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Archive for the ‘Faux Intellectualism’ Category

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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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 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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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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So I got a letter from my friends at the Census Bureau.

Frankly, after my last phone conversation with them, I’m shocked.  But after reading the letter, I’m appalled.  The Census Bureau’s dedication to finding more ways for my government to spend other people’s money buying votes is almost…heroic.  But I’m getting very tired of the idea that I should be an unpaid information gatherer who needs to cheerfully and dutifully provide to them information that can be used to aid identity theft AND target us for more government “dedication”, and that their assurances that our information will be kept confidential and not be misused should be trusted.  In the immortal words of Brother Theo, “I can only assume someone has been spray painting “IDIOT” on my forehead again.”

Dear Resident:

Recently, a U.S. Census Bureau telephone interviewer contacted your household on behalf of the American Community Survey (ACS).  The Census Bureau is conducting this survey under the authority of Title 13, Section 141, 193, 221, of the United States Code, and response to this survey is required by law.  I understand that you have some concerns about participating in this survey, but your household’s participation is important to the success of this survey.

The American Community Survey contains questions about your household characteristics including such topics as education, employment, and housing.  The primary goal of this survey is to provide the information each year about the social, economic, and housing characteristics of the United States.  Your participation helps provide the information needed by your community, county, state, and nation to plan and fund programs at all levels.  The ACS will provide detailed information updated every year.  Before the ACS, such information was only available from the census which is done every 10 years.

We want to emphasize that any information that you give to our interviewer will be kept confidential.  By law, the Census Bureau cannot publish or release to anyone any information that would identify you or your household (Title 13, Section 9).  The information you can provide can be used only for statistical purposes.

We hope that you participate in this survey to help us improve the information that you and others provide about your community.  If you have any questions, call us at 1-888-817-2153.  We will be pleased to help you.

Sincerely,

James B. Treat

Chief, American Community Survey Office

Let’s brake it down, shall we?

Dear Resident:

Recently, a U.S. Census Bureau telephone interviewer contacted your household on behalf of the American Community Survey (ACS).

More than one, actually.  I made the mistake of being polite to the first one.  As the second one learned, I am not amused by unwarranted intrusions on my privacy and my time.

The Census Bureau is conducting this survey under the authority of Title 12, Section 141193221, of the United States Code, and response to this survey is required by law.  I understand that you have some concerns about participating in this survey, but your household’s participation is important to the success of this survey.

1.  I’m tired of the passive-aggressive bullshit.  Seriously, you set the wrong tone sending an attorney a fat envelope with the words “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW” on the outside.  And the “Pretty please, participate please?” offered in the same sentence as a reminder that my response is required by law isn’t convincing, it is embarrassing, as I try to keep from laughing out loud at this hamfisted approach.  Knock it off.

2.  I have a law degree.  Continuing to tell me that 13 USC 141, 193, and 221 “gives you the authority” to seize my time, and make me an unpaid gatherer of information that you have no authority to demand of me isn’t very convincing.   You are empowered to ask questions that would tend to aid in the apportionment of Congressional representation.  Nowhere in the three sections you cite are you granted authority to ask me about my education level, my employer, my wages, my commute, my residence and the amenities in it, or the health of the people who live under my roof.  These have as much to do with Congressional apportionment as a goldfish has to do with a delivery truck, and even if the authority to ask such things was clearly spelled out, which it is not, I’m not some vassal or serf to be bullied into coughing up my papers, and letting you know what goes on behind my closed doors simply because Congress wants to know.  Perhaps you have heard of the penumbras and emminations of privacy rights in the Constitution, at least those not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights?  If “privacy” means enough that a woman can hire a doctor to snuff her child in utero, then it certainly would permit me to tell a nosy government that still works for me to go pound sand when it starts asking me to spend significant amounts of my time sharing information with it which is none of its business.

3.  I don’t “have some concerns about participating in this survey” (did you learn condescension on our dime as well?) ; I DON’T TRUST YOU.  I read the pretty pamphlet you included with the survey, which outlined how your employees are prohibited by law from disclosing or misusing my confidential information.  It might have even been reassuring, had I not been paying attention to recent news, but given the fact that the IRS is subject to laws and regulations more specific and strict regarding the treatment of citizens’ personal data, and the late revelations demonstrating that IRS employees weren’t deterred one whit by these laws and regulations, you’ll just have to understand that we both know I’d have to be three days dead to trust your agency with that data.  No thank you.

The American Community Survey contains questions about your household characteristics including such topics as education, employment, and housing.  The primary goal of this survey is to provide the information each year about the social, economic, and housing characteristics of the United States.  Your participation helps provide the information needed by your community, county, state, and nation to plan and fund programs at all levels.  The ACS will provide detailed information updated every year.  Before the ACS, such information was only available from the census which is done every 10 years.

1.  Those household characteristics are as related to the topic of the census as a goldfish is related to a delivery truck.

2.  So, as I correctly discerned from the outset, the purpose of this survey is to get information that will allow our elected officials to go shopping with our money and buy votes.

3.  Every year?  I definitely didn’t see the authority to conduct a survey annually in 13 USC 141.  In fact, it was very specific about surveys in addition to the decennial census, but it did NOT authorize the taking of a survey annually.

We want to emphasize that any information that you give to our interviewer will be kept confidential.  By law, the Census Bureau cannot publish or release to anyone any information that would identify you or your household (Title 13, Section 9).  The information you can provide can be used only for statistical purposes.

I want to emphasize that I don’t trust you, no one with three functioning brain cells has any reason to trust you, and you are asking for information that is none of your business.  If I can’t be forced to quarter troops in my home, then I can’t be compelled to reveal to a Census Bureau employee information about amenities in it, or the people who live in it.  And I do not appreciate the presumption that my free time is yours to hijack for purposes of me reporting on myself and my family so that Congress can go on a vote-buying shopping trip with even more of other people’s money.  I realize that you think that the 40 minutes you estimated would be necessary for me to fill out your survey was an innocuous demand on my time.  But you’re only one of many agencies which think that they are making innocent and de minimus demands on my time.  And it is starting to add up.

The fact is that I am citizen of a nation founded on the unique recognition of the rights of the individual…a concept we felt so strongly about that we drafted a Bill of Rights to ensure that the power of government would be limited and subservient to the individual.  This hasn’t been revoked, nor have these rights been surrendered…a fact that many federal employees and elected officials are on the cusp of being very deliberately and unpleasantly reminded of.

The law you cite doesn’t give you the authority to ask the questions you have asked, and even if it did, it is an unwarranted and intrusive invasion of my privacy.  I answered the only questions that the statute can be reasonably said to allow, and they are the only ones I have any intention of answering.  Your time might be better served harassing someone who doesn’t understand the difference between a citizen and a subject.

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Apparently, the sequester hasn’t affected the Census Bureau, because they CONTINUE to call my home.

Last night, to their bad fortune, they did so when I was actually here.
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I got another call from the Census Bureau last night.

It didn’t even register with the flunky attempting to intimidate me into giving them a host of information that is none of their business that telling me “Congress passed a law giving us the authority to collect data for them.” wouldn’t even be the slightest bit convincing to an attorney who has read the relevant sections of 13 USC and can’t find ANY authority for the scope of the questions they were asking, and she got very upset when I told her that they need to quit calling my home, as it is starting to border on harrassment.

Fed Flunky: Sir, if you do not answer the questions, I’ll have to make you as a “refusal”.

Me: You can mark me as a refusal, but that would not be true. The law says I can be fined if I willfully refuse to fill out any portion of the survey. I filled out the first page, and then wrote “None of your damn business” on the remaning 35 pages. Therefore I didn’t fail to fill out any portion of the survey, only the parts that are none of your business. Besides, I’d be seventeen different kinds of idiot to give you that information considering the federal government’s recent treack record with confidential data.

Fed Flunky: Sir, THAT’S not what the law means.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware I was speaking to another attorney. It must suck having to work a Friday evening for minimum wage.

Fed Flunky: If you have a law degree, you can defend yourself at the hearing.

Me: Is that supposed to scare me?

*click*

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If we can pay for this kind of idiotic pursuit of American citizens, and NOT enforce current immigration law, and not allow the government to perform the functions that it is SUPPOSED to be doing, like training for military units, then this government’s legitimacy should be loudly and frequently questioned.  Daily.

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