Current Observations Home Current Observations Home Current Observations Home

A New Health Warning

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I don't remember exactly what it was that Senator Harry Reed said during a press conference I saw yesterday on C-SPAN, but it inspired the following poster. At the time, he was talking about how many Iraqi civilians had been killed in Iraq by U.S. forces. He cited a number around 600,000 but stated that he couldn't be certain... at least 100,000 killed, anyway. It occurred to me at that moment that the United States Government is bad for your health if you're on the receiving end of our new-and-improved version of Freedom and Democracy.
Uncle Sam's Disease
Heaven help us all!

Vote the Bums Out

Friday, June 29, 2007

The words "Vote the bums out" were probably first uttered by a crooked politician. He knew that impeachment would mean a hasty end to his career, whereas imploring upon the voters to wait for the next election cycle would buy him some time. The only party that benefits from keeping a crooked politician in office is the crooked politician. That is why impeachment must be used--and often.

(h/t: Mark)

Today's Word

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The online American Heritage Dictionary defines genocide as:
NOUN: The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.
In other words, it's deliberate mass depopulation.
Let's use this word in a sentence. I'll give you a news story from Today's headlines to help you with context, then you can form a sentence using the word genocide to describe the story.
California debates pet-sterilization law
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A bill that would require most dogs and cats in California to be spayed or neutered has brought howls of protest from breeders and threats from the American Kennel Club to pull the nation's second-largest dog show from the state.
The measure -- which would be the most sweeping statewide pet-sterilization law in the country -- passed the Assembly by a single vote earlier this month and goes next to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain despite the support of animal-loving celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Lionel Richie and retired "Price Is Right" host Bob Barker.
It is aimed at reducing the estimated 500,000 unwanted dogs and cats that are destroyed in California animal shelters each year.
"The more animals neutered and spayed, the fewer animals born, the fewer animals coming into our shelters, and fewer animals are euthanized," said Pat Claerbout, president of the California Animal Control Directors Association.
The bill -- sponsored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, a Democrat from Southern California who is also pushing to phase out the incandescent light bulb -- would require pet owners to sterilize their dogs and cats by the time they are 4 months old, or face a $500 fine. (Ed. Note: The bill actually strikes 4 months and changes it to 6 months.)
Licensed breeders of purebreds would be exempt. But the law does not spell out which dog and cat breeds would be covered, and breeders wanting an exemption would have to apply for one from their local animal control authorities. The bill leaves it up to counties and cities to set the price.
Professional breeders complain that the measure would do little to curb "backyard breeders," that it would drive up their costs and entangle them in bureaucracy, and that it would amount to social engineering for animals.
How would you use the word genocide to summarize this news story?
Many people think that genocide only involves the extermination of groups of people--in this case dogs and cats--currently living. While this is true, genocide would also include the planned and systematic depopulation of a particular group by removing from them the ability to propagate their species. Think of it as future genocide--murdering future generations by making their being born an impossibility.
(Note: The above bill is Assembly Bill 1634.)

Rabbit Ears

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sometimes they make it too easy...
I just couldn't resist!

Unintended [Immigration] Consequences?

An actual letter that was probably taken very seriously. It should have been...
The Honorable Tom Harkin
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Phone (202) 224 3254
Washington DC , 20510
Dear Senator Harkin,
    As a native Iowan and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.
    My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.
    Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.
    Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year.
    Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as "in-state" tuition rates for many colleges through out the United States for my son.
    Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver's license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me given that I still have college age children driving my car.
    If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative.
Thank you for your assistance.
Your Loyal Constituent,
Donald Ruppert
Burlington , IA
(Note: The above letter was found here.)

Devilish Details

I think I figured out where the misunderstanding is with Dick Cheney's office, George Bush's office and the Executive Order requiring them to submit to oversight of their handling of classified national security information.
The Executive Order in question defines "agency" as any executive agency, military department and "any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information." This last part is where most astute persons point to proving applicability. However, this obviously doesn't include Bush's and Cheney's offices. They're not "entities"... they're deities.
There is a difference.
(P.S. Here and here are a couple of good articles on this subject.)

More on Cheney's Power

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How insane with power is Cheney? Have a read.

He Said What?!?

Lost in the dust up over Vice President Dick Cheney's office claiming that it is not required to comply with a presidential order regulating the handling of classified data is the fact that they're obviously trying to hide something from the Information Security Oversight Office. Why else would they go to such great lengths to avoid the directive? They even attempted to abolish the office when it pushed for the information.
That, I think, is the real story--not the attempt to rewrite the Constitution.

Quote for Today

Sunday, June 24, 2007

In my previous blog post I featured a treatise on why the gun makes society a more civilized interaction between people. While reading from the author's other blog, I stumbled on the following quote that made me chuckle because it captures--perhaps in the fewest words possible--my belief about the evils of socialism:
"Socialism does not spread equality; it only spreads the misery out evenly."
Read the rest of Marko's post here.

Reason v. Force

While listening to the latest installment of the American Radio Show, Dave Champion read (RealAudio) a piece that was posted to The Munchkin Wrangler's blog titled "Why the Gun is Civilization". It's an awesome treatise that clearly and succinctly expresses my feelings and beliefs concerning our individual Right to own and carry--without limitation--firearms. Reprinted for your perusal [without permission] in its entirety:
Why the Gun is Civilization
by Marko
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation...and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Stone Mountain Relief

Stone Mountian ReliefDid you know that on the north face of Georgia's Stone Mountain, there is the world's largest bas-relief? Three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved there: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. For more, let's turn to a quote from Wikipedia:
The largest high relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The entire carved surface measures three-acres, larger than a football field. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee's elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain's surface.
In 1912 the carving existed only in the imagination of Mrs. C. Helen Plane, charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The Venable family, owners of the mountain, deeded the north face of the mountain to the UDC in 1916. The UDC was given 12 years to complete a sizable Civil War monument. Three sculptors worked on the carving during its creation. Gutzon Borglum was hired in 1915 as the carving consultant, and in 1916 he was appointed carving sculptor by the Stone Mountain Monumental Association. Borglum envisioned a carving with seven central figures accompanied by "an army of thousands." He was not able to begin work on the carving until 1923 due to funding problems and World War I.
After blasting away large portions of the mountain with dynamite, Borglum was able to complete the head of Lee on January 19, 1924. In 1925 a dispute arose between Borglum and the managing association. As a result of the conflict, Borglum left, taking all of his sketches and models with him. Borglum went on to carve the famous Mount Rushmore sculpture in South Dakota.
Augustus Lukeman, the second sculptor, resumed work on the project in 1925. Lukeman's carving included the three central figures of the Confederacy on horseback. He removed Borglum's work from the mountain and diligently worked with pneumatic drills, but by 1928 (the original deadline) only Lee's head was complete and funds were depleted. The Venable family reclaimed their property, and the massive granite mountain remained untouched for 36 years.
In 1958 the state of Georgia purchased the mountain and the surrounding land. The Georgia General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. In 1960 the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee was comprised of six internationally known figures in the world of art. A competition was held, and nine world-renowned sculptors submitted designs for a new sculpture. In 1963, based upon recommendations by the Advisory Committee, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association chose Walker Kirkland Hancock of Gloucester, Massachusetts to complete the carving. Work resumed in 1964, and a new technique utilizing thermo-jet torches was used to carve away the granite. Chief carver Roy Faulkner, a marine veteran with a talent for using the new thermo-jet torch, was able to remove tons of stone in one day. For over eight years Park guests could see and hear the workmen and their jet torches. The figures were completed with the detail of a fine painting. Eyebrows, fingers, buckles and even strands of hair were fine-carved with a small thermo-jet torch. The carving is actually much larger than it appears from Stone Mountain Park's attractions. Workers could easily stand on a horse's ear or inside a horse's mouth to escape a sudden rain shower. A dedication ceremony for the Confederate Memorial Carving was held on May 9, 1970. Finishing touches to the masterpiece were completed in 1972.
I'll have to add Stone Mountain to my list of places I'd like to visit before I die.

Got Tar & Feathers?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I've never been a fan of small government tyranny, especially when it comes from peons working in local government. I have little-to-no use for them and feel they need to be dealt with harshly. So, you can imagine my dismay when I opened my local newspaper, the Lake Stevens Journal, to the Letters page and read the following written by on obviously distraught elderly woman:
Shed setbacks may cost a bundle

Dear Editor,
Did you know a 5-foot setback is required for storage sheds from your fence/property line?

Did you know the setback is 10-feet with additional requirement of not more than 8-foot height sheds for an exterior side yard of a corner lot? It's the first I've heard of it.

I am a disabled female senior citizen who bought my Lake Stevens home eight years ago with a huge storage shed in place, two feet from one fence, 130 feet from the street, which Richard Karns, Lake Stevens building official, filed a Formal Complaint Investigation against me last week laying a false accusation that I "created and allowed the violation to exist", threatening me with "fees, costs, liability for any expense."

After phoning Richard Karns, who snipped at me and cut me off saying I don't agree with you. Put it in writing. Have a nice day!

The shed has lived a peaceful existence under a cedar tree for 18 years and according to a city councilmember is grandfathered in. It was here before and after I bought this property. It meant no harm nor adversely affects anyone.

Storage sheds, greenhouses, etc., are seen all over Lake Stevens less than 5 feet from the fence. Is yours?

If I have to move my shed, let's not just discriminate against disabled seniors. The whole city needs to move their sheds to code.

S. Barnes
Lake Stevens
Tar and feathers was a form of punishment which was often fatal.A little history is in order for this story to make sense. Much of the surrounding area of the actual lake known as Lake Stevens was part of unincorporated Snohomish County. Just recently, the city pushed to expand it's borders and annexed quite a bit of real estate surrounding the actual lake. Of course, all this new property greatly increased the amount of tax revenue the city would be taking in so they increased the size of city government. They have added or are adding around thirty police officers, many new officials to the building department, etc.--all the trappings of a new and modern city government.
Back to our story. It would seem that just like any position of power, Building Official Richard Karns has become drunk with his newly expanded power of building code enforcement. Keep in mind, city codes are not "laws" per se, but rules cities impose on those unlucky enough to live within a boundary line the state grants the city jurisdiction over. City codes requiring you to keep your lawn cut are not the same as laws that prohibit you from killing your idiot neighbor. For more on this difference, see my post, Malum In Se v. Malum Prohibitum.
I'm not saying that Richard Karns should be dealt with in the same way past generations dealt with power-mad city officials: tarred and feathered. Many of those recipients didn't survive their ordeal. What you can do is call Mr. Karns or drop him an email letting him know that badgering little old ladies will not be tolerated. He can be reached at the following email and/or phone number:
Richard Karns
Building Official
(425) 377-3228
You may also want to call his boss the mayor, Vern Little, and let him know that this type of abuse of the citizenry by city officials is unacceptable. His contact information is:
Vern Little
(425) 334-1012

Thought for Today

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Accountability means admitting to and taking responsibility for the mistakes you've made.
And we wonder why there's no accountability in government? When was the last time you heard a politician admit they were wrong--not to mention the last time they took responsibility for their blunders? Until we can get politicians to admit they've made mistakes, we'll have no accountability.

False Flag Terrorism

Friday, June 15, 2007

What's [not] funny about this whole thing with the terrorists is that I really don't think the terrorists give a rat's ass about average American citizens. Their beef has never been with the people, but with the government of America, as Dr. Ron Paul correctly points out. For instance, look at the targets of their 9/11 attack: The Pentagon which represents the U.S military, The World Trade Centers which represents the financial backing for our foreign adventures, and the White House which orchestrates our foreign policies. If the terrorists really wanted to kill Americans en mass, they'd have struck football stadiums or NASCAR races or other events that draw large crowds of people.
It's my opinion that the terrorists aren't trying to kill Americans, but you'd never know it listening to our government officials. What a handy way to control the American people: scare the hell out of them by telling them the boogey man is out to get them. What better way to get people to give up their freedoms and liberties than by dangling the carrot of security in front of their noses while Cheney sneaks up behind them and yells, "Boo!" Unfortunately for the Bush administration, they've done this tactic so often that many Americans are catching on to them. Now, we see Americans starting to turn around to say, "Knock it off, Dick!"
It's never okay to overreact when you're dealing with people's lives, freedoms, and liberties. Ask the thousands of Japanese the U.S. government interned during World War II. Approximately 120,000 people were uprooted from the lives and forced to live in prison camps. Their only crime: being Japanese. Or the thousands of Middle Easterners the FBI tracked down after the 9/11 attacks. Some of those people are still missing. Not to mention all the laws passed under the guise of protecting us from terrorists that turned out to be nothing more than giant power grabs by government. The U.S. government is one overreaction followed by another. It seems to never end... and I, for one, am sick of it!
(Note: Originally posted as a comment to Mark's post at South Puget Sound Libertarian)

Greenspan Speaks

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Alan Greenspan, when asked at a commercial real estate conference whether he feared a "wholesale pullout" by China out of U.S. government bonds, remarked, "I wouldn't be, no." He continued by explaining that China would not have anyone to sell their securities to. In other words, U.S. bonds have become so discounted that no one wants to get stuck holding them.
Great! I feel much better. Look, this is actually much worse than what Greenspan is admitting to. If you're in the business of buying blue widgets and suddenly the demand for blue widgets dries up, why on earth would you continue to buy more blue widgets? The real problem with China and our U.S. government bond sales is not that China wishes to sell off it's holdings of U.S. bonds, its that China will most likely discontinue purchasing future bonds.
Bonds are what we keep our government running on. Without the cash flow coming from the sale of bonds, our government--and our dollar--will be in serious trouble. And if all your investments and your retirement are tied to the dollar you're in big trouble!

News Review

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For the last couple of days, the headlines have been filled with tidbits of news from all over, but nothing to write a long post about. So I've decided to throw them all together--the one's I can remember--into one post; appending comments as necessary.
Here's a good one. The Senate decided to have a vote on a non-binding no-confidence resolution regarding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Bush, hearing of this vote, made the following remark while at his last stop on a weeklong visit to Europe. From an AP article titled, "GOP blocks Gonzales no-confidence vote":
"They can have their votes of no confidence, but it's not going to make the determination about who serves in my government," Bush said in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Emphasis added)
The words, 'my government' don't sit well with me. Especial when you consider that Bush was the one who uttered, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." At least we get a glimpse into the inner workings of his mind. I think he honestly believes the United States government is his to do with as he pleases. That's like a servant claiming to own the plantation which he's been enslaved to.
At the end of that same article, we read:
"This is a nonbinding, irrelevant resolution proving what? Nothing," said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. "Maybe we should be considering a vote of no confidence on the Senate or on the Congress for malfunction and an inability to produce anything." (Emphasis added)
Maybe we should. But that job belongs to the people, not to you, Mr. Lott. And you really don't want us to go there. Everyone I've talked to has just about had it with you clowns in D.C. ruining this country.
Moving on...
Did you realize the U.S. government has spent well over a trillion ($1,000,000,000,000.00) dollars between 2005 and 2006 on military spending alone? Oh, and that's a trillion dollars we didn't have. We borrowed it. Nice, huh? The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released it's report on nuclear weapons proliferation, which stated:
The United States remained the world's biggest military spender last year, devoting about $529 billion to its military forces while China overtook Japan as Asia's top arms spender, the report said.
U.S. military spending grew from $505 billion in 2005 mainly because of the "costly military operations" in Iraq and Afghanistan, SIPRI said. (Emphasis added)
Disgusting! Read more here.
You may have seen this headline recently: Court rules in favor of enemy combatant. Talk about spin. The court didn't rule in favor of the enemy combatant. The court ruled against the United States government oppressing a U.S. person. There's a difference and the Associated Press should know this. Furthermore, the court even explained to the U.S. government that they can't hold Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident, in indefinitely because:
"The [Military Commissions Act] was not intended to, and does not apply to aliens like al-Marri, who have legally entered, and are seized while legally residing in, the United States," the court said. (Emphasis added)
The court also said the government failed to back up its argument that the Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted by Congress immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, gives the president broad powers to detain al-Marri as an enemy combatant. The act neither classifies certain civilians as enemy combatants, nor otherwise authorizes the government to detain people indefinitely, the court ruled.
The court went on to say that the U.S. government has never classified Ali al-Marri as an 'enemy combatant' and...
...the [Military Commissions Act] doesn't apply to al-Marri, who wasn't captured outside the U.S., detained at Guantanamo Bay or in another country, and who has not received a combatant status review tribunal.
So he cannot be an enemy combatant. The AP's headline is deliberately misleading the reader into believing he is an enemy combatant.
"But why is this case significant?" you ask. Well, in case you can't make the leap for yourself, let's spell it out:
If the government's stance was upheld, civil liberties groups said, the Justice Department could use terrorism law to hold anyone indefinitely and strip them of the right to use civilian courts to challenge their detention. (Emphasis most definitely added!)
You would be stuck in the government's hastily thrown together military tribunal system. You know, the one where you have no rights or protection save those allowed by your captors. Where evidence against you can be withheld from you. Where torture is permissible. Where habeas corpus doesn't exist. You'd be stuck in the 21st Century version of the Spanish Inquisition. Good luck... You're going to need it!
I guess that's enough ranting for today. Take care.

Two Brilliant Posters

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It seems the creative juices have been flowing over at the MAD Magazine establishment. I ran across these posters and had a good laugh...

Fanatic Four Pirates of the Constitution

Like I said... Brilliant!

In my searching for the above images, I stumbled upon this funny animated political cartoon by Walt Handelsman

Quote for Today (...and Everyday!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
~Thomas Jefferson

[Unlawful] Enemy Combatants?

Think about this strange turn of events...
So-called combatant status review tribunals (CSRTs) have conferred the description of "enemy combatant" on hundreds of suspects held without charge at Guantanamo.
But in a pivotal point for the judges at Monday's tribunals, none of the suspects still at the camp has been labeled "unlawful" by a CSRT, so legally they could be viewed as fighting for a legitimate state.
Which indirectly means that every last one of them is protected by the Geneva Convention. This also means that the prohibition against torture or degrading treatment would apply to them. Furthermore, anyone who causes their rights to be violated while in captivity would be guilty of a crime.
The third article of the Geneva Convention states:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
It sounds to me like someone [Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush] may be in a lot of trouble if the authorities come to the same conclusion as I have... but, probably not.

Powered by Blogger |



Who Links