Hobbit@Law

Looking carefully at that which is unseen.

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Thinking about: Hanging out an “Empire Closed” sign

Mostly seconding the motion located here, of which the salient points regarding empire closure (with my comments (like this) are:

· Cut a half a trillion dollars out of the $1.2 trillion national security budget; putting half of it into tax cuts for non-billionaires, and half of it into useful spending on green energy, education, retraining for displaced military-industrial workers, etc. (Pass on the spending money on anything but tax cuts for the overburdened tax payer, but otherwise a good start)

· Bring the National Guard home and de-federalize it. (How ’bout “get rid of it entirely” and thus prevent future temptation to use it?)

· Ban the redeployment of personnel currently suffering PTSD. (Ban standing armies, thus solving the problem inherent in deploying them.)

· Ban no-bid uncompeted military contracts. (Why limit it to just military contracts?)

· Restore Constitutional war powers to the Congress. (That would be up to Congress to reassert the powers it has – no need to “restore” something that hasn’t gone away.)

· Create of a public referendum required prior to launching any war. (Too much like democracy – that’s why it’s supposed to be a republic here. However, impeaching, convicting, and imprisoning any President who does not obtain a clear declaration of war would help.)

· Close the foreign bases. (Domestic ones, too.)

· Ban weapons from space. (Good luck enforcing that against others, but certainly the US can agree to not do it.)

· Ban extra-legal prisons. (And take a long hard look at who exactly is being put into the “legal” ones.)

· Ban kangaroo military courts outside of our ordinary court system. (How about just banning kangaroo courts, period?)

· Restore habeas corpus. (Exercise it. It hasn’t gone anywhere – see “War Powers” above.)

· Limit military spending to no more than twice that of the next highest spending nation on earth. (Too mechanical. Limit it to that amount necessary to maintain a modest Navy to defend the continental United States, just like the Founders intended.)

· Ban secret budgets, secret agencies, and secret operations. (Couldn’t have said it better.)

· Ban the launching of drone strikes into foreign nations. (Or launching them at home.)

· Forbid the transfer of students’ information to military recruiters without their permission. (As an alternative, let’s not collect students’ information.)

· Comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact. (Or try those who do not comply as war criminals.)

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Thinking about: Cruel and unusual punishment

It has to be some form of cruel and unusual punishment, which says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” to have to deal with a judge who has a degree in sociology. Not that most defendants want to listen to judges anyway, but it has to be even worse to hear something like, “Look. The social group demands conformance, which means at minimum obedience of the group’s laws. You are here in front of the court today because you’ve chosen not to obey one or more of those laws, and thus a penalty is now being imposed. The purpose of a penalty is to encourage a party to remediate its behavior. Now, Plan A is for the imposed penalty to cause you to remediate YOUR behavior, such that you never have cause again to come before this court. That works with many people, and is the least painful for all parties involved. However, there is also what is known as Plan B. Plan B is what happens upon my determination that you have no intention or potential to remediate your behavior, which leaves me no choice but to smack the living bejeebers out of you such that the guy NEXT to you remediates HIS behavior, in the hope that he gets to keep his bejeebers intact. Your mission now is to convince me that I need to proceed with Plan A in regard to dealing with you, rather than resorting to Plan B.”

Thinking about: My “fair share.”

I am told I need to be paying my “fair share” of taxes. But nobody ever really seems to explain what exactly constitutes ‘fair.’ If you and I buy a cake, each of us spending five dollars for its ten dollar price tag, then obviously our “fair share” is half a cake each. Likewise, if you and I each own half of the same house, and a water pipe breaks, then each of us has a “fair share” of half the plumber bill. That’s simple, though, and perhaps too simple.

Figuring out taxes, however, particularly given a tax code that’s far more “social engineering” than it is “revenue for government operations,” figuring out just what someone’s “fair share” is can be a nightmare. Soaking the rich via progressive taxation is an often decried scenario – but what if a great deal of that wealth has been acquired because of special tax and legal benefits conferred upon the “wealthy?” Alternatively, that same progressive taxation lets the “poor” off the hook for any liability, but don’t the “poor” use many of the same services that the “rich” do – national defense, highways, courts, and so on? If their obligation is zero, then isn’t it ‘fair’ to have the obligation of the “rich” be zero as well?

Of course, Mom Hobbit was correct when she explained to me again and again and again that “life isn’t fair,” and so it would seem in regard to the alleged “shares” that are owed – they’re not going to be ‘fair’ either. But it sounds good, when you’re looking to take things that don’t belong to you, to describe your taking as “fair.” It makes it easier to sleep at night, I guess, if the warm fuzzy of using other people’s money to satisfy your own urges isn’t enough by itself to give you those sweet dreams that the pure-of-heart government service types deserve.

Flat tax. It’s the fairest you’re going to get. Something like 17% of the first dime to come through the door should do it. It’s only fair.

Thinking about: Greed

Socialoids (a more fun word than “communitarians” and more accurate than “socialists” for describing those whose social, psychological, and economic faiths rest in the group, rather than the individual) will natter on and on about how greed is bad, and decry the “selfishness” of individuals who somehow have come to the conclusion that they should keep what they have built or earned, and that socialoids have no claim on the property of others. Such individualists are the bane of All That Is – and can be – Good, and if only they’d become Of The Body, life on earth would become like paradise. The problem is that socialoids don’t take into account that greed and selfishness are normal parts of human nature, and thus giving greedy and selfish socialoids control over the assets of others just results in those assets being used for the socialoids’ ends, which – as anyone who’s heard of a death camp might understand – are not always the best uses of those resources.

There is an old joke about a journalist interviewing a New Soviet Man in the early USSR. “So,” the journalist asks, “If you have two houses you’ll give me one?” “Why yes!” the NSM replies with vigor. “And if you have two cars, one is mine?” the journalist continues. “Of course,” the NSM answers, “That is the nature of socialism, we all share in the bounty of the world together!” “Well, what about your shirt?” the journalist says, pointing. “NYET!” the NSM answers. Taken aback at this lack of sharing, the journalist asks, “Why not?” “Because I actually have two shirts,” the NSM answers.

Ask any socialoid if you can move into his house, have his car, eat his food, or anything else that involves your use of his personal resources to the extent that you want to use them and his answer will certainly be as resounding a “NO” as any cold hearted selfish Randian might give. And yet that jackleg will be happy to prattle on and on and on about how essential it is for you to give up your things for his projects. All of the socialoid billionaires who think taxes should be higher? They’re free to write checks to the US Treasury as big as they’d like – or even just not take advantage of any loopholes – and yet they work their accountants’ fingers to the bones making sure that every one of their dollars possible stays in their control.

In short, socialoids are not motivated by any sort of “higher social awareness” compared to your average free market slug. Rather, they are simply indulging in their own MKI Human Being behavior, but rather than admit to their own personal failings, pretend that somehow those failings are a blessing when applied to others.

Thinking about: Winning the war on terror

The other side has won, and won long before Osama bin Laden was murdered in violation of international law (not that international law means anything to the Exceptional Nation). The reason? OBL himself set out his victory conditions when he said:

“All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa’ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note.… So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”

The Washington Post story covers the message. Not, six years down the road, that anybody remembers.

So.

OBL stated his victory conditions – American bankruptcy. Anybody want to argue that America isn’t well over the line into bankruptcy?

Now let’s take a look at what the American victory conditions are, given how clearly they were expressed, before and during the current military actions.

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Crickets.

So the only question now is how badly America will lose. My guess? “Very.”

Got popcorn?

Thinking about: The blessings of 9/11 for most Americans

I’m seeing all these cartoons and celebrations about how 9/11 “still hurts” and it’s gotten me to thinking. Unlike most of the world, the continental US hasn’t had anything in the way of war since 1865. War was something that Americans “went off to.” It was an away event, never a home game. Nothing more than another sport, just with tanks and guns. And so it was “fun,” it was “glorious” it was filled with honor and manliness and made Americans – generally ones who’d never BEEN there – feel all good about themselves. Sure, vets came home with scars, internal and external, but they could be ignored, or shuffled off to the VA hospital system. And when they lost an away game, the nation reacted like any other losing team’s supporters – finding blame all around, eventually vowing to retrain and do better, and finally, after kicking come minor league butt, getting all cheerful again.

But now war has come home. Suddenly it’s not as fun and glorious as it used to be when the bombs were being dropped on somebody else. It’s not a sport any more. Oh, Americans have sort of gotten their warm fuzzies back by “killing terrorists” but it’s just not the same. The joy has gone out. I’m trying to imagine a German or Japanese resident in 1955 still navel gazing about the far greater loss of civilian life than Modern Americans can ever comprehend with their Public School Educations. And both were too busy rebuilding to spend a lot of time crying and whining about how unfair it had all been, just as most victims of war have over the centuries.

And that is the crux of it. The 9/11 crime was actually a blessing in disguise for Americans, though they will refuse to admit it. America spent the last part of the 20th century changing, culturally, from a nation that admired the strength of the individual to one that worshiped the cult of the victim. Americans looked for ways to become victims, because victims were loved, showered with attention, and were to be “taken care of.” Victimhood was a status to be obtained, because then you Would Be Heard, rather than a pitiable state to be left as quickly as possible. Victimhood came with financial rewards, and psychic ones as well, as victims were cuddled and nurtured and taken care of and showered with sympathy and attention – all theoretically desirable to the typical cube dweller whose life was fraught with unmeaning. Victimhood also gave a rising class of professional caregivers something to do with their degrees in psychology and sociology and womyn’s studies, again something that was more meaningful than asking, “Do you want fries with that?” The crime of 9/11 was actually a blessing to Americans, because it has now given every man, woman, and child the opportunity to achieve “victim” status, and to demand that they be “cared about” in their victimhood.

So it is no wonder that the wound hasn’t healed – Americans keep picking at the scab, keeping it open. They crave the attention and the sympathy. Instead of getting on with life, Americans are working to continue to wallow in their victimhood, sobbing “poor poor pitiful me” to the rest of the world, half of which rolls its eyes and a lot of the rest is being turned into the next generation of people who’ll be trying their best to give Americans something more to cry about. It is time for Americans to pull up their big boy pants, look to the future instead of the past, and give some serious thought to acting, for once, like actual adults rather than spoiled adolescent brats forever whining about how horrible the world is. Maybe a refocusing on building, rather than destroying, and a recognition that killing lots of other people is not just something to make for interesting nightly news but that does actual injury, would be just the thing to turn that wound into a scar that then goes the route of most national scars.

In the adult nations, anyway. Victims … see things differently.

Thinking about: Economists at war

Cobbler, stick to your last. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, in an otherwise decent analysis, drops this WTF bomb:

“The September 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined.”

ORLY? Let’s see – the American Way Of Life is pretty much crushed by an ever-growing police state, the economy is swirling down the toilet from all the costs, dead American soldiers combine with dead furriners – whose surviving relatives will not be pleased – and overall things … well, “where are we going and what’s with this handbasket?”

Just how does Joe think that bin Laden planned to win his campaign against the US? Ever hear of 4G Warfare, Joe? The weaker party does not do well by going toe-to-toe with the stronger occupying forces – ask any Viet Cong survivor you may know – but rather by attacking other areas. For a tiny investment of time and money, bin Laden has put the US into a death spiral from which it is not likely ever to recover. And to suggest that bin Laden didn’t know what he was doing is the height of absurdity.

Stick to money matters, Joe, you’re embarrassing yourself on the military ones.

Thinking about: Them

I note that some of the various race hustlers, as Walter Williams calls them, are out and about calling for or predicting war, or war lite, or kinetic action, or other-euphemisms-yet-to-be-determined again. Said war to be waged on Them (and I don’t mean giant ants that are suddenly infesting Los Angeles. It little matters to dotgov types, or warmongers of any stripe (but I repeat myself) who “They” are, other than that the warmongers require a They and a Them and a Those People in order for the warmongers to create an “Us” that will keep the warmongers in their seats of power. I see at the moment we have commentary regarding a possible race war in the Southwest – I don’t know why They don’t accept that the land was stolen fair and square and give up the idea of recovery of the stolen property – and a variety of have nots are advocating violence against the haves – or against those who refuse to share what they’ve earned with those who haven’t earned it, anyway – and, of course, the usual Mencken described hobgoblin sightings.

As they used to say, “Without Them, there is no Us.” Sadly, for most people, “Without Us, there is no Me.” Too many individuals have been conditioned to believe that their whole identity lies with the group, rather than with their own self, and thus they fall easy prey to statists willing to use that lack of personality for their own power, glory, and benefit.

Resources are seen as decreasing, unrest and dissatisfaction are increasing, dogs and cats are starting to live together. Interesting times a’coming.

Got popcorn?