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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Hokey in the Pokey

How to Pass ‘Go’ and Collect $200
©2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Jail Time for Water Claims

Article Synopsis:
European water bottlers will be prevented by a European Union ruling from claiming that water hydrates anyone who drinks it. A three year investigation by EU “scientists” finds no credible evidence that drinking water prevents or treats the medical condition of dehydration. Claiming so in advertisement may cost two years in prison. The British health department disputes the ruling.

How Dry I Am: So ... idiot bureaucrats have declared that water is no longer wet. We might have expected this from a continent steeped in virulently fantastical socialist beliefs. Two plus two has equaled twenty-two for decades in places like Greece and Italy and Spain and ... and ... and ... And we see what it’s doing to them.

Not to mention what it’s doing to us. Whose 401K hasn’t become a 298K in the past several months? Water isn’t wet is just the next step in bureaucratic surrealism. Up is down and black is white have been on the books for a while.

War is peace, slavery is freedom and ignorance is strength will come next. “The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.”

Conclusion: Okay, then. Advertising that water is ... like, water can get you imprisoned in Europe. We’ll be sure not to do that!

Headline: Ohio Woman Faces Jail for Feeding Squirrels

Article Synopsis:
A Kettering Ohio woman has a court hearing scheduled in December for two counts of criminal trespassing in her over-exuberant wildlife charity. She could see 60 days in jail. She fed the squirrels peanuts.

When Life Hands You Peanuts...: Feeding squirrels – or rabbits, geese, pigeons or alligators – will always have the effect of attracting those animals, plus many others, to the area. When wildlife is attracted to an area, nature ensues.

The ensuing nature in this case was ravaged gardens, chewed wiring, air conditioners clogged with nuts, and at least one resident who had to move because a grandchild has a “severe allergy” to peanuts. Unmentioned in the article were the feral dogs and cats, foxes, coyotes or other predators drawn to the area due to the greater abundance of squirrels ... and chipmunks, mice, voles, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, opossums ...

When this feeding of nature is done on someone else’s property it will also attract the ire of neighbors, and depending on how much ire is attracted, the attention of the police as well. The rogue naturalist has conceded that from now on she will, with “a few exceptions”, confine her feedings to her property which will satisfy the letter of the Laws of Man. That won’t, however, materially alter the Laws of Nature, which does not observe property boundaries.

As long as the squirrels [et al] are being fed, the gardens will be ruined, the wiring chewed, and the air conditioners choked. And that will attract the attention of the feral dogs and cats [et al]. The neighbors will be just as unhappy but powerless to do anything.

Conclusion: Alright, feeding squirrels peanuts can get you sent to jail if you do it on someone else’s property. Gotcha.

Headline: House Committee Threatens DHS Over Subpoena

Article Synopsis:
A House judiciary subcommittee had subpoenaed information from DHS on the disposition of illegal immigrants interacting with federal immigration authorities after being arrested by local, state or federal law enforcement. The committee wants to know how many were deported and how many were released by our immigration enforcement and went on to commit further crime. DHS sent a list of numbers ranging from 1 to 220,955, while claiming that 89% more illegal immigrants were deported in 2011 than in 2008.

Then Show Your Work: Of the nearly 221 thousand illegal immigrants arrested in 2009 by all levels of law enforcement, there were around 216 thousand individual persons. This means that there were as many as around five thousand illegal immigrants arrested multiple times – just in 2009. The list supplied does not account for arrest in 2010 or 2011.

Ascertaining whether the Immigration bureau under our outstanding Department of Homeland Security is actually doing their job is a relevant question to have answered. As many as 5,000 jobs were not done the first time since they were let go to be arrested again, and another possibly 211 thousand jobs may not have been done, either; all that’s known about them is that they were not arrested again in that year.

Congress would like to know who these people are so they can check to see if they had been arrested in other years, thus indicating the depth of DHS’s Immigration section not doing its job. This job, we recall, is the one that the Justice Department claims is made more difficult by individual states passing laws that require them to turn over to the feds all those arrested who are not citizens or documented aliens ... which is what the feds require anyway.

Conclusion: So ... don’t tell people that water is wet, and don’t feed squirrels from the neighbors’ yards ... but come to the US illegally and get arrested for criminal activity and the feds will ignore you. This is good information to know. ...for someone. Mostly illegal immigrants, I imagine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

America the Awesome

America the Awesome
©2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Supreme Court to Hear Obamacare

Article Synopsis:
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This was widely expected by everyone. Supporters claim that requiring all people to buy health insurance is an allowable regulation of interstate commerce. Opponents claim that there is no allowance in the Constitution to compel anyone to purchase anything. Twenty-six states have sued to stop it. Kennedy is expected to cast the deciding vote.

Casting the net wider still: Among the rationalizations used by supporters of Obamacare is that other legislation widely criticized at the time of its passage and surviving Court challenge is the Social Security Act ... a federally-run ponzi scheme built to create an old-age pension under the powers of the Old-Age Pension clause of the US Constitution.

Still other federal legislation to have survived Court challenge is the Voting Rights Act, which was used to propel Dubya into office in 2000, among other things. Certain people believe that the provision which prevents changing written election procedure until after the election is certified is fine when it helps minorities cast votes, but when it interferes with Democrats counting Democrat-heavy votes in new and exciting chad-free ways, then it doesn’t count. Or something.

Another key piece of legislation surviving the High Nine was the Civil Rights Act, written to fulfill the Constitution’s “equal outcome under the law” provision.

With all these precedents supporting the federal government’s authority to do what they are not allowed to do, how can Obamacare fail? After all, insurance is a state-controlled commodity; it cannot be bought or transferred across state lines. So naturally the authority for Congress to regulate intERstate commerce can and should be applied to intRAstate commerce. It’s a natural progression.

Conclusion: What’s two little letters in the grand scheme of doing the right thing the wrong way? Line up to have your pockets picked; it’s for the good of the country. By which I mean: the insurance companies.

Headline: Law Prof Calls Care Packages to US Soldiers ‘Shameful’

Article Synopsis:
Michael Avery, Constitutional Law professor at Massachusetts’ Suffolk University responded to a campus-wide appeal for sunblock and decks of cards to be donated to US soldiers with an email to the faculty criticizing it. He also claims that sympathy for our soldiers is “not particularly rational” and says that hanging the US flag on a US college campus is “not politically neutral”. The VFW objects to his sentiments, as does the Suffolk student body.

Teaching the world to sing: A professor of Constitutional law ought to be well aware that soldiers have no ability to control US foreign policy, they simply play their part as ordered by the Commander in Chief ... as Constitutionally required. Throwing the buck private out with the bathwater is a callous way to stand on a principle. ...if it can be called that.

The purpose of the US Constitution – as a Constitutional law professor ought to know – is to promote the United States, nothing else. The flag of the United States therefore transcends political consideration and becomes the essence of political neutrality. To suggest otherwise implies that there is another, non-US consideration to be incorporated in this country, and his position as a Constitutional law professor suddenly becomes suspect.

The presumption here is that he is a ‘world government’ aficionado, which is perfectly fine, if not several centuries in our future – under the best of circumstances which, frankly, are less likely the more we travel down our current path. He should be aware, though, that before he can buy the world a Coke®, the world has to lose its desire for individual national predominance. Before it can lose its desire for national predominance, it must first lose its desire for tribal predominance. Most of the world is still in its tribalistic infancy.

Infant tribalists are who the US is currently engaged in fighting.

Conclusion: We are ahead of the cultural evolution curve, and our soldiers need sunblock to help keep us there. Pony up, prof.

Headline: Court Allows Ban on Flag T-Shirts

Article Synopsis:
A San Francisco federal judge has agreed with a California school district which disallowed US flags from school grounds on Cinco de Mayo. US flags were deemed to “cause a significant disruption” by the principal and were disallowed. Some students, to protest other students running around with Mexican flags – which were not considered significantly disruptive – flouted the principal’s rule and ran a US flag up a tree ... and the name-calling broke out.

What country is this again?: Cinco de Mayo is widely seen in the US as a Mexican holiday roughly equivalent to the American 4th of July. However, it is mainly seen as a similar holiday simply because each is named after the date on the calendar on which is occurs. Cinco de Mayo is an American holiday celebrating a Mexican victory over the French in 1862; in Mexico it is ignored since they mostly lost the war.

In practical effect, Cinco de Mayo is a day for those who came from Mexico to look back and muse upon why they left – if they came here legally. It is a day for those who did not come here legally to wander around waving Mexican flags as if they were currently in Mexico rather than being in a future Mexico. For the rest of us it is a day to drink margaritas [a US invention] and eat chimichangas [another US invention], and similarly show patronizing brotherhood with our southern neighbor.

Without the Mexican victory on May 5th 1862, France would have been able to consolidate its conquest of Mexico and supply the Confederacy in the US Civil War without having to run Union blockades, thus helping split the United States in half, which France – and most of the rest of Europe – greatly desired. In retrospect, Mexico desired this as well, but they resisted being invaded by the French Foreign Legion in order to accomplish it.

The San Francisco-area high school, with many students of non-documented status, attempted to maintain school decorum and civility by allowing foreign students to rudely insult their American classmates and declare solidarity with the nation in which their parents could not find jobs, while simultaneously prohibiting citizen students from reminding the non-documented students of the nation in which their parents DID find jobs. The principal considered only the latter to be rude and inciting.

Conclusion: How about no flags at all, and put chimichangas on the school lunch menu? Allowing rude and inciting behavior should not be fine for some and wrong for others. All or none. Or does this make too much sense?

Headline: ‘Awesome’ Ad Campaign

Article Synopsis:
Congress created “Brand USA” to advertise the benefits to the rest of the world of vacationing in the US. Its logo is the letters “U S A” created by dots in one of two color schemes: blues and purples, or greens and yellows. Red, white and blue were seen as non-inclusive. The ad tagline is “United States of Awesome Possibilities”. Many advertising “strategists” see the whole thing as tasteless and irrelevant. It is funded by corporate donation and $14 entrance fees charged to Visa-less foreign visitors at the border.

Das ist verboten, mein Herr: Lost in the shuffle is our national personality change over the last generation, particularly in the last decade, which a slick ad campaign isn’t likely to change. The US is acting more and more like any uber-bureaucratized assortment of petty fiefdoms that the rest of the world largely consists of. Why come here and endure our petty fiefdoms when they can stay in their own country and enjoy the same experience without spending the money?

Also, without having to pay $14 to the US government just for the privilege of crossing our border, when the money is only being used to advertise how awesome a time they’ll have once they get here ... by being subjected to petty American bureaucratic fiefdoms and $14 entry surcharges for advertising our awesomeness.

Another awesome American tourist attraction virtually guaranteed to be given to foreign tourists and not even spared to American travelers either, is the Everyone’s a Terrorist Until We Say Otherwise shakedown available from the fine high school dropouts of TSA. Not even in Europe, where imperial prerogative was honed to an art form, and defined civil rights is a tepid version of those found in the US Constitution [though not in the actual US], nor even during the heyday of the Reds Brigade and Carlos the Jackal did Europeans have to submit to the nosy, imperious, degrading intrusion of US airflight “security”.

To get such treatment they’d otherwise have to go to Iran or North Korea, or hop in the Wayback to visit Nazi Germany. But now, with US paranoia what it is, foreign visitors can get the fascist experience without necessarily ending up in front of a brick oven with 200 of their closest – and nakedest – friends. And all for $14 [transportation extra]. What a deal. Awesome.

Conclusion: Modern usage suggests that the term “awesome” denotes sarcasm or irony. As in, “Your dog was hit by a police car, and the cop left a ticket on the carcass for an unleashed pet, jaywalking, littering, and improper disposal of a domestic animal. Your court date is next week.” “Oh, awesome!

Yes, America is a truly awesome place. Nailed it, guys.

Some of the People, Too Much of the Time

Some of the People, Too Much of the Time
©2011 Ross Williams

Headline: Chu to Testify on Solyndra

Article Synopsis:
US Secretary of Energy Chu “looks forward” to the opportunity to dazzle Congress with plausible excuses why the Obama administration funneled $535 million to a solar panel manufacturer in California just in time for it to go bankrupt and lose it all.

The Man Behind the Curtain: The Department of Energy knew in 2009 that the solar panel company was doomed to failure. They make a very expensive product that – despite all the hype – does not work as advertised and probably won’t for decades. A large part of the reason they make a very expensive product is because of the high price of US labor; the same item can be bought from China for a fraction of the cost so that dealing with the inherent shortcomings of the product isn’t so maddening.

But that doesn’t work with a government more interested in ideology than governance. It doesn’t matter that solar energy is a niche energy at best. The current administration made “green technology” a cornerstone of its economic recovery plan, so niche energy...? economic inefficiency...? doesn’t matter.

Some things, such as politics, are simply more important than the laws of economics and the laws of physics; reality just has to take a back seat. Those who originally invested in Solyndra should not have to lose their money just because their own ideology clouded them to the reality that the company they invested in was making an overrated product at an unsellable price. So let’s have the Department of Energy give the company a half billion dollars to pay back the original investors and let the taxpayers eat the cost of unsound solutions that defy physics.

With the deficit at $1.5 trillion, who’ll notice a measly half billion? That’s pocket lint.

Conclusion: Barack Obama-wan doesn’t have enough Jedi mind tricks in his bag to convince people that these are not the loans they are looking for.

Headline: Obamacare Penalizes Marriage

Article Synopsis:
Analysts looking at the Obamacare legislation have noted that it contains several perverse incentives including a marriage penalty and a working woman penalty. Democrats respond by claiming, “Yabbut... yabbut...”.

Thank you, Nancy: Another of the “Let’s hurry up and pass it so we can find out what’s in it” shoes has fallen, as almost everyone not blinded by ideology could have predicted. A law purports to do one thing, yet does something else entirely. Who knew that was possible?

Just because the law written to prevent teen drinking doesn’t penalize teens who drink but instead penalizes everyone around them ... and has also created the largest pool of pre-alcoholics since Prohibition ...

Just because the law written to make home-ownership easier for those on the bottom rungs of society instead took those homes away from those on the bottom rungs ... and also from many of those on the middle rungs as well ...

Just because the law written to ensure medical privacy and portable insurance has instead inflated the cost of medical care by creating a blizzard of paperwork that ensures neither privacy nor portability ...

Just because the law written to prevent another Enron fiasco has instead made it impossible for publically-traded companies to hire anyone but beancounters who can spit out the alchemaic brew of witch-doctored financials that mean nothing and don’t prevent another Enron in any event ...

...who could have guessed that a law that no one knew what was inside it could create unintended consequences? ...besides anyone smarter than a rock? ... and by ‘rock’ I mean liberal, Democrat or [ironic term] “progressive”?

The underwriting of mandatory health insurance is based on family income, not individual income. Two people who individually earn little enough that they’ll have health insurance given to them by ... well, me ... but if married they will earn so much that they’ll have to buy their own. Who’s going to get married? If married, who’s not going to reduce to a one-earner family when the second earner is marginally employed? This is another Man In The House rule.

Johnson’s “Great Society” legislation created more unwed pregnancies among the poverty class than crack, meth and Colt 45 malt liquor combined. Women could game the Welfare system by whelping baby after baby ... as long as the father did not live in the household. A male over the age of 18 would disqualify the female head-of-household from receiving benefits from most individual welfare programs, including especially the biggie: AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Welfare apologists claimed for years that “no one would ever deliberately have children in poverty just to get free money” ... yet they did, by the millions. Welfare apologists claimed for years that “no one would deliberately seek to stay on welfare because it doesn’t pay enough to live on” ... yet they did, by the millions.

This particular perverse incentive gave us serialized baby machines and an epidemic of inner-city males made homeless at the age of 18, who themselves are ineligible for welfare because they aren’t female. And with nothing left for them to do and not much education to speak of to do it with, let’s see how many guesses it takes to figure out what these young inner-city males actually do with their lives.

We have the perverse incentives of idiotic feel-good [ironic term] “progressive” legislation to thank for it. “Aww, those poor, pitiable people ... let’s help them by causing them long-term damage.”

Conclusion: When will enough be enough?

Headline: Democrats Drive Drop in Obamacare Support

Article Synopsis:
Two-thirds of Americans do not approve of Obamacare while only 34% approve; this is an improvement [or not, depending on how you look at it] from earlier this year when a simple majority failed to approve. Neither Republicans nor independents have ever approved, hovering at around 1-in-8 and 1-in-3 respectively, but Democrats’ support fell from 2-in-3 to just over half. A majority of Americans also disapprove of the President and Congress.

The bloom is off the fart blossom: The majority of Americans have never supported the notion of Obamacare, though there was a bump in the numbers due mainly to the relief, just after it was passed, of no longer having to listen to the haranguing. From that point to this, however, support has gone nowhere but down.

The last month has seen the biggest drop in Democrats’ support, coinciding with a daily observation of those in whose benefit Obamacare would be most keenly felt: the Occupy Wall Street protesters. It also coincided with a daily viewing of those for whom Obamacare has been enacted for over a half century. I do not believe it is a coincidence.

Many Democrats are self-absorbed ninnies who don’t pay particular attention to the rest of the world unless they can help it – sorta like Republicans – and being force-fed a steady diet of the images of the Occupiers, a lot of Democrats are undoubtedly thinking to themselves, “These self-absorbed, brainless ninnies who can’t figure out what they’re protesting are what we supported Obamacare for? Geez, was I dumb!” And they’ve changed their minds about it.

And still other Democrats are undoubtedly seeing Greece stumble-bumming its way into receivership on the German dime and finally understanding that not even the government can endlessly give away social goods without having someone pay for it. ...and realizing that the ones paying for our social goods is now China, who pretty much sneers at us in the same way that liberals, Democrats and [ironic term] “progressives” sneer at anyone who can actually do basic arithmetic. These Democrats are possibly thinking to themselves, “Is China going to take fifty cents on the dollar to keep us afloat like Germany did for Greece? or are they going to take California instead?” and concluding the latter.

Conclusion: Fooling most of the people long enough to get elected to a second term is not a prescription for national prosperity. If the main purpose is to be lionized with the statue you’re perpetually posing for, though, it might work.

Easy Come, Easy Go

Easy Come, Easy Go
©2011 Ross Williams

Headline: US Withholds UN Funding Over Palestine Vote

Article Synopsis:
UNESCO, the UN’s “cultural” commission, held a vote of its members to admit Palestine as a full member. Palestine was voted in by a landslide. US law prevents the US from funding any organization that confers statehood on Palestine before the US recognizes it, and will cease providing $80 million of UNESCO’s annual funding – around 20% of all contributions it receives. UNESCO may now hold a vote to rescind the membership of the US.

Don’t throw me into the briar patch: For two full generations, the UN has been increasingly a forum of ant-capitalist, anti-western, anti-American agitation. Every tin-pot tyrant gets elevated to international relevance by virtue of being the last man standing in whatever military coup that propelled him to the throne, and – because equivalence in political science is alive and well – the tin-pot tyrant has the same chance of being appointed to the UN commission overseeing, e.g., the Human Rights they obliterated during their rise to power.

...which explains Libya’s and Iran’s past membership on that committee.

The UN is the epitome of the kindergarten class run by 5 year-olds. The United States is continually accused of acting like a brash, know-it-all teenager by the aloofer heads of ancient European nations – and we are. Just like Europe is old and stodgy and set in their largely socialist ways. But the rest of the world? infants. Infants acting infantile, and who needs them?

Conclusion: So throw the US out of UNESCO, see if we care. If you don’t want our $80 million, we have more ways of spending it ourselves than we can shake a pointy Libyan stick at.

Headline: DOJ Sues SC Over Immigration

Article Synopsis:
The feds sued South Carolina to stop the implementation of their anti-illegal immigration law. SC is the third state to be sued by the Justice Department over similar state laws, following Arizona and Alabama. The law would require state law enforcement to contact federal immigration officials for anyone suspected of being undocumented. SC claims that if the feds would enforce their own laws themselves the state wouldn’t have to fill in. The feds claim that these laws divert federal resources from other priorities.

‘Other’ priorities ... than enforcing their law?: Either it’s against federal law to enter this country illegally and the feds need to enforce it, or it’s not and the feds need to drop it altogether and let the states do what the states have the 10thAM authority to do.

If it’s against federal law and the feds refuse to enforce it, then the feds need to let the states handle it how they choose.

But this notion of spending millions of dollars to stop states from putting the feds into the awkward position of having to choose whether to enforce their own laws or not has gotta stop. Enforce your laws or don’t; if you don’t, then leave the states alone. We don’t have so much money that spending it to force states to stop enforcing their laws because the feds refuse to enforce their own is a wise investment.

Conclusion: $80 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, does it?

Headline: 3 in 10 Employers to Drop Health Insurance

Article Synopsis: Thirty percent of the private employers surveyed would “definitely” or “probably” drop employee health benefits by 2014 when Obamacare becomes fully implemented. The CBO already predicted this; Democrats quibbled, claiming that the law prevents it.

Doing the math: The average cost to employers for covering a single employee’s health insurance is $12,000 per year; the Obamacare law assesses a fine of $2,000 for each employee the company voluntarily leaves uncovered. Each employer will save $10,000 per employee.

Employees at an entry-level or low-skill labor pay scale can get $11,000 of that $12,000 cost paid by the federal government under Obamacare, leaving the employee with $1,000 of his own to come up with. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that many employers would collude with their lower pay-scale employees to take a slightly greater salary in exchange for dropping health coverage.

And that doesn’t include the part-time employees who are not required to be covered. The math doesn’t add up and the feds, as always, didn’t show their work.

Conclusion: Who thought this was a good idea, again? How many more UN committees do we need to be thrown off of to pay for this?

Headline: Greek Referendum Deepens European Crisis

Article Synopsis:
Within a week of the grownups in the Greek legislature biting the bullet and passing a law to stop spending money, thus allowing the rest of Europe to put up almost $150 billion to pay Greek bills, the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou – a socialist – has called for a referendum to determine whether Greece will actually abide by their own law and stop spending money, or whether they will continue to follow their previous profligacies. Stock markets immediately tanked. Analysts are expecting Greece to pull out of the deal, and for Europe to then expel Greece from their common market thus ensuring an ugly default. Italy and Spain are next on the horizon, and will be more likely to default as a result. France is asking China for money to help Greece.

The equal sharing of misery: Not content to leave bad enough alone, the idiot socialists in Greece would rather squat naked in the mud with pointy sticks than accept German money on the condition that they grow the hell up and establish fiscal priorities. Don’t those bossy Germans know that fiscal responsibility is contrary to everything that socialism stands for? Greece hasn’t had an elected socialist government for seventy years just to throw it away for a little thing like crushing debt.

Besides, fiscal conservatism is another name for free-market capitalism, and capitalism is notorious – as Churchill noted – for the “unequal sharing of blessings”. Greece, apparently, believes it is better to – as Winston also noted of socialism – equally share the misery.

Conclusion: Just like any heroin addict, Greeks can’t help themselves. Greeks won’t help themselves. There comes a point when the family gathers to say goodbye. Goodbye.