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Archive for the ‘Unfunded Mandates’ Category

I know, I know…since the dawn of the Obama Era, irony has become as ubiquitous as the sunrise, and through its cumulative effect, toxic to the Republic, which I’m sure is all part of the plan.  Nonetheless, after a week like this one, I can only conclude that our self-appointed betters and “thought leaders (now there’s an irony for you)” have decided that they have succeeded in creating a climate of apathy and ignorance so strong that no statement, and no circumstance is too outrageous to tumble from their lips.  The sad thing is, I think that they might be right, as this week seems to prove…

First on this week is the “Reverend” Al Sharpton.  Yes, the “drug informant” Al Sharpton, who brought us this spectacularly polished turd:

“I think that the message is, no matter what the world may do to unfairly, no matter how your crucified, nailed to the cross at home, or in your personal relationships, or on the job that you can rise if you don’t lose yourself during the hard times and the challenges.["]

Put aside the garbage where he’s trying to link the meaning of Easter to Barack Obama.

This is really, really bad theology.  Easter is about sin, a price that mankind would never be able to pay for redemption, and the willing sacrifice of God’s son to pay that price for ALL OF US, and to conquer death.  That doesn’t happen without Christ, no matter how much those who worship government try to convince us that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  An awful lot of rhetorical sulphur he’s preaching.  I think he might want to study up on what the book says about that kind of behavior.

Next up are the usual suspects with regard to Chelsea Clinton’s announcement  at the “Girls No Ceilings Conversation” event in New York City:

“One more thing to say very quickly,” the 34-year-old addressed the crowd. “Mark and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year. I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that they’ll grow up in a world with so many strong female leaders…”

Now, given the positive reaction from the crowd, one can only assume that they believe that she will be going to a store and purchasing a baby when she thinks that the time is right, because otherwise, she would be referring to a lump of cells that she has a sacrosanct right to terminate at anytime because it isn’t a “child” or “baby”…at least that’s what wymyn’s groups and blood money grubbers like Planned Parenthood keep telling us.

Hillary couldn’t help but to also chime in:

“I’m expecting a grand child which I’m very excited about. We’re very excited about what’s happening in our family but we’re also very excited about what we’re doing.”

Congratulations, kid.  Grams needs a political prop, so you get to be born!

And our final entry on this week’s hit parade.  Fresh off of questions regarding his son’s motivations for wanting the land that Clive Bundy ranches on in Nevada, and scrutiny of the connections between himself and the head of the Bureau of Land Management (and after previously being in the news for diverting campaign funds to his grand-daughter), Harry had this to say about the Federal Government’s aborted attempt to “shock and awe” the prickly rancher in to submission to his Federal betters:

 “Well, it’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over,” Reid said.

Given Harry’s misappropriation of campaign money and his apparent intimate knowledge of private citizen’s Federal tax returns, such as Mitt Romney, the Koch Brothers, and Clive Bundy, I guess that means that we’ll soon be treated to the sight of Harry “I-Never-Met-A-Budget-I’d-Pass” Reid being marched out of the Senate in handcuffs.

Yeah, I know.  The law is only for little people, and those who happen to not be Democrats.   Yea for “fundamental change”.

 

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

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

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

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Mr. President:

Up until now, I have decided against writing about your astonishing lies you told to the American people over and over and over again to sell your signature piece of legislation, ObamaCare, to the American people, because I numbered among the roughly 49% of Americans who KNEW you were lying when you told the lies, and despite how brazenly you presumed at authority you never had.

I was part of the 49% of Americans asking where you got the authority to make the unilateral changes to the implementation of this law when Congress had not been dissolved or disbanded, and therefore still held their constitutional legislative powers.

I was one of many people who listened to your recent apology/attempt to gaslight the entire nation about what we all heard you say to us over and over and over again about “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” and “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.  Period”, and like so many others, I was disturbed by the otherworldliness of it.

But upon watching this testimony today,

and reading the transcript of your remarks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Meeting, especially this gem :

And it was that what was already going to be hard was operating within a very difficult political environment and we should have anticipated that that would create a rockier rollout than if Democrats and Republicans were both invested in success.

One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure and — and that makes, I think, the — the kind of iterative process of fixing glitches as they come up and finetuning the law more challenging.

I let both sink in.

First, while your pathological avoidance of accepting any responsibility for anything that goes wrong on your watch, and the army of drones willing to sacrifice their own credibility to help maintain that fragile illusion will no doubt object to me saying it this way, YOUR ADMINISTRATION KNEW that despite having passed a law that requires people to purchase a product, and yet the portal YOUR ADMINISTRATION created to help people purchase those products was deliberately made live, despite the fact that there was absolutely no chance of it EVER being able to accept a payment, because NO payment or accounting system had been built into the software.  NONE.  Even by government standards of incompetency and failure, this is a monumental lowering of the bar.  Now I’m sure that if we were in a forum where you would actually HAVE to respond to me, you would tell me how you didn’t know, it never came up in the meetings, the dog ate your homework, but it would all avoid a salient and undeniable fact:

You ASKED us for the job Mr. President.

While I’m sure Harry S. Truman’s desk sign got lost somewhere, the fact is that the buck DOES stop with you, no matter how much you try to worm and weasel your way out of that reality.  It is your responsibility because you are the leader, and as such are tasked with the responsibility of making it work.  And even if this were not true, as the head of the entity doing (or in this case failing) at the work, there is the matter of not just what you knew, but what you should have known, a legal concept you would be familiar with if you ever actually had to do work as a lawyer.  If the people YOU put in charge of this weren’t informing you of just how woefully unprepared they were, then as the leader, that doesn’t speak well of your judgement.

However, based on your remarks today, especially the excerpt above, and your previous statements and yes, lies, I can just as easily assume that you DID know and either your ego wouldn’t allow you to admit that government’s ambitions have finally outstripped its competence, or that you are so delusional that you cannot contemplate the thought that opposition to this mammoth usurpation of personal sovereignty is actually against the interests of the people who you claim to be helping, and therefore, the opposition doesn’t HAVE to be invested in your failure.

While we’re on that subject, a great many of us are bone-weary of hearing nothing but excuses and blaming others from the person we hired to sit in the big chair after he campaigned for the job.  Frankly, I’m not sure how a group of CEOs, people who understand the demands and responsibilities of leadership, and the consequences of failure, could even stand to be in the same room with you today.  But since your attention has undoubtedly strayed to ways you can improve your short game, I’ll cut to the chase.

I’m not alone when I say I’m not interested in your half-hearted apologies when yours lies were finally so obvious even Helen Keller asked “REALLY???”.  And strapping the lukewarm apology to another lie when delivering it was an act of a man person unworthy to occupy the office of President.  We don’t want anymore apologies.  We don’t want any more excuses.  No more executive orders; no more imperial edicts further warping and disfiguring the law you made your top priority so that you and your associates can escape the consequences of it.

We want your resignation,  and the resignations of everyone you enlisted in this repulsive power grab.  We want you to go play on the beach in Hawaii, and eat your waffle, play even more golf (is such a thing possible?) and stop trying to continue to drive the car further into the ditch.  We don’t want you to pick up a mop, since your attempt at cleaning this mess up has only made the stain larger.  In fact, the biggest favor your could do this nation in retirement, aside from building houses with Jimmy Carter and keeping your wishcasting to yourself is to eschew any use of the honorific “Mr. President”  in your ignominious retirement, just to save the rest of us the embarrassment of having lived in a country dumb enough to elect you twice, despite your extraordinary lack of experience, and inability to perform any of the tasks of the job we gave you.

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

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

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

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

Enough.

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Resident:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

James B. Treat

Chief, American Community Survey Office

Let’s brake it down, shall we?

Dear Resident:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Is that supposed to scare me?

*click*

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

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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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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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