The Wages of Fighting City Hall

Remember Buckyballs? They were all the rage until a year or so ago. If you’re wondering what happened to them, read on…though if you have high blood pressure you’re guaranteed to blow an artery over this one:

On July 10, 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission instructed Maxfield & Oberton to file a “corrective-action plan” within two weeks or face an administrative suit related to Buckyballs’ alleged safety defects. Around the same time—and before Maxfield & Oberton had a chance to tell its side of the story—the commission sent letters to some of Maxfield & Oberton’s retail partners, including Brookstone, warning of the “severity of the risk of injury and death possibly posed by” Buckyballs and requesting them to “voluntarily stop selling” the product.

It was an underhanded move, as Maxfield & Oberton and its lawyers saw it. “Very, very quickly those 5,000 retailers became zero,” says Mr. Zucker.

“Underhanded” is putting it mildly, although it wasn’t long before they went straight to “vindictive”:

Nonetheless, the commission pressed ahead with its war on Buckyballs. Most infuriating was the commission’s argument that a total recall was justified because Buckyballs have “low utility to consumers” and “are not necessary to consumers.”

And exactly who the hell is authorized to make such a determination? Since when did we hand ourselves over to a Central Economic Politburo? Oh, right…around about 2008:

Maxfield & Oberton resolved to take to the public square. On July 27, just two days after the commission filed suit, the company launched a publicity campaign to rally customers and spotlight the commission’s nanny-state excesses. The campaign’s tagline? “Save Our Balls.”

Online ads pointed out how, under the commission’s reasoning, everything from coconuts (“tasty fruit or deadly sky ballistic?”) to stairways (“are they really worth the risk?”) to hot dogs (“delicious but deadly”) could be banned. Commission staff were challenged to debate Mr. Zucker, and consumers were invited to call Commissioner Inez Tenenbaum’s “psychic hotline” to find out how it was that “the vote to sue our company was presented to the Commissioners on July 23rd, a day before our Corrective Action Plan was to be submitted.”

Running this man’s company out of business wasn’t good enough: despite years of legal precedent to the contrary, Zucker is now being personally sued by Your Benevolent Government. It’s pretty clear this guy has been targeted.

How does this happen in a free society? Maybe because we’re not as free as we think.

At best, this is the kind of invasive nanny-state nonsense that’s been all the rage in Europe for years. At worst, it’s another sign of our descent into Banana-Republicanism. Neither option has ended well. You can’t just upend the system of laws that undergird your society without eventual catastrophe. What investor in their right mind would commit their time and money to anything in a capricious system, knowing it can suddenly turn against him for no good reason (which is more likely if he hasn’t made the right friends)? From Argentina to Zimbabwe, every country that’s gone down this path has ended up in squalor.

When entire agencies of unaccountable paper-hangers start making things personal, then before too long the citizenry is left to decide between two bad choices: obey or revolt. Given our history, my money’s on the torches and pitchforks though Uncle Sugar’s doing everything possible to tamp down those leanings.

One burning question I have that wasn’t answered in this piece: what is Mr. Zucker’s political affiliation? Because that seems to be a thing with this crowd.

 

Liberty or Death

Regardless of your ideological bent, it’s clear that our nation is at an historical crossroads if not an outright impasse. Our federal government has gone off the rails established by the Constitution, and we are powerless to change it. At least, if we’re counting on our elected representatives to do something about it. They’re too invested in the status quo, so why would they want to reform anything?

More importantly, what can we do about it? While tar, feathers, and pitchforks might be emotionally gratifying (if not downright appropriate), there is a better way.

And the best part? It’s already spelled out for us in Article V of the Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States.

So the amendment process originating in Congress as we’re all familiar with has a corollary that until now most of us probably weren’t familiar with: we have the authority to originate Amendments ourselves, beginning at the state level. And if they pass the three-fourths-of-the-states threshold, then guess what? They become part of the Constitution and there isn’t a damned thing the Congresstards can do about it.

If you listen to Mark Levin, then you know where this came from because I’m certainly not smart enough to have figured it out myself. I was incredibly excited about this undertaking when he first started talking about it a few weeks ago, and now that his book’s finally out I’m itching to read it.

The big question is are there enough of us with the will to restore our country to something resembling its founding principles?

As this movement builds momentum, I have no doubt that it will reveal stark differences between ideologies within each party. Honest liberals like Ron Wyden (D-OR) will probably be a lot more receptive to it than the leftist thugs who currently run his party. Likewise, there’s a huge chasm between principled constitutionalists like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and statist tools like John McCain (R-Crazytown).

There’s an enormous difference between garden-variety liberals who think the rich should pay more or that gay marriage is no different than desegregation, and leftists who embrace those ideas in the service of marshaling forces towards something far more radical. If you don’t believe me, then believe Saul Alinsky. The slimy sonofabitch knew exactly what he was doing and entire institutions have sprung up to train up activists in his methods. The “New School” and Midwest Academy are two leading examples, and our President is a disciple. That’s not made up, and it’s not a fevered tin-foil-hat fantasy. He’s a radical as is most of the current Democrat leadership.

The Alinskyites knew that collectivism could only be imposed on America from the inside-out; no Red Dawns or Worker’s Revolts here. So he set about figuring out how commie radicals should infiltrate establishment institutions until they reached the point where they held the power and could use it to impose their will. That is, turning our nation into something that our founders (hell, even our grandparents) wouldn’t recognize: a socialist “utopia.” In a country where states cannot tame the federal beast, citizens quickly become subjects to the whim of a credentialed elite who frankly couldn’t find their own asses with both hands and a map.

In other words, Socialism is just Communism with better manners.

Yet it all ends up the same way: in ruins. The EU is falling apart, having run head-first into Thatcher’s axiom about socialist states eventually running out of other people’s money. Even the homogeneous cultures of Norway and Sweden are beginning to rethink their commitments to an overly-generous welfare state. I expect they’ll resolve it in a more civil manner than the Club Med basket-case countries, but one shouldn’t hope for too much.

And while we can mourn the distant memories of principled Democrats like Sam Nunn, Pat Moynihan, and Scoop Jackson, the really sad truth is we have no effective oppostion whatsoever. The Republicans are only marginally better than the Dems in that they’re not actively trying to subvert the country. But the party leadership is made up of corporatists, which is the end state of politicians who are pro-business but too clueless to recognize when they’re being played.

If you don’t really appreciate the difference between Big Business and Free Markets, it’s not too long before you’re supporting all kinds of lefty nonsense while shirking your constitutional duties and crapping all over the people who make up your core voting bloc. You end up standing for nothing but your own re-election because you’ve never quite internalized the fundamental principles of free people and free markets in a free country.

Eat it, commies. WE THE PEOPLE still hold the power, and it’s high time we started using it.

Gettin’ MAD

I Spy, with my little eye…

From the greatly-missed-by-the-blogosphere’s Don Surber (and if you haven’t friended him yet on Facebook, you’re wrong):

Ebony goes with “We Are All Trayvon Martin Luther King” cover.

Mad magazine goes with “We Are All Edward Snowden” cover.

One cover is a juvenile over-simplification of a current event to sell magazines, while the other is Mad magazine.

On Liberty

More additions to the ongoing List of Horribles:

CBS News Confirms Reporter’s Computer Hacked

Feds Say: “Pilots Have No Rights”

$#!+ is getting real, people. And don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Judging by the deluge of new disclosures, it certainly feels like a dam is breaking. It should be clear by now that our government has been turned against us. The thugs within their ranks have become emboldened by the Leftists in charge.

The Left hates us and it’s time we faced up to that ugly notion. They hate us because we refuse to yield to their notions of what’s best for us. Given the opportunity, I have no doubt many of them would turn violent. Spend a few minutes trolling lefty blogs and Twitter feeds if you need convincing. Of course, a lot of it is bluster from impotent pencil-necks so I’m only worried about the ones who achieve power.

The funny thing is, thoughtful Liberals (not Leftists – there is a distinction), Libertarians, and Constitutional Conservatives have common cause here. Fortunately it appears that people are slowly coming around to that, which is the only way this can end well. A Venn Diagram of all three groups ought to intersect with “civil liberty” square in the middle.

The Democrats have been taken over by their most radical elements and are openly attempting to “fundamentally transform” our country. They have a very limited window of opportunity which is why they’ve become so brazen. Republicans, on the other hand, haven’t really had much in the way of principles since the Depression. They generally take Constitutional governance slightly more seriously than Democrats, but in the end they’re led by spineless opportunists who will twist their principles beyond recognition for the sake of appearing bipartisan. If you only go through life trying to please everybody, eventually all you’ll do is piss everybody off.

It pains me to acknowledge that Reagan was an aberration tolerated by the party establishment only because he knew how to win. He won because his guiding principles were crystal clear and he did what he set out to do. Sticking to the fundamentals has overwhelming appeal if the people have reason to trust you. Our best chance right now is still to take over the GOP and force out the establishment weenies. That may change after a couple more election cycles.

We all have something at stake here. If the state is allowed to continue abusing subgroups of citizens, they can and will do it to all citizens. Don’t delude yourselves with the notion that you have nothing to hide, because it’s already started: there are so many laws, and so many more regulations carrying the force of law, that if the Feds wanted to wreck your life they could find a reason.

We have to rein in this behemoth or it may be too late. What does the Constitution matter if a bunch of overzealous enforcers, crafty lawyers, and slimy politicians continue to find “legal” ways to skirt pretty much every God-given right we have?

Where does it end? I don’t know, but I can tell you where it begins: right here, where you sit. Your neighborhood, your town. Just attend a few city council meetings to see what we’re up against. Look at the kinds of people who enter politics at the local level, and it’ll be easier to understand why they’re so disconnected at the national level: they were to begin with. These people have their own agendas and got where they were by knowing how to manipulate people.

Which is why we have to be wary, even with good news. How many politicians rode the Tea Party wave into DC only to reveal they were taking advantage of popular sentiment? I’m convinced a large percentage of politicians are in fact sociopaths, which only makes our task harder. Defeating those who operate without empathy or conscience is tremendously difficult, but it can be done. Stand up for what’s right in every small thing, and the big things will follow in time.

Where Things Stand

Jonah Goldberg is right on target, as usual:

…a man who came into office hell-bent on restoring faith in government is on the verge of inspiring a libertarian revival.There have always been (at least) two Barack Obamas. There is the man who claims to be a nonideological problem-solver, keen on working with anybody to fix things. And there is “The One”: the partisan, left-leaning progressive redeemer.

The dilemma for Obama is that neither is panning out because both incarnations rely on trust. The president never had much trust among Republicans, and he lost what he had when he opted to steamroll the stimulus and, later, Obamacare, on a partisan basis.

Of course, that’s not how most Democrats have seen things. They’ve seen the last five years as a tale of Tea Party–fueled madness and racism. The conviction that conservatives are crazy, stupid, and/or bigoted in their opposition to Obama is what has allowed the two Obamas to exist side by side. Both iterations could blame the Republicans for any shortcomings or failures.

And then the floodgates opened. The IRS compromised the integrity of the domestic agency that is supposed to be the most immune to politics. Worse, the White House’s best defense was that it was simply asleep at the switch as the agency went rogue — in ways that just happened to align with the president’s oft-expressed ideological and political preferences.

This one’s hard to clip from because every paragraph is worth reading. So hop to it!

 

Creeping Tyranny…Again

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore an out-of-control Federal government. Robert Goyer at Flying magazine has apparently had enough:

As far as the pseudo detention program is concerned — nobody at TSA or Homeland Security will even confirm the existence of any such program — my best guess is that there’s some kind of flight profile that triggers a response, similar to what happened to me in my unregistered, leased airplane. The only common threads so far seem to be that most of the pilots stopped were traveling west to east and all of them so far were male — no surprise considering the overwhelmingly male pilot population. Some were on IFR flight plans, some were on VFR plans, and others were just legally flying VFR without a plan. They have all been questioned about what they were doing and why, where they were going, what they had in the airplane and why they were headed to the destination they landed at.
For the record, none of this is any of their business.
The new ramp check: “Your papers, please…”

Damn skippy it ain’t. Combined with the stories of pilots being detained by local po-po for violating nonexistent no-fly zones, and one might come to believe that the thugs are feeling – shall we say – emboldened? And make no mistake: the thugs are always there. There will always be a latent tendency by some in positions of authority to throw their weight around in ways that don’t exactly comport with the rule of law. The difference lies in their sense of how likely they are to get away with it – or even if it’s expected of them.

This too shall pass, but it won’t be pretty in the meantime. It’ll all end in one of two ways, so pay attention and make informed choices while there’s still time to end this politely.

Dogs and Cats Living Together

Mass hysteria!

OK, not really. Via Instapundit, a fascinating account of a meeting between Tea Party and MoveOn bigwigs which illustrates there is still some room for agreement between left and right. Ask yourself:

How many of you voted for trillion-dollar deficits?   I haven’t yet met the voter who did, yet representatives on both sides of the aisle continue to impose them on us.

How many of you think we have the premier education system in the world, where the dollars and are efforts are focused on our kids?  Hmmm…none of you?  Then why are so many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle wedded to the status quo, and we see so little change?

How many of you think that our criminal justice system is the best in the world, and the War on Drugs has been a tremendous success?  Hmmm…anyone…left or right?  No?  Then why are so many of our incumbent representatives on both sides of the aisle so weak when it comes to making any real criminal justice reforms?

How many of you think that we have far too much unproductive, government mandated paperwork?  Everyone?  Then why can’t we get our elected representatives at all levels to do something about this?

Yes.

We are increasingly being lorded over by slick-talking charlatans with their own agendas, who care nothing for the people they are about to bury under a fetid, steaming pile of onerous regulations and insurmountable debt. But they’ll be taken care of, so it’s all good in their eyes. As Professor Reynolds says, we now have perhaps the worst class of political leaders in our country’s history (and who benefit from a press that shows no understanding, objectivity, or basic curiosity).

The above questions have answers which don’t have to involve people screaming at each other. Don’t allow yourselves to be taken in by the clown show and their endless parade of shiny things.

Thursday Brain Dump

Once again, not much time for anything else so ya’ll line up at the trough…

Rand Simberg weighs in on the likelihood of Golden Spike’s commercial lunar missions. From someone who knows of which he speaks.

Aerospace companies at increasing risk of industrial sabotage from the Chinese. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Following that train of thought: European research into hypersonic suborbital airliners. Well, a guy can dream, but this looks like more EU BS. Studies are fine; research is necessary. But why pretend like they’re ever going to get serious about actually building something?

And for something more down to earth: Airline veteran turns the tables on obnoxious passengers. Takes two to tango.

End of the world watch: “QE3: This Time, It’s Personal!”: Stepping on the accelerator as we head over the cliff. Apparently the old “I can’t be broke, I still have checks!” line is a joke to some and a guiding philosophy for others. I don’t really care what your politics are, just know that this will not end well unless we can somehow grow the economy at a rate that will eventually surpass the Fed’s money-printing velocity. And let’s face it, pro-growth policies are not exactly flowing out of Washington these days. Our only real hope is the domestic energy boom underway in the Appalachians and Dakotas, which so far are not hamstrung by a need to access Federal land. If the EPA can be kept from strangling that baby in the crib, we may have a fighting chance. Better hope so, because otherwise an inflection point is coming and reality will not be denied for much longer.

What’s really infuriating about all this political theater is that those of us who’ve tried to learn History’s lessons are going to suffer from the foolishness of those who refuse to (or believe they’re smarter than their forebears). In the end, human nature is what it is. There is nothing new under the sun.

 

The Stupid Party

Today’s vocabulary word is Charlie-Foxtrot: the phonetic abbreviation of military slang which rhymes with “monster truck.” If you need further explanation, you’re not going to find it on this blog.

CF aptly describes Romney’s utter failure of a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) plan. I use the word “plan” because “effort” or “organization” would suggest that actual work was being done or that someone, somewhere, knew what the hell was going on.

Judging by the stink-bombs being dropped around the internet today, it appears that in fact nothing was being done and that no one had a friggin’ clue as to what was happening on the ground, in the voting booths. This election was lost because three million fewer Republican voters turned out than for the listless John McCain in 2008.

Let that sink in for a moment. How can that be?

Romney was not my preferred candidate by a long shot, but he ended up being the best choice among a disappointing field of also-rans (Newt could’ve been devastatingly effective if only he showed more self-control, but that ship sailed years ago). I grew to appreciate the man as time went on and he grew more comfortable in his role. He projected an aura of capable, sober trustworthiness that should have prevailed over the Dem’s relentless negativity.

However, one must be willing to punch back when attacked. He didn’t, not until the first debate, and we all know how much the momentum shifted at that point. He also played it much safer than I would’ve preferred in the final debate – and let’s get real: he had a civic duty in my opinion to publicly call out Obama over the Benghazi fiasco since the press clearly wouldn’t.

Meanwhile, the other side ran a campaign expressly designed to frighten voters and suppress our turnout. Which they admit to. Which is fine. Politics ain’t beanbag, as they say. Romney’s people at least claimed to understand this, which is why they promised such a sophisticated GOTV program: determine who’s sitting this one out, in real time, and persuade them to come vote. It would’ve been brilliant if it had only worked.

Even if ORCA was hacked somehow (and at that point, it likely didn’t matter anymore), that’s exactly the sort of dirty trick one should expect…right? So long as they’re not actually rigging the vote (cough – Philadelphia – cough), it’s all fair game. If I were an IT nerd I’d probably get off on it – expect a denial-of-service attack, and defeat it.

GAME DAY IS NOT THE TIME TO BETA-TEST YOUR SCOREBOARD!!!

Holy crap on a cracker, how hard is that to understand? And I’m not even an IT guy, I’m just one more schlub out of millions relying on networked software every freaking day just to do my job.

Of course, this is only one big piece of a much larger puzzle. There’s more to this debacle than just misplaced trust in a software app (I’m looking at you, jackass Senate candidates). But it does explain something else that had been bugging me…I volunteered on two separate occasions to be a poll watcher but was never contacted. No email, no phone call, certainly no credentials or strike list. And don’t tell me they didn’t need all the help they could get in Ohio.

Jonah Goldberg nailed it, as usual:

If Romney had merely gotten as many votes as McCain he’d be president-elect now. Hell, Romney got fewer votes than George W. Bush did from — wait for it — Mormons! Seriously, did they appoint one of those Chinatown tic-tac-toe-chickens to run the turnout operation?

Constitutional and Libertarian principles, to the limited extent they were advocated, had their best chance to prevail in decades and our side blew it. Again. A candidate who appeared to be much better than 2008’s, who appeared to run a much better campaign, appears to have left millions of votes on the table. We lost because during the home stretch, his organization placed all of its faith in a software app that hadn’t been tested and didn’t work.

And there was no plan B.

Now we, as a country, are left with no plan B. Thanks again, GOP.

UPDATE: Was the whole campaign essentially a money-grab by soulless “campaign consultants” whose mouths were writing checks their brains couldn’t cash? RedState seems to think so.

Happy Warriors

Last night I took our oldest son to our first-ever political rally. You can guess which side by our choice of meal on the way in:

Here’s the crowd just starting to fill in. This is a large airplane hangar here at Port Columbus airport, and it was chock full by the time things kicked off around 6pm. Apparently there were plenty of others left outside.

Entertainment provided by the Marshall Tucker Band, from the great state of SOUTH-by-God-Carolina:

Gov. Kasich, working the crowd:

And that’s right about when my phone’s battery died. I’ll have closeups of the Romneys as soon as my son gets his iPod synched.

That’s it for now. Time to get the kids to school and hit the polls.

Time to save the Republic.