Stories by Jeff Burk

Jeff Burk is a contributor from Texas.

Yes, Obama is to Blame

August 5th, 2011 at 2:00 pm 60 Comments

David Frum has challenged conservatives to identify which of President Obama’s policies have prolonged and worsened the recession. David focuses on what has happened, sildenafil or not happened, buy without considering that people in the real economy (beyond the federal government and Washington punditry) base their decisions on what they expect to happen.

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L.A.’s Illegal Arizona Boycott

May 13th, 2010 at 12:42 pm 24 Comments

The boycotts adopted by Los Angeles and other cities against Arizona in response to the state’s recently passed immigration law may be more than self-righteous political posturing. They may also be unconstitutional. The Constitution’s commerce clause reserves the regulation of interstate and foreign commerce to the federal government, sovaldi sale and the Supreme Court has held that state and local interference in such areas is prohibited.

In 2000, sovaldi in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, the Supreme Court reviewed a Massachusetts law forbidding state agencies from contracting with companies doing business in Burma. The Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts law because it conflicted with a federal statute involving Burma and therefore violated the Constitution’s supremacy clause. Although the federal district court and court of appeals ruled that the Massachusetts law was also inconsistent with the commerce clause, the Supreme Court found no need to address that point.

Massachusetts’ interference with foreign commerce by boycotting companies doing business in Burma is not easily distinguished from Los Angeles and other cities interfering with interstate commerce by boycotting Arizona. Faced with another commerce clause challenge to a boycott, it is not inconceivable that the lower courts might again rule, and the Supreme Court might hold, that the Arizona boycott is unconstitutional.

(Granted, Arizona’s immigration law may face a similar challenge of interfering with the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate immigration, although Arizona might argue that its law is only intended to enforce the requirements of existing federal immigration law in response to the federal government’s abdication of its constitutional duty to protect the nation’s borders.)

While states and localities are free in many ways to set their own procurement policies, imagine the effects on interstate commerce if these kinds of boycotts proliferated. For example, as other states and localities boycotted Arizona, Arizona might respond in kind, as might states and localities supportive of Arizona’s position. Every time governments in different jurisdictions disagreed with each other’s policies, anarchy and autarky in interstate commerce might result.

The boycotts may also violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and privileges and immunities clauses. States and localities may disqualify contractors on many grounds, but discriminating against Arizonans based on their residency, while allowing contractors from the other 49 states to compete, is difficult to reconcile with the requirement that states afford all persons equal protection of the laws and not abridge the privileges and immunities of U.S. citizens.

It is ironic that in protesting an Arizona law they find discriminatory, the boycotting cities are willing to designate all Arizonans for punishment regardless of their lack of culpability for Arizona’s immigration law. According to U.S. Census estimates, 30 percent of Arizonans in 2008 were Hispanic and 9.2 percent of Arizona businesses in 2002 were Hispanic-owned. It is not inconceivable that many Arizonans affected by the boycotts will be Hispanic, notwithstanding the claims of the boycotting cities that they are fighting anti-Hispanic discrimination.

In addition, hypocritically, Los Angeles will continue to import much-needed power from Arizona. Interstate power sales are unquestionably subject to exclusive federal regulation, which is quite convenient for the boycotting cities, since it is doubtful in any event that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and other California localities could do without power generated in Arizona. Absent Arizona imports, California’s rolling blackouts during the power crisis in 2000 and 2001 would have been even worse.

Finally, it is no small thanks to stricter immigration enforcement along California’s border with Mexico that the most destructive elements of illegal entry into the United States, such as drug and human trafficking, have concentrated along Arizona’s border with Mexico. While Los Angeles and other cities decry Arizona’s approach to grappling with illegal immigration, they benefit from Arizona bearing the brunt of cross-border violence and disorder.

One would think California’s cities, given their financial situation, would want to contract for goods and services on the most competitive terms and conditions possible, which means maximizing the pool of bidders. Of course, cities like Los Angeles and its counterparts might not be in such poor fiscal shape if their elected officials were more concerned with sound economic management than with showing off their moral vanity and seeking to curry favor with key constituencies.

Fight Obama’s SCOTUS Pick at the Polls

April 22nd, 2010 at 2:50 pm 16 Comments

GOP senators may be tempted, viagra particularly after Democrats’ abuse of the reconciliation process to enact Obamacare, to use procedural tactics to delay or halt confirmation of President Obama’s nominee to succeed Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. They should resist this temptation.

First, such tactics are bound to fail. With just 41 seats, Republicans stand little chance of slowing down the confirmation process. Even with a majority, Republicans would still be unlikely to succeed in rejecting or causing the withdrawal of a nomination. Neither party has stopped a Supreme Court nomination in the Senate since 1987, when Democrats used character assassination and their Senate majority to halt Judge Bork’s appointment. Democrats came close but ultimately failed using similar tactics against Justice Thomas in 1991. Republicans will have the chance to define their grounds for opposition to the nominee in the Judiciary Committee and in floor debate. When the nomination comes to a floor vote, though, some GOP senators will undoubtedly join Democrats to confirm President Obama’s choice, just as Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Ginsburg were confirmed with some Republican support.

Second, President Obama’s nominee is unlikely to change the Supreme Court balance in any event. Some prospective nominees may be preferable to others, but on the most contentious issues before the Supreme Court, there is little chance President Obama’s appointee will side with the conservative bloc. It would be almost impossible for President Obama to nominate a jurist likely to compile a voting record more liberal than Justice Stevens did in his 35-year tenure. A known liberal will at least be less frustrating for conservatives than witnessing the journey of liberal self-discovery that has become the hallmark of Justice Stevens and other “moderate” appointees who “grow” on the bench.

Procedural delays such as an attempted filibuster might energize the base but would draw negative public attention as partisanship and a waste of time and resources. There is no justification for Republicans to hand President Obama and congressional Democrats such a gift in a lost cause.

This does not mean, however, that Republicans should simply roll over. Scrutiny of the court decisions, academic writings and judicial philosophy of all President Obama’s judicial nominees is critical to public understanding of how President Obama and Democratic senators wish to reshape the federal judiciary and by extension our economy, culture and society. GOP senators must ensure that such scrutiny takes place. The case for conservative judicial appointments has been and can again be a successful issue for Republicans in congressional and presidential elections. The liberal wing of the federal bench is out of step with what many Americans recognize as common sense on numerous issues such as capital punishment, treatment of detainees in the war on terror, property rights, affirmative action and abortion-on-demand. It is fair game for Republicans to point this out, honestly and without exaggeration, on the campaign trail. Voters must also be reminded that liberal jurists will remain on the bench, and their decisions will be the law of the land, long after the president who nominated them is gone.

Equally important for Republicans is ensuring that opportunities to appoint qualified conservatives to the bench are not squandered. They must insist that GOP presidential candidates make a commitment, if elected, to treat judicial appointments with the utmost diligence and deliberation. Republican presidents have had the unfortunate habit, not shared by Democratic presidents, of appointing judicial ciphers who sometimes turn out to be as reliably liberal as Democratic appointees. Republicans must demand competence too. President Bush was saved from what might have been one of his biggest mistakes when Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court. President Bush subsequently appointed Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Whatever other criticisms conservatives may level at President Bush, his Supreme Court appointees ended up as sterling because his supporters ultimately required it.

Notwithstanding the media narrative that the Supreme Court grew conservative over the last three decades, closer to the truth is that after a long period of liberal justices doing almost anything they wanted, a stalemate ensued. Decisions cheered by conservatives have been offset by a comparable number of liberal judicial victories. Democrats showed with their defamation of Judge Bork and Justice Thomas that they are willing to scorch the earth in the confirmation process to maintain the stalemate or resolve it in their favor. Republicans should not follow the Democrats down the low road, particularly when they are unlikely to succeed anyway. They should let President Obama have an up-or-down vote on his appointment but lay the groundwork for making judicial nominations another argument in favor of voting Republican in 2010 and 2012.

The High Costs of Obama’s Nuke Deal

April 8th, 2010 at 11:02 pm 8 Comments

Concluding an arms-reduction treaty between the United States and Russia is a laudable achievement for the Obama administration, tadalafil provided the United States retains the right to maintain a modern nuclear deterrent and anti-missile defenses necessary for its national security. But the pact is likely more symbolism than substance in addressing many of the fundamental issues facing the United States in connection with Russia and nuclear proliferation.

The threat posed by the Soviet nuclear arsenal during the Cold War was Armageddon. While Russia still has more than enough warheads to wipe out the United States and its allies, check today’s biggest concern is nuclear security. The treaty makes the world more secure especially to the extent the reduction in Russia’s stockpile and a renewed inspections regime decreases the likelihood of Russian nuclear weapons falling into the hands of rogue states and terrorists. Unfortunately, pills Russia may continue to pose problems in significant ways the treaty cannot address.

Getting to the negotiating table with Russia involved costly concessions, such as scaling back international anti-missile defense plans and betraying U.S. allies in the Czech Republic and Poland. Czech and Polish leaders risked political opposition at home and antagonizing Russia abroad to participate in the anti-missile defense network. Last September, the United States abruptly canceled parts of the program on Czech and Polish soil, much to Russia’s satisfaction. This move was harmful not just to anti-missile defense efforts and U.S. relations with the Czechs and the Poles. It may also have the long-term effects of discouraging allies from taking risks at the request of the United States and encouraging Russia and other troublemakers to earn concessions through saber-rattling.

Russia has also opposed U.S. interests and upset international security at many points along its borders. It disrupts or threatens to disrupt the energy supplies of its European neighbors, invaded tiny Georgia in the Caucasus and interfered with U.S. relations with Uzbekistan, which provided bases for U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Perhaps the treaty will usher in a new era of détente and reduce tensions in all these areas, but the lesson on anti-missile defenses makes it highly probable that Russia will seek to extract new concessions for any constraints on its ability to manipulate and bully its former dominions and satellites.

Most importantly, Russia, along with China, has posed a major impediment to dealing with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Any optimism on non-proliferation arising out of the treaty is overshadowed by Iran’s nuclear activities, not to mention North Korea’s presumably growing nuclear arsenal. While the United States, under the Bush and Obama administrations, is to blame for not taking more decisive actions against Iran, Russia’s intransigence is a significant part of the problem too. And it is precisely the proliferation of nuclear weapons in places like Iran and North Korea that prompted U.S. efforts to erect anti-missile defenses. So Russia on one hand refuses to participate in taking meaningful steps to halt Iran’s nuclear development but on the other hand opposes U.S. efforts to guard against a nuclear Iran.

If the goodwill generated by the treaty leads to enhanced Russian cooperation on imposing effective sanctions against Iran, this will be a major diplomatic feat for the Obama administration and a win for global security. If, however, the United States purchased Russian friendship at the price of abandoning aspects of the proposed anti-missile defenses with no substantial movement to curb Iran’s nuclear efforts, then no matter how many Russian warheads are eliminated, global peace and security will be net losers.

Dems Using Race Card to Push Obamacare

April 8th, 2010 at 12:46 am 35 Comments

Faced with selling Obamacare to a skeptical public, treat Democrats have resorted to playing the race card with the help of pliant journalists. Republicans should not let them get away with it.

Step 1 is portraying the Tea Party as racist. The evidence: demonstrators at the March 20 Tea Party rally at the Capitol shouted racial slurs and spat at black congressmen, buy viagra and other Tea Party events have included protestors carrying racist signs.

Democrats should be ashamed for indicting crowds of tens of thousands of people as racists based on the actions of scattered individuals. Coverage of the March 20 rally shows a few demonstrators yelling at the congressmen, but their words are inaudible against the noise of much of the crowd chanting “kill the bill,” which has nothing to do with race. Similarly, racist signs at Tea Party events, carried by individuals who may not even be Tea Partiers, are far outnumbered by signs opposing President Obama based on his policies, not his race. Depictions of President Obama as a socialist, a Marxist or as Hitler may be distasteful and unlikely to win mainstream converts, but they are no more racist than similar portrayals of President Bush at antiwar rallies.

Step 2 is charging Republicans with responsibility for racism, vandalism and threats allegedly in response to Obamacare.

Republicans were expected to flagellate themselves for the shouters and spitters at the March 20 rally, as if their sympathy with the Tea Party’s anti-Obamacare sentiment translates into culpability for every action perpetrated by any of the demonstrators. Even after Republicans denounced vandalism and threats against Democrats following Obamacare’s enactment, Democrats are still peddling the narrative that Republicans are somehow responsible for encouraging the mob.

Judging by Democrats’ own words, these accusations are mock outrage and political theater. It is not Republicans, but Bill Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, Joe Biden and Harry Reid, who made references to President Obama’s race in a way that would have ended a Republican’s political career. It is also difficult to take seriously Democrats’ indignation over claims that demonstrators at the March 20 rally shouted anti-gay language at Barney Frank, given that some Democratic lawmakers have called Tea Partiers “tea-baggers.” Historically, such graphically homophobic language from members of Congress would be grounds for censure.

And it is Democrats who, in opposition to President Bush, courted an antiwar movement infiltrated by anti-Semitic rhetoric. Just because some antiwar protestors carried on about sinister “neo-cons” and carried anti-Semitic signs does not mean the whole antiwar movement and their Democratic sympathizers are all anti-Semites. The same understanding should apply to the Tea Party and Republicans.

Step 3 is characterizing Obamacare as a civil rights issue and casting opposition to Obamacare as racism.

This goes further than defaming merely the Tea Party and Republicans. Obamacare threatens to make millions of Americans worse off, from small business owners to middle-class families and from senior citizens to the self-employed. Many of them are more moderate than the Tea Party demonstrators and find comparing President Obama to Hitler repellent. They also include political independents some of whose votes elected President Obama to the White House and Democrats to large congressional majorities. Yet characterizing opposition to Obamacare as racism is calling these Americans racist.

Having used their control of the presidency and Congress to push through unpopular legislation, Democrats have chosen racists as the scapegoat for that unpopularity. Republicans need to make clear that an attack on opposition to Obamacare as racism is an insult to many Americans who are not particularly political but who do not want to pay higher insurance premiums and higher taxes for less available and lower quality healthcare. Other keys to an effective rebuttal will be for Republicans to avoid name-calling, enumerate clear policy differences between themselves and Democrats and not succumb to overconfidence heading into the November elections.

Most importantly, Republicans should emphasize that while Democrats ramble on about racists, it is Democrats, and not Republicans, who have a vested interest in keeping racism burning in American politics.