Sigh

Apr. 27th, 2016 12:30 am
ihcoyc: (Default)
The Democratic Party establishment will ultimately bear the blame for choosing such an uninspiring and tired candidate. I know current polls project her to win over Trump. I will expect that to change once she's indicted. It will be their fault entirely for lining up behind such a flawed and morally compromised candidate.

Once he secures the nomination, Trump has some leeway to move left. Trump's nomination, after all, represents the rejection of Republican Party establishment orthodoxy. The Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their litmus tests and RINO hunts. Trump can reject that in ways that neither of the other candidates can. Trump has consistently stood for the renegotiation of Clinton-era trade deals. He's talked about getting money out of politics. He's even made some statements that suggest that he sees income inequality as a problem. Trump is all the hope you have left.

I hope we are in the middle of a political party replacement cycle, like when we lost the Federalists, and later, the Whigs. The established parties are going to offer us a choice between a Bourbon Street titty bar barker and Dolores Umbridge. Given that choice, I'm voting for the titty bars.
ihcoyc: (Vote for Me!)
DL wrote:
Wait a minute! You couldn't vote for Gore because you didn't like his
wife? Really?


Absolutely. I knew Tipper Gore to be a common scold who deserved a dunk in the cucking-stool, and a thoroughly repulsive human being. She spoke on issues I care about. She spoke on them in a way not too distinguishable from Republicans of the time.

(Bear in mind that the Republican Party of fifteen years ago was not identical to the current outfit, either.)

You couldn't vote for Gore because you didn't like his running mate? Really?


Seriously, the thought of Joe Lieberman being a heartbeat away from the White House and being able to influence Middle East policy was genuinely scary.

And he still was the V-Chip guy as well. Maybe you don't remember the V-Chip. It remains utterly evil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-Chip

Did you look at Gore's positions on key issues? Did you contrast those positions with the Republican option? Do you still feel that we were better off with Bush? Do you really think that we were better off with Laura Bush as First Lady? Well, perhaps you do. You are entitled. If so, I can't imagine our having a fruitful political discussion in the ongoing campaign.


Actually, I voted for Harry Browne. Then again, Indiana seldom gets a say in who is elected President, and a protest vote is as good as any. It remains the case that it's up to the Democrat candidate to persuade me to vote for them rather than to cast a protest vote.

And with that in mind, let's consider what Hillary Clinton was telling the world during the leadup to the Bush/Gore election:

"As part of a "zero tolerance" policy for weapons, drugs, and other threats to the safety of teachers and students, the President signed an executive order decreeing that any student that comes to school with a gun will be expelled and punished as a condition for federal aid."

—Hillary Clinton, -It Takes a Village- (1996), p. 126

"The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act... stopped the revolving door for career criminals with its "three strikes and you're out" provision."

—It Takes a Village, p. 126

"Twenty-five thousand new police officers are being trained, with the goal of adding seventy-five thousand more by the end of the decade."

—It Takes a Village, p. 126

"After many years of working with and listening to American adolescents, I don’t believe they are ready for sex or its potential consequences--parenthood, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases--and I think we need to do everything in our power to discourage sexual activity and encourage abstinence."

—It Takes a Village, p. 149

"Casual attitudes towards marijuana and minors’ access to cigarettes raise the likelihood that teenagers will make a sad progression to more serious drug use & earlier sexual activity."

—It Takes a Village, p. 152

"Some critics of public schools urge greater competition among schools as a way of returning control from bureaucrats to parents and teachers. I find their argument persuasive and I favor promoting choice among public schools, much as the President’s Charter Schools Initiative encourages."

—It Takes a Village, p. 244

So 1999-vintage Hillary Clinton endorsed:

- Zero tolerance policies
- Three strikes laws and other tools of mass incarceration
- Police buildup and surveillance
- Sexual abstinence
- Drug war on pot smokers
- "School choice"

And Hillary had not changed her bullshit ten years ago, either, when she sponsored a bill for video game censorship. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Entertainment_Protection_Act

I'll give her a chance to prove she's changed her ways, by rejecting all of this crap she embraced in 1996 and 2005. But she will never generate trust, much less enthusiasm. And I am heartily glad that she was not on the ballot in 2008.

Al Gore's problem was that he came from the same wing of the Democratic Party as his shrew of a wife and V-Chip Lieberman. And at least in 1996 Hillary Clinton was down with the program as well.

So yes, exactly that: at least in 2000, I didn't see enough light between Gore and Bush on many issues I cared about to be persuaded even to hold my nose and vote for Gore.

And if the Democrats nominate Hillary, out here in Indiana where our votes don't count for much anyway, I'll probably vote for someone else in 2016 as well.
ihcoyc: (Default)
I think that ultimately, I'm uncomfortable with guns and the gun culture of the USA because I fear it could turn us into the kind of people Al Qaeda likes, and undermines civilization itself.

Historians contrast 'cultures of honor' with 'cultures of law'. 'Culture of honor' is one of those vaguely PC terms, and couching it in terms of 'honor' makes it even vaguer, but 'honor' in this context means something specific, and much more unpleasant than the word suggests. In this context, "honor" means a person's reputation for willingness and ability to inflict violent and disproportionate revenge for perceived slights. In a culture of honor, individuals and clans are ranked not only by wealth but also by reputation as dangerous enemies. Your personal safety is contingent on reputation: both your own, and your clan's, for being a badass. Anything that threatens reputation, or that makes you look weak, must be met with violence.

The "honor killings" you hear about from Middle Eastern countries are undertaken to defend the reputation of the clan: not being able to keep the females under control is a sign of weakness, and threatens the reputation of more than the individual. Elaborate codes such as the burqa and complicated ettiquettes arise in these situations to avoid giving even a whiff of offense, because the threat of violence is omnipresent.

In a culture of law, people do not take immediate revenge for perceived slights, and there is a formal social system for resolving disputes whose authority is generally respected. Cultures of honor tend to arise where law is simply unavailable, unreliable, or hostile. They arise naturally among nomadic herdsmen, such as you find in the mountains of Afghanistan or the Scottish border and highlands. There is no law they can appeal to if their herds are rustled away. The strong clans can and do raid each other's cattle, and low level warfare is commonplace. You can't police the areas without an army of your own, and once you organize as an army you're just another one of them.

They also arise naturally among aristocrats, to the extent that they believe themselves above the law. You also find them associated with gangsters and the criminal underclass. Like the herdsmen, their stashes and cash are easily stolen, and they can't look to the law for help. The perennial chip on the shoulder is diagnostic: they're not one of us.

In short, "culture of honor" is just PC talk for barbarism.

This is why the ideology of the gun culture strikes me as dangerous. It perpetuates attitudes I associate with criminals while maintaining its own sense of self-worthiness. The gun ideologues tell us that the police are too distant and the forces of organized society cannot help you. You must arm yourself to be ready to instantly retaliate against enemies. Guns are a key aspect of freedom, with a political dimension; not having one somehow dishonors and unmans you. So I must posture that I will fight to the death to keep them. I am always the first line of defense against my enemies.

This bullshit is corrosive to civilization. This is how the criminal underclass thinks. The only therapy that works on it is consistent and persistent humiliation.

I really don't have strong opinions about guns themselves. But we can't encourage more cultures of honor to take root in the United States. We have enough thugs as it is. To the extent that you internalize values consistent with a culture of honor, you are already a criminal. That's why the rhetoric of the "Second Amendment" gun nuts disturbs me immensely, and why I simply prefer to keep people like that several counties away from me.
ihcoyc: (I won't be forced to breed children!)
One fact ought to be obvious to Republicans on Nov. 7, 2012.  The anti-abortion cult cost us the Senate. 

Todd Akins's stupid remarks about "legitimate rape" and Richard Mourdock's pithering that rape babies represent "the will of God" lost their races for them.  In doing so, of course, they deprived the Republican Party of its fiftieth and fifty-first seats.  If obstructing Obama at every turn is the chief purpose of the Republican party (and it shouldn't be), these two made it much harder. 

We have a problem.  As a lifelong Republican, I want the Republican party to become a majority party that wins elections.  We do, in fact, need to seriously address the issue of the Federal deficit and the expansion of entitlements.  Running against a less than popular President in a still poor economy, we ought to have had a fighting chance.  But frankly, noisy elements of the Party are scaring voters away.

The Republican party needs to move way back towards the center.  It especially needs to reduce the public profile of cultists and cranks, and hopefully, reduce their impact on our selection of candidates.  We need to stop making ourselves repugnant to educated and intelligent people. 

1. Conservatism

I consider myself a conservative with libertarian leanings that don't quite go all the way to full-fledged Libertarianism.  But while I see plenty of right-wing politics in the contemporary Republican Party, I see damned little conservatism.

Conservatism, to me, is a social philosophy, not an ideology or doctrine, that favors the retention of traditional institutions and social structures.  If they change, and they inevitably will, that change should ideally be organic and spontaneous, not forced.  More than anything else, it means always having an eye towards the downside, a skepticism about all forms of abstract doctrine, moral crusades, and plans from a book, and having the iron law of unintended consequences always in view. 

It follows from this that real conservatives like the American people pretty much as they are.  Real conservatism, by definition, excludes people who think that Americans are marching down the highway to hell, or that God will send plagues upon our heads for re-electing Obama.  If you think that, you aren't a conservative: you're just a kook, and you probably belong to a cult as well. 

It also follows from this that real conservatives like the American government pretty much as it is.  At minimum, you acknowledge that the government we now have, and as it has now developed, is in fact the government established by the U. S. constitution.  It has changed greatly from 1789, of course, responding to such crises as the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II.  But it has changed organically and naturally, through the legal procedures the Founders established.  Conservatives wish to strengthen and preserve its institutions, from the U.S. military to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Constitution is not a scripture of any sort, and cannot be interpreted in a fundamentalist manner.  Doing so, again, is not conservative: it puts  doctrine before experience, the one thing conservatives do not do.  The framers may have been wiser than our contemporaries, but they were no cleverer.  They were politicians, not prophets; and canny but compromising politicians as well.  The features of the government they established, from the infamous clause that holds that a slave is 3/5 of a man, to the baroque feature of the Electoral College, were shot through with a spirit of compromise.  They compromised because it was the only way to get things done.

Doctrinaire readings of the Constitution that would wreak radical change on the shape of our current institutions are not conservative, even if they are founded on arguments from the text coupled with a sense that they represent the way things ought to be.  It's easy to see that the enactment of such doctrines would mess things up in unforeseen ways, even as the adoption of the gold standard would bring entirely foreseeable chaos. 

Real conservatives also acknowledge that the Constitution must be interpreted through the lens of history.  Arguments about state nullification of Federal law and proposals to secede from the union were settled in some minor unpleasantness about 150 years ago.  These arguments are dead and gone; when Lee surrendered at Appomatox, he surrendered them on your behalf.  Reviving them would not even occur to real conservatives. 

Real conservatives sound like moderates, in other words, because moderation and the exclusion of zealotry is the essence of conservatism.  The Republican In Name Only nonsense is anti-conservative to the core.  Conservatism by definition is lack of allegiance to an ideology, a doctrine, or a program. 

II. The anti-abortion cranks

The abstract doctrine that 'life begins at conception' began as a public relations ploy. Those who wanted legal abortion were for Freedom, so abortion opponents were for Life.  Unfortunately, ideas have consequences.  

What we have here now is a right-wing version of PETA, bawling for its lost darlings.  And this nonsense just cost us two Senate seats.  Two otherwise respectable candidates stood up before the people and declared that they believed that life begins at conception so sincerely that they'd be happy to force rape victims to carry children conceived in the crime to term.  They placed that high a value on the 'sacred lives' of pwecious widdle rape babies.  This hogwash repelled enough voters to cost them elections in solidly Republican states. 

The doctrine that life begins at conception is the foreign ideology of Europe's last fancy-dress dictatorship. I really do not care a fig about pwecious widdle darlings lost to abortion, and am happy that there are that many fewer welfare checks to write.  Every abortion today is a prison cell we won't have to pay for twenty years from now, and that makes the abstract argument about the beginning of life moot.  Do you really want hundreds of thousands more welfare babies and future criminals?

Moreover, my impression of the anti-abortion agitation underlines the fact that these are people that no conservative should want to empower.  The animal rightsers are our second worst group of domestic terrorists; the anti-abortion cranks are the worst.  They routinely commit murder and arson.  They're the sort of people who want to regale folks with dead fetuses in prime time.  You don't want them at your dinner party. 

Because of this, the organic wisdom of our institutions is confirmed in Roe v.Wade.  I know that the constitutional claims of the case are improvised.  Again, I just don't care.  The Supreme Court was wise to take the question out of politics.  That should be upheld. 

I don't think that the issue will become less divisive if turned back over to the legislatures; we have enough meritless proposals from fanatics already, and we certainly do not want to give them free rein to convert hundreds of your neighbors into criminals, much less the "murderers" the crackpots say they are.  We don't need another law that will be very widely disregarded, especially when there are moralistic mouth-breathers out there bawling for the blood of offenders. 

If you think that life begins at conception, get a life. 

III.  Curse Israel.  They deserve it.

More than 30 million Americans apparently imagine that we are living in the 'end times' of Biblical prophecy.  They are, of course, wrong in this; and of course this is the sort of nonsense no real conservative would take seriously for a moment.  Real conservatives don't think the world is coming to an end.

These beliefs are heresy, for various complicated theological reasons I won't go into in great detail.  (The Apostles' Creed teaches one Second Coming, one Last Judgment, and most importantly, one communion of believers in which there is "neither Jew nor Christian"; for in fact, in traditional Christian theology, the Church is God's new Israel.  Most end-times prophecy systems get one or more of these points wrong.)  More importantly, they are not only wrong, but crazy wrong: an invitation to look at contemporary history through the paranoia of a mass psychosis. 

Because we aren't living in the end times, the existence of a Jewish state of Israel has no cosmic significance.  This is where end times belief turns from the hobby of occult kooks and into a threat to the welfare of the nation.  For, the cultists maintain, the United States can win at Armageddon: but only if we 'bless Israel'.  And by that, they mean endorsing all of the military and territorial ambitions of the Israeli government. 

We're in enough trouble for blessing Israel.  It's true that Israel has been a relatively reliable ally, though they do spy on us more than I'm comfortable with.  The Iraq war was based on misleading intelligence and answered Israel's dearest wish to be rid of Saddam Hussain.  We can blame the current federal deficit on our wish to 'bless Israel'. 

A real conservative approaches foreign policy from a pragmatic standpoint, rather than an idealistic one, and certainly not an apocalyptic one.  I frankly question what benefits we the people of the United States are deriving from our close relationship with Israel.  Their treatment of the Palestinians makes living a normal life in the occupied territories impossible.  Whether or not it's a great human rights cause, Israeli policy towards the West Bank and Gaza is guaranteed to produce a large body of idle young men with a deep sense of grievance and too much time on their hands.  This is not wise.

The End Times are merely psychotic ravings from cultists.  Jesus has not let anybody off the hook on the 'peacemaker' business.   We need there to be more light between the United States and Israel.  We cannot go to war with Iran because they might get a bomb that threatens Israel.  We cannot afford it.  We don't need to in any case.

IV.  Evolution is fact.  Get used to it.   

Evolution denial, like end times belief, is a social problem in itself.  Evolution is fact; there is no debate.  Evolution is the foundational truth at the core of biology.  Evolution deniers are either too unrooted in reality or simply too stupid to hold public office. 

Among the developed nations, the performance of American science education ranks poor to middling.  According to Harvard, Americans fall far behind Latvia, Chile and Brazil, who learn three times the science American pupils do; Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are also improving much faster. 'Researchers estimate that gains made by students in those 11 countries equate to about two years of learning." (www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/Papers/PEPG12-03_CatchingUp.pdf))

This is unacceptable, people.  I would support the addition of a strong biology component focused on evolution to the No Child Left Behind test program, and strongly downgrade school programs who leave their students with an inadequate grounding in fact-based science.  Especially, test the damned homeschoolers too.   Let it be known that evolution deniers don't go to college.  Impose nationally improved textbooks vetted by experts, and take the matter out of local school boards that have a potential for cultist capture.  We cannot be held behind by the forces of militant ignorance. 

Evolution denial is just as lunatic as Holocaust denial, just as evil too, and an even worse social problem here in the USA.  Evolution denial in education is child abuse.  It has no place in the Republican Party.  

V.  Conclusion

We really need to bring the Republican Party back towards the center.  Doing so will require that we take deliberate steps to exclude cultists and cranks. 

Look at the crop of clowns that were the ones who were willing to participate in the last season's Republican primaries.  Do you seriously imagine that the rest of the country would ever consider Donald Trump a serious contender for the highest office in the nation?  Herman Cain?  Michelle Bachmann?  Rick Santorum?  Sarah Palin? 

I didn't see a conservative among that lot.  I saw a pack of social radicals who seem to think that most of their neighbors ain't living right.  Now, the left wing sort of social radicals at least have goals that sorta-kinda make sense, stuff like health care or environmental protection.  These social radicals have goals that are based entirely on occult gibberish. 

We have serious statesmen we could have called on, respected people like Colin Powell, or even my own state's Richard Lugar or Mitch Daniels.  I hope to see a saner crop come next season.  The Republican party can be a majority party that actually unites Americans and governs prudently and pragmatically, one that even people with degrees can vote for without holding their noses.  Or we can continue to rely on a dwindling base of excitable rustics and unregenerate segregationists. 

What we can't do is repeat the 2012 election. 

Sovereignty

Oct. 1st, 2010 11:47 am
ihcoyc: (Default)
All the corporate political ads repeat one line endlessly: if you raise taxes you "lose jobs". If this is true, the government is broken at its most basic level. And this language of course is intended to threaten the government. The people who script these ads are talking like a hostile foreign power.

The ability to define tax rates is a key attribute of government sovereignty. Sovereignty means "supreme power especially over a body politic; freedom from external control : autonomy" (Merriam-Webster)

If governments must compete with other states or foreign governments to give tax breaks to employers, to that extent the government has lost its sovereignty. There is a power it must answer to, and that power is not the voters. Before it's even worth talking about what taxes ought to be, we need to make government sovereign once more. Otherwise, regardless of how high or low they go, only the people without the power to threaten the government will have to pay them. 
ihcoyc: (Default)
No, I ain't going to cut this rant.

On the wrong side of the river, the congressional race pits incumbent republican Anne Northup against Democrat challenger John Yarmuth. Since our broadcast TV comes from there, those are the political ads we mostly see.

Yarmuth was one of the founders and chief editors of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, a tabloid local affairs, arts, and entertainment weekly more commonly known simply as LEO. This means Yarmuth has some sixteen years of published commentary that frequently touched on political topics. In today's climate, this is perhaps the worst possible background for a politician.

Northup has put up a website called "The Yarmuth Record", featured in her latest round of attack ads, in which she seeks to portray Yarmuth as a dangerous extremist. The positions that Northup claims are so extreme include:

  • Calling social security "welfare"

  • Calling for a tax on large engine vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks

  • Calling for the decriminalization of marijuana

  • Suggesting that the drinking age might be lowered

  • Supporting Planned Parenthood

  • Favoring removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance

  • "Every serious economist has concluded that a balanced federal budget is impossible until we’re willing to consider cutting entitlement programs , especially social security and medicare."


This website proves to me once and for all that the Republicans should rename themselves the stupid party. All of these ideas are off the table as far as they are concerned; anyone even capable of entertaining arguments in their favor lacks "moral clarity" or some such malarkey. It doesn't even matter that some of the columns are more than ten years old.

I won't talk about how badly the Republicans have fallen since the days of Abraham Lincoln, since that is mostly irrelevant. Or even how they have fallen since the days of Barry Goldwater. They've gone down the pipes since the days of Newt Gingrich. Whether you liked him or not, or liked his proposals or not, the "Contract with America" was a concrete set of fairly dramatic policy proposals, meant to be controversial and eye-opening. Whether you agreed with them or not, they were ideas.

The Northup campaign, by contrast, wants to scare people away from having ideas. This is what makes the Republicans twelve years out from the Gingrich era stupid.

Now, the demographics of voting are a sad thing. Here, Republican Mike Sodrel, a candidate I'd be prepared to admire, is running against Baron Hill, a gutless centrist Clinton Democrat and former occupant of the same seat, who voted for the Iraq war when he was the incumbent. The two candidates' ads seem to be mostly about which candidate will better make sure that the flow of Social Security money from the employed to the retired will continue unchecked, and seeking to frighten voters that the other candidate might cut them off.

(A thwack with the clue stick for feeble old folks: there is no such thing as the Social Security trust fund. It isn't as if all the money they paid in over time is sitting in some account waiting to be withdrawn, it doesn't work that way. Allowing the SS Administration to wager in stocks will make little difference to the soundness of the system.)

But I wish I lived on the wrong side of the river, so I could vote for Yarmuth against Northup, just because this series of attack ads is so obnoxious. Astoundingly, Yarmuth has apparently been written off by the national Democratic Party, which has so far contributed nothing at all to his campaign. The Democratic Leadership Council is still very much in charge, it seems, and they are as afraid of ideas as the Northup campaign wants them to be. We need a real opposition party in this country, and the Democrats are obsolete.
ihcoyc: (Default)
Well, whether a thing is cheap or dear depends upon what we can earn by our daily labor. Free trade cheapens the product by cheapening the producer. Protection cheapens the product by elevating the producer. Under free trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave. Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man.

— U. S. Pres. William McKinley, Oct. 4, 1892
ihcoyc: (Default)
Reading this book is like shaking hands with Beelzebub. You will feel dirty and tainted after the experience. I'd recommend it only for people who are deeply cynical and can appreciate perverse experiences while recognizing them for what they are.

That said, there are parts of it that aren't bad, if taken with sufficient wariness, though the book is deeply flawed. It's mostly useful in a "know the enemy" sense, though.

The first problem is a lack of definition )

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ihcoyc

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