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Archive for the ‘accountability’ Category

I saw a post today on Facebook talking about how wrong it is that the Presstitute Corpse was all over the story about a top Chris Christie aid and a childhood friend of his colluding to snarl up traffic for the city of Fort Lee, New Jersey getting on the George Washington Bridge. [Apparently, they decided to "punish" the mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat, for refusing to endorse Christie in his campaign for governor, so multiple lanes leading to the bridge were shut down for a "traffic study".]  Basically, this post took the position that the same media that was fairly disinterested in the IRS being used to target the Administration’s critics, and really cannot be persuaded to dig very hard into Benghazi shouldn’t be making a big deal about this abuse of power, because it shows that Christie can be a badass.

It’s right and it’s wrong.

First, the attitude of the Presstitute Corpse with regard to the abuses of power and scandals of the Obama Administration is contemptible, and the logic is laid bare in this exchange between DNC Chair Debbie Wassermann-Schultz and CNN’s Don Lemon.  The sad truth is that both deserve a great deal of scrutiny and criticism.

I don’t want a Presidential Candidate (I wouldn’t have chosen Christie anyway) who establishes his “badass” creds by abusing power, or allowing those close to him to do so without his knowledge *winkwink*.  And it isn’t ok when one of “ours” does it, simply because it has become second nature to the Executive Branch in Washington DC.

Abuse of power is the worst abuse of the public trust because it takes something that exists for the benefit of citizens, and turns it against them.  And when it is used to specifically punish or deter the exercise of freedom of speech and freedom of association, it becomes particularly repugnant.  While we have an undercurrent in society today that finds retaliation against the exercise of these rights acceptable, especially if the retaliator was “offended”, this concept is anti-American, and belies a weakness in those finding such “offense”.  If your ideals are so delicate that you cannot adequately defend them, and instead must “punish” those who believe differently, you’re the one with a problem.  If you cannot convince those who believe differently than you to see it your way, and you believe that the appropriate response is to “punish” them, you’re the one with a problem.   And if you are so “offended” by a differing opinion that you must squelch it, you’re the one with a problem.

You want a candidate who is a badass?  Find one who isn’t afraid to be unapologetically conservative.  Find one who isn’t afraid to go to those places where conservatives “dare not walk”, and plainly and patiently explain why conservative principles, especially smaller government, create opportunity and an economic climate in which the limitations on people’s accomplishments and standard of living are up to them, and not simply reduced to what government let’s them have.  Find one who will not retreat, and will not compromise freedom…but most of all, find one who is a good enough leader that he or she will not be “surprised” by a close aid or staffer who believes it ok to use the offices of government to punish people who disagree with them.

If Christie knew about this, he isn’t worthy of the nation’s trust in Federal office.  If he didn’t know, then he isn’t ready to be trusted with this kind of authority.  But if the Presstitute Corpse believes that it is appropriate to turn this into the biggest scandal since Watergate when it couldn’t be bothered to turn the same scrutiny on the IRS, on Benghazi, on Solyndra and other “green energy” graft, they are committing malpractice, and need to be held to account, too.

 

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So once again, a member of academia decided to give President Obama a tongue bath in public.  This time, the offender is Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history and eduminication at NYU, who published a shallow bit of wishcasting called “End Presidential Term Limits” at the WAPOO.

I actually resisted writing about this nonsense for a day or so, but I keep finding it in friends’ feeds, so I finally put on my waders and ventured in.  The dumb is strong is in this “expert”.  I find this disappointing, as historians usually have to demonstrate an ability to connect the dots, but, I don’t think Professor Zimmerman ever has.

Professor Zimmerman starts by lamenting the fact that term limits force the executive to use persuasion rather than personality to get second-term agenda items passed:

In 1947, Sen. Harley Kilgore (D-W.Va.) condemned a proposed constitutional amendment that would restrict presidents to two terms. “The executive’s effectiveness will be seriously impaired,” Kilgore argued on the Senate floor, “ as no one will obey and respect him if he knows that the executive cannot run again.”

Of course, it isn’t the job of the Senate or the House to “obey” the President.   That’s not why they are elected, or in the case of the Senate, why they were once appointed by the state legislatures.

I’ve been thinking about Kilgore’s comments as I watch President Obama, whose approval rating has dipped to 37 percent in CBS News polling — the lowest ever for him — during the troubled rollout of his health-care reform. Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have distanced themselves from the reform and from the president. Even former president Bill Clinton has said that Americans should be allowed to keep the health insurance they have.

Of course, even Bill Clinton wouldn’t have dreamed of simply declaring that some parts of the law were hereby suspended or altered by executive fiat alone.

Or consider the reaction to the Iran nuclear deal. Regardless of his political approval ratings, Obama could expect Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) to attack the agreement. But if Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)?

Of course, a President not suffering from extraordinary narcissistic tendencies might actually take such opposition from members of his own party as an indicator that his chosen negotiator eagerly accepted the offer of a crisp new Ten Dollar Bill in exchange for two Twenties, and that he betrayed multiple strategic partners in the process.   Alas, Obama is not that President.

Probably not. Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear.

Seriously,  for a “history” professor, he seems to have ignored one of the major features of the American Republic.  The executive’s wrath should not be something “feared” by members of Congress.  It would interfere with their duty to their constituents, the independence and judgment they are intended to exercise in their own elective service, and would completely violate the whole notion of “separation of powers”.  Even as someone who purports to support lowercase “d” democracy, it should be apparent to Professor Brain Donor that there is value in the ability to persuade Congress and the American People that your initiatives and agenda items have value, will work, and most of all will not limit, or harm the freedoms of the American people.  This is likely the primary reason that Professor Zimmerman and other tyrant worshipers in academia advocate for precisely the opposite; the President has never been successful at such persuasion.  Either because he is not willing to make his case in a many in which he has to treat those he “rules” as equals, let alone their representatives, or because he simply isn’t capable, as it would stretch him far outside his comfort zone where he utters glittering generalities, and his audience swoons and fawns, or the darker, more revealing place where he adopts the pose of the unrepentant ideologue, banging his shoe against the podium while denouncing those who dare to question his divine pronouncements, made completely without the burden of ever having to cross the line from intellectual conceptualism to actual implementation and management of reality.

That was the argument of our first president, who is often held up as the father of term limits. In fact, George Washington opposed them. “I can see no propriety in precluding ourselves from the service of any man who, in some great emergency, shall be deemed universally most capable of serving the public,” Washington wrote in a much-quoted letter to the Marquis de Lafayette.

Washington stepped down after two terms, establishing a pattern that would stand for more than a century. But he made clear that he was doing so because the young republic was on solid footing, not because his service should be limited in any way.

There is a lot of assumption in these two paragraphs, almost all of it wrong.

First is the assumption that we are in the midst of a “great emergency” that only Obama is “the most capable of serving the public during”.   While things are bad, every electioneer will tell you that “America stands at a crossroads” and “only XXXXXX can save the country”.  But the fact remains that Obama’s administration is marked by lurches from one crisis to another, several of which were of his own making, while he continued to blame his predecessor for these crises as his chosen method of dealing with them.

Second is the idea of service.  While he has occasionally paid lip service to the concept, his actions and other statements make it clear that Obama and his retinue do not believe that they “serve” the American people, but instead “rule” them.  It is this mindset which they govern from, and defend policies injurious to freedom, whether it is the belief  that “sometimes, you’ve just made enough money”, to “you didn’t build that”, to justifying a brazen lie by telling people that insurance they freely chose and contracted for would no longer be available to them, because they we “bad apple” policies, and that young men in their 20s were absolutely better off with a government approved high deductible, high premium policy that ensures availability to contraceptives, maternity care, and mammograms to them.

Finally, the history professor omits some facts.  In Washington’s time, Federally elected office was not the cushy sinecure with insider trading opportunities, incredible perks, and quid pro quos that they enjoy today.   Even when the capitol was in New York City and Philadelphia, serving in office required sacrifices from those who did so.  These sacrifices were financial, in which the office holder often let their own careers atrophy while they served for much lower pay, and they spent a lot of time away from home and their families when communication and travel were both much, much slower than they are today.  While Washington acknowledged that he served a second term because his closest advisors convinced him to do so, he also had no wish to become an American “King”, and had himself spent many years away from his home in the service of his country.  He was tired, both in general, and specifically with regard to the strife that had erupted between those who served with him.  While he did not advocate term limits, he certainly didn’t foresee career politicians becoming so wedded to the office that they would die there after serving multiple terms either.

That’s why the GOP moved to codify it in the Constitution in 1947, when a large Republican majority took over Congress. Ratified by the states in 1951, the 22nd Amendment was an “undisguised slap at the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt,” wrote Clinton Rossiter, one of the era’s leading political scientists. It also reflected “a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people,” Rossiter said.

What this fails to recognize is that to pass the 22nd Amendment also relied on the “common sense and good judgment of the people”, unlike a great deal of other changes to the Constitution that were wrought through an overreaching judiciary instead.  And the left still practices this double standard today, as the litigation over Proposition 8 in California demonstrates.  But Rossiter also had the luxury of living in an era when it was easier to pretend that “common sense” and “good judgment of the people” went hand in hand.  We do not.  Common sense dictates that you cannot increase sovereign deficits by Trillions of dollars in short spans of years for very long before you have severely hampered the freedom of future generations.   And passing the point where more people rely on the assistance of the government than their own efforts for their sustenance pretty much guarantees that the “good judgment of the people” will not have anything to do with “common sense” as it creates an incentive to elect others to enrich themselves as they carry out the direction to loot from the present and the future for their constituencies.

He was right. Every Republican in Congress voted for the amendment, while its handful of Democratic supporters were mostly legislators who had broken with FDR and his New Deal. When they succeeded in limiting the presidency to two terms, they limited democracy itself.

He was wrong, because even then, “the people” did not directly elect the President, rendering the notion that an amendment placing term limits on the office as a limitation, ridiculous.  As I have already pointed out, the left only believes in lower case “d” democracy when the plebes vote correctly, as dictated by their leftist betters.

It’s time to put that power back where it belongs. When Ronald Reagan was serving his second term, some Republicans briefly floated the idea of removing term limits so he could run again. The effort went nowhere, but it was right on principle. Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re-election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves.

That “power” was never actually there.  And actually, the notion that we should continue to be able to re-elect the same person because of some notion of their “indispensability” is a great diminishing of ourselves, because it presumes that we as a nation are incapable of producing capable leaders who can govern through persuasion rather than fear, and can unite, rather than divide while preaching about the incivility of their opponents.  I wouldn’t be in favor of it even with Reagan, but at least a third term of Reagan offered the prospect of a President who loved this country, and saw no need to “fundamentally transform” it into something that it was never intended to be.

 

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So I was just in the car and heard that a “Federal Study” on the Joplin tornado has concluded that stronger building codes and a better detection and early warning system could have saved lives.

Now back in the 80s when we heard stories on mohair subsidies, $500 hammers and toilet seats, and federal studies on katchup flow rates, the fact that the Feds were setting $100 bills on fire, stacks at a time, for “NO DUH!” moments like this was slightly amusing. But now that we have a debt approaching $20 TRILLION DOLLARS, there isn’t anything to smile about.

But even worse than that is the idea that this kind of thing should even be something the Feds are involved with. Any single process that can be performed by man can be made SAFER. The question is “At what point does the cost in doing so become prohibitive?”, and let’s face it. The same government that spent 3/4s of a Billion on a healthcare insurance portal website that doesn’t work nearly as well as ecommerce sites put together for a FRACTION of the taxpayer dollars pissed away on Healthcare.gov shouldn’t be the ones you trust to make that decision, even IF it had the authority to do so.

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…and Satan was in front of me. He was wearing a parka, and had a cart full of rock salt.

Last Friday, I raised Martin Bashir’s ratings significantly by linking to his disgusting passive-aggressive attack on Sarah Palin. Today, I read the story of his on-air apology.

From Mediaite:

Bashir opened Monday’s show with a complete and abject apology. “Last Friday, on this broadcast,” Bashir said, “I made some comments which were deeply offensive and directed at Governor Sarah Palin. I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin, and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said.”

“In the battle of ideas, America leads the world in whole-hearted discussions and disagreements,” he continued, “and these arguments can be heard on a daily basis. But what I did on Friday had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that great tradition, and I am deeply sorry. Upon reflection, I so wish that I had been more thoughtful, more considerate, more compassionate. but I was not. And what I said is now a matter of public record.”

“But if I could add something to the public record,” Bashir added, “it would be this: That I deeply regret what I said, and that I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days. That the politics of vitriol and destruction is a miserable place to be, and a miserable person to become. And I promise that I will take the opportunity to learn from this experience. My hope is that it will renew in me a spirit of humility and humanity, that looks for the good and that builds upon the great things that this country has to offer to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion. This will be my guiding light and compass in the days ahead. But once again, I am truly sorry for what I said on Friday.”

While I doubt that any of his colleagues at MSNBC felt any shame at what he said (heck, even after someone explained it to him, I’d wager even Al Sharpton thought it was pretty good), the fact that he led the broadcast with it, and avoided the kind of weaselly crap we have gotten used to in a forced media apology, in the spirit it invoked, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as to its sincerity, and say good for you, Marty.  Even if you’re saying this because your Mom made up half your audience that night, and she was appalled at what you said, you clearly gave some thought to the apology.  Good for you, and thank for deciding to NOT be a scumbag.

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Ignorance isn’t made less ignorant when it speaks in clipped British intonation.  And unhealthy fixations aren’t made less disturbing when broadcast as a hit piece.  Unfortunately, no one told Martin Bashir, the mentally handicapped version of Piers Morgan, who is the perfect choice for the MSNBC line up.

“Given her well-established reputation as a world-class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that she should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history.”

“So here’s an example,” Bashir continued. “One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer, who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation.”

“What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime,” Bashir added. “In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’”

“This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity. And he mentions a similar incident in 1756, his time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. ‘Flogged punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper, made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth,’” Bashir recited.

“I could go on, but you get the point,” Bashir said, concluding “When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.”

Now the fact that Bashir invoked her ignorance not once, but twice in his pseudo-scold is just more evidence that the universe has developed a complete immunity to outbreaks of irony that would have shattered its fabric into millions of shards in previous eras.  To start with, there is nothing particularly ignorant or offensive in her reference to debt slavery, or the suggestion that the profligate borrowing and spending of the Federal Government might lead to just that.  Debt slavery is a flavor of slavery that has been around almost as long as the custom itself, and is still actively practiced in the world today, as people get themselves into hock with moneylenders, condemning themselves, and sometimes their children to slavery as a means to pay back that debt.  Nor is slavery a practice confined to the African experience, as civilizations all over the world have taken slaves as spoils of victory, such as was practiced by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans, Arabs, and others.  Perhaps Marty could have spared us all his two minutes of hate if he hadn’t been ignorant of the power of the internet and search engines, and spared himself the embarrassment of his powerful projection and a display of passive-aggressive poo flinging, in which he can giggle to himself in a snide aside about his cleverness in not directly saying that someone should shit in Sarah Palin’s mouth and piss in her eyes without, you know, actually saying it.

While this moment of triumph undoubtedly entertained Marty’s small intellect, and his tens of viewers, I cannot help but to feel disgusted, and wonder why this is even remotely acceptable to the very same people who would be calling for the head of a conservative commentator making similar suggestions about Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, et seq.  Nor, as I have previously observed here, and here, is this particularly vile type of “attention” an isolated incident when it comes to Palin, who isn’t even a candidate for office, and hasn’t been since 2008.

That said, I eagerly await an explanation from the proggies and leftists cheerleading this kind of disgusting attack against Sarah Palin how such attacks aren’t skirmishes in the “War on Women” that they constantly crow about whenever someone suggests that since we aren’t supposed to care what goes on between women’s legs, it is ridiculous to assert that it is a woman’s “right” to make taxpayers fund what goes on there.  Not that I actually expect any of them to actually make an attempt, even a half-hearted one.  Which would and should be to their shame.  If they had any.

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I had an interesting conversation this week with another businessman who has had enough.

The topic came up when he learned that I am business attorney, and he started to talk to me about the never-ending stream of regulations and taxes, and how he wondered if government didn’t do some of it just to find out how much we would let it get away with.  I smiled, I nodded, and then I told him about my recent odyssey with the Census Bureau.  We both got a laugh out of that, especially when we talked about how long the survey was, and how they just presumed that I would be willing to surrender that time to the government without a peep.  This lead to a discussion about how it doesn’t take very many agencies, bureaus, and offices making “insignificant” demands on you time, and on your earnings before it really starts to add up.  And of course, none of them ever take into consideration that their “insignificant” demands are coming along with all the other “insignificant” demands…not that it would matter, of course, since their demands are important, and must be responded to.

Then he said “I’ll go you one better.  A few years back, I got one of those forms where they wanted me to pretty much inventory EVERY item in my business, then compute the tax and send it to them.”

“Ok…” I said.

“Yeah.  I thought about it for a minute, realized how many HOURS that would take to do, hours that I wouldn’t be using to earn money, and so I looked at the form, and saw that it was a $40.00 fine to not fill out the form and send it back.  I wrote on it “I’m not going to take the HOURS necessary to do this.  Bill me for your fine.”  And I never heard anything more.  They send a new form every couple of years, I answer the same way.  And I’ve never been contacted by anyone looking for their fine.”

We both laughed.  And for a few minutes, I was glad.  It makes me happy to see even small acts of defiance against an out of control government.

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I was introduced to a new song last night.  And it made me very, very happy to know that there are people willing to be the nail that stands up, at a time when so many allow themselves to be intimidated by a tyranny of political correctness, and small-minded thugs who keep finding new ways to take what doesn’t belong to them.

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A friend of mine let loose today with a good rant on Facebook today on the chronic misuse of the word “tolerance” and how the ones who use it most clearly don’t understand it based on their intolerance of those they disagree with.  I’m proud to count her, and others like her, as friends.

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As our President continues to hamfistedly attempt to gaslight the nation about his blatant lies, and as he sets the tone from the top down of a government culture that pays lip service to accountability, yet remains blissfully consequence-free in light of its mendacity and failure, there is a rising anger that will eventually remind our public “servants” that service and employment both come with accountability, and that we will not let those who serve us continue to enjoy good fortune at our expense, and a cushy sinecure that none of us could ever hope to dream of.  The fact that they continue to let this attitude build, while flaunting their disrespect and lack of self-awareness in our faces demonstrates the kind of bad judgement that converts dismay due to lack of respect to a desire to instill fear.  I don’t think it will be pretty, but I do think it will be instructive, and occasionally, “pour l’encourage les autres” has its place.

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“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” —Mahatma Gandhi

So I’ve been listening to the Republican Party’s more “enlightened” and “moderate” voices over the last year.  To say I am unimpressed with a strategery that says it’s ok to call voters “Hobbits” and their preferred candidates and elected officials “wacko birds” would be putting it mildly.

But when the elected officials who are willing to compromise and accept the permanence of a unprecidented” and “historic” expansion of government (repeal and replace) everyone, and are willing to let legislation that cannot be squared with the Constitution’s enumerated powers, and the Bill of Rights’ strict prohibitions on the infringement of rights by government with mushy promises that they will fight “next time”, and that they “do something” when they have the Senate and the White House, when history shows us that there was little in evidence to differentiate them the last time when they had both, I get the disgust evident among the “hobbits” of the country because I share it.

I reject the notion that Congress is so “complex” and difficult that we need to keep electing the same people.  I reject the notion that these “experts” just understand the issues better than we do…a notion that is difficult to accept given the fact that so many of them admit to not reading what they vote on, but even if it is true, that is a better reason to replace them, since they seem to be ok with this being the status quo, and of course, the power that comes with it.

But most of all, I am disgusted with the willingness to accept a generous taxpayer subsidy, sheltering them from onerous effects of what they chose for us, and the scorn and derision that they heaped on their members who were willing to stand and fight for the fundamentals.  Compromise on ObamaDoesn’tCare doesn’t respect the Constitution.  It doesn’t respect freedom.  It doesn’t respect liberty.  And their capitulation without even bothering to fight to defend a Constitutional and ethical legislative process, will cause people’s deaths. “First Do No Harm” would have been a good guiding principle for those who stood on the sidelines and muttered derisive comments about those who did something if they couldn’t stand for the other things that this doesn’t respect.  I think more than a few of them have been there long enough that they no longer can differentiate between that which can be compromised and that which is not theirs to give…or take.

I think there is a “war” going on, but if the GOP starts losing elections because of it, it won’t because of those damn, unreasonable “wacko birds” and their unreasonable unwillingness to compromise that which should never be contemplated.  It will be because the “reasonable” and “moderate” Republicans offer no substantive differences from the other party.

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The “ACA is rotting on the vine” argument is the wrong one. Not because it isn’t true…it is…but because implementing it means that a government that is supposed to protect religious liberties will instead actively void them (HHS Mandates), because people with chronic health issues will see their health negatively impacted, because the most brutal collection agency in the world will become the enforcement arm of a law that REQUIRES you to purchase a product simply because you live and breathe, because a government that couldn’t abide by confidentiality laws and keep disclosures of confidential taxpayer information from being disclosed to people who had no business knowing it will be granting even wider access to your confidential medical data while pinkie swearing that they won’t ever misuse it or use it against you, they promise (just like the IRS), and because people won’t be able to afford the individual mandate, we will be providing means-test free subsidies, resulting in an even greater redistribution of wealth and resultant dependency on government than we have NOW, and because implementing it makes it commonplace and accepted, even if it is a POS, and that means that government will attempt to “fix” the problem with the only solution it recognizes as legitimate…MORE GOVERNMENT.

The “Accept Defeat Before You Fight” cadre of the GOP showed us all exactly where their priorities are. I’ll skip the obvious questions about what might have happened if other famous Americans had done the same when faced with adversity, and instead say that it was an easy calculus for them to accept when they are insulated from some of the most detrimental aspects of this abortion of liberty courtesy of the American taxpayer.

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A friend of mine posted a link to an article this morning he prefaced with the question “Is sacrificing your religious liberty the price of market participation?”  The article, by Benjamin Wiker, entitled “The Religious-Liberty Quagmire to Come” discusses a recent Slate article sympathetic with the current HHS mandate overreach in which government attempts to abrogate the rights of people to exercise their religious liberty with their property, specifically duly chartered legal business entities.

The article’s author opposes the viewpoints expressed in the Slate article, by author Dalia Lithwick.  I oppose them also, but on grounds originating not just in my studies, but also by practical experience and logic.

The first point raised is this:

Lithwick argues, first of all, that corporations are distinct entities from individuals.

This is true in a literal sense.  Corporations have a legal identity that are separate from their owners in the same way that I have a legal identity that is separate from my oldest son.  You’ll note that I did not use my wife in that example.  It was not an accident.  While she is indeed an entity that is distinct from myself, we happen to live in a community property state, so we “enjoy” the dual status of having distinct legal identities, while legally being considered as having the same legal identity for legal, and more to the point, commercial, purposes.  This reality is imposed upon us by the state, which applies this status based upon an action we took based on a shared religious conviction, and retain based upon that same shared religious conviction.  We are each “owners” of that resultant fictional legal entity known as a “marital community”, which, at least in our case, exists and acts in both personal and commercial transactions in ways that express or are the result of our individual religious beliefs.

While individuals can have religious beliefs, corporations can’t. Once you establish a corporation, it is automatically a secular corporation.

This is what we called in law school a “false starting premise”.  The reason is simple.  The state’s blessing to act as a corporate entity does not automatically confer a “secular” (like the author of the piece, I also object to the common use of the word “secular”, and for the same reasons, however, for the purpose of this essay, I will use it in the context of the incorrectly presumed “neutrality” in which it is often used) status on the resulting entity.  The reason for this is simple.  State enabling statutes almost always permit corporations and limited liability companies to be established “for any lawful purpose”, which by its nature would include the conducting of any lawful business in a manner consistent with the religious faith of the owners of the entity in question.  In fact, thanks to the First Amendment, and its extension to the individual states, the states would be legally prohibited from restricting individuals from forming entities for such purposes.

The other obvious weakness in this rather remarkable assertion from Ms. Lithwick would be the fact that churches often incorporate as non-profit corporations in order to apply for Section 501(c)(3) status so that donations, gifts, and tithes maybe tax deductible to the donor. (Contrary to popular opinion, churches do not have to apply for this status to be tax-free.  They are already tax-free, as they should be, as a result of the First Amendment.)

Wiker states that Lithwick’s assertion is rooted in the decision in the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. decision.  The corporation is owned by a Mennonite Family which employs 950 people.  The family opposes the HHS mandates regarding abortion on religious grounds.  The Federal Judge hearing the case concluded:

“We simply cannot understand how a for-profit, secular corporation — apart from its owners — can exercise religion,” circuit Judge Robert Cowen wrote. “A holding to the contrary … would eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.”

Aside from the naked and unsupported (and unsupportable) conclusion that a corporation is secular, there are a few other weaknesses.  State law would rightfully permit me to draft and file for a client Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Formation establishing that the entity is “being formed for the express purpose of selling ice cream, and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and any other lawful purpose,”, and there is nothing that the state or the Federal government could Constitutionally do to prevent me from doing so. Being a distinct legal entity doesn’t mean that a corporation cannot express or conduct itself based upon a specific political or religious viewpoint.  And while there are instances in which government may lawfully restrict what an owner does with its private property in certain balancing of the equities situations, at this time, I can think of none which directly conflict with the right of conscience.

The assertion of an automatic secular nature of corporations based on a theory of complete segregation between a legal entity and those that own them faces other philosophical and logical difficulties aside from being an assumption of a fact not in evidence.  First among them is the fact that one of the pillars the good Judge rests his opinion on is the notion that that an individual can exercise religious freedom, but a corporation cannot.  This point ignores the fact that corporations ARE allowed to exercise other First Amendment rights, such as freedom of speech, and Freedom of Association, which is the main principle underlying the freedom to enter into contracts with people of your choosing, or the freedom to hire people who you think make a good fit with your corporation, and will make a good employee.  Recognizing this, there is no logical or legal basis to presume that these freedoms can be exercised by a corporation or an LLC, but that those same entities can or should be barred from exercising religious freedom to act in a manner consistent with the religious beliefs of its owner.

The second weakness with this assertion is the fact that the income from many of these “separate, distinct legal entities” is reported not on a separate tax form for that entity, but on the personal tax forms for those who own those entities, which would hardly make sense if these were indeed separate and distinct from their owners.

The third weakness of this viewpoint is that our economy would be in much worse shape without corporations and LLCs because they make it possible for more people to provide goods and services at prices and in quantities that the risk that they would necessarily have to bear individually would either make prohibitively expensive, or practically impossible to provide.  While the very word “corporation” often evokes the image of boardrooms filled with grey suits making decisions that impact the livelihood of hundreds or thousands, or more, the fact is that the majority of corporations are closely-held businesses, where the ownership consists of a individuals, or small numbers of people, often members of the same family, or of one or two families. And in some instances, this is also true of those large corporations that I previously spoke of.  Ford is one example that comes to mind.  However, even if it wasn’t for the fact that a majority of these entities are small, closely held corporations or LLCs that permit individuals to offer products or services because of the risk management that the law permits through the use of these entities, there is also the fact that the law DOES allow certain individuals who offer goods and services through corporations and LLCs to refuse to offer those goods and services based on the individual owner’s right of conscience and/or religious beliefs, among other factors.  Doctors, who can refuse to perform abortions, and attorneys, who can refuse representation based on any factor at all, are two that come to mind.  While competence or having the requisite skill are among the reasons for these rights of refusal, they are not the ONLY ones.  And while it might be tempting to say that the personal nature of services rendered by these professions support such an exemption, the fact is that for nearly all closely-held business entities, the nature of what those individuals do is personal.  For such individuals, their business is at the forefront of their thinking.  It is the first thing they think of in the morning, it is what they contemplate as they drift off to sleep at night.  Their businesses ARE an expression of who they are, and  that “separate legal entity” invariably becomes associated with the individuals who own them.  The manner in which they conduct their business often expresses an opinion or a philosophy held dear to the owner of that business.  It is not reasonable or logical to suggest or expect that these individuals segregate their religious and spiritual identity and activity from the profession or career that they otherwise breathe and eat; to do so would be a denial of the very essence of the person that the law and society would find morally objectionable and repugnant if any other belief or activity was being discussed instead of the free exercise of religion. This is no less true for a baker of wedding cakes, or a photographer than it is for a doctor or a lawyer who has incorporated so they can ply their trade without risking the loss of everything they own and have worked for to one lawsuit.

Another logical weakness in this assertion is that many of these entities often are operated day-to-day in accordance with various codes of ethics voluntarily committed to by the owners and employees of the corporations and LLCs.  For an entity to be, even indirectly, conducted according to such a code of ethics, but presumably not capable of exercising a religious point of view is facially absurd.

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I’d like to think that things will get better, but the current prevailing prejudice against religion in some of the most litigious groups in our society leads me to believe that we’re in for a lengthy fight to preserve our first liberties.  Especially if examples such as the New Mexico photographer, and the pink swastika philosophy that seeks to punish those who do not wish to participate in their activities, regardless of whether not it makes any logical sense to compel those who object with their beliefs to provide a personal service or product is any indication.  But then, with a federal government that is engaging in similar unconstitutional behavior as a guide, there really is no reason to be surprised at the bold entitlement demonstrated in this strategy, which is why legal interest groups such as the ADF are going to become increasingly important and need our help in the coming years.

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In the wake of the Republican Party’s ambivalence and contempt for conservative, small-government ideals, and a complete unwillingness to fight any of the battles that matter, I’m thinking it is time for a new political party, founded upon the ideals of a small and limited government, and a ruthless disdain for all things “progressive”, including the ubiquitous but erroneous belief that the individual is simply not competent to determine how to spend their money, their time, and their labor, because they will invariably make the “wrong” decisions, and that government can, and should better decide for you how to spend these possessions of ours, along with the belief that government has a duty to protect you from the consequences of your decisions, even if it must first enslave you to do it.

Power based on the spending of a shrinking pool of other people’s money is a zero sum game, and for far too long, government has been expanding into areas and spheres of influence in which it has not traditionally had ANY authority, while treating small business as a cash register till to be dipped into whenever it wants more money to fund welfare masquerading as “charity” and setting its sights on the wallets of individual taxpayers, using compulsion and decrying any protest as a “lack of generosity” because we’re sick of letting government “be generous” with our money, preventing us from doing so in a way that would require accountability from the recipients.

Government is broke, and regardless of the extraordinary proposition propounded by Congressman Keith Ellison and others, it has NO right to simply confiscate more money from those who actually earn it, and who by virtue of their status as producers in society, already bear an ever-increasing burden of supporting a profligate leviathan that spends its days issuing regulations and rules like a king of old issuing edicts and proclamations that only serve to discourage ambition and yoke entrepreneurialism to a stultifying collar of mediocrity, ensuring that instead of a rising tide to lift all boats, we’re dropped to a muddy and rocky bottom, with the rest of the broken wreckage of dreams and industriousness.  Those in Washington D.C. who are ostensibly there to represent our interests have lost sight of what those interests are, and have become part of a leviathan which is diligent in ensuring that its cogs never get sullied by the indignity of having to live under the same laws, rules, and regulations that it makes for us, while at the same time, turning a blind eye to the blatant lawlessness being practiced by its various components.

As government swells, it increasingly forces its way into the minutiae of the average person’s daily life, until the only right to privacy that it is willing to recognize is the right of a mother to snuff her child in utero; all else must be yielded to the state upon its demand, whether it is wage data, or the number of toilets in your home.  You cannot be forced to quarter troops in your home, but none the less, government believes it can compel you to disclose information about that could be gleaned from such an act.

Enough.

The time has come for the “Nunya Damn Business” Party.  A party that will not compromise on removing government from the performance of tasks it had no business doing in the first place.  A party that will shrink the current bloatocracy by eliminating laws and regulations that have long ago advanced beyond anything resembling a reasonable safeguard, and have turned into a rolling juggernaut that gets heavier, slower, and more intrusive with every attempt to bubble wrap people in an attempt to save them from themselves.  The Nunya Damn Business Party recognizes the concept of curtilage, and will not intrude upon individuals’ quiet enjoyment of their residences unless to  stop a crime.  It will not make increasing demands on the individual citizens’ time, in essence confiscating even more from those it is supposed to serve, not be served by.

Our society is on a collision course with itself, navigated there by a government that increasingly rejects any limitation on its scope or reach, that has created a class of dependents who are incapable of recognizing their chains, paid for more and more by a class that cannot help but to feel its chains.

Freedom is the answer for both, and the satisfaction of honest labor will do more to refresh American Exceptionalism and national solvency than any government entitlement or program.  Join me.

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