no law office in Massachusetts.  Yet in amicus briefs to the Supreme Court, and in numerous other cases over the past decade where she was listed “of counsel”, Warren gave her Harvard address as the location of her law practice.  On her Texas bar file, she also lists Cambridge, MA, as the location of her practice.

Clearly, Warren’s lawyerly endeavors meets the State’s criteria of someone who “establish[es] an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law,” and who “hold[s] out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.”

Warren practiced law in Massachusetts

Legal Insurrection has uncovered Cadle Company v. Schlictmann, a 2007 appeal before in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, involving a state lien law. Both plaintiff and defendant were from Massachusetts. Warren represented the defendant.

Warren held no active state bar memberships

In 2003, Warren affirmed to the Supreme Court that “I am a member of the bar of the States of Texas and New Jersey.”  Warren also listed her Texas and New Jersey bar memberships in a 2008 CV.

Trouble is, Warren’s Texas bar membership lapsed in 1992. Texas lists Warren as “inactive” and not permitted to practice law.   On September 11, 2012, Warren suddenly resigned from the New Jersey bar, effectively blocking searches into when her membership was last active. Warren claimed she was too busy with the campaign to keep up with the continuing education requirements, even though the NJ bar extends magnanimous waivers and extensions.

Surpisingly, in a recent radio interview, Warren laughingly revealed “I’ve been inactive in the New Jersey bar for a very, very long time.”  That’s two “very’s” and a “long”, which probably takes us back before 2002, when Warren represented at least ten clients in court, and submitted an amicus to the Supreme Court. Certainly 2009’s Travelers v. Bailey wasn’t “very, very long ago” at all.

That’s known as Unlicensed Practice of the Law, and the State of Massachusetts take a dim view of it:

“Whoever has been so removed and continues thereafter to practice law or to receive any fee for his services as an attorney at law rendered after such removal, or who holds himself out, or who represents or advertises himself as an attorney or counsellor at law, or whoever, not having been lawfully admitted to practice as an attorney at law, represents himself to be an attorney or counsellor at law, or to be lawfully qualified to practice in the courts of the commonwealth, by means of a sign, business card, letter head or otherwise, … shall be punished for a first offence by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, and for a subsequent offence by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year.”

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Scoundrel

We now have compelling and damning evidence that Elizabeth Warren is an hypocrite, a compulsive liar, a cheat, an impostor, a perjurer, and a felon.  In an earlier age, a person of Warren’s low character would have been labeled a ‘scoundrel.’  Today, she’s called a ‘progressive hero.’

But hey — Warren gave a speech on youtube that thrilled the proglodytes (they do love their demagoguery!)  So the Dem Machine in Chicago tapped her for the Mass. Senate race.  Like obama before her, the Dems didn’t give a hoot about a proper vetting.  And now, like with obama, the Dems reflexively defend their candidate, Warren, for truly indefensible conduct.

Elizabeth Warren is unfit to hold office.  (If justice be served, she’ll soon trade that hideous red blazer for an orange jumpsuit.)  No true liberal in Massachusetts, who values honesty and integrity, can vote for Warren with a clear conscience.  They must cast their ballot for either Socialist Laura Garza, independent Bill Cimbrilo, or, (gasp) Scott Brown.

And vote for Jill Stein for president.

Note: This article is greatly indebted to the findings presented by Legal Insurrection.


(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Another Jobless Jobs Bill

September 26, 2012

Democrats furious that Republicans refuse to support veterans jobs bill creating zero jobs for veterans

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Last week, Democrats failed to pass S. 3457, the ‘‘Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012’’, falling two votes shy when Republicans forced a point-of-order vote, as the bill exceeded spending limits contained in the Budget Control Act.  Had it passed, the measure would have created zero jobs for unemployed, post-9/11 veterans.

Co-sponsor Patty Murray (D, WA) implied her Republican colleagues were using veterans as “political pawns.”  Just before the vote on S. 3457, Senate Democrats shot down a similar GOP bill that would have also created zero jobs for veterans.  Both sides accused the other of being out of touch.

Across the social media interwebs, angry proglodytes slandered Republicans as heartless bastards for depriving needy veterans of zero jobs.

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Potential Jobs

What exactly would the brainchild of Murray and Bill Nelson (D, FL) have done?

  • Create a pilot program “to assess the feasibility and advisability of providing veterans seeking employment with access to computing facilities” to match vet’s jobs skills with available jobs;
  • Ensure that there are at least one disabled veterans’ outreach program specialist and one local veterans’ employment representative per 5,000 square miles”;
  • Require States to consider military training “when approving or denying a commercial driver’s license” or EMT certificate;
  • Conduct a trial program to provide retraining programs at off-base locations.

These impactful initiatives, costing $1 billion over five years, were to have been funded by making passport applicants pay their back taxes.  Nelson had the gall to call the bill, which was essentially a glorified online resumé bank, “commonsense legislation.”  Tom Coburn (R, OK) described it as “a gimmick” and “crap.”   (Coburn was later caught on a live mic describing the kettle as “black.”)

Check that list again to see if any actual jobs would have been created.  Nope, zero.  But wait — advocates insisted the measure would have “potentially created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans.

That’s $50,000 per potential job.  According to White House figures, 707,000 vets are unemployed.  At this rate, it would cost $35,350,000,000 to provide each of them with a potential job.  We’d need to spend $1,000,000,000,000 to give every unemployed person in America a potential job.

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Redundant

‘Even so,’  you say, ‘surely we ought to do something to help veterans find jobs?’  Of course.  We already do.

In August, the White House bragged that its Joining Forces Initiative had exceeded its goal of 125,000 vets hired by private employers.  The same companies pledged to hire another 250,000 by 2014.  The top participant in the program, Amazon.com, actively seeks out veterans, and did so long before any financial incentives were offered by the government.

The bipartisan Vow to Hire Heroes Act, signed into law last November, established a slew of job assistance programs with catchy names:

  • The Veterans Job Bank, aneasy to use online service that connects unemployed veterans to job openings with companies that want to hire them”, lists over half a million jobs openings “specifically targeted at Veterans”;
  • My Next Move for Veterans, an “easy-to-use online tool … that allows veterans to enter information about their experience and skills in the field, and match it with civilian careers”;
  • A Veteran Gold Card allows post-9/11 veterans to “access six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country.”;
  • Hero 2 Hired (H2H), a “comprehensive employment program … that offers everything a … job seeker needs to find their next opportunity” — job listings, those indispensable “career exploration tools,” training resources, “virtual career fairs,” plus nifty Facebook and mobile apps;
  • The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for 45,000 qualified applicants each year;
  • A hundred hiring fairs sponsored by the Dept. of Commerce, which also went to the considerable effort of creating “strategic partnerships to deal with specific populations of veterans and their unique challenges”;

There’s also a Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, and yet another “virtual employment resource center”, VetSuccess.gov. 

So you can see how GOP senators are such evil fucks for refusing to spend $1 billion on another online job bulletin board.
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CCC My Ass

S. 3457’s sponsors said the bill was “inspired by”  FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps.  It’s nothing of the sort.

The CCC was operated by the Army and directly employed 250,000 young men at a time, providing them good pay, shelter, food and clothing. They planted 3 billion trees, created 800 new parks, upgraded nearly every state park in the nation, stocked nearly a billion fish, built hundreds of thousands of miles of roads and trails, performed erosion control on 40 million acres of farmland, and spend 6.5 million work-days fighting fires.  The CCC ran for nine years, cost a bargain $3 billion, and gainfully employed a total of 2.5 million.

S. 3567 is a resumé posting service.

We’re 1,345 days into obama’s administration, and that’s the best he and the Democrats can come up with.  In comparison:

March 4, 1933  FDR takes office

March 27           CCC bill introduced to Congress

March 31           Congress passes CCC

April 7                First enrollee

July 1                  1,500 CCC camps running with 317,000 participants

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200,000 Chain Saws

The two parties in power offer conflicting approaches to job creation.  Democrats rely on a recipe of hiring incentives, retraining programs, re-invent Monster.com several times over, more retraining programs.  The GOP places it faith in tax breaks, tax breaks, spam, easing regulations, tax breaks, and spam. Truth is, neither the Gops nor the Dems have any clue whatsoever how to create jobs, for veterans or anyone else.

As noted above, under the Democrats’ brilliant plan, it would take $35 billion to help every unemployed vet check online to see if by chance a job was waiting for them.  I have a plan to use that dough to give 250,000 out-of-work vets — the same number the CCC employed — a job for the next three years.  And I’ll put them to good use, clearing the dangerously overgrown forests of the American West.

Wildfires consumed a record number of acres this season, costing billions in damages and related costs.  Thanks to global warming, wildfires are seven times worse than they were in the 1970’s.  Unless the overgrowth is cleared, things will only get worse.

I’ll ask the US Military to provide some planning and logistical support gratis, and the program is fully funded without need to increase the federal deficit.

I call it the War on Forest Fires Program (WOFF)

Scope

WOFF is a three-year program with a goal of:  a) reducing wildfire volume by 1/3;  b) providing gainful employment and on-the-job training for 250,000 veterans currently without jobs.

WOFF will employ crews of ex-military personnel across the Western United States to clear overgrown brush and trees on Federal, State, and local land.  Private landowners will be able to contract with WOFF to clear their land.

The total cost of the program is $35.7 billion, and is fully funded by savings in the military budget.  WOFF will also generate significant cost savings to the Federal, state, and local governments in the billions of dollars, resulting from reduced losses to wildfire.  Additional benefits will be acrued from indirect stimulus of the economy through purchases.

Personnel & Salary

All 227,000 unemployed veterans of the post-9/11 era will be employed in fuel-reduction activities.  Pay will be based on experience and former rank. They will receive, on average, the median the 2012 Army E5 salary, or c. $34,000.

A further 23,000 veterans of the Gulf war era will be hired for supervisory and administrative roles.  Pay will be based on experience and former rank. They will receive, on average, the high end of the 2012 Army E6 salary, or c. $40,000.

Housing, food, and clothing will be provided for all participants in the program, as will travel expenses for regular familial visits.

During the fire season, the entire compliment of WOFF will be available to augment existing civilian fire-fighting personnel.

Salary

Old vets             $2.8 billion

Young vets       $25.9 billion

Total salary      $28.7 billion

Equipment

Forestry equipment will be purchased from American manufacturers.  While the actual equipment required will be diverse, the following examples can serve as a rough estimate of costs (extensions reflect a 15% volume discount.)

Item                   Qty.            Ext.

pulaski             216,000    $27,000,000

chain saw       216,000    $171,000,000

‘bobcat’              10,000   $204,000,000

forestry dozer     1,000    $102,000,000

Total equipment               $504,000,000

All additional equipment and materials shall be provided on loan, at no charge, from the US Military.

Administrative Costs & Supplies

Assume 25% overhead based on salaries.

$6.5 billion

Total Program Cost

$35.7 billion

Funding

To fund the program, I shall not rely on passport applications.  First thing we need to do is end the war in Afghanistan.  It’s costing us $300 million a day, and I’m earmarking the first 119 days’ of savings for WOFF.

Alternately, 23 of the 4,702 oversees military bases (4.9%) can be shut down for an average savings of $1.5 billion per base.

Program Benefits

Significant financial benefits will be realized from WOFF.

A detailed analysis by The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition estimates the total costs of wildfires exceeds $3,000 per acre.

To date in 2012, 8.7 million acres have burned in the United States, for a total cost of around $30 billion dollars.

If WOFF’s goal of reducing fires by 1/3 is achieved, the program will have paid for itself in just over three years.

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How Hard Can it Be?

It took FDR 36 days to put a quarter of a million men back to work with the CCC — just one of the many programs he implemented in his first 100 days.  The current Dems and Gops in Washington have spent the past twelve years bickering, posturing, and floating asinine schemes while our economy dies and one in five can’t find work.

As my back-of-the-envelope exercise above shows, It shouldn’t be that hard to come up with real solutions to our pressing problems.  Yet, apparently, it is beyond the faculties of our Congress and our President.

Patty Murray and Bill Nelson are incompetent, delusional imbeciles.  Their colleagues in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are all incompetent, delusional imbeciles.  (Bernie Sanders gets a pass.) So, let’s fire the lot of them and elect instead some ordinary citizens with brains and real common sense.

And vote for Jill Stein.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


The Labor Pains of Robert Reich

September 4, 2012

Robert Reich is sorely disappointed in obama’s economic proposals, or lack thereof.  So why does Reich still support obama?

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Robert Reich isn’t happy with either Mitt Romney or barack obama.  Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and ardent advocate of leftist ideals no longer embraced by the Left, wants to hear how they’d remedy “the worst economy since the Great Depression.”

“Neither candidate,” Reich laments, “wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.”  Reich believes this “anti-election” spells disaster for the next president. “The public won’t have endorsed any new ideas or bold plans, which means he won’t have a clear mandate to do anything on the economy.”

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 Desperately Seeking Bold

Reich is especially pained by the lack of “any bold ideas” coming from obama, who Reich endorsed early in the 2008 primaries, and whose stinky jockstrap he’s faithfully carried ever since.  As one of those who still believe obama is just too timid to act on his good intentions, Reich offers a few friendly suggestions to the Democrat’s choice:

  • “Propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps”
  • Permanently exempt the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and eliminate the income ceiling;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall;
  • Break up the big banks, “so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.”

C’mon barry, we can do it!

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Cognitive Disconnect

It’s frustrating to watch someone as highly intelligent as Reich become so incredibly stupid. Actions speak louder than words, and after 3 1/2 years, it’s obvious that obama has no intention of doing any of those sorts of things. For obama is Wall Street’s bitch.  But that’s obama’s one great gift: he’s a stupid-maker, with the power to turn otherwise sane, rational people into blathering fools.

To date, obama’s economic policy has been very un-Reichian: failed bailouts of failed big banks & failed big auto; a dogged refusal to go after mortgage swindlers or Wall Street brigands; the eager signing of a series of jobs-killing “free trade” treaties; a jobs (sic) bill that contained under-funded, already-failed measures — what union boss Richard Trumka labeled “nibbling around the edge” — sandwiched between gratuitous guttings of Social Security and Medicare.  The economy remains moribund and real unemployment remains stuck at c. 15% — a figure Reich himself cited to justify labeling our current malaise a “depression.”  Most of the ‘new’ jobs created under obama are low wage substitutes for lost high-paying ones.  Half of recent college graduates can’t find employment, while job-seekers over 40 are plain S.O.L. As a result, obama is reduced to speaking about jobs ‘saved’, not created — or promising to be more like a Clinton next term.

Reich, like most Americans, falls for the ‘lesser of two evils’ trap.  When faced with Romney’s promise to bring back the economic policies of the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations, dragging along obama like a petulant child seems the only option.

Were Reich to wrest free from obama the Deceiver’s svengali spell, he’d see that there is indeed someone running for president who proposes just the “big bold ideas” Reich yearns for — Jill Stein.

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Got Bold?

Want bold, Bob?  While Romney promises 12 million jobs — eventually — through laissez-faire policies & expansion of fossil fuel production, and obama hints at another million or so jobs ‘saved’, Jill Stein takes the bull by the horns:

“We will end unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work”, Stein proposes, including 16 millions jobs in sustainable energy, retrofitting, and mass transit.

Want aggressive financial reform?  While the obamney twins are mute on the subject, Stein will:

  • Create a federal bank to take over distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages or rent homes to the occupants;
  • Nationalize the Federal Reserve;
  • Break up “too big to fail” banks;
  • End future bailouts for financial institutions, instead using FDIC powers to reopen them as non-profit public banks;
  • Regulate all financial derivatives;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall.

Hey Bob, want tax justice?  In contrast to obama, who carefully avoided every opportunity to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, or to Romney, who advocates even more tax cuts for the nobility plutocrats “job-creators”, Stein proposes:

  • A 90% tax on bonuses for the bankers Bush and obama bailed-out;
  • Making corporate tax subsidies transparent in public budgets;
  • A fair, progressive tax system “distributed in proportion to ability to pay.”

Finally, in contrast to the imperial war-monger, obama, or Romney, who wants to increase military spending to unprecedented levels, Stein will cut the military budget in half, a $360 billion savings toward reducing the stifling deficit.
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Wrong Horse, Bob

Clearly, Robert Reich should endorse Jill Stein for president. Why he, like so many liberals, still clings to the vain hope that obama will change at some point, deserves scrutiny.

Perhaps Reich believes that only someone well-integrated into the political machinery can hope to accomplish anything in Washington.  Hardly a plus-point, when that political machine is comprised exclusively of politician-whores who’ll sell their votes (and their souls, if they had any) to the highest bidder.

Likely, Reich falls for the bogus argument that vast amounts of experience is required to hold office.  Ignoring for a moment how this trope perpetuates the Dem/Gop choke-hold, look at the “experience” of the obamney twins.  The one was a mafia lawyer who wormed his way up the party machine hierarchy; the other, a financier, born to the manor, adept at making gobs of money by clever shuffling around of other people’s money.  When the backgrounds of the occupants of the Oval Office are limited to corruption, graft, and plunder, it’s no wonder the state we’re in.

Finally, Reich may think that third parties have no chance in our elections system.  That’s a tautology — they have no chance because no one gives them a chance. Stein’s name will be printed on at least 33 state ballots this November, and write-ins for her will count in a further three.  Her campaign is currently working to get on every state ballot except Oklahoma.  Were every liberal and moderate to vote this November based on their beliefs, and not some vestigial team loyalty, Jill Stein would be our next president.

And, if prominent, influential liberals like Robert Reich began supporting a candidate like Jill Stein, who advocates true liberal ideals and programs, instead of continuing to make lame excuses for a devious, corrupt, corporatist whore like barack obama, we could end this farce and quick.

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(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Warren’s Struggle With Truth

June 3, 2012

Whatever else can be said about Elizabeth Warren, one thing is certain:  she is no less than 96.875% white.

And yet Warren, the anointed Democratic nominee for the Massachusetts Senate race, has presented herself for decades as a Cherokee Indian to the public, to professional organizations, and to employers.  This despite no hard evidence, only family lore foggily recalled from childhood.

Ever since the story broke on April 27th, Warren’s heritage controversy has blotted out all other aspects of the campaign.  Warren’s detractors see it as indicative of her untrustworthiness, while her supporters insist it is all much ado about nothing.  The media has, with few exceptions, been reluctant to cover the story at all, much less dig deep, and even then, has rarely gotten the details straight.  So, before passing judgement on Warren, a closer look at the facts is in order.

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Is Warren Really a Cherokee?

Given their turbulent, tragic legacy of ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation, the several Native American tribes face a daunting task in the preservation & revival of a fragile, once fading culture.  In defining their community, they must balance inclusiveness with dedication to values.

Every Tribe, Band or Nation has its own admission requirements, all based on some ancestral link.  While many “official” Indians may look white and have white names, each has made a life-long commitment to immerse themselves in, and work to keep vibrant, their respective culture, language, and national identity.

Warren admits she never formally applied for Cherokee citizenship.  A good call, as Warren’s ancestry fails the citizenship test of the three Federally-recognized Cherokee tribes.  The largest, The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has no “blood quantum” standard, but does require the applicant have at least one ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls, a 1906 federal census of Cherokees.  It’s important to stress that what’s being defined is not membership in an ethnic group, rather citizenship in a sovereign nation.  The Cherokee Constitution is explicit on this, and the Dawes Rolls enumerated many freedmen who’d joined the tribe, as well as whites who’d intermarried.  Warren’s allegedly Cherokee great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Smith, died in the mid 19th century. Neither of  Warren’s maternal ancestors alive when the Dawes Rolls were compiled, John H. Crawford and Hannie Crawford, appear anywhere on them.

Warren would also be rejected by the United Keetoowah Band, which, in addition to a Dawes Rolls ancestor, requires its citizens possess at least 1/4 quarter Cherokee blood.

The 1/16 blood quantum requirement often mentioned by the media is for the Eastern Band of Cherokee  of North Carolina, which also requires an ancestor listed on the Baker Roll.  Warren, at best of 1/32nd Cherokee descent (or, as she most recently intimated, 1/64th), and lacking a Baker roll ancestor, would not be permitted to join this tribe, either.

As a fall-back, Warren could have paid the $35 fee to submit her genealogy to the Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center in hopes of receiving a Declaration of Cherokee Heritage “suitable for framing” that would allow her “to display and be proud of [her] heritage,” while shielding her “from being labeled a ‘wannabe Indian’ rather than someone seeking their true heritage.”

Even here, Warren may have struck out.  Frantic efforts to unearth documentation confirming Smith’s Cherokee status have come up with nothing, other than evidence that Warren’s great-great-great grandfather may have belonged to a local militia that participated in the notorious “Trail of Tears”, the brutal relocation of the Cherokee to Oklahoma.

Cherokee historian and genealogist, Twila Barnes, offers convincing evidence that the sole scrap of documentation for Warren’s claim, a marriage license listing Hannie Crawford, Warren’s grandmother’s, race as “Indian”, actually lists her residence as “Indian Territory.”  Warren’s “mammaw” was just another white Sooner who stole land from the Cherokee.
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Does Warren Have the Right to Call Herself Cherokee?

None of this matters to Warren, who choses to ‘self-identify’ based on vague family lore. “Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born,” gushed Warren.  “I still have a picture on my mantel … of my grandfather. And my Aunt Bea has walked by that picture at least a 1,000 times remarked that he – her father, my Papaw — had high cheek bones like all of the Indians do.”

The exotic notion of being a secret indian princess must have proved irresistible to the plain, bookish daughter of a janitor.   Yet Warren also nurtured this fantasy as an adult, listing herself as “Cherokee” when contributing WASPy recipes like crab dip with mayonnaise to a fundraising cookbook with the kitschy title “Pow Wow Chow.”

Nothing offends actual tribal members more than “Pretendians” who, for cachet, claim Indian ancestry, but have no desire to participate in tribal life.  “If you’re going to claim it, you have to help your people out,” admonishes Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association.  “Don’t just use it when you want to use it.”

In direct response to Warren’s claims, Barnes and another prominent figure in the Cherokee community, David Cornsilk, have formed a group  to convey their sense that “false claims like Elizabeth Warren is making are harmful to the Cherokee people.”  No one, they feel, “has the right to try to rewrite it or make up fictitious stories so they can fit in it or take advantage of it.”

What did Warren Claim and When?

One can, of course, acknowledge one’s Native American ancestry without professing to Native American identity.  Warren, who is at best 3.125% Indian (see update below), has the right to embarrass herself at cocktail parties by saying she’s a Cherokee.  Nor is there any law that prevents a person, whose family tree is pure white for four generations, to fancy themselves a member of an Indian tribe.  Definitely odd-ball, but not illegal.

Warren’s assertions would have fallen merely into the realm of tacky or kooky, had she not also listed herself  as a minority in a professional directory frequently referenced by hiring deans.  It has been confirmed that, even while depicting herself as a minority in the law professors’ directory, Warren listed herself as “white” on her U Texas application.  Warren has reluctantly confessed to telling two of her employers, Penn and Harvard, that she was a minority.  Warren insists this played no role in her hiring, something the schools officially verify.  Both Penn and Harvard, though, listed her as a minority on federally-mandated diversity hiring reports.

This is a clear violation of Federal Affirmative Action hiring policy, which stipulates that a Native American is “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.”  (My emphasis.)  Accepting a recipe cribbed off of Martha Stewart does not count as “community recognition.”
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Dances With Lies

Since the story broke, Warren has issued a series of explanations, each one contradicting the previous.  Initially, she denied ever listing herself as a minority.  When that was proven false, she insisted it was in hopes of being “invited to a luncheon, a group or something with people who are like I am,” but abandoned the practice when no one asked her out.   Yet, since she was only listed as a generic “minority” (h/t Legal Insurrection), how did she expect to connect with fellow 31/32nd non-indian law profs to share memories of sticking turkey feathers in their hair as little girls?

Warren next denied she even knew her employers had listed her as a minority.  “I think I read it on the front page of the Herald,” Warren responded, when asked about Harvard’s having promoted her purported minority status.  When this was also proven false, Warren claimed she’d misunderstood the ‘When did you first learn…?’ part of the reporter’s question.

Faced with persistent demands for clarification, Warren re-shuffled the facts, creating a tale in which, while she had listed herself as a minority in a directory, she’d never told her prospective employers she was a Cherokee.  When that was exposed as untrue, Warren insisted she only told Penn (1987), and Harvard (1992) after being hired — each time in passing, to make chit-chat over lunch.

In politics, this is known as “spin”.  In the real world, it’s called getting caught making shit up.  No wonder wags have dubbed Warren “Lie-awatha” and “Dances With Lies.”
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Is Warren Fit For Public Office?

Warren’s performance under this character test is disconcerting for a number of reasons.

First, her inept handling of the accelerating controversy raises doubt as to whether Warren, a life-long academician and political tyro, has the chops for a Senate campaign.  Her refusal to promptly to tackle the crisis head-on (her literal fleeing from reporters and slamming doors in their faces evoked memories of John Edwards cowering in a toilet stall), was belatedly followed by series of stumbling, unconvincing retractions.

Second, her rapidly-shifting story indicates a comfort with mendacity all too common among today’s office-seekers.  More alarming, Warren’s struggle with truth is not limited to her Cherokee claims, but rather pervades every aspect of her public persona.

Trying to establish her hard-scrabble origins, the wealthy, Ivy-League academic told a story about her grandmother, who “drove a wagon in the land rush to settle territory out west. It was 1889, she was 15 years old…She lived to be 94, to see her youngest grandchild -– that’s me -– graduate from college.…”  Except her Sooner “mammaw”, mentioned above, died nearly a decade before Warren graduated.  It was Warren’s other grandmother who attended her graduation.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never mixed up my grandmothers.

Warren’s chief selling point is her reputation as a “watchdog” over fraudulent mortgage practices, someone who identifies with and protects struggling home owners “being hammered” by predatory lenders.  Yet now comes the revelation that during the 1990’s, Warren made hefty profits ‘flipping’ foreclosed houses she and her brother bought on the cheap.  And she financed this enterprise with an interest-free loan from Harvard.

A recently dug-up video clip shows Warren declaring, in all earnestness, that she was “the first nursing mother to take the bar,”  perhaps just in the State of New Jersey, perhaps in the History of Western Civilization.  As one of her fellow law students observed, since the NJ Bar most assuredly does not track statistics on breast feeding, how can Warren make this claim?   Of the few plausible explanations, the least-damaging is that someone at the time cracked wise, ‘Gee, Liz, you must be the first …’ and Warren’s fertile imagination later transformed it into a bullet point for her CV.

Scott Brown and Co. have another five months to poke around for more.
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Donnie Darko for Senate

All this leaves one with the impression of Warren as a fabulist disturbingly out of touch with reality.  Here is an adult professional, an Ivy-league professor & former head of a federal regulatory agency, who for decades has indulged in a self-aggrandizing childhood fantasy.  It leaves one with a queasiness not unlike if, during a stump speech, a candidate gave a shout-out to their long-time supporter and imaginary friend.

When caught lying, your typical candidate at first denies it, then, if that doesn’t work, ‘fesses up and tries to move on.  Yet Warren’s inability to admit she’s not really an Indian princess is seemingly pathological:

“It’s who I am, it’s how I grew up. It’s me, part of me, through and through. I can’t change that.’’

“I won’t deny who I am, I won’t deny my heritage.”

“This was real in my life. I can’t deny my heritage. I can’t and I won’t.”

These soul-baring plaints were uttered by Warren just Friday, when, instead of putting the issue to rest, she felt compelled to fly to Oklahoma and stand in front of her childhood home to spin a new yarn about her parents needing to elope because her mother was part (1/16) Cherokee and Delaware.  (Now it’s Delaware, too?)  It took but a few hours before the breitbarters exposed this as yet another confection of Lizzie’s fertile imagination.  For their nuptials, it seems, Warren’s parents traveled all of 14 miles to the county seat, to be wed by the local minister.
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A “Liberal Champion?”

Is this is the best the Dems can do?  Is an inexperienced, completely un-vetted, thoroughly nutty professor really their idea of a “Liberal Champion” to lift the Mongol Yoke from Teddy’s seat?  If so, the Democratic Party is hopelessly inept and on its last legs.

In fact, Bay State Dems did have a viable alternative to the hapless, flawed, mendacious Warren.  Someone with a true liberal platform, a confident, feisty, yet endearing charm, a seemingly impeccable background, plus actual experience running for office.  Sounds great?  No, actually, because Dem big-wigs treated this fellow Democrat like the enemy.  Her name is Marisa DeFranco, and this weekend, party leaders took unprecedented steps to ensure that the voters of Massachusetts would have no chance to reject the anointed Warren.

We’ll look next at why Marisa DeFranco so frightened the Dem Machine.

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UPDATE ( 6/5/12):

*  In response to my inquiries, Twila Barnes confirmed that her research team did a thorough search of the Dawes Rolls and found not a single Warren ancestor on them.  Nor can a Warren ancestor be found on any of the two dozen existing rolls, lists, musters or censuses of Cherokee;

* Barnes has also just completed an exhaustive study of Warren’s entire family tree — something Warren herself never deemed necessary — proving that every single Warren ancestor going back for five generations was listed on records as “white.”   For those of you who are fractionally-challenged, that makes Warren 0/32nds, or ZERO PERCENT, American Indian;

* Warren, insisting that Aunt Bea’s just-so fables trump cold, hard facts, sticks to her jalousie of Cherokee heritage.  In a WBZ interview, Warren declared that if elected, she’d be the first senator from Massachusetts “so far as I know who has Native American heritage”;

* At the blog Cherokees Demand Truth From Elizabeth Warren, Barnes has granted Warren’s long-time wish, an invitation to a luncheon date with a real live Cherokee Indian.  To date, Warren has not accepted.

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(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Obama v. Marshall

April 6, 2012

According to barack obama, John Marshall, the greatest Chief Justice of all time, was a reckless, activist judge.

Professor obama Gives a Lecture

In a response to press corps questions about last month’s obamacare hearings, our erudite professor/president lashed out at the Supreme Court, in what many saw as a blatent attempt to influence its ruling, in the process embarrasing himself by making several patently false statements about our Constitution and the Judiciary Branch.

Sensing — or perhaps tipped off — that last Friday’s initial vote had gone against his eponymous health care law, obama whined that the High Court was on the verge of taking “what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” The boy genius went on to refer to our nation’s highest court as “an unelected group of people [who] would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

Ignoring for the moment obama’s standard demogoguery (and, admittedly, calling a slim 7-vote victory as “a strong majority” is better than the Nancy Pelosi’s earlier description of a strict party-line vote as “bipartisan“), it’s important to emphasize the temerity of the president’s comments.  obama insinuated that the Judiciary never does, nor should it ever, overturn laws passed by the Legislative branch.

Activist Judges — Proglodyte Version

That’s a false meme which crops up among right-wingers and proglodytes alike whenever rulings don’t go their way.  As one dolt at The Atlantic wrote following the first ruling against obamacare, “contrary to what many Americans believe, our Constitution actually doesn’t provide for judicial review. The power of courts to invalidate state laws is perhaps implied in the text….”  I guess that’s true, if you count ‘something some Alexander Hamilton dude wrote in this obscure & irrelevant book, The Federalist Papers’, as “implied.”

The “general liberty of the people”, Hamilton argues in Federalist #78, “can be preserved in practice no other way than through” independent courts “whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.”

Hamilton rejects the claim “that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers” as unsupported by “any particular provisions in the Constitution.”  To suppose “that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their will to that of their constituents” makes no sense to Hamilton.

It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order … to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts.

obama and the jacobins also choose to ingore another important document.  Art. III, Sec. 1  of the U.S. Constitution, establishes “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordaind and establish” (94 of them at present, including the several that ruled on obamacare).

Art. III. Sec. 2’s provision that “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution,the Laws of the United States … under their authority”, including “controversies to which the United States shall be a Party….”

Faced with the prospect of a ruling he won’t like, our constitutional law professor-in-Chief simply wished away that part of the Constistution that actually provides for judicial review (albeit, not in so many words.)  And this is where the ghost of John Marshall needs to get medieval on obama’s scrawny ass.

Judicial Review — 209 Years Young

If you, non-Harvard-matriculated, non-constitutional-law-lecturing plebeians need to know of one Supreme Court case, it should be Marbury v. Madison (1803), when the Court first struck down a federal law, establishing forever more the principle of Judicial Review.

The great, acclaimed first Chief Justice, John Marshall, whose opinions are considered touchstones by all (legitimate) legal scholars, declared in Marbury v. Madison that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is.”  Following the ruling, this principle became known as Judicial Review.  It’s pedantic semantics to argue that Judicial Review was only implied, simply because the 1803-vintage coinage didn’t appear in the 1788 text.

Since 1803, the Supreme court has used its power of judicial review to repeal  nearly a thousand state statutes, including (progs take note) Roe v. Wade. Another 160 acts of Congress, including 6 New Deal laws that overstepped the limits of the Commerce Clause, plus over 50 in the just the past three decades, have been struck down.  That’s about five a year — hardly “unprecedented.”

Homework Assignment … for the Professor

Alarmed by obama’s apparent direct challenge to Judicial Review, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered Eric Holder to respond in writing whether “the Department of Justice recognize[s] that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities.”

Holder complied by confirming that “the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute” while insisting his bosses comments were “fully consistent” with that principle.

Following what must have been a crash refresher course on constitutional law, obama back-tracked on his comments:

The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it, but it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the Court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress. And so the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this….

They should have left it at that.  But White House spokesman Jay Carney  blurted out  that the president was specifically referring to “the precedent under the Commerce Clause” regarding a legislature’s ability to address “challenges to our national economy.”  Then the Harvard Law grad put his foot right back into his mouth:

We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce, a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner.  So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.

For the record, Lochner v. New York (1905)  predated the New Deal by three decades, is today considered largely irrelevant, and dealt with the Due Process Clause, not the Commerce Clause.

Real-life legal experts were quick to remind obama of U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000), two quite recent Supreme Court cases where Congress was indeed found to have overstepped its Commerce Clause powers.  Both ruled that, even though a private act (packing a gun to school; beating up women; resp.) might have some aggregate effect on commerce, if not in itself commercial activity, it cannot be subject to regulation.

Calculated Ploy, or Emotional Outburst?

obama’s fractured-fairy tale version of Constitutional law may have been the first shot fired in a ploy to use the obamacare ruling in the election. Or, as fellow true liberal and political commentator, John Smart, surmised, “he lost his temper because he didn’t get his way.  That’s how narcissistic personalities act.”

Quite likely, the primary motive was to save the mandate by shifting a swing vote — Kennedy’s, most would guess.  But consider another possibility — the result obama was trying to influence was not a 5-4 in favor, but to avoid a 6-3 against.  Although the comments & questions of four leftist judges during the hearings mostly indicated support for the law, one line of questioning by Justice Sotomayor raised speculation.  “So … you’re answering affirmatively to my colleagues that have asked you the question, can the government force you into commerce,” she asked Verilli, the government’s attorney.  When he conceded that point, Sotomayor followed up rhetorically, “And there is no limit to that power.”  The need to establish a clear, limiting principle to the scope of Congress’ regulatory power — in this case, why insurance but not broccoli — was the central question on all nine justice’s minds.  It was the lack of clear limits that led courts nearly identical in philosophical spectrum as this one to rule in Lopez and Morrison.
Pols like James Carville believe obama can campaign successfully on a 5-4 loss, presenting it as part of the GOP crusade against ‘our values.’  Tacitly acknowledging that Republicans will control both houses come 2013, obama can offer himself as a ‘last line of defense’. The standard argument, that we need a Democrat in the White House to nominate new justices, will of course be made.  The fresh defeat of a law passed by Democrats contains more potency than the stale, vague threat to Roe, which three decades of conservative majorities on the Court have yet to repeal.

All these propaganda tools are seriously compromised were one of the four presumed ‘solid’ votes for the mandate to flip, especially an obama appointee.  Then the story line goes: ‘This guy devoted the entire first year of his term to getting this law passed,and now it’s wiped off the books.  He wasn’t smart enough to realize it had constitutional issues, nor could he even pick the right judge to uphold it.’

If obama did indeed learn that Sotomayor will rule against, it’s no wonder he lost his cool.

Do I Get My Single Payer Now?

Many progs, in sudden shock & disillusionment that the entire ACA may be overturned — not to mention fearing taunts by coworkers over their “Healthcare: Reformed!” coffee mug — desperately seek a silver lining.  If obamacare must be defeated, they reason, maybe it’s the first step to passing real healthcare reform: a single-payer system that covers absolutely everyone.  The more severely mentally ill believe losing before the Supreme Court was all along part of obama’s secret, multi-dimensional plan to implement single-payer.

Not so fast, gang.  Even assuming you somehow re-elect barry with Dem majorities in both houses while, barry’s simply not interested in single-payer.  In his impromptu teach-in he insisted that “in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.”   Yet, as Single Payer Action —  you, know, barry, those liberals who filed that amicus curiae brief arguing against your mandate — stated in said brief:

[T]he Government characterizes the provision as necessary to the effective regulation by Congress of the national healthcare market, but disregards the proven success of single payer systems currently operating in the United States…. Congress has already implemented successful single payer systems that provide universal coverage to certain subsets of the population, including Medicare … and the Veterans Health Administration….

No surprise that healthcare experts who supported a national single payer system were banned from testifying before Congress.

A Tough Sell

Whatever the vote, if obamacare is struck down in whole or part, it will make touting the president’s list of accomplishments a tough sell.  To rally ‘the base’, obama may well be forced to promise of single-payer in his second term.  The GOP can easily counter by spinning it: ‘We just got rid of the obamacare y’all hate; now he’s promising to do obamacare all over again!’

Even from people who’d hoped for any kind of healthcare reform, giving obama a mulligan may be too much to ask.  He was handed a ‘mandate’ and large majorities in Congress, and he screwed up.  Those ideal conditions will not be recreated.  When the ACA was first introduced in 2009, it was a major disappointment to those on the far Left.  Now, a failure of obama’s healthcare juggernaut  may bring those long-supressed resentments back to the surface.  Given the efficiency of obama’s propaganda machine, it’s easy to forget the stridency of the voices on the Left originally opposed to obamacare:

  • Democrats “lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies,” complained Dennis Kucinich.  “This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry”
  • “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform” lamented Howard Dean. “Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill [it.]”
  • “From what we know about the bill, it is worse than passing nothing, ” seethed Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, who found the bill “worse than passing nothing. If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.”
  • Huffy Poo opined that the bill failed to pass “the first rule of medicine … ‘do no harm.'”

Even those obama slut-monkeys, MoveOn.org, protested outside the White House, issuing a press release complaining “[w]ithout a public option, it’s just a giveaway to the insurance companies, and it does nothing to control costs.”
While obama’s team eventually quelled dissent from the Left,  it has been unable to remedy overall discontent with obamacare.  The latest Gallup poll reported that only 20% of Americans, and just 37% of Democrats, thought the mandate was constitutional; that only 11% of swing state voters feel the law has helped their families; that 53/40, voters favored repeal of the law.  Of the 28 states that filed suits against the ACA, 12 went for obama in 2008.  And Scott Brown tells us all we need to know about how Massachusetts feel about obamacare.

This November, when trying to get out the vote, OFA may find itself fighting the resentment of otherwise dependable voters like this MoveOn member picketing outside the White House in 2009:

“To me, it’s the death of health care.  And that’s sad, because this was a real opportunity. I think people voted heavily Democratic because they wanted something done to solve the health care problem, and instead we’re just getting something that will benefit the insurance companies.”

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.