Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Politics Before People

It's really too funny when Republicans attempt to explain why they like Big Government.  Like when they insist that stimulus projects don't stimulate the economy, yet fight to get funding for their districts so they can brag about it to their peeps.  As they explain the hypocrisy, they're against the idea of spending, but figure they'd be foolish to not get money for their constituents if others are getting it.

And yet...why would this be important, unless the money helped their districts?  And if they admit that the money is good for their districts, then...why isn't it good for all districts?  Why isn't it good for America?

And of course, this is really all about them putting their party loyalty first, but if that falls through, they're more than willing to act like liberals and promote government spending for their districts.  Apparently, Keynes only works on the local level, while the money just disappears into a moneyhole once you combine all these districts together.

Similarly, Eric Cantor got caught with his hands in the hypocritical Big Government cookie jar, as he put party needs first by using the FEMA disaster funding as political leverage to please the Tea Partiers.  But once that fell through, he considered it his duty to ensure that his district got disaster funds as soon as possible.

As his spokesman explained it:
The purpose of the call was solely to keep local officials informed on the timeline and process for determination by President Obama and Secretary Napolitano as to whether federal disaster aid will be granted. That is, you know, his job as a Congressman.
Of course, his job as a Congressman.  Too bad his job as a Congressman had to take a backseat to his job as Majority Leader until Democrats finally found an end-run around his little stunt.  And only then is Federal assistance for disaster victims a priority.  Only then is it his job as a Congressman to make sure that these much needed funds get handled properly.

Only after the play is whistled dead and there's no chance for moving the ball that he'll finally get back to the only thing his constituents need him for.  Because yeah, I'm sure the conservatives in his district are proud of him when he fights Obama and the Democrats.  But they'd feel better if Cantor did his job a little more, and kept the silly political games to a minimum.  Sorry I don't have a better ending for this post, but I feel like going to bed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ideological Boxes

One of the thing I don't understand about people is when they have a perfectly good explanation for why they did what they did, but instead of admitting the truth, they invent endless hoops to jump through in order to avoid making a point they would have made if they had told the truth.  And the spotlight of the political world only enhances that, where politics trap politicos into absurd ideological boxes, which disallows them from telling the truth which also would have made them look better.

And that just never made sense to me.  I want to win arguments so I make sure to get the right argument, period.  And if my position isn't the right one, I'll find the right one and figure out how it fits into the rest of my beliefs.  And since I make a point of weeding out any defective arguments as soon as I find them, it helps make things easier to fit them all together.  But some people can't do this, and so they make things harder for themselves, rather than just saying what they should say.

As a note, I just reread the examples I gave in this piece and realized that NONE of them prove my original point.  Instead, they're people who say dumb things because their ideology forces them to, but they don't show how these people could have told the truth while benefitting politically. I had other examples in mind for those, but somehow lost them and went with these instead.  That's what happens when you drink and post.

And so we have Ron Paul .  I'm sure he's not a bad guy.  He doesn't want people to die.  He just has a thing about government, and has painted himself into an ideological box which forbids him from saying sensible things.  And so he pines for the days when cancer was incurable, heart transplants were impossible, and the life expectancy in America was ten years younger than it is now; and wonders why healthcare got so expensive.  And this man is a doctor.

But of course, he knows all this.  When he's not talking politics and liberty, he knows that it's better for everyone to have insurance.  And he knows the real reason why healthcare is expensive.  But he's laid his bed with libertarianism, and so now he's stuck trying to fit reality into it.

Word Salad, For Two

And we see the same thing with Michele Bachmann, who has taken the Laffer Curve to a whole new level with her idea that "you should get to keep every dollar that you earned."  And even that must have sunk through to her at some level and caused a minor short circuit, as she momentarily joined reality by mentioning that we need tax dollars (duh!), but then finished up with this:
Obviously we have to get money back to the government so we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset, and that mindset is: the American people are the genius of this economy, it certainly isn’t government that’s the genius, and that’s the two views.
And...what?!?   Now remember, this wasn't a completely improvised answer.  She was asked a question about what she had already told someone, and she totally could have cleaned this up.  But no, we get this gibberish.

First off, she starts with the phrasing that we're getting the money back to the government; which clearly implies she believes it was the government's money to begin with.  And what the hell is "genius of the economy" supposed to mean?  I mean, yeah, I get the basic concept of what she meant to say, but how did she come up with the word genius?

And of course, she's wrong.  The government can be an excellent "genius" of the economy.  That's basic economics.  Oh, and one other thing: There already are people who get to keep every dollar they earn, at least as far as federal taxes go.  And Republicans hate them and bemoan that these lucky ducks don't have to pay any taxes.  Apparently, only rich Americans can be the "genius of the economy," while everyone else can suck it.

The Horrors of Harvard

And then there's this line I just read from Romney:
All those years, perhaps, in the Harvard faculty lounge and looking abroad to Europe to see how Europeans did things, [Obama] imagined that if somehow we were more like Europe things would be better…I believe in America.
And now, come on!  Mitt Romney is a bright guy with a lot of money and if he has a problem with Harvard grads, I seriously doubt he mentions it to them.  Yet here's Obama, stuck in a Harvard lounge and looking abroad.  Europe.  How horrible.  

And really, this is just silly.  I'm not sure who ever told Romney he had any populist-cred, but he really needs to quit while he's behind.  Mitt Romney's father was a wealthy governor, while Obama was raised by his grandparents.  And of course, Romney knows this.  And I'm sure if Romney had the chance, he'd love to be rubbing elbows with the president, if only he was a Republican.

But he has to play this charade, because that's what's now required of conservative intellectualism.  I'm sure William F. Buckley is rolling in his grave over this one.

Again, sorry for the misleading opening.  I only kept it because I liked the idea, even if the rest of this turned into a different post.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bigtime Presidential Exploratory News Coming Up

Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Insulting Your Way to Victory

If anyone could please find me evidence that direct insults from one political candidate to another was a winning strategy, I'd really like to see it.  Because I keep hearing all this talk from progressives about how we'd be doing better, if only we used harsher insults against Republicans; yet I can't imagine how that's supposed to work and keep seeing evidence to the contrary. 
And what's so boggling is that these people could witness eight years of Bush, and STILL not understand how the game is played.  When did Bush ever insult Democrats?  When did you ever hear him call Gore a loser or suggest that Kerry hated his country?  He didn't.  Because that would be beneath the presidency, and more importantly, would have covered him with as much mud as he was hurling.  Instead, they used surrogates to hurl the tough smears, while Bush stayed above the fray and couldn't be tied to the attacks.

Why?  Because having your candidate hurl insults is a zero-sum game, at best; and you might end up worse off than if you hadn't said anything.  Yes, you should attack your opponent, but it can't come from the candidate himself, or you end up hurting him.  Just ask John McCain, who's job it was to lose the last election while crippling Obama as much as he could. 
And just think to yourself: When Palin smears Obama and Democrats, does it make you want to lie down in defeat?  Or does it make you want to attack right back and make her eat her own words?  Exactly, and that's how it is for the other side.  These people don't want political victories; they want a cage match.  And since Obama isn't giving it to them, they'll look elsewhere for their heroes. 

And that's been their problem since Obama came along: They didn't want a president; they wanted a warrior.  Unfortunately, they ended up with someone who'd rather see results than symbolic victories and epic defeats; and so they'll deny the existence of his actual victories and gnash their teeth that we didn't achieve the impossible.


And that's why every time Alan Grayson says something, progressives come out rejoicing.  At last, they say, a Democrat who's willing to tell the truth.  But of course, he's not REALLY saying anything other Democrats aren't saying.  He's just using harsher rhetoric, solely for the purpose of getting attention for attacking Republicans.  It's like a little kid saying "doodoo" over and over, because he found it got people's attention.  And they'd much rather hear Grayson hurl insults than see the end of rescission and decent health insurance for everyone.   As it turns out, insults are bigger than achievements.

And in this latest issue, Grayson's attacking Republicans for their behavior in the GOP debate last night, which I myself covered previously.  But whereas I used the opportunity to show that Republicans didn't really mean these things, as they're only repeating empty rhetoric that they don't truly believe in, Grayson used it as a chance to attack Republicans for sadism.  Seriously, in Grayson's world, these people are no longer misinformed people who can be educated, but rather monsters who are leading us down the road to ruin.

As he said:
“What you saw tonight is something much more sinister than not having a healthcare plan,” he told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. “It’s sadism, pure and simple. It’s the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians. And that seems to be where we are heading — bread and circuses, without the bread. The world that Hobbes wrote about — “the war of all against all.”
What???  Because some Tea Partiers cheered about the idea of hypothetical man dying for lack of healthcare, it means we're heading towards bread and circuses without the bread??  Seriously???

But no, not seriously.  Grayson doesn't REALLY think we're on the percipice of gladiatorism.  He's just using hyperbole to make a point: He doesn't approve of Republicans or their policies.  And that's fine, as I don't either.  But I see little advantage to us using such hyperbole when the Republicans themselves have already done a superior job of disgracing themselves.  The only people who can watch that clip and NOT begin to suspect that Tea Partiers are nuts are the Tea Partiers themselves.  Most everyone else will be on our side.

They Way They Should Be Described
But of course, since some progressives get weak-kneed every time a Democrat insults Republicans, it's inevitable that you'll see comments like this one.
Alan Grayson is the only Democrat that describes the modern day Republican Party the way they should be described.
Really?  Unless we invoke Ancient Rome and the Gladitors, we're not describing them right?   That's like invoking Nazis as a way of scoring points in a healthcare debate.  Oh wait, Grayson did that...repeatedly.  And as expected, those incidents also got certain progressives weak-kneed, as they'll fall for whoever's using the harshest rhetoric that day; just like the Tea Partiers on the other side of the aisle.  And just like the Tea Partiers, victory is a side effect of their strategy; while the main point is to insult the other side.

Look, if the worry is that moderates and true independents will watch that clip and side with the Republicans, then we've already lost and insults won't be enough.  But all this is more evidence that these people aren't necessarily looking to win.

How Not to Smear

Anyway, here's the rebuttal I posted:
Yes, because we can really win this, just as long as we insult Republicans enough. After all, that really worked well for one-time Congressman Grayson, didn't it. Oh wait...

While I definitely had issues with the GOP and Tea Partiers in that debate, I have a hard time seeing how this is the first step towards "bread and circuses, without the bread." I mean, seriously. What the Republicans are doing is bad enough. Do we really need to use extremist hyperbole to get that across? I don't think so and think it's counter-productive.

And Grayson's mistake is that by engaging in this harsh rhetoric, he makes each story about him. No longer are we talking about Republicans, but instead, we're talking about what Grayson said about Republicans and whether or not it was appropriate. That rarely works to our advantage, as it takes so much of the pressure off Republicans and puts it on to us. Similarly, when Joe Wilson yelled that Obama lied, it was no longer about what Obama said, but rather what Wilson said; and the story became about Wilson and whether he meant it or not.  
In contrast, when Rove and his bunch smear you, you hear all about the smear, but very little about who did it. That's what a proper attack is like: When the ball is firmly in your opponent's court to explain everything and you aren't expected to explain anything. But if you have to spend as much of your time defending the attack as your opponent spends defending against it, you've already negated your own attack and you shouldn't have started.

Yeah, insulting Republicans might make you feel better, but it doesn't win elections. Just ask former Congressman Alan Grayson.

The Price of Freedom

During the Republican debate tonight, there was a horrible display when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul who should have to pay for the medical care of a hypothetical 30 year old who chose not to get insurance and ends up in a coma, and Paul did the typical libertarian thing of keeping things vague while never actually explaining the implications of his words.

And it was all about freedom and assuming responsibility and evil socialism, and not about blood and comas and an actual human being in a hospital bed; let alone lost wages, from both the young man and the people who care about him and all kinds of costs associated with this man being allowed to suffer and die.  These things really happen, yet Ron Paul was talking about it as if it were a movie or video game.

And Blitzer presses him for specifics, trying to get Paul to give a real answer instead of the nonsense he'd be spewing; asking directly if Paul thinks people should just die if they don't have insurance, and to my dismay, many people in the crowd shout that he SHOULD die.  That everyone who doesn't have insurance should just die.  They not only apparently believe this, but feel quite strongly that such people should die.

Unfortunately, I don't have Paul's full response to this, as I'm too lazy to look up the rest of this, but it seems quite obvious that Dr. Paul couldn't give an obvious "No, we shouldn't let people die" when asked the question.  Seriously, the man's a doctor, yet he couldn't even give a direct answer to a question about whether or not we should let someone die if they can't afford healthcare.  Watch it yourself.

But here's the thing, he doesn't really mean this.  He doesn't think we should let people die just because they can't afford healthcare.  And I'm quite positive that he really would support mandatory healthcare, if only he thought he could.  Because he's just making excuses and if he TRULY believed this stuff, he wouldn't have any problem answering the questions.  But he's just trying to be ideologically consistent, and while I suppose that's some achievement, it forces him to say a lot of stupid things he doesn't really believe.

And if nothing else, I'd like you to learn that lesson from this: People don't always believe what they say they believe, and just because someone says something doesn't really mean they believe it.  More often than not, people say stupid stuff they don't believe because they imagine it makes their argument better.  And if you can't do any better than to get beneath their rhetoric and find out what they REALLY think, you'll never be able to communicate with them.

Freedom Ain't Free

And what REALLY got me started on this was a post about this on Facebook, in which someone posted a link to that video, and a libertarian tried to defend Paul by saying that they weren't cheering for the guy to die, but only for him to have his freedom to die...or something like that.  He also went on to condemn the EGREGIOUS practice of trying to protect idiots from car accidents by making them pay money if they don't wear seatbelts.  And so I wrote the following comment:

Nice try, Arthur, but we all know what happens when these people go to the hospital. Hint: We don't let them die. Instead, we pay for their healthcare, in the least efficient way possible. Same goes for idiots who don't wear seatbelts. Even if they have insurance, we all end up paying for their stupid decision. That's the very nature of insurance, as it's shared risk. 
And so the question is: Do we want to allow idiots to go without medical care, even missing regular checkups while ignoring early symptoms, so they can show up at the emergency room and make us all pay for their foolishness? Treating diabetes is a lot less expensive for us than amputating their foot; and that's exactly what we're talking about: People losing their feet because they don't have proper healthcare. 
As I said in my last comment, I'm a liberal because I'm selfish. I know that I'm going to end up paying for the uninsured and the idiots who don't wear seatbelts, so I'd rather do so in the least expensive way possible. Sorry Arthur, but there truly are no free rides in life and we're all in this together. Anyone who doesn't like it can go to the craphole countries that don't have these protections and see how truly shitty it is

9/11: Biggest Framejob in History; Framed the Wrong Dude

I've got a few posts just sitting on the backburner because I can't bring myself to finish them, but thought I'd share this comment I wrote on Facebook, in regards to someone who imagines 9/11 was an inside job.  Enjoy!
What I always wanted to know: If they were so smart as to plan out all the details of the most treasonous act in American history without getting caught or any insiders exposing the truth, why did they pin it on the wrong dude?

I mean, if the point was to attack Saddam...why didn't they pin it on Saddam? Why did they blame Bin Laden, who didn't have any ties to Saddam? The Bushies spent a LOT of energy and lying to try to tie Saddam to Bin Laden, but if Saddam was the target, why didn't they make him look like the guy who did it and save themselves the hassle?  And then they wouldn't have had to muck around with all that WMD nonsense, as they'd already have had the goods.  
None of the hijackers was even Iraqi?! Why wouldn't they have had a least ONE Iraqi, if the plan was to attack Iraq? Hell, if they were smart, they'd have blamed it on a rainbow coalition of bad guys; even throwing in a North Korean for good measure. And if they fabricated the evidence, why couldn't they easily fabricate it to look like Iraq and Iran planned it together? That'd SURELY have made the most sense. 
And that's the thing: The government's story sounds MUCH more valid than yours: That they wanted to attack Iraq and used 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq, even though it wasn't related. That's the official story and it makes so much more sense to me, and doesn't require the greatest coverup in history.

The lies that got us into Iraq helped destroy the Bush Administration and disgraced them all for years. That shouldn't have happened if it was an inside job, as it shouldn't have been necessary.  
I've yet to get a response, though I'll keep you posted if it's anything good.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Associated Press: Fact Checkers, or Nitpicking Nitwits?

There are Fact Checks and there are Fact Checks, and when I saw a headline on Yahoo saying FACT CHECK: Obama's Jobs Plan Paid For? Seems Not, I knew I'd be getting a crappy fact check.

If you're pressed for time, I'll give away the ending: None of the facts "checked" were actually wrong; and the author had to tease out ways of finding flaws in what Obama said.  Rather than a "Fact Check," it was more like a Statement Nitpicking; and even then, required the authors to implicitly rewrite what Obama said into a false statement and then declare it to be false.

When Everything Isn't Everything

The first fact they "checked" was when Obama said:
"Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

Why was this fact wrong?  Because for Obama to have the bill paid for, it requires other people to do stuff they might not do.  Plus, future Congresses could undo it.  Besides, Obama won't say exactly how it'll work until next week.  Next week?!  In cable news time, that's like twenty years!!  In other words, we should just assume that it won't happen and Obama knows it won't happen, which means what he said was a lie.

The article summarizes it thusly:
So there is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.
Seriously, that's it.  That's the main complaint: Obama's lying because the bill hasn't passed yet.  Seriously, doesn't this kinda apply to ALL policy proposals that EVERYONE makes ALWAYS?  Perhaps my civics lessons are a bit rusty, but I'm pretty much sure it's impossible for a single man to enact legislation the moment he first tells the public about it.

And so yeah, this Fact Check was going to be a doozy.

"That's Been Supported"

Obama's second fact checked was the following statement:
Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans, including many who sit here tonight.

And what was so egregious about that?  I mean,  it not only sounds good, but it has the benefit of being true.  Everything in this bill has been supported by Democrats and Republicans.  What's not to like?

The problem?  The proposal has stuff that the current batch of Republicans will hate.  But of course, the fact remains that everything in the bill has "been supported by both Democrats and Republicans," so...what exactly is the point here?  Did Obama say that all Republicans will support everything in it?  No, he didn't.  That was something the writers just invented in order to have something to write about.

Meaning of the Word "Deficit"

The third fact "checked," was Obama saying "It will not add to the deficit."

This go around, they went the semantics route.  As they point out, since the plan is to run short-term deficits that are paid with long-term revenues, and since deficits are determined on an annual basis; therefore Obama is lying because it'll run short-term deficits.

But of course, we're all grown-ups and rather than Spend Now, Pay Later being some trick of the hand; that's a key part of the plan.  It's not a lie that we'll be paying for this with future monies; that's the plan, dumbasses.

It's Not ALL Right Away

The final fact checked:
"The American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away."

Their response?
Not all of the president's major proposals are likely to yield quick job growth if adopted.
Did Obama claim that every piece of the bill would create immediate jobs?  No, he didn't. does this criticism apply to what Obama said?  I have no idea and neither do you.

Better News Orgs, Please

And what's sad is that I'm sure there had to be SOME valid fact that could have stood correction.  But the guys given the task of writing this story were clearly too incompetent to do so.  I mean, when your boss says "write a fact check piece on Obama," that's what you're expected to do; whether you find anything or not, apparently.

But that all just goes to show what a fraud the entire news profession is these days: First, that they'd treat such an important part of the democratic process with such routine disregard that they'd correct facts that weren't wrong to begin with.  And perhaps worse, that they'd assign such blundering dopes to do the job.  Seriously, this was such a superficial dig on Obama's speech that everyone involved should be demoted.

Rather than perform the civic duty of informing the public, the AP has yet again spat out another mudclod of misinformation that only served to confuse the issues and make us all dumber.  People can blame Obama for not fighting Republicans enough or people can more rightly blame Republicans for being such lying douchebags; but none of that blame would be necessary if shallow news organizations like the AP didn't help the liars by repeating their lies and attacking the truth.

Perhaps some day we'll have a world in which misinformation is denounced and truth is trumpeted, but until then, we have the Associated Press.