Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag
Last month the Minnesota government passed an Internet sales tax law. Although proponents of this law claimed it would raise revenue (isn’t funny how statists always consider other people’s money the state’s revenue), those of us who opposed it pointed out that it wasn’t enforceable. The State of Minnesota can only enforce its laws against entities physically located here. This being the case, Internet merchants not wanting to pay Minnesota sales taxes need only relocate to another state.
In response to the passage of Minnesota’s Internet sales tax law Amazon has decided to terminate it’s Associates Program with Minnesotans, effectively ending its physical presence in this state:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective June 30, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Minnesota state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Dayton on May 23, 2013, with an effective date of July 1, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after June 30 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Minnesota residents.
Libertarians and other advocates of small or no government are jumping for joy because this move demonstrates that tax increases drive businesses away… or does it? If you continue reading their notice you’ll see that avoiding taxes, a noble cause, isn’t Amazon’s goal:
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Herein lies Amazon’s goals, they want to drum up support for the Marketplace Fairness Act. The Marketplace Fairness Act promises to level the playing field between online merchants and traditional brick-and-mortar merchants. In reality, the law is blatent protectionism, which is why Amazon is in support of it.
The text of the law says any online retailer that has over $1 million in gross online sales must pay sales taxes in all 50 states. Since Amazon is an online retailer and has well over $1 million in gross online sales it would stand to reason that it would oppose this law, right? Not exactly. Amazon is a massive company that rakes in tremendous amounts of cash. It can easily absorb the costs associated with complying with 50 different tax codes. However, its smaller competitors may not be able to.
$1 million in gross online sales isn’t that much when you figure in the expenses of paying employees, maintaining a website, building and shipping product, etc. A company that made $1 million in gross online sales may not be turning much of a, if any, profit. Even if it is turning a profit that money is unlikely to be enough to ensure compliance with 50 different tax laws, which may require hiring 50 different tax lawyers. Whenever a large company supports a piece of legislation always ask yourself how that legislation will harm its competitors, because that’s usually its end goal.
Amazon wants the Marketplace Fairness Act to pass because it would reduce the number of competitors. In order to get the bill to pass Amazon is sending members of its Minnesota Associates Program an ultimatum: support the Marketplace Fairness Act or never again enjoy the benefits of being an Amazon Associate.
In the end, Minnesota’s Internet sales tax law was a lose-lose-lose for everybody besides Amazon. The State of Minnesota won’t gain any additional funds since online retailers can easily relocate to another state. Members of Amazon’s Associates Program are no longer able to rake in that program’s benefits because Amazon wants to use them as political pawns to crush its competitors. Finally, everybody in the United States loses because Amazon’s exploitation of Minnesota’s Internet sales tax law will likely create more supporters for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would increase the amount of taxes we have to pay.
Gun control advocates have been harming about supposed loopholes that allow individuals to purchase firearms without first submitting to a background check. They’ve come up with fancy names for these supposed loopholes such as the “gun show loophole” and the “private sale loophole.” Oddly enough, they never discuss another way to get around background checks, be a violent revolutionary in a country that isn’t on friendly terms with the United States government:
President Barack Obama’s decision to begin arming Syria’s rebels deepens U.S. involvement in a regional proxy war that is increasingly being fought along sectarian lines, pitting Sunni against Shiite Muslims, and threatening the stability of Syria’s neighbors.
Another way to get around background checks is to be a member of a Mexican drug cartel.
Why haven’t gun control advocates spent any notable time discussing these loopholes? Unlike the “gun show loophole” and the “private sale loophole” the violent revolutionary loophole and the Mexican drug cartel loophole are almost exclusively used by violent individuals. Perhaps these loopholes aren’t discussed by most gun control advocates because the same organization they want to close the gun show and the private sale “loopholes” are also creating the violent revolutionary and Mexican drug cartel loopholes by supplying both of those organizations with arms.
Peter King, a schmuck from New York who claims to represent some people, recently stated that he believes Glenn Greenwald should be arrested:
“Not only did [Greenwald] disclose this information, he said he has names of CIA agents and assets around the world and threatening to disclose that,” King said when asked by host Megyn Kelly why he wants to prosecute the reporter. “I think [prosecuting reporters] should be very targeted and very selective and a rare exception. In this case, when you have someone who discloses secrets like this and threatens to release more, yes, there has to be legal action taken against him.”
He then asserted: “This is a very unusual case with life-and-death implications for Americans.”
I believe there has to be legal action taken against Mr. King. When Mr. King took his position as a “representative” he, along with his cohorts, took the following oath:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.
While I’m not particularly fond of the Constitution I have read it and know that the Fourth Amendment makes the actions of the National Security Agency (NSA) illegal:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Greenwald broke the story on the NSA’s widespread surveillance operation, which was a complete violation of the people’s right to be protected from unreasonable searches. Mr. King, by demanding the prosecution of Mr. Greenwalk, is aiding and abetting a criminal organization and that shit ain’t legal.
The New York City Council decided to open their mouths and confirm to the entire world that they are, in fact, complete fools:
On Wednesday, the New York city council introduced a new bill that would make it illegal to use a 3D printer “to create any firearm, rifle, shotgun, or any piece or part thereof,” without being a licensed gunsmith. And even the creator would be required to notify the New York Police Department and register the gun within 72 hours of completion.
How does those bureaucrats plan to enforce this bill? Are they going to search every building in New York City for 3D printers? Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did pull something like that, but it would still be impossible because there aren’t enough police officers in New York City to search every building simultaneously. If every building isn’t searched at the exact same time then owners of 3D printers can just move them to buildings that have already been searched. Furthermore, even if they were able to order every building searched for 3D printers, they would have to assume the mere presence of a 3D printer implied guilt of fabricating 3D printed firearms (again, I wouldn’t put it past them, but it would be hard sell).
This is another example of a bill that is entirely unenforceable and therefore meaningless.
Now that it’s been proven that the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on the American people it’s time for Rand Paul to take the stage and perform some political grandstanding. Low and behold, as if on queue, he has come forward with a piece of legislation that he claims will restore Fourth Amendment protections:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today announced he will introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013, which ensures the Constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment are not violated by any government entity.
“The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the Executive’s expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party,” Sen. Paul said. “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which would provide exactly the kind of protections that, if enacted, could have prevented these abuses and stopped these increasingly frequent violations of every American’s constitutional rights.
Let me get this straight. The federal government violated the Fourth Amendment by spying on the American people and Rand solution is to make that act more illegal? I’m sure the NSA will stop spying on us when it becomes doubleplusillegal! Hell, making spying illegaler will work better than repealing the PATRIOT Act or FISA!
This legislation is likely to be a worthless as his legislation to protect Americans from being executed by drones, which included an exception so vague that it could be applied to anybody.
Rand is turning out to be a master of exploiting crises for political gain and that fact should worry everybody.
Bitter over at Shall Not Be Questioned notes that the critters in Congress are talking about bringing up gun control measures again.
At this point I’m thoroughly convinced that gun control is serving as nothing more than a distraction. With the recent military sex abuse scandal, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, trial of Bradley Manning, , talks of arming potential al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, reveal that four American citizens have been assassinated with drones, Supreme Court decision dictating that Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples can be taken from anybody being arrested, and various other scandals the federal government is currently involved in it seems as though Congress, the executive branch, and the judicial branch are desperate to get the spotlight off of their misdeeds. Gun rights are an emotional issue here in the United States and emotional issues serve as the best distractions.
My guess is Congress is hoping people will get riled up about gun control and ignore all the other shit that is currently going on in Washington DC. On the upside, if my theory is correct, they are unlikely to pass any gun control legislation because that would mean an end to the distraction. With the way things are going in the City of the Damned all three branches of the federal government needs to extend the distraction as long as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new call for gun control either results in no further action or results in debates that conclude when the various ongoing scandals finally drop out of the news.
I hereby present the news of Frank Lautenberg’s death without comment in the spirit of the phrase “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Since the BBC is covering the story I must assume that everybody in the world is now aware that Michele Bachmann announced that she won’t be seeking reelection to Congress:
“The law limits anyone from serving as president of the United States for more than eight years,” Mrs Bachmann said in an eight-and-a-half minute video posted to her website on Wednesday morning.
“And in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for any individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.”
Many members of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) are jumping for joy because they believe Bachmann’s retirement removes a powerful Republican player from the field. I believe they are incorrect. Bachmann simply said she wasn’t seeking reelection in the 6th congressional district, which means she could still pursue a run for the Senate. I’m doubtful that Bachmann will seek another office simply because I’m guessing her recent announcement has something to do with the recent ethics investigation of her campaign. If her announcement was influenced by dirt dug up by the investigation I can’t see it not also preventing her from making a Senate or governor run.
Even if she doesn’t run for another political office the field has been changed greatly. I’m guessing Bachmann will seek a job as a lobbyist, adviser, or consultant with a major politically connected corporation. What’s worrisome about such a move is that she would actually gain the ability to change things politically. While Bachmann was insane she was also politically impotent, which is a fact seldom considered by political types that hate her. Personally I would rather have Bachmann in a position where should could loudly express her opinions but remained unable to act on them then being in a position where she will likely be quieter but gain the power to influence politicians. The real political power doesn’t lie within Congress, it lies within the lobbyists who buy congressmen.
Most of what I wrote above was speculation but what I’m going to write now is hard fact. The DFL are stoked because they think Bachmann’s exit is a guaranteed victory for Jim Graves, the person who ran against her last election cycle. It’s not. In fact the chances of Graves winning are probably lower now than they were when Bachmann was his leading opponent. To quote Sun Tzu, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” The DFL knew Bachmann and therefore had a better chance of fighting her. Now they don’t know their enemy. Republicans in the 6th district may elect one of the most charismatic individuals in the area to run against Graves. Instead of having years of Bachmann’s statements to use against her in a campaign the DFL will have to wait until a candidate is elected and dig up dirt on him or her and hope they find something good (especially when you consider the 6th district’s habit of leaning Republican). A powerful player was removed from the field but it is not know if another, potentially more, powerful player will be replace her.
It could be an interesting race if you’re into politics.
Most people seem to have little objection to the way drones are being used by the United States military. I believe this is because most of the people who have been killed by drones have been brown people not from around here. However the body country of American citizens isn’t zero. Until today it was believed that three American citizens were executed by drones but now we know there have been at least four American citizens executed by drones:
Four American citizens have been killed in counter-terrorism drone strikes since 2009, the Obama administration acknowledged for the first time Wednesday.
Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed the previously classified information in a letter to a top senator that also included the names of those killed and the revelation that only one was directly targeted in the strikes that began in 2009. He did not specifically call them drone strikes – rather, he referred to “counterterrorism operations” – but most of the individuals he mentioned are known to have died in drone strikes.
Even if you’re OK with brown people not from around here being killed without due process the knowledge of people from your country being executed in such a manner should make you consider how few protections you have from your government. So long as somebody within the state can claim you’re a terrorist your name can be added to kill list. From there you can be executed without a trail.
Welcome to the land of the free.
We all know there is a difference between English and political speak. Political speak is purposely designed to conceal true meaning whereas English is meant to communicate an idea in a manner that others will understand. I thought it would be a spot of fun to translate some political speak into English and I’ve found the perfect quote to start with:
A pair of DFL House members who cast politically risky votes to legalize gay marriage this session won’t have to worry about the repercussions until next year. Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lori Gildea has ruled that Reps. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, and John Ward, DFL-Baxter, will not be subject to recall elections, rejecting the efforts of a local Republican activist who had claimed that the legislators should face removal from office.
“Constituent disagreement with votes taken by their elected representative does not equate to malfeasance by the representative,” Gildea wrote, in language which appears in both of her dismissals. “As the supreme court has recognized, the remedy for constituents who disagree with an elected representative’s positions or voting record is not in the recall procedures.”
The literal translation of Gildea’s statement would be, “We, judges of the state, have decided that the state-sanctioned process allowed to the serfs to remove state representatives from office is not the proper method for the serfs to deal with state representatives that fail to abide by the desires of the serfs.”
In other words if a group of serfs suffers under a “representative” that doesn’t uphold their values their only recourse is to wait for the next election cycle. While many proponents of democracy may believe such chicanery goes against the ideas of representation that democracy supposedly provides the truth is such stopgaps must be put into place because it is impossible for one person to represent more than him or herself. If communities were allowed to remove a “representative” that failed to abide by the desires of that community then every “representative” would get removed immediately because they cannot represent everybody in the community. In other words democracy is a sham. Its proponents claim that democracy is the one form of government that ensures everybody has a voice but, in truth, only the members of the state have a voice. Everybody else goes without say over their own lives.
In this case the state decided that the option is provided to the serfs to deal with unwanted “representatives” was no longer allowed. The serfs have no recourse because they are not members of the state.