Politics: October 2009 Archives

Obama's Uniformity of Interests

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Obama said in his inaugural address that "we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." People cheered.

I didn't.

I like conflict and discord. Not incivility, but argument and debate, expressions of disagreement, which often become heated and passionate. A lack of conflict and discord means that everyone agrees, or -- much worse -- are somehow prevented from disagreeing, either by force of government, or a lack of personal desire or will. It's bad no matter the cause. We necessarily will disagree, and we must speak out about our disagreement, which will result in conflict and discord. Without that, we lose liberty -- and quickly -- no matter who is in power, left, or right.

Nancy Pelosi was right when she said she loved "disruptors" under Bush; but she was obviously self-serving when she said it, because she changed her tune about disrptions under Obama, calling it "un-American." It is people like this -- again, of any party -- we must be wary of losing our freedom to if we do not speak out, if we abandon "conflict and discord" in exchange for "unity of purpose."

One of the reasons I love Federalist 10 is because James Madison so clearly explains the importance of understanding dissent and disagreement in the framing of our new government.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

Far from Obama's "unity of purpose," Madison tells us we all inherently have difference of purpose, and that a "uniformity of interests" is not possible.

But many in our society don't accept the impracticability of this. They work hard to give us a "uniformity of interests." One of the obvious examples of this is Social Security. It doesn't make economic or policy sense in any way to give Warren Buffett a Social Security check; we have universal Social Security for one reason only: to give citizens the same passions and interests, that they might share the same opinions. That is: everyone is in Social Security, so most people support it.

If we cannot force people who have different and unequal faculties, and different degress and kinds of property, to share the same opinions, then these people will work on reducing those differences, that we might share the same opinions. That is obviously what the universality of Social Security is about, and it's also what the "health care reform" is largely about: forcing everyone (starting with individuals) into a government-run system like the health insurance exchange, and forcing everyone to have health insurance with individual mandates.

The initial reason behind it is fine, and something virtually everyone agrees with: people should have health care, and should have enough resources to live past retirement age. However, they take a leap many of us don't like, saying government should provide those things to people who don't have them. And because so many of us don't share their opinion, they try to force us into the system in order to slowly change our opinions to supporting the system.

And yes, it is as sinister as it sounds. Individual mandates are not about taking care of YOU if something happens to you, they are about two things: the first is taking your money to give to other people, but no less important is that by putting you into the system, you will be more likely to support its continuation and expansion.

We see this again and again. We see it in forced unionization. We see it in Medicare. We see it in public schooling. We see it in Rep. Rangel's vision for reinstatement of the military draft. Wherever you see government creating a system and trying to force everyone into it, forcing people to have the same interests, encouraging them to share the opinion of continuing and expanding the system is a big reason why.

This is separate from, though related to, the Democrats' push to literally silence the opposition, whether it's pushing out an entire news network they dislike, or trying to enforce "fairness" on broadcast radio stations (which most of the top Democratic leaders in Congress have expressed support for, just in the last year or two).

This silencing and undermining of dissent is more along the lines of Madison's first remedy to faction, the abolishing the liberty essential to political life. But it's all about the same thing: the Democrats want to remove the causes of faction, so Obama can have his "unity of purpose," and they do this as they long have done: by trying to destroy our liberty; and by pushing us to share the same opinions, by giving us the same interests.

I have two things to tell the Democrats (and the Republicans and others who engage in similar behaviors). First, you should embrace faction. It is how we protect liberty, it is how we ensure justice, it is how we progress as a civilization. It is not without problems, but it represents far more good than harm. Its effects can, and should, be controlled, which is why we have a republic and not a democracy. Read the rest of Federalist 10 if you don't understand.

Second, and more practically, perhaps, it won't work. It never does. It only creates more factiousness, and make its effects harder to control. slashdot.org

Boeing Gone; Who's to Blame?

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Remember a couple of years ago, when a bunch of us ridiculed the notion that Forbes named Washington State in the top five best states for business?

Some of their criteria was laughable, and their analysis moreso. We knew what most businesses knew: that on the most important points to businesses (business costs and quality of life), Washington State failed. And on other factors like "regulatory climate" and "outlook" we incredibly scored well: to the former, Washington scored highly because we employ people to help guide businesses through the regulatory morass; but that doesn't diminish the fact that there are massive regulatory roadblocks in the first place; to the latter, well, our "outlook" -- which includes ever-increasing spending, even in the face of a recession -- is the reason why we're facing significant tax increases, if Gregoire and the Democrats get their way.

So, now, Boeing is leaving. Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-39) probably has the best answer as to why, in a press release yesterday:

It's extremely disappointing that Boeing has chosen South Carolina over Washington, but not surprising at all. Boeing has been very critical of our state's difficult regulatory atmosphere. At the end of the day, it has to be able to compete successfully on an international scale, especially against Airbus. Instead of providing a level playing field, Washington has consistently put up barriers that make it difficult not only for Boeing to compete, but also for other employers throughout our state.

It's been no secret that other states have been courting Boeing for years. Boeing has tried to make it work here. However, it has gotten to a point with unemployment insurance issues, regulatory burdens, business and occupation taxes, and recently, the governor being willing to consider tax increases, that Washington is no longer a place where Boeing can be competitive.

In South Carolina, it took only days for Boeing to get the permits it needs to move forward with the second 787 plant. In Washington, it would take years. That's one of many examples in which our state has not been helpful and has stood in the way of the ability for Boeing to successfully compete here.

When Boeing decided several years ago to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, many of my House Republican colleagues and I warned that unless the Legislature was willing to make reforms to improve the state's business climate, we may see further departures. The governor and the majority party have been in denial about concerns of job providers and now our predictions are unfortunately coming true.

We must also remember this is not just about Boeing. Many other employers rely on Boeing and its workforce to support their companies. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Washington are indirectly related to Boeing and are affected. I've been very critical not only about how our state has treated Boeing, but all employers in Washington. Even when the Legislature made concessions to Boeing in 2003 to secure the Dreamliner in our state, I also said we should extend those tax relief benefits to all businesses. Unfortunately, very little has been done in the Legislature to make Washington attractive for business.

Today's announcement needs to be a wake-up call to our political leaders in Washington to create a more competitive business climate before we lose more employers to other states.

Rep. Mike Hope weighed in, too:

To call today's announcement by Boeing disappointing is a gross understatement. Governor Gregoire and the majority party in the Legislature ignored the warning signs, and the price of Washington's terrible business climate will be the loss of thousands of family jobs. At a time when unemployment is over 9 percent, this is a painful blow for Snohomish County and the entire state.

When Boeing's decision was on the line, the governor of South Carolina wasted no time in calling a special legislative session to adopt a package of upfront grants and tax breaks. I have to ask our governor, 'Why were you sitting on the sidelines? Why aren't we in session to demonstrate an equally strong commitment to keeping the aerospace industry vibrant and growing in Washington?

Governor Gregoire claims that this was a negotiation between the Union and Boeing. I strongly disagree. This was a negotiation between Boeing, the State of South Carolina, and the State of Washington -- and we lost. We lost because the business climate in our state needs immediate and dramatic improvement.

Consistently, my Republican colleagues and I have fought to address the most serious obstacles to making our state more competitive, starting with our enormously expensive workers' compensation system. But our efforts were ignored, and proposals to help employers and to create a more competitive business climate were rejected.

The governor said she thinks the company 'made the wrong decision.' On that point we agree, but she has also failed to be the leader we needed at one of the most critical times in our state's history.


Law & Order & Abortion & Obama

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I was watching "Law & Order" last week, an episode about an abortion doctor being murdered by a protestor. The twist was that the protestor was trying to prevent the abortion of a specific child, who was in his third-trimester, who had no terminal illness, who put the mother in no danger, and was therefore (according to New York law) going to be aborted illegally.

So in the course of this case, they find out the same doctor once killed a newborn baby after an unsuccessful abortion attempt. The doctor asked the mother if she wanted him to finish the "abortion" and she said yes, so he stuck scissors in the base of its skull. Everyone in the show was, of course, aghast that such a thing could happen, and the prosecution tried to keep this from the court because it would obviously bias the jury against the doctor.

What they didn't mention in the show, however, is that Obama fought hard to protect the ability of mothers and doctors to perform this procedure. I think it's worth remembering that our President literally believes it is OK to kill live, born, baby humans. (Perhaps he has changed his mind since, but all we know is that he later lied to cover up his positions, which means he regrets people knowing his positions, not that he has changed his mind.)

Oddly, this is a fact that can prejudice a jury against a doctor, but apparently not an electorate against a candidate for President. slashdot.org

Hate Crimes Law Sucks

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The Congress passed a law that, when signed by President Obama, will make ia a federal crime to assault someone because of their sexual orientation or "gender identity."

The "Human Rights" Campaign said, "We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country."

A few thoughts.

First, you cannot end hate through legislation.

Second, government has no business even trying to get people to stop hating. That's none of its business. Literally. Indeed, its duty is to protect our right to hate, and our faculties that lead us to whatever opinions we might have, including hate.

Third, this law is unconstitutional by the Tenth Amendment. I find it astonishing that anyone thinks this needs to be a federal law, which is utterly insulting to the state legislatures, which are, in fact, perfectly capable of deciding for themselves whether this should be a crime.

Fourth, this law also runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. In our judicial system, motive and intent are two different things, and motive is not a crime. This law makes it a crime. That is why people, correctly, compare it to Thought Police. Some say, but this is different, because the result of the crime is to intimidate a whole class of people; but if that is the case, then you need to show that the person had intent to produce that result ... else you really are just punishing motive, which we don't do. Laws like this are really an end run around the prosecution's burden of proof.

I would be perfectly willing to support a (state) law that said someone intending to, through a violent act, terrorize or intimidate a group of people, is committing a felony. But that would require evidence, which -- despite being constitutionally required -- is an unattractive prospect to many. So instead, they just tell us that some for assaulting people are worse than others, and get around that pesky "evidence" thing. And we're supposed to just nod in approval, because if you don't, well, you are a dirty hatemonger.

It's a sad day in America, that we incorrectly think we need such a paternalistic law, and that we are willing to toss aside civil liberties to get it. slashdot.org

Obama Hates Dissent

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Back before Obama even started publicly running for the presidency, I remember a speech he gave in which he said all Americans should put aside their disagreements and come together. I liked what he had to say, but I couldn't shake the feeling that by "come together" he meant "agree with me."

When he gave his State of the Union address, it was the same thing, but more obvious. He said he wanted us to put aside our "petty grievances" and have "unity of purpose," and that we should not have "conflict" or "discord" or "recriminations;" that if we believed, due to "worn-out dogmas," that our government is too big (and therefore, in our opinion, takes away too much of our liberty), then we are focusing on "childish things" and our "stale political arguments" no longer apply.

Translation: if you disagree with Obama, if you don't share his "purpose" or agenda -- even for principled reasons shared by most of the founders of this country -- then you are not part of us.

A lot of people didn't hear that subtext, or didn't want to. But it's proven to be more than just words. Obama has asked Americans to report people who disagree with his health care plan to the White House; he redefines "disagreement" as "spreading misinformation," of course, to make it sound good (not that misinformation doesn't exist, but it's on both sides, clearly; and further, the White House has no business being the arbiter of what is, and isn't, true).

He attacked the Tea Parties, which brought millions of Americans together in opposition to his plans, as merely astroturfing.

He later said in his health care reform speech he "will not waste time" with people who oppose his plans, instead choosing to question their motives as purely political.

He refused to do an interview with Fox News Channel only because of FNC's political leanings.

Now his two top advisors are saying that FNC is "not really news," which was said only to incite a culture war, drawing a divide between millions of Americans in a cynical attempt to throw his detractors overboard and to keep the Good Ship Obama afloat. He's already said he "will not waste time" with people who oppose his plan, so why not alienate them intentionally, if it will shore up his base? (And by the way, where's the rest of the media attacking Obama for attacking Fox? It used to be that the media took such attacks personally, even if not directed at themselves.)

If Bush had done any of these things, the left would have gone completely nuts over it. But when Obama does it, that's perfectly acceptable. Even desirable.

Bush caused division in this country by unapologetically pushing an agenda that much of the country disagreed with, even hated. Obama -- who is guilty of the same thing, of course -- is causing even more division in this country by actively pursuing it, in order to exploit it for political gains.

James Madison said in Federalist 10 that one of the "two methods of removing the causes of faction" is "by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests." He adds, "The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is ... an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government."

The only "unity of purpose" we can expect Americans to share is that of securing individual liberty, and maintaining the government that so secures it. Obama surely knows he cannot force everyone to have a "unity of purpose" in creating new and massive government programs; so, instead, he is pretending that if you don't share in that purpose -- an individual right which government is designed to protect -- then you are the enemy.

I submit that a President so disdainful of expressions of liberty is the problem, and not the people with such expressions, whatever they may be. slashdot.org

In Washington State we have a public records law that assumes that, unless there's a really good reason not to, the people have a right to documents created and owned by the government, because those things belong to the public, and they have a right to know what is going on.

So whenever the government refuses to release documents, or heavily redacts them, I look for a really good reason why ... and if I can't find one, it makes me angry. It's literally telling the public it does not have a right to know.

So it is with Governor Gregoire's response to a request for documents about the judicial appointment process. At least this time she didn't invent an illegal excuse for not releasing the documents, but this is almost as bad. An exemption for public employment applications does not rationally cover an appointment to a vacated elected office, and if attorney-client privilege covers it all, then it can cover everything the governor does.

She should just reply, "I don't want to give it to you, and I don't have or need an excuse" and at least be honest about it. slashdot.org

Play "Complete This Sentence"

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"Barack, Imma let you finish, but ..." slashdot.org

<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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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from October 2009.

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