Tuesday, October 30, 2007
SPECIAL DEAL: For a limited time, confess to one crime, get absolved for a lapse in ethics free!
And don't forget to check out our hot deals on gross negligence!!
China said Monday that it had arrested 774 people in a crackdown on substandard goods, part of ongoing efforts to calm international worries over the quality of the country's products.
Nearly 200 illegal food companies have been shut amid more than 10,000 cases of violations of the law.
"We will ensure the results will be longer lasting," Gao told reporters.
The official Xinhua News Agency also reported Monday that China would raise quality standards for pharmaceutical licensing following a string of deaths and injuries from faulty drugs.
And this is exactly how things were expected to turn out. The world can't count on people wanting to do the right thing. But when people have a good incentive to do the right thing, they are much more likely to do it. And in this case, China has quickly learned that product safety is important, at least the apperance of product safety, anyway. And so they're acting quickly to fix problems that are hitting them deep in the pocketbook. But this is all something that wouldn't have happened unless they had foreign markets wanting their goods. And the more stuff we buy from them, the higher quality shit they'll be producing.
But this isn't just about getting stuff. This is how the world has always worked. If you buy someone's shit long enough, they will depend on you for more money/power. And then you have ties that can be used to force them to behave ethically and do to what's right. It doesn't happen overnight, but it happens. On the other hand, if a country is already rogue, they will have nothing to lose when you cut them off, and you're just empowering their wicked leadership. It may sound unethical to do business with a bad man, but it's often the only way you can make one behave.
And yes, this is the simple version of all this. But it's the best I could do on such short notice.
Friday, October 26, 2007
And the excuse for why they did this is entirely absurd. They insist that they were getting calls from the media all day long, but announced a press conference with only fifteen-minutes notice...and actually expected reporters to be there?? That's absurd. This could make sense if this was an issue that reporters weren't interested in. In fact, I've always wondered what you'd do if you held a press conference that nobody in the press bothered attending. But that clearly isn't the case. The media clearly wanted to be there for this and there is absolutely no reason why an emergency press conference needed to be called in the first place. This story has been on-going for a few days now and there is no reason why this press conference couldn't be delayed by an hour.
And their 15 minute deadline gives the whole game away. If FEMA actually expected the media to be there, how was it that the FEMA staffers already had questions ready? Tough questions like "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?" That's the kind of question you ask a football coach after a big game, and even the coach is likely to insist that he's happy, even if he had just finished chewing out the team moments earlier. And with FEMA, the question is even more absurd, as he's basically being asked to evaluate his own performance. Needless to say, he thinks it was great. But don't worry, we are assured that the FEMA administrator didn't know the questions beforehand; despite the fact that reporters had supposedly been asking these questions all morning.
And again, the fraudulent nature of this is exposed when they staged stuff like having the FEMA press secretary announce that the end of the press conference was coming. As if the fake reporters didn't already know that. But of course they did. That was all just part of the phoniness; giving realism to a bogus event. And according to the article, this press conferencc was televised; meaning that far more people are likely to have seen it than will read the WaPo columnist exposing the fraud.
I'm honestly sickened by this. This is horrible. Had they come right out at the beginning and apologized for the short notice, and let people know that no reporters were present, I could accept that. It would be the equivalent of a press release; and they could have done away with the fake questions and just had the man speak. But the fact that they staged a fake press conference with fake reporters giving softball questions...that is simply unacceptable. I really hope some people get nailed to the wall for this. But I doubt they will. Sure, reporters probably would have liked to have asked real questions. But honestly, any tough questions wouldn't have been answered anyway, and it was easier for reporters to not have to go all the way to the FEMA building.
So as with everything else, they're likely to let this slide. Had this been done by the Clinton Administration, the media would have a great time beating him up for it. But these are Republicans and reporters all know that Republicans are con-artists; that's why they love them so much. So this is probably going to be allowed to slide. This one fake press conference was a blow to democracy, and if they get away with this, they're likely to repeat it in the future. Hell, I'm sure Bush would love to have a roomful of his employees asking him questions, and we already know all about "Jeff Gannon," who strongly believed it was the media's duty to regurgitate the government's lines.
But again, why not? Bush doesn't answer real questions anyway and the media almost never mentions the fact, so why not just allow him to avoid real questions in the first place? What's the point? This is all just a game for the media and they have no problem when the Bushies play them for suckers. Even the WaPo columnist writing about this makes it sound more like a joke, with the phoniness of the event being saved for the end punchline. He's not outraged; simply amused.
For the Government, by the Government
And this just isn't how a democracy can work. In any government, the leaders need to have good information to know how to make good decisions, and in a democracy, the leaders are the People. And while we don't have time to go to the FEMA building to ask questions directly, we pay people to do that for us, and those people are reporters. Now the Republicans continue to try to abolish that system, and the media still doesn't understand why that's a problem; and are simply allowing the government to in-source their jobs by making journalism a government function (probably the only case that conservatives oppose privatization, I imagine).
And hell, at this point, wouldn't it be better if we just got the charade out of the way and outright admitted that the media works for the government? If reporters are content with allowing their names to be used on stories they didn't really write, shouldn't we just cut-out the middleman and remove their names all together? At least then people would know that they're being lied to by the government, rather than imagining that some third-party observer has verified the information being given.
But no. The Bushies insist on spoon-feeding propaganda to the media, and the media is perfectly content with eating it. We have met the Soviets, and they is us.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Update: Nevermind. I just tried conjuring up a fancy German beer while having sex with a dude, and neither went as expected. The sex was awkward and unsatisfying and the beer was a Schlitz, which sounds German but isn't. Oh well, looks like it's back to being straight and mortal.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Only a leftist pinko freak like Fareed Zakaria could compare Stalin and Mao killing millions of Communists with Iranian Dictator Ahmadinejad's intended scheme to kill millions of Americans. As if! What Fareed fails to appreciate is that Americans value human life and think it's really something special and sacred, and that's what makes it so much worse to kill us than to kill godless warmongers like the Communists. We're just not like other people.
Sure, at the time we were a bit skittish that Stalin and Mao might break out of their commie-killing ways and start hurting real people, but history has shown that not to be the case. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, Stalin and Mao killed more communists between the two of them than The Duke himself (though this point is still hotly contested). In that light, I'm not exactly sure why we shouldn't be honoring these two for the fine work they did saving us from the Red Menace. Sure, some of their tactics may have been a bit on the harsh side, but that just goes to show how forward-thinking they were; which looks particularly prescient now that the world finally faces a real threat that might just undermine our very existence. Again, they usually just did those things to Communists, which is yet more reason to hail them as heroes.
Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is one of history's greatest monsters (second only to Jimmy Carter). I once saw Ahmadanajed, or someone who looked alot like him, spit in an old woman's face while stealing the ice cream from a little kid...and it was nuclear-flavored ice cream. Just think about what he meant by that. I also saw him once cheat at Poker and then act all outraged when he got caught, the filthy liar. And then there was that whole visiting Ground Zero thing, which I have a vague recollection of turning out quite badly for freedom. I think he also insulted gay people, which is something only Americans are allowed to do. In other words, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a very bad man.
And so that's how things stack up. On the one side, we have a couple of flawed heroes who are most famous for killing millions of Communists, and on the other side, a monster who spits on old ladies and doesn't return the clothes he borrows. Sure, some people will say that Communists deserve to live as much as anyone else; and those people would naturally be Communists. They might also say that slaughtering millions of people is just brutal and unethical, and that Ahmadienjad's crimes pail in comparison. But the difference for me is how personal Ahmadenigad's offenses are. Anyone can decide on a whim to allow people he never met to be slaughtered wholesale. But it takes a real madman to be cruel in somebody's face.
And that's who we're dealing with when we talk about Ahmadienjad, even if I'm really just confusing him with that smelly guy from the dorms who kept beating me at pool all those years ago. I'll show you, my hairy tormentor! Sure, I may have kept choking when trying to sink the eight-ball, but at least my country isn't going to get the turds bombed out of it. And that's exactly what's going to happen to yours, by god, no matter how many of those pissant countries I have to bomb to do it! And that's why Fareed Zakaria can go stuff himself. Cause it's payback time, and I'm not going to let some commie-loving peacefreak spoil my good time. We'll see who'll be choking now.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
As he said:
"I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it," Thomas writes. "I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value."
Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.
What a schmuck. Who the hell cares how Thomas got into Yale? The point is he got in. Does anyone really believe that Bush could have gotten in if he wasn't a legacy? If anything, it may have lessened the achievement of getting into Yale somewhat, if he didn't really deserve to be there. But once he was there, he earned his diploma the same as everyone else.
And what's truly sad is that his real complaint isn't against affirmative action, but against the very racism that affirmative action is intended to fight. I mean, is he really suggesting that he would have gotten a job more quickly with a diploma from East Schboykin Community College? Of course not. His Yale diploma opened up many doors that would have been closed to him without it. If employers were doubting his intelligence, that was all him.
But he can't see it that way at all. The dumb schmuck has to blame affirmative action, rather than racism. The only one who downgraded the meaning of Thomas' diploma was Thomas. I'm honestly sad for him that he'd insult himself by putting that 15-cent sticker on his diploma. Hell, I don't even know exactly where my diploma is, but I sure as hell wouldn't put an insult on it.
Of course, the irony is that he likely only got on the Supreme Court because of affirmative action. And he knows it. He was picked because he was a loyal, but not too bright hardline conservative who would be difficult for the Democrats in Congress to shoot-down because of the color of his skin. And adding insult to injury, the people on his own team loathe affirmative action and insist that it's unethical and wrong; yet he owes everything to it. In that context, it would seem that perhaps he's so embarrassed by the problem that he'd rather have been denied the privilege of going to Yale, simply to avoid it.
And so while he probably earned that Yale diploma, his daily life is just a cruel joke mocking him. He still doesn't feel secure with where he got in life. He's still haunted by the ghost of affirmative action. He still feels like people are doubting his abilities. But this time, they're right.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Trust me, this one's in the bag. All you've got to do is to write your Senator, and we should be in the home stretch.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Naturally, all this would hurt sales. Not that we expect McDonald's execs to eat at McDonald's every day, but when an important person in a company undermines their sales pitch, it's not good for the company. Not that this changes the product at all, but it damages the messaging. And unfortunately, the message is usually more important than the product.
I've been wanting to write about this for awhile, but Atrios had a good post on this regarding Bush's embrace of Big Daddy Government. And sure, in the short term, this really helped them grab power after 9/11. But it undermined a core message that conservatives have been pushing for decades. Their pitch was always that you should solve your own problems, and not rely on the government to solve your problems; particularly because they can never do anything right and will just waste your money.
But thanks to Bush and Cheney, all that's gone. Now the question is no longer Big Government v. Small Government; but Good Government v. Bad Government. Once you admit that the government can solve your problems, it's just a matter of determining which problems should be solved. And while the Republican attacks on "Cradle to Grave" government were fairly effective, few people actually prefer the Republican idea of Big Government; particularly once it's discovered that, while the terrorist threat was grossly overstated, they can't actually protect you from real threats.
Craig v. Vitter
And that's why Larry Craig mattered more than David Vitter; and why they're not at all embarrassed by Limbaugh or Coulter. Because Republicans don't run on policies and platform. They run on character. The sales pitch is that you can trust them to do the right thing because they're good people. They have "Family Values", and that trumps anything they might do that screws over families. And it doesn't matter which Republican you vote for, because you know they're good people. They're just like you...assuming you were a millionaire.
But even bigger than the sales pitch of who they are; it's about who they're not and who they'll protect you from. They're not San Francisco Liberals. They're not hedonists or Muslims or Mexicans. And for god's sake, they're not gay. They're godly folks who obey God's Will, and so you can trust them, no matter what they actually do. And if they say their opponent's claims are baseless smears, you can trust them. Even their political votes are often more about sending messages about their character, than on what they're actually planning to do. They'll take a thousand votes reinstating the word "God" into the Pledge before they'll do anything to fix real problems.
And that's why Craig matters. Vitter was bad because he committed immoral acts. But Craig was worse, because he committed immoral acts and got caught wanting gay sex. And that's two things. More importantly, how can they raise funds and votes based upon their ability to protect you from the Gay Menace, if they can't even keep the gays out of their coalition? And it raises the obvious question: If some Republicans are secretly having gay sex, which ones can you trust? Allowing him to stay totally screws up their whole sales pitch.
I'm sure the Republican leadership wouldn't give a damn if Craig was a hamster-molesting cannibal with a fetish for sticking crosses up his rear, just as long as nobody found out about it. But the Republican base are authoritarians who strongly believe in Guilt by Association. And with Republicans, you're not voting for the man, you're voting for the party. And why not? They're authoritarians who take orders from above. They're just expected to say what they're told to say and vote how they're told to vote, and they like it that way. They don't care about what these guys think; they just want a warm body who can say "Yea" or "Nay" on cue; and I'm sure they're actively looking into getting rid of the warm body requirement.
Hypocrisy doesn't bother these people in the least, and the Republican base is quite good at ignoring anything they need to ignore. But anything that gets in the way of the sales pitch must be eliminated. That's also why they freaked so hard in attacking the Frost family. The Republicans are the party of family values, while Democrats are the party of freaks, hippies, and perverts. So to have a family help promote the Democrats? That had to be stopped.
Big Daddy Government
This is the same reason why they shouldn't allow Giuliani to win the nomination. Sure, he satisfies their authoritarian requirements, but he cedes the rest of their sales pitch. It's like the CEO of GM admitting that his cars suck, but that at least you're buying American. Sure, that's a big part of their sales pitch, but you still don't want to lose the other arguments.
Just like Bush gave away the Small Government message, which they're unlikely to get back any time soon; Giuliani will give away all the rest of them. All they'll be left with is "Vote Republican because we kick ass" which is a message that more and more people are running away from. It took decades for them to build their carefully balanced "Small Government Which Intrudes in Your Daily Life" identity, and guys like Craig and Giuliani tossed that away overnight. Particularly Giuliani, who tells people he'll protect them from space invaders and that everyone should butt-out of his personal life. Sorry, but that's exactly the opposite of the conservative sales pitch.
That's the weird thing about the left-wing support for Ron Paul. I remember him from back in the 90's, when I disliked him because he sounded exactly like all the other conservative jerks. It was only after Cheney got in office that Republicans started heavily pimping the Big Daddy Government message that makes Paul sound like a maverick. And now that decision is hurting the GOP more every day.
Again, it's kind of hard to attack "Cradle to Grave" policies when your leading presidential candidate is telling people that the government can protect you from a space invasion. Sure, they never really believed in small government or high morals; just as GM isn't really committed to quality or the environment. They just aren't supposed to tell anyone that.
And there I was, feeding my six cats and watching my three televisions; all the while Johnny Taxpayer was footing the bill for an expense that should have been all mine. Sure, I could try to explain that I was only working for a tiny bookkeeping firm at the time, and that while they did offer insurance, it was still far too expensive for us to get; but what's the point? I'd only be fooling myself. After all, I could have sold those three televisions, only one of which I actually paid for. And who needs electricity when you've got your health? But no. I made some bad, bad choices, like foolishly purchasing a house which greatly increased in value, and now I'm finally willing to admit to that. Take me away, boys.
What's that? Nobody's interested in my story because I haven't been used by the Democrats to show the real world implications of this policy? Republicans were only freaking out because they saw Dems stealing their props, and realized they couldn't counter this with an honest rebuttal? Ok, then. Thanks. Pretend I said nothing. I'm still safe...for now. I'll just keep my mouth shut and my eyes shutter.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I mean, these people cut their teeth on Soviets. Condi herself has supposedly written an expert book on the subject. The terrorists were just the post-Cold War consolation prize after the Soviet threat sort of fell apart overnight. And yet now I read of our Secretaries of State and Defense being forced to wait for over half an hour before Putin "harangued them as though they were underlings." Yowtch. Bagnews has the visuals on that one.
The article I linked to acts slightly confused as to what's going on, but has it right with this:
Also, there was the oddity of why there wasn't some prior understanding that disagreements would be kept private, while public statements would be positive even if they were vague to the point of meaninglessness. That, too, often is the pattern for meetings where agreement is unlikely on major points of contention.
Instead, Putin brusquely derided the GMD plan to Gates and Rice in public.
For Putin, this is understandable, and richly rewarding. It makes him even more popular with the Russian populace to hammer Americans, seeming to return the Moscow regime to the glory days of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, when it was the only superpower to rival the might of the United States.
As well, Putin's coldly dismissive, perhaps even contemptuous, attitude toward Americans plays well in Iran, a rogue nation with which Russia has extensive ties.
I have no idea why they think this is an oddity. The truth is that America got screwed over by the Neo-Cons Bully Agenda, and now they're discovering that everyone hates bullies. As well as discovering why their predesscors refused to follow the neo-cons' idiotic advice of trying to bulldoze over all opposition. Even Patron Saint Reagan realized what fools these people were, and he was in the early stages of Alzheimers at the time.
The truth is that for all the bluster these people have always given for demanding that America take a harder stance against all other countries, it's obvious that they've done nothing but soften us up. And now two of our top officials are being harranged by the Ruskies and can't do a damn thing about it. They played out all our cards four years ago, and so we can't even bluff anymore. We've become the punching bag of the world, and rather than forcing everyone into the Big Bully's corner; we've made it a win-win situation for any dictator and/or madman to win support from his people. All they need do is denounce us and they score bigtime, and the best we can do is try to bribe them to stop. Thanks George Bush. Thanks media for giving him to us.
Monday, October 15, 2007
In fact, the very idea that, of all the infinite number of possible creators imaginable, you happened to find the right one is entirely absurd. Even if every word in the bible is historically accurate, that still leaves TONS of differing ideas of what Yahweh wants us to do and what is to become of us. And that's just one book, and a majority of Christians don't believe that every word in it is historically accurate.
And as I've said before, no two religious people think alike on every subject. You can have twin nuns who have remained together their whole lives and worshipped together in the same pew at the same convent, and still you are sure to find subtle differences in what they think God is up to. It's simply inevitable. People are more than just empty computers being filed with data. We think.
Who Made Whom
And so the only people who think they have the One True answer are surely the ones who lack the imagination to realize that there just might be something else out there. Hell, I can't understand how anyone can trust one word of the bible, at least as far as ultimate truth is concerned. I'm ok with a lot of the grander ideas in it, but even if Yahweh helped men write it, how do we know He was right?
For instance, how do we know that there isn't an even greater creator who created Yahweh without letting Yahweh know? Perhaps this is all some big test of Yahweh, one which he might just be failing miserably; and that the only powers he has are the ones they gave him. It's absolutely impossible for him to know; and that's assuming that the bible is right. Maybe our true creators are militant jerkoffs who despise Yahweh for being too easy on us, particularly after the whole Jesus debacle. Who can know?
And that's the kind of thing I'm talking about. I can do this shit all night. My imagination can come up with all kinds of freaky-ass possibilities of what our universe is about, and they're all just as likely as any of the others. That's why I can't believe in any gods. Pascal's Wager gives us this absurd scenario, as if this is an On or Off thing; either you believe in God or you don't. But that's entirely bull. Stating a belief in a god just opens up a huge can of worms that only raises more questions than it solved.
That's why the simplest answer is just to refuse to even bother. It's impossible to know which of these infinite scenarios you should follow, so the best thing to do is to live your life the way you want, and hope that if there is a creator(s), that he/she/it/they won't hold it against you. But really, that's all anyone is doing anyway. The only difference is that many religious people abuse their god by attributing their beliefs and actions to their god, as a way of justifying their lives and convincing other people to follow them. And as I've said before, if anything, I see these people as the true blasphemers.
And that's why we require scientific study. That's why we need facts. And if you don't have them, then you should avoid making the tough decisions as much as possible. If I died and some supernatural dude forced me to state which god I believed in, with the risk of going to Hell for picking the wrong one, I'd obviously have to give up my agnosticism and make a faith-based choice, until then, I'd rather just abstain. I don't have an info to make an informed decision, so I just won't make any decision at all.
Now, that's not to say that I want to deny other people their faith at all. If they think they've got the right thing going on, that's their business. I just have a problem when people try making it my business. While the bible says a lot about how people should live their lives, I've seen nothing in it to suggest that believers need to force the rest of us to obey. There is an issue of Freewill, from what I understand. And if God designed a world where I should have the Freewill to disobey him and act evil, I'm not sure why so many people invoke his name when preventing me from acting upon God's choices; as long as I'm not hurting anyone else, of course.
As for Lee's absurd idea that love and goodness are faith-based, that's just dumb. But he really didn't believe any of that. In fact, his entire column is a pile of rubbish designed to attack "militant atheists" but he never really does. I'm guessing that he just doesn't like them.
The main point of his piece seems to be that people don't need to write "anti-god" books because they're just preaching to the choir in a society that is mostly secular. As if there isn't some big movement with more power than Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and the rest of these god-haters combined, which is trying to make us far more theological. He points out that there are no important religious figures in political office, without mentioning that every important politician is a Christian, and that even that's not good enough anymore. Presidential nominees need to be very religious, particularly Democratic ones. Bush doesn't even go to church, but Obama and Dean have been attacked for going to the wrong ones. Can anyone seriously suggest that an open atheist could possibly win the nomination of either party? I think not.
Apparently, the fact that a handful of evangelical types are trying to dictate who can and can't be the GOP nominee is less important than the fact that Paris Hilton is popular. Hell, by Lee's reference to this as the "Age of Paris Hilton", you'd imagine that she was some sort of bigtime atheist power-player, rather than an empty-headed socialite whose fifteen minutes continues to be extended by dopeheads like Siegal who reference her as a person of importance.
And that's it. That's the crux of his argument. His column just island hops across tired culture war references before landing in a shallow bath of the routine "we're all faith-based" manure. But I don't think he means any of it. This stuff makes sense when it's repeated by the typical evangical types, but from Siegal, it's nothing more than standard contrarian BS by someone who feels some tinge of religiosity from his Christian upbringing of long ago, and just feels as if perhaps his team is under assault. Or perhaps he just doesn't like their strident voices, or resents the fact that their books sell better than his. But whatever it is, he never really did say what was wrong with all those books; not even from a religious perspective. It just amounted to a long piece on why these books didn't need to be written. I'm sure their publishers would disagree with that assessment.
As a blog post, Lee's piece would have been tedious and pointless. As a column in the LA Times, it's nothing short of a complete embarrassment. Lee indicated at one point that people should "cherish the idea of faith in the absurd." Perhaps he was just trying to show us how devoted he is to the concept.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I thought Josh Marshall got the best analytical scoop on the whole thing. The two biggest losers of the day were Bush and Nader. Not that they're likely to see it that way, but it's a fact. Bush because the only way he could win a Nobel is if they came out with one for killing people and screwing everything up, and Nader for suggesting that Bush was the same as Gore. I wonder when Nader will get his.
Then again, it's not likely that Gore would have won the award if he had become president, and unless he could have prevented 9/11 (which isn't entirely unpossible), he would have gotten the blame for that, which could have been enough for him to lose in 2004 (after all, the only people who can be blamed for things are the people who are expected to get it right). Hell, I don't see how Republicans wouldn't have been forced to whip out the Double-Secret Immediate Impeachment that only they know about, just to get rid of him. Naturally, it also gets rid of his VP and replaces them both with Reagan's ghost, as re-enacted by Dick Cheney.
So maybe things all worked out for the best. And as long as you've got me and my trusty time machine to straighten things out, everything should be alright. And yes, you've been experiencing the absolute best-case scenario for a Bush presidency. The second-best scenario involved flipper babies and a global Buddhist takeover in 2011. Very bad. It was all downhill after that. You're welcome.
Friday, October 12, 2007
The example in the article shows how ludicrous all this is. It mentions how Jackson County, Oregon will pay a private library firm $3 million for services, as well as budgeting $1.3 million for building maintenance. And this is compared with $8 million they paid for libraries. But hours are being cut from forty hours per week to twenty-four hours, and staff is being cut from eighty-eight full-time employees to fifty. The private firm says they'll pay as much, but will provide less in benefits.
And the big question is: Did they county even try this approach? It really doesn't seem that difficult to figure out. If your expenses are too high, try cutting hours and employees. That's like straight out of Budgeting 101. And the thing is, once these companes are in, it's a lot harder to get them out. Anyway, dammit if I didn't start this post too late and now it's time for bed. I wanted to write about this before, but I've been too busy. Yes, I said it. I've been too busy to write to you. In fact, I've got several posts that I've been too busy to write. You're just going to have to deal with it. I'm sorry, but it had to be said. Good night.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Update: Nevermind. Reader EB sent an email yet again reminding me that people don't really like dictators, even if they're me. Fricking bastards! When will they ever learn?
Sunday, October 07, 2007
And so I came out with the idea that Ron Paul is an alien who wants to enslave us in order to benefit his alien race. I mean, it all makes sense. He's against a one-world government because he wants us to remain divided so we waste precious resources fighting each other, while being able to challenge their eventual attack. That's also why he's against gun control, taxation, and big goverment; so we keep killing each other and the government will be powerless. And he's against abortion because that kills off his precious slaves. It all makes perfect sense. He's setting us up to be captured! Possibly eaten alive!!
Needless to say, nobody has addressed this point yet and realize that I'm mocking them. But it's not just a petty knock against them. It skewers right to the heart of their argument. Because they have no proof that The Powers That Be are conspiring against them. It's all circumstantial stuff that only makes sense if you already agree with what they're saying. But if you don't already agree, then it's just a hodgepodge of random quotes.
Basically, because they can take an event or statement and tie it into their theory, that makes it true. But anyone can play that game. Hell, just try to prove that Ron Paul's not an alien. And even if he wasn't, his agenda clearly helps any would-be alien invaders. By their logic, that makes it all true and we should be destroying Ron Paul; not praising him.
Cronkite & Castro
One of the nuttier commenters at Carpetbagger's has this long timeline of all sorts of suspicious events and quotes. Like a book Walter Cronkite wrote in 1996 suggesting that a One World government was a good idea. How nefarious!
And then there are lots of quotes of people referring to a "new world order" which can obviously only refer to a one-world government takeover by the UN. Even when the limited context would indicate they weren't referring to anything specific, it's suddenly proof of the conspiracy. Like a quote from Castro in 1979 in which he was upset at American aggression and "demanded a 'new world order.'" Well, shit. If Castro's in on it, it must be a conspiracy.
But it's all stuff like that. Because something could indicate a conspiracy, it must be a conspiracy. And so based upon that reasoning, Ron Paul really is an evil alien. How can it be otherwise? The evidence fits. And any evidence that doesn't fit obviously should be ignored. And if you say otherwise, you're just ignorant. Life must be simple that way.
But truth doesn't really work that way. Sure, it's possible that they're correct. But that's the thing, lots of things are possible. But it's the same thing with any zealot, they only see what they want to see. If an unexplained event happens, then the explanation must be their pet issue. Weird lights in the sky are aliens. Weird lights in a house are ghosts. Somehow, ghosts don't go in the sky and aliens don't fly in houses; not even tiny ones. And the only way to be saved from peril is if God and/or your guardian angel intervenes. And you're just fooling yourself if you don't fit their theory into the paricular facts at hand.
The Most Perfect Slaves
One of the commenters quoted some dude mentioning some vague stuff that you couldn't disagree with. Here was the first quote:
“The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves.”
And the thing is, I can't disagree with that at all. In fact, this actually makes the case against what these people say. If the Powerful People are already powerful and we're already working for them, why would they try to disrupt all this with some sort of New World Order, where they take our guns and openly enslave us?
I mean, we're already working for them. The International Corporations are already doing whatever the hell they want. I even agree with that to some extent, and these people think it's even worse than I think. Or perhaps it's not corporations, as many libertarians (including Ron Paul) actually want deregulation and want corporations to be more powerful than they already are.
But whoever is doing this, they're so powerful that they control all major media outlets and all major politicians in every major country. So why would they want to disrupt this? Why are they going to take everyone's guns, explictly remove our borders, and make us all aware of our enslavement? Doesn't that completely go against the quote from above? If we're already "the most perfect slaves", why would they try to change any of that?
UN v. the Peashooters
But that's the thing with all of their conspiracy stuff. They're so busy making the case that this stuff is true, they never really explain why it's a problem. There's always this implied idea that we'll be enslaved, but why? And how? I've always been of the opinion that if the shit came down and we needed to actually use our shotguns and pea shooters to fight against our military, it wouldn't be the shotguns that saved the day. It would simply be our military guys refusing to obey the orders.
And as far as a UN takeover, as one Carpetbagger poster mentioned, these guys have trouble with peacekeeping missions in tiny African nations. Now we're to imagine that they'll just conquer the United States? Right. Hell, a large segment of our military can't even subdue a second-world nation the size of California; yet we're to imagine that we'd be easily conquered by our military? I doubt they could even conquer California! Again, none of this is even mentioned. It's just on-and-on about how ignorant we are for ignoring the truth, when they can't even explain why the "truth" is important.
And why stop at a one-world government? These people don't even like a strong federal government, and would prefer a loose-knit federation of states instead. But why stop there? Why should I, as a citizen of liberal Austin Texas, be forced to obey laws instituted by Texans who I completely disagree with? And hell, my neighborhood is more liberal than most of Austin, why should I be bound by Austin's laws? And my family! Who died and made them kings? If I don't want to clean my dishes after supper, by god, my dishes won't be clean!
Perhaps we should just be hermits with shotguns; just waiting for some filthy mother to try to get what's ours, so we can blast them. But all this is dumb. It's obvious that the bigger your group is, the better. Tribes are more powerful than individuals. Cities are more powerful than tribes. States are more powerful than cities. And a one-world government would remove any need for fighting wars or wasting trillions of dollars on national defenses.
Locals v. The Feds
And sure, there's a balance with liberty and tailoring laws to particular communities, but no one said a one-world government couldn't do that. With these people, it's just assumed that a one-world government would also mean that we'd lose all rights and could no longer elect our leaders. For all the weak quotes they toss out on the subject, I've yet to see any explanation for this. After all, there are plenty of small towns who do a great job of stifiling liberties; particular small southern towns stifiling the rights of black people.
And who exactly has been the major force trying to put a stop to that? Why, I do believe it's the federal goverment. And for that matter, many of the people who complain about the federal government are actually complaining about this very thing. The rights they've had stolen from them is the right to steal other people's rights. But this isn't a surprise. It's actually much easier and more likely for a local official to screw with you than a national official. As we all know, you just can't fight city hall.
One commenter suggested that the European Union is a warning sign of what could happen to us. I fail to see how the EU wasn't a great idea that should have happened a long, long time ago. But I also fail to see why national boundaries are so important. The reason Europe was divided was just that nobody could maintain control over the leaders of these countries. But this wasn't for the benefit of the people. This was just powerful people acting out of their own quest for power; consistenly using the "people" as fodder in their games of conquest. So how was that such a good idea?
And I, for one, think a one-world government can be an excellent idea. Sure, it could be bad. But it could be great. It could be the end of war. It could make it easier to distribute resources and could be a boon to mankind. What the hell's the problem with it? Again, I've never seen this really explained.
In fact, my extensive reading of science fiction even has me worried that there perhaps are alien races watching us, and we're the laughing stock of the whole galaxy. I mean, why should they invite us into their galactic federation if we can't even get along with our fellow humans and refuse to form a common government on our puny little planet? Then again, these people would probably be against us joining a galactic federation too. Gene Roddenberry must be rolling in his grave.
But no, these people insist that any attempt to combine us together under one government would only mean they were trying to enslave us. Again, we're already slaves, and most of us are happy with it. Sure, I'd rather not work for a living, but I like having good stuff. I like having cable and electricty and cell phones and internet and cars. I'm a slave to this stuff, but I'll accept it because it's better than the alternative. And this all benefits the ultra-rich much more than it benefits me, but as long as I get good stuff out of it, I won't complain...much.
Nuts R Us
And a big problem with talking about this stuff is that every one of these guys have completely different ideas of what they're really talking about. I once talked to a guy who insisted that we would all be enslaved and turned into chattel, which he explained meant "human cattle" (no, I didn't just make that up). He insisted we'd all be picking cotton on plantations soon. I mean, why the hell would they do that? I'm a well-trained accountant, and they're going to have me doing work that is more easily done by machine?? Right.
But if you ever talk to these guys and can surpress your Nutball Alarm enough to get the details of what they're talking about, it never makes any sense. But it's not supposed to make sense. It's just the ramblings of people who feel powerless and want to find some justification for why their lives aren't better. And to feel superior to us "ignorant" folks who just aren't knowledgable about what's really going on.
That's all this is about. It's not about finding a sensible theory. I mean, many of these people will denounce international corporations in one breath, and then attack government regulations with the next. And you're like "HUH?!?" But it does no good. You can't talk sense into them, because again, they're not looking for that kind of sense. They just want to rationalize why their lives aren't better and in a way that puts the blame on some nefarious group they'll never be a part of.
And frankly, I don't think it's such a bad thing. No matter how great an idea is, it really is necessary to have a handful of people oppose it, to provide a sort of ballast to prevent us from going too far or too fast in any one direction. The world needs all kinds of people, including the crazy people. We just don't need them for president.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Admittedly, I found the joke mildly humorous, partly because it was so macabre, yet was still a decent dumb person joke. And it's the equivalent of a Polish joke, or what people in Texas would turn into an Aggie joke. But that's the thing, the target of the joke is clearly Baathists who are as dumb as they are evil. Only a conservative could have considered it an "Iraqi" joke and told it to Baathists, oblvious to what he was saying.
But that's the mistake the they made going into this thing, and what they continue to make. They saw Saddam as being the evil one and think of his helpers as faceless evil people. Like robots following Saddam's orders. But they weren't robots. They were people. And many of them liked how things were. And so this dumbass comes along and repeats a joke that not only mocks them, but serves as a bitter reminder about the whole thing.
BTW, I'm having major keyboard issues, so I'm not posting as much or as long as I'd like to. This sucks. I really wasn't done with this one, but the problem just got a lot worse. But all the same, I'd just like to repeat one of the Aggie jokes I got from that website I linked to. What do you call a female Aggie with 2 brain cells? Pregnant. Funny stuff.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
That's why none of this is really important. At this point, we're not looking for the best nominee. We're just weeding out anyone who makes huge blunders. But why? Any Democratic hopeful who's made it this far is going to be too slick to make any huge blunders. And while the Republicans have a few newbie candidates who repeatedly screw-up (Thompson, Giuliani, and the supreme screw-up Bush), Republicans are largely immune to that kind of thing.
And so at this point, the best we can do is "Gotcha" Debate Questions designed solely to create blunders, and nuanced tea leaf readings, like Matthew Yglesias criticism that Obama's attacks on Clinton are too subtle. But we're not going to find anything of real substance, nor should it matter. Because even primary voters aren't really paying attention, and the general population is REALLY not paying attention. Sure, they'll notice if any huge blunder occurs, but that's it. And as I already said, I'm already sick of it all.
The Dean Machine
Of course, that's not to say I'm blaming the candidates. In fact, I have no problem with them going around and talking to people and whatnot. I just wish people would stop pretending the horserace was already going on. It's not. At best, this is the equivalent of the qualifying round, with the various participants jockeying for pole position. Sure, one of the candidates is likely to have an early advantage over the others once the real primary season starts, but anything can happen after that.
That's what we saw in 2004. Dean was leading the pack throughout much of the pre-primary season. Why? Because he had the hardcore followers who knew they'd vote for him. He sewed up the progressive-activist vote fairly early on, and as I said, these are the people most likely to pay attention during the pre-season. And so early polls showed him leading, because he had a sizeable minority sewed up.
But the problem was that the type of Democrat he was appealing to were already supporting him, and he wasn't able to pick-up the more moderate Democrats. The ones who only really start learning about the candidates when the primary season begins. And while the Dems who supported him were much firmer in their support than the ones who supported Kerry, Kerry had more supporters in the end. And maybe they would have gone to Edwards or Clark, but they certainly weren't going for Dean. And that's all that mattered.
And so Dean had the pre-season wrapped-up, but with a strategy that wouldn't help in the primary season, and might possibly have buried him in the general election. And sure, there was a strong element of the media establishment being against him, but I really don't think that's what sank him. I think the problem was that he was never really as popular as people imagined. He polled well because he had hardcore supporters early on, but the more people started actually learning about the candidates, the less he'd pick anyone else up.
The Popularity Contest
And we see a similiar issue with Hillary Clinton, which is the reason I wish people would stop pretending the nomination is hers. Not that she has a loyal following like Dean did, but she has name recogintion. She's simply more famous than the other candidates. And that's important right now, because so few people are actually paying attention. And so if you ask the average Democrat who they'll support, Hillary's likely to be an obvious choice. But not because they've been studying the issues and know where she stands on Iraq and Iran. But because they know her name.
And we see the same thing with all the candidates. The famous candidates are leading the pack. On the GOP side, we currently see Giuliani leading with Thompson coming in behind. Big surprise. They're the two most famous candidates. But neither of them stand a good chance of winning. As Carpetbagger mentioned, people indicated that they liked Giulani for social issues, when that's actually one of his biggest weaknesses. And it's my opinion that they're picking him because they know his name. And that's also why Romney is polling in last of the top four GOP candidates; because he's the least known; despite the fact that he's going to be their next nominee (IMHO).
And that's my theory on all this. Most people just aren't paying attention. When asked who they vote for, most of them are just going with the name they recoginize. But that's not likely to continue. Not that I have the strongest faith in the electorate, but I'm confident that many people gain knowledge on this stuff when it's actually time to vote. Sure, there's some herd instinct and whatnot, but right now we're not seeing any of that. We're just seeing name recognition, and that's just about it.
So on the GOP side, we have the savior of 9/11 and a famous actor leading the pack. On the Dem site, we've got a notorious first lady and a good looking black guy with a funny name. And frankly, I think that looks much better for us. At least our top two stand a chance of winning and deserve to be considered top choices. Giulaini and Thompson are nothing but jokes. But as I've confessed to before, I had once imagined that Thompson was a good candidate, until I actually learned something about him.
And that's exactly what's going to happen with most people. They recognize Fred Thompson. They've heard some vague praise of him. And so they imagine he's a decent name to pick when asked who they'd vote for. But once the heat is on, that's all going to change. Same with Giulani. He's still coasting on the 9/11 thing, but that won't last. And so this whole prediction business is nonsense. While I'm fairly confident that Romney's getting the GOP nomination, it's still an open game on the Democratic side. And that's how it should be.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Sorry about that. Ever since he murdered the dealer I had on 9/11 he gets really upset when I don't answer his calls. But as long as he's taking care of my addiction to Radithor, I'm cool with it. Anyway, politicians, yeah, whatever. I've gotta go.
Monday, October 01, 2007
I admire the Islam. There’s a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what’s basically an honorable religion. But, no, I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles…. personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn’t mean that I’m sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don’t say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would–I just feel that that’s an important part of our qualifications to lead.
Which was followed up by this:
“McCain contacted Beliefnet after the interview to clarify his remarks: ‘I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.’”
WTF? And this is dumb, because you just can't put that genie back in the bottle. As George Allen showed us, once you make a bigoted comment, any correction will be ignored by the people you offended and will offend the people you were talking to. So anyone McCain didn't offend with his initial remark about how non-Christians don't have the "qualifications to lead," will certainly be offended by his remark that he thinks a Muslim could be a good president. And anyone who remembers how non-religious he was in 2000 will just laugh out loud at this latest turn of events. I know I did.
And the only people who won't be offended by either statement are the diehard McCain supporters who would have supported him even if he had kept his big mouth shut. So the whole thing was a big lose-lose for him. But then again, I have a hard time imagining that there were any diehard McCain supporters in the first place.
But it's not just him. It's all of the prime candidates, and it all just shows why the Republicans are screwed in 2008, and probably 2012 as well. Because as I mentioned before, the only way you can be considered one of the "top-tier" candidates of either party is to be mainstream and have a broad level of support. And for the Democrats, that's pretty easy.
Ah, screw it. You already know what I'm saying, and I really do need to go to bed. So I'll just let you fill in the rest, about how hard it is for Republicans, because of the crazies in the party...which is quite a lot of the party. And the more the top-tier have to bow and scrape to the rabid base, the less they'll look like top-tier candidates.