Sunday, April 30, 2006

Uno de Mayo

[Sing this like a high school cheer]

I have papers
Yes, I do
I have papers
How 'bout you?

Seems like an appropriate song for the big demonstrations on Monday.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bush Tax Cuts: Soaking the Rich

I heard an interesting commentary on the day by Steve Moore, of the Wall Street Journal, discussing the effects of the Bush tax cuts. Contrary to what most on the Left believe, and what the MSM continually reports, the Bush tax cuts have substantially move the burden of income tax to the rich and off the poor. The rich are paying more taxes than ever before, and income tax dollars paid to the government are up over the last two years more than ever before in US history.

The Bush tax cuts have been routinely assailed as multimillion dollar giveaways to the Rolls Royce owners of America at the expense of the middle class.

But new IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.

It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.

There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.

Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.

It's called the Laffer Curve: a lower tax rate has increased economic growth and investment and thus the government gets more tax revenues.

The Bush tax cuts have pumped steroids into the US economy and created 5 million new jobs, a surge in new business investment and record worker productivity.

Those are the reasons to make the tax cuts permanent. But for those who really want to sock it to the rich, the Bush tax cuts have done that too.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Leftism: Where Truth is a Fluid Concept

Reading the brouhaha about the recent 'outing' of a left-wing blogger's multiple pseudonymous escapades into flogging his critics and praising himself, I remembered some of the things Dr. John Ray has so often taught us over the years about leftists: They see nothing wrong with lying or deceiving if it furthers their political agenda.

Why aren't they more (I can't actually think of ANY) conservative writers who have been caught fudging the truth for their political agenda.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Immigration Reform

Living here in southern California, the impact of illegal immigration across our southern border is direct, powerful, and widespread. Each morning on my way to work I pass several 'hiring' areas for illegals were as many as 60 or 80 men wait each morning for work. I drive a pickup truck, so as I pass the men raise their hands and wave, hoping for a day's work and a day's pay. I've never stopped, but often see other trucks doing so.

The debate over immigration reform is passionate. Many people I know want all illegals deported immediately, period. But I see the situation as being much more complex. For a country built by the sweat and blood of immigrants to now want to close the door on immigration is, for me, nearly oxymoronic. As reads the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
I grew up to understand that those words signified a country better and different than all others, a place where everyone, regardless of class, wealth, race, education, religion, or political views were welcome. That is the America I know.

Ronald Reagan spoke often of a "shining city on a hill", and said this in his farewell address:

"I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life... In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."
I see it that way, too. "Anyone with the will and the heart to get here". Those are powerful words, with powerful meaning. I am not asserting that Ronald Reagan advocated illegal immigration, but he certainly took a more compassionate view of it than many who are opposed to it now.

We all benefit from immigration, even if it is illegal. Our food is less expensive, our hotels are cleaner and rates are lower, our lawns are mowed, our trees are pruned, our dishes washed, our food prepared, our houses cleaned, and our children are cared for by illegal aliens. Not always are they illegal, but often. Even if you don't think you've hired illegals to work on your landscaping, or to clean your house, the legitimate company you hired may well hire illegals. There is no way to tell by just looking, and let's be honest, most of us don't really want to know.

In my neighborhood, a newer up-scale tract development, I was one of only a handful of residents who hired a licenced contractor to do the work. Even then I am confident that some of the guys working for the contractor were not working legally. Illegal immigrants are everywhere——at least here in the San Diego area—— and there is almost nothing you can do without encountering an illegal, hiring an illegal, benefiting directly or indirectly from the work of an illegal alien.

The recent immigrant protests that have gripped many large cities makes clear the impracticality of some of the proposals being discussed in Washington regarding immigration reform. Estimated at nearly 12 million people, how would we deport them all, let alone find them? If the Senate's version is agreed to, with provisions to treat those who've been here for longer differently, how many of those 12 million will admit that they've only been here for a year or two? They are here illegally anyway, and there are systems in place to create false documents. If their options are to go back to their home country, or to obtain new documents 'proving' their residence, I am confident that most will get new documents.

Moreover, many of these people have built lives here. They've gotten married, had children, (who are US citizens) pay taxes (maybe not income taxes), bought homes, work hard, support their communities, and help build our economy. Many of the students who protested recently did so because the US House version of immigration reform would make THEIR PARENTS felons. These are the same people we see on our roads, at the PTA meetings, in parks, at work, building our pools, and cleaning our houses.

Finally, the biggest impediment to immigration reform is the border itself. If the border is not secured, and none of the plans I've seen would further secure it, then no laws we write to address people already here will matter at all. The first thing we must do, if we want to keep people out, is to secure the border. That will take tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, tens of thousands of troops, and far more political will than I've seen from any politician.

If you haven't figured out my position on immigration reform yet, I support a guest worker program, and amnesty for those already here. I would deport all illegals involved in criminal activity, once they've served out their sentences, but for the vast majority of people living in this country who simply seek a better life, please stay and help us build a better country.

A final footnote: To provide better security against terrorism, I do strongly support a significantly tighter border, including a border-long fence. I am very concerned about terrorists entering this country with WMD's across our very porous southern border. Only a fence and more border security will stop this kind of traffic.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Impeach Bush??

No doubt you have heard the rising chorus from the Left to . Impeachment is no doubt the #1 priority of the extremists now in control of the Democrat Party. Should the Democrats win control of the US House of Representatives in November, I have no doubt that Articles of Impeachment against the Bush administration will the first item on their agenda. If the Democrats should also win control of the US Senate in November, then Bush's conviction and removal from office is a real possibility.

But on what legal grounds could articles of impeachment be presented? Those advocating impeachment usually cite four arguments that form the legal basis of the pro-impeachment lobby:
  1. That Bush violated international and domestic law by invading Iraq;
  2. That Bush lied about prewar intelligence, and lied about a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda;
  3. That Bush violated international laws and treaties, as well as the US Constitution, by holding "enemy combatants" indefinitely without hearings;
  4. That Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 with "warrantless" wiretapping of American citizens;
On the one hand, I am shocked that the MSM isn't more carefully dismantling these positions, but on the other, not. At least not with the MSM's clear anti-Bush agenda. But let's take these one by one.

First, that Bush violated internation and domestic law by invading Iraq. This is the easiest one to debunk. , virtually all of which were repeatedly violated by the former government of Iraq. Article 33 of (April, 1991) states that only through Iraq's acceptance of the terms of UNR687 will a "formal cease-fire" exist. Iraq continually violated this and virtually all subsequent UN resolutions. Therefore, the cease-fire, by definition, and in accordance with UNR 687 ceased to exist when Iraq violated the terms of 687 and the subsequent resolutions.

Despite a decade of 'second chances', (November, 2002) threatened further "serious consequences" should Iraq not comply with all UN resolutions. Debate ensued over whether further UN action specifically calling for war was legally required prior to any military action, but after ten years and 17 ineffective UN resolutions, and with France, Germany, and Russia virtually guaranteeing a veto over such a resolution, the US, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and numerous other countries concluded that no further UN authorization was required to forcably disarm Iraq.

(October, 2002), passing overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate, authorized the president to "...use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines..." as the excerpt below makes clear: (emphasis added)

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
There is simply no compelling argument that any laws were broken regarding the invasion of Iraq.

Second, that Bush lied about prewar intelligence, and lied about a connection between prewar Iraq and al Qaeda. This one has been repeatedly debunked by many, including The Lost Tooth Society. Recently released and translated files show a . The veracity of these documents is still in question, and it will take years to translate and decipher all 55,000 boxes of seized documents, but based on what has been so far translated, the correctness of the prewar intelligence may well be vindcated.

Moreover, the clearly shows that Saddam Hussein had a strategy to secretly maintain his WMD capabilities while working to use the Oil For Food UN program to bribe his way to the end of sanctions. Once the sanctions were lifted, he would be in an even stronger position to resume his WMD development programs.

Third, that the Bush administration violated international laws and treaties, and the US Constitution by holding indefinitely and without charges "enemy combatants. While the Lost-Tooth Society was initially very troubled by this action, digging into the facts showed that these actions are completely in compliance with all applicable legal standards. Note a key passage from the post above:

The clearly spell out how prisoners of war shall be treated, and Part 1, Article 4, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the III Geneva Conventions defines precisely who is a "prisoner of war":

"(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.'

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

Given the specific conditions of part (2), it seems unlikely that many of those detained at Gitmo could be considered POW's under the Geneva Convention. In fact, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in (July15, 2005) that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al Qaeda, and that the Geneva Conventions themselves cannot be enforced in US courts.

But ruling in the case in June of 2004, the US Supreme Court held that Gitmo detainees are entitled to challenge their incarceration in federal court, arguing essentially that since the US government holds legal authority over Gitmo and its facilities, that federal courts also hold jurisdiction over the detainees, hence their right to .
The Lost-Tooth Society continues to believe that the indefinite detention of many of these people is unwise, and we welcome the Supreme Court's ruling allowing challenges to detention, but the legality of the detentions is not in question, and is therefore not grounds for impeachment.

Fourth, That Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 with "warrantless" wiretapping of American citizens. This is no doubt the strongest card in the hand of the pro-impeachment lobby, but is it strong enough to warrant impeachment?

First, some background:

As part of the president's post-9/11 anti-terrorism efforts, he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept certain electronic communications from persons outside the USA to persons within the USA, without warrants. is the governing statute regarding this type of surveillance, and around its provisions lie the basis of the argument that the NSA program was was allegedly illegal.

There are very complex and technical legal questions involved here, and my opinions are based on the legal analyses I have read, since I am neither a legal scholar nor an attorney. The central issue revolves around the FISA statute and Separation of Powers issues. FISA is, of course, a statute passed by the Legislative branch of the federal government, not Constitutional provision. Therefore, the applicability of the statute by the legislature, inasmuch as it applys to the Executive branch of the federal government, must be examined in light of Constitutional authority delegated to the Executive branch.

In other words, the Congress cannot by statute constrain the authority of the President beyond those constraints already specified by the Constitution.

Unfortunately for the pro-impeachment crowd, FISA does just that.

There are several excellent authorities that illustrate this point:

John Hinderaker at writes:

The starting point, of course, is the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order.

Article II makes the President Commander in Chief of the armed forces. As such he is preeminent in foreign policy, and especially in military affairs. This was no accident; as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 74, "Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand." The federal courts have long recognized that when it comes to waging war, the President, not Congress or the courts, is the supreme authority. In Fleming v. Page, 9 How. 603, 615 (1850), the Supreme Court wrote that the President has the Constitutional power to "employ [the Nation's armed forces] in the manner he may deem most effectual to harass and conquer and subdue the enemy."
' comments in a debate in late January of this year.

Quoting from Powerline the words of the Attorney General:

[F]rom the outset, the Justice Department thoroughly examined this program against al Qaeda, and concluded that the President is acting within his power in authorizing it. These activities are lawful. The Justice Department is not alone in reaching that conclusion. Career lawyers at the NSA and the NSA’s Inspector General have been intimately involved in reviewing the program and ensuring its legality.

The terrorist surveillance program is firmly grounded in the President’s constitutional authorities. *** It has long been recognized that the President’s constitutional powers include the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance aimed at detecting and preventing armed attacks on the United States. Presidents have uniformly relied on their inherent power to gather foreign intelligence for reasons both diplomatic and military, and the federal courts have consistently upheld this longstanding practice.

If this is the case in ordinary times, it is even more so in the present circumstances of our armed conflict with al Qaeda and its allies.

There are other powerful arguments supporting the legality of the NSA program. (registration required) about the legality of the program,

In 1972 the Supreme Court required the president to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on domestic groups but specifically declined to apply this requirement to snooping on foreign agents. Four appeals courts have since upheld presidential authority for such warrantless searches. Not surprisingly, the executive branch has agreed.

True, Congress tried to restrict this presidential authority with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. It requires that warrants for wiretapping of enemy agents in the United States be obtained from a secret court. But as John Schmidt, associate attorney general in the Clinton administration, wrote: "Every president since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act's terms." Indeed, President Bill Clinton's own deputy attorney general testified to Congress that "the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," then noted a few minutes later that "courts have made no distinction between electronic surveillances and physical searches."
Finally, a recently testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president:
"[D]id not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA)."

On the surface, the calls for impeachment of president Bush over these matters might be worrisome, but once one investigates the actual facts of the case, and the controlling legal authorities, the foundation justifying such action fizzles.