Tuesday, August 31, 2010
...there is reason to be skeptical of two types of analyses: those that claim that Factor X definitely isn't contributing to the Democrats' troubles, and those that assert that it definitely is. For instance, I'd urge some caution in reading this article at Real Clear Politics by Jay Cost -- which rightly critiques those who have entirely dismissed the role that health care played in the Democrats' decline, but probably goes too far in trying to argue the contrary. Mr. Cost is right, for instance, that the Democrats' polling decline was steepest during last summer, when health care began to be debated -- but when one delves in a little deeper, the timing of the sharpest periods of decline do not line up very well with specific events in the health care debate.If the results are overdetermined doesn't that mean that the Democrats have a LOT of changing to do?
.i.e. I'm a voter who hates the Health Care Bill and TARP. I only have one vote for two issues. So to get my vote you have to head in a different direction in TWO places.
I don't think the Democrats are constitutionally suited for the changes they need to make. Either the disease or the cure is likely to kill them.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
The Happy Now
Instapundit called this "a disturbing photo essay" when linking to it a couple of weeks back.
It did disturb me, but perhaps not in the way me he meant it to. (No, I'm not sure. It never does to second guess Glenn Reynold's intentions.)
What disturbed me more than the pictures was the tone of the post which seemed to - universally - assume that "then" was better than now.
This romantic fallacy, the idea that the past was "simpler" or somehow "cleaner" or "nicer" seems to be part of how humans are built. And it is almost always a hundred percent wrong.
Let me start at the top. First, the "then" pictures are not the same as the "now" pictures. No, not in the obvious way, but in the nature of the shots. The "then" pictures are all, without exception, posed, even those that don't look it. Trust me on this. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, in a society where few people owned a camera, film was expensive and developing film even more expensive. There is a reason why I - a tomboy in t-shirt and shorts - only have childhood pictures in pretty dresses and holding dolls. This was my mother's idea of what I should wear and how I should spend my time, and by gum, that's what we'd show the camera.
Need I tell you that nowadays you can use your phone and take pictures when people aren't even aware of it? I hope not. At least not if you're living in the same universe.
So, what is being compared is the "image" someone wanted to project to candid shots. That's the first issue - and let us pause and be grateful for the material wealth and tech progress that allows us to capture candid shots of men outside Walmart, before we move on.
Let's move right on to the picture of the people saying grace before the barbecue dinner. Do you see how all the men are dressed more or less alike? All the women are in their Sunday best? This while they're having fun, mind. And they're ALL saying grace. (read more...)Continue reading "The Happy Now"
inartful phrasing or hidden meaning?
As the idea of government health care becomes ever more unpopular with the taxpayers, the federal government's top health care bureaucrat has issued a statement which is at least insensitive, and (in light of the word used) quite possibly inflammatory:
As a widely-watched survey shows support for the new health care reform law slipping, the leader in the reform effort says the administration has "a lot of reeducation to do" to reverse the trend.I cannot think of a more inappropriate choice of words than to characterize government health care opponents as in need of "reeducation."
The word has several definitions:
* A euphemism for Brainwashing, efforts aimed at instilling certain beliefs in people against their willI think we can rule out the last three meanings, which leaves the first two. "Reeducation" is a Marxist phrase, and for someone to use such a phrase in the context of opponents of socialism is, well, sinister.
Couldn't she have said they are in need of "education"? While that would have been condescending (as it implies that people who dissent are ignorant), at least it doesn't have the unmistakable totalitarian ring that "reeducation" does.
Of course, this may be a job pitch of some sort. We already have a Department of Education (headed by a man called the Education Czar); perhaps the next step is the creation of a Department of Reeducation, with a Reeducation Czar commanding an army of reeducrats.
But I guess that's not in the Constitution, so we don't have to worry that they'd ever do such a thing.
Monday, August 30, 2010
If Ann Coulter is now a RINO, can I take my checkers and go home?
In what I think is a very important post titled "Ideological War Spells Doom for America's Schoolkids," Zombie touches on an issue near and dear to my heart which I have ranted about for many years. That is the way the culture war tends to be exacerbated by increasingly extreme ideological positions at both ends.
As I keep saying, they fuel each other, and drive normal people away, leaving the playing field to themselves.
I won't live forever, and because of the nature of repetitive blogging, it sometimes feels as if I am preaching to a choir consisting of myself. (See my long collection of posts in "Sinners and scolds, feasting together in a cornucopia of collusion!") So nothing makes me happier than seeing an articulate blogger like Zombie saying what he is saying:
In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn't be more different. And the stakes couldn't be higher. Unfortunately, whichever side wins -- your kid ends up losing.Please read it all.
That this is happening in America is just awful. I have tried to joke about how the obsession with things like condoms on bananas serve as a distraction from whether children are getting a basic education.
The process is fueled by the unbearable old "you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem!" meme. Here's Zombie:
Innumerable liberal critics condemn the anti-science and partisan revisionist lunacy coming out of the Texas school board meetings. And you know what? The criticisms hit home. It's next to impossible for a sensible person to defend the TSBE's often ridiculous proposals.The worst part is the way the two sides help each other win, by freezing out everyone else. So they end up engaged in a ridiculous tug of war, and the result is mutual enablement -- in this case a hodgepodge of Foucault multiculturalist drivel and Falwell anti-intellectual idiotarianism. Hey, but if those are the only "choices" because no one can stand being in the same room with shrill advocates, then the result is a triumph of the combined forces of authoritarian idiocy.
Another example of the way the shrillest of culture war nuts drown out common sense is over the gay issue. And I do not mean the debate over gay marriage.
For many years, I have tried to point out here that here is something that the gay left and the anti-gay right very much want in common:
anti-gay bigotry in the Republican Party.
Yet the majority of Republicans (and the majority I have seen in the Tea Party movement) are by no means anti-gay. Sure, they don't support the gay left and its ridiculous demands, and many disapprove of gay marriage, but where it comes to basic lifestyle tolerance -- simple acknowledgment of gays as citizens with a right to be left alone in their bedrooms, the overwhelming majority of conservatives have no argument with that. However, an increasingly noisy group of anti-gay conservative activists does have a major argument with that. They do not believe in tolerance for gays on any level, and they think gay conservatives are a "fifth column." They shrilly attack conservatives who disagree with them and call them "RINOS" not for being RINOS -- but simply for being insufficiently anti-gay, and for not toeing the line of the anti-gay right. Even Ann Coulter -- who is about as conservative as it is possible to be -- has now incurred their wrath. Why? Simply because she agreed to speak to a group of gay conservatives. Anti-gay leader Brian Camenker was apoplectic, and WorldNetDaily retaliated by canceling her appearance at their "Taking America Back" conference -- but Coulter didn't exactly take that lying down.
The mechanics operate in the same manner that Zombie describes in his post about education. Just as you're given the choice of being an anti-gay bigot or a homo-loving RINO, you also have to be either a Darwin hater or a Marxist multiculturalist!
I am hardly alone in noticing that like-minded, single-issue activists often associate with -- and tend to exclusively surround themselves with -- other like-minded, single-issue activists. The result is what many call an echo chamber -- or "the choir." But I think "echo chamber" and "choir" are less than accurate terms, because the implication is that people are simply getting together and agreeing with each other in groups. When group dynamics are factored into single issue fanaticism, a lot more happens than mere group agreement. Because people are naturally competitive, many activists want to prove to the group that they are not only devoted to the cause, but more devoted than the others. This leads to extreme hyperbole, and the taking of positions which normal people would consider laughable.So the normal people tend to leave these people to have the playing field to themselves.
This is a big mistake. Normal people possessed of common sense need to be speaking up. But few will dare cross an ideologically extreme activist.
Which is why my hat's off to Zombie.
UPDATE (9/02/10): Wow, thanks everyone for all the great comments! And thank you, Glenn Reynolds, for linking this post!
(I've been outa comish the past couple of days, and I guess the title of this post reflects it....)
It Is More Like Prostitution
I an article on age discrimination in the high tech industries a commenter came up with this analogy.
memomachineMy advice? If you are good - become a contractor. No one cares about your age. Just if you can do your job.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sorry not to have had anything to say today. I've been swamped with errands, and poor Coco (who has been inexplicably sick) had to be taken to the vet for innumerable tests. She has an acute GI infection and according to the vet she is so filled with gas that they're going to have to pump her full of barium. No idea what caused it, but I worry that it had something to do with the late-night skunk encounters I mentioned previously, because her energy levels have been waning since. They don't think that a toxin is responsible, though, so I'm clueless.
Surely, there is something going on in the world. But what?
How about a "comment" that got nine passengers thrown off a plane? CNN won't say what it was.
(CNN) -- Nine passengers aboard a plane at Dulles International Airport were removed before takeoff due to a comment made to a crew member Sunday night, a United Airlines spokeswoman said.Naturally, the commenters are irate.
"Megan McCarthy told CNN she had no information early Monday morning about the nature of the comment. "....I smell COVERUP! Great reporting, CNN!...next up...what's for lunch, and what exaclty is that stuff on my winshield anyway?And here's deb8891:
Uh....ok. Can I get a hint about the comment? Can we play 21 questions so I can try and guess the category of the comment? Did all nine passengers say the comment all at one time? Was it yelled? Are the nine people denying they said whatever was said? WHAT DID THEY SAY?!?!?!!?In today's world, you are not allowed to know what it is you are not allowed to say!
That's the way it is around here.
I never know what I am not allowed to say, or when I am not allowed to say it. I never know what I am not allowed to not say, or when I am not allowed to not say it, so I have to rely on commenters to tell me what I said that I should not have said, and what I have not said that I should have said.
I also never know when I am going to be accused of saying what I didn't say, and of not saying what I did say!
It's comforting to know that there's always an inexhaustible supply.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Being polite can be dangerous
I just had a rather unsettling experience while running (from which I just got back), and were I a superstitious person, I'd be convinced that I'd had a "premonition" beforehand.
For no particular reason (other than the fact that the thought just popped into my head), just before the run I recalled a legal ("equitable estoppel") doctrine I learned about decades ago in California when I was doing personal injury work. It's the "lulled into a false sense of security" doctrine, stated this way in Carruth v. Fritch (1950) 36 Cal.2d 426, 433 [224 P.2d 702, 24 A.L.R.2d 1403].):
"One cannot justly or equitably lull his adversary into a false sense of security, and thereby cause his adversary to subject his claim to the bar of the statute of limitations, and then be permitted to plead the very delay caused by his course of conduct as a defense to the action when brought."We used to use it as a way to overcome statutes of limitation, various dismissals, and all kinds of things. It's sort of a catchall, although it doesn't always work.
Why this would pop into my head before my run, I do not know. Had it not been for an accident in which a car came so close to hitting me that I had to jump out of the way, I would have dismissed it as just a passing random memory. I suspect that what makes people think these passing thoughts are "premonitions" is when something happens latter which reminds them of the otherwise passing thought.
Onto what later reminded me of my "false sense of security" "premonition." I was running on the sidewalk beside a major, heavily-trafficked through street, when a car leaving a driveway crossed the sidewalk directly in front of me. I made eye contact with the driver, who looked like a nice guy. Polite, even. So, while I could have run in front of his car (I generally prefer to run behind cars that are moving forward), without slowing down, I veered sharply to the right, where I could run behind him. No biggie, just being polite. And it seemed to me that he accelerated to get out of my way, as if acknowledging my politeness by hurrying out of the way. Normally, neither of these acts of mutual politeness would have been a big deal. Quickly forgettable.
Except, no sooner did he accelerate into the street than there was that instant, high decibel BLAM! sound of a car crash, and at the same time, the poor guy's car (which had been struck very hard by a car coming from the left) was thrown in a huge 270 degree arc, sending it over the curb, then onto the sidewalk and the yard, until it was coming directly towards me! I had just heard the noise and was still in the process of stopping my run, and I had to jump out of the way or else I would have been hit.
The next thing I noticed was smoke inside the now-stopped car that had been going straight. Both cars had serious front end damage, and the passenger door of the car in the street was opened by a man who was rubbing his jaw in pain. Both airbags had deployed, and the woman behind the wheel looked dazed and confused. I didn't have my cell phone, but I asked if everyone was all right. Then I saw that the driveway driver had pulled out his cell phone, and they didn't need me for anything, so I resumed my run.
While I did nothing wrong, I felt a little guilty for not doing the impolite thing, and running in front of the guy's car. Had I done so, he might have thought I was a pushy jogger, but there would have been no accident.
I didn't lull him into a false sense of security, of course, and in any event that doctrine does not apply to accidents. He was supposed to look before entering the street, although I think the other driver had to be going well above the speed limit to do that kind of damage. Even if I had waved him through (as if to give him the right of way -- which I didn't, nor would I, as I couldn't see cars traveling behind me), he could not rely on that.
Still, I felt bad, because I was just being polite, and I hated to see people harmed -- even as an indirect result.
"born that way"? Says who?
As I pondered the comments to an earlier post about transsexualism and added one of my own, I remembered a snarky remark I heard yesterday about the religious aspect of the issue. A man making a speech cited Jesus Christ as being in support of his view that transsexualism is wrong. I thought that was odd, because the closest Jesus ever came to the subject was in his puzzling mention of eunuchs during what seems like a condemnation of divorce:
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" 4 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[a] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[a]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."In the ancient world, there were plenty of man-made eunuchs, and I guess Jesus considered them incapable of marriage (and probably not bound by whatever restrictions might be placed on divorce). But what can he have meant by those who are "eunuchs because they were born that way"?
This has generated a lot of debate, and predictably, it has been postulated that Jesus might have been referencing exclusively homosexual men, or possibly intersexed people. The "third sex," perhaps? Hermaphroditism is hardly modern, and many ancient definitions of "eunuch" were broad enough to include a variety of categories considered less than fully male.
So, the meaning would probably depend on the typical and commonly understood usage of the word "eunuch" in his day. Being no biblical scholar, I can't offer any kind of authoritative opinion.
But I think it's interesting that Jesus would say that people who were "born that way" are not subject to what he was saying about marriage and divorce. Born what way? Born without actual testicles? (That is such a rare medical condition that it seems unlikely as an interpretation.) Perhaps he meant born with an innate inability to consummate marriage. Was Jesus saying it was possible to be born with intact male genitalia yet unable to consummate marriage? Because of something occurring before birth?
The King James Version does not say "born that way," but puts it a little differently:
But he said unto them, All [men] cannot receive this saying, save [they] to whom it is given.It's hard to know exactly what is meant. And while it's not a major point, I'm hardly seeing the strong condemnation of transsexuals or intersexed persons said to emanate from Jesus.
I guess these things are always subject to interpretation.
(Especially the comparison of divorce to adultery!)
Glenn Reynolds mentioned the "overwhelmingly white" meme, and malcontent that I am, I just had to click. The first link went to a story with the following "headline" (more editorial than headline, really):
I'm feeling overwhelmingly underwhelmed.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
No herding these cats
The Tea Party has been likened to herding cats, and I think that's a good (if sometimes exhausting) thing.
M. Simon sent me a link to a local writeup of what is being called a Tea Party takeover of the GOP here in the Ann Arbor area. The piece also refers to an Idaho "coalition of tea party members, Ron Paul disciples and old-guard conservatives" -- exactly the sort of coalition which has arisen here.
What is local is also national news.
Party bosses are pissed. The cats are rising.
It is not perfect. The cats have disagreements, and there is no herding them.
Yet there is a bottom line which frightens the hell out of those in power.
It is true that cats can't be herded. But when they do find areas of agreement, the result is not a herd, but a pack.
Unlike dogs (which I frankly prefer to cats, but hell, there's a limit to my anthropomorphism), cats aren't especially known for being pack animals.
And so, when they do agree, look out. I just got back from a couple of days in Lansing, where I was one of the Tea Party affiliated Convention Delegates at the Republican State Convention mentioned in the Post.
I am exhausted (in fact, I was so busy that I forgot to wish Glenn Reynolds a Happy Birthday), so please forgive the lack of intricate detail in this post.
I spent my time with people who are to the left of me on some issues, people to the right of me on some issues, and some people I disagree with vehemently. (The cowardly, opportunistic cheap shots at the expense of transsexuals typified here really piss me off, OK?) The Detroit News fairly describes the Convention as "rowdy," which is fair.
Cats. With a common goal. (Well, sometimes more somewhat common than common.)
I think it's good that they can't be herded.
Where is it written that they should be?
Surviving In A War Zone
by Gully FoyleFor those of you not familiar with the Gully Foyle reference may I highly recommend:
I own three copies.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Happy Birthday Glenn
My friend Eric just called me this morning with a bad case of blogger withdrawal syndrome. He is at the Michigan Republican Party Convention representing the anarcho wing of the Tea Party. So he says. He also said that there are about 700 delegates openly favoring the Tea Party out of about 2,000 total. And the Republican Party establishment is pissed. Why not? The Tea Party movement intends a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. So the usual political maneuverings are going on. Rules changes being on the top of the list of holding actions.
Well as I said Eric was disturbed. He forgot to wish Instapundit a happy birthday yesterday. My guess is that Glenn is 29 or 39 going on 19. But he is going to have a ways to go to catch up with me. My mate tells me I am 65 going on 17. Well. Any way.
Help Glenn out by buying his book:
Which seems rather appropriate under the circumstances.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Just what Michigan needs now -- a bathroom litmus test!
Much as it tires me to discuss it, some people are insistent on making the transgender issue into another one of those stupid political litmus tests. Candidates for Secretary of State are being asked to take positions on the vital issue whether transgendered individuals should be allowed to have the sex on their drivers licenses changed from M to F or from F to M.
According to this article, the issue was injected into the race by Paul Scott:
Gary Glenn, leader of a Midland-based anti-gay group, believes Lewis' license should still bear an "M" instead of an "F."Well, if he did not intend to provoke controversy, he certainly has. He continues to push the issue, and as a matter of fact it came up at a meeting of State Convention Delegates last night. (Scott, by the way, was a leading proponent and sponsor of Michigan's smoking ban.)
While I find the transgender debate annoying (and personally, the idea of such surgery gives me the creeps), I think that if someone is that unhappy with his or her sex as to go through surgery and hormones to become a member of the opposite sex, the state has absolutely no business interfering. Saying "NO" to a bona fide request to change someone's sex on a drivers license strikes me as unreasonably petty and downright mean.
Moreover, what a drivers license says has absolutely nothing to do with "protecting bathrooms." An objection raised last night involved the use of rest rooms by members of the opposite sex, and it was pointed out quite eloquently that if someone looks like a woman, that person is most likely going to use the women's rest room, and if the person looks like a man, the men's room. What do the people who are freaking out want to do? Have bathroom ID checkers at the doors? And even if they did such a ridiculous thing, suppose the bathroom police discover that someone who looks for the world like a woman is actually a man. What then? Do the activists want to force this man who looks like a woman to use the men's room? Precisely what social goal is that supposed to advance? Protecting children? How is a child more protected by seeing someone who looks like a woman using the men's room than a woman's room?
Can anyone explain? I'm all ears.
It strikes me that because transgendered people are going to use public bathrooms, social decorum and common sense should dictate that they use the bathrooms most appropriate to the sex that they resemble. If the state starts insisting that persons born male who look and act like women are stuck with legally remaining men, and persons born female who look and act like men are stuck with remain legally female, the results might be very different than what they had in mind.
To illustrate the nature of the problem, I just Googled "transsexual" and decided to use the first picture that came up.
So can someone please explain what's "conservative" about wanting her in the men's room?
A hell of a way to run a litmus test.
A Cheech and Chong litmus test? Later alligator!
In local news, the Oakland County Sheriff's Department has been conducting raids on medical marijuana sellers.
The Oakland County Sheriff's Narcotics Enforcement team raided three businesses and 12 homes Wednesday and confiscated marijuana, $30,000 in cash, guns, grow lights, patient records and two guard alligators, authorities said Thursday.Is it true that "sore shoulders" and "stomach aches" are not covered by the law? Here's the relevant text of the law:
a) "Debilitating medical condition" means 1 or more of the following:Can chronic pain include "sore shoulders" and "stomach aches"? Can "severe and persistent muscle spasms" include shoulder pain? Are not stomach aches a symptom of nausea?
Are such questions for the police or a doctor? What the law states is that the patients are supposed to be diagnosed with one of these conditions by a doctor:
(h) "Qualifying patient" means a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.So, if a doctor diagnoses such a condition, the patient can legally obtain the marijuana:
(b) A primary caregiver who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for assisting a qualifying patient to whom he or she is connected through the department's registration process with the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, provided that the primary caregiver possesses an amount of marihuana that does not exceed:As I read it, if the supplier is limited to "2.5 ounces of usable marihuana for each qualifying patient," and 12 plants, then how much marijuana could be grown or possessed as inventory would depend on the number of patients, and the number of primary caregivers involved.
In that regard, the language of the law is a bit confusing:
(d) The department shall issue a registry identification card to the primary caregiver, if any, who is named in a qualifying patient's approved application; provided that each qualifying patient can have no more than 1 primary caregiver, and a primary caregiver may assist no more than 5 qualifying patients with their medical use of marihuana.So, it would seem that in order to run a coordinated medical marijuana dispensary, you would need to ensure a five to one ratio between patients and primary caregivers. If, say, there were 100 patients, there would have to be 20 caregivers. Unless there were a common agreement by all caregivers on some sort of collective storage location, that would present obvious inventory control issues. Were I their lawyer, I would advise them to keep careful track of the numbers of patients, and ensure there are enough caretakers with written agreements spelling out the quantities of marijuana allowed on hand. In theory, 100 patients would mean 250 ounces, and 1200 plants.
Thinking about all the paperwork, though, makes me glad I don't smoke pot.
The Drug War is a tired issue for me, and it might not normally be worth a post, but for a couple of things. One is the presence of "guard alligators" allegedly found. (Alligators are nowhere specifically mentioned in the text of the act, although it does mention "locks or other security devices that permit access only by a registered primary caregiver or registered qualifying patient.") The Freep story doesn't say much about them beyond this:
The raids included 13 homes of operators and employees, where much of the marijuana was found. The alligators were found in a home with a large marijuana inventory and were there to guard it, Bouchard said.How large were they, and why isn't there a picture? I've had experience with alligators, and I can tell you that if you were trying to guard a home or a business, a captive alligator would be a very poor choice of guard animal. They are generally sluggish creatures which tend to become fat and tame in captivity, and the only thing they're interested in is food. A human "invader" would be regarded with complete disinterest unless he waved a rat or a piece of meat at them. Humans are not normal alligator prey, and even though attacks happen occasionally, it would take a very large alligator to actually be capable of preying on a human. While I suppose that there is a slight possibility that a large underfed alligator left in a home might act scary towards an invader, it would not scare me if I were the invader. If I knew it was there, I'd just bring some food. I would not consider my house safe if all I had was an alligator; dogs are infinitely better. So I find myself wondering whether these people just happened to have a couple of alligators and the story was sexed up.
If so, for what possible purpose? Others may disagree with me, but it is my considered opinion based on personal experience with alligators that because they are inherently unreliable, alligators do not constitute "other security devices that permit access only by a registered primary caregiver or registered qualifying patient." So I'm having a bit of trouble understanding what gives here. The law requires the marijuana to be secured, right? Presumably, that means locks, alarms, and maybe guard dogs. Is Sheriff Bouchard contending that the alligators violate the law because they are inadequate security devices? Surely he isn't against providing security devices, because the law requires security devices, and his job is to enforce the law, so perhaps that's what he means. If so, then why doesn't he say so? Stripped of hysteria, it's a fairly straightforward issue: "guard alligators" either are security devices or they are not. The fact that he is calling them "guard alligators" implies that he thinks they were being used as security. If that is the case, then the only issue becomes their adequacy. And even that would be irrelevant if additional security devices "that permit access only by a registered primary caregiver or registered qualifying patient" were present. Which leaves only the issue of the legality of alligators in Michigan. While this Yahoo post is hardly authoritative, it appears that the pet Nazis have not made them illegal.
And they better not! Interestingly, I just saw alligator meat apparently being legally offered for sale at a fair in Ypsilanti last week; I hope the sellers weren't undercover cops trying to entrap me into buying it.
(Sorry for my digression, but I am only trying to analyze what's in the news.)
The other issue I worry about is that Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard was a candidate for governor, and was favored by many in the Tea Party movement, which I support. I saw him speak in Lansing, and I was not particularly impressed. There's an election coming, and I hope these raids don't constitute some sort of political posturing.
But if what I read in The Detroit News is any indication, political posturing might be the whole idea. While there are plenty of accompanying pictures, curiously, there are no alligators. Why? What if it turns out they were harmless baby alligators being sexed up to somehow smear the marijuana dispensaries or titillate voters?
I find some of the additional details about the raid perturbing:
Ryan Richmond, co-owner of Clinical Relief, said he operates a medical marijuana consultation business where certified patients can pick from among 15 to 20 varieties of medical marijuana to take elsewhere for use. Richmond's company also sells edibles: products that contain cannabis, including sodas, suckers and baked goods.A test case? My hope is that this does not degenerate into a liberal versus conservative, Republican versus Democrat issue. Considering that Michigan's Medical Marijuana Initiative passed overwhelmingly, it's a loser for Republicans.
Just to be thorough, I checked the official results for the "State Proposal - 08-1: Legislative initiative to allow under st. law the medical use of marijuana":
Yes:The site displays the county results, and I could not find one in which the initiative failed, so this is hardly an urban versus rural issue.
But I guess arguments about the popularity of an issue with the voters are based on practicality as opposed to principles. And on principle, I oppose the Drug War, as I have explained in countless posts. However, where it comes to politics, I am also a pragmatist, so I put aside my principles and end up voting for conservatives who believe in the drug war, generally because I think they're better on economic issues. But still, shouldn't putting aside one's principles be a two way street? If right-leaning libertarians are willing to put aside their principles out of political pragmatism, then shouldn't drug-war conservatives be willing to do the same? Especially when the voters disagree with them?
I realize that many principled conservatives think the drug war is right, but is this "we have to fight the drug war, regardless of what the voters think!" mindset a "principle" so worth fighting for that it's more important than winning elections?
Some maintain that the Tea Party should take a libertarian approach to the Drug war, and Jeffrey Miron makes a good case for it at NRO.
Many Tea Partiers I know do tend towards the libertarian view of the Drug War, but they're too savvy to let it be a litmus test issue, much less a litmus test for conservative principles.
What I would really hate to see would be hard line Drug Warriors like Newt Gingrich (who supports Singapore style death penalty drug laws) try to make it their litmus test.
I hate to say it, but the hard line drug warriors actually make me want to go out and watch a Cheech and Chong movie.
Which would be bad, because I don't especially like Cheech and Chong or other stoner flicks, and I'd hate to become a reactionary.
Bloomberg's baffling dots defy my powers of analysis!
Every once in awhile, I see something so completely and thoroughly incomprehensible that it defies logical analysis, and a recent statement from New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the NYC cabbie-slasher suspect is one of them. It appears that the mayor is trying to connect some dots, and his mental processes leave me feeling dumbfounded. As you read, please remember that this man is the mayor of America's largest city:
NEW YORK - The college student accused of slashing a taxi driver because he's a Muslim has been taken to a New York City psychiatric ward.If the man is in a psychiatric hospital and it is "impossible to know the motive," then how can the attack be said to be "connected" to the debate about the Ground Zero mosque?
Seeing that the only connection the man had to the Ground Zero mosque was that he supported it, then presumably he would be on that side of the debate, right? Certainly, he cannot have been against building the mosque, or otherwise why would he belong to the group supporting it?
So unless he thought that by viciously attacking a Muslim stranger he was advancing the cause of the Ground Zero mosque, I am at a total loss to understand the "connection to the debate" that Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make.
A debate is a debate, and a savage attack with a knife is a savage attack with a knife, right? To connect the two, you would have to show that a knife attack arose out of or resulted from something said during a debate which provoked a stabbing. Is there any evidence that this man was in an argument with the cab driver over the Ground Zero mosque, and that he became outraged by something the cab driver said? If not, I am just not getting it, try as I might.
Or maybe Mayor Bloomberg and the people who travel in his higher circles think this is one of those things that's just "obvious" somehow. Perhaps he thinks that when a mentally ill person commits a crime during a time period of a public debate, it's because he doesn't process the information related to the debate in a rational way and that somehow the debate itself is to blame. If that's the case, then no debates should be allowed on any issues which tend to provoke a mentally ill person. But surely he can't mean that, because that would mean he should just shut up.
Try as I might, I cannot connect Bloomberg's dots. But then, I might be stupid, and I might be missing something which is quite obvious to geniuses like Bloomberg.
If only he could explain!
Many simple minds need to understand.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
olds442says:And then I stumbled upon The Thug Report. Just in case you want to keep up with Thug America™, that is the place to go.
This all seems like so much stereotyping to me. But you know how it is. Hitler was a white guy. A German white guy. Thankfully I'm a Jew.
All the "noose" that fits....
In a post titled "The government is pushing these food poisoning events because they want to over-regulate," Ann Althouse quotes a commenter who says this:
You should look into some of the regulations currently being considered by the FDA and USDA. These regs are going to increase the price of food considerably, if they are put into place - and they are doing it all under the guise of food safety.In her previous post, Althouse pointed out something I was taught as a child that should be obvious to everyone: that it is stupid to eat raw eggs, and we should assume that they might contain salmonella.
While I can't call it a conspiracy because I have no idea whether newspapers in separate cities are deliberately working in cahoots with government regulatory agencies, I saw a disturbing pattern in today's Detroit Free Press and today's Philadelphia Inquirer.
I certainly agree that the government is "pushing these food poisoning events because they want to over-regulate."
And at least two newspapers in two different cities (there are probably more, but I haven't checked) are marching in lockstep with the government.
I'm sure they would say that they are trying to protect the public health, but seeing these newspapers clamoring in unison for bigger government gives them every appearance of being quasi-official mouthpieces for the government bureaucracy.
Incidentally, readers who dislike giving these regulatory agencies more regulatory power might want to keep in mind that the EPA is considering banning lead in bullets.
As the noose tightens, the news complies!
Beat Whitey Night
In news about all the post racial harmony we have heard so much about lately, there was a Beat Whitey night at the Iowa State Fair.
Des Moines police are trying to determine what led to a series of attacks outside the Iowa State Fairgrounds over the weekend that included the assault of two police officers.Fifty years ago I was marching for civil rights. Well, I ain't marchin anymore.
I don't sing along to those kind songs anymore either. Nice sentiment though. If only we didn't have an alpha male problem. A problem with dominators. Whirled peas does sound nice though.
Here is a video report.
The report says there were three incidents on separate days. I'd say we have some people who are not satisfied with the way the country is run.
Wait. I know. They were Tea Party People.
Update: from the Beat Whitey link above.
Sgt. David Murillo stated in a report on Friday night, "On-duty officers at the fairgrounds advise there was a group of 30 to 40 individuals roaming the fairgrounds openly calling it 'beat whitey night.' "and:
State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, who has worked to fight gang-related violence, said he doesn't have enough information to decide if the fights were racially motivated. He said police comments that race was involved could miss other factors, such as nonracial taunting.Mr. Abdul-Samad seems to be quite a gamer himself. Note: I have gone into the Zone (as my black friend calls it) from time to time when I lived in Chicago. I always went with an appropriately pigmented escort.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"Palin's endorsement hasn't helped"
Now that Joe Miller is within victory over Lisa Murkowski, it looks like Sarah Palin is more popular in Alaska than Slate's Alexandra Gutierrez predicted yesterday in a piece titled "Why the candidate of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express is losing in Alaska."
...Tuesday is likely to be a disappointment to Palin and the Tea Party Express, which has spent more than $400,000 since June on radio and television ads attacking Murkowski. Fresh off its Nevada primary victory with Sharron Angle, the Tea Party Express was looking for both an appealing challenger and a sufficiently complacent incumbent. Murkowksi fit the role in part because of her record with earmarks and her reputation for occasionally working with Democrats. "We just felt that Joe Miller basically lines up better with Alaskan voters and the conservative kind of frontier feeling of Alaska," says Tea Party Express political director Bryan Shroyer.I'd say that was wishful thinking on the part of Slate. Consider today's news:
With 98 percent of election day precincts counted, Murkowski trailed Joe Miller by 1,960 votes out of more than 91,000 counted. The race was too close to call, with as many as 16,000 absentee votes and an undetermined number of provisional or questioned ballots, remaining to be counted starting on Aug. 31.I guess it's still possible that Miller might lose (these close elections are notoriously tough to predict, and it is to be hoped that Alaska's Secretary of State is not in the Soros tank). But I am not seeing any evidence of him being "down by 32 points."
What polls was Slate smoking, anyway?
"para endulzar su dia"
The above expression relates to some practical advice I was given years ago during the course of my travels to Mexico.
It means, "to sweeten your day," and while there is nothing wrong with sweetening people's days, the context of the usage of that travel phrase might very well be considered immoral, especially by moral absolutists.
I was advised (by a very experienced bilingual traveler to Mexico) that it's an ideal choice of words to use in situations when one must respectfully and discreetly offer a police officer a bribe.
But bribery is wrong, right? Of course it is. That's a given. But what is also a given is that the entire government system has for years been built on, dependent on, bribery. Everyone, from the lowliest village cop all the way up to El Presidente, expects to be paid, and the higher up the pecking order you go, the higher the price. If you find yourself unlucky enough to be arrested down there (and it isn't hard; greedy cops will appear out of nowhere to shake down Americans simply because they want money and have the power to get it), you're in quite a predicament. Whether you've done anything isn't the point. If they say they found marijuana on you, or that they saw you taking a dump in the park, it's their word against yours. And if you actually did something, forget it; an ordinary fender bender is often considered legitimate cause for arrest. And as most people know, Mexican jails are no fun. Sure, you can howl about your largely nonexistent "rights" all you want, but sooner or later you're going to have to pay up. And the more trouble you're in, the more it costs. If you are in jail, it costs more to get out, and if you need a lawyer to help get you out, it's a lot more expensive. And if you end up in court, you have to pay the lawyer to pay the judge, and that can get even more expensive. But if you're smart enough to know how to handle the arresting officer properly, you can save a lot of money. Saying "esto es para endulzar su dia" is a non-confrontational way of saying the money is a gift and not really not a bribe, and it doesn't put the officer on the spot. "Can I pay the fine now?" is another one.
Such conduct is immoral. But what is more immoral; paying $50.00 to a corrupt local cop, or having to shell out hundreds of dollars later to a corrupt lawyer and a corrupt judge? Depending on one's point of view, the latter might me more immoral than the former, as you're pouring more money into an inherently corrupt system.
Suppose you're a principled moral absolutist. Is rotting in a Mexican jail the right thing to do?
I do not mean to advocate corruption here, but am I? Is there a duty of strict honesty in dealings with crooks? If a burglar asks you where you keep your valuables, should you tell him the truth? When the Gestapo knocked on the door of the people harboring Anne Frank and asked whether there were any Jews hiding in the house, were they under any duty to tell the truth? (And if the government decided to condemn all pit bulls to death and I was asked whether Coco was a pit bull, would I be under any duty to disclose the truth if that would get her killed?)
I realize that this is all an exercise in line-drawing, but who gets to draw the lines? And why?
Have a sweet day.
"bullets used in the drug war"
A lot of words are spewed forth in the War on Drugs, and when the drug war is combined with trouble at the border, the result is quite predictable. Every once in a while, though, I see things that push credulity beyond what I consider acceptable.
I saw a recent example in this AP story, headlined "Drug war sends bullets whizzing across the border":
...one bullet came across the Rio Grande, crashed through a window and lodged in an office door frame at the University of Texas at El Paso. Police are also investigating reports that another errant round shattered a window in a passing car. Witnesses at a nearby charity said at least one bullet hit their building, too.There's no question that bullets being fired across the border constitute a growing problem, but I have a serious problem with that last sentence, because it implies that there's something uniquely awful about "bullets used in the drug war" as opposed to what I guess the AP thinks are "normal bullets."
There are no normal bullets that won't travel more than a mile before falling to the ground. The most typical, garden variety rounds (ranging from .22 to .44) all travel to maximum distances in excess of a mile. The following chart displays the range of ordinary handgun bullets of the sort sold today.
Notice that there is no bullet available which
So, while it is technically correct to say that "the types of bullets used in the drug war can travel more than a mile before falling to the ground," it is very misleading. The .22 (often thought of as the smallest commercially available gun) can kill from a mile away. And while I doubt the .22 is the weapon of choice for the Mexican drug gangs, it will do as an illustration.
Of either AP ignorance or anti-gun bias.
UPDATE: The correction came from commenter "Lt York," who pointed out that "all listed bullets, fired straight, (level, parallel to the ground, I assume you mean...) would hit the ground in less than a mile," which means that the maximum ranges listed have to factor in elevation. So I shouldn't have said "if it is fired straight." As to how many bullets are fired exactly straight, who knows?
OTOH, what is "straight"? Does the word necessarily mean "level"? And is it really possible under the laws of physics to fire a bullet in a mathematically absolute straight trajectory? (At some point both gravity as well as the curvature of the earth would come into play.)
No matter how I look at it, it seems that "straight" was a poor word choice.
MORE: Not to digress, but because of my poor word choice I found myself wondering whether it is theoretically possible for any bullet to ever be fired in a mathematically truly straight trajectory. There's an interesting theoretical discussion here about bullets fired in space. Yes, they can be fired, but the consensus seems to be that if they are within the earth's gravitational field, they will orbit the earth for a very long time; otherwise they will head for the nearest influential planet
If a bullet is fired outside the Earth's gravitational field, it will be acted on by the nearest large mass; The Sun, The Moon, one of the planets, the Milky Way, etc. The bullet will turn toward that large mass and what happens then depends on the parameters. Since no gun has ever been outside the Earth's gravity, it's kind of moot up until now. The effect of a vacuum on the bullet would probably give it a slightly higher muzzle velocity since the bullet doesn't have to expend energy pushing the air out of it's way as it leaves the barrel. You would have to measure the aerodynamic drag of the bullet in the atmosphere and add that velocity to the muzzle velocity. It won't be much, but it might be measurable withing the repeatability of loads.At some point, it seems that a bullet in zero gravity might be going "straight." But if pull (however slight) is always being exerted by one planet or another, is there really such a thing as zero gravity in the mathematical sense?
Might there be true zero gravity beyond that area we circumscribe as delimited by the Big Bang, commonly called "the Universe"?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Religion of peace?
Perhaps because of the Ground Zero Mosque flap, more people than ever are speculating over whether Barack Obama is a Muslim.
This may sound counterintuitive, but I honestly hope the most powerful man in the world is in fact a Muslim.
That's not because I think he is one, but only because I think Islam needs more squishy multiculturalist pacifists at "the top."
Think about it. If all of Islam were led by the likes of Barack Obama, we'd have most likely never been attacked on 9/11.
And if all Muslims were like him, we wouldn't be facing the war
Peace via conspiracy theory, anyone?
Support your local tyrants!
Government tyranny is hardly restricted to the federal government. Many people believe that the worst governmental tyrannies of all are committed by local government. New York and San Francisco have become infamous for regulating food and drinks, and San Francisco has led the way towards the use of invasive recycling police, banning the sale of pets, and much more. California GOP state Chair Ron Nehring was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying that "San Francisco epitomizes that local government can be the most tyrannical level of government."
I don't mean to leave out Los Angeles, though. Bankrupt though the city is, tyranny is nevertheless a booming business:
The City is $500 million in the red. Rather than do what is necessary - cut expenses and show leadership - Villaraigosa and the spineless City Council has taken to terrorizing the city's residents by slamming them with fees. This includes sharp increases in fines for parking and directives to the LAPD to "increase traffic enforcement".And you know what that means.
Need I mention red light cameras?
Insane as it sounds, cities are also busily installing RFID spy chips on recycling bins, so that they can snoop on people's garbage habits, and send in the garbage cops to collar the dangerous criminals who neglected to separate their glass and plastic.
And in my previous home town of Philadelphia, the greedy government bureaucrats are demanding that bloggers get $300 business licenses!
even if your blog collects a handful of hits a day, as long as there's the potential for it to be lucrative -- and, as Mandale points out, most hosting sites set aside space for bloggers to sell advertising -- the city thinks you should cut it a check. According to Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in fact, simply choosing the option to make money from ads -- regardless of how much or little money is actually generated -- qualifies a blog as a business. The same rules apply to freelance writers. As former City Paper news editor Doron Taussig once lamented [Slant, "Taxed Out," April 28, 2005], the city considers freelancers -- which both Bess and Barry are, in addition to their blog work -- "businesses," and requires them to pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits, on top of their state and federal taxes.Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds,
As our profligate politicos get more and more desperate for cash, look for more stuff along these lines.Glenn also links Dan Riehl's post and Investors Business Daily, which says this:
Philly bloggers, as well as tax watchdogs and speech guardians outside the city, are understandably upset. If city hall can tax speech, it can tax anything. What -- and who -- is next? Should Philadelphia get away with this, other cities will surely follow. Constitutional rights are small hurdles for covetous lawmakers.Naturally, they justify their tyrannical behavior by saying they need the money. What I'd like to know is why they're singling out a few starving bloggers as "businesses." What about sellers on Craigslist and Ebay? Is the city sending out $300.00 invoices to all of them too? Why not? I am sure there are many thousands of precisely such unlicensed online "businesses" (which surely make much more money than bloggers do) so what gives?
Maybe I shouldn't be giving the tyrants ideas.
Of course, it might be that bloggers are seen as an easier target because they are relatively few in number, whereas so many people sell on Craigslist and Ebay that if the city went after them there'd be massive public uproar, with a resultant backlash at the polls.
What I cannot understand is this: what psychological mechanism causes so many apparently normal people who live in cities to vote for these greedy and profligate tyrants who then turn right around and regulate, tax, nanny, herd into crowded trains, and generally butt into the lives the people who elected them? And what's even more baffling is why so many of these same voters see their cities' very bankruptcies as a reason to vote for the people whose policies did it.
Really, I don't get it.
Is there such a thing as voter masochism?
Or is all masochism local?
I hate being barraged with a constant stream of copyrighted words which make me "liable"!
One of the many electronic annoyances in life consists of the endless "updates" which are sometimes requested, other times demanded, and in the case of my antivirus software, performed automatically and without notice in the most annoying, computer-freezing manner. Lately I have been hassled by a box screaming at me to "Update Adobe Flash Player."
As I was more concerned with my second cup of coffee than anything else, I finally decided that I might as well comply. Perhaps out of morbid curiosity, I did something I never, ever do; I clicked on the Adobe product license agreement (best known as "EULA" or "end-user licensing agreement"). There are different licenses for every Adobe product, all which are translated into just about every language known to man, but at the bottom of the starting page, there appears the following, startling edict:
Home use of Macromedia branded productsSo that means that if I open a pdf file on this computer, I can't go upstairs and open one on the computer there without closing down this one? Why is that? And did I "agree" to it simply by clicking and installing the software? Apparently so, as this has been standard industry procedure for many years, and companies like Adobe have hordes of lawyers who can in theory use the Copyright laws to pounce on violators.
But there is just something that rankles me about being told what not to do, especially when I am told automatically and "agree" without even knowing.
How many of us routinely engage in copyright violations? I'd be willing to bet that almost anyone with a computer has from time to time committed a copyright law violation.
And in theory, the "victims" of our violations could sue millions of Americans for statutory damages.
Statutory damages range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands:Coupled with the ubiquity of technical violations, the Copyright Act lends itself to arbitrary and tyrannical "enforcement" actions by greedy lawyers who just want to milk the system and get their fees paid. As Clayton Cramer has made clear in a number of posts, we are all at risk.
Especially bloggers. People who are online are easy targets for avaricious attorneys.
At the risk of sounding like an anarchist or pirate, I think Thomas Jefferson had it right when he said this:
"That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."Especially when the inventions consist of words -- speech -- which are endlessly broadcast to the world, even as they are at the same time generating endless opportunities for lawyers in search of "liability."
I'm sick and tired of word liability.
Copyright law tyranny is inconsistent with free speech.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Meet the unabridged Abdul Rauf:
The United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.
Sure, that sounds like just the kind of guy we want building mosques in the 9/11 debris field.
Supporters of the mosque are responding with the detached aplomb and reasonable behavior we've come to expect from them in this debate. It's nice to see Rauf is building so many bridges already.
UPDATE: A couple thoughts: I still remember, vividly, the horror of 9/11, of people throwing themselves off the building to escape the flames and realizing they were the lucky ones, because other people trapped inside were being burned alive.
I can't imagine anyone thinking on that day "Hey, let's build a mosque there!"
There's a simple test I like to do in these situations: I try to imagine myself in the other side's shoes. As a Christian (and one who believes in Christian evangelism and peaceful, liberal Christian expansion) I ask myself: if nutty militant Christian-supremacist extremists were committing terrorist acts in Islamic countries, would I try to build a church at the epicenter of their greatest success? The answer is unprintably negative. The whole idea is shocking to my Christian identity. It disgusts me. It horrifies me. Such an act would make me ashamed of my faith's shortcomings.
Now, as we've heard, the idea is equally repulsive to many Muslims -- the truly liberal Muslims who want an Islam compatible with the post-Enlightenment values of liberty that decent people of all faiths hold so dear. For the rest... well, I find it hard to interpret their actions as anything other than declaring themselves my enemies, and the enemies of decency.
But we are decent, so let them build it if they can get the funding, and let those who sow indecency reap their reward of shame in the fullness of time. This act will not profit Islam.
"Tea Party" fakers commit fraud within fraud
I just got back from a long meeting of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers in Lansing. I am pleased to report that they voted to refuse certification of the obvious (IMO) attempt by Democratic Party operatives to place the fake "Tea Party" on the ballot. Many genuine Tea Partiers (including myself) were there, and the vote was 2-2 along party lines. Which means that absent a successful legal challenge of the Board's ruling, the fake Tea Party will not be on the ballot.
It's quite a victory, and I don't think it would have been possible had it not been for the diligence and passion of real Tea Party supporters who were not about to have a group of crooks use their name in this way. They came to the hearing in strength today, and I heard a number of moving speeches.
Their cause was helped by the recent exposure of fraud within the fraud.
As Glenn Reynolds pointed out when he linked this post, "Michigan Democrats are embarrassed" by the fraud within the fake Tea Party. As well they should be. Today's vote to refuse certification isn't going to lift their spirits much either.
The fraud within the fraud piece that Glenn linked discussed the role of Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson -- who addressed the Board of Canvassers today -- in exposing fraud by one of the Democratic operatives behind the fake Tea Party, and there's more here:
The Oakland County Democratic Party says it has requested and accepted the resignation of operations director Jason Bauer in the wake of accusations he notarized campaign filings for a fake Tea Party candidate.Yes, and fraud is utterly embarrassing! (The liberal Free Press can't ignore the news.)
Regular readers may remember a post titled Fake "Tea Party" Democratic operatives fail my smell test!, in which I explored the ties between Jason Bauer and top Democrats. Doubtless they'll be doing everything they can to erase, obfuscate, and wiggle out of these ties, and distance themselves from Bauer any way they can.
They can wiggle all they want, but the whole thing stinks. There's that old expression that the fish stinks from the head down, and I find it hard to believe that an up and coming Democrat operative would be mounting an elaborate con job like this all on his own.
Ruth Johnson deserves the highest praise for her role in uncovering this, and I think it's worth pointing out that she exposed this fraud while running for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in a crowded five way race. It speaks highly of her that while the rest of the crowd are acting like a bunch of conventional politicians, she's the one who is doing the sort of work that Michiganders should expect from a Secretary of State -- which is to ensure election integrity.
Which brings me to something I haven't mentioned in my blog before but probably should now. I happen to be one of the "hundreds of new, tea party-backed delegates" who will vote in the official primary election at the Republican State Convention on Saturday, and after what I saw today, I plan to vote for Ruth Johnson with the greatest of enthusiasm.
(For people who want more details about the fraud Johnson uncovered, her press release follows this post.)
Inspiring as it was to see the uncovering of the fraud and the successful fight against the fake Tea Party, what I saw today was truly remarkable for another reason. It has been nothing short of amazing for me to witness something I never thought I would see in politics. These people, these "hundreds of new, tea party-backed delegates" mentioned in the Freep, many of them are libertarians just like me, people who got involved because they felt they had to, and did so despite the fact that (like me) they hate politics. And yet, they are becoming politically empowered. People who are used to sitting around and complaining about statism and big government are actually organizing to do something to stop it. Yet instead of wanting power for its own sake, they want to use that power to limit power.
As Glenn has said, "Those dangerous libertarians -- they want to take over the government, and then leave you alone!"
MORE: Michigan Capitol Confidential has an excellent report on the Board of Canvassers hearing.Continue reading ""Tea Party" fakers commit fraud within fraud"
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Fun and games with Balkenkreuz subliminalism
It reminded me of something too. (Especially what's buried in the middle.)
To illustrate, I cropped the cross from the center of the Dodge logo and added a little olive drab.
Wouldn't look bad on a plane or a tank! And best of all, the logo is inside a shield -- the kind that would look just stunning on a helmet! (The red color in the background adds an even niftier subliminal touch, now that I think about it...)
The beauty of the Balkenkreuz design lies in its utter simplicity. It boils down to four L-shapes arranged in 90 degree symmetry.
Like this way cool Balkenkreuz T-shirt:
Impress your friends!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
My dog is lacking in the wisdom of ancient repugnance
Back in October, I worried about Coco possibly having a close encounter with a local skunk. I called it one of my worst fears, which it is, and I have dreaded the night when Coco and a skunk actually cross paths.
It finally happened on Thursday "night," then again last "night." (The two encounters took place first in the wee hours of the morning.) Around 3:00 a.m Friday morning, Coco woke me up in an agitated state letting me know she wanted to go outside. I'm groggy and half awake, so I just let her out to "do her business." Except, instead of coming back inside as she normally does, she was hitting the fence in an agitated state while whining. I had to get a flashlight to investigate, and there was nothing there, but I immediately smelled the skunk. I made her come in, and she had enough of the skunk scent on her that it was annoying, but not so much that it was an emergency. Obviously she had not been sprayed, but I suspect she rubbed up against some area that had had contact with the skunk. I was so upset I couldn't get back to sleep easily, and I gave Coco a stern lecture. Hah! Little effect that had. For last night it was exactly the same thing; Coco knows the damned thing is in the yard, and she woke me up to go skunk hunting. Stupidly, I let her out again (I guess I hoped that my yard was back to its "normal" state and all would be well), and I heard her jumping at the fence, obviously in hot pursuit of a skunk that had (thank God) had the good sense to leave. Perhaps they're smart enough to know when they're dealing with a dog that is nutty enough to take a musk blast and then kill them anyway. (I certainly hope so, but I don't like these highly speculative odds...)
The whole arrangement is unacceptable, big time. As I see it, I have a right to let my dog out in my own yard at any time for any reason. And no damned smelly-assed weasel relative has any right to mess with me.
The problem is, arguments based on rights and fairness are lost on wild animals.
So I remembered that some of the comments to my last post about skunk worries were quite helpful. "Captain Ned" offered a kitchen variety recipe consisting of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, Veeshir discussed the tomato juice option, and Sissy Willis mentioned a commercially available remedy which she said worked great on her skunk-sprayed cat.
The worst case scenario hasn't happened yet, but after such precariously close encounters, I thought I'd go out and buy the commercial product, which I found at Petsmart.
It contains some sort of natural enzyme, and has received rave reviews, and I am very grateful to Sissy for telling me about it. I hope I never have to use it, but I believe in being prepared for emergencies, and I'm glad I got a bottle.
I was intrigued by the French translation just under the skunk on the label:
Demenageur d'Odeur de Mouffette
Mouffette is the French word for skunk, and so because Coco is quite full of herself and thinks she is a princess, I have been scolding her using the French word Mouffette. (Non non Mouffette, Coco!) Whether this will have any effect I don't know, as I am afraid Coco may be one of those stubborn dogs described at UC Davis's pest management page for skunks:
Some dogs will confront skunks whenever they get an opportunity. Even though they suffer when they get sprayed, some dogs never learn.I did not need to read that, which is a way of saying I didn't want to read that, so maybe I did. I'm afraid that Coco's answer is "Oui oui Mouffette, Eric!"
The UC Davis site (along with other sites) suggests household ammonia as a skunk repellent, so I poured some ammonia based cleanser along the problem fence area, and I hope it helps.
Maybe I should try scolding Coco in Latin, for the Latin name for skunk is Mephitis. Which means the French word is basically their version of the original Latin word, which BTW, comes from a stinky goddess of the same name. She personified toxic gases!
In Roman mythology, Mefitis (or Mephitis) was the personification of the poisonous gases emitted from the ground in swamps and volcanic vapors. Mephitic, derived from Mefitis, is an adjective in the English language meaning "offensive in odor"; "noxious"; and "poisonous."Ancient wisdom? Or ancient repugnance?
Whatever it is, I wish Coco had some.
(I better not tell her, or she'll claim she's engaged in religious worship....)
Genetics And Trauma
I got the video from Reason Magazine via Instapundit. What is interesting is that two of his three key markers for psychopathy are: genetics and trauma or abuse. Those are the two markers that I have been saying for years are the cause of chronic drug use.
You can follow my trail some by reading these articles in order.
Now does this particular information prove my point? Of course not. I do think it means I'm on the right track and some further exploration is in order.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Friday, August 20, 2010
the new tea?
A headline in yesterday's Detroit Free Press offers MSM confirmation of what I suspected in my earlier post about Michigan's smoking ban.
The headline is "Smoking ban dries up business," and even though I consider it old news, I am still outraged by the number of Republicans who voted for such statist nonsense:
...since Michigan's smoking ban went into effect May 1, Natalie Samu, the soon-to-be ex-owner of the bar, has just one or two waitresses serving the dwindling crowd.I guess the do-gooder busybodies would say "TOUGH!" You should have known when you opened your small business and worked your ass off to make it succeed that the government might decide to ruin you. But some business owners are incredulous:
"I can't believe that the State of Michigan did this at a time when the economy is so bad," said Carol Corrie, general manager of Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in Eastpointe.Believe, sister, believe.
Even though I am a non-smoker, I think this kind of intrusive legislation is utterly despicable. So despicable, in fact, that I'm thinking that it just might qualify as an appropriate "Are you a statist?" litmus test. (After all, there is an election coming....) I am hardly a single issue activist where it comes to smoking, and frankly, I am uncomfortable eating in a smoke-filled room. I have also been advised by my doctor to avoid secondhand smoke. But the thing is, the places that cater to smokers are very easy to avoid. Most of them are bars where local regulars enjoy drinking and smoking at the same time. I should say "were" for their regulars can smoke no more. Now they have to go outside, after which it's just easier to go home:
Employees have been laid off; hours have been cut for others, and the tips have shrunk for the waitstaff and bartenders who are left, said Bo Burton, general manager of the Blarney Stone. Even the bands that get hired for entertainment are losing business.I'm sure a lot of busybodies would say that's great. Serves them right for catering to the needs of addicts. "We" will all be better off when they are finally "nudged" into treatment. Yeah, and we will all die of one thing or another. Tobacco is just one of those things that might -- and I stress might -- cause us to die younger. I am reminded of a woman I knew who was 97 and smoked like a chimney. Naturally, they were trying to make her stop:
I came to know a woman who had finally retired to a rest home at age 97, and she was one of those loquacious grand dames who would sit and hold court on the porch. While smoking like a chimney. As I got to know her, she complained to me about the staff's attempts to get her to stop smoking. I will never forget the way, in a loud voice, she bellowed,The founders (some of whom grew tobacco) must be turning in their graves. This country was founded by people who did not do as they were told, for people who do not believe in doing as they are told.
I find it fascinating that the original Tea Party was a protest against government taxation and regulation of another plant substance, tea. Anyway, the question on my mind right now is a simple one:
Might tobacco be the new tea?
Since the founding of this country, tobacco has been a legal substance, and what today's rulers are doing is far, far worse than the tax which the British government tried to impose on tea.
A good case can be made that tobacco more than qualifies as the tea for today's rebels.
And if tobacco is the new tea, then what?
Is there a modern equivalent of tar and feathers?
Fertigate, and how! (A dull and non-controversial issue...)
With my sincerest apologies to the beloved political junkies who visit this site (and seriously, because I'm one myself, you know you are always very welcome here), it's time for a bland post about gardening.
It's been three weeks and five days since I started my backyard vegetable garden, and as I have had to learn from scratch and started way late in the growing season, this is more of an experiment than anything else. (I didn't plant any tobacco, though, as it is too late in the season for such a frost-sensitive plant.) Having nothing more than the Internet as my guide, I determined that there are several things which can be started late in the summer, so in addition to the tomatoes and a pepper that I bought as plants I am growing zucchinis, broccoli, Swiss chard, and peas.
Here's a partial view.
As you can see, I learned that a drip irrigation system beats using a watering can.
However, plants need fertilizer. I like using my aquarium water to water plants, and I might also like to fertilize them with Miracle Gro or something, but that presented problems because the drip system is fed from the hose bib by an attachment. After putting in all of the work to install the nearly 40 drippers, it struck me that they would be a highly efficient way to introduce whatever liquid fertilizer I wanted by injecting it directly.
It's not a new idea; it's called fertigation.
Not a bad article, except that under "Disadvantages" it lists this:
"Use of chemical fertilizers of low-sustainability, instead of organic fertilizers."I take offense at that, and I will have Wikipedia know that my used aquarium water is about as organic as you can get!
Anyway, to make my drip system fertigation-capable seemed to require purchasing additional units -- meaning time and money. (The cheapest injection units I found cost over $60.00.) I have a couple of standard Petco aquarium powerheads lying around, which look like this:
They're surprisingly powerful, and it occurred to me that as a pump is a pump, I might be able to use it for other than it's intended purpose of creating a powerful underwater current in an aquarium. I'm always siphoning water from the tanks into plastic bins, and I've also been putting it into the watering can and laboriously watering each plant with it. So, I thought, why not just put the bin full of aquarium water near the vegetable bed, add a tee to one of the lines, and then pump the aquarium water directly into the line feeding the drippers?
At the hardware store, I found an adapter for 99 cents which could be screwed directly into the pump's threaded discharge outlet. All I had to do was unscrew the existing discharge fitting, screw it in, attach a compatible hose, hook that into the tee, throw the pump into the bin and plug it into an extension cord. The result?
A fertigation system, for very little money!
The drippers all started dripping aquarium water at a rate indistinguishable from that of the hose bib, and in about ten minutes or so, the tub was nearly empty. Much easier than the watering can. (And more efficient, as you don't spill water on the plants or lose any to evaporation.) I still have to get the water from the fish tanks into the bin, but I have a siphon long enough to reach out the window and directly into the bin. While it might seem like a nuisance, it really isn't an additional nuisance, because I have to change the aquarium water anyway.
Being free, aquarium water is a lot cheaper than Miracle Gro, and it said to be very high in the nutrients plants need. The problem is, there's no way to know with any degree of accuracy what the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) ratios are, and it varies from water change to water change:
The N-P-K would naturally be relevant to the fish load and how long the tank has been setup.. By the time you tested it would be different again lol. My guess is that it'a about a third of the necessary nutrients for most plants. The great part is that it could never burn and all the elements are in a stable form. Certainly better than straight tap water,but wouldn't expect to quit fertilizing.I think I could use store-bought fertilizer every couple of weeks instead of weekly, although some online gardeners state that aquarium water is all you need.
Sheesh, what a boring post. Readers come here expecting to see exciting discussions of controversial issues, and hopeless arguments dissected down to the last hopeless bone. And here I am talking about how to be a cheapskate backyard gardener.
Well, to spice things up a bit, I might as well mention a form of natural fertilizer I have not tried yet: urine.
maybe you didn't know that human urine is the fastest acting, most excellent source of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and some trace elements. Not only that, but we all have a constant, year round supply of it - and it's free! There's not a lot of effort involved in creating this wonderful organic liquid fertilizer.Well now, isn't that nice to know? I had no idea that I have been flushing away perfectly good organic and natural fertilizer. (But OTOH, aren't we humans supposed to be unnatural?)
As to whether I should be peeing into my water bin, I don't know. Perhaps readers can assist me. (Assist me in the decision process, of course.) I'm thinking that this might be the sort of thing that a gardener who did it might want to keep to himself, especially if you want people to be enthusiastic over your vegetables at the dinner table. (Obviously, I have no desire to get caught up in any sort of "fertigate scandal.") And is it legal for farmers to add piss to their crops?
Anyway, I hope I managed to inject a wee bit of controversy into the otherwise dull issue of fertigation.
I only hope no one was pissed by my, um, flow.
AFTERTHOUGHT: A question of guilt to ponder. What should I feel more guilty about?
-- wasting perfectly good liquid fertilizer with every flush?
-- the fact that I injected "guilty urine" into an otherwise innocent discussion?
Seeking Alpha is taking a look at the problem with bundled mortgages. And they are huge. As in bigger than you can possibly imagine.
Mortgages bundled into securities were a favorite investment of speculators at the height of the financial bubble leading up to the crash of 2008. The securities changed hands frequently, and the companies profiting from mortgage payments were often not the same parties that negotiated the loans. At the heart of this disconnect was the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a company that serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, allowing properties to change hands without the necessity of recording each transfer.I see a lot of work ahead for lawyers.
Update: More at Stop Foreclosure Fraud
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The "Personhood Amendment" -- just what conservatives need now!
An emerging issue epitomizes a phenomenon I have discussed in countless posts, and I hate to be a repetitive bore, so please bear with me....
I am hardly alone in noticing that like-minded, single-issue activists often associate with -- and tend to exclusively surround themselves with -- other like-minded, single-issue activists. The result is what many call an echo chamber -- or "the choir." But I think "echo chamber" and "choir" are less than accurate terms, because the implication is that people are simply getting together and agreeing with each other in groups. When group dynamics are factored into single issue fanaticism, a lot more happens than mere group agreement. Because people are naturally competitive, many activists want to prove to the group that they are not only devoted to the cause, but more devoted than the others. This leads to extreme hyperbole, and the taking of positions which normal people would consider laughable. A classic was a fierce theoretical libertarian debate I remember over whether handguns should be sold in school vending machines. Like-minded libertarians are no more immune to this phenomenon of ratcheting up the rhetoric than anyone else. However, I think that one of the remarkable aspects of the Tea Party (so far, at least) is that the focus on a common denominator of a few basic principles (namely Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets) -- without excluding any single issue activists -- has led to the integration by compartmentalization of most of single issue activists who are involved.
One of the largest single-issue factions in politics today consists of the anti-abortion people. I don't know whether they're supposed to be called "pro-life" or "right to life," these days, but I have no interest in living up to their definitions or passing their litmus tests, any more than I have an interest in the definitions or litmus tests of the pro-abortion (whether they're "pro-choice" or "anti-life") Planned Parenthood type people. As I have said countless times, I think abortion is morally wrong (the more human brain material the embryo has, the more wrong I think it is), but I do not think abortion is murder, and I have a serious problem with imprisoning women for it. Which I hasten to say again is hardly approval:
Saying that a woman shouldn't be imprisoned for aborting her fetus is not the same thing as approving of her act, much less saying it is a good thing. I think drugs should be legal, but that does not mean I approve of or advocate heroin. If God disapproved of heroin, does that mean it would be immoral to oppose imprisoning people for it?Whether that makes me worthy of the pro-life or pro-choice label, I do not care.
I grew up in a time when abortion was illegal, but it was not murder. In my home state of Pennsylvania, if a woman wanted an abortion, she had to get a physician to say that it was for "therapeutic" reasons -- something many doctors and (or psychiatrists, in the case of a physically healthy woman) were willing to say. Only after the "therapeutic loophole" requirements were complied with (wink-wink) could the therapeutic abortion be performed. This meant that legal abortions were expensive and as a result they were more available to the educated, affluent classes than to the uneducated poor or working classes. Today, of course, there's no need to go doctor-shopping; it's abortion on demand.
In those days, abortion was the sort of thing that people didn't like to discuss, but (and this may reflect my background) I never heard anyone call it murder until after the divisive Roe v. Wade decision was handed down. The idea that abortion is murder is, IMO, a modern phenomenon which is largely a result of single-issue anti-abortion activists who would never have gotten together had it not been for Roe v. Wade. Few of these activists care about the consequences of actually changing the law to make abortion murder. Do we really want to have a country with millions and millions of mass murderesses walking the streets?
The idea that abortion is murder was also aided by Vatican rulings that life begins at conception. But what is conception? Some would say the moment of fertilization, but the history of the term suggests otherwise:
Both the 1828 and 1913 editions of Webster's Dictionary said that to "conceive" meant "to receive into the womb and ... begin the formation of the embryo." It was only in 1875 that Oskar Hertwig discovered that fertilization includes the penetration of a spermatozoon into an ovum. Thus, the term "conception" was in use long before the details of fertilization were discovered. By 1966, a more precise meaning of the word "conception" could be found in common-use dictionaries: the formation of a viable zygote.If we analogize to other forms of life, a fertilized egg is in many ways like a chicken egg or the seed of a plant. It is alive, (and fertilized human eggs can be kept alive for many decades, as can other animal eggs and plant seeds), but until it is actually placed in some sort of environment conducive to its growth, it cannot be said to be the same as a living breathing animal or plant.
I think that saying that a fertilized human egg is a person is about as logical as saying an acorn is an oak tree, but here I am repeating myself. I don't think eggs have souls, and as I have pointed out, if they do then God is the biggest mass murderer of them all, because as many as half of all fertilized eggs never make it into the implanted and growing stage.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of abortion, it is a real stretch to declare eggs people, but once again, it is a perfectly predictable result of single-issue activists ratcheting up the rhetoric.
The latest idea is the so-called Personhood Amendment, which is being promoted in a number of states (including Michigan), and would amend state constitutions to have fertilized eggs legally declared to be people. True to form, the activists are ratcheting up the rhetoric, just in time for the election season:
Members of Personhood Colorado unveiled their first campaign advertisement at a news conference at the Capitol. The radio ad, which will be aired in the coming days, compares the rights of fetuses to American slaves.Well, it figures Keyes would be involved. I only hope this kooky idea doesn't become a GOP litmus test, because it is very unpopular with voters. Such a ballot measure has already lost 3 to 1 in Colorado, but losing elections does not stop activists. You might think that a guy who figures largely in the political rise of Barack Obama as does Alan Keyes would think twice about a movement which almost seems perfectly calculated and timed to hurt the conservative cause. But then, hard liners like Keyes are like people who enjoy gambling against huge odds. They expect to lose, and will settle for nothing less than total victory against overwhelming odds.
While I am quite fascinated by the slavery analogy, for a couple of reasons I don't think it's quite accurate to phrase it only in terms of "property" versus "personhood." Even in the days of American slavery, while slaves were property, they were generally considered to be people nonetheless; an early DC statute is typical:
While each state would have its own, most of the ideas were shared throughout the slave states. In the codes for the District of Columbia, a slave is defined as "a human being, who is by law deprived of his or her liberty for life, and is the property of another."[61Slaves were also considered by most Americans to have souls, and their masters (even if they were nephews of Thomas Jefferson) were not allowed to kill them with impunity.
So I don't think the personhood of a fetus is necessarily dispose of the slavery issue.
Slavery is covered by the 13th Amendment:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.Not to digress, but I can't help wonder why the animal rights activists (especially those who call themselves abolitionists) haven't seized on the failure of the amendment to limit slavery to human beings. Why aren't hogs and cattle considered slaves? Why isn't Coco my slave? (At times I think I am her slave, but that's another issue....)
The point is that only people can be slaves, and in that sense human chattel slaves are not like animals, as animals by definition cannot be slaves. Except in the United States, humans are not allowed to be slaves. So, while defining a fertilized egg or a fetus as a person would give it 13th Amendment protection, how is it to be determined whether it is in a state of slavery? A fetus is not the sort of chattel property which can be sold as a "slave," any more than an unborn calf embryo could be sold as a cow, because what gives a slave value as chattel is that because it is a living, walking, talking, comprehending person, it can perform human-like work.
However, embryos and fetuses do share one feature in common with slaves in that they are trapped and not free to leave. Unlike slaves, though, they cannot be transferred from one woman to another (unless this could done before the implantation stage).
Sorry, but I just don't think the slavery analogy works. You could make a better case that an unwilling mother of the fetus is a slave, or at least in a temporary state of involuntary servitude. This argument has been debated by libertarians, and it gets complicated. I'm not sure how I would feel about the idea of having to carry to term a fetus implanted within me against my will. Suppose a burglar broke into my home and for some pathological reason left a baby behind. Sure, I would call the cops and have it taken away, but suppose the burglary happened when I was getting ready to drive to the airport for a two-week vacation, and if I took the necessary time to wait for the appropriate bureaucrats to come and ask all their ponderous questions, I would miss my flight. Of course, I would just have to miss my flight, but suppose I was callused enough to get in my car and drive away. Would I have any legal duty towards that unwanted human in my home? And because the baby is incapable of trespassing, it wouldn't make any difference whether it was left by a burglar or by some stranger who left it on the front porch.
Now, I realize that hypothetical is ridiculous, and that no normal person would leave an abandoned baby to die, but wouldn't it be at least as ridiculous to declare me under a duty to care for that child for a period of many months? Obviously, I am not free to kill an unwanted baby left in my house, but whether I should be forced to care for one is not the same issue. The state cannot compel me to be a child care worker against my will. Unless I were compensated for it, it would be involuntary servitude. Whether this means that women forced to carry unwanted babies to term should be paid, or by whom, I don't know; I use the example mainly to illustrate the endless hair-splitting that results from the "slavery" analogy.
But imagine the debates that will result if state constitutions are amended to call a fertilized egg a person. Taking ordinary birth control pills could be murder. If you think that sounds far-out, consider that there's a major debate going on in the pro-life movement over whether contraceptives should be considered abortifacient drugs. The fact that they might prevent implantation of fertilized eggs in the case of "breakthrough ovulation" is very troubling to some, but what fascinates me is that for pragmatic reasons, there's a sort of polite advocacy of keeping the issue in the closet, which has been bitterly opposed.
If birth control pills can in fact act as abortifacients (which I think it's fair to say they sometimes do), there have been hundreds of millions of murders committed by innumerable ordinary people -- many of whom vote.
Try as I might, I can't see the Personhood Amendment as helpful in any way to the Republicans or to the conservative cause. Were it to really get going, few things could be more divisive or more helpful to the left (and it might especially help the pro-choice movement.)
So under the circumstances, I must question the timing.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A Cell Phone Mandate
There is a bill pending in Congress to require FM radios in cell phones.
The FM chip mandate is an attempt to mollify the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters); under the terms of the Performance Rights Act, the [broadcast- ed.] industry would pay approximately $100 million to broadcast music on terrestrial radio. The inclusion of FM chips in all mobile devices would purportedly give broadcasters access to a wider audience. But it's the consumer companies (and by extension, the consumer) who get the shaft in this deal.Having worked in the music industry a long time ago: juke box servicing, juke box mfg., Chief Engineer at a radio station, I can tell you the whole industry is totally mobbed up. I was just discussing it with my mom who used to know a lot of the people in the industry in Omaha and she agrees.
And now the criminals get to whisper in the ears of our government. And just to get a political dig in: is it any surprise when the head of our government comes from one of the most mobbed up cities in the nation?
And who is going to pay for another chip that must be included in the cell phones? Well it is not going to be the music industry. Plus, I wonder if they have considered the antenna issues?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
I Am Israel
Tall Dave (as he is known in Polywell Fusion circles) wrote a bit on Israel: The Jewish Burden of the Israeli Paradigm.
Here is the video that can be found at the link he posted.
Reason Magazine is where I got the video. They have this to say:
Fichtner points out, three public policy trajectories converging. The medical marijuana movement is gaining momentum. People are increasingly wakening up to the fact that drug prohibition creates more public health problems than it solves. And, in the same way that the Great Depression caused people to reprioritize how we spend our public dollars, the current economic crisis has got people thinking that bringing the biggest cash crop in the US out into the open might not be such a bad idea.Hard economic times are good for companies and governments. They force the rationalization of policies and expenditures. Alcohol was in part legalized because before prohibition the Federal Government got 1/3 of its revenue from taxing alcohol. The same dynamic (although not the scale) is at work with marijuana.
You can find the book mentioned in the video here:
Some other books on the subject:
And if you want to get in on the boom it might be good to learn a little horticulture:
But get in early. Because like the microprocessor/personal computer industry eventually economies of scale are going to drive most small undercapitalized businesses out of the market. OTOH you might wind up being the Steve Jobs of the industry.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
The Jewish Burden of the Israeli Paradigm
Via Michael Totten (for my money, the best journalist in the world), an absolutely fascinating essay from Yoram Hazony on how Israel is viewed by Europeans, with references to Kuhn.
Israelis and friends of Israel can reasonably be divided on the question of whether this withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, or the parallel withdrawal from the security zone in South Lebanon in 2000, was really in Israel's interests, and whether the Jewish state is today better off because of them. But one thing about which we can all agree, I think, is that these withdrawals did nothing to stem the tide of hatred and vilification being poured on Israel's head internationally. ... When it comes to shifts of political paradigm, these take place principally through books, which expose people to an idea at length and in depth; and in schools, where such books are studied and discussed, especially universities. If we are interested in the reconstruction of the paradigm that has served as the foundation for Israel's existence, that's where the work is going to have to be done.
You really have to read the whole thing.
Hockey Stick Shattered For Good?
This is possibly the second-biggest climate science news of the past ten years: some statisticians did a full rework of Mann's infamous hockey stick papers, and he results were... not pretty.
We find that the proxies do not predict temperature significantly better than random series generated independently of temperature.
That's despite the study's very generous assumption that all the proxy and measurement data is valid.
The news for AGW believers isn't all bad as they still find a trend of warmer recent temperatures, but any claims of certainty about "unprecedented" warmth now go out the window.
The study is probably most damning for the "the science is settled! we must act now!" crowd, because, as others have noted, you can draw a straight line through the whole reconstruction. That means we don't know with much certainty whether temperatures have changed at all over the last 1000 years.
It's not about rights
All talk of rights to the contrary notwithstanding, I think that building a Hamas-sympathetic mosque near Ground Zero is a bad idea. That does not mean I favor religious discrimination, nor does it mean that I don't think mosques should be allowed in America. But I think there is a time place and manner issue here which is being clouded by sanctimonious talk about rights, and the American tradition of freedom.
Bill Whittle really has a good point about cowardice in this video that Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday. The issue is not the "right" of anyone to build a mosque in America. The issue is why these cowards are so desperately asserting that right on behalf of people who not only don't respect that right, but who are politically and philosophically opposed to the very concept embedded in the First Amendment.
S.E. Cupp puts it this way:
President Obama is just the latest public figure to voice his support using this declaration of constitutional might, joining Mayor Bloomberg and others in trumpeting the country's freedom of religion clause as the only real argument that matters on the issue.Which was pretty much what I said in a comment to Dave's earlier post:
"Under our Constitution one could hold a Japanese Pride Parade down the streets of Nanking," just as under our Constitution the Nazis had the right to march in Skokie, IL.If the Nazis wanted to march again in an Illinois town populated by elderly Holocaust survivors, would Obama, Bloomberg, Nadler and company be singing the praises of their right to do it?
I don't think so. They are not only cowards, but they hide their cowardice in the Bill of Rights. Rights for which their enemies have nothing but contempt and wish to destroy.
I'm sure there are some who would complain that it is unfair of me to compare Muslims to Nazis, which I am not doing. I'm just using Skokie as a famous example of a right that I would defend as a right even though it is not right.
But for those who think it is wrong to invoke a Nazi example, then how about let's try Pat Robertson? Shortly after 9/11, he joined the chorus of loons who blamed the gays and the abortionists for the attack. He was of course well within his First Amendment right to do that, just as the 9/11 Truthers were well within their First Amendment rights in saying the attack was an "inside job." So let's suppose that Pat Robertson wanted to build a Ground Zero evangelical center. Or suppose some wealthy crank decided that he wanted to build a "Worldwide Center for 9/11 Truth." Would the sanctimonious left be carrying on about their rights? Hell no; they would scream quite loudly that these things would be inappropriate at Ground Zero. (And you can be sure that Robertson and/or the Truthers would be so tied up in bureaucratic red tape that they wouldn't get zoning or building permits for the next ten years....)
And why is that? Why would they loudly denounce Pat Robertson and the Truthers and yet shamelessly carry on about the rights of a Hamas-loving cleric?
I think the answer is simple.
They don't fear Pat Robertson or the 9/11 Truthers.
MORE: Don't miss "A Patriotic Muslim's Warning on Ground Zero Mosque" -- Aaron Elias's PJM interview with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. A genuine moderate Muslim, Jasser explains why "the project threatens to send a message of weakness to Islamists the world over."
It strikes me that those who champion the rights of Imam Rauf would just as soon avoid his moderate Muslim critics like Dr. Jasser.
You'd almost think they wanted to send a message of weakness.
MORE: In contrast to Sarah Palin (who properly IMO, questioned the rightness of the Ground Zero mosque while acknowledging the right to build it), Newt Gingrich displays open contempt for the First Amendment itself:
Sarah Palin, the first national figure to make an issue of the Park 51, says "we all know that they have the right to do it." But Gingrich knows no such thing.Actually, they do have that right, distasteful though it may be. Surely Gingrich is old enough to remember the Skokie case.
And Newt has every right to say what he says, but that does not make him right.
By his logic (that there is no right to engage in offensive speech), then he should have no "right" to open Gingrich campaign office next door to the headquarters of American Atheists, or Planned Parenthood.
MORE: What I just said reminds me of a practical issue. Suppose Fred Phelps opened a branch of his "GODHATESFAGS!" church on Castro Street in San Francisco, or Operation Rescue actually opened a branch next to Planned Parenthood.
The cops, the neighbors, and the municipalities involved would absolutely hate such things, would they not? How much would it cost in terms of city services and overtime to attempt to keep the peace between groups of people who hate each other?
When free speech gets expensive, who should bear the cost?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Rights vs. What's Right
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser: he could not hate the Ground Zero mosque so, did he not love Muslims more.
Mr. President this is not about religious freedom. It is about the importance of the World Trade Center site to the psyche of the American People. It is about a blatant attack on our sovereignty by people whose ideology ultimately demands the elimination of our way of life. While Imam Faisal Rauf may not share their violent tendencies he does seem to share a belief that Islamic structures are a political statement and even Ground Zero should be looked upon through the lens of political Islam and not a solely American one.
These are the people who going to reform Islam, not the "hear no evil, see no evil" types like Rauf who condone Islamic terrorism by refusing to condemn it.
The Park51 tweeting is obnoxious and deceitful. This is the "dialogue" they're trying to promote? They can't build their Islamic center somewhere that wasn't the site of a building destroyed by Muslim terrorists in the name of Islam? These people have the mentality of a seven-year-old who marches around swinging his arms and says it's his sister's fault for getting hit because she was in the way.
UPDATE: The Park51 tweeter has apparently been sacked.
Update: We are in the process of introducing a new team and are issuing apologies for any prior tweets that may have caused offense.
So, maybe there's hope some adults over there will take charge and move the Islamic center somewhere nearby that doesn't piss off 68% of Americans.
UPDATE: Stealing a bit from Allahpundit seems appropriate here, so I have two exit questions:
1) Where are all these lefties so concerned about free expression when a Southern state does anything vaguely resembling honoring their Confederate heritage?
2) What did they, and the Cordoba people, think of "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," an actual free speech protest against violence directed at people exercising their rights?
UPDATE: Ace has a big roundup of mosque-ings from all over.
A Third Of Your Adult Life On The Dole
There's some confusion about how many years of Social Security someone who reaches SS retirement age will actually receive. While life expectancy is only in the high 70s, that includes a lot of people who die in infancy or before reaching retirement age.
Life expectancy at 65 in 2005 was about 18 years. It appears to be about 19 in 2010. It's been steadily increasing by about a year per decade for some time, and while Obamacare's rationing and innovation-stifling will doubtless stall that a bit, the trend is likely to continue in the long run (especially if the 60% of likely voters who want HCR repealed get their way). If you work from 18 to 65, or 47 years, you would only need to live about 23 years before achieving that one-third. By the time most Americans working today retire, that's probably about where the LE at 65 will be.
So yes, as it stands now the system really is promising most Americans working today a third of their adult lives on the dole, assuming they make it to retirement age. Or, to put it another way: you're expected to spend fully half the time you worked in retirement. It's not at all clear it is possible for the working 2/3 to support the nonworking 1/3 at ever-increasing living standards.
Social Security was originally set at about the LE of its time, and it was mostly intended to provide basic subsistence to those too old to work, a laudable and easily funded goal when there are ten workers for every retiree. But because it ignores rising life expectancies the system is now headed for 2 workers for every retiree -- and because the cost of living adjustments are based on CPI, which drastically understates the actual increase in living standards (it doesn't even attempt to measure most qualitative gains or efficiencies to consumers such as WalMart; this is a known problem in economics) it's expected to deliver living standards far in excess of the average living standards at the time SS was enacted. It's no longer a security blanket, and no longer subsistence.
the mandatory unconstitutional emissions of the bulletproof bureaucratic superstructure
Back in the old days, our ancestors used to be awakened by the sounds of roosters crowing. Today's equivalent is the much more annoying construction/delivery/workplace vehicle backup alarm. Unlike roosters, though, the backup alarm noises do not settle down. All day long there's a relentless chorus of artificial BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I find it grating to the senses and, yes, repugnant in a way that roosters, barking dogs, and even crying babies are not.
That particular backup alarm noise is so annoying that it's a major reason so many people hate neighborhood construction projects.
It is singled out as a noise issue at the many anti-noise sites. The City of San Francisco Department of Public Health notes that:
relentless heavy truck backup beepers are a common occurrence in many residential areas of San Francisco due to the flood of remodeling and new constructionAnd points out that it's a post-Noise Ordinance noise:
The San Francisco noise ordinance was written in 1972 and a wide variety of new specialized noise sources have come on the market since that time.Noise Free America has called on the federal government to do something about it:
The Federal government is called upon to declare noise a dangerous form of pollution, a serious threat to health and safety, and a public menace. To this end, Noise Free America recommends the following:But that is specifically not allowed! The awful noises which torment so many people are mandated by the federal government in the form of OSHA regulations -- which stipulate that back-up alarms on construction equipment be "audible above the surrounding noise level."
In other words, they ear-piercing beeps are intended to be annoying. You must be able to hear them above the normal noises associated with construction. Not just workers, but neighbors, who might be able to tune out the sort of "white noise" associated with construction vehicles. The dump trucks, backhoes, delivery trucks and cement mixers don't really bother me; it's the damn relentless, federally mandated beeping that does.
When I rented an ordinary pickup truck last year in Berkeley, I was shocked to discover that it emitted that awful noise whenever I put in in reverse. I didn't want to be emitting that noise, and I found it highly disturbing.
What I learned only today is the reason for it. OSHA regs activate fears of litigation and result in preemptive action. OSHA regs state that:
(4) No employer shall use any motor vehicle equipment having an obstructed view to the rear unless:That's any motor vehicle used by an employer; not just construction vehicles. And because it's likely that any motor vehicle used by an employer might have an obstructed view at one time or another, the damned beeper alarms are installed in nearly anything. Even golf carts.
Will wheelchairs be next?
If I really wanted to get ridiculous I could go into my full-bore Constitutional Literalism mode, and ask what in the Constitution gives the federal government the power to require that noise pollution be inflicted on every last neighborhood in the United States regardless of what the citizens might think about it, but that would be so passe. So anarchistic.
So instead of screaming for the five hundredth time about how they're violating the Constitution, I thought I would make an appeal to pragmatism, and cite this CATO paper, which concluded that OSHA is unnecessary.
..the pre-OSHA drop in the frequency of workplace fatalities from 1947 to 1970 was 70 percent larger than the post-OSHA drop from 1970 to 1993. OSHA might actually have slowed the downward trend in fatal injuries.Murders in the workplace?
I wonder how many of them were caused by nervous stress as a result of being subjected to that awful federally mandated workplace noise day after day.
As anyone who has been to the giant retail stores knows, the damned alarms are also required indoors, and they are so annoying that they are frequently disabled:
Reverse alarms on powered industrial trucks are loud, annoying, and create workplace stress. After a day on the job with several vehicles in service, alarms create fatigue and even, perhaps, physical illness. That may be the reason a dealer says backup alarms are useless. He tells us that one out of three has been altered by the users and when they are repaired, the operator quickly disables them. Visual backup alarms are no better. Together, they add a level of stress that can make a work site an awful place to be.Brad Templeton calls them major noise pollution, and solicits opinions on alternatives:
As such, as we all know, the sound is really piercing. And more to the point, it travels, often for miles. It's a major noise pollution anywhere near any work site. I presume part of the problem as well is workers wearing hearing protection need it even louder.This drew some great comments. This is a classic:
It does not supprise me that you want to do away with safty features like the beeping on backing up vehicles. You simply do not care about morals, children, and society in general.Children? OSHA regulates the workplace, and these regs were not written for the protection of children. But I suppose that if screaming about The Children is mandatory in this discussion, it ought to be pointed out that children's ears are more sensitive than adults, and that they are more traumatized by these awful noises.
You think I am making this up? Think again. OSHA-approved alarms are typically 97 decibels (they range from 87-107 decibels), and all noises above 85 decibels can damage hearing, with children's ears being more sensitive:
All noise above 85 decibels will do damage to your ears. Many regular daily noises are above that range. If you experience damage, you may just kill a few hair cells at a time in your inner ear. Slowly, but surely, it will take greater sound levels to adequately stimulate the auditory nerve that leads to your brain. Permanent hearing loss can't be reversed by pills, hearing aids, therapy or surgery. Once you destroy too many hair cells, you are out of luck. I am trying to do everything in my power to save what hair cells I have left. I want to be able to hear my grand children without having to use a hearing aid. It may be too late. When I do seminars, I often have to cup my hand over my ear to amplify a person's voice. I think I have major problems.So while I'm not going to SHOUT about it, I'm inclined to agree with this commenter:
A CONSTRUCTION SITE HAS OPENED NEXT TO MY RESIDENCE, AND AT ANY GIVEN TIME THERE CAN BE 5 TRUCKS BEEPING AT 1 TIME.The post really hit a nerve, as other commenters describe what it's like to live in what one calls "backup beeper hell." Another commenter likened the noise to torture, and concluded with a threat:
I've been woken up this morning, as I do every day, by a cacophony of alarms mainly from construction vehicles. There's a major development about 400 yards away and I happen to live in an area where every other resident is continually engaged in some kind of (usually hideous) 'home improvement'. It's incredible; first off are the vehicles performing 40-point reverse turns, so you get groups of about 8 beeps again, and again, and again. Each group of beeps has a distinctive pattern, the first beep being longer than the others; this has an effect similar to chinese water torture. Then there are the idiots who are trying to reverse down the residential streets, and all the other machines. It's like listening to some kind of nightmarish orchestral arrangement for beepers.Another commenter said that the legislature belonged in hell:
I agree. There is a hot spot in hell waiting for the "well meaning" legislature that came up with the back up beep. It's a classic example of solving a problem with a much worse one.While he's basically right, he is wrong in the sense that no legislature actually sat and voted to mandate the infliction of these noises.
The beeper mandates took the form of regulations which were written by nameless, anonymous, unelected bureaucrats. Possibly one little petty tyrant, who got a thrill knowing that the words he wrote would torment millions of Americans to near madness. The fact that there are no identifiable congressmen to blame is no accident. Congress likes it that way. As to the Constitution, bring that up and they just roll their eyes. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if they just told me to get over myself and face the fact that we are ruled by a bureaucratic superstructure that none of us (least of all members of Congress) can do anything about.
Well, at least FDR (though he's not often thought of as a Constitution lover) had reservations about the system that was to come:
Based on one study, Roosevelt commented that the practice of creating administrative agencies with the authority to perform both legislative and judicial work "threatens to develop a fourth branch of government for which there is no sanction in the Constitution."I think that calling it a mere fourth "branch" of government understates the problem, because in practice, today's superstructure is more powerful than the other branches.
To illustrate how utterly bulletproof and undemocratic this superstructure is, imagine if you tried to actually stop the beeper noises in your own neighborhood. You would hear the same vast chorus echoed by everyone -- from the vehicle operator, to the foreman, to the builder, to the building inspector, to the zoning department, and yes, even the city's noise ordinance enforcers -- along the following lines:
"BUT THIS IS AN OSHA REGULATION! THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO!"
The worst thing about it is that they'd be right. Because these federal regulations are written by the nameless, faceless bureaucrats who enforce them, there is no one specifically to blame.
That awful beeping sound is a daily reminder of who actually rules.
It seems that Israel is stocking up [pdf] on gasoline and jet fuel.
WASHINGTON, August 5, 2010 - The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel of unleaded gasoline, JP-8 aviation fuel and diesel fuel for an estimated cost of $2 billion.Uh. Oh.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
The Power To Do Good
What is the common thread between liberals and conservatives today? They are believers in the power of the state to do good. Or in the short hand form statists. Or in the common vernacular fascists.
All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. Benito MussoliniI have always been an enemy of the State. Not totally. But nearly so. In accord with our founding father:
Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Geo. WashingtonOur founders thought the state should be on a very short leash. Chained to the deck with a VERY short chain. Most of what passes for politics today follows from: "there is no limit to the good that can be done by putting a gun to a man's head" liberals and conservatives alike. As a friend of mine likes to say: "we are doomed".
There are only Progressives in politics these days. In the early days of the Progressive movement Economics and Morality were combined. Now a days the movement has bifurcated. We have Liberal Progressives who want the state to "fix" economics and Conservative Progressives who want the state to "fix" morality.
In any case the Progressives are now in control of America left and right. Which is why you see Government "Conservatives" working with the left some times on economics and Government "Liberals" sometimes working with the right on morals. It is the common interest in the power of the state keeps them joined at the hip.
I like the Tea Parties (so far) in that they seem to be more libertarian oriented. And there seems to be an interest growing in libertarian politicians such as Rand Paul.
What encourages me in my war against the statists is that a little over half the country sees the Tea Party in a favorable light.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, August 16, 2010
the war against fun just got funnier!
Today, I want to make an announcement: Right Wing News is the first sponsor of Homocon. We're going to be supporting the event, promoting it, and encouraging Republicans in New York to attend. Thanks to GOProud for giving us the opportunity and thanks to Ann Coulter for creating what's sure to be a memorable event that people will want to attend.Check out the poster over at RWN.
GayPatriot has more.
But not everyone is happy. Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality spokesman Peter LaBarbera, "issued a press release urging Ann Coulter to reconsider headlining GOProud's Homocon 2010 in New York City." (warning that "Coulter is sending a dangerous message to young Americans that homosexuality is OK"). GOProud suggested that LaBarbera go out and "Actually Read an Ann Coulter Book."
(I'm sure there are people on both sides of the taste wars who hate her for that, too.)
Comments always appreciated, agree or disagree.
It Has Started
In response to my article The Karl Rove Plan about the potential Democrat Plan to use legalization initiatives to get out the vote a commenter has given me a heads up.
Fritz said...Of course I had to see what firedoglake - Just Say Now was up to. The site is impressive. They have polling data for the different states on legalization. If, like Fritz you want to donate here is the place to go. It is time to put an end to the culture wars. This is one Progressive program that has lived far beyond any conceivable usefulness. And it is way past time for my Conservative friends to stop being so Progressive. Get back to your American Conservative roots. Smaller government. Lower taxes. Let us together wipe out the $25 bn a year the Feds waste on making illegal drugs easier for kids to get than beer.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Loving my hatefest at America's favorite hate site!
Play with hate, of course.
I wanted to know who hates what, what hates who, what hates what, and who hates who.
So, in the order they popped into my mind, I present the Google AutoComplete results for some of the most important and sought after hates in the online world today.
I thought I would start with the two leading higher powers:
I would have thought that Allah hated the F-people more than God, but Google AutoComplete disagrees.
Next came three important earthly powers, starting with the power that makes this powerful search for hatred possible:
As one of the targets of Google AutoComplete's hate is said to be America, I thought it fair for Google AutoComplete to explain what America hated.
Naturally, because America hates Islam AutoCompletely, I felt compelled to ask what Islam hates AutoCompletely:
Fascinating. The only thing Islam hates more AutoCompletely than America is women!
Not wanting to neglect leading individual human leaders, I tried a few.
Compared to Obama, Bush's AutoComplete hates look pretty tired:
Also-ran McCain also has a few, but considering how hateful he was said to be during the campaign, his results are pretty parsimonious:
Unlike Rush Limbaugh, whose hates are obviously much sought-after:
And no hate search would be complete without Michael Moore, who is probably the most hate-filled leftist of them all:
I would have had more representatives on the left, except that big names like Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank don't show any AutoComplete filled-in hates. And the AutoComplete results for Jimmy Carter and Oliver Stone are so small as to be not worth a screen shot. (Jimmy hates only Jews, while Oliver Stone hates only America. Go figure.)
And had I not done this, I wouldn't have realized that Google is in fact the world's leading hate site. Seriously, where else can you find the world's most popular hates?
Who'd have thought hate could be so much fun?
Oh, I should add that as a courtesy to Glenn Reynolds (whose link generated this hatefest), I did endeavor to find out what he might AutoCompletely hate, but there was absolutely nothing. Just the dead blank.
(Which is odd, especially if you consider the stubborn, longstanding rumors about his ties to Mussolini. Hey, why is that PJM link for members only? Are they trying to hide something?)
MORE: I should add that the censored ("private") video is titled "Glenn Reynolds & Mussolini: Filthy Lie or Fantastical Fact?" and the caption reads as follows:
The InstaInquisition is on! You, our PJTV viewers, submitted the questions we've all wanted to know about the Instapundit himself... Mr. Glenn Reynolds. Did he influence Mussolini? Does he hate puppies? Find out.While it would be easy to call the video a whitewash, the fact that it was made at all indicates that sooner or later the real facts are going to come out.
UPDATE: I am surprised and delighted that Glenn Reynolds linked has this hate-filled post, and a warm welcome to all hate lovers. (And hate haters, I suppose.)
I should add that I really can't blame Glenn for not mentioning that stubborn Mussolini meme. Had it not been for that mysteriously private PJM video, I wouldn't have brought it up.
But seriously, check out this screenshot which I took from the suppressed video they won't let you see:
What are they hiding?
The SSTF And Other Hallucinations
Paul Krugman has always been a hack on fiscal policy, but at this point, I'm becoming concerned about his mental health. First there was the bizarre exchange with Paul Ryan in which he made numerous factual mistakes, now this:
But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won't have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program's actuaries don't expect to happen until 2037 -- and there's a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come.
The only problem with that reasoning is that the SSTF doesn't actually exist, as Krugman must be aware. Far from being "banked," Congress started spending that money every year back in the 1970s. You can't spend the same dollar twice. This is why Al Gore campaigned on creating a SSTF "lockbox" in 2000.
Now, leftists will argue the SSTF is real because there are a mountain of IOUs somewhere in a D.C.
The Karl Rove Plan
It looks like the Democrats may take a page from Karl Rove's playbook in the 2012 election. So what did Rove do?
Turning out an extra few percent can be the difference between winning and losing in swing states, a reality Karl Rove exploited in 2004 by papering the nation with anti-gay marriage initiatives.Swell. Just swell.
Well the Democrats have a plan of their own.
Putting the question of marijuana legalization on state ballots in 2012 may be one of the most effective ways for a dispirited Democratic Party to get reluctant voters out to the polls. The wild card in the coming midterms and in 2012 will be the "surge" voters -- people who were driven to the polls in 2008 through a once-in-a-generation mix of shame at the outgoing administration and hope in a new, barrier-breaking candidate. Democrats are investing millions in figuring out how to get those voters out, and the marijuana issue is getting increasing attention from political operatives.Republicans could head this off in the legislatures if they had the smarts and the nerve.
What are the chances that the stupid party will Get Smart? I do not believe there is a number small enough to represent the odds of that happening. Maybe in an alternate universe.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The Leave Us The F* Alone Coalition
Michael Tanner has a few things to say about big government "Conservatives". Let me start off with a headline:
Then how about some meat:
Despite their repeated threats to stay home if Republicans deviated from a commitment to conservative social issues, it wasn't the Religious Right that deserted Republicans in 2008 (or 2006, for that matter). Turnout among self-described members of the Religious Right remained steady from 2004 to 2008, and these voters remained loyally Republican. Roughly 70 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted Republican in 2006, and 74 percent in 2008, essentially in line with how they have been voting for the past two or three decades.Here is my take on that. Let me start with one of my favorites:
And guess what? The libertarian West is anti-prohibition (just look at California). Doesn't give a rats ass about gay marriage. And they think that government has no place in their or their mate's vaginas.
Now are they a majority? Hell no. Are they the people who swing elections? Hell yes.
If the Rs go back to their culture war ways they will deserve to lose. I promise you this: I will vote Republican in the next election, probably the one after. But if the Rs get all Culture War on me I'm going to speak against them every chance I get. Just to ruin their days. Kind of like a bad haircut only worse. Because a bad haircut lasts only a few weeks. I promise to last as long as it takes to destroy them politically.
I'm a proud member of The Leave Us The F* Alone Coalition. I am not interested in government improvement or uplift. If any one is going to improve or uplift me it is going to be me.
Mr. Tanner has written a book:
I found the reviews (mostly written in 2007) interesting from a historical perspective. Here is a good one:
Odysseus "A Traveller" (Virginia, USA)I intend to do my best to drive a stake through the heart of Republican Socialism and do my best to destroy Progressive Conservatives. If they stick with their claim that they are for limited government and fiscal responsibility and act on it, I'm with them. If not I'm going to be agin them. They could start with the Federal Drug War at $25 billion a year and go from there.
H/T Eric of Classical Values via e-mail
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Individual freedom is behind the times, because we all pay!
One of the more comical aspects of the mess in California is that despite the state's terrible financial crisis, legislators continue to busy themselves with utter nonsense -- such as defrocking the official state rock. When I wrote a post about the idiotic campaign, I had not seen Ron Bailey's Reason piece, which after noting the bill's origination with trial lawyers, dubbed California "The Laughingstock State."
I like to think that at least here in Michigan, legislators would be more down-to-earth and in touch with that Midwestern spirit of common sense. While I know it would be unreasonable to expect that of all legislators, you'd think that Republicans in this hardest-hit-of-hard-hit states would at least have the sense not to pass legislation which would hurt businesses while encroaching on personal freedom.
And you'd be wrong. Michigan's draconian smoking ban (a bill which passed in May and was immediately signed by Governor Granholm), not only had vigorous Republican support, but the bill had thirteen Republican sponsors. The following Republicans are named in the text as having introduced this obnoxious legislation:
Reps. Ball, Calley, Crawford, DeShazor, Green, Haines, Knollenberg, Lori, Marleau, Moss, Proos, Schuitmaker, Paul Scott.The ban is sweeping in nature, and even includes private clubs:
Q: Where can't people smoke?Smoking is banned in all bars, and on all patios or decks of bars, as well as in all hotel and motel rooms. Got that? No more smoking rooms.
(Much as I like to laugh at the California legislature, I'd actually prefer it if the Michigan legislators frittered away their time renaming state rocks, as I'd feel safer.)
While it's only been in place a few months, the ban is already hurting businesses:
For Kyprianides, the impact hit like a bomb as soon as the ashtrays were removed and "no smoking" signs were affixed to the interior wall. For many bargoers, a drink or beer go hand-in-hand with a cigarette, he said.Naturally. Thanks Republicans!
Meanwhile, other businesses hurt by the ban are boycotting the state lottery.
But what inspired me to write this post is the fact that there remain pockets of resistance, and I was delighted that one of them was featured on the front page of today's Free Press. The elderly war veterans who fought for our freedom are still standing up for it, God bless 'em:
BARAGA -- The veterans at the American Legion Post 444 see it as pretty straightforward.Well good for them! They know more about freedom than the legislature. And they know more about totalitarianism than the bill's Republican sponsors:
The new state smoking ban, Shepard said, is just one more encroachment on personal freedom, a decision handed down by out-of-touch politicians 500 miles away. She likens it to restrictions on gun rights and creeping government intrusion generally.As far as I'm concerned, these veterans are fighting an enemy which is uncomfortably similar to the ones against which they risked their lives. They are not alone, but they are being targeted for their defiant attitude towards the ruling bureaucrats.
Post spokesman O'Leary, also the Baraga County prosecuting attorney, believes noncompliance with the law, especially in the libertarian-leaning Upper Peninsula, is more widespread than health officials acknowledge. The legion post has been targeted, at least in part, because it is openly defiant, he said.If there are any freedom lovers who'd care to contribute, the address is here:
American Legion - Foucault-Funke Post 444While intrusive legislation like this goes against my grain, I do understand the argument that people have a right not to have their air polluted by secondhand smoke. But banning smoking in private establishments -- especially private clubs -- is simply wrong. No one has to go there. If you are concerned about your health, then don't patronize bars or join private clubs which allow smoking. Suppose some scientists proclaim that loud music or barbecue smoke is unhealthy; should the state intervene there too? I think smoking bans like this violate basic principles of freedom, and history shows that one law leads to another.
But I guess my thinking is behind the times; they're already trying to implement numerous food bans.
In the interests of fairness, I thought it was worth briefly examining the thinking of the bill's leading Republican sponsor, who made the bill his first piece of legislation upon his election last year:
Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, is making the smoke ban bill his first piece of legislation, along with a bill that would repeal the Michigan Business Tax surcharge. The smoke-free bill is expected to be introduced to the House on Thursday.Actually, there is a doubt about it. As M. Simon was kind enough to point out here:
The second hand smoke study was junk science:Scott added that he thinks your health is not your business, and that Michigan is "behind."
In response to smokers who are aware of the risks and still want a social place outside their home to smoke, Scott said, "To me it would be an odd argument for them to say they don't care, that's their own prerogative.So, saying that your health risks are your own business is "an odd argument"?
Since guys like Scott came along and decided that personal freedom is behind the times? And if "health" trumps the rights of the individual, then what's to stop the government from banning smoking anywhere? Or reenacting Prohibition? (And while they're at it, why not reenact sodomy laws as an AIDS prevention measure?)
To the argument that government shouldn't be getting involved in the private sector, Scott answers that what's important is the good of the community:
"For a lot of conservatives, this isn't the role of government; government shouldn't be getting involved in the private sector," Scott said. "This is kind of thought of as a Democratic bill. I don't have a problem throwing my name behind it, because I believe it's right for the community."That's the sort of social engineering mindset I was complaining about yesterday. Except I was talking about the type of people who think like Matthew Yglesias. Not Republicans.
I think the problem comes down to diametrically opposed views of what we call "leadership." Some people think that the purpose of "public service" (often a euphemism) is to do those things that the voters and taxpayers want done. To serve the people. Others think that public service means doing what they deem to be best for them, which is not the same thing at all. If you believe that you have a right to decide for people what is best for them (even though they don't like it), then engaging in deception just goes with the turf.And to be fair, so are some Republicans.
The most malignant aspect about communitarian statism is the way it tends to transform people who might otherwise oppose it into supporting it. The grim irony is that Republicans end up saving these awful programs by making them work. It's the very tempting "we all pay" argument. As I have tried to point out, that falls into the trap of using socialism to justify socialism:
...they want me to pay not only for [other people's] junk food, but for the additional consequences of eating it. The result is communitarianism, and a nation of busybodies and government informants.At the rate things are going, Republicans will be the ones who will have to end up making socialized medicine "work."
A Thousand Words.
This really says it all.
Do Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque or Islamic center there? Sure, and under our Constitution one could hold a Japanese Pride Parade down the streets of Nanking. But no one should confuse either notion with any semblance of decency, especially coming from an imam with undisclosed funding who refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization and says that big smoking crater happened because America isn't sensitive enough to Islam.
Bought And Paid For
This is one I published at Power and Control in September of 2007. I think it deserves a wider audience.
Update: it appears that this was published at Classical Values in September of 2007 also. Normally I keep track of these things by adding a "Cross Posted at Classical Values" to my Power and Control posts. I forgot to do it in 2007. Which has since been corrected. Still worth a read.
Another update. Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's former church, is likely in on the scam.
Located in the heart of Chicago's impoverished Southside, Trinity UCC's vast array of ministries include career development and college placement, tutorial and computer services, health care and support groups, domestic violence programs, pastoral care and counseling, bereavement services, drug and alcohol recovery, prison ministry, financial counseling and credit union, housing and economic development, dozens of choral, instrumental and dance groups, and diverse programming for all ages, including youth and senior citizens.This paints Bush's Faith Based Initiative in a much darker light. Not that it started with Bush.
I have been wondering for a long time why the Black Community supports the drug war, which is doing so much damage to that community. My old friend Cliff Thornton provides an answer. Cliff comes at politics from a Green point of view, but he is spot on about this one.
Racism, classism, and the war on drugs are inextricably parts of one huge lie, one cannot address one part effectively without addressing the other. This is not a war on drugs but a war on poor people, primarily people of color. I can talk about the race issue, which is well documented and blacks as usual are the perceived primary pariahs, but what I want to talk about is the burgeoning class separation. The religious community has always been the backbone of the black community. We have seen this through out our history with slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement. Why are they (black politicians, preachers and leaders) bemoaning racial profiling and not the war on drugs, when racial profiling is a direct result of the drug war? Why are they not talking about AIDS and that the war on drugs is the primary culprit for the spread of this incurable disease in their communities? Why do they have this dumb look on their faces when you mention that intravenous drug users, through homosexual and heterosexual encounters are the primary conveyers of AIDS in prisons and our communities? Is it because the religious community is tied to local, state and federal funding and the authorities forbid discussion? Is it because they have become employers and employees of the drug war through rehabilitation centers and drug counseling etc.? Is it because they have become gatekeepers where their prosperity depends on not solving the drug problem but perpetuating it?I really had no idea that Black ministers were colluding in the destruction of their own people for money. What self delusion it must take to keep "helping".
Plan 9 From Outer Space
You can download a free legal copy of Plan 9 From Outer Space at Moving Image Archive. They have quite a few downloads available including the hilarious His Girl Friday which shows the popular press in quite an unflattering light. They seem no different from the press of today except that today there are citizen controlled alternatives. If you watch "Friday" you might want to look up Production For Use before getting into the movie.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Get Off The Plantation
You can find out more at runawayslavemovie.com.
Also there is a nice discussion at The Runaway Slave Movie: Truth That Must Be Heard For Our Survival .
H/T Jccarlton Talk Polywell
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Saturday, August 14, 2010
In response to a Wall Street Journal article by Kim Strassel a Journal reader asks an interesting question.
JIm Altfeld wrote:Any ideas?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
"I'm never going to go down there again"
So says Ute Linhart, a fashion merchandise director who made the mistake of riding the New York subway and was suddenly pushed into an oncoming R train:
The incident occurred around 8:00 p.m. when Linhart was waiting for an uptown train. According to the Post, Jose Rojas, a cook at Cipriani, was "on the platform pointing in a menacing gun-like gesture at several other straphangers when he made a beeline for the victim." She says, "He stood next to me for a few seconds and stared at my face. He looked insane." Then he allegedly pushed her into the train's path. When she was thrown back onto the platform--suffering suffering ribs, a broken left arm, and right cheek--another person waiting for a train grabbed her, softening her blow.Angry drunken psychos are quite familiar to anyone who has lived in a big city, but it isn't very often they try to kill people.
Whether the incident is an argument against public transportation, I don't know. At the risk of sounding claustrophobic -- again -- I think that being trapped in any sort of crowd situation creates an inherent conflict with a basic human instinct to be aware of personal space, but it's tough to do that when you're reduced to being another sardine in a can.
Civilization just isn't for everyone.
Interestingly, I read about this incident while I was pondering a post Glenn Reynolds linked -- about Matthew Yglesias's advocacy of lying. Like so many political activists, Yglesias seems to believe that lying is a good thing if done to advance a socially desirable goal. And in the post which was cited, Yglesias endorsed lying to advance the lofty lefty goal of public transportation:
On the idea that ridership estimates are unrealistically optimistic, it seems to me that the sad reality of politics is that it would be irresponsible for advocates of any large-scale infrastructure project to do anything other than present unrealistically optimistic measures. For better or for worse, that's politics.Yglesias reiterated this principle recently on Twitter:
"Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes," said Yglesias.When pressed on the point, he became quite adamant:
In concluding his interview with The Daily Caller, Yglesias said "go fuck yourself" and hung up the phone.As I said, civilization just isn't for everyone.
But I am fascinated with the idea of lying to the masses when it's for their own good. Government programs like gigantic public transportation boondoggles, invasive restrictions on human activity because of alleged "carbon footprints," and reducing the quality of health care by government takeover and rationing -- all of these things are unpopular with the little people, whose money is used to pay for them, and who get to vote. If you take the view that some people know better than others what goals are socially desirable, then lying in order to advance the goals just goes with the turf.
Which means it's probably "irresponsible" to report ugly incidents which occur on public transportation, because people might avoid it. As things are now, liberal policy wonks are having a very tough time with women who fear public transportation.
But that's only the fear factor (which of course isn't limited to women). There's also the dislike factor, and you certainly don't have to be a woman not to like this:
Someone had turned on their radio so loud that I jumped in my seat. I looked around for the offender, couldn't pinpoint him, opened my book, couldn't concentrate, gazed out the window, couldn't relax, tried to eavesdrop on the man wearing two sets of glasses talking to himself, couldn't hear him, surveyed the other passengers like a sniper peering through a riflescope and then realized: the noise was coming from the television suspended behind the driver. A television on a bus?Yes, they do. And they are quite willing to lie about it, because they claim to know what is best for us.
I think the problem comes down to diametrically opposed views of what we call "leadership." Some people think that the purpose of "public service" (often a euphemism) is to do those things that the voters and taxpayers want done. To serve the people. Others think that public service means doing what they deem to be best for them, which is not the same thing at all. If you believe that you have a right to decide for people what is best for them (even though they don't like it), then engaging in deception just goes with the turf.
Which means that from a lefty perspective, Yglesias is right.
And if you don't like being herded onto public transportation, being harassed by the Gonad, Safety and Lightbulb police, losing your medical privacy while paying more and more for deteriorating health care, having your body fat electronically monitored and carbon footprints regulated, well, tough!
Such things are deemed to be good for you, and you must learn to like them.
It's called authoritarianism. Except, the authoritarian liars are quite fond of calling the people who want to be left alone "authoritarians."
Maybe it's because I majored in Rhetoric at Berkeley, but I have to admit, there's a dark side of me that finds such shameless demagoguery in the name of morality highly entertaining.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Can The State Force You To Buy A Loaf Of Bread Or A Pair Of Shoes?
And if they can, do we still live in a free country?
What's more, the paper says, taxpayers are on the hook for Medicare and Medicaid. "In that respect, health insurance is unlike virtually all other consumer products. Americans are affected by its influence over the healthcare system even if they don't have policies." Finally, forbidding insurers to deny coverage, as Obamacare does, makes it possible for people to "game the system" by waiting until they get sick to purchase a policy. The individual mandate prevents system-gaming.
Read the whole thing. This is a watershed moment in American politics. The precedent that could be set here is very scary; whatever you may think the social good will be, there is going to be a serious diminution of individual rights that comes with it, and the consequences of that may ripple in unexpected and ugly ways.
Ronald Reagan once noted that a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything away. Pete Stark thinks that's just fine: "The Federal Government can do most anything in this country." Whose America do you want to live in?
Cast Your Fate To The Wind
By the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This a long version which I had never heard before. The short version of Cast Your Fate To The Wind was a Top 40 hit in 1963.
I was reminded of it by #3 son who was practicing it on the piano. (He is really into jazz and electronics). He was quite surprised that I had heard of it. You can find more Vince Guaraldi Trio on Amazon.
Let me add that this one is dedicated here to Eric who is on the verge of blogger burn out. Better days my friend.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
desperate disparities and fraudulent impacts
I'm an inch away from total writing burnout mode today, but I thought I would try to squeeze out a couple of Friday tidbits from my dying fingers....
Much to my amusement, it turns out that Glenn Beck has (via the other Glenn) joined Dick Cheney and Laura Bush in being to the left of Obama on gay marriage. I don't know Glenn Beck well enough to be surprised, but many people seem to be. Most likely, they're desperate promoters of the Conservatives Hate Homos narrative -- the sort who found it surprising that Elton John and Rush Limbaugh were friends. But hey, Elton John is a traitor for performing at Rush's wedding! And if you don't agree, you're a homophobe if you're straight and a self-hating homo if you're gay!
I really should do a better job of following these things.
I should also have taken the time to watch the Comedy Central piece that
He's hardly alone. Commenting on a racialized New York Times scolding about "baseball coaches from minority groups" being "found more often coaching at first base than at third base," and "third-base coaches become managers more often than first-base coaches," Thomas Sowell argues that it's past time to throw the statistical differences race card out of the deck:
This may seem to be just another passing piece of silliness. But it is part of a more general bean-counting mentality that turns statistical differences into grievances. The time is long overdue to throw this race card out of the deck and start seeing it for the gross fallacy that it is.The "disproportionate representation" argument has paralyzed the country. As I said when I discussed the "disparate impact" doctrine, it is wholly fraudulent, because anything that happens can be said to have one sort of disparate impact or another on someone or some group:
Suppose I decide to sell my used car, and I run an ad offering it for $10,000. Right there, I would be having a disparate impact on the people who did not have $10,000. (I realize none of them would complain, but be patient. I'm still a low level "operator.") Suppose I decide it would be easier to sell the car if I offer financing, but only to those "with approved credit." Another disparate impact. But still no one complains. Eventually, I sell the car, use the proceeds to buy another one, then two, then five, and ultimately I find myself renting an unused parking lot for the 500 or so cars I have accumulated as my inventory. At that point, my "discrimination" will begin to attract enough public attention that one of my hapless credit-unworthy "victims" (someone I've turned down) will find a lawyer, and claim that my credit practices (which had nothing to do with anything but covering my bottom line) have a "disparate impact" on a particular group of people to which he happens to belong.But the fact that the doctrine is fraudulent is the whole M.O. It is a fraudulent logic concealed inside a loud, false claim of racism:
The "disparate impact" movement is not about minorities. It is not about racism.But if you don't go along with the fraud, you're a racist!
There's no better con than fraud accomplished through intimidation.
Sharing The Data
The video is a survey from the advent of man to the invention of the computer mouse and what it all means. Highly entertaining and well worth your time.
H/T to Bishop Hill for the video.
And should you wish to delve further Matt Ridley has written a book:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Thursday, August 12, 2010
There are traditional values, and then there are Gingrich values...
I don't know exactly why, but of all the potential Republican presidential candidates, it is Newt Gingrich who most makes me see red. There's more to it than disagreement on issues; if I sat down and went through their various platforms and statements I'm pretty sure I would disagree with Huckabee more than Gingrich. Yet contemplating Huckabee -- or even a Huckabee presidency -- does not drive me into a rage the way Gingrich does. Perhaps it's a personality thing; Huckabee seems more reasonable and self-effacing. More human. Less calculating.
And what could be more inhumanly calculating than cornering his wife in her hospital room where she was recovering from uterine cancer surgery, insisting on discussing the terms of the divorce he was seeking, and then refusing to pay alimony and child-support? As Frank pointed out in the comments, the local church took up a collection for the family:
"The First Baptist Church in his hometown had to take up a collection to support the family Gingrich had deserted. Six months after divorcing Jackie, Gingrich married a younger woman, Marianne, with whom he had been having an affair."To which I replied sarcastically,
Well, at least he won't be lecturing us about sexual immorality or family values!If anything, my sarcasm was understated. For Gingrich isn't just one of those guys who merely falls short of the standards he preaches; he apparently doesn't think they apply to him (which of course is very different).
Ann Althouse quotes from another former wife (I don't know which one, as I haven't kept track) who confronted him about the admitted cheating he had asked her to tolerate -- right while he was shamelessly giving a "speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values":
She said, "How do you give that speech and do what you're doing?"If he said that, it is not the same thing as if he fell short of standards in which he believed.
People who believe in their standards do not say "it does not matter" when they violate them. The word "hypocrisy" is bandied about too much and is often misused, but in Gingrich's case, I think it applies in spades. Arrogant hypocrisy. And what he did to his wife when she was in the hospital is worse than hypocrisy; it is downright cruel. I realize that's not a nice thing to say, but in all seriousness, I don't think Newt Gingrich is a nice person. Not that being nice is what it's all about, but do we really want a cruel Machiavellian who doesn't even believe in his own rhetoric as president?
Glenn Reynolds was right to call him "the Al Gore of the 'traditional values' world," and while I would think that's funny (because Al Gore is the Newt Gingrich of the
I'd be more depressed about the whole thing had Ann Althouse not said this:
you don't have to be much more than 3 to call bullshit on Newt.Leave it to Ann Althouse to cheer me up and make me feel young again!
MORE: It occurs to me that I may have been a bit harsh on Gingrich. So let me add that I do think he is a very intelligent man, a shrewd rhetorician, and a gifted speaker.
However, if those things made a great president, we'd already have one, wouldn't we?
Setting UP Win 7 Pro
I bought a copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade [Home Premium to Professional Upgrade]. Microsoft says the upgrade will be easy and it has an XP compatibility mode for all those old programs I need to run. Plus I can set up Virtual Machines for things like DOS, Win3.3, Linux, XP, and who knows what else my devious mind can conjure. Maybe a Z-80 partition and virtual machine. Microsoft says it is going to be easy and will take around ten minutes. They lie.
You start off going to the Windows Anytime Upgrade gizmo under the Start button and give them the secret code that came with your (almost)empty box. You then can go to the download page and Microsoft gives you the privilege of downloading 500 MBytes of code. My speed was on the order of 1.5 MBytes a second. Not too shabby. If you have nothing else to do for 4 or 5 minutes. Then you run the sucker. It restarts the computer (the shutdown dance) 3 times with varying delays and dead times. Give it at least a half hour before you give up on it while it is in one of its idle modes.
Then I went here to get the VFirtual Machine stuff. Another significant load for your ISP. Well fine. You can fool around with that and see if you can get it to work. Or you can Read The Effen Manual. Which I highly recommend.
Click on XP Mode download then run the program. You then have to do the shutdown dance. Again. Only once though.
Then Virtual PC Mode - another shutdown. This is getting monotonous. And a lot longer than 10 minutes. And finally you get to do the Windows XP Mode update. Another restart. Yarghhhh!!!
Finally I'm done. More like an hour and a half or two later. Well there is the Virtual Machine Maker Icon under the Start menu. Excellent. I made a 2 GB virtual machine to see how it works. Looks good so far. I'm going to fool around some and see what I've got - by poking at it. Out of that 1 GB (roughly) of software there ought to be something useful. Like maybe I can use my schematic drafting program. After roughly three months without. But I do have about a fifth of a ream of schematic scribbles I have produced in the interim. Some transcribing is in order.
If I learn anything interesting or amusing I'll have another post. And if you would like the previous chapter of the saga you can go back to The Partitioning of An Area. Which has a link to the one before that.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
It would seem that one of our satellites may have been misreporting Earth temperature data for as much as a decade.
US Government admits satellite temperature readings "degraded." All data taken offline in shock move. Global warming temperatures may be 10 to 15 degrees too high.Let me add that this error - if confirmed - will have no effect on the climate. It will, however, hugely affect the Global Warming debate. Except I think the science does not matter. After all it is the political agenda that drives things. Jeff Id agrees. Tim Ball seems to be leaning in that direction as well.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
A story that defies analysis (and it may also defy the "narrative" approach)
Perhaps because I have a strange compulsion to obtain facts so I understand the human motivations behind crimes, every once in a while I'll find myself utterly baffled over a news story, and a really creepy series of fatal stabbings in Flint, Michigan has left me without a clue.
It was widely speculated that the stabbings -- invariably involving unprovoked attacks on frail or elderly black men allegedly by a white man -- might have been perpetrated as a hate crime, and a sketch of the suspect was widely circulated. The story was on the front page of the Detroit Free Press and it has been receiving national attention.
Something about the stabbings made me suspect a very twisted, most likely emotional, possibly even a sexual motive. It occurred to me that if this was a white man, he might have a bizarre fixation on black men as a target of revenge. Why didn't he also target women? Why didn't he target whites? What sort of grudge might this man have had? Was he harmed by black people (possibly in prison) and might this caused him to blame an entire race in a psychotic rage?
I didn't blog about it only because there was nothing I could do but speculate, but now that the guy has been arrested, I'm even more baffled. They caught him trying to board a plane to Israel.
FLINT -- Police have a man in custody in connection with the Flint serial stabbings that left as many as five dead, officials said this morning.Israel?
So what does that mean? Why would this suspect be trying to flee to Israel?
And now that they have given his name, I am even more baffled:
FLINT, Michigan -- A warrant was signed Aug. 12 by Flint District Court Tracey Collier-Nix that charges Elias Abuelazam, 33, in connection with the Flint serial stabbings.(An earlier report stated that he was "taken into custody in Atlanta late Wednesday as he attempted to board a flight out of the country," but there was no mention of the country.)
The only thing I could learn in an online search for the name "Elias Abuelazam" was this court record which states that a man of that name had been employed as a mental health worker for a Leesburg psychiatric facility, and pursued an unsuccessful disability claim acting as his own attorney:
The parties stipulated that, on December 8, 2002, the claimant was an employee of Piedmont Behavioral Heath Center, the employer had three or more employees regularly in service and the claimant was involved in an incident arising out of and in the course of his employment.Etc. He lost the claim. But that's nothing there that would offer any clues as to a possible motive.
Now for my cynical analysis. As race narratives seem to determine the fate of these stories, and as this was said to be a "hate crime," I think the most salient fact will be whether this man is determined to be white.
In that regard, his name might matter. For example, what if "Abuelazam" is phonetic for something like "Abu al Assam"? He would still be white, but there are some multiculturalists who might argue otherwise. Not that whiteness should matter to any rational person, but since when is this stuff dealt with on a strictly rational basis? And what if he turned out to be a Muslim? Might that present, um, narrative issues?
Again, it's all speculation. I assume the facts will eventually come in and be reported.
But I am more puzzled than ever; hence the speculation.
MORE: The AJC is reporting that the man had an expired Israeli passport:
A suspected serial killer captured at the Atlanta airport had an expired Israeli passport and was about to board a plane to Tel Aviv when agents from several law enforcement agencies swooped in Wednesday, according to authorities and news accounts.And now the racial motivation has been dumped, because he is also said to have killed whites:
Investigators first thought there was a pattern based on the victims' race. Initially they were frail, elderly black men. But two white men and a 17-year-old have since been added to the list. Three victims were in Leesburg, Va., one was in Toledo, Ohio, and the rest were in Flint.His employer said he was "a nice guy," and flirted with female customers:
The store manager told Local 4 the man worked there less than a month and he had not been back since Aug. 1, the Michigan station reported.Now that the Narrative is officially "NOT A HATE CRIME," I'm thinking that the story won't be on the front pages for long.
AND MORE: Here's a story describing the suspect as "white to Middle Eastern":
A nationwide hunt continues for a serial killer who's accused of stabbing several men, including one in Toledo.If they are "random acts of violence" then why are "almost all" the victims black men?
The more the facts change, the more my compulsion to know the facts becomes insatiable.
MORE: An ABC video report:
I have tried embedding it twice, but the code doesn't seem to work. The link is here.
And here's the police sketch that the Free Press ran:
What annoys me the most about this story was the way that it seemed people wanted it to be about race.
What people want should play no role in reporting facts.
But hey, at least this doesn't appear to be one of those crimes that can be linked to those awful Tea Party nuts!
MORE: According to a report by his ex mother-in-law Abuelazam is Catholic:
She said her daughter, whom she did not want to identify, married Abuelazam on July 30, 2004 in Leesburg, Va. Hirth said she knew that her daughter and Abuelazam had fought at times and divorced in 2007.I guess that will be disappointing to those who wanted him to fit the Jihadist narrative.
MORE: Even though they saw the car which had been described in reports, the suspect's neighbors failed to report him because his Middle Eastern appearance did not fit the description of a white man:
Neighbors said they had seen a green GMC Jimmy-type of vehicle at the house on the 3700 block of Maryland until recently.What is white, precisely?
Can anyone tell me?
Is there no end to the national obsession with race?
UPDATE: This story is being spun in many media circles as an anti-Israel narrative.
Can't say I didn't see it coming.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Pot, kettle, civil forfeiture!
Speaking of marijuana, I think it's high time that we cracked down on huge landowners who know or have reason to know that Mexican drug cartels are growing the stuff on their land.
This sort of outrage is typical:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Several people have been arrested in a raid on a large marijuana growing operation at national forest in Wisconsin, state officials said Wednesday.This is not news; it has been going on for years:
...Mexican-based drug cartels have been using Wisconsin's national forests and wildlife-management areas for large-scale marijuana gardens in recent years. This includes an 8,000-plant "grow" in Shawano County's Navarino State Wildlife Area in 2009, and a 9,000-plant grow in 2008 in the Nicolet National Forest in Oconto County.The Mexican growers have gotten quite savvy; not only can they cross the border freely, but they have learned that government-owned land is the easiest to grow on -- even easier than growing elsewhere and smuggling it in:
A bureau report said Mexican drug traffickers have expanded marijuana cultivation in the United States since 2004. As the U.S. government increased its efforts to stop smuggling and illegal immigration along the U.S./Mexico border, cartels found it easier to grow marijuana on our public lands than to transport it in large quantities across the border.Hey, if I owned land and the Mexican cartel guys were growing marijuana on it, the feds could come in and seize the land, and sell it, right? Asset forfeiture, baby!
The burden of proof would be on me to prove that I didn't know what was going on. And here the government is fully aware of what is going on, and has been for years.
Think of how much money the government could get if the government treated the government the way it treats private landowners! Sell off all that land that's being used to grow dope, and they'd have billions. Even trillions. Why, the United States government alone has "direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land (2.63 million square kilometers) - nearly 30% of its total territory." And if someone is growing pot on it, I say seize it and sell it!
No more double standards! It's time to close the government loophole!
Are You A Big Government Conservative?
As seen at a Tea Party Rally.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
If all politics is tribal, then have I got a flag for you!
In an earlier post, I defended Andrew Breitbart (who probably doesn't need me to defend him) against a snarky left-wing remark by John Dean that he was some sort of tribalist:
Now, while they love accusing people who disagree with them of "tribalism," I suspect this might stem from the fact that people like Glenn Greenwald and John Dean are actually bigoted cultural tribalists themselves. So they naturally assume that those who disagree with them are enemies -- people from another "tribe."And surely no rational and free American would want to belong to a tribe, right?
Does tribalism necessarily have to beget tribalism? In the United States? What if you're just an American? I wouldn't go so far as to call that membership in a "tribe" because I like to think I am living in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, free country where I don't have to see myself as a member of any tribe. But even if we assume that American citizenship has its tribal aspects, what if you're just an American who doesn't want to belong to an additional tribe? I would submit that if people like Andrew Breitbart belong to a "tribe," it is one which has largely been aided, and abetted and created by tribal warfare started by people who consider themselves a rival "tribe."M. Simon's last post made me worry that I was whistling past the graveyard. As I said to him in an email,
The problem for me is that despite my reasoned dismissal of the idea of conservative "tribalism," I worry that there is such a thing. Tribalism makes my skin crawl, and while I realize many people want to belong, I don't like tribes, because I abhor groupthink, which is the next thing to the mob. And if you don't like mob thinking and say so, you will only be hated by the mob.And the worst part of this is that even if I did harbor some inexplicable need -- some inner longing -- to belong, it probably wouldn't turn me on to belong to a tribe of angry men who call libertarians names and insult pot smokers in the name of "manhood."
Sheesh. I guess that makes me a "libertarian pansy." Is there a tribe for that too? Let me know so I can avoid it. I'd probably be bored. (Probably because my father was born to a frontier family of homesteaders, and my grandmother was more of a man than most men today....)
But wait! It occurs to me that if there's a libertarian pansy tribe, they might need their own flag. And while I hate to re-wave old false flags, it's been some time since I've featured it here, and as no one flies it, I thought maybe I should dust it off.
True, I never called it the "Libertarian Pansy Flag" before, but then, this wasn't really my idea and I'm
Some One Else At The Controls
From the comments at Washington Rebel. Emphasis mine.
Well, there's no such thing as "conservatism", and hasn't been for a while. The clue is in the snarky references to marijuana.Themes I have been harping on for quite some time. I look forward to the day when we have conservatives untainted by Progressive Dreams - "With enough power we can FORCE people to do the right thing." As my friend above says: F* You to that.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Let's make sure there's no shortage of fun!
While I haven't had as much time as I might like to sound off on the issues of the day (and don't really have the time now), I want to take the time to say this:
No, really. I cannot stress the importance of such, um, inclusion, especially near the place where this country was attacked on September 11, 2001.
This is America.
However, I am bit taken aback by the idea that religious bigotry might stand in the way.
New York state issues liquor licenses, not Bloomberg's City Hall. And no bar can be within 200 feet of a place of worship. Will the state rule the Islamic site is such a facility? Or a mere "cultural center"? As it is, there's no shortage of watering holes downtown...one can certainly unfurl a gay pride rainbow flag with a crescent superimposed...As Glenn says, "Fun Galore!"
(I'm all for that.)
So, it occurs to me if there can't be a gay bar next door because of religious issues surrounding alcohol, then how about a gay bathhouse? (New York only has three....)
It's always good to have a backup plan.
Anyway, I just wanted to toss the idea out (or would that be slip the idea in?). And even though I agree that there's no "shortage of deliberate provocations in today's America," I see no harm in adding my suggestion to the surplus.
Why can't there be more loopholes in the Koran?
If this is "our" debt, isn't it a little odious?
The injustice is obvious. Yet the retired or soon to be retired public employees have a point: the law of contract. They took their jobs and worked for years or decades in reliance on promises by taxpayers (in effect) to, among other things, fund lavish pensions. Forever. Public employees all across America will sue to force taxpayers to make good on those obligations. The result could be significant demographic shifts, as taxpayers flee jurisdictions that have massive liabilities to former government workers. The result, presumably, will be municipal, county and state bankruptcy.While I am not an expert on the subject, I did take contract law in law school, and I am not at all sure that the taxpayers are necessarily the contracting party. Not only do most taxpayers have no say in these matters, but many of them were not even born when the contracts were entered into, many more were not of voting age, and still more did not live in the jurisdictions in which the contracts were made. Moreover, considering that the funding of these lavish pensions is agreed to by people in the government, for other people in the government including themselves, I would argue that they have not behaved in good faith towards the taxpayers who entrusted them with their money. In legal terms, they have breached their fiduciary duties to the taxpayers, and by any fair standard (either at law or in equity), the taxpayers are relieved of any obligation to continue such funding.
The question, whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of reflection in which we are immersed here, on the elementary principles of society, has presented this question to my mind; and that no such obligation can be transmitted, I think very capable of proof. -- I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living: that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by any individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severality, it will be taken by the first occupants, and these will generally be the wife and children of the decedent. If they have formed rules of appropriation, those rules may give it to the wife and children, or to some one of them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So they may give it to its creditor. But the child, the legatee or creditor, takes it, not by natural right, but by a law of the society of which he is a member, and to which he is subject. Then, no man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come; and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which is the reverse of our principle.So how far do these so-called taxpayer "obligations" go? Are taxpayers supposed to sit around passively and watch the government go bankrupt? And what if it does go bankrupt? Whose bankruptcy is it? If we analogize to a corporation, when it fails, the shareholders' stock becomes worthless, but they are not personally liable for its debts. As to the corporation's bondholders, they have to stand in line and collect whatever they can of whatever assets remain. If the U.S. goes bankrupt, bondholders will be SOL, and so will the rest of the country's creditors. But if a corporation can go belly up, I don't see why a country can't. Sure, it would be very tough, and the currency would be worthless, but the idea of holding American citizens personally liable for the previous actions of its political classes after the bankruptcy of the country would be so violate basic standards of legal fairness as to be morally egregious. (That's what drove the Weimar Germany into the hands of Hitler, BTW.)
Besides (and I know we're nowhere near "there" yet), there is plenty of historical precedent for telling the country's creditors to go pee up a rope:
A politically unstable state is anything but risk-free as it may, being sovereign, cease its payments. Examples of this phenomenon include Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries, which nullified its government debt seven times during a century, and revolutionary Russia of 1917 which refused to accept the responsibility for Imperial Russia's foreign debt. Another political risk is caused by external threats. It is most uncommon for invaders to accept responsibility for the national debt of the annexed state or that of an organization it considered as rebels. For example, all borrowings by the Confederate States of America were left unpaid after the American Civil War. On the other hand, in the modern era, the transition from dictatorship and illegitimate governments to democracy does not automatically free the country of the debt contracted by the former government. Today's highly developed global credit markets would be less likely to lend to a country that negated its previous debt, or might require punishing levels of interest rates that would be unacceptable to the borrower.In extreme cases, there's also the legal doctrine of odious debt. The idea is that it is unfair to hold citizens responsible for debts to which they did not consent and which were not for their benefit.
An article by economists Seema Jayachandran and Michael Kremer discusses the doctrine in more detail:
Our analysis is related to the legal doctrine of odious debt, which holds that debt should not be transferable to successor regimes if (a) it was incurred without the consent of the people and (b) was not for their benefit (Alexander N. Sack, 1927; Ernst Feilchenfeld, 1931).1 The underlying principle is that just as an individual does not have to repay money that someone fraudulently borrows in her name, and a corporation is not liable for contracts that its chief executive officer enters into without authority to bind the firm, a country should not be responsible for debt that was incurred without the people's consent and was not used for their benefit. The doctrine arose after the Spanish-American War when the United States contended that neither the United States nor Cuba should be responsible for debt that Cuba's colonial rulers had run up in Cuba's name. The concept attracted considerable attention in 2003 when the Secretary of the Treasury and other senior U.S. officials suggested that debts incurred by Saddam Hussein should perhaps be considered odious and not the new Iraqi government's obligation to repay.2The Cato Institute has another piece on odious debt:
Most debts created by Saddam Hussein in the name of the Iraqi people would qualify as "odious" according to the international Doctrine of Odious Debts. This legal doctrine holds that debts not used in the public interest are not legally enforceable.Far be it from me to compare people like Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to Saddam Hussein. They didn't build huge palaces or massacre their political enemies. But how can reckless policies which are certain to bankrupt a country ever be considered to be in the public interest? Saddam Hussein would say that his were, and I think all tyrants would make the same claim. As to consent, once again, all the Saddams would argue that of course the people consented. Just ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; I am sure he will say that the people love him and he is acting in their interest.
But tyranny is tyranny. It doesn't have to reach the bloodthirsty levels of a Saddam Hussein. Tyranny is arbitrary power, especially illegal and unconstitutional power.
Which raises the question of the day: Are we now living under tyranny?
I sometimes get myself worked up into emotional states, and when I do I try to avoid writing about the topic that upset me, because I find I am more capable of being logical, analytical, and rational when I am calm. And it is really easy to get all worked up and scream that these people who want to invade our privacy, steal our money, and run every last aspect of our lives are tyrants.
But the other day I was calm, collected, unemotional, relaxed, you know, completely sober in every sense of the word, and I concluded that, yes, it is beyond question that the United States government has become tyrannical.
On sober reflection, I still agree with my sober and reflective thought.
(I should probably be more emotional about such a disturbing thing. Maybe it's a sign of age.)
The Partitioning Of An Area
Some times you have to divide things up to make them work better. At least in the computer world. Which is why disc users who work with legacy systems often partition their systems. What to do? And how to do it? Well I found the testimonial on this page very helpful. Well what does it say? Just this:
My four stars for "Paragon Partition Manager 10" are to reflect the quality of the product as I found it to be. I was tempted to give it only three stars due to the major limitation that I had with it, however went with four due to the overall effort that the developers put into it. It is four starts because "I like it", however I doubt that I will be using it in the future. Others will likely find also that it is a good program, but not needed as there are free alternatives ("Partition Wizard Home Edition", "GNU Parted") that completely fill their needed.Partition Wizard is free? I like that price. So I down loaded it from Partition Wizard Home Edition. And then I tried it out. I decided to allocate 10GB to a new partition. The software was simple. It asked me how many megs I wanted in my new partition. I entered a number and clicked. And I got back the usual warning: "Open programs - do you want to shut them down or change partitions during reboot?" I chose "reboot" as the preferred option. It seemed the safest. So I rebooted. I got one or two unexpected screens (transient) during the reboot and then everything was back. Whhheeeww (always backup before changing your fundamentals - you will be more relaxed during operations). So I checked. Sure enough 10 GB was now in an unallocated partition.
When I add Linux to the system I'll check out GNU Parted and give a report.
Let me add that this is part of my ongoing saga about a failing hard drive and this is actually where I planned to start if my hard drive had not started to go bad. As the saying goes: even if it does not profit me I have had a profitable experience. I learned something.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, August 9, 2010
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Confiscating property and imposing federal rent control in the name of a new "right"
I just learned about a new idea that's floating around in the left's ongoing war against private property rights. It's called "right to rent" and it would require lenders to rent foreclosed properties their former homeowners for an indefinite period.
The idea is being promoted as as a reasonable win-win solution; in the Washington Post there's a piece titled Right to Rent: A Non-Bureaucratic Solution to the Foreclosure Crisis which makes it sound downright sensible:
It has been almost two years since the foreclosure crisis first became headline news. In this period, President Bush, Congress and most recently President Obama have put forward a variety of programs. None of them has had much impact on stemming the tide of foreclosures. It is time to try a different tack.Excuse me, but where in the Constitution is Congress given power to write the rules on foreclosure, much less alter them? (Sorry, I guess something like that would only matter to kooks who believe the Constitution means what it says.)
The logic of this change is straightforward. Due to the housing bubble, ownership costs grew out of line with rents. As a result, in many bubble-inflated markets, mortgage payments plus taxes, insurance and other costs could easily be twice as high as the cost of renting a comparable unit. "Right to rent" legislation would allow homeowners who cannot meet their mortgage payments the right to stay in their home as long as they pay the market rent.normal landlord-tenant laws would apply? What that means is that the banks (and presumably private lenders, such as former owners who carried financing) would have to pay all taxes and do all repairs and maintenance -- for the guy who defaulted on his payments! And naturally, he could be sued for code violations, negligence, etc. Rent could be withheld if the "landlord" failed to perform repairs which used to be the responsibility of the "tenant." Banks would suddenly become landlords, under a new draconian federal rent control scheme, and they would not be able to evict their "tenants."
Such a deal! Naturally, the goal is to to alter an "imbalance of power":
Needless to say, lenders will not be happy about a right-to-rent rule. It alters the balance of power between lenders and homeowners in the homeowner's favor.It does more than that; it essentially confiscates the property for an indefinite period of time, puts the government in charge of setting rents, and forces a lender to become a landlord against his will.
The congressional bill is H.R. 5028 (the "Right to Rent Act of 2010"), and it simply asserts federal jurisdiction over all mortgages, regardless of whether they are held by banks, S&Ls, or private citizens.
(1) COVERED FORECLOSURE PROCEEDING- The term `covered foreclosure proceeding' means a foreclosure proceeding with respect to an eligible mortgage, and includes any foreclosure proceeding authorized under the law of the applicable State, including judicial and non-judicial foreclosure proceedings.So it supersedes private arms-length contracts as well as state law. (Naturally, it is to be monitored and overseen by HUD.)
This amounts to federal confiscation of private property as well as federal rent control.
Whether they are serious and whether the bill has any chance of passage, I don't know.
The Long-Deserved Death Of Keynesian Economics
Tim Cavanaugh has a devastating cite from just-retired Obama economic adviser Christina Romer:
The generally precise Romer spells out the difference for us: Using this approach, the estimated multiplier for monetary policy is 0.823 and the estimated multiplier for fiscal policy is -0.233.
You don't say. Gee, that would have been nice to know a few trillion dollars ago.
Democrat Party water-carriers like Paul Krugman love Keynesian economics, with its assumed large fiscal multiplier, because it meshes so perfectly with leftism's general preferences: more government, bigger government, more public-sector employees, higher pay for those employees -- and, naturally, higher taxes to go with all that. Their continued insistence we need to spend (and tax!) more, more, more even as unemployment goes higher and deficits mushroomm is growing ever less credible with each additional "unexpected" signal of economic failure.
If there's one positive to come out of the Great Recession, it should be the end of Keynesian economics as a serious policy choice. The notion you can grow the economy via North Korea-style command economics should have been long-dead even before Romer's 1992 paper, but Obama's miserable failure may finally drive a stake through this productivity-sucking, economy-killing meme.
Let me put this simply -- and contradict a too-widely-held assumption of macroeconomics:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AGGREGATE DEMAND.
Government spending is not demand, it is command spending (at least for purposes of stimulating the economy). To "aggregate" it with private sector demand is like counting your dog's ringworm as a "pet" on a census form. It does not follow the same rules as private sector spending, as it is always seized and distributed according to law/fiat by bureaucrats indifferent to costs and benefits, not exchanged consensually between self-interested private parties seeking to maximize their utility. That's why Keynesianism is "unexpectedly" falling flat on its face before our eyes: it relies on a fallacious aggregation.
(Now, generally about this time someone on the left perks up and says "But... roads!" Yes, we need roads (but tend to also get Bridges To Nowhere), just as we need regulation, laws, etc. My point is not that all government spending is wasteful, just that government is 1) not very good at allocating resources to what is actually useful versus wasteful/cronyist/populist, and 2) is spending far more than it should, esp. given #1. Optimal government spending levels (i.e. those associated with highest levels of economic growth) appear to be something between 20% and 30% of GDP, whereas in the U.S. those levels are now exceeding 40%.)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Skip The Numbahs
Consequently he who wishes to attain to human perfection, must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics. - MaimonidesIt seems the trend these days is to skip all the hard stuff like logic, math, and physics (including chemistry) and go straight for the metaphysics. It leaves out all that tiresome stuff subject to experiment and proof and goes straight for the ineffable. Which no one can possibly eff. Very convenient.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Disease or wisdom?
Ah, the joys of being herded into packed rail cars in the hot summer!
As many as 70 people were involved in a massive brawl at two Metro Stations in Washington D.C. on Friday night.Poss mass? What is that? I haven't heard the expression before, but it hardly endears me to the idea of riding public transportation.
Yet all around the country, bureaucrat rulers, city planners, and left wing thinkers of all varieties sit around trying to come up with strategies to try to "nudge" people into these awful metal boxes teeming with humanity.
Maybe I am anti-social, but it is my personal opinion that being crammed into buses and rail cars is profoundly unnatural. It triggers my yuck reflex -- and if there is anything to the theory some have call "the wisdom of repugnance," then maybe my instincts are telling me something wise. After all, as Dr. Leon Kass famously observed,
repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason's power fully to articulate it.But I'm not one of those windbags who tell other people what to do.
Why should my repugnance be controlling?
I mean, some people get turned on by getting crammed into things; back in the day, fraternity boys used to enjoy stuffing themselves into telephone booths.
So, if people are into that, it's not for me to judge them simply because of my repugnance, whether it is wise or not. If people want to cram themselves into crowded rail cars, that's their thing, and as a libertarian I would never tell them not to do it. As long as they don't ask me to pay for it, their behavior is not my legitimate concern.
Besides, I might be the one who is neurotic. There's even a phobia diagnosis for my repugnance, which is one of the oldest of them all.
Claustrophobia is typically thought to have two key symptoms: fear of restriction and fear of suffocation. A typical claustrophobic will fear restriction in at least one, if not several, of the following areas: small rooms, locked rooms, cars, tunnels, cellars, elevators, subway trains, caves, and crowded areas. Additionally, the fear of restriction can cause some claustrophobics to fear trivial matters such as sitting in a barber's chair or waiting in line at a grocery store simply out of a fear of confinement to a single space.At the risk of sounding like a bigot, I think it may be wise for people who suffer from claustrophobia to avoid public transportation -- especially in light of the possibility that their claustrophobia may be a form of wisdom!
And to say that claustrophobes need treatment, wouldn't that be just as judgmental as it would be to say that people who like being crowded into metal boxes need treatment? Judgmentalism is bad, right?
The trouble with "to each his own" is that it sounds so dull, so unexciting. As boring as new age schmaltz. Value judgments about the relative wisdom of disease (or diseased wisdom) are much more exciting.
So I'd say that calling something a disease is as much a value judgment as calling it wisdom, except if I said that I'd be making a value judgment. However, if I make a positive value judgment about others, and a self-deprecating one about myself, few are likely to be offended, even though I am making the same point, right?
So I can say, "your disease is wisdom, and my wisdom is disease."
But not vice versa.
Texas Is NOT Happy
In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called on each state to declare its allegiance to to the Environmental Protection Agency's recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations - regulations that are plainly contrary to United states law.And that is just the first sentence.
Now catch this one:
On behalf of the State of Texas we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.And that is with 5 1/2 pages to go. Read the whole thing. Some very nice intemperate language.
From the sounds of it you would think the government of Texas has gone over to the Tea Party movement in whole or in part.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Your opinion is a breach of the peace! And so is your camera!
A relatively minor incident in the news serves as a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment -- as well as its inherent fragility.
If the reports are correct, a New Haven, Connecticut man was arrested merely for stating that he understood the mindset of the man who went on a shooting rampage at a Connecticut company which the shooter said was racist:
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Connecticut police say they arrested a man at a management company after he mentioned the shooting rampage across the state that killed nine people and said he understood the killer's mindset.He is absolutely right to call this ridiculous; I mentioned the same incident in an earlier post, and while I didn't say that I "understood" the shooter's mentality, I am sure that countless bloggers did. I would note that it is possible to understand such a mentality from either a sympathetic or unsympathetic POV. For example, I could say that I understand why Palestinian gunman Sirhan Sirhan would shoot RFK while still thinking he deserved the death penalty. Or the Fort Hood gunman. Or even Charles Manson. Understanding does not mean approval. But whether it does or not, if saying you understand someone's mentality is an arrestable offense, then the entire blogosphere belongs in jail.
Now, at the risk of sounding a bit paranoid, what intrigues me about this case is that I think it touches on an ugly nexus between corporatism and statism. Notice that in another article, it is pointed out that the arrested man was an employee of the Fusco Corporation, where company police initially made the arrest:
Francis Laskowski, 58, allegedly made the statement at Building 4 at Science Park in the city's Newhallville section.What this boils down to is that corporate security police were the ones who arrested this guy, and the local police came in and dutifully hauled him away.
On a completely bogus charge which will be tossed out of court.
Now, the company had every right to tell the man to keep his opinions to himself (and, I suppose, fire him), but arresting him for breaching the peace? Come on.
Does anyone think that if a podunk mom and pop business had called the cops over a similar comment by an employee, he would have been arrested?
Fusco, bear in mind, is no ordinary corporation, but a huge contracting company. It has built many of the most important buildings in the state, and its president also heads the state public broadcasting corporation:
Lynn R. Fusco, President of the Fusco Corporation -- one of the leading construction and property management companies in New England -- has been elected as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. (CPBI), parent company of Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) and Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR). The election took place during the CPBI Board of Trustee meeting on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, in New Haven, Connecticut.Hmmm.... I wonder what would happen if I showed up with my little camera and decided to take a few pictures of the company buildings. Would the corporate police detain me? And if they did, would the local police follow their direction and haul me in on bogus charges? (Much of the harassment of photographers involves not actual police harassment, but harassment by corporate security, with police arriving almost as if they are meant to be "backup.")
Why should a large corporation have more say-so over the First Amendment rights of citizens than you or I? I don't mean to sound like a Communist, but it does seem that they have unfair leverage.
And there is something unseemly about a bogus arrest like this taking place at a company run by the Chair of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Connecticut Public Television, and Connecticut Public Radio.
You'd think they'd display a little more First Amendment, um, sensitivity.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Had A SMART Event Lately?
About a month after I got the machine (a very nice one it is - Two eSATA ports [high speed external drive interface] and lots of USB ports plus various memory card readers) I started getting SMART Event reports. i.e. your hard drive is going south - do something quick. I backed everything up and went on using it. It has been another month now. The drive seems to be working fine.
So how good is this SMART stuff? Well I dunno. I haven't worked in that area. So how to find out? PassMark Software has a free tool that gives you a read out of the codes plus it tracks them to predict drive failure. What I found was that I was running out of spare sectors (they are used to replace failed sectors). So the dive is going to fail. From what I can tell, I have about 100 days or so to get the issue totally resolved (drive replaced). DiskCheckup™ is very nice tool that you should run at least daily.
Which brings me to backup. I tried using the Win 7 backup software and I found it useless. I had enough hard disk space for the backup but the Win software wasn't satisfied. Yaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh! I have used Paragon 9.0 on my old HP Box and I was very happy with it. It made my transition to the Gateway painless. Once I downloaded the free trial version of Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition (64 bit) 10.2 and used it to do an extraction of my saved files backup was relatively easy - well the menus are not exactly intuitive but the help files help and you can get through it. And why did I have to try the new version when I still had the old version? Well you see Win 7 (and I believe Vista - but I'm not sure) is not compatible with a lot of XP software. But not to worry. Intel has a Win 7 Upgrade.
OK so I tried the latest Paragon and I got all my old files back. After a couple of months I saved enough to get the Paragon Backup & Recovery Suite 10so I could backup my Win 7 box. But I had a leetle problem. You have to uninstall the free Paragon Backup 10. Not too tough. The Uninstall worked fine. But then you have to look for an errant directory entry or two and delete them. With the usual reboots and other time wasters. Well all is well that ends well. The software is up and I'm doing daily backups (the drive is failing) which take 4 hours 14 minutes to backup 720 GB (it gets compressed to about 570 GB on the drive). I used the eSata interface instead of USB in order to speed up the transfer. But you do need special cables for that. I used Tripp Lite P952-003 eSATA to SATA Signal Cable, 7P-M/7P-M - 3ft. Everything went well, with transfer speeds on the order of 50 M bits a second (total read and write). With indicated speeds (the Paragon has a nice window where you can watch the action) of around 145 M bits a second. Judging by the time it is about 3 G Bytes a minute actual transfer speed. Not too shabby.
Now I have to erase my spare drive and find some tools I can use to partition it with. I need places for Linux, XP, and even DOS. I'll report on that when I make some progress.
I have been using this tool: Cables To Go 30504 USB 2.0 to IDE or Serial ATA Drive Adapter (Black) both for its USB interface and just for its power supply when I was using the eSATA connection. I have found it to be invaluable for working out my current issues and for reading out those old hard drives you have laying around. I'm told you can get them cheaper on eBay but I like the security of having recourse with Amazon. YMMV.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Why do we need more housing insanity?
In a post appropriately titled "Housing Insanity," Megan McArdle expresses astonishment over the fact that despite the horrendous consequences of the housing bubble and its fallout, the federal government is going full steam ahead to promote no equity home purchases:
If you want to know why us libertarian types are skeptical of the government's ability to prevent housing market bubbles, well, I give you Exhibit 9,824: the government's new $1000 down housing program.Reading the details (100 percent financed vanilla mortgage, unemployed no problem, not even a mortgage insurance requirement) it all makes the head spin. Noting that "commentators left and right can agree that this is not a good idea" (because zero equity buyers have to suddenly sell their houses, they'll be unable to pay even brokerage fees and closing costs), McArdle speculates that the reason behind the reckless policy might be votes:
The government is less worried about protecting itself from default than protecting itself from voters who want to buy a home at cheap rates. Small wonder they've decided to "help" low income homeowners into dangerous loans.Insane as such a policy is, reports like this make me worry that getting votes might not be the only reason behind them.
The very existence of the Land Bank sends a chilling message to property owners as well as potential real estate investors. County officials have a free reign to implement their utopian vision of smart growth land use policy through the Land Bank. It is not hard to imagine the removal or relocation of entire neighborhoods "with the community's needs in mind."Right. Tear down the houses to end "sprawl." Move people into denser housing! Make them use public transportation! East German worker style housing where people are crowded together and told what to do is their idea of a "utopia."
Now, while the above is just local government action, I worry that left-wing ideas get shared, and that the idea might be beginning to sink in that the ultimate beneficiaries of foreclosures in general might simply be government.
If so, then it doesn't take much imagination to understand why encouraging irresponsible risk-taking and failure (in the name of "fairness," of course) would be seen as another way to hasten the destruction of private property.
So maybe the government's housing policy isn't as insane as it seems.
MORE: Glenn Reynolds thinks the problem is that these people are idiots.
Idiots who've been entrusted with nuclear weapons, and their economic equivalents.At least idiocy is a somewhat more reassuring explanation than my little fit of paranoid speculation.
Problem is, it takes the patience of a Zen master (which is a lot more patience than I have) to be reassured by the thought that the government is run by idiots.
A Revolutionary Act
Eric says that "the assertion of our constitutional rights is now a revolutionary act." I agree.
So in that vein I think it is time to repeat:
Thursday, August 5, 2010
All He Lost He Shall Regain
Eric's post A revolution both revolutionary and constitutional deserves some music.
And a comment I left at a previous post:
I remember back in the day when the lefty-revolutionaries got ALL the chicks.Yes it will. Permanent Revolution.
A revolution both revolutionary and constitutional
Are we facing another American Revolution?
Gay Patriot links this widely circulated piece that appeared in Investors Business Daily, and adds,
It is interesting to see a number of people now thinking the way I have been since August 2009. I certainly am not advocating armed revolution. But I also know that we have the right to it under the Declaration of Indepedence.Except I don't think we need to reach back quite that far. Our right to a revolution is something we have here and now, in the form of the United States Constitution.
Few people knew that better than Thomas Jefferson when he faced an out-of-control federal government which was directly violating the Constitution by asserting powers it did not have. Jefferson (the author of the Declaration of Independence) could easily have reached back in time to assert the natural rights of the Declaration, which was a mere 22 years old in 1798. But he didn't. Instead, he asserted -- in the Kentucky Resolution -- the revolutionary rights found in the Constitution itself :
Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the laws of nations, and no other crimes, whatsoever; and it being true, as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people,"--therefore, also, the same act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and entitled "An Act in Addition to the Act entitled 'An Act for the Punishment of certain Crimes against the United States;'" as also the act passed by them on the 27th day of June, 1798, entitled "An Act to punish Frauds committed on the Bank of the United States," (and all other their acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes other than those so enumerated in the Constitution,) are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish, such other crimes is reserved, and of right appertains, solely and exclusively, to the respective states, each within its own territory.(Emphasis added.)
You can take out "An Act for the Punishment" of this or that, and plug in any or all of umpteen thousand federal laws -- every one of which Jefferson (who would be a federal felon were he alive today) would agree are null and void.
And Voila! There's your revolution. Call it a constitutional revolution if you will, but right there in the Constitution there is a constitutional right to what would absolutely be a revolution by today's standards.
Let me repeat, the assertion of our constitutional rights is now a revolutionary act.
I realize that many in the so-called "ruling class" would throw a fit over this idea, and they would argue that such thinking would bring about what they'd undoubtedly call a "Constitutional Crisis."
Hey, when the Constitution has been ignored and violated as long as it has now, when we have reached the point where the final coffin nails are being driven in, I'd say that we're already way past the "Constitutional Crisis" stage.
An ignored and violated Constitution is a Constitution in crisis.
We have the right to do something about it, and the state of Missouri is leading the way.
Jefferson's Kentucky Resolution was shortly followed by Madison's Virginia Resolution, which echoes the same central point.
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government as resulting from the compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties, appertaining to them.I shouldn't have to point out the obvious, but as Madison had been the principal author of the Constitution, I think it's fair to conclude that he knew what it meant.
Interestingly, Jefferson biographers have argued that the idea of asserting the revolutionary rights which are within Constitution would come back to haunt the country:
Called forth by oppressive legislation of the national government, notably the Alien and Sedition Laws, they represented a vigorous defense of the principles of freedom and self-government under the United States Constitution. But since the defense involved an appeal to principles of state rights, the resolutions struck a line of argument potentially as dangerous to the Union as were the odious laws to the freedom with which it was identified. One hysteria tended to produce another. A crisis of freedom threatened to become a crisis of Union. The latter was deferred in 1798-1800, but it would return, and when it did the principles Jefferson had invoked against the Alien and Sedition Laws would sustain delusions of state sovereignty fully as violent as the Federalist delusions he had combated.Far be it from me to defend Thomas Jefferson against charges made by his biographer, but the insinuation made there (by Merrill Peterson in Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography) clearly involves the Civil War. And I hate the way liberals try to chain-link federalists to constitutionalists, to states rightists, to racists, to "neo-confederates" and probably to Nazis, in demagogic connect-the-dots fashion.
The simple fact is, just as it did not prohibit murder or any other non-enumerated activity, the Constitution did not prohibit slavery. It now does. That's not simply by action of war, but because of the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment. So, in addition to having only the enumerated powers that Jefferson and Madison made clear, the Constitution prohibits slavery, allows women to vote, allows taxation of all income from whatever source derived. And for a time, it prohibited booze.
All the rest is unconstitutional.
And we have a truly revolutionary remedy.
All we need to do is assert it.
beware of marginalized outsiders who don't give a damn!
In a piece Sissy Willis linked titled "The Tea Party vs. the Intellectuals," Lee Harris touches on what I think is the principal reason for the Tea Party movement's resiliency. It is at essence a movement founded on the principle of non-conformity -- of saying NO. (Even "EFF YOU"!)
Quite fascinatingly, this arises out of their refusal to be co-opted by a process Gramsci long ago called "Cultural Hegemony."
A generation before Orwell devised the idea of Newspeak, the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci had developed a concept that in many ways foreshadowed it, but with one major and considerable difference. Before Gramsci discovered Marx, he had been a student of languages. Gramsci was especially fascinated by what happened when two languages collided. Throughout European history, conquerors had routinely moved into new territories where the inhabitants spoke a different language. In some cases, such as the Normans in France, it was the conquerors who picked up the language of the conquered, but more frequently, it was the other way around. What explained this fact? Why did a conquered people so often abandon their own language in order to learn the language of their conquerors?Except there's a problem with that. Gramsci didn't invent Cultural Hegemony; he just found a new, highfalutin term for something as old as man --
There is no culture on earth that has been free from peer pressure. Looking up to people, whether they are the "ruling class" or those who are glamorous, handsome, successful high-achievers, or just "cool." Gramsci was no magician, and there's nothing magic about any of this; it's just that they -- the followers of the Gramsci school and those who went along with them -- often imagined that they were into something new, so they set themselves to work trying to do what various ruling classes have done for thousands of years: create peer pressure and then apply it. The difference was that like Gramsci, his initial followers were not actually of the ruling class. The goal was to use ruling class tactics to undermine and ultimately overthrow the ruling class. From without and (if at all possible) from within.
What has happened is that there's been a cultural shift. An emperor-has-no-clothes shift. One of the problems in creating any sort of class to which people might want to aspire is that there has to be something likable about it, and there has to be something in it for the people who are asked to follow it. I think it is no accident that the left wing ruling class is really losing its luster now that it's been discovered that what they're offering is about as cool and has about as much appeal as asking people to wear a hair shirt. There is nothing cool about national bankruptcy, rationed health care, being told you can't eat the food you like, being forced to take public transportation, and the rest of it. No amount of Hollywood propaganda can make people like austerity. Sure, it might be possible to sell rationing during wartime, but only if there's a promise of future victory. The left now promises nothing like victory; instead it's all doom and gloom, lowered expectations, and an end to American exceptionalism. The agenda just plain stinks, and calling it "progressive" does nothing to sweeten its appeal.
Those who want to impose this hair shirt mentality on Americans may think they are possessed of "prestige," but a growing number of people not only see through it; they reject it out of hand.
Parenthetically, I should note here that nothing terrifies the cool and prestigious classes who want to be looked up to more than seeing people they thought they had "owned" embrace something they have deemed un-cool or worthy of censure and regulation. (Gun-toting gays and pit-bull-owning lesbians are two examples that immediately come to mind. And what if the Tea Parties become cool?)
Harris explains how this "prestige" racket is supposed to work:
A governing elite that has a monopoly over the allocation of prestige has immense power over a culture. It can decide what ideas, thinkers, and movements merit attention, while it can also determine what ideas, thinkers, and movements should be dismissed with scorn and contempt -- assuming that the elite even condescends to notice their existence. Needless to say, such a setup will lead to a high degree of intellectual cronyism, in which members of the "in" group mutually endorse and reinforce each others' prestige; but like crony capitalism, this is standard operating procedure of all elites and should come as no surprise. Relying on the natural human desire to gravitate towards prestige, the intellectual elite has no need to resort to the ham-fisted methods of Orwell's Big Brother.The problem for them is that people are no longer looking up to them. The same thing is happening to their ruling class that happened to the ruling class they thought they were replacing.
Perhaps it was because he was writing in the early part of the last century, Gramsci did not forsee another problem:
Despite the fact that Gramsci regarded himself as a Marxist, the central role that he gave to prestige led far from Marxist orthodoxy. In Marxism the ruling class can be easily identified: it has a monopoly on the production and distribution of things. For Gramsci, there is a new ruling class, which has a monopoly on the production and distribution of opinions.Well, we know what happened to that "monopoly," don't we? (Dan Rather, call your cubicle!)
I especially like Harris's characterization of the Tea Party movement as one of "marginalized outsiders" -- and his contention that it is that feature which makes them revolutionary (even, dare I say it? in the Gramscian sense):
The only defense that the marginalized outsider has against this onslaught is to not give a damn. And the fact that the Tea Party movement does not give a damn about the current standards of intellectual respectability makes it problematic for the intellectual, who cannot take the same attitude. But it is also the characteristic that justifies the Tea Party's claim to be revolutionary. To be sure, this is not the revolution envisioned by Marx, in which the working class overthrows the capitalist class. It is rather the revolt of common sense against privileged opinion makers, and, by its very nature, it can only be carried out by men and women who are not constrained by the standards of intellectual respectability current in polite company. Again, it is precisely their status as marginalized outsiders that allows them to defy the monopoly of prestige possessed by the cultural insiders. This fact may put them beyond the pale as far as the conservative intellectuals are concerned, but it is precisely what makes them a force capable of resisting the liberal elite's efforts to achieve cultural hegemony -- a resistance that conservative intellectuals had hoped to mount but which they have not mounted, which explains why the Tea Party movement has so little use for them as a whole. As the Tea Partiers see it, what is most needed right now are not new ideas -- we have already had far too many of those. What is needed is the revitalization of a very old attitude -- the attitude shared by all people who have been able to maintain their liberty and independence against those who would take it away from them: "We do not need an elite to govern us. We can govern ourselves."Self government is supposed to be an American birthright.
Quite wisely (IMO) Harris also warns that pure democracy is an illusion and that "elite rule may be unavoidable." But I think (and I hope) that it's going to be tough for anyone to coopt the Tea Party. By its nature, it is resistant to peer pressure -- outside and even inside.
Cultural hegemony is a two way street. This is something that the intellectual con artist Gramsci knew full well.
In the interest of disclosure, it's probably fair for me to point out that as a traitor to the intellectual left, I've been a marginalized outsider for many years now. So I can say I think the Tea Parties are cool and there's not a damned thing they can do except ignore me. Fine. Being ignored by them is cool with me!
MORE: My assessment that the Tea Party movement is cool is borne out by the results of a poll Roger L. Simon discusses:
Interesting: 54 percent supported the Tea Party Movement strongly or somewhat. The two categories of support were equally divided. Only 41% opposed the TPM (28% strongly, 13% somewhat).Ah, the joys of being sub rosa! (I'm old enough to remember when underground was the epitome of cool....)
My Experience Is Similar
From a comment at Dr. Helen's.
Dr.D said...I can't say much about engineering school (I never went to one or finished college), but my experience in industry (aerospace engineering) is that most engineers tend to be libertarian/conservative with the libertarian faction predominating. That would be the socially liberal, economically conservative faction. Colloquially referred to as the pot smoking faction of the conservative movement. Also with a tendency to be gay friendly. Engineers don't care. Can you do the job faster than schedule and below budget is the only concern. Even meeting schedule and budget is considered a very good thing. Compare and contrast that with government.
And then my friend Eric had this to say in the same thread.
Eric said...I have noticed the same thing. Conservatives and I agree that government should be a good steward of the economy. The goal should be to reduce the friction without giving up minimal required controls (like enforcement of contracts). Now where I disagree with Conservatives and Progressives is that government can be an improver of men. Government can keep criminals off the streets (I should add has been traditionally empowered to) and create an environment conducive to honest dealings (contract/business law). But government can not bring into being the New Socialist Man, The New Libertarian Man, The New Conservative Man, The New Christian Man, etc. Why? Because the ideal can't exist. Why you ask? Well it is a principle supposedly enshrined in Conservative thought. Self interest. And you know this may come as a surprise - my estimation of my self interest may not coincide with your estimation of my self interest. This may be for various reasons. One could be you are right and I am wrong. OTOH I could be right and you wrong. The principle of maximum liberty dictates that if you are not scaring the horses in the street or stealing then the very maximum deference should be given to the person closet to the "problem". The self whose self interest is in question.
The founder of a certain religion was against using law for moral uplift. You have to wonder how so many who claim to be followers can square that circle? About all you can say is that humans is very interesting creatures. I aspire to be one some day. Well maybe not. I try to treat people in a way they prefer (individually) to be treated. An idea that seems to be rather unfashionable these days. Every body (well almost) has an agenda for the other guy. I don't see how they can do it. I can barely manage my own agenda. I can do without busy bodies and the "it is all so unfair" folks adding to my load. I am certainly not interested in moral uplift at the point of a gun.
Eric has more on the subject here.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I try to be what I am. But what should I say I am that I haven't already said?
As Dr. Helen's post reminded me, the left wing considers right-leaning libertarians like her (and like me) to be conservatives.
Which means I am considered a conservative by liberals. I could accept that if it ended there. I agree with conservatives about 80% of the time (as online tests confirm).
Yet that "minor" twenty percent disagreement can become awfully annoying at times. Disagreement on the social issues is considered fundamentally wrong by social conservatives, and there isn't any easy way to paper over that stubborn fact. And there are some loud and shrill conservatives I simply cannot stand, and I would never support them. (Some of them annoy me so much that even when I agree with them I hate it.)
So, just as there would be an honesty problem for me in saying "I am not a conservative," there is also a problem in my saying "I am a conservative." The difference is that in the latter case my argument will not be with liberals, but with conservatives.
Yet OTOH, to say "I am not a conservative" also invites trouble, for not only isn't it honest, but it sounds as if I am trying to cozy up to the left. Which I absolutely am not -- but which the speaker Dr. Helen mentions absolutely was:
He had to let the audience know, "I am not a Conservative" before discussing the decision, I guess just to make sure his colleagues knew he was in "their tribe."It gives me the creeps to feel as if I should belong to a tribe, and as I explained sarcastically here, I wish Americans didn't feel pressured to do it.
So where does that leave me? What do I call myself?
Here are a few options that come to mind:
It's easy to complain that it shouldn't matter what I call myself, but the point is that it does matter to some people.
It matters most to those who want to tell me what to do and what to think.
Annoying though they might be, perhaps I should be glad that they care.
Winning by running against litmus tests
Many Michigan conservatives are undoubtedly disappointed by yesterday's gubernatorial election. Here are the results:
Governor - GOP PrimaryIt was quite fascinating to watch the dynamics of the race, because it reminds me of something I touched on in my recent post about Newt Gingrich: the more candidates there are running in a primary, the more likely it is that the winner will not represent of the thinking of the majority. (Depending on your POV, that may be a good or a bad thing.)
Hoekstra and Cox battled for months over which one was more conservative, the true conservative, etc. It got quite vicious, and while a lot of the arguments involved the abortion issue, in the end that didn't seem to be the top voter priority, because Cox was endorsed by Michigan Right To Life, and he came in third. Not only that, but the top vote getter, Rick Snyder has been repeatedly denounced as a "RINO" for being soft on abortion. He says he is against abortion, but refused to say when human life begins, has endorsed stem cell research (which RTL considers murder), and he has gone out of his way to duck social issues -- so much so that it is no exaggeration to characterize it as a hallmark of his campaign. I suspect that he and his campaign realized that all that "wrangling on the right" would cause the non-activist voters to default to him. So very shrewdly (IMO), he repeatedly said that he didn't want to be measured by ideological litmus tests.
Abortion thus became a very important issue, because Snyder very slickly (and without ever embracing the pro-choice position) appealed to those who found it tedious, wanted it to be less important, or even wanted it to be a non issue.
Never mind that the Michigan governor has very little say in the matter of women having abortions, which are legal because of Roe v. Wade. Never mind that in the minds of Michigan voters, the economy is number one. Michigan voters were subjected to one a classic "mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most conservative of them all?" debate, in which the social issues ordinary people don't consider the most important issues loom large, and this forces the candidates to try to out-do each other.
Who is the most anti-abortion of us all?
(And while the question who is the most anti-gay? might not be asked directly, it certainly comes up indirectly. Wink wink.)
Additionally, it is also possible that voters might have seen Snyder (a local Ann Arbor businessman, the former Gateway Chairman, who claims to be against higher taxes and spending) as being in the best position to defeat the Democrats, who have been very strong in Michigan. I don't know whether Snyder can win or not, but I have to say I found his "I'm a nerd" campaign amusing and refreshing. But then, I don't like ideological litmus tests either:
...with ideologues, it isn't enough to sincerely oppose statism and believe in the Constitution. To be a conservative, you have to acknowledge, at least respect, an ever more irritating litany of memes and conspiracy theories, and you have to denounce "elitism," "intellectualism," "secularism," "RINOism" and all things Ivy League. It all evokes class war, which is predicated on the ad hominem fallacy. It was what made me detest the left, and it hardly endears me to the right...However, if Snyder is elected and turns out to be another tax-and-spend, Big Government Republican, he will earn my wrath. (I find the fact that he refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge disturbing, to say the least.)
Returning to the main issue of abortion (which as I explained, was not the main issue but became a central issue as the primary became a de facto voter referendum on abortion as a litmus test), here's now the race looked just weeks ago:
Though Cox has the Right to Life of Michigan endorsement, Hoekstra has a slight advantage over him among voters who are anti-abortion advocates. Cox trails Hoekstra among anti-abortion voters 29.1 percent to 26.5 percent, but he leads Hoekstra 28.7 percent to 17.9 percent among Republican voters who favor abortion rights.Yet voters rate the economy as the number one issue. And Snyder was the businesman:
The economy was named the No. 1 issue facing the state by a whopping seven in 10 voters. The state budget and taxes finished a distant second at one in 10 voters. Snyder, a businessman with no political experience, was seen as the candidate with the best plan to improve the state's economy and create jobs by 22 percent of respondents, followed by Hoekstra at 20 percent and Cox at 19.8 percent. Snyder has called for eliminating the state's unpopular business tax and replacing it with a 6 percent levy on profits. He also advocates reducing the time it takes to get a permit and reforming the Michigan Economic Development Corp.Such an appeal is limited, though, because as I pointed out yesterday, any Democrat who crossed over to vote for Snyder would be unable to have any say in the Democratic Primary, which in most cities, means having no say at all in the election.
The comments to "Mike Cox for governor Hoekstra is no conservative" reflect the fierce, single-minded devotion to the abortion issue which did so much to give Snyder the winning leverage.
Here's one of his campaign ads which shows how he used such conservative bickering as a way to pitch his message:
The more Cox and Hoekstra yelled at each other, the better Snyder looked.
If there's a lesson here, I think it's a litmus test lesson in races with multiple candidates. The more candidates there are competing over ideological litmus tests, the better the chances of a candidate who runs against the litmus tests.
MORE: It occurs to me that if they really wanted to be fair and maximize the will of the majority in these primaries, they ought to consider requiring runoff elections in case such as this. (Why shouldn't GOP voters be allowed to decide between Snyder and Hoekstra?)
AND MORE: I should point out that the good news for Republicans is that the total number of votes for all Republican candidates was 1,044,523, while the total number of Democratic votes was only 527,203.
And the top GOP vote getter Rick Snyder, with only 36% of the GOP vote, still got more votes (380,489) than the winning Democrat Virg Bernero (308,764)
Global Warming Enhances Erectile Function
In a soon to be unreleased paper the journal Nature will announce that Global Warming Caused by CO2 is statistically connected with increased erectile function in human males. One participant in the study was especially enthusiastic. "With another doubling of CO2 I could go all night." His sorely taxed partner was unavailable for comment.
Prompted by this comment.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Is there anything those awful homos won't do?
It has come to my attention that PFC Bradley Manning -- the leaker at the center of the Wiki Leaks scandal -- is openly gay.
According to Ace, Manning was upset because of a breakup with his lover or something like that, and decided to betray many American allies to the Taliban. Great. So the guy is a traitor who betrayed his country out of purely personal spite. Ace thinks he should be hanged, and if he is ever tried and convicted of treason or espionage, he very well could -- and should -- get the death penalty. (But isn't the federal punishment now lethal injection?)
What I'm having trouble understanding is how his being gay is an argument against gays or against allowing gays to serve -- any more than it would have been an indictment of heterosexuality had a straight soldier freaked out over a cheating spouse and committed some awful crime in retaliation.
Apparently it is considered relevant -- at least by Accuracy In Media, which argues that the man's conduct is an indictment of gays in the military:
"The revelations of Manning's openly pro-homosexual conduct suggest that a more liberal Department of Defense policy, in deference to the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief, had already been in effect and has now backfired in a big way. The result could be not only the loss of the lives of U.S. soldiers, as a result of the enemy understanding U.S. intelligence sources and methods, but damaged relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan and a possible U.S. military defeat in the region as a whole." - Accuracy in MediaSo, because a gay soldier committed an awful crime, that means gays are unfit to serve?
I've heard a number of arguments against gays in the military, but this one takes the cake.
But if one bad fruit spoils the whole batch, hey, as I pointed out to M. Simon in an email, John Wayne Gacy was gay, too!
And come to think of it, so was Hitler.
Clearly, those awful gays will stop at nothing!
MORE: According to Manning's Wiki entry (which notes that Daniel "Pentagon Papers" Ellsberg has been praising him), Manning seems to have also engaged in heterosexual conduct:
Before being arrested, Manning had been demoted for assaulting another soldier, and was to be discharged early. In the chats, Manning also told Lamo about his demotion and some of his personal problems - that he had been through a break-up with his girlfriend and that he was feeling lonely and unsupported by his family - but whether these events occurred before or after his discovery of the material or his release of the material to Wikileaks, is not made clear from excerpts of the chat logs released by Wired.Might he be a bisexual?
They're probably the worst traitors of all!
AND MORE: It gets
But does that mean he is gay? Possibly. Considering his relationship with a woman, if he is himself a "woman in transition," depending on your interpretation of these things, then "she" may have already been in at least one lesbian relationship. And while that wouldn't make him gay, it would make "her" a lesbian.
MORE: Another tough question is whether Manning would be "gay" if "she" had sex with a man. Hmmm....
I honestly don't know. I try to be logical about these things but it's been a long day and I'm genuinely getting confused. Transgender arguments especially exhaust me.
It seems clear, though, that if Manning still has a penis, unless has had sex with men he cannot be considered gay. Nor is it IMO really fair to call him a lesbian until that point where he legally becomes a woman.
MORE: If this article in the Telegraph is correct, it's pretty clear that Manning is gay.
Mr Manning, who is openly homosexual, began his gloomy postings on January 12, saying: "Bradley Manning didn't want this fight. Too much to lose, too fast."As to why none of that appears in his Wiki writeup, who knows?
FINAL NOTE: I agree with Ace that the full story is being covered up. I am sick of stories being buried out of fear of harming the Narrative -- which is why I wrote this post about it.
People who think that a gay traitor means gays are traitors are bigots, but that does not mean that the story of a gay traitor should not be reported.
MORE: A man who went on a murderous rampage apparently claimed he was motivated by racial discrimination:
After hunting down and killing coworkers that he thought were racist, the gunman at the Connecticut beer distributorship called 911 and calmly explained that he was done shooting but wished he had murdered more.Suppose the man had been gay, and said the following:
This place is a homophobic place. They treat me bad over here and all the other gay employees bad over here too."Neither claim of discrimination (whether true or false) would be a defense against a murder charge, nor would either incident be a valid argument for or against hiring anyone (except the shooters involved).
Whether Manning's conduct was in retaliation for whatever "homophobia" he may have perceived remains to be seen.
The Veneer Of Civilization
Historian Will Durant wrote in his book The Story of Civilization:
"The Mohammadan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within."You have to wonder what Islam has in store for the rest of us.
The above quote and its preface shamelessly cribbed from: Trembling Fingers
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Who is sharing your child's "publicly available information"? And with whom?
There's an AP article floating around headlined "New ID theft targets kids' SS numbers." Apparently, there's a huge market in stolen Social Security numbers, and according to the piece, the bad guys consist of those who sell the numbers as well as the credit companies that allow people to run checks on them.
Online companies use computers and publicly available information to find random Social Security numbers. The numbers are run through public databases to determine whether anyone is using them to obtain credit. If not, they are offered for sale for a few hundred to several thousand dollars.OK, what I want to know is this: where are they getting the children's social security numbers in the first place? What is meant by "computers and publicly available information"?
As the word "computers" can mean almost anything, I'm thinking that the leak comes from what the piece calls "publicly available information."
What "publicly available information" might that be?
The purpose of a social security number is to keep track of wages and earnings, right? The IRS and the Social Security Administration have a right to demand them at tax time, and for the purpose of paying benefits.
But as children aren't allowed to work yet, have not established credit, and have never paid taxes, the only places where I'd expect to find their numbers would be maybe hospitals and the Social Security Administration. But I may be out of the loop because I don't have kids, so I checked the SSA web site. Sure enough, I was wrong; there are other possible places (including the IRS) where a child's number might be needed:
You need a Social Security number to claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return. Your child also may need a number if you plan to:OK, so assuming the online identity thieves are getting the numbers from somewhere (as opposed to running random numbers to see whether they work), that must mean that people in either government, the banking industry, or the health care industry must not be safeguarding them.
Who's the culprit?
And why does the article only single out the companies that get these numbers for blame?
Could it be that the AP is downplaying the possible role of crooked or incompetent bureaucrats?
MORE: Apparently, there is also a way for hackers to come up with usable SSNs solely by using a date and place of birth.
If it's that easy, then the government is too incompetent to be trusted with anything.
Two words too good to miss
Perhaps I didn't mean to be as facetious as I thought I meant to be when I used the Glenn Reynolds phrase "FASTER, PLEASE" in an earlier post, but I thought this merited a new post, because I think this is worth stressing.
By merely clicking on that InstaPundit search phrase, it is possible to see the best collection of posts about new high tech developments available anywhere online.
169 of them, to be exact.
Clicking the link again this morning made me stand in awe. As an InstaPundit search term, it's than Heh. Or Indeed. Or even Heh. Indeed. (And there's the ever-popular "THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MCCAIN," but don't tech developments beat ironic nostalgia?)
For Those Who Like Out-of-Control Big Government -- A Shining Example of Statist Spending!
Weekly Standard Editor Andrew Ferguson takes a look at American voters' confusing on-again, off-again love affair with statism:
A paradoxical people, these Americans: eager to have an incompetent government that they don't trust do more of the things that they don't want it to do.That's not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of Ferguson's piece, and I suggest reading the whole thing.
But as I read it, the more I thought about the tension between the anti-statists (almost invariably libertarians and small government conservatives) and the big government conservatives, the more I thought about one appalling example I stumbled onto yesterday.
Drug War Spending.
At the end of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the United States was spending a mere $66 million in the battle against illegal drugs. Four years later, at the end of Nixon's first term, the War on Drugs cost $796 million. By 2000, President Clinton and a Republican Congress had approved $19.2 billion for the drug war.OK, I lived through the '60s when LBJ was president and I remember Nixon ramping up the drug war. Ever since, it has been ramped up, and ramped up, and ramped up. Yet I see very little difference in the number of people using drugs; now as then, some people use them, others don't. I do remember that in those days you could go to a doctor and get drugs; uppers and downers were omnipresent; even opiate pain killers required only a simple prescription. That was before the federal DEA-monitored system of "triplicate" prescription forms which most doctors are terrified to write, and I am sure federal harassment of doctors will get worse. So, while in the old days there used to be an officially-tolerated legitimate medical system of supply for drugs, today adults who want uppers, downers, and even pain killers have to look for them on the street. To that extent, the drug war has "worked." Also, we now have SWAT Teams in nearly every city, ready to bash in doors and shoot dogs and citizens in their search for drugs. Back in the old days, there were "vice squads" -- and they had to knock on the door like Joe Friday. This gave users time to flush their stash, and we can't have that, can we? Now, we target them military style, with lightning speed, with SWAT Team firing flash-bang grenades. So while plenty of people still use drugs, they've been pushed further and further into the criminal fringes, as police state tactics have "improved."
I realize that many conservatives think this is all hunky dory, and that it represents, um, "progress."
But let's say you're one of those who likes the Drug War. How much do you think we should pay for it?
According to the War On Drugs Clock, so far this year, the federal government has spent over $11 billion on the drug war, while the states have spent over $15 billion.
Are are better off now than we were when we spent only $66 million a year? I don't think so, and I think what has happened is that the drug bureaucracy has simply been running amok for decades, because it has never been challenged in any major way by either party (neither of which wants to be seen as "soft on drugs").
To be honest, had the drug war not been ramped up, I realize that we would have to adjust for inflation. So to be fair I decided to use the inflation calculator here.
That $66 million in 1968 dollars would be $402,517,395.96 in 2009. That is less than half a billion dollars. So how do we get from that figure to $20 billion? By my calculations, that's an adjusted-for-inflation increase of over 4000%.
Is it worth it?
Putting aside the rightness or wrongness (or constitutionality) of federal criminalization of substances, can anyone explain how?
A voter's dilemma
Today is Election Day. Michigan's primary election, that is.
So, because I live in a left wing city, I feel largely disenfranchised. That's because I have a choice between having a voice in selecting the Republicans candidates who might win the higher offices (and having no say at the local level, because whichever Democrat wins the primary wins in the fall), or else I could vote Democrat to have a say in the Ann Arbor government (and have no say in choosing the Republicans at the state level).
Like this guy, who faces the same problem:
I am a Republican, and I'm usually content with sticking to the GOP primaries. My most enthusiastic vote Tuesday will be for Hoekstra for governor. Our longtime congressman is in a very tight race and will need every West Michigan vote he can get.I'm sure it could be argued any number of ways, but Michigan's primary system forces you to choose one party or the other, and if you live in a town ruled by Democrats, you're SOL if you vote Republican. Sure, Republicans can run for local office here, but it's a joke.
Take, for example, the local mayor's race. I have discussed it twice here, and I would like to be able to vote for the opposition candidate Patricia Lesko. Similarly, I might want to vote for Pam Byrnes for State Senate --simply because she is being smeared by her opponent because an ad supporting her was allegedly run by wicked "right wing Republicans."
Progress Michigan today issued a warning to Washtenaw County voters, saying a right-wing group funded by leading Michigan Republicans is behind a series of misleading ads supporting Democrat Pam Byrnes.I know a smear when I see one, and I'd like to vote for her too. But if I do, I lose the ability to have any say in the Michigan gubernatorial primary.
I don't know what the solution is. Allow cross voting for different candidates in different races? Allow all voters to vote in all primaries? Or perhaps hold local primaries on different dates?
Of course, this dilemma cuts both ways. Democrats who want to influence the GOP races at the state level lose the ability to have a say locally.
MORE: Via Stephen Green, some worrisome news. Not only are the Democrats now trending ahead in the polls, but the Republicans seem to be sitting on their nonexistent laurels.
Americans are sick of the Democrats already, but aren't yet ready to trust the GOP again. And what I'm seeing out of the Washington crowd makes me think that the Republicans are counting almost exclusively on the former and ignoring the latter -- to their own, great peril.For the last several (national) election cycles now, the Republicans have seemed unable to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Utopian technology transcends supply and demand
In early 2004, I discussed the idea of "using genetic engineering to end the Drug War":
What fuels the Drug War, in my opinion, are the absurd prices people are willing to pay for otherwise worthless, commonly available substances -- simply because they are illegal in this country, and have to be imported at great risk from the Third World. (Or, like OxyContin, manufactured for pennies, then resold on the blackmarket for small fortunes.)I have to say that when I wrote that I had no idea that the technology would be just six years away, but a couple of news item I read ealier made me wonder whether my utopian blogdream might be on the verge of becoming a reality
First I read about a student researcher who got an E. coli culture to actually manufacture morphine:
Opiates for the masses may not be far off. Scientists have figured out two of the final steps in the chain of chemical reactions that synthesize morphine in the opium poppy.It's very technical stuff, but here's what happened:
Years of research, gift plants, a bit of luck and the "Herculean effort" of then graduate student Hagel led to the discovery, says Facchini.Yeah, I think it would give anyone a sense of power to make bacteria do that. (It is one thing to have an idea, but quite another to see an idea -- which gene-splicing is -- physically do something.)
This inspired me to look further, and I learned that just a few months ago, some Canadian genetic engineers created morphine-producing yeast -- an achievement said to have raised "profound ethical and social issues":
Building on the discovery of two elusive genes that enable the opium poppy to make morphine and codeine, researchers inserted synthetic versions of those genes into yeast and coaxed it to produced the potent painkillers.Once such yeast found its way into the hands of end users (thanks to a leak from a disgruntled or utopian-minded grad student), there would be no practical way to stop it. All that would be needed would be some sugar and some water, and the junkie would have his own inexhaustible supply. Naturally, the yeast could be expected to be shared.
The Drug War would become unwinnable, because the chain of supply would cease to exist. Directing a fight at dealers who who buy from smugglers who buy from growers in distant lands would be pointless.
The result is what I called "A lifetime supply of whatever -- whenever...." When I wrote that I had no idea that the technology I was speculating about would soon become a reality.
And if they can do this with morphine, they can do it with any naturally occurring substance.
I'm tempted to say "FASTER, PLEASE" but that's not my line.
Plus, I doubt the DEA would agree. To them (as well as the criminal cartels they pursue) a major industry could be facing a dire threat from disruptive technology.
Religion for thee, but not for me?
What do you call someone who advocates religion for the masses but not for himself? Most people would call such a person a hypocrite. At the very least, such a political position evinces a mindset normally thought of as condescending -- the sort we would typically associate with the "ruling class." Doubtless this factored into Marx's denunciation of religion as the "opiate of the masses." (And while I am no Marxist, there's some intriguing research linking religious ecstasy to the release of endorphins.) So if Marx was right about religion supplying people with a need, why would that make religious advocacy by nonbelievers any more "hypocritical" than, say, the advocacy of sports or entertainment by a non-fan? Would I be a hypocrite if I said that attendance at sporting events or NASCAR races was a good thing, but failed to attend these things myself? I hate television, but does that mean I can't suggest that it meets some people's needs? If we look at it this way, why wouldn't it be possible for even an atheist to advocate religion for those who needed it?
There's one of those much-quoted wise sayings along these lines which is often attributed to Seneca the Younger:
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."There's no confirmation that Seneca ever said that, though. Instead, someone seems to have paraphrased Gibbon, and improperly attributed what he said to Seneca. From The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. I, ch. II:
"The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord."What's fascinating about this was that the official Roman state religion easily lent itself to such advocacy and even practice by nonbelievers. Just throw some incense into the fire and say the magic words. It didn't matter whether it was a superstition, and the fact that the gods had typically human traits made them much easier to identify with. Like believing in people just like you, with all the common petty vices, flaws, and squabbles, only they were immortal, so they were always there! And if you wanted more, they could always be added or created. The official religion was thus very tolerant of the religions of conquered peoples, because it wasn't a big deal to add a few more gods into the pantheon. But they couldn't add Yahweh or Jesus, because their followers wouldn't let them. Moreover, they refused to tolerate images of the Roman gods, and huge riots would break out if they were put up in the wrong places. Many a Christian martyr died for refusing to throw a little incense on a Roman devotional fire; magistrates found it utterly incomprehensible that given the choice of throwing incense to a Roman god or being put to death, the Christians willingly chose death. (No adding Jesus to that Pantheon.)
But what about the many Roman nonbelievers? Whether they were skeptics, atheists or agnostics, it didn't matter so long as they were willing to acknowledge the traditional gods. Moreover, some of the wisest Romans were nonbelievers who nonetheless saw the utilitarian value of religion. You don't have to rely on Gibbon's words stuffed into Seneca's mouth.
'Tis expedient that there be gods should exist; and as it is expedient, let us believe them to exist. Let frankincense and wine be placed on their ancient altars.And Plutarch:
The atheist thinks there are no gods, the superstitious man wishes there were none; but he believes in them in spite of himself, because he is afraid to die, and like as Tantalus seeks to evade the rock suspended over him, so does the latter evade his fear, by the weight of which he is no less oppressed, and would be content with, nay gladly accept the Atheist's state of mind, as a state of liberty. But as it is, Atheism has nothing in common with Superstition: for the superstitious man, though by inclination Atheist, is yet far too weak-minded to think about the gods what he wishes to think.(Plutarch, BTW, was not an atheist, but a temple priest who tended towards the Platonic belief in one god.)
Superstition is something that does not easily go away; it manifests itself among agnostics and atheists, environmentalists who think "The Earth" is striking back, first ladies who believe in astrology, etc.
I think that what made the Roman religion easier for both superstitious believers and practical non-believers was the gods' very human nature. Fierce, pure monotheism in the form of worshiping an all-powerful, all-knowing, yet totally invisible GOD is a hard sell, because you're asking people to believe in an entity with which they cannot readily identify. Indeed, they are not supposed to identify with such an all-encompassing deity; they are to fear HIM, and above all, they are to SUBMIT. It just isn't enough to throw a little incense on the fire of the god you personally like best.
When people have a pantheon of gods that act like humans, they are spiritually undisciplined, and if they are to be made to submit to monotheism, the latter is best imposed by force. Fortunately for Rome, when it encountered monotheism, the monotheists -- in the form of the Jews -- had no interest in converting the Romans. The trouble resulted from their devout refusal to allow Rome to coopt them.
Interestingly, Egypt (polytheistic for many centuries) had been briefly monotheistic (worshiping only Ra as the only for a time under the Atenist dynastic period), something the monotheist rulers tried to accomplish through force:
In Year 9 ( 1344/1342 BC ), Akhenaten strengthened the Atenist regime, declaring the Aten to be not merely the supreme god, but the only god, a universal deity, and forbidding worship of all others, including the veneration of idols, even privately in people's homes - an arena the Egyptian state had previously not touched in religious terms. Atenism was then based on strict unitarian monotheism, the belief in one single God. Aten was addressed in prayers, such as the Great Hymn to the Aten: "O Sole God beside whom there is none".It didn't go over well, though, as the dispossessed priests of the old order eventually overthrew the new religion. Still, a seed had been planted and some analysts (notably Sigmund Freud) have speculated that Judaism was a direct offshoot of Atenism.
With Egypt being polytheistic, Rome's later conquest did not present any major religious problems, although monotheism was to return to Egypt big time, in the form of Christianity. It spread rapidly in Roman-occupied Egypt, and the Roman authorities had little luck in stopping it.
The most revolutionary event in the history of Roman Egypt was the introduction of Christianity in the 2nd century. It was at first vigorously persecuted by the Roman authorities, who feared religious discord more than anything else in a country where religion had always been paramount. But it soon gained adherents among the Jews of Alexandria. From them it rapidly passed to the Greeks, and then to the native Egyptians, who found its promise of personal salvation and its teachings of social equality appealing. The ancient religion of Egypt put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity. Possibly its long history of collaboration with the Greek and Roman rulers of Egypt had robbed it of its authority.Might the Roman rulers have suddenly realized how vulnerable the older polytheist religions were to this new form of monotheism?
Or should Christianity be called "quasi-monotheism"? Unlike Judaism, Christianity offered believers something unavailable to Jews: a god who was a man. To polytheistic peoples, immortal beings that were half-man and half-god had a long history, and even though the Christians concocted a doctrine called "the Trinity" to explain this away ("launder" might be too strong a word), the fact is that ordinary pagans of the time could much more readily be expected to identify with this new deity -- whether they thought of him as half-man, half-god "son of God," a man who was a god, or a God actually coming down to earth in the form of man. That the offer of eternal life has a certain appeal is undeniable too, as it was if they were saying, "you too can become an immortal." It beats the idea of a soul mysteriously disappearing in the nether worlds, or the view of many Stoics that there was no such thing as a soul. Add the Virgin Mary, and there's even a quasi-goddess to worship. The enormous religious appeal of virginity to the Romans is a well documented phenomenon, and it is no surprise that calls for Christian religious celibacy arose in the very infancy of Christianity when it was a Roman religion.
My view is that Christianity is basically a classically Roman form of religion, and a hybrid of polytheism and monotheism. I realize that there was a time when saying such a thing could get you killed, but not now! If atheists are free to denounce the existence of God, I am just as free to speculate that Christianity is founded upon -- and contains within it -- a still unresolved struggle between polytheism and monotheism. Perhaps the struggle is irresolvable, and perhaps it really doesn't matter. Little wonder the Islamists consider Christians to be unredeemed heretics engaged in quasi-pagan idolatry. For that very reason alone, I'll take Christianity over Islam any day! Unfortunately, the Islamists' ferocious monotheism seems to supply fuel for those who seek to radically "purify" Christianity and make it more resemble the intolerant form of hard monotheism that wants to destroy it.
But I seem to have digressed from my original point, which was to discuss nonbelievers who advocate believerism. (I still don't know what they are to be called; "religionist" isn't the right word, nor is "religiosity.") It strikes me that it is a lot easier to advocate something you don't believe in if that something makes no demands on you. For example, it is not an easy thing to convert to Judaism, and if I advocated Judaism as a non-Jew, few would take me to task for it. But if I were to advocate Christianity, atheists would be upset, and they as well as some Christians would demand that I "practice what I preach" (even though I preach nothing), and I'd run the risk of being called a hypocrite.
Is it easier to sometimes just throw the incense on whatever fire people have burning, without regard to belief? Why not?
If there is such a thing as infinity, there's probably a tolerant deity out there somewhere in the unending void who would understand.
And if there isn't then what's the harm? And if OTOH, there is only the bigot God of the Muslims out there who will surely put me in hell, then hell is where I belong, as I would rather not be with such a deity.
Are these things not all ultimately unknown and unknowable? Sure, there are innumerable texts claiming to know them, but being texts, they constitute little more than appeals to authority -- written by people who claim to have been acting on behalf of ultimately unknown and unknowable authorities. So religious disagreements are disagreements over the unknown.
Seen this way, advocacy of religion boils down to stating that because of the nature of infinity, it might be easier on some people to take a position one way or the other. Even if Marx was right and religion is like an opiate, I favor legalizing opiates, so why would I seek the abolition of religion? Whether religion is "good for society" (as many claim) has less appeal to me, as I am not a communitarian, and although I certainly do not want a bad society, I'm uncomfortable with trying to control the minds of others. I think it's arrogant. Especially the idea of making people behave by telling them that God made the rules which they must obey under penalty of eternal death. Such things are not knowable, and I could never in good conscience advocate imposing on people things I don't believe are knowable.
What about the view that religion is basically grounded in fear of death? It's certainly true that we all fear death to one extent or another; even though I am very familiar with death and have come close to that ultimate unknowable state myself (and thus I do not live in inordinate fear of it), I sincerely believe that there is something out there, even though I cannot prove it. Still, I am honest enough to acknowledge that there might in fact be nothing out there. It is that fear of the possibility of nothingness which makes me very impatient sometimes, because I have less and less time, and I hate seeing it wasted. When the dreaded "hourglass" icon randomly appears on the screen (whether from a stupid freeze caused by Firefox, an Adobe PDF-caused browser crash, one of the endless anti-virus updates, or other torments from cyber hell) it stops me from whatever I am doing, and I am reminded that what limited time I have left on this planet is being utterly wasted.
It reminds me that in my case, the fear of death is really the fear of running out of time, which sucks.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Less Power More Control
The EPA under rules developed during a Republican administration has a plan that will shut down up to 20% of the coal fired electrical plants in the nation.
In March 2005 the federal EPA issued two new rulings that mandate significant reductions in air pollution and mercury pollution. These federal regulatory requirements will have significant impact on utilities in the US. The timeframe for these emission reductions will take place in two phases with the first phase occurring during the next five years and the second phase being completed within the next twelve years.And the rules for the first phase will do what exactly?
Some plants could have a hard time meeting the proposed cap, which could push domestic cement production into countries with even less stringent environmental standards, said Andy O'Hare, vice president of regulatory affairs with the Portland Cement Association.Ah. So it is just another plan to ship jobs to China.
But wait. It is not just coal fired cement plants. It is also coal fired power plants.
[The rules] would force utilities to invest tens of millions of dollars on technologies to remove the substances. Many of those plants are about 50 years old and are already inefficient. "Those investments are just not going to be justifiable," said Dan Bakal, director of electric power programs at Ceres, a group of environmentalists and institutional investors.So where are the shut downs going to be concentrated?
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed a new federal plan to reduce the pollution from electric power plants that wafts hundreds of miles across state lines.So the East Coaster will have no choice. Cleaner air so important to a few (and very important for them) but no air conditioning in the summer for tens of millions. Who ever worked out the political calculations didn't do their homework. Let me add that the East Coast electrical grid infrastructure is not in the best of shape and if the shut downs are concentrated in that area the loss for the area could be much more than 20%. Let me add that with the current grid power does not ship well over distances longer than about 300 or so miles. And if the grid is already congested with power flows from inside the area? Dark energy will be a proven reality.
So how about nuclear power to replace the power that will be lost? Well enviros hate nuke plants. Especially East Coast nukes. They stopped the Shoreham nuke plant. And Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are being targeted.
I wonder what the marginal price of electricity will have to be to make supply and demand come into balance on a hot day on the East Coast? And how are the residents going to feel about it? You would think the California experience would be a cautionary tale for the political classes. You would be wrong.
And in case you hadn't guessed about the title: You get less power. They get more control. All this enviro wackiness is a bubble. And the bubble is going to burst. When it does things are going to get ugly. Attacks on power plants will not go over well.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
My Political Source
I like to get my politics from engineers. Engineers are schooled in:
"What can possibly go wrong? In truth just about everything."While the general electorate dreams of:
"Laws? We just pass them and the words (and government guns) will give us what we are dreaming of."You can't bust that kind of thinking with reason. It is pure faith.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
the bigoted nature of identitarianism makes me want to find a "tribe"
What is bigotry?
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.We typically think of bigotry as prejudice which is acted upon. Prejudice means pre-judging an individual, usually according to membership in a group. When an individual is judged according to the standards associated with a group instead of being judged according to who he is, that is prejudice. When he is treated with intolerance (and say, discriminated against) that is bigotry.
But doesn't that go to the definition of identity politics? Judging or measuring an individual according to how he or she aligns with the group standard, and excluding him (making him an un-person) if he does not? Are not the members of the group who do this "obstinately or intolerantly devoted to [their] own opinions and prejudices," and are they not treating the non-conforming members of the group (along with those in the excluded group generally) with hatred and intolerance?
Other than the alleged "power imbalances" between dominant culture and minority group statuses, I see very little difference between that form of bigotry and the one it is supposedly intended to combat. In many ways it is more intolerant, because the shunned and excluded individual may find himself as an outcast who does not fit in anywhere. (One of the most tragic examples of this is a former Israeli Arab I know who worked as a tracker for the Israeli Army; he was considered a "spy" by his supposed cultural tribal group, yet he never felt that he was fully trusted by the Israeli group, so he emigrated to America which he loves because he says no one cares!)
Which is why I like (as I explained earlier) what Andrew Breitbart is doing.
I find it fascinating that in the despicable attack John Dean launched against him (quoted earlier), he mentions the word "tribe":
...conservatives like Breitbart will not play nicely merely because they have been taken to court. These authoritarian personalities, and those who share their thinking, go ballistic when confronted with legal actions. They resist being held accountable, and feel particularly threatened by legal actions. What Breitbart will do if Sherrod files a lawsuit against him is to quickly create a legal defense fund, with the support and financing of like-thinking conservatives, and he will hire as nasty an attorney as is available in his tribe.I didn't know that Breitbart belonged to a "tribe," but hey, John Dean says so! And now that I'm on the subject, I can remember that Glenn Greenwald (one of John Dean's more enthusiastic supporters in the leftosphere) attacked Glenn Reynolds as the root cause of "bigoted tribalism." No seriously, he did, and I had a lot of fun with the idea of how to be a bigoted cultural tribalist:
It's simple, really. To activate the process, you have only to disagree with Glenn Greenwald.Now, while they love accusing people who disagree with them of "tribalism," I suspect this might stem from the fact that people like Glenn Greenwald and John Dean are actually bigoted cultural tribalists themselves. So they naturally assume that those who disagree with them are enemies -- people from another "tribe."
Does tribalism necessarily have to beget tribalism? In the United States? What if you're just an American? I wouldn't go so far as to call that membership in a "tribe" because I like to think I am living in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, free country where I don't have to see myself as a member of any tribe. But even if we assume that American citizenship has its tribal aspects, what if you're just an American who doesn't want to belong to an additional tribe? I would submit that if people like Andrew Breitbart belong to a "tribe," it is one which has largely been aided, and abetted and created by tribal warfare started by people who consider themselves a rival "tribe."
This sucks, bigtime.
Identity politics is tribalism. And if it isn't outright bigotry (but instead is mere prejudice plus discrimination), it's damned close. So close as to be within a "racist hair."
I hate to repeat myself to longtime readers, but here I go.
I think that what we call bigotry goes to a basic, possibly universal problem with the human mind. Hmm... perhaps "problem" is a problematic word. Humans have a need to simplify and categorize things and other people, and the more complicated things get, the more this need tends to express itself.
While politics lends itself perfectly to this (because of its unfortunate tendency to "tribalism"), it also tends to cloud any analysis, so if I gave modern American political examples, people would take issue with me. It's a shame, because when I was a kid, there were conservatives and liberals, but they agreed they were Americans, and not only did they generally get along with each other, they were allowed to be friends. The way things have gotten, conservatives with liberal friends or liberals with conservative friends run the risk of having their label credentials revoked.
So I think a better example for the purposes of illustration is the ridiculous Burakumin class of Japan. While they are racially indistinguishable from other Japanese, because their ancestors once worked with hides, they face discrimination and prejudice, even today:
The burakumin (village people) of Japan are tainted by their association with death, the impurity of killing and being near carcasses, and leather work. Also known as: hisabetsu buraku (discriminated communities), eta (abundant pollution or leather workers), binin (nonhuman), kokonotsu (nine-one less than ten and, therefore, imperfect), the burakumin have existed for centuries as the untouchable caste of Japan. During the feudal era, burakumin were the most despised and untouchable group in Japan. They struggle with the myths and hatred associated with the occupations of their ancestors. In a nation that prides itself on a modern way of life Japan's hidden people still fight to gain equality.Another example of bigotry which hits closer to home for many Americans is the implacable hatred between racially indistinguishable people in Ireland, who claim to believe in the same god. When I ran a nightclub, one of my favorite employees was an immigrant from Northern Ireland who told me he had been raised in a militantly "Orange" household, and he actually had been one of the drummer boys who marched each year through the Catholic neighborhoods. You know, the guys with the bowler hats and orange sashes?
Cute, in a way. And like the Arab Israeli guy, my bartender also was happy to come to America because it was a place where no one cared. And while as an American he really didn't care about Catholicism or any of that stuff, I got him to loosen up a couple of times when no one was around to listen, because I really wanted to know, like, what is going on with such stuff? One night (after he'd had too much to drink) he confided in me that he "still hate[d] the bloody Catholics" (in Ireland, to be sure, but not here, where they're OK). So, when I pressed him to explain how he could even tell who they were, he said this:
"I can tell them by the way they walk."
He meant it, too, and while I took him at his word, I have never forgotten it because it was so baffling. Even today I am baffled.
Can anyone tell me how a Catholic walks? I'm all ears, believe me.
Moving from distant Ireland to the closer and more emotional Hollywood, it's fascinating to look at the history of bigotry in the movies. Back in the old days, blacks were presented as at first evil subhumans (in the Woodrow Wilson-endorsed Birth of a Nation), then later as eyeball-rolling, foot-shuffling inferior beings who said "yassuh," and eventually that stopped, because Hollywood wasn't supposed to be prejudiced anymore. Sure, enemies were always portrayed in a prejudiced manner, but then, prejudice against foreign enemies who are actively trying to kill you is just not the same thing as prejudice against fellow countrymen.
But I can remember when Arabs were fair game in Hollywood. Hollywood Arab stereotyping seemed to come to a grinding halt right about the time we were attacked -- by Arabs. Which, whether it's right or wrong is counterintuitive. Now the bad guys tend to be evil WASP businessmen, malevolent American military members, or dim-witted but evil "redneck" hicks. It's still considered "safe" to be bigoted against members of the so-called dominant oppressor classes, because it isn't considered bigotry.
But there are growing tribal undercurrents to all of this. I often feel as if I might be some sort of traitor to my tribe, except I don't know what my tribe is supposed to be. Am I because of my elite background, education, world travel, and cultural experience, supposed to be a member of the ruling class? I don't rule anyone and I don't want to. Besides, the ruling class to which I don't belong is under savage populist assault (often led, so it seems, by people who are also sophisticated, intelligent and well-educated). Why would I want to belong to such a class?
And even my dog, Coco, because of her breed, is increasingly under attack. Many cities have banned pit bulls, and if I lived in them they would destroy her, not because of anything she has done or ever will do, but only because she belongs to the wrong group. I hate that. So would Coco, if she understood.
I sometimes suspect that the reason people enjoy resorting to bigotry against breeds of dogs is because it's become so taboo with humans that dogs are one of the few targets people have left for the unfortunate human tendency I have tried in vain to define all these years. A pity, really, because in my heart I know that there are some very nice people who would nonetheless want to kill my dog. Hell, owning Coco would prevent me from joining the military. Such officially-implemented bigotry not only discriminates against these dogs, it is a slap in the face to members of the military who own them and love them. Nevertheless, the policy is being praised in many editorials as an appropriate policy for governments to implement:
In other words, if you have a dog that might be efficient at doing its job of defending you, you can't have the dog. Nice. Parenthetically, Fort Hood's ban on allegedly-hard-biting-canines was implemented several months before that deranged Islamist psychiatrist went on a shooting rampage there against our defenseless disarmed soldiers. I'm almost tempted to point out that had one of that Ford Hood shooter's victims had a dog like Coco who wanted to defend her master, the nutcase might have been bitten in the ass and possibly distracted long enough to be subdued. But I'm too old to be in the military, so it just isn't my issue.
Still, Coco feels threatened by this rising tide of canine identitarian politics and she has a question which I'll pose for her.
If soldiers shouldn't be discriminated against for loving the humans they love, then why should they be discriminated against for owning the dogs they love?
I don't think I'll ever find a tribe.
(Much less quit one.)
AFTERTHOUGHT: It sometimes feels to me that my argument is with human nature itself. Except that is not right, because not all humans are that way, and to claim that they are is just another form of bigotry.
And what could be more bigoted than to be bigoted against human nature?
I should learn to be more tolerant.
Who gets to elect our "cultural" representatives?
Sometimes I don't know what to do with what I guess should be called "news."
Like this um "book" um "review" that was linked on Drudge. Something about Angelina Jolie putting urine in a Mountain Dew bottle intended for her dad Jon Voight's girlfriend, and how her mom helped her lose her virginity at age 14. Stuff like that. Oh and she took a shower with Leonardo DiCaprio, and nothing happened. (Which means I should be surprised?) What's the point of all this? I am supposed to get titillated? Or am I supposed to get outraged? This woman is an actress (I also vaguely recalled the important detail that she was -- and then I was told that she apparently still is -- married to actor Brad Pitt), and the author of the book wants to sell it, so presumably they all get excited over other people getting excited and/or outraged, and everyone makes money.
Or I guess maybe there's a "moral lesson" to be found in reading about a single tawdry and seedy life. What moral lesson can that be? People like this are "destroying" the "culture"? What culture? Theirs? Or are they supposed to be "us"? If "they" are "us" then I guess I am Angelina Jolie. Or an Angelina Jolie wannabe? Or maybe it's a Brad Pitt wannabe that I'm supposed to be?
Should I go pee in a Mountain Dew bottle now and blame her?
This feels like one of those "important" things that I am just supposed to know why it's so important and urgent. And I'm taking issue with the supposed to part, because I don't see why I'm supposed to.
If anyone can explain, I'm all ears. My Congressman John Dingell was a leading sponsor of the Obama/Pelosicare bill (it bears his name too), but I didn't vote for him and really don't feel represented by him. Still he has power, and arguably does things in the name of his constituents, of which I am one. I never voted for Angelina Jolie for anything, and I don't even know whether I have seen any of her films... (I just checked; she has 40 film credits, and I have seen one -- ''The Good Shepherd" -- which wasn't that great and I didn't notice her.) So not being her fan, I can't be said to have voted for her and am not represented by her in any capacity. But if Dingell doesn't represent me, how can she?
Some would say that Angelina Jolie is an official unelected representative of my "culture," and that therefore I should not only care, but care deeply. But would she say that she represents me? I doubt it.
I think the people who would tell me that she represents me are running some sort of con game. They're the ones who elected her, not I.
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inartful phrasing or hidden meaning?
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It Is More Like Prostitution
Being polite can be dangerous
"born that way"? Says who?
No herding these cats