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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court: Wow, We're Screwed

I'm a reasonable person, and although I did tweet some really obnxious things about Leftists and Democrats this morning, I still tried to withhold serious judgment about the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it is derisvely known, until I actually knew something.

I listened to as much Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio as I could stomach and then I actually read a few things directly from the Supreme Court (I did not read the entire decision), all with hopes that I could offer some kind of reasonable response to the madness.

I can't.

We are screwed. (Unless my theory at the end of this piece proves to be true)

And by 'we' I mean the following:
  • Anyone who does now or may someday pay taxes
  • Anyone who does now or may someday need to see a doctor

The Good News

The Court invalidated the withholding of existing Medicaid funding to the individual states as inherently coercive, thereby finding an enforceable limit on the Spending Power. In short, the individual states reserve the right to take part in the Medicaid expansion or not, and if they choose not to do so the Federal government cannot penalize them by withholding existing levels of Medicaid funding. Call it a back-door win for the 10th Amendment.

According to legal scholar and Obamacare critic, Randy Barnett the "Founder’s scheme of limited and enumerated powers has survived to fight another day."


What We Thought Was Good News

The Court also ruled that the individual mandate did in fact exceed Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause. Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”



The Bad News

Everything seemed to be fine until Justice Roberts inexplicably reversed his own logic and contradicted himself with an absurd opinion about Congress's ability to tax activity, or in this case, inactivity.
When writing about the Commerce Clause, Justice Roberts agrees that Congress cannot regulate an individual unless they are engaged in some sort of commerce. With this argument he sides with Conservative, Libertarian, and Constitutional scholars.

But then Roberts got distracted and forgot where he was (Constitutionally speaking). As far as taxation is concerned, not buying health insurance is “just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.”

Wait...what?

According to our esteemed Chief Justice of the United States, Congress has no business meddling in the business of a person who isn't doing anything except that Congress can tax a person for not doing something. My friends, this type of thinking is why people like me are afraid of government and the bureaucrats who inhabit it, in the first place.

Forget the "compelled to buy broccoli" childishness of the rabid Right, understand that now -- according to Congress, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court -- you can be taxed for not doing things like:
  • Installing solar panels on your roof
  • Driving a car that exceeds a certain EPA-set mileage rating
  • Sending your chidren to anything other than a government school
  • Commuting privately instead of taking mass transit
  • Accepting Food Stamps or other government-aid 
  • Maintaining a pre-determined level of personal hygiene

We're getting the exact government we've been asking for for twenty years: sloppy, hasty, ill-informed, partisan and unable to understand what it is they're talking about.

Roberts is correct when he says "it is not [the Supreme Court's] job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." He sounds to me like he was struggling with the total absurdity of his decision, however, instead of striking down the law as it written, Roberts acted the part of judicial activist and took an un-Constitutional facet of a law (the individual mandate) and forced it to be Constitutional by calling it a "tax" instead. The man is either so smart we mere mortals can never understand his brilliance, corrupt in the extreme, or so dumb he needs help tying his shoes -- unfortunately, only history will tell us which of the three it is.

On the other hand, and Justice Roberts' kind of dopey logic aside, the Supreme Court did exactly what it was supposed to do: read a poorly written, politically expedient law and judge whether or not it was Constitutional.
We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders.”
Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” - Chief Justice Roberts on his decision on the Affordable Care Act

The Ugly Truth

Socialists are spiking the football over a ruling on a law they know very little about, (and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying -- Speaker of the House Pelosi admitted she hadn't even read the bill before voting on it).

Conservatives are bemoaning, and rightfully so, the loss of personal freedom and over-reach of the Federal government the ACA represents, not to say anything about what this Act is going to do to the economy, starting this morning with the Stock Market's reaction.

Constitutionalists are happy the equal branches of government worked as they were designed to work. It's not the Constitution's fault the American people are too dumb and distracted to give themselves a decent government to carry out the functions the Founder's intended.

Something inside me tells me that maybe, just maybe, Justice Roberts has outfoxed the foxes we've put in charge of the henhouse. Taxes need to originate in the House, not the Senate, and Obamacare started as a Senate bill, so maybe he gave his opinion expecting a future lawsuit. There is also the possiblity that Robert's decision has paved the way for the blocking of future similar legislation because of his taxation explanation extrea of the Commerce Clause.

But I'll be gobsmacked if that bit of hopeful reasoning on my part comes true. Right now I'm just thinking that the future of the American individual doesn't look too bright.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shorter Libertarian: Arizona SB 1070: Executive Branch Mostly Right, Legislative Branch Ridiculously Inept, Supreme Court Does the Best It Can

Democrats are claiming victory today because of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down 75% of the controversial segments of Arizona's SB 1070 Immigration Law. At the same time, Republicans are claiming victory because the Supreme Court upheld the provision that allows Arizona law enforcement officers to request immigration status with probable cause.

I'm in the interesting position of sort of agreeing with some people while at the same time completely disagreeing with everyone. And although I take the Obama Administration to task on just about everything, I am in more agreement with the President than I am with the opposition on this one. Read the Supreme Court's decision here so you won't have to trust other people to tell you what happened.

Its important to note that the Court's decision recognizes the problems facing Arizona.
"Phoenix is a major city of the United States, yet signs along an interstate highway 30 miles to the south warn the public to stay away. One reads, "DANGER—PUBLIC WARNING—TRAVEL NOT RECOMMENDED / Active Drug and Human Smuggling Area / Visitors May Encounter Armed Criminals and Smuggling Vehicles Traveling at High Rates of Speed." The problems posed to the State by illegal immigration must not be underestimated."
There were four provisions of SB 1070 that were at issue.

SB1070 Section 3

Section 3 made it a State criminal offense to fail to comply with federal alien registration requirements. Section 3 was struck down for the following reasons:
"Were [Section 3] to come into force, the State would have the power to bring criminal charges against individuals for violating a federal law even in circumstances where federal officials in charge of the comprehensive scheme determine that prosecution would frustrate federal policies."
"There is a further intrusion upon the federal scheme. Even where federal authorities believe prosecution is appropriate, there is an inconsistency between §3 and federal law with respect to penalties. Under federal law, the failure to carry registration papers is a misdemeanor that may be punished by a fine, imprisonment, or a term of probation. State law, by contrast, rules out probation as a possible sentence (and also eliminates the possibility of a pardon)."
 In short, Section 3 attempted to over-ride existing Federal statutes, which is un-Constitutional.

SB1070 Section 5

Section 5 made it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State of Arizona. Section 5 was struck down because existing Federal law allowed only for civil penalties and not criminal penalties. The opinion went on to say: 
"The legislative background of IRCA underscores the fact that Congress made a deliberate choice [in the 1986 Immigration Reform Act] not to impose criminal penalties on aliens who seek, or engage in, unauthorized employment. A commission established by Congress to study immigration policy and to make recommendations concluded these penalties would be 'unnecessary and unworkable.'”
In short:


"[SB1070] would interfere with the careful balance struck by Congress with respect to unauthorized employment of aliens."

SB1070 Section 6


Section 6 authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest persons "the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States" without a warrant.

The Court wrote:
"As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States. If the police stop someone based on nothing more than possible removability, the usual predicate for an arrest is absent. When an alien is suspected of being removable, a federal official issues an administrative document called a Notice to Appear."
"The federal statutory structure instructs when it is appropriate to arrest an alien during the removal process. For example, the Attorney General can exercise discretion to issue a warrant for an alien’s arrest and detention 'pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed from the United States.'"
"Section 6 attempts to provide state officers even greater authority to arrest aliens on the basis of possible removability than Congress has given to trained federal immigration officers."
Basically, the States do not have the authority to arrest and deport an individual because that falls under the auspices of the Federal government.
SB1070 Section 2B

Section 2B "requires state officers to make a 'reasonable attempt . . . to determine the immigration status' of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on some other legitimate basis if ' reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States.'"
The Obama Administration argued that his provision interfered with the current immigration scheme, while the Arizona law contained three provisions the Court upheld:


"Three limits are built into the state provision. First, a detainee is presumed not to be an alien unlawfully present in the United States if he or she provides a valid Arizona driver’s license or similar identification. Second, officers 'may not consider race, color or national origin . . . except to the extent permitted by the United States [and] Arizona Constitution[s].'

Arguments against this provision stated that persons would be subjected to longer-than-necessary detentions for simple infractions like jay-walking or minor traffic violations, but the Court upheld that the words "reasonable attempt to determine" (i.e. contact I.C.E.) are considered in SB1070.
Third, the provisions must be "implemented in a manner consistent with federal law regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens."

In the United States vs. Arizona the United States Supreme Court defended the US Constitution against what ultimately became a power struggle between a sovereign State and the Federal government. The State of Arizona was correct in pursuing a course of action as a result of the vacuum of authority left by an inept Congress and a foundering Executive Branch, but it went about it the wrong way. The people of Arizona would have been better served if the State of Arizona had sued the Federal government for failing to protect the citizens of Arizona from the burdens caused by the Federal inability or lack of desire to tackle the immigration problems faced by the border states.

The people of Arizona did not necessarily win today, neither did Democrats or Republicans, but the Constitution won, although it was a close one. SB1070 will surely wind up in the court system again, possibly even the Supreme Court, but until Congress and the Executive Branch act decisively to protect law-abiding citizens who are under siege from nearly uncontrolled immigration in certain areas of the country, there will be no clear cut solution to Arizona's problems.

From a libertarian point-of-view, any law that unnecessarily abridges the freedom of any person is a danger to the freedom of all. That is why I did not support Arizona SB1070. At the same time, I understand the frustrations felt by the citizens and law enforcement officers in the State of Arizona, and even though the law was Constitutionally mis-guided, it may ultimately serve the purpose of causing Congress to get up off their collective backsides and do something for the good of all -- law-abiding citizens and immigrants looking to live a better life alike.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gifting Obama...Because He's Worth It

Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops trying to get you to help him keep his nice cushy government job by donating to his campaign. The silly extremes he is going to are interesting in light of the fact that the dominant media has touted for a year that Obama is going to raise over $1 billion this campaign cycle. Little did we know he was planning on doing it by becoming a tchotke merchant.

The Obama campaign is like some bizzarro-world wackily liberal Lutheran Church or down-on-its-luck Kiwanis Club as it tries to hardsell you into supporting Obama. It's almost as if they realize his record won't do the trick, so, you know, Americans like cheap imported crap, so let's give the people what they want.

Let's take a look at how the Obama campaign is going to try to get you to part with what little money you have left so he can keep a job he's proven he's not very good at:





In this picture, a weird old hippy couple is chatting merrily with Barack about their AARP memberships and the fact that you just can't score good doojee anymore. The title of this picture is "One Seat Remaining" and it comes from a web page urging you to contribute a few bucks, and maybe, just maybe, you could have dinner with Barack. I feel like taking the chance just so I could ask him about American history and world affairs all night long and then challenge him on his answers. Go ahead, take a chance, have Dinner With Barack. By the way, I can't even imagine Bill Clinton prostituting himself like this.


Here's an official "I Bark for Barack" magnet for your car. Frankly, I have two dogs and if either one of them ever barked for Barack I would immediately revoke their voter registrations.


Since you're already destroying your children's futures by voting for Democrats and paying union dues, you might as well go all the way and completely screw your kid up by making him think Barack Obama is his baby-daddy (Presidentially speaking).


The next time you get a load on with a few Keystone Lights while waiting for your unemployment check to clear, you can be reminded that Joe Biden thinks you're a "champ."



I would suggest you buy this Barack Obama dog bowl now, so you'll both have somewhere to eat after you help Barack get re-elected.



There are a lot of "Latinos for Obama" and "African-American's Have Barack's Back" stickers and magnets. The LGB&T crowd is also pandered to, along with, oddly enough nurses, but I didn't see any "White People Stand Alongside Barack And Help Him In His Endeavors" stuff. I guess because that would be racist or something.



This is an actual screen shot from the Obama fundraising website that attempts to guilt you loyal Obamanistas into foregoing your "special day" gifts to help him keep his job. All of those people who celebrated Obama's sort of affirmation of the rights of gays to marry the partner of their choice didn't realize at the time that within weeks Obama would be showing up at their wedding receptions with his hand out. Or did they?
So do your part America! Buy trinkets! Support your man for President! And while you're at it, try to reconcile why a devoted Socialist who rails against the private sector and capitalism every chance he gets has stooped so low as to use the sale of cheap Chinese crap to help him keep his job.

By the way, if you're not embarrassed by your candidate selling tchotkes to get elected (regardless of who he is), well, you should be.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Part II: Speaking With Bahraini Revolutionary Asma Darwish About Her Exile, Human Rights And the Future of Bahrain

Yesterday I published Part I of my two-part follow-up interview with Asma Darwish, who until recently was living in political exile in Switzerland because of threats she received while living and demonstrating for human rights in her native Bahrain.


Are you home to stay?

Yes.


Has the situation in Bahrain improved since you moved to Switzerland? Gotten better? Worse?

It has not gotten any better, but worsened. Most of the youth who used to go in the streets to protest are now in prison facing false charges. [They] had to sign confessions under torture. There are no positive changes on the political level, nor any improvements on the Human Rights level. Torturers and those responsible for violations in Bahrain are still not held accountable and no charges or punishments have been imposed upon them.


I’ve asked this before…where do you see Bahrain in a year?

This time, I don’t know. To be quite realistic, there are no indications of what is to happen next, or where we are to move on from here. But I am hopeful, with the will of God, and the power of the people, this has all to end, sooner or later.


How is the situation in Egypt with the elections and in Syria with the trouble there viewed in Bahrain?

Surely, the regional situation has a big impact on the events in Bahrain and its people. As the Arab Spring revolution has motivated Bahrainis to come out in the streets like their neighboring Arab countries, it will also push them to continue the fight for gaining justice and freedom. Bahrainis are politically aware, and other people’s struggles are viewed by them as equal to their own. They wish the Egyptians, the Syrians, and all living humans to be granted their rights and for all dictators in all those countries to fall. The cases of Egypt and Syria are tracked by most Bahrainis through twitter. And it is always a good thing to know what is going on in the region, as some examples can be taken to implement or modify to suit the local incidents.


Tell me about the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights.

The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) is an independent international non-governmental organization founded in 2012, in the city of Bern, Switzerland. EBOHR [accepts] contributions and memberships of human rights activists and defenders ranging from Bahrain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Spain, United States of America, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.

The vision of the organization stems from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, aiming to support, respect and promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Bahrain, within the framework of international conventions and treaties.

EBOHR aims to improve international standards of human rights in Bahrain through active lobbying, including holding the Bahraini government accountable in its commitment to international human rights law along with promoting human rights through media-related awareness campaigns. Moreover, EBOHR monitors human rights conditions in Bahrain, thoroughly documents abuses and establishes related reports and statements.

In addition, [through] coordination with various international human rights organizations, our goal is to create a solid foundation of reference in which the level of human rights violations -- including grave crimes against humanity -- that have occurred in Bahrain are transparent to both the national and international community. EBOHR also works on training human rights defenders in order to build their professional capabilities as well as attempting to raise public awareness about human rights conditions in Bahrain.

The organization seeks to mobilize the conscience of the international community by shedding light on major concerns and issues pertaining to human rights conditions in Bahrain such as torture, forced abduction, sectarian and ethnic discrimination, illegitimate dismissals, mass arrests based on freedom of expression as well as unjust trials.



                                                                            


Ahmed Mansoor Al Naham, a 5 year old boy, was helping his father Mansoor Al Naham run his fish stall in Al Dair village in Bahrain, when they were attacked and shot at by riot police. Mansoor tried saving his child by shielding him with his body. However according to BCHR members who documented the case and met witnesses, Ahmed and his father were shot at purposely twice with a shotgun from a close range.
Courtesy: Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Many of us in the US shrug off the violence in Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries as "sectarian." This is a dangerous trap for a society to fall in to for once a government gets involved in an otherwise sectarian fight, the result is facism. If a government is on one side of a "sectarian" war against citizens of its own own country from another "sectarian" side, all hope for freedom, dignity and basic human rights are thrown out the window. Governments don't necessarily have to be theology-based in order to enjoin a sectarian fight -- something Americans should be aware of. Mankind is the story of government oppression against the weak in the name of theology (or lack thereof). The warnings about where society goes when good people are oppressed are ringing loud and clear throughout the world as you read this.

It worries me that in America, for political purposes and to scare people who barely pay attention, the term "war on women" is thrown around without any concern for the meaning or depth of those words. We argue in this country about who is going to pay for things for us and how much influence the government should have in our lives, meanwhile, the people in Bahrain and in scores of other countries sleep with one eye on the door waiting for the police and state-sponsored militia to break it down in the middle of the night and arrest family members who may have publicly disagreed with the state.

We, the American people, have it far too good if we can spend our lives arguing about the size of our government and whether our government should take care of us or not. Ask someone who has to flee their country because of their political beliefs, or who has a father or other family member who has been taken to prison and isn't allowed any contact with their loved ones, or the father of a five year-old child who has been shot in the face for any reason whatsoever by an agent of the state, what their feelings about government over-reach are.

A government that can determine how much you pay for something and forces you to bend your will to fit the ideals of the bureaucrats running it is powerful enough to make you sleep with one eye open too.

It's time for Americans to get back to the business of ensuring and supporting freedom, and get out of the business of depending on government -- for anything.

                                                                            


Ed Note: The following information is taken from the EBOHR mission statement:



Vision:
The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights EBOHR aspires to work towards a future where all Bahrainis are afforded their rights in a fair and equal manner. We envision a Bahrain where its people are able to rely on an extensive network of human rights defenders advocating for justice in Bahrain.


Mission:
Our mission is to support the foundations of what make up human rights by developing an international network of advocates who are willing and able to fully use their skills and experience to help promote human rights for Bahrain.


Objectives:
1. Promote respect for the inherent dignity of all humans along with the recognition of their rights in a consistent and transparent manner, which is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace;
2. Seek to rebuild a society that enjoys fundamental rights in accordance with international law, with the utmost emphasis based on the right to live, the right to education, the right to employment, the right to freedom of expression and the elimination of ethnic, sectarian, religious, racial and sexual discrimination;
3. Work to ensure freedom from torture in all its forms, ensure the right to a fair trial under the framework of international standards of human rights law as well as aid in bringing forth those responsible to be prosecuted as perpetrators of crimes against humanity;
4. Raise national, regional and international awareness of human rights abuses, working to deepen the knowledge of individual, social, economic, cultural, political and civil rights;
5. Strengthen the bonds of solidarity by garnering national and international support for human rights;
6. Update and rebuild a comprehensive database of the violations taking place in Bahrain;
7. Establish and maintain strong relations with the United Nations alongside local, regional and international organizations, activists and individuals;
8. Work on the protection of human rights defenders.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Following Asma Darwish On Her Return To Bahrain

Over the course of the past year I have followed and written about Asma Darwish, a twenty-one year old woman from Bahrain, who was been caught up in the eye of the political storm there.

In March (RBL&OS March 11, 2012RBL&OS March 12, 2012; RBL&OS March 13, 2012) I spoke to Asma about her self-imposed exile in Switzerland and the ordeals of her family during the Bahraini revolution. I became aware of Asma's story after an interview I did with another Bahraini revolutionary, Zanaib Al-Khawaja (RBL&OS March 6, 2011). A few months after that interview ran on this site, I was riveted by Zanaib and Asma's real-time Twitter accounting of their attempt to deliver a letter about their imprisoned family members to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon via the local UN Development Program (UNDP) office in Manama, Bahrain (RLB&OS June 15, 2011) and subsequent detainment.

Asma Darwish
While events in Syria and Egypt have rightfully been capturing our attention recently, the revolutions in other Middle Eastern countries continue to this day. While the situations in Syria and Egypt could potentially take us to historically dangerous places as they unfold, Bahrain should also hold particular interest to Americans: We base our 5th Fleet there and because of the support of the Bahraini regime by our fair-weather allies, the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia.

During the current political season, we may be fighting silly verbal wars about 'women's health issues' and the role of government in our everyday lives, but I think it's important to read about someone who lives with government in her everyday life, and who only wants dignity and freedom for herself and her family. As Americans, we have a duty to protect the freedoms we have always stood for so we can continue to foster freedom across the globe for people who are oppressed, even though our foreign and energy policies currently prevent us from standing with the people of Bahrain and millions of other people in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the things some of us here fight and complain about on a daily basis amount to nothing more than silliness and whining when compared to the real struggles of real people who fight daily against government-supported oppression and violence.

This latest interview will run in two parts today and tomorrow.


What prompted you to go back to Bahrain?

Asma: We stayed in Switzerland for nearly five months, and it was the first time for my husband and I to stay away from home for this long. So missing the country and missing these days that I love to call “golden historical days” we could not bear to stand away and not take part. As well as my husband’s longing to [see] his imprisoned father again. All that made us decide to come back to Bahrain. The slow process of the asylum procedure beside the high-living cost in Switzerland [were also factors in our decision].

In addition, my husband and I, [along] with other international Human Rights defenders standing up strongly for Bahrain have established an organization (European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights -- EBOHR) [based in] Bern, Switzerland, [to] shed light on the violations taking place in Bahrain. So we thought we must be the team working from inside Bahrain.


Was safety a concern when you first arrived back home and how safe do you feel now?


Asma: Of course it was a major concern, especially when we had to flee our country mainly due to that reason. Before returning, my husband and I had put all our worst expectations on paper -- arrest, or investigation was highly ranked [at the top of the list]. So taking the decision of coming back to was a big risk for us, yet, it was to be taken at any rate.

We are now doing all we can to help in anyway the ongoing situation in Bahrain that has not improved, yet, worsened.

Everyone who opposes the regime’s abuses and violations and [are demanding] more freedom and [civil] rights feel unsafe in Bahrain. I think I am amongst those indeed, as [myself and many others] are always targeted by the regime, not only through arrest and torture but also through threats on social media, harassment, etc…

How did it feel to go back home?


Asma: I was very much excited, and first thing I felt like doing when I arrived [at] Bahrain International Airport was to bow down and kiss the ground of my country, yet, my heart was beating so fast expecting the unexpected. Thank God, we were [able] to pass through [the airport] without any trouble. [We] went home, and [I] had the best sleep I had in my life, in my [home] country that I had to be away from for five months, which felt like five years of separation.

In the same time, I was glad I will able to participate in the protests, [to] document abuses, and live what I should be living side by side with my people.

How is your familyand your father-in-law?


Asma: My father-in-law, Parweez, [at] sixty-five years-old, [is] the eldest prisoner in Bahrain. [He] is facing trial alongside twelve other activists, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Mushaima, Al-Meqdad and the rest.

He had the chance to tell his story of arrest and torture to the court, with so much pain of what happened to him and the rest of the opposition leaders convicted in the case of the Alliance for the Republic.

He still suffers from his pelvis and legs due to the severe torture he was subjected to, and currently we are supporting some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) holding the son of the King, Naser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, accountable for torturing him and other prisoners of conscience.

My uncle, Shaikh Abduladhim Al-Mohtadi, was sentenced in a military court to five years  imprisonment [and] is also facing trial in a civilian court. He had a heart [attack] during the national safety period due to torture he was also subjected too during his detention.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Poverty Part II: You Know What? It Could Be Your Own Damn Fault

Note to libertarians and actual conservatives: You can probably skip this piece as its written in a style that liberals and Democrats will easily understand, call it CNN-speak. You know, it's how you talk to people when you think they're having difficulty keeping up.



I got a fortune cookie once:
"You never suffer from a money problem, you always suffer from an idea problem."



Evil Corporations Cause All The Problems

We all know that now that liberals are firmly in charge of the media, the educational system, the government, and the workforce, poverty only comes from one place -- greedy corporations. To the liberal mind, this bit of logic makes perfect sense. Let's take a quick look at how corporations are solely responsible for all the evils in the world:
  1. Corporations exist to provide goods or services to people who want to trade their money for those same goods and services
  2. Corporations cease to exist when they no longer provide the goods or services the consuming public wants
  3. Just because he has a nicer hat
     than you doesn't mean he
    stole it.
  4. Corporations also cease to exist when they provide goods and services in a way that is detrimental to the consuming public
Oh wait! By that actual real-life logic, it must mean that corporations aren't solely responsible for all the evils in the world. In fact, our standard of living is exponentially higher because of corporations. Therefore, the first logical step we must take as a society is to reject the non-sense that corporate greed is responsible for our trouble.

Are there bad corporations? Yes. Corporations that put profit ahead of responsibility? Absolutely, just like there are Democrat candidates for president who cheat on their wives except when their wife's cancer is not in remission. Grow up, get real, and understand that simple comprehension of complex problems is the domain of simple people.



Let's look at some other causes of poverty:
  1. Lack of cheap energy. In countries where cheap energy is not readily available, simply fetching a few gallons of water can absorb an entire day's human energy, leaving little or no human energy for tending to crops or livestock or producing hard goods for sale.
  2. Lack of infrastructure. Without cheap energy, there is no need for power lines, roads, ports and all of the other things humans depend on to raise their standards of living above subsistence. However, infrastructure needs are the result of demand from private citizens who are engaged in trade. Without trade between humans, infrastructure becomes an economic burden that retards growth and prosperity. In a real chicken-or-egg conundrum, infrastructure and trade need to be developed simultaneously for real growth to take place. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You can build all the highways and railroads you want, but if people have no need for them they won't use them. Either way the cost burden to society it the same.
  3. Lack of security. In nations where internal and external security isn't assured, prosperity cannot take place. A government's foremost responsibility is to provide security to an unfettered populace. This balance, as America is proving in the 21st Century, has yet to be achieved in all the history of mankind.
  4. Lack of freedom. Where human beings are not free to pursue their own selfish interests, productivity declines. If you still think collectivism is the way to go, then you are sorely lacking in cognitive skills and should refrain from political arguments until your brain begins to work correctly. Sorry to be so blunt, but this shouldn't even be a topic for discussion after what we witnessed in the 20th Century.
  5. Lack of property ownership. No better example of this exists than the beating the people of Haiti took after the earthquake in 2010 -- where home ownership is not part of the fabric of society. Raise yourself up past your racist inclinations and understand I am talking about political systems. Where homes are not owned., the soundness of our homes isn't a concern. Think about the last time you rented a car. We are social animals who demand our own personal property and place to nest. We are competitive by nature. We want to provide comfort and prosperity to our families. When we are denied these simple, inherited needs, our will to progress is destroyed.

Poverty comes about by two reasons:
  1. Choice. If a healthy person consciously makes a choice to live in poverty, then who are we to disrespect that choice? If a tribe in the Amazon chooses to live isolated from progress in the same way their ancestors have done for eons, isn't it a bit condescending to force our way of life upon them?
  2. Government. History has shown us that as governments morph away from their basic function of serving and protecting a society as the society grows. As that happens, the people served by that government become more impoverished. The government becomes infected with ruling elites or a permanent political class (sorry Royalists and Democrats) and the need for a dependent class amongst the citizenry becomes the singular focus of the ruling class. In short, government needs poverty to survive. Bureaucracy demands it.
Simply put, the private sector does not cause poverty. Without the private sector we'd all still live in poverty, or at least in some form of pre-Industrial Revolution subsistence.


Let's look at some things that are not poverty, no matter how much you whine:
  1. If you are healthy and you choose to wait for another person, group of persons, agency, or authority, to provide your means of existence to you, you are choosing to remain in poverty. However, if you choose to sell rags door-to-door to feed your family you are choosing to progress out of poverty. But if the government forces you to pay a license fee and regulates your rag business to the point that it becomes unprofitable to sell rags door-to-door, the government has stolen your freedom and forced you to remain impoverished. Understand the difference.
  2. I once knew a person who constantly found himself cash poor. He had a bigger television than me and a better car than me; he owned a business and was eating well. His poverty was a poverty of ideas and energy, yet he blamed his lot in life on others. This was a choice, but it wasn't poverty.
  3. If you have loans for school you can't pay, you need to understand you made a choice to pay for something you couldn't afford at the same time you borrowed money without a workable plan to pay the money back. You are not impoverished, you are a bad planner.
  4. Likewise if you bought a house you can't afford now. You are not the victim of an evil banker, you are a poor planner. Do bad things happen to people who plan well and live right? Unfortunately the answer is 'yes.' It's called life. Wear a helmet if you're scared because no amount of Federal social engineering is going to remove the risk from life.   
  5. If you can afford alcohol and lottery tickets but you can't afford formula for your baby, you are not financially poor, you are bereft of morals and scruples. It's a different kind of poverty.
Sure that sounds tough in this day and age. But I never drove my kid to the end of the driveway to wait for the school bus when it was raining. Neither did my parents. Metaphorically driving our children to the end of the driveway to catch the school bus only makes our children soft like veal. When veal-children grow up and lose money on an investment, or can't find a job, they have no other tool to use but to whine for someone to help them out. The government loves when you drive your kid to the end of the driveway. The government loves when you whine and demand it saves you from something.

The Professional Political class have convinced us they are a necessary protection against poverty. The intended consequence of this has been the development of a permanent class of people who think their only chance in life is to live in poverty and depend on the government. Look at the trouble spots of the world, whether Greece or Egypt or Syria or Myanmar, then look at the troubled spots in history and you will see one common denominator -- a government of ruling elites who play on the people's base needs and fears to remain in power.

Where people are free to pursue their own self-interests, and are engaged enough to properly regulate business and trade (something Americans have long since given up doing), then human beings realize prosperity from their good ideas and hard labor.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Libertarian Weekend, Well Part Of It Anyway

Saturday I was reminded about the meaning of the word "community."

From Merriam-Webster:
com·mu·ni·ty noun, often attributive \kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē\
Definition of COMMUNITY
1: a unified body of individuals: as a : state, commonwealth b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
2: society at large

3a : joint ownership or participation b : common character : likeness c : social activity : fellowship d : a social state or condition
It's important to note that no where in the definition of the word 'community' is the word 'compel.' Community is a choice.

I grew up in a smallish town back when albums came with cool artwork rather than from an iTunes gift card your mom gives you on your birthday. People knew each other because xBox and Facebook hadn't been invented yet. The town is now a shell of its former self, but there are scores of people who retain the sense of community as it was taught back in the day.

To make a long and personal story a short and generic one, one of us from this community has hit upon some health issues, so other members of the community took it upon themselves to help. Their help took on the form of a full day of music and food for about 500 people. I was fortunate enough to be one of them (in the form of just showing up and enjoying the vibe) for three reasons:
  1. In a small way I got help a friend in need
  2. I got to spent some time with friends who I don't see enough of
  3. I was reminded what's most important in life, and its not politics
As a side note, this is not the first such benefit I've been privileged to take a peripheral part in in the past few years, and in a bittersweet way, it won't be the last. I know good people.

Other than the obligatory permit for the park and the fact the park existed at all (I'm not an anarchist, I'm a libertarian), government played zero function within the community as it existed Saturday afternoon. It functioned as its own separate entity of commonality, love and respect. Politics be damned, 500 came for the 1. Period.

As a political writer, this is what I am trying to communicate on a daily basis. But, snark and statistics will never take the place of a simple and humble lesson learned from the hard work of good people who care. This, my friends, is what people should expect this nation to be about.
 
Government assistance can never take the place of the love, respect and charity of a community. That's all libertarians like me are trying to say. Thanks to the good will of a bunch of people for reminding me about the root of the message.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Poverty Part I: Takers Make Us All Poor

Government is the natural result of the demands and needs of people who contribute to a society. Government can never be more than that or it will necessarily interfere with the freedoms of its citizens. Society needs infrastructure, internal security (police and fire), national defense, and a set of rules for trade and domestic tranquility. After that, a government does nothing more than interfere with personal freedoms. Contrary to the non-sensical beliefs of Socialists and Communists throughout history, people are not interested in the common good and it's naive to think otherwise. People are interested in themselves and the welfare of their own. Don't believe me? Then why aren't people receiving free cell phones to the tune of $2.1 billion a year saying "Hey, you know what, President Obama? For the good of society let me chip in a little bit for that cool phone you just gave me." End of discussion. Takers take because of their own self-interest.

If you are a healthy adult and you are receiving a free cell phone, food assistance, housing assistance, or any other type of governmental assistance (including student loans, business subsidies, etc.) you are a taker, and therefore you weaken the fabric of society. Period. If your government is putting you in that position through its own incompetence or malfeasance, you are a slave.

If you are a contributing member of society and your hard labor and ingenuity is divided up amongst the takers, you are not a free person, you are a slave to your government and the people the government has forcibly placed in role of taker.

Human beings developed the family network as a means of protecting family members in need of assistance at various times in their lives: childhood, old age, bad luck. Modern human beings have destroyed the fabric of the family and replaced it with government. The problem is, now all of us -- at all times throughout our lives -- are forced to pay for the assistance of others to the detriment of our own financial welfare. Meanwhile, the Professional Political class digs its leech-like suckers deeper into what little fat we have left.

Our own ignorant decisions have placed the Professional Political class in perpetual command of our lives because we, the sheeple, ignorantly vote for them year-after-year. As a result, we've developed a nation that will soon have no concept of caring for itself -- regardless of the circumstance. This is not freedom my friends, this is slavery.
  • By governmental design, the poor are indentured to the government for their subsistence with no hope of leaving their stations
  • By political design, racial and class identities trump national identity because the Professional Political class uses them to further their own careers
  • By governmental and political design, the middle class -- the largest class in a supposedly class-free society -- are indentured to the government as they pay for the country's financial survival
  • By political design, the "rich" are frowned upon through the demagoguery and manipulation of the Professional Political class and are therefore only worthy if their wealth makes them feel guilty -- unless they are rap and R&B stars or athletes, that kind of wealth is okay
If you live in America, and you are healthy, you have no reason to ever want for anything, in spite of the desires of the ruling elite. The longer we allow the mindset to develop that America is no longer a place of freedom and opportunity for everyone, the closer we come to losing freedom for ourselves and our children.


Walking 4 hours round-trip for water is poverty.





Living in a nation with a government that helps you get
your liquor on, is not. It's indentured servitude.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Little Flag Day History For Ya

"I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."
- Franklin Lane, Secretary of the Interior, in a 1914 Flag Day speech.



A person held a malnourished Somali child wrapped in an American flag at
a feeding center in Dadaab, Kenya, Monday. More than 100,000 people
have left their homes amid weeks of intense fighting in Somalia.
(Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters) Courtesy WSJ
 Note: Some readers may be offended by the use of the flag in this picture and I respect that. However, this picture perfectly represents to me what America, and hence the flag, can mean to people around the world once we remove ourselves from idiot politics and get back to understanding who we are as a people.
Even though I am confronted with liberal people (who don't understand 'liberty') on a daily basis, I simply refuse to buy into the notion that patriotism, love of America and its history, and all of that negative stuff the American Left rails against on a regular basis. I still think most parents want their kids to have a piece of the American Dream as sliced up in a pie that only America can serve. With that -- even though my front porch is under construction and I cannot fly a flag this year -- I think a little Flag Day history is in order.

From the February 13, 1864 edition of Harper's Weekly

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the foundling nation's flag with the Flag Resolution of 1777.

In 1885, a schoolteacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin, named B.J. Cigrand and his class observed the first known Flag Day, or as they called it "Flag Birthday." Cigrand became a tireless advocate for the establishment of Flag Birthday as a national event.

In 1889, another school teacher adopted June 14th as a day to celebrate the birthday of the flag. Balch's kindergarten students in New York City held ceremonies including carrying small flags and singing patriotic songs. The New York State State Board of Education adopted "Flag Day" as an official observance.

In 1983, Colonel J Granville Leach, on behalf of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, suggested that June 14 be known from then on as Flag Day.

In 1894, the State of New York adopted June 14 as Flag Day, followed the next year by the State of Illinois. The first Flag Day ceremonies in the Chicago area saw over 300,000 children participate.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first, official, national Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, President Truman designated June 14 every year as National Flag Day.

Police and union steelworkers clash with anti-war
protesters in downtown Manhattan in 1968.


Repatriated US POWs proudly pose with their handmade
American flag for a group photograph with their flight nurses
at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. The POWs made the flag during
their internment in a Communist POW camp.
September 9, 1953

The US flag, according to Democrats in Florida. In fairness the flag was
removed from the front of a local Democrat Club headquarter after outcry
from Veteran's organizations -- until the Club could determine "the
legality of flying the flag" with Obama's face emblazoned upon it,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THINK BEFORE YOU INK! A Public Service Message From Me: If You Think 80s Hair Is Embarassing Now, Wait Until Your Kitty Tattoo Is 25 Years Old

Frankly, I can't always write about politics. First of all, only like half of you people even get what I'm talking about and the other half call me bad names. Plus, Barack Obama isn't polling at the 4% he should be polling at, so obviously America is hell-bent on destroying itself anyway, regardless of what I say.

With that in mind, I've decided to write about fashion today.

I notice a lot of people getting tattoos. By "a lot of people" I pretty much mean everyone under thirty years old. Tattoos used to be a sign of rebellion. A sort of in-your-face-statement that you were living your life to stick it to the man. Now, people with ink are just cluttered up cliches of an aimless generation that thinks it's one giant collective bad-ass.

There was a time, when I was of the barroom brawl ilk, that if a guy with a sleeve tatt came in looking for trouble, I'd gently slide down to the end of the bar and wait for the trouble to begin, knowing I was about to lose another fight. Pretty much nowadays, if you are a male with a tattoo, your skinny jeans and emo tee-shirt tell me everything I need to know about you. Ink doesn't make you tough any more than borrowing money from your retirement account to buy a Harley-Davidson makes you a biker.

Let's talk about girls now. I like females, I married one, so I am qualified to speak about women's issues. If you are under thirty and you have any of the following:
  • a sleeve tatt
  • a chest tatt
  • a tramp stamp (especially if it is a Harley-Davidson logo)
  • a partial sleeve tatt
  • an insect on the back of your neck
  • wild or plant life on one or both legs
please listen to what I am about to say:

The chances are your mom had pretty big hair right around the time you were born. Find her yearbook from high school or college and check it out if you don't believe me. Now, think how funny your mom would look today if she was still sporting the big hair with her mom-jeans and fanny pack as she struts her decrepit stuff through the mall. I know you don't think that's going to be you in twenty-five years, but you're wrong. Your mom, ladies, is your future.

Now think of you sporting the 2030-style mom-jeans as you zoom around town in your jet pack. The only difference between you and your mom is your mom changed her hair-style and uses hair-coloring to keep from looking like my fifth grade teacher, (who's actual real name was Mrs. Leadbeater). You, on the other hand, will be stuck with that rose vine wrapped around the unicorn horn with the setting sun casting its funky yellow light over that digitally reproduced picture of that kid in high school who died from a heroin overdose. Trust me, in 2037, your arm will  embarrass you beyond your ability to comprehend right now.

Here's some visual aids to help you understand that bad hairstyles last a decade, but tattoos are forever.









Hair grows out. Tattoos just turn blue and wrinkly, but luckily they're permanent reminders of all the bad fashion decisions you will make in your teens and twenties.

Tattoos are the big hair of the 20-teens. Think about your future, and the embarrassment your children will suffer 25 years from now when that butterfly on your belly looks like a slug crawling through a salt mine.

Think before you ink, won't you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reagan at the Brandenberg Gate: The 25th Anniversary of the Most Important Speech In My Lifetime

Growing up during the height of the Cold War, it was inconceivable to me that anything east of the Iron Curtain would ever be anything other than dark and opporessed. Berlin was a divided city, as Germany was a divided country, as Europe was a divided continent.
Out of college I worked in an engineering department with an engineer who escaped from Czechoslovakia to Austria in the back of a milk truck. He left behind his wife and children, not knowing if they had been punished after his escape or if they were in fact even alive. I don't remember the details of why he was forced to escape after all of these years, but his story was, unfortunately, not uncommon.

As the 80s progressed, the Cold War deepened and we were all as scared of nuclear annihilation then as the generation before us was in the 50s and 60s. Not to minimize the War on Terror, but a few thousand nuclear missiles were daunting to live in the shadow of. On more than one occasion I took part in conversations about where the first Soviet missiles would hit. In the central New Jersey area we always felt we would go first because of New York and all the military installations around us. As naive as we were, were hoped we were right. We grew up knowing it was better to die first in a nuclear war.

There is no way to relate to someone who didn't live through those times just how inconceivable a world without the Soviet Union was.

The Wall went up practically overnight in 1961 and it seemed the world would never change.


Communist governments run by power mad narcissists used fear and brutality to prop up a system that history has shown only leads to ruin and death. Those governments seemed invincible to us then. Men who considered themselves free were powerless to save the people trapped behind the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain.

Then Ronald Reagan did the unthinkable. Simply put, he challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the symbol of Soviet power. Two years and five months later, the Berlin wall was no more and the Soviet Union's days were numbered as well. It happened just that quickly and simply. Reagan's words were the match that lit the fuse of freedom in the hearts of the oppressed people of Europe.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the single most significant political event in my lifetime. On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan challenged the Soviet premier to let the people of the Eastern Bloc live in freedom. This anniversary should stand as a powerful reminder that governments do not give freedom and prosperity, they only limit them. It is people living freely and pursuing their own self interests who can guarantee freedom for the generations still to come.

Listening to this speech twenty-five years later makes you realize just how much America and the American government's view of freedom has changed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On the Occasion of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. Not That We Should Care, But For Some Reason We Apparently Do.

Note At the Top: I am compelled to remind you people that royalty, the worship of human beings, and the exaltation of people because of their station in life is inherently destructive to the well-being of the citizenry, but you're all apparently too busy cheering Queen Elizabeth to notice.

In case you readers of American residency haven't been paying attention, the figurehead monarch of a foreign country has apparently been on the throne for sixty years and the people are rejoicing. My first response is that anyone, especially someone of the Queen's age, who has been on the throne for sixty years should probably look into adding some fibre (note: proper English spelling) into her diet.

The Queen of England's Diamond
Jubilee is today. This is a picture of
Elton John and you should be ashamed
of yourself for thinking what you just
thought.
Other than to look at the cool buildings in London I have no interest in the coverage of the Queen of England going to lunch, or Pippa being somewhat trampish, or what finger nail polish Fergie's daughter is wearing (her nails were painted up with Union Jacks), or that red-headed prince's giant teeth. However, all of you American people are obviously so enamored of a system we fought a war to escape that you have forced me to watch this silly waste of time and money in a foreign country non-stop for the last five days.

In all fairness, the Today Show did do a segment exalting Barack Obama's latest campaign ad whilst (note: English-type word) mocking a Romney ad during a brief cut-away from breathlessly covering the Queen of England being driven -- Miss Daisy-style --to lunch.

Personally, as a libertarian, I think all people all equal and it's what they do with their equalness that matters. In the case of you Monarchists, Democrats, and the royal family (note: disrespectful non-use of capitals), it's really just a matter of who your mum and dad are. And we celebrate this?

Needing a dose of reality and a sense of perspective on all of this Jubilee celebrating, I ran to my copy of Common Sense by Thomas Paine. For those of you who went to a public school in America in the past thirty years and were therefore only taught that you should be nice and have high self-esteem, Thomas Paine was an English dude who moved to America and ranted about England and the King and all of the taxes and bad things the English government was jamming down our throats, back when Americans actually had the cajones to stand up to bad government. Today he would be called a Tea Bagger by the enlightened Liberals who are fast-tracking the American train right off the tracks.

But enough about American liberals and the god-man-child Barack Obama they worship blindly as if he were some sort of royal person, let's pull some quotes from Thomas Paine to put all of this people-worshipping into perspective.

I like this one because it predicts Prince Charles, and it says that hereditary monarchy will ultimately result in giving the people an ass for a leader.
"To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho' himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION."
When faced with the daunting task
of meeting an old lady from England,
Barack Obama isn't sure whether he
should bow or curtsy.
I know all of you monarchists and people of United Kingdom in general are all really steamed at me right now because you think I don't get what the royals actually stand for. I get it, I get the whole bit, which to me makes it even worse.

Anyway, let's get back to connecting the Queen's Jubilee with what's going wrong in America today, especially among those denizens of the Cult of Personality: Democrats and people who are actually enjoying watching the nauseatingly constant coverage of the anniversary of the figurehead of a government from a foreign country that we used to pride ourselves on rejecting.

Here's another quote from Thomas Paine. In this little gem, Paine expounds on the silliness of thinking that some leader's dopey kid might actually turn out to be anything other than your typical twenty-year-old sitting on the couch all day eating Cheetos and playing Grand Theft Auto while he waits for his mom to cook his steak and cut it up into little bite-sized chunks:
"Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say 'We choose you for our head,' they could not without manifest injustice to their children say 'that your children and your children's children shall reign over ours forever.' Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool."
In this picture, Barack and Michelle find out that
Elizabeth and Phil get to be in charge of England for
ever and ever and ever. 
Finally, this gem from Mr. Paine sums it all up. First of all, it's not God who picks a leader (Barack Obama sycophants take note), it's the guy with the sharpest ax and the most dumb people following him (or in modern parlance, the guy with the most compelling made-up backstory and David Axelrod), and second of all, people who "promiscuously worship" their leaders usually know not the difference between the Ass and the Lion.
"England since the conquest hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad ones: yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honourable one. A French bastard landing with an armed Banditti and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it. However it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the Ass and the Lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion."
So seriously people, I dig that people in England are proud of their heritage and the grand history of the United Kingdom, but that's their gig -- not ours. We're supposed to be against inherent inequality, even if it does wear a nifty hat and ride in a pumpkin coach. We're also supposed to be against out-of-touch leaders who flaunt their wealth and power over the non-God chosen people inhabiting the countryside.