Saturday, September 12, 2009

Upon a careful consideration of views expressed within the public square.

Originally uploaded by NineTwelvePhotos

Oh HELL no!

Thank you for leaving no doubt whatsoever about which direction to go in order to reach Civilization from here.

Please, as a matter of principle, I implore you to refuse any form of Government subsidized, sponsored or regulated health care.

Your principled stand will make a lasting statement worthy of your sacrifice!

KICKASS Fired Up! Ready to GO! design for Health Care Reform

It's time to apply astroturf production values to the most important "Progressive" issue.

It boggles my mind that this is even considered a "progressive" cause. I mean, Teddy Roosevelt tried to get this done. It is a no-brainer, taken for granted, basic issue for the rest of the developed world. To this Anti-authoritarian, fiscally conservative Libertarian, my view is, "if not for things like this, what the hell is a government for?"

I run the numbers through my mind and I compare the roughly 4 to 5 percent overhead of various forms of government sponsored and regulated health care to the double-digit overheads of "private enterprise" "solutions", couple that with the rape, pillage and burn tactics that lack of any useful regulation has permitted and I can't see any honest person supporting this Status Quo. Unless their health care depends on supporting it, of course.

This is not about "govenrment intruding into your life." This fight is really about who's government it is, and who does it benifit. Currently, it aint you. It belongs to corporations.

Well, it's time to crotch-kick them back into their proper place.

Here's two designs ready to go, with extensive templates that include your twitter or other social media details. They are telegenic, designed to grab attention and feature your cause. And they are affordable. More so in bulk. I will be making versions of the graphics publicly available if you want to make your own buttons or shirts, but if you want only a couple, this is probably your best option.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Unethical Sluts : A Blog Post in three Unnatural Acts.

Wanna have a quick look-see to find out what one of the poster-boys for Family Values gets up to on your dime and your eyeball-time?

I have absolutely no problem with legal prostitution. I'm a Libertarian. It's your right to do things that make me think you might be kinda sad and pathetic in spots, but I think it's a relatively responsible way of getting needs met without harm to others, while being willing to admit that my thoughts about you are "My stuff, not your stuff."

But by "harm" I don't just mean the risk of STD's or other personal consequences. I feel you are entitled to enjoy all the karma you generate - positive and negative. By "harm" I mean embarrassing your friends, family, colleagues and sponsors. People you owe for helping you get where you are. People who have every right to expect some discretion on your part, for even if they are not morally deserving, they are arguably contractually entitled.

I'm quite willing to let adults be adults, if they are responsible about it. And it harm none, do as you will. But the first clause is at the front for a reason. One of the most obvious occasions of harm is when stupid is found in "unholy congress" with arrogant.

Air Force Amy is, like hot. And we understand why you might want to have that picture with her and her delightful compatriots. But, hey, dumb-ass, did you not read the release? Did it not occur to you that this kinda makes you look like a total tool? It really doesn't show a great deal of respect for the moral viewpoints of a large swathe of your viewers. It kind of implies that you are pandering to their views in public while partying on their dime in private. Don't you think?

If you feel the desire to do things in private that completely contradict your public stance, the public stance you are being damn will paid to take, maybe you shouldn't pose for brag photos!

Morally speaking, it's no different than a whore who drugs a client and steals his wallet because zie thinks that theft and betrayal is somehow more dignified than providing expected value for promised funds arrived at after an honest negotiation.

When you claim to speak for a broad spectrum of the US Social Conservative movement, and then do stupid things that would embarrass the hell out of a large percentage of that population - well, it makes them feel like they were taken for a ride. Like they were played. Used. Led around by their noses. Fed a line. Conned. Betrayed. I would say that such feelings would be entirely valid.

But Hannity isn't even the best example of such stupidity. It's lurid and funny and awful and I'll admit using the titillation factor to my advantage - but now that I have your attention, I'm going to point out that the boobies are only significant in that they may have contributed to male stupidity. I'm going to use the next idiot to explain why. He makes Hannity look smart. And that's really, really hard.

Republican California Assemblyman Mike Duvall has set a very, very high bar for conspicuous public stupidity - and it's due to the same sort of stupid that caused Hannity to pose for a picture with Hof's stock in trade. Due to his addiction to stupid, he's managed to profoundly piss off his targeted constituency. (And hopefully, to an extent that might actually be morally instructive, as opposed to moralistically. )

He's a not just a state assemblyman. he was - wait for it - a member of the ethics committee and the utilities (energy) oversight committee. Who is taking sexual bribes. From energy lobbyists. In Post-Enron California. It's breathtaking.

His bragging violated the trust of every single person involved with him, licitly and illicitly. He was bragging of how he was cheating on his mistress - one energy lobbyist - with another lobbyist.

So, he was managing to cheat twice - with each. In their roles as lobbyists, and in their roles as mistresses. If you include his wife, it's a trifecta. When you add in the legitimate and illegitimate interests of his clients and constituents, the only appropriate word is "clusterfuck."

An interesting point is made dryly here:

In April--two months after Duvall became vice chairman of the Utilities & Commerce committee--privately owned California utility giant Sempra Energy hired Barsuglia as one of its top lobbyists, according to Secretary of State records. Barsuglia, who has a law degree and once worked as a speechwriter for Governor Pete Wilson, had previously worked at the California Retailers Association (CRA). During 25 months of work at CRA, she reported that she incurred no reportable lobbying expenses.
It's an arch way of implying "she's a whore" without actually saying it, but circumstances tend to validate that observation. But she IS a lobbyist, and frankly, the distinction between lobbyist and whore is primarily a question of style.

I condemn neither trade. I observe that human nature is human nature, and this is yet another example of pretending that human beings are different than they are, or that human needs for power, influence, sex and comfort are inherently sinful. I will assert with conviction they are not.

But the transaction costs can send you straight to hell, in a metaphorical sense. At the very least.

It seems that Orange County has been "blessed" with an "advocate" who gets his jollies, in part, by betraying trust. Who likes dirty sex and dirty deals because "dirty is sexy." That strikes me as unacceptable from any vantage. It's not the sex. It's not even the corruption. It's what those acts reveal about the sort of person he is. Someone who seeks power for the sole purpose of abusing it, while laughing at the people stupid enough to give it to him.

During his political career, Duvall has unabashedly espoused conservative
 principles and is known as a partisan Republican with a knack for theatrics:
 He has noisily driven his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to functions. In 2008, 
Duvall blasted efforts to condone gay marriage. Legislatively, he has 
proposed bills to aid the insurance industry and government contractors 
feeding off the state's massive transportation kitty.
 He has offered a law to alter the First Amendment rights of Americans by
 banning anti-war activists from putting the names of fallen soldiers on 
T-shirts with messages such as "Bush lied" on the front and "They died" on the back; he observed that the dead soldiers fought to protect freedom, and "opportunists" should not be allowed to "exploit" the sacrifices with political messages opposing war.

Such thinking impressed certain constituencies. Earlier this year, the man who never graduated from high school received "100 percent" approval scores 
by the California Republican Assembly, the state's leading conservative outfit, and the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), a fierce guardian of traditional family values.

"Assemblyman Duvall has been a consistent trooper for the conservative causes," CRI president Karen England announced in March. "For the last two years, he has voted time and time again to protect and preserve family values in California. We are grateful for his support of California

Acknowledging the CRI award, Duvall observed in a press release that as long as he is in office, he would work to protect "California families" from "constant assault in Sacramento."

The Orange County News reports elsewhere that Duvall's exploits were "the worst-kept secret in Sacramento," so I leave to you to judge the repute and stature of the very family values groups that were negligent, incompetent and/or complicit in sponsoring this cheap Boss Hogg clone.

Perhaps they picked him because of what they knew him to be, rather than what they thought him to be. It's the less insulting presumption, if you think about it.

As we've seen with the Blessed Sarah, there are people who have a deal of power on the Right, particularly within the Chromefishtian right, who value a fine looking facade with a malleable core over a substantial candidate who might have inconvenient moral objections to achieving the "right" political outcome.

I need an illustration for that. Oh, yes, here it is...

Christ and the Pharisees....In this scene the Pharisees rebuked Christ, saying- "Behold thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath Day"- but Christ reproved them saying "For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath Day"...Matthew 12:1-8 Luke 6:1-5

You may have some familiarity with the rest of the story. It's sort of an object lesson as to what happens to people who's principles transcend appearances. And it appears that in Orange County, ain't no-one willing to take a risk on a representative who might actually be living the values they profess.

Oh, no. They want people who LOOK like they do, but will never, ever, back those who are precisely what they say they are.

That's how you get "family values feminists" like Palin.

And "family friendly" "personalities" like Hannity.

It says something about how much regard these organizations and power-brokers hold "family values" types and to what degree they honor their intelligence and critical thinking skills. Oh, and the principles of your faith. That is to say, no more than I do. Possibly even less. But unlike me, they are also perfectly willing to smile, shake their hands and congratulate them on taking their daughter to the purity ball - only to make lewd jokes at their expense later.

Is it overkill to bring Sara Palin into the mix at this point? Wait, no. Not when and come to the same conclusion from radically different directions.

Slate observes - quite reasonably - that someone with a degree in Communications should be able to clearly articulate matters of policy and politics. At the very least, they should be able to come up with a clear, concise reason for why they decided to quit their job. Slate goes on to note she's seemingly very angry that people fail to understand her. That implies that she thinks that she's making sense.

Oh. Dear. Me.

This really does not speak well of whoever finally granted her a degree.

Politico - while not actually stating it, no doubt for political reason, presents us with with an article that might as well be titled: "Sara Palin: She Won't Stay Bought."

So, she's incoherent and untrustworthy. Harking back to Hannity's personal investigation of legal prostitution (since we are speaking of politics), I can find several woman on the Bunny Ranch site with better CV's than Palin's - QUITE aside from their physical attributes.

Air Force Amy is the current star [SO not safe for work]- a veteran, a reasonably articulate speaker, and, unlike Palin - she delivers on her promises and contractual obligations. Assuming she writes her own copy, she's better qualified for Palin's degree than Palin is.

Now, it would have been a great thing had Palin actually been what she was represented to be and still thinks she is; a woman of stature and integrity, if there had been even as much behind the facade that is Sara Palin's image as any of the girls at the Bunny Ranch, or indeed, any remotely telegenic woman with comparable paper credentials. Of which there are millions. And millions.

Counting only the politically active, church-going registered Republicans who have held political office - thousands. Rule out those who are obviously unelectable and you'd still have hundreds, so there's no way in hell that Palin could possibly have been anywhere NEAR the top of that pile.

So, do I think that Palin was willing to play the MILF card? Actually, I think that would be a vile presumption, and I don't have to make it. I DO think people making vital decisions were thinking with the wrong head, on many, many levels. But even there, had they actually gone for a person qualified in the field (because that's the only qualifications they were probably thinking of) they could have done FAR better.

No, I think they picked her because she looked good, sounded good and had no moral convictions whatsoever. In other words, I don't think she "slipped through the cracks" and I don't think it was a "vetting failure." She is exactly what the McCain team was looking for. You were simply not supposed to figure it out.

I think she was seen as having succeeded at the abuse of power, while maintaining an wholesome appearance. It appears, though, that she may be so impaired that she doesn't understand that she IS abusing power. You have to understand the concept of responsibility and cause and effect before you can get away with betraying those ideals.

Here I find myself comparing her to particular prostitutes, and I admit, I started to do with no little glee. But then I realized that it's not an unfair or even an unflattering comparison, if you think of the job in terms of doing the job you are paid to do. The careers have many similar requirements for success; communication, social skills and the ability to attract a loyal following. The differences are simply a matter of scale. Moral considerations aside - and clearly, they were.

And so I am, comparing her to a sex worker. And frankly, I know of a number who have better morals and manners than she does.

Hell, I know of a number who's morals, manners and social skills rise above the common run. But you see, those who live on the bottom of society, those who cannot call upon police or powerful friends, those people really have to avoid situations that could get them jammed up. Therefore, they tend to act ethically. Why?

Because if they don't, they tend to end up on slabs.

That sort of example will clarify your values REAL suddenly. Of course, if you want the insight without the high personal investment you might want to read "The Ethical Slut." And yes, the issues it cover are absolutely identical.

As for the people in the social media who will object to this post and who already have leapt to the defense of each of the people and all of the acts discussed above, there is only one appropriate response.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Maddow & Henke: Cronkite's heir highlights next Buckley?

Bleeding Heart Libertarian hat
I had pretty much given up on finding a sane conservative perspective for my blogroll. Hell, I'd pretty much given up on the idea of calling myself what I am, an ethical anti-authoritarian, centrist pragmatist who's policy stance is always in favor of enhancing the practical freedoms and opportunities of the individual or that is to say, an actual Libertarian.

I have strong principles, but to paraphrase Issac Asimov, I try never to let my morality get in the way of doing the right thing. Indeed, I've considerably revised my moral views over the years based on the frequency of collisions between Morality and Reality.

One of the greatest problems of the Right (at this point in history) is a smugly moralistic worldview that tends to sharply restrict their ability to even notice, much less recognize situations in which there might be some complexity involved.

I've battled clinical depression my entire life, and I'm here to tell you (remarkably enough) that that degree of black and white thinking I've come to recognize as symptomatic is no virtue. It makes it quite impossible to make rational, reasonable or even sane decisions. When the medication takes effect and that mental state lifts - it can be embarrassing to look back at what one thought, said and did. Suddenly the color returns and one's life may well be seen as an offensive composition. It rather depends on who's been handing you the crayons, you see.

Now, that's a picture that speaks 10,000 words - and not one of them is worth listening to. And yet - and this is a non-partisan failing - we do. We give these people oxygen, when the only appropriate response is shunning. It's certainly tempting to point, laugh and mock - and I've done more than my share of it. It has it's place, should someone who's viewpoints are generally within the boundries of "arguable" and "sane" commit a correctable lapse. But when we get in the range of Glenn Beck Stupid, the only appropriate response is to stop listening and supporting such speech. Pointedly. En Masse.

That's not "censorship," it's self-preservation. That degree of paranoid stupidity can be contagious. To refer to Papa Heinlein, it's like strong drink; it can cause you to shoot at tax-collectors - and miss.

Refreshingly enough, this is what Jon Henke is saying as a public Conservative, on Rachel Maddow's show. Maddow is a proud left-progressive. I rather think she'd vote NDP up here.

So, two people with philosophies that are about as distinct from each other as can be imagined, having a civil, intelligent and informative conversation.

Entirely refreshing. And it led me to read more of Henke. One bit seemed worth sharing immediately, as an exemplar.

Jon Henke writes at The Next Right.

Megan McArdle has previously postulated Jane's Law.

Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

I think it's a good generalization about very broad political dynamics. Thinking about that this weekend, I came up with the following psychological spectrum. People tend towards the left side of the spectrum when it comes to allies; towards the right side of the spectrum when it comes to opponents.

Cognitive biases are a natural human tendency and none of us (including me) are immune to them. It is useful to be aware of the problem.

Two things I like about this. First, he is unashamed of being seen using intellectual tools in public, and second, he's capable of writing short. The second impresses me in particular, I am envious, and I shall be including him in my missing Conservative blogroll.

You may have noticed a complete absence of any links to Conservative sources. The reason for that is, I've been disappointed by the public voices of the Right. If I rely on them for information, references, facts or insights, I run the stark risk of being publicly embarrassed for having said something absurd, untrue, or both. So, over the years, I've dropped them, one by one.

You might wonder why that risk doesn't occur from the Left. It does, of course - but it's possible to avoid, because while there are sites you have to be careful of, there are plenty of sites that present the raw facts first and draw their conclusions from there. And sadly, there's very little need for the left to misrepresent the positions, policies, character or criminality of much of the Right. The plain truth is damnation enough.

It's depressing, but currently, there is far more concern on the Left for the mechanics of getting things Right. And those who are not, or who prefer to hear what they want rather than what is - I treat them exactly the same as I treat their counterparts on the Right. I ignore them.

We are extremely fortunate that the wingnuttery of the Right has not been met with equal fanaticism on the left - for if that had been the case, the United States might well be the midst of a literal, armed civil war.

But as of this moment, the sane people of the left are the ones articulating the issues, and for want of an alternate, also serving (rather badly) in Opposition to themselves.

Sadly, what sane people who remain on the Right are very, very lonely. They must be encouraged, for without the voices of traditional, prudent, sane conservatism, we are impoverished of an extremely valuable perspective on life and politics.

Bleeding Heart Libertarian by webcarve

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dear Morans: What Would Edmund Burke Do (To You)?

Edmund Burke  triumph of evilRobert Creamer writes in Huffpo about a political backlash against the Republicans for the "Death Panels" lie intended to make people fearful of health care reform.

His last two paragraphs sum up the debt they incur by this starkly, and I'm sure he's correct about the political dimension.

In their attempt to enflame the powerful emotions surrounding the deaths of loved ones by spreading intentional lies, the Republicans have stooped to a new low. The Terry Schiavo case should have taught the Republicans that some emotions are too precious to be exploited for partisan political advantage. Apparently it did not.

But when Americans begin to discover just how far the Republicans have been willing to go to stop health insurance reform, they may receive a new lesson. Republicans will learn that combining those powerful emotions with deceit can create an explosive mixture that they will find impossible to forget.

Correct - but only superficially so. However shrewdly he sees this situation, he sees it through the lens of politics, purely as a political opportunity created by an "emotional reaction."

And for that (and only to the extent that it is true, of course,) he deserves reproof. For it should be clear that there is a larger, ethical dimension that is, or should be obvious to everyone.

We ignore those larger considerations at our peril, for that leads directly to evil flourishing due to the unwillingness of good men to do what they know to be right.

The reason that both the Terry Schaivo case backfired and the current Death Panels lie will have a shocking backlash is that they are evil deeds done by evil men for evil reasons and the political justifications made in favor of doing such things are simply more lies by evil, conscious and willful liars.

To quote my shirt which quotes Edmund Burke, "All that is required for evil to flourish is that good men (and women) do nothing."

It is no accident that I quote Burke, who is correctly credited and blamed for his part in founding a long and storied tradition of philosophical Conservatism amongst the English-Speaking peoples. And yet an overview of his words and his causes reveals complexity, intellectual rigor and above all, a deep and abiding regard for doing the Right thing.

Burke was observing the injustice of law being wielded by commercial interests against the interests of the common man, and he would say no less caustic things regarding corporate theft and the misuse of political office in defense of thieves.

Burke might well be alarmed at the idea of any sort of public health insurance scheme - but I doubt that he'd balk at the idea of some sharp regulatory checks on unrestrained greed, or the application of Justice to those to those who's criminality while in service to the state brought it's honor into disrepute.

As a Whig, he of course approached Right Action in the Whig way. But for the most part, it seems, he did not place the cart before the horse. It's a tribute to the lasting import and continuing influence of Edmund Burke that the Modern Whig Party has been established.

I absolutely endorse that effort, an effort among good men and women to do something. They have realized that the GOP has become a creature of evil, a thing to be discarded and supplanted by a party that does not merely stand against this or that, but which stands staunchly for the things that are worth conserving and are worth achieving.

It is as yet still possible to do something good by political means - and as Iraq Vets, many of the founders have a FAR clearer appreciation of "Politics By Other Means" then have slide-jacking funnymentalist eliminationist peckerheads that have made their exodus from the party a moral imperative.

When someone lies to my face for the third time, in order to induce me to go along with some transparently stupid or evil deed, I stop listening. Indeed, I have no trouble whatsoever using whatever reasonable and necessary force is required in order to remove them from my front porch.

Indeed, I see waiting for the third strike to be an exercise in most Christian charity. But "Three Times is Enemy Action" is a rule of thumb that has served me well. It requires a little forbearance, but with that comes a reasonable certainty of conviction.

But clearly, I'm in a distinct minority, even should I count the current members of the Modern Whigs, It saddens me that one explanation may be my lifelong unwillingness to "go along to get along."

Perhaps if more people were more concerned about right actions and right outcomes, and a little less tolerant of those who think that there is no social problem that cannot be solved by sticking someone else with the expense or the cleanup, a civilization might arise between the borders of Canada and Mexico.

I'm not sure if this sort of situation is what Menckin had in mind when he uttered his widely-cited observation, that "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the Jolly Roger, and start slitting throats."

What I am sure of is this; that when that temptation starts to become a creeping suspicion of an impending moral obligation... it's definitely time for good men and women to do something besides complain. Perhaps you should run for office.

Edmund Burke "Triumph of Evil" Shirt by webcarve
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