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.

Location: Illinois, United States

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Big Brother is Phoning You

Big Brother is Phoning You
© 2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Bad Gums Linked to Erectile Dysfunction

Article synopsis: A series of conjectures proposed by doctors and dentists drinking heavily at a medical convention to explain the correlation between ED, heart disease, and periodontitis arrived at this less-than-coincidental conclusion.

How’s this instead: Women don’t always mind men grunting and sweating on top of them, but start drawing the line at grunting, sweating, bleeding from the gums and dying from a coronary on top of them.

This is an example of a news story that doesn’t need to be. A study shows a correlation and nothing else. There is no research into the mechanisms of the correlation, and the bulk of the article is devoted to identifying the avenues of bickering among those who now have to deal with non-medical people coming up to them and asking why their love life’s gone south when they don’t have cavities.

Conclusion: Too many journalists, not enough to journal.

Headline: Can Science Save the Tasmanian Devil

Article synopsis: A disease [devil facial tumor disease] is wiping out up to 90% of the marsupial populations in some portions of its Tasmanian range – they are expected to be extinct in the wild within ten years. Geneticists are now mapping the genome of the animal in an effort to preserve it; some geneticists are demanding that a “diverse” population be mapped so that future Tasmanian devils can better withstand diseases.

Uh: ... like Devil Facial Tumor Disease? Like that you mean? Or do you mean other diseases, ones that are not quite so extinctifying?

There’s quite a lot of research to indicate that cancers are spread by viruses and this appears to be no exception: this cancer is transmissible from devil to devil. And as biologists with their evolutionary theorizing have been saying for a dozen decades now, a species that cannot withstand the onslaught of the world is destined for extinction.

Conclusion: The devil’s number seems to be up. Study it if you want, but heroic lengths to save a miserable egg-laying rat or bring it back from extinction would seem to be throwing good science down an egg-laying rat hole.

Headline: US Officials: No Known Terror Threat Tied to July 4

Article synopsis: There is no credible information to support Department of Homeland Security paranoias.

Here’s why: Apart from paranoia being a baseless fear in the first place, in addition to the primary purpose behind the existence of DHS being to scare the pants off a majority of Americans a majority of the time in order to justify further federal power-grasping, there are these considerations:

1] to the degree that we are paranoid about al Qaida alone, it is and always has been a group of rank amateurs which aimed high and got lucky. They are misfits even among the “terrorist” class of third world hooligans. They were inept but popular with bin Laden at the helm; they will be ept[er] but unpopular with Doc Ayman in charge. Any attacks anticipated as a result of offing Osama would have been local [to Asia and Africa] and characterized by a strong resemblance to teen-aged vandalism – amateur hooligans in a fit of pique don’t often do good work.

2] to the degree that we are worried about any group of anti-Western non-state militias taking aim at us, they are predominantly interested in destabilizing what they view as the 51st US state, Israel. But more important than this at the moment is that between a fourth and third of the muslim-dominated nations are currently embroiled in pesky populist revolts in which the “terrorists” have a seriously vested interest in the outcome.

Many of the nations in revolt have given back- [or fore-] handed support to non-state militias – if that support is not duplicated in the future government, the non-state militias will be left to throw rocks and pointy sticks at Israel. Others of the nations in revolt do not currently support non-state militias and those militias see an opportunity to breed new state sponsors of their Israel as bellwether for Western demise philosophy.

Conclusion: “Terrorists” are otherwise occupied and don’t, in general, merit the current emphasis we place on them regarding our “ongoing layered security apparatus”. In fact, our “ongoing layered security apparatus” has the distinction of effecting the “terrorists’” aims without them lifting a finger. A $25 attack which fails is met by $100 billion of technological response that causes more citizen disruption, and anger and resentment toward our own government than if the attack had been successful. Why kill 12 and injure 67 by blowing up Times Square when you can infuriate 10,000 by making the feds implement more paranoid policies?

Headline: Obama Administration to Make Calls to Set-up Fake Doctor's Appointments

Article synopsis: The feds have budgeted $350,000 – a drop in the fiscal bucket – to test doctors and hospitals to see if they have different responses to new patients with private health insurance versus those with public health insurance – i.e., Medicare or Medicaid. A “mystery shopper” with a scripted set of symptoms and a phone number that would not show up on caller-ID would book an appointment over the phone having private insurance, then call back with the same symptoms and public insurance. Then he’d call back and admit to being a federal Alan Funt. There was no indication whether the appointment slots would be cancelled after the reveal.

As if it needs to be said: The current government insurance schemes – Medicare and Medicaid – have failed to pay enough doctors that many medical organizations now refuse to take new patients having only those benefits. If a doctor can’t get paid why should he do the work?

The government, currently vested in its Obamacare fiasco, is desperate to ensure, however, that doctors care for patients whether the doctor gets paid or not. Obamacare depends on it. Without that guarantee of doctors performing gratis, Obamacare will suffer the same results as Medicare and Medicaid suffer, and which is accused of occurring only within the realm of private health insurance: rationing medical care by refusing to pay for services.

The primary difference between private and public health insurance, though, is that private insurance tells the doctor up front which procedures are covered and which are not and, in my case, in which order. Public health insurance claims all things are covered and then simply doesn’t pay for it afterward.

Conclusion: Public policy which can only be implemented by coercive blackmail is a public policy straight out of Orwell. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Unpaid illness is healthcare … when the government unpays it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

None of the Above

None of the Above
© 2011 Ross Williams

Despite my best efforts I couldn’t avoid the headlines this morning.

Politics is a waste of time and effort. The Republicans-who-would-succeed-Barama had a get-together last night to explain to us what was wrong with each of them, but to mostly gang up on Barama. They have plenty of ammunition for both activities, and I’m a little surprised they could yack and jabber about all the available faults in such a short amount of time.

They deserve credit for their remarkable brevity if nothing else.

All morning long I’ve been subjected to radio and internet news soundbiting the “debate” and describing how Barack Obama was the main target of criticism among the future Republican primary opponents, as if the purpose of the general election sixteen month from now is to be the most anti-Barama candidate around. Speaking as not-a-fan of Barama, I’d prefer the most reasonably anti-Barama candidate; it is not enough to quibbledick for the sake of quibbledicking. We had eight years of retarded Democrats doing that to Bush. If Bush had said two plus two equaled four, Democrats would say, “Nope! Five!” out of principle. ...as if being deliberately wrong for political spite is a principled quality worth electing.

Hint: it ain’t. Bush was right about quite a number of things – a reality Democrats cannot bring themselves to concede today any more than they could six years ago.

Just like Obama is right about some things. The fact that he’s also wrong about a lot more – and a lot bigger issues – doesn’t alter the fact that he’s still right about some. Because of that, I do not want a knee-jerk anti-Barama. I want someone with the perspective and knowledge to be able to discern between where Barry Hussein is right and where Barry Hussein is wrong. ...and where he’s simply posing for his statue, which he does altogether too frequently.

A short list ... a very short list ... of Barama’s faults [in policy] include, but are not limited to, the following:

1] the administration’s response to our slow-motion economic train wreck. If the economic problems in our country were exacerbated by Bush billowing our national debt by $500 Billion a year for several straight years [and it was] then the rational response is not to double that by adding $1 Tr.. Tr.. Trillion a year to it as Barama has done. It is to stop finding excuses to spend money we don’t have. Why does this even need to be explained to some people?

2] you don’t hang our country’s friends out to dry for any reason. Not if they’re pseudo-democratic dictators like Mubarak; not if they’re pesky Jews who are rude to the Palestinian hooligan neighbors you like who have been single-mindedly attempting to finally solve the Jewish State Question for over 60 years ... you don’t do it.

2]a] you don’t spend six years criticizing high-handed international bullying when “the enemy” does it, and then turn around and do it yourself. Barama ... Bush. Libya ... Iraq. Both are American bullying, but only one of each had cease fire violations to fall back on. Technicalities count; the world revolves around technicalities.

3] When the nation and the world needs a fiscally moderate United States to stabilize worldwide monetary fluctuations and misvaluations, you don’t give the US and the world Obamacare. Besides every shred of evidence available on the subject of government-run health coverage showing unmistakably that it does not work, it is a cost that cannot be covered without printing more money based on sovereign value that doesn’t exist, and which China owns the lion’s share of. What do we do for an encore? mandate Mandarin in grade school? Is that “forward thinking” for the new millennium?

It is with Obamacare that this morning’s major headline that I couldn’t avoid is concerned. The Republican candidates are all against Obamacare – with good reason. But one of those candidates, when he was the governor of Massachusetts some time back, gave his state the same program. The political result is that most Republicans line up to take pot shots at the ex-governor of Massachusetts for criticizing Obamacare when he created Romneycare.

Since most politicians are loyyers I know better than to ask if they’ve ever read the Constitution. Of course they did; they’ve all had at least one class in the subject. I’m left having to ask a few other questions instead:
- did they pass the course?
- do they remember anything about it? and
- have they suffered a traumatic brain injury or otherwise acquired long-term memory loss?

Apart from every scrap of experiential evidence declaring that government-run health coverage schemes do not work any better than privately-run schemes, the arguments against Obamacare include this most important consideration:

It is not among the allowed duties or obligations of the federal government to regulate health coverage.

In other words, it’s not their job. Technicalities still count as much as ever.

But a question may, for some, remain: is it, then, anyone’s job?

Interestingly, the Constitution that the Republican field either failed to learn, forgot about, or had cold-cocked from their skulls has an answer for that:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So the answer is: the states have the power to muck about in government-run health coverage if they choose to defy reality and lose money by providing an inept service at bloated costs. Since Massachusetts is a state, and its governor was spearheading a state-policy that the US Constitution allows to the states by failing to define it as a federal authority, the ex-governor of Massachusetts does not deserve much of the criticism he’s been given for enacting health coverage in his state.

Instead, he deserves criticism for enacting a policy that has shown itself to merely be inept non-improvement on the available alternatives.

The feds can’t, but the states can. If the states don’t want to, then we can, individually. That’s what our Constitution was written to promote. Yet that’s what not one current politician of either party has the perspective or knowledge [or gumption, for that matter] to understand.

We’ve been steeped for so long in the bilious brew that claims the feds can ... whatever they want to. It seems that most have leapt from “feds can” to “feds should” or – among the Republicans, on this issue – “feds should not” without even bothering to look at the rules. The discussion does not properly belong in “should” versus “should not”; with the Constitution worded the way it is, the discussion is entirely between “can” and “cannot”.

And sadly, the one potential candidate who is in the position to advocate for state-run health coverage because it’s allowed and against US-run health coverage because it’s not doesn’t even understand the rules of the government he wishes to lead well enough to know the difference.

Those who had to read the Constitution for professional education have uniformly disavowed themselves of that Constitution after entering their profession. It’s going to be another in a long line of third party votes from me.

They Fought the Law

They Fought the Law
© 2011 Ross Williams

My most recent airport encounter with the blue-shirted Brown Shirts was uneventful. In some ways this is disappointing. If it ever comes down to it, I am an opt-outer. And a bump-n-grinder. The whole process is phenomenally offensive, insulting, degrading and humiliating anyway, what’s better than a little one on one time to return the favor?

My wife, also an opt-outer but not one for such public spectacle, believes it would be more effective if I were to break down and scream “No Father Dan! That’s a bad touch!” much like the woman in Phoenix recently did. But in the ensuing investigation of the matter, not even the feckless feds would be fooled for long with my latter-day priest molestation trauma bubbling up to the surface. I am not Catholic – not even lapsed – and I wouldn’t be able to hold together the backstory.

But I have a phenomenally perverted mind, and I’m highly profane, and so a lewd pole dance complete with x-rated sound track is completely in my character. It is, in fact, difficult for me to not be profane, and I printed out the “Civil Rights For Passengers” page from the official TSA.gov propaganda page in case anything were to occur necessitating my unfettered use of my First Amendment while TSA was in the process of obliterating my Fourth. Go with your strength, always, and cover your bases.

The strength of Texas is their independence. But they caved in at the first signs of pressure. Cowards.

Texas was in the process – so common in recent years among states sick and tired of feds not doing what they’re required to do and leaving states holding the bag, and states fed up with the feds doing, instead, what they are not allowed to do and infuriating everyone – of passing a pointless law that would have no real effect except to inform the federal government, “Yo! Assholes! We’re watching you and we do not like what we see, not even a little bit!

What they had started doing was to work on a Texas state law that would prohibit a TSA agent from “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” touching the junk of an airline passenger without probable cause.

The bill passed the Texas House unanimously, and was set for the Texas Senate where it would face a similar reception, only to have the craven Lt Governor request a delay in the vote to await a letter being written by the US Attorney’s office responsible for their US Federal Court district.

It’s an interesting thing about this bill and what it would prohibit. It would prohibit what TSA vehemently denies their agents ever, ever do ... if anyone else were to do them, it would be considered sexual molestation. But a federal agent who is, often, little more than a high school graduate with a few days of training, it is “security”. ...and yet, TSA denies flatly that their agents ever do what the Texas law would prohibit. It would be a waste of legislation according to every claim made by TSA, its DHS handlers, and the entire rest of the federal government. TSA does not touch junk. Period.

So TSA, DHS and the rest of the feds should have no problem with Texas making TSA junk-touching a misdemeanor, should they? They don’t have a problem with laws already on the books that make TSA agents using their authorities to open luggage as an opportunity to steal property – which has happened a few thousand times. Stealing is not part of TSA’s mandate; neither is sexual molestation. TSA should have no problem with any state outlawing what TSA doesn’t do.

If TSA doesn’t murder passengers, they should have no problem with Texas prohibiting TSA from murdering passengers.

It would be a pointless law, passed for the purpose of Making a Statement®.

Furthermore, if, by some wild stretch of a fevered imagination, some TSA agent in Texas were to, say, cop a feel of what they never, ever feel and Texas Rangers were to arrest that agent, it wouldn’t be two hours before a federal judge would void the arrest and the agent would be free as a bird. He’d be back at work on his next shift as smug as ever; smugger, if it were possible. Where else can a putz with a GED grope complete strangers with impunity? and in public?

...keeping in mind that they never, ever grope, of course.

It’s a whole lot of nuthin. No problem.

Well, the letter from the US Attorney arrived. It was petulant and sneering as everyone familiar with loyyers on the government payroll might have expected. It was disagreeable as everyone might have expected. And it also made farcical claims as everyone might have expected, but as some of us continue to be disappointed with.

It claimed that the Texas law – if it passed and was signed – would “interfere” with the duties of TSA agents. This is preposterous. First, as TSA itself says: TSA does not do what the Texas law would have prohibited. Second, even if an agent were to do what was proscribed and was arrested for it, the arrest would be nullified by the first federal judge available and in as little time as it would take to fax a motion to the Federal District Court, and fax back a signed order. In the end, it would be business as usual for the TSA and the Texas law would have nothing to say to it.

The letter from the US Attorney also – and what a surprise this was – threatened Texas with decertification of all their airports with scheduled passenger service if the Texas Senate passed the law. Even though this is not in the powers [or authorities] of the US Attorney’s office, it’s not too hard to imagine that the federal ranks would close around the upstart state and DHS would instruct Transportation Department to declare Texas passenger air traffic unsecure, and no one would be allowed to fly into or out of Texas airspace.

Now, I’m certain that the US Attorney, not to mention the clueless pinhead Janet Napolitano, would see this move as Texas’s just desserts with no downside to the official federal position. They couldn’t be more wrong if that’s what they believe.

There would certainly be ramifications for Texas apart from any bureaucratic sanctions placed upon the state by peevish federal wonks. For one, it would annoy a hell of a lot of Texans trying to leave the state. For two, it would annoy a lot of non-Texans trying to enter the state.

For three, it would annoy the airlines who would have to cancel their Texas flights and lose revenue because of it. Not to mention the hotel industry and US tourism in general.

But the official federal position is not so well-received by the American people as federal officials prefer to think it is. The ultimate losers would be the feds. By which I mean TSA.

There are at least four other states currently debating laws similar to the one Texas just scuttled. Utah, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Alaska. A few of those states would look upon the federal strong-arming of Texas as reason enough to follow Texas into the breach. And New Jersey maybe wouldn’t.

I can’t help but be reminded of the federally-imposed 55 mph speed limit dictum in response to the Arab Oil Embargo in the 70s. The federal intention was to make gasoline use more efficient, which is a noble and worthy effort. But it’s not the feds’ job to worry about that, and we are still a constitutional democratic republic – the will of the majority has to count for something.

It was Wyoming then, as I recall, who first bolted. They were willing to forgo the federal highway dollars their participation in the 55 mph limitation gave them; their citizens were simply tired of their long cross-state jaunts taking any longer than they needed to. And one by one, other states followed suit. The Congresscritters and US Senators from those states then put up a bill in Congress to remove the 55 mph maximum thing, and people from the rest of the states then asked, bewildered, “...y’mean we can do that? Just not go along with it? and change the law to allow that?

Why ... yes we can. The way government works in most of the world is that the government tells people what to do and the people have to do it. The way government is supposed to work here in the US is that the people tell the government what to do, and the government has to do it. We’ve been operating, for most of the last century, the way the rest of the world operates, with a bossy, imperious centralized government. We don’t have to.

If Texas were to pass their law – or if Utah, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Alaska were to pass their own – it wouldn’t matter what the federal government did. If the feds whine and pout and make idle threats to passenger air traffic, more states will follow just to be contrary, and the US legislators from those states will be obliged to act in their states’ interest and the TSA experiment in compulsory sexual molestation of the public will be over. If the feds do nothing, then the rest of the states will absolutely follow suit, and TSA will very very quickly find themselves with a new mission, and one with a very different set of guidelines.

Because here’s the thing, TSA: 99.99999% of everyone who gets on an airplane in the US is simply trying to get from point A to point B; that is even more true of the Americans who fly.

Here’s another thing: 99.9999999% of all the crap you steal from passengers is perfectly innocent.

And the conclusion: it’s one thing for you to be paranoid; it’s a waste of energy, time, federal budget and just about everything else you can name, but it’s acceptable to many people as simply government paranoia – it’s what we’ve come to expect from you. It’s a completely different thing when you act on your paranoias by feeling up whoever you want to, whenever you want to, and for whatever reason you can invent. That is offensive, degrading, humiliating and beneath our [and your, frankly] dignity.

People are tired of it.

Yes, you messed with Texas and they backed down. The next state may back down as well. But eventually there will be a state which won’t and your house of cards will tumble around your heads.

You overplayed your hand and the bluff is done. It’s now just a matter of time.