This is December (almost) and not July but this is worth looking at again. Jay Leno interviews some people who don’t know much about history. They vote.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Rep. Peter King, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, on NBC “Today” discussing the release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Read the complaint. Nothing to add, it’s good. It’s compelling. It probably won’t win, though. Still worth the read.
George Will’s admirable prowess with the English language is well known, and his latest is a wonderful example of that ability to capture a profound truth and make it seem obvious by the power of the words used to tell it:
Progressivism is a faith-based program. The progressives’ agenda for improving everyone else varies but invariably involves the cult of expertise – an unflagging faith in the application of science to social reform. Progressivism’s itch to perfect people by perfecting the social environment can produce an interesting phenomenon – the Pecksniffian progressive.
That’s how Will ends his column in The Washington Post under the title, Our Puritanical Progressives.
The verb “Pecksniffian” and the noun “Pecksniffery” are derived from the unctuous hypocrite Seth Pecksniff in Dickens’ 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit.
The thesis of Will’s column is that while the social crusaders of the past were overt religious fanatics, today’s crusaders operate in disguise but take their inspiration from a political stance that is just as fanatical as any religion, and in most respects constitutes a substitute for religion and operates exactly the same. Will produces an apt quote from a lawyer for the video-game industry: “Today’s crusaders,” the lawyer said, “come less from the pulpit than from university social science departments, but their goals and tactics remain the same.”
The deep roots of liberalism, or progressivism as liberals now call themselves having dirtied the word “liberal”, are to be found in American Puritanism. They are driven more by a desire to control people’s lives than to make them better.
More on the connection between Puritanism and liberalism, or progressivism, here.
This story today tells us that the principals of a company that make photo speed and red light ticket cameras are becoming mulit-millionaires from their share of the fines paid to them by city and state governments. American Traffic Solutions (ATS Consolidated, Inc.) makes photo speed and red light cameras that issue tickets automatically. They don’t sell the cameras to the cities and states that use them, they just take a cut of the profits, that is the fines that are levied by the city or state government. This must be the perfect public/private partnership at least from a politicians or bureaucrats point of view.
Any government that wants to increase its take from traffic fines can just authorize ATS to install the cameras without any initial outlay and pretty soon they’re singing, “My god, how the money rolls in!” The take by ATS can be as much as 40% I’ve heard, and of course, it’s just a dream for bureaucrats at all levels.
What if everyone slowed down so they were not exceeding the already under-posted speed limits where these cameras are posted? Would that dry up the money train? Nah, they’d just lower the speed limit even more.
The fix for this is state laws that prohibit any government entity from sharing traffic fine revenue with any private company or person, and making all traffic fine revenue go straight into the state general fund with an annual sharing of the revenue with all government entities in the state according to a formula that is based solely on their ordinary and necessary expenses (and not on the number of tickets they write). That is the only way traffic enforcement will ever be based on achieving traffic safety and not solely on money. When there is a financial incentive, especially a direct and immediate one as now exists, enforcement will always and everywhere by about money and nothing else.
Voters and taxpayers may not need to wait for politicians to do it. Voters in Houston did something that is even more direct. They flat shut down the cameras completely. Hooray for them!Vodpod videos no longer available.
My, my…when the teat is pulled from the pig’s mouth there is going to be a whole lot of squealing going on!
So says Byron York at the Washington Examiner.
York has talked to some major pollsters and looked deep inside the polls, finding big trouble for Obama in 2012 if he isn’t able to turn things around. Obama has lost too much support from all key groups that elected him in 2008. Well, not all. Those with graduate degrees have actually increased their support for Obama buy a percentage point. The best explanation for that is summed up by paraphrasing a famous quote of George Orwell. There are some ideas so wrong that only a person with a graduate degree could believe in them. Those with graduate degrees will never support a Ronald Reagan, for instance, because most of them would be perfectly satisfied to be ruled by “a little intellectual elite in Washington.” An Obama is and always will be just fine for the majority of that crowd.
Among all other groups that he owned outright in 2008, Obama has lost serious ground. That includes independents, women, Hispanics, whites in general, etc. Even younger voters are abandoning Obama. While 89% of Blacks still support him, that number is down from 95% in 2008. It may not seems like much of a drop but is more serious than it looks. If Black support for Democrats in general ever falls below 80%, Democrats would have a hard time ever winning another election because the heavy majority they have enjoyed among Black voters has meant that Republicans cannot ever win with a simple majority of the non-Black vote in general. With their supermajority of the Black vote Democrats can come out on top with about 48% of the non-Black vote, which is the upper limit they typically get, while Republicans need about 52%.
Bill Clinton was repudiated in 1992 but turned it around to easily win a second term in 1996. That occurred as a result for two factors. First, Clinton moved from the far left to the center and voters approved. Second, the Republicans fielded a weak candidate. Obama will need both of those things to happen again. He can only control the first one, and he’s not likely to give up his desire to change America with far left wing policies. It’s simply not in him to back off from it. He believes the troubles of 2010 were a messaging problem. He won’t ever accept the reality that it was about policy and substance. The voters got the message loud and clear. They just didn’t like it.
Obama can be more hopeful about the second factor. Waiting for Republicans to screw up is usually not a long wait. But even that may not be enough.
Hannah Arendt coined the term The Banality of Evil by making it the subtitle of her 1963 book on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt contended, rightly I think, that the unspeakable acts of history are carried out by ordinary people who have accepted the premise of their government so they come to believe the repulsive things they do are normal. The murderous actions of those who carried out the holocaust in 1930’s Germany were not madmen. They were ordinary. In the rest of their lives they were not sensational criminals or sociopaths; they were merely vapid, dull, uninteresting. They were banal. Their actions were evil but also sanctioned by the state, so they came to believe it was all just the way things are done.
One of the most striking examples of ordinary people carrying out unspeakable crimes without conscious happened on a summer day in 1941 at Jedwabne, Poland when half the town murdered the other half. By the end of one day 1,600 men, women and children lay dead at the hands of people they knew and had lived peaceably among for all of their lives. The murderers were not crazy or temporarily insane. They did what they did for one reason only; the Nazi government at the time told them to do it, but did not force them with threats of violence. Their government merely made it clear that it wanted them to do it, and that they would not be held accountable. Such is the power of a government to get people to do unspeakable acts merely by offering sanction and approval. [Further reading on Jedwabne: The Roman Catholic Church and Jedwabne; Neighbors: The Destruction of The Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan T. Gross; July 10, 1941 in Jedwabne by George Will, July 9, 2001 in Newsweek. But cf. Jedwabne — The Complete Story]
We see something generically similar in people today who dismiss the sexual groping of American citizens at airports by TSA agents with such nonsense as, “Well if that’s what it takes to keep us safe, I guess it has to be done.” This is the normalization of repulsive acts by government agents that rob their fellow citizens of their dignity, and are in fact criminally illegal when done by anyone else.
It’s not on the order of the holocaust. People are not being stuffed into box cars and shipped off to death camps. But that’s not how the holocaust started. It started with small acts of humiliation. Then with the breaking of glass. Then with draconian rules about where certain people could live and work and what sort of property they could possess. In less than 5 years after those things began the first group of Jews were herded into a building that was then set on fire. Soon another group was locked in the confines of a moving van and gassed to death with a gas called zyklon b that had been developed for that purpose. Within a short time Auschwitz, Birkenau, Sobibor, and Treblinka were operational.
Is it ridiculous to make reference to these atrocities when discussing invasive pat downs by TSA agents? They are humiliating their fellow citizens in a gross and despicable manner, but they aren’t murdering them. So maybe it is an inflammatory comparison. But it may also be relevant in light of what has happened in less than 2 years. Our health insurance is being taken away, massive new financial legislation will soon be regulating every transaction among free citizens, small banks are being closed down by the government, bond holders had their property confiscated in the Chrysler bailout, Medicare which is for people who worked and paid into the system for most of their lives has been massively cut to finance Medicaid for slothful non-productive people who have contributed nothing to it, and now the Federal Reserve is embarking on QE2 that will result in a massive transfer of wealth from prudent and productive citizens to profligate and indolent ones.
The history of evil actions by government is that once started it does not stop until it has made everyone so desperate there is nothing left to lose. Then it usually takes some sort of war to end it. Ironically, such wars are often started not by the victims of the outrage, but by the perpetrators.
Perhaps there is a more hopeful outcome on the horizon. Perhaps the newly elected Republicans will be steadfast in opposing the Democrats’ agenda of defeat for America and will not repeat the 1994 episode when Republicans tossed all of their principles out the window as soon as the election was over. The failure of that crop of Republicans is partly to blame for the current situation because their weakness and political incompetence allowed the Banality of Evil to metastasize.
“Few legal scholars have blown as many minds and had the tangible impact that Richard Epstein has managed. His 1985 volume, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain is a case in point. Epstein made the hugely controversial argument that regulations and other government actions such as environmental regulations that substantially limit the use of or decrease the value of property should be thought of as a form of eminent domain and thus strictly limited by the Constitution. The immediate result was a firestorm of outrage followed by an acknowledgment that the guy was onto something.”
Read the whole thing at ReasonTV.
Having spent the entire day trying to navigate the labyrinthian mess that Obamacare has created for anyone on Medicare this video hit the mark with me. For seniors, everything was going along pretty well with Medicare Advantage before Obamacare screwed it up, basically by strangling it to death. How anyone over 65 (or anyone who thinks they might be over 65 some day) will ever vote for a Democrat again is beyond me, at least after they find out what has been done to them.
Well, Hillary Rodham Clinton says she won’t submit to any groping by the TSA:
The premise assumed by everyone who defends this nonsense is that somehow these pat-downs, offensive as they may be, are necessary to keep us safe. The premise is wrong. They aren’t necessary, they don’t make us safe. They’re offensive for sure, but they’re also stupid.
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience:
I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — “That government is best that governs least”;(1) and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war,(2) the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.
Continue reading Civil Disobedience
Martin Luther King, “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Continue reading “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”
See also, Why Air Security is the Issue
By C. Edmund Wright:
I submit that if we don’t beat back the TSA’s assault on innocent travelers, we might lose our nation for good. Or perhaps it would mean we have already lost it.
The reality is that the TSA is no more about airline security than ObamaCare was about affordable health care. Both the organization and the bill are about the dehumanization — and control — of theoretically free Americans.
“Though this video is a joke, it’s message is not. Washington’s rhetoric and policies have been creating a damaging environment of uncertainty for businesses. When businesses lack clarity, they can’t plan ahead — choking expansion, investment and job creation.”
In 2005 some liberal twit wrote a book with the title “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” The implication was that people in Kansas are too conservative. Of course, no one could ever be too liberal, at least according to the author.
Nothing is wrong with Kansas, except for electing Kathleen Sebelius to be their governor. Actually, that election debacle was delivered by the Libertarian party doing what it does in almost every election in which it fields a candidate — elects the anti-libertarian Democrat.
But how in the world did the people of Alaska elect this villainous back-stabbing scoundrel of a BIG government machine politician who flunked the Alaska Bar Exam FOUR times? I’ve been to Alaska and I must say I did meet some people there that were an order of fries short of a happy meal, but I never thought they represented a majority of the electorate in the whole damn state. In a write-in campaign? Something is goofy about this. Something is rotten in Alaska.
Now she says, “When Obama does well that means the country is doing well.” Really? This woman is nuts and the Alaskans who voted for her should have their taxes raised because that is what happens when Obama does well. What do you bet that when a bill to repeal Obamacare comes up Murkowski will vote against it?
Picture a young man or woman in the new-hire interview at a local police department. The interviewer asks “Why do you want to become a police officer?” Any recruit with a brain knows that the answer has to be some version of, “I want to help people.” If the new recruit can spice it up with some tear jerker personal story that sounds original, it’s even better. Of course, the real reason is more like, “I want to drive fast and shoot bad guys.” Even though the interviewer might find that sort of honesty refreshing it probably wouldn’t work.
Whatever one’s true motivation it’s doubtful any new recruit is drawn to a future of sitting on the side of the road running a speed trap. There cannot be anyone left on the planet who doesn’t know that speed enforcement is about money and has nothing to do with traffic safety. It’s not about helping people. It’s about helping government cover up its irresponsible management of its budget. In fact, it’s more than that. Speed enforcement is big business.
Here is what the National Motorists Association says:
“No one knows how many traffic tickets are actually issued. Many local units of government deliberately hide this information so they don’t have to split their traffic ticket revenue with the state. Not including parking tickets, we can estimate that somewhere between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets are issued each year. Assuming an average ticket cost of $150.00, the total up front profit from tickets ranges from 3.75 to 7.5 billion dollars.
“If just half of these tickets result in insurance surcharges (typically at least $300 over a period of three years), you can add another 3.75 to 7.5 billion dollars in profit for insurance companies. This is why insurance companies “care” so much traffic “safety” programs and are willing to donate millions of dollars worth of radar and laser guns to the police. For them, it’s simple: more tickets equal more money!”
Now that politicians locally and nationally have spent the country into near bankruptcy, governments at every level are looking to maximize the take from traffic tickets. The money grab is itself a colossal fraud on the public, but the intellectual and moral dishonesty that is necessarily entailed in this alliance among police departments, the courts, judges and insurance companies undermines respect for the law and those who are tasked to enforce it. It means that when a new recruit tells a senior officer in an interview that he or she “wants to help people,” (and might actually mean it) they both know it’s a euphemism at best, and at worst an abominable lie.
Meanwhile, as the cops are on the streets raking in the dough for the government they work for, a man is severely beaten by thugs over the course of 30 minutes while a witness makes four calls to 911 before the police are dispatched. Here was a missed chance to actually help someone.
It doesn’t have to be like this. This abomination can be stopped. Here’s how:
- No court or police department should directly benefit from the collection of traffic fines.
- No police department should be permitted to rate its officers based on how many tickets they write.
- No local government should retain traffic fines. The money collected in local courts should be transferred to the state and returned via a local aid formula based on population.
Something on that order can be implemented as soon as the public demands it. We get the government we are willing to tolerate.
Johnny Carson Lie Detector Politician