On Politics, Vandalism And Violence


On Politics, Vandalism And Violence

Posted by Karl Denninger

Never has this nation been one of “peace” when it comes to political disagreements, and those who claim otherwise were asleep in history class – or got the sanitized government school version.

The truth is something else entirely.

There have been more than 20 attempts to kill the President or President-elect.  Four have been successful: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.  The most recent attempt resulting in injury was, of course, Ronald Reagan.

Most of those, however, have not been undertaken for truly-political reasons.  But to deny that there was an element of politics in many of these is to deny history.  Certainly, John Wilkes Booth (who shot Lincoln) was a known Confederate sympathizer.  McKinley was shot by an avowed anarchist.

The Senate itself was the scene of a violent confrontation between a Senator and Representative in 1856 in which Senator Sumner was beaten within an inch of his life – with a cane.

In recent days we have heard of various acts allegedly aimed at Representatives and Senators.  Two have had windows damaged in offices (vandalism, not “violence”) and a significant number of threats have been recorded.

Of course Democrats have tried to “spin” this as some element of the “radical right.”  But their convenient fiction ignores the fact that influential Republican representatives have had their windows shot at or bricked too by “radical leftists” who don’t like their actions as well.  Indeed, I’m willing to bet that Senator Jim Bunning (I haven’t talked to him) got a few nasty threats when he filibustered the extension of unemployment benefits.

Welcome to my world; take controversial positions and you will find this happens from time to time.

When I ran my Internet company in Chicago I used to receive death threats on a somewhat-regular basis.  Most of them stemmed from my refusal to carry Usenet newsgroups that catered to child pornography and stolen computer software.  Believe it or not, those who intend to break the law often threaten violence!  Gee, is that a revelation or something?

Peggy Noonan has an interesting view on this in the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Page today.  Most of what she has to say makes sense, and is good reading.  However, there are a few points she tries to make that I believe are just plain backward if not outright dangerous, and therefore, worthy of comment.  Specifically:

What I keep thinking of is a beehive. A modern, high tech, highly politicized democracy is a busy beehive, and sometimes the bees are angry, and sometimes someone comes by and sticks a big sharp stick in the hive. The biggest thing Washington should do right now is stop it, stop poking the stick.

Well, ok, but let’s talk about what constitutes “that stick” government has been poking the beehive with:

  • A government that allows the Treasury Secretary to come into the halls of Congress in the dark of night and threaten martial law unless it turns over $700 billion in what amounts to ransom – and the Treasury Secretary was one of the men who created and profited from the circumstances (to the tune of $500 million!) that led to the demand for the ransom!


  • A government that literally sanctions and licenses lying and cheating by the rich and powerful, including rich and powerful business interests, while at the same time jailing or fining the common man who does the same thing.  Our current Treasury Secretary and chair of House Ways and Means (that’s the tax committee!) are two examples – both cheated on their taxes to a degree that would, for any ordinary American, result in the IRS being about 3′ up their ass with their jackboot.  But one continues on as the chief tax collector (Geithner) and the other writes the tax laws (Rangel.)
  • The banks are another example – the violations of black-letter law by the FDIC, The Fed and others have been the subject of The Market Ticker for the last three years; if I had stolen 1/1000th of what these crooks have managed to rob from Americans I’d be doing 20 years of hard time instead of enjoying my second yacht in the Hamptons.  Or how about the apparent fact that both The SEC and The Fed were explicitly warned of Lehman’s balance-sheet games six months before they blew up – and did nothing.
  • Or shall we talk about “bankruptcy reform” – for consumers.  If you make too much, you’re a debt slave instead of being able to file Chapter 7.  Meanwhile corporations can and do file bankruptcy and simply walk off on obligations all the time!  Coming toward the end of a massive debt bubble this act by Congress looks insanely predatory in both design and implementation.
  • Peggy continues:

    The beehive was already angry about a million things a year ago, and most of those things, obviously, were not the fault of the administration. People are angry at their economic vulnerability. They are angry at the deterioration of our culture, angry at our nation’s deteriorating position in the world, at our debts and deficits, our spending and taxing, our threatened security in a world of weapons of mass destruction.

    Oh I disagree that most of this was not the fault of the administration, if you include all administrations, past and present.  Nearly all of these things in fact are government’s fault.  Let’s take a look at a few:

    • Scams and frauds by “powerful people.”  Take your pick, and start with the list of banksters who are under indictment or in prison for the collapse.  You don’t even need the fingers on one hand for that thus far, never mind that in 2004 the FBI issued a formal warning on mortgage fraud and the Federal Government actually sued to prevent States from enforcing their own anti-predatory lending laws.
    • Pay disparity.  And no, we’re not talking about “the rich get richer”; I’m talking about how government employees are literal queens and kings compared to the private sector, as the story from which this table was taken in the Wall Street Journal shows:
    • Government policies that have encouraged the destruction of private-sector jobs in the United States.  We can start with policy toward China (sponsoring them for the WTO, for example) but it does not end there.  The fact of the matter is that “globalism” never benefits the guys who have the higher standard of living – it always causes that standard of living to fall while the less-developed nation’s standard of living rises.
    • Illegal immigration.  Illegal Mexican Invaders were and are allowed over the border by our government and contributed greatly to the housing boom.  But those same people both depress American’s wages (since they’re off-book and thus are abused in general, paying no taxes and working under prevailing wage levels) and impose costs on our system that legal immigrants and citizens are forced to bear.  The cause of this?  Government policy.  To those who say we can’t deport 20 million invaders, you’re right – but we can imprison anyone who hires one, we can build a physical fence, and we can post our military at the border with orders to shoot all invaders.  Let them leave when their job prospects go to zero, and put a hard stop to any more coming into the country.  We refuse to do any of the above because “big business” likes the cheap labor, along with, literally, our Speaker Of The House who, it is alleged, employs them on their family’s farms in California!


    • Debts and deficits?  Who originates spending bills again?  That would be The House of Representatives$1.3 trillion annually in deficits over George W. Bush’s “war spending” for the last two years is about 9% of GDP – and is absolutely the responsibility of the government.  Every dollar of “debt and deficit” is the direct and proximate consequence of one thing and one thing only: government policy.
    • Taxation?  Health Care Bill anyone?  Nor does it end there.  Let’s cut the crap in this regard – we could end this problem tomorrow with The Fair Tax.  But that puts the IRS out of business, it puts the Lobbying Interests on “K” Street out of business, and it prevents using the tax code as a social engineering tool.  Neither political party likes that.  Oh, and it can be advanced and passed tomorrow – it is and has been introduced legislation!

    I agree with Peggy that Washington needs to quit poking the beehive with sticks.

    But where I disagree is that in fact virtually everything that has made the bees in the hive angry are the direct and proximate consequence of government decisions, and that those decisions were and are both willful and intentional

    Finally, unlike Peggy who claims that the government “doesn’t understand” that they’re raising the temperature I instead maintain that they simply don’t give a damn, driven by the refusal of anyone in Washington DC to ever utter three little words that are the prerequisite to solving any problem one faces: “I screwed up.