Thursday, May 31, 2012

Are #BrettKimberlin's Velvet Revolution and JTMP Democrat Operations?

And if they are, shouldn't they lose their 501c3 Status?

The reason I ask is this post from Robert Stacey McCain, who has been doing yeoman's work on exposing Brett Kimberlin and his lawfare tactics against bloggers who want to shed some light on his history and his current work as a progressive operative.  It turns out that Democrat Consultant Neal Rauhauser accompanied Mr. Kimberlin to Tuesday's court hearing regarding the Protection Order against Aaron Walker (AKA Aaron Worthing). 

Why was a 'Consultant' (aside: does that imply 'paid?') for the Democrat party at a hearing with convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin?  What is the precise nature of their relationship? 

To be sure, it could be completely legitimate.  Perhaps Mr. Rauhauser is just a friend of Mr. Kimberlin, though that would raise questions about his choice in friends.  Perhaps he was hired in some capacity by Mr. Kimberlin- but what capacity?  From current reports, it doesn't seem that he was there in an Expert capacity, and Mr. Rauhauser's field of choice does seem to be computers and electronic media.

Or does this Democrat Consultant also work for Velvet Revolution and/or the Justice Through Music Project?  Is it possible that these are not non-aligned charities?  Could they, instead, be Democrat front groups?

Of course, we are unlikely ever to get answers to these questions.  Certainly members of Congress have shown no particular interest in protecting citizens from Kimberlin's cohort.  The majority of the media, too, has turned a blind eye.  Which leaves it to bloggers to continue to probe these questions.  If enough of us do so, maybe we'll get some answers.

The Growing Police State: Malignant Zoning Edition

I mostly understand zoning laws.  I really do.  You don't want a factory that's going to be belching out smoke all day to be right in the middle of a residential district, for instance.  You don't want a strip-club right next to an elementary school.  These things make sense.  But why would you restrict zoning where there are no people?

In Ventura County, California, that's exactly what they're doing.  They've already prohibited the building of anything new out in the rural areas.  We can't have those nasty people intruding on those cute, cuddly dessert dwellers, can we?  But now they're going a step beyond that: they citing zoning infractions for buildings that don't exist.  In the linked article, they specifically mention an "unlisenced chicken coop" which the owner of the property says doesn't exist. (Side question: unlicensed chicken coop?  really?)

The only explanation I have for this is that Ventura County officials are radically anti-human.  Yes, I mean that.  They are a part of the cult that believes that humans are evil and dirty.  They believe we are a cancer upon the earth and that we should all die off.  Obviously what they actually believe is that everyone else should die off, since they never volunteer to lead the way.

This is a gross misuse of the original purpose of zoning laws, and in direct opposition to what the Founders intended.  Ventura County, if what you want is to drive everyone away, you're on the right path.  Be careful what you wish for, though, because you might get it.

Why is the Middle East still a tourist destination?

It's less frequent now than it was a couple of years ago; or, at least, we hear about it less.  Those aren't the same thing.  But it seems that two American men traveling Egypt got themselves kidnapped.

Now, the Bedouins aren't quite as bad as Al Qeida or other terrorist groups, but one cannot overstate the danger to these two men.  We pray for their safe return.

We also pray that American tourists, in general, grow a brain stem.  Seriously, is it news that it's dangerous to go to the Middle East?  Has that not been reported?  I'm pretty sure I've heard of several cases of kidnappings.  Was that just me?

I understand that there are some cool things to see in the Middle East.  I, personally, would love to go see the pyramids at Giza, for instance, and other ancient sites.  I'd love to go to Israel and do one of those "walking the Bible" tours.  Many others do as well, and, I'm sure, many actually go even today.

So what sets apart those who get in trouble?  I not-so-humbly submit: stupidity.

Let me define that, so that people don't get unnecessarily offended (I have no problem with people getting offended necessarily).  Ignorance is not knowing something.  Being "dumb" or unintelligent is when you can't make the correct decisions on what you know.  Both of these are excusable.  If you don't know something, you don't know it.  If you're mentally incapable of making good decisions, that's sad, but understandable.  Stupidity, however, is when you know something and actively choose to ignore it or not to act on it.

People know that the Middle East is unsafe.  They know there are terrorists, Bedouins, and corrupt governments.  Even in the relatively safe Israel, there are occasional rocket attacks from Palestine and (sometimes) Egypt.  Add to that the general unrest in the wake of the so-called "Arab Spring" and the Middle East is just not some place that you want to go gallivanting on your own.

Had these men been part of a larger group, they probably would have been fine.  Had they stayed in the cities, they probably would have been fine.  Instead, they were alone, and out in the desert.  Given the situation in Egypt: that's stupid.

So here's hoping they get home safely; my prayers go to them and their families.  Here's also hoping that others take the hint, and act smart if they're going to the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Growing Police State: What Monster Have We Created?

Okay, someone explain to me why school is compulsory.  Pay special attention to grades after 10th, which is about when you know enough (or should) to be able to hold down a basic job and have the necessary skills for survival.  Besides the fact that forcing children to school who actively do not wish to attend actually hurts those who do wish to attend, and doesn't help the ones who don't, we open the stage for stories like this.

Reading the story, I have three thoughts.

The first is this: Where is Dad?  The story says "her parents separated and her mother moved away."  Okay, so that's one parent down- but where's Dad?  Single parent homes are far from ideal, but people make them work all the time.  That without having to have one of the kids work two jobs (was Dad working two jobs?) and skip school to do so.  So first and foremost: this is a failure of the parents who should be the ones made to answer for the girl's truancy.

Second, the rules are the rules.  Sometimes that sucks.  Sometimes that means you have to choose the lesser of evils, or throw yourself on the mercy of strangers for assistance.  Now this family is having to do that anyway, so what did they gain?  So, yes, I have sympathy here- her choices sucked, but she took the one she felt was least bad (and who am I to say she was wrong?).  Sympathy notwithstanding, she is responsible for her choice, and her choice led to a 24 hour imprisonment and a $100.00 fine.  That sucks, but we can't say it isn't the law.

Third, shame on those who are trying to say this was somehow unjustified.  The young woman had been previously warned about missing any more school.  Either we live with the rule of law or we don't; we don't get to suspend it just because someone or something tugs on our heartstrings.  What they are asking for, whether they realize it or not, is not mercy from the court, but the implementation of a capricious, even evil, judicial scheme under which those engaging in approved activities are allowed to break the law, while those who are not engaging in approved activities suffer the penalties of the law.  It creates a two (or more) tiered justice system which favors one class of person over another.  No matter how noble you believe your intent, this is not an appropriate request.

Either we have the rule of law- and it applies even when inconvenient, or we live subject to a capricious system under which we are incapable of knowing the law from one day to the next.

All of those things considered, I believe that "Justice" was not done here.  I certainly believe the Judge acted within his authority.  I believe that he acted rightly according to the law.  I just happen to think the law is wrong.  Ms. Tran is 17 years old.  She's obviously employable and able to take care of herself, as she's proven by holding down two jobs and supporting her two younger siblings.  But what else can the Educational System do when we make the State responsible for Education?  Once Education became a "Right" it was inevitable that it would also become an obligation.  That is the simple truth of things- from education to health insurance.  If not everyone "benefits" (that is: actually goes to school) then the system is seen as failing.  But if left to their own devices, there are many people who would choose not to attend school for very rational reasons.

At some point we have to understand that, as the quote goes, "Sometimes Government is a necessary evil, but it is always evil."  We open up so many opportunities for mischief by further enabling the State to have control over how we rear our children (which includes where, when, and even if they go to school).  Is it worth it?

Post Script:  Before I get comments about how kids not going to school will just make them dependent on welfare, I submit two things: One, this girl proves that is not always true- I'll go further, I think it would not be any more true than it already is.  Two, the kinds of kids who are going to end up on welfare usually will do so even if you force them to go to school until they're 18- and they certainly won't have been Honor Students that whole time.  If your problem is with the welfare state, fix that.

#BrettKimberlin Watch: Freedom Burning

See yesterday's post about the Brett Kimberlin v Aaron Walker (Worthing) fiasco.  Since I posted that, we have some updates.  The best (with links to others) is via Patterico.

I'm not sure what to say to this other than Judges- especially retired judges should recuse themselves from cases when they don't understand something at the core of the case.  By all accounts, the judge in this case lacks the most basic understanding of how the internet works.  As soon as he saw that, he should have had the good grace to say, "I don't understand how this works, can we get someone in here to explain it?" and then not accepted the word of either party (though, certainly, they should have been able to provide documentation or witnesses).

Brett Kimberlin, it is said, has set up a Google Alert so that he receives an email any time something mentioning him is posted (Hi, Brett!).  According to eye witness accounts, Mr. Kimberlin then used those emails as proof that Mr. Walker was sending him those emails.

Now, anyone passingly familiar with the technology would have told him not to be stupid, and present some real emails directly from Mr. Walker, or to get out.  Unfortunately for Mr. Walker, who is partially responsible here as he should have known to retain council, the judge was not passingly familiar with the technology and accepted Mr. Kimberlin's word.

Now, as bad as Mr. Kimberlin's "lawfare" tactics may be, it is far worse that he is aided and abetted by the legal system though a combination of apparent indifference on the part of public prosecutors and apparent ignorance on the part of judges.

If this reporting is correct, moreover, then the ruling was also in blatant disregard of Supreme Court precedent as well as the First Amendment itself.  This is nothing short of a miscarriage of justice- one which would not have even been possible if the State had taken the attempted framing of Mr. Walker seriously in the first place.

So I am left with the question: why does the  justice system seem to be geared toward helping the most aggressive, most trivial litigants instead of actually seeing to justice?

Now Playing At 'The Axiom Report'

For those looking for some alternative news sites, let me suggest The Axiom Report

The editor/proprietor is kind enough to let me post opinion pieces over there, and the news reporting is solid.  The goal is to be as bias-free (in the news, obviously, I get to keep all my biases) as possible.  You can also follow @theaxiomreport on twitter for updates.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Growing Police State: "First Amendment? What's That?" Edition

Mr. President, Mr. Attorney General, part of "free exercise" means not being in fear of tax audits because you said something the administration didn't like.

How else am I supposed to read this?  The Attorney General, the IRS, and the ACLU will help "educate" African American pastors and ministers on "what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501c3 status with the IRS."  This is problematical, at best.  What churches should be saying about elections is nothing.  That's part of the deal, the Church doesn't say anything directly about the election, and the civil government doesn't interfere with the Church.  And, quite frankly, how is this not coercion?  You don't send the IRS (who can take away their 501c3 status) and the ACLU (who just love suing churches) for anything other than intimidation.  And sending the AG?  How out-of-bounds is that?

This is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment, and any church which willingly attends should have their 501c3 status revoked.  Presuming this is a voluntary event (and it's far, far worse if it isn't), anyone attending is de facto supporting a specific party- the Democrats- in the elections.  And, as I mentioned in the first sentence, how many churches are sending representatives because they're afraid that they'll lose their 501c3 status if they don't?  When the administration tasks the AG, plus the IRS, and then invites the ACLU, any church not sending a representative could also be seen as de facto supporting a specific party, the Republicans, in that case.  Coercion can be implicit, after all.

Which, again, is why we have the Religious Protections in the First Amendment in the first place.

The Growing Police State: #BrettKimberlin v Aaron Walker Edition

The Saga of Brett Kimberlin continues.  Today, Aaron Walker (the blogger known as Aaron Worthing) had a hearing on a Peace Order filed by Brett Kimberlin.  In the wake of Friday's "Everyone Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day," it appears that the Maryland Judge has sided with Mr. Kimberlin, and agrees that Mr. Kimberlin is in reasonable fear for his safety, and that Mr. Walker is responsible for that.  Check in with RS McCain for updates- he's been a veritable bulldog on this since he became involved.

My problem with this ruling is two-fold.  First off, no blogger in their own posts (at least, none that I saw) said anything menacing.  Is Mr. Walker now to be held accountable for comments on posts that aren't even on his blog?  That sets a bad precedent.  Second, why is it not okay to discuss the fact that a major Left-wing activist and fundraiser, who is supported by the likes of Convicted Felon and Nazi-Collaborator George Soros also happens to be a convicted domestic terrorist?  That also would seem to set a bad precedent.

Further, why has the DA in Maryland not investigated Mr. Walker's claims that Mr. Kimberlin attempted to frame him for a crime.  Let me be clear here, this is not a case, from what we can tell, of the DA's office examining the available evidence and saying, "Sorry, there's not enough here."  They have simply refused even to investigate, from what we can tell.  Why?

On the other hand, why was Mr. Walker representing himself?  He had already learned the folly of that, I'd thought, so why do it?

In any case, this ruling looks like pure hokum, and would be bad enough on its own: but why was Mr. Walker taken into custody?  What happened that got him arrested?  Stay tuned to The Other McCain for updates there.

The Growing Police State: Watch Your Words Edition

Excuse me while I sputter in outrage for a moment.  While I do, go read this.

Okay, thanks, I'm back.

So for those too lazy to click over, the Daily Mail (tangential question: why am I reading about this in a UK paper, not a US paper?) that DHS is monitoring your blog and Facebook page for a variety of words to look for signs of terrorism.  That sounds legitimate, right?  We want our intelligence services stopping attacks before they start, rather than waiting until 3,000+ of our friends, family, and neighbors have been killed.  Then we get to this little gem:

"The words are included in the department's 2011 'Analyst's Desktop Binder' used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify 'media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities.'"

Yes, being critical of your government now makes you a terrorism suspect.  This goes along the same lines as the domestic terror document released by Janet Napolitano back at the beginning of this administration which made 'Prepers' and former soldiers into terrorism suspects.  Something is deeply, deeply wrong with our country when we decide that words like "pork," "cloud," "team," and "Mexico," are words that should key an analyst's attention.  They're even looking for words like "Chemical," "Burn," "Mitigation" (really?!), "Facility."

So the sentence, "My Chemical Company got really burned on our last facility inspection.  We're working on mitigation steps to fix the issues now," would trigger some analyst to look at the rest of your post.

It's getting to be old, but I'll repeat it anyway: I don't want to live in a country the motto of which is, "The innocent have nothing to hide."  That's not the country the Founders fought for, it's not the country our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to the nth generation fought and died for.  It is not a country of Liberty.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Day I Met Master Sargent Harold Omar Steffen

I love history, especially military history.  Few things stir my blood like hearing the tales of heroism that are part-and-parcel with the great traditions of the United States Military.  From the early days of John Paul Jones and George Washington, to Picket's Charge, to D-Day, to the Evacuation of Saigon, to Vietnam, to Desert Shield and Desert Storm, to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  These men and women sacrifice their lives, often even while living, to give us liberty and keep us safe.

So when my wife was given the option to accept the uniform of her deceased grandfather, I jumped at it.  I knew nothing about him, but I knew I wanted that uniform.  It sits now on a silent butler in a closet; I keep meaning to have it professionally cleaned and framed.  We've had it for several years, and I still knew nothing about him.

So, when it came time to decide what to do for Memorial Day, I decided to learn about him.

His name was Harold O Steffen, and he met his wife while in the army stationed in Austria.  He joined up in 1943 and served honorably in World War II and Korea.  Over his 25 years in the US Army, he achieved the rank of Master Sargent, not to mention siring and rearing 4 children.

He retired honorably in 1968, and died still a relatively young man at age 53 in 1982.

I still don't know as much about him as I'd like, but his children didn't keep the best of records.  My wife's aunt has the most stuff- probably including his service awards and ribbons- but she hasn't sent those along to us, yet.

So join me in greeting this minor, but undeniable Hero in the Pantheon of American Heroes.  God speed, Master Sargent Steffen, Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Representative Joe Barton (R - TX-6) About #BrettKimberlin

Dear Representative Barton.

The case of one Brett Kimberlin has come to my attention, and I felt I should bring it to yours.  Specifically, I believe you should know that Mr. Kimberlin is the Principle for two 501(c) Organizations: Velvet Revolution and the Justice Through Music Project. 

First, a little about me.  I am a resident of Arlington, TX and (for the purposes of this letter) I blog at  I was a member of your Citizen's Congress exercise in 2009 (you may remember me as Not-Lloyd-Doggett), and I have written your office on multiple occasions.  This letter will be an open letter, also published at the blog already listed.

Now, a little bit about Brett Kimberlin.  Brett Kimberlin is a convicted domestic terrorist and perjurer, as well as a known former drug smuggler, and is suspected of having ties to a murder.  Mr. Kimberlin is the so-called "Speedway Bomber," responsible for setting off 8 bombs in Speedway, IN in 1978.  One of those brutally maimed a man and injured his wife.  Years later that man would commit suicide; his family and friends maintain it was from his lingering (permanent) injuries. 

More recently, Mr. Kimberlin has engaged in so-called "lawfare" against a number of mostly-conservative bloggers who, for various reasons, had come to notice him and his ties to the two foundations listed above.  This lawfare includes frivolous lawsuits and court orders.  In less legal activities, he is believed to be behind threats to several of these same bloggers, including a so-called "SWATting" of LA Assistant District Attorney Patrick Frey, who blogs as "Paterico," and an attempt to frame another blogger for assault (see:

The reason I bring this to your attention is twofold. 

First, I believe that these 501(c) organizations should be investigated to ensure they are in full compliance with the law.  Additionally, I believe that 501(c) organizations, in general, should have to comply with two requirements (if they are not so required, I believe this should change): First that they should be made to certify that their principles, officers, and employees not be engaging in any type of harassment, intimidation, or attempt to limit free speech- as Mr. Kimberlin is doing.  Second, that their principles and officers not be allowed to represent themselves 'pro se' in court, unless they can also prove themselves indigent.  To some extent, Mr. Kimberlin's tactics are aided by the fact that, despite being fairly wealthy, he his representing himself in these frivolous lawsuits.  As someone without a license to practice law, that makes it very hard to censure him for these cases.

Second, I believe that Mr. Kimberlin's full criminal record, starting with his first perjury conviction at age 18, be read into the Congressional Record.  The primary reasoning Mr. Kimberlin gives for his lawfare is that statements about his past criminal activity are defamatory.  Never mind that they are already a matter of public record, he asserts they were long enough ago that they should not "count."  Obviously his understanding of the law is flawed, but his story seems to carry enough merit that his filings are causing conservative commentators to expend much time and resources on fighting them.  If his record were a matter of Congressional Record, it should be much easier to have such cases dismissed with less effort- and therefore less time and expense.

As a citizen journalist myself, I hope that you will take this matter seriously.  Mr. Kimberlin has threatened men and their families.

The Growing Police State: Wait, Not This Time Edition

In Bexar County, Texas (for those unfamiliar: that's where San Antonio is), the Northside ISD is implementing a pilot program at one of their High Schools to add an RFID tag to student ID cards, and use that to track attendance.

Now, I'm normally a huge fan of privacy and a huge opponent of any kind of "official" snooping by a government agency.  When I read about this, I expected to be highly offended, but I'm not.

Let me explain.

I have no problem with an employer doing exactly this thing.  I know the limitations of RFID, so I know there's really only so much knowledge they can gain.  So if my employer were to implement something exactly like this, I would have no problem with it.

So, as far as being on school grounds, I have no problem with students being "tracked," that is, as much as an RFID allows your movements to be tracked (that is: not a lot).

What about privacy, though?  Well, what about it.  If they went all out and had RFID scanners in every classroom, bathroom, office, and so forth, all they'd really know is that the ID with RFID Tag such-and-such was in room such-and-so at whatever-time.  And it's unlikely they'd spend that kind of money.  It's far more likely that they'd have scanners at the entrances to log when a student entered or left the building.  And I fully agree that they should get to know and log that information.  I'll go further, if they wanted to implement a joined system that allowed them to use video as well- so they could make sure the right student had the right ID, or notice when someone without an ID entered campus, for instance, I'd be fine with that, too.  The school building is "public" in that it's owned by local government (the School District), but it's really a restricted use building, and I'm okay with that.

Outside of school, the IDs would have no effect.  Or, rather, if you were concerned about them having an effect you could simply leave the card at home while you went off to do whatever.  So their ability to "track" you outside of school is virtually nil.

So, why am I blogging about this then?  I hate the growth of the police state.  I think that's clear from my posts.  So, when an item like this gets my attention, I feel it's necessary- to provide the proper balance- to note when something that could be seen as "intrusive" really isn't.

More on why #BrettKimberlin is a Stuttering Clusterf*ck of a Miserable Terrorist

This one is just links, but I figure why should I re-write what all of these intrepid citizen-journalists have already done.

For the "Big" players, head over to:
Lee Stranahan
Aaron Worthing
Robert Stacey McCain
Michelle Malkin
and, as always, The Ace of Spades HQ.

Also, go see my friends
Empire of Jeff
Evil Blogger Lady
Anna Puna 
Mike The Moose
Miss Tammy 
The US Report

Credit Where It's Due: Lefty (or Left-ish) Bloggers taking up the fight:
Simple Justice 

Finally, go follow me on Twitter (@Dedicated10ther), as I'll retweet anything I find about #BrettKimberlin

Update: Thanks, Michelle Malkin, for the Link!

#BrettKimberlin is a Stuttering Clusterf*ck of a Miserable Terrorist

Okay, I don't know about the stuttering bit.  The rest holds true.

Others are blogging about Kimberlin's current activities: How he is tied to two 'non-profit' organizations, how he gave one of those organizations a 'loan' of $4500.00, how those organizations are tied directly to Convicted Felon and Nazi Collaborator George Soros and Barbara 'Being Liberal Means Never Having To Have Any Talent' Streisand, among others.  Others will tell you about his other associates, and their activities.  Still others will tell you about his harassment of conservative bloggers.

I want to make sure you know that Brett Kimberlin is a Stuttering Clusterf*ck of a Miserable Terrorist.

It began, as for the actual events, on September 1, 1978.  On that night, 3 bombs exploded in trashcans.  No one was injured, but property was damaged.  The police suspected teenagers.  Which, I guess, goes to show that High School really has gotten easier since then.

Little did they know that those three explosions would lead to nearly a week of terror.

By the fifth night of the bombings, the then unknown bomber had escalated from simple property damage to destroying a police cruiser.  On the sixth night, his bomb took Carl DeLong's right leg, and severely damaged his left leg and right hand.

The bombings were committed by one Brett Kimberlin, by then already a perjurer and drug smuggler.  It is likely, though never proven, that he had one Julia Scyphers murdered, because she did not trust him around her grand children.  Under this theory, Kimberlin terrorized a city and maimed a man to distract from an investigation that would ultimately lead to him.

Because of this terrorist activity, Carl DeLong ultimately committed suicide.  The shrapnel he carried in his body, along with his maiming, became too much and he killed himself by sitting in his garage with the car running.  His wife, also injured in the bombing, won a 1.6 million dollar settlement against Kimberlin.

When Kimberlin was paroled in 1994, he refused to pay the settlement.  Ultimately, his parole was revoked, and he was sent back to prison for 4 more years, finally released in 2001.

And now, this Stuttering Clusterf*ck of a Miserable Terrorist, Brett Kimberlin, is targeting conservatives who have the nerve to out him.

Well, Mr. Kimberlin, you have our attention- all of our attention.

Update: Title Updated per Smitty's Suggestion.
Update 2: My first Memeorandum Link!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clinton Opens Bag, Cat Strolls Out

I have an idea, let's just brag about everything we do.

Yeah, that'll help.

This administration is just one miserable failure after another.  Starting with bragging about the killing of Osama bin Laden before our intelligence agents had time to analyze the materials found, to giving away secrets to Hollywood for a propaganda film, to now admitting that we're hacking terrorist websites.

Let me clue you in, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton- once you've admitted to a tactic, or that we have achieved certain goals, you make it harder for our intelligence community to operate the kind of covert warfare for which they are built, and which do far more to prevent disaster here than all the wars in the Middle East could ever hope.

Go read the book of Proverbs.  I don't care if you're religious or not; I don't care if you're Christian or Jewish, or not.  Go read it.  It seems like every 3rd or 4th proverb could translate to: "A wise man keeps his trap shut."

For the sake of our military, and for the sake of our national security, learn to keep your traps shut.

The Growing Police State: Internet Trolls Edition

No one likes Trolls.  No, I'm not talking about the little dolls with the neon hair.  I'm talking about internet trolls.  Those people who get into your comment thread just to drop a load and move on.  Or they like to say mean, nasty, sometimes hurtful things about people.  Over at the Ace of Spades HQ, we have a rather novel way of taking care of them: we make fun of them, and ridicule them mercilessly.  It seems to work- we don't have very many trolls.

But the NY State Assembly doesn't seem to think that people are able to take care of their own troll problem, so they've decided to write a bill making anonymous internet comments illegal.  This does seem to include using pseudonyms as well.  So if you don't post with your real name and some real contact information, your comment must be taken down by the site administrator once they are made aware of it.

As Wired magazine pointed out (link in the original article), this would have banned the Federalist Papers from online distribution.  What makes this worse, is that it's being pushed by Republicans.  I thought we were supposed to be pro-free speech.  What happened?

As if that were not bad enough, we get this great quote from Thomas O'Mara, the NY Senate's sole sponsor of the legislation, when he was questioned about the 1st Amendment violations this legislation would cause, "Today is the first day that these issues have been raised," and further, "I haven't gotten any comments from my colleagues in the Senate who said that this wasn't a good idea."

Really, Mr. O'Mara?  Could you possibly have beclowned yourself any more?  Protip: If your legislation would regulate speech or writing, it's probably going to have First Amendment implications, and you should circular-file it forthwith.  If you really hadn't thought of the 1st Amendment implications, then you're an idiot and not qualified for office.  If you did think of those, and just sort of hoped no one would notice, you're a lying tyrant and not fit for office.  Either way, I'm not thinking you should be in office.

And to all of those "colleagues" who didn't say the legislation wasn't a good idea: the same goes for you.  You should have thought of the First Amendment.  If you didn't, you're an idiot who isn't fit for office.  If you did, you're a tyrant who isn't fit for office.  So which is it?

The Growing Police State: Quis Custodiet Edition

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is running against Republican Scott Walker in Wisconsin's Gubernatorial Recall Election here in about two weeks.  I'm not in WI, but from an outsider's prospective, he's been running on a platform of "Well, yes, he's had results, but he's a Republican, so he's icky."  It may be quite an embarrassment for him then to find this article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel online magazine:

It turns out that more than 500 cases of violent felonies have been "miscategorized" as non-violent misdemeanors.  Those are the verified ones.  The Journal Sentinel also reports a further 800 that "follow the same pattern but couldn't be verified with available public records."  They follow that up almost immediately with this bombshell: "The Journal Sentinel found enough misreported cases in 2011 alone that violent crime would have increased 1.1% instead of falling 2.3% from the reported 2010 figures, which had their own errors."

Oops.  Not good if you're the mayor of Milwaukee.  So the article reports that the FBI has been called in to conduct an investigation.  And they never ask the question, "Who watches the watchmen?"

If we are going to give so much power an authority to police, shouldn't we be able to be sure they're telling us the truth about things?  Much time in the article is given over to how much the elected officials trust the Police, and how they're sure this was neither purposeful nor a coordinated effort.  My question: why are they so trusting, and how are they so sure?  1300 cases certainly seems like more than some typo or wrong check-box kind of mistake, doesn't it?

Indeed, almost unnoticed, they do answer the question- though I suspect they didn't realize they were: there is a council that is supposed to provide such oversight: The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.  It happens to be appointed by the mayor, and it just gave the Chief of Police a new four-year contract.

No, I see no reason for concern.  How about you?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Growing Police State: Killer Drones Edition

Alt. Headline: Now I have to agree with the ACLU; Do you see what you've done?

I've already blogged about local authorities using UAVs to watch US Citizens.  Now it looks like those same authorities want to take it one step further- by arming the drones.

In Montgomery County, TX, the Sheriff's office wants to add weapons capable of firing rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters.  No, no way that goes bad.  Nuh, uh.

I'm not going to rehash why I think Unmanned Arial Vehicles should not be used domestically in the first place, you can go back to my old post for that.  But, even assuming you were going to do that- why would arm them?  You have police who can engage rioters and mobs, if necessary, and have much more ability to weed out those who really need the proverbial "hickory shampoo" and those who are just kind of there for the ride.  That will not be nearly so clear to a remote operator of a UAV.

Beyond that, there's my skepticism of the State Generally.  I don't want them to have something so easily converted into a "real" weapon.  Notwithstanding the fact that rubber bullets can actually kill (it's rare, and takes a fairly extraordinary set of circumstances, but it has been documented), if a weapon can fire a rubber bullet, it can fire a real one.  If it can fire a real one, what is to prevent the State from arming them with real bullets "in an emergency."

My Government is supposed to be scared of me, not the other way around.  This gives the government yet another way to enforce control- and they have quite enough of those already.

The Growing Police State: JPMC Edition pt. III

So, in my ongoing review of yesterday's Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Development, I have finally read the transcript of the testimony from the Chairman of the CFTC.  It bears a full reading, but the really offensive stuff does not start until page 17.  Once you get there, though, it's pretty well the whole document, so go read it; I'll wait.

Back?  Okay.

So from page 17 - 20, we are told that there shall be no escape.  The CFTC asserts authority to regulate foreign entities making foreign trades that "substantially affect" the US.  It asserts the authority to regulate foreign arms of domestic entities engaged in same.  It declares the collapse of 2008 - largely caused by this very kind of regulation- to be an example of why this kind of regulation is needed.

Pages 21 - 24 (the last page) are more or less political whining for more money and power.

Bear in mind- these are unelected, executive branch officials, who are, in essence, passing legislation (the 'rules' have force of law) without public debate (though they do ask for "comments"), without an on-the-record vote for the public to see, and with little or no accountability.  This is how a republic dies.

Our Legislature has taken on so much authority that it does not have that it cannot even take care of the powers it has taken- and so cedes them back to the executive branch.  Consider, for a moment, if your city council decided just to take the power to regulate, say, salaries within your municipality, discovered they did not have the resources to do so, and so handed that authority over to the Mayor, or a "council" peopled entirely by people the Mayor's office had hired. 

This is unconscionable.  This is tyrannical.  It must not stand.

The Growing Police State: JPMC Edition pt. II

Yesterday, the Chairman of the SEC, Mary Schapiro, testified before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  I linked to a transcript of her testimony yesterday.  After reading through it, I find myself just shaking my head.  Go read the whole thing, but keep this in mind: All of her testimony is only because of Dodd-Frank, and the chaos it has created in the financial sector.

Done?  Okay.

Here are some things that jumped out at me:

The Dodd-Frank Act also specifically requires that the Commission, the CFTC, and the prudential regulators “consult and coordinate with foreign regulatory authorities on the establishment of consistent international standards” with respect to the regulation of OTC derivatives.

Read that again.  Dodd-Frank specifically requires that the SEC and CFTC "consult and coordinate with foreign regulatory authorities..." that is, it requires US officials to take into consideration foreign law.  So there can be no escape- not from us, nor from any other government.  If you want to find some way to avoid over-burdensome regulation, you're screwed.  Either that other government will find you and screw you over, or the US Government will.

Rather than deal with the international implications of Title VII piecemeal, we intend to address the relevant issues holistically in a single proposal.

This is something legislators (and regulators) love to do.  They claim it's to make things easier.  She goes on to say that doing this is specifically so that people don't have to look in multiple places for all the rules.  But that only matters if the rules are intra-referential, redundant, and/or contradictory.  If the rules each pertained only to the area they were supposed to, and if they were not some "flying spaghetti monster" of regulation, having the rules each broken up into their own documents would not cause a problem.  However, they will be intra-referential, redundant, and contradictory (yes- all of those).  So, by including them all in one "mega-rule" they actually make it harder to interpret, and therefore comply with, the rules once finalized. 

This isn't about secure trading- it's about compliance with the Police State.

We followed the statutory language to bring dealers acting above a de minimis level under the Commission’s direct oversight, and in so doing we have ensured that the vast majority of notional dealing activity in this market will be subjected to the SEC’s Title VII dealer regulatory regime.

Just a quick note here.  Read it again, "...we have ensured that the vast majority of notional dealing activity in this market will be subjected to the SEC's Title VII dealer regulatory regime."  So they're doing everything they can to make sure very dollar traded is covered by their "rules" and "regulations," which, per the point earlier, is not about secure trading, but the Police State.

Again, I recommend you read the whole thing.  When you consider how much authority the Legislature ceded to this unelected, largely unaccountable bureaucracy, and the authority they wield, it is just astounding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Growing Police State: Policing for Profit Edition

h/t: Brad Schnure @schnure on Twitter

If this doesn't make smoke come out of your ears, nothing I say will.

Some choice quotes:

"But you had no proof that money was being used for drug trafficking, correct? No proof?"

"And he couldn't prove it was legitimate," Bates insisted.


police are required to get a judge to sign off on a seizure within five days, state law says that hearing "shall be ex parte" -- meaning only the officer's side can be heard.

One More:

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Bates if Reby had told him that he was trying to buy a car?

"He did," the officer acknowledged.

"But you did not include that in your report," we noted.

"If it's not in there, I didn't put it in there."

For those who don't want to click through (you really should, it would be the nice thing to do), a man was driving through Tennessee with about $22,000 in cash in his car.  He was stopped for speeding, and the officer asked if he was carrying any large amounts of cash.  Now, I can only imagine he did so because Mr. Reby (the driver) fit some profile or other that the cop was told to look for, a practice of which I don't disapprove, by the way.  Mr. Reby said yes, and told the officer approximately how much.  Now, to me, the correct answer was, "Why is how much your business?" but I can understand why he wouldn't want to do that.  Then Mr. Reby made another mistake: when the officer asked to search his car, he said 'yes.'

Never, never, never agree to let the cops search your car.  Make them get the warrant.  It will be better for you in the long run.

When the cop found the cash- cash he had been told was there- he confiscated it.  No due process, no reasonable cause, nothing, just confiscation because it might possibly be used to buy drugs and Mr. Reby couldn't prove that he wasn't going to do that.  Literally, he was deprived of his private property without due process because he was assumed to be guilty.

And the police continue to insist they did nothing wrong, and the State backs them up, tacitly, with their "ex parte" hearing for seizures.  When Mr. Reby appealed, and a local news organization began to shine some sunlight on the process, the State relented and offered to give him back his money- if he'd waive his right to sue the State.  Mr. Reby made a third mistake- he agreed.

This will not stop until we make it stop.

The Growing Police State: JPMC Edition

Recently, JP Morgan Chase disclosed that it had lost around $2bn in trades designed to increase it's security.  Notwithstanding the monumental screw-up that must be, the Left has leaped at the chance for more regulation.  We're told that JPMC losing $2bn in completely legal trades means those trades should not be legal.  We're told that US Commissions (specifically the SEC and the CFTC) should have the authority to oversee transactions in foreign markets.

Today, the Chairmen of those two committees testified to just those ideas- and their steps to implement them- before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  There testimonies are here and here.

Now, I am not going to defend JPMC for making bad bets.  That was a stupid thing to do: when you're securing against risk, you do that by accepting a lesser return in exchange for greater security.  This is Finance 101, and certainly something of which they were aware.  However, $2bn is roughly 2% of their Revenue for all of 2011.  Think about that.  For a family making 60,000/yr, that would be like losing $1200.00 at a casino. That's significant, yes, but hardly earth-shattering.  Yet we're now supposed to believe that it shows some major fault in "the system."

The major fault in the system is this: our crazy regulatory environment that creates loopholes like the one JPMC used to make the trades in the first place.  It's the regulatory environment that makes companies look to foreign investment and securities as more cost effective (and therefore more secure) than domestic investment and security.  It's the regulatory environment in which unelected, executive-branch committees can, with little or no repercussion, write their own "rules."  That is: they can create Laws- backed by the Justice System of the United States, without those rules ever being voted on by a single elected representative.  Instead, the Congress cedes its legislative authority to these "Commissions" and avoids having to take a stand on these rules.  Instead, they can issue vague guidelines.

And that is just what is going on here.  In 2009, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform act was passed.  It created exactly the environment in which JPMC made what seemed like a rational decision to invest holdings- to increase security- offshore in London instead of here- under the ever pressent eye of the SEC.  Rather than consider the possibility that a simpler, more rational approach might actually serve the purposes better, we're told that we need more regulation and more rules.  All the while, the noose around American Corporations' necks draws tighter.

Eventually, it will simply not be cost effective to do business as an American Company anymore.  Don't expect JPMC to close up shop, then.  No, expect them to move all their corporate holdings to some other, less regulated, environment.  Unless, of course, the Congress sees to it that there's no escape.

Bare Naked Ladies

Wait, no.  That's The Barenaked Ladies.  Whoops.

Not much on my blog plate this morning.  Have some BNL.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Rorshach Test

If you understand why I despair for the country after this quote from Barack Obama (noted Stuttering Clusterf*ck of a Miserable Tyrant), then you're probably Conservative.  If you don't, you're probably Liberal.  So, with no further ado:

"When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off and how are we paying for their retraining."

The Growing Police State- Newspeak Edition

A high school in Mesquite, TX is reissuing corrected yearbooks after a horribly offensive phrase was published in the original edition.  Such a horrific phrase should not have even entered the students' lexicon, let alone made it past the editors.  "The use of the something we would never condone," said Laura Jobe, the Districts communications director.

And what was this horrible phrase?  To what poor, unsuspecting group was this horrible appellation given?  The yearbook identified a picture of Special Education students and contained the phrase, "Mentally Retarded."  Yes, that's right, using an actual educational/medical diagnosis in a yearbook is now forbidden.  Note, from the linked article, that the problem is not that the children were misidentified.  No one ever claims that at least some of the children are not "Mentally Retarded," or, as those in Special Ed. call them (full disclosure: my mother was a Special Education teacher here in Texas) "m.r."

You see, "Mentally Retarded" is a real diagnosis.  I can't give you the specifics, but there are several different mental handicaps that qualify for Special Education assistance, and Mental Retardation happens to be one of them. 

Now, if the children really were misidentified, I can understand a correction, but to react to the very words as though they are some unspeakable curse?  That does not make sense.

In fact, I expect that one or more of the children really is MR and that the caption is probably accurate.  In fact, I imagine, the problem the school and the parents have with the caption is not that it is wrong, but that it is right.  This is part of the "Government as Parent" and "Every kid gets a trophy" mentalities.  These parents don't want their "special snowflakes" stigmatized with an accurate description.

I feel for them, I really do, but when you subvert the language, or censor proper use of the language, to avoid "being mean," or to attempt to convey something other than the truth, you start straying into Orwellian territory very quickly.  Most people think in words.  So when we corrupt what words mean in the common usage (this is far different from the evolution of language, for the record) we make communication more difficult, and we foment more discord.  Only one group benefits form more discord and less communication: the Government.

The Growing Police State: Minimum Sentencing Edition

In Jacksonville Florida, a woman will be serving 20 years in prison for not shooting her (probably) abusive husband. 

Back in 2010, Marissa Alexander, who had a restraining order against her husband, had returned to the house they had shared to retrieve some of her things.  She believed he was gone at the time.  Reporting is unclear whether he was gone and arrived while she was still there, or if he wasn't gone in the first place.  In either event, an argument started.  Ms. Alexander claims she felt threatened.  Then, proving she is unlikely ever to win the 'Thinker of the Year' award, she went to her vehicle, retrieved her legally possessed firearm, and returned into the house.  In the course of the continuing argument, she believed she was being threatened and fired a "warning shot."

This was stupid.  If you feel threatened by someone, you don't leave and come back- you just leave.  While I don't know Florida Law, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that Common Sense says that.  Apparently, in Florida, it's a crime.

She was arrested and charged, and her case was handled by the now infamous Angela Corey.  Rather than accepting a plea bargain, Ms. Alexander took her defense to trial.  There she was convicted. 

Then came the sentence.  Now, what Ms. Alexander did was stupid.  Once she realized her husband was home, I'm relatively certain her restraining order required her (as the 'transgressor') to leave.  Certainly once an altercation began, and she left the scene of said altercation (leaving the house to go to her vehicle), she had given up any claim of "self defense" by re-engaging in the argument.  However, this was her first arrest, she did feel threatened, and no one was harmed (specifically: she was shooting not to hit anyone).  In a rational world this would get a sentence of "Go, and be stupid no more" to maybe a year or two in prison. 

We don't live in a rational world.  We live in a world where Florida has the so-called "10-20-Life" rule, wherein using a gun in commission of a felony automatically triggers minimum sentences.  Just having a gun during the crime gets you a minimum of 10 years.  If you fire the weapon, it's now 20 years.  Fire the weapon and hit someone, and you're gone for 25 to Life.

Now, I actually understand the problem the legislature was trying to address.  There were a rash of pathetically lenient sentences handed down by judges across the nation for a while, and the Florida legislature did not want some thug to get off with a wrist slap.  Enter the Law of Unintended Consequences, and we get stories like Ms. Alexander's.

Minimum Sentencing laws are a terrible way to address that particular grievance.  Justice is not about revenge, and it is not about "deterrence."  Justice is, in effect, a society's immune system.  And Minimum Sentencing Laws are like allergies- they cause the society's immune system to overreact to relatively benign stimuli.  Minimum Sentencing laws remove a judge's ability to address a case rationally, and punish a stupid choice differently than a malicious one.

The correct way to address the problem, which I readily admit exists, is to enforce judicial standards.  That is, when a judge is way out of line- especially if it happens repeatedly- remove them.  Every state has means by which the Legislature can remove a judge- from the State Supreme Court on down.  Many states elect their judges, which means the next time the judge is up for re-election he can, instead, be de-elected.

As with all laws (yes: all of them), minimum sentencing laws only really negatively affect the law-abiding.  Hardened Criminals know they'll get a lighter sentence by accepting a plea bargain.  Indeed, sometimes they'll get that wrist slap the legislature was hoping to avoid.  So minimum sentencing laws only have a minimal effect on their behavior.  On the other hand, many people like Ms. Alexander believe the law is there to protect them.  She took her case to trial believing in the all-beneficent State which would take care of her.  In the same way, the first instinct of most law abiding people is to answer questions for the Police- legal experts, including former cops, will tell you never to answer questions- especially about a crime- without a lawyer present.

All-in-all, this is one of the most striking examples of the ever-expanding police state that I've seen recently.  Indeed, it is so striking not because something reasonable people would expect to be legal isn't, but because it shows exactly the price to be paid when a Government thinks it can solve every problem by writing another law.

He (Gov. Rick Scott) Chose... Poorly

Unless you've been actively not paying attention, you've probably heard of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.  At the time, the shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed self defense, the police investigated and decided that no charges would succeed, and let him go.

Then, the Democrat/Black Grievance Machine kicked in (Trayvon was black), and decided that the only reason Mr. Zimmerman could have shot young Mr. Martin was because of Racism.  And the only reason he was let go by the police was also Racism.

A great hew and cry arose, and it became clear that this was going to be a rather large mess.  The last thing any local PD wants is this kind of national attention.  The last thing any State wants is this kind of national attention.  So, Governor Rick Scott decided this warranted a State Prosecuter take a look at the case.

When he chose Angela Corey, he touted her tough, by-the-book record.  People who had kept up with the case and knew that the only possible charge would be Manslaughter, and that even that might not stick, were sure she was chosen so that when she charged Zimmerman with Manslaughter or declined to proffer charges at all, that Mr. Scott could then say, "Hey, I didn't chose someone soft on crime.  If she says there's no crime, then there was no crime."

It didn't work out that way.  Ms. Corey, in a veritable circus of a press conference, declared that she would charge Mr. Zimmerman with Murder in the Second Degree.  Such a charge was seen as way out of line by most legal minds in the country.  This article will not go about explaining that; suffice to say I agree that such a charge is stupid and reckless.

Doing a little more research seemed in order.  So, I did a very little bit of digging, and discovered a case (the subject of another post) wherein a woman, abused by her husband, fired a warning shot in an altercation with him.  What she did is a crime, and should be punished, but because of the overzealous manner in which Ms. Corey (again) charged her, she has now been sentenced to a Mandatory 20 years in prison.

In one of the articles regarding this miscarriage of justice, I found this gem of a quote:

"Generally, it's arrest the guy with the gun and sort it out later. That's always been the way it works in Angela Corey's circuit," said Teresa Sopp, a veteran criminal defense lawyer who has battled Corey in court on numerous occasions.
And then this one:

"It's part of her zealousness," said White, who tried cases against Corey for more than 20 years. "Sometimes, you have to question that zealousness. And you have to keep an eye on her because you know you're up against a tough prosecutor. She's very, very smart."

So it seems we have a State Prosecutor is not only hard on crime (a good thing), but seems to go overboard in doing so.  Considering both of these are gun cases, does Ms. Corey have some problem with legal gun ownership?  Does she believe, as too many in the legal system do, that private gun ownership is a bad thing?  Or does she simply believe in the discredited theory of "deterrance?"

Whatever the reason, based on these two cases, it seems Mr. Scott erred in selecting Ms. Corey as the prosecutor on this case.

Friday, May 18, 2012

And We Lose To These People!

So, for anyone not following along with MA politics (I can't blame you, I only do because people at the AoSHQ do), the woman who has been hailed as the Democrat Destined To Take Back Ted Kennedy's Seat is one Elizabeth Warren, AKA Fauxcahontas, AKA Liarwatha.  You see, back when she was hired as a professor at Harvard, and probably before, she claimed to be Native American.  This alone set off a bit of a controversy which I shall not completely recount here.  Let's leave it at this: Winston Churchill was probably more Native American than Fauxcahontas.

And this was a kind of fun story.  It was even better, because she apparently didn't realize the first rule of holes (if you don't want it bigger, stop digging).  And so we got a claim about "family lore," and "1/32 Cherokee," and a few other things.  It was kind of funny in a "train-wreck" sort of way.

Then we found out, apparently as part of her ongoing deception (seriously, her Indian name would have to be "Disappears In Snow"), she published some Recipes in a "Traditional Cherokee Recipe Book" called (not kidding) 'Pow Wow Chow.'

At this point, we have the makings of a rather cute, if sort of over the top Saturday Night Live skit.  You can just see Fauxcahotas (played by... oh, Tina Fey, but she's less white than Elizabeth "Goes to Casino" Warren), sitting there being rather obviously not Native American, and saying things like "How.  Me no likum White Man Food.  Try this traditional Cherokee Dish: Beef Wellington."  It would be over-the-top and perhaps slightly tacky, but that's it.

Now, we get to the absurd part: let's say (in our skit) that she tried to claim the Beef Wellington as her own recipe.  Absolutely insisted on it.  Swore on a stack of Bibles.  At that point, it would be way over the top, and people would start saying, "Naaa... It was kind of funny, but it went too far."  That would be a fair criticism, too.

But that's just what she did.  Her recipes for the Pow Wow Chow cookbook were apparently plagiarized from an article published in at the Virgin Islands Daily News in August of 1979.  These two "traditional" recipes were, "Cold Omelets with Crab Meat" and "Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise."  Because the Cherokee were well known for their refrigeration techniques and crab fisheries.  Or something.

All of that is funny.  It's hilarious.  Until you think of one thing: assuming she somehow manages to win the upcoming Primary election and be named the nominee- there is an almost even chance that she will still win the election in November.

A lot less funny now, isn't it?

The Growing Police State: No Escape Edition

Look out, rich people (or, you know, people who simply want to become rich) renounce your rights as a citizen of the United States and Congress will come after you, especially if you leaving would "deprive" the US Government of a significant portion of your money.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his US Citizenship in September 2011 (for those counting, that's about 8 months ago).  Now, with Facebook's IPO looking like it will make him a billionaire, suddenly US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-bag, NY) and US Senator Bob Casey (D-bag, PA) have decided that anyone who does something so evil as to renounce their citizenship to "dodge" giving the government its rightfully owed money must be punished.  Their punishment?  A mandatory 30 percent capital gains tax (exactly how they would enforce that remains a mystery) and then bar them from ever reentering the United States. 

Never mind that citizenship is voluntary.  Never mind that giving up citizenship means you also lose things like your voting rights, and the right to bear arms (yes: non-citizens can be barred from carrying weapons).  No, if the serfs attempt to leave the Lord's land, the Lord will confiscate their holdings and then exile them.

The Democrats really are neo-feudalists.  They seem to believe that we are not citizens, but subjects, and that they deserve their Lord's Tithe (not to be confused with The LORD's Tithe, which would be religious in nature). 

Perhaps, Gentlemen, you might consider the root of the problem.  You see, America punishes businesses, especially successful businesses, for the very economic activity it then demands they produce.  It only makes sense, once someone has acquired enough wealth, for people to renounce their citizenship.  It's not like the government holds itself accountable to the People anymore, so voting rights aren't what they once were.  Saverin lives in California (well, actually, I think he does physically live in Singapore now, but I'm not sure on that), so he already functionally has no right to bear arms.  For him, it only makes sense to emigrate.

The Government is not "owed" our taxes.  It is not the Government's money which it so beneficently bestows upon us, it's children.  That is our money.  We earned it.  We labored for it- physically or intellectually- and produced a good or service for which other people were willing to pay.  There is nothing immoral about wanting to keep your own money. 

I understand that taxes are necessary.  When people are leaving the country that allowed them to become so successful, so they can avoid the taxation, the problem is with the taxation, not the people.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Growing Police State: Ice Cream Stand Edition

In Massachusetts, in Great Brook Farm State Park, there is a working dairy farm which also sells ice cream.  Well, there was.  You see, the man who operates this working dairy farm, largely as an educational service, had the unmitigated gall to make improvements without permission, mostly to a barn -built in 1910- which is beside the ice cream stand itself.  This infraction had to be punished, so the ice cream stand was shut down by the State: who then posted armed guards.

What, were they afraid of an Ice cream Rebellion?  Were hundreds of small children and their parents going to storm the ice cream stand?

Even granted that building improvements do require permits (something about which I'm highly ambivalent), and even granting that construction would require the ice cream stand itself to be reinspected, I don't understand the armed guards part of this.  Indeed, a basic health and safety inspection should take a couple of hours, tops, yet the stand was shut down in the late afternoon on Friday, just before a busy weekend.

So, in addition to depriving families of yummy, yummy ice cream, the State has put 13 more people out of jobs (yeah, it's not very many, but when 23+ million people are unemployed, do we really want to add to that number) and deprived the operator of the Farm and Ice cream Stand of a vital weekend's worth of revenue.

This is Government run amok.  This is what will inevitably happen when we allow Government to become our parent, instead of the "referee" it should be.  You see, I'm pretty sure (with the exception of the armed guards thing- not sure what that's about) that each individual government official involved was just doing his job.  Someone noted the improvements were made without a permit, so he notified the inspector types.  The inspector types probably didn't even get around to looking at it until Friday afternoon at some point.  Then they had to do their paperwork type stuff, so it wasn't until late in the day when they could get there.  Then, since the people who needed to approve the stand for reopening are almost certainly Government Employee Union members, they left for the weekend.  So, of course, the stand couldn't reopen immediately- the inspection has to be done.  And so on.

Is this what we want?  Do we want some nanny state government which controls our every action; our every interaction?  Because, to make things "fair," the bureaucracy cannot stop to consider circumstances before enforcing rules.  Everyone must be held to the same standard, regardless of circumstance, because to do otherwise would not be "fair."  And that doesn't even take into consideration resource limitations; there are only so many hours in the day, after all.

So welcome, Americans, to the Police State.  Where your Ice cream Stand will be Safe! or it will be guarded by police to prevent that evil capitalist from selling you ice cream.

Playing Politics with the Budget

Barack Obama presented a budget proposal to Congress some time ago.  Almost immediately, it went down in flames- 414-0 against- in the House of Representatives.  Yesterday, it died 99-0 in the Senate.  More Democrats voted for President Bush's final budget than voted for this piece of idiocy.

Which raises the question: what is the point of sending a budget which is obviously so bad that it could never, ever pass?  Perhaps he didn't expect it to pass in its initial form, but this was so bad NO ONE, not even confirmed communist Bernie Sanders could vote for it.  The Retiring and Ultra-Liberal Dennis Kucinich could not vote for this.  So what's the point?

I'm really not sure, but you don't want to hear that, so I'll come up with a couple of hypotheses. 

First: Pure Kabuki.  Not just the normal political games, in this interpretation, the idea would be specifically to make it so bad that the Democrats could vote against it to build up there "individualism" cred.  They could vote (completely symbolically) against the President, so they can go back to their constituents starting in August and say, "I'm not just a rubber stamp for the President!"

Second: Partisan Games.  In this hypothesis, President Obama wants it to fail, and doesn't care whether or not Democrats vote for it.  The idea would be to get those Wascawy Wepubwicans on the Record as "blocking" the President's budget, and then relying on the Media to provide cover for the Democrats.  Then, President Obama could run against the "do nothing Congress" this year, instead of Mitt Romney.

Third (for Completeness): Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable tyrant.  I'm partial to this one, actually.  In this one, the Malignant Narcissist in Chief doesn't care about the cost to "his" Democrats, he wants what he wants, and his ideology will not allow him to submit any budget that does not try further to redistribute wealth and punish the productive class.

Ultimately, though, I do know this: whatever his specific reasoning, it is clear that Barack Obama is doing nothing more than playing politics with the budget.  That is beyond 'cynical.'  To do so endangers our already fragile economy, it harms economic growth, it undermines the 'full faith and credit' of the US Government, and it makes it much harder to track where money is being spent.

Worse, the US Senate has failed to pass any budget- presented by the President or otherwise, for more than 3 years now.  The GOP Controlled House has passed at least one every year.  The Senate often will not bring them up for votes.  This, too, is beyond cynical and is positively destructive.  One of the few legitimate powers of Congress is to pass a budget.  Failure to do so does not mean money does not get spent, it simply means it is harder to track.

So when the Democrats complain about the "ultra partisan" GOP, remind them that it isn't the GOP who is not passing budgets, and it's not the GOP who isn't getting a single Democrat Vote.  That's the Senate and the President.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Preserving Our Liberty: The *Shrinking* Police State?

For those following this blog, it should come as no surprise that I'm not a fan of Red Light Cameras.  I believe they are much more about revenue enhancement than they are about safety, and I think they serve only to further the growth of the Police State.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a politician advocating for their specific ban.  Of course, this is in New Jersey, so it has no direct effect on me, but I believe in praising the praiseworthy.

Senator Mike Doherty of New Jersey has sponsored legislation that would make the Red Light Cameras a thing of the past in New Jersey.  This is one politician who seems to get it.  Good job Senator Doherty.  Keep it up.

Here, have some Live

Slow day for stuff for the blog.  While I wait for something to pique my interest: here, have some Live.

Preserving Our Liberty: Well, This Is Encouraging

Go read this article from The State (out of South Carolina).  It gets into a pretty good discussion of the "dilemma" (if only all our States had this kind of dilemma) facing South Carolina.  In the wake of increased revenues and a recovering economy, GOP-lead South Carolina faces an interesting conundrum: spend that extra money, or give it back to tax-payers.  On an encouraging note, Governor Nikki Haley and the House appear to want to return that money to tax-payers.

Less encouraging: the Senate appears to want to spend the money.

Honestly, this is an honest disagreement to have, even if I know which side I would support, if I lived in SC.  South Carolina, like so many other states, has had to cut spending massively during the 'Lesser Depression.'  So, now that they have more revenue available, there is an argument to be made for restoring funding which had been slashed.  On the other side, fiscal conservatives are pointing out, not without cause, that the State has functioned quite adequately for the last couple of years despite those budget cuts, so obviously it doesn't need that much money.

That this discussion is being had is encouraging.  That the House and the Governor's office are supporting the tax-payer over the Government is even more encouraging.  Hopefully the Senate, too, will realize their primary responsibility is to tax-payers, not to Government Employees or Tax Leaches, and will also agree to lowering taxes.  As an added incentive, lowering taxes will actually probably result in yet more revenue.  As taxpayers and businesses flee high tax, business oppressive states like California, Illinois, and New York, they will flock to low regulation, low tax states, thus increasing the tax-base, never mind the general increase in revenue which tends to occur when taxes are lowered.