Politics: April 2011 Archives

Hayek vs. Keynes, Round Two

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You don't get much better than this video putting the decades-old debate between Hayek and Keynes to music.

If you've not seen the first part from last year, please check it out.

In finally releasing President Obama's birth certificate, the White House has conceded what many of us have known all along: that the countless times the left and the media asserted that we had seen Obama's birth certificate were all lies.

To those who merely watch MSNBC, they may be startled to realize that Obama hadn't released his birth certificate until now. Olbermann and Maddow and Matthews and the rest have been falsely asserting otherwise for years. Don't hold your breath waiting for apologies or retractions, though.

And the release comes pretty close to confirming what I've long suspected: that Obama didn't release his birth certificate all this time just to get some of his opponents, and various conspiracy theorists, riled up. He could've released it a long time ago, but chose not to. Granted, maybe Obama is merely excessively belligerent, and refused to release it because he felt he shouldn't have to, but we're often told -- and I mostly believe -- that Obama is a dispassionate pragmatist, so that story doesn't seem likely. What's more likely is that he didn't release his birth certificate simply because Obama himself wanted to make his birth certificate an issue. He succeeded.

This is demonstrated by White House statements, such as: "This whole birther debate has been really bad for the Republican Party," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said. But the discussion is "crowding out the debate" on more important issues and is a distraction, he added. So, as long as it hurts Obama's opponents, you don't release it; when it hurts your agenda, you release it.

Minority Congressional District

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Yesterday on Up Front with Robert Mak, the idea of a congressional district tailored to give non-whites a majority was discussed.

Three observations, and one conclusion.

First, we are being told by this district's creation (should it be created) that while not the only important qualification, having one's representation closer to one's own color has particular value: so important that we will gerrymander an entire district just to give nonwhites a better chance at having someone who looks more like them represent them.

Second, if such a district exists, there may not be any white candidates on the ballot, which is (see above) a bad thing for the white residents of the district.

Third, the Constitution of the United States allows any 25-year-old citizen living within a state to run for any House seat in that state.

Therefore, despite living well north of this proposed district, I am considering running for the House in this district -- should it be created -- although I'd gladly bow out should some other worthy white candidate run. But the proponents of this district are telling us that it's important that representation happens by skin color, so who am I to argue?

In all seriousness, the Constitution -- particularly the 14th and 15th Amendments -- as well as our more recent history and law, strongly imply it's wrong to give anyone preference due to race; indeed, that it is generally wrong for the government to consider race at all. I think it's important to remind those who seem to have forgotten.

Of course, a better way to deal with the problem than running for this district -- which, make no mistake, I may do, if I have the time and money -- would be for our representatives deciding the redistricting to be not stupid.

Blame Game

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People seem to be wrapped up in this notion of who to blame for the impending goverment shutdown. But it's really very simple. There's lots of pieces, and I'll go over who is to blame for each one.

The Republicans, the Democrats, and the American people who kept voting them into office, are to blame for where this country is, as a whole. Forget the Fed and Greenspan and terrorists and the rest of it: we made this country what it is. We put ourselves in a place where our economy is in big trouble, our long-term obligations dwarf our ability to pay for them, our military is overstretched around the world, and we can't seem to get along with our neighbors without getting in fights, or, at least, staring matches.

Both parties -- mostly in Congress -- are to blame for not seeing and doing something to stop the collapse of the financial and housing markets. Democrats distorted the market by forcing it to give people money that shouldn't have gotten it, and Republicans some regulation that might have helped.

The Republicans are to blame for not balancing the budget in the 2000s when they had the chance.

The Democrats are to blame for rapidly increasing spending when they took over power in 2006 and 2008.

The Democrats are entirely to blame for the fact that there is currently no budget. They had complete authority and power to do it. Republicans were incapable of preventing it. The Democrats only didn't pass a budget because they didn't want to have that budget before the people in an election year because they knew it would be unpopular, so they shirked their responsibility.

Further, when they had a chance after elections, they didn't take it because they decided they wanted to try to force the Republicans to pass an unpopular budget, so they could do exactly what they are doing now: attacking the Republicans for terrible ideas that are going to kill women and seniors and children and poor people and students and unicorns.

The fiscally conservative Republicans are entirely to blame for the fact that we might have a government shutdown. These Republicans could compromise the reasons why the American people elected them and give us the same old nonsense that got us into this mess in the first place.

These fiscally conservative Republicans are entirely to blame for refusing to let this country go down the economic toilet by conducting business as usual.

Make no mistake: the Democrats wanted this to happen. The possibility of this impending shutdown is the reason why they didn't pass a budget in November or December. They wanted to come out swinging in this Congress, so they could try to nip this "Tea Party conservatism" sweeping DC in the bud. They've been planning it for months, and now they'll get to say, "see? this is what happens when you elect these extremists!"

But the Republicans could have rolled over and avoided this confrontation. Just because someone asks for it doesn't mean you have to give it to them; the Republicans made the choice to get here and risk a shutdown. And I thank them for it, because the problems associated with a shutdown pales in comparison to what will happen to our government in just a few years if we don't change course right now. There's no time left.

Labor vs. Tea Party

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Yesterday a few hundred Labor protestors went to Olympia, and there was violence and arrests. Today about 5,000 of them are expected, along with more violence and arrests.

When the Tea Party is protesting, there's no arrests, no violence. And some of them even bring pitchforks!

So, just a reminder: Labor wants stuff given to them -- taken from other people -- and breaks the law and uses violence if they can't get it. The Tea Party wants to be left alone, and asks peacefully, using the democratic process.

This pattern is seen over and over again, consistently, throughout the nation.

In sports, a team can be penalized if their fans disrupt the game. Maybe we should have a rule that if protestors break the law, legislators vote against them. But then again, this is a legislature that breaks and bends the rules all the time, anyway: whether it's introducing bills without having time for hearings, or without any text at all, or pretending things are emergencies just to avoid having to answer to the people ... none of the left respects rules, let alone the rule of law. Labor protestors are just one more example.

(Don't be fooled by their rhetoric that they are merely anti-corporate welfare: while I agree with them on that score, a. I don't want to see those cuts while unemployment is still high, but rather, phased out over time or cut when the economy is much stronger; and b., the reason they want those cuts to corporate welfare is only because they want more government cheese for themselves.)

Burning Korans

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I've lost track with how many people blamed this guy in Florida, who burned a Koran, for the violence in Afghanistan. Off the top of my head, there's Obama and Petraeus and almost every pundit and host on the Sunday talk shows.

Logically, this never ends: if someone burning a Koran is responsible for violence in response to that burning, then someone saying it is legally acceptable to burn a Koran is responsible for the person burning the Koran, and eventually we blame Madison and Jefferson and Locke and Aristotle and Socrates.

The media and political and military figures blaming the Floridian -- and I would say his name but I don't know it and I don't care who he is enough to look it up -- are as ignorant and stupid as he is. The people responsible for violence are the ones who do violence, and the people who tell them to engage in violence. That's it. The Floridian is no more responsible for this violence as Sarah Palin is for the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords.

Oh, right.

Of course, I am being a bit unfair: there was literally no connection between Palin and anything she's ever said or done, and Jared Loughner, the man who shot Giffords; yet there is a connection between the burning of the Koran and the violence. But as I said at the time, even if Loughner had acted as the direct result of what Palin had said, it is irrelevant: she said nothing that directly encouraged violence, and she could not be held responsible for Loughner's violent actions in response. The same goes here.

There is a large group of people in America that believes people simply are not responsible for thier own actions: they are too stupid, too unevolved, or too ignorant. This Floridian is among them: he believes the problem is the Koran. Others believe the problem is the burning of the Koran. Call me crazy, but I respect these people enough to believe they are responsible for their own actions, and no reading or burning of a Koran ever made anyone do anything.

How would the country have responded if some on the right wing started rioting and killing people because, in the early 2000s, George Bush was burned in effigy? Would the country have blamed the anti-Bush protestors who did the burning? Of course not; you may think the rioters were stupid or crazy or evil, but we'd still think they, and only they, were responsible for their own actions. But somehow when the rioting and killing is done by people with less money or lower education or -- dare I say it? -- darker skin, we suddenly absolve them of that responsibility.

Even worse is when the President or a General of the United States tells American citizens they should refrain from certain speech because they are responsible for what other people might do in response. That is the very definition of "chilling effect," and it runs entirely counter to their job, which, as Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, is to secure our rights. What Petraeus and Obama said to the Floridian is far worse than what he did in burning a Koran.

To say we should refrain from exercising our rights because the military might be put in jeopardy is the opposite of the design, which is that the military is put in jeopardy so that we may exercise our rights.

Burn a Koran, or a Bible, or an American flag; depict Jesus as a drug addict, or Joseph Smith as a pedophile, or Mohammed as Mohammed; say whatever you want to, however you want to. Unless you are telling people to act out violently, you are not responsible for the actions of people who do so. I probably won't like your speech, and I may disallow it on my own web sites, but I'll fight to defend your right to say it, and so will our military. And if they don't want that job, then they should quit, and the sooner the better.

We all know it pervades our "democratic" system: greedy, self-interested, moneyed interests who do everything they can to sway government to give them what they want at the expense of everyone else. It's time to recognize that rights are not absolute and that if we want a true democracy, we must rein in some rights for the benefit of all. Therefore, proposed:

AN ACT Relating to protecting voters from undue influence by special interests who have financial interests in government activity; adding a new title to the Revised Code of Washington to be codified as Title 1337 RCW; creating new sections.


NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that special interests, being motivated by profit, and having influence within government, use their influence to enrich themselves, rather than to promote the effective functioning of government to benefit all the people; that wielding such influence results in a degradation of the rights of the rest of the people; that the conflict of interests of lobbying for, and receiving, government favors bypasses the democratic process and is incompatible with a functioning democracy; that no right, not even the First Amendment, is too important to be sacrificed for the sake of democracy; that if necessary, individual rights must be surrendered in order to restore the power of self-government to the people.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. (1) The only individuals ("covered persons") to be affected by this act are those who are 18 years or older, and derive five (5) percent of the individual's income from government sources, and therefore have a conflict of interest in efforts to lobby government for their own benefit; they include, but are not limited to, owners, shareholders, and employees of companies with large government contracts.
(2) (a) "Government sources" includes all income, contracts, sales, direct subsidies, and any other type of money or valuable goods, from all levels of government in the United States, including the federal, tribal, state, county, and local governments.
(b) An employee of an organization receiving funds from government sources will consider the percentage of their income from that organization to be derived from government sources at the same percentage as the organization as a whole.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. (1) The Secretary of State and the director of elections in each county shall:
(a) require on all voter registration forms, under penalty of perjury, the percentage of income derived from government sources for the voter being registered;
(b) store such information with each voter record;
(c) require that voters update such information on a separate form, under penalty of perjury, should the percentage increase by more than two (2) percentage points up to 30 days before an election in which the voter participates;
(d) make such number available to all information requests involving voter records.
(2) The director of elections in each county shall:
(a) implement a system of connecting, absent any other potentially identifying information so as to protect ballot secrecy, a voter's percentage of income derived from government sources to each vote cast by that voter;
(b) reduce the relative value of that vote by that percentage during all intermediate and final tallies, where a vote of one (1) will represent a voter without any income from government sources (thus, no reduction), a vote of zero (0) will represent a voter who receives all of his income from government sources (thus, a reduction of 1), and a vote of half (0.5) will represent a voter who receives half of his income from government sources (thus, a reduction of 0.5).

NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. (1) All Washington State employers shall, upon request, furnish the Secretary of State with employment records, including amount of compensation, for any of their employees who are Washington State residents.
(2) The Secretary of State shall ensure that each voter's recorded percentage of income from government sources is accurate, for no less than five (5) percent of the total voter records per year, but no individual's record may be included in that five (5) percent more than once every 10 years.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect June 29, 2011.

<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."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from April 2011.

Politics: March 2011 is the previous archive.

Politics: May 2011 is the next archive.

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