TBT: One Week [and One Year] Under the Usurper

Well, it’s been one year and one week since Biden the Usurper seized the throne and assumed his reign of the federal government.  Of course, he’s a senile puppet—or maybe he’s playing at senility—and rubber stamps whatever the progressives want.

I’ve really disengaged from national politics over the last year, as I find much of the wrangling fruitless.  I personally advocate for radical decentralization and focusing our energy and attention at the lowest levels of government to bring about change.  If economics functions on a “trickle-down” basis, politics “trickles-up”—(re)gain control of the mechanisms of power and the institutions locally, and you’re going to change—albeit slowly—the greater heights.

That said, even I am not ignorant to the state of the country.  Workers are quitting their menial jobs in droves—or not returning to them after being furloughed—as they can enjoy excessively generous unemployment benefits.  Prices are through the roof on everything, especially food.  Farmers are facing higher prices for the inputs for fertilizer, which means food is just going to get more expensive.  The supply chains are totally disrupted.  And we’re wringing our hands over The Virus, which has gotten milder over time, and was never all that deadly anyway.

Police officers are arresting nine-year olds in New York City for not having vaccine passports.  Masks—which don’t work at all—are a sign of the pious—the New Elect—and increase carbon dioxide levels.  Companies are forcing employees to get The Vaccine, which isn’t even a vaccine in the traditional sense, but an experimental gene therapy that appears to increase dramatically the incidences of myocarditis in even the healthiest individuals—including professional athletes, who are dropping like flies.

Americans might have lost their spirit of ornery rebellion, but if their kids are getting arrested and/or discriminated against and they can’t buy stuff they want at low prices, they’ll make a fuss.  They already are.  The Biden Administration might not bear the responsibility for everything that is happening, but they’ve done precious little to ameliorate—and much to exacerbate—our current situation.

That’s why now more than ever, we’ve got to get serious about fixing things where we are.  Grow your own food, stack cash (even if inflation eats into it), and learn to live lean.

With that, here is 27 January 2021’s “One Week Under the Usurper“:

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TBT: Out of Control Feds

Ah, 2019—when the disaster of the 2020 presidential theft was a distant possibility, and long before Lord COVID descended from his Chinese chemical lab to sow destruction upon us all.  Back, then, our greatest concern was incompetent government bureaucrats running us over, then ticketing us for the pleasure.

That’s the story behind this post, which discusses Jim Treacher’s near-death encounter with a federal SUV, and the efforts of the feds to shift the blame to Teacher, rather than the federal agent who mowed him down.

Well, they can flatten our dreams, our economic prospects, and our freedom, but they can never flatten our hope.  Here is 23 March 2019’s “Out of Control Feds“:

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Idaho’s Regulatory Reset

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The big, exciting news in conservatism this week is the sunsetting of all of Idaho’s state regulations.

It’s a curious situation:  all of Idaho’s regulations sunset annually, but the Idaho State Legislature usually renews all of them as a matter of course.  This year, after a contentious legislative sessions, the legislature failed to reauthorize the regulations, so the entire body of state regulations expires on 1 July 2019.

Libertarians and small government conservatives are rejoicing, and this retirement is, indeed, revolutionary—it’s essentially an opportunity to “reset” the State’s regulatory regime, starting from scratch.  That will provide a great deal of opportunity to reinstate what worked in a regulatory sense, and to keep the rest of the chaff on the threshing floor.

The Mercatus Center’s piece on the Idaho situation also points to another welcome change:  the burden of proof now shifts to new regulations, rather than those seeking the repeal of old ones:

Governor Brad Little, sworn into office in January, already had a nascent red tape cutting effort underway, but the impending regulatory cliff creates some new dynamics. Previously, each rule the governor wanted cut would have had to be justified as a new rulemaking action; now, every regulation that agencies want to keep has to be justified. The burden of proof has switched.

An enduring frustration for legislators seeking to cut regulations must be the “Helen Lovejoy Effect“:  constant emotional appeals that cutting or revising this or that rule will breed dire consequences of catastrophic, apocalyptic proportions.  The Idaho legislature’s fortunate lapse in consensus has flipped the script.

Another item of note here:  it’s intriguingly paradoxical how legislative disagreement and gridlock ultimately brought about an opportunity for real reform.  While most legislative gridlock seldom ends with such dramatically positive results, this situation demonstrates the usefulness of hung legislatures:  sometimes, getting nothing done is preferable to getting something destructive done.

From the perspective of liberty, a government not taking action is often the better outcome.  That’s why conservatives were so rankled when President Obama promised to govern via executive fiat (“I have a pen and a phone”) on the grounds that congressional gridlock necessitated such drastic action.  The Framers of the Constitution baked inefficiency into the cake:  our national legislature is supposed to act slowly and deliberately.

Of course, the total repeal of all regulations is not all sunshine and unicorn hugs.  Contra hardcore libertarians, some regulations are useful, and their benefits far exceed their costs (although the opposite is often likelier).  The challenge for Idahoans is to figure out how to get back the useful regulations without reinstating the corrosive ones.  To quote the Mercatus Center again:

The main constraint now facing Idaho state agencies is time—they could use more of it. Regulators have just two months to decide which rules should stay and which should go. With more time, they might be able to tweak and modernize those regulations deemed necessary; instead, many rules may simply be readopted without changes.

So, in the haste to reinstate beneficent regulations, the detrimental ones could also get thrown back in.  If that happens, Idaho will have squandered a virtually unprecedented opportunity to remake its regulatory regime into a more streamlined, pro-liberty apparatus.

If, however, Idaho can pull it off, it will serve as a model to other States looking to streamline their regulatory agencies and services.  That’s a promising outcome, and one that all lovers of small- and limited-government should endorse.

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End the Income Tax

Today is tax day.  Despite President Trump’s signature tax reform, I ended up owing money to the feds for the first time in my adult life (although I’ll be getting a bit back from the State of South Carolina).

The income tax used to be unconstitutional in our Republic.  Indeed, the primary way that federal government gained revenue was from tariffs on imported goods and excise taxes on certain products, like whiskey.  Alexander Hamilton advocated for high protective tariffs to protect young domestic industries from British manufacturers, who were “dumping” cheap British goods into the infant nation (a practice China has taken up today).  Only during times of war, such as the American Civil War, did Americans have to endure a tax on incomes.

Like most odious, liberty-killing measures, the income tax was a Progressive Era project, ratified in the 16th Amendment (followed shortly thereafter by the 17th Amendment, which made US Senators directed elected, and the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol).  Progressive reformers assured Americans that only a very small proportion of Americans would ever pay the income tax, which was graduated from the beginning.

That claim was true… for the first year.  Immediately, Congress began ratcheting up tax rates and requiring more Americans to pay it.  Governments are hard-pressed not to exploit a newfangled method of raising revenue.

The income tax is not all bad:  it’s a more stable source of revenue that tariffs, which depend upon foreign imports.  No imports, no taxation.  Advocates for the graduated income tax, like Tennessee Congressman and future Secretary of State Cordell Hull, argued that, in the event of a major war in Europe (which broke out a year after the 16th Amendment was ratified), international trade would fall, bringing collected duties down with it.  That was a prescient observation, and a strong argument in favor of some kind of domestic tax.

That said, the income tax is incredibly invasive.  Every year, I lament that the federal government has to collect so much information about me:  where I worked during the fiscal year, how I saved my money, etc.

According to Scott Rasmussen, 52% of Americans favor repealing the 16th Amendment.  Count me among them.  The income tax gives the government far too much influence over our lives, and the federal tax code is so byzantine and full of carve-outs and exemptions, it’s become the purview of the well-connected.  It’s become a corporatist monstrosity.

What would replace the income tax?  Given that it’s likely never to be repealed—governments don’t typically diminish their power (or access to other people’s money)—the question is largely academic.  Still, it’s worth considering.

While I think tariffs can serve a useful purpose (see also: bringing China to heel), and that there’s an argument for some mild protectionism, high protective tariffs like Republicans championed after the Civil War would be ruinous to trade.  The deadweight loss (destroyed economic activity) associated with tariffs—especially from the inevitable retaliatory tariffs other nations would pass in response—would do more harm than good, and could result in a Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 situation (i.e., the Great Depression).

The only realistic alternative that I see currently (from my admittedly myopic position) is a national sales tax.  There are some serious drawbacks to this approach, to be sure, but it would be the cleanest, most efficient way to generate revenue.

A national sales tax would encourage saving and work, both of which are currently disincentivized under our current tax regime.  Instead, purchases would be disincentivized, which would hurt sales, but encourage people to hold onto more of their money.  Further, it would not require the government to keep elaborate tabs on every worker; the Internal Revenue Service could be greatly reduced, or even eliminated.

Of course, any tax is a necessary evil, and a national sales tax would make it more difficult for high sales tax States to raise revenue (as it would limit those States’ ability to increase their taxes if necessary).  It would also slow purchasing, and necessarily raise prices (by definition, especially if you’re tacking 15-25% on top of a good).  There’s also the question of whether a sales tax should just apply to consumer goods, or if it should be an uber-expensive value-added tax, with each economic transaction along the chain of production getting taxed.

Those are sticky questions for wonkier types than I to sort out.  But wouldn’t it be nice to build an economy on the production of real value—of stuff—rather than one built on ever-expanding sales, purchasing on credit, and debt financing?

Regardless, the federal income tax is a major imposition, an invasive intruder that enters our lives every April, borrowing from us (without interest!) throughout the year, and intimidating us with the looming threat of disruptive audits.  It seems everyone would be happier—even, in a way, the feds!—if it were eliminated.

Lazy Sunday VII: The Deep State

It’s been a good weekend, and today’s post marks another milestone in this blog’s brief history:  fifteen weeks of consecutive daily posts.  After a change of pace last Sunday, I’m back to Lazy Sunday. This week’s edition looks back at posts about the administrative Deep State that exists in the federal government.  Indeed, it’s an unholy alliance of D.C. insiders, corporate elites, academic Leftists, and social justice warriors, all arrayed against President Trump and his agenda.

The Deep State is, as I’ve written, very real.  We can no longer trust judges to dispassionately rule on or uphold the Constitution; bureaucrats to execute faithfully the president’s orders; or government officials to act in the best interest of the American people.  Further, we cannot trust our elites to even abide by the outcome of a fair, free election.  The long, expensive Mueller probe represented a vague, politically-motivated witch hunt, all designed to de-legitimize President Trump.  That our unelected intelligence agencies played an active role in such treasonous activity further highlights the dire situation in which the Republic finds itself.

Indeed, we’ve entered into a period of praetorian rule in the United States.  No longer is the Constitution respected.  If the people make the “wrong” choice for president, then the full apparatus of the Swamp will swing into action to “correct” the wrongthink of the plebes.  Most Americans do not appreciate how far we’ve passed through the looking glass.  I would urge President Trump to restructure radically our intelligence agencies, making them accountable to elected officials and, therefore, the American people.

These posts detail the perfidy and duplicity of the Deep State.  They only scratch the surface.

1.) “Fictitious Frogs and Bureaucratic Despotism” – this piece examines, in brief, the excesses and abuses of federal agencies that have been delegated lawmaking powers.  Weak-willed Congress’s have readily given up their precious legislative powers, and out-of-control justices have approved this unconstitutional, cowardly activity.  The results have been both absurd and catastrophic, particularly with everyone’s favorite government-agency-to-hate, the Environmental Protection Agency.

2.) “The Deep State is Real – Silent Coup Attempt and Andrew McCabe” – disgraced Deputy Attorney General was going around bragging about his attempt to lead a 25th Amendment removal of President Trump from office, premised on the ridiculous notion—unfortunately axiomatic among Leftists—that the president is insane.  Despite no evidence to suggest as much, McCabe, like other Deep States progressives, merely wanted to remove the president from office.  Of course, to progressives, anyone who disagrees with them is either mentally ill or evil.

3.) “The Deep State is Real, Part II: US Ambassadors and DOJ Conspired Against Trump” – this post kicked off a few days of Deep State reflections.  It’s a “must-read,” as I explain how the notorious Steele dossier, a fake document used to obtain a FISA warrant to wiretap the Trump campaign phones, was commissioned by the Clinton campaign.  With all the claims of “Russian collusion” levied at President Trump, it’s an absurd example of projection:  Clinton was the one “colluding” with a foreign agent (Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, is a former British spy) to influence the outcome of an American election—and using the backchannels of state power to eavesdrop on an innocent man’s presidential campaign.  That’s far more sinister than anything the Nixon campaign did in 1972 (at least the Committee to Re-Elect the President kept the Watergate burglary domestic).  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be in federal prison.

4.) “Mueller Probe Complete, Trump Vindicated” – remarkably, even Robert Mueller couldn’t straight-up lie about President Trump.  I’ll end this Lazy Sunday on a positive note:  President Trump was cleared of any “collusion” with Russia (keep in mind, “collusion” isn’t even a legal term, and is vague to the point of meaninglessness, which is the point:  anyone can read into the phrase “Russian collusion” whatever dark fantasies they want).  Now that the probe is done, President Trump should act with all haste to DRAIN THE SWAMP!

Happy Sunday.  Rest up—we’ve got to take back America!

Other Lazy Sunday Posts:

Mueller Probe Complete, Trump Vindicated

The long national nightmare is overThe long national nightmare is over—the Mueller probe/expensive government boondoggle/politically-motivated, Deep State witch hunt is finally complete, and President Trump is in the clear:  there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Now that the world finally knows what we all suspected for the past two years, the Left is in complete meltdown mode.  The mental gymnastics to which they’re resorting is humorous, but sad.  A key lesson to remember is that what the Left can’t achieve politically or socially, it will achieve through the courts (or violence).

For two years, the Left assumed that their inside man, Robert Mueller, and the rest of the Clintonian, globalist Deep State would produce (or, if need be, fabricate) the “evidence” needed to oust a duly-elected President of the United States.

Now, they’re magic wand has turned into a limp stick, incapable of conjuring up the fabled “collusion” the Left dreamed about for two long years.

President Trump emerges victorious.  It’s a huge blow to the Deep State, and almost like Part II of the 2016 election:  an outside figure, facing enormous odds and an entire media-government-business establishment arrayed against him, has won a hard-fought battle, even with the deck stacked against him.

There are still investigations in New York involving the perfidious and mendacious Michael Cohen, but those will, most likely, similarly yield nothing but bitter fruit for the Left—and more vindication for Trump.

In the meantime, it’s a great day to be on the Trumpian Right.  MAGA MAGA MAGA!

–TPP

P.S.—Here’s a great video c/o my younger brother:

Out of Control Feds

A benefit of writing this little blog is that I read (and, usually, skim) a great deal of material from all over the web, and come away knowing more than I otherwise would.  My hope is to take some of the flotsam and jetsam I come across and condense and give context to it.

Such was the situation with Jim Treacher, the pseudonym of Sean Medlock.  Treacher/Medlock is a lukewarm Never Trumper (from what I can gather) who writes for PJ Media.  Treacher wrote a piece earlier in the week about “conservative” website The Bulwark, which is unhinged neocon Bill Kristol‘s new pet project since The Weekly Standard was unceremoniously shuttered a few months ago.

That piece, “In What Sense is The Bulwark Conserving Conservatism,” is not the point of this post, but it is a disturbing read.  Treacher examines the self-righteous scribblings of Molly Jong-Fast, who covered CPAC for The Bulwark.  CPAC is the major event in conservative activism, and every year generates plenty of controversy between the warring factions of Conservatism, Inc.  Jong-Fast (hyphenated names make my skin crawl) basically spent the entire conference shuddering about how “anti-choice” the conference was, and making jokes about a group of conservatives wanting to limit the size and scope of the federal government.

What did you expect, baby?  CPAC isn’t a meeting of the D.C. Workers’ Soviet.  Yeesh.  Read the piece to get the full flavor for this foolishness.  It proves the claims from Dissident Right figures that modern “conservatism” doesn’t conserve anything, and yesterday’s Leftist utopia is today’s “conservative principle.”

Tough words to type, but in the case of Kristol and his ilk, terribly true.  Regardless, in the piece Treacher mentions in passing being struck by a State Department vehicle in 2010, which prevented his attendance at CPAC.

That took me down a frightening rabbit hole:  a State Department vehicle struck Treacher, who was in the crosswalk at the time.  The State Department agent driving the vehicle, Mike McGuinn, did not apologize to Treacher; indeed, Treacher was issued a ticket for jaywalking—while in his hospital bed!

Some key excerpts from The Daily Caller‘s piece about the incident:

An agent in the vehicle, Mike McGuinn, did not identify himself to Medlock at the scene, or apologize for running him down. Indeed, Washington, D.C., police drove to a local emergency room to serve Medlock with a jaywalking citation as he lay prostrate in a hospital bed, while a man who identified himself as “special agent” stood by watching and taking notes….

At the hospital, DC police officer John Muniz arrived to issue Medlock a $20 jaywalking ticket. Medlock was lying sedated on a gurney, so Muniz delivered the ticket to a Daily Caller colleague, who was at the hospital with Medlock. He looked embarrassed as he did so. Behind him stood a man dressed in a dark suit who identified himself as a “special agent.” He said nothing but wrote in a notebook.

Curiously, the ticket says that Medlock was struck at an intersection four blocks from where the accident actually took place. And it claims that Medlock was walking diagonally across the intersection at the time. In one of his strikingly short conversations with the Daily Caller, agent Mike McGuinn acknowledged that Medlock was not jaywalking at all, but walking “outside the crosswalk when the incident occurred.”

The question is: Did the federal agent driving the SUV, faced with potential liabilities from the accident, encourage local police to issue some sort – any sort – of citation to Medlock, to establish his culpability?

Three years later, Treacher wrote a piece for The Daily Caller detailing the State Department’s practice of hiring law enforcement personnel with checkered pasts.

Here we have a federal bureaucracy utterly indifferent to the lives of the citizens it ostensibly serves.  In Treacher’s case, I can’t tell if it’s malignant indifference, or rank incompetence.  Bureaucracies of all stripes try to avoid liability and controversy—they exist to protect and expand themselves, after all—but only the federal government could get away with running someone down in a crosswalk, ticketing that person, and never owning up to its mistake.

I wrote yesterday about the presence of Deep State, anti-Trump actors in the State Department, and of their collusion with the Obama administration’s Department of Justice.  If they have the gall to attempt the takedown of a duly-elected President, then imagine their contempt and disregard for us.

Now that the Mueller probe has ended (I think that’s the takeaway from the promise that there would be no more indictments), Deep State perfidy will only grow more sinister.  Gird your loins, President Trump.

The Deep State is Real, Part II: US Ambassadors and DOJ Conspired Against Trump

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) dropped a bombshell earlier this week:  Obama-era US ambassadors conspired with the Department of Justice against President Trump.  Every site I find points back to the original Washington Examiner piece linked above, although the blog Independent Sentinel has a bit more commentary, tying it back to the fake Christopher Steele dossier.

You’ll recall the Steele dossier is a document the Clinton campaign commissioned through back-channels (a law firm), which was then used to obtain a FISA warrant to wiretap then-candidate Trump’s communications.  That mendacious original sin spawned the odious “Russian collusion” narrative that lingers around the Trump Administration like a bad fart.  Andrew McCarthy in National Review calls the dossier a “Clinton-campaign product.”

Regardless, if Meadows is correct, it serves as further proof that the Washington “Deep State”—the “Swamp”—is very, terrifyingly real.  It will stop at nothing to disrupt President Trump’s America First agenda, and subvert a free and fair election.

What’s most chilling about all this chicanery is not that it targets President Trump particularly (although that certainly creates its own problems—few good, conscientious Americans will choose to run for public office, especially as conservatives, unless they have the cash and the guts to risk everything).  Rather, it suggests that our experiment in self-government is dangerously threatened by a group of unelected elites cloistered in the Washington foreign policy and law enforcement establishment.

America stands at a crossroads.  We’ve arrogated ever-more power to an unaccountable federal bureaucracy.  Many conservatives—myself included—hoped that the extended government shutdown would aid in the draining of the Swamp.  So far, though, it seems that the president is still surrounded by enemies.

We have a choice:  we continue down the current road, ceding more power to the government, and hoping against hope for some kind of “enlightened, constitutionalist despot” to restore as much of our constitutional framework as possible.  President Trump’s difficulties weeding out seditious bureaucrats suggest that path is incredibly difficult, and it will make presidential contests—as well as Supreme Court nominations—increasingly vicious.  The progressive Left has an edge in the culture, the institutions, government, and on the streets.

The other option is weed out the federal bureaucracy, strike down the administrative state, and restore power to Congress.  Restoring power to the States would also reduce the emphasis on national politics über alles.

But conservative politicians have been peddling those nostrums for years, without much headway.  Thus, we find ourselves struggling along with a feeble Congress, a dictatorial federal court system, an arrogant administrative regime, and a presidency that is both excessively powerful and, paradoxically, unable to control its own bureaucracy.

Something has to give.  President Trump has fought back ably overall, but one man alone cannot restore our constitutional order.  Indeed, that’s the whole point of our system—to diffuse power broadly.  He’s done what he could through the constitutional powers at his disposal.

I don’t know what the future holds, but if we want to continue the grand experiment in self-government, we have to hobble the Deep State—indeed, it must be destroyed.