When R.S. Radford, a principal attorney for the public interest law firm Pacific Legal Foundation, learned about the ruling against a property owner suffering under New York City’s rent control laws, he appealed the case to the Supreme Court. At issue in the case, Harmon v. Markus, is whether James and Jeanne Harmon, the owners of a handsome brownstone near Central Park, are entitled to relief from the city’s onerous rent control laws that force them to accept lower-than-market rents from three of their renters.

Harmon filed the original lawsuit against the chair of the Rent Guidelines Board claiming that the rent control laws violated his Fifth Amendment rights under the Constitution’s “taking” clause. (“No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”) When he was denied, he appealed, claiming that he had been denied the right of due process under the 14th Amendment. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed it out of hand, and that’s when Pacific Legal jumped in.

Radford explained why his firm was involved: “Jim Harmon and his wife own a building in New York City that has some rent controlled units that are occupied, apparently, by fairly affluent tenants, and he simply can’t use the property the way he would like to.” Harmon indicated that he would eventually like to pass the building on to his children and grandchildren but the regulations limit his rights as a property owner to do so.

On December 22 President Barack Obama released the following message through the White House’s Twitter account: "Thanks to all who shared #40dollars [sic] stories. Today's victory is yours. Keep making your voices heard — it makes all the difference. — bo"

This was in direct response to the Republican House of Representatives capitulating to the President and the Democratic Senate and allowing a shortened 2-month extension of the payroll tax cut, rather than forcing through the 1-year extension that the GOP was gunning for.

 

President Obama started off his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, on December 6 with a positive nod to free-market economics.  Referring to Theodore Roosevelt’s economic thoughts, Obama acknowledged that the free-market system has been the most successful system in history in delivering the highest standard of living to the greatest number of people: “He believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.”

But then Mr. Obama added a disclaimer, a large one. “But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can.”

That opens the door to more than putting Bernie Madoff in jail. Given the high degree of elasticity in their egalitarian and redistributive goals, it can give a free license to politicians to take whatever they can from whomever they can.

Mike Shedlock, who has been watching the Jefferson County, Alabama, municipal bond bankruptcy and default closely, has turned up some more fraud. It appears that the original bonds issued to pay for the county’s new sewage treatment plant weren’t bonds after all, but warrants. But they were sold as the same thing, backed by the “full faith and credit” of the county. In the event of bankruptcy investors holding the warrants were to be first in line to receive their interest payments, ahead of any other creditors. And if there isn’t enough money even for that, the investors were assured that the county would do whatever is necessary to redeem them, even if it meant raising taxes or fees on the citizens.

But a warrant isn’t a bond; instead, it is merely a right granted to its holder to purchase a bond in the future. The county board of commissioners decided against issuing bonds as that would have required a referendum by the taxpayers who, at the time, were already suffering from increased sewage rates — four increases over the past 10 years. The likelihood of approval was between slim and none.

The National Defense Authorization Act will be made law with the stroke of President Obama’s pen (perhaps autopen from Hawaii?). With the enactment of the NDAA, Americans suspected by the President of having committed a “belligerent act” may be apprehended by the military and detained without recitation of charges and without access to an attorney until such time as the President decides that the “War on Terror” is over.

Majorities in both chambers of Congress voted in favor of granting the President this autocratic authority. In the Senate, only 13 members of that body stood up to defend the constitutionally protected civil liberties of Americans. In the House of Representatives, 283 of the people’s representatives violated their oath of office and voted to pass this legislation.

One of those who was true to his vow to protect the Constituiton from all enemies, foreign and domestic, has now offered an amendment to the NDAA that would “clarify the language” of the measure so as to make it explicit that no American citizen could be detained under the provisions of that act without being provided the full panoply of due process protections.

Dear Michael, I have been a longtime listener of your nationally syndicated radio talk show. You are, without question, among the most talented, entertaining, and intelligent of hosts. Many a day, in spite of what disagreements I may have had with you, I have been provoked by, and delighted in, your exchanges with guests and callers. Although I obviously do not know you personally, you also strike me as a genuinely decent human being, a loving husband, devoted father, and a good citizen who really does have his country’s best interests at heart.

Sadly, I pay you these compliments here not for their own sake, but in the way of prefacing the less flattering remarks that are to follow.

It is clear, Michael, that you do not like Dr. Paul. I admit, given the countless hours that you spend arguing for a vastly smaller, less intrusive federal government than what we currently have, I find this puzzling. As I am sure you yourself will acknowledge, Dr. Paul is nothing if not a champion of just the “limited” or “constitutional government” to which the Republican Party routinely pays lip service. Yet talk is one thing; action another. Inasmuch as proud Republicans and self-avowed conservatives such as you spare no occasion to ridicule, mock, and criticize the one person in contemporary national politics who is genuinely, passionately committed to restoring the vision of our Founding Fathers, they risk exposing themselves as frauds.

On the one hand, “mainstream Republicans” are described by CNN's Jack Cafferty as “apoplectic” over the prospect of Ron Paul winning the caucuses in Iowa. On the other hand, the whole party has fallen captive to the 12-term Congressman's “radical ideology,” according to Gary Weiss on the “progressive” web site Salon.com.

“The Republican Party, falling deeper into the clutches of Ron Paul’s "radical ideology," has a new item on its anti-populist agenda: Castrate the Federal Reserve so that it no longer can promote job growth,” Weiss wrote in Thursday's column. Weiss is, well, appalled at “the extent to which Ron Paul's fixation with the Fed has infected the Republican party. Anti-Fed rhetoric, once the province of "ultra-right" (on popularly cited fallacious political spectrums) groups like The John Birch Society, has gone mainstream with the rise of Paul, who has been surging in the polls and now ranks third behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. He is actually leading in Iowa, and a victory there would really rev up his famously loyal followers.”

Those loyal followers, as well as other Americans, might also be a little negatively revved up about about the report of a Government Accountability Office on the Federal Reserve Bank, issued in July of this  year, showing the Fed had secretly lent some $16 trillion to domestic and foreign banks since 2008.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced his annual report, "2011 Wastebook,” noting, “This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government and paid for with your tax dollars this year.” He added, "Over the past 12 months, Washington politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign [sic] in the federal government’s out of control spending. All the while, Washington was on a shopping binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not need, like the $6.9 billion worth of examples provided in this report."

Of the 100 projects covered, three are especially egregious, and reflect the “spend spend spend” mentality prevalent in the halls of Congress. “The Super Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska is one of two projected bridges which became notorious during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Milk may do a body good, but selling it without the government’s stamp of approval does not. Dan Allgyer, an Amish dairy farmer, is finding that out the hard way. The federal government is trying to slap a permanent injunction on him preventing him from selling his cows’ product to willing customers in other states — all because Allgyer and his customers prefer to trade in milk that has not been pasteurized.

The sale of unpasteurized, or raw, milk is legal in Pennsylvania, where Allgyer lives. In Maryland, where some of his customers live, it is not. The Food and Drug Administration has decided that interstate sales of raw milk, particularly when the state for which the milk is destined bans its sale, are illegal; and that is why Allgyer now finds himself in hot moo juice with the feds.

Currently a food-buying club in Maryland called Grassfed on the Hill sends a truck to Allgyer’s farm to purchase and pick up his milk. They then transport it back to their home state, where it is distributed to club members in private homes. Allgyer is not personally selling the milk in Maryland at all.

What do Americans fear the most: big business, big labor, or big government? According to the latest Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans surveyed at the beginning of December said the biggest threat that would face the nation in the future would be government — a jump of 11 percentage points from the beginning of the Obama years in 2008, when only 53 percent said government was the threat to keep one’s eye on.

Not surprising for many conservative Americans, the only time the fear of government was at a higher peak was in 1999 to 2000, at the tail end of the Bill Clinton years, when a whopping 65 percent of Americans thought government would be the biggest future threat.

Back in 1965 Gallup began asking Americans: “In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future — big business, big labor, or big government?” And throughout the past 45 years, Americans have always expressed more concern over government than they did for business or organized labor. “Concerns about big business surged to a high of 38% in 2002, after the large-scale accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom,” recalled Elizabeth Mendes, deputy managing editor at Gallup. She noted that concerns over big labor “have declined significantly over the years, from a high of 29% in 1965 to the 8% to 11% range over the past decade and a half.”

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