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Archive for the ‘The People’s Republik of Washingtonistan’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok…” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What a great week.

We get a Supreme Court ruling on DOMA that WILL be used to attack the exercise of the First Amendment in a “historic” and “unprecedented” way, thanks to a remarkably intemperate ruling written by Justice Kennedy, who decided in his ruling in the DOMA case (United States v. Windsor) that the only purpose in opposing same-sex marriage MUST be malicious, which will be used against churches and religious organizations by a cabal of Christian Derangement Syndrome sufferers and the pink swastika wearing rainbow warriors of “tolerance”. Not content with this decision, the court also issued a ruling on the Prop 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry), in which the court came to the rather curious conclusion that you can have standing to be sued, but not have standing to defend against a suit. Such legal alchemy is no longer shocking to me, but the bigger implication of this suit is far more stunning. The net effect of this ruling is that the people of a state can use the initiative process to make laws that their elected officials WON’T, and if their governor and their attorney general refuse to defend against legal challenges, then the proponents of the initiative don’t have standing to defend against those same legal challenges. The silence from the usual defenders of “democracy” is disappointing, but predictable.

After the ruling was released, I was sure I heard the sound of hands rubbing together in Olympia, as the Governor and the Democrats in Olympia are making plans for the next session when the Senate can’t stop them, and they can tax to their grubby little hearts’ content, and then fail to defend a trumped-up lawsuit against an initiative telling them “No.” It will be even less trouble than having the courts do them a solid on overturning our $30.00 license tabs…again, and again, and again.

Then we have the “Tale of Two Apologies”. The first is Paula Deen, a southern cook, with a show on the Food Network and various franchises and a pending cookbook, who admitted in a deposition to having used a racist slur 30 years ago, driving the grievance pimp and race hustling industry into overdrive. Within a week, she lost her show, every business relationship she had, and her publisher dumped her on the cusp of publishing her latest cookbook, despite having given an unnecessary apology for the sin of saying a word frequently used and glorified by members of the supposedly aggrieved class. Incidents like this, and the now infamous Imus incident are proof that Eric Holder was right about us being unable to have an honest conversation about race in this country. When words are only off-limits to one class of persons, and the ones who aren’t restricted are allowed to destroy the careers of those restricted class if they admit to uttering “Voldemort” in the distant past, no honest conversation about race is possible. But at least Jesse Jackson got a few extra moments in the limelight when he offered to help Deen with her “rehabilitation”, so at least his lucrative franchise preserving this perverse status quo will be maintained.

On the other hand, we have Noted Thoughtless Pig, Alec Baldwin, once again launching himself on a gay-slur (I refuse to say “homophobic”, as it would indicate fear, and given what he said, I don’t think he fears gays, I think he holds them in contempt) laden Twitter tirade against a Guardian reporter who made some unflattering allegations about Baldwin’s wife’s behavior at James Gandolfini’s funeral. This isn’t the first time that Baldwin’s Tweeting thumbs have caused him trouble, as he’s tweeted racist slurs before. However, unlike Deen, who said “Voldemort” 30 years ago, when I last checked, Baldwin still had a cushy gig with Capital One, and hasn’t been fired by any of his other employers. While Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan noted the apparent lack of outrage for Baldwin’s rhetorical diarrhea, he seems largely to have gotten a pass, despite the apology which makes claims that are incongruous with his tweets.

I’m not in favor of people having their lives and careers ruined over things they say. That doesn’t mean I’m adverse to speaking out when I think what they say is wrong, dangerous, stupid, etc. I do think that DEMANDING that people being cut off from their means of making a living because they said something that offended someone smacks just a little too much of thought policing for me to be comfortable with. It’s one thing to have no truck with people who offend you (or those who employ them), but it’s quite another to have the expectation that others must share your outrage, and participate in a particularly brutal (and arbitrary) form of collective punishment, which is to be arbitrarily and selectively applied by those who set themselves up as the judge and jury of such socially criminal acts. My contempt is reserved for the deciders who pretend to be guided by such principles as “civility” and a cockeyed notion of “fairness” that only they can mystically discern, according to a subjective standard that we mere mortals are terminally incapable of recognizing, let alone grokking. This contempt is also reserved for the mindless numbers who surrender their own discernment with nary a taxed brain cell to these morally bankrupt clods who have usurped an authority that they prove themselves too hypocritical to objectively wield when they allow such a disparity of outcome in two such similar public faux pas. I could be crass, and suggest that the lesson here is the same one more artfully demonstrated by George Orwell so many years ago in the classic “Animal Farm”, when he observed that “Some animals are more equal than others.”, a concept that seems to have escaped (I hate myself for even using this terminology) “the gay community”, which has struggled so long to enact a dubious and dishonest notion of “equality”, and was given a major victory in this campaign this week by the courts. Instead, I will say that an apology IS owed to someone, and in the great progressive tradition of claiming authority not conferred upon me, I will speak for America when I say:

“I am sorry, Paula Deen. I’m sorry that you believed in the notion of a “post-racial America”, uttered by a President that you voted for, when what he, and many in his party meant was a “Reverse-racial America”, where only white people can be racist, and any excuse to render such a verdict and execute sentence will be pursued by our “betters” in the media, and where your celebrity won’t be enough to protect you, since you failed to write checks to the “right” interest groups. Welcome to Bizzaro World.”

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Some things I have learned to simply accept, if not with good humor, then at least without comment. As an attorney, I often receive (unsolicited) the glossy “brag books” in which a bunch of Seattle and Bellevue attorneys call themselves “Super Lawyers”, or publications like this one, intended to create confidence that if you have the negligence/personal injury/product liability case in which you don’t have confidence to properly handle yourself, referral to their firm would be a great thing for your client.

These things usually clutter up my mailbox, and I confess to rarely giving them a second look, but in this case, I did…for obvious reasons. And I found myself very angry because of it.

For better or worse, members of my tribe are viewed as authorities on the subjects we speak on. It’s one of the reasons I try to make damn sure I know what I’m talking about before I attempt to “speak with authority” on any matter. In the case of this article, I’m not sure if it was a lapse in judgement, someone else wrote the piece, or if the author was just careless, but the assertion that all of the recent mass shootings all involved automatic weapons is false, largely because of existing infringements that make it very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming for law-abiding citizens to obtain automatic weapons.  (As we all know, criminals don’t care.)

It only took me 15 minutes with a search engine to confirm what I already knew: NONE of the named shootings were perpetrated with automatic weapons. All involved semi-automatic weapons, and some also included other firearms, such as a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, and a Remington shotgun. (links to news stories below)

Cafe Racer

Sikh Temple

Tucson

Aurora

Newtown

Forza Coffee… (In fact, the shootings at Forza Coffee were done with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver.  The shooter didn’t have even a semi-automatic until he stole one of his victims’ Glock 17, according to this article)

Advocating to restrict, infringe, or eliminate a right is a serious business. This is more serious when that right is Constitutionally protected, as that protection is in the form of a guarantee of a right, because that guarantee is a recognition of the fact that the right exists independent of any action of government. Explained differently, this means that the right is not a privilege, which government may curtail, limit, or eliminate at its pleasure.

Advocating to infringe or restrict that right becomes all the more egregious when the text of the guarantee contains a prohibition on any infringement by government. This offense is compounded when incorrect “facts” are relied upon in the argument that suggests that “something must be done”.

Also conveniently omitted from the piece is the fact that gun control laws would have done little, if anything, to prevent these shootings.  And considering the relatively low number of deaths due to firearms in this country when compared to other causes, the burden for making the case becomes harder, not easier, when you talk about increasing government’s infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.  Frankly, the only way any such discussion should be entertained is through the only process by which such measures can be legitimately obtained: AMENDMENT.  And if such a proposal should be seriously made, I would welcome the discussion about the distinction between rights and privileges, and would no doubt be entertained and annoyed at the inevitable suggestion that man’s rights should be subject to the approval of government, as I, and others like me would labor ceaselessly to ensure that all who are paying attention are brought face-to-face with the stark realization of what such an idea means to the relationship between government and citizens, and the abandonment of the fundamental ideas that are the basis of this nation and its organic law.

If it was a mistake, it should be admitted as such.  If it was deliberate, then it is dishonest, and not worthy of the man who made the statement or the profession the author and I both share.

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Two weeks ago, I was reading on a professional list serv hosted through the state bar association about a new case that applied Washington’s Consumer Protection Act in a manner in which it had not been applied before, that would be useful to elder law practitioners state-wide.  About a day later, one of the older attorneys on the list serv (I’m in my 40s) posted a comment about our shameful treatment of the “greatest generation”, and how awful it is that they have to become paupers before the can make the rest of us pay for their nursing home/end-of-life care, and how they can’t leave their wealth to their kids and grandkids like we promised them in our “contract” with them, and carrying on about the immorality of it, and how awful it was that we were now contemplating cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs put in place in the sixties.

I was gobsmacked.  Here was an officer of the court, someone who is supposed to understand the law, and to think logically, proposing that it was immoral to expect people to pay for their own care if they had the means to do so, and suggesting that they had every right to pass their accumulated wealth on to their kids and grandkids, and make the peers of those kids and grandkids pay for their care.  As one of the people stuck with the bill according to this plan, and as someone with children whose own expectations are considerably diminished by this kind of thinking, I was angry.  As a practitioner, who can clearly see that the logic of this doesn’t work anyway, because those kids and grandkids will still be paying for the care of grandpa and grandma’s peers, I was livid.  I had to ask about the morality of presuming that this was owed to anyone, and how the mortgaging of future generations was in anyway a moral way to pay for it.  I then went on to ask how it was that the federal government had the lawful authority to engage in such largesse to begin with. 

To my relief, there were a few responses that were supportive of this view.  There were a few older members who, to their discredit, avoided the question of legal authority, and instead, somewhat condescendingly, waxed poetic about the views they held when they were “the masters of the world” back in the sixties, when they tried to change the world for the better.  I have been guilty in the past of joking about aging hippies behaving badly when discussing certain people in politics, but I had never seen generational hubris so baldly manifested.

Finally, a lawyer took up my question of the legal authority for the federal government’s largesse in this matter.  She assured me that it was found in the general welfare clause…of the preamble of the Constitution (and not in Article I, Section 8!).  I pointed out to her that it was her own unique translation, but Madison, who was one of the principal architects had a very different take which he articulated in the Federalist 41, in part in answer to the Anti-Federalist Brutus, in his paper, VI, in which he warned that its inclusion would lead to men of lesser character in succeeding generations deciding that anything and everything was “general welfare”, to the detriment of society as a whole.

Her response back to me asked “So what do we do in the alternative?”

At this point, I decided to learn more about her.  Among other things, she had been an aide to Senator George Mitchell for a very long time, and had written legislation here in Washington as well.  No doubt, she had been firmly indoctrinated to the idea that there is nothing that the federal government could not and should not do.  Therefore, while I could say “Gee, I dunno.  How about a return to limited government, in which we get its boot off our necks and its hand out of our back pockets?”, I felt reasonably certain that given her belief in the “Good and Plenty Clause” interpretation of the Constitution, it would have simply registered like a whale popping up in front of her, speaking in Russian and Mandarin.  Instead, between the utter disappointment I felt at such a manifest failure to understand our organic law in too many of my fellow lawyers, and the size of my workload, I simply chose to not respond at all, and I simply quit keeping track of the thread.

The head of that state bar section finally commented late this week about the “political” discussion that arose in that thread, and how she had been informed by the state bar that membership in that list serv fell off sharply due to the number of comments and the nature of the opinions discussed, and she asked that the thread be declared “over”, and that such “political” discussions be avoided in the future.

For my part, I didn’t see any reason to continue.  I saw a lot of supposedly intelligent people who are focused on treating symptoms, and who couldn’t be bothered with the idea of actually treating the disease, largely because they refuse to comprehend that there are limits to the compassion that they can engage in with other people’s money.  I’m afraid that we are sailing this ship of state right over the rocks and the falls beyond them, and that too many aboard are in denial about the whitewater ahead.

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As an interesting counterpoint to a United States Attorney General who is reluctant to say that it is unconstitutional to use drones to execute American citizens on American soil, in Olympia, we have a bill before the legislature that proposes to ban the death penalty in the state of Washington, which has drawn some interesting supporters, including former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper

While Norm makes a habit of being wrong about lots of important things, he has a particularly insightful wrong opinion about the death penalty,and he graciously came on John Carlson’s show this morning to share it.

The thrust of Stamper’s position is this:

1.) Expense.  Stamper maintains that the cost to prosecute a death penalty case is approximately a half million dollars higher than a case where the prosecution seeks a life sentence.

2.) Delay.  With the automatic appeals and reviews that occur after a death penalty conviction, it is not unusual for a decade or longer to pass before sentence is finally carried out, and this process adds more expense.

3.) Life Without the Possibility of Parole means that the offender has decades to think about their horrendous crime every day for the rest of their lives.

4.) Survivor Fatigue.  Stamper maintains that while the appeals process drags on, survivors have to relive the horror every day, in ways that frequently impugn the victim’s character, and they would prefer that the process just rather be over with than be offended by the system every day.

By way of rebuttal, Stamper almost has something with his first point, except there are larger issues to be considered.  The justice system, at its core, essentially has two purposes: Keep the Peace, and Punish Wrongdoers.  These are part of government’s rightful and legitimate duties, because if these two things are not done, you no longer have a society, you have anarchy.  It is a sad fact that we already compromise on punishing wrong doing, and selectively prosecute certain crimes, and or often make deals to convict on lessor charges to avoid expense and conserve resources for “the worst of the worst”.  Any benefit this confers on society is negligible, as whether by accident or design, it creates a permanent criminal underclass of repeat offenders, who when they actually serve real time, only end up becoming better criminals.  This perpetuation prevents the real cost of law enforcement from sparking any serious consideration of whether or not the real problem might be too many laws, rather than an ever-increasing amount of “criminal behavior”.

The other part of this is that it ignores the cost of keeping that offender behind bars for the rest of their life if they really are “the worst of the worst”.  As this presentation demonstrates, the average cost in 2005 per inmate in the State of Washington was $25,000.00.  Multiply that by 45 years, and suddenly, you’ve sprung for $1,125,000.00 for the care and keeping of that inmate.  And if you’re being honest, you recognize that this average is low, when you consider that the “worst of the worst” should be in maximum security at the least, and may be in solitary confinement most of that time.   If you believe THAT cost is still only $25,000.00 a year per inmate, I have a bridge in Tacoma that I can sell you cheap.

As for the delay argument, it is a two-edged sword.  It is a safeguard put in place with the intent of preventing the execution of those who were not guilty of the crime for which they were convicted, and in a society that it honest, honesty requires the recognition that sometimes, the system makes a mistake, and that when it is your life on the line, extra measures to make sure that the verdict was correct are in order.  And when it is that serious, then maybe in the interests of fairness, it is to the benefit of all to provide extra process than what would ordinarily be due.  But this cost should not be a deterrent to the existence of the penalty; some crimes are so heinous, some crimes are so beyond the pale, as to cast doubt upon the fitness of the offender to ever be trusted to live in society and conform to its norms and expectations.  We know these people exist, and walk among us until they are caught, and we know they exist in the Pacific Northwest.  When there is little reason to believe that they can ever be reformed or rehabilitated, especially in a system that cannot be said to make a priority of either, there should be no reason to burden society with the cost of keeping them alive, to perhaps some day, either be placed in a position where they can escape or be released to again be a danger to the society they are incapable of respecting.

The “punishment” of “having to think about their crimes and victims everyday for the rest of their lives” can hardly be believed to be a real punishment for such people.  Indeed, John Carlson brought up the example of the offender who was incarcerated because of a truly brutal rape, wormed his way into the trust of prison officials, was eventually placed on an honor farm that he walked away from, to go back, and again brutally rape his victim, then slit her 5  year old daughter’s throat before her, kill the neighbor who stopped by (and who had also been the witness whose testimony had put him away to begin with) and then killed his victim.  People like that aren’t “punished” by living with that knowledge for their rest of their lives.  At best they do it and feel nothing; at worst, it inspires and arouses them. 

Finally, Stamper presented his argument for what I call Survivor Fatigue, the gist of which is that the process of giving the death penalty offender extra process means that they have to relive the horror and loss every single day, and sometimes have to hear their lost loved one’s character impugned.  The underlying rationale is that these people have a right to not endure this.  What Chief Stamper does not recognize is that unlike the individual rights that he doesn’t favor us having, such as the right to be armed and to make the criminal suffer instead of yourself, the process of prosecuting a death penalty case isn’t about an individual’s rights, which may or may not be incidental, as we would like justice for the victim(s), but it is about the right of society to rid itself of those who have proven that they are incapable of coexisting within it without being a threat not just to the well-being, but the very lives of other members of it.  This is why it is a legitimate power of the state as long as extra care is taken to make sure that the right people receive this punishment.  As advances in science reveal the errors that the system has made, it also reveals that it is even more possible than before to convict the guilty, and remove the burden that sociopaths, psychopaths, and people who chose to not just kill, but to do so with extraordinary cruelty and abandon from anything recognizable to a civilized society.  It is also possible that these advances will help to streamline the extra process, and expedite the departure of the monsters and animals that Chief Stamper would have us preserve indefinitely, taking up resources that could be used for others who might have a hope of redemption or a lack of interest in recidivism.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer!

Thomas Paine, Common Sense.

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Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat’s recent piece on a Washington Senate Bill that would permit the local Sheriffs to enter the homes of assault weapons owners to ensure that their weapons are “properly secured” got some traction this weekend.

Of course, when he contacted sponsors of the 8 page bill about this provision, one of the sponsors, state Senator Adam Kline said:

“I made a mistake,” Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”

Except that it doesn’t appear to be a mistake at all.

Senator Kline was a sponsor of an assault weapons bill in the 2009-2010 session which contained the EXACT SAME  PROVISION.  From Bill 6396:

(5) In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing the assault weapon shall do all of the following:

 (a) Safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection;

 And from a bill he sponsored in 2005, Bill 3475:

(5) In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing the assault weapon shall do all of the following:

 (a) Within ninety days following the effective date of this section, submit to a background check identical to the background check conducted in connection with the purchase of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer;

(b) Unless the person is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, immediately register the assault weapon with the sheriff of the county in which the weapon is usually stored;

(c) Safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection;

Senator Kline didn’t “make a mistake”.  Senator Kline has trouble with understanding the meaning of the words “…shall not be infringed.”  Senator Kline has a HISTORY of supporting gun registry, and warrantless searches of the homes of law-abiding citizens.  Senator Kline doesn’t like freedom, and as such isn’t fit to hold office. (Nor is his co-sponsor in this endeavor, Senator Kohl-Wells.)  It bears noting that these bills are almost identical, further demonstrating that this wasn’t a mistake; it was deliberate.
This bill would violate Sections 2, 7, and 24 of the Washington Constitution and the 2nd and 4th Amendments of the United States Constitution.  The repeated sponsors of this bill are not fit to hold office. 

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Welcome Ace of Spades readers! Come for the scratched Proggie, stay for The Asterisk* and The Error of NEED.

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One of the things I have learned in my brief time on this planet is that knee-jerk post-mortems are often wrong.  I find that blame and recrimination are too often part of the process, and it tends to cloud thinking and obscure what is important.  The post-mortems of the 2012 elections have been no exception.   And while I would dismiss many of them outright because of the desire to point fingers and lay blame, I have to confess the one that surprised me was the one offered by my brother from a different mother and father, Rosetta.

Here in my own state of Washington, we had gay “marriage” and pot legalization on the ballot this year, both of which passed, either on the strength of what I call “reefer logic” or warm and fuzzy lies, but both offer insights into what happened nationwide.

First, the gay marriage referendum, R-74.  In 2008, our legislature passed the State Registered Domestic Partnership Act which allowed people to form officially sanctioned relationships with a member of the same or opposite sex, conferring all the same benefits that are conferred by marriage, except for the name.  This meant that same sex-couples would be eligible for “spousal” benefits offered by employers, inheritance rights, and community property rights, as well as all other benefits conferred by being in a state-recognized relationship.  But that wasn’t good enough.  And after waging a campaign that cynically stated that redefining the term marriage would grant same-sex couples the right to hospital visitation (a lie, as thank to HIPPA, even “straight: couples need to execute Medical Powers of Attorney to make medical decisions for incapacitated spouses, and to have a free and full exchange of health information with their spouse’s medical doctors.), and as a “civil rights issue”. It became a cause celebre of sorts to change a centuries-old specific legal definition, and the fact that it was based on a blatant lie, and the diminishing of a genuine “civil rights” issues, didn’t detract at all from the allure that this measure held for proponents.  No doubt it made those who voted on it feel good, and it was certainly easier than thinking.  I’m sure that some of you are asking “So they redefined marriage.  So what?”  Well, it may seem like a small thing, and an easy thing, and not worthy of the effort to stop.  Except that for every change we make to the bedrock of the law, robs what remains of a little of its meaning.  Do this enough, and then it gets easier to look at the law and say “It doesn’t make sense, so let’s just chuck the whole thing.”  I know that the possibility seems remote, and as long as you are only surveying from each incremental change, this only seems more certain to be the case.  But think of it as being in a boat on the ocean.  Off to the left, you see a rocky shore.  There are no oars in the boat, but you have an anchor, which keeps you from being pounded against those rocks, no matter how high the waves get.  Now imagine a fog bank that conceals the shore, and the rocks.  And that fog bank lingers for days.  Maybe you hear the waves braking on the rocks, but aren’t able to interpret what you hear.  Maybe you can’t hear it at all.  And then you wake up one day, and decide that it is pointless  to have that anchor.  Now you are heading for those rocks, and you don’t even know it.  And that’s where we find ourselves today, as we collectively pat ourselves on the back and feel good about our enlightened view on the matter.

Our other ballot measure was one to legalize possession and use of up to an ounce of marijuana by persons 21 years old or older in this state, which plays into the first suggestion made by my friend Rosetta to help Republican’s be successful in future elections, which was “Legalize Marijuana”.    Both he and the proponents here in Washington share the idea that this isn’t a serious crime anyway, and therefore, it doesn’t make sense to be enforcing it.  Rosie’s point is that we can empty a lot of prisons; the argument pre-election here in Washington was that it would free up law enforcement resources to prosecute “serious” or violent crimes.  I remain unconvinced.  Rosetta also shares the belief with advocates here that this will be a revenue opportunity for the state, because a legal trade can have the snot taxed out of it.  And finally, he glosses over the idea of collateral damage as being minimal, and something that should be the interest and crusade of private killjoys, rather than the government.  Yesterday morning, I heard the Seattle City Attorney being interviewed on the radio while I was driving to work.  He employed what I call “reefer logic” in talking about the reasons for legalizing marijuana, and what happens next now that Washington has said “Yes.” 

Among the rationales he described was that it is just “sound policy”.  He stated that the “War on Drugs” has been a crashing failure, which has cost trillions of dollars, and therefore, it just makes sense to end that war for those reasons.  At this point, I was shouting “GREAT!  Since that is the measure of “sound” policy, I expect that we will also end the “War on Poverty” tomorrow, since the government has also spent trillions of dollars with little or no objective success to show for it!”  (I know, I know.  That’s been about creating dependency, not fighting it, so there is no reason to expect it to be measured by the same standard.)  He then expressed his belief that the Federal government would resist this, and that it would end up in Federal court, which he welcomed because it would allow for an “adult conversation” about the concept of federalism, which is only proper as “it concerns the decisions made by the people of two sovereign states”.   At this point, I could not believe what I was hearing.  Abortion was not an issue for a discussion about federalism?  Welfare was not an issue for a discussion about federalism?  Not Obamacare?  Not environmental regulations.  But Pot…Pot was a hill to die on with concern for Federalism.

Frankly, I think the idea that this was going to free up lots of resources for law enforcement isn’t necessarily so, but the bigger issue is that of collateral damage.  I am concerned that the idea of tax revenue being a primary driver of legalization.  There is a moral component that doesn’t appear to have been considered, that being government sanctioning a vice not out of a belief that the individual has a right to self-destruct without interference, but because it can make money from it.  I can hear you. dear reader, as you say “But we tax alcohol, and we tax cigarettes.  Why is this different?”  the short answer is that those taxes are incidental to their legalization, and not the reason for it.  It is a fine distinction, but I have a hard time believing that government should be more concerned about what’s in it for them, rather than the effect on the individuals and the society in general.  Then there is the matter of feeding the beast…the fact that government almost NEVER uses these kind of tax revenues for stated purposes, and instead uses them to find more ways to regulate things that are none of their business.

Then there is the question of impairment.  We all know a functional alcoholic, or those who drink to excess too much.  But the collateral damage to society has become a bigger issue than in past decades.  Driving drunk is frowned upon, and prosecuted severely because of the potential of harm to others.  In many ways, though it is still not often characterized as such, we no longer think of drinking to excess as being harmful to only the person imbibing.  And yet we still allow people to characterize pot as a “victimless crime”.  While the majority of studies appear to have been published by NORML or similar groups, I think most people have at least empirical experience that would call into question the issue of impairment with marijuana use.  Even more laughable is the notion that by taxing and regulating, we will be able to keep it out of the hands of young people.  Ask police departments about the resources they spend addressing the purchase and sale of alcohol with teens, or dealing with the effects of underage drinking.  And many of us have had the experience of asking adults to buy alcohol for us.  Now consider the fact that a gram of pot is much easier to conceal than a six-pack of beer.  

The second idea for new success is simplification of legal immigration.  I actually like the idea.  And the way that my friend presents is unobjectionable, because it is still based on an exchange…you have to meet the requirements, and you still have to pass the test.  If there is a point that I would like to see shored up, it would be to manage the skills of those we allow in under this program.  While there is something to be said for filling jobs that qualify as unskilled labor, there is also something to be said for future generations learning the value of work.  No one should have their first job be their career.  Flipping burgers and working retail will teach the value of labor, the pride of making your own paycheck, and the importance of being on time and having a good attitude.  And given the current unemployment rate of teenagers, the current high rates should not be exacerbated with a policy that allows them to be constantly undercut in the labor market.

The third idea proposed by Rosetta is a $50,000 payment to anyone of verifiable slave heritage.  My response? Absolutely NOT.  The reasons are simple.  First, this won’t be the end, matter how much you try to tie the payment of the cash to the condition that they finally lose the attitude that they are somehow owed something because of a practice that was ended 155 or so years ago in the greatest shedding of American blood in conflict ever.  The idea of reparations is one that is a remedy to the person who actually suffered the harm, which is why, although still offensive, the reparations made to the Japanese American survivors of the World War II internment could at least be defended on a quasi legal basis.  An argument could be made that the Great Society and the War of Poverty has damaged blacks and especially black families, with a policy of deliberate infantilization, and dependency on Uncle Sugar.  The part where the analysis breaks down is the fact that the federal government hasn’t been doing this to just blacks, but has been waging this without regard to skin color.  The other component would be that the victim should recognize that they are a victim, and as the election proved, the victims don’t see themselves as victims, and instead think that they can and should be “punishing” others who don’t share their servitude, and who recognize that a shiny shackle is still a shackle.  Finally, the idea is the kind of irresponsible spending by government that we as conservatives are supposed to oppose.  This is not about “justice”, and cannot seriously be considered as such.  It is a cynical attempt to buy an attitude that is contrary to that which is fostered by decades of government spending, and continues the idea that peace or more abstractly, salvation, can be found if you spend enough of other people’s money.  It’s an idea that has brought this country to the brink of disaster and ruin, and it is hubris to think that we can use the same tactic and get a positive result.

The fourth idea posed was that contraception and abortion are for the beneficiary to pay for.  I can agree with half that concept.  Contraception can and should be the province of those who use it.  The inherent mistake was accepting the notion that abortion is valid as contraception, and it is ok because it is inherently a “private” act.  Although the legal rationale set forth in the Roe decision was dubious at the time (the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply, because…well, because it doesn’t, so don’t ask again) the truth is that the science has advanced even further.  It only underscores the hypocrisy of a society that can shed buckets of tears for whales being killed and forests being clear-cut, and not seem to give a second thought to the slaughter of thousands of children in the womb annually, without sparing a thought to the fact that each one of those children is a separate being, with its own organs and DNA, and the same government that has been founded on the principle of an unalienable right to life sanctions this ongoing genocide without any due process, or even thought given to it.  This happens daily, in very profitable centers set up to perform them, and human beings who have committed no offense other than being conceived are killed with less due process than we demand be afforded to child rapists and cop killers.  This is a shameful stain on our national character, and should be no more encouraged than giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Finally, my friend suggests that these ideas are not damaging to the ideas of libertarianism or republicanism.  While that may be true for the principles of libertarianism, I think the question is a bit more difficult when applied to republicanism.  Largely because I think people couldn’t tell you what the republican party stands for.  And that is reflected in the candidates we have had since Reagan.  While I believe that many of the party’s standard bearers since Ronaldus Magnus have been good men, I don’t think that they have done a great job clearly stating clear principles that offer powerful explanation of why conservatism is a better alternative to what the left offers.  Instead, we have relied on candidates who were chosen because they wouldn’t allow themselves to be pinned to an ideology, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t stand on principles because they couldn’t persuade others why they were right.   It doesn’t make sense to lose because you didn’t have the courage to be yourself.  And telling yourself that your win is more important than a choice between clear ideas is a recipe for failure.  

But this is only one part of the puzzle.  We are faced with an electorate that would rather have Idiocracy, and that has decided that bread and circuses are better than personal responsibility and the right to determine their own destiny.  It’s hard to fight the idea that free stuff is better than freedom.  It’s hard to fight Greed’s retarded sister, Envy, and the idea that successful people are responsible for your lack of success, and should therefore be punished is a seductive one.  If you think that a candidate can or should overcome these factors, will combatting a negligent and complicit media, then you aren’t seeking a candidate, you are seeking a savior.

Circumstances can and will contribute to the recognition that what was chosen on Tuesday was the sad and tired ideas that have failed and made things worse for people who have had to live with them whenever they have been tried.  And it sucks that those of us who already knew this will have to suffer with those who still have to learn.  But we share in this failure because we refused to demand something better from those who would be our standard-bearer.  And we share in this because we each have to be the standard-bearer for conservatism ourselves.  We have 70 years of indoctrination and sloppy thinking to counter and bypass, because the obvious is anything but for people who have been taught to look past it.

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I was reading the most recent AEES Bulletin this morning, and in the article on “Washington State and the Affordable Health Care Act”, I came across this gem:

Many reforms are currently in place, but key benefits and programs take effect in 2014, including Washington’s new Health Exchange, federal subsidies to help 477,000 people afford health insurance, an expansion of Medicaid for 328,000 poor childless adults and the ban on insurance companies denying people coverage if they are sick.

I guess we dodged a bullet there.  I mean, for a minute, I thought that whole “getting rid of the “free riders” B.S. the Demusocialists were paying lip service to was actually serious.

Just kidding.

Bonus question:  If it doesn’t take effect until 2014, how do they know 477,000 will need that “assistance”?  Why not 500,000?  Why not 100,000?  And the same goes for those poor childless adults.  I mean, with welfare that includes career training, and the improving economy fueled by the growth in government, how is it they can be so certain that these people will still need that assistance?

The War On Poverty™. The one war that government has absolutely no interest in winning, but plenty of interest in waging, as long as it is waged with other people’s money.

 

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