April 2010 Archives

Initiative 1068 would legalize marijuana for all adults in Washington State.

Marijuana is a terrible product. Other than the people who use it strictly for medicinal reasons, it has no positive uses. People who use marijuana for other purposes are wasting their lives. It has no place in society, and I shun anyone who is under its destructive influence. It can ruin the lives of the people who use it, and bring down friends and family along with them.

I think I've said pretty much all of the negative things to say about it. Therefore, marijuana should be legal.

(Did I just blow your mind, man?!)

Unfortunately, it seems to me this initiative would legalize the public use of marijuana, which I cannot support. It is unacceptable to me to legalize the substance in such a way that people will be free to blow marijuana smoke into the shared air of children and adults who do not wish to breathe it in. Therefore I plan to oppose I-1068.

This is not a minor issue. I am assured by Philip Dawdy, one of the people behind I-1068, that "the legislature will be falling over themselves to regulate this kind of stuff." He says "they will and I can assure you we'd want them to," but that's not good enough. Assurances are not actual laws.

Apart from the direct potential health hazard of secondhand marijuana smoke, there's also the possibility (however unlikely) that it could trigger a positive drug test.

Not until criminal penalties are in place for public use of marijuana, can I support a law making marijuana use generally legal.

Dawdy says our laws for initiatives don't allow him to tackle both issues in one initiative. I don't know if that's true, but if it is, then he should have run two initiatives.

Come back with a better way to protect the public from the direct effects of this private activity, and I'll probably support it. But I won't support this: it's bad law.

Note that I am not alone in this. I was actually planning to support this initiative until it hit me that it would not regulate public use. Then, while preparing this piece, I found that the ACLU has the same basic objections I do. When a conservative little-l libertarian and the ACLU are both against a marijuana legalization initiative, that should make you think twice if you're prone to supporting it. slashdot.org

Yesterday, in the final U.S. Supreme Court case heard by Justice John Paul Stevens, my good friend Larry Stickney and his group, Protect Marriage Washington, squared off against Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna in Doe #1 v. Reed to determine whether public disclosure of petition signatures is routinely allowed under the First Amendment; that is, whether such dislosure should be done only under strict scrutiny, narrowly tailored to serve a government interest, or, whether the state can simply release the signatures upon a normal request for public records.

You may recall the events that led to this case: Stickney and his group got R-71 on the ballot last year, which attempted to kill the "everything but marriage" law for gay couples. Pro-gay activists threatened him and his family, and others who publicly supported repealing that law. Some groups requested lists of the petition signators, with the obvious intent to harass and open them up to threats, which has an undoubtable "chilling effect" on whether people will sign petitions in the future.

You can make a strong case for keeping these signatures out of the public. The question is whether the First Amendment has anything to say about it, or whether states should be free to make their own policies.

Attorney James Bopp represented the John Does and Protect Marriage Washington. He drew comparisons -- and important distinctions -- to other disclosures, such as campaign finance and voter affiliation, noting that specific and overriding government interests were involved.

I won't get too far into the details, you can read the transcript itself -- which is more interesting than I thought it might be -- I think Justice Scalia sums up my view:

"And in light of the fact that for the firstcentury of our existence, even voting was public ... the fact is that running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process. You are asking us to enter into a whole new field where we have never gone before."

He continues: "Didn't you have some options, too? Have you started a referendum to repeal the -- the [Washington] law that requires disclosure? ... [T]he people [of] Washington evidently think that this is not too much of an imposition upon people's courage, to -- to stand up and sign something and be willing to stand behind it. Now, if you don't like that, I can see doing it another way. But -- but the people of Washington have chosen to do it this -- this way. And you are saying that the First Amendment absolutely forbids that."

I feel very badly about these terrible people who threatened the Stickney family. I think our laws do not do enough to protect them by going after mentally unstable scum like John Bisceglia who use explicitly violent and targeted rhetoric to quiet free speech. And I think maybe our laws should exempt petition signatures from the Public Records Act, and instead rely on a separate process for verification.

But I don't see how our federal Constitution has anything to do with it. slashdot.org


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I wonder how long it will be before people start just putting together random letters for names of companies, bands, and so on, so they can be unique in Google searches.

Your search - fobhwueufg8 - did not match any documents.

^^ my new band name use.perl.orgslashdot.org

Liberals have put up Initiative 1077 to give us a massive new income tax for individuals earning over $200,000.

It's nominally an obvious attempt at class warfare, to increase the tax burden on "rich" people while slashing it for everyone else, since it also includes a big property tax cut.

But it's worse than that: it's really an attempt to simply distract people from the terrible job the Democrats have done, and from voting for Republicans.

The bill is obviously and blatantly unconstitutional. And due to its specific severability language, if the unconstitutional part is ruled unconstitutional, the whole thing would be thrown out. The proposed law states unqeuivocally that certain income levels are taxed at different rates, which clearly violates the constitutional prohibition on non-uniform taxes upon the same class of property. The state has found consistently for 80 years that income is property. Therefore, you can't do that.

The initiative gives lip service -- but it's nothing more than that -- to the idea that in 1933 the state Supreme Court ruling "ultimately relied on United States supreme court cases that have long since been overruled." The larger case perhaps did, but the part of the case that ruled income as property did not. That was completely specific to our own state Constitutiuon. They go on to say the ruling "treated Washington's graduated income tax, as then drafted, as a nonuniform property tax," as if to imply this tax is different, but it's clearly not: the very fact that it was graduated -- as this proposed tax is -- was the point.

There's really not much more to say here. It's so obviously unconstitutional -- in terms of the stated text of the State Constitution, and longstanding precedent -- there can really be only two reasons to try: to force a court challenge and change precedent, or to distract people from the elections.

It's most likely both. It will almost certainly fail to overturn precedent, though will waste our time and money in the attempt. Whether it succeeds in distracting us is up to us. slashdot.org

I keep hearing that the health insurance reform bill will take a certain dollar from us if we don't buy insurance, or a percentage of our income, whichever is higher.

I can't find this in the original bill. It just gives a dollar amount.

I look for it in the reconciliation bill, and I see what appears to be modifying existing income tax rates, codified in Section 5000A(c)(2)(B). The problem is, in the original bill, I see no (B) in 5000A(c)(2) as created by H.R. 3590, Sec. 1501(b) ... let alone clauses i, ii, or iii. And I am sure I am in the right place, because the reconciliation bill goes on to modify 5000A(c)(3), and that's all there in the original bill.

Well, not all of it. It says in H.R. 4872 that it is changing $750 to $695, but $495 to $325. But there is no $325, it's $350. So I search on $495 and find that in Sec. 10106 -- an amendment -- $350 was changed to $495. Also, (B) was added to 5000A(c)(2), which increased the tax penalty percentage further.

Gotta love it when the text of a bill modifies an earlier section of the same bill. So even reading the bill you can't understand what the bill says unless you read the entire bill because it goes back on itself.

Speaking of going back on itself ... since this represents a very large income tax increase on families making less than $250K -- if they choose to not have health insurance -- it's also Obama going back on himself when he promised he wouldn't raise such taxes. Yes, he already violated that promise in many other ways, such as with the tobacco tax, but after election he revised his original promise to refer only to taxes on income, even though it was originally for all federal taxes, and this one is explicitly on income. slashdot.org

A few days ago, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz incorrectly told her constituents, "We actually have not required in this law that you carry health insurance."

She went on to say it's a choice in how you file your taxes, not a requirement.

She either didn't read and understand the law, or she's lying. Section 1501 of the law she voted to pass amends Subtitle D of the IRS Code, adding a new Section 5000A, which is titled, "Requirement to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage." The very first words of 5000A are, "An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable
individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month."

The law itself, that she voted for and supposedly read, says, unequivocally, that people (unless they are exempted, such as Indians and Amish and incarcerated prisoners) are required to have health insurance.

Ironically, Wasserman Schultz said on her Facebook page a few days earlier: "A FACT Check: Members of Congress and the health insurance reform bill? Apparently some people don't know that the health insurance reform bill we just passed REQUIRES that Members of Congress and their staff to obtain the same health insurance plans created by the law (some states might offer different plans) or through... the Exchange (market or purchasing pool) created in the law."

And, apparently, some people (ahem) don't know that the same bill REQUIRES all non-exempt people to obtain health insurance.

UPDATE: Just after I wrote this, Wasserman Schultz was on Crossfire with Chris Matthews and she repeated the same line: there is no requirement, it's simply a different way to file your taxes. She's an intelligent woman, she's had a few days to fix her error, and she's still repeating this clearly false statement, so I'm calling it: she's not merely ignorant, she's lying. slashdot.org

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), of which Senator Patty Murray is the fourth ranking member, and HA Seattle, run by our friend Goldy, have been spreading the inane claim that Dino Rossi has been involved in "shady" dealings and transactions.

Of course, none of it backed up by a single fact, and attorney James Rigby's letter to HA puts all of the "shady" nonsense to rest. The letter can be summed up with: "if you have evidence no one else has, then provide it; otherwise, you're simply making it up." Here's the money quote: "I know more about Maestro and Heide's shady dealings than probably anybody alive. You don't know what you are talking about when you assert that Dino Rossi has any connection to their wrongdoings. Your tactic is guilt by association plain and simple."

Rossi sent a letter to Murray asking her to ask her DSCC to pull back. She didn't respond, and chose to lie instead, saying "This is an issue between Mr. Rossi and the DSCC." If Murray were not highly ranked in the DSCC, that might fly, but she is obviously heavily invovled in what the DSCC is doing.

The DSCC also lied, saying "Significant questions remain unanswered surrounding your business deals, associates and what you have been doing since you last waged a campaign for public office." But no such questions exist, and if they do, the DSCC certainly isn't asking them. Instead they are hoping that by throwing enough insinuations against the wall, something will stick.

And the funniest part is that Rossi has not even announced whether he is running for the Senate against Murray at all, and the only real sign that he might be running is that he hasn't said he isn't. But this is enough for them to be so scared that they have to resort to manufacturing complaints against him. And that they won't back up their lies, but just keep reasserting them as if repetition makes truth, is telling. slashdot.org

You've probably seen this, but I can't pass up pointing it out. Many liberals hate the rule of law -- and by this, I mean they despise the notion that we should follow the law, and instead they want us to just go by what they think is best at the time (a.k.a., the rule of man) -- but few admit it so clearly as Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL). slashdot.org

My Slashroulette Videos

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Today Slashdot did a spoof of Chatroulette, that we called Slashroulette. We prerecorded videos of ourselves and others. Here's five of the six I did (the sixth was me tuning the guitar, I didn't post that one on YouTube): video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4, video 5. use.perl.orgslashdot.org

LCE077 SR: Bad Hair

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From: pudgenet
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Time: 00:16 More in Music

LCE077 SR: Nerdier Than Me

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On Slashdot we did a spoof of Chat Roulette on April 1 called "Slash Roulette," wherein we pretend to be doing live video chat with readers of the site. This is one of my contributions.
From: pudgenet
Views: 6
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Time: 00:25 More in Music

LCE076 SR: My Mic Is Off

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On Slashdot we did a spoof of Chat Roulette on April 1 called "Slash Roulette," wherein we pretend to be doing live video chat with readers of the site. This is one of my contributions.
From: pudgenet
Views: 3
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Time: 00:27 More in Music

LCE075 SR: Should Be Working

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On Slashdot we did a spoof of Chat Roulette on April 1 called "Slash Roulette," wherein we pretend to be doing live video chat with readers of the site. This is one of my contributions.
From: pudgenet
Views: 5
1 ratings
Time: 00:41 More in Music

On Slashdot we did a spoof of Chat Roulette on April 1 called "Slash Roulette," wherein we pretend to be doing live video chat with readers of the site. This is one of my contributions.
From: pudgenet
Views: 10
1 ratings
Time: 00:31 More in Music
A new bill being introduced today. Read it and weep. Is the new power conferred to Congress to mandate our economic activity a slippery slope? You betcha!

111th Congress
2nd Session
H.R. ____________

To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.


Mr. Rangel introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______________

                                A BILL

To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

(a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the "Affordable Health Care for America's Future Act".

(a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:

  (1) In general.--The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce, as a result of the effects described in paragraph (2).

  (2) Effects on the national economy and interstate commerce.--The effects described in this paragraph are the following:

    (A) The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when campaign donations are made, and which candidates are financially supported.

    (B) Only members of the Democratic Party voted for health care reform.

    (C) Health insurance and health care services are a significant part of the national economy.

    (D) The requirement will add millions of new consumers to the health insurance market, increasing the supply of, and demand for, health care services.

  (3) Supreme Court Ruling.--In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.

(b) In General.--Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

"Sec. 5000C. Requirement for supporting congressional candidates.

"(a) Requirement for supporting congressional candidates.--An applicable individual shall, for each month beginning after 2010 ensure that the individual contributes to an authorized Democratic Party candidate the minimum contribution for such month.

"(b) Shared Responsibility Payment.--

  "(1) In general.--If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2010, then there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).

  "(2) Inclusion with return.--Any penalty imposed by this section with respect to any month shall be included with a taxpayer's return under chapter 1 for the taxable year which includes such month.

"(c) Amount of penalty.--

  "(1) In general.--The penalty determined under this subsection for any month with respect to any individual is an amount equal to 1/12 of the applicable dollar amount for the calendar year.

  "(2) Applicable dollar amount.--For purposes of paragraph (1)--
    "(A) In general.--Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), the applicable dollar amount is $250.

    "(B) Phase in.--The applicable dollar amount is $100 for 2014 and $150 for 2015.

    "(C) Mitigation.--The applicable dollar amount shall be increased by 200 percent of the total contributions made by applicable individual to other nonauthorized political or public advocacy groups."

<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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