Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, August 30, 2004

What you must believe to be a right-winger, Part II 

Continuing form Part I:

  1. Belief: We, as right-wingers, adhere to the constitution as it describes and protects individual rights.

    Reality: The Constitution provides a framework through which our great nation works as a united and harmonious chorus of individuals.

    • The Constitution defines how we together agree to govern ourselves, including guarantees of individual rights necessary to guarantee collective harmony. The first word of it is, in fact, "We",

      We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  2. Belief: The Second Amendment protects my right to own a gun.

    Reality: The Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, prohibits Congress from making a law infringing upon your right to own a gun, which is granted by the states.

    • For well over a century, the amendment has been applied as only restricting acts of congress, not guaranteeing a right. In the 1875 Supreme Court decision US vs Cruikshank, it was held,

      The right there specified is that of "bearing arms for a lawful purpose." This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes, to what is called, in The City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 139, the "powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was, perhaps, more properly called internal police," "not surrendered or restrained" by the Constitution of the United States.

  3. Belief: The Bible forbids abortion.

    Reality: The Bible is mum on abortion.

    • Perhaps the most commonly cited Biblical verse by pro-lifers is Psalm 139,

      For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
      I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
      your works are wonderful,
      I know that full well.
      My frame was not hidden from you
      when I was made in the secret place.
      When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
      your eyes saw my unformed body.
      All the days ordained for me
      were written in your book
      before one of them came to be.

      All that says is that God is involved in the creation of a human; it doesn't say anything close to "life begins in the womb". If one wishes to take the Bible literally, one sees that God created many things which he gave humans full domination over. Conversely, the passage refers to an unborn state as a "frame". Indeed, that's why the verse is presented in a blue frame rather than red.

      The important historical Roman Catholic theologians St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and Thomas Aquinas all held that the soul does not enter the body until on into pregnancy at various certain points - either the formation of a body, or the "quickening". Popes throughout history have gone back and forth on whether a fetus before the quickening has a soul. And the Church's opinion on abortion has likewise varied.

      The reasons various Christian religions differ on abortion - both between one another and with themselves over time - is due to a lack of a clear scriptural basis to support a position for or against abortion.

  4. Belief: "Flat" means "curved".

    Reality: Flat means flat.

    • When arguing for a "flat tax", people typically mean income taxes should be levied at the same rate regardless of income level. Income, however, is not the only thing that is taxed: taxes are additionally levied on property, services, and consumer purchases - and the smaller an income, the larger the proportion that goes to these types of non-income taxes. The result is that when taking into account all taxes, we already have a nearly flat tax - the curve is a subtle inverse bell curve where the middle class shares slightly more of the burden. Accompanying a NY Times essay about "double taxation" (there goes that left wing NYT pretending to be on the right again) was a graphic illustration this phenomena, showing that the total percentage of income for the poorest fifth of Americans in 2002 was 18% whereas the total taxes paid by the richest Americans was 19%. (The last and literally un-graphed "as a percentage of income" column illustrates fairness as "a percentage of income")

      If all levels of income would be taxed at the same level, we could end up with a regressive tax, the poor paying a much higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than the middle class and the middle class paying a higher percentage than the wealthy.

  5. Belief: A "Flat" income tax is a "curved" income tax.

    Reality: A flat income tax is a flat income tax.

    • Tax law recognizes different types of income. Generally, the wealthier a person is the greater amount of income they acquire from capital gains. Capital gain is income from the sale of stock or property held over 1 year as well as stock dividends, and is taxed at a maximum rate of 15%. If you're married and you and your spouse both make just $35K a year each, your base tax rate is already over 16%. This means working people's incomes are already taxed at a higher rate than the incomes of those who make millions of dollars a year by sitting idly and collecting stock dividends.

      A truly flat income tax would require taxing all forms of income as well as all levels of income.

  6. Belief: During the most recent UN mandated inspections, Iraq required the inspectors to provide a daily itinerary of sites to be inspected and/or denied or delayed access to particular sites.

    Reality: Iraq allowed the inspectors unfettered access wherever and whenever the inspectors chose.

    • On January 27, 2003, Hans Blix reported to the UNSC,

      The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt.

      During a press conference on December 19, 2002, Blix had described why access was not immediately obtained on one occasion:

      This was on a Friday, the Muslim day of rest, and the place was practically empty. There were some doors inside to offices which were closed, so they didn't have the keys. The Iraqis offered to break down the doors, and we suggested no, it might not be a good idea. Instead, we suggested, and they agreed, that we seal the doors until the Saturday morning.

      On November 30, 2002, Hiro Ueki, the Baghdad Spokesman for UNMOVIC and the IAEA explained that all inspections were unannounced unless the teams had requested in advance that Iraq provide assistance with monitoring equipment:

      Um Al Maarik Company, which the IAEA team visited today was notified by the IAEA team in advance that two of their technicians would review the status of the remaining video surveillance. Al Qa Qaa Company, which the IAEA team visited was also requested on Thursday afternoon to provide assistance to facilitate removal of sampler. This type of advance notification is sometimes given to facilitate their work on monitoring equipment. It happened to the above two cases. Except for these types of cases, our inspection teams do not provide advance warning to the Iraqi side, as we have emphasized time and again.

      In summary, Iraq granted access everywhere, including the presidential palaces they had denied access to during the 1990s:

      As reported by the UN 3 December, teams from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency today conducted an unannounced joint inspection of one of the eight Presidential sites in Iraq ... Access to the entire site was provided without difficulty, and the planned inspection activity was completed, the spokesman reported.

      Bob Stevens, a US inspector that was part of the UN teams of the 90s as well as the 2002/2003 inspections described his observation of Iraq's more recent cooperation in the Cleveland Free Times,

      The other striking difference in this trip was how extremely cooperative just about every Iraqi was, even when we inspected the undeclared sites that were targeted based on intel. The Iraqis were running for us (something Iraqi adults don't normally do) and were bending over backwards to cooperate.

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