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Archive for the ‘"It burrrrrrnnnnsssssss!"’ 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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For a while now, some conservative pundits and individuals have portrayed our current political predicament as being akin to the “zombie apocalypse”.  It is an easy comparison to make, and it isn’t even a new one, as demonstrated by our friend, Packy East, in this clip:

But ask I drove to work this morning, listing to a discussion about the ridiculous and costly nature of public sector unions, and how government, led by the EPA, was standing in the way of what should be a very simple infrastructure improvement that would allow American businesses to remain competitive moving forward into the 21st Century, and this story about the Bureau of Land Management harassing a rancher in southern Nevada, I realized that the zombie analogy wasn’t entirely accurate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the zombies are still out there, shuffling along, and multiplying quickly, but I realized this morning that there is a better analogy of the relationship between our government and its citizens:

facehugger

I trust no further explanation is necessary.

Those who are paying attention will get it.

Those accustomed to stupid government tricks will get it.

The zombies will engage in ad hominems to prevent others from getting it.

The grievance pimps will take to their fainting couches with wicked, crippling cases of the vapors.

And it will still be true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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First, from the snoops who have announced themselves and expect me to help them:

I got a call from an employee of the Department of Commerce this evening, who was calling regarding their intrusive survey that they generously provided a shotgun invitation to.  She confirmed the phone number and address, and wanted to speak to the man or lady of the home.  I advised her that she was speaking to the man of the home, but that I had NO intention of answering their survey.  She asked me why that was.

I informed her that it was because their intrusive questions include ones that a prospective employer could not ask me, that some of them would be in violation of HIPPA laws if my doctor revealed the answers, and because some of them asked sensitive information that could be used to my detriment by identity thieves.  She started to say something, and I cut her off, saying, “Don’t try to tell me about how the information is “confidential” and would never be misused.  The revelations coming out of Washington D.C. over the last couple weeks are enough to dissuade me from ever believing that.

She said that she understood that some of the questions could be construed as personal, and that I could always decline to answer specific questions on that basis.  I responded by telling her that it wasn’t just about the questions being intrusive, but that they had clearly exceeded the statutory grant of authority which they felt empowered them to ask the questions in the first place.  Her response was that she understood, but it was Congress that gave them that authority so it could get the answers to those questions.  I told her that I didn’t doubt that they wanted the answers; no doubt they could be used to buy a lot of votes with taxpayer money.  She responded again that it was Congress who wrote the law.  I responded by telling her she just didn’t get it.  “I’m an attorney.  I’ve read the law that your agency relies on as its authority to ask me these questions.  The scope and the nature of these questions clearly exceed that.  It isn’t even a question.  You can’t blame that on Congress, they aren’t the ones sending the surveys and threatening me if I don’t play along.”  She assured me that it was not her agency’s intention to make anyone feel threatened.  I looked at the envelope with its bold-lined box on the front stating in bold all capital letters “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW”, and mentally uttered thanks that she had cleared that up.  I again repeated that the questions exceeded their authority. 

She responded, “I can certainly see your point.  But the fact is that Congress is who decided that they wanted the answers to these questions before the next decennial census, and that’s why they wrote the law.” For a second, I mulled over asking her how it is that Congress could decide that they could require a census more often than the decennial measure set forth in Article I, Section 2* of the Constitution without an AMENDMENT permitting them to do so, and then decided against it, since she clearly wasn’t equipped to have that discussion. 

She then suggested that I do the online survey, and simply refuse to answer the questions I felt were too personal.  I asked her who was going to pay me to do it.  She laughed.  I said “I’m serious.  I bill out at $200.00 an hour, and I don’t appreciate my government thinking that it has the right to essentially directly stick me with an unfunded mandate requiring me to give it an hour of my time I’ll never get back for something no reasonable person who believes in limited government would have any intention of participating with in the first place.”  She was almost at the point of pleading me to just fill out the survey, even if I only answered one question, and again invited me to do it online.  I told her that I would think about it, but if I do, I’m filling out the paper survey, and sending a letter that they won’t like very much with it.  She laughed and told me that they always welcome opinions.  I advised her that I’ll fix that, and she just laughed again before saying good night and hanging up.

…which brings me to the snoops who don’t announce themselves, and apparently have the ability to read every word I type online…

I kicked myself after hanging up for not saying that the survey was redundant, given the revelations today about PRISM.  I mean, why bother asking me when the NSA can (and probably does) monitor everything I do online.  I know, they want me to believe that the information would never be misused or illegally shared with other parties, but let’s be honest:

What’s stopping them from misusing or abusing the data that they never should have had in the first place?   

We all know the answer to that question. 

Nothing. 

 Which is why the data will flow to whoever finds it politically useful.  It isn’t like this Administration has any interest in actually going after real terrorists…the ones who actually kill people, and hate America, not the average Americans alarmed and enraged by the excesses, lawlessness, and tyrannies enjoyed by the Federal government, who it pretends are the terrorists.  After all, its ok if a few flunkies are sacrificed to quench the rage of the taxpayers.  It’s a very small price to pay for keeping the right people in power, and those who oppose them struggling to get a government boot off of their necks.  It provides the illusion of accountability without ever putting any of our self-appointed betters in any real jeopardy of having to answer to us.

From the Slate story on PRISM:

The Washington Post disclosed Thursday that it had obtained classified PowerPoint slides detailing the program, codenamed PRISM, from a career intelligence officer who felt “horror” over its privacy-invading capabilities. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the source told the newspaper.

Participating in the PRISM program, according to a selection of the leaked slides, are Internet titans including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. It was established in 2007 and is used by NSA analysts to spy on Internet communications as part of the agency’s foreign intelligence-gathering work. The analysts use PRISM by keying in search terms supposedly designed to “produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s ‘foreignness’.” However, the Post notes, training materials for the program instruct new analysts to submit “accidentally collected” U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”

According to the Post, the system enables NSA spies to monitor Google’s Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), photo libraries, and live surveillance of searches. If agents believe a target is engaged in “terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation,” they can use the spy system to exploit Facebook’s “extensive search and surveillance capabilities.  And PRISM can monitor Skype, the Post notes, “when one end of the call is a conventional telephone and for any combination of ‘audio, video, chat, and file transfers’ when Skype users connect by computer alone.” In order to receive immunity from lawsuits, the participating companies are obliged to accept a directive from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to “open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA.”

Sure, sure.  That sounds like something that would never, ever, ever be abused by the federal government.  Especially under this Administration.  Just ask James Rosen or his parents.  Or the Tea Party groups whose First Amendment rights were treated by the IRS with all the care and concern one might give to a used kleenex.
Had Enough Yet?

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Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

[The underlined portion was modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment; the rest has never been altered by Amendment.]

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MeggieMac is upset with the Republican Party.

I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting for change from inside the Republican Party.

So the person who said “Age is just a number” was correct.  Another refugee from nuance, apparently, as she fails to distinguish between a legal distinction, and a figurative one.

We Republicans need to look at the future instead of living in the past.

Oh, we’re looking at the future.  And we see a place completely disconnected from the heritage and birthright of Americans.  Seriously, if the brightest lights of the Constitutional era could see us now, most of them would be angry or weeping at what we’ve done with it.  And then there would be a few, like Robert Yates, and Patrick Henry, who would be shaking their heads and saying ” I told you so.”
Maybe if you understood these things, and could then incorporate it into your opinion in a serious attempt to persuade, rather than berate me, I might take you seriously.  But then, if you actually understood these things, then you might not say the silly things you do to begin with.

We have to learn from what the last two presidential elections have taught us.

I agree.  The dumbing down of the population over a period of decades has made it quite easy to lead a slim majority by the nose into following people who tell you that your misfortune is the result of other people’s success, and that others aren’t “paying their fair share”.  The lesson is that we have to educate people.  And we have to be creative about it, because there are really good ways to make the salient points to people, even when they don’t want to listen.  We also have to challenge them.  There are a lot of people who can tell you that Romney was “GAFFE-TASTIC!!!11!!!”, but it is a little bit more difficult for them if you ask them for an example, and even MORE difficult if they can come up with an example, and you give some context, and ask them if they feel the same way.  The easy answer is…well…easy.  But at the same time, it doesn’t give much cover if you’re actually asked to defend your opinion.  And yet, I’m sure that this has NOTHING to do with MeggieMac’s deep and insightful analysis.

We must accept each other and the different opinions within the party instead of trying to cannibalize people that diverge from an arbitrary purity test.

Except that Republicans aren’t the ones who are obsessed with identity politics.  We don’t divide the electorate up by genitalia, race, ethnicity, and then pander to each of these groups while at the same time telling them that the only way they can achieve their goals is with OUR help once we’re in office.  You might consider that.  It’s why we had so many varied speakers at the convention.  Do try to keep up, dear.

I refuse to let the extremists win. We can’t let the Tea Party bully us any longer.

So much for accepting diverse opinions.  I guess its difficult to fathom your own tyrannical tendencies from behind the redwood in your own eye, right Meggie?

We can’t keep worrying about ultraconservative white male voters.

How about we worry about families, and government’s increasing intrusion into them, either through “Life of Julia” style programs that make Uncle Sam the father and the husband, or policies that cheapen life, and make its value correspond to the value a given person has to the state?  Or regulations that strangle the economy, and make it much more difficult for families to rely on themselves for their sustenance?

At the end of the day, I still believe I’m on the right side of history, and we can’t let this party sink away.

At the end of the day, it is invariably someone completely lacking in perspective and a good intellectual foundation to help them to meaningfully interpret the world around them that round out their remarks with the cliche “at the end of the day.”   As for “believing you are right”, I’m still waiting for you to say anything that has some substance.  Being the daughter of a Senator might open some doors that would be closed to other people of your advanced years and experience, but it might be refreshing to actually hear you advocate for something in a manner that sounds like something more than a slightly more erudite version of “I think it’s a good idea, and my opinion matters because I am my Daddy’s daughter, and if you don’t agree, you’re a poophead” some other negative classification.

We can and we must evolve.

Now, again, you make my point for me.  You obviously think that it is smart and persuasive to speak to me of “evolving”, without any understanding of why it is that is the least persuasive thing you can say to me.  You think you’re invoking science and reason, and if we were discussing this in person, it might never occur to you that I actually know more and be better able to explain to you the facts of the science of that word, and it is precisely for that reason that people like me see the water wings on your arms as you wave from the shallow end of the intellectual pool.

I don’t know exactly how yet, but I for one am ready to spend the next four years helping us get there.

Until you can articulate why the Republican Party is not, and has never been what the media and its window-licking followers keep insisting it is, I’d think I’d really rather you just worked on fundraisers for your Dad, and stayed out of it.

And if we don’t move forward, adapt, and become relevant again, the Republican Party isn’t going to survive.

Ah, yes.  The death of the Republican Party.  If you knew the history you keep trying to disparage, you’d have to come to grips with the fact that it has been predicted since Watergate.

It will just continue to alienate more moderate voters like myself.

“Moderate” the way you use it simply means “not really willing to accept a real distinction; upset over the Ecru candidate because you really believe that it was Eggshell’s year”.

If I don’t see some changes in the next four years, I’m going to consider registering as an Independent in 2016.

Really?  Because after a few years of your inane ramblings, I’m quite certain that the Democrat Party is your ideological home.  But then, I forget that you are your Mother’s daughter, and surely know there is more money to be made by being a celebrity “Republican” who can be relied upon to agree with all the right people in the media than it would to declare yourself just another celebrity with Democrat leanings.

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