Sic Semper Tyrannis

March 22, 2010

How Many Other States Have a Dead Body on Them?

    I hail from the great commonwealth of Virginia.  A local paper in an online posting recently asked what I thought about the historic health care reform; so I gave my two cents.  I took that input, expanded upon it, and then posted it here.  This issue extend far beyond Virginia.

What am I talking about?

  Well, our Attorney General – Ken Cuccinelli has vowed to resist the ‘individual mandate to purchase insurance’ provision in the new health care bill.  He put up and passed a bill through the Virginia legislature that says that Virginians do not have to buy health insurance.  So, come 2013, Virginia and some other states are going to run headlong into this federal health care bill and its patent unconstitutionality.  Guess what side I’m on?

The side of freedom.

   Repeatedly during the debate, we heard many Democrats say that health care is a right, not a priveledge.  Name me any other right that you are REQUIRED to purchase, lest you suffer a tax penalty?

You can’t because rights aren’t goods sold to you by anyone, much less a for-profit company.  Rights are given to you by God, not the 111th Congress of the United States of America.  Every man has them, unfortunately, many governments either do not allow or seek to control those rights.

  Here in the U.S.,  the Bill of Rights limits what government can do to you.  It is NOT the other way around.  It is not an exclusive list of rights that government grants you and can only be added to by writ of the federal government.  That distinction is in essence the 9th Amendment.

    Virginia can challenge this bill due to the violation of this sentiment along with violiations of the 10th Amendment.  The 10th Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Since the power to mandate health care as mandatory isn’t listed, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to decree such laws.

   Just apply the standards of your daily life to this mandate.  This is like making you buy car insurance when you turn 16 just because you have the ability to drive a car; regardless of whether you actually choose to drive or not.   Now look at health care mandated insurance.   Unless you are mentally ill, you won’t choose to not live, so you are forced to buy insurance or be taxed for living. 

  If you want to buy health insurance, fine…but how can any freedom-loving people even begin to think that government has the right to tell you how to spend your money?  This isn’t a tax, this is a mandate to purchase something enforced with the threat of further punitive taxes.

Since when were you forced to purchase your ‘rights’ and what is next?  By that analysis, there is a flaw in the logic.  Health insurance is not a right – which destroys a portion of their moral justification.  Even then, if government can now legally tell you that as a healthy person you have to buy a good you most likely won’t use  then what about other government decreed ‘rights’?   In the name of ‘social justice’ or ‘for the common good’,  I envision this kind of government to declare food, clothing, and shelter to be ‘rights’ as well – and similarly be funded by all to pay for those that can’t afford it.  How is that freedom?

This is the first step down a slippery slope of tyranny.

Barry Goldwater said it best: “Government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”

Sic Semper Tyrannus – Thus Always To Tyrants.

From the seal of Virginia, you see that Cuccinelli and the VA legislature are living up to this promise.

– G.S.

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The Dealth Penalty

March 19, 2010

   The commonwealth of Virginia  gave Paul Powell the chair today for the murder of Stacie Reed and the rape and attempted murder of her sister Kristie back in 1999.  Virginia and states like Texas among others are on the right path of persistantly executing the worst criminals,  but the process of taking a capitol offense to its conclusion is too expensive and has much room for improvement.

   I am unabashedly for the death penalty.  Some people do not deserve to live for their crimes.  Others may disagree with me both on the moralty or the right of a government having the ability to sentence a peson to death.  However, because of the legal process, it is incredibly expensive to execute a man. 

   Case in point, there were legal loophole that did not tie Powell’s rape and murder convictions into one crime.  He was convicted of both crimes from the same night.  How does that make him any less guilty of a capitol offense?  That loophole got his capitol conviction overturned.   He was still guilty, but the judge deemed he did not commit a capitol offense.  Powell later admitted to some unknown facts in a letter that gave investigators enough information to retry him for a capitol offense.  That is two trials the commonwealth had to pay for.  Lawyers, judges, juries, the whole nine yards.  It was a waste. 

    Loopholes like that and allowing the guilty to have appeal after appeal make for years if not decades where the tax-payer has to house someone who committed a crime heinous enough to be put to death for it.  This is a travesty for the families of  the victims and tax payers.  Remember, the tax-payer foots the bill for building and maintaining the separate facilities for death row inmates along with all the trappings (guards, food, clothing, electricity, etc) that go along with it.  Since it takes so long to execute a person, all the expense of the waiting and appeals makes a capitol conviction cost more than a life setence.  That money could be spent on education, roads, or any number of investments.  Instead, money goes to supporting a burden on society…

I propose some common sense solutions that each state could enact to fix the problems with the death penalty:

1) People who are dead-to-rights guilty (not just guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) should have an expedited death-sentence.  Make it ‘the next level’ of conviction.  The jury has no doubt and is aware of it, so they consciously give the sentence.  This designation allows for no appeals or loopholes.  It cuts a decade plus on death row to 90 days.  Enough time for the convicted to get their affairs in order.

   This would REQUIRE  juries/judges to have irrefutable evidence like DNA or the combination of multiple credible eye-witness testimonies or a confession (like in Powell’s case) to lay down this kind of sentence and have an expedited execution.  This process would serve justice AND unburden society of people like Powell, while also reducing the cost of their incarceration.

2)  Increase the number of heinous crimes eligible for the death penalty.  Namely 1st degree murder, serial rapists, and child rapists.  No one will argue that these are life destroying/shattering crimes and that these predators need to be removed from society permanently.  This not only justly punishes the guilty (in my opinion), an expedited death penalty would serve as a deterent.

3)  Give an honest review of all the convictions with new evidence findings or the potential for new evidence.  I speak specifically to DNA evidence that may exonerate or justify a conviction.  We as a society owe it to those who may be wrongfully convicted of a crime to give them every chance to prove their evidence.  We cannot base or give legitimacy to the post-DNA world of convictions until we use all the tools NOW available to investigate those who were convicted before DNA testing was available.

4)  States like Texas and Virginia should lead the way with such processes, showing how it discourages heinous crime, saves money, and swiftly serves justice.  They should help other states that are not open to capitol punishment and show them the merits of this system.  Each state’s voters and legislators should make their own decisions, but by addressing the flaws in capitol punishment each state could have a better justice system.  This is about justice, but in all fairness, it is about efficiently spending tax- payer dollars as well.  State leaders have a duty to safeguard both.


“Deem” This

March 16, 2010

Where's the shredder?

My thanks to Michelle Malkin and http://iowntheworld.com/blog for the great picture!

  The debate on health care has gone beyond reaching a fever-pitch; it got to that level last week folks.  I’ve already hashed out reconciliation and making this health care bill into an education and budget bill  as well.

Now the  process has gone off the rails.  I’m talking a 100 car trainwreck in downtown D.C. where every car is laden with C4  and rocket fuel.

Bad bills are one thing.  Big government and forced health care just ratchets things up another notch, and is something else entirely.  Nancy Pelosi and her cronies slaughtering The Constitution goes beyond the pale though. 

 Pun fully intended.

What am I talking about?  If you haven’t heard, let me boil it down for you:

This health care bill is unpopular, even among Democrats for a variety of reasons all over the board.  Its not liberal enough (no single payer system), its not fiscally conservative (blue dog Dems), it uses tax-payer money to pay for abortions (some Dems and many Republicans), and a whole party is voting against it, etc.  What really rankles the Democrats isn’t the fact that the majority of Americans don’t like it.  What gets their goat is that many Democrats don’t like the fact that they have to approve the Senate’s version of health care before they can vote for the book of amendments to make it more palatable for themselves.  With the straight up or down reconciliation vote (which is already controversial itself) that President Obama called for – everyone has to go on record that they voted for or against the Senate’s version of the bill and the amendments.  That’s two votes.

Democratic Representatives in the House don’t want to go on record come the mid-term elections as having voted for the sweetheart deals that enabled the Senate to pass the bill.  Deals like Ben Nelson’s ‘Corn-Husker Kickback’ and Mary Landrieu’s ‘Louisianna Purchase’.  Deals specifically designed to give benefits to those specific states (among others) in order to secure those Senators’ votes.

So, to address the reticence of some Democratic reps, the speaker has found a way to avoid going on the record.  Pelosi, got Rep slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the House Rules Committee, to propose passing the Senate health care bill and the corrective amendments with one vote using a ‘deem and pass’ rule.  Basically, the House first holds the amendment vote.  With its passage, it is understood that the Senate’s health care bill is ‘deemed’ to have ‘passed’ as well.

There’s only one teeny problem with that…it is specifically prohibited in the Constution.  Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution reads:

…But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively…

This excerpt is near the end of the first paragraph, right after talking about Presidential veto and the two-thirds vote needed to override it.

You need ‘yeas and nays’ and the names of of those yeas and nays must be recorded.  This slaughter rule unqesetionably violates both the clear wording and the intent behind it.

James Madison chose the wording and the inclusion of this when he penned The Constitution for a reason.  He knew that you needed to hold members of Congress accountable.  Come the mid-term elections, Republicans and Independents can quote these Democratic Congressmens’ records and spin the story that said congressmen voted for the sweetheart deals.  Those reps don’t want that.  The problem is, that accountability is to the voters – who will not be happy and are more likely through the democratic process to votes them out of office.  So, afraid of their own political futures, some may not vote for the health-care bill and that handful of ‘neys’ really could make the difference.  It is that close.  Pelosi in order to game the system and get the health-care bill passed has no problem shredding The Constitution and that is why she is one of the few Democrats I repeatedly name time and time again in this blog.  She represents the worst of everything in our political process and the government.

  I in part quote today’s WSJ’s leading opinion piece:

“If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison’s core checks and balances.  Yes, self-executing rules have been used in the past, but as the Congressional Research Service put it in a 2006 paper, “Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills.” They’ve also been used for amendments such as to a 1998 bill that “would have permitted the CIA to offer employees an early-out retirement program”—but never before to elide a vote on the entire fundamental legislation.”

The full article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703909804575123512773070080.html

I couldn’t have said it better.  This process shouldn’t have ever been used at all.  The Hindenblog talks about this exclusively here: http://hindenblog1.blogspot.com/2010/03/crash-slaughtering-constituionwe-fouled.html – shaming the Republicans because THE CONSTITUION MATTERS!

This procedure is Pandora’s Box.  When opened (as the Republicans have done), what comes out at first is innocuous twist of rules that is just a matter of convenience and helps expedite the legislative process.  Eventually though, you get the true evil – a demon that springs out of the box that will fundamentally transform one-sixth of the US economy or more.  Now of all times is NOT the time for games to be played to get something passed come hook or crook.  Such games directly threaten the republic.  The HindenBlog article I referenced above put it best:

“The Constitution matters.  Nobody cuts corners, and violates the Constitution…even a little bit…without enormous risk.  The motives may be pure, the immediate consequences nil, but ignoring the founding charter of our nation for the sake of expediency leads us to the kind of despicable perversion we see in Slaughter’s proposed rule.  The terrible power of precedent is put into play, as we see now.  That the precedent set is tortured beyond credulity does not matter, as any law student knows.  Thereafter, the new precedent…often unrecognizable as the logical extension of what they did by the authors of the preceding one (because it isn’t logical)…becomes the new place-holder that creative, unprincipled people will try to move further down the road to ruin.”

Remember friends – the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, even if it is intentions that you don’t want.

– G.S.


Who Is John Galt?

March 9, 2010

C'mon...you knew this post was coming eventually....

   Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is my favorite book.  It is the most influential book I have ever read and if I taught an english or a business class in high school or higher, it would be required reading.  Unfortunately through my years in high school and in college, I was never required to read it, nor were my classmates; although I had heard about it.  I actually had the book confused with some book of Sylvia Plath’s (egad!) for a while.   I thankfully got that straightened out.

   As the economic mess of the past year plus had unfolded, I’d heard more and more people whose politics I agreed with saying things like:  ‘Who is John Galt’, ‘Dagny Taggart would know better’, and ‘sounds like Wesly Mouch’.  Statements like that.  So, I looked those names up on-line and it took two clicks to see that they came from Atlas Shrugged!  I HAD to read it, especially being an intrepid reader and conservative in my politics and approach to business.  So, I bought the book from Amazon and devoured it.  And that is quite a meal – its a long, somewhat dense book.    

   This book depicts what is happening to America today and predicts what is going to happen to America tomorrow if we don’t clean up our act – and it was written in 1957!!!   It is an amazing fictional allegory of today’s times.  I highly recommend that everyone read this book regardless of politics.

   A good and wise friend forwarded the below link to me.  Its a YouTube clip from John Stossel’s TV show about Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged.  There are 6 parts all told, but I HIGHLY encourage you to at least check this one out.  They talk about many of the topics that are near and dear to my heart, but with more authority and eloquence than what I currently have.

     In the clip, Stossel hits on the High Points of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.  He has a panel of Ayn Rand experts who interact with a studio audience.  Some in the audience love the book as I do and others dislike the book and talk about their problems with it.  The biggest complaints come from criticism’s on Ayn Rand’s personal life’s failings, not of the allegory that the book depicts.  Those are two separate issues and her personal life has no bearing on the message of the book.
 
    The criticisms also comes from a mis-understanding of what ‘being selfish’ really means and how if you truly look out for your long-term best interests, NOT short-term, then you AND others will prosper.  That is an underpining of Capitalism and why it works SO well.  When employees and business owners can work in a free market with a minimum of rules and government intervention, you get the America that we all idealize and miss.
  
    So, how does  business and economics support my politics?  Well, I want small government, personal freedom, and I desire only to look after my own affairs and take care of what is mine.  I don’t need a third party to tell me whats good or bad for me or to tell me what to do as long as I am living up to my end of the social contract.  Which is basically paying my taxes and not breaking any laws (even if I don’t like the premise of some).
     
    Minimal government invovlement is what the founder’s wanted (remember, they didn’t trust governments as they had just thrown off that yoke from the King of England) so they laid out what your inalienable rights were and what government could not explicitly do.  It did not limit what the individual could do.  That is freedom codified, but it isn’t freedom to do whatever I want.  I believe in other people’s rights to life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness as well.  Stossel talks about the duality of freedom and RESPONSIBILITY and that you have to have both.  Many people who do not understand the responsibiliy of being free would rather give up the  responsibility (and hard work) and abdicate that role to the government so it can protect them and take care of them.  They believe that it is the government’s role to be responsible and make the decisions for you.  So, with that terrible mandate, government is all to happy to oblige make rules to protect you and everyone else – thus impinging on your freedom.  ou get a slippery-slope nanny state that takes your freedoms bit by bit all in order to protect you.
   
    I could go on for a while, but I really want you to check out the YouTube link.  Just remember, the lessons of this book dovetail perfectly with our Founder’s principles and what is written in the Constitution. 
****
– Life, Liberty, and the Pursuiut of Happiness. 
– Your rights come from God not some Government.
– All men are created equal
 ****
       ….but after that, success is not guaranteed.  You have to work for it – our society has plenty of opportunity for you even if you have to pull yourself out of poverty by your boot-straps.  Nothing can replace hard work.   yet, we are seeing the development of the EXACT opposite of that today.  Government intervention into business –  Bailouts, laws, protections, etc.  It all is done in our name for the ‘collective good’ but what happens it that all this government crushes the innovation and incentive to do hard work that built this country.  Eventually, you can promise to give universal health-care and support the poor as much as you want, but if you do not have the productive sector of society to pay for all of this, the system collapses under its own weight of debt, corruption, and ineptitude.  Sound familiar?  It should.  This financial mess was brought about because of it and has only accelerated the problem.
 
     Comment below if you want, but more than anything, I emplore you to find a copy (someone has to have one around – there are 7 million of them floating around) and read this book.  It will change the way you look at the world and our current economic and societal enivronment.  Do you really want our best and brightest to ‘shrug’ like they do in the book?  Remember, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  This applies to big government as well.
Barry Goldwater said it best, and we see it in Atlas Shrugged as well:
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‘Government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.’
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– G.S.
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(disregard the ‘.”s – they maintain the proper spacing as Wordpress was being recalcitrant!)

Smorsgasboard!

March 4, 2010

Our Bloated Budget - Personified!

 I come writing to you today with some hope.  I found not one, not two, but three excellent articles from my preferred periodical of all things political – The Washington Post.  Funny how a libertarian like myself reads a generally left-leaning paper.  What can I say?  Well,  The WSJ doesn’t have enough politics even if what I get is left-leaning bias.  Not today though!

#1 – Health Care Summit – Kathleen Parker opinion piece

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202745.html?referrer=emailarticle

Here, Kathleen Parker does a pretty good job of keeping the bias out.  I believe she hits the nail squarely on the head.  Especially when she talks about the Tea Party and Independent voters.  I quote:

“Health-care reform is now about the November election. It’s about gamesmanship. And though the parties differ in fundamental ways that really do matter, a growing majority of Americans no longer care who’s up or down, who wins or loses. A pox on everyone’s house, they say.  The tea party movement is partly a manifestation of this perspective. And, contra wing-nuttery in the margins of the movement, most constituents are everyday Americans who don’t think the federal government should control one-sixth of the economy.  This is not an irrational position, but rather suggests respect for human nature and chaos theory.  At the same time, more and more Americans are abandoning traditional political parties, with about 40 percent of the electorate identifying as independents. A perfect storm this way comes.”

  She’s talking about me and others like me.  We’re not a fringe.  We’re not an extension of the Republican Party, and we certainly don’t think Washington is broken – only most of the people and the political games that makes the city run.  Our Founders created a system designed to fight bad policy and it is doing just that.  Hopefully we’ll toss the bums out.

#2 – Wall Street and its Woeful Lack of Reform – Harold Meyerson opinion piece

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202944.html?referrer=emailarticle

Lets set the record straight.  I am a free market capitalist.  We still have the best socio-ecomonic-political system in the history of mankind.  However… ignorant consumers, greedy men, above-the-law-corporations, bailouts, and politicians make for a dreadful combination.  When we reward bad behavior, save companies that should have cratered, give criminals passes, and tell our citizens to spend – then even I am tempted to scream for more regulation.  How about this though?  Re-enact some of the good legislation – like Glass-Steagal?  Enforce what you have on the books – someone wake the tools over at the SEC up.  Hold the ratings agencies like Moodys accountable (do not give them a pass on their compromised position of being paid by the same companies they are supposed to grade).  Finally, don’t make new agencies or give the secretive Federal Reserve more power.  Give the FDIC the  ability to unwind too big to fail companies just like it does with banks.  Its a similar process – make a sub-department!  Yes, I realize that this is over-simplified, but no one else has proven the ability or trustworthiness to do the job right so give it to Sheila Bair and her lieutenants.  

Meyerson says it better than I though:

“But none of that apparently matters on Capitol Hill, where Republicans oppose all reforms and center-right Democrats carve out lovely loopholes, as they both scramble for the mega-contributions the bankers dole out.  Over the past two years, no group has received more government support, or has more rigidly opposed government regulation, than the banks. Compared to Wall Street, the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries are pushovers.”

3# – Singaporean Healthcare – Matt Miller opinion piece

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/03/AR2010030301396.html?referrer=emailarticle

You know its pretty bad when Singapore is held up as the model of health care that this country should emulate.  Reading the article, you know that this level of consensus and control is impossible and illegal in this country – but cutting out some of the fraud, waste, and abuse (from all sides – and yes, I am looking at you the consumer as well) can go a long way.  Miller boils it all down to this paragraph:

“We obviously can’t transplant Singapore’s approach wholesale to the United States. But the reason we can’t emulate even some of Singapore’s success has to do with that iron law of health-care politics: Every dollar of health-care “waste” is somebody’s dollar of income. As a stable advanced democracy, we’re so overrun by groups with stakes in today’s waste that real efficiency gains are perennially blocked.”

Amen, Matt, amen.  And I thank Kathleen and Harold as well.  These 3 articles are a smorgasboard of thoughtful opinion from 3 different journalists.  They are not claiming the government is broken or that capitalism is dead unlike CNN and MSNBC.  They are saying that the people and the politics at the helm of this government are not doing their job and hence are running the country into the ground.  There are plenty of problems to fix, but not enough reality or political will-power in Washington to get it done.  Democrats control the show, but because their policies are just enough out of touch with America, they can’t get a single Republican to vote with them most of the time – which provides them NO political cover and makes them worried come Election Day when they have to face pissed-off voters.  I don’t lay any credit at Republican feet either.  People (to include me) don’t like you because of your expansionist government that abrogated our rights to ‘protect us’ all while screaming about how you want to cut taxes despite all of your spending and big government.  You’re only marginally better than the Dems because you haven’t figured out you have to cut both.  The zero-sum political games you guys play don’t help either.  This critique is obviously pointed more at Congress, but the other two branches catch my ire as well.  I am no fan of President Obama’s politics nor of The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on how corporations can contribute as much as they want to a campaign on behalf of a candidate. 

The bottom line is that there are a list of serious problems in the country longer than my arm that aren’t getting done – The Economy, Deficits, Energy (to include clean and green), Health-Care, Unemployment, Education, Immigration, Terrorism, and my ‘favorite’ – compromised politicians. 

 I truly believe that if we as a nation solve this last problem first, the rest will fall into place. 

– G.S.