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Category Archives: government

Shrinking the Federal Bureaucracy

You all know I’ve been super critical of the President on a number of foreign policy and national security issues, including those he chose for his national security team, but I like to think I’m fair, and aside from the thankfully defunct Michael Flynn and the unfortunately current Darth Badhair McHobo and MiniMogul, his national security team is actually shaping up pretty well. Jim Mattis and John Kelly are perfect Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security respectively. I’ve heard nothing but good things about H.R. McMaster, and I literally did a happy dance at the selection of Fiona Hill as White House senior director for Europe and Russia. I’ve referenced her articles on Putin before. She’s an expert and a realist. What’s not to like?

I also like to think I’m fair on domestic policy issues. So, yes, TrumpCare, or whatever we’re calling it this week, is a dumpster fire and the constant Twitter seizures and unsubstantiated claims of wiretapping and unemployment data manipulation by 44 are getting old.

That said… the left’s apoplectic paroxysms of outrage about proposed Trump budget cuts are giving me giggle fits. Fiscal responsibility involves sometimes tough choices, and I think we finally have a President who is willing to make them, who is willing to look at all the multiplicative, wasteful, and downright unconstitutional programs the federal government is funding and say, “Enough!”

Let’s remember that the vast majority of the federal budget is non-discretionary, which means it’s mandatory spending. We have to pay certain bills, and we don’t have a choice about it.  Among them is entitlement spending, such as Social Security. It is spent based on existing laws rather than the budgeting process, and without actual entitlement reform, we must pay it. Discretionary spending constitutes a pretty small portion of the federal budget, which means we need to be judicious about how we spend that money, which includes funding for our military, education, international affairs, environment, etc.

Discretionary Spending is the portion of the budget that the president requests and Congress appropriates every year. It represents less than one-third of the total federal budget, while mandatory spending accounts for around two-thirds.

Trump’s budget proposal does exactly this, but the left is, of course, hyperventilating about it, because they’re all about MOAR SPENDING! The Washington Post this morning helpfully shows what program cuts will help fund $54 billion in proposed defense spending increases. I’m good with this, quite frankly, because national defense is one of the very few constitutional functions of our government. And guess what’s not on that list!

Agency/Program What it does
21st Century Community Learning Centers Provides funding for after-school programs for students in high-poverty areas
Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program Provides loans to automotive manufacturers developing fuel-efficient technologies
African Development Foundation Invests in African businesses
Appalachian Regional Commission Invests in projects for economic growth in the Appalachian region
ARPA-E Funds research into new energy technologies
Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing Provides housing assistance to low-income families
Chemical Safety Board Investigates industrial chemical accidents
Chesapeake Bay Restoration Provides funding for cleanup and protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed
Community Development Block Grant Provides housing assistance to low-income families
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grants Provides support to financial services in underserved communities
Community Services Block Grant Provides funding for projects that alleviate poverty
Corporation for National & Community Service Runs AmeriCorps, City Year and other public service programs
Corporation for Public Broadcasting Provides federal funding to local radio and television stations across the U.S.
Delta Regional Authority Funds infrastructure and economic programs in the Mississippi River delta region
Denali Commission Provides economic assistance in Alaska
Economic Development Administration Provides funding for economic development projects across the U.S.
Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Account Provides emergency funding for humanitarian crises around the world
Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program Tests pesticides and other chemicals for adverse effects on humans and animals
Energy Star Provides assistance for energy efficiency programs
Essential Air Service program Provides funding for air transportation to rural communities
Global Climate Change Initiative Provides financial assistance for climate change initiatives in developing countries
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Provides funding for cleanup and protection of Great Lakes watersheds
Institute of Museum and Library Services Provides grants and research for libraries, museums, zoos and similar institutions.
Inter-American Foundation Provides development assistance to Latin American countries
Legal Services Corporation Provides legal aid to low-income Americans
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Assists low-income families with heating and cooling costs
McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program Provides school meals and nutrition programs in poor countries
Minority Business Development Agency Provides technical assistance to minority-owned businesses
NASA Office of Education Supports STEM education initiatives
National Endowment for the Arts Provides funding for arts projects
National Endowment for the Humanities Provides funding for cultural institutions like universities and museums, as well as projects by individual scholars
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation Provides housing assistance to low-income Americans
Northern Border Regional Commission Economic development in northern New England
Overseas Private Investment Corporation Helps U.S. businesses invest overseas
Senior Community Service Employment Program Funds job training for low-income, unemployed seniors
State Energy Program Provides funding and technical assistance for energy efficiency and clean energy
Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program Provides grants to improve education quality
Targeted Air Shed Grants Provides grants for air pollution control
TIGER Discretionary Grant program Provides funding for transportation projects across the U.S.
Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program Provides loan guarantees for new energy products
United States Institute of Peace Works on international conflict mitigation
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Coordinates federal response to homelessness
US Trade and Development agency Promotes U.S. exports in developing countries.
Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program Provides funding for water infrastructure in rural areas
Weatherization Assistance Program Provides grants for weatherizing low-income homes
Woodrow Wilson International Center Foreign policy think tank

The Post reports that a number of these federal programs have failed to show efficacy and that the private sector can perform these functions better.

Why the hell are we funding a foreign policy think tank? So it can produce written opinions on policy that, because they’re funded by the government, will invariably become a mouthpiece of said government.

Why are the feds giving money to businesses that want to invest overseas? Let these businesses assume their own risk and invest how they see fit, instead of the taxpayers funding businesses who will inevitably assume more risk, because it’s not their money to play with!

Why are U.S. taxpayers giving money to USAID through the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program to subsidize school lunches to foreign students? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that it’s the function of the government to give school lunches to our own kids, let alone to ones in other countries! I get that we want to appear to be generous and bighearted, but as a wise man once said, voting for the government to give poor people money is not compassion.

Neither is forcing the U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for investments in African businesses. If someone wants to plop down their hard-earned dollars to invest in an African enterprise, great! Good for them! But to arbitrarily take money away from Americans and send them overseas tells us that bureaucrats know better how to spend our money and where to invest it (in businesses that likely prop up the political agenda, or in which the bureaucrats and politicians have interests). I’ll remind you how Solyndra worked out.

And don’t even get me started on government funding for the arts!

So yes, we need to be judicious with our spending. We need to focus on programs that are effective, efficient, and constitutional, and all this crap above ain’t it.

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About That Travel Ban

No, not that one.

This one. The one you probably have never heard of because it involves Andrew Cuomo’s (D-ipshit, NY) ban on state-sponsored travel to North Carolina because that state passed a law last year requiring transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they were born.

A University at Buffalo pharmacy student is appealing the governor’s travel ban to North Carolina because she says it affects her ability to do rotations there.
This student hasn’t gotten any response from the governor’s office despite three months of calls, letters, and faxes to appeal her case, so Christine Piccione finally reached out 2 On Your Side as a plea for help.
Piccione is a third year pharmacy student at UB, and one of the final things these students need to do are rotations for hands-on practice.

So, this virtue signaling retard has joined celebutards and other assorted, frothing trash by trying to punish North Carolina for a bathroom law (that I have always disagreed with due to government overreach issues) he felt was discriminatory against transgender people.

Did he ban official government travel to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by law? No. How about Iran? Can New Yorkers still travel there? Yes.

You mean, he only banned travel to a single state in the union – a state that saw it fit to dictate who uses what bathroom in a public building?

Hypocrite.

All that said, who really loses in this scenario?

Piccione was funding her trip herself – with her own money. She has been prevented by the state from studying where she believed was best for her own education, since UNC Chapel Hill is widely regarded as having one of the best – of not the best – pharmacy program in country, and certain laws in NC would allow her to do more than here in New York, according to the report.

“I definitely think it does put me at a disadvantage. I’m going to be competing against the top students in the country for jobs, and I just don’t think it’s fair that I don’t get that opportunity when we can travel anywhere else in the country, anywhere else in the world even, and I can’t travel to one state in my own country,” said Piccione.

And yes, this travel ban infringes on this student’s rights. It inserts government into her personal education decisions. It puts an unnecessary hardship on her, forcing her to waste time and resources trying to resolve the issue, which really just comes down to wanting to study her chosen profession in what is ostensibly the best pharmacy program in the country.

And the state – the ever mighty, overreaching state – has decided in all its wisdom that Piccione cannot spend her own money to study in North Carolina, because Cuomo disagrees with a law there. A student is prevented from studying at the university of her choice, because Cuomo doesn’t like that state’s law.

And let’s be clear – right now that’s all it is: Cuomo’s opinion.

The trial over this law has been postponed until the Supreme Court decides whether the Obama administration’s interpretation of federal civil rights law, that transgender students are protected under Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, is correct. That case will be heard next month, according to press. So until that issue is decided in the nation’s courts, Cuomo is preventing a student from traveling to North Carolina to study at a highly regarded educational program, because Cuomo has an opinion.

christine-piccioneWhy is no one protesting that a U.S. citizen’s right to fund her own education and travel where she sees appropriate for her career choice has been violated?

I mean, we’re seeing snortastically ignorant nationwide boycotts in support of people who violated the law by coming here illegally – or staying here illegally. But no one is protesting the ever-intrusive state preventing a student from traveling within her own country – on her own dime. Why is that?

I guess a “privileged” blonde, white girl doesn’t elicit the same kind of sanctimonious outrage as oppressed “people of color.”

And by the way – I remember a place where you had to have government permission to travel for work or study. It was called the USSR.

You want to grow the surveillance state?

survaillanceIf you haven’t heard already, in light of Mexican president Pina Nieto’s big middle finger to Trump’s grandiose plan to make his country pay for a “big, beautiful wall” on the border with the United States, 45 has made another proposal: let’s levy a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico!

Some of the Republicans I know, who normally oppose more taxation, were doing a happy dance. “YEAH! Mexico will pay for the wall one way or another!”

Ummmmm… no. YOU morons will. You will buy more expensive Mexican products, and by the way, since Mexico is one of our top five sources of oil, you’ll likely be paying more to fill up your big, ole truck too! It’s a tax on U.S. consumers, not on Mexico, and I won’t even mention what that’s doing to U.S.-Mexico relations, even as Mexico becomes one of our most important partners in fighting cartels, stopping illicit funds from crossing the border, and working to freeze and block the assets of illicit financiers.

Some, who realize that a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods =\= Mexico paying for a wall, have developed other “bright” ideas.

“Oh, I know! Let’s tax all remittances going to Mexico! That’ll be GREAT! Most of them are illegals sending money home anyway! YEAH!”

I’ve detailed previously why this is a bad idea when Trump tried to threaten Mexico with seizing remittances.

Immigrants both legal and illegal send money back home to Mexico. How the hell does one separate the “good” money from the “bad?”

Seizure of private property without due process in order to threaten Mexico with reducing the country’s GDP by an estimated less than two percent? Good plan, there, Sparky!

Stop all financial transactions from banks here to Mexico? You’ve just pissed off the financial sector and empowered bulk cash smugglers, who make billions of dollars per year carting monetary instruments across the Mexican border.

But beyond that, even if you don’t stop the remittances, you would have to examine each one to see if it would be subject to this tariff. This idiot plan would drive up compliance costs for money service businesses (MSB), such as Western Union and MoneyGram, and grow the surveillance state.

Right now, under the Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions, including MSBs, must file a currency transaction report (CTR) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for each transaction in currency of more than $10,000. If you think the average remittance to Mexico exceeds this amount, you’re an idiot. The average remittance amount to Mexico in 2003 was $321, according to World Bank data. Even if it’s doubled or trebled in the last 15 years, it will still be far below the threshold.

So, we’d have to decrease the CTR amount. No big deal, right?

Except that MSBs and other financial institutions would have to hire extra compliance staffs to fill out the CTRs and subsequent suspicious activity reports (SAR) when a customer inevitably decides that it’s not worth having his $400 examined and probed by numerous people and declines to complete the transaction. Extra compliance personnel cost money – not just in salaries, but benefits as well. There skyrocket your costs of sending a couple of hundred bucks to your mom in Mexico! And there plunges your volume. Because, really… who the hell would want to pay an extra $10-$20 just to have mom pick up the cash in Coahila?

And then there are the compliance costs on the government side. Guess who gets to pay for those! How many new feds do you think would have to be hired to comb through the volumes of CTRs and SARs generated by the new thresholds? Considering just how many Mexicans we have sending money back home, lowering the transaction threshold would mean that thousands more feds will be combing through thousands more reports that are generated. The feds already have a lot of access to transactional data. You really want to give them more?

Additionally, as Larry Correia mentioned yesterday, “you start regulating something, the shadow economy will grow.”

I mentioned bulk cash smugglers above. Cartels already have hawala-like networks of trusted associates to conduct mirror transactions. That’s a market, I’m sure they couldn’t wait to tap, especially if there’s a mass exodus from regular MSBs! You start increasing regulations on hawalas, and aside from causing dilatory second and third order effects in countries without developed financial sectors that rely on hawala networks to move money, you’re also going to once again increase the compliance personnel required for said increased regulatory environment.

Wanna pay for more feds to snoop into everyone’s finances? Most Republicans, before 45 took office, would have screamed a vigorous “NO!” Now… not so much.

And by the way, if you think there aren’t ways to avoid the formal financial system, I encourage you to purchase a gift card. For a fee of $5.00 and a couple of stamps, you too can send a $400 Visa gift card to your mom in Mexico, which she can use to buy groceries or anything else she needs! You want to regulate that? You’ll need extra post office personnel to go through all the mail, identify the letters going to Mexico, and track the remittances that way.

Or, just start charging an extra fee for every gift card purchased, which will go directly to the feds to build that wall. In which case, once again, YOU are the ones paying for it!

That’s how you build a police state, Republicans. Enjoy!

Update on that painting

pictureJust a quick update, because I’ve been busy, and haven’t had the chance to catch up.

That painting – you know, the one Duncan Hunter removed because his tender labia got chafed at the controversial subject matter – was removed, because it apparently violated the rules of the contest it was judged to have won.

All the drama and the tug-of-war to garner the attention of the media was just so much bullshit.

“The Congressional Art Competition is an opportunity to celebrate the creativity of students in every corner of our country — and visitors from around the world see their talents on display when they walk through the halls of our Capitol,” Reichert said in a statement. “However, with any competition there are rules, and these rules exist for a reason. This painting hung in clear defiance to those rules and was a slap in the face to the countless men and women who put their lives on the line everyday on behalf of our safety and freedom.”

Ryan told the congressman that the Architect of the Capitol made the determination, Reichert’s office said.

The rules of the art competition state: “Exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed,” according to the statement from Reichert.

There was some controversy on this very blog about whether Hunter behaved vaguely Reich-like when he removed the painting, because it was offensive. I agree the painting was repugnant, but as our guest writer Dave Hardin wrote, “The wall on which that picture hangs does not belong to Hunter, and neither did the picture. That wall belongs to us – all of us – and that picture belongs to a 17 year old high school student. That wall and what hangs on it is protected by Marines who served this nation long before Duncan Hunter could read or write.”

Hunter had no right to remove the winner of an art competition from the public walls, no matter how offensive he found it.

But it appears his drama was unnecessary anyway. All he had to do was ask the Architect of the Capitol to examine rules of the contest, and make a determination about whether the painting legitimately won.

It hadn’t.

But instead, Hunter decided to use his government authority to remove something he found offensive from a public venue.

Survey says: DOUCHE!

Enough Already!

Over the past couple of months I’ve been seeing more and more friends of mine, who didn’t like Trump and didn’t vote for him, boarding the Trump Train. 

I’ve found myself telling people, “I don’t even like the guy! Stop making me defend him!” This is not because he somehow magically won them (or me) over, or because they (or I) have all of a sudden begun to agree with his ideas. 

No, it is because the petulant, whiny, violent, ignorant, condescensing, petty, vengeful left’s puerile screeching has reached such cacophonous levels, that I find myself supporting and defending PEOTUS just on principle – as a slap in the face to these douche canoes. 

SO MUCH DRAMA!

At first, it was attempts to kill the legitimacy of the election and calls for the abolition of the electoral college. 

Then, it was the recount demands. 

Then, it was claims that the Russian meddling in our elections somehow handed Trump the presidency, instead of acknowledging that the left wan such a flawed, unlikeable candidate, that even Donald fucking Trump was able to trounce her, despite all the advantages she had, including advance knowledge of the debate questions! 

We had the condescending, supercilious denigration of those who voted for Trump as toothless, uneducated, racist trash that, as many I know have put it, voted against their own self interest, as if anyone, except the voter him or herself understands what said voter’s self interest is!

We had out-of-touch, billionaire Hollywood actors, ivory tower academics, and snotty artists demeaning and harassing the rest of America, and denigrating the incoming President and his family. Because the rest of America struggling to eke out a living and get ahead really wants political lectures from clueless elitists, who make millions by pretending to be other people. 

Now we have self-important celebrities and politicians claiming they won’t attend the inauguration, because TRUMP, and protesters planning to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power

The left’s temper tantrums were amusing at first, but the more they dominate the news cycle, the more irritating they get. My schadenboner, which was at first turgid, has now become deflated and been replaced by a desire to throat punch the next self-aggrandizing progtard who does his or her shit-flinging chimp impression on my news feed. 

ENOUGH!

For those of you who still don’t get it, I want to make this perfectly clear. 

If you have decided that your dislike of the incoming President is more important than preserving America’s fundamental system of government and the peaceful transfer of power, you America-hating loons, get the fuck out of my country! You don’t fucking belong here!

If you claim he’s not your president, unless you’re an illegal alien or are giving up your right to be an American, I have news for you: he is and will be your fucking president for at least the next four years! Deal with it. 

If you want him to fail, you want America to fail. And if you want America to fail, I cordially invite you to get fucked with a rusty jackhammer wrapped in concertina wire. 

If you think you’re so important, that your absence from the inauguration is newsworthy and will be noted or somehow missed by the average American, it won’t. No one gives a fuck about your very public refusal (read: concern trolling) to perform at or attend the inauguration. 

If you think the rest of the world isn’t watching the chaos you’re sowing you’re sadly mistaken. Your histrionic antics are embarrassing America much more than the election of a narcissistic, ignorant, reality star clown shoe ever could. 

All your drama is succeeding in doing is turning thousands and thousands of people who have previously opposed the President-elect into hesitant Trump advocates.  

So here’s some advice: you don’t like what’s happened? Take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself why. Why did you support a candidate that was so awful, that she couldn’t even CHEAT her way into the White House! Get involved. Get educated. Engage with the very people you now demean and convince them with facts and logic of the righteoussness of your position, instead of arrogantly looking down on them and airing your disdain. Run for public office. Work to change the education system. Learn from your mistakes. Act like adults. 

Yes, criticize the policies of the President. You are absolutely within your right to do that. It’s one of the most critical foundations of our country! But you might want to at least wait until he actually BECOMES President and you get a good sense of how those policies will impact America, instead of venting your ignorant spleen about sexist/misogynist/racist/whateverist Trump ruining this country.  

But ferfuckssake, grow up! 

I, for one, am sick and goddamn tired of listening to you. 

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