Monday, May 30, 2011

Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part III: Their Lying Eyes

In my previous post, I discussed the Grand Narrative that anarcho capitalists use to justify their claims that our nation is heading towards a full-on Police State, based upon a few isolated incidents of police abuse and government intrusion they've cherrypicked to make those claims.  But as I found from the particular anarcho capitalist I was dealing with, even the cherrypicked facts ain't what they're hyped to be.

Because it wasn't just that he lacked enough proof to justify the Grand Narrative he was making, but that the scant bits of evidence he provided to me were either meaningless, or more often, actually refuted the claims he was making.  While he considered himself the ultimate skeptic because he didn't believe anything the government or media said, he'd accept entirely ridiculous claims that were refuted by his own evidence; rather than trust his lying eyes.

Ironically, all of his actual news sources were from the mainstream media.  So he refused to believe anything the media said...unless he thought it confirmed his beliefs; in which case they were entirely reliable.  But I guess he shouldn't have been so trusting, as they didn't say what he thought they said.

Geraldo Rivera, Trustworthy Liar

For example, his "proof" that our military was providing security to the Taliban so that they could grow opium for us was a Fox News story from Geraldo Rivera, in which Geraldo "exposed" how our military was tolerating poppy farmers in one region of Afghanistan so they wouldn't hate us and work with the Taliban.  So his link told the opposite story of the one he thought it said, and relied upon Geraldo and Fox News as proof of this ridiculous claim.

And sure, maybe Geraldo was lying about that.  I can see that being the case.  Yet, this guy provided no evidence that Geraldo was lying, and the little research I've done of other people making this claim also have no evidence suggesting it's a lie.  It's all about assuming it's a lie, because that's the only way this story is important to them.  While the only evidence they have refutes their point.

So they'll use Fox News as their evidence, but only to the point that it undermines them.  After that, mere assertions and guesses are enough; with no good explanation on why Fox would have reported this story in the first place if it was evidence of evil government practices.

News Flash: Don’t Point Guns at Cops

My debate with this guy started after he posted a YouTube video to his Facebook profile entitled POLICE BRUTALITY - Granny Shot 7 TIMES By Cops For Refusing To Answer Census. And skeptic that I am, I had my doubts about this, so I watched the video which I've posted below.

Now, if you watched the video, you’ll know one thing: The grandmother did NOT get killed for refusing to answer the census. Rather, she got killed because she pointed a shotgun at police and refused to put it down.

And nothing in the video disputed that account. While her son was there insisting that she shouldn’t have been shot, it was based upon the idea that she was a nice grandmother and the police should have known that she was a nice grandmother and wouldn’t have used the gun she was holding. But even HE didn’t dispute that she had a shotgun.

And the whole story was that a census worker went to a house, the guy at the door refused to answer questions and pointed a gun at the census worker. The worker reported it to the police, who showed up and arrested the guy for assault; which is what happens when you point guns at innocent people.

While they were taking him away, his mom came out with a shotgun and wouldn’t put it down after police told her to; so the police shot and killed her. That’s it. That’s the story. And my anarchist capitalist opponent presented nothing to contradict that.  Not even a link to another account of the story.  All he knew was what I presented to you, which for him was confirmation that the government is intrusive and needs to be stopped.

BTW, this news story got it wrong and the census worker did not arrive at the house after dark.  Rather, she arrived at 7:45 PM, which was twenty minutes before sunset, and it took two hours for the police to arrive; which is when the arrest and shooting happened.  And yes, it was a female census worker that this man was so intimidated by that he needed a gun to protect himself from her intrusive questions.

Ooooh, those scary scary census forms.  Is it any wonder we all live in fear?

It Was The Guns, Stupid

Now, maybe the police DIDN’T have to kill her. Maybe this WAS police abuse. I don’t know, I wasn’t there and I’m not attempting to defend the police actions; because I don't know what happened.

But in no case did this have anything to do with the census at all; except that it was a census worker who happened to have gone to this jackass’s door. The REAL problem here wasn’t the census or government intrusion; it was guns; duh! Had the guy and grandma not had guns, nobody would have been hurt at all. And if you point guns at innocent people, you should expect bad things to happen to you.

And of course, the other issue is that the jackass with the gun had nothing to fear about the census at all. Were it not for anti-government fear-mongers, this guy would have answered the census when it was mailed to him and avoided the whole situation.  As is usually the case, the only reason you need to fear the government shooting you down is because you acted in a way that made them have to shoot you down. It’s like a dog that purposefully got rabies because he was told that rabid dogs get shot, and he wanted to protect himself by getting rabies.

And when I pointed out to the guy that this video had nothing to do with the census, and that the grandmother died because she pointed a shotgun at police; he refused to listen; though he had no evidence to the contrary. The best he could do was to insist that citizens have a right to point their guns at whoever they want, and the government doesn’t have any right to stop them.

Seriously, that was it. I fully showed how this story didn’t fit his narrative of intrusive government at all, but rather than admit that he was wrong, the best he could do was to make a nonsensical point that would embarrass a third grader. Really? You have the right to point your guns at innocent people?? I don’t think so.

And the scariest part is how he could not only watch that clip, but actually felt confident enough about it to post it on his Facebook page, without having understood at all what he was watching. The person who posted the clip insisted that it was about a grandmother getting killed for not answering the census, and this bozo was too stupid to use his own brain to know otherwise.

And it was like that again and again with him.  He kept sending me stories proving how evil the government is and, having known little or nothing about the story beforehand, I used his own source material to refute the very point he was making.  And after each time, I kept asking him how much longer he'd keep trusting the people who had fed him this material, and rather than finally understand that he had been suckered; he'd just post another story from the same people who had mislead him before.

In my next post, I'll cover a few more of these stories.  Or maybe not.  I'm kind of losing steam on this, and since I no longer have access to those posts, I have to do it all from memory.  So I don't know.  We'll see.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part II: The Grand Narrative

In my last post, I discussed the ideas of anarcho capitalists who want government out of the way so that powerful people can screw them over, under the delusion that governments are what powerful people use to exert their power; and not, say, the power itself. As if everyone is equally powerful by nature and people can’t exert power without government intervention.  Or that inequity doesn't occur when governments aren't around to enforce it.

And these anarchy capitalists are perpetuating a myth that things are going to get considerably worse soon, based upon the claim that there are a growing number of incidents showing that the government is intruding in our lives, and these incidents tie together for a Grand Narrative which shows that we’re being pushed into a police state and the powerful will soon enslave us.

As if the powerful somehow have more to gain by enslaving us outright, rather than continuing the status quo in which we work for them for peanuts.  Apparently, the Powerful are stupid enough to believe they can catch more flies with brute force than with honey; and they're going to risk their multi-million dollar yearly incomes purely for the sake of gaining more control over our lives.  This somehow makes perfect sense to some people.

Getting Better All the Time

And let me address the second part of that first: There IS no grand narrative tying events together to prove that we’re moving towards police state. Because yes, you can find incidents of police brutality, unnecessary government intrusion, and all that sort of thing. But this isn’t anything new. If anything, we have far more freedom than in any previous period in American history.

Try telling the hippies who had their heads beat in because they didn't want to be forced to kill Vietnamese that things are worse now. Or the students who got killed at Kent State or the people who got blacklisted in the 50’s or all the people J Edgar Hoover wiretapped.  If they can reply to your claims, it would be to laugh in your face.

And you look at Robber Barons who used strike breakers to destroy unions, or the whole area of slavery and Jim Crow laws.  And of course, who looks upon the Wild West as a period of peace and prosperity?  I know it wasn't always the shoot 'em up that the entertainment industry has made it seem to be, but all the same, that's because they still had laws and lawmen to enforce them.

Anyone with even a casual knowledge of history will laugh at the claims that things are getting worse.  That's why the anarchist capitalists never put their claims into historical perspective, as their entire argument is exposed as fraud.  It's hard to say that things are getting worse if you understand how things used to be.  But as I noted last time, the claims these people make are rooted in rhetoric stemming from a period in which things really were worse.  Things have gotten better, but the rhetoric's still the same.

And as I noted in my last post, these bozos imagine they're exposing the worst government abuses ever, yet fail to acknowledge how our supposedly all-powerful government isn't doing a damn thing to stop them.  In China, they lock up bloggers who attack the government.  Here, we give them free rein to say any damn thing they want, as long as they're not hurting anyone or telling people to hurt anyone.  There really are oppressive governments in this world and they're absolutely nothing like ours.

Oh, no!  The government wants to give my elderly mother good healthcare!  Help!  Help!

Connecting the Dots

But beyond that, it’s not enough to find SOME data points to connect together for your Grand Narrative, unless you can connect ALL of the dots. And if your connect-the-dots narrative requires you to avoid a significant number of data points in order to form your picture, then you haven’t found the right picture. I mean, every connect-the-dots can look like Abraham Lincoln, if you skip lots of dots while adding your own. That doesn’t mean that every one is Abraham Lincoln.

And it’s only a narrow strip of YouTube videos and news stories that they focus on that tells this story, while the vast majority of news stories and videos tell an entirely different story. New York City alone has over 40,000 police officers, so your ability to find one hundred abusive cops from across the nation on YouTube is hardly evidence that the police are regularly beating us down and installing a police state.  If there's a pattern, I expect to see a pattern, god dammit; not a few isolated incidents.

And of course, the reason you're seeing more of these videos now is because, duh, we have more video cameras and we didn't use to have YouTube.  We didn't use to have cameras in every cop car and camera-phones in every pocket.  It's not that police abuse is getting worse, it's just that you're noticing it more now.  And that's the case with anyone who claims that things are getting worse.  Life isn't getting worse.  You just weren't paying attention before.

As they say, data is NOT the plural of anecdote.  Just because you can develop a storyline to connect facts together doesn't mean you've got the real story.  You've got to be able to connect ALL the dots, not just the ones you choose to look at.

This post has been continued here:
Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part III: Their Lying Eyes

Attack of the Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists

For the past few days over on Facebook, I’ve been engaging in a “debate” with an anarchist capitalist who believes that the government is corrupt and life would be so much better if they got out of the way and let us do our own thing.

But the thing is, that ISN'T what he believes. Because the reason he's anti-government is because he's anti-corporation and believes that corporations are using the government to control us. So his problem isn't with government, per se; but rather that it allows powerful people to keep power. And that's because he’s been lied to about what the government actually does, and fails to understand how his system would only make things worse for him.

In his mind, humans have the right to do anything they want and the government doesn’t have the right to stop them. But those are two conflicting ideas. Because yes, this guy IS allowed to do whatever he wants…but so are we. He’s allowed to evade his taxes and we’re allowed to punish him for it. He’s allowed to murder and rape people, and we’re allowed to punish him for it.  Freedom is a two-way street. If he has the right to do anything, so do we.

And we decided to use our freedom by forming governments and writing laws that benefit society and prevent us from all killing each other, as well as preventing the powerful from having complete control over us. Somehow, these people fail to grasp that, as much as they’re being victimized, it’s because the government doesn’t do a better job of ending the very system these people imagine they want.

If you hate inequity and don't like what corporations are doing, then better government is the solution; not the problem.

Warlords Rule!

And I kept trying to explain that to the guy. If we got government out of the way, the powerful would hire private armies and do whatever they wanted.

How do I know that? Because that’s what ALWAYS happens and it’d be ridiculous to assume it WON’T always happen. Just look at Afghanistan or Somalia or Iraq after Saddam fell or anywhere else without a real government. Even Mexico these days. Whenever the government can’t protect people under a common set of rules, warlords and druglords take over and things are a lot worse off for everyone.

Because our government isn’t what the powerful use to keep us down. It’s what protects us from the powerful. And as much as there are totalitarian dictatorships where the leader really CAN do whatever they want, that’s all more proof that I’m right. Because they’re just warlords with a firmer grasp on the reins of power; which they’re allowed to do in an anarchist system, because, duh, we’re allowed to do anything we want in an anarchist system. And that means that the powerful get to keep their power.

They always try to deny this, by insisting that "anarchy" doesn't mean "free-for-all," and I agree.  Anarchy DOESN'T mean that people get to do whatever they want.  It means the POWERFUL get to do what they want.  And so whoever has the most money, guns, and friends is the one who wins.

And that’s the general rule for anarchist dreamers: If you can’t explain how you’d prevent powerful people from becoming more powerful, then your ideas are full of shit and you need to go back to the drawing board.  Because we’ve HAD anarchy, and democracy is the proven solution to it. It’s not perfect, but it’s far superior to the alternative.

Demanding What They Already Have

And sure, maybe under a perfect anarchist system, we’ll ensure that people can’t become warlords by forming private groups that enforce the anarchy to ensure that no one can have power over anyone else. And we’ll create rules by which to enforce these policies while choosing citizens to lead these groups and decide best how to write these rules and, unless you’re stupid, you’ll already realize that I’m now describing government and it’s the system we already have.

And if these guys stopped fantasizing about the 19th Century populist rhetoric they've been repeating, they'd already know this.  I mean, when a black man from a broken home can become president, it's time to put down the "Ruling Class is Keeping Us Down" pamphlet and realize that the system isn't rigged and anyone can become president.  That goes for white men from broken homes, too.  In fact, except for presidents named Bush, it's been a long time since we had a president that's come from the "ruling class."  Yet this myth persists, as if only the sons of the elite can succeed in our political system.  Nixon would have laughed ruefully at that idea; if only because Nixon's laugh was always rueful.

And all that noise about the government being used to keep us down is as outdated as their demands to go back to the policies we had when the government was being used to keep us down; ie, no labor laws, environmental protection, standards of safety, or any of the other good stuff we now have to protect us from the powerful.  Stuff that they somehow imagine is keeping them down, completely unaware of how much good it's doing them.

Ironically, they're trying to turn back the clock to a period in which their rhetoric made sense, rather than understand that we already won and we'd keep winning if they'd shut up and help us improve government even more.  And the system they're demanding is the one we already have, and they'd know that, if only they weren't so busy ranting about how scary the government is and acting like the victims they've made themselves into.

This post has been continued here:
Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part II: The Grand Narrative

I also put additional info about the guy as a comment of this post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boldness Loses Again

I'd like to have more to say about this soon, but I just wanted to call attention to the results in last night's special election in New York, in which Republican overreach got trounced yet again.

But one lesson shouldn't be lost here: Boldness loses elections.  I've heard endlessly from folks on both ends of the political spectrum about how much voters loooooove bold policies and will follow anyone who seems strong and courageous, while reality keeps proving that those who stick their necks out lose their heads.  And the more you stick it out, the more of it you lose.

That's obvious to anyone with reliable political instincts, but to people who abhor politics and imagine that it gets in the way of their otherwise great democracy, it's meekness that gets punished.  And it should be noted that liberal polices really are more popular than conservative ones, yet you still have to sell your policy while obeying the archaic rules of politics.  And if the policy you're selling is one that voters refuse to support, even if it's the right policy or the policy they truly want or need, you're going to lose elections.

And that's as it should be.  Democracy isn't a limited-term dictatorship and doesn't give you permission to do whatever the hell you want.  And that means that if a majority of the country says they don't want a public option or higher taxes for the middleclass, you'll be a fool by trying to force them to take their medicine against their will.  Because you won't just lose the election, but set yourself back for years and undermine your cause directly.

Being forced to follow political rules and listen to polls isn't a flaw with democracy; it's a key feature.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Childlike Delusions of a Smug Political Preacher

I wanted to follow-up on my previous post about hate-filled "preacher" Bradlee Dean, and his political prayer to Minnesota legislators, as Dean has now addressed this "prayer" on his radio show by saying that he wasn't attacking Obama.

Rather, he was addressing something Obama has done while insisting that our country has gone off the rails and is doomed to fail unless we embrace conservativism; yet because he didn't address Obama by name, it doesn't count as an attack on Obama, though he's still attacking Obama for the same reason.

As TPM reports:
At one point, a caller from Minneapolis challenged Dean to admit he was, in fact, referring to Obama. "That's splitting hairs," Dean responded.
"I didn't say we weren't a Christian nation, Obama did," Dean said. "If you want to point the finger at someone denying Christianity in our country, you might want to talk to Obama about it, because I didn't say it."
Of course.  It's our lying eyes that are the problem, and if we don't like the attack he gave on Obama, then we need to attack Obama for it.

Code Words for Dummies

And that's one of the funniest things about these bozos: They're so stupid that they somehow imagine we can't read between the lines when they're using their barely hidden code language to say outrageous things. It's like someone insulting us in Pig Latin, unaware that Pig Latin isn't complicated and we understood every word they said.  And so they act indignant that we called them out for what they said, because they refuse to believe we could possibly have comprehended what they did.

Racists do that all the time, and truly imagine we're wrong for calling them racist because we couldn't possibly have decoded their secret racist attacks.  So when they insist that they're "color blind" and don't notice race, and use that to justify attacks on people who are discriminated against; we're wrong for calling them racist and must be racist ourselves.  After all, they're "color blind," they insist.  And their attacks on black people they don't know are based entirely upon the unknown black person's ignorant laziness, and not the color of their skin.  I mean hey, some of their friends are black...not that they noticed or anything.

Similarly, their attacks on Mexicans are because they're lazy parasites stealing our jobs and getting free handouts which aren't available to us hardworking Americans.  Again, not that they noticed the color of the people doing this, but we all know what they look like and they're not like us.  All hail the mighty code words!

It's like a child insisting he didn't eat the missing pie, unaware that his face is covered with pie filling.  Sadly, some people are simply so stupid that they can't possibly fathom how much dumber they are than everyone else; and imagine they've gotten away with something even whilst we attack them for what they did.  As it turns out, cleverness isn't for everyone.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Believe in One Party, the Republicans Almighty

Conservatives are simply tooooo funny.  When they're in the minority, they bitch and moan about being oppressed victims, and you're inundated with references to Big Brother, concentration camps, and totalitarianism.  Yet the moment you give them a little bit of power, they turn all crazy on you and over-reach so far that you're amazed their feet are still touching the ground while their egos soar into the heavens.  But as it turns out, hubris is a bitch and these fools do all the things they claimed they wouldn't do before the election, and then act surprised when they find themselves as "oppressed" minorities, yet again.

And so it was when Minnesota Republicans made the blunder of inviting hate-filled "preacher" Bradlee Dean to give the morning prayer.  And while I do think some of the reactions to it were a bit overstated, as it wasn't nearly as hate-filled as the standard rants you can read at any given conservative blog.  But still, as far as legislative prayers go, particularly in a moderate place like Minnesota, this one was a doozy.

In case you missed it, here it is.  And note, his seething undertones only make it clear how displeased he is that he has to be this moderate.  I'd hate to hear the prayer he wanted to give.

And here's the thing: For as much as I'm sorta against the idea of daily prayers before legislative sessions, as I fail to see why the government is endorsing religion like this; this didn't offend me for that reason at all.

Because the thing is, that wasn't a particularly religious speech.  In fact, for as much as he kept referencing the Father God repeatedly, that had to be one of the least religious prayers I've ever heard.  I guess it varies by denomination, but as someone raised Catholic and forced to recite the Rosary on occasion, that really wasn't much of a prayer at all.

No, without a doubt, that was a political speech; through and through.  Sure, it was peppered with references to God and Jesus, but it was all about how liberals are ruining the country because they're not following the orders of the Founding Fathers, and how Obama is a big problem.  His "preface" to the prayer was really the meat of the thing, and then he blathered something about soldiers sacrificing themselves for America, before getting to his final point: That Obama wasn't Christian and was ruining America because he wasn't a conservative.

And for as underplayed as the whole thing was, it was the seething rage, underscored by his alcohol-ravaged voice that really set the tone.  And jesus, doesn't the man own a suit?  I wouldn't be seen anywhere in that outfit, let alone televised in front of important people.  I'm definitely of the opinion that a nice gray suit would have lessened the impact of his low-key rant.

And what's so ridiculous about these people is that they really can't seem to tell the difference between religion and politics.  It's all one to them, and anyone who disagrees with their politics must assuredly be on the wrong side of their god.  After all, he wasn't telling us that liberals were wrong for ignoring God, but for ignoring the Founding Fathers.  And while I'm sure he'd argue that the Founding Fathers were following God's commands, you'd think he would have just said that directly; rather than referencing a secular document like the Constitution.

In the future, I recommend to the Minnesota legislature that they not only insist that their daily prayer be non-denominational, but also non-partisan.  And to that, I prayer to the Lord God Darwin Almighty.  Amen.

Update: Here's a follow-up to this post, in which Hate Preacher Bradlee Dean is seen trying to deny the very thing he did.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Soft Wieners, Acne, & Angst: How Greed Can Be Good

I'd like to start this post with the caveat that I'm not Mr. Laissez Faire and completely and fully understand how greed can be bad.  There are no hidden messages of "Love the Rich" intended here and I haven't been secretly reading Ayn Rand on the sly (my supply of Hefty Barf Bags would run out before finishing the first chapter, I'm sure).  If anything, I find money to be a huge inconvenience and would prefer a world that didn't require it to get shit done.

Thus said, money gets shit done.  I'm sorry, that's just a fact.  Money is a materialized form of power, and if the rich were satisfied with their wealth and decided to live happily on what they've got, we'd all be a lot worse off than we are.  Trust me, I'm a ridiculously gifted person, yet I haven't produced jackshit.  Why?  Because I'm already satisfied with my life and don't really care about money.  It's the people with issues who get shit done, not the happy people.

Just as the Internet would have likely never been created without the helping hand of Big Daddy Government, were it not for the greed of a thousand Richie Riches, you wouldn't be reading this right now.  Argue with that all you want, but you'll look silly and most definitely lose the argument.  Even the open source cultists would be sitting around twiddling their thumbs every night, were it not for the greed of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and whoever started IBM.

Sorry, but the rich aren't keeping you down.  That's all you, pal.

Blaming Modern Science

And the same goes with drug companies.  Yes, they're greedy.  Very greedy.  And they do some outrageous things that cause me physical pain when I think too much about it.  But...were it not for their greed, they'd have no incentive to use their money to invent new drugs and we'd all be a lot worse off right now because of it.  That's simply undeniable.

Because the reality is that researching new drugs and testing them is incredibly expensive.  That's why they're doing it and you're not.  No one's preventing you from curing cancer.  It just costs lots of money and they're the only ones putting up enough of it to do it.  And if they spend all their money investing in drugs that can't earn profits, then they'll soon be out of money and won't discover new drugs. There's just no other way about it.

And again, that's not a defense of drug companies.  That's simply a statement of fact.  I'd like it if drugs didn't cost millions upon millions to make, but unless you're willing to throw away all your income on discovering new drugs, then you have ABSOLUTELY no right to complain.

After all, nobody's stopping you and your buddies from inventing new drugs.  Yet you don't.  Why?  Is it because you're too greedy?  No, it's because you're not stupid.  Well, neither are the greedheads who invest in these companies.  No one expects you to volunteer all your time and money discovering new drugs, nor should we expect it of them.

Believe it or not, Big Pharma is people, too; and while some of them are despicable people who really deserve a special circle of Hell; the problem isn't greed or capitalism.  Those are the solutions to the problem, not the cause.  And were it not for the greed of Big Pharma, we'd all be stuck with soft weiners, acne, and angst.  Call me crazy, but I prefer things as they are.

Curing Cancer for Free

And I mention all this after reading an article about a potential cancer cure that isn't getting much funding because it's a common drug that isn't patentable and will lose money for anyone who researches it.  Why?  Because modern science is expensive and it costs about $500 million to get a drug approved.  But that's not Big Pharma's fault.  That's because we don't want to make people sick by giving them worthless or bad drugs.  That's our fault for wanting drug studies to be scientific and safe.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have $500 million sitting in my couch cushions to pay for this.  Neither does Big Pharma.  And yeah, sure, maybe the government could fund this.  Or maybe the American Cancer Society should, or the Bill Gates Foundation; which many commenters on that story attacked because they haven't ponied up the millions it'll take to test the drug.  But should they fund EVERY potential cancer drug?

Sure, this one looks more promising than snake oil, but it'd be far from the first cancer drug that fell flat after looking this promising.  And unfortunately, we can't really know if it's worthy of funding unless we, duh, test it first.  And those tests costs lots of money.  It's a catch-22 and Big Pharma's in the same boat we are.  They also would like to know the results before paying for the tests, but it doesn't work like that and they really do risk all their money if they bet wrong.  That's why it's so profitable for them if they guess right.

And the main point here is that capitalism and greed didn't create the problem.  Rather, they grease the wheels and make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise.  And that's exactly why we need good government, too.  Greed makes people do good and evil, so we just need to make sure we get more of the former than the latter.

I'm a Big Government Capitalist who wants a strong free market to give us things we wouldn't have gotten otherwise, but with the government on our side to make sure we're not getting screwed.  And that's what works best for everyone; including the greedheads.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One-Sided Delusions of a Libertarian

One of the most annoying things about libertarians is when they decry laws they believe infringe upon our liberty and insist that we don't need them because the problems those laws fixed are no longer problems.  Like child labor laws.  Apparently, we don't need child labor laws because child labor laws fixed the problem of child labor.  And so these laws only serve to steal our liberty from us, because they worked.

And I'm like, huh?  What??  We don't need laws if they work?  And hey, I suppose for the sake of argument that I can see how we might not need these laws anymore, under the assumption that fixed problems never come back.  I find that ludicrous, as we still have people who violate labor laws and pollution laws and anti-discrimination laws when the laws are in place; and can only imagine this would get significantly worse without the laws.

Besides, how are labor laws an infringement of our liberty, unless people were wanting to do these things?  I mean, if the government threatens to punish me if I engage in Behavior X, my liberties haven't actually been infringed upon unless I was intending to engage in Behavior X.  And if no one is planning to engage in Behavior X, as libertarians claim is the case, then no one's rights have actually been infringed upon.

Sure, theoretically my right to employ ten year olds in my steel factory have been infringed upon by child labor laws.  But this isn't actually a problem unless I was planning to do so.  Call me crazy, but I'd rather have laws to prevent real problems than to repeal laws to preserve theoretical ones.  Either the government is infringing upon our liberties by preventing a problem that would occur without the laws, or we don't need the laws and our liberties aren't being infringed upon.  You can't have it both ways.

But still, on a theoretical basis, the idea that we've now fixed these problems and we're never going back is a point I can comprehend, even though it has no application in reality.

Ancient History

And then we've got Ron Paul, who doesn't just believe that we don't need the Civil Rights Act any longer, but that we didn't need it back in 1964 because those problems have now been solved.   No, seriously.  He said that.

Here's the transcript, from Hardball:
Matthews: I once knew a laundromat when I was in the Peace Corps training in Louisiana, in Baker, Louisiana. A laundromat had this sign on it in glaze, ‘whites only on the laundromat, just to use the laundromat machines. This was a local shop saying ‘no blacks allowed.’ You say that should be legal.

Paul: That’s ancient history. That’s over and done with.

Matthews: Because it's been outlawed.

Paul: Segregation on buses was always done by law, so it was a culture.  That's over and done with.  Why do you want to go back to ancient days?

Matthews: Because you want it to come back.

Paul: It's past.
Ahh, of course.  And since we don't have these problems any more, Ron Paul wouldn't have supported the law that made the problems go away.  And it's dwelling on the past for us to believe that this law was necessary or good.

But of course, it's not Chris Matthews who wants to go back to ancient days.  That would be Ron Paul, who's lamenting the infringement of liberty upon laundromat owners who are now forced to allow darkies to use their machines.  Not that he'd say that, but the fact that he wouldn't answer the question suggests that even he realizes how ridiculous his position is.

Government isn't the Only Problem

In Paul's defense, he makes clear that he opposes Jim Crow laws, and identifies them as bad government..  So he scores a point for that.  And I honestly don't believe he's a racist, as I feel he genuinely believes that property rights trump civil rights, and that the free markets will somehow magically fix these problems; even though that obviously didn't happen in the past.

Somehow, libertarians fail to appreciate the fact that money isn't the only motivator in life; or understand how racism can make racists richer.  But it's pretty simple: If only white people can get good jobs and eduction, then they'll have more money and power than if they have to compete with non-whites.  That shouldn't be complicated, yet libertarians seem to miss this point entirely.

Moreover, his ideological demands disallow him from admitting the reality: Racism wasn't just from the government.  Jim Crow laws institutionalized this racism, but as he said, it was the culture.  And that culture also had rampant discrimination in it by private individuals.

And so Matthews' question about the laundromat was entirely valid, yet Paul couldn't answer it.  He knew his answer would be crazy and offensive, so he refused to answer at all; insisting that it was "ancient history" and "the past."  Uh, Paul?  You're 75 years old.  You were 29 when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.  This isn't ancient history.

Shorter Ron Paul: Property Rights Superior to Civil Rights

And the problem Ron's having is a problem all delusional Republicans suffer from: Their answers only work if they look at the one side of the coin, while ignoring that the other side even exists.  Because yeah, it is kind of messed up that the government can force businesses to serve customers they don't want to serve and I suppose this is a violation of their property property.

And yet...there was also another problem we were dealing with: The violation of civil rights.  And this problem was perpetrated by both the government and individuals, and was a significantly worse problem than the violation of the rights of racists to refuse to let black people use their washing machines.  And so we're to imagine that the property of white people takes precedent over the lives of black people.  Not that Paul would deny the right of black people to discriminate against white people; but I fail to see how that fixes his dilemma.

So Paul is forced to ignore the bigger problem and focus on property rights and infringement of liberty.  And while he rightly attacks government-enforced discrimination, he simply must ignore the problems of white-only laundromats and water fountains and pools, or the whole not-hiring-black-people thing or letting them go to our schools and join our clubs.  And his best response is a nonsensical one about ancient history, as if the problems of segregation magically solved themselves.

Delusions of a Paul Person

And one final point I'd like to make about Paul is the delusional state that Paul and his followers live in, where they'll insist that he's not more popular because the media ignores him; in complete defiance of reality, which has him on television on a regular basis.

I recently read a rant from a Paul person making such a claim on the very night I happened to catch Paul on Anderson Cooper's show, repeating nonsense with very little pushback from Cooper.  It's as if we're to imagine that Ron Paul has a right to have a platform from which to speak, and anyone who disagrees with him is oppressing him.  But since Paul's positions only make sense if they're not questioned, I'm sure it seems unfair to have people question him because it exposes libertarianism as the charade it is.

And then there's Paul's belief that Matthews' question was intended to trap him into being labeled a racist.  Because yeah, had Paul answered the question truthfully, it would have put him in the position of supporting racism.  But...that's not Matthew setting a trap.  That's because Paul's position supports racism. And if people will reject Paul if they hear him say his position on civil rights, then that's what should happen.

And the problem is that you don't get to pick and choose how your argument is applied.  This is reality, not some late night bull session at the dorms.  And if we're discussing your beliefs, we have to consider all of the implications of your beliefs, not just the ones that support your position.  But libertarians do this all the time.  It's not a practical philosophy at all, and only works as long as you focus on the areas that work.  And you're just a brainwashed fool if you suggest otherwise.

And so the Paul people imagine that there's some grand conspiracy keeping Paul down, by refusing to put him on TV and then trying to trap him when they do put him on.  But the only conspiracy here is the one perpetrated by their own delusions.  And so they'll spend all their time focusing on one side of the coin, while insisting that it's a trick to consider that the coin has two sides.

Panderer for President

When someone hires you to do a job, you work for them. You do what they say and you execute policies even if you disagree with them.  Not talking about anything unethical, necessarily; but sure, yeah, you're likely to cross even a few ethical lines, as long as it's not too egregious.  As their employee, you're obligated to do what they ask of you to the best of your ability, or you should step aside and let them hire someone else. To do otherwise is morally irresponsible.

But for some reason, we expect our politicians to be different. To actually believe in the policies they write and execute. Why? Whom amongst us believes in every policy we fulfill in our jobs? If the boss tells you to do some lamebrained policy that annoys customers and creates inefficiencies, you do it. Because he’s the boss and he said so. We do it all the time and we don’t have a problem with that.  Life simply couldn't work if people only did things they believed in.

So…why do we expect our politicians to be any different? We’re the boss. They’re our representatives.  Our employees.  They need to do what we say, even if they don’t believe in it. And frankly, I’d rather have a politician who does that. He should represent OUR beliefs, not his own.

Romney v. Romney

And this all ties to Mitt Romney's big problem.  I mean, besides that his name is Mitt.  I mean, really.

As things stand, Mitt's one big accomplishment of passing universal healthcare in Massachusetts is the biggest thing holding him back.  That wasn't the case last time around, as his big problem then was the whole Mormon thing.  Well, plus that the man's not particularly bright, has only one term as governor on his political resume, had a horrible economic record as governor, and is stuck in a political party that's gone batshit crazy.  Plus, his name is Mitt.  I mean, come on.

And so Mitt gave a dumb speech yesterday that was mocked by Democrats and lambasted by Republicans.  The latter because Republicans realize that healthcare mandates are pretty much the only weapon they've got to fight Obama with; seeing as how all the race baiting and whistle-calling still seems to be blowing up in their faces for some odd reason.

Sure, Republicans from Nixon, to Bush Sr, to Newt Gingrich, and many many others once supported mandates.  But now that Obama used mandates in his plan and all the Obamascare lies about Death Panels have been laid to rest, mandates are all they've got.  And that means that Mitt's got mandate problems.  Not because it was a dumb idea, but because it was a smart idea and he's trying to woo dumb voters.

Mitt as Technocrat Employee

So my response would be the smart one.  Mitt should have explained that he passed universal healthcare with mandates in Massachusetts because MA is a liberal state and that’s what they wanted. And then he could pivot and say that he opposes Obamacare because America is a conservative nation and doesn’t want it.

Sure, the bit about America being too conservative would be a lie, as each of us really do want good healthcare.  But the main part is the truth: Mitt supported universal healthcare when his constituents wanted it, and he opposes it now because GOP primary voters oppose it.  And that’s not “flip flopping” or political pandering. That’s what we should want. We shouldn’t want an ideologue who forces his ideology on a resistant public. We should want smart guys who give the boss what the boss wants.  And if he gets a new boss, it's ok to support new policies.

Because the reality is that this is what most politicians do anyway. Sure, there are always a few true believers, and we consider them to be nutjobs.. But most politicians just want to be in politics and will support whatever they need to support to stay in office. And as much as that’s a problem, it’s only because they lie about this and pretend to be ideologues. That makes no sense.

We need to get out of the True Believer frame of mind, and move into the 21st Century by hiring people who are open about their desire to give us what we want.  Like Obama.  Giving voters what they want is what democracy is all about. None of this is personal. It's a job.  Sure, we could spend all our time trying to find the people whose beliefs match the policies we want, or...we could hire a guy who will give us whatever policies we want, regardless of what he believes.  What a crazy idea!

Again, that's what most politicians do anyway.  Is it really a problem if they're honest about it?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A World of Burnouts

What amazes me most about this video is not that this man did this strange thing.  No, people do strange things all the time and there's nothing particularly impressive about it.  What amazes me here is that all the other people seemed to know what to expect from him, and knew the rules of it.  Like they do this sort of thing all the time.  They even had some sort of cage setup, as well as referees and staff to facilitate the whole thing, so this was clearly well thought out ahead of time.

At the end, one man proudly exclaims "We have a winner."  And no one seemed to dispute that.  No one was like, "Wait a minute, you haven't heard my burnout, yet."  No, everyone seemed to be in agreement that what this man did was simply the best at whatever it is they're trying to do. And he was drinking a beer, no less.  As the man says, it's not as easy as it looks; yet this guy makes it look so easy.

And of course, the title of this YouTube video is: THE BEST bad ass Harley burnout - no comparison - with a beer, so it seems that yet another person has the capability of judging burnouts, in such a way that they can positively identify this as the BEST, I can only assume that they're right.  Make sure to put it in full-screen and crank up the speakers.  It's Harley time. I mistaken, or are all these people breathing in rubber-smoke?  Is it not the burning rubber that's making all that smoke?  And if it is, isn't that obscenely dangerous for all those people to be inhaling for so long?  And might that explain why they all seemed so burnt out?  I mean, really.

That said, I will admit, it was a pretty impressive burnout.  Not that I have anything to compare it to, but it was still pretty cool.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Goofus and Gallant Governments

Looks like Obama's hostile takeover of the banking industry continues unabated as news hits of the Justice Department suing Deutsche Bank for writing bad loans they promised were good.  According to the government, a third of their loans have now defaulted.  And so now the government is suing because the lender hadn't done due diligence and lied about it.

And that, of course, is good government.  Yes, the question remains why the government is backing bank loans anyway, as it seems like it'd be a lot cheaper and easier if the government lent the money themselves.  But that's a subject for a different post.

Here's the line that stuck out for me:
As far back as 2003, a HUD audit found that MortgageIT hadn't met basic standards of quality control. In response, the company assured the government that it had changed its practices. But, according to the complaint, that wasn't true.
And that, of course, is bad government.  The government identified a serious problem.  Told the bank about it.  The bank promised that they'd do better, without changing anything.  Seven years later and the taxpayers are bailing out the bank for $1 billion, while the bank gets to keep their profits.  Uh, no.  That's not working for me.  If a bank wants to make a loan, the bank needs to back the loan, period.  I see no reason why we need some greedy banker as a middleman, particularly not when his interests are so disaligned with our own.

Otherwise, I'd like to see HUD directly offering loans directly.  They could even work with Treasury to automatically deduct payments each month, and it'd include a small amount for mortgage insurance; in case the homeowner loses their job and can't pay.  It could even be tied directly to their unemployment benefits, with the homeowner having part of their unemployment garnished, but significantly less than the home payment would be.  This really shouldn't be too difficult.

And, hmm.  I wonder who was in charge when HUD blew it...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Genius of Bush

Osama's death has brought cries of me-me-me from Republicans who cringe at the idea of Obama taking credit for something as manly as killing Osama bin Laden have brought Bush back to the table; like the disgraced carcass of a wannabe turkey at Thanksgiving.

And I happened to stumble upon a media lap-dance Republican Stooge Fred Barnes gave to President Bush over at the Weekly Standard, back in September 2006.  Now mind you, this is a mere two months before the GOP got shellacked in the mid-terms, and perhaps when Osama was hunkering down in his compound in Abbottabad.

Here is the entire first paragraph:
WE NOW KNOW WHY the Bush administration hasn't made the capture of Osama bin Laden a paramount goal of the war on terror. Emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism. Here's how President Bush explained this Tuesday: "This thing about . . . let's put 100,000 of our special forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work."
Oh, well then.  That's why Bush didn't make Osama the main goal: Because it didn't fit his strategy.  In other words, he picked this strategy because it fit his strategy.  Right.  That explains everything.  Of course, if I got paid what Fred Barnes got paid, I'd probably report drivel like that, too.

And of course, as it turns out, it didn't take 100,000 special forces stomping around.  But who's counting.

Find Terrorists ???  Profit

Bush then goes on to impart his knowledge on combating terror warfare.  It's a surprise West Point doesn't invite him over to lecture on the topic.
The way you win the war on terror is to find people [who are terrorists] and get them to give you information about what their buddies are fixing to do.
Really?  That's what we needed to do to win?

Let's make a checklist:

Find Terrorists
Get Their Information
Find More Terrorists

Of course!  That's what we needed to do: Find terrorists so they can help us find more terrorists.  Wow, it's so simple!  I can't believe it didn't work.  Because we all know there's a finite number of terrorists, and once you've found them all, you win!

Institutionalizing Actions

And here's one for you:
It's really important at this stage . . . to be thinking about how to institutionalize courses of action that will enable future presidents to gain the information necessary to prevent attack.
How to institutionalize courses of action.  Indeed.

Fortunately, Fred decodes this into human speak, writing:
This, presumably, would include the use of secret prisons, tough but legal interrogation techniques, a ban on lawsuits against interrogators, electronic eavesdropping, and monitoring of bank transfers, among other measures.
But of course, by "legal interrogation," they mean as they define what's legal; making the word "legal" entirely superfluous.

And, what?  Ban on lawsuits against interrogators?  What the hell for?  Of course you should be able to sue your interrogator.  After all, if he didn't do anything wrong, he shouldn't have anything to worry about, right?

Fight the Aura!

And here's perhaps the saddest part:
I know exactly what's in the news.  I listen to a lot of people. I've got smart people around me. And they can march right in here--this Oval Office can be slightly intimidating, but I've got people here who can fight through the aura and say, 'I think you're wrong. I think you're right.'
Hear that?  He's got smart people.  People who can fight through the aura to tell him he's wrong as well as when he's right.  Well, that's good to hear.  Because I've long had trouble with people who were simply incapable of fighting my aura to tell me when I'm right.  It's good to know he didn't suffer that problem..

Of course, you read stuff like this and you start to wonder...
At the outset of the interview, which occurred the morning after his speech to the nation on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Bush declared: "I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions."
...perhaps they didn't fight enough.

Monday, May 02, 2011

IslamoNihilist of the Century: Osama Bin Laden

Crossposted at: The American Nihilist

It is with great joy and femininity that I humbly announce the brilliant and proudful martyring of a supreme nihilist leader, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden.  Born Lewis Herschwitz in Queens New York, he quickly rose the ranks of nihilism under the tutelage of The Very Reverend Jeremiah Wright before being assigned the greatest role of his life: Playing his Eminence Osama Bin Laden, Islamonihilist Extraordinaire.

It started out as a simple plan: The Soviet Union would pretend to invade Afghanistan, in order to create instability so our Islamonihilist agents The Taliban could instill terror and Sharia Law across the land; to punish the Christian God, who we hate.  Meanwhile, the stupid capitalist imperialist American pigs would naively funnel billions of dollars of weaponry and training to our Islamonihilist buddies led by Herschwitz, while we secretly manufactured heroin which we used to buy votes in American inner-cities, to keep them all docile, lazy, and stupid; just as FDR suggested we do.

Little did we know that Herschwitz's character would prove so popular that the Muslim sheep would official anoint him Grand Poohbah of All Muslims; repeating the success we had with our previous Islamonihilist jihadist, Tom Lawrence.  And with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tupac Shakur, Hamas, and ACORN, Osama Bin Laden's nihilist reign of terror shook the world from coast to coast.  And now he has achieved his greatest reward, supreme martyrdom; and at the hands of the High Holy Highest Barack Hussein Ayatollah Ayers Bin Obama; thus completing the circle, just as Nietzsche had foretold. After all, nothing is more nihilistic than sacrificing your life for nothing, especially if it was done by someone on your own team.

And so we salute you and your martyrdom, Comrade Herschwitz of Queens.  May all your like-minded allies soon join you in Nihilist Heaven.  Their rewards can't come soon enough.  As for the rest of us, we will celebrate by giving our weekly gruel rations to our pets while we flagellate ourselves with synthetic beef jerky.  It's what Bin Laden would have wanted us to do.