Must-Read: ‘My Adoption Story’

A brief excerpt just to pique your interest:

We are often asked how we can just give our kids away to strangers. We are seen as uncaring, as though choosing to give them up so they can have the life we could never provide, is something to be ashamed of. We are the “taboo” part of the warm fuzzy adoption stories. We are often seen as broken, unfit, or unworthy.

Often, you will hear adoptive parents speak of the birthmom as an addict, or “just didn’t have her life together”. You’ll hear them say how appreciative they are, but view themselves as almost better, because they are able to offer the child something the birthmom couldn’t. I know in my heart they don’t truly mean it like that, at least I hope not. But when I hear the stories from adoptive parents, I can’t help but feel a little sting in empathy for their birthmom when they speak about how she was unable, unfit.

Please read the whole thing here, and share it with friends: http://mellific.wordpress.com/

Lies, Damnable Lies, Statistics, and the ‘CEOs Make 300 Times The Average Worker” Bullshit

Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ, people. Stop accepting this nonsense as if it’s true. It’s a lie. Are we that fucking intellectually-lazy?

It’s a lie because the “CEOs” (which, contrasted with “the average worker,” is meant to imply the average CEO) being discussed are a mere handful of the highest paid CEOs leading publicly-traded companies.

AEI, May 2014 (emphasis and links in original):

While the huge multi-million pay packages of a few hundred CEOs get all of the media attention, what usually receives much less attention is the small number of CEOs represented in the annual salary surveys, especially compared to the total number of CEOs in the US. For example, the WSJ’s survey included only 300 CEOs at large, U.S.-traded public companies, and the AP analyzed compensation figures for only 337 companies in the S&P 500. An analysis of CEO pay by USA Today in April looked at only 200 CEOs in the S&P500. The AFL-CIO did an analysis of the CEOs of 350 companies in the S&P500 and then computed a “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” of 331 times ($11,700,000 average annual CEO pay to the $35,239 average annual worker pay), up from a ratio of 300 ten years ago and 200 twenty years ago.

Although these samples of 200-350 CEOs are representative of large, publicly-traded US companies, they certainly aren’t very representative of the average US company or the average US CEO. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 27 million private firms in the US, so the samples of 200-350 firms for CEO pay represent only one of about every 100,000 private firms in the US, or about 1/1000 of 1% of the total firms. And yet the AFL-CIO, AP and others compare the average annual wages of hundreds of millions of full-time employees working at the more than 27 million US companies to the CEO pay of executives at only several hundred companies, which is hardly a fair comparison.

Also, a screencap from the BLS:

BLS-AllOccupationsVersusCEO

 

 

 

So aside from performance-based compensation presumably not included in the averages above, the ratio is less than 4-to-1.

Also, note that the over a quarter-million CEOs, per BLS, is nearly 1,000 times larger a sample population than is thrown around by the Left–and thrown around in such a way as to leave the casual reader with the impression that they are talking about the average CEO.

If we can’t shoot down bullshit like this, we deserve to lose. Hear me? We deserve to lose if we can’t address something so damned simple.

And stop blaming the MSM for our intellectual-laziness on this topic. It’s pathetic.

The Look Busy Senate and Iran (Updated 4/20/15)

lookbusyAlso see addendum at the bottom of the post.

The fix was in on Iran long before the Corker bill raised its ugly head. Here’s why:

The Treaty Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2) reads as follows:

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…

One might conclude that any “deal” with Iran would meet the general definition of a treaty:

A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms.

And, therefore, one might suppose that the Obama Administration would be required, if the “deal” were to become law, to solicit the approval of 2/3 of the Senate, per the Constitution.

But not so fast.

From Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the United States Senate, as prepared by the Congressional Research Service (2001) (emphasis added):

Treaties are a serious legal undertaking both in international and domestic law. Internationally, once in force, treaties are binding on the parties and become part of international law. Domestically, treaties to which the United States is a party are equivalent in status to Federal legislation, forming part of what the Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.'”

However, the word treaty does not have the same meaning in the United States and in international law. Under international law, a “treaty” is any legally binding agreement between nations. In the United States, the word treaty is reserved for an agreement that is made “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution). International agreements not submitted to the Senate are known as “executive agreements” in the United States, but they are considered treaties and therefore binding under international law.

For various reasons, Presidents have increasingly concluded executive agreements. Many agreements are previously authorized or specifically approved by legislation, and such “congressional-executive” or statutory agreements have been treated almost interchangeably with treaties in several important court cases. Others, often referred to as “sole executive agreements,” are made pursuant to inherent powers claimed by the President under Article II of the Constitution. Neither the Senate nor the Congress as a whole is involved in concluding sole executive agreements, and their status in domestic law is not fully resolved.

Questions on the use of treaties, congressional-executive agreements, and sole executive agreements underlie many issues. Therefore, any study of the Senate role in treaties must also deal with executive agreements.

In other words, not all treaties are treaties, as far as whether the Treaties Clause of the U.S. Constitution is invoked vis. the need for 2/3 of the Senate to approve.

A further distinction embodied in U.S. law is between self-executing treaties, which do not require additional legislative action, and non-self-executing treaties which do require the enactment of new laws. These various distinctions of procedure and terminology do not affect the binding status of accords under international law. Nevertheless, they do have major implications under U.S. domestic law. In Missouri v. Holland, the Supreme Court ruled that the power to make treaties under the U.S. Constitution is a power separate from the other enumerated powers of the federal government, and hence the federal government can use treaties to legislate in areas which would otherwise fall within the exclusive authority of the states. By contrast, a congressional-executive agreement can only cover matters which the Constitution explicitly places within the powers of Congress and the President. Likewise, a sole-executive agreement can only cover matters within the President’s authority or matters in which Congress has delegated authority to the President.

And speaking of delegation (and this is the critical point here), previous legislation regarding Iran sanctions delegated to the President the authority to waive those sanctions:

But under current U.S. sanctions law, the president can waive them. And that is just what Obama intends to do. He will get the U.N. to water down international sanctions while he suspends U.S. sanctions.

And, since Congress delegated to the President the ability to unilaterally waive sanctions, which negates the necessity for changes to existing legislation, and which also negates the necessity for the Senate’s participation in the process (the President can simply declare the Iran deal an executive agreement and not be bothered with drumming up a 2/3 vote in the Senate), the Senate effectively delegated itself into irrelevance vis. the Iran deal. The President, so far as I can tell, can simply call it an executive agreement and do an end-run around the entire treaty process.

So that’s where the Corker bill comes in–as a Look Busy, feckless face-saving that means absolutely nothing.

The fix was in when the President was delegated, by the Senate, the power to waive sanctions. Anything after that is just sick kubuki.

———

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, and welcome informed differences of opinion as to the facts as I understand them and have outlined them above.

———

Addendum, 4/20/15:

One very important point that I missed in my amateur punditry above, courtesy of this piece by Andrew C. McCarthy:

I have argued that the president’s waivers of Iran sanctions are different in kind from, to take some prominent examples, his waivers of Obamacare provisions and of certain enforcement aspects of the federal immigration and narcotics laws. The latter are lawless (though the administration attempts to rationalize them by an untenable interpretation of the prosecutorial discretion doctrine). The former are entirely lawful and written into the sanctions bills themselves.
The problem for Obama is that his sanctions waivers cannot be permanent – the pertinent statutes do not allow for that. (I use the word permanent advisedly. The word binding, which I might otherwise use, has a legal connotation that, as we shall see, can be confusing here.) That is, there are statutory sanctions that would apply to the Iranian government and (mainly) entities that do business for or with it if the president had not waived those sanctions; the statutes that prescribe the sanctions enable the president to waive them for fixed terms; they do not enable the president to provide permanent sanctions relief.

 

Tweets: The Senate Gave Up The Farm

Looks like POTUS was given unilateral power by Congressional legislation to waive Iran sanctions. No wonder they’re in CYA mode. Morons.

So, ironically, out of deference to the Office (misplaced in the case of this President), Senate gave up the farm while pretending not to.

When I say “by Congressional legislation,” I mean the preexisting sanctions legislation. Without that waiver, could have forced 2/3. Morons.

A treaty by another name (say, Executive Agreement) that changed US law would’ve required 2/3 advise and consent. Senate screwed themselves.

So the Senate, again out of deference to the Office, kicked any leg they had to stand on out from under themselves. Morons.

So the Corker bill is an idiotic face-saving that makes matters worse by requiring only 34 votes to sustain a veto. Morons.

Anyone with better information who disputes what I’ve said (not just wave around pocket Constitution), please do. This is what I’m seeing.

Imitation is the sincerest form of…theft

Harrumph.

art-is-theft

Out of California

And so begins my first full day in Dallas, Texas. After having lived in Southern California all my life, here I am. Phase II, as it were.

The journey–in a Ford Fiesta that probably won’t be mine for long–began early Saturday morning and ended Sunday evening. Fortunately the trip was without problems as far as the car went.

Highlights of the trip, in no particular order:

It being over.

Hank FM, which appears to be out of Ft. Worth, played some great old school country (including Buck Owens, no less) during one of the prettier parts of the trip, the stretch of I-20 being I-10 and I-30.

The generosity and hospitality of Breck and his daughter.

Remarkably organized drivers who generally made it a habit, per signs indicating that they should do so, to keep to the right unless passing. Far more civilized than California, for the most part.

Lowlights:

My usual equilibrium problems, which made much of the trip unpleasant.

A combination of an inadequate radio (and no iPod, CD player, or suchlike), and a dearth of radio stations. There was simply no radio signals to be had for parts of the trip.

An overnight stop in an crappy Motel 6 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The put me in a room that was already inhabited by quite a few mosquitoes. Had to ask for another room. Schlepped my stuff to the other room, at which time the COPD kicked in with a vengence. Then there were the bikers a few doors down, who partied until about 2:00 in the morning. Worst motel I’ve ever stayed in.

Closed rest areas. Oodles.

Other notable aspects:

Briefly surveying the charming vista that is Ciudad Juarez, from I-10 driving through El Paso.

The sheer labyrinthine chaos of getting from Point A to Point B, in and around DFW. Lots and lots of construction. Somehow I only got lost once, for a half block, before I made an illegal U-turn and got back on course.

Lots of 75 MPH speed limits in Texas–some even 80 MPH.

And so begins Phase II. No idea what to expect.

Squeeze Me?

O’er the land of the freeeeeeee…

Mandatory Voting? Obama Says It Would Be ‘Transformative’

They say the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. President Barack Obama wants to add one more: voting.

Obama floated the idea of mandatory voting in the U.S. while speaking to a civic group in Cleveland on Wednesday. Asked about the corrosive influence of money in U.S. elections, Obama digressed into the related topic of voting rights and said the U.S. should be making it easier — not harder— for people to vote.

Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.

“If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country,” Obama said, calling it potentially transformative. Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would “counteract money more than anything.”

Disproportionately, Americans who skip the polls on Election Day are younger, lower-income and more likely to be immigrants or minorities, Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls,” he said in a veiled reference to efforts in a number of Republican-led states to make it harder for people to vote.

Statistically speaking, Obama is correct. Less than 37 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2014 midterms, according to the United States Election Project. And a Pew Research Center study found that those avoiding the polls in 2014 tended to be younger, poorer, less educated and more racially diverse.

At least two dozen countries have some form of compulsory voting, including Belgium, Brazil and Argentina. In many systems, absconders must provide a valid excuse or face a fine, although a few countries have laws on the books that allow for potential imprisonment.

At issue, Obama said, is the outsize influence that those with money can have on U.S. elections, where low overall turnout often gives an advantage to the party best able to turn out its base. Obama has opposed Citizens United and other court rulings that cleared the way for super PACs and unlimited campaign spending, but embraced such groups in his 2012 re-election campaign out of fear he’d be outspent.

Obama said he thought it would be “fun” for the U.S. to consider amending the Constitution to change the role that money plays in the electoral system. But don’t hold your breath.

“Realistically, given the requirements of that process, that would be a long-term proposition,” he said.

I have no words.

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