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May 31, 2011

Our 21st-Century Regulatory System – The Event!

We continue to monitor the progress being made on President Obama’s “21st-Century Regulatory System” initiative intended to not only promote “economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation," but also to “root out regulations that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.”

After spending the first two years of his administration adding thousands of regulations, from expensive health care mandates that dictate how, when, where, and what kind of health care businesses must provide to their employees to financial regulations that dictate how, when, where, and what kind of fees and services they may offer consumers, the President has come through on his promise to fundamentally transform the relationship between the people and their government.  And so we present you his 21st-Century Regulatory Action Plan:

Reduce paperwork.

We know what you’re thinking, “Don’t think we didn’t notice you took four days off and didn’t even bother to let us know. It’s not that we’re angry. We’re just… disappointed.”

Also, “Oh. My. God. Will we even recognize the federal government once President Obama is done totally transforming it?”

Maybe, maybe not. While the President is preserving those core governmental functions that are essential to its principle function of preserving the liberty of Americans from foes both domestic and foreign, such as making sure that no American will ever be under the threat of purchasing an incandescent light bulb or inadvertently fall prey to a toilet that flushes water in excess of the amount federal regulators think it should.

But changes are on the way. In addition to reducing some paperwork, the Obama Administration is moving forward on a number of other initiatives (PDFs to follow).

For example, the folks at the Department of the Interior, after months of hard work scrutinizing their operations offered to:

“…explore a simplified market-based approach to arrive at the value of oil and gas for royalty purposes that could dramatically reduce accounting and paperwork requirements and costs on industry. “

Say, that could be great couldn’t it? You can tell how serious they are by the fact that they are exploring it. For example, I told Mrs. Moron that I was exploring the possibility of cutting back on our cable bill. That was 1994.

That’s not all, though:

BOEMRE is now considering ways to apply 'safety case' type performance standards, such as those widely applied internationally, to the U.S. offshore drilling regulatory regime.”

Sometimes you have to create regulations in order to destroy them.

Health and Human Services took a similar approach to heeding the President’s call that his departments reduce regulatory burdens:

While HHS’s systematic review of regulations will focus on the elimination of rules that are no longer justified or necessary, the review will also consider strengthening, complementing, or modernizing rules where necessary or appropriate—including, if relevant, undertaking new rulemaking.”

It’s like when you tell your husband to clean out the garage at the end of which he determines he needs a Jet Ski.

The dedicated employees of the Department of Transportation take a slightly different approach to meeting the President’s goal of reviewing regulations by patiently pointing out that they already do that:

“IV. Current agency efforts already underway independent of E.O. 13563 a. Summary of pre-existing agency retrospective analyses of existing rules.

i. Overview. For many years, the Department has been conducting two general categories of retrospective reviews of existing rules. The first is a regular review of all existing rules over a 10-year period. The second consists of special reviews conducted on either an ad hoc basis or as part of a plan.”

While we could just fold up shop and end our series on the President’s 21st- Century Regulatory System right here, we have decided to stay on the job, excited at the progress we expect federal bureaucrats to make as they excitedly explore ways to reduce their own power and influence.

J.

May 31, 2011 at 05:20 PM in Our 21st-Century Regulatory System | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2011

Sorry Timmy, Lassie Has a Restraining Order

There are certain things you should never mix.  Politics and religion.  Oil and water. Anything with Red Bull (including Red Bull).

But if you were asked to pick just one combination that you would want to avoid at all costs, the answer is clear:

Young boys and dogs.

It’s just unnatural.  What do they even have in common?  Other than a high self-regard ungrounded in reality? “A boy and his dog,” just doesn’t sound right.

That is why Planet Moron’s hometown of Arlington, Virginia, is exploring the possibility of banning children under the age of 8 from the County’s dog parks, and requiring older children to be accompanied by a parent. 

According to Arlington Parks Department spokeswoman Susan Kalish:

“The key is safety.”

Indeed it is. As the chart below illustrates, the number of dog attacks that have been committed against children under the age of eight in Arlington dog parks is simply unacceptably high:

Arlington Dog Park Attacks

That’s right, Arlington County wants to institute a less-than-zero tolerance for dog attacks.

As Keith Fred, who helps sponsor a local dog park, points out, some dogs weigh more than small children and have knocked them over because no one can react quickly enough to prevent an incident.

Here at the Planet moron household, we have one 25-pound toddler (aka Baby Moron), one 85-pound Chocolate Lab, and one 95-pound Yellow Lab.  Prior to this story, we had no idea that getting knocked over by a dog was so devastating an incident for a small child that it might require banning Baby Moron from our house.

Mrs. Moron is NOT going to be pleased. 

Once Baby Moron is old enough to understand, we’ll be sure to explain to him that he should be traumatized as the Moron dogs have knocked him over many times. As it is, he is apparently blissfully unaware of this indelible emotional scar, and hugs the dogs regularly.

Poor little guy, if only he saw the world the way the members of the Arlington County Parks Department did.

Of course, this new policy of ensuring that fewer than none children fall prey to dog attacks in Arlington dog parks still has to go through the normal procedures you’d expect in a society that values self governance and democratic ideals, such as getting the lawyers to approve it.

Oh and the county plans “some sort of community input process,” you know, just a formality while they wait on the lawyers.

The only other option is to continue to leave it to individual parents to use their own judgment as to whether or not it would be safe for their child to enter a dog park given the circumstances at that particular time, including the number and size of the dogs, their level of play, the size of the park, the maturity and sensitivity of the child and any other number of individual circumstances that play into the decisions parents make every day regarding their childrens' safety and well being.

But that’s just more of our anarcho-libertarian crazy talk.  Clearly, given the fact that no child has been attacked in a dog park, we have no choice but to ban children from going to them.

Next up on Arlington's agenda:  A study looking into the possibility of eliminating the county's many sidewalk cracks any one of which could be stepped on.

You know, just in case.

J.

May 26, 2011 at 06:44 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 25, 2011

Our 21st-Century Regulatory System – Wascally Wabbit Edition

We continue to monitor the progress being made on President Obama’s “21st-Century Regulatory System” initiative intended to not only promote “economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation," but also to “root out regulations that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb,” and yet at the same time “won't shy away from addressing obvious gaps.” 

The Dollarhite family of Nixa, Missouri was recently fined $90,643 for having run afoul of a law that designates anyone selling more than $500 worth of animals (in this case, rabbits) to a pet store, a “wholesale breeder of pet animals,” thus requiring a license from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “That’s a coincidence. My bail just happens to be $90,643.”

Also, “Well of course selling more than $500 worth of animals to a pet store will designate you as a wholesale breeder of pet animals thus requiring a license from the USDA. That’s just common sense. They’re lucky they only got fined ninety grand.”

Actually, it could get up to $4 million.

The whole thing started when the Dollarhites wanted to teach their teenage son a thing or two about responsibility, apparently forgetting the part about how we all have a responsibility to ask permission from the government before we do anything that we had not already secured permission to do.  So they started raising rabbits and selling them to neighbors, friends, and eventually, a local pet sore and petting zoo.

It was then that a crack USDA inspector happened to be going through some invoices at a pet store and came across the criminal transactions.  Going on little more than their complete home address, the inspector tracked down the Dollarhites and what she found shocked her: A cage that was a quarter inch too narrow.  A finding made all the more stunning by the fact that no such law mandating the specific size of rabbit cages exists.  (Cage size is something each breeder works out with the USDA inspector on a case-by-case basis, because we are not a nation of men, we are not a nation of laws, we are a nation of men who make up laws.)

After another cryptic visit, and some months passed, the Dollarhites received a letter which cited their infractions and offered the opportunity to simply plead guilty and pay the $90,643 fine in any of a number of convenient ways:

Rabbit Settlement Agreement

It’s sort of like a speeding ticket, only the kind of speeding ticket you’d get if you were going 8,000 miles per hour in a school zone.

But, hey, the law is the law, by which we mean, “they got some heavyweights to apply political pressure,” and it appears the Dollarhites may be able to settle the matter for less.

In other rabbit news, the USDA is finally, finally cracking down on magicians’ rabbits.

Look, you want to pull a rabbit out of a hat, that hat better have proper ventilation, adequate sanitation, and a readily available source of hydration. 

Better yet, you want to entertain kids and pull something out of a hat?  How about you pull out a copy of the Code of Federal Regulations, TITLE 9 - ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS, CHAPTER I - ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SUBCHAPTER A - ANIMAL WELFARE, PART 2 – REGULATIONS, subpart a – LICENSING.

We need to start these kids young on the world they’ll be joining soon.

J.

May 25, 2011 at 06:24 PM in Our 21st-Century Regulatory System | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 23, 2011

He Probably Should Have Included Ponies, Too. Everyone Likes Ponies.

In addressing our growing Medicare crisis, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown believes:

“This debate is long overdue, since its increasing cost must be addressed if we are serious about the nation’s growing $14 trillion debt and $1.6 trillion annual deficit.”

And, further:

We now will have to make a hard decision to help get the country on the right track.”

What hard decision is the Republican Senator willing to make regarding Medicare to demonstrate his seriousness about the nation’s growing deficit?

Cut back on waste, fraud and abuse.

“The Government Accountability Office has estimated that nearly 10 percent, or $47 billion, of annual Medicare spending is nothing but waste, fraud or abuse. Attorney General Eric Holder has put the number higher — at $60 billion. We need Medicare administrators to work to prevent these improper payments.”

Say what you will about him, but Scott Brown at least has the courage to come out against not only waste and fraud, but also the “third rail” of politics, “abuse.”

Sure, his innovative approach to meeting this goal by requiring “administrators to work to prevent these improper payments,” might win him a few fans, but his principled stand against waste, fraud and abuse will undoubtedly make him a natural target of opponents.

That’s why you may be surprised to learn that he’s just getting warmed up:

“We can also find savings by increasing congressional oversight of how Medicare reimburses providers; as well as improving the quality of medical care to seniors.”

Does this guy even want to get reelected?  While there is no question that increasing congressional oversight will likely result in trillions in savings, while at the very same time improve the quality of medical care to seniors, why put a bullseye on your back by being the first one to come out for it?  Let someone else stick his or her neck out and tell people the hard truth: You can get more for less.

“I’d also institute tort reform to limit frivolous lawsuits. There are other ideas from members of both parties that can be incorporated into a bipartisan plan — which has a good chance of passing Congress.”

This is where he might lose some people by getting too caught up in details such as his suggestion that we use “other ideas.”  These guys spend a few months inside the beltway and they all start talking like policy wonks.  

Of course, the Senator advises caution:

“What’s important is that we get started now and, where appropriate, phase changes in over time. This phase-in should be another principle of reform: give our future seniors enough years to adjust to the ‘new normal.’”

This cannot be stressed enough.  Senior citizens have enough to deal with without having to suddenly adjust to less fraud, waste, and abuse while also receiving improved care. 

Senator Brown’s plan stands in stark contrast to Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s proposal, which Brown opposes.  While Scott Brown applauds Ryan for “getting the conversation started,” he rightly argues that rather than directly address the problems that are dooming Medicare to certain fiscal insolvency, we should just say that’s not going to happen.

Scott Brown Courage

J.

May 23, 2011 at 02:05 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 21, 2011

Human Inanities

If you were asked to make a list of things that you believe are absolutely essential to national security, what would be one of the first things you think of?

If you said, “humanities professors,” you probably attended this week’s “Briefing on the Humanities in the 21st Century,” a presentation by humanities researchers to Congressional staffers intended to point out the grave national security threat our nation faces from those who want to give humanities researchers less money.

Briefing on the Humanities

Sure, some people might argue that when it comes to the security of our nation, humanities studies would probably be within a few spaces of advanced pudding research, but they don’t fully understand the importance “cultural understanding” plays in ensuring the peace. For example, it was only because of our sensitivity to other cultural practices that we knew to dump Osama bin Laden’s lifeless corpse into the ocean after we’d shot him in the face.

It’s really those little things that count.

Humanities researchers are alarmed that funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is in jeopardy as Washington tries to grapple with a looming fiscal crisis.  But we have to understand that the NEH has already cut out all the unnecessary fat.  All that remains is bone.

Take for example, the NEH’s “Enduring Questions” initiative, a program designed to support:

“…the development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This course will encourage undergraduates and teachers to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading.”

According to the NEH, these enduring questions could include:

  • What is friendship?
  • What is beauty?
  • What is the relationship between humans and the natural world?

Our understanding is that developing a deeper understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural world proved invaluable to Seal Team 6. Also, the relationship between ballistics and Osama bin Laden’s face. That was pretty important too.

And then there are NEH “challenge grants” intended to:

 “…help institutions and organizations secure long-term improvements in and support for their humanities programs and resources.”

Among the ways NEH challenge grants can be used to secure long-term improvements in and support for institutions’ humanities programs and resources is to apply them to:

“Faculty and staff salaries and benefits.”

Hey, that angst isn’t going to existential itself.

And perhaps the clearest example of the NEH’s efforts to ensure our national security is the Fellowship for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, a program intended to “support research on modern Japanese society and political economy, Japan’s international relations, and U.S.-Japan relations.”

It may seem like a distant dream now, but through these efforts perhaps one day the people of Japan and the people of America will be able to establish an enduring peace. 

When we think about it, precision-guided cultural sensitivity and high-velocity normative behaviors are probably the best arguments you can make for funding humanities.  Or at least the best arguments they can make.

So, the next time you hear some loud mouth going on about how humanities studies is a waste of time and we should defund the NEH, ask him or her one simple question:

Why do you hate America?

J.

May 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 19, 2011

Great, Another Middle-Aged Worker Out of a Job

A group of “health professionals,” is calling on McDonald’s Corporation to give their ubiquitous spokesclown, Ronald McDonald, the pink slip as part of the battle against childhood obesity. While they admit that there are many causes of childhood obesity, they believe that “marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this massive problem.”

Numbers don’t lie, as this chart illustrates:

Obesity Trends

Ronald McDonald was created in the mid-‘60s.  As you can see, during the first 15 years that he was used by McDonald’s, obesity rates stayed fairly steady.  During the following 20 years while he was used by McDonald’s obesity rates skyrocketed.  And in the last ten years or so while he continued in their service, they’ve flattened out again.

What other conclusion could you possibly draw? 

Ronald McDonald is killing our children.

The effort is being sponsored by a nonprofit organization called “Corporate Accountability International,” (CAI) which you know will always give a fair hearing to corporations by the web address they use:

http://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/

Why does the CAI want McDonald’s to fire Ronald? According to their 32-page report:

Far from being “happy meals,” McDonald’s food is responsible for such social ills as heart disease, diabetes, animal welfare abuses, labor exploitation, unceasing environmental destruction, and the breakdown of our food system.”

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking to yourself,  “The fries are totally worth it.”

Also, “What about the parents?”

It just so happens they have an answer for that:

“’What about the parents?’ I hear this refrain all too often. After all, kids don’t drive themselves to McDonald’s or purchase those Happy Meals themselves.”

“What McDonald’s multi-billion dollar marketing machine represents is a fundamental restructuring of the family dynamic. Every time a parent has to say no to a child, it’s another let down, another way that a parent has to feel bad about not making that child happy.”

For the record, this morning we had to tell 18-month-old Baby Moron “no” about 75 times, and that was while he was still sleeping.  His daily activities are almost entirely taken up trying to do things he shouldn’t.  We could pile on a half a dozen “nos” about McDonald’s and not even notice.

But they’re only just getting started.

“Moreover, parents have a right to raise their children in a safe environment, without constantly worrying about predatory corporate marketing. And children have the right not to be preyed upon by a clown with a corporate agenda.”

Are there six more chilling words in the English language than “a clown with a corporate agenda?“  Well, other than, “Charlie Sheen is at the door.”

“But McDonald’s is loath to take responsibility, leaning on a series of age-old public relations myths, namely that ‘the corporation just gives consumers what they demand.’ It’s as if the corporation’s billion dollar marketing budget wasn’t aimed at influencing and creating that demand,…”

We really do have to do something to rid ourselves of this “myth” that we choose products and services of our own free will. We don't. According to the CAI, we are simply being manipulated by corporate marketing machines, and by “we” they mean “people who are not members of the CAI” as their superior education and intellect make them immune from McDonald’s Jedi mind tricks unlike you simple-minded fools who find a three-dollar lunch of a cheeseburger, fries and drink to be palatable, affordable, and convenient.

And we all know where McDonald’s marketing budget is aimed at influencing:

“…especially among those most vulnerable to the manipulations of marketing: children.”

“That’s why they are the most vulnerable to the marketing strategies of a character like Ronald McDonald.”

“…the Supreme Court has upheld reasonable restrictions on corporate advertising, especially to protect children, the most vulnerable of Americans.”

We think there’s going to be a quiz on this later.

But McDonald’s nefarious activities run far deeper. As exposed by the CAI:

“McDonald’s former CEO Fred Turner once explained, the corporation got into charity ‘for very selfish reasons. It was probably 99 percent commercial. It was an inexpensive and imaginative way of getting your name before the public and building a reputation to offset the image of selling 15-cent hamburgers.’ in other words, for McDonald’s, ‘corporate social responsibility’ is just branding and marketing by another name.”

We can’t be 100% certain, but we’re pretty sure this is the part where you are supposed to be shocked.

“Not only has McDonald’s been a pioneer in marketing products to children, it has been a pioneer in shaping supply chains to meet its demand for cheap, consistent, and long-lasting food.”

Again, we can’t be sure, but we believe they think that is a bad thing.

So, to sum up:

  • Ronald McDonald is killing children.
  • Members of the CAI are smarter than you.
  • McDonald’s sells cheap, consistent, long-lasting food.

Fire the clown.

Save the child.

J.

May 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 17, 2011

Speaking of The Judicial Branch…

Former lawyer and Supreme Court observer and columnist, Dahlia Lithwick, is distressed over the judicial decisions being handed down over President Obama’s health care reform law:

“The results in every one of the cases about the law have, thus far, perfectly tracked ideology. Three lower courts have upheld the law as constitutionally valid, while two have struck down all or parts of it. No judge appointed by a Democratic president has had a problem with it, while no Republican appointee has voted to uphold it.”

And by “perfectly tracked ideology,” she means, “Republican-appointed judges haven't agreed with her.”

“But in the end, nothing about that argument nullifies the judicial obligation to read the words of the Constitution and apply precedent, and it remains the case that with a handful of exceptions, virtually all constitutional scholars agree that the ACA is constitutional.”

Now before you start demanding that she back up her dramatic claim that “virtually all constitutional scholars agree,” you should know that she fully anticipated your cynicism and provided a comprehensive list:

  1. Andrew Koppelman.

Okay, that’s not as comprehensive as we could have hoped.  Regardless, you can easily tell Andrew Koppelman is one those dry, purely non-ideological law professors Ms. Lithwick pines for by the link she provides to a recent Yale Law Journal piece he wrote:

“The Supreme Court may be headed for its most dramatic intervention in American politics—and most flagrant abuse of its power—since Bush v. Gore. Challenges to President Obama’s health care law have started to work their way toward the Court and have been sustained by two Republican-appointed district judges."

"The constitutional objections are silly. However, because constitutional law is abstract and technical and because almost no one reads Supreme Court opinions, the conservative majority on the Court may feel emboldened to adopt these silly objections in order to crush the most important progressive legislation in decades.”

Really, the guy should consider livening up his prose with at least a little personal opinion.  His straight recitation of facts is almost too non-ideological. Even his contributions to a law blog are completely devoid of a particular viewpoint:

“Health care reform is only the latest manifestation of the New Deal vision of a society whose members are economically secure and protected from the otherwise brutal effects of market forces. Opponents of the mandate envision a radical revision of constitutional law that severely restricts Congress’s authority: if market forces step on you, you’re on your own.”

You have to wonder if this guy believes in anything beyond the straight rendering of facts.

Much like Professor Andrew “Cool as Ice” Koppelman, Ms. Lithwick also makes her argument for health care reform on purely dispassionate legal grounds:

“More pointedly, the debate we are having in the courts, about the "right" to be left alone to die without health care, has profoundly distracted us from the reality of what it means to be a nation with almost sinfully inadequate health coverage.”

If only Republican judges stuck to the facts like Ms. Lithwick, she wouldn’t be forced to come to agree with a view of judicial review espoused by political philosopher Jeremy Waldron:

“Waldron argued that judges should not be allowed to have the authority to strike down legislation, period. He urged his readers to bracket their feelings about the outcomes in specific cases and think instead about institutions whose job it is to protect individual rights. Judicial review, he wrote, undermines democratic values ‘by privileging majority voting among a small number of unelected and unaccountable judges.’”

It only goes to reason that “institutions whose job it is to protect individual rights,” would be democratic ones. After all, what better way to ensure individual rights than to simply subject them to a majority vote, absent any checks, balances, reviews, or appeal beyond the ballot box?

Which reminds us, from now on, everyone has to drive a Toyota Camry.

Interestingly, Ms. Lithwick did not come around to this line of thinking in the five years since Mr. Waldron first proposed it. What could have brought on this sudden change of heart?

“Waldron's arguments make even more sense when you look at them through the prism of the debate over health reform.”

Which, and this is one of those crazy coincidences, Dahlia Lithwick thinks is a good idea.

What next?

“We are in a strange holding pattern right now, collectively waiting for the first judge to cross party lines in a health care case. Maybe once that happens, we can all go back to believing in the integrity and infallibility of the judicial branch. Until then, perhaps it's an apt moment to re-examine first principles and think about why we believe in the judicial branch in the first place.”

Clearly, there is only one way the judicial branch can restore Dahlia Lithwick’s faith in its ability to reject ideology and stick to the law:

Shut up and support the Democrats.

J.

May 17, 2011 at 06:24 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 16, 2011

And Really, Do We Even Need a Judiciary?

What would you say is one of the most pressing issues facing the way in which the federal government is run today?

If you said, “We have way too many checks and far too much balance,” you might just have what it takes to be a United States Senator.

And so we have a proposal to eliminate as many as 200 Presidential appointees from the onerous requirement that they be subject to Senatorial confirmation, an antiquated practice believed to have first originated in the pages of the Constitution, a bit of conjecture that cannot be confirmed given that no one in Congress has ever actually seen a copy of this mythical document.  However, those who support the legislative branch having a say in presidential appointments, the better to act as a counterweight to executive branch power, swear there’s something about it in there somewhere, probably after the part that guarantees a right to health care.

The proposal is appropriately called the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011,” because nothing quite streamlines your job like not doing it. (You might want to try this at work, just propose to your boss the “Bob No Longer Has To File Expense Reports Paperwork Reduction Efficiency Streamlining Act,” and see what he has to say.)

We should also point out that the bill has received broad bipartisan support, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans do have the ability to set aside their petty partisan differences, as long as it involves issues of grave national importance, like finding ways to ensure that they free up more time for golf.

While some people are upset over this partial abandonment of one of the basic duties of the Senate, we need to remember that these bothersome public confirmation hearings really aren’t as necessary as they once were given the Obama Administration’s commitment to ensuring complete openness and transparency in its operations. We’d love to tell you more about these efforts, but  it would be inappropriate as most everything having to do with transparency is being kept behind closed doors, where transparency belongs.

(In totally unrelated news, members of the Obama Administration are trying to come up with a plausible theory to allow them to be able to legally continue their war efforts in Libya without having to secure congressional approval.)

Which positions might be exempted from Congressional scrutiny?  Well, there’s the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Congressional Relations, the Department of Education’s Commissioner on Education Statistics, the Department of Transportation’s Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, the Department of Labor’s Director of the Women’s Bureau, and the Department of the Treasury’s Director of Policy Planning.

Come to think of it, given that the number of such appointments that require confirmation has quintupled over the past 50 years, maybe we could just take this list, and instead of eliminating the need for them to go before Congress, just eliminate the need for them to go to their jobs.

Now that’s efficiency and streamlining.

J.

May 16, 2011 at 02:02 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2011

Probable Cause? We Don’t Need No Steenking Probable Cause!

In considering a case that would have far-reaching implications for the individual liberty of the citizens of Indiana, the state Supreme Court rightfully noted that:

“The English common-law right to resist unlawful police action existed for over three hundred years, and some scholars trace its origin to the Magna Carta in 1215.”

Naturally, they came to the only obvious conclusion possible:

“In sum, we hold that Indiana the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law.”

Eight hundred years of established legal precedent is all fine and well, but we’re talking about Indiana Supreme Court Justices here. They’ve got robes and everything!

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably wondering, “Do I have to use Reynolds Wrap when trying to block CIA mind control rays or can I get away with using a cheaper store brand of aluminum foil?”  (Answer: If you're asking that question, they've already gotten to you.)

Also, “Wait a second, what about the Fourth Amendment guaranteeing ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures?’”

 The Fourth Amendment is so five minutes ago. As the Court wrote in its opinion:

We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action.”

After police officers have unlawfully invaded your home, terrorized your family, and rifled through your personal effects, the Indiana Supreme Court points out that you still have the right to all kinds of satisfactory remedies such as “bail,” “the exclusionary rule,” and perhaps best of all, the right to pursue:

Police department internal review and disciplinary procedure.”

This is exactly what King George was trying to explain to those rabble rousing colonists. 

We must also consider the Court’s concern that allowing mere citizens to reasonably resist the unlawful actions of the police:

“…unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

It’s best not to escalate the level of violence to “all parties” and instead just leave the violence at the level where it’s only being escalated on you.

It is also important to note that the Court’s decision was careful to limit to only two, the circumstances under which you are not allowed to reasonably resist the police:

  1. When they are acting lawfully.
  2. When they are acting unlawfully.

But other than that, rest assured your Fourth Amendment rights remain secure.

It’s only reasonable.

J.

May 14, 2011 at 10:46 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 13, 2011

Put Another Way: “Mitt Romney Announces He Will Not be Seeking The Republican Nomination”

Mitt Romney yesterday came out strongly against “ObamaCare,” the health care legislation signed into law by President Obama that includes individual mandates, heavy subsidies, a vast expansion of government programs and regulations, and government-run exchanges.

He also vigorously defended “RomneyCare,” the health care legislation that he signed into law when he was governor that includes individual mandates, heavy subsidies, a vast expansion of government programs and regulations, and government-run exchanges.

Sure, there are those who try to point out that the two programs are nearly identical in every important way, but that’s a complete distortion of the facts as there are many critical differences that set ObamaCare apart from RomneyCare.

For starters, they are spelled completely differently. Sure, there are some similarities, particularly the use of “care” and the letters “o” and “m,” but otherwise to suggest they are the same is to stretch credulity.

Then there are the web sites.  Here is ObamaCare:

ObamaCare

And here is RomneyCare:

RomneyCare

Come on, folks, the fonts aren’t even the same.  Can anyone really make the credible argument that the two programs are in any way comparable?

Finally, Romney points out that his health care plan was a state initiative whereas President Obama’s was federal.  In fact, the distinction is suggested right there on the RomneyCare web site:

“We're an independent state agency, so you can shop with confidence.”

That chill you just felt go up your spine? That’s the “chill of comfort,” knowing that an independent state agency is on the job, looking out for you!

So, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by your own slick-talking inner voice or the images your eyeballs show you.  Those can be tampered with.  Plus, the brain is notoriously unreliable when you use it for analyzing things people say.  Just ignore all that and accept what Mitt Romney tells you:

His health care plan, which he supports, is nothing at all like Obama’s health care plan, which he opposes.  Nothing at all. It’s like the difference between night and five minutes earlier in that same night.

Wait, that might not have come out exactly right…

J.

May 13, 2011 at 02:54 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack