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, February 16, 2012

Today’s Chalk Dust

Today’s Chalk Dust
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: ‘Hooker Teacher’ Can’t Find Work

Article Synopsis:
Melissa Petro, art and creative writing teacher at an inner-city-style Bronx elementary school, and with multiple master’s degrees, was told to resign by the Department of Education or face recriminatory proceedings after an article she had written as a free-lance writer turned up in the Huffington Post against the outcry garnered by craigslist.com over their “erotic services” ads – since discontinued. In the article, Petro had admitted to having been a sex worker at one time herself, and has noted the irony of the circumstances that led her to being a sex worker originally and those she faces now after being told she can’t work because she had been a sex worker.

Nice Work, But You Can’t Keep It: It is somewhat unclear which “Department of Education” is stiffing this young woman: the US, or the New York State. I believe New York calls theirs the Board of Regents, but that may simply be their curriculum dictator department.

Mayor Bloomberg piled on to this faux-cause célèbre by demanding her ouster as well.

For a group of liberals – and I’m talking about Bloomberg, and either the NYSDoE or the USDoE – to professionally lynch a woman who is the quintessence of the same self-sufficient feminism to which liberalism has been harnessed for at least five decades, is hypocrisy of the highest order. Not that hypocrisy should be a startling accusation against liberalism any longer. But still.

You’ve got what is, by all accounts, a good, qualified and well-respected teacher. ...at a time when good, qualified and well-respected teachers are apparently hard to come by. So of course the first thing you do when you find yourself in possession of a good, qualified and well-respected teacher is to demand her resignation.

Liberals love sticking their noses in where they don’t belong, which is pretty much everywhere ...almost as much as Conservatives do. But Liberals do not have enough noses to slice off their faces out of spite that they can afford to take every cockamamie cause that comes down the pike ... and which should belong to Conservatives besides.

Conclusion: ...and yes, Bloomberg is a Liberal. He switched allegiance in ’01 because the Democratic primary field for Mayor wouldn’t fit into Yankee Stadium, while the Republican field could have fit into a single stall of a Yankee Stadium men’s room with room to spare. You can call a dog’s tail a leg but it doesn’t give the dog five legs.

Headline: GA Student Sues School over Public Strip Search

Article Synopsis:
A 7th-grade student was searched by the administrators of his Clayton County junior high school because a narc reported him as having had marijuana. His pockets and book bag were searched and nothing was found. The narc then reported that the student was lying, and he was strip searched. Nothing was again found. The student, now known as Superman by classmates, is claiming long-lasting emotional trauma, in part because he is now known as Superman. He was wearing Superman undies at the time. Also being sued is the Sherriff’s Department and the school’s “resource officer”.

Why Can’t Anyone Count to Four: A “resource officer” is newspeak for On-Site Cop, and his job is to turn what is commonly little more than prankish behavior into criminal mischief if he can at all swing it. The rare actual criminal behavior that occurs on school grounds is, in my experience, typically overlooked. This guy is among the leading explanations for our public schools being turned into locked-down prison compounds, where Public Display of Affection becomes rape, taking two Midol for menstrual cramps becomes trafficking in narcotics, and bringing a knife from home because you can’t eat your apple while wearing braces becomes assault with a deadly weapon.

The student in question may or may not have had marijuana; marijuana does exist in schools. But there is still a 4th Amendment to our Constitution, and one would think that by the time an administrator had reached the point where he is running a middle school – which is newspeak for a junior high school – he would have been able to count all the way to four without using his fingers on some dumb kid’s Superman skivvies.

Apart from not teaching cipherin’ at this Georgia junior high, do they also not teach American History?

After no drugs were found the second time, what did they do with the narc? Junior high is a little early to be hired to work for the TSA ...

Conclusion: Besides which, Mister Resource Officer, do you not have a drug sniffing dog among your resources?

Headline: CO Student Quits Chorus over Islamic Hymn

Article Synopsis:
A Colorado high school senior has quit the school chorus because of the selection of an Islamic hymn being inserted into a musical program for public school competition. The song, “Zikr”, popular in greater Arabia and south Asia, was selected for its musical qualities and not its message which is, in part, “There is no truth except Allah.” Also selected for the program is an Irish folk song and a Christian song entitled “Prayer of the Children”. School officials are not altering their program.

Uh... ri-i-ight: The Islamic hymn’s writer, an Indian named A R Rahman, claims the song is not a hymn or intended for religious service at all, but the title of his song, “Zikr”, is a Muslim religious ritual, and roughly translates to “invocation to Allah”. Further, Rahman specializes in writing Muslim devotional songs, and his own website lists “Zikr” among them. “Zikr” appears to quote freely from the Koran in its lyrics, as some of those lyrics are among the koranic passages recommended to be recited during the Islamic ritual of the same name.

The song would appear to be the Muslim version of “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Be that as it may, the Christian song in the program – which should probably be described as “Christian” with quotes around it – is an anti-war song of that famous anti-war era covering the two US wars in the Balkans where, we should remember, a large number of the participants were Muslims whom we felt sorry enough for to go to war for them. The only specifically religious lyric of note in this “Prayer of the Children” is “Jesus help me” ... which, for an anti-war song mentioning “angry guns” and “hands with nothing to hold” may not exactly mean what one may suppose it means.

...although it probably does. Far be it from me to be deliberately disingenuous about this. I’ll leave that to the American Atheists. In any event, the religiosity of the two songs is hardly equivalent.

Conclusion: Speaking of the American Atheists ... where are they in all this? Either religion is verboten in public schools or it isn’t. And that goes for public school choral competitions as well. Muslim hymns don’t get a pass simply because Islam is not the dominant religion in the US; if religion in school is prohibited it must include dominant, subordinate and fringe religions as well. Otherwise, well ... you’re just a bunch of anti-christian bigots perpetrating hate-harassment. Right?

Persian Empire ReD’OH!

Persian Empire ReD’OH!
©2012 Ross Williams

This isn’t funny, of course. But among those things that aren’t funny, it’s outright hilarious.

Iran, as everyone knows by now [but some are desperate to ignore] has been building The Bomb for years with the help of North Korea, sometimes Russia, sometimes China, and quite often with Pakistani back-door assistance as well. They’ve made no bones about Israel needing to be relocated elsewhere – possibly in the US, possibly in Europe, possibly in a smoldering crater ... they aren’t really picky, those mullahs. Easy going lads, they are.

Israel, of course, knows Iran is doing this and has been taking detailed notes about the threat Iran poses to them, trying to get the world to listen. Parts of the world don’t really need to be convinced to listen, but much of it ... Those who are desperate to ignore Iran, even in our own country, are busy trying to claim Israel is paranoid and dismissing the whole thing that way. “Have a nosh, Moshe. You’re so tense.”

Every time one of Israel’s neighbors, one of those who’ve sworn on a stack of Korans that they were going to push Israel into the sea, has gotten too close to building a nuclear reactor or long-range missile site, the installation would suddenly blow up. The world has been waiting with baited breath to see if Iran’s secret nuclear lab under a mountain, and that half the world knows which mountain, would itself blow up soon.

A few weeks ago – maybe it’s been a few months now – a car carrying Iranian nuclear scientists to this not so secret lab exploded, killing the scientists. Iranian mullahs and their window-dressing “we’re a democratic republic, honest” mouthpiece President Ahmadinejad, immediately blamed Israel for it. Like that was a newsflash!

Israel didn’t comment on it at all, even to say “no comment”. ...a sure sign that Israel done it. But this isn’t what’s funny.

Those desperate to ignore Iran were quick to jump on Israel for blowing up Iranian nuke geeks, though. But that isn’t what’s so funny about this not funny matter, either; hypocrisy and tepid anti-semitism among the enlightened and “progressive” crowd is only amusing in a clichéd and ironically cynical way at best.

Iran responded to losing its nuclear scientists by bombing – or attempting to bomb – Israeli diplomatic missions in Georgia, India, and Thailand. And I stress “attempting”. There were several bomb blasts, but only one hit anything reasonably targeted: an embassy official coming to work at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi after dropping her children off at school. The bomb was attached by magnet to the side of the car by a person on a motor scooter. The official is now recovering; her driver and some pedestrians had minor injuries. Iran denied involvement and blamed Israel. This denial and blame is an equally sure sign that Iran was behind it, but it is only capable of raising a smirk, not a hearty laugh.

The bomb at the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi Georgia was defused. Iran again denied involvement and blamed Israel.

Bombs of similar-as-to-be-identical construction to those used in India and defused in Georgia were blown up all over Bangkok Thailand the next day. And that’s what is so hilarious about this whole thing.

The first bomb went off in a house being rented by three Iranians; it was apparently accidental. When Thai police showed up to investigate, one of the men threw another bomb at the police which bounced back at the thrower and blew his own leg off. His other leg was amputated by surgeons; he’s still unconscious. The other two Iranians tried to hail a cab in order to get out of dodge; when the cabbie refused to stop for them, they attempted to attach a third bomb to the cab the same way it had been done in New Delhi. It didn’t attach; it went off causing no meaningful damage to anything.

These other two Iranians were both captured, one at the Bangkok airport, and the other at the Kuala Lumpur airport across the border in Malaysia – both with tickets back to Iran. The legless Iranian will be arrested when and if he regains consciousness.

And yes, Iran again denied involvement and blamed Israel. It’s all part of the “Zionist conspiracy” to conceal their own terrorism, according to their Foreign Minister.

...wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

A nuclear Iran is not funny, and it won’t be funny – it’ll be downright tense, actually – waiting for Israel to drop the other shoe so that they don’t get there.

But in the meantime, watching Iran try to out-zionist the Zionists is a laugh riot.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Fraud Isn’t

When Fraud Isn’t
©2012 Ross Williams

My state, Illinois, at the impatient urging of the state’s Republicans, has spent over a year trying to get the Obama Administration to buy off on the state’s law to fight Medicaid fraud, the same Medicaid fraud that has caused the federal government to cease paying the Medicaid bills it owes to many states, which in turn causes the state to stop paying doctors and hospitals for medical care gotten by the poverty class folks who use it, which in turn causes doctors and hospitals to stop taking Medicaid patients because they can’t get paid as promised.

...you know, “rationing medical care”.

Obama organized many communities in Chicago when he lived there, and depending which way your cynicism is bending today, it may explain why his administration hasn’t approved the IL plan to fight Medicaid fraud. Of the 2.7 million people on Illinois’ Medicaid rolls, 6% can’t get their new, and free, Medicaid ID cards – because they live out of state. There’s six percent fraud-savings right there, even before a doctor gets visited.

Among the things Illinois wants to do is lop this 6% off their list and let the neighboring states where this 6% lives handle their own impoverished residents. But this may not pass muster with HHS, which runs Medicaid and Medicare, both, as well as the future Obamacare which was built on the premise that it [Obamacare] would not pull individuals in from either of the competing federal health benefit programs. If Obamacare siphoned from the Medicaid or Medicare client-list, why, it would make Obamacare more expensive than advertised and suddenly make it seem like the bad idea it always was.

The federal government has, over the past three years, adopted a political stance that effectively declares, “How dare the states attempt to control fraud and abuse of government programs and policies which are either the state’s own legal responsibility, or which we have compelled the states to undertake on our behalf and which they must pay for when we won’t! How DARE they!”

States are not allowed to prevent fraud or abuse in their election laws – which are their own to enforce. States are not allowed to prevent fraud or abuse in employment or social service programs because that borders on immigration enforcement which is a federal authority – which the feds are not even marginally fulfilling. And it leaves some to wonder what our federal government does that racks up $1.5T overspending annually if it’s not doing what is required of it. About the only thing I can tell Washington has been doing that takes all that money, apart from waging three wars and strip searching air travelers, is filing lawsuits against different states for trying to stop fraudulent use of government services.

I mean, spending government money to stop people from making other people stop unlawfully spending government money...? Seriously? That’s what we’re about? Not a wise use of China’s money, if you ask me. Have we cleared this with them?

I’m a US Citizen and have the documentation to prove it. The really, incredibly, truly sad thing is: I must prove it periodically – and not only when I’m trying to come back into the country, either. I have to prove it whenever I’m told to justify myself wanting to have a job. Because according to federal laws only US citizens and legal residents may hold jobs in the US. But states cannot verify citizenship or legal residence, because ... because ... well, the feds don’t have a real good answer for that yet, but they’re working on it. It’ll come out in court, I’m sure. In the meantime, employers are federally deputized to do the job of the federal government that the states should be doing if the feds won’t.

Voter fraud is a significant issue in urban areas; significant enough that voter registration organizations have been penalized and even disbanded [hello, ACORN] for issuing multiple registrations for individual voters ... and their dogs ... and their dead relatives. Some registrars have gone to jail over it. That’s just when it has been discovered, which we almost never try to do.

Research by the liberal-connected Pew Center says that 1.8 million dead people are currently registered to vote, 2.7 million living people are registered to vote in multiple states with a few thousand registered in four or more states, and 12.7 million people are registered with false addresses. While Pew suggests that these are little more than bookkeeping errors – which many undoubtedly are – the 12.7 million false addresses, most of which do not exist, are a troubling indicator of one of two things:
1] typos which should be corrected by providing a true address for which an ID is perfectly suitable, and
2] voter fraud which necessitates people wishing to vote proving who they are and where they live.

But when you talk about trying to make voters prove who they are before they vote, as I must every few years in order to hold a job, you run up against another cadre of government bureaucrat willing to spend China’s money to stop people from stopping other people from committing fraud. “Poor people don’t have IDs!” they wail.

They may not have driver’s licenses, no. And probably not a passport, either, which I have to use to justify holding my American job. But if they’re poor enough to not be able to afford the car for which they need the license, then they almost certainly don’t hold a job for which they’d need a passport to get. If they’re that poor, then they have a Medicaid ID card ... which is free ... and so the claim, usually accompanied by tears or indignant denunciations of the Tea Party for being racist, that they don’t have ID is completely false. Big surprise.

What they meant to say was that they didn’t have multiple IDs, such as from Medicaid, some of which were obtained fraudulently, for the purpose of gaming the system that Democrats condescendingly believe poor people are too stupid to game, and which Republicans are cynical enough to understand that – even if they are too stupid themselves – somebody is more than willing to clue them in on it, because it’s happening.

First they came for Medicaid fraud, and we didn’t stop it because saving money on the backs of the poor is bad form; then they came for voter fraud and we didn’t stop that either, for it helped get us elected; and then they came for immigration fraud which we also didn’t stop since that was a new voter bloc we could harness; by the time they came for political fraud no one was left to stop them.

So I can’t imagine the Obama Administration taking kindly to his home state of Illinois doing anything to reduce Medicaid fraud. It’s a slippery slope for the administration to start down, and the end wouldn’t be pretty. Integrity in government, even in small ways such as these, is not allowed in Chicago-Style Politics.

If I Were King of the Forest

If I Were King of the Forest
©2012 Ross Williams

Not surprisingly, I get a lot of criticism of my criticism of how our country has been run [poorly] by traditional politics. Most of the criticism I get no longer sees the light of day in the comments section because I have disallowed anonymity – due more to spamming than the nameless and cowardly jerkwads wanting to throw turdballs at me, but yes, the jerkwads who bravely call me names while not leaving their own is part of it.

“If you’re so smart, how would you do it better,” is about the politest reduction of their childish challenges. And honestly, I thought I’ve been very, very forthcoming about how I’d do it better. There’s hardly an essay I’ve written which doesn’t, in some way, describe the better alternative to be taken. I will grant, however, that many people can honestly not comprehend the alternative I discuss, for there is a tendency among most people to refuse to see the absence of policy as a policy itself.

If you are a doctor and someone comes to you saying, “Doc, it hurts when I stick my elbow in my ear...” what is the most responsible action as a doctor? Is it an operation to give the dope a third hinge in his arm so that it will no longer hurt when he tries to stick his elbow in his ear? Is it to prescribe opiates so that he will no longer care that it hurts when he sticks his elbow in his ear?

Of course not. The most responsible action is to tell the moron to not stick his elbow in his ear. “Don’t do it.” Problem solved.

“Oh, but... but... but... what should be done with my elbow and my ear instead?”

Nothing, anything. How about finding a hobby that involves only one at a time?

Seriously, it’s not that difficult.

But that’s what is so difficult about it, apparently, because most Americans are uncomfortable with having to come up with their own ideas and taking responsibility for their own success [or failure]. Ours is a nation which was designed specifically to have its citizens come up with their own ideas and take responsibility for their own lives without saddling the government with any of it.

Those who defined our government knew from experience that when the government is given the job of coming up with ideas they typically come up with lousy ideas and their only means of implementing those ideas are to pass laws or issue edicts – which are historically the least effective ways of doing most things. The only thing laws and edicts are good at doing is collecting power in the hands of the government, which our Constitution was written to prevent too much of.

Those who defined our government knew from experience that when government assumes the responsibility for its citizens it makes a citizen’s success contingent upon blind obedience and leaves everyone else to squat in the mud as dependent slugs. Success becomes a matter of who you know and stops being about competence and innovation.

It was for these reasons that those who defined our government deliberately limited the government’s power to control its citizens. Government control is usually stupid, pointless and self-propagating nonsense.

So what I would do better is ... nothing. If it’s stupid to do ‘this’, then don’t do this. If it’s pointless to do ‘that’, don’t do that either. Don’t stick your elbow in your ear.

Arguably, the vast majority of what the government does “for us” they are not allowed to do. I would stop them from doing it.

TSA – not authorized. It would go away.
FDA – not authorized. It would also go away.
Medicaid – same.
Medicare – same.
Social Security, “welfare”, EPA, DEA – gone.

On the other hand, some things are authorized, and they would stay. The Post Office. The same Post Office that keeps whining about losing money – $3.3 billion in the last quarter of 2011 – and keeps demanding to raise postage and cut services ... doesn’t matter how much it loses; it’s Constitutionally mandated. We’d have 7-day mail service and 5-cent stamps.

The military; a keeper.

Roads; rebuilt.

IRS; alas ... left in place.

Make me the all-powerful Doge for the dictatorship our democracy is descending into and I’d go through the budget line by line and demand each line-item’s director to point out the specific Constitutional provision that allows the government to do what he does, and if he fails to justify himself – gone. And everyone who works for him.

A great many agency heads, or their loyyers, would attempt to justify their existence by citing the Tax and Spend clause or the Interstate Commerce clause of Article I, § 8. I would strongly advise against this, though, for these are the two most abused statements of federal authority we have in the Constitution, and claiming justification by a highly abused authority would lead me to suspect another case of abuse; he’d better make a damned good argument if he goes this route.

Claiming that Social Security is a proper authority because the Tax and Spend clause allows the federal government to tax ... and to spend ... so therefore whatever it does that includes taxing and spending is proper, is to deliberately misread the Constitution for the purpose of amassing federal power that was it never intended to have. These two clauses have been used to justify the government doing what it wants, when it wants, because it wants, endlessly. And since the Constitution itself says that’s not what the Constitution is for, and so did those who wrote the thing when they were trying to sell their fellow citizens on the idea of ratifying it, it seems that once again I am right and the courts are not.

The federal government, when I got done with it, would be a fraction of itself. The DC Beltway would be a series of ghost towns, and millions of people who’d recently been federal employees would be out of a job ... not coincidentally at a time that government unemployment benefits, as another non-authorized federal power hoovered up by the Tax and Spend clause, ceased to exist. They’d have to find a real employer to hire them for their bureaucratic skills at writing and enforcing meaningless gibberish by remote control.

This would be a hit with around one-third of the nation ... about as many as supported the Revolution in the late 1770s, for what it’s worth. Another third would absolutely hate this plan, for they would be the millions thrown out of federal jobs [with inconceivably insupportable pensions], those who live off federal handouts, and those busybodies who’d built their lives and livelihoods around advocating for even more federal intrusions.

The remaining third would be wary of me doing this and, I’ll have to admit, they’d be wary for very good reasons. We didn’t become this monstrosity of byzantine bureaucracy [which dwarfs the original Byzantine bureaucracy by several orders of magnitude] overnight; we accumulated it layer by layer by having normal people without evil intent thinking something was a “good idea” and not worrying about whether it was a good idea to give the government control of that “good idea”.

For purposes of illustration, I will again point at Certified Organic food. Many people don’t want preservatives and pesticides and antibiotics in the food they eat. I don’t blame them. So they started buying food that was “organic”. And paying more for it, because truly organic farming is labor-intensive and does not easily acquire the efficiency of scale that commercial farming can employ when it uses preservatives and pesticides and antibiotics.

But the large farming outfits saw a profit there, and started labeling their non-organic food as “organic” and charged more for it – but less than true organics charged – and they made more profit while driving the real organic farmers out of the market. So the normal people without evil intent demanded that the government define what “organic” is to prevent those who are not organic from using the term and fooling the normal consumer who does not have evil intent by wanting “organic” food.

The USDA – the US Department of Agriculture – then got together with all the farming people they knew and came up with a definition of “organic” and a means to certify it. The only problem is, the only folks the USDA policy-makers know in farming are large-scale farmers [and their loyyers], and the only rules they know how to write are those which can only be understood by loyyers, and the rules are so bureaucracy-heavy that the only ones who can wade through it are industrial-sized outfits.

As a result, we have exactly the same situation we had before: large-scale farms are the major supplier of “organic” food [of dubious organicity besides], because they are the only ones who can both understand and afford the certification process.

For someone like me who raises lamb and hens without chemicals to become Certified Organic would require hiring a loyyer and a CPA and spending a few thousand dollars each year I wished to be recertified. Only then could I stamp “Organic” on the egg cartons I sell to women I work with, and the packages of lamb brisket I get back from the butcher, all of which gives me about $1500 annual revenue ... before buying a grain of chicken feed or a single bale of hay.

Nothing has changed, but now the government is involved in it ... and the normal people who wanted this to happen never bothered to take a peek into the Constitution to see if Congress was even given the authority to define what “wholesome food” consists of in the first place. As if it needs to be said: they weren’t.

Society has a very difficult time accepting rapid change without flying apart at the seams. And my plan for refitting the government back into its Constitutional boundaries would certainly be rapid change. I would expect the nation to come apart at the seams, and rather quickly.

This is why, as the Grand Poobah of the dictatorship we are rapidly becoming, I would not in fact take the chain saw to the Federal Register the way I would prefer to. As I’ve mentioned before, libertarianism has inherent flaws in it, and moving from state-dependency to sudden independency in one step is similar to a baby moving from a crawl to piloting a spacecraft at once. Most people can’t do it, and our nation would die a quick and violent suicide.

Libertarianism requires abiding by the Constitution, yes, but the purpose of the Constitution is to provide a nation for our posterity – for future generations – to live in. My plan to re-stuff Pandora’s Box with the excessive government that flew out is as ultimately fatal as everyone else’s plan was in opening it in the first place.

You can remove 200 years of layered paint from a building at one time without major damage to the building; removing 200 years of layered government from a nation has to be done a layer at a time if you don’t want to damage the nation. And so, my fiat would require a little more analysis than simply justifying each governmental line-item’s constitutionality – although that would be part of it.

Each line-item in the budget would still have to justify their Constitutionality, and most agencies would not be able to do it. They’d immediately have their pre-inflation funding frozen and they’d be given, oh, let’s say 25 years to get the Constitution retro-fitted with the authority for their existence. If the required super-majority of the American People determines that this governmental function is needed ... okay, we’ll keep it; after all, the purpose of the Constitution is to serve the needs of its citizens. If we find instead that not enough citizens need it badly enough to change the Constitution, it’ll have another 25 years to phase out.

I would suspect that a great deal of the current federal government would evaporate in the next half century. My grand- and great-grandchildren – and yours – will thank me, though you might not.

The next step is to determine if the function served by the government agency is being accomplished at all, regardless whether it is authorized or not. The Post Office is beyond authorized, it’s required. But it’s run so ineptly that those who use it for the unsavory purpose of polluting the nation’s mailboxes with low-tech spam are given preferential pricing – that’s gotta stop. Here’s a hint: if you don’t know who you’re mailing something to and have to address it to “resident” hoping to get donations, you’re paying double postage. If you’re a business sending mail to someone who does not currently do business with you and hoping to get more business out of it, same thing.

No wonder the Post Office is losing money as fast as it is. Those who use it for its intended purpose – personal communication and actual commerce – are underwriting its use by those who use it for cheap and anonymous commercial solicitation.

If the government agency is authorized or not, it would have to answer why they exist in the first place ... to do what? Specifically.

Medicare for example was created to fulfill the non-authorized function of providing medical coverage to our nation’s senior citizens and control the costs through efficiency of scale. It has failed to do that. Costs are not controlled, and because costs aren’t controlled Medicare has pared back what it does and has forced senior citizens to supplement their government health coverage with private health coverage – thus defeating the purpose of government health coverage in the first place – and, effectively, rationing medical care. Until it does what it was designed to do, as it was designed to do it, it would receive less funding until it eventually would cease existing.

...and the nation’s public schools ... Their purpose is to educate children in what they need to know, not what is convenient to teach them. If some students refuse to play along with their own education, then get rid of them. There is a right to an education, yes, but not an entitlement. If a student abuses his right to an education by interfering with others’ education, his parents can damn well pay for a private school. Or not, their choice.

“Oh, but taking money away from government programs which don’t have the money to perform their charter is counter-productive to those programs performing their charter!”

Yeah? and? They’ll either find they can suddenly do it and we’re all better off for it by making them do their job without profligacy, or they’ll find they can’t and we’re still better off for it by not being profligate ourselves on something that has proven it doesn’t work. We somehow managed to survive, indeed thrive, as a nation before, for example, federally-funded public schools existed and old-age subsistence was thought up.

Local communities would build themselves a school, hire themselves a teacher, and the teacher taught the kids who wanted to learn. Once education became mandatory we got deluged with kids who didn’t want to be there and with parents of those kids who didn’t want to cooperate with them being there. Imposing a government program on reluctant or outright hostile citizens is only accomplished by force, and a free people is not free when subjected to forcible compliance with a program that is “good for them”. If a child wants to be stupid, if a parent wants his kids to be stupid, they have that right. Just stay away from those who want to get an education.

Before old-age subsistence existed, granny lived with an aunt or an uncle who took care of her and paid the doctor, and maybe got some money from granny’s other kids to help with her bills. Granny wasn’t sent off on an ice floe nor left in the street to die. Granny’s kids don’t like her well enough to take her in? that simply makes it more imperative that she be a good mother of responsible children, doesn’t it? In any event, it’s not the government’s responsibility.

Besides, if We The People truly want old-age subsistence to be a government responsibility, we have the power to collect the super-majority needed to change the Constitution to allow it, in which case cost will no longer be an object ... just as it shouldn’t be with the Post Office. In the meantime we’re going to save money because, unless the government has the legitimate authority to do it, cost IS an object. More governments fail due to foolishly incurred debt than from any other cause.

The third and final portion of each budget line-item review, after its Constitutional justification, its efficacy test and while we are determining whether or not to phase out the program for being an unauthorized power, or for being a cost-effective failure, is that it still has to treat the citizens it encounters with all the rights they are guaranteed.

This means public schools cannot compel attendance; this means Medicare cannot compel participation; this means TSA cannot compel warrantless searches in exchange for traveling by air; this means EPA, DEA, APHIS and all the other Alpha-Bits regulatory agencies cannot impose their regulation on anyone without proving that the regulation is allowed upon that person by the law that invented it.

A government that respects the rights of its citizens: what a concept.

Slowly removing the layer upon layer of government intrusion into and government control over our daily lives is the only way we can get the government we were promised without recreating the revolution that none of us wants to have. At least I don’t want to have it, which is why I recognize that my libertarian solution is not workable; I’d be killing what I’m trying to save out of sheer ideological arrogance. Ironic, since ideological arrogance is what got us here in the first place. Governing a nation of free people is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be very difficult. The more difficult it is to govern, the freer the people governed.

I sadly recognize that some of us do want a second revolution, however, whether they care to admit it or not. All we need to do to get it is just keep going the way we’re going. When we run out of China’s money the revolution will happen on its own, with or without – but almost certainly with – foreign prodding and territorial claim-jumping. If we’re determined to spend ourselves to death, we’d better learn Mandarin or Spanish to make our new masters feel welcome.

Won’t that have been worth it?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Oh, the Irony

Oh, the Irony
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Egypt to Try 19 Americans

Article Synopsis:
Nineteen Americans were arrested and imprisoned by Egypt last week over their roles in pro-democracy activities within Egypt’s borders. Among the 19 is the son of ex-Republican IL ex-Congressman Ray LaHood, Obama’s Transportation Secretary. Egypt has arrested 43 foreign pro-democracy activists, mostly from North America and Europe, and the West is none too happy about it. The West is also puzzled. The US may rethink its nearly $1 billion yearly foreign aid to Egypt.

Should-a Listened: What have I been saying? Hosni Mubarak was a “dictatorial tyrant” [boo hoo] who never arrested foreign pro-democracy weenies, for they weren’t a threat – he arrested islamist hotheads, for they were. After he was overthrown by Egypt’s pro-democracy weenies and the government was turned over to the scary Egyptian military, foreign pro-democracy weenies still weren’t arrested – only Egyptian pro-democracy weenies were arrested ... when they rioted.

After Egypt’s democratic parliamentary election was held and turned the country over – democratically – to the islamist hotheads, only then were foreign pro-democracy weenies arrested. Pro-democracy activists are now seen as dangerous to the democratically-elected Egyptian parliament, which now pulls the strings of the Egyptian military, which is ostensibly still in command.

Of the 498 seats in Egypt’s parliament, almost 50% belong to one party of islamist hothead, the Muslim Brotherhood, parent organization to Palestinian Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad terrorist groups. Sadly, this party is called “moderate” by the imbeciles of the Western press. The Salafi party – the party of Wahabi sect Sunni, which founded al Qaida – owns over 20% of the 498 seats. This party is called “extremist” by Western press, which condescended to use the term for someone besides American Tea Party fiscal conservatives.

In between the “moderate” Brotherhood and the “extreme” Salafis are two other islamist hothead parties of middling temperament which together push the total islamist hold on the Egyptian government to roughly 80%. It is under this 80% islamist democratic control that foreign pro-democracy activists are seen as a threat and were arrested.

The political party belonging to the Egyptian pro-democracy weenies who overthrew Mubarak...? They have 7 parliamentary seats. Not seven percent; seven. Out of 498. About one-point-five percent.

Conclusion: It would be very easy to draw parallels here between Egypt’s 1.5% and their 80%, and the dreams and ambitions of our own facile and farcical “1%” and “99%”. I could very simply – and accurately – declare that the majority of any sufficiently large population either doesn’t know what they want and choose fools to give it to them, or they want stupid and draconian things and choose tyrants to be despotic over them. But that would be too easy. I’ll let everyone conclude that on their own.

Headline: Ginsburg to Egypt: Don’t Use US Constitution as Model

Article Synopsis:
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opined in Cairo recently that Egypt’s new parliament, tasked with writing a new Constitution, should not use the US Constitution as their template. While promoting the US Constitution as the world’s oldest constitution still in existence outside of a history museum, she prefers various other nations’ Constitutions – such as Canada’s and South Africa’s – as well as various charters on human rights. “A Constitution is only as good as the people who live by it,” she told Egyptians.

Knock Me Over with a Parchment Document: Ginsburg very [in]famously declared that as a US justice in the highest US court in the US, she would not and could not be held to US definitions of proper governmental bearing when deciding cases of US law ... in US courts ... in the US; she would use foreign ideals if she saw fit. She has also [in]famously polluted her rulings with those foreign ideals not supported by the US Constitution.

While she may be correct that US Constitutional ideals were not written precisely enough or accurately enough, and that other nations may have learned from us and written certain things better, there is one and only one allowable way to include those ideals into our law and that is not by having a self-righteous ideologue inaptly catapulted onto the Supreme Court sidestepping Constitutional requirements and imposing them all by her lonesome. It is by proposing changes to our Constitution and acquiring the super-majority necessary to ratify them.

Anything less is dictatorship, a tyranny of the minority ... which is what we rebelled against in the first place.

Ginsburg would have been better off declaring that Egypt should not use the US Constitution as the model for their own because two of those imprecisely and inarticulately written clauses in ours have been used for well over a century as an excuse by Congress and the courts to do whatever it wants to, whenever it wants to, and because it wants to:
1] the Tax and Spend clause, and
2] the Interstate Commerce clause.

Egypt’s government doing what it wants, when it wants just because it wants is no different than what they’ve had forever, and recreating this imperious governmental prerogative would not be an improvement. It’s not like Ginsburg could be accused of spilling the Dirty Little Playbook of unelected activist judges, or anything; she went out of her way to declare that she’s equally comfortable using other nations’ laws which have no standing in the US to decide cases before her, which is two steps of imperial prerogative beyond deliberate misreading for expedience sake.

Conclusion: The one thing she said that is undeniably, unequivocally true: a Constitution is only as good as the people who live by it. And since our Constitution is not lived-by by our government, whether made of Democrat or Republican, elected or appointed or – in the case of Ginsburg, apparently – anointed, our Constitution has officially been declared the toilet paper than many have suggested it’s been for decades.

Headline: Obama to Use Super PAC

Article Synopsis:
In 2008, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, called “Super PACs” “a threat to our democracy” and there was a federal law which limited who could donate money to one. In 2010, a US Supreme Court decision declared the Super PAC funding law unconstitutional. In 2012, President Obama is imploring donors to keep Democratic party Super PACs funded on pace with Republican party Super PACs. ...for our Democracy is at stake.

Goose, Gander, Pot, Kettle: A “Super PAC” is a means for amorphous blobs of American money to spontaneously form themselves into checks written to Madison Avenue advertising agencies to pay for slick ads castigating and demonizing a politician. A Super PAC cannot be directly tied to any candidate and cannot take advice or direction from any candidate. The last Democratic Congress under Bush passed a law that prohibited certain institutional holders of large wads of money from donating unlimited money to a Super PAC – and ironically, those prohibited were those who typically favored Republicans; the ads they paid for would have castigated and demonized Democrats.

Among the groups prohibited from unlimited donations were the Chamber of Commerce, manufacturing trade groups, industrial trade groups, and the like. Curiously not prohibited from making unlimited donations were those groups who typically favor Democrats and whose ads castigate and demonize Republicans ... such as: labor unions, the financial industry, the American Trial Lawyers Association, and foreign governments. When Super PACs were prohibited by law in 2007 just in time for the 2008 presidential election, it was effectively Republican Super PACs that were prohibited, and Candidate Obama had a vested interest in believing they were a threat.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that you can’t allow some amorphous blobs of money to have “freedom of speech” while disallowing other amorphous blobs of money from having the same right; Republicans thus have the same right to make Super PACs. So now, with Republican Super PACs outcollecting Democrat Super PACs by four-to-one, and Obama being powerless to stop them, he is pleading with his adherents to empty their wallets on his – but not really his – behalf.

Conclusion: Money doesn’t have freedom of speech. That is a scold used by Democrats to criticize industry groups making political advertisements, and they are correct about this. People have freedom of speech, and if a person with money wants to buy an ad castigating and demonizing a politician, then he needs to put his name on it and air it. Let the audience decide whether the president of the Chamber of Commerce criticizing government regulation that eliminate jobs is a better or worse sell than the president of ATLA justifying the McDonalds coffee case.

Personal Politics

Personal Politics
©2012 Ross Williams

TSA is ducking and covering once again. On their own website they are trying to dodge the Constitutional issue of their detention of Senator Rand Paul.

It’s not a detention, they say. Except ... yes it is. Stopping someone from going about his business under color of authority is a detention. It is an arrest. It is not remanding into custody. You are under arrest when you are pulled over by a traffic cop needing to meet his ticket quota. You will almost certainly not be taken into custody.

Pedantic semantics of law aside, Paul was arrested by TSA.

The next dodge is to quote the statute authorizing the creation of TSA in the first place where it specifically states that members of the government, including elected federal legislators, are not exempt from the rules TSA may impose. ...which is true as the law does say that, but it’s irrelevant as the Constitution says you can’t detain those federal legislators. Statute does not trump Constitution.

Rather, it is not supposed to trump Constitution. But as we’ve seen with the whole warrantless search thing, laws are passed constantly that, under review, seem to find some newly written invisible ink clause that only judges can detect which the judges then use to justify the law. So let’s just say, then, that until this judicial review actually takes place, and the courts hallucinate their “except for terrorism” clause into another section of the Constitution, the statute authorizing TSA to detain Senators and Representatives does not trump the Constitution.

Federal judges do not have the same Constitutional protection, ... detain them.

Their last attempted deflection is that Paul was in fact not on official business while his chamber was in session ... he was flying to DC that day to attend a Pro-Life rally before giving his speech on the floor of the Senate and voting on a judicial nominee that evening. His participation in the Pro-Life rally negates everything else, and somehow trumps Article I, § 6 of the US Constitution.

Using this line of logic, if it were 1820 and a US Senator was on horseback on his 3-day trip to DC but stopped at an inn for the night, he’s not actually on official business either.

If it were 1880 and the US Senator was on the train heading to Washington, but his first stop was at the washroom to scrub a thousand miles of coal soot from his face, he is also not on official business.

Potty breaks are not allowed, no stop at the vending machines, if you’re going to DC when your House is in session, you go straight there and no nuthin’ in between. No detour to luggage claim, no hailing a cab, no checking messages on the blackberry. God forbid there’s road construction. If anything else comes first on a Senator’s trip to DC to attend to his official duties in chambers, TSA has the authority to take dibs on him.

Needless to say, this is all preposterous. Making appearances at political events is an official duty; making stump speeches is an official duty; attending constituent meet-n-greets is an official duty.

And this means – as if it really needs to be said at this point – that TSA is demonstrably wrong once again. Well, as I say, stick with what you’re good at. TSA is good at being the American Gestapo, and wrong. They have these two skills in their wheelhouse.

What bothers me significantly more in this whole episode, though, is Rand Paul himself. Not that his attitude about TSA is insupportable, but his politics – actual versus perceived. To be honest, I took the practice shots at TSA above only to clear the sights for my shots on Paul below.

For some reason, Ron Paul – erstwhile Republican presidential candidate and Texas loony Representative – and his son Rand Paul are considered by huge numbers of Americans to be libertarians. The only possible explanation for this is that these huge numbers of Americans have no clue what a libertarian is.

First of all, a libertarian is almost never a member of the Libertarian Party. The only way a libertarian could be a member of the party is if he were to completely ignore, indeed actively refute, the political philosophy he swore to abide by when being admitted to it. Members of the Libertarian Party are self-involved navel-gazing rationalists who have as much understanding of the real world and how to operate in it as those who call themselves “progressives”.

Instead, a libertarian is one who resists any and all attempts by the government to impose itself onto its citizens in ways that the Constitution does not allow the government to impose – regardless of the reason for the imposition. The libertarian understands that quite often the government seeks to impose itself in improper ways because huge numbers of citizens ask it to as they are certainly entitled to do, but the libertarian resists those groups of citizens as well. The libertarian resists those citizens not for wanting something to be done, but for trying to get the government to do it when the rules say it’s not the government’s job.

Case in point: TSA. After 9-11 millions of Americans were shocked, outraged, and frightened. And for good reason: we had just suffered a frightening and outrageous shock. It is very understandable that millions of people would seek comfort and solace and safety.

What is not understandable is that a nation, conceived in liberty, with a government of, by and for The People, would turn its back on the principles on which it was founded in order to offer the frightened masses a fleeting and ineffectual “safety” that cannot be provided in any event, and especially not by a law. ...unless, of course, the function of the government has insidiously shifted from a constitutional democratic republic to being a garden variety tyranny of expanding bureaucratic fiefdoms. Then the government can justify doing whatever it wants to do.

For what it’s worth, my money is on the US suffering from the expanding bureaucratic fiefdom thing.

A libertarian does not pick and choose which improper expansions of government into undefined authorities he is against; he is against all of them, even if he is privately sympathetic to the cause. Few of us have any difficulty sympathizing with those who want somebody, anybody, to make us feel safe from yahoos with boxcutters on planes. Almost no one fails to understand and indeed sympathize with those who wanted TSA to be created.

The government of a nation conceived in liberty, though, would tell the people “Your fears are understandable, but other than kicking their asses on their home field, we cannot do much for you here ... and we won’t, because it kills your freedom in the name of preserving it.”

Any group of people who would use the power of the government to compel free citizens of a free country to choose between abdicating their rights and removing themselves from public activities is the worst type of coward there is. He is the paranoid conspiracist bully coward: he is frightened, and everyone else is automatically suspicious until they prove, under force, that they are harmless. And the government that would play along with it is a tyranny.

Libertarians do not condone this attitude, regardless of the circumstances. Whether it is TSA lining up air travelers by the million to subject them to warrantless electronic strip searches and hands-on handjobs to satisfy “alarms”, or whether it is a group of fetus-huggers who want to extend rights to the pre-citizen superior to those of the actual citizen to be left alone, the libertarian tells them both to get bent.

The only legitimate business a libertarian Senator Rand Paul would have at a Pro-Life rally would be to say, “Your position is obviously sincere, but other than providing you an opportunity to speak your mind we cannot eliminate the rights of a citizen to be left alone in favor of promoting any right of a person who does not yet exist; the real citizen takes precedence over the possible future citizen.”

As a libertarian, you can pine for safety all you want; you can also weep for the permanently unborn as well. But you cannot justify harnessing the power of the government to enact your private sympathies to tyrannize free citizens just because you think it's swell. Not if you want to be a libertarian. You can do these petty [and not-so petty] incremental tyrannies if you are a Democrat or a Republican, but not as a libertarian.

As a libertarian you are against them all. Paul – father and son both – is only against selected government impositions, the ones which don’t bother his conscience. The libertarian sets his conscience aside when it comes to his politics, for the personal is not political. It is, instead, personal.

Anyone who takes his personal and forces it to be anyone else’s political is a despot.

A Paul to Revere

A Paul to Revere
– or –
Three if By Air

©2012 Ross Williams

Senator Rand Paul, son of Texas faux-libertarian Congressman and current Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, was detained this morning by TSApes in Nashville for triggering an “alarm” which they sought to resolve by means of pat-down. Rand Paul refused to allow it and he was sent off to a corner to sit by himself to “think about what he’s done”. He missed his flight to DC where debate is scheduled to convene at 2pm and votes by 4:30.

Of course, this event has spawned a great number of people making wildly idiotic claims.

The first of which is: He wasn’t detained.

Incorrect. Detention [at the hands of the government] is the act of restricting the movement of a citizen under color of a government agent’s lawful authority to restrict movement. You are detained by definition at TSA checkpoints while they conduct their warrantless searches. You are detained by definition on the side of the road when a cop pulls you over for speeding.

He was not taken into custody, no. He was still detained. A detention by the government is an arrest.

The next claim [made in the form of a question] is: What makes him so special?

The Constitution does. Article I, Section 6:

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

As he was on his way to DC to attend his Senate session, he is exempt from any interference in fulfilling that duty, which includes detention by TSApes after he triggered his “alarm”, and – technically – from questioning him [by remote electronics] in the first place in order to gain that “alarm”. If you want to arrest a Congressman on his way to the office, it has to be for a crime already on the books.

As a US Senator, he’s exempt.

The next outrage identified is: flying still isn’t a right.

This is still flat wrong, for all the reasons previously identified. The Constitution is the upper limit on government power, not the starting point. Without a specific authority within the body of the Constitution to allow interference, flying and contracting with airline companies is indeed a right.

Following closely is this: WE still have to go through it!

...but we shouldn’t either. We have the right to move from place to place in this country, by any means we choose to use, without undue government interference. If the government wants to interfere, it needs to go to the effort to explain – rationally – why each individual it wishes to interfere with deserves to be interfered with. This is our freedom from unreasonable search.

And that leads to this: but it isn’t unreasonable to search people for being terrorists.

Yes it is, when it doesn’t come with a warrant. The word warrant means reason; we are free from “unreasonable search”. We are free, therefore, from unwarranted – warrantless – search. You cannot separate “unreasonable search” from the lack of a warrant, based on Probable Cause, defining it. They are the same thing.

Then, naturally, comes: but TSA doesn’t really “search” unless you’ve triggered an alarm.

This is just a huge duck-n-cover for idiots. The electronic technology TSA has is more effective as a search agent than virtually anything else, and can see model numbers printed on hairdryers inside a carry-on without opening it. And serendipity being what it is, the US Supreme Court ruled this morning that installing a passive GPS locator on a suspect’s car without his consent constituted a search. When the mere tracking of possible ne’er-do-wells is a search requiring a warrant and the active electronic searching of improbable terrorists is not ... then it’s time to hop the slow boat to communist China. At least the ChiComs are becoming more capitalist instead of less.

Not to mention, by the time the US spends itself into oblivion by stimulating our economy with more and better electronics for TSA, the Chinese will own the US anyway and may simply foreclose on us. Moving to China will be just another term for ‘coming home’ before too long.

Until then, here’s hoping the Senator will push back at TSA.