Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This is nonsense. The 1st Amendment does not protect everything that people might claim is free speech; for example, I cannot burst into your house screaming obscenities, or even a coherent political viewpoint, because I do not have a right to speak one your private property. Zuccotti Park is private property. If they wish to change the rules for whatever reason, they are in their rights to do so. This is reinforced by the zoning laws imposed on the park concerning safety and health regulations.
Occupy Wall Street has every right to speak its mind peaceably (hell, I wish they would come out with anything resembling a coherent thought to argue about). Intentionally disrupting the lives of others, however, is not free speech. You can speak without being a pain in the ass. Remember that free speech is just that. You do not have the right to force people to listen to you. You do not have a right to bang drums and disrupt the nights of families. You do not have the right to defecate in public and protect rapists. These things are not free speech, nor does prohibiting them in any way reduce the ability to propose or attack any idea.
I pointed this out at the beginning. This movement couldn't get any traction in the media until they resorted to blocking a bridge. It isn't their message that gets them attention (for the most part, they lack a message at all). It's the fact that they are nuisances to society. Most of them are protesting for the sake of protesting rather than having any goals to actually achieve.
If you have something to say, OWS, put it into English so we can understand you. Banging drums, blocking subways and bridges, shouting down people who have nothing to do with your silly protest, these things are not free speech. You can say whatever you damn well please. So say it already.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Occupy Wall Street is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand. It is not for sale.
Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at www.nycga.net should be considered independent of Occupy Wall Street.Really, nobody sees a contradiction between these two statements? Those that control the website are the leaders. They are the new hierarchy. And note that they are making a point of differentiating themselves from anyone not publishing via their controlled website.
And then there is this wonderfully idiotic protest for Thursday. Shutting down the subways, that's the way to...um, what is this all about? I'm sure that will do wonders for OWS' popularity in the city. Note at the bottom they demand we "resist austerity." What on Earth is that a reference to? These guys claim to be above partisan politics, but they explicitly say cutting government spending is to be resisted. It is a tenet of their faith that government spending is in and of itself a good thing. Amazingly, they don't realize that austerity reduces the chances of corruption; the more politicians can spend, the more they will do so for their interests, not ours.
Anyway, I'm just annoyed with these people. People who cannot see reality right in front of their faces drive me off a wall. Look at how these people have run their "camps" and ask yourself, do you really want their ideas running the country?
Friday, November 11, 2011
The technological advantage is obviously on the side of the Marines. Really, the whole question is about measuring how much more powerful we are in the 21st Century than the most powerful nation on Earth during the 1st Century was. This will be the key to obliterating support for Augustus, as the first Emperor will appear, and in fact be, impotent to stop the oncoming invaders. Nothing surprising here.
The question of who would win, however, requires parameters in which victory is defined. Could the Marines overthrow Augustus and institute anarchy? Unquestionably. They could shell the Palatine and Capitoline Hills from miles away from the city, potentially wiping out Rome's leadership instantly. But could the Marines supplant Augustus rather than merely obliterate society?
I believe the answer is yes, but there are two important variables. For starters, the Marines would have to set out immediately with the intent of supplanting Augustus. If this is some sort of time traveling invasion and this is the mission, the Marines are dedicated to this objective, then I believe they will be in very good shape. Without a clear mission, however, the Marines will use up their supplies very quickly without achieving anything. Food and potable water will be far more important than ammunition. The Reddit version has the Marines magically being transported back in time and space. In that situation, the Marines would need to very quickly decide to take over. Our soldiers are extremely good if there is an objective, but without any objective, confusion would reign. At that point, it's not even Romans vs. Marines rather than Marines trying to figure out what has happened while being harried by Romans. The question is a lot clearer when both sides are intentionally trying to take the other out.
The second variable is whether any of the Marines speak Latin. Back on the website I linked to, I'm kind of shocked Adrian Goldsworthy believes the Marines would lose due to a lack of numbers. I've read Goldsworthy's book on the Punic Wars and saw striking similarities to our conflict in Afghanistan. The trick is to win over individual cities with a carrot and stick approach. If the Marines can communicate and win over those socii, they suddenly have the manpower to enforce peace in Rome or in any other city they choose.
Of course, we'll never know, but it certainly is an interesting question.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
You know what he can't control, though? The laws of mathematics. Italy, like all of the other welfare states, is going under.
So Berlusconi's abandoning the ship. If things have gotten so bad that this crazy bastard is giving up power, we may want to stock up on canned goods and shotguns.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
- The parties are not putting their own interests ahead of the nation's. They legitimately have differing ideas as to what is good for our nation. Therefore, it is impossible to "put politics aside", since politics itself is debating what is good for our nation and what is harmful.
- To say a certain party should put aside their positions "for the good of the country" is to say that party should abandon its conception of what is good for us...for the good of us. It's a non sequitur, but you have to actually think the statement out to realize that.
- Partisanship is not all that bad. One party states completely lacking in partisanship are common; they are known as fascist states or dictatorship. Their standards of living and respect for human rights are atrocious. Partisanship helps keep bad ideas in check by allowing somebody to stand up and say "this is a bad idea and I oppose it."
- The people in government may very well not have an answer that works. In fact, they may have been the cause of problems. To wish maximum efficiency from the government, or to wish they would "just do something", is to assume that whatever they will do will be good. There is no reason to grant that assumption.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
"The fact that no one made demands of her knowledge in her special field was lucky for Simochka. Not only she but many of her girl friends had graduated from the institute without any such knowledge. There were many reasons for this. The young girls had come from high schools with very little grounding in mathematics and physics. They had learned in the upper grades that at faculty council meetings the school director had scolded the teachers for giving out failing marks, and that even if a pupil didn't study at all he received a diploma...Besides, when their students failed, the examiners were reprimanded as if the failures were spoiled goods in a production process--according to the well-known theory that there are no bad pupils, only bad teachers. Therefore the examiners did not try to trip the students up but, in fact, attempted to get them through the examination with as good results as possible."
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
For all of the media's rhetoric about the "violent" nature of the Tea Party, I cannot recall a single time the riot police had to use flash bang grenades to clear granny and her tricorne hat off of the barricades. Perhaps my favorite part is the screams of "medic!" You are not in the military; there are no medics here. Why there wasn't some noble minded protester there to help without charging a fee, well, I don't know.
The police and locals are pretty much fed up with this. If Occupy Wall Street movements in the nation do not start following health and permit laws, they can expect more. And it is not police brutality. You were in violation of the law and warned to leave. Cops don't take well to people being belligerent.
And right at the end, with the "we are the 99%" cheer, I really was hoping another flash bang would go off.
Come up with a message and a plan so we can talk. In the meantime, leave the parks and let sanitation crews (not to mention the freaking police and EMT folk) do their jobs.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
"But many claims in his speech were those of the demagogue, and especially reprehensible was the statement that less than two thousand persons in the state owned property. This was a pernicious speech, promoting as it did the equalization of property; what could be more baneful than that? Why, the chief motivation behind the establishment of states and city structures was to ensure the maintenance of private property; for though nature guided men to form communities, it was in the hope of guarding their possessions that they sought protection in cities."
"So those who seek to pose as populares, and with this in mind raise the agrarian issue to have owners shifted from their properties, or think that money owed by debtors should be remitted, are undermining the foundations of the state, which depends first and foremost on the harmony between classes (and this cannot continue to exist when some citizens are robbed of their money and others have their debts remitted), and secondly on fair dealing, which is totally abrogated if the individual cannot keep what belongs to him. For, as I remarked earlier, the distinguishing feature of the community and the city is that every individual should maintain free and undisturbed control of his possessions."
These quotes, which come from De Officiis by Marcus Tullius Cicero, are worth pondering.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
This all has such a French Revolution without the balls feeling to it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I got bad news for everyone down protesting Wall Street: you are the 1%. You are the most privileged people on Earth. Even if you are downright poor by American standards, you are freaking rich compared even to the rich in many other places. India, China, and Brazil are not exactly the most backward nations on the planet, either. Hell, they are often tossed about as our competitors and maybe even future superpowers. More than half of Americans live in that top 10% percentile of wealthiest people in the world.
Every time you point a finger up and demand those above you in life pay more, remember that there are billions under you also point a finger upwards. To them, you are the rich.
Also, by this standard, inequality is pretty freaking flat in the United States.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
And yes, that's an accurate term. Once you stop obeying the law and turn to violence, you are a mob. The Tea Party never did that, despite the wet dreams of the media.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Concepts of Economic Sustainability and Right Livelihood
Teachers/Librarians/Train Engineers/Bridge Maintenance/Ship Pilots, etc. $35,000
Public Servants $28,500
Other public sector $30,000
Other private sector $29,000
Entrepreneurs/Business Owners $10,000 (i.e., tax breaks for corps)
Defense workers $25,000
All jobs include full health benefit for worker and family, full retirement benefits, full free
education for children.
Taxation - to run the government. The only tax will be a sales tax for all goods and services, which will be fixed at: 4%.
Actions should not interfere with the efficient functioning of a market economy, the allocation of capital, and incentives for innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers as long as basic welfare and genuine opportunity for the entire American people are served.
In all honesty, I doubt very much that the interim government will make significant changes. I have been much less enthusiastic about these protests than many others for this reason (though I have to admit I thought Mubarak would play his hand better than this). The fun, romantic revolution is over, but the revolution is not complete until liberty has been secured under a functioning government that respects the rights of all people. Creating such a government is among the most difficult tasks mankind has ever faced. I hope, by the grace of God, that the Egyptians will manage it, but I would not bet on it.That would be me, back in February. Now, Egypt is seeing sectarian violence and the very real possibility of starvation, in no small part due to a lack of government. Occupy Wall Street people who use Tahrir Square as an example, take note.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Um...hmm. This is making a very short blog post. So...yeah, I don't know. Reading Caesar's account of the Roman Civil War, so far I liked the Gallic War more but I haven't quite gotten to the conflict in Greece yet.
Some football today. Haven't seen any yet this year, what with the working and whatnot. In fact, today is my first straight up day off in a solid month.
Ok, seriously, do something Occupy Wall Street! Give me something to talk about. I freaking read Aristotle and Plato and Caesar for funsies, if you are boring me that's not a good thing. The Tahrir Square protests were exciting because those people were putting their lives on the line, rallying against an authoritarian power who made it clear the protesters did not have the government's blessing to assemble. Downtown New York isn't exactly the same thing. Can't even follow on twitter anymore because it is always the same nonsense about you being the 99%, which I might add isn't exactly (or even remotely) true.
A lot of wishy washy calls for "real democracy" and "change the world" without ever actually doing anything.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
UPDATE: Just to drive the point home. Nothing says clean, safe, and mature like crapping on a police cruiser.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
No matter how democratic any group may wish to be, the larger the group gets, the less truly equal participation and leadership can be. Somebody has to be making decisions with a decently long view into the future if it wishes to accomplish anything at all. This is known as the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Think of trying to make a movie. Which would be better, if the script were written by one writer, a small team of four to five, or collectively by a stadium of 100,000? The last is completely impracticable. There will be no consistency to the story, no pattern. How do you get the input from that many people, how do you integrate it? That's why classical direct democracies worked through smaller committees, to determine what issues were to be discussed, when discussion would end, voting, etc. The General Assembly has taken a similar course with its committee system.
The New Republic has done a little research into this group and unsurprisingly has found a small core leadership attempting to maintain some level of control over apparently rather transient "committees" formed by who knows who. In many ways, this explains why the group really lacks any coherent message or the ability to perform actions to further those goals. This is a spasm more than a movement. Movements go somewhere, spasm's are just violent shaking in all directions.
Anyway, unless this group resorts to violence and attacking property, they won't last long. Fits of anger might be fun for a while, but as this goes on with no resolution to the undefined goals, people will eventually get bored. Perhaps worse, everyone else in the world will get bored, too. Amorphous blobs are fun to look at for a while but they make horrible pets. Come up with something definite and we'll talk. Assuming, that is, anyone actually wishes to discuss the motivations and goals of Occupy Wall Street.
I officially declare myself bored of this protest, subject to change should they actually do something.
Monday, October 3, 2011
- Who composes the "General Assembly?" The website http://nycga.cc/ has statements in the name of the General Assembly dating back to August 19th. Who is putting out these statements?
- What, exactly, is the "General Assembly?" Does it claim to be, or aspire to be, a legislative or executive organization? Is it merely the currently anonymous mouthpiece of the movement? How does it relate to government authorities?
- Your group recently released your Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. What do you mean by "occupation?" Generally, that term is associated with the concept of control over the police powers in an area, i.e. the American occupation of Iraq. Are you claiming authority and if so, is this not an act of treason?
- That same document is effectively a litany of complaints against corporations. How do you intend to have any of them addressed? Who, exactly, are you expecting to take an action here?
- Your working draft claims you are a "direct democracy." How, exactly, does that work? I've heard claims that thousands of people attend your rally. Do they all get to put ideas up before this General Assembly and be heard? If so, how do you manage that? My concern here is that there may be only a few people directing this movement and website, while most of the people in the crowd merely chant back whatever it is you spoon feed them.
As you can guess by the content on this blog, I'm the libertarian type and don't exactly agree with your goals or philosophy, but I am doing my best to be open minded and understand your methods and goals. Answers to these questions beyond accusing me of being a corporate shrill would greatly further that objective.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I'm trying to form a coherent response to an incoherent call for...well, what? Hey, you evil corporations that provide hundreds of millions of people with jobs and benefits, not to mention nearly all of the goods we consume, this world would be so much better if you didn't exist! Those goods and jobs? Well, they'll still exist, somehow.
For Christ sake, people:
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
I'm assuming "they" are corporations. All of that education apparently didn't help the NYCGA clarify pronouns. Seriously, how do you pack that much stupid into 21 words? Students are not "hostages" if they voluntarily sign onto a loan. The government, not corporations, hold a huge portion of those loans. Education has to be earned and is not a right we are innately born with.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
"They" as in the same "they" from before. So corporations are launching wars and taking over territory? Really?
"corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth"
Do they force people into the stores at gunpoint? I mean, seriously, what the hell does that statement mean?
This isn't their first protest. The first, held on the 17th of September, was a monumental flop noticed only by conservatives who relentlessly mocked them on Twitter (thank you, Iowahawk!). This one was basically a joke, too, with only a 1,000 protesters showing up, many bused in by local unions. Compared to Tea Party rallies in the hundreds of thousands, this makes the progressive movement look pretty pathetic compared to the grass roots libertarian movement. Have to get some notice from somebody other than conservative Twitter comedians...I got it! Resort to shutting down important roadways and making people's lives miserable!
Occupy Wall Street is one of the best examples I can think of for reducing direct democracy and reinforcing the protective barriers of a republic. Go pick up Cicero's De Re Publica, you might learn something.
To this asinine group: If you obey the law, we will ignore you. If you turn to violence, we'll crush you. And no, I'm not a corporation, I'm a middle class guy who works two jobs. Don't even think about responding that I should be on your side; my side is that which protects the rights of people, of all people, even those who have done better than me. Also, I only join causes that have something resembling a plan. You say you emulate the Tahrir Square protesters. Perhaps you do; where is their democracy? What is their plan? Been over half a year and their military is still in charge. That's how most revolutions end up. Learn your history.
When Barack Obama zaps an American citizen (Anwar al-Awlaki) without so much as a trial, no such objections are raised.
Logically, those who criticized Bush's actions but not Obama's must believe that killing people without trial is a worse violation than holding people alive (in a Caribbean island, no less!) and that people without American citizenship deserve higher protections than those that are American citizens.
Yes, I am glad the bastard is dead. No, I don't believe the President broke the law. But then, I don't think Bush did, either. My position is consistent: those who conduct war upon us have no protections in law. I would like to know how anyone on the Left squares their situation, though.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I'm not saying times are not tough. Hell, if anyone could talk about hard times, it's me. I'm 27, work two jobs and live with my folks for the lack of a better option (mostly due to the lack of a job I know I'll have long enough to sign a lease). My debt comes to around $50k. Trust me, I know things are not easy. And I also know that people in high places have really screwed the pooch without using a condom. The housing bubble that popped and completely freaked the world is in no small part due to government actions to increase housing ownership. The cost of a college education and its corresponding decline in value for employment has a lot to do with government and society pushing more and more people to go to college.
Look through the photos at 99 Percent. College debt is a common theme.
But you know what? Nobody put a gun to any of their heads and ordered them to march off to higher education. Nobody did that to me, either. Nobody forced millions of people to buy houses sold way, way above their actual value on the free market.
Perhaps nothing drives me more nuts than the idea that the American Dream is going to be handed to you or that people are entitled to it. Look at the pictures:
To the "99%": you made the decision to go to college. Just because you went to college and paid for it in loans does not mean somebody owes you a job. The only way you, or anyone, will ever get a job is to provide a useful service. Your college degrees are not useful services.
I know, I know, it's hard to admit that you could have screwed up that badly and that in all honestly you may not actually be worth the minimum wage you are receiving. I know this because I have had that revelation, too. It hurts like hell. But that doesn't make it wrong or the fault of somebody else.
Sir, you did take control of your future. You signed on to six figures of debt. Wall Street didn't do that to you, so what does Wall Street have to do with any of this?
And there it is. This world, the other nearly seven billion people on this planet, do not owe it to you to change everything that they want in order to make your dream come true. Odds are, you're not the only one with that dream and others have worked just as hard at it. If you want the material good life, if you don't want to have all of this debt, you have to be valuable to other people based on their conception of what valuable is, not yours.
Yes, there are jobs, even high paying ones, but what we lack are people with the skills to do them. That's not a conspiracy to keep the 99% down; it's a frightening result of our education system that cannot produce creative or even competent individuals.
I haven't looked through all of these photos, but I have looked through many, and the one I thing I haven't seen yet is "I screwed up." Hating on Wall Street may make you feel better by denying your own responsibility, but it doesn't improve the situation any.
Maybe it's just a matter of philosophy and people absolutely refuse to see reality for what it is. Your dreams are not an entitlement claim upon the rights and wealth of others.
While I seriously doubt the political acumen of any of these folks, it seems unlikely that any of them actually believe occupying Wall Street would somehow solve our problems. It's nothing more than a rant. Giving the amount of ranting I do, it may seem hypocritical for me to disparage their rants, but there are differences. I rant against those who use force, the government, rather than people and groups using their own wealth and liberty to do as they see fit. Those people owe me nothing. And even though I rant against some powers that be that have definitely made things harder on us all, I don't pretend that I deserve to have the good life handed to me on a silver platter. Truth be told, I didn't do the things I needed to in order to be competitive in the market. The things that I am really good at, history and teaching, are in a market that is glutted. Maybe I'll find a job in this field; I've had a little luck so far and have made some impressions. But as I pointed out, there are indeed jobs out there in other fields and I just do not have the skills for those jobs. Wall Street didn't do that to me; hell, even with the bogus claims made by the government about upcoming shortages of teachers, I can't blame them, either. The opportunity to learn other skills was always before me, but I did not take it.
Have other powers played a large role in determining the opportunities available to me? Yes. But my hand was pretty large, too.
In that sense, I'm part of the 99%. Perhaps I'm in the 1% because I recognize it.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
"As hurricane and flood victims work to get their lives and property back in order, my office stands ready to enforce price-gouging laws so that no one is taken advantage of in this difficult time. New Yorkers are strong and resilient, and our state will recover stronger than before, but consumers must be protected throughout this process."This is not helpful. Yes, to one who doesn't think about it for more than two seconds, a very sudden rise in prices during an emergency might seem like a horrible thing to do. If you're buying up canned goods, you're going to complain about how all of a sudden you have to pay so much more because something bad happened to you. Clearly unfair, right?
That is, until the guy who can't get to the store until four hours later shows up. If prices remain low, all of the scarce goods will be gone by whomever gets into the store first, as these people are stocking up for the long haul. Those who show up later get nothing. Not they have to pay so much more, but rather they get no food at all. Higher prices means people buy less; people buying less means other people can have a shot at buying scarce products.
The market is not broken, even during times of emergency. Ironically, the laws to prevent "greedy capitalists from exploiting people during tragedies" really puts the screws to those who need resources the most.
Sometimes, you have to think about morality for more than the nanosecond it takes to form a gut reaction to something in order to find out the truth of the matter.
I work in the only grocery store that will be open as of tomorrow at 9 AM. We're not raising prices. Try as we will to get shipments in, we could very well run out of a lot of products pretty quickly.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
For the last few months, I've been busy trying to find a suitable job and working at borderline minimum wage. This is not exactly conducive to what I wish to do with this blog, as I any free time I did have went to finding better employment. Now, I have been accepted for a short time teaching position but will also be hanging on to the minimum wage job. Working 60 hour weeks plus prep time for class doesn't leave much time for this, either.
Lastly, I have a bunch of projects I wish to focus on, but because I have a bunch of ideas I don't focus on any of them. When it comes to ideas, I'm a kid in a candy store, which isn't helpful for focusing on a long term project. I'm watching The Tudors on Netflix right now. Because of that alone, I'm borderline infatuated with Thomas More (I'll likely pick up Utopia again shortly) and theology. Before that, my intention was (and still is at some point) to figure out the nature of rights and laws. As it stands, I'm not impressed with the Natural Law viewpoint and think libertarianism can be supported with a positivist approach. I have a lot of books queued on the topic. From there, I'm still trying to figure out a just philosophy of foreign policy and of secession, but I think both of those depend on that law and rights idea being hammered out. I also would like to spell out in some detail my thoughts on education. And again, I'm not actually focused on any of these things right now. I think a break will help me clear my mind, get personal things in order, and then I'll try to tackle them.
Before I start that break, however, I wish to outline a problem I see with our democracy. Democracy itself rests on these four assumptions (not exclusively, but each is a necessary requirement):
- People know what good government is. The entire idea of democracy is that "The People" will safeguard a good government out of self interest.
- People know what the current government is. Can't safeguard your well being without knowing what is happening.
- People have the ability to change government for the better. This is all mere prattle if the people cannot actually improve their lot by controlling the government.
- People have the will to change government for the better. This may seem like an odd requirement until you are in the minority.
- Ask anyone what good government is and you'll probably get a very bad answer. In fact, most will probably say democracy is in and of itself the definition of good government. Democracy is only a means and does not assure that the government will act in a just manner. We're off to a very bad start.
- Ask anyone to name the nine Supreme Court Justices of the United States. Or their Senators and Representative. Or their governor. Or the policies or judicial philosophies of any of them. Now see how many government bureaucracies they can name, their roles, powers, who heads them, etc. Even a lot of political wonks will stumble with that latter part, but it is frightening how many average folks couldn't get the easy questions either.
- Elections are remarkably imprecise tools for change. The only real check we have on bureaucracies in this nation is electing different officeholders to regulate those bureaucrats. If the current administration won't act against a corrupt office, you basically have to vote to overhaul the entire elected offices in order to change, which may very well change a lot of things in ways the voter doesn't want. I'll give you an example: I hate the idea of a "Bridge to Nowhere" that was proposed by a Republican. My only realistic alternative was to vote Democrat, which is even worse in my opinion. How, then, do "we the people" do anything about corrupt bureaucracies we know little about (in fact, many of which we probably do not even know exist)?
- This is classic Federalist 51, of tyranny of the majority. Since this problem hasn't even been close to being solved, not much more needs to be said here.
"The People" is a pretty ridiculous concept as a unitary force, but even if it did make sense, I don't see how they could retain mastery over the government for long. We are too often lulled to sleep by the democratic creed. I'm not even implying here that there is some secret cable ruling us from behind the scenes; most of the agencies in that black hole don't know what the other are doing, either.
Anyway, I'm going to go read Les Miserables and clear my mind for a few months. Probably.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Look at the Gallup numbers. Barack has a weekly average approval of 40%. Outside of liberals, blacks are the only demographic to be above 50% for the President with a whopping 88% supporting him. Basically, everybody in this country but African Americans have bailed on this President and overwhelming support from blacks is the only thing keeping him from crashing into the low 30's level of approval.
Independents have had it with this President.
Republicans seem somewhat happy with their options, a great difference from 2008. Really, without a very sudden and significant economic recovery occurring very shortly, I see the President being a one termer going down with the likes of Jimmy Carter. As I mentioned before, I'm not even honestly sure what the President will campaign on. "It Could Have Been Worse" is not a particularly inspiring message. ObamaCare is deeply unpopular, the Stimulus was a trainwreck, transparency has been nonexistent.
Seriously, what will he run on? In 2008, he could pick health care out of thin air and pretend it was some sort of national crisis requiring his guiding hand. In 2012, everyone would mock him for trying to do that with any other sector of the economy. The other thing he did in '08 was attack the incumbent, which is obviously not a viable strategy this time around. The cult of personality he built around himself is also gone; posters of his face with the word Hope will not be making a comeback outside of Republican ads mocking such vanity.
Most of all, conservative and in particular libertarians are going to be out for blood. We haven't been treated particularly nicely during this Administration's time in office; hell, the Vice President saw it fit to describe us as terrorists. We have a level of enthusiasm matching that of 2010 but which is otherwise not seen for a Republican candidate in a very long time. I would be shocked if the Democrats somehow threw the Republicans out of the House of Representatives, especially since the Republican hold on that House is stronger than it has been in 70+ years. In the Senate, only 10 Republicans are up for reelection and all of them are survivors of the 2006 election bloodbath. We have two people retiring, one in Texas and the other in Arizona, so I doubt we'll lose any Senate seats. That leaves 23 Democrats and 2 Democratic voting independents up for reelection. Six are retiring, leaving open races in North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Additionally, Democrats will need to hang on to seats in Montana, Nebraska (no chance, Ben Nelson), Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Republicans only have to win half of those competitive seats in order to take the Senate.
As incredible as it seems, a mere two years after Democrats had absolute power in Washington, Republicans might rule unopposed.
This next year is certainly going to be interesting.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Obama will have to win over people such as Brian Arnold, 33, of Pickerington, Ohio. He's an independent who voted for Obama in 2008 because he liked the Democrat's outsider image.
Now, Arnold says he's undecided and down on Obama. "He got elected, it was a big party and after that he went back to being a politician. As soon as he got in office, he just did more of the same."
No kidding. It's almost like someone said this over and over and over again during that campaign. Elections are not games and we were supposed to be voting for policy, not personalities. Believing this unknown to be the personification of Hope and Change was ridiculously dangerous.
I'm still flabbergasted by the way people acted in 2008. People wanted to punish the Republicans, that I get, but hoisting up this radical in the belief that he was somehow going to fundamentally transform the United States into a land in which politics would forever be a positive thing? Are you kidding me?
I hate to say it, but it really was a mob mentality. People were extremely excited about the person of Barack Obama without ever giving solid thought to policy. People actually believed electing a person due to his skin color was appropriate. Ironically enough, these same people accused opponents of Obama of latent racism.
Go find those people now. Most of them don't want to talk about Obama and sure as hell don't want to admit that they are personally responsible for the last two and a half years. They wanted to have their pop culture political party, but once the actual governing part occurred (you know, the reason we have those elections), all of a sudden the euphoria disappeared and politics wasn't an acceptable topic anymore.
Politics isn't a freaking party, people. If you don't want to put in the work to understand history, philosophy, law, economics, and everything else that goes into good governance, stay the hell out.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Look throughout that New Yorker piece, and you will nowhere find an argument describing how Obama's actions were legal. I've pointed out before that the War Powers Resolution does not allow the President to just start bombing random counties without Congressional approval. I don't particularly care what the United Nations decided, they are not the legislature of the United States nor a substitute for it.
And this could not be described as a Western Crusade? Who did all of the bombing? Who provided the air cover? Arab nations? Nope. Say hello to white men flying above killing Muslims. The fact that we bombed halfheartedly does not mean it was not the West providing that firepower. The war could have been ended in February or March had appropriate firepower been supplied to the rebels, rather than waiting for Qaddafi's forces to push the rebels back to Benghazi and extending the war (with all the deaths that follow) for months.
"They are indigenous; they have legitimacy."
Irritating idiocy. You know who else was indigenous? Muammar Qaddafi.
The lesson every Arab despot should learn from our response to Libya and Syria is that if you have a powerful army and friends, you may butcher your own people at will and the United States will stand by. If, on the other hand, you have a weak army and our President feels like he needs a military victory to improve his own image, you're on our short list of targets.
This should not be seen as a model for future behavior. At no point did our President or his supporters have anything resembling a plan for dealing with Libya. That Qaddafi's forces suddenly collapsed is a blessing from heaven rather than a result of anything our President or Europe is responsible for. By far and away, the most disturbing part of all of this is that our President would illegally use force, that Congress would be cut out of such a decision. Our influence has not been increased at all by this event. And until Libya is a stable and free nation, we have not won yet.
Illegal, belated, halfhearted...the model for the future! NATO basically took out Glass Joe and had difficulty doing so. Good luck being relevant anywhere else. Like, say, Syria.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Screw that. And the worst part of it is, the normal disinterestedness that would indicate to most people you don't give a damn about them is precisely the thing that draws this sort back to you.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Anyway, I recommend reading Matt Yglesias's original post that Cowen is responding to. If you spend any time in the real world, or if in particular you work in a grocery store (like myself), it shouldn't take you long to spot the problems. For starters, the grocery store being robbed isn't as likely to hire new people and may be more likely to let people go. A lot of money is moving through these stores, sure, but not a lot of it is profit. You would have to steal a lot of product from a particular manufacturer in order to be noticeable (no company producing goods is going to go out and hire new people over a five dollar spike) and long term (no company producing goods is going to go out and hire new people over a two week spike). Random theft at a store isn't going to meet those conditions. Even prolonged shoplifting won't meet those conditions if different goods are taken, but repeatedly stealing noticeable amounts of a single product tends to be, well, noticeable. Which is a bad plan for shoplifting.
If you read Chapter III of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism and think you now possess a great theory for stimulating our economy, go drink yourself stupid and start all over.
By this reasoning, those riots in London were a godsend. I don't think Yglesias is dumb enough to actually be proposing people go out and steal, but saying moving closer towards an abandonment of the rule of law by the people doesn't strike me as a good thing, no matter how it comes about.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Nevermind that as is, we are going nearly two trillion dollars in debt over the last year. Might as well dump another trillion in debt on top of that, I'm sure all will be well.
But we need infrastructure spending! This one makes me laugh; wasn't that what the Stimulus was all about? We need to subsidize state spending; their constitutions require them to have a balanced budget and be responsible, so the only way for them to be irresponsible is for the federal government to jump in on their behalf.
My favorite part is that he mentions Europe's austerity should be a lesson. Apparently, nobody told Dionne that Europe can't borrow any more money because nobody is willing to lend it to them. Austerity isn't being imposed by a European "tea party" but by reality. Can't just ignore that one, chief.
We could hike taxes on the rich, just as Europe did, and end up in the same place.
People don't seem to want to face reality. For decades, we have lived on the wealth of the future. Now the future is here and the past must be paid for. Our democratic social welfare state is not designed to handle this transition.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Then again, I don't remember hearing outrage against Palestine's disproportionate use of force when an anti-tank missile was used against an Israeli school bus.
Let me offer a solution to this problem. The Palestinians need to get the hell out of Palestine. Go to Egypt, or Jordan, or Syria, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia, or wherever you like, but leave Gaza and the West Bank. Cease your rather ridiculous claim to the area. It's not the end of the world. Look at the Irish outside of Ireland, the Africans outside of Africa, or (dare I mention it) the Jews who fled Europe. Prosperity will never follow rocket attacks against children; only incoming fire will follow.
Friday, August 19, 2011
That said, if this really goes viral, you'll see very severe restrictions in our civil liberties, in particular to privacy in electronic communications.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Then I got to thinking about how now we no longer have a vehicle to take Americans into space and that we're relying on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. Almost made me think we should fund NASA more.
And then I read this. Nevermind.
To the extent that I think about such things, my belief is that if aliens do exist, they don't have the technology to get here. If we were reached by anything at all, it would be by a machine. And really, there's no real purpose in visiting Earth unless you are interested in extraterrestrial (by their definition) life as we are. I highly doubt the Earth has much raw materials worth colonizing us for at such distances.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
For starters, the main reason the interstate commerce clause was included was to prevent states from charging duties and establishing monopolies, inhibiting trade across state lines. This isn't a free rider issue at all; it was a matter of preventing state interference from messing up the economy.
But even if you ignore that, Siegel's argument is absolutely ridiculous. The free rider problem "arises is when people benefit from collective action regardless of whether they contribute to it." So creating a program in which 30 million people get health care from the government without contributing a dime is fighting free riding? It sounds like expanding free riding to me. Healthy people who do not buy insurance because they choose a healthy lifestyle now must pay in order to cover the costs of those who do not have a healthy lifestyle or pay their own insurance (via their own pocket or from work). Sounds like they are free riding off of the healthy people.
Isn't the entire notion of the welfare state creating more free riders?
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to hear what limit there really is to Congress' power if this expansion of the Commerce Clause holds up.