Lots Of Laughs In Obama’s SOTU





Obama White House Laughing Stock SC

I admit I dozed off once or twice.

And for the first half-hour, I thought I was watching a rerun of last year’s State of the Union address.

But I hung in there, and Tuesday night turned out to be one of President Obama’s funniest addresses yet.

He didn’t tell any jokes, not on purpose anyway.

But I thought it was pretty amusing when he listed all the great things he’s done to end two wars, create millions of new jobs, reboot our oil and gas sector, and provide affordable health care for all.

Another good laugh came when he blamed Republicans for everything still wrong with the economy, as if he hasn’t been the president for the last five years.

If it weren’t for those rotten House Republicans, he implied, by now everyone would have a 0 percent mortgage, a subsidized college loan for their kids, and an hourly wage of at least $10.10.

That “Ten-Ten” line had me rolling on the floor. It also had the president’s fellow Democrats jumping to their feet and applauding like they were part of a synchronized gymnastics team.

Every Democrat stood, clapped robotically for 22.3 seconds, and sat down. They must have done the exact same thing 30 times.

Did the president have an audience applause director hiding off-camera in the House chamber? His speech was so well scripted, I felt like I was watching a late-night talk show.

You’d think once in a while a Democrat would get so jazzed up by one of the president’s socialist ideas that she’d leap from her seat, give out a loud “Yee-haw!”, or at least remain standing for more than 22.3 seconds.

And what was the big deal with this $10.10 minimum wage for federal contract workers, anyway? Is $10.10 supposed to be catchier? More memorable? Funnier?

Why not make it $12, Mr. President? Or $25 an hour, since we’re spending federal money and you and your White House comedy writers don’t believe minimum-wage hikes destroy jobs at places like McDonalds.

And talk about a crummy joke.

The president’s grandstanding executive edict won’t go into effect until 2015. It won’t affect old contracts. And it will only affect the 200,000 workers who don’t already make more than $10.10.

Like a Jay Leno opening monologue, the president’s jokes kept coming. By my count, about half of his applause lines turned into laugh lines.

Loud snickers were heard, at least at my conservative house, when he talked about cutting bureaucracy, streamlining the tax code, fixing immigration, and putting Joe Biden in charge of a program to train new workers.

Mr. Obama even tried to take credit for the oil and gas boom that has turned the USA into an energy superpower again and created tens of thousands of high-paying jobs in North Dakota, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

The president and the applauding Democrats were the only people in the room who didn’t get that joke.

America’s exploding oil and gas production has occurred on private lands because of the technological miracle of fracking, and it’s occurred in spite of the Obama administration’s green energy policies and restrictions on drilling on federal lands.

The funniest moment of the night for me came when President Obama repeated his threat that he was going to start using his executive powers to bypass Congress if it didn’t pass his pet legislation.

Two hundred and forty-four congressional Democrats leapt to their feet and applauded mindlessly for 22.3 seconds, as if they were not members of the legislative body the president had just said he planned to castrate.

The State of the Union address was a lot of laughs. But in the end, it was a sad commentary on the man who delivered it. After five years on the job, all he proved to the country was that he’s out of ideas and still good at reading from a teleprompter.





The Super Bowl And Sex Trafficking





Photo credit: MTAPhotos (Creative Commons)

On February 2 of this year, thousands will gather at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. to watch the Seattle Seahawks battle the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. As the athletes take the field and the fans cheer, they will be oblivious to the tragedy unfolding around them in dark hotel rooms across East Rutherford.

Sex trafficking has become a stealth parasite that attaches itself to major sporting events, taking advantage of a large number of fans and the demand for illicit sex. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott echoed the stunning revelation, gripping so many with his statement about the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas: “It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.”

Dallas police and federal authorities arrested 133 minors for prostitution during the 2011 Super Bowl; and according to Forbes Magazine, 10,000 prostitutes were transported to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010.

A United States Department of Justice investigation from January 2008 to June 2010 discovered that 40 percent of human trafficking incidents involve child prostitution or the sexual exploitation of a child. UNICEF estimates there are nearly 2 million children in the commercial sex trade, and major sporting events have become a nexus for sexual predators and a haven for sex trafficking.

January is “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month”; and according to the U.S. State Department, social scientists estimate there are 27 million victims of human trafficking in the world today. The United Nations reports that human trafficking is a $32 billion industry across the world and that people are being trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every economy.

The State Department estimates also suggest that the majority of trafficking victims are women and girls, and that trafficking victims are subjected to both sex and labor trafficking. Recent data has also brought to light a previously hidden trend that a significant percentage of trafficking victims are men and boys.

UNICEF reports that victims of sex trafficking are subjected to conditions that include high numbers of clients and violent or unprotected sex. They are also subjected to poor hygiene and forced drug use that includes reusing needles, and sex trafficking is a “hotbed” for sexually transmitted infections.

In the United States, human trafficking is a $9.5 billion industry according to the United Nations. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. A total of 300,000 children in this country are at risk of being trafficked sexually right now.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that the average age of a sex trafficked child in the United States is 13-14 years old, and the average pimp controls 4-6 children and makes $150,000-$200,000 per year from each child. The anti-trafficking organization The Polaris Project estimates that victims of sex trafficking are forced to have sex 20-48 times a day.

In a study done by officials in Los Angeles, 59 percent of juveniles who were arrested for prostitution were previously in the foster care system. In 2013 during “Operation Cross Country,” the FBI rescued 105 children being forcibly exploited for sex and arrested 150 pimps. The youngest victim was just nine years old.

To bring an end to the scourge of sex trafficking requires that we all work together and join in the fight to rescue victims, many of whom are innocent children. The primary tool in that fight is education, and organizations like the Polaris Project; Jada Pinkett Smith’s organization, Don’t Sell Bodies; the McCain Institute, named after Senator John McCain of Arizona; Arrow Child and Family Ministries in Texas (www.arrow.org/mrc/Overview.html); and the Joyful Heart Foundation are both educating the public and rescuing victims of sex trafficking.

The NFL has also joined the fight by supporting tougher anti-trafficking laws and working with organizations to educate and empower the public. We can all be a force for change, and visit the websites of the organizations mentioned above to learn the signs of human trafficking.

With just one phone call to the human trafficking hotline at 1-866-347-2423 (toll free), each of us could help save a human life and bring us that much closer to a victory over human trafficking.

Photo credit: MTAPhotos (Creative Commons)





Our Clueless President





Obama Inequality Healthcare SC

Let me get this straight.

For five years, Barack Obama has been president.

For five years, he’s demonstrated — with amazing consistency — that he has no clue what we need to get out of the ditch and back on the road to real economic recovery.

He’s repeatedly demonstrated that he can’t work with a divided Congress; and he can’t, or just plain won’t, lean on Harry Reid to allow the Senate to vote on the stack of jobs bills that has been sent over by the House.

The president clearly has learned nothing on the job. And now, our multi-clueless commander in chief is so frustrated that he’s not getting his way with Congress, he’s starting to issue decrees like some tin-pot socialist South American dictator.

That’s what Obama did this week when he called on Congress to pass his latest list of tried-and-not-true ideas for resurrecting the economy.

If Congress didn’t enact his pet policies — a federal minimum wage hike, another unemployment insurance extension, funding for universal preschool, etc. — the president decreed, he was going to wield his executive super-powers.

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” he bragged, “I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive action and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”

Trouble is, the president is one of the few guys on the field who doesn’t realize that the ball he wants to move forward has been out of air for almost a century.

The most powerful leader on the planet still doesn’t get it when it comes to economic policy — and obviously never will.

He still thinks like a naive 20-something community organizer from South Chicago who has never had to meet a payroll or raise a dime of capital.

He still believes in the 1930s New Deal myth that it’s the government that creates prosperity and growth, not free-market capitalism.

And he still doesn’t understand that it is lower tax rates, federal spending cuts, and less government regulation that encourage businesses to expand, create jobs, and hire people.

In Obama-Think, passing a law to jack up the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance for six months, and throwing billions in subsidies at shaky solar companies are considered magical ways to stimulate a sluggish economy and create jobs.

In the real world, as we’ve seen for the last five years, it works the opposite way.

When one political party passes laws making it more costly for businesses to hire humans, companies learn to streamline and get by with fewer humans, or hire humans in foreign lands. Can you spell Obamacare?

When jobs become too costly, they get destroyed; and they never come back — by the millions. Can you count a record 92 million people not participating in the workforce?

The only way our slow boat to permanent economic stagnation is going to be turned around is if we return to the economic policies of the 1980s and 1990s.

That’s when a pair of economically savvy presidents named Reagan and Clinton made sure tax and regulatory policies did not cripple the ability of capitalism to create economic growth, prosperity, and jobs.

It doesn’t matter how many lightly taxed and lightly regulated “Promise Zones” President Obama sets up in North Carolina or Texas with a wave of his mighty pen.

The whole country needs to be turned into a permanent “Promise Zone.” But that’s never going to happen as long as we have someone in the White House who doesn’t appreciate or like the free market and doesn’t know the difference between capitalism and cronyism.





Our Irrational Immigration System





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The state of California tossed the conservative media another hunk of red meat last week when its Supreme Court granted an illegal alien a law license.

You probably heard plenty of outrage on your favorite talk-radio show about how the liberal Left Coast judges rewarded a lawbreaking immigrant instead of deporting him or throwing him in jail.

Mindless outrage is probably all you heard.

The details of the case — who the illegal alien was, how he came to America, and how long he’s been trying to become a legal citizen — were lost in the anger.

But the more you learn about the case of Sergio Garcia, the more you’ll understand what the Number One problem with our awful immigration policy is.

It isn’t because we have too many liberal judges, too many illegal aliens, or too many holes in the U.S.-Mexico border. The main problem is our failed, insanely bureaucratic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department itself.

Garcia, 36, is just one of its countless victims. More than 20 years ago — when he was a teenager — he came from Mexico to pick almonds in California with his father.

In 1994, his father, who was a permanent legal resident of the United States, applied for a work visa for Garcia. That year, his father also applied for U.S. citizenship for him.

While Garcia waited for the lawyers and bureaucrats to process the paperwork, he worked and studied hard. He went to community college, became a paralegal, went to law school, and passed the bar exam.

When he applied for a license to practice law in California, the U.S. Department of Justice prevented him from getting it because of a federal law prohibiting anyone in the United States without permission from getting licenses from government agencies that use public money.

California bar officials and the attorney general supported Garcia in the state Supreme Court case, arguing successfully that a new California state law says you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to get a lawyer’s license in California.

I’m not mad at Sergio Garcia. Why should anyone be? He did nothing wrong.

In fact, he did everything right. He played by the rules — the dumb rules. And that’s why he’s still an illegal alien.

Ditto for the poor guy who cuts my hair. He’s still waiting for his citizenship after 17 years. Ditto for countless other immigrants who want to come here, work hard, and someday become American citizens.

Talk radio should aim its anger where it belongs. Not at Garcia, not at California’s judges, but at our irrational immigration system and the politicians responsible for devising it and refusing to fix it or blow it up.

A recent study counted 234 government forms related to immigration, issued by seven Cabinet-level agencies. Even highly skilled immigrants — the 65,000 people we want and need the most, and to whom we grant H-1B visas — face 16 forms, nearly 20 hours of paperwork, and $2,500 in application costs.

Our immigration system is so broken, so complex, so expensive, so slow, so legalistic, so bureaucratic, and so counter-productive it’s a wonder anyone ever successfully becomes a citizen.

Republicans and conservatives are supposed to be against big government, over-regulation, and mindless bureaucracy.

Yet when was the last time you heard a Republican in Washington complain about how the maze of rules and regulations at USCIS makes it virtually impossible for someone to enter the country legally through the front door?

No one wants to get in line for 20 years to get into the United States. No one should have to. The long wait is one reason we’re losing the brightest immigrants to other countries.

California officials, for once, probably did the right thing when they stuck up for Sergio Garcia.

Instead of laughing at California for giving a law license to an illegal immigrant, our conservative friends in the media should be working to tear down the USCIS and bring our immigration policy into the 21st century.





Will Republicans Ever Learn?





GOP Elephant Spending River SC

Will Republicans ever learn?

Will they get their own house in order in time to take control of the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016?

Will they stop fighting with one another in public over internal family matters and focus the GOP’s collective eye on those crucial political prizes before it’s too late to save the country?

It sure doesn’t look like it.

Republicans proved once again that they’ve learned nothing from their past mistakes during the recent squabbling over the bipartisan Ryan-Murray budget deal.

The GOP managed to do two things, both of them bad for the battered Republican brand.

The party again showed the public how dysfunctional it is. And it proved how little its leaders and internal wings and factions have learned in 2013.

Last week, House leader John Boehner made headlines by blasting the fiscal hardliners at Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks for denouncing the Ryan-Murray deal before they even saw it.

Then Boehner accused the tea-party wing of the GOP of “misleading their followers” and destroying their credibility.

It’s hard to fault Boehner’s outburst. For the entire year, the GOP has been more interested in shooting down its own rising stars than breaking the Democrats’ chokehold on Washington.

Conservative principles are great. But to little-tent conservatives who’d rather win Republican primaries in May than win general elections in November, it’s still all about ideological purity in the short run and not about winning the war in the long run.

To the GOP’s tea-party minority, Paul Ryan has gone from GOP poster boy to sell-out. Ditto Marco Rubio for his impure thoughts on immigration reform.

Ditto Chris Christie, first for embracing the president and second for not being sufficiently conservative while racking up a big win in the blue state of New Jersey.

One of these days, the Republican Party is going to find out that it is not the Conservative Party.

There are liberals, moderates, and conservatives in the GOP — and conservatives are going to have to understand that they are in fact the minority.

Meanwhile, here’s a radical idea for my good tea-party friends and soulmates.

If you want to see a federal budget you can abide, or if you want to have a smaller, kinder, gentler federal government that runs the way you want, I suggest you do what the Democrats do — win.

Winning isn’t easy. When Republicans only have the House, and not the Senate or the White House or the courts or the media, we’re starting from ground zero.

We can’t afford to throw rocks at each other in public or nit-pick at each other’s ideological purity.

Winning back the Senate and the White House has to be the GOP’s master plan, and it can’t be sabotaged by things like intramural budget fights.

Budget fights? In the real world, the federal budget is never going to be 100 percent of what anyone wants.

Is a budget fight to the death by hardliners really worth another government shutdown that causes future Ken Cuccinellis of the world to lose and makes the GOP look like the party of dumb bad guys?

I don’t think so.

Once Republicans win back the White House and the Senate, conservatives can make all the budget changes they want.

Until then, if Republicans in Washington are going to attack each other, they should learn to do it behind closed doors.