Freedom and Liberty
I got a taste of what modern policing has become today—which is to say, an absolute unwillingness to allow anything but complete, unquestioning obedience. Officer Friendly has long since retired, apparently.
For the past fifteen years, I have worked every day on the same very small military installation as a contractor. This morning, as I was approaching the main gate, when I started off after the stoplight, I didn’t shift upshift. So, the Goat was just wailing that sweet V8 growl as I approached the gate. About fifty yards from the gate, I slowed down, rolled down my window, and had my ID outside the car as I approached. Usually, there are civilian DoD police at the gate, but this morning, it was manned by a reservist, a 2nd Class Master at Arms—the Navy’s equivalent to Military Police. We had a brief conversation that went, as nearly as I can remember it like this:
PO2: (Snippy) Are you running late this morning?
(At this point, I could instantly see that my answer displeased him.)
PO2: (Scowling) You need to keep your speed down.
Me: I always observe the speed limits when I’m on the installation.
PO2: (Waving me through) You need to keep your speed down off-base, too.
Me: (Starting to drive away) What happens off-base isn’t your jurisdiction.
I got to my office, turned on my computer, and went into the break area to warm up a couple of delicious whole-wheat Eggos. While I was standing in the kitchen, a uniformed DoD police officer walked in and asked me if I owned the Red GTO. When I said I did, he then asked for my driver’s license. I asked, since I wasn’t operating a motor vehicle, if I was required to show it to him. (In CA, you are not required to do so when not operating a vehicle, nor are you required to show an ID otherwise. It’s different on military bases, of course, in that you are required to show an ID).
When I gave it to him, he then began to tell me how bad my attitude was, and how I should be more respectful of the police, what with them having such a hard job and all. I said that, when it came to respect, maybe the gate guard should’ve been a little less snippy. He said they didn’t need me making smart remarks about their jurisdiction, because they have a close relationship with civilian law enforcement, and he himself, had worked for Atlanta PD for fifteen years. I denied driving at an excessive speed when I approached the gate, said that my comment about jurisdiction was completely valid and that did not have the authority to issue traffic citations off-base, and that if they felt they needed to call CHP to give me a citation, they should do so. Otherwise, he should present me with a citation or arrest me for a military-related offense. Failing that, I was uninterested in further conversation. He seemed a bit upset when he left.
About twenty minutes later, two more DoD policemen came into my office. One of them was the major who serves as the installation’s police chief. They asked to talk to me outside. I told them that, since it appeared that I was the target of some sort of investigation I would refuse to answer any questions without consulting legal council. They asked me to step outside the building and I complied. The major then asked me where I was getting my legal knowledge from, and I replied that I had been an active-duty military policeman for 10 years. They asked for my license, registration and insurance card, and workcenter supervisors. While one officer began to write down my information, the major then told me that as a military policeman I should have a better attitude and be more cooperative. He then presented a hypothetical situation about approaching the gate at a high rate of speed. I said, "Hypothetically, I would categorically deny any such allegations". He began to ask me more questions, and I stopped him, saying:
Me: Don’t I have the right to remain silent?
Major: Well, if you are a former MP you should know that Miranda only applies to custodial interviews, not voluntary ones."
Me: So, is this a voluntary interview?
Me: So, I’m free to go?
(The major hesitated at this point, probably because both he and I knew what the only correct answer was.)
Major: Yes, you’re free to go.
Me: Then, I think we’re done here.
I retrieved my documentation from the other officer, put it my car, and walked back into the building.
Another twenty minutes passed when two different officers showed up at my office and asked me to come outside. When I did, they presented me with a base traffic ticket for not having my car registered on base. Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was required to, since the Navy no longer issues vehicle decals. We were told that registration was no longer necessary, but apparently the registration regulation is still on the books. The ticket had already been written before the officers approached me. One of them—the officer who had been sent over to speak with me the first time—said, "By direction of the base police chief, I am issuing you a citation for failure to register your vehicle within ten days. You can call the base traffic office if you have any questions." I said, "Wait a second, I haven’t even had my plates for ten days. I just bought the car." He said, "Your registration is dated more than 10 days ago. That’s the date we go by." Then they left.
So, I went to Pass & ID register my car—as well as my motorcycle, which has never been registered either—and they tore up my ticket. Then when I got back to my office, I called to the regional headquarters, and spoke directly with the GS-15 who runs all the local Navy police operations. I explained that I had a brief, snippy conversation with the gate guard, and since then, had been pulled out of my workcenter three separate times by five DoD police officers, and that I felt it was a little excessive, especially considering the chief of police himself had been one of the officers. He said he would take care of it, which, I hope, means he will tell the local police to turn it down from 11.
So, that was my contact with the DoD police today. At every confrontation, they clearly expected me to respond with the appropriate degree of subservience, and were baffled and angered that I refused to do so. So, they couldn’t let it go. They just kept coming back to my office, as if repeated confrontations would make me more, rather than less, servile. And all this for something that wasn’t any sort of criminal offense.
It says a lot—none of it good—that the police seem to have the expectation of unquestioning obedience. It also says a lot that they seem used to getting it, which is our fault, not theirs.
That’s kind of the $64,000 dollar question (yes, I’m showing my age … bite me) isn’t it?
You’ve seen the news about the fast food walkouts and claims that food service people should be paid $15 an hour? That what the United Food and Commercial Workers union claims workers in that industry should have. But what do workers they actually represent in that industry actually get? Not much over minimum wage and union dues to pay out of that:
An examination of UFCW contracts shows that even senior union members are not receiving the wages that ROC and Jobs for Justice demand.
Consider a department manager at Kroger’s union shop in Michigan. She earns a maximum rate of $13.80, even after over half a decade on the job. If this is the highest wage the UFCW can negotiate for skilled, experienced workers, how can the union provide entry-level, low-skilled workers with $15 an hour?
It is not possible for them to accomplish this. Yet, receiving media coverage for the protests they sponsor is an effective way to increase membership and dues collections. The wage they demand is more than twice what similarly skilled union members are paid, namely $7.40 an hour for an entry-level cashier.
Courtesy clerks are paid a starting rate of $7.40 an hour and can work their way to up a wage ceiling of $7.45, after 12 months on the job. Fuel clerks do not fare much better; they start at the same $7.40 and can earn $7.80 an hour after three years of experience, barely over half of the $15 an hour wage worker centers supported by the UFCW demand. Specialty clerks also start at $7.40 an hour, but can earn up to $9.35 after six years. This amount is still 25 percent below the $12.50 an hour “living wage” Jobs for Justice claims all entry level workers should be paid. Read the full union contract between Kroger and the UFCW here.
The take-home pay is even lower once dues—and federal and state taxes—are removed. Dues are mandatory and usually take between $19 and $60 a month from members’ paychecks.
A non-union member could negotiate that without even trying hard. So, what good is the union really done for those those it represents? Other than pay it’s union staff very well?
It is expensive to run a union. The average total compensation for those employed by the UFCW—rather than represented by the UFCW—is $88,224 a year. This income is almost six times what the union negotiated for cashiers at Kroger’s. Joseph Hansen, the International President of UFCW, earns in excess of $350,000 a year—over twenty times the earnings of many of the workers he represents. The Executive Vice President and National President both earn over $300,000. Are entry-level union workers receiving benefits from paying dues out of their $7.40 an hour paychecks to fund these salaries?
But you know, it’s “management” that’s the problem, right? I mean how could a cashier negotiate a $7.40 an hour paycheck without the union – and then give the union its “dues” out of that same paycheck? Hey, the president of the union has to have his perks, right?
I know, I know, don’t look at the paycheck, look at the other benefits … like a pension, right?
The UFCW has one of the worst records for funding of union pension plans. The Labor Department has informed the UFCW that nine of its pension plans have reached “critical status,” meaning they are less than 65 percent funded. Many of these funds have been underfunded for six years. They have low chances of regaining sustainable financing unless they can convince more new members to join and pay dues without receiving similar benefits.
And, of course, there’s the political side of things … it is important to help fund the union’s political activities, no?
Well of course it went to Democrats. Democrats have been in the union’s pocket (and vice versa) since time began, apparently. Put $11.6 in the pension fund? What are you, a Republican?
Yes, it’s a crying shame people aren’t represented by this union … said no libertarian, ever.
It’s hard to describe this blinding stupidity as anything other than … well, blindingly stupid. I think this one sentence encapsulates the #Fail quite nicely:
This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout.
If you think Brooks is trying to get all counter-intuitive on you (a la Thomas Friedman’s wistful longing for Chinese authoritarianism), think again. It’s just full on stupidity.
Brooks’ argument is that Congress is too beholden to the “rentier groups” (i.e. moneyed interest groups and lobbyists) and that the judiciary is too involved in the process:
In the current issue of The American Interest, Francis Fukuyama analyzes this institutional decay. His point is that the original system of checks and balances has morphed into a “vetocracy,” an unworkable machine where many interests can veto reform.
First, there is the profusion of interest groups. In 1971, there were 175 registered lobbying firms. By 2009, there were 13,700 lobbyists spending more than $3.5 billion annually, and this doesn’t even count the much larger cloud of activist groups and ideological enforcers.
Then there is the judicial usurpation of power. Fukuyama writes, “conflicts that in Sweden or Japan would be solved through quiet consultations between interested parties through the bureaucracy are fought out through formal litigation in the American court system.” This leads to uncertainty, complexity and perverse behavior.
After a law is passed, there are always adjustments to be made. These could be done flexibly. But, instead, Congress throws implementation and enforcement into the court system by giving more groups the standing to sue. What could be a flexible process is turned into “adversarial legalism” that makes government more intrusive and more rigid.
In other words, because the power to form laws is relatively disbursed amongst constituents, elected officials and the court system, gridlock happens sometimes and that’s just totally unacceptable. Because, heaven knows that if Congress isn’t cranking out new laws at a fast enough pace, the world will end. (That seems to be the meme going around anyway.)
So what would be the benefits of more powerful Executive branch?
Here are the advantages. First, it is possible to mobilize the executive branch to come to policy conclusion on something like immigration reform. It’s nearly impossible for Congress to lead us to a conclusion about anything. Second, executive branch officials are more sheltered from the interest groups than Congressional officials. Third, executive branch officials usually have more specialized knowledge than staffers on Capitol Hill and longer historical memories. Fourth, Congressional deliberations, to the extent they exist at all, are rooted in rigid political frameworks. Some agencies, especially places like the Office of Management and Budget, are reasonably removed from excessive partisanship. Fifth, executive branch officials, if they were liberated from rigid Congressional strictures, would have more discretion to respond to their screw-ups, like the Obamacare implementation. Finally, the nation can take it out on a president’s party when a president’s laws don’t work. That doesn’t happen in Congressional elections, where most have safe seats.
Note the two “advantages” I’ve bolded. It’s as if things like Solyndra fiasco and the IRS targeting of conservatives never happened.
Lest there be any confusion about Brooks’ prescription, he sums it up as thus:
So how do you energize the executive? It’s a good idea to be tolerant of executive branch power grabs and to give agencies flexibility. We voters also need to change our voting criteria. It’s not enough to vote for somebody who agrees with your policy preferences. Presidential candidates need to answer two questions. How are you going to build a governing 60 percent majority that will enable you to drive the Washington policy process? What is your experience implementing policies through big organizations?
We don’t need bigger government. We need more unified authority. Take power away from the rentier groups who dominate the process. Allow people in those authorities to exercise discretion. Find a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process.
At least he’s being honest about what the political and chattering classes truly want. As an added bonus, Brooks has inspired a better description of his cant than “blindingly stupid”: contemptible.
That’s primarily what politicians seem to want to do despite protestations to the contrary by some. They’re always looking for a new “revenue stream”. And since tax payers are the only folks who actually pay taxes, they’re constantly dreaming up new ways to “access” your wallet.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require the government to study the most practical ways of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to help fund federal highway programs.
Blumenauer’s bill, H.R. 3638, would set up a Road Usage Fee Pilot Program, which he said would study mileage-based fee systems. He cast his bill as a long-term solution for funding highway programs, and proposed it along with a shorter-term plan to nearly double the gas tax, from 18.4 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon.
“As we extend the gas tax, we must also think about how to replace it with something more sustainable,” Blumenauer said Tuesday. “The best candidate would be the vehicle mile traveled fee being explored by pilot projects in Oregon and implemented there on a voluntary basis next year.”
Because, you know, taxpayers paid for the highways, taxpayers have funded the maintenance of the highways and now they should pay for the privilege of driving on them as well. So, many single moms, who can barely afford gas for the car, will likely be paying by the mile to go to work (as with most of these stupid schemes, the one’s who can afford it the least will get hit the hardest by it).
Brilliant! Aw, what the heck, they can take public transportation, huh?
And what about privacy? What business is it of government how far you drive. One assumes they’ll be able to verify your mileage somehow, no? Do you really think it will be up to you to voluntarily keep records and report to the government? Of course not. So somehow the system has to be able to track you and tally mileage.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study that explored how a VMT system might work. That report suggested devices could be fitted onto cars that log how far they have traveled, and these devices could be electronically read at gas stations to general tax bills for drivers.
That’s what I want … a government tracking device on my car.
Where’s Orwell when you need him?
That’s a dangerous combination but that pretty aptly describes the ObamaCare roll out (ObamaCare is a name that the administration and Democrats would now like to distance themselves from).
It seems now that “no one knew” that the roll out was going to be a disaster because, well, no one knew. Gee, maybe they should have asked the IT guy:
A key player in the development of the Obamacare website said Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built.
The revelation from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao occurs as the administration works to meet its Nov. 30 deadline to shore up the website.
40% of the supporting systems … still need to be built?!
And no one knew? That’s freaking mindboggling. You have a system that is 40% incomplete, you’re the head of a department charged with rolling out the system and you don’t know it’s not even close to being ready?
“It’s not that it’s not working,” Chao told lawmakers at an Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing. “It’s still being developed and tested.”
Phenomenal. If incompetence could be bottled, this administration could corner the market.
Financial management tools remain unfinished, he said, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers.
The update hits hardest at Democrats, hopeful that the system would function smoothly by the end of the month.
Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, plan shopping and enrollment functions, won’t be affected by the ongoing development effort, but that “back office” functions including accounting and payment systems were not yet complete.
Did this boob tell anyone? And if he did, didn’t they listen? How do the insurance companies get paid? And until they are, how can any insurance plan go into effect?
My goodness … why wasn’t Chao sounding the alarms?
Oh, wait, see, he really didn’t know either:
He also told lawmakers he didn’t see a spring report that warned of potential stumbles and foreshadowed many of the problems that thwarted the website’s launch.
“I was aware some document was being prepared,” he said, but had no knowledge of a report until it was leaked to The Washington Post and obtained by POLITICO.
Chao told the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee that he may have answered questions for the study but was not involved in any briefings on it.
The report, which independent consulting firm McKinsey conducted for CMS, described a process that relied too heavily on outsider contractors, didn’t provide enough time for complete testing and failed to hand authority to one decision maker. Chao’s limited knowledge of the report feeds lawmakers’ frustrations with the site’s fractured management and unclear controls.
These are the people who would run your healthcare (and everything else in you life if you’d let them) and make it both cheaper and better (and a good number of Americans swallowed that snake oil and ordered another bottle).
Oh, by the way, speaking of trust in government, did you know the jobs numbers were faked by the Census Bureau on the eve of the 2012 election?
Well, I suppose this was inevitable.
FYI last night at the Great Falls Grange debate, Democrat delegate candidate Kathleen Murphy said that since many doctors are not accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients, she advocates making it a legal requirement for those people to be accepted.
But of course she is. What other option could there possibly be but forcing doctors to see those patients? It’s clearly not possible to pay doctors an economically justifiable payment for seeing such patients. I mean, if you’re not willing to take substandard payment for Medicare patients, you probably shouldn’t be a doctor anyway, what with being a greedy bastard and all. You have a $250,000 annual malpractice insurance payment? Too bad. You got a couple of nurses that cost you $100,000 per year, and $50,000 a year in office rent? That’s on you, bucko. You’ll take my $50 Medicare payment and be happy to get it, or maybe we’ll just levy some really serious fines on you.
If you’re a doctor—and really, if you’re, well, anyone—you belong to the state. Oh, we might not lower the boom on you until we really need to, but let’s make no mistake. The collective has a claim on you. Your labor. Your income. Maybe we let you keep most of it. Maybe we don’t. Either way, if we need your stuff, we’ll take it, because we have a right to it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, man. And if you don’t think so, we can always just clap you in prison to help you come around to the right way of thinking.
We’re gonna get our medical care. And our unemployment benefits and food stamps. And our social security. Somebody’s gotta pay for it. If we decide that somebody is you, then you just need to suck it up. That’s what we got the law for, after all: to make you suck it up whenever we say.
Or so it seems.
Tell me, if a senior executive of any corporation had rolled out a product that was as bad as the ObamaCare website and had caused as much embarrassment and grief for the corporation as this roll out has produced for this administration, would they likely still be employed by the corporation?
Oh, I’m sure you can think of some “lifeboat” instance where it might happen, but for the most part, they’d have been sent packing immediately after the depth of their non-performance was ascertained.
But not in this government. I’m of the opinion that Kathleen Sebelius must have Obama’s college transcripts or something to still be employed. That said, pressure for her ouster continues to build:
It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line.
And on Wednesday morning, the embattled secretary of health and human services will submit to a quintessential station of the Washington deathwatch — testifying before a congressional committee — to discuss her agency’s failings in the botched rollout of the federal health-insurance Web site.
Granted, this is only part of the on-going debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare”. And while it will, in years to come, be cited as the perfect example of ineptitude coupled with incompetence, it isn’t the big problem right now. The big problem, as pointed out yesterday, is the country was purposely lied too in order to garner enough support to push this monstrosity through Congress and make it law.
Lied too. Point blank and with a smile. Jonah Goldberg shares my opinion of Obama’s lie and goes a century or two more:
And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.
Ever. For those of you who want to cite Clinton, Nixon or some other president, Goldberg points out:
The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”
Is that the case with Obama? Lying in order to pass some cherished legislation which won’t at all do what you promise it will do is “the game” and in politics, justifies “playing to win”?
Or is it, much more simply, damn the truth, the ends justify the means?
Yeah, that’s how I see it too.
As for accountability for the Obama lie, don’t hold your breath. Sebelius may end up biting the bullet. But the buck won’t even slow down at Obama’s desk.
I’m not one to use the word “liar” much since I consider it’s definition to be very specific, i.e. telling something you know to be false.
However, in the case of the ObamaCare lie – and that’s what it was when President Obama said “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” – I call it what it is. And there’s no question about it now.
What I hate worse than a liar is someone who tries to rationalize or explain away a lie. Like Steny Hoyer:
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters today that Democrats knew people would not be able to keep their current health care plans under Obamacare and expressed qualified contrition for President Obama’s repeated vows to the contrary.
“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.
Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
So it was a lie to begin with, no one spoke up and now the lying liars are trying to spin the result. You weren’t just misled – you were LIED too. Purposely. And shamelessly.
Welcome to politics and government today. Utter disgust doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the whole institution.
In a brilliant move, the GOP has managed to not only be unable to impose the debt ceiling, it has apparently found a way to capitulate and make it temporarily unlimited:
There’s no actual debt ceiling right now.
The fiscal deal passed by Congress on Wednesday evening to re-open the government and get around the $16.4 trillion limit on borrowing doesn’t actually increase the debt limit. It just temporarily suspends enforcement of it.
That means Americans have no idea how much debt their government is going to rack up between now and February 7, when the limits are supposed to go back into place and will have to be raised.
17 days for this?
And they wonder why people call them the “stupid party”.
Of course, much like the climate alarmists, other than leveraging off a horrible incident like the Navy Yard shootings they really don’t have the stats (or the Constitutional backing) to call for banning guns. But that doesn’t stop them from doing so anyway:
“This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time. When will enough be enough?” Feinstein asked in a statement.
She added: “Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life.”
When will enough be enough? Ask a couple of Colorado state senators.
Enough will never be enough as long as the gun grabbers try to continue to pin it on the implement instead of the murderer. Here again we have a not quite right person acting out with guns. Sound familiar? Yet somehow the system not only gave him a security clearance (after he’d been arrested previously for using a gun in Seattle), but apparently okayed it for him to be sold a weapon.
How is that the fault of the weapon? Where did the weapon “fail” in this? Where did the weapon “cause” this to happen? How did the weapon find its way into this man’s hands? Because the state failed in numerous ways to do what it is and was supposed to do. Grant a security clearance to a clearly disturbed person, lax security at a secure facility, etc. Gee, maybe it isn’t guns. Maybe it is incompetent government that can’t enforce existing laws?
But DiFi, the WaPo and other gun grabbers don’t really care about facts.
Life does go on, through Columbine in 1999, through Virginia Tech in 2007, through Sandy Hook in 2012. Each atrocity provides a jolt to the nation and then recedes with little effect, until the next unimaginable event occurs, except each time a little more imaginable. Everything was supposed to change after a man with a semiautomatic weapon mowed down 20 elementary school children in their classrooms last December. But for the politicians, nothing changed. Now, another massacre, another roster of funerals. Again, again, again.
Anyone notice the one similarity in all these events? Everyone of them took place in a “gun free” zone. And what else do you notice about each? And in each one, the state did a bang up job of protecting everyone in them, didn’t it?
DiFi comes from a long line of those who find freedom messy and dangerous and would prefer the orderly and safe haven of state authority instead (with her in charge, of course – and exempted from her own rules). And she wouldn’t at all mind imposing her utopia on you – by force if necessary.