Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Name:
Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Simplify, Simplify

Simplify, Simplify
©2015  Ross Williams

 

There was a television game show back in the 60s called Truth or Consequences.  It was hosted, when I watched it, by Bob Barker.  It featured audience members being pulled up from their seats, asked a goofy question in order to win a prize, and if they didn't get the answer correct they would have to face the consequences — an even goofier game.  I believe the same prize awaited them at the end.  Of course the object was to get these people to play the game, because that's where the laughs were.

I watched this show frequently as a child, because the questions were goofy and the games even goofier, and it appealed to my childish notions of high comedy.  One day, Bob Barker asked a young woman from the audience the question: "Why are Russians red?"

The correct answer is trivially simple, "rus" [pronounced "rooss"] is the Russian word for red.  The pertinence of this is slightly more complex — but only slightly — and it involves centuries of the land now known as Russia being invaded, plundered, conquered and colonized by Swedes — Scandinavians known for having red hair, an oddity among the Eurasian inhabitants living among the plains and swamps east of the Ural mountains.  The Swedes emerged from Scandinavia in the Middle Ages and went east at the same time as the Norwegians emerged from Scandinavia and went west; they were both known as Vikings [pronounced "veekeengs"], as 'viking' was their word for, loosely, 'pirate'.  The new ruling class were called 'Rus' by those they conquered, the territory became known as 'Russia', and red has ever after been associated with Russia, being prominently displayed in their flags and other symbology.

This answer, though, would have been wrong in the game show theatrics of Truth or Consequences.  The correct answer, as nearly as I recalled it, went roughly as follows:

Why are Russians red?

Because blood is red, too, and two times two is four, and four times three is twelve.  And there are twelve inches in a foot, and a foot is a ruler.  A ruler is Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth is a ship.  Ships sail the seas, and in the seas there are fish.  Fish have fins, and the Finns are next to the Russians.  Fire trucks are always rushin', and fire trucks are red.  So that's why Russians are red.

I was immediately enthralled by the hilarious homonymic and linguistic equivocation meandering through this gag, and repeated the joke like this for years[*].  Apparently, the American legal establishment also heard this joke, but didn't recognize it as one; they employ this manner of convolution to everything they do.  They collectively seem to believe that endless streams of rationalizing equivocation are necessary to explain the trivially simple answers to trivially simple Constitutional conundrums.

For example, the Constitutional question: "Why are homosexuals allowed to get married in the United States?"

I couldn't begin to give the long-winded rationalizations used by the US Supreme Court in their "correct answer but incorrect thinking" 'opinion' they shoveled out recently.  Instead, I will give the correct answer with the correct thinking.

We, The People, are guaranteed Equal Protection of the Laws in this country.  If the legislature passes a law allowing this or prohibiting that, the law must apply evenly to everyone.  The moment it doesn't apply evenly to everyone is the moment some people become "more equal" than others and tyranny ensues.  If the government is dead-set on not treating people equally under the law then it must have a damned good reason for it.  No "damned good reason" exists for excluding homosexuals from the privilege of being screwed by divorce courts and the petite napoleon which preside over them.

Did you miss the correct answer?  Here it is again, in one sentence instead of in one paragraph: The Constitution limits the power of the government to tell people what they can and cannot do; on those occasions when the government is allowed to get bossy, the Constitution requires that the government treat everyone the same within that bossiness.  There is no reason for Supreme Court decisions to be prattling on for pages and pages and pages.

Additionally, the legislature must be legitimately permitted to write that law in the first place.  For example, Congress passed a law a number of years ago [with full bipartisan support, by the way] called the Defense Of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, and which defined marriage as a legal institution to be entered only by one man and one woman, and that any 'marriage' consisting of any other pairing would be ineligible for federal considerations normally granted to married people.

So … find the power of Congress to define who can and who cannot get married.  Don't bother; it doesn't exist.  Thus, according to the 10thAM, the power to define marriage is a State power.  DOMA was declared partially unconstitutional eight years after passage, which was the wrong answer.  The correct answer to this conundrum would have been to declare it wholly unconstitutional.  There is no power of Congress to write laws on this subject matter, period, so no matter what the law said, the law was not allowed to exist.  Defining marriage is [and will be until the Constitution is amended] a State matter. 

Any State can create a legal institution called 'marriage'.  And they can define it how they wish.  …with one major caveat: they are required to treat all people equally under that law, for We, The People, have Equal Protection.  If the State does not treat people equally, it must have a damned good reason.

Many States saw the writing on the wall and decided on their own that yes, indeed, homosexuals can get married, because there is no "damned good reason" to disallow it.  There are only personal reasons, full of subjective notions of 'taste' and 'tradition' and 'belief' and, while these reasons may be very, very tangible to the people who espouse those reasons, personal likes and dislikes are supposed to hold no sway in a nation built on the political freedom from being bossed around by the government.

Many other States, however, populated by a more conservative people, determined that the personal was political, in a curious reversal of soft-skulled liberal sentimentality, and refused to allow homosexuals to marry.

The "damned good reasons" commonly cited for denying Equal Protection were:

1] Marriage is for procreation; homosexuals cannot procreate within the marriage.

Marriage is irrelevant for procreation as any cursory glance at society will inform, and to prohibit "non-breeders" from marrying would extend the ban to post-menopausal women, the infertile of either sex, and those who have better things to do than go prematurely gray waiting for their offspring to get the hell out of the house.  And this would only compound the violation of Equal Protection, besides.

1-a] It's science, dammit!  Gays can't reproduce!

Our nation was not founded to further "science" [global warmers, take note]; it was founded to create a government which protects its citizens' rights to do whatever the hell they want under almost all circumstances of human interaction … because the government was defined to have almost no power to stop them from doing most of those things.

2] Marriage is a religious institution, and requiring marriage to include conditions which are doctrinally contrary to a given religion is a violation of religious liberty, and effectively "criminalizes" that religion.

A nation in which religious liberty is identical to political liberty is called a theocracy; we do not have a theocracy.  Marriage, in our nation, is a secular institution which the government permits religions to administer … if a religion chooses, and to the degree it wishes, to administer it.  For example, the government allows divorced people to get married, but the Catholic Church doesn't, and the government cannot force it to.  The government allows people who don't have any religion to speak of to get married, but most churches I know of only allow members to marry.  I know a couple, members in good standing of their church, who were disallowed to marry in their own church … because they had been living together, "in sin", prior to being married.

No church is forced to marry divorcees; no church is forced to marry non-members; no church is forced to marry anyone.  No church would be compelled to conduct a gay marriage against its wishes.  Nor to accept married gays as members.  This ruling has no bearing on religion.

For all the unchristian Christians wetting their panties about how this ruling "criminalizes" christianity, just think how the muslims in our nation feel.  That should make some "christians" feel better if nothing else does.

2-a] But… but… but … it's traditional!!

The United States was founded in the first place for the express purpose of violating all previous political traditions.  Protecting the rights of the citizens to be free from almost all government intrusion and bossiness? Unheard of!  Government power is traditionally unlimited.  Requiring laws to apply to rich and poor equally? to friend and enemy both? to in-favor and out-of-bounds alike?  Unthinkable!  What good is political power if favors can't be doled out to political friends and official harassment thrown at political enemies?  Yes, it still goes on, but at least we have the integrity to see it for what it is: corruption, at least when "the other guy" does it.

Tradition is untrustworthy, and face it: to be American requires us to discount tradition in almost all circumstances; discounting tradition is the reason we are not British subjects today.  A citizen can still be traditional if he wishes to be, but our government is not permitted to impose that tradition on everyone unless it has a specific power to do so as defined by our Constitution — and it probably doesn't.  People wishing the government to impose "tradition" on this matter are, in very real terms, anti-American.

3] It's immoral, it's disgusting, and it's stomach-turning.

So what, and lay in a supply of antacids.  Freedom works that way — or it's supposed to.  Anyone who wishes the government to step in and compel some people to abide by their notions of "morality" are setting the stage for others to do the same thing in return … and the case can already be made that this very thing, using the government as the blunt [and dim-witted] instrument compelling "moral" uniformity among its citizens, as defined by loud-mouthed, self-righteous crusading minority interests, has long gotten out of hand.  Why, if we imposed moral uniformity just to shut up the loud-mouthed minorities, we might see Prohibition and, after it fails miserably, incremental neo-prohibition; we might see mandatory seat belt and baby seat laws; we might endure shrieking fits about the need to prohibit tobacco smoke concurrent with tear-stained mewling over the stupidity of criminalizing marijuana smoke; and we might suffer endless justifications as to why every person wanting to fly to Orlando must be considered a terrorist until he proves himself to not be.  …to name just a few of the millions of examples.

We were designed to be free in this country; freedom means being immoral when we wish to be, to disgust everyone around us, and upset their poor little tummies.  Deal with it.

4] Marriage is a State matter, and it's up to the states to construct as they see fit.

As long as the State abides by the mandatory restrictions on how it administers its laws … yes.  The US Constitution requires Equal Protection, and federal courts have the duty and obligation to slap the hands of States which do not apply Equal Protection.  This is not a case of the State denying two six year-olds a marriage license.  You can make a damned good argument that six year-olds don't have the wisdom necessary to choose whom, or when, to marry.  You cannot make a damned good argument that adult homosexuals don't have the wisdom … more or less than any other adult has, that is.

4-a] But the majority doesn't like it.

Even if that were true [and it is, in certain parts of the country], we are not a democracy and imposing what the majority wants requires the legitimate power of the government to give it to them … which, on this subject, it doesn't have.  Democracy is, in any event, nothing more than an exceedingly polite term for mob rule, and fickle mob rule at that.  Our government was specifically defined as a constitutional democratic republic to prevent the majority from voting gays back into the closet, from voting blacks to the back of the bus, from lording over every marginal interest it encounters.  While the argument can be made that we have been extremely inconsistent in applying this principle and have become a tyranny of loud-mouthed minorities, our government is, in fact, limited in what it is legitimately permitted to do, regardless of why it may wish to do it.  The majority can go pound sand.  As can loud-mouthed minorities.

4-b] Okay, so maybe a gay couple has a Federal Right to get married, but the States are a separate jurisdiction and can create their own legal rights.

This is a version of the argument made by the sniffle-nose Scalia.  Read the Constitution, Tony.  Specifically, in this case, read section 1 of the 14thAM.  In so many words: a citizen of any State is therefore a citizen of the United States and may not have his US-protected rights denied him by State law.

If you accept the notion of gay marriage as a federal right, then it is, by definition, required to be a State right as well.  This amendment, ratified after the Civil War for the purpose of ensuring that previous slave states would not reinstitute slavery by state law after it had been abolished by the Constitution, had the net effect of "incorporating" states into the Bill of Rights.  In practical effect, it limits the power of the states to legislate to those things Congress is permitted to legislate upon.  A State may create an institution of marriage or not, but if it does, it cannot make many distinctions among those who can be married.  If a State doesn't want gays to be married, their only option is abolish marriage altogether.

You may think what you like of "incorporation", but until the 14thAM is properly and legitimately struck from the Constitution, the Supreme Court is required to make the States obey it, regardless of the subject, regardless of the consequences.

Interestingly, both liberals and conservatives love "incorporation" when it suits their partisan hackery.  And they both loathe "incorporation" when it doesn't.  … owing, of course, to the simplistic notion that American politics can be devolved into such a crisp dichotomy as "liberal" and "conservative" in the first place.

Liberals love "incorporation" today because it makes States accept gay marriage as a matter of Equal Protection when those States don't necessarily want to, and conservatives are wetting their panties over it.  Yet, when the courts rule that States cannot impose gun control in violation of the 2ndAM, conservatives love "incorporation" while liberals loathe it.

It is hypocrisy among both liberals and conservatives, to support "our" idea of freedom when that freedom is for "us", and deny "their" idea of freedom when that freedom is for "them"; to support a limit on government power to boss people around when the bossy government gets in "our" way, but deny a limit on government power to boss people around when it gets in "their" way.  It is the unwillingness or inability for our "legal" "scholars" to do their jobs without reeling off delusional, self-important screed to explain it all, usually getting it wrong, and which mainly serves to obfuscate the subject, that will ultimately prove fatal to our definition of liberty.

Our government — at all levels — has virtually no power to legislate, to boss people around.  It is the job of the courts to recognize when governmental bossiness exceeds the defined power to be bossy, and then to explain, "You don't have that power".  Any court ruling which exceeds a few sentences in length [and they all do] is rationalization, constructing — for example — terrorism exemptions in the 4thAM when one does not exist, or why legislative power partially exists by distinguishing between trimesters while prattling on about "umbras and penumbras" when the power to legislate on the subject of abortion is nonexistent.  Courts abuse their power by permitting legislatures to abuse their own in writing laws they are not permitted to write … which are most of them.

Unctuous, self-serving blather is how the courts told us that even though Congress has no power to create, for example, an old-age pension system, it does have the power to lay and collect taxes, and also the power to spend those taxes; therefore it can create a tax for an old-age pension system, collect that tax, and then spend the money it collects to fund the Social Security pension system it otherwise does not have the power to create.  For another example, Obamacare.  As long as Obamacare is a tax instead of the regulation of a form of commerce Congress is not permitted to regulate, Congress can do what it is not permitted to do, the idiot court told us.  And only grasping, tyrannical police-statists see nothing wrong with this line of anti-constitutional thought.

Our Constitution is simple: the government has a only few legitimate powers to get bossy with its people, and when it uses the power given to it, it must apply that power equally; when it doesn't have the power then it must sit down, shut up, and leave us alone.  And yes, this "leaving us alone" thing can get loud and messy; freedom works that way.

Instead, our Constitution has been rendered into a farcical Truth or Consequences game show, where only the most convoluted, ridiculous and moronic explanations in defense or, more likely, contradiction of freedom ever get heard.  Our Constitution deserves simple explanation:  The power to define marriage belongs to the States, but it must include everyone equally  — period.  Why is this so difficult?


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* — After having repeated the hilarious homonymic and linguistic equivocation on "Why are Russians red" for 25 years as described above, I learned over a decade ago that it is, instead, a hilarious homonymic and linguistic equivocation on "why are fire trucks red" with "Russians are always red, and fire trucks are always rushin'" being the endpoint.  I had failed to properly follow the inane reasoning in the correct answer to the question, and reconstructed my own question to fit what I recalled, possibly because I was only 8 or 9 years old when I saw the show, and DVRs, let alone VCRs, did not exist at the time for me to go back and review.

And, as if it needs to be said, the US Supreme Court continually fails to properly follow its Constitutional duties, and perpetually retrofits the Constitution's words to match what it chooses to do in any given circumstance — legalistic equivocation.  This allows, for example, the greasy hypocrite John Roberts to apply a non-argued argument to his Obamacare decision and then to wet his panties about the "bench legislation" of the recent gay marriage ruling.  But the unctuarian Roberts doesn't have the excuse of only being 8 or 9 years old; he was supposed to have studied law to include reading the Constitution.  I am perplexed as to why he's done neither.

Thus it seemed most fitting that I use my misremembered rendition of the joke.

 

 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sooner be a Hoosier


Sooner be a Hoosier

©2015  Ross Williams

 

 

Indiana recently passed a bill stained with the self-pitying tears of a religious minority called The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Such a law would be completely unnecessary if our nation's courts were doing their job in vacating laws which deny someone the ability to practice his religion as he sees fit over the objections of those around him.  But as we've seen over and over and over again, they aren't.  Hence, the need for specific laws.

To be honest, when I first heard of this new law, I assumed it was a yet another Hobby Lobby swipe against Obamacare, pitting a state law to not be compelled to provide birth control coverage due to the religious sentiments of a business owner against the federal law which compels all business owners to provide birth control coverage despite their religious sentiments, thus setting up a court showdown over federal incursions into state matters.  Lo and behold, however, the liberal orthodoxy and its media lapdogs has defined it as a christian bigot swipe against the rights of homosexuals to compel a bakery to bake a wedding cake with two grooms — or two brides, as it may be — on top.

I've already made my position on this so clear as to be transparent: the Constitution conveys no power of the [federal] government to control who can and who cannot be married, and therefore, because of Section 1 of the 14thAM, neither can the states' governments; ergo, gays cannot be legitimately denied the right to a future divorce, and laws [state or federal ] which prevent it must be voided … if our courts were to obey the Constitution.  But the Constitution also does not convey any power of the [federal] government to compel a business owner to do business with someone he doesn't want to do business with and therefore [etc] neither can the states'; ergo, if a bakery, florist, photographer, et cetera, doesn't want to be hired into gay nuptials, no power can legitimately compel him there, and laws which do must also be voided … if our courts were, again, to obey the Constitution.  Let the business risk bankruptcy.  It's the owner's business if he wants to deliberately turn away the business of homosexuals and the growing legions of their family, friends and other sympathizers … which includes me.

Lining up to predictably, if tediously, spout their own self-pitying tears and denounce Indiana as christian bigots are the usual liberal suspects in politics and Hollywood, but also Angie of Angie's List fame which is foregoing plans to expand its internet service to Indiana [because Indiana obviously doesn't yet have an Internet Service Provider], and the band Wilco which I'd never heard of until it made headlines by cancelling its Indianapolis concert over the matter.

The mayor of Seattle and the governor of Washington have imposed travel bans of municipal and state employees to Indiana in the performance of official business.  My guess is that this move is designed to be symbolic, as I would hope — for the fiscal sake of Seattlites and Washingtoners — that the opportunity to perform "official" city or state business in Indiana is vanishingly rare.  Connecticut has followed Washington into pointless spitefulness, and my hopes for fiscal sanity extend to Connecticants as well.

I will do my best to ignore the nation as it descends into the inevitably faddish and boring orgy of sanctimonious accusation and recrimination in this matter.  Instead, I'll use the time to remind everyone of what happened just five short years ago in Oklahoma, and hope that some people will pull their heads out of their asses long enough to stop being hypocrites.  Yes, I know: doubtful.

In response to a group of muslims in, I recall, Oklahoma City asserting the superior authority of islamic Sharia Law over state law in settling the divorce of a muslim couple, the Oklahoma legislature passed, and the Oklahoma governor signed into law, a bill that would prohibit the courts from entertaining the validity of "Sharia or international law" in Oklahoma's state courts.  In the divorce in question, the husband — a muslim — claimed that his wife was duty-bound to submit to the one-sided terms he offered her; the wife, whose muslimity was either gone or never there to begin with, claimed otherwise.  The state court ruled that Sharia Law was superior to Oklahoma's divorce statutes in this case, due to the husband at least being muslim, over the objections of the wife and every sane person in the state.  Soon thereafter, the Oklahoma legislature passed the law designed to prevent this from happening again.

The law which would have prevented further idiocies of this type was later struck down by a federal judge in Oklahoma; the ruling claimed that it would deny muslims their religious freedom manifest in the subjugation of women, even in defiance of state laws which would prevent the subjugation.  The United States apparently cannot deny a person his religion and prevent him from practicing it on those around him, no matter how repressive his religion may be.

Liberals were immediately thrown into a quandry!  Do they support the federal court's ruling as the enlightened validation of muslims?  Or do they denounce the ruling as a benighted backlash against women's rights?  [Liberals were not moved to question whether the entire fiasco impinged upon American constitutional democratic republicanism; liberals don't seem to recognize the concept exists].

Further questions plagued liberals in the aftermath of this federal court ruling: Sharia Law permits — indeed requires — the exclusion of many, many people from the daily activities of good muslims going about their business.  People such as: Jews.  People such as: atheists.  People such as: homosexuals.  Under islamic law, the only people permitted to be treated equally are other muslims, and then only if they are male.  Muslim women are only millimeters above dogs and Jews in second-classhood.

A few liberal contrarians posited the notion that if muslims could subjugate women during a divorce in defiance of state laws prohibiting such, then they could also, as businessmen, deny service to improperly-clad women, atheists at all, Jews not willing to pay double, and — yes — to homosexuals who may wish to rent a canopy for their gay wedding reception from Omar the Oklahoma Tent-Maker.  This denial of service would meet the "religious freedom" mandate of the federal court ruling which asserted that Sharia Law is superior to domestic law when the person desiring the Sharia outcome is a muslim, regardless of who any other party may be.

But these liberal contrarians were immediately shushed by the liberal mainstream.  No, the mainstream claimed, Oklahoma is a conservative, redneck state full of snake-handling bible thumpers and the only reason their legislature passed a law prohibiting Sharia's superiority over state law was because they are religious bigots and racists who hate muslims … even though islam is not a race, but a religion; one cannot be racist toward a religion.  Liberals have a duty to support muslims over a perceived christian majority no matter what backward bigotries muslims impose on everyone around them. …because christian bigotry is far, far worse.  Obviously.

Need proof?  Okay:

Did Angie's List pull out of Oklahoma in 2010, after learning that muslims are permitted, with federal protection, to be religiously free to treat women as chattel?  No.

Did Wilco cancel their Oklahoma concerts, and did their lead singer's wife, actress Megan Mullaly, whose acting style consists of turning every character she ever plays into Megan Mullaly, issue condescending scolds of Oklahoma over muslims there being religiously free to treat Jews as fully-formed second-class citizens?  No.

Did self-satisfied liberal politicians and Hollywood simpletons issue their trite, canned, scripted screeds about the religious intolerance of muslims in their doctrinal denunciation of atheists now permitted to be enacted in Oklahoma under federally-protected Sharia Law?  No.

Did the self-aggrandizing "progressive" governors of various "progressive" states issue pious, sniffling, self-aggrandizing travel bans to Oklahoma in protest of the Oklahoma muslims' religious freedom to deny service to homosexuals that Sharia Law, now protected by federal court ruling, requires?  No.

The liberal mindset, such as it may be, deems it permissible, outright obligatory, to allow muslims to defy local, state and federal laws in their vassal-like treatment of the general [i.e., non-muslim] public required by their religious convictions as a testament to American-style religious freedom, and American-style "tolerance" of different ethno-cultural values.   Yet that same liberal mindset sees any other religion being granted the same privilege as a dog-vomit stew of every bigotry imaginable.

…with one notable exception: anti-christian bigotry.  That bigotry is owned by liberals.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Spotty Thinking


Spotty Thinking
©2015  Ross Williams

 
 

A few thousand people have contracted measles out west, originating from the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, probably from an unimmunized tourist who had the disease and then came into contact with unimmunized Americans in the close quarters of the long lines for Mister Toad's Wild Ride.  C'est la vie!

In this day and age and in this country, measles is more annoyance that anything and, since the advent of HIPPA and Obamacare, a labyrinth of paperwork and an overly costly treatment regimen.  But still, who wants measles?

Throwing gasoline on this ember of semi-social panic is the faux libertarian Republican Senator with presidential aspirations from Kentucky, Rand Paul.  He announced last week that forcing immunizations upon everyone but those with religious exemption is not the business of the government.  He claims it should be each individual's choice — in the case of children, the individual child's parents' choice, I suppose — whether to immunize or not.  He cited as support the thoroughly anecdotal connection between those mandatory immunizations and the onset of autism.  This connection is seen very clearly by Playboy bunny and sometime actress Jenny McCarthy and a handful of those often seen wearing tinfoil hats, but very few others.  Their argument is highly post hoc in foundation and entirely speculative in causation, and as such I tend to scoff and impolitely backbite those who offer it in public.

Yet, autism is very much a first-world medical condition, arising in just the last several decades.  Second- and third-worlders don't get "autism spectrum disorder" and it's not from lack of looking for it, either.  So either something causes first-world children to develop autism in the 2 to 3 year age range, or autism is a maliciously fabricated diagnosis contrived by self-serving doctors seeking to place their names in the Diagnostician Hall of Fame or pad their medical practice with a steady flow of languishing patients.  Don't believe that medical science would stoop so low?  Let me just throw out a few letters: A D H D.

I'm willing, at this point, to assume that autism is indeed real; the questions, then, for anyone who wishes to actually eliminate it rather than rake in money on perpetual treatment of it are:
1] why do first-world children get it and second- and third-world children do not?
2] see question 1?
3] see question 1 again and answer it this time? and finally
4] once you've answered question 1, can you please stop doing to first-world children what you do NOT do to second- and third-world children and which makes those first-world children develop "autism spectrum disorder"?

In the end we may well find that the method of brewing first-world vaccines does indeed cause autism [second- and third-world vaccines are gotten with manufacturing methods cast off by first-world vaccine makers several decades ago], just as Jenny and her legion of loonies have speculated — shrilly, at the tops of their lungs, to all who would listen and even many who would have preferred not to.  Anything is possible at this point.

Hence Rand Paul's declaration that the government has no place mandating immunizations and it should remain voluntary because "he's seen" too many children suffering "debilitating mental disorders" as a result — he is apparently smitten by the ex-quasi-Mrs Jim Carrey.  Because I'm a libertarian [a real libertarian, and not the Republican comb-over that the Pauls represent], my first stop at determining whether the government has a place in the discussion at all, let alone any authority whatsoever, is Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution.  And … nope, I don't see a power of Congress in preventing communicable disease by any method.  And because Congress doesn't have the authority, the 14thAM says the states don't either; the states were incorporated into the Bill of Rights just as all the pseudo-libertarians of the Libertarian Party claim did not happen.

Conclusion: ain't the government's business, at any level of government.  Rand Paul is correct on this, his anecdotal reasoning notwithstanding.

Regardless, Paul's position on this has caused an epidemic of "medical establishment" and Liberal political backlash.  I find it ironic to the point of hypocrisy that Liberals, the self-declared political philosophy of freedom of choice in this nation, would be against the freedom of choice in the matter of childhood immunizations.  It couldn't be that they want choice only for themselves and that everyone else must submit to government intrusion, could it?

Perish the thought.

And the argument put up by the medical establishment is full of as many intellectual holes as Jenny McCarthy's anti-vax reasoning.  Celebrity doctors are calling Paul's voluntary communicable disease vaccination stand "irresponsible".  My question is, why?  They're doctors; they know better than to make such statements.  …or perhaps, since they're only celebrity doctors, appearing only on television news shows and holding no office hours and having no patients, they have gotten so out of scientific practice that they no longer know better.

In any event, the "vaccinations cause autism" theory is not widely held, and the vast vast vast majority of parents would end up immunizing their children anyway; the anti-vax cohort is, at last count, a significantly smaller group than the Christian Scientist sect which is religiously exempt from mandatory vaccination programs.  In the mathematics of socio-political policy-making, we are discussing statistical noise here.

Children not immunized from these once-dangerous-but-with-modern-medicine-merely-annoying diseases will be susceptible to measles and diphtheria and pertussis … and those who are immunized will not be, and it will be a self-contained outbreak among the nonvaccinated; the general population will be safe.  Serves them right … right?

…unless, of course, those who were immunized are still susceptible to these communicable diseases, in which case we must consider the notion that perhaps the vaccinations aren't as omnipotent as the self-serving medical establishment [not to mention the self-serving, bloated and imperious government] makes them out to be.  If vaccinations aren't effective at preventing disease and it becomes "irresponsible" to deliberately not immunize because the risk to the immunized general population is too great, then [and I shall pull a method of proof from the Global Warming gang] the merest possibility of vaccination causing autism is justification enough to not simply leave vaccination voluntary, but to eliminate it altogether.  By force, "regardless of cost", if we are to complete the Global Warming thought train down to their Pascalean caboose.

The latest I've read, the Disneyland measles outbreak came back to Arizona with an American vacationer, and there are now something like 8,000 cases [or suspected cases] of measles among the vaccinated Americans in the Grand Canyon State.  If I've done my math right, the ratio of infection among the immunized population in Arizona is just about the same as any "under-developed" world outbreak of the same disease among the never-vaccinated.  Which suggests either that vaccines don't work to begin with — in which case it is neither responsible nor irresponsible to refuse vaccination and "Doctor" Sanjay Gupta is blowing fart gas — or the effectiveness of vaccination wears off over time, in which case an argument for booster shots every quarter century or so can be made.  If "Doctor" Sanjay Gupta was a true medical professional he would have made that argument instead, and left his tear-stained tirade off the public airwaves.

I'm willing to accept that medical science does not irretrievably have its head up its own ass even if its talking heads on television do, and that vaccines work although they may wear out.  But, since I'm still a libertarian, and there is still no provision in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution granting the US government the power to mandate it, and because the 14thAM limits the states' power to those powers granted to the US government and therefore the states cannot mandate it either, getting those quarter-century measles boosters must remain a voluntary thing.  Any measles outbreaks will thereupon be confined to those who:
1] don't get immunized at all for whatever reason, and
2] those who don't want to get their boosters.

And … serves them right.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I Can't Breathe, Either


I Can't Breathe, Either
©2015  Ross Williams

 

 

A sputtering war against law enforcement and governmental authority in general was given a little unnecessary prodding last year.  It's taken me a while to synthesize the mess into what I think is now a cogent scold upon the folks who are feeling all smug about themselves.  Which is to say, the legal establishment, the police, the liberal nanny-statists, and in one notable example the racial minorities, … virtually all of those feeling wronged in some way by what's going on.

I can't remember how many times I've had to say this and yet it doesn't sink in: using law to "solve" a "problem"  does one of two things, and usually both:
1] it creates a new class of bureaucrats to nose around in everyone else's business;
2] it creates a new class of criminal needing punishment from the legal system.

What good is a law if there is no penalty for violating it?  Ergo, violators will be prosecuted.  That makes people into criminals.  In order to determine if there are violators of the law, a group of people need to be given the job of determining if the citizenry is properly conducting their affairs.  This means creating a group of governmental busibodies.  It doesn't matter what the law is.  The Obamacare law created around 45 million criminals overnight, just a year ago.  That is the number of uninsured Americans who defied the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance by midnight on the last day of 2013.  Not buying health insurance is against the law — the law which is enforced by the IRS, by the way, not that Obamacare is a tax or anything.
 
What happens to a society where much, if not most, of what a person does is, or potentially is, in violation of some kind of law or other is that the society becomes criminalized.  Not having health insurance is a crime.  Letting your dog out the front door in the morning without staking it down is a crime.  Buying cigarettes in one state where the tobacco taxes are low to sell for a profit in the next state where the tobacco taxes are astronomical is a crime.  Not wearing a seat belt and doing other genuinely stupid things is a crime.  Yes, stupidity is a crime — we have guaranteed the criminality of 100% of the population.  The more police or other government agencies are used to enforce these laws upon people, the less respect people will have for the government … and the policing forces of that government.

The less respect people have for the cops and the government, the more likely it will be for the deranged loonies to start picking off individuals within the government.  I said in an essay relating the Congressman Giffords shooting in Arizona that the ones who created the landscape for this sort of stammering insurrection are those who are whimpering about being targeted by the loonies.  And I mentioned that it's difficult to tell who's a loony and who isn't because what the loony says is largely correct.

If TSA doesn't want people criticizing them as sexual abusers and forcible pornographers, then they should stop groping old ladies and pornoscoping the rest.  If the IRS doesn't want people flying airplanes into their offices for being excessive and highhanded, then they should stop being excessive and highhanded.  It's extremely difficult to tell who deserves sympathy when loonies take out the people abusing their authority in this country.  …in this FREE country where you are not permitted to be searched without a warrant [it is the warrant which identifies the reason, and therefore the reasonableness, for the search] and where we are required to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around.

This means quite a lot of crime we now solve will necessarily go unsolved.  But what's the alternative?  The alternative is to treat everyone as a criminal — which is pretty much standard procedure for government in America today.  Think about the last time you were pulled over for doing 43 in a 35 [or in my case, it was doing 43 in a 25 in a little pissant speedtrap town a few miles north of me, where I was maybe going 19 because I had been stuck behind a slow diesel pickup hauling a cattle trailer for the previous 2 miles.  My daughter was late for her girl scout bowling event and even she was griping about being delayed by this truck crawling down the road.  But in order to fight the ticket, I'd have had to take her out of school and her mother was not amenable to that.  "Just pay the fine!  Why does everything have to be an issue with you?"]

Rather than just writing the damned ticket — deserved or otherwise — and being done with the encounter in about 45 seconds, what do the cops do?  They recite a list of activities and movements you are not permitted to make, and if you make any of them you will be placed under arrest or at least have a gun shoved in your face; you'll have the cop's face in your face in any event so he can sniff your breath; you are checked for seat belts and passengers ditto; your insurance is checked; your registration is checked; your license plate is "run"; your name and social security number and/or drivers license number is "run".   This process takes up to twenty minutes, and it must be done [they say] because "don't you realize how many criminals are caught in routine traffic stops?!?"

Yes, a handful, maybe a whole three-digits' worth nationwide each year … out of probably a few hundred million "routine traffic stops".  Do the math on that.  Is it worth treating several million Americans like criminals [many of them multiple times] in order to catch a few hundred shoplifters and check kiters?  The Constitutional answer, of course, is no.  But citizens are treated worse than criminals, actually, because much of the indignity of a traffic stop is not permitted in a maximum security prison without reams of signed permission slips that the traffic cop doesn't have.  Sadly, our legal thinkers believe large parts of our Constitutional rights apply only to criminals or criminal suspects, and merely being pulled over for crawling through town behind a cattle carrier because Deppity Fife was not up to his quota doesn't earn me certain of my rights.  It would make it too difficult for the cop to do his job.

Here's the thing: governing a free people is supposed to be difficult.  If governance is easy, the next stop is tyranny.  Crack a history book.  There is no government, ever, in the history of mankind, which started out by imposing hardships on the ability of the government to govern where that government, by increment, over generations, failed to make it easier to govern until it could govern at will and thereafter become a dictatorship.  In democracies like Greece, or democratic republics like Rome, this process took between 200 and 300 years.  We are right on schedule.

Among the scheduled activities predicted by the history books is increased armed conflict directed at the law enforcers in the increasingly tyrannical society.  Sure enough, there've been a handful of loonies shooting cops recently.  I'm not surprised.  Not in the slightest.

I take that back: yes I am.  What I'm surprised about, though, is that it took this long; I was anticipating a galvanizing event to inspire cop-targeting several years ago.

In July of last year, a fat black guy with multiple health problems [and an arrest record mostly for doing what he was stopped and questioned for, but who was otherwise "law-abiding"] was stopped and questioned by New York City cops for selling single cigarettes on the streets of the Big Apple.  Selling loose cigarettes — "loosies" — is illegal.  …because tobacco is highly taxed in New York State [$13/pack, I've heard; not carton … pack], and if someone from da Bronx were to, say, take a cab over to Joisey and buy, say again, a few dozen cartons of cigarettes for the modest price of $50 because New Jersey's tobacco taxes are significantly lower, and then bring them back to NYC and sell individual smokes at a dollar a stick because the customer doesn't have the $13 it takes to buy a pack … that's called "black marketing".  You are not paying the New York taxes in your commercial transaction in New York, and that is illegal.

It is also free enterprise in any nation based on freedom, but that no longer includes us here in the US.

At any rate, Eric Garner, the fat black guy with multiple health problems, was selling loosies when he was approached by cops … like he had been many times before.  The cops repeatedly told him they were not arresting him, but they continued to pester him regardless.

Why?  If the guy isn't going to be arrested, then … cops … here's what you do: leave him the hell alone.  Selling loose cigarettes is illegal regardless of their source and he could have been arrested for it, but the cops made a decision not to do so.  But the cops couldn't leave it at that.  Garner, who'd been arrested multiple times for "black marketing" loosies was irate about being pestered and he mouthed off at the cops.  The boy's got a First Amendment; mouthing off is permitted, and … cops … if you're going to be increasingly in the faces of the public for violating any of the bazillion laws there are to enforce, you'd better expect to hear quite a bit of citizen jawing.  Just a head's up.

 After Garner started mouthing off the cops attempted to calm him … by touching him and pushing him [albeit gently at this point] to the side and "out of the way".  Of what?  Who knows.  Was it necessary?  Not at all.  It was a situation created completely by the cops who were "not going to arrest him" but yet somehow couldn't manage to leave the guy alone.

At this point, Garner began "resisting".  Resisting what?  Being pushed around by cops … which they are not permitted to do when they are not making an arrest; Garner was therefore not committing a crime by "resisting".  You cannot "resist arrest" unless you are being arrested.  At almost all other times there is no enforceable requirement to cooperate with the police.  The police on the scene were constructing a confrontation out of whole cloth.

At this point, the cops attempted to subdue Garner … for "resisting"  what the cops had no business doing in the first place if they were not going to arrest him for selling loosies … and they subdued him by using a choke hold.  A choke hold is a type of maneuver used in professional wrestling [where it's called a "sleeper" hold] and its street-fighting homage where you lock your arm around someone's throat from behind tight enough to cut off circulation to the head and the guy passes out.   Only in Garner's case, a fat guy with multiple health problems, it caused him to go into cardiac failure and die.

His last words were "I can't breathe," which was technically false since he was talking, but someone having a heart attack from the unnecessary physical ruckus created by cops abusing their power and deliberately creating a confrontation … we can forgive a dying man his mistaken impression.

Garner was killed by the cops, and for no good reason.  Tax collection.

Do I really need to spell out the lessons to be learned here?  Do I really need to question why, when the history books are chock full of examples and when one example is from the infancy of our own nation itself, anyone in this country needs to have those lessons spelled out for him … again?

The more laws you make the more law-breakers you make.  Some laws are necessary for a society to operate smoothly and the government must exercise its power to enforce them; other laws are only necessary for a government to exercise its power and don't, in themselves, make a society operate manifestly more smoothly; they simply create a criminal class which it typically becomes fashionable to pillory, usually for the purpose of extracting their money.  These laws exist solely to make the government more powerful.

When the laws whose purpose is to make the government more powerful overtake in perceived importance the laws which make the society operate more smoothly, the people begin to get agitated.  When enough people are agitated they start throwing things — first, usually, are unkind words, followed by anonymous sticks and rocks, and then non-anonymous sticks and rocks, and then bullets, and then worse.

Seriously, crack a history book.  Our country was founded as a more or less direct result of ridiculously excessive taxes on various consumer goods starting famously with tea, and the refusal of a group of malcontents to pay them.  Ridiculously excessive taxes on tobacco?  Malcontents refusing to pay them?  Ridiculously excessive [to the point of being psychotic] taxes on health care?  And 45 million refusing, as of midnight, December 31st 2013, to pay them?  Stop me if you've heard this one before.  This cannot end well, and I amazed that so many people can't figure that out for themselves.

We have seen bullets and cars used as projectiles lobbed at cops just in the last month, taking a few cops' lives, all emanating from this [and another, still procedurally abusive, but markedly different] event.  I've said it before: tolja so.

This other event occurred maybe 25 miles from my house, in the month following the Eric Garner travesty.  And sadly, it is the one that is galvanizing the stammering insurrection.  This is sad, because it is inarguably the one event that the cop, himself, was largely justified in doing what he did.

In Ferguson Missouri, two black male youths boosted a handful of crap from a convenience store/gas station one night last August.  Extremely minor petty theft.  The clerk called the cops with a description.  Later that evening, a white cop saw two youths walking down the middle of the street.  The cop [in his car] approached and told the kids to move to the sidewalk.  The youths mouthed off — which they are permitted to do, frankly.  It appears to have been at this point that the cop noticed that the two were a match to the shoplifters, down to the unique color of their socks, and that they even were carrying the very items that were reported stolen.  The cop retreated and called for backup and while waiting, the youths approached the cop [still in his car] reached through the window to grab the cop's gun and one [reportedly] informed the cop "You're too much of a pussy to shoot me".  A struggle ensued, the cop won the struggle [finally, after getting beaten in the face and shot in the hand by his own gun], and one kid was shot … multiple times, when once would arguably have sufficed; this kid was killed.

Here's a hint to any petty thieves who don't want to die for a crime that would net a $200 fine.  If you're going to boost crap, don't walk down the middle of the street afterward.  If you're going to walk down the middle of the street afterward and a cop tells you to move to the sidewalk, say, "Oh, yeah, sorry" and then do it.  If you can't find the sidewalk as requested, don't show him the stuff you stole.  If you must show him the stuff you stole thus making him request the assistance of other cops to come arrest your stupid ass, don't saunter over to his car before they get there and compound your future problems by trying to boost his gun while demeaning his masculinity.  Why does this need to be explained?

The pathetic thing is, this event — constructed by the youthful thieves and not the cops — is being cited as a "Civil Rights Moment" by the activists who have not yet emerged from the 1950s.  I've heard comparisons of the use of police force in Ferguson to that used in Selma.   … because the blacks in Selma obviously poured gasoline all over themselves, set themselves on fire, and then started bawling when firehoses were used to put them out.  Being washed down the street was just a side-effect.

Race-baiters demanded the criminal prosecution of the cop, and everyone from the locals to the feds is falling in line to do it.  The St Louis Country prosecutor, though, Bob McCulloch [in the six-degrees of separation game, I stand at two; Wall-Eye Bob is the friend of a former boss of mine] refused to do his job of looking at the credible evidence and declining to prosecute; he washed his hands of responsibility and referred the matter to a grand jury.  But McCulloch didn't use soap; he entirely forgot [or ignored] what he ever learned about the grand jury process in law school.

The purpose of a grand jury is to determine if there is enough positive evidence of criminal wrongdoing that could be taken to trial; a grand jury is a one-sided event by its nature.  That's why grand juries are not public.  A grand jury is not to compare and contrast the positive evidence against the exculpatory evidence, nor to provide reasonable doubt.  Those are matters for the defense attorney to handle at trial.  McCulloch's grand jury was, in effect, a closed-door trial with McCulloch acting as defense attorney despite his duty to prosecute.

Despite this prosecutorial misconduct, there was no crime committed by the cop that could be prosecuted.  McCulloch needed to pull on his big-boy pants and make that decision himself without punting to a circus grand jury that he was ringmaster of.  The only evidence suggesting there was a crime was provided by the other petty thief.  All eye witnesses and all physical evidence deny his claim that the pair were innocently attempting to surrender themselves for shoplifting and were instead attempting to mug an armed cop.  When you do that, you'll likely get shot, and one of them did.

However, there are lessons to be learned here, as well.  Chief among them is that when you have too many laws and too many interactions between citizens and cops [or between citizens and other bossy, intrusive, self-righteous officials with impunity and, typically, insufferable smugness], … even if the cop is justified in this one incident, far too many people are going to be remembering the 100 other incidents where the cop or other official was simply being a self-important asshole, and they are going to refuse to give the benefit of the doubt, let alone believe the evidence.  They will, instead, as they've done in the aftermath of Ferguson, construct themselves a tidy conspiracy theory holding that the physical evidence was fabricated, and all the witnesses except the other thief lied.  And then they'll use this conspiracy theory to justify rioting and burning and looting and wetting their panties in public.  …or to get out of college finals a half a continent away because they are just too "traumatized" by a kid who tried to mug a cop being killed in the effort.

This is a "cry wolf" moment for our form of governance.  If we are to be a free people, then the government must leave us the hell alone in virtually all circumstances; stop making excuses to pester the people.  Because if you can stop, then when the government does deign to pester us for one of the remaining valid reasons they are permitted to pester, the chances that anyone, let alone whole demographics, will fly off the handle in exaggerated response will be virtually nil.  However, cops [and other bossy, etc officials] pester citizens routinely, and for everything from selling individual cigarettes in the face of moronic taxes to seat belts to licenses for selling homemade cupcakes to too much toothpaste in your carry-on to health insurance to a dog that pees on a neighbor's tree.  As a result, I'm sorry, but people are bound to not be terribly sympathetic to the government position when incidents such as Ferguson happen.  The Ferguson cop was correct, but many people don't want to hear it, and therefore they won't.  They are simply too fed up with the rest of the government bullying to listen.  And I don't blame them; I'm fed up with it, too.

But the final scold goes to the very people who are the most critical of the government and their enforcers in these [and a handful of other recent] events.  These people are the idiot liberals, the ones who irrationally, without any supporting evidence and whole libraries full of proof to the contrary, believe that government is a valid means of fixing social predicaments and particularly, with respect to these incidents, they are the minorities in our nation.
 
Need airline "safety"? have the government treat everyone like a terrorist until they prove they aren't.  Want toys that don't choke babies? have the government design toys.  Tired of seeing people die in car wrecks? have the government force people into seat belts.  Don't want people making snide comments about your ethnicity? have the government create politeness guidelines the breaking of which is seen as a violation of the "civil right" to be uninsulted if you are a racial or ethnic minority.

One question, folks … how in the hell do you think the government can do these wondrous and magical things?

The answer is: force.  If people do not voluntarily comply with the reams of rules put out by our governments, they will be forced to comply.  In either event, the use of force is either manifest or threatened.  People with guns, or bossy people in suits holding laminated ID badges who can call the people with guns, will make you do what they tell you to do whether you want to do it or not, whether it's any of their business or not, whether they are allowed to or not, and whether we were designed to live like that or not.  It will always, always, always boil down to the folks with guns forcing you to do what they tell you to do.  It doesn't matter if it's some guy trying to make a buck selling loose cigarettes to beat an outlandish morality tax, or some arrogant kid who boosted a QuikTrip trying to beat down the guy there to arrest him for it, it's people with guns using force.

In the nation we were intended to live in, only a very very very small fraction of that force is legitimate.  Stopping petty thievery, yes.  Stopping street peddling, no.  But when you insist that the government solve all our problems, even problems that really aren't problems, the way you liberals have, the government will stop seeing the necessary distinctions between these circumstances, and they will treat them all identically as even you are now realizing, as just another opportunity to use force to make people do what they say.

I did not want the government to solve all these problems, because I know that the government's only method of solving problems is to turn a whole lot more of us into criminals that need to be forced to obey their stupid rules.  YOU are the ones who wanted the government to solve all these problems; the use of force — which you are now whining is "excessive", which it often [but not always] is — is a direct result of YOUR demands.  Not mine.

YOU did this.  Don't forget that.