Thursday, January 31, 2013

Did it ever do them any good?


Did colonialism in the New World serve the Brit or French national interests?

Did they serve the interests of the Brit or French people, at all?

Not that I am aware.

Though American conservative historians, Anglophiles as conservatives have been since the revolution and admirers of colonialism and imperialism, rejoice in mocking Voltaire’s attack on the French attempts to keep or even expand their colonies in North America during the Seven Years’ War, referring to Canada as “a few acres of snow.”

Spanish colonialism in America made the monarchy and part of the aristocracy rich, but did it do any good for Spain or the Spanish people?

One has to suppose the people who came to the New World to struggle as hard as they did to survive and make their way were better off for it, as long as they needed or wanted sponsorship by the mother country.

(Or maybe not, eh? But how do you get back?)

But who else?

Because they don’t want to get bombed and don’t want to be forced into a war?



Pretty sure he knew the answer to his own grand-standing question.

Anyway, I am certain I don’t care as much about Iran hating Israel as Inhofe does.

Drudge has a link at the top of his page.

Grandstanding, but what crackpots they must be doing it for!



In case you, an ordinary and so not rich American, thought there might be a serious alternative to voting for the Democrats in the future, within your lifetime.

If you vote at all, that is.

And if you normally vote for that candidate of the two offered by the major parties whom you would - or should, if you have an ounce of concern for your own interests or those of others like you - actually prefer to win the election and serve the term.

Nope.

Not even for dogcatcher.

The Republicans are getting more rather than less deeply committed to the conservative movement.

And there really was never any serious daylight between the movement according to the NR and WFB and the movement according to the John Birch Society.

All my life, in domestic policy I have prioritized support for the democratic, social democratic, and regulatory agenda of American progressivism.

Social liberalism embracing the racial, secularist, and sexual revolutions counts, but with reservations.

And in any case it comes in a distant second to the life-and-death, bread and butter basics of the historic movement, focused as it was on the economic fate of ordinary people and on enhancing democracy from the late 19th Century.

The same desire to protect the interests of working class and ordinary Americans motivates my support for trade protectionism and opposition to immigration.

And in foreign policy I have taken a "little America," isolationism-is-realism approach.

War is not good for little children or other living things such as Americans of military age.

Born in 1949 and politically aware since the very early 1960's, it's always been about lesser evils, for me.

And it's not going to change.

Update 02012013 1156 hrs EST.

You could go to the polls at every opportunity and always vote for the duopolitan candidate you least want to actually win and serve the term, for all the difference that would make.

Look back on your own voting past.

Did you ever vote (or not vote) in an election in which the outcome would have been different had you voted, not voted, or voted differently?

No way.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Does he just want to be on the winning side?



I don’t think it’s just that.

It’s pretty clear he believes the rebels would be better.

Why on earth does he believe that?

How much effort did it take to rig the game?



Congressional districts have no constitutionally prescribed shape.

The constitution does not even require that there be districts or that representatives be elected by district.

It does require that seats in the house be distributed to the states at least roughly in accordance with population, though before the Civil War only 3/5 of the slaves could be counted for this purpose and no Indians not subject to taxation.

Given voting by district, each one to have one representative chosen by plurality of votes cast, it is impossible to draw lines in a way that does not advantage one party to the disadvantage of another.

And there is no rule in the constitution requiring that districts be drawn so that the share of each party resulting from district voting reflects the statewide party votes.

Nor has anyone, that I know of, proposed such a requirement to any state legislature or as an amendment to the US Constitution.

Given that, what is the basis for denouncing anything else as “gerrymandering”?

Oh, and as far as the constitution goes the people need not even have a vote in the selection of presidential electors, at all.

Each state can choose its own electors in whatever manner its legislature prefers, its people perhaps not even being presented with an appearance of voting for president – the appearance of so voting being all we have now.

So Republican proposals to tie electors to congressional districts in preference to the current method of statewide winner take all is perfectly legitimate, even if part of a national plan to do this only in states that otherwise would go completely to the Democrats.

Maine and Nebraska already do this, awarding 2 electors to the statewide winner and 1 each by congressional district.

Oh, and one more thing.

Nothing binds the electors to a candidate or party, state laws purporting to punish faithless electors being of doubtful constitutionality.

Once chosen, they can vote for anyone they like for the office of president.

Each elector has one vote for one person for president and another one vote for one person for vice president.

They don’t even have to be of the same party.

They don't even have to be different people.

Yup. They went there.




The position urged is that there is a right to self-defense, that it is God given, and that it enjoys specifically Biblical endorsement in both the Old and the New Testaments.

The position is then asserted that this entails the right to gun ownership secured in the 2nd Amendment.

After quoting the Bible and John Locke – of roughly equal authority in the pages of the National Review – in support of a right of self-defense David French concludes with the question, “What does all this mean?”

He answers himself with a string of conclusions not one of which follows.

“What does all this mean?” he asks.

Essentially that gun control represents not merely a limitation on a constitutional right but a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society.

All rights — of course — are subject to some limits (the right of free speech is not unlimited, for example), and there is much room for debate on the extent of those limits, but state action against the right of self-defense is by default a violation of the natural rights of man, and the state’s political judgment about the limitations of that right should be viewed with extreme skepticism and must overcome a heavy burden of justification.

From the supposition that you have a right of self-defense it simply does not follow that you have a right to defend yourself with a nuclear weapon, with mustard gas, with weaponized anthrax, with an RPG – or with a gun.

And the burden of proof is not on others to show you don’t.

And even if we agree for the sake of argument that there are natural rights and that gun control is – as has not been shown and would not follow – a limitation of the right to self-defense it does not follow that it is, by default or otherwise, a violation of the rights of man, or that the state’s judgment about the limitations of that right should be viewed with extreme skepticism, or that it must overcome a heavy burden of justification.

None of that follows.

And I warned you.

Canny Republicans to Democrats: Fool me once . . . .



Reagan fell for it in 1986.

Those who talk. Those who listen.



In politics, in academia, and in life in general, those who talk think it’s about besting anybody else who talks.

But that’s not necessarily the way of things for those who listen.

For those who talk it’s about who wins and who loses.

For those who listen it’s about who is talking sense, who is right.

The gun rights propagandists think they have found a telling point.

The office holders among the gun control advocates have bodyguards to a man, and sometimes personally carry.

Their being armed leaves them feeling they need and somehow lack a good riposte to the attacks of those who demand, counting on the listeners to be at least as stupid as these demands, “Why are you better than me? Why should your children be better protected than mine?”

Politicians may stumble, fearing the listeners really are that stupid.

But it would be a mistake to rely too heavily on the stupidity of those who listen.

Real or imagined.

In any event, no one is proposing the complete disarmament of all civilians.

The proposal on the table is a ban on assault rifles and on high capacity magazines to the general public.

We are by no means all equally in need of protection or self-protection with firearms.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hoist with their own petard?



There seems to be some concern a conservative court will use entrenched liberal dogma (baloney) about the 14th Amendment to outlaw affirmative action, a cherished liberal policy goal riddled with holes, over the years, by federal and state courts, voters, and others not so liberal as all that.

Doesn’t have anything to do with Truman’s directive, actually.

And her arguments are loaded with apples-to-oranges comparisons and other silly moves.

“Twelve hundred years of combined service”?

Really?

Oddly, it looks like Newsbusters and Fox were silent on the actual issue under discussion, affirmative action, choosing instead to gloat that she had revealed that liberals despise the US military.

Yup.

That’s what she said.

Not just that liberals despise war.

That liberals despise the US military.

Anyway,


Oh,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

He’s right. And the court is full of conservatives who know it.



Apparently there is talk of him running for the senate, where he can help ensure even more judges think as he does and help out with Republican efforts to undo everything progressives have done since the New Nationalism was a twinkle in Teddy Roosevelt's eye.

Griswold was a breathtaking fraud perpetrated by William O. Douglas and his cohorts on a liberal public only too willing, then as now, to win by any means necessary.

There is no constitutional right to privacy either in any alleged penumbras or in the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment due process clauses.

One could point out the evident fact that federal efforts to ban contraception would be efforts to enact into law the traditional Christian religious view that their use is wrong and contrary to God’s will, and so run afoul of the First Amendment disestablishment clause.

But to insist the First Amendment binds the states as well is just more well-recognized liberal fraud.

I realize they prefer to let sleeping dogs lie, but politicians who want constitutional protection for a right to privacy need to pass a new amendment to the constitution that creates one and binds not only the federal government but the states and inferior jurisdictions, as well.

And to legitimate anything, some things, or everything that rests on tall tales about equal protection or due process or the various fictions related to the incorporation doctrine they need to pass suitable amendments making all those things real.

It’s not that they need to openly denounce, much less renounce, the lies of the past.

But they need to create real constitutional foundations for what today rests on baloney.

Until they do, decisions resting on fake or anyway questionable readings of the constitution are at risk of being overturned by a conservative majority on the court.

Roe and Griswold, of course.

But perhaps also the whole string of decisions resulting in the Fifth Amendment right to counsel becoming a positive rather than a merely negative right, as well as being read to bind the states along with the federal government.

Not to mention Miranda rights.

And then there is the alleged constitutional ban on religious qualifications for state or lesser office or for service as a witness or juryman in state courts.

For that matter, Brown vs. Board of Education could go and Plessy could be upheld.

Rehnquist was probably not the last conservative to think Brown was wrong.

And what about all that freedom of expression stuff extending a nearly absolutist reading of the First Amendment to the states and lesser jurisdictions?

What about the convention that freedom of speech and the press applies to electronic media or to artistic expression?

Perhaps even more frightening is the prospect of a conservative court emboldened to take a narrow view of the federal legislature's enumerated powers or a very strong view of the constitution's guarantees to the capitalist class.

You think Obamacare is in danger?

Then what about Medicare and Social Security?

And don't you recall that, once upon a time, the court held state or federal minimum wage laws unconstitutional?

George Will has recently written in support of Lochner and the jurisprudence of the Lochner era that claimed - with imaginative mendacity never to be exceeded by any liberal court - to legitimate exactly such decisions as those.

That should have sounded alarms.

By the way, the actual legitimate point of due process is to protect the people from the power of the executive.

It is to make the king - er, the president - use his power to kill them, to imprison them, or to seize what is theirs only in accordance with law.

It is a flat denial of royal - or presidential (Fifth Amendment), or gubernatorial (Fourteenth Amendment) - absolutism, and that is all that it is.

In the Fourteenth Amendment, of course, the point is to prevent the states or the governors of the states from such despotic tyranny toward any person and so, in particular, toward the freedmen or their descendants.

The rest is bullshit, for better or for worse.

Likewise, the guarantee of the equal protection of the law refers to what some have called the first duty of the state to use that very same power to kill, to imprison, or to seize property for the protection of it subjects or its citizens from physical attack, from being killed, from kidnapping, and the like, as well as for the protection of what is theirs from theft, robbery, and so on.

In the 14th Amendment it is no more - but also no less - than a demand that the states not withdraw or deny that protection from or to any person, and hence from or to the freedmen or their descendants.

Whatever more we were counting on it to do must seek constitutional support elsewhere, if need be.

PS. 01292013 0624 hrs. EST.

The privileges and immunities clause is sometimes selected as a better foundation for insisting the states are bound by the Bill of Rights than due process, the latter clearly doing nothing to the purpose.

But if those who proposed or those who ratified the 14th Amendment had intended to bind state governments with the Bill of Rights they would surely have said so, rather than saying this.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States[.]

So far as I am aware, no one in any of the discussions of ratification ever said a word about the wisdom of binding the states to observation of the Bill of Rights, or anything else to indicate such a thing was contemplated.

On the other hand, so far as I know, no one at that time said anything helpful in attempting to understand just what this clause could mean.

It is a mystery without effect.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I could be wrong, but I’m not wrong.

Or so I think.

I’m not a brain in a vat and not a pod-person living on the planet on which The Matrix was modeled.

Nor am I a res cogitans delivered up to the deceits of an esprit mal.

Other people are not empty puppets, nor are animals, and there are other minds whose experience is theirs and not mine.

Even the neighbors’ noisy dogs are animate.

For the most part, memory serves and at any rate I actually have a past, being a sort of entity that persists through time.

And so there is an I, an Ego, a Self.

If one sees only white swans one is apt to think all swans white; one has greater confidence as the number of white swans seen grows larger.

The future will resemble the past, up to a point. In some ways.

Can I prove any of this? Do I know it?

Pshaw.

Green tea


Twinings’ actually is green. Well, a kind of rusty, somewhat cloudy green.

Maybe I shouldn’t have used boiling water.

They do say not to.

Anyway, it’s got a quite good, very delicate taste.

Experience adverbial?

Some people claim the truth is more like this, that you see the water bluely.

And more generally you don’t see something that is blue.

That never happens.

Instead, you just see something bluely.

What if there is nothing to see?

The brain in the vat?

Well, they would say, something is going on within it that's like what goes on when one sees something blue(ly).

And that's all that's really happening,

See?

Not very different from the eliminative and reductionist styles of materialism.

In the end, the point is to deny experience.

Experience and nature

Everything goes as if our experience puts us directly within a world of nature, people, buildings, furniture, and an endless variety of things and places we see and smell and touch, hear and feel, many of which, ultimately, were there long before any human showed up to notice them and, very likely, will still be there long after the last of us is gone.

When a tree falls in a forest it makes a noise, though no one hears. Or so it seems.

And yet, the straight stick looks bent in the water, the green crowns of the backyard maples look black in silhouette against the night sky, the round penny appears elliptical from an angle, the bright point in the sky cannot be the star that blew itself to dust a million years ago, and that waiter in the next room to the right through the mirror you mistake for a door is really off to your left.

And that cane in the corner – is that a duck or a rabbit’s head?

Is that a vase or two people, tête-à-tête?

Fictionalism

Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book III, aphorism 121.

Life no Argument.

We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by the postulating of bodies, lines, surfaces, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content: without these articles of faith no one could manage to live at present!

But for all that they are still unproved.

Life is no argument; error might be among the conditions of life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Democrats aren’t democrats, either



Yes, this is an explanation that doesn’t explain, since it leaves us all wondering why the house doesn’t have a filibuster.

It isn’t really about the power-lust of individual senators.

It’s about every Tom and Dick in Party A who can’t stand the thought that when Harry of Party B has a majority he would almost certainly do something Tom and Dick don’t like.

Why, that would be just utterly unendurable.

And vice versa.

And for the same reason neither party will free even the federal government, let alone the states, from the arbitrary and fraudulent constitutional absolutism of the Supreme Court.

Though it scares the shit out of both parties I personally would be willing to see America try the experiment of democracy.

I think we would find out that the world would not end and both parties would behave a lot more responsibly and carefully than the nervous Nellies now say they fear.

Just as they do in every European country where functional if not formal unicameralism dominates and no court obstructs, and yet the competing major parties are not constantly plunging back and forth, all the time, doing and undoing the same things again and again just as rapidly as they rotate in office.

And I particularly resent that the Supremes are such chronic liars and both parties lie, also, about what they want the court to do.

The conservatives claim to want them to enforce the constitution as written and as meant by those who adopted it and its various amendments, but they actually want the court to pretend the constitution was written by Herbert Spencer, as Holmes said.

The liberals frankly claim they want the court to ignore original intent and enforce instead what’s required by contemporary society and its values, but what they really want is for the court to enforce the constitution they, the liberals, wish we had rather than the one we actually have.

And the courts since the beginning of the 20th Century have indulged both of these illegitimacies, clothing themselves with the totally arbitrary and unconstitutional power to re-write the constitution however they like.

They and what they do are every bit as much a disgrace to America as not just the filibuster but the very existence of the senate.

And no one will change that.

Girls just want to have fun. And they really can’t tolerate disagreement, either.



If you’re not on board for the whole feminist agenda you’re a nut-ball, at best, I guess, and he’s not on board.

Nor am I, come to that, though I really don’t care about the facilities issue.

Those secondary sex characteristics – not the beard stuff but the muscle stuff – actually do matter in many settings.

Oh, and there’s that breast thing.

You know, lactation?

Biology is destiny, after all, and Mom is the one who’s built to take care of the small children, hate it though she might.

Isn’t it amazing these silly people claim to be “reality based”?

Oh, my.

Nobody on the planet is more into denial than a down-the-line, strong liberal feminist.

A reminder.

Recall the common schoolyard taunt, “You punch like a girl!”

It’s only in Hollywood that some babe without an ounce of muscle in her arms beats the crap out of six guys at a time, all of them built like weight-lifters.

Sadly, combat isn’t Hollywood.

It’s the really real world.

Wait.

Didn’t Jodie Foster make a movie – feminists loved it – about what really happens (there’s that word, again) when a girl gets into it with a bunch of guys?

I think she did.

Leon P did this on his last and not his first day for a reason.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The one and the many

“Greater love hath no man,” teach the Christians, referring in particular to the mythic Son of God who gave up his life to appease the wrath of his own divine Father and save humanity – believing humanity, anyway – from the eternal damnation and suffering the Father had intended for them because their first parents, his original human creations, pilfered fruit from his private orchard.

Though the Son and the Father, along with the Holy Ghost, are actually just one God, and that a loving one, according to the story.

But never mind all that, right now.

Ask a libertarian, a Randian, an individualist anarchist, or even a garden-variety American “rugged individualist” whether, according to his considered moral opinion – and each and every one of them does have a considered moral opinion – , the one must die for the many, or the many have a right to demand of the one that he die for them – and perhaps a right to kill him themselves, if need be, if he refuses.

Pshaw.

The rich man has a perfect right to spend his riches as he wishes, choosing to allow the poor to freeze, starve, or die for lack of competent medical attention.

And if a deca-billionaire many times over chooses to set aside some billions or tens of billions to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the freezing, or care for the sick the surprise is as great as the praise publicly heaped upon him for his remarkable philanthropy.

May we be frank?

For them, Jean Valjean was a thief who deserved to be sent to the galleys or even the guillotine.

If one may not demand so much as a loaf of bread from someone to feed one’s starving mother what fantastic fool would think one could demand that he die for others, however imperiled or numerous?

Transformed from a moral view about how things stand among individuals to a view of what the state itself may and may not rightfully do, this is the opinion that dominates the conservative movement and has dominated the Republican Party since the days of Reagan and Thatcher.

Including the Protestant Christian right, clergy and all, for that matter, despite their fairy tale about God the Father and his Son, and the Catholic lay pundits, though not the Catholic clergy whose hierarchy officially rejects it.

Just so much baloney that suits capitalist society to a T.

Who are the real democrats?



My comment to JN’s article.

Your concerns are totally valid but, personally, I'll be really impressed with The Nation's commitment to democracy when you come out for

(1) Federal unicameralism (abolish the senate, keep the house),

(2) Denying the Supreme Court's power of constitutional review,

(3) Reading the supremacy clause as an affirmation of the supremacy of the federal legislature,

(4) Abolition of the Electoral College and election of presidents by popular vote, and

(5) Repealing Article V and putting in place a national amendment process closer to the much more democratic procedures of a number of states, allowing for popular initiatives and requiring validation through referenda.

Soon?

Not that I'm all that unreservedly a democrat, myself.

But they are the ones whining.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I didn’t realize he was that old



Actually, that well describes Pat’s reaction, here, to Obama’s speech.

But never mind.

This is the interesting part.

PB speaking,

The president is a fine speaker, and I really was looking for something uplifting.

I've read speeches, I've worked on inaugural speeches -- I remember both of Lincoln's, and Kennedy's, and FDR's.

[Lincoln's] second inaugural is one of the greatest -- it's far better than the Gettysburg Address, in my view.

I would never have guessed.

Is he a vampire?

No human lives that long.

Anyway, as he might have it, not since Old Testament times.

;-)

Is America the most dishonest democracy on the face of the Earth?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reading The Gay Science



A brilliant but malicious little shit, a tireless and tedious drama queen, and very likely a homosexual - possibly merely larval.

And that last was doubtless related by no means coincidentally to his loathing for Christianity, democracy, and socialism and his genuine life-long admiration for caste societies featuring an hereditary nobility living on slavery.

Especially among the Greeks.

His life was absolutely dominated by the profound resentment - in his case, its object being the society of his time - that he so transparently displaced onto others, “the herd,” whom he scorned and hated all his days.

Not by any means the last philosopher about whom such things could be said.

Obama unchained?



Going straight to the Declaration, he sounded more like a progressive than he has at any time since the campaign of 2008.

Good stuff, domestically, on the whole, aside from immigration.

Something for all the liberal constituencies, including a commitment to the safety net and to earned benefits that was given billing reassuringly close to the top.

Lesser evil, but only just, in foreign affairs.

This turn did not go unnoticed.


Elsewhere he asserted a need to deal effectively with global warming and a moral imperative to care for the planet for those who will come after us.

But this is the crucial passage in O’s speech committing him and us, unmistakably, to the tradition of presidential liberal global interventionism.

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.

We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.

And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice—not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

A mix typical of progressive presidents since TR. And Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, for that matter.

And the American Vice President lately so much publicly venerated, Henry Wallace.

About which writes Robert Dreyfus at The Nation in that strain of global welfarism that is becoming more influential in contemporary liberalism, or seems to be.

That, to me, ought to be the absolute core of a new US foreign policy.

Not finding small and medium-size enemies, whether impoverished nations such as Iran or mini-threats such as the Algeria-Mali Islamists, and by attacking them creating big ones; not by riling up gigantic rivals such as China by “pivoting” toward Asia and the Pacific with our air force and navy.

Instead, by organizing the world’s attention on urgent needs, such as clean drinking water, vaccination, healthcare clinics, sustainable economic growth, and other achievable goals that, according to countless analysts, could be bought and paid for worldwide at just a fraction of what we now spend on what we euphemistically call “defense.”

There was lots of God in the inauguration, by the way.

Not least in the lyrics of America, sung by a pop star in pop star style.

Well, talk of God was always characteristic of Lincoln, too, one of our president's heroes.

Oh, what is it with the cheesy divas at these affairs, anyway?

I like the national anthem better the way they do it at ball parks.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Because he can, I suppose.


Liberals are liars and hypocrites, too



Says Meteor Blades, Danny Goldberg at Alternet explains why criticizing Zero Dark Thirty is not an assault on free expression.

But, of course, no one said it was and criticizing Zero Dark Thirty is not the issue.


As a long-time defender of the rights of artists -- including controversial ones -- I find it intellectually dishonest for champions of Zero Dark Thirty to pretend that serious criticism of the film amounts to an assault on free expression.

Responding to public statements by actors Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and David Clennon urging Academy members to refrain from voting for Zero Dark Thirty, Columbia Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal said "to punish an artist's right of expression is abhorrent."

Talk about egregious and bold intellectual dishonesty.

And what would DG say about a conservative effort to deny a movie any awards because it endorsed homosexuality and condemned Christianity?

Or because, like Reds, it was a full-length hymn of praise for Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution?

Or because, like JFK, it was such a shocking heap of malevolent lies?

What would he say about efforts to deny awards to Piss Christ or various other “works of art” to which conservatives in general and Christians in particular volubly protest?

Well, what have liberals said about such efforts?

Per DG, Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and David Clennon (Who?) have urged the academy members not to vote for Zero Dark Thirty, apparently for any of the various awards the academy can bestow upon a film.

The point, I suppose, is to enlist Hollywood whether it will or no in damning torture, to erect the lie that torture never obtains useful information into a dogma for which support on every occasion is mandatory, and to visit exemplary punishment on all those associated with the film for not clearly and unmistakably damning torture and supporting that dogma.

It is the usual liberal effort to punish non-PC-compliant expression that liberals always insist doesn’t count as censorship though similar conservative efforts to punish blasphemy, for example, most certainly do.

For DG and, I suppose, for MB, the central issue is how this film affects popular opinion about the use of torture and the film deserves to be criticized for – according to him and, so far as I know, every liberal who has checked in with an opinion – either giving the false impression torture was in fact or at least may have been useful in getting OBL or supporting the false opinion that it is a necessary tool of national security.

For him, that makes such punitive efforts as those of Asner and Sheen perfectly legitimate.

And for Asner, Sheen, Clennon (Who?), and also Meteor Blades.

So they deny it is what it is - an attack on freedom of expression in Hollywood - and pretend it is what it is not - "serious criticism."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain.



Well, no.

Not yet and probably never, quite.

But his grip on the learned world, based on force, has long since been relaxed and his grip on pop culture, based on subservient law, has recently also been pretty much broken.

It is interesting to see how things are changing, especially in regards to sex and the prevalent moral outlook on it and everything related to it, as a result.

The Christian churches and their clergy and theologians used to be the uncontested and incontestable authorities on morals in the West.

But all along they mostly made it stick with coercion and bloody repression of dissent.

Take away the force  . . . .

Hence the constant complaints of the Christians about permissiveness, immorality, and the decadence of the entire Occident.

On the other hand, don’t hold your breath



David Atkins quotes JS at Hullabaloo.

As Mr. Obama’s second term begins, we must all face the fact that our country cannot quickly, meaningfully recover without policies that directly address inequality.

What’s needed is a comprehensive response that should include, at least, significant investments in education, a more progressive tax system and a tax on financial speculation.

And then DA writes,

Stiglitz' proposed solutions are popular with the majority of voters.

They're just not popular with the majority of lobbyists, wealthy campaign backers, and millionaire media cocktail party types.

My vote in the 2016 Presidential Primary will go to the candidate who offers Mr. Stiglitz (and/or Mr. Krugman) the role of chief economic adviser.

We may hope sufficient millions feel the same way.

That would represent an altogether unexpected awakening of democracy in America.

Just another reminder what the Republican Party and American conservatism are all about



Disaster befalls even the well-intentioned and competent and not at all negligent



Says Reuters,

Algeria's Interior Ministry had reported on Saturday that 23 hostages and 32 militants were killed during the assaults launched by Algerian special forces to end the crisis, with 107 foreign hostages and 685 Algerian hostages freed.

However, Minister of Communication Mohamed Said said this would rise when final numbers were issued in the next few hours. "I am afraid unfortunately to say that the death toll will go up," Said was quoted as saying by the official APS news agency.

On the other hand, none of the terrorists survived, they said.

So, not a complete disaster.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lapsang souchong




Oh, my.

Never tried it before but I’ve been meaning to, so I picked up some Twinings bags at the Giant Eagle this morning.

Wow.

What an aroma of smoke.

Once the plastic was off the box and I had opened it to get a bag I decided it was too strong to just leave them in the cupboard like that.

I took all the bags out of the box and stuck them in a sealed freezer-bag.

Frankly, the smell scared me.

But I boiled some water and gave it a try.

Both the scent and the flavor are quite strong, but you can just catch the smell of tea behind the smoke and the flavor, I think, is very nice.

And that’s a relief, actually.

I had read many places that people tend to love or hate this tea.

But I more often like new foods and drinks than not, so that didn’t scare me.

But I have to admit that strong smell of smoke when I took the plastic off the box alarmed me, and it was with a bit of pessimism that I brewed a cup and took my first sip.

That burned smell is right there and doesn’t quit.

That will take getting used to.

But the flavor is excellent.

Je ne regrette rien.

Friday, January 18, 2013

An untimely meditation.

Learning there is no Santa Claus is always a disappointment in the life of a child, not least because it means so many adults have conspired so long and extensively to tell you a silly lie, and still conspire to foist it on other innocents.

And realizing your invitation to a great and wonderful feast was exactly just such another practical joke is yet another disappointment.

And that is how believers in God, Allah, Jahweh, the gods, the eternal Buddha-mind, or whatever commonly react when disabused.

Well, believers in kind and loving powers, anyway.

Those who thought life, the universe, and everything under the sway of malevolence are, of course, relieved to have realized their error.

And it is much the same for disabused believers in human immortality.

Believers in a happy immortality, anyway, are at first dismayed.

One in which, for example, the circle will be unbroken, bye and bye, in the sky.

Or at least one with good prospects.

Those who thought the prospects rather dim, of course, are relieved to stop believing – and fearing.

Again, it is much the same for believers in the illusions of right and wrong, of values inscribed on the face of the universe - whether or not by God, Allah, Jahweh, or whomever - with authority over us and over others in contrast to our own so impotent and insignificant wills.

The collapse of faith in such great things as justice, natural right, and the moral law is no easy thing to endure.

Only the more stupid immediately respond, "What luck! Everything is permitted!"

For the generality of believers, probably, in human immortality, in morality, or in any of the better known and currently more popular religions, these lost illusions are all at least to begin with actually felt as genuine losses.

And the people who suffer such losses of faith may remain full of sadness and regret for a long time.

But some eventually get over all that.

And then they see in retrospect that what for so long seemed like the whole world plunging into darkness was instead an enlightenment, an awakening, a genuine dawn.

Liberal misinterpretation continues unabated in the pages of The Nation



The point of such lawyerly bunk is to enable an end run around the 2nd Amendment, absent repeal.

Repeal, of course, would be a lot more fresh, honest, candid, and clean.

Reading such nonsense as this makes you feel like you need a shower.

Watching people try to turn it into law makes you want to turn your head away.

None of which is to say the conservatives are a jot more honest, all told, about the constitution.

Australia’s John Howard on banning assault rifles



Quotha,

The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing.

Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. 

But nothing trumps easy access to a gun.

It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.

Still, he had to resort to a threat to amend the constitution he could plausibly make and Obama can’t in the considerably less democratic United States.

Note that if our process were even as much more democratic as theirs is by comparison Obama probably could make a threat every bit as plausible as Howard’s was.

For a time, it seemed that certain states might refuse to enact the ban.

But I made clear that my government was willing to hold a nationwide referendum to alter the Australian Constitution and give the federal government constitutional power over guns.

Such a referendum would have been expensive and divisive, but it would have passed. 

And all state governments knew this.

Per Wikipedia, this is how it works in Australia.

Chapter VIII [of the Australian federal constitution] specifies the procedures for amending the Constitution.

Section 128 provides that constitutional amendments must be approved by a referendum.

Successful amendment requires:

  • an absolute majority in both houses of the federal parliament; and
  • the approval in a referendum of the proposed amendment by a majority of electors nationwide, and a majority in a majority of states.

The referendum bill must be put to the people by the Governor-General between two and six months after passing parliament.

After the constitutional amendment bill has passed both the parliamentary stage and the referendum, it then receives Royal Assent.

When proclaimed, it will be in effect, and the wording of the Constitution will be changed.

An exception to this process is if the amendment bill is rejected by one house of Federal Parliament.

If the bill passes the first house and is rejected by the second, then after three months the first house may pass it again.

If the bill is still rejected by the second house, then the Governor-General may choose to still put the bill to the people's vote.

Section 128 also provides that any amendment affecting equal representation of a State in the Senate, or minimum representation in the House of Representatives can only be presented for Royal Assent if it is approved in that State.

And this is how it works in the US.

Article V of the US Constitution, quoted by Wikipedia.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;

and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Howard, by the way, makes a comment I am pleased to quote and endorse.

Our challenges were different from America’s.

Australia is an even more intensely urban society, with close to 60 percent of our people living in large cities.

Our gun lobby isn’t as powerful or well-financed as the National Rifle Association in the United States.

Australia, correctly in my view, does not have a Bill of Rights, so our legislatures have more say than America’s over many issues of individual rights, and our courts have less control.

Also, we have no constitutional right to bear arms.

Liberals think they owe much that they value to the Bill of Rights, suitably construed by liberal misinterpreters on the Supreme Court, along with an equally usefully misread 14th Amendment.

Every part of the sexual revolution, for example.

But the entire Occident also went through the sexual revolution, and all the rest of it did that without the need for such phony recourse to any such bill of rights, equal protection clause, or due process clause.

Mightn't we have done so, too?

Notice, by the way, that the agenda Howard pushed through took assault weapons away from Australians who already had them in addition to banning new sales.

Ideally, Obama would do the same.

None of that grandfathering baloney, thanks.

And likewise confiscate or buy back outsize magazines.

I have two 15 round magazines for a 9 mm CZ 75 B I will be only to glad to replace with 10's.

CZ 75 B

News from the war against Islam



Glenn Greenwald says oh yes we are – we, the West – fighting a war against Islam, dammit.

Well, that’s true, sort of.

But, after all, that was the part the Islamophobes always had right.

There really isn’t any sharp distinction between Islam and Islamism.

They are all Islamists, is one way to put it, varying along a continuum from the less to the more active.

We call the more active “Islamists” and the less active “moderate” or “ordinary” or “peaceable” Muslims.

But they’re really all just Muslims.

Still, spectacular but exceptional terrorism in the Occident aside, Muslim activism remains a problem primarily, worldwide, for Muslims and the non-Muslims unlucky enough to live where there is a significant Muslim population.

And all of that is very far from the US.

In the late 19th Century America had the wit to let the British chase the Mahdi.

We should imitate that exemplary wisdom with regard to Islamists, Jihadists, terrorists, or any other variant of annoying Islam.

Or the French, as the case may be.


Or the governments of majority – or minority! – Muslim states that don’t want to be all that bloody Islamic, thank you.


Greenwald is blind to those governments, when he isn’t slandering them as stooges of the West, and to their own participation, diplomatic and outright military, in the “war against Islam.”

But that’s just Greenwald, the leftist crank.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why isn’t he counting the congressional votes?



Wouldn’t the numbers support his claim?

Elsewhere and often I have seen it claimed that more Americans voted for Democratic candidates for congress than voted for Republicans, and that the Republican majority in the house was achieved because of Republican gerrymandering of the districts.

Nationally, if the votes in the Electoral College are tied to congressional districts the gerrymandering would have the same effect, giving the Republicans a huge and clearly anti-democratic edge.

But that doesn’t mean the numbers regarding only Pennsylvania congressional districts would bear out this complaint.

Well, what about pop culture, anyway?


Every liberal I know of thinks the conservative attempt to deflect blame for gun violence from their presence in our society in the millions in private hands onto improper diagnosis of and care for the mentally ill and the prevalence of violence in mass culture makes exactly as much sense as it would if we were talking about gun carnage among children in schoolyards and the conservatives were trying to prevent efforts to disarm the kids.

"Guns don't kill people," they say. "People do."

Exactly right!

People kill people!

Only a fool would want it to be easy.

Only a fool or a transparent enemy of mankind.

Adult humans, just like children, cannot as a rule safely be trusted with anything sharper than a table spoon, let alone firearms.

All the same, the conservatives are surely right that popular culture is also a culprit.

Just as no responsible parent wants his children exposed to material exalting or encouraging violence no sane adult wants the adults around him imbibing a steady diet of such poison, either.

But over the years the liberals have got themselves painted into a corner on this question, having invented and entrenched constitutional interpretations and dogmas that are serious obstacles to regulation – that is to say, censorship – of pop culture by any level of government, even if not aimed at policing up pornography, obscenity, and profanity in the name of good Christian morals.

So much the worse for all of us.

Our lies come back to bite us in the backside, sometimes.

Look back on the pop culture of the years between the adoption of the Motion Picture Code and the destruction of censorship by the Supremes in the last half of the 20th Century.

Listen to pop music of the 1930's as far as the early 70's.

There's a reason Woody Allen has preferred big band music all his life.

But folk and even rock were at any rate not the screamingly successful threat to society so much contemporary pop music is.

PS.

I realize this is ultimately a judgment call and I trust the government more than I trust the ordinary run of ordinary mankind.

Conservatives, echoing Juvenal, claim not to.

"Who will police the police?" he demanded, arguing against the wisdom of having a police force.

And yet no one but the maddest libertarian today has the least doubt we need and are much better off with police than without.

See the point?

And, after all, how bad can it get so long as the government isn't overthrown by loons intent on dictatorship?

(And how much good would these blowhards do if it was?)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

OK. And so?


Coulter: If You Compare White Populations, US Murder Rate Same as Belgium

Perhaps true.

But what’s her point?

The slaughter among the nation’s non-whites doesn’t matter?

That's not even the issue, is it?

The overall murder rate, much inflated by the violence of non-whites just as she says, is one thing while large-scale massacres like Newtown are quite another.

And as to the latter, I have the impression the shooters and the victims are generally overwhelmingly white.

In fact, black and liberal commentators sometimes unfairly complain that such shootings get a lot of play in the media while the shootouts on city streets are largely ignored just because, they say, the victims of these spectacular crimes are white while the victims on the streets generally are not.

But that is just race-baiting nonsense.

The slaughter among the nation’s young black and some other non-white males is a matter of criminal gangsters killing other criminal gangsters in places such people are routinely to be found.

In contrast, in a single incident at a school or a theater or other non-urban location a previously harmless shooter with no criminal associations or record may use a legally procured weapon to massacre dozens of ordinary, innocent kids, teachers, theatergoers, or other law abiding folks quite deliberately, at a location we all expect and demand to be a lot safer than the common battlefields of gangsters.

And so it is specifically this sort of mass violence that politicians are moved to specially deplore and promise to take special action to prevent.

As to measures to cut down on the mutual slaughter of and by criminals in limited areas of the nation's cities, the general population is understandably somewhat less concerned than their kin or their neighbors personally put at risk by the gun-play.

With that, of course, anyone can sympathize.

But the general public in America has always recognized that, apart from the danger to innocent bystanders, criminals killing each other is by no means altogether to be deplored.

Update 01172013 1219 hrs EST.

The president's measures, while inadequate to the task, are a step in the right direction.

Though I doubt it is his intention, they seem likely to have a greater impact on the future incidence of school or theater or other exurban massacres than on the slaughter common among young black males.

OK, some of the crackpots are in the congress, though.



I don’t offhand recall anybody being any stupider or crazier during the Cold War, and those were pretty crazy, stupid times.

Josh Israel quotes and links to a statement from the congressman at his own website concerning the president’s remarks about unspecified actions he could take to deal with the gun problem on his own authority.

This shows you how seriously you should take similar claims about Iran and Israel from these jackasses.

The President’s actions are an existential threat to this nation.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is what has kept this nation free and secure for over 200 years.

The very purpose of the Second Amendment is to stop the government from disallowing people the means to defend themselves against tyranny.

Any proposal to abuse executive power and infringe upon gun rights must be repelled with the stiffest legislative force possible.

The only sentence in that quoted passage that isn’t an egregious and even silly lie is the third.

Even the last is ridiculous.

But enabling popular resistance to tyranny was indeed part of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, the other being to eliminate the need for a significant standing army - the model of tyranny in those times not being the New Deal but the very British government American conservatives nowadays admire and the patriots of that time denounced in the Declaration of Independence, hated for its principles of monarchy and aristocracy, and defeated in a bloody revolution.

Presupposed by those who supported the 2nd Amendment was the notion that militia could provide a significant opposition to government or foreign regulars.

That notion being false, the amendment was proved useless in both connections very promptly by the success of Washington’s regulars in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion and the dismal performance of US irregulars throughout the War of 1812.

That being so, the 2nd Amendment is all downside with no upside.

American politics and American politicians, especially from the South, have always been disgusting in my lifetime.

And I am a Baby Boomer born in the middle of the last century.

What does right wing intimidation do to legitimate republican government?



I don’t mean to endorse Steven D’s comments but it’s easier to link to him than to the handful of right-wing sources he has linked to.

Even the most extravagant of these spokesmen or American conservatism and gun rights enthusiasts – Larry Klayman, for example – are not stupid enough to believe what they are saying, taken as literal predictions.

These are falsehoods verging on empty but malevolent threats with the single aim of intimidation.

And this intimidation is aimed at stopping legitimate republican government in its tracks as these right-wing flakes openly condone in advance the violence they pretend to predict.

These self-proclaimed truest of defenders of American liberty are openly legitimating, or at least excusing, a bloody effort to overthrown the republic in defense of a hobby that has in their cases become an obsession backed by ludicrous political delusions that were only less ludicrous delusions even in their native 18th Century, a hobby that has become so dangerous the public wants it got under control.

But the phenomenon does not seem to be as general as Steven D would have us believe.

In fact, Pat Buchanan’s indiscretion apart, it seems the only people engaged in making these fake predictions are outright and well-recognized crackpots and neither leading conservatives nor representative Republicans.

As for me, I would like to see all guns registered, for a fee, like cars.

Not just newly purchased guns but those already in private hands, including mine.

I want to see a ban on not just assault weapons but high capacity magazines.

And if it has to begin with grandfathering such weapons and magazines already in private hands then I want to see later legislation withdraw that and these weapons confiscated.

And that would cover some magazines in my own possession.

Cars don’t generally last even a decade, so excluding cars already purchased from new and more stringent environmental regulations is not that harmful.

But guns well-kept last as long as one could wish or one could fear.

Leaving all those guns out there would seriously undermine the point of a ban.

The French in Mali


At the time of the French elections, the American Islamophobe media, a particularly hysterical division of the most loony right wing media, disgustedly observed that most of France’s Muslim voters went for the socialists.

That was, they claimed, because the Socialists are the French welfare party and the patrons of France’s 47%.

And, of course, also because they, like the entire European left, are soft on Islamism.

Contrary to what these warnings might lead you to expect, immediately after the election a representative of the new government spoke at one of France’s principal mosques and told those present in no uncertain terms Islamism would not be tolerated in France.

But of course, observed the Islamophobes in an aside, the new government also announced it would permit construction of hundreds of new mosques in France.

Now we have the French action in Mali flatly contradicting the “soft on Islamism” line of the American, conservative Islamophobes.

What will be their aside, this time?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Selling to women


Cars.

Women like gigantic SUVs with four wheel drive. Safety, they think, and an edge in traffic.

Vodka.

Flavors are back, big.

And now we have spiked fruit drinks.

Coffee.

Not just a wild variety of types but of methods of preparation and flavor additives.

Tea.

Same as coffee.

Remembering the Dakota War of 1862



Just another reminder of the offensive racism of liberal indigenism.

If the Republicans were still running candidates like IKE and Nixon a lot more whites would desert the Democrats out of disgust with their liberal wing.

Then the liberals would call them racists and brag that only their party, the Democratic Party, looks like America.

When illiterates read the law


You know.

Guys like economists and lawyers.

Booman seems to have it right.

The bit of law being read as authorizing the prez to wildly inflate the money supply is being misread.

It all turns on the concept of a bullion coin.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Can’t we just leave the new imperialism to the Europeans?



Sort of like the Brits sending Kitchener after the Mahdi.

None of our affair.

None of theirs, either, really.

But that’s none of our affair.

Nixon, the liberal



The man I voted for in 1972, my first election.

I had attended many anti-war demonstrations in my college years, before that, and had not changed my mind that the war in Vietnam was a fool’s errand.

But McGovern just seemed too much a flake.

The conservatives still don’t like Nixon, much, though they laud and the liberals damn his early days and the whole Chambers/Hiss affair.

(Hiss, it seems to me, was guilty.)

Except for Pat Buchanan, who worked for him in the White House.

In 1968 you still had to be 21 to vote, and I wasn’t.

But Humphrey was first way too hawkish and then too sudden with a late conversion.

I would likely have voted for Nixon, then, had I been able to.

John Fund writes pollster Doug Schoen

[N]otes that Nixon’s 1974 national-health-care proposal “was a far more liberal concept than Bill Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s.”

Nixon would have required employers to buy health insurance for their employees and subsidized the employers who couldn’t afford it.

He also imposed a minimum tax on the wealthy (the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax, which is only now being permanently indexed to exclude the middle class) and unsuccessfully backed a guaranteed income for all Americans.

And that’s before we even get to how Nixon embraced Communist Beijing, dumped America’s diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, and signed a highly flawed Vietnam War ceasefire that within two years led to South Vietnam’s being overrun by Communists.

Contrary to current mythology, when American labor supported Nixon it did not abandon New Deal liberalism, as the anti-war radicals of the time - not liberals by any stretch of the imagination, themselves, but mostly flaming reds who loathed America and wanted Ho to win - claimed.

Nor did I.

But it did abandon liberals who were happy to defend Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichael, and the likes of Hanoi Jane, for whom I had no sympathy, either.

Somebody still owes us an appreciative biography of Nixon.

My biggest regret about him is that he and Kissinger didn't get us totally out of Vietnam in his first term.

But he didn't want the debacle to come on his watch.

Just like Obama stalling around in Afghanistan?

Some exceptionally hostile liberals allege Johnson would have ended the thing in 1968 if Nixon hadn’t sabotaged negotiations.

But only them and nobody else believes it.

Anyway, Fund thinks this is a litany of complaints.

In a single day in 1971, Nixon famously imposed wage and price controls in a naïve attempt to curb inflation, ended the U.S.’s last ties to the gold standard, effectively devalued the dollar, and imposed a 10 percent import surcharge.

The list of agencies he created from scratch includes the EPA, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

He signed the command-and-control Clean Air Act into law and instituted racial quotas as federal policy.

“Incredible but true,” Fortune magazine recalled upon Nixon’s death in 1994. “It was the Nixonites that gave us employment quotas.”

As historian Joan Hoff has noted, “Not until the Nixon administration did ‘affirmative action’ begin to become synonymous with ‘civil rights.’”

Nixon’s most controversial federal-spending proposal was the Family Assistance Program, which would have guaranteed a minimal annual welfare payment for all Americans below a certain income level.

It was blocked by a coalition of conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Senate, but under Nixon spending on Food Stamps increased from $610 million in 1970 to $2.5 billion in 1973.

Today, 47 million Americans, or nearly one in six, depend on the program.

In addition, Nixon created the Supplemental Security Income portion of Social Security, which constitutes a guaranteed annual income for the aged, blind, and disabled[.]

On things like this, possibly excepting affirmative action, Nixon and IKE saw absolutely eye-to-eye.

IKE thought the conservatives were utter crackpots.

Do you think all this means the progressive agenda is actually compatible with a kind of conservatism, now wholly obsolete, that isn't just a front for plutocrat greed or libertarian foolishness?

Maybe.

Bismark stole much of his domestic agenda from the German Social Democrats, a Marxist party from first to last.

It used to be called "stealing the Whigs' clothes."

Or maybe it was just a different kind of liberalism.