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Archive for September, 2010

Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as “the path,” shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a “religious” code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere – economic, social, military, legal and political. 

It is a longish read, and I’m only a third of the way through it, but its nice to know that someone else is thinking about this in terms other than the ostrich maneuver.  

Shariah: The Threat To America 

An Exercise In Competitive Analysis 

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Just a few things that are on my mind right now.

1.  Flu Shots.   I was in the living room the other night when Mrs. BiW was watching television, and one of the commercials was about the availability of flu shots at the local pharmacy and how various health authorities were urging them for everyone.  I thought about it for a few minutes and reflected on how they seem to be available everywhere here this year.  Supermarkets, pharmacies, and special kiosks at the malls.  I asked her if she could remember a time in our lives when they have been pushed as hard as they have this year.  She responded that she could not.

I went to the Doctor for one of my wonderful pincushion sessions this morning.  As I signed in, the receptioninst asked me if I wanted a flu shot.  I said “No.”  My doctor was behind the counter sending a fax, and said “What do you mean you don’t want a flu shot?”  I said “I just had one a few months ago.”  He laughed.

In the examination room, he laboriously went through the several reasons he felt I should get a flu shot, and finished with “and you didn’t just get a flu shot.  Your last flu shot was in December.  The shot I gave you in May was for pneumonia.  Just get the damn shot.”  I got the shot.   I was surprised to discover that my local oil change place wasn’t offering flu shots this afternoon when I spent my lunch hour getting a flush and fill on my radiator.  Of course, I suppose that some people have to get it, you know, so that we can have an emergency that won’t go to waste.

2.  Justice Steven Breyer.  WTF?  No.  Really.  W.T.F.???

I heard part of an interview of Justice Breyer by George Stephanopoulos today on my way home.  If my Doctor is correct, I have to stop listening to interviews like this, because the question appeared to be asked with serious intent, and the noodling out loud by Justice Breyer, well, let’s just say he’s demonstrated reason to question his fitness for the job.

From the Washington Post:

Today, Stephanopoulos asked Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer this remarkable question:

When you think about the Internet, and when you think about the fact that a pastor in Florida, with a flock of 30, can threaten to burn the Koran and that leads to riots and killings in Afghanistan, does that pose a challenge to the First Amendment and how you interpret it? Does it change the nature of what we can allow and protect?

Breyer began his answer well enough, with a defense of free speech. “People can express their views in debate, no matter how awful those views are,” he said. “In debate. A conversation. People exchanging ideas — that’s the model. So that we are better informed when we cast that ballot. Those core values remain.”

At this point, Breyer could have concluded, “And whatever we might decide in any individual case, we must never sacrifice our values in the face of threats or intimidation.”

Instead, referring to “those core values,” the justice added, “How they apply can change.” What might that mean?

“The conversation is now global,” Stephanopoulos prompted.

“Indeed,” Breyer agreed:

And you can say — with the Internet, you can say this. You can’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death? It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.

The question starts from the wrong premise, that being that a religious or political expression’s legality is subject to the Court, and it was wrong for the to Justice’s answer, as it is not for the Courts or Judges to offer advisory opinions.  That said, the Judge’s opinion is nothing short of an abject surrender of the sovereignty of our nation and its citizens.  Our ability to exercise any one of our rights cannot be subject to how people in other countries will react to that exercise.  The minute we make the exercise of our rights subject to international approval, our government no longer fulfills its duty to guarantee those rights to us, and the social contract is broken.

May God save us from these damn Harvard lawyers.  They will be our undoing.

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Nine years ago today, Americans were forced into the conversion of an act of travel into acts of mass murder, by followers of a religion that claims to be peaceful, yet collects a trail of the bodies of those killed in its name wherever these followers happen to go.  And on that day, the rest of us were assaulted with visions of incomprehensible evil on our television screens, the sounds of terror and chaos on the radio, and tales of desperation, fear, and ultimately death, in our print media.  On that day, everything stopped.  And everything changed.

Televisions flickered in household after household, the images replaying the horror over and over, while the various network talking heads continued to ramble as if they tried hard enough, they might find the right words.  The right words to make themselves understand what they had witnessed.  The right words to guide a stunned and shaken nation to a harbor of emotional stability and clarity.  Each of us personally struggled with sorrow, with anger, with disbelief.  The unusually silent skies, cruised only by military fighters on patrol, did not offer any relief for these emotions.  And seeing images like these on our televisions as the day progressed offered a glimpse of the belief that refuses to be ignored, and is unrepentant about its actions:

I could have done without the peace of Islam that day, as could millions of others.

But then, as the evening approached, President Bush came to the microphone, as we expect our leaders to do at such moments, and he brought words that delivered, in part, what the pundits and anchors could not.  I have excerpted parts below.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.

The victims were in airplanes or in their offices — secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.

Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.

These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

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I am developing a great affinity for this man.  How could I not?  He doesn’t sugarcoat the truth, and when the unions try their spin and lies, he looks them squarely in the eye and reminds them that the same union that claims he’s the worst thing to happen to edumincation in New Joisey was the union that refused to make the most modest of concessions when the budget shortfall hit.  He makes it impossible for them to paint themselves as the victims no longer able to meet the childrens’ needs when they refused to let go of annual pay increases that outstripped inflation when the people who pay their salaries were losing their jobs.

*sniff*  It’s just so damn magnificent.  We need more like him.

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My friend HP has a new post up about a joke that he morphs into an unsubstantiated smear on Glenn Beck, and his 8/28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial.  Abandoning the certainty which made the smear appropriate, he asks:

What does Beck mean by honor?

How was that honor lost?

How does he plan on restoring it?

In order:

What does Beck mean by honor?

I suppose the first step is to ask him…and if you can’t ask him, you can do the next best thing and plug the keywords into youtube:

Talking about holding up examples of honorable people…Washington, Adams, Jefferson…

And of course, he actually tells us…

“Honor is…

Doing the right thing when everybody tells you not to do it.

Doing the right thing when it goes against your interests.

Doing the right thing when nobody will ever notice.”

I suppose it would be wonderful if it stopped there, but I listen to him for 45 minutes to an hour on my way into work in the morning. (I’ve seen the show enough to know that sometimes, it recycles some of the radio show, and sometimes, he has a specific focus he doesn’t address as deeply on the radio, but seeing as I’m at work when it’s on in the afternoon here, and it doesn’t repeat until 11 pm here on the Left Coast, I don’t often watch it.)  That daily experience means that I understand that he also sees us as having a problem with our moral compass as a nation because we don’t have God at the center of our lives, as an overwhelming majority, including the Founders and the Framers once did.  He’s talked at length, drawing on the words of these men, as well as their accomplishments to demonstrate that their beliefs translated into virtues, and gave them character, rather than a lack of virtues making them characters.  He’s done this with his eyes open to the fact that they couldn’t ignore, namely that they were still men, regardless of their achievements and intellect, but this knowledge is to keep them human, rather than to delight in their failings.  And he’s reflected on the fact that because of their beliefs, even these men of titanic deeds understood that their accomplishments did not belong to them alone, and that none of it would be possible without the actions of God, however they acknowledged him and his role, be it “Almighty God”, “The Sovereign Ruler of the World”, “Divine Providence”, or “Nature’s God.”  And he has always taken great pains to acknowledge his own failings, including drug abuse, battling the bottle, and a broken marriage.  I would be hard-pressed to think of another media personality who has been as forthright about “the bad parts”, and the fact that he believes that his current sobriety is not about his ability to overcome as it was the power of his faith to lift him up.  Regardless of whether or not you buy into his belief that the current spiritual inanition is a contributing factor to our current predicament, a lot of people look at our government today, and don’t feel that there is much worthy of respect or emulation.

How was that honor lost?

Again, the theory that he has set forth is that we started to lose it when we lost the humility and respect to God that was inherent in the concept of Divine Providence and let it morph in to Manifest Destiny.  When we no longer acknowledged that our blessings were bestowed because of the respect paid to God, and instead took them for granted, and committed tragic acts because we believed it was our right to do so, and started to bury the history we couldn’t rewrite, because it did not favor this mindset.  And of course, once you start taking these blessings for granted, it is a short step to the place where you start to believe that your accomplishments are your own, and you have no need for God, or the virtues that reporting to a higher authority will instill in you.  You become answerable only to yourself, and you become the beginning and the end of wisdom.  This has not served us well, and we have come to embrace something ugly and unworthy of the nation we were born to be.  We are impassioned about saving the trees and animals, but sleep untroubled in the midst of an ongoing slaughter of human babies.  Our leaders grant themselves generous salaries, luxuriant travel, the best liquor, and partake of lucrative “business” opportunities when they pretend to work for us.  And when their behavior can no longer be tolerated, they can “retire” with generous pensions and health care that exceeds that of their employers, “We the people”, by unfathomable degrees.  Public Service, which once was a sacrifice undertaken as a duty, has become a career path, which cannot avoid making it about the desires of the politicians rather than the will of the constituents.  What once was endured as miserable obligation keeping one from a career, from the maintenance of property, and the comfort of family, for meager pay, and miserable living conditions has become a coveted sinecure, where ambition and avarice can be fed in equal measure, and more time, effort, and attention is focused on the almighty re-election bid than on conducting the people’s business.  Think I’m wrong?  Ask your Representative or Senator how much time they put into reading the health care bill, and then ask them how much time they spent going to, attending, and coming back from fundraisers and campaign appearances in the last three weeks.

How does he plan on restoring it?

He doesn’t.  He knows he isn’t the poster child for virtue or character.  He doesn’t believe that making this happen is his job, which I think is a relief to him.  As I said earlier, his life is an open book, and he’s already a favorite lightning rod for the smear merchants of the left.  If he tried to carry this message himself, it would be completely obscured by the media circus falling all over itself in the attempt to make sure their accusations and derisions would come out much louder than his words.  His whole plan was to offer an alternative…to demonstrate that we cannot expect our leaders to have what too many of us lack as individuals, and that if we expect to put it back into government, we must first put it into ourselves.  As long as we hold the wrong values, we will get the self-dealing, tax-cheating, narcistic leaders that curse the corridors of power and act as though they are entitled to the trappings of office, regardless of the cost or the damage.  It was an invitation to consider what we as a nation were born to, what we turned away from, and what we could commit to as individuals.  As one man he could do nothing; but as thousands, we could change ourselves, and those around us, and those around us could change those around them.  And the best part is that this wouldn’t require collective demonstrations, and it doesn’t demand that government do anything or give us anything.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Much like HP believes that we wouldn’t like the metaphor that constitutes his smear, I don’t imagine he’ll think much of this response.  I base this on the fact that he has never disguised his contempt for Beck.  That’s fine.  I happen to believe that the answer doesn’t matter nearly as much to him as the pretense underlying the questions.  You see, the answer was easily discoverable, even for a busy professor.  And the form in which it was presented was a series of questions bookended by a nasty-minded joke and a conclusion casting the subject with the same dishonorable intentions.  Manure may help roses to grow, but it is still a flower in manure.  I guess I missed the part in school where the art of character assasination was taught as an intellectual pursuit.  Maybe he could win over our betters if he would simply do the whole show in his tweed jacket, and holding a pipe while talking about how much smarter he is.

In considering my answer, I spent some time in the Bible reading about honor, and I found a few verses that I think actually dovetail into a few of the issues regarding honor that Beck has been discussing for a while.

On the attitudes underlying Divine Providence:

Proverbs 15:33:  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
      And before honor is humility.

 On the drift into Manifest Destiny and the belief in national entitlement:

Proverbs 29:32:  A man’s pride will bring him low,
      But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

On the current propensity to mock and ridicule attempts to infuse oneself with a sense of accountablity to a higher standard than pleasing oneself:

Job 2:9:  Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse God and die!”

On the constant attacks, smears, and obvious disapprovals of the left and the legacy media (but I repeat myself) toward Beck:

Matthew 13:57:  So they were offended at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”

 

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[The conversation with Rutherford did make me realize that this might be more appropriate.  Allegheny Unprising, 1939, in which John Wayne and his fellow Kentucky Backwoodsmen have to take matters into their own hands when unscrupulous merchants solicit the protection of the distant British Military Authorities in their scheme to smuggle liquor and firearms to unfreindly natives, who use the shipments to prey on the settlers.]

A cousin of mine commented on Facebook recently about the controversy surrounding President Obama signing the Great Health Care Takeover of 2010, and remarking about how funny the “social stream” on it was, with remarks about Socialism and the end of Freedom, complete with some “funny takes” from people who are against what the bill aims to do.  He referenced another of his Facebook friends who presumably got this ball rolling with this status:

We seriously need a national philosophical debate about what “freedom” means. I don’t understand how freedom is enhanced when everyone has guns to blow people away or when we have no obligation to provide basic needs like health care to one another. Are the dead free? I find the use of the word “freedom” by many in politics bizarre.

I tend to agree.  We do need a national debate about what the word “freedom” means, because there are far too many in this nation who keep trying to confuse it with something else.

I like to start with the dictionary.  Presumably, we all speak English, and unless I am trying to define a term of art used in my profession, which usually sends me to consult with my good friends Mr. Black and Mr. Barrons, I prefer to consult with Mr. Webster.  Not only was he a patriot, but his definitions embody time-tested meanings and connect this century to the ones prior.  I find it to be more informative than the newspeak tumbling from the lips of people with a vested interest in me not knowing the truth.

From my Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language:

1.the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.

2.exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

3.the power to determine action without restraint.

4.political or national independence.

5.personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

6.exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually fol. by from): freedom from fear.

7.the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.

8.ease or facility of movement or action: to enjoy the freedom of living in the country.

9.frankness of manner or speech.

10.general exemption or immunity: freedom from taxation.

11.the absence of ceremony or reserve.

12.a liberty taken.

13.a particular immunity or privilege enjoyed, as by a city or corporation: freedom to levy taxes.

14.civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.

15.the right to enjoy all the privileges or special rights of citizenship, membership, etc., in a community or the like.

16.the right to frequent, enjoy, or use at will: to have the freedom of a friend’s library.

17.Philosophy. the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.Compare necessity (def. 7).

 
origin: 900; ME fredom, OE frēodōm. See free, -dom
—Related forms
non·free·dom, noun
o·ver·free·dom, noun
un·free·dom, noun
—Synonyms
1. Freedom, independence, liberty refer to an absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. Freedom emphasizes the opportunity given for the exercise of one’s rights, powers, desires, or the like: freedom of speech or conscience; freedom of movement. Independence implies not only lack of restrictions but also the ability to stand alone, unsustained by anything else: Independence of thought promotes invention and discovery. Liberty, though most often interchanged with freedom, is also used to imply undue exercise of freedom: He took liberties with the text. 9. openness, ingenuousness. 12. license. 16. run.
 
While they are all good, I think that 2, 3 and 17 sum it up pretty well, and that any serious reflection on it should lead one to consider that we no longer have it.
 
We didn’t come to this point quickly.  It has been the culmination of a long, slow process by which the average American citizen has allowed themself to succumb to the idea that he can’t.  The idea that he can’t make smart decisions for himself.  The idea that he can’t make an informed decision without consulting the “experts”, many of whom have made themselves eminently well-versed in theory without ever imbibing in the courage to test those theories against the harsh edge of reality.  The idea that he can’t apply the rules by which he must live to the problems that face this country because they are so complex that they will resist the application of simple wisdom.  And too often, this opinion is resoundingly echoed by those, who like a child that declares to hate a food they have never even tried, reject these everyday guideposts, secure in the untested knowledge that the self-appointed experts, and only the self-appointed experts can save us from ourselves.
 

How do we fix America? Any five-year old can say “look to the Constitution and the Bible”. Utter simplistic nonsense. We need policy. The folks represented in the cartoon couldn’t come up with policy if their life depended on it …. and I’m not sure they could recognize good policy if it smacked them between the eyes.

Your cartoon was right on … but not for the reasons you think.

 Two things have given this opinion a legitimacy it hasn’t earned. The first is a post-modern philosophy that has taken root in all aspects of society.  Though disturbing, it was not unexpected.  As we allowed a vocal minority to push christianity out of the daily life of society in to the boxes labeled “Sunday” and “church”, where they could no longer provide a meaningful prism with which to view society, nature, and man’s role in both, in an increasingly busy world, we looked to the next best thing for the answers to the questions that two working parents with children, and schedules burdened with bills and activities no longer had time to ponder.  We looked to SCIENCE!
 
The problem with this is that once we started to look to SCIENCE!, that meant that we had to accept the constant and enduring feature of SCIENCE!…the paradigm shift.  This meant a subtle acceptance of the concept that the “truths” of SCIENCE! change with the increase of knowledge.  Because this ever-changing nature was a product of this process, we soon bought into the idea of turning to the experts to explain and break things down for us.  And from there, it really wasn’t much of a stretch at all to come to the belief that the only inevitable truth is that there is no inevitable truth.  Once we arrive there, we reach a point where we have been conditioned to acquiesce to tyrannies large and small because we cannot possibly understand what is happening, or what it means, and as a result, too many of us become willing to surrendering choices that are our individual purview alone to exercise or not exercise.
 
The second thing is that we have sorely abused the roadmap and guiding principles that our forebears formulated, debated, and put to paper.
 
The Declaration of Independence was not simply an act of defiance against a distant despot.  It was a stark recognition that every human being possesses rights that are intrinsic to his or her very existence, and that are not granted by governments of men, which at best can merely enshrine those rights, and at worst, impede them, but never create or bestow them any more than they could create life from lifelessness.  This document was a recognition of the individual, and the choices reserved to him or her who were fortunate enough to live in a country that recognized these rights.
 
The Constitution was the blueprint for a three-part limited government that respected the rights of the individual, but would provide a strong national aegis under which the co-equal sovereigns established pursuant to the concept of federalism could prosper.  But over the course of centuries, we have stood and watched as the distinctions and duties of the individual branches of the federal government have become purposely blurred, and government as a whole has increasingly determined that its business is being in our business.  As a result, the rights reserved to us have become pockmarked with asterisks, anchoring exceptions and explanations why reservations of rights plainly stated don’t really mean what they say.  The “experts” and peddlers of complexity have so burdened these bylaws that those who haven’t paid attention or considered the implications are willing to join in the chorus of those who have something to gain by telling us that “it isn’t that simple” , and then set out to tell us that if we only surrender more control to them, they can fix the problem.  And, of course, at every step, government is there with a big stick in one hand, with the other outstretched for money, telling us how we are to proceed with whatever we are trying to do.
 
Do you want to have a pet?  You have to license it.  Don’t want to spay or neuter it?  The fee would be double.  You want to build a shed in your backyard?  No problem.  Get a permit from the county.  They will even be so polite as to tell you where you can’t put it on your own property.  You want to remodel your bathroom?  Sure.  Just get your permit$, consent to having it in$pected by a stranger, and oh, sorry.  You can’t have THAT toilet.  The government has determined that it uses too much water, and no, they don’t care if you have to flush more than once.  You want to start a business?  Excellent!  Be sure to get all necessary licen$e$ from your city, your $tate, and your county, and be prepared to share information which is none of their damn business with them on a regular basis.  And if these direct intrusions and invasions were not enough of an impediment to your ability to act without interference and regulation, we have strayed into the world of “Government Knows Best” and its favorite new practice, Nudge.
 
There is a time in everyone’s life when someone will decide what is best for you, and give you the illusion of choice.  When my sons were three, I would often let them choose between wearing the green t-shirt or the blue t-shirt.  I made this choice because they were the shirts that were clean, but I wanted the boys to start learning how to make simple daily choices as part of growing up.  As they have gotten older, I let them make more choices, but always within the confines of what I have decided would be best for them.  We go through this process with the intent and purpose of teaching them how to make good choices so that when they reach a certain age on the cusp of adulthood and independence, they can make their own decisions,  just as our parents did for us.  The fact is I have been legally, and in fact, an adult, for over 20 years now.  And yet the self-appointed experts have moved themselves in to government, and aim to use its power to infantilize us all, and make our decisions for us.  This is wrong.  This is wrong because first and foremost, government answers to us, not the other way around, and it is wrong because it is not government’s proper role to try to mitigate the consequences of the decisions we make as individuals by limiting those choices to only the ones it approves of in the first place.  Of all the practices perpetrated by government that negatively impact our freedom, Nudge is the worst, because it presumes that:
 
a)  Some “expert”, directly or indirectly employed by the government has studied “the problem” and determined “the solution”, therefore
 
b) They have the right to steer you into acting in the manner that they have determined is best; and
 
c)  That it is perfectly acceptable for them to make those decisions for you.
 
How does Nudge work?  Very simply, Nudge is about limiting choices in order to “nudge” you in what they have determined is the “right” direction.  That way, they are spared the burden of having to try to pursuade you to do things that way, and the frustration of you making your own choices that would reject their expertise.   They don’t want to bother with those inconvenient discussions about your rights, or the fact that you have already grown up and aren’t looking to make people who serve you into latter-day parents.
 
Nudge comes in big and small packages.  Let’s say that someone in government decides that energy conservation is not just a good idea, but a moral imperative.  Knowing from experience that those pesky citizens will refuse to recognize their inferiority to the Deciders, and resist the various attempts to implement this policy, they decide that they cannot mandate that people start using the squiggly little compact flourescent bulbs in their homes.  Instead, they determine that incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, and must therefore be regulated out of existence.  No one told those pesky citizens that they couldn’t decide to spend the extra couple of bucks a month on energy to use incandescent light in their homes, they simply made their designated alternative tremendously less expensive and troublesome.  Nudge.
 
The experts long ago decided that guns in the hands of the public are bad.  However, despite repeated efforts to install enough progressive jurists who subscribe to the view that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that allows jurists to craft processes by which they can build institutions of government that are absent from the blueprint (because they contradict the intentions and institutions actually established), they have not yet managed to issue a decision that accomplishes what the legislative branch has thus far lacked the courage to attempt directly: a gun ban.  But never fear!  Nudge is here!  The experts have determined the answer:  simply have an executive agency determine that the main component of ammunition, lead, is an environmental hazard.  Can citizens still buy ammunition?  Yes, but now it is much more expensive and far less effective.  Not enough?  Have another regulatory agency decide that it has the right to track ammunition sales.  Regulation.  Intimidation.  Intrusion.  Nudge.
 
But this malignant practice is no more onerous than where it is employed in the arena of “health”.  Passage of Medicare and Medicaid was the culmination of a wet dream for the control freaks and petty tyrants drawn to the power of government, because they knew that this was a way into the minutia of the daily lives of the average American, and control exerted here, would allow control over everything.  It was the stepping stone for health care reform and the warehousing of knowledge on each and every one of us that could be incredible tools for abuse if they came into the wrong hands, and anyone who has ever opposed an administration and then been audited knows that kind of abuse never happens. But the most immediate effect is that other people decide what is and what is not healthy for us, and they have decided that we have to do it their way.  They have substituted our judgement with their own, and believe that an excessive and unwarranted usurpation of authority into areas not designated to government gives them the right and the duty to make decisions for us, be it banning the use of transfats to prepare foods that no one believes are good for us, declaring a war on salt, banning the sale of sodas, and determining that our health care providers must store our information, including BMI and other details in a central database, where people who do not know us will pass judgment on our behaviors and practices, and determine that we MUST change.  It is a bit like the homeless person inviting himself into your home, having a seat at the dinner table, eating your food, then criticizing your menu and demanding you make changes.  But that is the natural progression…entitlements will eventually make you slaves to them.  But the latest health-related Nudge to make my blood boil comes from my own county…again.
 
Let me preface this with the admission that aside from the very occasional cigar, I am not a smoker.  That said, I have been appalled by Pierce County’s approach to smoking and smokers.  Several years ago, armed with the debunked studies about the health effects of second hand smoke, the county health authorities took it upon themselves to declare that owners of restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys could no longer determine for themselves if their patrons could smoke in their establishments.  I was appalled.  The state supreme court saw it my way, shockingly, but the state legislature decided to make it law everywhere in the state.  Now a group calling themselves P.U.S.H…People United for Smoke-Free Housing, has decided that they would like the local health authorities to classify smoking as a nuisance in multi-unit housing, and to have the finding inserted into the state landlord-tenant act,  claiming that second-hand smoke could seep into non-smoker’s units and bother those residents.  Such a finding could then allow landlords to evict smokers based on the complaints of non-smokers.
 
Let that sink in for a moment .  We are now considering having government again restrict a lawful activity, and prevent people from doing it in their own homes.  This is unacceptable.  If we allow this, then there is nothing that government cannot regulate, intrude on, or interfere with.  Nothing.  Especially in the light of the new justifications they can seize upon in claiming that we are all paying for each other’s health care.  It will justify a peek into your pantry, a fine for those potato chips, and warning letters for ice cream.  This cannot stand.  I had parents, but I grew up.  I own my choices now, and you cannot have them.  You can have my steak when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
 
I’ve come to the conclusion that our ancestors would be ashamed of us.  The people who tamed a continent would look at our willingness to subject every action to government approval and spit.  The people who faced chicken pox and typhoid with equal dignity, while eating red meat and butter three or four times a week would apply the mother of all brain dusters to the backs of our miserable skulls.  The men who went to the moon with slide rules and kept their firearms after keeping us free would roll their eyes and leave us to the tender mercies of the collectivist ideals that we have slowly come to embrace.  While these ideals make control easier, they do nothing for the spirit and shackle every decision we the people make to those no better, and sometimes worse than ourselves, so that they may benefit from our decisions first.  That is NOT freedom, no matter how good the experts have determined it to be for me or you.  I’m really starting to resent Nudge.  I think its time we started to respond to Nudge with SHOVE.
 
 
 
 
 

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The whole dust-up over the SB1070 law and subsequent federal lawsuit has been revealing in ways that most people could not have expected.

Clearly, some people were not prepared to hear the federal government try so hard to not do its appointed duty, and its willingness to prevent anyone else from doing it either. And as someone with both political science and law degrees, I know that I was not prepared to hear a justification that boiled down to “We cannot have the states telling us to actually do our jobs, and enforce the laws regarding immigration.” Sadly, for me, the only surprise was to hear it stated so plainly. I’ve made some gutsy arguments in my time, but if I tried something like that, my carbon footprint would include not just me, but the guy following me around with the wheelbarrow, carrying my balls behind me.

Nevertheless, the degree of mental gymnastics that some are willing to publically go through is nothing short of offensive, as people who have every reason to know better have said some painfully foolish things, like one of my colleagues in the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, who opined in the September Editorial:

“The flaw in Arizona’s scheme is that it focuses on the alien, the most vulnerable and defenseless factor in immigration.  Arizona could increase the penalties for the “coyotes”, human smugglers, who engage in a dangerous, demeaning, and extremely profitable activity.  Arizona could also improve its anti-money laundering laws to penalize the repatriation of profits from human smuggling.”

Now, it is easily discoverable that Arizona already has a law against human trafficking, with some real penalties, or a money laundering statute, but it seems a bit cheeky to advocate tougher laws against some of the law breakers in the chain, while making excuses for the root cause.  It is staggeringly intellectually dishonest to try to dismiss the immigrants themselves from any moral or legal responsibility for their actions.  They don’t come here because of the coyotes or the money laundering; they come here because they chose to.  They come here KNOWING that it breaks our laws.  The Coyotes are enablers, but they only become part of the problem AFTER the decision to break our laws has been made, and only a sober and honest recognition of that will enable us to see our way clear of the ongoing silent invasion that our southern neighbor has been waging against us for decades.

Still, this administration sees votes in them thar illegals, and is bound and determined to get them.  I think the administration wanted Arizona to pass the law.  I think it gave them an opportunity to announce by implication that it has no interest in preventing the hemorrhaging sovereignty along our southern border.  Why else would it claim that SB 1070 is a means for the state to dictate the federal government’s priorities to it?

And in true Chicago thug-style, AG Holder’s inJustice Department saw the need to press its perceived advantage, and go after the Maricopa Community Colleges for striving to make sure that they didn’t employ illegals, and now are investigating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for allegedly discriminatory practices.  However, there might be a problem with the veneer of legitimacy inJustice has fronted with this latest investigation, as noted by Byron York in his piece at the Washington Examiner:

Despite the splash of attention from the newest lawsuit, the Justice Department’s investigation of Arpaio could end badly for Holder. When the Department first informed Arpaio that a probe was under way, back in March 2009, it sent a letter saying the investigation would focus on “alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.” But now we learn that just six months before that, in September 2008, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, did its own investigation of Arpaio’s office — and gave it a clean bill of health. Arpaio’s lawyers recently got a copy of the ICE report through the Freedom of Information Act.
 
But I’m probably being too trusting.  Afterall, it is entirely possible and likely that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has done a complete 180 in its practices a mere six months after being judged to be excellent in its immigration enforcement practices by the federal agency charged with enforcing federal immigration law.   Just the same, I don’t think I’d want to be the one making that argument to the Judge, who I’m sure has nothing better to do than listen to another politically motivated immigration lawsuit against Arizona authorities.
 
Incompetence and a failure to do its job would be one thing for the Federal Government; a complete unwillingness to do it, and the chutzpah to sue anyone who might make them do it is another thing all together, and combines arrogance and venality into a heady brew that most people in this country will resist drinking.  Of course, if they fail, I’m sure they can always surrender some sovereignty to the blue-helmeted kleptocratic hypocrites from Turtle Bay…naaaaaaa.  That would never happen, would it?

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