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Archive for the ‘entitlement culture’ Category

I’m ashamed to admit that I was amused for a bit.  When the Hobby Lobby decision was first handed down, the deluge of butthurt and really bad analysis from the Left was entertaining.  It offered a glimpse into a mindset that has been wrongly conditioned to think that religion was something confined to various buildings dotting the landscape of the country for a few hours a week…a diversion for people not smart enough to take advantage of an opportunity to sleep in, rather than a deeply held conviction that guides the actions of those who believe, and that as such, will be expressed in the actions taken by the holders of those beliefs, including what they do, and what government may try to force them to do, with their own property.

But the howls continued.  The vitriol continued.  And expressions of hatred were aired without restraint or condemnation, once again giving lie to the Left’s own sermonizing about civility and tolerance.

As a student of history, I wasn’t disturbed by the Hobby Lobby ruling, because it brought about the correct result.  I was disturbed by the fact that it wasn’t a unanimous ruling, which in and of itself shows just how far we have strayed from first principles.  And as the wailing and gnashing of teeth continued to grow into a low roar, fueled by ignorance and indigence that someone should be allowed to dissent and not participate in the high holy sacrament of killing unborn children, I saw yet more confirmation of a clash of beliefs being perpetrated by a creed that is still inexplicably permitted to masquerade as value neutral, when it is nothing of the sort.  Secularism as practiced today has death at its heart, and as such it can be nothing but a cancer that is embraced and nurtured by too many in society until the tumor in our collective head has grown so large that it threatens the very nature of who we are as a people.  Our society still utters the expressions of freedom, but does so in contradiction to the convictions that inform our actions.  These soulless supplications are offered both as ruse, and rebuke, intended to convince the less vigilant among us that there is no cause for alarm, and to portray the watchmen as hysterical and ridiculous.  And in this climate, usurpations and entitlements are magically and mystically transmogrified into “rights”,while real rights, which government is obligated to protect and defend, are consigned to wither and fade in the shadow of the “rights” “given” (and protected by nothing other than) by the artifice and caprice of government, which is more interested in redistributing private property and the bounty earned by it, than in defending it.

A healthy society is one that understands that morality is a cultural necessity.  No society has long lasted when every man has done right in his own eyes, without a common frame of reference to which everyone can refer.  Government works best when it accepts and codifies those guard rails which delineate the boundaries between what is acceptable and what is not.  It is an unhealthy society which rejects what has been shown to have value, and provide a framework that allows society to grow and thrive, in favor of a government that assumes the mantle of moral authority based on what it determines is true, is right, and is acceptable, because there is no anchor for any of these determinations other than the desires of 50% +1.  Some may say that this sickness is a product of the 20th Century.  I’ve come to understand that the body politic has been infected with this particular hubris from much longer, but I do think that it accelerated, at an exponential rate, in the 20th Century.

The standing complaint of human degeneracy remains against us.  Causes have been operating—and of late years with fearful rapidity and strength—to produce a state of moral obliquity and practical atheism among us, appalling in magnitude and of alarming consequence.  It has become of late quite customary to sneer at the Puritanism of our fathers, and to speak with contempt of the severity of their manners and the bigotry of their faith.  This impious treatment, by the present corrupters of society, of a generation of men whose lofty principles and illustrious virtues they seem utterly unable to comprehend, is well adapted to not only arouse the deepest indignation, but to excite the most lively concern.  There are two quarters from which these evil influences chiefly proceed.  A class of men without conscience, and reckless of all moral restraint, have gained ascendancy in the public favor, and assume from their prominent position to mould and direct the public sentiment of the nation.  Their general influence upon the public morals has been like the wind of the desert, –poisonous, withering, and destructive.  Another and very large class of men moving in the lower walks of life form a significant element of our American population, whose hard and vicious instincts , gratified without compunction and paraded everywhere in the most offensive manner, would seem to render them well-nigh incapable of reformation.  Apparently insensible to all the nobler sentiments of public morality and virtue, and ever ready to perform their congenial part in the general demoralization the demand that all the higher classes shall pander to their depraved appetites, as the price of their patronage and support.  In this reciprocal play of the baser passions the common principles of morality are daily sacrificed, and the strong and the weak join hands in carrying down the nation to the very verge of ruin.  No man can observe the conditions of society in our country, and the obvious impulses of human conduct, without feeling that the perils against which the fathers warned us, and which have so faithfully and constantly pointed out ministers of religion, have, not withstanding, increased at a fearful rate, without seeing the most alarming departures from the standard of individual rectitude and social integrity have occurred among us within the century that is past.
Byron Sunderland, Washington D.C., April 14, 1863.

And now we have come to a point where a vocal segment of society have decided that a recognition that someone else’s right to not participate in the use of a substance or device that they personally find repugnant to their faith should be subordinate to government’s “ability” to make them pay for another’s choice to use such substance or device.  We have come to that point where a recognition of the right of conscience is considered to be a “denial of access” and abridgement of the recipient’s “right to choose” with their benefactors money.  And those who protest loudest because they see in this recognition a threat to a river of blood money so long and casually extorted from the taxpayer feel absolutely no guilt in their perversion of terms and concepts in their efforts to gin up outrage against the affirmation of the obvious, which is still obviously stated, and has remained such in a more than a century’s worth of a campaign of deception and subversion by their own design, because honesty in their intentions never would have obtained the support they otherwise enjoyed.

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Once again, the greatest shibboleth of our time is front and center in the news again.   “RACISM!!!11!!!” has once again been brought to the attention of society by the high priests of the Tyranny of Nice, and their crusade to punish the perpetrators of thoughtcrimes that the members of this exalted secular clergy have deemed worthy not just of shunning, but of stripping the offenders of all dignity, and even their property rights.

Last week, it was the comments of Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, who has allegedly failed to pay grazing fees to the Federal Government, which may or may not be due them, and which has, with their nonsensical regulation, made it impossible for all other ranchers in that part of Nevada to continue business.  For this, the Bureau of Land Management thought it appropriate to show up with an army of well-armed rangers and contractors, to start stealing and euthanizing Mr. Bundy’s cattle.  When other Americans took exception to the Federal Government’s heavy-handed approach (because everyone would be hunky dory with the police sending a SWAT team to your house over unpaid parking tickets), Mr. Bundy’s upstanding Senator, the estimable Harry Reid proved he could be counted on to do the right thing:  He called Bundy and his supporters “Domestic Terrorists”.  After the Federal presence was withdrawn, Bundy made the mistake of speaking to the New York Times, and committed the heresy of suggesting that black families might have actually been better off in other times, even under slavery, as even then, families were kept more intact than under a welfare system that disincentives families staying together in lieu of replacing fathers with government. (Or as I said at the time, LBJ gave them the “Life of Julia” 40 years before forcing it on the rest of us.)  Yes, I’m paraphrasing, because Mr. Bundy, being a lifelong rancher and not an attorney or professional spokesperson made his remarks in an inartful way, including using the “other” N-word (“negro”), which certainly didn’t help the knee-jerk reaction and scramble to make the words uttered so radioactive that no one, least of all those being so tragically victimized by a political party that only gives a damn about their votes, would actually consider the substance of what he was saying.

The reaction from the media was predictable and expected.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer number and strength of the reaction from those on “our side” who adopted the instant condemnation usually reserved for those on the left, and used it to great effect to give the impression that it made anything that had ever issued from his lips unworthy of any consideration, and any action he had taken instantly invalid.  But at least they were public in the condemnation, and were seen by all the right people doing so, thereby maintaining the illusion of “reasonableness” with those who still do not respect them or their opinions, and would be happy to do the same to them in order to avoid any honest discussion about real issues that might make someone, somewhere “feel bad”.   This is how the right to not be offended is transformed into a cultural norm, that is held dear by a culture that celebrates everything that used to spark shame, and that abandons values that helped build a strong and vibrant society.  This is how a people who reject God in their deeds and God in practice, as an outmoded and “superstitious construct” cultivate a secular religion rooted in a vague and nebulous concept of “nice” that only believes that offense is a worthwhile endeavor when its own high priests decide that something offends THEM.

I confess that I was slow to come to this understanding.  I watched the reaction on “the right” last week to Mr. Bundy’s remarks with disappointment and alarm.  It was clear to me that something was wrong, but it was like walking through a fog bank…you can make out shapes, but not see your surroundings clearly.  But as I have listened and read about this week’s “MOMENT OF RACISM!!!11!!”, centered on the remarks, in private, by billionaire and L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling to his girlfriend, this understanding started to take root.   First, there is Matt Walsh’s excellent piece on it, with this money quote that started me thinking about it in a way that I hadn’t before:

We permit and even celebrate most forms of evil and debauchery in our society, so our Moral Outrage energy is stored, ready to be unleashed anytime an old white guy utters something untoward about minorities. Having removed sins like baby-killing, pornography, sex-trafficking, and infidelity from the ‘Things to Get Upset About’ column, this seems to be among the only universally-recognized evils remaining.

Indeed.  For all the Progressives like to mouth about “evolving” and “changing”, society hasn’t gotten rid of moral outrage, and the ugliness it sometimes breeds.  It only changed the focus.  And it allows us to ignore the ugly things that are celebrated daily, ugly things that we all end up lending our sanction to, willingly or unwillingly, as we give even more ugliness free rein while patting ourselves on the back and telling ourselves how nice we are for doing so, and what good persons we are because we feel that way about the offense or offender du jour.  It’s an ersatz replacement for a real morality which is rooted in something far more permanent than what our thoughleaders tell us we should be angry about today, which, by some coincidence, never seems to settle upon their own activities, and it is why a President who sat in the pews at Reverend Wright’s church for years, and who is on record talking about “typical white people” and “That’s how white folks’ll do ya.” can pretend at profundity in response to the old rich racist without burdening himself with a scintilla of self-awareness about the sequoia jutting out from his own eye.  It’s a moral authority that isn’t, and yet is immune from challenge.  And this displays one of its most glaring errors: the entirely inconsistent application of its central precepts and and practices.

But the final piece fell into place for me when I listened to this op-ed  from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the way home, and these two quotes brought my blurry perception into sharp focus:

Moral outrage is exhausting. And dangerous. The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging. Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking.

and

What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?

Exactly.  It isn’t that we want to be moral as much as we want to be publicly seen conforming to the secular morality of the moment… to be seen by all the right people, sharing in the accord of a group superiority over not just the actions, but the very thoughts of another.  And all with no greater justification than the avoidance of offense.   A public piety that demands neither sacrifice, nor effort, and neither contemplation or reflection.  Only the self-assurance of those, who like it says in the song, have partaken of  “that wonderstuff  that let’s you look up from a nod, smile and say “Thank God that wasn’t us.””

Donald Sterling’s greatest sin wasn’t being a racist.  It was that he dared to believe that he could express doubleplusungood thoughts  in private with the expectation of them remaining private, when that, more than any of his other actions by far, would be the most grievous of his multitude of sins.  Or at least so the modern-day Pharisees of the One True Secular Religion would have us believe.

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Normally, I’d be fine with “leaders” who make declarations demonstrating their unfitness for office, but we aren’t living in “normal”, and haven’t been for sometime now.   Now, when it happens, it is as much an indictment of us as it is of the one doing the declaring.

The latest example?  Jeb Bush.

From this piece in Breitbart:

“I’m going to say this and it will be on tape, and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their family’s dad who loves their children was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table, and they wanted to make sure their family was intact. And they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. it’s kind of — it’s a — it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that’s a different kind of crime that should be, there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t be — it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. And the idea that we’re not going to fix this but with with comprehensive reform ends up trapping these people, when they could make a great contribution for their own their families but also for us.

So I think we need to get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place. The great number of people who come to this country come because they have no opportunities in other places. They may love their country, but they come here because they want to provide for their families. And they can make a contribution to our country if we actually organized ourselves in a better way.”

Jeb is fully infected with the politician’s disease…that horrible malady which declares that there can be no limit on generosity and compassion, when rendering both with other people’s money.

Jeb sees future voters, and is willing to look past their willingness to break our laws, and take what a select few profit from offering.    And “an act of love”?  Really?  “I love you so much I’ll break another nation’s laws in order to take from that country and society as much as I can for you.  I love you so much that I’ll risk the separation of our family.” is not an expression of love that is cognizable to those familiar with the concept.   But then I don’t believe that breaking the law to come here sets a good example for my family anyway.

And “They may love their country, but they come here because they want to provide for their families.” is a line that should forever shame this man.  I love my family, and I love my country.  That’s why I live here.  And Jeb should love his countrymen and his country enough to understand why borders matter.  Why immigration matters.  And why the integrity of both matters.   And I’m ashamed that anyone even being discussed as a future Presidential candidate refuses to see this as a cultural and a national security imperative.  The fact that he’s a Bush in a post-9/11 world only makes this that much more problematic.

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An expectation of accountability is RACIST.

An expectation of responsibility is RACIST.

Opposition to the policies and ideals of a “person of color” is RACIST.

None of these things is true, and yet each of them is the reality of discourse today.

We are surrounded by shrinking violets, who have successfully peddled the idea that saying the wrong thing makes the speaker “Worse than HITLER!”.  These delicate flowers pretend that they have elevated discourse by creating a de facto right not be offended, when in actuality, they have simply created a means to shut down any discourse they don’t like by invoking the horror of being offended.  Like suckers, the rest of us play along, even in the face of the fact that this “right” is only available to some people, and to those who decide that it is necessary to be offended on behalf of members of these select groups.  You can find this practice applied to virtually anything, but no where is this standard most glaringly hypocritical than the dreaded “N-WORD”.

I make my living with words.  I am acutely aware of why speech matters, and why fettering what was meant to be UNfettered is a bad idea.  Because of this, I feel like an ass even saying “the N-Word”.  It’s stupid.  It could be lifted from the pages of Harry Potter, and the fear that caused so many to refer to the Villain as “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.”  And the irony of how the “offense” of the word, and how it causes the word to not be said actually infuses the word with even MORE power in the event the wrong person should say it isn’t lost on me.

I don’t like what society’s almost reverent circumvention of this word says about us.  While it’s sure to cause fainting spells, an epidemic of the vapors, and, in some quarters, OUTRAGE!!!111!!!Eleventy!! of the finest water, I find the general deference and genuflection to be paternalistic, and condescending to those that these linguistic gymnastics are supposed to “protect”.  And on the other hand, I find those who are quickest to express their OUTRAGE!!!11!! do so not out of and deep and abiding wound to their very existence, but because it gives them power.

And so I have been watching the discussions this week regarding the NFL’s proposal to punish the utterance of “the N-Word” with a penalty and a loss of yardage with some amusement.  After all, everyone knows that the problem isn’t because the word is uttered by evil white racists, but because black players toss it around with impunity.  So when communications major and Seattle Cornerback Richard Sherman spoke his mind on the proposal, I paid it some attention.

“It’s an atrocious idea,” Sherman, theSeattle Seahawks‘ star cornerback, told the website. “It’s almost racist to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”

Now I’m just spitballing here, but I think it’s a safe bet that Sherm would be bristling with objections if a white player said it, which means that I have to ask, “Why is it racist if HE can’t say it?”  Seriously.   Language belongs to everyone, or it belongs to no one.  And if we accept the premise that the wrong person uttering a specific word is an unforgivable sin that justifies outrage, the end of the speaker’s career, and the expectation of a public penance that must be done regardless of the fact that the offender will ALWAYS be remembered for it, while at the same time those who are “injured” by it are unharmed by their own reckless abandon in using this same dreaded word with each other, then we are selling ourselves short.

The reaction to THIS word, more than any other, causes an almost reflexive response in people, and I think this has contributed more to the concept of Political Correctness than any other thing that a person can say.  Once gasps and winces (or sputtering indignance)  became the expected reaction to this word, it threw the door open to every other abuse perpetrated with the underlying intent of stifling or preventing discourse.

I know this goes against the conventional wisdom, which says that we make a more civil society by making this word taboo for some, and that it should be aggressively enforced, to the degree that those who can’t say it MUST condemn others who can’t say it, but do, but this approach PERPETUATES racism.  It makes it ok for white people to assume that black people cannot deal with hearing a WORD.  Spare me the drama about all the “baggage” and “connotations” that come with it.  I’m not buying it.  If you let a WORD hold you back, if you let a WORD define you, and your potential and your worth, then it is YOU who is empowering the one who speaks it.  It is YOU who is giving your consent to have your dignity taken from you.  But the fact is, in America today, it allows the recipient a tremendous degree of power as well.  If you can’t defend your positions, invoke racism.  If someone expresses a view you don’t like, invoke racism.  If someone opposes what you have to say, invoke racism.  If you want to deflect attention from something, invoke racism.

As long as we persist in this madness, the “honest conversation” that Eric Holder chided us about simply isn’t possible…but then, he knew that.

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Unbelievable! When you don’t have a narrow mind I guess you don’t think that way! – an old friend on Facebook, in posting a link to an occupydemocrats.com piece titled “Watch the Coca-Cola Ad that is Driving Conservative Xenophobes Nuts.”

I know that I have stated it before, but one of the single most pernicious lies about Attorney General Holder’s “Nation of Cowards” accusation is the implied belief that Americans will permit an honest discussion about anything.  Deflection and dissembling have been elevated to an art form for those with responsibility who refuse to take any for their failures.  That’s the reason why we still don’t know what President Obama was doing when he wasn’t doing anything to help Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the security detail that was denied aid.  It’s the reason why we can follow the trail of the “non-story” of IRS abuses from the former IRS official who was so convinced that the scandal isn’t a scandal that she pleaded the Fifth before Congress, to the White House, where the person in charge can apparently hire people who can act completely on their own, without any responsibility being taken for those actions by those that did the hiring.  Well, that and racism…because no one would have the temerity to ask such questions of a white President.

I can’t help but to be both alarmed and exasperated in a climate where people can “rule”, but not be responsible for what happens on their watch, and where “tolerance” is repeatedly preached by those who have none for those who disagree with them, and believe that their offense at an opposing viewpoint permits them to discredit the offending opinion by denunciation.  And even that isn’t enough, if the opposing opinion is uttered by a public figure.  Punishment becomes the order of the day, with threats of boycotts and attempts to get the offender fired, like in the case of Phil Robertson.  (With an almost reckless disregard for the fact that Dan Savage is still considered an expert on bullying, not because of his deft prowess and considerable skill at practicing it, but because he is against it…for some people.)

As disappointing as this state of affairs is, it shouldn’t be too unexpected.  After all, we have United States Supreme Court Justices engaging in the same kind of behavior from the bench.
(Justice Kennedy in Windsor v. United States, at pg 20 “The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group.”)

Justice Scalia rightly noted what had occurred with this statement, and made this clear in his dissent.

The majority concludes that the only motive for this Act was the “bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” Ante, at 20. Bear in mind that the object of this condemnation is not the legislature of some once-Confederate Southern state (familiar objects of the Court’s scorn, see, e.g.Edwards v. Aguillard482 U. S. 578 (1987) ), but our respected coordinate branches, the Congress and Presidency of the United States. Laying such a charge against them should require the most extraordinary evidence, and I would have thought that every attempt would be made to indulge a more anodyne explanation for the statute. The majority does the opposite—affirmatively concealing from the reader the arguments that exist in justification. It makes only a passing mention of the “arguments put forward” by the Act’s defenders, and does not even trouble to paraphrase or describe them. See ante, at 21. I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them. [Emphasis Mine]


And so this is where we find ourselves.  Opposition to gay marriage is unquestionably the result of hatred or homophobia.  No other rational explanation exists.  Opposition to the President and his policies is because of racism.  No other rational explanation exists.

And when you disagree with a commercial that takes a lyrical celebration of America, and morphs it into a multi-cultural reinterpretation in the languages of other nations, it’s because you’re a xenophobe.  It can’t be that you see it as yet another assault on the ties that make e pluribus unum.  It can’t be that you understand that language shapes thoughts and perceptions, and become the lens through which understanding is formed.  It can’t be because you aren’t convinced pressing “1” for English has been an option that has helped immigrants think of themselves as Americans first, and hyphens a distant second.

No.  Instead, you’re either afraid of the “feriners”, or filled with hatred of them.  Or there is something wrong with your cognitive abilities.   No valid reason for objection exists.  Because those with opposite views just know this to be true.

I could ask “What is the value of freedom of expression when those that tout the “correct” viewpoints won’t defend them and instead shout down those who oppose them?”, but it might mean more when those touting today’s “correct” viewpoints find they have reason to ask the same question tomorrow, or next week, or next month…

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No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get away from the legalized marijuana issues.

I was talking with an acquaintance this week about idiocy of Washington’s tax scheme for legalized marijuana.  He’s a numbers guy and is well-versed in tax bureaucracies, and their miraculously functional illogic.  We had started out by discussing how the measure was sold in this state, which focused almost exclusively on “new tax revenue” and “being able to focus law enforcement on other matters other than marijuana-related offenses”.  (I’ve lived in this state for 13 years, and I can say I was aware of any great law enforcement push to enforce the laws when it comes to marijuana.  But then, that may be influenced by the fact that police departments pass out munchies to those openly defying the law, so there’s that…)  It also flies in the face of data which is pretty clear that we don’t have an epidemic of incarceration solely because of marijuana possession and use.

The dual-mindedness of the people in this state on this issue simply boggles the mind.  The state has undergone a crusade against smoking in which some counties decided that bad second-hand smoke studies were a good basis for banning smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants specifically set up to cater to smoking customers, and the state legislature followed shortly after with a ban on smoking in all public places, including within 25 feet of any doorway.  This was followed by local authorities moving to ban people from smoking in their own residences if they live in public housing.  The legislature, not to be out done, came back with a proposal to ban smoking in an automobile if there are children present.  And yet these very same tyrant wannabes needed a drool rag to wipe up after their tax lust.  I have yet to hear how all but banning the smoking of tobacco products can be an imperative for public health, and yet pot smoking doesn’t create some of the very same harms we’re preventing with the anti-smoking crusade.  The utter dishonesty of it sickens me.  Putting aside the addiction issue.  Putting aside the evidence (yes, I know that the studies are mixed) regarding how much longer marijuana impairs you than alcohol does, I defy anyone in the public health community to tell me that smoking tobacco is a public health threat that requires increasing restrictions on liberty, but that lighting up a joint is something that the government should be cool with.  But then, if there was any honesty, it would require an admission that the government is ok with harm to its citizens, as long as it is getting paid.

But then the police being able to concentrate on “other offenses” is really a poor argument too.  It isn’t an accident that as part of the move to legalize recreational marijuana use, the state legislature had to set limits for legal impairment for drivers with regard to their use of marijuana…meaning that they knew what everyone knew, and didn’t want to discuss.  That as with alcohol, there would be people who would not be able to stop themselves from using, and driving, and that like with alcohol, people would be harmed as a result.

And now, in the fashion we have come to expect in this country, it appears that even toking up isn’t immune to forces of entitlement and the playing of race cards, as this story in The Root demonstrates.

When I read this story earlier this week, I realized that if the Earth was going to have an extinction-level collision with an asteroid, I’d probably be up on the roof, writing “Hit Here First”.  Just the very idea that white people will get all the good weed is a fair condensed version of everything that is wrong with this country today.   I read the headline, and thought to myself that I would give my last dollar to be able to go back in time, and be right there to respond to Rodney King’s famous question with an emphatic “NO!”

We aren’t even fiddling while Rome burns any more.  We’re sitting in the ashes, and blaming each other because it is too hot.  With stratospheric “real” unemployment numbers, a government addicted to spending what it doesn’t have, and an educational system that would have made Ponzi blanch at its brazenness, people now want to worry that someone might get a better buzz than they did, simply because of their skin color.  And the people who are most worried don’t seem to care that each of those problems with society are magnified in “their communities”…a problem which the community organizer in chief is unable or unwilling to solve, opting instead to use race as a wedge, and pursue redistribution.  But then, smart people realize that the “If a man is hungry, take someone else’s fish at gunpoint and give it to him” is a plan that simply discourages fishing.

Then there is the “WHAT?” factor to the underlying logic.  I grew up next to a large urban center(and went to college in it) that was living under similar economic conditions before Obama and the Democrats took them nationwide.  It didn’t seem to affect the ability of persons of color to obtain Hennessy, Couvoisier, Tanqueray, etc.  In fact, I never once heard a concern uttered about the white people getting all the good booze.  The article suggests that we had to have Obama as President to get us to the point of seriously considering marijuana legalization.  It seems only fair that since he is intent on limiting the economy so that everything but the amounts we spend on his vacations and golf is a finite resource, that someone could now publish a piece about the fear of segregation of pot based on race and NOT do so as a work of satire.

Things like this almost make me want to root for the collapse of our civilization.  But instead, it may prove more profitable for those in power to simply let us fade away in a cloud of smoke and mellowness…as long as someone with a different skin color doesn’t get a better class of weed.  Maybe we could get Philip Morris to come up with a couple of premium blends.  Then we could solve the problem, AND make an evil corporation cool again.

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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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…and our “rulers” should be afraid…very afraid.

Heir No. One is studying the American Revolution in his History class at school, and concluded that John Adams was against suffrage for women.  I know this, because he was telling me about it, which sparked one of those fun conversations.

My wife laughed, thinking that perhaps they were watching the musical 1776 in class, and he extrapolated it from the letters between John and Abigail.   He told us no, that it was a different film and not a musical.

“Dad?  Do you think all the Founders were against women having the vote?”

“Hmmm.  I’m not sure that you are looking at the issue the same way they would have.”

“What do you mean?”

Over his shoulder, I could see that my wife had taken a heightened interest in the conversation, as the combination “Yes, what DO you mean?”  And “Here-there-be-dragons.” look on her face plainly stated.

“Well, for starters, education then wasn’t like today, and in many cases women didn’t go to school as long as some men did.”

I could see my wife’s expression relax just a bit.

“And then, there is the fact that there were an awful lot of men who couldn’t vote, either.”

“Why not?”

“Because in a lot of cases, men could not vote unless they owned property.”

“Why?”

“Because then they had a stake in the outcome.”

“I don’t think that should matter.  I think they should have allowed everyone to vote.  But then, it might just be because I have a compassionate heart.”

“Do you think that it is a good thing for people who can’t read and who don’t know math to vote?  If you can’t read, you can’t educate yourself about issues, or check on what politicians tell you.  You have to take their word for it.  Which means that they can lie to you, and you won’t be able to figure it out.”

“Oh…”

[Her] “This is why we keep telling you that math matters.”

“And what do you think happens when people who have less money than you do, or don’t own property, but want things from the government vote?”

“They tell government to take it from you and give it to them?”

“Exactly.  And do you think the fact that they don’t own what you own and are being taxed on, and may never own it, makes it easier or harder for them to vote for government taxing you on it?

“Easier.”

“Yes…because they don’t have “skin in the game”…you might hear the President say that phrase from time to time, but like the little fat guy in “The Princess Bride” who kept saying “INCONCEIVABLE!”, it doesn’t mean what he seems to think it means.  So to answer your question, I don’t believe that the Founders would have been completely opposed to women voting on the basis of them being women, but I think they would have opposed it on the basis of literacy (in some cases) and on the basis of property ownership.”

When he and the rest of his generation figure out how much the welfare state has stolen from them, I don’t think I’d want to be Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or a “Progressive” like Hillary Clinton.

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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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We have illegal immigrant farmworkers going on strike to protest farmers bringing in migrant farmworkers legally:

The striking farm workers, mostly indigenous Mixteco and Trique Mexicans who migrate each year from California, had made repeated demands over wages, working conditions and other issues.

But at the core of their angst is the pending arrival early next month of some 160 guest workers from Mexico to prop up the farm’s existing workforce.

“There’ve been rumblings … (over guest workers) in the past, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said Alberto Isiordia, state monitor advocate for the state Department of Employment Security.

While growers in Eastern Washington have used the federal government’s H-2A program over the last five years to legally bring guest workers into the country, this is the first year Sakuma or any Western Washington fruit grower will use it.

Many of the Sakuma farmworkers — who don’t speak English or Spanish —

say they are in the country unlawfully.[Emphasis Added]

Of course they are. And if you haven’t completely surrendered your ability to think to the rampant idiocy and pro-amnesty nonsense, you’re probably thinking “Why is this a thing? If you’re illegal, the last thing you should be doing is calling attention that fact by protesting over your employer using workers who have been brought in legally. But seeing as our society and our government have been actively undermining the law for some time now, I not only expect people to support these illegal immigrants doing the striking and protesting that Americans just won’t do, I expect that before long, the NLRB will be investigating and going after the farm for not “bargaining in good faith” and “undermining their labor organizing activities”. I sure am glad that in a labor climate where many Americans are unemployed and many more are underemployed, community organizing, and “improving” labor conditions for people who are breaking the law in the first place simply by being here is a priority.

But then, I’ve learned to not count out the native ability to mix stupidity and audaciousness into a big ol’ pot and serve up heaping helpings to the neighbors either. Case in point? Seattle fast food workers demanding “a living wage” for saying “You want fries with that?” and failing to firmly secure the lid on the cutomers’ sodas.

The minimum wage in Washington state is $9.19 per hour. The organization “Good Jobs Seattle” says the strike is part of a nationwide effort to raise the pay for fast food workers to $15 per hour and to give them the right to organize without retaliation.

Now, I’ve heard a few of this group’s spokespersons on the radio, and as someone who has worked from age 15, I get the impression that many of these folks just don’t get it. It’s a cinch that none of them has taken an economics class, or had a lemonade stand as a child. When I hear a 23-year-old whining that she can’t afford an apartment all to herself, and has trouble making ends meet, my first reaction is “And why do you think that fast food is a CAREER?” With the exception of managers, it was never intended to be a career. It was a place for people to learn work skills (especially teenagers) that they could continually build on, and move on to jobs that can and should be careers. But frankly, when I hear them talk about how they would have more money to put into the economy if they made more money, it doesn’t take too long to realize that they have never considered that the prices their employers have to charge in order to pay their wages have limits on their elasticity. Whenever I’m in Seattle, I try to avoid eating in fast food establishments because the prices reflect the already-higher costs of doing business that are imposed upon their employers. If you increase wages (which are already frequently above minimum wage) to $15 an hour, and the Quarter Pounder Meal goes up to $8, it shouldn’t take a rock surgeon to understand that McDonalds is going to sell a lot fewer of them, which in turn means that they will employ fewer people. Yeah, if they get their way, a few of these strikers may get a significant raise. And several more will get pink slips. And that says nothing about what those increases in costs might do to other products and services they buy; it is foolish to believe that all other costs and prices will remain static, especially in a city where the Mayor is silly enough to attack a potential employer, Whole Foods, for not paying its workers enough, when they have consistently been named one of America’s best places to work, and when the bicycle-riding, granola-munching tool in the mayor’s office has failed to calculate all benefits offered to those employees into his dubious calculations to make his assertion.

But stupidity is pernicious. Like rust, it never sleeps. And this morning, I was treated to the story of a ballot initiative in the City of SeaTac (where our major airport this side of the mountains is located) to raise the wages of some workers who work at the airport. One of the people favoring it was a gentleman who works for one of the contractors at the airport that fuels the aircraft. His rationale went like this:
Many of the jobs being performed by contractors and their employees at the airport used to be done directly through the airlines, which, when adjusted for inflation, paid wages about a third higher to the employees doing the work as they do now, and that just isn’t right. The host rightfully discussed deregulation, and the very competitive nature of the business. His guest countered by alleging that he’d “heard” that the airlines still pay the same dollar amount to the contractors to do the work, and that the difference is being held up there. The host went on to point out that if the costs have to be raised, it may drive some of the carriers away from the airport, or make it so expensive that consumers will go elsewhere. The guest than said that he didn’t believe that they would have to raise prices to make up the difference, because “all businesses put money away to deal with emergencies”. The host pointed out that this isn’t a one-time charge, this would be an ongoing increase in expense. They went to a break, and when the host came back, a caller phoned in, and asked how it is a city has the authority to identify certain workers as being worthy of a higher minimum wage than other people. I thought it was a fair question, especially since the idea is being championed by people who seem to think that others can simply make more money out of thin air to pay for them. On the other hand, these people vote, and when you ponder that for a second, some of the things Congress does in terms of spending start to make a perverse sense.

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