Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A historic victory for the manic side.

Okay, phew.  So it is done. Journalists call the Health Care Bill "epochal and transforming"... even though it merely (and gradually) tweaks what remains by far the most capitalistic and least "socialist" system in the industrial world.  Despite armageddon rhetoric, watch how quickly (I give it 4 years) Republicans will come to accept this status quo as motherhood and apple pie, as untouchable and sacred as Medicare and Social Security.

Just look at how they now view "don't ask don't tell."  A dozen years ago, the standard Republican cant pictured DADT as purely Satanic, a plot to destroy the US military.  Now, it is the established thing, to be defended, like all sacred traditions. Never let it be said that conservatives are inflexible.

This flexibility is displayed by their current ire toward a Health Care Bill that is, in fact,  basically the same as one that the same Republican's proposed as an alternative to the Clinton health care plan in 1993.

Pause and go over this carefully, because it may be your best ammo yet, with that Fox-addict uncle of yours. (Other than pointing out that Saudi/Arab interests own as much as 20% of Fox; that's a good one, too. See below.)

Here's a core fact and towering irony: the general outlines of Obama's plan were originally worked out at the conservative Heritage Foundation and proposed under sponsorship of GOP Senator Chafee and the entire GOP leadership in 1993. In other words, the Democrats just passed the Republican health care reform plan -- without a single Republican vote. See more details on Russ Daggett's blog -- (one of the best political blogs anywhere!) 

Moreover, if there are particular planks in the bill that your uncle detests (heck there are some I don't like), remind him that that is what "negotiation" is for, and the dems were fall-down eager to trade for republican votes.  If there are particular points he finds odious, they are there because the GOP did nothing to eliminate them, even though they could have.


SO WHAT'S WITH ALL THE ANGER AND REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE?

Which brings up my first -- among several -- "contrarian" observation about the recent Health Care Imbroglio. This was never about socialism/capitalism... or indeed, any superficial "left-right" issue at all. 

Lest we forget -- George W. Bush and the GOP Congress passed Medicare Part D, an expansion of federal entitlement largesse that was easily as large as Obama's. Though with one crucial difference. The Democrats' new Health Insurance Bill was designed to add nothing to the federal deficit. In fact, it is revenue neutral and even promises some black ink.  The Republicans' Medicare B entitlement, in contrast, passed without a scintilla of provision for how to fund it. It simply said "bill our grandkids."

Of course, it is ironic how often facts run blatantly and diametrically opposite to common wisdom.  Take the absolute truth that Republicans talk a lot about being tough on illegal immigration... while their presidents always savagely cut border enforcement. (Reagan and both Bushes did it.) In contrast, Democratic presidents talk about immigrant rights and take care of immigrant kids... but they also double the active manpower of the Border Patrol. (Clinton did it and so has Obama.) It's an easily demonstrable fact that creates mind-blowing cognitive dissonance in dogmatists; try it some time!  Then have fun figuring out why the parties act this way!

The list of counter-intuitive facts goes on and on.  For example, all US Army brigades were "combat ready" under Clinton and none were under Bush. Or take the fact that  democrats inarguably "do" capitalism far better than republicans. The statistics -- on economic health, GDP growth, small business startups, market competition, budget balancing, de-regulation and dozens of other solid metrics -- make this abundantly clear; even though doctrinal delusion makes us ignore it.

So don't swallow the "left-right" hallucination. This is not about collectivism vs propertarianism. The "left-right" axis is hallucinatory.

No, at one level, our two political parties differ far more as a matter of personality psychology.  We Americans appear to be a bipolar people. We have what used to be called "manic depressive" disease.  Of course, in this model, clearly, democrats represent the manic side -- always frenetically eager to be doing something -- and republicans blatantly manifest the depressive side.  Hence we can see why:

1) Starting when they took over Congress in 1995, amid promises of diligent reform, the Republican members of Congress have proved to be the laziest clade of legislators in US history. While pouring forth invective against big government, abortion and what-not, they actually submitted fewer bills, held fewer hearings or votes, heard less testimony and met fewer hours than any other Congress in a hundred years.  While serving up lip-service to the social conservative ground troops, they actually only roused themselves to concerted action when it came to one issue... arranging tax cuts for the rich.  

That they did diligently, in good times and bad, during peace and war. Even going so far as to try hard to "privatize" Social Security... thrusting a hundred million new purchasers into the stock market at its peak. Purchasers who would have lost trillions buying from then-owners at top prices. But, aside from this one priority, for the most part, the GOP lawmakers just sat around and grumbled and cussed and did nothing, even when they held all of the levers of power, every branch of government, and had clearly stated goals.

2) Since World War II, Democrats have done more DE-regulating of government control over economic sectors than Republicans... with the sole exception of the financial industry, where it was the GOP who insisted that most supervision be removed, with clear results. Sound counter-intuitive?  Aren't liberals inherently Regulators and government-loving meddlers?  But again, facts inconveniently defy stereotypes. It was the Dems who eliminated the powerful Interstate Commerce Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board and many other "captured" regulatory agencies that had kept regulated prices high and stymied competition.  Not the lefty thing to do.  But certainly the manic, busy thing.

(Again: note which industry the GOP deregulated. and how thoroughly their deregulation served their real masters. Meanwhile, their ground troops got nothing.)

I'll stop here.  Except to make a few minor followup points.  Just please take away the basic ironiy here.  That the real, underlying issues often aren't what we're told they are.


==  Devastating Followup ===

Who wants culture war?  Who promotes it, as the best way to divide and weaken America?

“Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal held meetings this week with  Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch to discuss investments, including "future potential alliance with News Corp., the statement said about a deal that would see News Corp. Talal, expanding his ownership, plans to buy 10% of the existing shares in the company (The parent company of Fox) could be completed this month.”

Actually, it goes both ways.  Rupert Murdoch is buying 10% of Prince Talal’s media group... and Talal is not the only Saudi or rich Arab owning big chunks of Fox.  By some estimates, the total owned by Middle Eastern interests may be as high as 20+%

Is it possible to ponder a hypothesis?  That the messages that seem aimed at tearing America apart are deliberately spread by interests who want exactly that? 

Okay, is it time yet for the Fox News Boycott ?


Oh,
see a piece by David Brooks in the New York Times talks about  recent terorism matters in terms that I have been raising since before 9/11... "citizen empowerment and resilience."

Alas, as I point out elsewhere, this should be a matter of prioritization and resource allocation.  1% of the the homeland security budget should be applied to the only thing that worked on 9/11.  The only thing that worked against the shoe bomber or Abdulmutallab.  The thing that wasn't allowed to work during Katrina.I'm in no position to push for it.  It doesn't feather institutional nests.  It just happens to be the one thing that could help us to survive, if and when something awful happens.  Alas.

Finally, also see: Where your money goes 2010.

 .... No ... at the last minute I must add this.  Apparently the Hutaree "McVeigh Radicals" planned to go on a cop-killing spree in April, coinciding both with the dates ofthe Oklahoma City bombings and Hitler's Birthday -- a commonlly targeted date in Aryan Nations circles.  It also happens to have been chosen as the date of the coming, big Tea Party rally.

73 comments:

David Brin said...

Wiki Leaks is now under attack by the same people who campaigned against ACORN. At least ACORN had some sins to atone for, but burying WikiLeaks is all about destroying hopeful trends in general transparency.

Visit their site. Make a donation!
http://wikileaks.org/

Ian said...

To bear fair to the Teabaggers, April 19 also happens to be the date of the Battle of Lexington.

Dave said...

I can't and won't defend what the Republicans, but I do wonder; is the Republican party it's own fault or the natural consequence of our system? Our government was created in a way that made change deliberately difficult and requiring a large consensus. This is a largely a strength, but does that virtually guarantee a party that is powerful by being 'anti-progressive' as opposed to being for it's own ideas?

RE Health care and immigration.

A lot of Americans are surprised to learn that the US has a nearly unique and one of the most liberal citizenship policies in the world. Sneaking into Holland, or other EU country, and giving birth does not get your child an EU country passport and entry into the social welfare state. Though EU countries have liberal immigration policies, they are able to keep their welfare books balanced, such as they are, by controlling the influx of beneficiaries. An expected mother now has the additional incentive of lifelong health care for their child to come and have their child in the US. I am for liberal immigration policies myself, it is where most of us came from, but it is hard to stand for that in the face in increasing entitlements. At some point I expect that fiscal pressure from entitlements will force us to deal with this and in doing so forever change what an American is.

Jacob said...

Replying to the last thread.

David Brin, we only had a budget surplus on the Clinton's 8th year in office. However, it is fair to say that it tended positive for most of his term.

I've studied federal budgets relative to Presidents and Congress changes. While is true that Congress has the power of the purse, they follow the lead of the Executive Branch. If you look at the numbers (And I suggest you use the Bureau of Economic Analysis) you will find that there is a 1 year lag between a Presidential election and a shift in policy. This makes sense as a new President does not have a budget in hand their first day in office. They the ability to shift the last guy's a bit, but it is the 2nd year that truly indicates their fiscal behavior/leadership.

It is my opinion that this is the first year we can truly evaluate Obama on finance. He has said he plans to reduce the budget deficit by half by the end of his first term. I can only hope.

David Brin said...

Guys! see:

http://daggatt.blogspot.com/2010/03/health-care-myths-continue.html


http://daggatt.blogspot.com/2010/03/
then
health-care-myths-continue.html

TwinBeam said...

Daggatt does a service with his myth-busting - but he propagates a myth himself, in proclaiming that the markets approve of the health care bill.

I only wish the market would go up on good news and down on bad. The problem is that it often does the opposite, unless the news was truly unable to be anticipated (e.g. an Earthquake or such).

Tim H. said...

I like to look at the teabaggers as an economic phenomenon, stabilize the economy, most of them will find better things to do. Just rethinking "Free trade" would help, as practiced, the policy is reminiscent of Ethelred vs the Danes.

Ian Gould said...

As we contemplate the spam, we can probably take comfort in the thought that this blog is singlehandedly supporting someone laborign away in a Shenzhen cyber-sweatshop.

rewinn said...

Do Spambots Dream of Electric Javascript?

Robert said...

They did away with the cyber sweatshops. It's all automated now. Pity, really... there's no fun in nuking a bot, but hunting down and eviscerating a spammer was once a favorite pastime. Though at least I don't need to sharpen the medical tools any longer.

Once again, I must suggest that Dr. Brin consider the use of WordPress; it can be set up to allow for initial authorization of accounts and then people can post freely. I know that my Tangents site has minimal spam, and I'm able to catch it before it happens. And with the wide range of templates (both professional and free) out there, Dr. Brin could select a template that suits his desires. (For that matter, he could also take one or two regulars and give them Administration rights to approve new posters and nuke any spam that gets through.)

------------

The newest volley in the war against Climate Science, Fox News is stating that NASA's information is even worse than the Climategate data. I almost wonder when Fox is going to start claiming that the Apollo project was faked by NASA and that the only way we can prove we went there is to go to the Moon and see if we can find any landers there. (And that using satellite telescopes to view the landing sites won't work because "the data could be faked ahead of time")

Also, there's an interesting story about a documented instance of animals (toads) fleeing the site of an Earthquake days before the quake struck. I suppose this is a good reason why we should preserve wetlands... keep those toads around and healthy so they can warn us when big earthquakes are coming. ^^

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Ilithi Dragon said...

Sweet Zombie Jesus! SPAMAGGEDDON!!!

Ilithi Dragon said...

Bugging me from a recent debate I had (and apparently won) on the PA section of the Coffee Party site, where another poster was arguing against taxation because Congress was not strictly granted the power to tax for 'charity' and other stuff, etc.

Article I, Section 8, Clause I:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

This specifically grants Congress the power tax for and spend on a broad range of projects/programs that would be classified as "common Defense" and "general Welfare." The language is plain and clear, and how any other interpretation can be garnered from that clause is beyond me.

I'm sure you've all seen arguments along that vein, of course, including the argument that it doesn't count, for whatever reason (yes, great argument for a strict constitutional interpretationist, "some parts of the Constitution don't count!"), so it's nothing new, it's just a /facepalm moment that's been bugging me.

Oh, as my friend Corey pointed out to me while discussing it the other day, without that clause, the USAF is unconstitutional, because the Founding Fathers saw fit to enumerate that Congress had the power to raise an army and maintain a navy, but they saw no need to grant Congress the power to create and fund an air force, so without the common defense and general welfare clause, under a strict enumerated powers interpretation of the Constitution, Congress has no authority to create or fund the USAF.

SteveO said...

More on the Hutaree:

This is why that stupid right-wing e-mail chains my relatives get into is dangerous:

Wikipedia entry on the Rwandan genocide, with my comments of a hopefully-not-true future article in brackets:

"As an ideology, Hutu Power [Republican talk shows] asserted that the Tutsi [Democrats] intended to enslave Hutus [real Americans] and thus must be resisted at all costs...The print media in Rwanda [the US] is believed to have started hate speech against Tutsis [Democrats] which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators anti-Tutsi [anti-liberal] hate speech 'became so systemic as to seem the norm.'"

SteveO said...

Dangit, must have malformed the link:

This is why that stupid right-wing e-mail chains my relatives get into is dangerous:

For Hutaree, Web Rumor Stoked Anger at Obama

TwinBeam said...

It seems rather a cheap shot to call a sincere group of people by a name intended to shock, disgust, or embarrass them, just because you disagree with them.

But I guess this is a reasonably free speech zone, so if someone wants to be a jerkoff, that's his perogative...

Wouldn't you agree, "Onan"?

SteveO said...

Err, TwinBeam, you might want to specify to whom your comment is directed, as its placement makes it unclear what point you are addressing.

rewinn said...

Putting together the more recent comments by Robert and by Ilithi Dragon, we can anticipate someone seeking to shut down NASA on the grounds that it's not mentioned in the Constitution. I don't think a Large Hadron Collider is in there either.

On a more cheerful note, I stumbled across Scitable, a "free science library and personal learning tool", whilst discussing evolution+creationism. Perhaps social networks built around the pleasure of continuous learning can balance those centered around the pleasure of continuous paranoia (...insert favorite example here...).

Ian Gould said...

I assume Twinbeams is referring to the use of the word "teabaggers".

I assume Twinbeams also objects to the Tea Party members who use the term to refer to themselves. (That's "use" present tense not "used" past tense.)

And if I regularly referred to myself as "Onan" I imagine people would make fun of that fact.

Ian Gould said...

Furthermore, when Teabaggers stop calling elected officials "Nigger" and "Faggot"; stop making death threats; stop comparing the President of the United states to Hitler; stop mocking Holocaust survivors and stop throwing dollar bills at the disabled while shouting "Here's your handout", I'll start taking calls for greater civility more seriously.

Robert said...

Me? I will defend the right of the TPers to call people nigger, faggot, or anything else they set their hearts to up until my last breath. I will do this even though they will call me a traitor for siding with Democrats against the Republicans, and for being a "Satanist" because my spiritual beliefs are far closer to the pagan faiths than to mainstream Christianity.

I do this because the minute I allow their freedom of speech (no matter how vile, filthy, or hate-filled) to be restricted... my own can likewise be restricted. And while I know there are people among the TPers who would gladly censor me, exile me from this nation, or even kill me, I will still defend their right of free speech.

You don't start down that path.

Rob H.

TwinBeam said...

Ian -

This isn't a political rally, it's a discussion forum, and there probably aren't any "Teabaggers" here for you to insult. Why not keep it civil?

Chances are, if any Tea Party members are calling themselves "teabaggers", it's because they are clueless. Are you invoking the "clueless" defense for yourself?

And of course some of the Tea Party attendees are ignorant louts or worse - do you think any political party is free of such? If a Democrat shouted rude or anti-social things at Bush or Palin, should we begin here to consistently refer to them all as "The Jackass Party"?

Rob Perkins said...

Ian, no Tea Party member in my acquaintance uses those terms, makes death threats, compares the President to a tyrant, or mocks the victims of tyranny or disability.

Not one. And I know more than a few. I'm sure there are TEA Party members who do one or two of the things you've ascribed, but those I know would rightly call them bigots.

Like Rob H., I never want them silenced. Free speech is a marvelous tool for weeding out the crazy. Just... let them keep talking.

But yeah, "teabagger" is pejorative, intended to impress the imagery of debauchery upon people who don't deserve that sort of label. It's a coarsening of the political arena no better than the stuff Glenn Beck does. Or Maher, for that matter.

David Brin said...

"Tea drinkers?"

Implies the drinking of something akin to koolaid. Also, has kinda wimpy overtones. But not nasty ones.

Me? I'm a gatorade man! Well... Crystal Light...

rewinn said...

Ah, c'mon Rob, the historical arc of the term "Teabaggers" is well known. It was originally used by the Tea Partiers themselves, and only after they were mocked on it relentlessly did they start crying that it was unfair to use the very same term that they themselves used. Do you really need citations?

That few current Teapartiers use the term is unsurprising but to state that it is no better than Glenn Beck's historical revisionism is ... well, historical revisionism.

There are a good many good citizens among the Tea Partiers but its domination by racist wackos toying with violence on one hand, and cynical leaders of the GOP on the other, is likewise beyond dispute. I speak with some of the former, and some have figured out how badly they've been used by the GOP, and don't especially like it, but don't know what to do next. For one example, see Operation Pitchfork. Reasonable people of all political persuasions need to talk.

David Brin said...

Clutching to the GOP as a "lesser of two evils" requires that dems be "even worse."

As people come to realize how truly horrible the hijackers of conservatism are, theyu do not react with anger at the hijackers! Instead, they make up fantasies to excuse the "dems are even worse" fixation... leading to the sorts of monstrous urban legends that Daggatt documents on his most recent blog.

My own blog entry, here, shows half a dozen DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE clashes between fact and dogma. It is understandable that dogmatists refuse to listen to or note such cognitively dissonant things. Humanity's greatest talent is delusion.

But for the dems not to even TRY to MENTION these contradictions utterly boggles my mind. That is what qualifies them as "even worse."

Ian Gould said...

"This isn't a political rally, it's a discussion forum, and there probably aren't any "Teabaggers" here for you to insult. Why not keep it civil?"

Conversely there aren't any teabaggers here to be offended either.

"Chances are, if any Tea Party members are calling themselves "teabaggers", it's because they are clueless. Are you invoking the "clueless" defense for yourself?"

No, I'm invoking the "this is funny" defense.

Rob Perkins said...

I don't need citations. I simply want you to be civil, even with the uncivil. The term "teabagging" describes a disgusting debauchery.

The fact that the TEA Party didn't know about that until the worst of their opposites unleashed discourse-destructive mockery is fundamentally irrelevant.

Do you ever want these people to see your point of view?

I'm not offended because I'm a member of the TEA Party; I think they're off base. I'm offended because all you who use the term while knowing it's profane imagery are doing by using terms like "teabaggers" is feeding your own sense of self-superiority, and maligning other Americans in the process.

David, if you're wondering why they can cling to "Democrats are just as bad," well, here's one of the reasons!

TwinBeam said...

("Tea Drinkers", though still not entirely civil, is at least pertinent.)

"No, I'm invoking the "this is funny" defense."

Ah yes, the "eight-year-old-mentality defense" - the inability to recognize that fart-noise jokes get old after a while, and are generally to be avoided in adult company.

David Brin said...

Ooog, Rob. I'd let those guys insult me all day till sunday... if they'd just pause now and then and negotiate.

Robert said...

To be honest, I rather like the "Tea Drinker" catcall. What do you think of when you think of a tea drinker? Someone who is acting overly polite and civil while sipping at a cup o' tea, probably with their pinky extended.

In short, it's the most ultimate imagery for the intellectual. When you call a TPer a Tea Drinker, you are Uplifting them to a civilized intellectual visage. Probably speaking with an English accent as well, and starting each sentence with "Well, I say..." =^-^=

Best of all, the TPers honestly cannot take offense at it. Are they going to cry because they are being described as civil, polite, and urbane? Best of all, if some of them start taking the mental image of the quiet intellectual to heart... we may end up with some pseudo-intellectuals who start researching their arguments... and who find that their arguments are in fact hollow.

In short... a Tea Drinker may ultimately educate themselves away from the ultraconservative views that are damaging the movement to begin with.

Or maybe I really need to have a drink of coffee before writing these things up in the morning. ^^;;

Rob H.

Ian Gould said...

" ...maligning other Americans in the process."

I'm Australian.

Which may be part of the reason for our inability to reach agreement here.

The standards of political discourse are different here.

Not worse, not better different.

Abilard said...

Brin said:

"But for the dems not to even TRY to MENTION these contradictions utterly boggles my mind. That is what qualifies them as 'even worse.'"

They are often clueless and incompetent. This is not remotely equivalent morally to willful destruction, but the results can be the same.

Ian said:

"Conversely there aren't any teabaggers here to be offended either."

I share social circles with some.

Rob said:

"I'm not offended because I'm a member of the TEA Party; I think they're off base. I'm offended because all you who use the term while knowing it's profane imagery are doing by using terms like 'teabaggers' is feeding your own sense of self-superiority, and maligning other Americans in the process."

I have three vaguely contradictory reactions to the term. First, it amuses me, since I am somewhat trollish. I enjoy it when people throw down and say what they feel.

Second, I immediately assume that the speaker, unlike me, has no social contact with tea party folks and therefore quite possibly does not know what he or she is talking about.

Third, it raises the ghosts of all those snooty post-modern professors who used to mock me for my accent while preaching cultural relativism a couple decades ago.

I imagine that people closer to the tea party would react even more negatively and be consequently less receptive to the speaker or poster. So, if your purpose is to express a genuine contempt, by all means use the term. If your purpose is to communicate something other than contempt, or to even influence people who might actually be able to speak to tea party people face to face, then don't.

Ilithi Dragon said...

As a gamer, "teabagger" and "teabagging" have very different meanings for me than those Twinbeam describes. Similar origins, but still different meaning.

In gaming, particularly First Person Shooter games, 'teabagging' and 'teabagger' refers to the act of crouching repeatedly over another player's recently-killed 'corpse', creating the impression of 'teabagging' from IRL. Ultimately a harmless attempt at mockery or humiliation of the defeated victim (whether or not they were actually defeated by the teabagger), that usually doesn't work, an often backfires on the teabagger, in one way or another (in games like HALO, it's usually being killed by another player taking advantage of the teabagger's inattentiveness, while other games like Battlefield 2142, it frequently results in a stigma against the teabagger).

Ultimately, though, it's representative of arrogant and often childish assholishness, and an act that is typically engaged in by people who think they are better than they really are. In the context of gaming, "teabagger" and "teabagging" aren't that far off from describing the more vocal, and predominantly visible members of the Tea Party.

Robert said...

And yet ultimately it is in reference to a homoerotic dominance act of shoving one's balls in a downed foe's face. Before I fled for the hills in the face of the increased insanity of children entering into the public school system (ie, decided not to become a teacher), one thing that was being taught to me as a potential teacher was that we need to show respect for children in order for them to learn respect for us as teachers.

Likewise, I think that we need to show the Tea Drinkers respect so that not only may some of them show respect for us in return (hopefully learned from when they were younger, but even leading through example), but also so that non-Tea Drinkers who are moderate or lightly conservative will look at Progressives and those respecting the Progressive viewpoints and then look at the Tea Drinkers to see that we, at least, are acting responsibly, maturely, and with respect for others.

That, more than any slander or petty wording, will convince them that the Tea Drinkers are mistaken and unwilling to listen to the truth. And if some of the Tea Drinkers do listen and start acting with respect? Then have we not won? Is not respect and intelligent dialogue not what we want? Was not the tragedy of the Health Care Reform Bill not that it was passed... but that the Republicans refused to negotiate or budge and thus did not participate in a process that could have created the best possible bill for everyone concerned?

Is not America the land of the diverse? The Tea Drinkers have a place at the grand table set out for all Americans. It has a place for all of us.

Rob H.

Abilard said...

"Ultimately, though, it's representative of arrogant and often childish assholishness, and an act that is typically engaged in by people who think they are better than they really are. In the context of gaming, 'teabagger' and 'teabagging' aren't that far off from describing the more vocal, and predominantly visible members of the Tea Party."

Right, but in gaming terms, you have to remember that they think they have the following buffs:

Cloak of Religiosity +10 - "Your personal relationship with an invisible friend makes you ultimately right about everything."

Hammer of Madison +5 - "You have the sole right to interpret the Constitution narrowly. All other interpretations are at best erroneous or, at worst, treasonous."

Mithril Shackles of Hamilton - "Your superlative mental abilities (see above) give you the right to declare any taxes that you do not agree with to be thievery, and to act accordingly.'

Oil of Galilee (5 doses) - "Should any interpretation above compel you to action that would be detrimental to your ability to stay out of jail, you can slip out of the situation by rendering to Caesar, and thereby avoid charges of cowardice or hypocrisy."

If you have those buffs it isn't so much "arrogance" and a sort of divine toleration for the rest of us. ;-)

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Rob: When discussing with Tea Party members directly, or in general discussion offline, I most likely use the term "Tea Partier." Online, where I am generally in "it's just text on the intenernets, don't be An Hero about it" mode, in which I generally ascribe very little value to insults on the internet, I use the two terms more interchangeably. Usually, though, when I use 'teabagger', I'm referring to the very vocal, loud, and visible branches of the Tea Party that harass and insult and spit on representatives going in to vote, bring guns to presidential appearances, cut gas lines (or encourage such actions), etc. When in PC or Polite Discourse mode, though I tend to use Tea Partier or Tea Party Member (though sometimes I still slip and use teabagger).


Abilard said...
Cloak of Religiosity +10 - "Your personal relationship with an invisible friend makes you ultimately right about everything."

The demon in my head wishes to protest the usage of the term "imaginary friend", because it carries negative and derogatory connotations. They prefer the term "voices."
} ; = 8 P

Ian Gould said...

"Third, it raises the ghosts of all those snooty post-modern professors who used to mock me for my accent while preaching cultural relativism a couple decades ago.'

I've had similar experiences explaining (in a broad Strine accent) to a Trotksyite University lecturer why his attempt to apply a Marxist analysis to the contemporary Australian working class not only exposed the fundamental base/superstructure contradictions within Marxism-Leninism but was also "full of shit" and a classic case of Chardonnay socialism.

Did I mention I was a Red Nappy baby?

Or would have been if my parents could afford nappies.>

LarryHart said...


I assume Twinbeams is referring to the use of the word "teabaggers".

I assume Twinbeams also objects to the Tea Party members who use the term to refer to themselves. (That's "use" present tense not "used" past tense.)


I agree with Twinbeam that it's a cheap shot, and I don't generally use the term for that reason.

However, I also agree with Ian that the reason the term is funny is when it is self-applied.

All that said, I reserve the right to refer to "tea-baggers" as long as righty talkers continue to refer to the "Democrat Party".

Ilithi Dragon said...

He's baaaaack...

LarryHart said...

Robert:


Me? I will defend the right of the TPers to call people nigger, faggot, or anything else they set their hearts to up until my last breath. I will do this even though they will call me a traitor for siding with Democrats against the Republicans, and for being a "Satanist" because my spiritual beliefs are far closer to the pagan faiths than to mainstream Christianity.

I do this because the minute I allow their freedom of speech (no matter how vile, filthy, or hate-filled) to be restricted... my own can likewise be restricted. And while I know there are people among the TPers who would gladly censor me, exile me from this nation, or even kill me, I will still defend their right of free speech.

You don't start down that path.


Oh, I am so ambiguous about how to respond. Typically-liberal, I guess. :)

On the one hand, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment, and even when I don't personally manage to live up to it, I aspire to doing so. Take the high road, always, and trust that good will ultimately truimph, and that those who act badly undermine their own goals. That "going negative" or "fighting fire with fire" or "going over to the dark side" or whatever you want to call it is not a successful strategy.

It's the theme of many of Dr Brin's stories. And I do believe in it. And I wish that that faith was unwavering.

Since this is me speaking, there's always a "yes, but...", isn't there?

There's this other internet group I participate in, ostensibly to discuss comics, and in particular, the "Cerebus" comic book written by Dave Sim. Dave is a highly-political conservative who isn't shy about professing his beliefs both within and outside of the story itself--thus the group tends to go off onto tangents about current politics, especially close to elections. We (the group, that is) are very proud of being an open forum with a high degree of tolerance for differing opinions.

A few years back, there was this guy who apparently was drinking too much (long-term, I mean) and for whatever reason, decided to provoke the group into banning him. No one had ever been banned from that forum, and almost no one wanted to do so at that time, but this guy was on a mission and would not quit. First, he explicitly announced that he wanted to be banned. Then, he spammed the list with hundreds of messages at a time, making it almost completely unreadable. Finally, he began sending actual death threats to members' private e-mails. After days of hoping in vain that good would triumph, the moderators of the group finally did ban him--for one year after which time he was allowed to come back provisionally. No one else has been banned from the group since, and even THAT limited penalty made most of us feel as if we needed a drink and a shower.

The guy has acutally cleaned up his act, and he says that being banned from the group was the push he needed to get the drinking under control.

And sometimes, I can't help thinking that the present day GOP is provoking the exact same kind of response. Playing fair and hoping for fair play in return won't work. They've made it clear that the only way for the Obama administration to accomplish anything is by running roughshod over them. They're daring us to do it.

And maybe, as a line from "The West Wing" once had it, "They'll like us when we win."

LarryHart said...

Heh.

I swear to God that the "word verification" this website gave me for my last post was "palinte".

Palin-tea?

David Brin said...

LarryHart: You guys know that my political fundamentals are
(1)contrarian-poking at assumptions
(2) attend to the future
(3) defend the enlightenment experiment, including freedom, individualism, and healthy democracy, markets, science.
(4) more ornery contrary resistance to dogmas that hypnotize all sides.

You know that I believe in opposition, yin-yang and all that. I remember communism and the USSR's evil empire and I know the left can have bona fide lunacies. Voices of skepticism toward Big Government are welcome and I am often one. Likewise, apart from "left-right" it is important to have counters to the democrats' inherent, manic, frenzy to solve everything at once.

But, having said that, let me go on to say that none of these counterbalancing "goods" are to be found, at present, on the American right. There are no residua of sanity or principle, anywhere to be found in today's Republican Party, which was denounced by Barry Goldwater, before he died. A sinking ship that ejects even David Frum really has nothing left to cling-to.

All there is, anymore, is madness, promulgated by manipulators who apparently have one aim only, to stoke the fires of Civil War.

You know that for years I authored detailed arguments to aim at "decent conservatives" to demonstrate that their movement (which had tremendous inherent value, once) had been hijacked by monsters who gradually, relentlessly, reversed almost every basic conservative principle. (I went so far as to couch these explications ENTIRELY in conservative terms!)

This reversal should have made millions angry. And indeed, some did shift to help elect Obama. But, all told, stupidity and obstinacy and willful delusion seem to reign.

It is a pity because there were ways to retake the Republican Party. Now? The only hope of conservatism (let alone America) is for the GOP to dissolve into smoke, like some vampire exposed to the sun.

Then, I promise, I will HELP to set up something new, to fill the role - a party of skeptical/sane conservatives who nevertheless solve problems and look to the future.

Robert said...

I've been a moderator for a forum before (for the Tangents site, back when I was hosted on Panel2panel as part of that creative online conglomerate). At one point I managed to get in the crosshairs of a 4chan hatemonger, who decided to "review" my site (he'd been going after webcomics and was basically using it as an excuse to use f-bombs and insult every aspect of the person behind the comic and upset the fanbase communities of those comics). I'd already seen how he worked; he'd post something nasty and then one of his "buddies" would go to the forum and post a link to the "review" going "I can't believe he said this!"

I banned each and every account that tried to pull that nonsense. I went so hard-nosed that I would censor out even attempts to [i]name[/i] the 4chan shockjock's site, let alone link it. Finally, after a bunch of hatemail went to the host (Ms. Greenlee), she allowed one person to hold a limited conversation without being banned... but even then I ensured there were no links to the website or mentions of it by name.

Censorship? Oh hell yes. Regrets? None. But I do not see it in the same venue as the other hate speech and the like. I had some troublemakers who were trying to upset my readers, so I kept the conversation out of there. In essence, these people were spammers, just as if they had been a bot posting anonymous links (and the forum had that problem as well).

If I had been at a convention and one of the 4chan fanboys came up and started yelling at me about the pseudo-review and the things said about me in person? I'd probably have gotten snarky and sarcastic, but not told him to shut up or tried to censor him. Because there is a difference between typing stuff anonymously on a computer screen, and saying it in person.

Let's put it this way. Congressman Barney Frank had slurs of "faggot" shouted at him. No doubt if Mr. Frank had turned around and quietly requested the person to come to his face and say that face-to-face, the person would have backed down. Now, there is always the chance that person would stand up and be identified... but most people lack the courage to be outed for hate speech.

The best way to deal with this is visual quiet confrontation. If they step forward and foam at the mouth on national television, they look bad. If they refuse to come forward, they look like cowards. The third option, of the person stepping forward and offering an actual debate or non-vitriolic comment on why he/she feels homosexuality is wrong is not likely to occur... because people willing to talk reasonably are far less likely to be shouting anonymous insults.

Rob H.

David McCabe said...

Ahh, another month is over, another begins.

That reminds me.

rewinn said...

@David McCabe: Oh Noes! I have viewed the imagine and anticipate brain crash probably around 5:30 pm Friday afternoon (...generally a safe prediction.)

@David Brin: If the sincere Libertarians took over the GOP, IMO our nation would be better off. I would find it hard to vote for them most of the time but it could happen; a libertarian foreign policy and a sociality domestic policy might make everyone happy except for the corporatists.

At any rate, in such a situation we could have debates on issues instead of whatever it is we have now. History tells us that bad things happen when a ruling party lacks non-frothing-at-the-mouth criticism.

David McCabe said...

See also the comp.basilisk FAQ and the story of BLIT.

retri: What so many of us ought to do.

David Brin said...

Dave... april foo on yooo toooo....

David McCabe said...

Did I scare ya? :-)

David Brin said...

Now see this!

http://www.locusmag.com/2010/April1st_AtlasSequel.html

http://www.locusmag.com/2010
then
/April1st_AtlasSequel.html

David McCabe said...

Oh, and sad news from Charles Stross.

David McCabe said...

I understand the random non-spammy words, but what's the point of the markov chain?

David Brin said...

A bot has found us. and blogger isn't protecting us. Thinking of moving our community to Wordpress. Do you guys like it?

Robert said...

I'm all for WordPress. But I've been suggesting it for a while now. ^^;;

Rob H.

David McCabe said...

The one downside to WordPress is that they have a poor record on security. You're accepting a somewhat higher than average chance of having your blog defaced if you use it. This is mitigated, though, if you're using a professional hosting service that keeps your site updated and backed up.

Ian Gould said...

What are the advantages of a blog over a VBulletin or Beehive forum.

You can set member privileges so only you can start threads.

Tim H. said...

I don't worry so much about the fashion spam as about where some of those links might actually go. Do what you need to, I'll keep reading.
"sishe", the sound spammers make in the afterlife.

LarryHart said...

Just please keep us informed (on the main site?) where to look for you if this blog disappears. And I hope to gosh that it's not a site I'm blocked from at work.

Claudia said...

OK- you demonstrate how Obama's health care "reform" is really a thinly disguised GOP/corporate plan. Why didn't you take that one step further and ask WHY the Democrats (and the people) are being asked to applaud such a travesty?

David Brin said...

Because the dems are led by their pragmatist problem solvers and have marginalized their crazed dogmatists. Exactly the opoposite od what has happened on the right.

Sure, I pooh-pooh "left-right" differences as less important, but I'll admit there are some important left-right distinctions between dems and gops.But I consider them far less important than that other matter, of which party is run by delusional, dogmatic loonies and which is run by practical men and women who want to move ahead, even if the steps have to be partial ones.

THAT is the true psychological and moral divide, right now, between blue and gray... re, I mean blue and red.

Tony Fisk said...

Ah! Wonderful spam! Wonderful spam, spam spam spam...

And, as the caroling vikings fade into the sunset, I will follow up on Stefan's announcement a few days ago: Patrick Farley is looking to restart Electric Sheep comics on a full-time basis, *if* enough people pledge to toss him a peppercorn periodically. With a month to go, he's about a third of the way to his target of 3000 people @ $2 ea. (he'd prefer a lot of fans offering peanuts to a few well-heeled patrons)

Pledge link here.

Tim H. said...

Garrison Keillor on Health care & other things:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/garrison_keillor/2010/03/30/spring/index.html
The similarities between Obama-care & the GOP alternative to Hillary-care make the current criticisms seem a bit insincere. Anyway, expectations are low for the "first pancake", let's hope it's not the only one.

lc said...

re: free speech

I'm usually in favor of giving people enough rope to hang themselves.

How else can we get the loonies to reveal themselves in all their glory?

Occasionally -- I'm thinking of protestors at servicemen's funerals -- we just need to unpack our earplugs from their carrying case and insert them in our own ears.

John Kurman said...

Here's a late, half-baked, unoriginal idea. The last space shuttle launch is coming up soon. How come there's no lottery for a seat on it? Ten bucks, open to everyone in the world.

David Brin said...

http://readersupportednews.com/off-site-opinion-section/72-politics/1406-not-satisfied-with-us-history-some-conservatives-rewrite-it

http://readersupportednews.com/
then
off-site-opinion-section/72-politics/
then
1406-not-satisfied-with-us-history-
then
some-conservatives-rewrite-it

sjmalarkey said...

The current version of WordPress is much more secure than earlier versions. It might be worth a try. There is also a new book, Professional WordPress, that discusses how to secure it. If you do change, you might want to get a pro to help you get it up and running until you get the hang of it.

Tony Fisk said...

Blecch!
I thought it was bad enough that we had twerps who want to filter the internet so that Aussie kids don't get exposed to soul-stealing websites devoted to cath.. I mean pedophilia, and *.nz ... er, bestiality.

Just a taste of the above:
"Oh? Well, thank you," Beck said with scorn during his keynote speech to the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. The presidential suggestion that the wealthy of the Gilded Age should contribute to the good of society was a clear danger that must be condemned, Beck said.

"Is this what the Republican Party stands for? Well, you should ask members of the Republican Party, because this is not our founders' idea of America. And this is the cancer that's eating at America. It is big government; it's a socialist utopia," Beck said.

"And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot coexist. ... You must eradicate it. It cannot coexist."


Must be cut out? Hmmm!

It's hardly surprising that Roosevelt is being labelled as the causer of the Great Depression... that little meme can then be applied to the present day much more readily!

Have you noticed how these guys have a gift for twisting any criticism of their stance so that they can point it right back at you?

At this rate, how long is it going to be before they start decrying the treasonable links known to exist between the Democrats and the Saudi Socialists?

One can only hope that this is merely symptomatic of a rabid fringe running a shell of an organisation after sane elements have departed and before it falls in on itself.

Pride and Prejudice and Selfservatives?

LarryHart said...


It's hardly surprising that Roosevelt is being labelled as the causer of the Great Depression... that little meme can then be applied to the present day much more readily!

Have you noticed how these guys have a gift for twisting any criticism of their stance so that they can point it right back at you?

At this rate, how long is it going to be before they start decrying the treasonable links known to exist between the Democrats and the Saudi Socialists?


I've been noticing that ever since the party of "law and order" in the 1960s started branding themselves as the party of freedom of choice--as opposed to liberals who want to control everyone. When they get away with calling the party of "Do your own thing (,man)" totalitarian, time is truly out of joint.

It came to a head with my conservative buddy (who might not consider me a buddy any more) during the recent health-care debates, when HE accused ME of never considering th possibility that I might be wrong. This is funny (in a tragic way) on too many levels. First of all, all I ever DO is waffle because I'm always afraid I might be wrong. Second, he usually calls me on that very trait. Finally, the conservatives are the ones who treat unwavering self-assuredness as a virtue. For him to hurl that particular character-assassination at me proves (to me) that he's either insane or he's drinking the Kool-Aid of the insane.

The phrase "I know you are, but what am I" has become the best and only response to right-wing criticisms levelled at liberals.

David Brin said...

Sure... except that I reject the necessity of accepting even the "liberal" label.

Liberals are fine -- so long as they continue to smile and marginalize their lefty allies, proving that their side is dominated by the pragmatists. But still, even though one wing of our political process is sane, that does not mean we should officially call it the ONLY possible wing.

There will be a same conservatism again, someday. And libertarianism may grow up to take its rightful place at the negotiating table. Hence, the issue is not left-right or even liberalism. I have called it future vs past and Know-Nothing vs Smartypants and even a resumption (with almost exactly the same players) of the American Civil War.

Given that the "socialist" Obamacare bill was first written at the Heritage Foundation as the GOP alternative to Hillarycare, in 1993, it's now clear that the neocon screeching hate-fest is entirely fact-free.

Ian said...

"At this rate, how long is it going to be before they start decrying the treasonable links known to exist between the Democrats and the Saudi Socialists?"

Haven't you heard?

Obama's socialism is just a tactic to destroy America at the command of his Saudi masters.

David Brin said...

Um... the Saudis who own up to 20% of Fox? And who Bush protected against questioning by the FBI, sent home in luxury during a week that Americans were forbidden to fly? And who are the only group who got everything they wanted during his term?

I'll be semi offline for a while...

LarryHart said...

Davud Brin said:

There will be a same conservatism again, someday.


When there is, I'll probably be one of them. I was too much the conservative for most of my friends in college.


And libertarianism may grow up to take its rightful place at the negotiating table. Hence, the issue is not left-right or even liberalism. I have called it future vs past and Know-Nothing vs Smartypants and even a resumption (with almost exactly the same players) of the American Civil War.


It also seems to be a divide between the "authoritarin personalities" vs...whatever you'd call the opposite of that. There's a noticeable subset of today's conservatives who seem to genuinely believe that the purpose of free will is to CHOOSE FOR YOURSELF which leader deserves to be king, and then to submit to that leader. As opposed to Stalinism, etc, whose sin seems to be that a leader is forced upon a population who DIDN'T choose to submit to him.

But the seminal American notion that no one is king? That seems to be so outrageous to the modern GOP types as to be completely beneath notice.

I wonder if this tendency of the authoritarian personality to submit to a king is similar to the hypergamous surrender reflex you spoke of previously.

LarryHart said...

David Brin says:


I'll be semi offline for a while...


Hmmmm...isn't that one more thing that the Saudis want?

:)

Claudia said...

You wrote: "Liberals are fine -- so long as they continue to smile and marginalize their lefty allies, proving that their side is dominated by the pragmatists."

The DLC-style Democrats which you lionize may be neo-liberal but they're not liberal in the traditional sense at all. They are corporatists and 'practical' only from the most narrow, empire-centric world view which they share with their partners in crime, the neo-cons. They are in fact the sociopaths of the political world.