The internet is the devil.

Here is what amazes me.  I started this little blog almost a year ago. It hasn’t had a new post in 11 months. And yet, with no relevant or newsworthy content in almost a year, it still gets 40-50 visits a day.  For crying out loud!!! The damn thing was only active for 3-4 months.

That ought to show you the evil in the internet.  It captures every letter and every keyword.  Years and years after something was published, some idiot with a search engine will site some internet source as the validation for his/her current belief set.  Nevermind that the original content may have never been researched and cited,  But, even if it were, it may have been refuted by intelligent argument 1000 times over.

but that won’t stop some “web-expert” from using it to build some strawman case for his/her ill informed position on this or that.

I am unsure if this makes me sad for humanity or not.

-Chin

On Federalism

[b]It’s refreshing to read something that hinges on an inherent principle as it’s anchor.  Whether you agree with the principle or not is immaterial.  But anyone who is at least willing to try and base policy on principle vice polls is worth a hard look.[/b]

The Framers drew their design for our Constitution from a basic understanding of human nature. From the wisdom of the ages and from fresh experience, they understood the better angels of our nature, and the less admirable qualities of human beings entrusted with power.

The Framers believed in free markets, rights of property and the rule of law, and they set these principles firmly in the Constitution. Above all, the Framers enshrined in our founding documents, and left to our care, the principle that rights come from our Creator and not from our government.

We developed institutions that allowed these principles to take root and flourish: a government of limited powers derived from, and assigned to, first the people, then the states, and finally the national government. A government strong enough to protect us and do its job competently, but modest and humane enough to let the people govern themselves. Centralized government is not the solution to all of our problems and – with too much power – such centralization has a way of compounding our problems. This was among the great insights of 1787, and it is just as vital in 2007.

The federalist construct of strong states and limited federal government put in place by our Founders was intended to give states the freedom to experiment and innovate. It envisions states as laboratories in competition with each other to develop ideas and programs to benefit their people, to see what works and what does not.

This ingenious means of governing a large and diverse nation prevailed for more than a century. But today our Constitution and the limited, federalist government it established, are considered by many to be quaint or out of touch with the world we live in, to be swept aside by political expediency.

The Supreme Court sometimes ignores the written Constitution to reflect its view of the times. So does Congress, which routinely forgets that our checks and balances, the separation of powers and our system of federalism are designed to diffuse power and protect the liberties of our people. Before anything else, folks in Washington ought to be asking first and foremost, “Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?” But they don’t.

The result has been decades of growth in the size, scope and function of national government. Today’s governance of mandates, pre-emptions, regulations, and federal programs bears little resemblance to the balanced system the Framers intended.

This in no way diminishes the important role played by the national government, including ensuring our national security, and regulating interstate commerce to promote free markets. Indeed, a commitment to federalism would help the federal government do a better job in addressing national emergencies and emerging threats, because it could focus on these issues rather than on everything else it is trying to do. A proper regard for constitutional boundaries would also go a long way in avoiding the arguments that follow when Washington acts by decree, disregarding the elected representatives of the fifty states.

You know better than anyone how involvement from Washington affects nearly every policy, program, and aspect of your jobs. But beyond the nuisance of duplicative state and federal requirements, one might wonder if a division of responsibility between the federal government and the states is still important. The answer must be a resounding yes.

Federalism is not an 18th century notion. Or a 19th century notion. It retains its force as a basic principle in the 21st century, because when federalism is ignored, accountability, innovation, and public confidence in government at all levels suffer.

It is as true today as it ever was: the closer a government is to its people, the more responsive it is to the felt needs of its constituencies. Too often, however, state and local leaders have to answer to federal bureaucrats first and their constituents second. When the federal government mandates a program that states and localities are forced to implement, or when a federal grant program is created to fund a specific state or community need, it blurs the lines of accountability.

Who answers to the people if a program fails? The federal government will point to state authorities carrying out the program; the states will point to the federal government, which came up with the program in the first place. And in the end no one is more confused than the people the program is supposed to be serving, who can’t even say for sure who is responsible for what. This does not argue against all federal programs but it does require the recognition that there, indeed, are trade-offs.

Back in my days in the Senate, I found myself on the short end of a couple of 99 to 1 votes. They involved issues that had been under the purview of states for over 200 years. I asked why we should federalize what rightly were state and local issues.

I’ve been saying it for years, and it bears repeating: what works in Tennessee may not work in Nebraska and may be different from what succeeds in Oregon. That’s why President Ronald Reagan compared federalism to letting a thousand sparks of genius in the states and communities around this country catch fire. It’s not a perfect system, but it works a lot better than the alternative of central planning.

We need to allow local authorities to apply their own good ideas and use their own good judgment. Each state can find its own way, learning from the successes and failures of the others. There is a wealth of creativity and initiative out there in the states, and often the best ideas in Washington started out as state initiatives.

A good example of this early in my Senate service was welfare reform. We were warned that terrible things would happen if we went forward with a bill – a fundamental commitment would be abandoned and, among state governments, a “race to the bottom” would begin.

But key to our approach were elements of welfare reform that had proved successful in various states, such as Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin. The result was a law that allowed us to better meet our commitments to our fellow citizens. It was one of the great political successes of the 1990’s, because Washington – for once – had the good sense to learn from state and local authorities and empower them in return.

When you hold firm to the principles of federalism, there’s another advantage: our federal government can better carry out its own defining responsibilities – above all else, the security of our nation and the safety of our citizens. Sometimes I think that our leaders in Washington try to do so many things, in so many areas, that they lose sight of their basic responsibilities.

We saw some improvement in the post-1994, “Contract with America” takeover of Congress – strings to federal programs were cut, more federal programs were being turned over to states, historic legislation to reduce unfunded mandates became law, and we rolled back the Clinton anti-federalism executive order. But in recent years we’ve seen backsliding.

The recent immigration bill was a case in point. That bill failed, and it failed for good reason. The federal government simply had no credibility on the issue.

The promises of the 1986 immigration bill have not been fulfilled. Current laws have not been enforced. The federal government has been failing in its fundamental responsibility to control the borders. Worse, when state officials have tried to act with reforms of their own, federal authorities have gotten in the way. In the end, many in both parties in Congress have learned a lesson: promises about immigration reform aren’t worth much unless you have credibility. And in this case there’s only one way that credibility can be regained. Federal leaders must do their job and secure the borders of the United States.

Law enforcement in general is a matter on which Congress has been very active in recent years, not always to good effect and usually at the expense of state authority. When I served as a federal prosecutor, there were not all that many federal crimes, and most of those involved federal interests. Since the 1980’s, however, Congress has aggressively federalized all sorts of crimes that the states have traditionally prosecuted and punished. While these federal laws allow Members of Congress to tell the voters how tough they are on crime, there are few good reasons why most of them are necessary.

For example, it is a specific federal crime to use the symbol of 4-H Clubs with the intent to defraud. And don’t even think about using the Swiss Confederation’s coat of arms for commercial purposes. That’s a federal offense, too.

Groups as diverse as the American Bar Association and the Heritage Foundation have reported that there are more than three thousand, five hundred distinct federal crimes and more than 10,000 administrative regulations scattered over 50 section of the U.S. code that runs at more than 27,000 pages. More than 40 percent of these regulatory criminal laws have been enacted since 1973.

I held hearings on the over-federalization of criminal law when I was in the Senate. You hear that the states are not doing a good job at prosecuting certain crimes, that their sentencing laws are not tough enough, that it’s too easy to make bail in state court. If these are true, why allow those responsible in the states to shirk that responsibility by having the federal government make up for the shortcomings in state law? Accountability gets displaced.

Now, there are plenty of areas in criminal law where a federal role is appropriate. More and more crime occurs across state and national boundaries; the Internet is increasingly a haven for illegal activity. A federal role is appropriate in these and other instances. But today the Federal Bureau of Prisons has quadrupled in size in little more than 20 years.

Perhaps the clearest example of federal over-involvement in state and local responsibilities is public education. It’s the classic case of how the federal government buys authority over state and local matters with tax-payer money and ends up squandering both the authority and the money while imposing additional burdens on states.

Between 1970 and 2005, federal spending on education increased nearly 150 percent without results to match. The No Child Left Behind law itself increased federal funding by some 26 percent, while creating 50 new educational programs nationally, imposing almost 7 million hours and more than 140 million dollars in compliance time and costs. The classrooms of America, where the learning actually takes place, receive but 61 cents out of every tax-payer dollar appropriated.

A little more federalist confidence in the wisdom of state and local governments might go a long way toward improving America’s public schools. The most encouraging reforms in education are occurring at the local level, with options like charter schools. And often the best thing Washington can do is let the states, school districts, teachers and parents set their own policies and run their own schools.

It is appropriate for the federal government to provide funding and set goals for the state to meet in exchange for that funding. However, it is not a good idea for the federal government to specifically set forth the means to be used in order to reach those goals. Adherence to this principle would make for fewer bureaucracies, fewer regulations, and less expense, while promoting educational achievement. There are bills pending in Congress that would move us in this direction, and I hope Congress gives them the attention they deserve.

Beyond specific policies, what’s needed are some basic rules to restrain the federal rule-makers.

A good first step would be to codify the Executive Order on Federalism first signed by President Ronald Reagan. That Executive Order, first revoked by President Clinton, then modified to the point of uselessness, required agencies to respect the principle of the Tenth Amendment when formulating policies and implementing the laws passed by Congress. It preserved the division of responsibilities between the states and the federal government envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. It was a fine idea that should never have been revoked. The next president should put it right back in effect, and see to it that the rightful authority of state and local governments is respected.

It is not enough to say that we are “for” federalism, because in today’s world it is not always clear what that means. What we are “for” is liberty for our citizens. Federalism divides power between the states and government in Washington. It is a tool to promote freedom. How we draw the line between federal and state roles in this century, and how we stay true to the principles of federalism for the purpose of protecting economic and individual freedom are questions we must answer. Our challenge – meaning the federal government, the states, our communities and constituents – is to answer these questions together.

-Fred D. Thompson

12,000 illegals granted amnesty in New Haven’s sanctuary.

Now this a  great example of a world gone mad. The story originates from the UK. So it’s not a big stretch for them. But let’s just take a look at a few of the things in this piece. Then try to get your head around how we got from the country you grew up in to this place. Bring the aspirin bottle, you’ll need it.

BBC Online

US city issues immigrant ID card

US border police make an arrest

Opponents say the ID cards will open the floodgates to immigrants

A city in Connecticut has become the first in the United States to issue identity cards to illegal immigrants.<Connecticut-surprise,surprise!>

New Haven – best known as the home of Yale University – is offering the cards to all its residents, including to some 12,000 undocumented immigrants. <Note-these folks are just ‘undocumented’. No mention of 12,ooo people who have committed a crime.>

City leaders say the plan will enable immigrants to open bank accounts and make them less vulnerable to crime. <Why are we making on effort to make criminals less vulnerable to crime?>

But the ID card scheme, which comes as some other cities get tough on illegal immigrants, has also prompted protests.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said the cards, which were approved last month, would make immigrants more willing to report crime.

“The simple straightforward purpose here is to build a stronger community,” he said.

“You can’t police a community of people who won’t talk to our cops.” <No John, you can’t police a community where roughly 12% of it’s population disobey it’s laws. Then you give them a pass and a head of the line chit. It’s called respect, John. You can’t earn the respect of the citizenry when you don’t enforce the laws upon them equally. And you don’t earn the trust of the citizenry when you can’t/don’t /won’t perform the duties for which said citizenry elected you.>

‘Welcome mat’

But opponents said the move would encourage illegal immigration.

Bill Farrel, of Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform, said: “It’s going to be a welcome mat for illegal aliens to come to the region, flood the labour market and dry up working-class and middle-class jobs.” <Sorry Bill, red herring. Jobs aren’t the point. I wish you and yours would stop trotting that out. It makes pro-immigration enforcement look small and petty.>

BBC Americas editor Will Grant says the controversial move stands in stark contrast to the approach towards illegal immigrants adopted in other parts of the US.

New laws and proposals in more than 90 cities or counties across the country include prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and penalising firms that employ them. <Wrong. Those laws are already on the books. Passing a new proposal for the cameras re-iterating the enforcement of already existing law is no more than grandstanding.>

Last month, US President George W Bush’s plans for immigration reform collapsed in the Senate amid strong opposition.

You’ll notice that amid the heated debate over ‘comprehensive immigration reform’, the big buzzword was border security. All the Libs and RINOs trotted out their canned speeches about how ‘this bill will allow us to move forward on achieving true border security….blah,blah,blah.” You don’t hear that so much anymore, now that Amnesty got shot down. I guess that sense of urgency wasn’t so urgent after all.

Hey fellas, the money is still in the bank. The fence is still enacted into law. How about not wheeling Michael Chertoff out for sound bites and instead start moving some dirt on the Rio Grande?

W

Troops are staying….sorry Cindy.

A quick note to Cindy Sheehan, the code pinkos and others. Nancy Pelosi and her ilk sold you out for your vote in 2006.  They never intended to withdraw or ‘redeploy’ troops in Iraq.  Try to remember their dog and pony show antics  the next time you are at the polls.  And try to wrap your head around the idea that U.S. troops will not be leaving iraq for the foreseeable future.

  WASHINGTON, July 24 (Xinhua) — While Washington is mired in a political debate over the future of Iraq, the U.S. command in Iraq has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant U.S. role for the next two years, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

    The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top U.S. commander and the U.S. ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008, and “sustainable security” to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, U.S. officials familiar with the document were quoted as saying.

    The detailed document, known as the Joint Campaign Plan, is an elaboration of the new strategy President George W. Bush signaled in January with the decision to send five additional combat brigades and other units to Iraq. That signaled a shift from the previous strategy, which emphasized transferring to Iraqis the responsibility for safeguarding their security.

    That new approach put a premium on protecting the Iraqi population in Baghdad, on the theory that improved security would provide Iraqi political leaders with the breathing space they needed to try political reconciliation.

    The latest plan, which covers a two-year period, does not explicitly address troop levels or withdrawal schedules. It anticipates a decline in American forces as the “surge” in troops runs its course later this year or in early 2008. But it nonetheless assumes continued American involvement to train soldiers, act as partners with Iraqi forces and fight terrorist groups in Iraq, American officials said.

    The plan, developed by General David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, has been briefed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral William Fallon, the head of Central Command.

    The plan envisions two phases. The “near-term” goal is to achieve “localized security” in Baghdad and other areas no later than June 2008. It envisions encouraging political accommodations at the local level, including with former insurgents, while pressing Iraq’s leaders to make headway on their program of national reconciliation.

    The “intermediate” goal is to stitch together such local arrangements to establish a broader sense of security on a nationwide basis no later than June 2009, the New York Times report said.

 

Iran-US getting all ‘chatty’.

It’s difficult not to be fascinated by these developments. Over the past several years, there have been two distinct camps.

First there are the “We must talk to our enemies” people. Then there are the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” people.

Certainly, there are a few who have held the middle ground. But it’s a precious few.

I’d be interested to hear from representatives of the two camps, now that the actions that have been so hotly contested are coming to pass.

BAGHDAD: Iran, Iraq and the United States have agreed to set up a security subcommittee to carry forward their talks on restoring stability in Iraq, the American ambassador said Tuesday at the end of a second round of groundbreaking talks in the Iraqi capital with his Iranian counterpart.

“We discussed ways forward and one of the issues we discussed was the formation of a security subcommittee that would address at a expert or technical level some issues relating to security, be that support for violent militias, Al Qaeda or border security,” the U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker, said after the meeting. The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said officials would meet as early as Wednesday to work out how the panel will operate.

“We hope that the next round of talks will be on a higher level if progress is made,” Zebari said.

But underscoring the tensions between the two foes, Crocker reiterated Washington’s accusations that Iran is fueling violence in Iraq by arming and training Shiite militias. He warned that no progress could be made until Tehran changed its ways.

“The fact is, as we made very clear in today’s talks, that over the roughly two months since our last meeting we’ve actually seen militia-related activity that could be attributed to Iranian support go up and not down,” Crocker said, citing testimony from prisoners and weapons and ammunition confiscated in Iraq as evidence.

The Iranian ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, countered that Tehran was helping Iraq deal with the security situation but that Iraqis were “victimized by terror and the presence of foreign forces” on their territory.

He said his delegation also demanded the release of five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq. The United States has said the five were linked to the Quds Force, an elite arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It has accused the force of arming and training Iraqi militants. Iran says the five are diplomats who were legally in Iraq.

The meeting was opened by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who appealed for help to stabilize Iraq and warned that militants from Al Qaeda and other terror groups were now fleeing and finding refuge elsewhere.

An Iraqi official who was present at the meeting said Crocker and Qomi engaged in a heated exchange early in the talks. It began when Crocker confronted the Iranian with charges that Tehran was supporting Shiite militiamen who were killing U.S. troops, providing them with weapons and training. Qomi dismissed the allegations, saying the Americans had no proof, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Full Story

“Politics makes strange bedfellows”

I’d heard this line countless times over the years.  But I had never been particularly motivated to find out who said it.  Recent events (which don’t need to be de-constructed right now) gave me the motivation.

The quote is attributed to Charles Dudley Warner, an American essayist and editor.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows”

It bears repeating.  Because I had to let it sit and trickle into my mind for a few minutes.  On it’s face, it’s quite simple.  In politics, people would ally themselves with folks they otherwise wouldn’t for the sake of what all involved perceive as the common goal.  And these people may not always be politicians.

But Warner didn’t say “Politics makes FOR strange bedfellows”, a common misqoute.

He said “Politics MAKES strange bedfellows.”

Now that reads a little different.  I interpret that as “One’s bedfellows’ are made strange by politics”.

Therefore, relationships with one ‘s bedfellows’ which would normally be in concert and harmony, are made strange (ie- awkward, peculiar, foreign) by things political.

I’m sure there is a highly educated elitist who could help me break this down.  But for now, I’m sticking with my interpretation.  It seems to ring more true.

A few more Warner quotes worth sitting with for a moment…

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”

“People always overdo the matter when they attempt deception.”

And I found this little gem to be relevant to our time…

“There was never a nation great until it came to the knowledge that it had nowhere in the world to go for help”

A path less travelled…at least by me.

Blogging is a strange and curious thing to call a hobby, or even a pastime. I began this little wood carving in March of this year. For the most part, it has been somewhat like a video game. What can I write or post that others will want to read? How many pages views can I get? Is 1300 a very few or a very little?

But, as with most games, there is a pattern. And once you have determined that pattern, the allure of the game fades quickly. It becomes a rote repetition of the steps your experience has taught you will yield a previous outcome that you consider to be satisfactory for your effort.

However, at least to me, the measure is too simple. So, we will now try a new path. The one less traveled. I’d tell you that I know where it leads. But I have no clue, which is the beauty of it.

So, al a Monty Python….

“And now, for something completely different” <at least for HouseofChin>

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