The best reason for rejecting the Iran nuclear agreement

Ailes-truthThe best reason for rejecting the (Iran) agreement is to rebuke Obama’s long record of aggressive disdain for Congress — recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess, rewriting and circumventing statutes, etc. Obama’s intellectual pedigree runs to Woodrow Wilson, the first presidential disparager of the separation of powers. Like Wilson, Obama ignores the constitutional etiquette of respecting even rivalrous institutions.–George Will

Perhaps rebuking President Obama is the best reason for disapproving the Iran agreement, but even the best reason is no reason. Evidently Will would put partisan posturing ahead of the public interest even regarding a vital matter of war and peace–that’s nonsense.

Will goes on to compare President Obama to President Wilson, but muddles the history. Wilson negotiated the Versailles Treaty which was his constitutional prerogative.  The Senate rejected the Versailles Treaty, not because there was much to dislike in it, but rather to rebuke President Wilson. This set the stage for another world war, which is nothing to celebrate.

Will goes on to claim:

  • The Iran agreement should be a treaty;
  • It should not have been submitted first to the United Nations as a studied insult to Congress.
  • Wilson said that rejecting the Versailles treaty would “break the heart of the world.”
  • The Senate, no member of which had been invited to accompany Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference, proceeded to break his heart.
  • Obama deserves a lesson in the cost of Wilsonian arrogance.

Wilson didn’t suffer much from rejection of the Versailles Treaty; he died shortly after that. It was the world that suffered.

Should the Senate reject the Iran agreement to “teach Obama a lesson.” What would be the value in that? If the result were a futile and costly escalation of warfare in the Middle East, would we be happy if only the Senate had shown President Obama that it was capable of spiteful stupidity?

Posted in Congress, Political, President, Reed's Views, Treaties, War | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Photonics Institute

photonicsI care about the people across the region and it’s only fair that we work to create quality, family-sustaining jobs, right here at home.–Tom Reed.

I generally support the proposal for a Photonics Institute in Western NY, but I am uncertain of its impact. I don’t think the most educated and experienced expert could predict with certainty if it will exceed expectations or fall short, but it is worth a try. Certainly a large investment will create jobs for some workers at least in the short term. Tom Reed wrote:

The investment will fuel job creation across the region, and the country, by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars from public, private and non-profit sources into the high-tech manufacturing field of photonics. Total public and private investment in the Photonics Institute is expected to exceed $600 million, with roughly $110 million being derived from the U.S. Department of Defense.

One concern is funding. What will be shortchanged to provide the needed funds?

  • Defense spending is currently limited by sequester. Will they take the money from military readiness programs, from services for veterans, or from domestic programs?
  • Will the NYS money be taken from state aid for education?
  • Is the private funding committed or merely anticipated.

Reed continues:

“By starting this investment now, we are going to see long term job growth throughout the region and for generations to come,” said Reed.

How could Tom, who is no expert, be sure of that? It could happen if the Photonics Institute is successful, but there is no guarantee of that.

The grant is expected to expand existing manufacturing sites such as the SUNY Poly Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center campus in Canandaigua. It is expected this site will become home to a new assembly and packaging facility for photonics technologies.

There is nothing wrong with good jobs for high-tech workers, but workers with ordinary jobs need higher wages. We should not be satisfied with a two-tier economy where many low wage workers struggle while others enjoy high pay subsidized by government. If Tom Reed really cared about the welfare of his constituents, he would do more to help those struggling to get by with low pay.

In any case, I hope the Photonics Institute is successful.

Posted in Congress, Constituents, Defense, Economics, Education, NYS Government, Political, Reed's Views, Sequester/Fiscal Cliff | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Mental Illness, Background Checks, and Social Security

President Obama, according to a July 18 Los Angeles Times article, is pushing to extend gun background checks to Social Security.

The article describes the  National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) MentalIyIllGunswhich was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Law). It is used to identify those who can not legally  ship, transport, receive, or possess, or  firearms. Besides felons, drug addicts and illegal immigrants, “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease” fall in the no firearm category. (Follow this link for a full list of restricted firearm categories and their corresponding regulation.)

Social Security does not use the NICS, but the Obama administration is urging them to. That way when Social Security declares some one to be mentally disabled, the client’s name can be reported to the NICS register. The goal is to get an complete listing of those who disqualify from gun ownership.

I wonder how our representative to congress feels about this proposal. Rep. Reed has consistently pointed at the Mental Health problems as a factor in gun violence.  He brought up Mental Health at the Town Hall Meetings a day after the New Town Connecticut school massacre and four days after he Charleston church massacre. We are hearing about the mental health problems of the accused slayer at the Lafayette theater shooting.

At the Geneva meeting after the Charleston massacre, Rep. Reed  said  “I wholeheartedly  agree on the mental health priority,” and was open to conversations dealing to “Make sure that those who are mentally ill do not get weapons.” Last year Rep. Reed voted to increase funding for the NICS by $19.5 million, so he must approve of it.

Did I miss a statement from Rep. Reed praising  President Obama for his determination to combat gun violence?

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Low wages are no accident

time for changeI urge our lawmakers to consider the consequences of the recommended action (wage increase for fast-food workers) and to address the larger issue of a living wage for all New Yorkers — in particular, those working in human services supporting people with disabilities.–Mark Peters

Low wages are no accident–they are the result of deliberate government policy. Mark Peters, Executive Director of Able 2, a local agency serving the disabled, writes:

New York state is poised to increase the minimum wage for workers in the fast-food industry to $15 per hour. There is no doubt that these workers deserve to be paid a living wage; however, raising the minimum wage for only one sector of our workforce is unjust and shortsighted. Many workers in other fields will be left behind if this plan is implemented.

I believe the justification for an increase for fast-food workers is the disgrace of large, profitable corporations paying employs a wage that leaves them dependent on public assistance to make ends meet. It isn’t only private corporations that are at fault. NYS pay standards are equally disgraceful. Peters continues:

I represent hundreds of workers who provide support to people with disabilities living in group homes and in the community. They are providing care to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The starting hourly wage for these dedicated workers who do such challenging work is in the $9 to $11 range.

The wages paid to our direct care workers are directly linked to rates paid to our agency by New York state. These state-set rates do not allow for an increase in wages to compete with the wages proposed for fast-food workers. Recruitment and retention of qualified and responsible workers is our biggest challenge. This task will become much more difficult should the plan to increase the minimum wage for a single segment of the workforce be implemented.

According to the Elmira Star-Gazette article cited below, local officials gathered in Corning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA, “American’s with Disabilities Act.” This article notes:

The Americans with Disabilities Act is intended to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and enable them to participate fully in the workforce and their communities. Its protections, which now cover an estimated 55 million Americans, extend to five key areas: employment, state and local government facilities and services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and transportation.

ADA can’t fulfill its promise if it is underfunded. In particular, promised care for the disabled will be compromised if wages paid to those workers dedicated to service remain low. It isn’t enough to send a representative to praise the ADA on its anniversary as Rep. Reed did. As Mark Peters noted, it is no accident that wages are low; government action to raise them is necessary.

© William Hungerford – July 2015

Posted in Congress, Economics, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What Tom reports and what he keeps to himself

catoIn his weekly e-mail Tom:

  • Remembered those who lost their lives in defense of our country at Chattanooga last week.
  • Pans the Iran deal.
  • Reminds us he seeks to protect our fundamental rights regarding property ownership.
  • Declares victory for Western NY manufacturing.

Here’s what he didn’t mention:

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 1734, Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015. This legislation essentially removes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the regulation of coal ash. After years of review and public commentary, minimum national standards were established for the safe handling of coal ash, which is produced by coal burning power plants. The EPA’s requirements include groundwater protections and restrictions on coal ash storage. H.R. 1734 eliminates the EPA’s minimum requirements and instead gives states the responsibility of developing their own standards. The EPA would have no authority to review state regulations to determine if they adequately protect public health and the environment. This measure passed; Rep. Reed voted AYE.

The House considered H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, also known as the DARK act. This legislation prohibits states from establishing mandatory labeling laws for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Instead, H.R. 1599 requires the Department of Agriculture to develop voluntary guidelines for food manufacturers. It also narrows the circumstances under which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can require disclosures, limiting it to health and safety concerns. Under current regulations, the FDA can require a label to help consumers make more informed choices. This measure passed; Rep. Reed voted AYE.

The House considered H.R. 3009, the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act. This legislation was developed as a response to the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant who had been mistakenly released. H.R. 3009 does nothing to address the circumstances that resulted in the loss of Kathryn’s life. The perpetrator was being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons because he entered this country illegally. He was then transferred to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office due to a decades old warrant involving marijuana. The District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute and the Sheriff’s office then released him without informing federal immigration officials. This measure passed; Rep. Reed voted AYE.

Thanks to Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) for information on these three bills.

Here we see Congress jump on a single murder to justify a harsh immigration law while at the same time many members raise a terrific fuss at any suggestion that mass murder might justify common sense reform of our firearm laws and regulations.

Posted in Congress, Gun Violence, Immigration, Political, Reed's Views, Terrorism, Treaties, War | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Burning Coal

EPAregulationsThe House labored and passed H. R. 1734,  “Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015,” on a party line vote. Here is the Administrations view:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1734, because it would undermine the protection of public health and the environment provided by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) December 2014 final rule addressing the risks posed by mismanaged impoundments of coal ash and other coal combustion residuals (CCR). The 2008 failure of a coal ash impoundment in Kingston, Tennessee, and the 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina, serve as stark reminders of the need for safe disposal and management of coal ash.

EPA’s rule articulates clear and consistent national standards to protect public health and the environment, prevent contamination of drinking water, and minimize the risk of catastrophic failure at coal ash surface impoundments. H.R. 1734 would, however, substantially weaken these protections. For example, the bill would eliminate restrictions on how close coal ash impoundments can be located to drinking water sources. It also would undermine EPA’s requirement that unlined impoundments must close or be retrofitted with protective liners if they are leaking and contaminating drinking water. Further, the bill would delay requirements in EPA’s final CCR rule, including structural integrity and closure requirements, for which tailored extensions are already available through EPA’s rule and through approved Solid Waste Management Plans.

Perhaps the Senate will improve this bad bill. If not, President Obama has promised a veto. Is Congress passing doomed bills simply to force the President to use his veto? It sure looks that way.

Posted in Congress, Environmental, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Jeb’s Fundraising Letter

Thomas O'Mara

I am a compassionate conservative.–GWB

A politician likes to leave blanks in a fundraising letter leaving the reader to fill in the missing details. Here are some examples from Jeb’s recent letter:

  • Leadership. That is what is sorely missing in the White House.
  • All we need is the right kind of conservative leadership …
  • I offer a positive conservative vision …
  • You and I must lead a thoughtful conservative reform movement …
  • I will be a strong advocate of putting the needs of our kids first.
  • As President, I will celebrate success and risk taking …
  • There is an entire generation of conservatives in this nation just waiting for us to explain our beliefs …
  • You and I must reverse the left-wing policies imposed on Americans by this President …

One thing is certain, Jeb’s explanation of his beliefs, plans, and goals isn’t revealed in his letter; an entire generation of conservatives and others are still waiting. Evidently Jeb thinks it best to keep his views vague, hoping his readers will imagine that their views coincide with his.

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