Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is it the Taxes? I wish.

Is it the Taxes? No it's not the taxes, it's not even the budget, it's the philosophy stupid!

While I'm viscerally opposed to unwarranted tax hikes, here's an image that comes to mind when I hear people screaming primarily about raising taxes.

Picture a person who has been beaten, eyes closed, lips pressed tightly and silently together as he is being tied to a stake with thick red duct tape, tinder is gathered at his feet and the edges of it have been lit. Next the attacker reaches into the victims pocket for his wallet and begins pulling dollar bills out. The victim now opens his eyes and screams "No! Don't take my money!".

It's a matter of perspective, don't you see? Is it bad that the attacker is stealing his money? Of course it is, but there are a few other issues that should be foremost in the victims mind - screaming for help might be a good start. Kicking away the tinder wouldn't be bad either, but mostly breaking free of the red tape ought to be numero uno on his list of things to do.
The attacker of course, is the statist (Left and Right), and the submissive and misordered victim is the American people, particularly the businessmen, and the red tape... is red tape (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar).

Government red tape, regulations, rules, requirements, are the real physical threat, the thing that is holding us back from escaping this disaster that is heating up all around us - regulatory law IS the disaster! Raising taxes is bad, it would be even more disastrous for our economy if it happens, but not raising taxes will do nothing to fix the economy, not raising taxes will do nothing to get America back to creating jobs and producing wealth.

Reducing taxes would be helpful, but they wouldn't fix the problem.

The taxes are bad and they are everywhere, they are involved in everything we do and buy. But even more pervasive and destructive, are the regulations which saturate and burden our lives more deeply than mere taxation could ever manage - taxes are applied to what you do, Regulations prevent you from doing it as you judge best, or even at all. I'd wager that there is nothing in your life that is free from the direct burden of regulations; regulations have hurt us beyond measure, and we are blind to them, deaf to them, and mute about them, even as we complain about the very real disasters which they have wrought upon us.

Why are businesses fleeing the country? Taxation is certainly a part of the equation, but far more integral to the matter are the tyrannical regulations which make every effort to make it impossible to operate a profitable business, make it impossible to make the decisions that need to be made as they need to be made on a daily basis, especially regarding manufacturing, in the United States of America.

Listen closely to this man who is trying to create a productive business, a coal mine, which could employ hundreds in his town, as he has listened for hours about how he would be hurting the town rather than helping it:

“Nearly every day without fail…men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just…you know…what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I see these guys—I see them with tears in their eyes—looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So…basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.”
It wasn't taxation that drove this man to Shrug away his plan to create a new and productive business. It wasn't taxation that drove Boeing to abandon Seattle to invest millions of dollars in a new plant across the country in South Carolina, and it isn't taxation that is now threatening to hang them with their best efforts to open their new operations. It isn't taxation that is threatening to destroy the thousands of new jobs which Boeing was creating in that state.

It is the Regulations that are tying us up and setting our nation aflame.

There is no more difference between the NLRB, EPA, FDA, FTC, EEOC, SEC, WTF, ETC, than between the positions of defensive linemen preparing to execute a blitz - they are all on the same opposing team and the name of the game is to plow through our line (businesses), sack our Quarterback (the Constitution, if you hadn't guessed), take them out of the game and defeat us.

If that's not clear to you by now... I can't help you out.

John Mauldin is a popular financial commentator, someone who is thoughtful, informative and whose conclusions I usually disagree with, at least in part, but he made several excellent points in one of his recent letters. He discusses the economic crisis centering around Greece, our own economic situation and how they show more than a few similarities to the tightly shut eyes & mouth of our own red taped victim, down to his misplaced alarm over the lesser threats to his life.

Here he's relating a very depressing examination by a well connected friend of his who was trying to explain to him about the employment numbers, and the amount of jobs needed to begin returning us to the 6% rate which is thought 'ideal', and the futility of focusing on the wrong issue. I won't bother with the stats, but his ending summary is quite good:
"The times Barry talks about, of large job creation, were during periods of either high innovation or significant home and infrastructure building and increasing leverage. That is just not in the cards now. It requires an economy rocking and rolling north of 4% GDP growth. We are barely at 2%. In May, total state payrolls (the data came out today) were down 64,000; in June they were up 65,200, averaging out to +1,200 for the two months combined.

We keep hearing about what the government should do to create jobs. And the reality is that it can do precious little. Private businesses create jobs, and nearly all net new jobs for the last two decades have come from start-up businesses. What government can do is create an environment that encourages new businesses, get rid of red tape (especially in biotech, where the FDA is mired in the 1980s!), stop creating even more rules that make it costly for new businesses to hire, and so on. I could go on, but the fact is, we are in for a rather long period of higher-than-comfortable unemployment. And that means lower tax revenues and a more difficult economy."
We have been bound and tied to the stake by regulations, even more so than by bad laws – NLRB, EPA, FDA, FTC, EEOC, SEC, with their progeny in 'Cap and Trade', 'Net Neutrality' and so forth and so on, these are the things that have driven manufacturing out of the country, taxation is simply the final straw... removing that last straw will do very little to bring those jobs back, and it will do little to enable small businesses to be able to do the things they would do, if regulations didn’t bar them, or intensely slow them, from doing them.

You think our tax rate is high? Try calculating the man hours, the actual expenses and the forcible prevention of productive decisions and actions, which regulations impose upon our economy.

Spending will always be an issue, we will always argue about it, and some of us will always holler that taxes - no matter the form - are too high. That is a given. It's human nature.

What is also human nature, but is not unavoidable, is the urge to control your neighbor for their own good. Primitive societies are held down to subsistence level by their refusal to let their fellow make their own decisions, their refusal to let anyone break with the tribe, and their unrestrained willingness to use physical force to keep things as they are. That is why stone age tribes remain stone age tribes, even in our day.

But what began to lift civilization out of the darkness of pre-history, was the slowly developing idea of freedom and liberty, which, ironically, given the news of the day, first began to dawn in Greece, and culminated 2,500 years later with the Constitution of the United States of America.

With the enshrinement of individual rights anchored upon an understanding of property rights, under the protection of the rule of law, for the first time in human history, preserving the ability of each citizen to engage in "... life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." became the purpose of the power of government.

And before the ink was dry, of course, the old, primitive urge, to keep everyone down, to keep everyone equal, and under the delusion that such ideas would be progress, rather than regress, the proregressives have been gradually perverting our rule of law and subverting our understanding of property rights, in order to impose unjust restrictions upon us all, in the name of egalitarian "Equality of results for all" - which translates best into Justice for none.

Victor Davis Hanson's compatriot, Bruce Thornton, recently wrote a post "It's the philosophy stupid", which hits a part of this theme,
"... the real issue here isn’t economics, it’s philosophical. The essence of the progressive vision is the equality of result predicated on the assumption of radical egalitarianism, the notion that “those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects” as Aristotle put it. And since people in reality aren’t all equal and success reflects differences in ability, virtue, and hard work, the coercive power of the state must be used to achieve the aim of what Plato criticized as “dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike,” a form of injustice that ignores differences of talent, effort, and achievement.

As always, behind every policy is a good idea or a bad idea about human nature and existence. The progressive notion that the power of the state wielded by techno-elites can create a more just world is one of modernity’s worst ideas. Pace Bill Clinton, it’s not “the economy, stupid,” it’s the philosophy. That’s where the battle of 2012 must be waged."
And with that, I agree entirely.

The foolishness of thinking that these ancient and primitive tribal notions of egalitarianism can lead an advanced civilization in any direction resembling progress, is nearly incomprehensible. Mauldin captured a bit of that in this bit as well, as he tries to wrap his mind around putting failed ideas in charge of managing successful ones, summarizing the view as:
"Ok, the Greek economy is in a depression, so let’s fire up a jobs program. Run by socialists and bureaucrats. The entire Eurozone is slipping into a slow-growth recession, and these guys are just focusing on Greece.

It’s Not Just Greece - And that’s the problem with this latest patchwork fix. It assumes that Greece is the problem and if we solve Greece everything else will get solved."
Truly, there's nothing so destructive as bad ideas in the service of good intentions.

It isn't Greece, it isn't the taxes, it isn't even the budget, it's the philosophy stupid!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Debt of Honor

What is the game of debt being played on us?

What is the point? This talk of raising the debt limit or being held to the debt limit... what is the point? What do you think the discussion is supposed to accomplish?

This is being played as a dire crisis that can't be solved by anything less than indentured servitude... anything less, and financial Armageddon will come down
on us all. Really? President Obama claims he may not be able to pay the military or social security

*** WAIT - Timeout***

I thought the Social Security Trust fund was fully funded for the next several decades?!

Am I delusional? I don't think so... I clearly recall that as being what Reid, Pelossi and Obama told us, reassured us, swore to us... right?!
Google says: "That is true" - Way, wayyyy back in February of This Year, Jack Lew, President Obama’s budget director, facing a debt limit increase within a few weeks of saying this, said in USA Today,
“Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing. They are paid for with payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers throughout their careers. These taxes are placed in a trust fund dedicated to paying benefits owed to current and future beneficiaries. … Even though Social Security began collecting less in taxes than it paid in benefits in 2010, the trust fund will continue to accrue interest and grow until 2025, and will have adequate resources to pay full benefits for the next 26 years.”

Sen. Harry Reid went so far as to say
"Social Security was fully funded for the next 40 yrs! so stop picking on Social Security"
He said that Republicans who were trying to warn people that the system was in danger, were
"Using scare tactics, saying the programs in crisis and on the verge of bankruptcy, that is a myth, and it is not true"

How can they now say that it all comes to a crashing halt if the debt limit isn't raised next week?

Oh... that's right, they said it... lips were moving... then and now... got it. Moving on.

Are Social Security recipients at risk of not receiving their checks, or not? Immediately? No - unless of course President Obama wants to starve them for his own political gain, that is. Ok, I realize that might not be very reassuring... but I'll come back to that in a moment.

Maybe we should take a couple steps back. What is our debt limit? What is Debt? How should debt be dealt with? Is unmanageable debt dealt with responsibly and honorably by seeking more of it? Is it honorable to ask for more of what you cannot be sure you can repay?

What's the story?

The Story
To hear many of these politicians, economists & talking heads left & right, describe it, the debt and our ability to pay any of it, are being treated as inseparably tied to our decision not to borrow more, as if the decision to not borrow more, means that the United States Govt is suddenly and entirely flat broke, everyone still having a job will lose theirs, all of our savings will vaporize and we will be entirely unable to make any payments on our debt... does that make sense?

These talking heads are blathering on that we face catastrophic failure - that nothing would be paid.

That's a lie. Period.

Nothing about failing to raise the debt limit, or even defaulting on the debt (which is not the same thing at all), would instantly prevent our tax revenue from streaming in; the US Treasury does have an unimaginably huge debt, but it also still has a reasonably dependable flow of tax revenues coming in that cover the monthly service of that debt, as John Browne points out,
"Many of the key people responsible for America’s historic mess, including the President, Treasury Secretary Geithner, former NEC Director Summers, and Fed Chairman Bernanke, have pronounced publicly that a failure to lift the debt ceiling will cause a catastrophic Treasury debt default.

This is simply not true. The US Treasury has tax revenues that cover the service of its current (staggering) debt of some $14.3 trillion."
Look at it this way: You wake up after a long spending binge and realize you bought or agreed to buy more than you can afford, so you apply to have your credit card limit raised. You call up your friendly neighborhood (India) help line, and they say 'Sorry, no - we are not confident in your ability to handle a larger loan balance at this time.' Does that mean that you are suddenly and instantly broke and unable to pay any of your bills?

No? Neither is that the case for Uncle Sam.

What would you have to do? You'd have to sit down, look at your bills and assets and decide which bills to pay first, which to pay last, what you can return or sell and and also decide which drains on your cash flow are not essential and can be dispensed with... right? So would Uncle Sam,
"In this event, it is unlikely a default will occur. Historically, governments prioritize debt service above all other expenses. If the expansion of funds via debt becomes impossible, the Treasury will cease paying other expenses first, starting with "nonessential" discretionary expenditures, and then move on to mandatory expenditures and entitlements as a last resort."

If it were you, and you didn't get your debt limit raised, would you choose to continue buying happy meals, renting video games and paying your full service NetFlix account first... while pushing off your mortgage & car pmt? No...?

What does it tell you when President Obama gets in front of the cameras and says he's worried that he might decide to do just that by possibly not paying his most important bills, in favor of his least important ones?

As Chief Executive, it is true, he is the one who must decide what will be paid, what will be paid first, and how many non-essential programs will be kept, and which dropped, so that our monthly income can be directed to wisely pay our bills. And by least important or non-essential, I mean payments such as these, an example of cuts (meaning the programs are still there) being proposed in the current round:

  • Save America 's Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.
  • International Fund for Ireland .$17 million annual savings.
  • Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings
  • Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings
  • Hope VI Program.. $250 million annual savings.
  • Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
  • Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
  • U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.
  • Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy.$20 million annual savings.

The fact that these programs, and many more like them, still exist, means that the liposuction has yet to be begun. If the President chooses to continue funding NPR, ACORN (or whatever name they're going by these days), making foreign aid pmts,  expanding EPA regulations, caring for the snail darter saving funding, or whatever, while choosing not to pay Social Security and the Military... I suggest that a nice loud chorus of IMPEACH THE SOB!!! would be very much in order.

But I don't think (hope) even Obama would do that. But he sure is willing to try and scare people into thinking that he'll have no choice but to do just that. What does that tell you about him? Is that not political posturing at its very worse?

The Other Story
The other story being peddled is that choosing to increase our debt limit is little different from asking your Uncle Sam to come in and work an extra weekend or two to catch back up on things and then all will be fine.

Is that the case? Is raising the debt limit simply saying yes to 'rolling up our sleeves' and handling the matter?

If you got that extension on your credit card bill, and your mo. pmt. was raised... what do you suppose your friendly neighborhood customer service person would say if you called up and said,
"Ya know, thanks for raising my limit, do you want me to pay my increased bill for one or two months?"
Don't you think it might be something like,
"Sorry? No sir, that is your new payment until you pay down your debt - and that is going to take you quite a long while I'm sure".
This is not a simple matter of 'rolling up our sleeves' and 'eating our peas', and shame on President Obama for trying to con people into thinking of it as little more than that. He's not only asking for a debt limit increase, but also asking to pile on trillions of dollars of more programs & purchases! Purchases which come with long, long term obligations to repay.

This is despicable. Nothing less.

This is not a matter of 'Uncle Sam' putting in extra effort, but of Govt saying "Yes!" to taking more of what is yours, and doing so for a much longer period of time. Any increase in the debt limit means taking on more debt and more interest which adds a very, very large number of dollars to what you, your children and grandchildren will someday have to pay back. IOW this is a Tax INCREASE on a massive scale, but not only that, it is a tax increase that is far too close for comfort to being a defacto extension of indentured servitude upon the American people. If your child could be born today with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on their heads can be called many things, but Free, isn't one of them.

Not only are we being obligated to innumerable more years of Taxes, but we are also being saddled at the same time with even more, and more regulations - regulations that will restrict our power companies ability to supply power to us, regulations that will make it difficult for them to even stay in business, regulations which are preventing business from expanding, operating or being created.


A Debited Honor
Again, what does defaulting on the debt mean? It means not paying your bills. For you and me, it would be limited to saying "I'm out of cash, I can't pay my bills." and then your creditors looking over your books and deciding whether to repossess, extend further credit, or something else. But that's not the case with government, government can do what we can't - they can technically pay their bills... while at the same time, not pay those same bills.

How? they can print their own money, and they pay out x number of funny money bills, along with n number of 'actual' bills.

That is something which the Federal Govt has been doing to handle it's debt problems since around 1918 - we've been allowing that very thing to be done, and it has been doing that very same thing pretty much continuously, ever since.

As a result, your dollar today, wouldn't buy a nickel's worth of candy in 1914 - and that would have bought a lot of candy. Back then.

What do we do?

Is it wise to pretend there's no problem, declare that 'lucky day! we have an increased debt limit!' and increase the burden on all Americans ability to pay their bills even further?

The Answer?
First, recognize that the necessary and most productive thing to do to repay your obligations, is the best course of action, despite the fact that it will be difficult and will involve pain, but knowing that once confronted, the disaster you've been trying to ignore can begin to be dealt with, and your real situation can actually have real progress made towards handling it.

By hitting the debt limit on Tuesday, Aug 2nd, and NOT raising the debt limit, we would be finally confessing that the check is not in the mail - but that it will be, and here's how we are going to be paying our debts and obligations on such and such schedule from here on out. Economist Peter Schiff notes,
"While President Obama would find himself walking through a minefield of special interest groups as he chose where to cut, I expect the overall effort to be broadly popular. This is, after all, what the boisterous American Tea Party has been demanding all along. And the ultimate result would be a renewed faith in the US dollar and Treasuries."
Failing to do that, if the Republicans game the system to make token cuts, little spending decreases and raise the debt limit - as the leadership seems inclined to do - it will be disastrous. Peter Schiff continues,

"In fact, the Republicans have in their hands the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to force the Administration into good sense, while avoiding the political fallout.
Increasingly, it appears likely that the Republicans will buckle. If they do, Americans will be faced with a package that both sides will claim as a victory. The losers will be hard working, patriotic Americans and those around the world who believed the United States was good for its word."

This is not a game for politicians, don’t let them treat it like it is one. They care about power, theirs. What do you care about? This isn’t about doing what will get them re-elected, this is about doing what needs, must, be done. This is about restoring the full faith and credit of the United States of America... and that’s a tall order. And a steep climb. But standing with the deal making status quo is not an option - there is no honor in that - and that path is crumbling beneath our feet right now, and you know it is. We either begin climbing up or we continue falling down at 32 feet per second, per second.

Call your representatives and senators - tell them to do the difficult, right, honorable thing - Cut our expenses, Cut the Regulations!, Cap the taxes and Balance the budget (just not with the current Balanced Budget Amendment).

However, unlike what many of my fellows have said, I don't see sunshine and lollipops following doing what needs to be done. Refusing to raise the debt limit would cause disturbances, it will cause disruptions in markets - for a while, it will cause even greater inflation than we are experiencing now... but it would also be the start of finally beginning to fix the matter, and enabling it to be turned around. Just as by sitting down with your creditors, reviewing your finances, and temporarily swearing off frivolous spending, would cause you some significant short term difficulties, it would also enable you to begin making payments on your debt, and your creditors would finally be assured that your financial behavior would become responsible and that they could have confidence that they would be paid, without having to call vinny and the debt collectors on you.

The actual result of not raising our debt limit, of actually dealing with our debt, and of meaningfully cutting expenses, removing the regulatory burdens that are hobbling our economy and ceasing to live beyond our means, would be to restore confidence in the full faith and credit of the United States of America, in more ways than one, and then we would be on the road to recovery... only at the beginning of it, true, but on the right road nevertheless. Finally.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Madness of Left and Right – Politically Speaking

"In the maze, you'll find no dragons or creatures of the deep, instead you'll find something even more challenging. You see, people... change... in the maze - Oh find the cup if you can, but be very wary, you could just lose yourselves along the way" Dumbledore - Goblet of fire (movie vs)

With all the news lately, budgetary battles in D.C. and innocents slaughtered in Norway, it seems a good time to make a few clarifications about our political systems and how we refer to them. Dana Loesch gave a good, and brief, historical summary of the origin and meaning of " the Definition of "Right Wing" on Big Journalism. And while I don't have a very good track record on being brief... I'm going to give it a shot, after all, I did manage a fairly brief summary of the basis for 'Liberty and Natural Rights', and since Dana's already given the history, all that's left for me is to do is to clarify the political basis a bit further.

The need to do this came to mind this morning with a couple comments exchanged with an online friend from the other side of the aisle, about the Norwegian shooting and bombing. By this morning the news had switched from the initial reports of various islamic groups taking credit for the attacks, to it being the work of a 'right winger'. Lance commented,
"So it was lone white male, right wing extremest. Color me Jack's complete lack of surprise."
And I replied,
"Bombing govt buildings, shooting kids, yep, obviously someone who believes in individual rights, constitutional government and the rule of law, right winger all right."
And Lance replied
"He is a right wing European which is much different then the typical right wing American."
Which points out not only the difference between how the political terms are thought of and applied here in America, and there in Europe, but also their inability to properly label the ideas they supposedly identify. Why do you suppose these terms are still being used if they cause so much confusion? My guess, is that it's because of their inability to properly label the ideas they supposedly identify. Why? Because few things are more useful in an argument that is being argued so as to score a win, rather than to discover the truth, than one which uses names that can be used to so easily mislead the audience. But with that kind of race being run, filled with inappropriate terms and clouded with non-essentials, is a race which even if you do win, you're likely to lose yourself in the process.

In Norway, and most of Europe, Right Wing typically stands for nationalists, fascists, authoritarian statists with varying degrees of racists thrown into the mix, while the left wing (once) stood for less control and more freedom. When we conservatives are called 'right wing extremists', they're associating us with authoritarians, kings & dictators, people who care nothing for their peoples rights, lives or property.

But does that fit the American so called 'Right Wing'?

The answer is no, it doesn't fit. In fact, those that are typically called 'Right Wing extremists', such as fascists, are actually nothing other than leftists of another flavor. If that surprises you, it's only because these issues are so rarely looked at in their essentials, that we easily become distracted by all the various random details which clutter and obscure our view.

The essential essentials of Left and Right
For the record, no one defined the essentials of these systems as well as John Adams and Karl Marx did. John Adams said that the essential of (classical) liberalism lay in the Roman conception of a Republic, as being where the private property of all the people is protected by law, and that all individual rights are dependent upon the protection of private property.

Karl Marx, on the other hand, defined the essentials of his system as,
"the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."
This not only defines the two points of views in their essentials, but it also highlights their fundamental point of opposition.

The European terms 'Left' and 'Right', came from which side of a racket ball court partisans stood upon during the French Revolution. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that that may have run its course in the area of relevance. The only meaningful way to describe what the terms Left and Right attempts to describe, and fails so badly at, is that of Anti-Property Rights and Pro-Property Rights, all the rest is simply style and flavor.

The Pro-Property Right
Classical liberals such as John Adams, what we call Tea Party conservatives today, sought, and seek, to protect the peoples right to be secure in the possession of their property

A strange thing happens when you decide that people shall be secure in their property, and then build a political structure around that idea - they gain their liberty. The reason a person has a right to their property, is because it is created by their thoughts, actions and efforts - you have a right to your property because it was created through the actions of your life. As John Locke described it, a person has property not only in their property, but in what it takes to create it - they have property in their thoughts, in their speech, in their actions, in who they choose to associate with - in short freedom and liberty grow out of your right to your property.

Not only that, a society worth living in, is what grows out of people who are free to associate and interact with others who have the freedom to do the same.

Those are the ideas which our Declaration of Independence came from, they are what our Constitution was written to uphold, which is why we care about it, and  why we defend it.
(Video H/T Patch Adams @

The Opposite of Right
The European conception of 'Right Wing' - authoritarianism, institutionalized racism, the State telling people what they can and cannot do, who they can associate with or not, what they can possess, how much of it and under what conditions - such a system as that has nothing to do with, and can have nothing to do with the principles and ideas of Tea Party conservatives. A system such as that which is categorized as a European 'right winger', cannot co-exist with the pro-property rights political views which we call conservative, because it is fundamentally opposed to our fundamental view of property rights.

All of the variants of the anti-property rights systems are centered around collectives, not individuals; Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Proregressivism, they all have one central belief in common - an opposition to property rights - and as such they don't support the Rights of individuals, but instead call for the distribution of privileges amongst the members of various groups of their people. In that system, the people don't have a right to their property, they simply tend to have what most others have (or don't have), because the state has distributed some amounts of materials to them all. They also don't have a right to say what they want, because they have to comply with what is politically correct.

The manner with which they distribute privileges in such a system, and to who, determines the style of collectivism which they are; their differences become apparent in the extent to which they deprive their people of their rights, the style with which they do away with them, and whose property is taken and given to who to control:

  • The socialists puts the means of production into the hands of the state,
  • The communists abolishes all property and all choices of association, which are given to the state (temporarily forever) to control, as it seeks to extend its control globally,
  • Fascists assume the 'right' to control all property within their state, and they economically operate through a form of socialism, but the state allows some favored few persons or classes to operate the means of production for them, at the pleasure of the leader of the state, in the name of their race and nation,
  • Proregressives assume control over as much of everyone's property and actions as they can get away with, leaving some control over them to the people, though all are under the authority of various experts who will guide them locally, and globally.

For all of these collectivist systems, the law is a tool of force for distributing property and control of the people and to defend the state. In each of these systems, the people have no rights which they can be secure in, all privileges are dependent upon and subject to definition, and redefinition, by the state. All rights and privileges are based upon their value to those in power, and no one has a Right to anything at all.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Amendment to balance the budget would unbalance the Constitution

Things are coming to a head with the budget default in this and the upcoming week in Washington D.C.  - I really don't think we've seen anything yet - and one of the well meaning proposals being touted as being able to save the day is the "H.R.2560 Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal, a significant portion of which is S. J. RES. 10: Balanced Budget Amendment.

Would it be a good idea for congress to balance the budget? Absolutely. Would a Balanced Budget amendment be a good idea? Maybe. Is the current Balanced Budget Amendment a good idea? Absolutely not.

Why? I've got a number of problems with the amendment, but let me give you the least first, by looking at the current problem, and what's proposed to remedy it.

What's our current budget problem? That Congress spends money on programs which it was never granted the authority to engage in. What congress is authorized to engage in is stated under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution; what it does state there, congress may do - what it doesn't state there, congress may not do. Not a complicated concept.

Is congress currently following Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution? No. That's the problem.

And sooo the proposal for fixing this problem – that of congress not following the written wording of the constitution – is what? The proposal is that in order to force congress to follow the text of the constitution, we should add more text to it – and by doing that, congress, which is currently ignoring the constitution, and/or deliberately misreading particular clauses of it, such as the Commerce Clause, General Welfare clause, etc, so that they can do whatever it is that they want to do, this same congress is now going to pay close attention to the meaning and intent of this new text in the constitution?

They already know what they should do, but they don't do it, because they want to do something else - what magical power will these new lines of text have which the existing text of the constitution doesn’t have? Shouldn’t a new solution contain something more than the same old problem?

That is seriously the proposed fix for our problems? My first reaction is that the problem doesn't lay in the Constitution, but in the people, especially with We The People, who are no longer so very concerned with following it. If you want to fix our problems, it seems to me that you've go to fix that issue first. Do that, and the rest will fall into place.

At which point I'm usually called impractical. Okay, so let's move on to what modernity considers to be practical, which is laying out plans to mandate that effects precede their causes. And I'm the impractical one!

But taking things on their terms I'll admit that a balanced budget would certainly be a good thing, and an amendment to bring that about could possibly help... that is if it said no more than something like this:
"Congress shall balance its budget each year, will always meet its financial obligations, and will take on no further non-essential defense obligations than it can meet."
But the present Balanced Budget Amendment doesn't say only that, in fact it says a great deal more. Keep in mind, that if that was what it was the amendment was meant to accomplish, then that would be all it said. You can pretty much judge the legitimate aims of a law by its brevity - the longer it is, the less the law likely has to do with its stated aims, and the more likely it is that it's going to be concerned with the real business of politics - disbursing favors and gathering, retaining and exerting power (Compare our original Bill of Rights with the healthcontrol law for further reference.)

And while as modern laws go, this one is fairly brief, but one sentence would have done the trick, the rest is there to expand power, not to restrain it. And you can see how little it will restrain government from doing what it wants, by taking note of how weak it's restraints are. What are they?

What this amendment says is that,
  • in Section 1, it will balance it's budget... unless it's too difficult to do:
"unless two-thirds of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a roll call vote."
  • It also says it will make congress pay its obligations... unless it's too difficult, Section 2:
"unless two-thirds of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific amount in excess of such 18 percent by a roll call vote."
  • In Section 3 it gives... well, I'll come back to that in a moment.
  • It goes on to claim that it won't raise taxes to fix the budget... unless of course that seems like the easiest way to get what they need, Section 4:
"...Any bill that imposes a new tax or increases the statutory rate of any tax or the aggregate amount of revenue may pass only by a two-thirds majority of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress by a roll call vote."
  • And, very timely for today, it says it won't increase your debt, it won't buy more than it can pay for... unless it really wants something, Section 5:
"The limit on the debt of the United States shall not be increased, unless three-fifths of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide for such an increase by a roll call vote."
  • Borrowing? Congress isn't about to harsh it's mellow over concerns about its available income with  trifles such as how much of its income is borrowed, or how much of what it pays is going towards principle on the debt,
"‘Section 9. Total receipts shall include all receipts of the United States Government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government except those for repayment of debt principal."
Those are the serious, hard-hitting restraints, this amendment proposes?

Now congress being what it is, and always will be - gloriously imperfect - I could maybe live with such a mushy amendment, at the very least it'd draw more publicity than normal to their bad behavior. And, I'll admit, that the required two thirds or three fifths majorities (in most sections), are not minor hurdles to overcome, they'd require congress to exert some measure of united effort to override those barriers.

But that is not the worst of it, not even close, as you'll see with these next two issues. First, lets have a look at Section 10. It says that
  • Congress will have, and use, it's power to make whatever laws it thinks this mushy amendment enables them to make (but pay special attention to the last part):
"The Congress shall have power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays, receipts, and gross domestic product."
Did you catch that? "which may rely on estimates"... what estimates? And more importantly, whose estimates?

Good question, and this begins to bring us back to the most momentous part of this whole proposal, the section I skipped over earlier, Section 3.

Good stuff here... from Caesars point of view anyway. You see, the estimates about the nations Gross Domestic Product aren't known until well after the year in question is over and all the deposits are tallied, sooo what they rely upon are estimates of what the GDP will be.

Who makes those estimates? Experts, of course, you know, those same experts who have been noted month after month over the last several years in news stories about the economy, in phrases such as "Experts were surprised today by higher than expected..." loses, unemployment numbers, poor performance, etc.

Yep, those experts. But there's more to it than that, we're not talking simply any ol' run of the mill experts, no, we're talking about the "Bureau of Economic Analysis", and would you care to guess where you can find that particular group of experts hanging their hats? Why, in the Department of Commerce, of course. And under whose control do you suppose you'll find the Dept. of Commerce, and it's Bureau of Economic Analysis to be? Hmmm? Whose thumbprint is it that is pressed firmly down upon all of their pointy little pinheads?

Why, that would be the President of the United States of America, that's whose.

Really, congress has it rough in comparison, they've at least got to get 2/3 of themselves together in order to ignore the 18% of GDP cap, but the POTUS, he's got it easy, he doesn't have to fit his wish list to their estimates, he simply has to see to it that his wish list doesn't conflict with what his experts will estimate  18% of GDP to be.

What could possibly go wrong there?

But wait, there's more!
But even the fact that the President will be in charge of making a budget that will be made based upon the estimates of those agencies which he has total control and power over, misses the most serious issue amidst a diversion of estimates. Take a closer look, for this is the heart of the matter:

Section 3:
" Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget for the United States Government for that fiscal year in which--

  • ‘(1) total outlays do not exceed total receipts [allow me to draw your attention back to Section 9]; and
  • ‘(2) total outlays do not exceed 18 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States for the calendar year ending before the beginning of such fiscal year."
The worst, most egregious piece of this 'balanced budget' amendment, is that it removes from Congress, its most vital and exclusive Constitutional responsibility, that of the power of the purse, and it hands it over, pretty as you please, to be shared (for the moment) with the executive branch in the person of the President of the United States, via his brand new power, that of writing the Budget of the US Govt.

New? Really? Doesn't the President always propose a budget?

Sometimes, sometimes he does propose a budget, most presidents do, which Congress can choose to read, ignore or laugh at it, as they did with this President's last budget proposal... but in terms of the Constitutional power, he does not propose the budget of the Govt. of the United States - Congress does, as originated by the House of Representatives. This amendment undoes that.

Now that's a big f'ing deal.

The Power of Persuasion and the Persuasion of Power
Here's what the old dead white guys had to say about the budget:
"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."
The word Budget does not occur in the Constitution. At all. That may be a problem, an oversight. Perhaps. But also perhaps what wasn't said, but was understood, is something we should take note of. It was understood, expected, assumed (ASS-U-ME) that the members of the Govt, legislative, judicial and executive, would be responsible and protective, of the money of the people of the USA.

Justice Joseph Story put it this way,
" The object is apparent upon the slightest examination. It is to secure regularity, punctuality, and fidelity, in the disbursements of the public money. As all the taxes raised from the people, as well as the revenues arising from other sources, are to be applied to the discharge of the expenses, and debts, and other engagements of the government, it is highly proper, that congress should possess the power to decide, how and when any money should be applied for these purposes. If it were otherwise, the executive would possess an unbounded power over the public purse of the nation; and might apply all its monied resources at his pleasure. The power to control, and direct the appropriations, constitutes a most useful and salutary check upon profusion and extravagance, as well as upon corrupt influence and public peculation. In arbitrary governments the prince levies what money he pleases from his subjects, disposes of it, as he thinks proper, and is beyond responsibility or reproof. It is wise to interpose, in a republic, every restraint, by which the public treasure, the common fund of all, should be applied, with unshrinking honesty to such objects, as legitimately belong to the common defence, and the general welfare. Congress is made the guardian of this treasure; and to make their responsibility complete and perfect, a regular account of the receipts and expenditures is required to be published, that the people may know, what money is expended, for what purposes, and by what authority."
Obviously, few if any, members of our govt still have that view... I however, question whether passing another piece of paper, with all the power of the paper which the Constitution currently holds over them, is going to do a damn thing to fix the problem. In fact, I believe it will exacerbate the problem. Big time.

What something actually means and intends, is not the concern of those in power - getting anything which has been said, to be interpretable as what they'd prefer it to mean, IS. For instance, look at this video clip from five years ago - for the moment ignore the fact that it's Sen. Harry Reid (D) talking - I've no doubt that I could dig up several Republican Senators and Representatives who were for raising the debt limit then, but not now.

Instead, I'd like you to see that here's A politician, in this case one who happens to be from the left, saying something he is at total odds with today,

"They should explain that more debt is good for our economy. How can the Republican majority in this congress, explain to their constituents, that trillions of dollars of new debt, is good for our economy. How can they explain, that they think it is fair to force our children, our grand children, and our great grand children, to finance this debt through higher taxes - that's what it'll have to be - why is it right to increase our nation's dependence on foreign creditors to finance this. They should explain this..."
Now ask yourself, why was it wrong to raise the debt limit for the 'worst economy in fifty years' of 2006, but ok for the worst economy in 80 years of 2011? The answer is that the Truth of the matter was the furthest thing from his mind; what he was concerned with was winning. Period. Swaying opinion, winning over public opinion to his favor was the only thing that mattered to Sen. Reid or Sen. Obama, and very likely Sen. McConnell as well; because for them the end justifies the means - and while I do believe that that view is more prevalent on the left than the right, it is spread liberally across both sides of the aisle.

And that is what spells disaster for us all in this Balanced Budget Amendment. Those reading and applying the constitution today are not doing so with an eye towards the power of reasonable persuasion, but towards using the persuasion of power to get what they want. Again, don't even concern yourself with who, or which party, is in the Oval office now, look at this responsibly - historically - with an eye to your grandchildren.

Look again at Section 3, which declares that the President shall submit a budget. Now DON'T read that as a person possessed of common sense, remember, we're dealing with Congress and the courts here, look at this from the point of view such as that which decided the case 'Wickard v. Filburn'. This is a view which found that a private farmer who chose in 1941 to grow additional bushels of wheat for the private use of his family - not selling it, simply using and consuming it - could be contrived as unlawfully altering the economy of the nation, interfering with the federal govt's mandates on interstate commerce, and so constituted a federal offense, and it is a view that is still prevalent, and if anything more so, today.

Got that? Yes, it really happened. Got that in mind?

Now with that twisted perspective firmly in mind, add to it the fervent intentions of some sincere politico wanting desperately to do the GOOD which he just KNOWS could be accomplished... if he could just get govt to do what he knows is best... with that mindset in place, NOW try and imagine what such a person could do with this phrase:
"Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget for the United States Government for that fiscal year ..."
Remember, the Constitution has never before even mentioned a budget, let alone anything about the President having any part in proposing one or anything else with the POTUS having anything at all to do with the power of the purse. Prior to this proposed amendment that power of the purse has been the sole province of the House of Representatives. So why was this added? But no, Why is irrelevant, it really doesn't matter why it was added, not for someone looking to squeeze power out of what they have at hand to work with, what matters is only how a politician would try to argue it to their advantage in order to do the good they just know you need to have done to you. And it might go something like this,
Well obviously this amendment was proposed to remedy the previous system which congress and the people agreed had failed, and they agreed that the new system was to be improved by allowing the President to propose those necessary laws and bills required to balance the budget.
Isn't that about how it would likely go?

'Wha...? No...!' you say, 'This amendment doesn't say anything about the POTUS proposing bills and spending bills... only a budget!"

To which our doppelganger’s twisted mindset would don their best lawyer specs and say
"Now wait a minute... we're discussing a budget here, are we not? WHY propose a budget, except to do some particular things? Does a budget typically contain a broad and general lump sum only? NO, it contains line items, items to be proposed and acted upon! After all, this wasn't a "Proposed Spending sum limit' amendment, this was a Budget amendment! And as such the President has obviously now been given the power to propose budgetable items,which we all know typically consist of spending bills and other laws. Clearly that is the case, is it not? And really, it doesn't change things all that much, once the President  proposes his budget, congress is still free to discuss & vote on these issues, they're still free to either ratify... or decline them..."
And don't let the last part about voting lull you, if the process didn't heavily depend upon the House being in sole control of proposing matters of the purse, it wouldn't have explicitly stated that only the House could originate raising revenue  in Article 1, Section 7,
"All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."
Madison said that,
"The house of representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government. They in a word hold the purse;"
That power is an essential check upon the other houses and branches of government, it is the People's check upon them all, and it is vital to the balance of power in our government. Blackstone considered it the most effectual check upon would be tyrants, as did our Founders. This Balanced Budget Amencment is potentially a massive breach and destabilization of the constitution. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but certainly within the very near future.

The language of this proposed amendment will easily be interpretable in such a way, if not today, tomorrow, as giving the power of the purse to the POTUS. If you think that's far fetched, recall how the Fourteenth amendment has been twisted to modern purposes, or how the Commerce Clause was turned into absolute control over any activity that could conceivably be considered to affect the economy, down to the point of forbidding a private farmer from growing additional crops for his own family.

If the careful use of the meaningful language of our Founders could be twisted to that effect by simply ignoring the meaning of the language, imagine what can be done with the sloppy imprecise wording of this amendment.

If a balanced budget amendment was as simple as what I proposed above... it might have a chance of accomplishing what it claims to do... doubtful, but maybe. But this? It's hard not to question whether this conglomeration of half truths and weasel words was ever meant by its authors as a meaningful law, but however it was originally meant, it will be used, to expand power, not to restrain it.

The Balance of Power Unbalanced
Congress really ought to put down their polling numbers, turn off the T.V. News, toss out today's newspapers and instead pick up a history book or two. Either of these would do for our purposes here, Anthony Everitt's Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician, or Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor. No need to pay any attention to the particular details, you know, civil war, coups, assassinations, etc, those are simple details which apply to their time, not ours. No, look rather at how those with power, or who were fearful of power, reacted to turbulent and uncertain times, and gained control of the power to alter their government in ways a few felt would be better. Look less at the particulars and more at the methods which Octavius... aka Caesar Augustus, employed to get around the Senate, he made them irrelevant, while still managing to make them feel important and useful. Look at the regulatory agencies, and look at our proposed amendments. Think.

What Augustus accomplished, he accomplished with bureaucracies, executive orders, speeches, propaganda and the equivalent of photo-ops and so forth. Congress really ought to pay attention... it sure seems like someone at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue has.

And you know what they say about those who fail to learn from history, they are doomed to repeat it... or at least rhyme with it.

For a more in depth look at the Balanced Budget Amendment, have a look at this post by Publius Huldah, she nails it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reality Denial Syndrome:The Kenneth Gladney trial and the light in the reality loafers lunacy of a Media Matters leftist

Here's another reminder that when leftists are laughing, it's rarely a laughing matter. Consider the following 'piece' from Alex Pareene of,
"Remember the story of Kenneth Gladney? You probably don't, unless you're a right-winger. He was a guy who got knocked over for a second during a contentious town hall meeting in St. Louis in 2009. He quickly became a folk hero to right-wing bloggers, because he was, if you squinted, a black conservative victim of Union Thug Violence."
Isn't that clever? I suppose so. Witty? Somewhat, sure. A hate filled assault upon everything worth caring about? Definitely.

Wha...? What's that again?

In fact it is just that. It's a prime example of what I drew your attention to in my recent post on the New York Times article "Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth" - if you care about what is good and true, because it is good and true, then Alex Pareene just launched a verbal assault upon all of those things you care about, as do all those who use reason for the reasons that they do. And in this case 'they', although not limited to, certainly include '... your typical effete coastal liberal elitist...', as he describes himself, and all others who agree reason is simply a useful weapon, a tool to get what you want, as does the vast majority of our cultural and wackademic elite. And it is by way of their agreement with that view, which puts them in direct and constant opposition to Reality itself; an affliction I'll call 'Reality Denial Syndrome', and if you haven't noticed, it has reached epidemic proportions amongst such effete leftist bath houses, as

Have another look at his quote, it's revealing and, not that it's likely to have anything to do with the author (see his pic here), but it is pregnant with meaning... and not the meaning he meant it to mean. For instance, look at what he reveals about himself in just the first line; it's ugly stuff and very nearly indecent exposure:

""Remember the story of Kenneth Gladney? You probably don't, unless you're a right-winger."
So here we have Alex Pareene confessing, exuberantly, that the beating of right-wingers are unworthy of attention. The beatings of people concerned with ideas you don't like, are unworthy of notice? Is this... guy... flirting with hate speech, here? Nooo of course not, if you've been paying attention, 'hate speech' only applies to leftists approved incidents, and this is why. For this happy member of the media, when he hears that someone has been assaulted, having their fingers bitten off, etc, the old time journalistic process of "Who? What? When? Why? Where?", is perverted into something which, once stripped of its pretensions, looks a bit more like this,
"Someone was assaulted? Waaaiit a minute, 'assault'? What kind of assault? No, I don't mean how they were assaulted, tell me about whether the person assaulted was worth caring about... you know, are they members of our approved victim groups? No? Were they leftists? No? Were they attacked by right wingers? Well do they help our cause at all? Wha? You mean they were right wingers? Sooo... so what? Move on already."
Is that the thought process of someone concerned about what is true, or of someone concerned with triumphing over what is true?

Then we get to this part: " a guy who got knocked over for a second during a contentious town hall meeting in St. Louis"

Who 'got' knocked over? As if something just 'happened' to him... like a tree falling in the forest?

But no, Kenneth Gladney didn't simply find himself mysteriously upon the ground thinking "I wonder how I got here?". No, Gladney, a very slightly built fellow, was shoved, punched and flung to the ground, and then kicked & stomped into it for good measure, courtesy of some very large, beefy SEIU thugs distributing some social justice to those whose choice in ideas they didn't approve of.

Watch the video - is there some mystery about how he 'got' on the ground? No, not the case... is there some legitimate point of view that can cast that as something which just 'happened' to him? If that happened to someone you cared about, would you approve of someone telling the world about how they 'got knocked over'? Would you try to overlook that if you saw it happen to someone else? Why not? Well that is the very reason which Pareene is opposed to. And when reality comes rattling the cage of people like Pareene, they try to pretend that no one actively did something, nooo, it just 'got' done... somehow... 'tee-hee!'

Kenneth Gladney was promoting materials favoring the Ideas which the purple people beaters disagreed with, they beat him to the ground. That is how he 'got' there. And it wasn't for 'a second', watch the video, it drags on for a number of them.

Funny, huh? If it happened to someone you cared about, would you laugh about it? Do you think a concern for Justice lives in the person who would?

And another fact of reality which Pareene seeks to wipe out, is that the assault didn't take place inside the contentious town hall, as he'd like to lead you to believe, it was outside, on the sidewalk, where Gladney was offering his materials for sale- flags, buttons, etc - which he was hoping would appeal to the then still new phenomenon, Tea Party people.

IOW, he engaged in the very American activity of entrepreneurship - he didn't just try to get a buck, he took a risk, invested and worked in the hopes of earning a profit - and with no guarantee that he would make one. So naturally, recognizing the very antithesis of SEIU ideals in him (initiative, effort, risk without guarantees), the SEIU goons beat the crap out of him, in much the same way that their favorite President is doing to the American economy as a whole. But I digress. Sort of.

The next line leads us to the unsightly racist soul (or facsimile thereof) of the leftist blowhard (no double entendre intended) on glaring display with the next phrase,
"He quickly became a folk hero to right-wing bloggers, because he was, if you squinted, a black conservative victim of Union Thug Violence."
What do you suppose he means by 'if you squinted'? Does that mean that Gladney was somehow 'less than black' because appletini boy here assumes he's a conservative? Could that possibly mean that only leftist blacks are real blacks? That the only good black is a leftist black? Hmmm... I'm not sure... perhaps we should ask Condi Rice or Colin Powell (prior to his coming out of the left leaning closet)? Or Thomas Sowell... or... yeah, come to think of it, I think that probably is exactly what he means by that. You've got to wonder about the mind that considers such thoughts to be worthy of thought, don't you? How close do you suppose what is good and true can be to such a mind?

And wait a minute, hold on, I thought Conservatives and Tea Party people Hated blacks? I thought that that was the only reason why they were angry at Obama, because he was black, not because of anything having to do with his proregressive leftist ideas, right? Well... I'm confused, then... if that's the case, if race is everything... how then does he assume that conservatives now like Gladney, because they think he's a conservative? Because of the ideas they think he stands for?

Don't trouble yourself with trying to sort that out, for the leftist suffering from RDS, such exercises in 2+2=1 works without any discomfort at all - it's the nature of the disease to arrive at less than you began with, but for the rest of us here in reality, it's too painful to even consider.

But Alex forges on even further, not only showing his disdain for even the appearance of getting his facts right, but showing even further how the ideas he associates with Gladney, somehow exclude him from simple human consideration, because of those ideas Pareene associates with him,
"He was also uninsured -- yep! -- and the hospital visit he had to make in order to demonstrate the severity of his "beating" also made him a right-wing charity case. He then began appearing at Tea Party rallies and on Fox News in a wheelchair, etc., etc. Liberals laughed bitterly at the "uninsured person protests government-funded healthcare" story and then forgot all about Gladney, forever. But the conservative bloggers never forget an exaggerated or wholly invented tale of victimhood."
Dana Loesch hits a key point of this in her post on Big Journalism,
"Even more disturbing, Pareene’s tone towards Gladney’s need betrays the progressive loathing of charity. Progressives will eagerly trot out the poor to use as electioneering devices but when it comes time to actually care for those in need, they kick them over to the government. They can’t be bothered. There are Appletinis to drink!

(Gladney wore a neck brace during the trial. The neck brace was unrelated to the two-year-old incident. You know that whole thing about frivolous lawsuits and tort reform and the culture of victimhood and ambulance-chasing trial lawyers? Yes, well, the conservative movement totally means all of that, until someone in an SEIU shirt briefly knocks someone over.)
Gladney wore a neck brace to the trial because he just had spinal surgery. Also, how is this a frivolous lawsuit again? Did Gladney ask for a frillion dollars in damages? Does Pareene understand what “tort reform” means?"
The fact that a person is beaten, or injured, or in any sort of situation that might be considered appropriate for simple human charity is of zero concern to those possessed of RDS, the first point of interest is whether or not they can be used to promote the point they want to bludgeon you with - if not? Trash 'em and toss 'em. Even the facts of Gladney's current spinal condition is used as fodder to be taken out of context so as to better trash him with a snicker.

On a roll, appletini Pareene goes on to sum the trial up this way,
"Now, two years later, there is closure: The two SEIU thugs who viciously beat Gladney went on trial (for misdemeanor assault) on Monday. The trial wrapped up on Tuesday. The jury deliberated for 40 minutes and then found both of the accused not guilty. (CASEY ANTHONY ALL OVER AGAIN!) Gladney's own ridiculous testimony basically exposed how much of an overblown farce this entire incident was from the beginning."
I'd suggest you read the 24th State articles, and here , and here, and here, watch the videos, make your own judgment. Casey Anthony had a full and fair trial, the jury found that the evidence didn't prove her guilty, and to the best of my knowledge there was no monkeying around with the trial, or in its scheduling, or in the selection of prosecutors, timing, etc, IOW it was a fair trial, justice was done. But Kenneth Gladney's trial? At the very least there are questionable issues. See for yourself. Judge for yourself, you know, you report & you decide.

As Pareen says himself, "This is where it gets really good", and he's sure got that right, here's his lead in,
"TBogg found's explanation for how this travesty of justice was allowed to occur. Because of Media Matters! See, SEIU paid Media Matters some money, and then, mysteriously, Kenneth Gladney lost his case."
At any mention of inferring conclusions from facts, those whose stand on reality is a bit light in the loafers, will find themselves compelled to restate them without the context necessary to give the facts a factual basis, or to use their fave word of yesteryear - gravitas. And of course at the same time they'll need to mock what is serious - the more serious, the more mockery required of them. As does Pareene when faced with relevant facts, he does his best to paint the story as being simply silly 'spiracy thtuff,
"This conspiracy, like so many others, goes all the way to the top."
Does he attempt to debunk the alleged conspiracy at all? No. Does he demonstrate that it is simply an arbitrary set of assertions, correlation without causation? No. Does he do anything to make his case, other than calling it bad words? Nope. That's not an option for those afflicted with RDS. To choose to use his powers of reasoning to artfully lay out an argument, to expose factual errors, would be to suggest a use for reason which he has no use for, it would imply a fondness for the reality he is in fact estranged from.

What he does do, as all the reality challenged do, is attempt to deny reality by ignoring it and by forcing his willful ignorance upon all those within range of his influence. The best way to avoid any actual argument, is to just paste it with a label, as if he'd made an argument - which is done easily enough by calling it a 'consipiracy theory'. Simple. Just like they taught him in Logical Fallacies 101.

Do I have anything to back that up with? Well of course. For instance, he selectively quotes only enough of the article that fits his Procrustean purpose,
"When you look at the timeline of events and the media calendar in general leading up to the Gladney incident last August, it’s difficult not to conclude that there was collaboration amongst White House staff, components of Big Labor, and certain liberal media outlets. However, we know that all will continue to deny it."
, and then follows it up, not with any devastating facts, but simply some simpering snits of 'spiracy stuff,
"Apparently SEIU and Media Matters for America and George Soros and the Tides Foundation and Eric Boehlert and the city of Montclair, N.J., acting on orders from the White House, all used their wizard powers to convince a jury in St. Louis that Kennedy Gladney was not actually assaulted. And that is how the vast left-wing conspiracy works."
The problem which the leftist RDS sufferer most dreads, is that Reality is always there, ready and waiting, to expose them to the bones of their ugliness. And all of the proof needed to do that, is available in what they did, or didn't, say themselves. A simple review of the Big Journalism article in question, shows that at a minimum he's lying by omission. He deliberately dropped that portion of the article which connects the quote he lifted, to a firm grounding in sensible reality. Here's the context which gave the preceding statement from P.J. Salvatore on BigJ its relevance,
"Further, just as the flurry of media activity finally starts to wind down a bit around October last year, this is when SEIU makes three separate donations to Media Matters totaling $50,000, under the classification of “Communications”, according to the SEIU LM-2 report. (In reviewing other LM-2s for several previous years, this appears at least to be the first time that SEIU has donated to Media Matters, and there does not seem to have been another donation recorded since these.)

This is the type of funding that I would question in return to Media Matters. With their membership being so low and their unfunded pension expenses so high, can the SEIU really afford to be randomly donating funds to an organization like Media Matters? Perhaps SEIU purchased advertising on Media Matters’ website, but then I’d think it would be categorized as such, as others ad expenses in the LM-2 were. If not advertising, if not random donations, then what’s the reason for SEIU having donated these funds? One could logically conclude that Media Matters performed a service in return. Only they can answer that."
Far from wild eyed 'spiracy sstuff, the article notes what are at the very least interesting bits of information and reasonably worthwhile questions to be asked... but only for those concerned with what is real and true, but they are quite another thing for those furiously fleeing from it at break neck speed.

Mr. appletini is just a bit too light in his reality loafers to enjoy his facts being grounded, but those of us with both feet on the ground would do well to always check to see if the story we're being fed is... just some story you're being fed.

Again, if the Truth is your purpose for Reasoning, then any politically inspired beatings would be of importance to you, you wouldn't dismiss them with mockery; on the other hand, if your purpose for Reasoning is to Win, to win your arguments without regard for the truth or the rightness of an issue... then you will employ every logical fallacy, mockery and derision you can manage, in order to defeat your opponent... and obviously, without regard for the Truth of the matter.

That last part is an important part of the matter. Mockery and derision are obviously legitimate tools of rhetoric. And slipping into a logical fallacy or two is not in and of itself enough to put you into the category I'm putting Pareene in. It's not even a matter of being correct on an issue, or in error - there would be no possibility of gaining knowledge if there wasn't also a possibility of making an error - no, this is not a matter of an error of knowledge, or a lack of skill, but of deliberate intent.

Knowingly, intentionally, using logical fallacies, mockery and derision against what you are aware is true, because it conflicts with your position, not only without regard for whether it is factual, good and true, but because they are, is using your powers of Reason as a weapon in a futile attempt to attack and subdue reality, because what is real isn't what you want to be real. But if that were their only point, it would only be worthy of pity - reality after all, can't be subdued, but their real goal is to separate you, and anyone else they can influence, from reality, so that they can more easily pretend that their lies have value... a second hand value which is wholly dependent upon your laughing and nodding along with them.

People like Alex Pareene, and those of like mind who populate places such as Media Matters,, etc, have put themselves in direct and constant opposition to Reality itself, because it is a threat to all they desire, but even worse, they seek to draw you into their conspiracy against it as well, and that is an evil, hateful assault upon everything worth caring about, an attack upon all that is good and true because it is good and true.

The laughter of such a leftist is no laughing matter, far from being the best medicine, it is a deadly poison which you'd do best to keep far away from.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Q: When is a democracy not a democracy? A: When it’s a Republic - If you want to ensure that 'Your Vote Counts', you'd better Act like you know the difference

For those thinking that “Your Vote Counts” is really about making your vote count... you might want to consider what the backers of this 'citizens initiative' actually want your vote to count towards. What is it that they want to accomplish? Is it simply what they say they want to accomplish, or might they have another agenda in mind? What if they have a separate agenda and it is at odds with what they've told you, in order to get you to vote their way? Wouldn't that essentially be swindling you out of your vote, in order to use it to pass what they know you'd never vote for?

If you think that's far fetched, consider what it’s prime backer, HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), actually thinks about those cute puppies they use to get your sympathy with, from as far back as the 1990's they've gone on the record as having no problem with exterminating those cute little putties, though just last year they shamelessly told you that the Prop B 'puppy mill bill' was all about saving the lives of those cute little puppies...listen to :

“...the president of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, which clearly conveys this horrific goal:

'We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding ...One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding. - Animal People News, May 1993

PETA, funded by the leftist Tides Foundation, is no less radical in its beliefs as conveyed by President Ingrid Newkirk:

There's no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all animals. - Ingrid Newkirk, Washingtonian magazine, Aug 1986 and: Humans have grown like a cancer. We're the biggest blight on the face of the earth. - Ingrid Newkirk, Washingtonian magazine, Feb 1990

Shockingly, PETA kills over 95% of the animals it takes into their Norfolk, Virginia "shelter" annually according to state records. One can only assume that they equate death with kindness.”
What do you think, is it possible that perhaps past performance is an indication of the future they are working towards? These particular groups think anything done by Man is bad, do you really think they count your vote any differently? This 'Your Vote Counts' act is exactly the sort of measure which all of these sorts of groups want to see passed... what do you think counts most to them, your vote?... or swindling you of your vote to further their agenda? Got your attention?

Ok then.

What the demagogues of "Power to the People!" want your vote to count towards, is not tied to what they're telling you your vote is for, but what advances their agenda.

Neither the puppies lives, nor your liberty and right to vote are of concern to those who say they want to make your vote count, what they want is their power to go unchecked, they want to have their ability to stir up the passions of We The People into passing their agenda, and then they want those decisions to go unchallenged; the clear intent of this act, is that those who want to stir the public up into approving rash measures, want to then ensure that cooler heads cannot prevail against the power they succeeded in grabbing ahold of.

In short, they want a Democracy.

And while it gets old having to say this, even moreso than hearing it said, we are not a democracy, we are a republic. We are a Republic at the federal level, as defined by our Constitution, and as per Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, we are Republics at the state level as well.

“Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence””
Despite the various attempts that have been made, and innovations introduced over the years, to try and change that, even in the face of something akin to a coup d'etat has been (is being) tried upon the entire population through the educational system in an attempt to change us into a democracy within our own heads, if not on paper; but even so, a Republic, we remain.

One of those innovations took root in Missouri at the height of the proregressive era, when the Missouri State Constitution was amended with a provision for the people to be able to raise and pass citizens initiatives, to in effect pass their own laws when they feel that their representatives haven’t been listening closely enough to what they have to say.

I don't particularly care for such measures to express the 'voice of the people'; they smack too much of democratic ideals for my liking. In a representative republic, we elect our representatives to be both more widely informed about the legislative needs of their constituents, and to debate and act with cooler heads than what is typical of the stirred up passions which claim to express the 'will of the people'; that is is one of the main reasons why We The People chose to govern ourselves as a Republic, as opposed to as a Democracy, in the first place.

However, on the state level at least (and only at the state level), seeing as though they are a constitutional fact of life of our state, I'll concede that in limited ways they can serve a useful purpose, that of inserting measures into the legislative process when politicians might, from time to time, have become too politically correct, or weak, or too much under the influence of improper interests, to do what is legislatively the 'right thing to do' themselves.

Not surprisingly, these citizens initiatives can be both good and bad, as we saw with "The Hancock Amendment"(good) , "Term Limits" (bad), as well as last elections Prop B 'Puppy Mill' bill (very, very bad - see above... and below), which I bitterly opposed (NOTE: You can look at this online database (H/T: Ron Calzone), select "Ballot Initiative", and see all the initiatives that have been proposed over the last century... and see how astonishingly bad the majority of them have been, most of which, thankfully, have failed.). But whatever the initiatives, they must still all be subject to not only being constitutional, but subject to being amended by our representatives in government, and this has caused some uproar for both the left and the right.

Equally unsurprising, neither side likes it much when their favorite initiatives are altered. My advice?

Get over it. We’re a republic, not a democracy. That's the way the system works, no one passes decrees here, they pass laws, laws which are themselves subject to the rule of law.

This issue has come back into particular focus here in Missouri, with a new initiative, which is little more than an angry response by the backers of HSUS to our legislature for amending their Prop B's arbitrary assault upon individual rights (which was the essential meaning of Prop B). Prop B, was an awful and misleading initiative, it could not stand constitutional muster as passed, it badly needed to be amended, and it was, at least partially, in order to remove some of its more drastic provisions, provisions which subjected the livelihood and property of citizens to the worst of arbitrary intrusions and impositions of state power.

Prop B's backers, those who harped on peoples emotions to save the puppies - those same people above who last year said how much they actually care about those poor puppies, while to their own readership they clearly said they'd just as soon exterminate those same puppies,

"We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding"
are angry that they were able to mislead and stir up the public to get the power they sought (read that article closely), but then were set back by We The People's chosen representatives in our legislature who rebuffed their pure power grab. And in that same spirit, they are now seeking to effectively gut our republic of the features which make it a republic; twisting the idea of citizens initiatives as the 'voice of the people', into something more like sacred decrees issued for their pleasure.

This is not a measure to 'make your vote count', but to subvert our Republic and your liberty. Brian at "Rockin Conservative" gives a good look into it, starting with the name,

"Now, the H$U$ is back. They’re paying to get the Orwellian named “Your Vote Counts” act on the ballot"
, but the most ominous feature is that it proposes that only a super majority of both houses will be able to amend any future citizens initiative,

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit the repeal or amendment by the General Assembly of a statute enacted by citizen initiative passed by the voters of Missouri, except by either a three-fourths vote of the members of each house or a vote of the people through a referendum or unless such statute explicitly provides that the general assembly may repeal or amend it by a majority vote of the members of each house?”
Why is that ominous?This would make it nearly impossible for our elected representatives, those We The People have sent to our state government in order to be the informed and cooler heads in charge of our legislature and the laws which govern us, from doing what they might see as being needed to be done; what this does is transform the idea of citizens initiatives from the 'voice of the people', into the unassailable decrees of a tyrant, all the while masking itself in the garb of purest citizenry.

And surprisingly their costume change seems to be having some success.

There are a number of people on the right, some of whose opinion I respect, who have put their endorsement behind this bill. They seem to be swayed by a too narrow concern with some of its sentiments which have the appearance of appealing to conservative issues, such as,

“Far more damage has been done to liberty by elected representatives, than through the initiative process”
, and following the populist logic that when the people speak they should get their way, they see this act as advancing the will of the people, and so in that uniquely well intentioned yet suicidal conservative conception of fairness, they want to be even handed to the left about making any measure, no matter how bad, cemented into near unassailable law. Typical of this view are those expressed by Patrick Tuohey of Missouri Record, that,
“Most of the above deal with the problems of getting a petition to the ballot--past incompetent or corrupt state officeholders. But none of those reforms would make a bit of difference if the legislature was free to change voter-approved language for which they did not care.

Certainly, as in the case with the Prop B, the legislature will need to act if a law enacted by petition is blatantly unconstitutional. The Your Vote Counts Act does not stop the legislature from doing this--it merely increases the threshold needed to overturn the direct express wishes of the people. If enacted, future efforts will require more persuasion and more bipartisanship. Who could be against that?”
It "...merely increases the threshold ..." - who could be against that? Well… me for one. It doesn't merely increase the threshold, it proposes to give these unchecked populist measures even more strength than a veto, though in reverse; whereas the executives veto kills legislation dead, unless it is revived a second time by a two thirds vote of both houses - an intentionally difficult and rare thing to manage in its own right, but this monstrous measure goes even further by proposing to require a three quarters vote of both houses to even amend such measures.

There is a huge, huge difference between ‘bipartisianship’, and requiring near unanimous agreement amongst all of our elected representatives, of both houses and all parties, in order to be able to subject legislation to the legislative process. This isn't about partisanship, bipartisanship, or any other sort of ... ship... this is about enabling popular passions to be imposed upon us all while silencing the real voice of the people - our elected representatives - to do anything about it. This bill may promote the 'Will of the people', but it shackles and silences the possibility of their better judgment being exercised - and that my friends, is what democracy looks like - majority rule, 'Might Makes Right'.

Requiring 75% of the House and 75% of the Senate to amend a bill - a near impossibility - is akin to adding a fourth branch of government, the 'Demogogic Branch', and I am very much opposed to that (see “Missouri’s Republic Is Under Attack” for the highlights.)

But there's a crucial issue involved here, while all sides recognize that political power originates from We The People, why should the 'direct expressed views' of the people be given more weight than the views expressed for them by their representatives in the legislature, which arguably are more essential to the design of our form of government? Though all power is derived from We The People, in a Republic, that power is to be administered for us by our elected representatives through a government that is derived from, and restrained by, its written constitution, this is vital to the concept of living under the "Rule of Law", rather than being driven by the passions of men.

As I said, I can tolerate the idea of citizens initiatives, but there's a caveat to that - such measures must abide by the same processes and be subject to the same procedures of judicial review and legislative amendment, as any other piece of legislation is. All law derives its authority from We The People; whose mouth a particular piece of legislation comes out of, be it directly from the voice of We The People, or as voiced by those representatives which We The People have elected to our legislature, adds no additional merit or value to any piece of legislation.

Behaving as if measures proceeding from those members of We The People who have been stirred up to action, are somehow more legitimate and imbued with more legislative sanctity than legislation proposed by those cooler heads we've elected to represent us in congress, smacks of the worst pretensions of democracy, undercuts the very principles of constitutional, representative republican government, and that is something that should be greatly feared.

Our system is one that depends upon checks and balances. Giving ‘We The People’ not only the power of citizens initiatives, but to drastically reduce our ability to check those initiatives when they go too far, while requiring near unanimous agreement to do so, would be exceedingly unwise.

Step one of fixing what's broke: Recognize what can't be fixed, then focus on what can be
Power corrupts, and it does so no less with We The People than with those we elect to represent us, that is a fact and it cannot be fixed. One of the secrets of success with the American Government is that our Founding Fathers did not hide from the tragic view of life, they didn't flee into some Utopian 'rights of man' rationalistic nonsense, they recognized the limitations they had to work with - people are flawed - and designed a system with that fact in mind. Rather than hiding from reality, or pretending it was something other than it was, they faced up to reality and dealt with it as men.

Power corrupts. What's worse, is that people are more often corrupted and led astray through their best intentions, rather than their worse ones, and those who are corrupted are often privately just as surprised to discover that they are corrupt, as their public is when they discover it later.

Our system of government recognizes that fact, it doesn't deny it. It channels it, it forces one groups best intentions to pass the scrutiny of the best intentions of another group, and in this way, in the halls of a constitutional government such as ours, that corruption has to work its way past the structures and processes designed to limit it - this is what our 'Checks and Balances' are, and are designed to do.

The novice and deluded complain about how our Checks and Balances slow government down from doing the good it could do. The wise thank God that it does.

The Citizens Initiative measure, by itself, is an attempt to speed up the good that government could do. There are no processes or restraints to limit, expose or hinder We The People from ramming through one poorly thought out, though popular, citizens initiative after another, except for those we elect to represent us in our government. Our representatives ability to amend such initiatives, just as they are able to do so with any other legislation, is not a failing, but a saving strength in the check it provides to balance the system. Remove that check, and we risk absolute power corrupting We The People absolutely.

If We The People think it wiser to allow ourselves to propose and impose whatever measure that strikes our stirred up passions, and do so nearly free from the review and checks of the cooler heads of our elected representatives, then we are headed for a disastrous, and almost certainly a very democratic, ‘rule of law’.

And that should scare the hell out of you.

Fixing what is broken and can be fixed
 The best way to fix our system is by fixing what is broken in the system, not by rigging it Rube Goldberg-like with additional systems to compensate for it.

If We The People have become so apathetic that we can’t remind, or even punish our elected representatives when they violate our trust, then we deserve the fate we are enabling them to deliver us to.

If we want to restore the republic, the only way to do so is by strengthening the republic, and those we elect to it, not by transforming it into a system that is even more like a democracy than it already is.

The only way to restore a republic, is by restoring the understanding of what a Republic is,

"... . It signified a government, in which the property of the public, or people, and of every one of them, was secured and protected by law. This idea, indeed, implies liberty; because property cannot be secure unless the man be at liberty to acquire, use, or part with it, at his discretion, and unless he have his personal liberty of life and limb, motion and rest, for that purpose..."
to those who it derives its power from. The only way to restore the republic is by We The People taking the time to again learn what our Republic is, and why We The People first chose it, and then insisting upon the rule of law by and among those we elect to represent us to it. We cannot restore the republic, by resorting to the 'rules' and methods of a democracy - there is a reason why we are one, rather than the other - and we cannot become a stronger form of one, by likening ourselves to the other.

Regarding the "Your Vote Counts" act, if you understand that you have the right to see to it that your vote counts, then you must rip the Orwellian name from this act and call it as it is - the "Rob Your Rights Blind" act . If you are actually thinking favorably of this thing, do yourself a favor, have a look at the online database I mentioned above, select "Ballot Initiative", and look at all the initiatives that have failed over the last century, and then imagine what your life would be like if most of them had passed and we had no way of changing them.

If we want to restore the Republic, the first step is recognizing that there are no short cuts to doing so. We The People have to learn what we need to know, inform our neighbors, and speak up, nominating and electing better candidates, and paying much closer attention to what they are doing in our capital.

If you want your vote to count, what do you want it to count for? To increase your liberty? Or to simply to get what you want because you want it, despite whether or not it is the right thing to do?

It is important for your vote to count, but it's far more important that your vote count towards strengthening your liberty and the rule of law, rather than the muscle of the mob.