CHALLENGE
THE PREMISE

Newsmakers

ARCHIVE - JUNE 2015

Issues, News & Views

Who will be the
2016 candidates
for President of
the United States?


Republicans


SCOTT WALKER!

Walker has broad appeal to
GOP constituencies and is a
proven winner. Look for him
to select New Mexico
Governor Susanna Marinez
as his running mate.



Who, from among this
strong, diverse field , will
emerge victorious to return
the GOP to the White
House?

COMPETITORS
The road to the White House
leads past the Governor's
mansion. Marco Rubio, Rand
Paul and Ted Cruz need to
go back to their state capitals
and fill out their resumes.
Among governors, Jeb Bush
and Rick Perry are stale, and
worse, remind people of
GWB 43. John Kasich is
unappealing to the base.
Mike Pence is an intriguing
alternative to Walker; the
other Mike (Huckabee) is
NOT!

Democrats


ANDREW CUOMO!????

Look for Hillary to drop out
and open the way for Bill
Clinton's HUD Secretary.
Cuomo, also Cinton's
neighbor in Westchester
County, finished his 2014
re-election with $8.8 million
in the bank, and would have
no problem raising much,
much more. Look for him to
pick MA Senator Elizabeth
Warren - or even Hillary
Clinton! - as his running
mate.



Is Hillary a foregone
conclusion, or will
someone else swoop in and
steal the show?


COMPETITORS
A Clinton run is a 50/50
proposition at best, given
her failures as First Lady
(HIllaryCare) and SecState
(Reset). In the meantime the
prospect keeps her speaking
fees in the stratosphere, and
keeps a path open for the
Clinton's hand-picked
designee: Cuomo. Warren is
an instant contender if she
jumps in. Everyone else is an
also-ran at this point. Webb
is an interesting Presidential
candidate, but a non-starter
in the Primaries: this is the
extreme left Democratic
Party of Sanders and
Warren.

EVALUATING POLITICAL PROMISES

2015/06/22 - The election to finally replace Barrack Obama is "only" 17 months away. More and more contestants are entering the field on both sides, making more and more promises. In today's complex world, how can voters possibly separate the bad ideas from the good ones?

The answer is, to think about it. Avoid your immediate reaction, and think about the idea. There are many dimensions to analyze a policy idea, here are four:

First, think about the incentives, and the behavior that will be incentivized. Who is being rewarded, and why? What have they done to deserve a reward? Who's getting the downside, and why?

Second, imagine that you are listening to a prognosis and treatment plan from a doctor - does the idea address the disease, or merely the symptom? Is it a cure or a painkiller?

Third, consider the long-term implications. Who pays for the policy? Do we print money, which will exacerbate future inflationary pressures; or do we borrow, which will only worsen our future fiscal imbalance as debt service costs increase; or, do we arbitrarily levy taxes, which will suppress future economic growth? What part of our future do we want to imperil?

And finally, is the policy good for America, or is it good for a special interest that a politician is trying to pander to? If it sounds like a cheap political pandering to get elected, it might be bad policy.

The point is that pretty well every policy idea, or, more accurately, "political promise", will sound great on the surface but probably comes with significant side effects.

Something else you can be fairly certain of - but you'll need to think it through - is that the less glitzy an idea sounds, the more effective and beneficial it will probably be.

Be aware of the "Law of Unintended Consequences". We live in a dynamic world where changes in public policy induce changes in societal activity. For example, when we reduce tax rates we incentivize economic activity, which increases the tax base and thus has the potential to increase tax revenues; and the opposite is also true, that increasing tax rates can actually reduce tax revenue, the seeming opposite of what might have been intended.

Compare political promises to parenting - when our children make mistakes in various forms, do we reward them? And when they do well, do we take corrective action? Yet that seems to be the bedrock of American public policy - we reward failure in the form of handouts, and penalize success in the form of taxes. Ask yourself whether you would raise your children the same way the government treats taxpayers!

Think about the adage, "If you give a man a fish, tomorrow you will feed him again; if you teach a man to fish, tomorrow he will feed himself". When a politician makes a promise, ask whether he is giving a man a fish, or teaching a man to fish. The right answer should be obvious.

Let's consider a couple of case studies:

First, consider the fish adage in the real world. Everyone wants to help the poor. The difference is that Democrats want to hand out fish, while Republicans want to start fishing schools. And they're both right to some extent. Right now our policy is almost completely the Democrat way, we hand out EBT cards (fka "food stamps") and Medicaid. In perpetuity.

In the process we teach people to make a life out of receiving fish, of collecting government hand-outs. That's what our policy incentivizes. But doesn't it make more sense to have life-time limits of say, perhaps, 5 years, for collecting Medicaid or SNAP benefits? And the collection of those benefits should be connected to participating in job training?

Providing nothing for the poor is unacceptable, but so is free stuff for life. A responsible sustainable policy puts people on a path to self-sufficiency, and, every bit as important, disincentivizes people from drifting onto a course of dependency in the first place. This is just common sense.

Next, consider Hillary Clinton, who has promised to deliver a student debt forgiveness plan next month. Naturally. Students are a coveted Democrat special interest, so you should expect pandering Democrats to offer a handout. Yes, student loan debt is an issue, but is it really the problem, or merely a symptom? If we forgave all the debt, would the problem be solved? No, because the real problem is the cost of higher education, and before too long we would have the same issue of massive student indebtedness all over again, and worse. A forgiveness plan solves nothing.

Worse still, universities would be incentivized by the expected Clinton plan to overcharge even more for education going forward, expecting that sooner or later students would force politicians to again take from the taxpayers and forgive their debt all over again. And they'll take a cheap shot at the banks for the mess because banks are an easy target.

So the plan we expect from Clinton would amount to a disastrous taxpayer-funded wealth transfer to college professors and administrators, with students just hostages caught in the crossfire, while Democrat allies make banks the scapegoats for lending to the students in the first place.

Yes, we must help the poor, but lifetime food stamp and Medicaid benefits don't solve the problem, they make it worse. Fifty years and trillions of dollars of LBJ's "War on Poverty" have made no difference.

Yes, we must find a solution to the ballooning student debt issue, and maybe she will surprise us, but we expect Clinton's plan will only provide addictive painkillers that will actually make the disease even worse. We expect a really bad policy idea to be promulgated by her - stay tuned!

Pay close attention to the politicians and their promises. And think about how their promises, if they became policy, would work their way through our economy and our society. You are likely to be disappointed at how counter-productive, how bad for America, most of their ideas are.



CHALLENGING RECENT COURT DECISIONS

2015/06/11 - Let’s ask some questions…

Would it be acceptable for a white restauranteur (who we’ll call "Conrad") to deny service to a black customer (let’s call him "Devon"), just because Devon is black? No doubt we would all agree that that would be very wrong.

Suppose for a moment their race was reversed - Conrad was black and Devon was white. Would it be then be okay for Conrad to withhold service from Devon, for no other reason than because Devon was white? Presumably we would all agree that that would be equally wrong.

Now, what if the black restauranteur Devon recognizes the white diner Conrad as a known, avowed racist? Should Devon be forced to serve Conrad a meal at "Devon’s Restaurant"? What if Conrad was wearing a shirt with a racially suggestive slogan? Or a blatantly racist slogan? Is there a point where Conrad could be refused service?

What if the people were the same but the roles were reversed, is there a point where the black diner Devon could be legitimately refused service at "Conrad’s Restaurant"? Is it the exact same point where Conrad could be refused service at Devon's Restaurant? Does "Equal Protection" really mean equal protection?

What if Conrad asked Devon’s Restaurant to cater his club’s annual barbecue? What if Conrad's club is one that Devon doesn’t particularly appreciate, such as perhaps a motorcycle club, or a gun club, or perhaps something much different and far worse, such as a KKK club? Is there any room for Devon to say "No"? Does he have any recourse at all? Or does Conrad, by simply asking Devon’s to cater the event, in effect dictate to Devon’s that they irrevocably must cater the event? Does the Constitution offer Devon any freedom of conscience?

And what about freedom to contract? Does not Devon’s - or any other business - have the right to decide what business transactions they will or will not engage in? Freedom to contract is a basic fundamental right, as much as freedom of conscience or freedom of speech. Freedom to contract is an intrinsic element of our economic freedoms that have contributed so greatly to our unparalleled prosperity.

Freedom to Contract must by definition also include Freedom to Not Contract. In one of its finer moments, the Supreme Court's 1905 Lochner v. New York decison upheld this freedom under the Fourteenth Amendment. Statists and Progressives have hated this decision and falsely and malevolently disparaged it ever since - for no logical reason, for no reason other than that it shreds their agenda: it places individual liberty far, far ahead of shackles of Güberment Diktat.

Unfortunately in 2012 the extreme left wing of the Supreme Court (Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer) - the Statists - ganged up with Chief Justice John Roberts and took it upon themselves to strike a blow against our fundamental economic freedoms when they decided that the Federal Government could force people to buy something, like health insurance, even if they did not need it, did not want it, and could not afford it. Yet another dismal Obamacare outcome.

We must uphold all of our fundamental freedoms including freedom of conscience, and freedom to contract.

Consider Pam Geller, a name that has been in the news recently for organizing several Mohammad art events. As you are probably aware, Muslims are generally offended by depictions of Mohammad - paintings, drawings, what have you. Suppose Geller asked “Mediterranean”, a hypothetical Halal (Muslim concept not unlike the Jewish concept of “Kosher”) food and beverage business owned by Ahmed, to cater one of her Mohammad art fairs? Should Ahmed be allowed to exercise his freedom of conscience, and freedom to contract, and tell her to get lost? Or should the government and the courts coerce him to support her event that he deems offensive?

Chalprem dislikes Pam Geller’s events. We do not believe in mocking anyone’s religion. We do not believe in insulting Christianity, Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, or any other religion. A respectful conversation is always appreciated, pressing buttons is not. But we support Pam Geller’s right to hold her events even if we detest the event itself. And we support Ahmed’s freedom of expression to tell her quite forcefully what to do and/or where to go.

Now suppose Pam Geller just walked in off the street into Mediterranean, and asked for a hummus sandwich? Should they be allowed to kick her out because they recognize her as an outspoken critic of Islam? What if she asked for a BLT, perhaps unwittingly, or perhaps quite intentionally? Maybe she thought Mediterranean was a Greek/Orthodox diner, or maybe she knew it was a Turkish/Halal establishment and wanted to pick a fight. Should that even make a difference?

Christians always walk a fine line between expressing charity and kindness to people, while at the same time not condoning the lifestyles, decisions and actions of those same people when they contravene Biblical teaching. The Bible clearly takes a dim view of homosexual acts, so Christians seeking balance will always face a tension in dealing with gays – expressing acceptance of gays as individuals, but without condoning their gay lifestyle. This is respectful, reasonable freedom of conscience.

Now, suppose a lesbian we'll call Rachel walks into a business we'll call Melissa’s, a bakery owned by a Christian. Should Melissa's serve Rachel? The answer, of course, is yes - with a level of courtesy and respect indistinguishable from that directed toward any other customer. Yes, Melissa’s should serve Rachel; and yes, Mediterranean should serve Pam; and yes, Devon’s should serve Conrad. Courteously and respectfully.

But should the business owners be forced to support the individuals’ events and show implicit support for their views and causes? Should Melissa be forced to serve the gay wedding? Should Ahmed be forced to cater the art fair? Should Devon be forced to serve the barbecue? If there is such a thing as Equal Protection, or Freedom of Conscience, or Freedom to Contract, we would think the answer should be emphatically “No!” in all such cases.

Shame on those liberal Courts that have ignored common sense and the Constitution in the pursuit of their extremist left-wing agenda. And shame on those politicians who have not put conscience ahead of career, and have not stood up to defend our freedoms from the Thought Police progressives.




Analysis


June 26, 2015 - The Supreme Court blows it again, with a second terrible decision in two days - five people deciding to sweep away human history and replace it with a new dogma.

Chief Justice Roberts, whose decision the day before implied that it was okay for the Supreme Court to make stuff up on the fly, today said the opposite "I find the majority's position indefensible as a matter of constitutional law."

The five progressives on the bench make stuff up on the fly to deform America after their far-left agenda. They decide based upon what they wish the Constitution said, and not what it actually says. As Scalia put it, the progressives have "discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a 'fundamental right' overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since."

These progressives on the bench - three New Yorkers and two Californians - eviscerate the Consitution, and make stuff up that the rest of our country is now stuck with. At least for the time being...




June 25, 2015 - The Supreme Court has made one of its worst decisions ever, ruling in favor of the Administration in King v. Burwell.

By a 6-3 decision the Court has in effect decided that we are not a nation of laws - that words mean nothing, that irrespective of the text of a law, the Executive Branch can do whatever it wants, even the diametric opposite of what the law says.

Isn't the role of the Judicial Branch specifically to protect us from this very type of arbitrary government? The Court has decided that the Judiciary can ignore the Constitution and make up stuff on the fly; and that the Executive can too.

As usual, justices Scalia, Thomaws and Alito upheld the Constitution and tried to protect us from arbitrary autocracy. Shame on Roberts, Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer.

By the way, those six how voted in favor of making stuff up? Four New Yorkers and two Californians. Telling the rest of the country what we have to do.



June 22, 2015 - What if the Supreme Court upholds King's challenge against Obamacare subsidies being paid on policies not purchased through an exchange established by the State?

What if Obama's signature policy victory during his eight years begins to unravel? With his foreign policy in shambles and his domestic achievements evaporating, what would he point to as his legacy?

With even loyal Democrats in Congress turning against him - witness the Pacific trade deal - where could he turn to find some form of success with time running out?

What if the Commander-in-Chief finally decided to be Commander-in-Chief and push back against Putin? What if Putin didn't see it coming?

Just wondering...



June 17, 2015 - A bipartisan amendment sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) authorizing the President to arm the Kurds directly, rather than through the Iraqi regime, came up short in the Senate 54-45.

Notwithstanding that the amendment merely authorized, rather than required, arming the Kurds, the President, finally realizing how clued out he is, lobbied against it, not wanting the responsibility to make decisions and then be held accountable for their outcomes.

What a great Obama we have.

Democrats Booker (NJ), Heinrich (NM), Manchin (WV), Peters & Stabenow (MI), Schatz (HI) and Wyden (OR) joined Boxer to provide enough Democrat support to push the measure over the goal line.

On the Republican side even Rand Paul voted for it. But several - from the south, strangely - suffered brain farts and pressed the wrong button: Alexander & Corker (TN), Cochran (oh no, not him!) & Wicker (MS), Flake (AZ), Perdue (GA) and Sessions (AL). Rubio (FL) was too busy running for President to bother showing up.

Mene mene tekel upharsin. Iraq needs to be
reconstituted , it's time for the UN to recognize a Kurdish state. This would have been a good opportunity to move the chains closer to the endzone.



June 15, 2015 - Kurdish forces have captured the key Syrian town of Tal Abyad from ISIS.

After turning back an ISIS offensive during the winter and retaking the town of Kobane, the Kurds have driven ISIS back, and gained, linked and consolidated additional territory.

It again validates
our position on the Mideast that an independent Kurdish state is elemental to regional stability.

Tal-Abyad is not a large city, but it is a logistically vital choke point to supply the ISIS "capital" of Raqqa.

If the military cliche that "losers focus on strategy, winners focus on logistics" has any merit, the Kurds have dealt a significant blow to ISIS.



June 09, 2015 - How bad a President is Obama?

Yesterday at a G-7 meeting he admitted he had no strategy for building and training a dependable Iraqi military.

No wonder he couldn't face up to Haider al-Abadi, instead weirdly turning his back to the Iraqi Prime Minister while wrapping a creepy arm around IMF chief Christine Lagarde in order to hide his face from the PM.

You'd think Obama might want, instead, to seek out al-Abadi for a chat? Just maybe? Rather than snubbing him? Unless it has finally dawned on Obama that he is absolutely clueless on the Mideast, and has no coherent thoughts to offer on Iraq?

Our
strategy entails reconstituting Iraq into defensible countries that their inhabitants will actually be willing to fight for.

Get used to it - Iraq's Shia-dominated military is unwilling to defend Sunni territory; neither are the Sunni locals interested in having the Shi'a on their land trying.



June 04, 2015 - The Umpire's call: Safe at Home!!

The EPA has released an exhaustive scientific study to confirm what all honest people know - that, in addition to all its other benefits, fracking is envrionmentally safe. The GOP is now officially The Party of Science.

Yes, there are isolated instances of incidents with minor implications - but with a frequency and severity risk equivalent to that of crossing the street.

But, on the whole, there are no major systemic issues with hydraulic fracturing. And that's according to Obama's EPA, who you know would love to have come to the opposite conclusion.

The ramifications are immense - abundant, secure, job-creating, made-in-America, low cost - and safe - energy.



June 03, 2015 - Lincoln Chafee today announced a challenge against Hillary Clinton for the Democrat presidential nomination.

Chafee is an extreme longshot at best, but his announcement is noteworthy because he has actually launched a direct campaign against Clinton.

All the other announced candidates have so far restricted themselves to pious platitudes, token happy-talk candidates merely going through the motions, not wanting to offend The Clinton Machine.

Chafee, on the other hand, actually voted against the war while in the Senate, and is making every effort to gloat and denigrate that candidate who voted for the war.


Archives

© Copyright 2015 Challenge The Premise. All rights reserved.