Saturday, June 23, 2012

Immigration Plan - Must Be Legal-Fair-Compassionate-Enforced

The United States of America is a country founded on immigration. There isn’t one person living in this country today that can claim a heritage that isn’t connected to someone in their bloodline having come here via another country. Not even Native Americans can make that claim as archaeological evidence has proven that all tribes of American Indians have their genealogical heritage from somewhere in the Far East or Asia Minor. Without immigration there is no United States of America.

In the 21st Century this country has reached a crossroads as it relates to immigration. The rift between those for and against is getting wider and nearly un-breach-able and something must be done soon or this great nation will loose one of its most important resources, responsible, hard working, upward motivated peoples from other countries who desire all that the American dream has to offer and in return giving this nation more of what makes it a unique quilted rich tapestry of culture, talent and color.

There are those on both sides of the political aisle who see this important issue as a means to further divide this country on ideological grounds in order to put forth their own political agenda. They have no desire to bring a solution to the table but are very content to keep the status quo, a position that only sees more and more pain and rhetoric for the future. There is also real fear in the hearts and minds of many Americans because of so many horror stories that have taken place on America’s border with Mexico. Since 9/11 most of these fears are real and warranted. But at the same time certain political pundits have used that fear to drive a deeper wedge between sincere Americans desiring a real lasting solution to the problem.

There are those in Congress that are sincere about getting at the heart of the immigration fiasco now going on. Men like Senators Marco Rubio, Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. They do understand that this must be an effort that comes from both major parties working together for the betterment of the American people and not the advancement of any party platform or political candidate running for office. Durbin and Hatch have put together an immigration policy dubbed The Dream Act. It has many supporters on the hill and, of course, many detractors. However, since this is the only plan on the table at this time if bears a review. It certainly can’t be worse then President Obama’s cowboy plan he put forth without any Congressional support or debate but was jammed down the people’s throats via Executive Order just so he can rally the Latino vote this coming November.

Right up front I will state that The Dream Act has some fine points and some horrific ones as well. Before either the House or Senate would enact it changes would have to be made to fill in the gaps it is obviously missing. The Dream Act stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. It is designed to grant illegal aliens certain guaranteed rights leading to citizenship if some specific criteria are met. One of the most important of these is documented proof that these young people have been in the United States illegally before the age of 16 and were brought here through no fault or decision of their own. If they meet the other stipulations of the Act, such as serving in the military on active duty for a period of no less than 2 years ( a typical U.S. Army enlistment commitment) and honorably discharged, or studied at a U.S. university for a minimum of 2 years maintaining a passing grade point average and acceptable attendance record, been a person of good moral character with no arrest record, and is a U.S. high school graduate then they would be afforded the status of permanent resident without fear of deportation by the INS. They would not be called a legal resident but would be allowed to get at the back of the line for application to obtain the necessary documentation for becoming legal citizens of this country. Currently there are nearly 1,000,000 people legally coming to the United States every year to apply for legal status with nearly 50,000 000 already in that line.

Critics of the Act claim that to make this the new law of the land would encourage more illegal aliens to come to this country without getting in that line. As parts of the bill is written at this time I tend to agree with the critics, however, with some fine-tuning and delicate compromise from members of both houses of Congress those glaring loop-holes could be fixed making The Dream Act a viable solution to a current serious immigration problem. The only question is - just how serious is the federal government at this time for fixing the problem? All indications are, but for a handful of men and women (like those I mentioned earlier), there are very few willing to be States-persons. Our President certainly isn’t one whose on board to show any readiness to bring the two parties together so they can fulfill one of the Fed’s only real duties - the protection of our borders and immigration control.

Whatever future immigration policy finally gets enacted it must meet three high water marks: Be Legal - Be Fair - Be Compassionate and a fourth - Be Enforced.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

AG Holder Lied About Fast & Furious - Has the President Lied Too?

What is Executive Privilege and is it legal? It is a power granted to the President of the United States that allows him/her and members of the President’s executive staff to ignore, resist or bypass subpoenas, Congressional requests or any kind of interventional legal device that may be used by either the Legislative or Judicial Branches of government. While Executive Privilege is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution its legality was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court as constitutional proof of the separation of powers principal.

The use of Executive Privilege dates back to the British Monarchy and was adapted by the United States founders as a protection for the office of President against unwarranted investigations into the affairs of the office as it related to the security of the nation. The first President to enact Executive Privilege was George Washington in 1796. He used it to counter a request from the Congress concerning a specific treaty (The Jay Treaty) negotiated with Great Britain. Since Washington many other U.S. Presidents have invoked Executive Privilege and in all cases except one major modern instance they met the Supreme Court criteria for its use, which is the protection of national security matters whose public exposure would be detrimental. The one exception until now was President Richard M. Nixon’s use of it during the Watergate investigation. Although the Court upheld Nixon’s request initially, after further information about some of the content on the Nixon Tapes came to light it became apparent to the Court that the invoking of Executive Privilege was being used for political gain and not national security interests. The Court reversed its decision and eventually the tapes became an official part of the Congressional investigation leading to the resignation of Nixon as President.

President Clinton tried using Executive Privilege during his impeachment hearing over the Monica Lewinsky investigation but his request wasn’t upheld by the Court. President George W. Bush also used it on several different occasions. Some of his requests were proven to be viable to national security and others were not.

Now President Barack Obama, who, when Senator was a strong advocate for the non mis-use of Executive Privilege by the Executive Branch, has come full circle and invoked the privilege, not for national security, but supposedly to protect his friend and appointee - Attorney General Eric Holder. In this case Holder isn’t even a member of the Executive Branch but is part of the Judicial Branch of government, therefore, Executive Privilege does not apply. The question is then - Who is the President really protecting by refusing to release the Fast and Furious documents Congress is requesting? If Executive Privilege doesn’t really help Holder whom within the Executive Branch does it help?

It has already been made known that on at least two separate occasions the Attorney General lied to Congress under oath concerning his knowledge of the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun running operation into Mexico. In March 2011 he told Congress in a hearing that he had just learned about it a couple of weeks before his testimony to them when in fact internal emails and memos show that he was acutely aware of the program as far back as 2010. Then just two weeks ago before Congressman Issa’s Congressional Hearing committee Holder lied again and was exposed just this week over that lie. That is two separate cases of perjury before Congress. It was after that second lie, eleven months into the Congressional investigation and after Issa’s committee had repeatedly requested Holder’s office hand over pertinent documents covering the Fast and Furious operation that the President announced he was instituting the Executive Privilege order and would refuse all further requests from the Congress for any materials relating to the gun running operation.

What makes this even for tantalizing is the fact that normally a President would use Executive Privilege very near the beginning of any kind of investigation by Congress not nearly a full year after the investigation has begun. Also, the fact that the documents being requested are not part of an Executive operation but is related to the Judiciary and not protected by Executive Privilege raises an additional red flag and reeks of political ass-covering instead of real national security interests.

Eventually the truth about Fast and Furious will become public knowledge. What part the Attorney General and possibly the President played in it will also be revealed. Until that happens this political football will be bounced back and forth and can only hurt the President’s facade of integrity as he will watch more and more independents and moderates siphon-ed off to his opponent in this upcoming election.

Finally, many of us who were around in the early 1970’s remember when the left-wing media was all tingly at the thought of tearing into Mr. Nixon when he tried using Executive Privilege during the Watergate scandal. Fast and Furious could likely make Watergate look like a day at the beach and I guess that explains why the Rachel Maddows, Martin Bahirs and Ed Shultz’ aren’t excited now that Obama has put it forth as well for whatever personal reasons he found it necessary to do it for. The big question is - Will they turn on Obama and tear into him over this? Highly unlikely. I have little doubt that the likes of MSNBC, CBS, ABC and other progressive liberal news media outlets that have been carrying the President’s baggage for the last 4 years are already spinning this in his favor. At least no one died in the Watergate scandal. President Obama and Attorney General Holder can’t say the same for what took place on their watch. They have the blood of two American border heroes on their hands and that is something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How Well Built Is Our House?

The other day a friend of mine who shares many of my overt political leanings posted an interesting banner online that clearly delineated three current points of view. It led me to give some serious thought about my own convictions on more than just a surface reflection.

In our fast-paced, hyperactive 21st Century 24/7 world in which we work overly hard at trying to fill every minute with anything that will help give our hectic lives more meaning and purpose it dawned on me that instead of doing perhaps I needed to just relax for an hour or two and look deeper within myself while asking in honest appraisal "what is it I truly believe and what are my real political convictions?"

While I thought on it my friend's banner kept coming to the front of my brain so I began to seriously contemplate what it had to say just to me.

The banner divided the field of view into three separate categories - a far left side of the banner, a far right and finally a center section. My brain kept moving my focus to the center and after a few minutes I realized that this was where my heart and mind were the most at home. This section was the real me as it related to my deeply felt political convictions. Without placing any kind of label on what this was I was most struck by how these few sentences placed so inconspicuously on the page had completely formed the basis of my entire outlook on life and has led me to this place in the latter half of my life on Earth.

The first thing it did was confirm what I had already known for years but could now examine more closely since it was laid bare for me to fully examine. I was acutely aware that on the opposite extremes of this banner lie the path of irrational thought, craziness, vast swings in mood and wild emotional assertions based almost entirely on bias and conditioning and less on any real facts. The center was the safe haven. The place where ideas could be viewed, compared, debated and thought out with controlled emotion and sane rationality. It felt good to be there. It was a place of mental calm and emotional peace.

In this central realm lay the sense of a real personal freedom and all that this entailed. The foundation of this freedom was the cornerstone of every other building block within this center. On it rested four pillars - tolerance, the freedom from feeling like our nation must intervene in all aspects of foreign affairs, which leads to a focused and robust national defense guided by common sense and prudence driven by what is truly best for the national security of the nation. The fourth pillar was an experienced economic freedom that is vibrant and alive; a freedom that can only be enjoyed and expressed when the other three are properly aligned under the guidance of the precepts set forth in the nation's founding documents - The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights. The second floor of this building was fashioned out of the inhabitant's generosity in giving to the needs of others, compelled not by government mandate or the weight of overwhelming taxation and burdensome over-regulation. Independent thinking extended from the ranks up to and including small businesses and large corporations in which the entitlement mentality and corporate welfare state was replaced by true capitalism, free enterprise and free market economics whereby profits were realized without the overbearing burden on the backs of company workers. In this kind of atmosphere full liberty and equal opportunity for all flows easily and freely without sanction or oversight because when all benefit with equal opportunity then none will be left behind, except by personal choice. Also, this environment breeds a level of tolerance that allows for free expression, the exercise of free speech, freedom of religious expression, upward advancement in one's chosen field of expertise based not on quotas but on individual ability and effort. Civil liberties and the right to personal privacy become the given norm rather than mandated by governmental decree and sought after desperately because of any lack or need of protecting.

Laying over the building is a roof protecting it from any outside onslaught by friend or foe. This roof is sturdy, strong and reliable. It is the constitutional right of a free press and the right to keep and bear arms. When a people can openly question those elected officials responsible with the public trust and are guaranteed the right to physically protect all those rights endowed to them "by their Creator" then you are left with a nation that is united, strong and functioning as a well-trained unit with a well-defined purpose. Nothing can stop a nation like this and no thing is impossible to them. That is what America once was, that is how our founders envisioned us to one day be and it is still within our grasp to regain that prize.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

USA a Debtor Nation - Be Responsible

While the United States of America still remains at the top of the heap as far as Gross National Product is concerned, having double that of its nearest competitor China, it has also become the world's greatest debtor nation in relationship to its Debt Burden.

Before looking into what this entails for the future of America some definitions are in order.

National Debt is money borrowed by the federal government.

Gross National (Domestic) Product (GNP or GDP) equals the current market value in U.S. dollars of all goods and services produced in the United States of America.

Debt Burden is a ratio of Public Debt to GNP.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the investigating branch of the United States Congress (a.k.a. - The Congressional Watch Dog)

Statistically speaking (in other words - cold hard numerical facts), the lowest Debt Burden in modern history (post WWII) in the United States occurred during the Richard M. Nixon presidency with the lowest ever recorded in 1973. The first recorded National Debt was registered in 1791. The debt resulted from the internal costs of the American Revolutionary War. The nation has seen a steady climb in its national debt since that time and can be traced directly to war debt (the cost of wars waged, arms build up during cold war periods and nation building) and entitlement spending of government programs such as welfare, food stamps, social security, medicare, and a host of others.

During the Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman years (1933-1950) the largest one-time increase in gross public debt was recorded at 20%. That was a 16-fold increase as compared to all previous administrations dating back to the founding of the nation. While World War II accounted for some of that increase, most of the debt, had reached nearly 40% of GDP - the largest recorded up to that time. It can be directly attributed to the costs of FDR's public works programs, the newly instituted Social Security endowment and other smaller entitlement spending programs. What seemed a good idea at the time in retrospect has shown that instead of staving off the initial effects of The Great Depression, FDR's increased spending extended it for nearly a decade due to the burden these costs placed on the overall GDP. Even though, until this Century, the United States hadn't seen those kinds of debt numbers since the end of World War II, the Debt Burden has remained in the mid to upper 20 and 30 percentile - that is, until recently.

Under the Bill Clinton Administration the debt began falling as a result of three factors - The President and then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were able to reach important spending compromises that led to two balanced budget amendments, a Welfare Reform Act that curtailed runaway food stamp and welfare spending, and the end of the cold war which brought about a significant reduction in military appropriations. By the end of President Clinton's 8-year term he was able to hand the newly elected President George W. Bush a balanced budget, a fiscal surplus and a Debt Burden of just less than 33%, which was a 10% decrease over the burden he had inherited from President George Herbert Walker Bush 8 years earlier. Even though the economy at the end of his term was beginning to show signs of a return to decline the overall fiscal picture was healthy. President George W. Bush started his first term with every intention of concentrating on the continuing drop of the Debt Burden on the American taxpayer, corporations and small business owners. When he entered office the debt owed by the United States was approximately $5 to $6 trillion. The stated goal of his administration was to cut this down about 2% or more by the end of his first term. However, everything changed after September 11, 2001 (9/11). The focus radically shifted from domestic enterprises like getting America's economic house in order to defending its airspace, waterways and borders, fighting terrorism across the globe which ultimately ended up in a costly Middle East war which is now over a decade old, and sadly, a progressive march into full scale nation building, one of the most costly and fiscally foolhardy endeavors any nation can undertake. By the end of President Bush's second term the United States debt was nearly $11 trillion. That was a shocking increase of 40% in government spending in 8-years, which put the country on the brink of national bankruptcy and a second Great Depression.

The government's answer to this horrendous turn of events was to print more money, accumulate more debt by borrowing trillions from unfriendly nations like China, sell U.S. interests to these same nations as collateral on the debt and then increase the nation's dependency by providing borrowed funds for two separate stimulus spending programs (neither of which worked successfully) that the nation could ill afford.

The first 3-years of President Barack Obama's Administration saw the largest rise in the Debt Burden in American history going all the way back to the first deficit in 1791. From January 2008 to May 2012 (just 3 short years), President Obama and a lackluster Congress (first led by Democrats - then Republicans), the national debt has risen from $11 trillion to a staggering $16 trillion. That is a phenomenal, unheard of increase of 63% in the public Debt Burden. This was never seen before in American history and is unprecedented. This President and the Congress give no indication that they intend to curtail their runaway and irresponsible spending frenzy.

At the current rate of spending it has been forecast by the GAO*, IF not halted this nation will be insolvent by the year 2030.

Now it's time for another one of those definitions. To be an Insolvent country means a nation is unable to pay their debt or meet it's obligations to its citizens. It cannot even pay down the interest on that debt.

We have already seen the first result of this road to insolvency. A few months ago the S&P (Standards & Poor Index) dropped the United States' long-term rating from its prestiges AAA to the lower AA+, while its short-term rate was downgraded even lower to an A-1+. This short-term rate is third-world territory on the international economic front. If this current administration and Congress doesn't get their fiscal act together America can look forward to further drops in those ratings numbers.

Why is this important to the average American trying to make a living and raise a family? It's relevant because the more the U.S. trends toward insolvency the less likely lender nations, nations importing our goods and services, and nations dependent on America for its exports will be willing to do business with the United States. They will be hesitant to invest in American products, businesses and negotiate trade transactions. To understand it better ask this question to yourself: Would you be willing to give money to someone you know can never pay you back, much less not even be able to pay on the interest of the loan? Would you by a product from a company that manages its books as badly as the United States government has balanced their ledger? Of course not. That would be pure foolishness on your part. It was that same kind of stupidity that allowed the government to give banks the go ahead to lend large sums of money to homebuyers that the lending institutions knew full well the borrower couldn't afford the monthly mortgage premiums. This kind of lunacy led to the greatest housing crisis in U.S. history.

America's biggest lenders and investors are China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. While The United States still holds the lead as the biggest purchaser of world goods, that is changing because of the incredible debt it is now experiencing. While America still reigns as the import king, its exports have fallen off drastically within the last decade.

Each of these three nations, China-Japan-Saudi Arabia, are also beginning to experience their own fiscal hard times and recessionary period. Out of sheer self protection it won't be long before they will be forced to call in their loans to the United States. Currently China holds about $5 trillion of U.S. debt, which is held mostly in U.S. Treasury Securities.** Japan is second at a little over $1 trillion.*** And Saudi Arabia is third with debt mainly held in U.S. agricultural industries throughout the Mid-West and Western part of the United States. The rest of the debt is spread out mostly amongst smaller European investors which is one reason why what is happening today in the European Union nations is so important to the U.S. economy. The lion's share of the debt is still held by the federal government's central bank, which is to say, both public and private investors are holding the debt in the nation's Central Banking System.

Insolvency is what lies at the end of the current path this nation and its elected officials are taking its citizens down. However, it doesn't have to be so. There is still time, but that road is quickly reaching a fork, one leads to a climatic conclusion of decay, ruin and bankruptcy leaving America just another footnote in history, while the other can lead to fiscal responsibility and a brighter future.

The American voter must act now. Become responsible citizens. The days of voter apathy and complacency has to be over. America can no longer afford disenfranchised citizens. Get registered to vote, get to know your candidates thoroughly. With the internet so readily available at our fingertips ignorance of the issues, candidates and programs is no longer a viable option. In the past we have gotten the kind of government a 30% voter turnout gives us and it has failed us -- failed us terribly and it is bringing this nation to ruin.

The year 2030 is only 18-years away - almost everyone reading this will still be alive to see that year arrive. This may be our only chance to turn it around for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

Be a responsible American because only We the People can fix this. Not our government -- US!

* GAO

** Economist Stephen S. Roach

*** Bloomberg