March 2010 Archives

Violence and Politics

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I will say up front, clearly, for all to hear: violence, and threats of violence, in response to to the health insurance bill, are wrong. Categorically wrong. And anyone making such a threat, or committing such a violent act, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

That said, however, such threats and even people acting on such threats is not merely unsurprising, but absolutely inevitable. And far from being, as Nancy Pelosi said, against "the American way," they are firmly rooted in American politics from the very beginning of our nation (and I'm not just referring to the Revolution, either).

This is very simple.

Every person has the right to self-defense, to protect their rights from being violated by others. However, if every person acted out in self-defense against every encroachment of rights, we'd have chaos. So if a neighbor poisons your dogs, you don't shoot him or trash his yard. You go to the authorities: the police, the courts, and so on.

That is how we maintain an orderly society.

In this case, however, it's the government that is violating our rights. We entrust a significant portion of our right to self-defense to government, and they abuse that by stealing from us.

Of course, the right thing to do in this case is to work through the political system to fix the problem, to protect our rights from government encroachment. But for very legitimate and rational reasons, many people believe that's no longer a reasonable option. Year after year, more of our rights are taken from us, and with few exceptions, one those rights are gone, they don't come back.

So when the organizations you entrust the defense of your rights to is the organization violating your rights, and you believe you have no recourse left, you're going to consider reasserting your right to self-defense of your rights.

This is inevitable. Not that everyone will do it, of course, but in a nation of 300 million people, some will. Even if people don't think of it in those terms precisely, it's how the reasoning basically goes. It's wrong most of the time -- including in the case of the health insurance debate -- but it will happen, and pretending that it's some anomaly or outside of the American tradition is stupid. It would be nice if it were outside the American tradition, but that's just not reality.

Indeed, such violent reactions as we've seen are so completely and obviously inevitable that I assume the Democrats, long ago, knew the reactions would happen (how couldn't they?) and planned to take political advantage all along. If they are surprised by the reaction, they are, quite frankly, completely incompetent.

And for those who whine about this sort of thing happening more from the right than the left, I don't know if it's true. I've certainly seen many death threats toward Republicans in my days, and even in the last year we've seen many violent acts at health care town halls from Democratic supporters.

But I will say that because of how the parties break down philosophically, with the left being much more likely to take away the rights and property of other people, a violent response is therefore more likely in that direction. But we see the same thing from the left, too: the man in Bellingham who last year threatened violence because he saw his rights as a gay man being violated; radical blacks in the 60s fighting for their actual civil rights as human beings; and so on.

Their violent acts and threats were not justified either. But that some people will respond violently when government, the institution sworn to defend people's rights, are the ones violating their rights. It makes them feel helpless, which drastically increases the liklihood that they will lash out violently in reaction.

It's the way the world works and we shouldn't act surprised, and, when appropriate -- such as now -- we should point out that if government didn't steal from us, it wouldn't be getting that sort of reaction in the first place.

Of course, some on the left are going to say I am condoning violence, even though I'm clearly not. Just as broad government theft of rights inevitably results in violence, so too does speaking candidly about it inevitably result in lies.

It's the way the world works.

On KING 5 News tonight, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna pointed out that the obvious fact that the policy of the health insurance bill is irrelevant to whether or not it's legal. He was asked, if the provisions in the bill are thrown out by the courts, won't that gut the bill? But that can't possibly be relevant to the lawsuit, which is just about whether or not those provisions are legal.

Our system, in theory, follows the rule of law, not an ends-justifies-the-means consequentialism that ignores what the law says if the people in charge happen to like the result.

But when his Governor, Christine Gregoire, had her turn to speak, she refused to actually explain why she thought the bill wasn't unconstitutional. She asserted it without explanation, and instead devoted her entire time to explaining why she thinks the bill is a good idea.

The bill could be the best idea in the world, but if it violates the Constitution, it cannot stand as it is. That's how our system works, as a former attorney general should know. And as any lawyer should know, the government has no authority to force people to buy a product just because those people happen to be alive. That not only violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, as well as Article I, Section 8, but it subverts the entire nature of limited government established by the people of the United States of America. And worst of all, it denies the self-evident and unalienable human rights noted in the Declaration of Independence.

That Gregoire tries to divert attention away from the obvious constitutional questions involved, and focus instead on the completely irrelevant notion of whether it's a good bill, is prima facie evidence that she doesn't even care whether the bill violates the Constitution.

While I am on the subject, I draw your attention to a letter to the editor I had published in the Seattle P-I way back in 2007, on this very subject:

Hillary Clinton wants to force everyone to pay for health care insurance, especially those who need it the least. The less you use it, the more you help pay for everyone else.

You have a tax on your property, on your sales, on your income, but this is worse. Those other taxes are based on things you do; this is a tax on just existing, on breathing. The government forces you to pay money for that.

Clinton and the Democrats want to tax you for being alive, tax you when you die, and use that money to kill you before you're even born.

Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.

How Do I Oppose Thee?

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The health insurance reform bill should be opposed on many grounds. The most obvious to those of us who put a priority on liberty is that it violates our rights: our right to not buy insurance, our right to buy whatever insurance products we want, our right to not offer certain benefits as employers, and more.

Another big problem, if you're pro-life, is that the bill pays for abortions. The Democrats have been saying all along they would not pass a bill that pays for abortions, but they lied. This bill does precisly that, because it pays for insurance coverage that pays for abortions. There's no wiggling out of this lie.

Speaking of big lies, the Democrats have been saying their health insurance reform would cut the deficit. Obama said he wouldn't vote for it unless it did. But it only cuts the deficit because they cut out the Medicare "doctor fix" ... which they are going to pass separately later. So no, this bill -- combined with the portion they cut out of the bill, which they say they will pass this summer -- increases the deficit.

Of course, Democrats will say "we were talking about THIS bill, not the separate 'doctor fix' bill," but letting them get away with that argument would allow any Congress to make any major legislation reduce the deficit: just cut out the parts that increase the deficit, pass them separately, and surprise! You saved money!

Democrats who vote for this because it reduces the deficit are lying ... unless they plan to vote against the "doctor fix." But we know that the Democratic leadership and Obama plan to support it, so at the very least, we know they are lying about deficit cuts.

For most people, though, the biggest problem is that it simply doesn't do anything good for most Americans, becase costs don't come down. The CBO says premiums stay essentially static, with or without this bill. Literally, the Democrats have been touting a bill to address the high cost of health insurance, without actually reducing the cost of that insurance.

Anyone who votes for this bill is voting for deficit increases, tax increases, and a complete absence of actual cost-cutting.

There's a lot more that can and has and should be said about this bill, but these are the primary reasons why the Democrats are killing themselves in the elections this November.

To most people, it's obvious that the White House line -- that people should like the health insurance bill because it has something in it that they like -- is idiotic.

It's entirely intuitive that just because you like one thing, doesn't mean you'll like something else that happens to include it. I've drawn the analogy that just because a bill that kills cute puppies cuts taxes, doesn't mean people who like low taxes will also like the puppy-killing bill.

George Will, on Sunday, used the analogy that he likes sauerkraut and ice cream, but doesn't like sauerkraut ice cream. I think that analogy isn't bad, but the point would be made better if he didn't like sauerkraut (as I don't): it's not that we like individual mandates and tort reform, but just not together; it's that we don't like individual mandates at all, and they end up ruining anything they're mixed with.

Will's analogy prompted a friend to quote: "It's got raisins in it. You like raisins." If you don't know what that refers to, watch this clip.

Mr. President, we see your health insurance plan as a big pile of green goo that comes alive after you've given it to us, and no amount of raisins is going to make us like it. The more we look at your plan, the less well we feel, and we'd really like to be excused.

This serves as both a perfect analogy to the White House line on their health insurance reform bill, and a chance to encourage people to see Better Off Dead again, or for the first time.

Oh and while I am talking about movies and the health insurance bill, recently, pundit Torie Clark compared the film Ishtar to the health insurance bill, saying "they spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on it you heard so much about it and when people actually started seeing it they said that this is terrible."

But it's not true. People who actually saw Ishtar -- except for people in "the business," including professional critics -- pretty much liked it. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's quite funny, though harder to find than Better Off Dead.

It's a little hard to find -- since it's not yet on the bill's page -- but the proposed substitute for the income tax bill is available under that page's Committee Materials link.

It's not an amendment, but a completely different bill. You'll want to look at Section 401 ("For income earned on or after January 1, 2011, a tax is imposed at the rate of four and five-tenths percent on all taxable income of resident individuals and on all individuals deriving income from sources in Washington for each taxable year.") and Section 504 ("There is allowed from taxable income the following standard deductions. ...").

However, there is no severability clause: so if that's the case and Section 504 is found to be unconstitutional, the whole thing would get thrown out. That is made explicit in Section 1202. That's the only good news here. Perhaps they changed the severability clause from last year's version because of exactly this criticism: that it would end up as a tax on everyone if the standard deductions were found unconstitutional, which is likely, if the Court follows longstanding precedent.

As a refresher, our State Constitution, in Article VII, Section 1, says, "All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax. ..." And our Court has consistently ruled that money is property (having found this because, I presume, it is obviously true). So without overturning many decades of precedent and finding that money is not property, the only way to make this fly would be to rule that different levels of income are property, which would be even more twisted than finding that money isn't property.

Or they could just completely take leave of their senses and find that a standard deduction that is, by the words of the people who authored it, explicitly designed to target specific taxpayers (thus violating the spirit and letter of the Constitution), is nevertheless "uniform" because "the tax is on everyone, but it just exempts certain amounts for everyone."


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Recession. Massive unemployment. Tax increases. Higher health insurance costs. Property values in the toilet. Loans impossible to get for most people. And today the WA Senate announces that they want to force car insurance rates higher, for an auto theft surcharge (makes you wonder who the actual thieves are).

And students who have never had a job or paid taxes -- along with teachers who have never worked in the private sector -- are protesting that we aren't giving them enough free money for college educations most of them probably won't use and don't need.

If you really want a college education, I am highly in favor of it. A college education can be a great way to prepare you for the real world. You know what's another great way of preparing for the real world? Learning how to pay for things yourself, if you really want them.

But I have enough to pay for already without covering your Higher Ed Fantasy Camp.

This is my favorite song about ice sports and the Olympics. It's by The Zambonis and it conflates the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" victory to the 1960's race to the moon, with Mike Eruzione's game-winner in the third period against the Soviets capping it all off. The original song is like 7 minutes long and is mostly instrumental. My version is much shorter.
From: pudgenet
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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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