Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

California Chutzpa

The disaster that is California government has now turned into the theater of the absurd:

Small businesses that received $682 million in IOUs from the state say California expects them to pay taxes on the worthless scraps of paper, but refuses to accept its own IOUs to pay debts or taxes.

The vendors have filed a federal class-action lawsuit. But the depth that government will stoop too to collect revenue never surprises me. With housing prices crashing everywhere, local governments continued to try to collect at the same value rates as before or, in some places, actually raise the taxes.

And here we have California issuing, what to this point are absolutely valueless promises to pay – maybe – and then expecting those in receipt of those worthless bits of script to treat them as real money and to pay taxes on the amount in real money.

The onions it takes to make that sort of demand is just breathtaking. Or perhaps arrogance is a better word. But regardless it is just a stunning thing to behold.

And, as an aside, you can’t help but wonder what California will pay the lawyers it hire to defend its indefensible demand. As a further aside, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the court find in the state’s favor.

~McQ

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Speaking Truth To Power? No Longer Welcome!

Someone at one of the protests recently yelled:

I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.

Oh, wait – that was Hillary Clinton back when there was a Republican administration.

So, is the sentiment expressed by Clinton and so roundly applauded by the left -then – no longer applicable?

Is “speaking truth to power”, no longer approved or something to be desired?

This is the most sickening and disgusting aspect of the left’s reaction to the protests of average Americans against a government action with which they disagree.

What happened to “we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration?”

I heard no caveat in that declaration. She didn’t say “any administration but a Democratic administration”. Or “any administration but one trying to pass health care legislation”.

If the left actually believes in speaking “truth to power” and that Americans have the right “to debate and disagree with any administration”, what is all the name-calling and hyperventilating over real Americans doing precisely that?

If they actually believe that, what’s this?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, said she thought the protests against government health care at lawmakers’ town hall meetings were “un-American and disrespectful.”

And this?

“What we’re seeing right now is close to brownshirt tactics,” [Rep. Brian] Baird (D-WA) said Wednesday …

What is becoming increasingly apparent as America watches this train wreck unfold – and concerned Americans are characterized as enemies of freedom – is that all the previous talk about “dissent” and “patriotism” and “speaking truth to power”, not to mention a “right to debate and disagree with any administration”, was just words. They were a convenient weapon to use against their political enemy at the time. They gave the proper lip service to freedom and liberty and empowered the left’s dissent.

But when the occasion to actually apply those words and ideas presents itself, even if they happen to be on the other side of the debate, they toss them overboard like so much trash. No such empowerment to the rest of us – no sir.

With the left, politics and party have and always will trump freedom and liberty. Hopefully the brownshirted, un-American mobs protesting this unconstitutional hijacking of health care are picking up on that this time.

Hope and change.

~McQ

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Racialists Cannot Believe Health Care Protesters Aren’t Racist

Protesters have been called “angry mobs”, “paid agitators” and recently, “brownshirts” and “unAmerican” – all by Democratic Congressmembers.

You knew it was only a matter of time before the racialists got into the act.  And right on cue I give you “WhiffleBall” with Chris “thrill up his leg” Matthews:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Put 100 of these people in a room. Strap them into gurneys. Inject them with sodium pentathol. How many of them would say “I don’t like the idea of having a black president”? What percentage?

CYNTHIA TUCKER: Oh, I’m just guessing. This is just off the cuff. I think 45 to 65% of the people who appear at these groups are people who will never be comfortable with the idea of a black president.

Just freakin’ amazing – it’s all about Obama to these folks. Having looked at video after video after video of interviews with the “mob”, the “browshirts” the “unAmerican”, I can only wonder where Tucker and Matthews even pretend to come up with this line of dialog.

Pretty sad stuff, but, for the party which invented identity politics and the politics of personal destruction, not at all surprising.

~McQ

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The Best Description Of This Guy Is “Arrogant Jerk”.

What you’ll see here is an example, from the Representative of the 13th District of GA, David Scott, forgetting for whom he works (via Hot Air). Talk about “manufactured outrage”:

I’d have been horribly tempted, had I been at the event and been one of his constituents, to remind him that he is the one who works for us and not the other way around. Amazing arrogance on display. Making untrue assumptions, casting aspersions, and refusing to address his constituent’s question. Is this the new Democrat plan to address the problem they now have at townhalls – be arrogant jerks?

Interestingly, the questioner is a not only a constituent, but a doctor and a Democrat.

Scott’s arrogant reply says it all – You peons sit down, shut up and listen. Your government will tell you what you need and what you need to know. And if you want to talk with me about pressing issues, make a freakin’ appointment.

~McQ

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Why The Proposed Health Care Reform Isn’t Selling

As much as some would like to believe that the reason that Obamacare isn’t doing well among the American people has to do with “misinformation” being thrown about, in reality it is much more basic than that. Ramesh Ponnuru does a very good job of laying out the two conflicting portions of the promises made and why Americans aren’t buying the explanations given by politicians when they question them:

There are two basic points about health-care reform that President Obama wants to convey. The first is that, as he put it in an ABC special in June, “the status quo is untenable.” Our health-care system is rife with “skewed incentives.” It gives us “a whole bunch of care” that “may not be making us healthier.” It generates too many specialists and not enough primary-care physicians. It is “bankrupting families,” “bankrupting businesses” and “bankrupting our government at the state and federal level. So we know things are going to have to change.”

Obama’s second major point is that–to quote from the same broadcast–“if you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don’t want you to have to change … So what we’re saying is, If you are happy with your plan and your doctor, you stick with it.”

So the system is an unsustainable disaster, but you can keep your piece of it if you want. And the Democrats wonder why selling health-care reform to the public has been so hard?

Add to this the fact that while Obama makes the promise about keeping your doctor and keeping your coverage, the legislation that has been passed out of committee in the House does not reflect that promise at all. Underlay all of that with the understanding most Americans have about the proven inability of government to handle anything in an efficient and cost-effective manner and you can understand both the angst and anger reflected out there today.

But Ponnuru’s point is very important – Americans may not be read in on the fine print and nuances of the bill (but then neither are the politicians who’re out there saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread without ever having read the thing), but they know enough to understand you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a radical and complete overhaul of a system – changing the status quo – while at the same time, at an individual level, keep everything in the “status quo”.

And that’s what they’re fighting. The conflicting promises are obvious. Just as obvious then is one of those promises is a lie. And Americans have figured out which it is. Thus the roiling anger at townhall meetings that greet the purveyors of the lie and polls showing whopping majorities of Americans want nothing to do with this plan.

~McQ

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Quietly, Honduras Has Won

Yes I meant to put that in the title.  They have won.  As Investors Business Daily  reports, things have quietly changed to the advantage of Honduras.  While Chavez could run his mouth and the OAS could make threats, the 800 pound gorilla which could really make it miserable for Honduras was the US, and it has quietly backed off its former stance:

In a welcome about-face, the State Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer threaten sanctions on Honduras for ousting its president, Mel Zelaya, last June 28.

Nor will it insist on Zelaya’s return to power. As it turns out, the U.S. Senate can’t find any legal reason why the Honduran Supreme Court’s refusal to let Zelaya stay in office beyond the time allowed by Honduran law constitutes a “military coup.”

This marks a shift. The U.S. at first supported Zelaya, a man who had been elected democratically but didn’t govern that way. Now they’re reaching out to average Hondurans, the real democrats.

Sure, the U.S. continues to condemn Zelaya’s ouster and still seeks mediation of the dispute through Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. But no U.S. sanctions means Hondurans have won.

You have to admire the little country that stood up to the world and said, “it’s our Constitution, it’s our law and we’re going to enforce it”, and refused to back down.

And it is apparent that our State Department, after its initial knee-jerk reaction, has seemingly come to understand that what happened was done legally and in accordance with the Honduran constitution. The Senate was unable to find anything illegal about the action taken.

Certainly things are not back to normal in Honduras, but with the US backing off, the chances of returning to normal are greatly increased. Congrats to the Honduran people for sticking up for their Constitution and refusing to allow it to be violated, and for demonstrating that no man is above the law.

I just wish we had the same level of respect for our own Constitution.

~McQ

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A Fork In the Road is Coming

As most of you know, I served on active duty as a USAF Security Policeman from 1984-1993.  Three of those years were spent in Brunssum, The Netherlands, working on the International Military Police force at Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT, now known as AFNORTH).  I noticed an interesting phenomenon while I was there.  As any policeman know, sometimes, you have some unpleasant interactions with members of the community you serve.  In general, those actions end up with you forcing that person to do something the really do not want to do.

In my experience, this type of unpleasantness usually occurred when dealing with a German, or an American.  But there was something interesting about the outcome.  When you forced a German to do something, every time they saw you after that, they would approach with a smile, “Hello, my friend!  How are you?”  It was almost as if they’d discovered during the confrontation where they stood in the pecking order related to you, and henceforth treated you with respect and friendliness.

Americans, on the other hand, didn’t react that way.  Once a confrontation had gone against them, then every time they saw you after that, they’d shoot angry glares at you.  Maybe they’d remark to a friend, “See that MP over there?  He’s a dick.”  Once you’d had that confrontation with an American, you were never going to be friends.

Frankly, Americans resent authority. We accept some measure of it as a necessary evil most times, but there are limits.  We can be pushed, often quite far, but when we reach a certain tipping point, enmity quickly flares.   We can have quite heated arguments as equals, then knock off and have a drink. But once we have a heated argument, then are forced to do something we don’t want to do…well,  we don’t like it.

That piece of our national character is being tried this month.

Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen arguments about national health care erupt into incidents of local violence. Yes, we yelled at each other bit back in 2005 or so, when Social Security reform was on the table.  But now we’re seeing thugs in SEIU T-shirts showing up and throwing punches at people who are gathered to demonstrate against the current version of health care reform. We’ve seen a local Democratic Party apparatchik shove a demonstrator in the face.  Billy Beck has often said it, and now he’s saying it again: “You have always heard it here first: All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.”

At this rate, I’m afraid that it’s going to become painfully obvious that a large number of people in this country are not going to politely doff their caps to the local SEIU grandees, once they’ve learned their lessons like good Germans.  Quite the reverse, in fact.

I’ve also said before–and every time I do, people like Oliver Willis call me crazy for saying it–we’re preparing this country to split apart.  There are two political camps in this country: collectivists, and and indvidualists.  (Forget party labels.  The parties are, at best, loose approximations of those two camps.)  It’s a fairly even split between the two camps. And the fundamental philosophies of those two camps have become irreconcilable, for a number of reasons, but primarily as a  result of centralization of power in Washington.

Of course, the two philosophies have always been incompatible, but in a more federated America, the incompatibility didn’t matter as much.  People in Wisconsin could be as progressive as possible, and no one in New Mexico cared much.  And if people in Wisconsin or New Mexico didn’t like the local political climate, they could just move to somewhere whe the climate was more to their liking. But with the arrogation of so much power by Washington, that’s no longer an option.  In a federal system, nobody in Texas much cares if some yankees in a state far away set up The People’s Autonomous Oblast of Massachussets.  But if Bostonians think that some Alabama ‘seed  in Washington is gonna force them to dance while handling snakes and speaking in tongues…well, you can’t square that circle.

Unfortunately, if the solons in Washington declare we must do X, there’s no way to escape the consequences of that decision.  And so, every political decision is now fraught with national, rather than local consequences. As a result, the incompatibility between collectivists and individualists is reaching a boiling point.  The centralization of power in Washington, and the nationalization of practically every domestic issue, has done nothing but poison our politics, and degraded our political discourse.

This has happened once before in American history.  Between the founding of the country and the 1850s, Slavery moved from an issue of local sovereignty to a national moral issue.  And as abolitionists gained power in both the house–and especially the Senate–it became clear to the Southern states that the abolition of slavery by Congress was inevitable.  Once that happened, given the temper of the times, secession was inevitable as well.

Whether the Civil War was inevitable is a matter of debate.  I tend to think that the peculiar character of Lincoln made it so.  Given a different president, we might have two very different nations–and probably more, in what is now the United States.

By the same token, I don’t believe we are in for a shooting war between the Red and Blue states. Quite apart from the fact that people in the red states tend to be the people with all the guns, there seems to be a declining interest in both Red and Blue states to live under the same political regime.  Blue staters are increasingly uninterested in delaying their march to Utopia by having to make concessions to Bible-thumping, gay-hating hayseeds, and Red staters are not willing to live in a Peasants’ and Workers’ Paradise run by Godless, unborn-baby-killing Commies.

We’re already struggling with the nearly impossible political task of how to reconcile two irreconcilable philosophies under a powerful central government.  Having union thugs show up and deliver beatings and intimidation is only going to raise the anger level among Americans who feel they are being forced to do something they don’t want to do, increase their resentment, and push the country closer to dissolution.

And this won’t be a case like 1860, where 70% of the country successfully forced their will on the remaining 30%.  We’ve got a nearly even 50-50 split between those two philosophies now. We’re too evenly divided to make force an easy, or even viable option.  If things keep going in this direction, then I think we’re on the way to divorce court, where we’ll be citing “irreconcilable differences”.

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So, Were These Instances Of “Political Terrorism?”

The left has a very short and convenient memory – it apparently begins at January 20th, 2009 and has no memory of , say, 2005.  And the left now thinks that what his happening with these townhall meetings is simply unprecedented and a new, low chapter in right-wing extremism.

But as Jon Henke reminds us, this is nothing new:

* NW Progressive Institute, March 2005: “a boisterous crowd which frequently interrupted the discussion with shouts and hard nosed questions. … Democrats in the audience who were interrupting the panel…. the crowd erupted in angerDemocrats in the audience started shouting him down again.”

* Savannah Morning News, March 2005: “By now, Jack Kingston is used to shouted questions, interruptions and boos. Republican congressmen expect such responses these days when they meet with constituents about President Bush’s proposal to overhaul Social Security.”

* USA Today, March 2005: “Shaken by raucous protests at open “town hall”-style meetings last month … Santorum was among dozens of members of Congress who ran gantlets of demonstrators and shouted over hecklers at Social Security events last month. Many who showed up to protest were alerted by e-mails and bused in by anti-Bush organizations such as MoveOn.org and USAction, a liberal advocacy group. They came with prepared questions and instructions on how to confront lawmakers.”

You must understand that when Democrats did it in 2005, it was political dissent. Now that the right is engaged in the same sort of behavior, it is “political terrorism”.

They really don’t like it when their own tactics are used against them, do they?

~McQ

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Send In The Thugs (update)

Irony, as we’ve all learned, is not something with which the left is well attuned.

For instance, until the Obama administration unleashed the unions, the townhall meetings were a little raucous, but not violent.

But now that the White House has all but explicitly condoned the demonization and thus the marginalization of those who disagree with his attempt to “reform” health care, and further called on the unions to send in paid operatives to “punch back”, we have violence.

The irony? This, from Dennis Rivera, health care chairman of the SEIU after six of his goons had assaulted a protester in St. Louis:

“These are the times to clearly speak out in a civilized way, and tell them we won’t be prevented by these terrorist tactics from participating in these town hall meetings,”

Always nice to know how the opposition defines “civilized way” isn’t it?

Yup, raising your voice in a townhall meeting and not just shutting up and listening to the nonsense the man or woman (does anyone understand what the word “representative” means?) who works for you is spouting is now a “terroist tactic” according to the SEIU.

Solution – assault people in a ‘civilized way’, bar those who disagree with the administration from a place in the meeting while packing it with handpicked union members and call it a “townhall”.

Pure, unadulterated cowardice on parade is what it is. Apparently the Dems are not only unaware of the irony of the situation, but also unfamiliar with the first law of holes. And trust me, they are digging a deep one with their present behavior.

UPDATE: What are union members from Chicago doing at a St. Louis townhall meeting?

~McQ

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