Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Of Pigs and Congressmen

Of Pigs and Congressmen
©2017  Ross Williams

The issue in a nutshell: David Pulphus, a high school student from suburban St Louis, created a piece of artwork depicting cops as pigs — and maybe a horse as well, it's hard to tell — arresting a black guy depicted as a wolf.  For some reason this artwork won the Congressional Art Contest, and it was transferred to the ownership and control of Congress, and was hung outside Congressman Lacy Clay's office.  Lacy Clay [D, MO] is the Congressman of the district in which the artist lives.   Clay also represents the district of the Ferguson riots, to which the artwork is apparently alluding.

Another Congressman, Duncan Hunter [R, CA] objected to the painting as offensive to his law and order sensibilities, and took it down.  Clay objected to Hunter's objections, and has spent the ensuing time prattling on about the artist's First Amendment, and is claiming to seek theft charges against Hunter.  The painting, not stolen but merely removed from display, is once again hanging outside Clay's office.

There's so much wrong with this entire tempest in a pisspot that it's hard to know where to begin.  So let me just start.

First, the Congressional Art Contest is supposed to be an annual affair for budding school-age artists to draw purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain; the rules specifically prohibit "sensational" or "current events" depictions.  It is natural for me, as a libertarian, to be on board with the anti-police-state theme of the amateurish artwork, even if the specific event it alludes to is unworthy of that criticism.  But let's be realistic: under the rules of the contest that this painting won, it should never have been in the contest in the first place.

Second, the painting does not now belong to Pulphus; it belongs either to Congress or to Congressman Lacy Clay — I do not know, nor do I care, nor does it matter.  The First Amendment issue, to the degree it exists at all, is no longer Pulphus's, but the artwork's owner's.  It is not Pulphus who had his free expression taken down; it was either Congress's or Clay's expression that was removed.  Congress is the government; Clay — in his capacity as a Congressman — is an agent of the government.

But the First Amendment does not protect the government's expression … or in this case re-expression; it only protects the expression of the individual citizen.  The First Amendment cannot protect artwork that Congress, as an institution, displays, nor artwork a specific Congressman shows.  The First Amendment became irrelevant the moment the artwork won the Congressional Art Contest, and Lacy Clay needs to review the nature and purpose of the Constitution he is sworn to uphold.

…this is a consistent criticism of Mr Clay's positions on virtually everything, by the way.  He is one of the many, many, many elected officials in either party who believes that the federal government has, and is designed to have, the authoritative latitude of a Soviet Politburo.

Clay attempting to level charges of theft against Hunter also displays Clay's complete unfamiliarity with law and the definition of theft.  If Clay had tied his pig to a lamppost on a public sidewalk, and the pig was removed by a shopkeeper for being in the wrong place and driving away business, leaving behind a note saying "You can retrieve your pig at …" some address, that is not theft; there is no intent on keeping the property.

Instead, if the artwork was controlled by Congress and was removed by a single Congressman, then it likely violates one or more Rules of Order created by the House of Representatives to scold its members who misbehave.  If the artwork was under the specific control of Clay, then Hunter's removal of it likely violates the same Rules of Order.  Criminal charges are little more than another of Clay's self-important, "Dig me! I'm a Congressman!" narcissisms that those of us who live near his district have grown exceedingly weary of hearing about.  Clay needs to seek sanction against Hunter through the parliamentary rules of his chamber.

And sanction is warranted.  Hunter is behaving as the very model of tightass conservative that idiot liberals love to despise — and for good reason.  Whether you like the thought of cops being depicted as pigs, it is, in our police-state nation, a common assessment.  They are used as the point-man for every government solution to problems that government was never given permission to solve.  The results have been nothing but predictable, even for those circumstances where cops do have a legitimate role.  And the problems remain unsolved in any event.

If we don't like cops being depicted as pigs and being shown the disrespect they deserve, then stop giving them multiple reasons to jump in citizens' faces multiple times a day and bossing them around.

Fewer laws defining criminal behavior, for starters.

We're supposed to be a free country, remember?  Free people in free countries don't have the government criminalizing stupid behavior, or self-indulgent behavior, or suicidal behavior, or immoral behavior.  Criminal activities, in a free society, are limited to those which take things from others — their lives or their property.  Behaviors which simply take others' patience, or dignity, or tolerance, or sympathy is known as liberty.

Liberty is frequently stupid and self-indulgent, rather like the actions of both Congressmen in this episode.  However, under our Constitutional Republic Congressmen aren't given liberty; citizens are.

Monday, January 09, 2017

First Things First

First Things First
©2017  Ross Williams

Libertarians believe a lot of things, and they wish to politically lead others with those beliefs.  Most of those beliefs — virtually all of them, actually — are worthy of acceptance.  The one thing that libertarians believe that I simply cannot abide, though, is their insistence on pretending that their political philosophy is separable from the reality which it purports to be the best option for guiding.

Libertarians, by and large, live in their navels, a condition which permeates virtually every aspect of their solutions to life's and society's conundrums.  Libertarians don't simply live in their navels, they count the whiskers on the navel-lint bunnies they construct, and perform other epistemological masturbations. 

Libertarians are — as I have been telling the rest of them for years — long on theory, short on practicum.

Political theory which does not offer practical solutions to the real issues facing a society will never be acceptable to the masses in any society which has governance built upon democracy; theories are useless.  "People" don't want theory; they want — and need — jobs, quality education so their kids can get jobs, roads to get to and from their jobs and school, civic protection so they can get to and from in relative safety, and national defense so the barbarian hordes don't interfere with it all, besides … and to just generally be left the hell alone the rest of the time.

Frankly, all people regardless of their political stripe hold the same views.  It's just that most people from shhhh! those other political viewpoints want the government to leave them alone but pester everyone else.  Libertarians usually, but not completely, declare that the government is not to pester anyone.

But a government that doesn't pester anyone is a government that doesn't exist — a reality that anarchists happily celebrate, without the consequential understanding that the nonexistent government can therefore not protect well-meaning anarchists from their less noble neighbors, or from the barbarians.  Anarchy is proto-monarchy, a historic reality that anarchists refuse to reconcile to their preferred delusion.

To be safe from the ignoble and the Huns, there must be government.  When government, it will pester.  The idea is to pester only in ways that the masses, at least at one point, gave their permission for.  "The consent of the governed", to put it in terms of US history.

Not pestering anyone, though, is the basis of the theoretical libertarian ideal of both open borders and free trade.  In most respects, there is nothing wrong with these notions … in theory.  As I often have to remind people, though, when theory comes face to face with reality and the two disagree, reality wins.  Every time.

Much has been said and, given recent circumstances, much more is being said and will be said about free trade and open borders than at any time in recent history.  This discourse is due in no small part to the election of President Cheeto.  His election is due in no small part to the utter failure of false free trade put into practice and the mostly-closed borders creating porous border realities.

In other words, what libertarians want and how reality handles them are two different things, and reality informs anyone paying attention that libertarians are never going to get what they want in the ways that they are being provided.  To be fair to libertarians, it is not libertarians who are providing porous borders and false free trade; libertarians don't have political clout.  But the political terrain is so littered with Other Peoples' Politics that there is no way to get what libertarians want in any direct manner.  As the down-eastern saying goes, "Ya can't get theh from hyuh."

Most libertarians, when asked about the open borders they idolize, will point back to the immigration policies this nation had in the last third of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth centuries.  Yet those were not open borders; this nation — as a nation — has never had open borders.  There have always been rules for immigrants to follow before being allowed in.  During the heyday of immigration, the rules were simply very few and easily accomplished: sign your name [in English] and don't be carrying any infectious diseases.  Tens of thousands of immigrants who got off the boat in US ports died without setting foot outside the entry port hospital.

And then the borders closed.  They were virtually airtight during the Depression, and only reopened slightly after World War Two, mostly to war refugees and ex-nazi rocket scientists.  Today, thanks to the liberal legislative moronitude of the 70s, the rules for immigrants are cumbersome, inexplicably complex and so arcane that it's simply easier to risk death by diamondback in the Sonoran Desert than to obey the law.  And immigrants by the millions have done exactly that.

Porous borders — anyone who wants to can sneak across the border.  And they do.  Among them are drug dealers and criminals and jihadists, and those who do not work, even under the table, and then live off the support of the American Taxpayer.  As many criminals and jihadists as the paranoid closed-border types claim?  No, but still there are some.  It is dishonest and counter-productive to claim otherwise as the liberals do.  As many government benefit leeches as some wish to claim?  Again, no, but there are still some, and it is still dishonest and counter-productive to join the liberals and deny it.

Of course the libertarian response would be to say, "but we should also end the War on Drugs, be able to deport unnaturalized criminal immigrants, and those who act out Sharia Law rather than simply believe in it.  And we have to end the Welfare State as well.  Then those problems wouldn't be problems."  And of course they are correct.  But therein lies the disconnect; libertarians only concede these after being beaten over the head with reality.  Left to themselves, most libertarians want open borders first, before ending the disastrous War on Drugs and the equally disastrous War on Poverty, double-checking Syrian civil war refugees, and closing down sanctuary cities.

We effectively have open borders already since foreigners who wish to come here but not fill out reams of paperwork are still arriving.  What are the results?  Black market drug turf wars and thousands dead, hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on policing, prosecuting and paroling, hundreds of billions more in government handouts, and self-righteous liberal twit mayors flopping their arms across their chests, pouting, "they may be criminals, but they are MY criminals and you can't send 'em away!"  The libertarian solution is already in effect and it doesn't work.

Being unable to send anything away is, coincidentally [or not], the basis of what passes for free trade in America today.  Every other nation on the planet makes stuff very cheaply and most of the trade agreements the US enters into permits those goods to be imported, duty-free, for consumption by American consumers.  The United States, on the other hand, makes stuff very expensively and we have a hard time getting rid of it anywhere but in the US.

Yes, it is true that, in general, US-made products are better quality, but that is not as universal a reality as free trade enthusiasts would like everyone to believe.  The quality difference between domestic products and foreign competition accounts for a very small fraction of their large price differentials.  Long gone are the days of snickering at Made in Japan; that luxury died with the invention of the Plymouth K Car, Chevy Monza, and anything Ford churned out in response to the Arab Oil Embargo.  Hecho en Mexico is, today, just as good as Made with pride in the USA.  Generally because the company who hechos in Mexico is probably the same one who used to make it in the US.

There's a commercial floating around now about cell phone service that asks if you'd really pay 50% more for 1% more reliability.  The answer is no you wouldn't.  And, well, neither do foreign shoppers when they have the option of buying an American product versus the one they make themselves.  Product quality is largely irrelevant.

What is not irrelevant is the price.  Price is determined, in large part, by the costs of production.  These costs, in the US, are astronomical.  Most such costs are needless and are imposed by the government for the purpose of furthering government.  These costs consist of mandatory minimum wages, mandatory minimum employee benefits, contracted wages and benefits made mandatory because government requires union participation, regulatory costs, fees, taxes …

Other nations, including declaratively socialist nations, have nowhere near the same government impositions upon businesses that the US does.  As a result, US goods cannot compete with foreign goods because the consumer will nearly always choose the less expensive foreign-made item.  US products enter the free trade debate at a severe disadvantage. 

As a direct result of this disadvantage, any free trade agreements the US enters into has the net effect of selling US jobs to other nations, either through the free market preference of lower-cost foreign production, or because US manufacturers move their operations out of the US where they can make the same things the same way but far less expensively.  What passes for free trade is, therefore, not free but suicidal.  This is seen in the true rate of unemployment standing between 15-20% despite nearly a decade of Great Recession Recovery®, and a Labor Force Participation Rate hovering at a historic low of around 60%.

The way to address this false free trade is to remove the government-perpetuating Cost of Government from US manufacturing, or — number two — to force all our foreign nation trading partners to adopt the same cost of government intrusions into their own manufacturing, or — third — ham-fist a price-equalizing tariff on goods imported into the US.  I don't think I need to remind anyone what our newly-elected orange snack food with a bad comb-over wants to do.

Yes a tariff on imported goods will — at least in the short-term — do little more than increase the drain on Americans' wallets; it will take time to increase US manufacturing to compensate, and put the 20% unemployed, and the 40% underemployed Americans back to work so they can afford the price increase.  And it may inspire a tariff war with some of the foreign competition who have been subsidizing their own manufacturers.  But at least it's something, and it's significantly better than the option offered up by navel-gazing libertarians, which is to stick their fingers in their ears, and squawk their theories about free trade at the tops of their lungs.

Before there can be free trade there must be freedom TO trade as one sees fit, without government interference and having to pay the government for all that helpful interference.  The US government does not permit a freedom TO trade; they insinuate themselves into every aspect of commerce, driving up cost and driving away freedom.  Not to mention driving away manufacturing.  The libertarian solution cannot be accomplished without committing economic suicide.

More-open borders and free trade are the libertarian end-game, not the path.  Eliminate the War on Drugs and the welfare state first and then — but not before — we'll talk about more-open borders; end hyper-regulation of wages, benefits, and taxes first and then — but not before — we'll talk about free trade.  Few libertarians can be bothered with the necessary order of events reality requires to get what they want.  Most libertarians would rather stroke their navel-lint bunnies.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Either-Or … Or

Either-Or … Or
©2013  Ross Williams

"The dating app tinder announced a new feature this week which gives users 37 different gender identity options.  It's called Why democrats lost the election."
- Colin Jost, Saturday Night Live

This joke landed Mr Jost in all sorts of hot water from that tolerant, self-effacing crowd known as American liberals, who are regarded far and wide for their ability to take a joke and laugh at themselves.  Gender multiplicity is a modern pseudo-science, following in the hallowed footsteps of astrology, phrenology, theosophy, scientology, recovered memory and cryptozoology.

I have no idea how many genders today's phrenologists — genitalogists, as it were — have constructed out of the two which exist, 12 … 23 … 37 … 137 … and it doesn't really matter.  The point is, they've concocted more than two, and that is wrong to the point of irrational.  What is truly psychotic about it is that those who make these distinctions, pulling them out of thin air, act as though it is everyone else's responsibility to keep up with it all — as if others don't have better things to do with their time than tag along after the genitalogists taking notes.  When others cannot keep up with the swirling vortex of newly-discovered genders, the genitalogists call them names just like a four year-old would.

So as a public service to those confused by the weepy liberals chuckling in self-deprecating humor as they frantically scurry to their fainting couches at the effrontery of it all, let me identify the genders available to the human race.

There are men.

And there are women.

There are men who like to have sex with women; they are called men.

There are women who like to have sex with men; they are called women.

There are men who like to have sex with men; they are called men.  They are homosexual men, but they are men nonetheless.

There are women who like to have sex with women; they are called women.  They are homosexual women, but they are still women.

There are men who like to have sex with both men and women; they are called men.  They are bisexual men, but they are still very much men.

There are women who like to have sex with both men and women; they are called women.  They are bisexual women, but they are indeed women.

There are men who don't like to have sex at all; they are called men.

There are women who don't like to have sex, either; they are called women.

There are men who like to dress up as women; they are called men.

There are women who like to dress up as men; they are called women.

There are men who like to act like women; they are called men.

There are women who like to act like men; they are called women.

There are men who believe they were born in the wrong body, and would prefer to be women; they are called men.

There are women who believe they were born in the wrong body, and would prefer to be men; they are called women.

There are men who want to be women so badly that they convince doctors to give them hormones to change the way their bodies behave; they are called men.

There are women who want to be men so badly that they convince doctors to give them hormones to change the way their bodies behave; they are called women.

There are men who are not satisfied with hormones and they seek out surgeons to alter their outward physical appearance to resemble women; they are called men.  They may also be called women by those who did not know them before surgery, but they are still men.

There are women who are not satisfied with hormones and they seek out surgeons to alter their outward physical appearance to resemble men; they are called women.  They may also be called men by those who did not know them before surgery, but they are still women.

There are men who have been born with an extra sex chromosome and have the outward characteristics of men; they are called men.

There are women who have been born with an extra sex chromosome and have the outward characteristics of women; they are called women.

And there are those born with an extra sex chromosome and have the outward characteristics of both men and women; they are called hermaphrodites, which is Greek for manwoman, after the mythological epitome of male and female beauty: Hermes and Aphrodite.   Hermaphrodites occur roughly once in every 2,000 people.

Okay, so there are three genders: men, women and menwomen.

As with so many other things in life, one of these has been chosen for you.  What has not been chosen for you is what you do with it; that is entirely up to you.  Try not to be pretentious jerks while doing it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

By the Numbers

By the Numbers
©2016  Ross Williams

Sociology is a soft science.  Similar to psychology, economics and history.  Hard Sciences are biology, chemistry, physics and geology.  The hard sciences are "hard" due, according to Carl Sagan, to the "rigorous standards of evidence and honesty."  In other words, when a physicist adds 2 and 2 and arrives at 22 he is wrong, and will be ever after considered a quack.  Unless, of course, he can sell his 2+2=22 idea to Hollywood and have them place the notion of nuclear winter in the collective psyche of the masses, in which case he'll be forever seen as a visionary.

Other such visionaries are the neo-malthusian Paul Ehrlich, the pre-neo-luddite Rachel Carson, and the doubly ethically blind Stephen Schneider.  Being proven wrong is not necessarily an impediment in the hard sciences.

In the soft sciences, however, being proven wrong is typically requisite for the soft scientist to attain and maintain professional credibility.  Just ask Paul Krugman, acolyte of the also-proven wrong John Maynard Keynes.  There's always an excuse for why being wrong was actually right, usually having to do with the entire world refusing to accept the soft scientist's egoistic declarations and discounting reality.

And vice versa, for what it's worth.  Being right often ends up wrong.  The "stop and frisk" model of civil order grew out of the "broken window theory" of economics.  If police want to reduce future major crime before it happens, they should address more thoroughly the minor crimes as they occur: the broken windows and graffiti.  New York City implemented this notion and major crime was indeed reduced.  Politicians wanted to reduce major crime even more, so they implemented further and further tweaks to their policies, incrementally reducing major crime along the way, and voila! they arrived at stop and frisk.  Never mind that it operates at right angles to the legitimate power of government in this constitutional republic, and imposed a police-state.  Right became wrong.

Right becoming wrong played a significant role in this last election cycle, as well.  Donald Trump won, as I knew — and said [ref: "None of the Above"] — he would.  A number of others including, interestingly, the moron Michael Moore, "had a feeling", and several trend-watchers predicted the outcome based on "enthusiasm" and other non-quantifiables.  But the pollsters, almost to a bean-counter, missed and they missed wide left.

This makes the second time in a year that, worldwide, pollsters got reproved by the reality they don't fully understand how to measure.  European pollsters declared that British voters would vote overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union; they did not … overwhelmingly.  And US pollsters declared that Hillary Clinton would occupy the White House with ex-President and First Philander Bill.  And they shall not.  Considering where the polls predicted we would end up and the reality that arrived in its place, the pollsters missed by a significant double-digit margin.

I previously hinted at why and how this occurred: a significant portion of those who ended up voting for Trump in the primaries were discounted by pollsters as "not likely to vote".  That was the biggest reason that Trump came in ahead of the standard republican party selections in defiance of the polls.

Opinion research polling is a major sub-discipline in the field of sociology; sociology is what I did in grad school.  Analyzing and quantifying the results of polls was a large part of the practical course work involved; the impractical course work was mainly given over to learning how to construct arguments as to why reality is wrong when it differs from sociological theory.   Despite refusing — outspokenly — to supplant reality with sociological theory, I maintained a straight-A GPA.

Among the knowledge I carried away from grad school was how pollsters determine who is likely to vote and who isn't.  If anyone has answered the phone from August to early November in an election year and answered twenty minutes of questions from a bored mumble-mouth making minimum wage, you will probably recall that after all the questions relating to the candidates, the issues, their relative importance to you, how likely you are to vote and when was the last time you did vote, you were given a final series of questions, "…and now for statistical purposes, what is your age, your race, your gender, how much money does your household bring in before taxes, and do you consider yourself to be republican, democrat or independent."

The answers to these last questions are used to calculate — along with "how likely are you to vote", and "when was the last time you voted" — whether the pollster will throw away your responses or add them to the final tally they publish.  For better or worse, those over the age of 30-35, whites, males, middle class who have a history of consistently voting are going to be most likely to vote this time.  Those who are younger, or non-white, or female, or poverty class, or super-rich, or do not consistently vote, you are less likely to vote this time.  Furthermore, depending on several topical factors, being democrat or republican alters the equation, and independents are always less likely to vote.  How much less likely is the relevant question.

Donald Trump consistently outperformed his polls in the primaries.  And I explained why.  The republican party has operated for the last generation in a manner dedicated to spurning a large and growing portion of its historic voter base — the fiscal conservatives — in favor of the minority ideologue religious tight-asses.  Fiscal conservancy deplores "free trade" bargains that benefit other nations and ends up selling US jobs to second- and third-world countries; allowing foreigners to come to the US illegally and siphon any amount of US government largesse provided by taxpayers or [most likely] China, who will one day demand to collect on our debt to it; and tax policies that incentivize US companies to move to second- and third-world countries so they might, then, be able to profit from our "free trade" agreements that screw the American pooch.

These issues are what Trump spoke to, and the fiscal conservative republicans who vacated the republican party since the mid-80s heard him and came back in the primaries to vote for him ending, sometimes, decades of voting drought.  But the pollsters, upon learning that the guy they were polling hadn't voted since 1992, or even 2000, threw away the response which read, "I am voting for Trump because he wants to allow me to get my decent job back; he wants to stop selling my job to India; he wants to stop my company from moving to Mexico."  Trump voters were underrepresented in the results of the polls —by design, but not out of malice or political imperative.  And because large wads of inconsistent voters voted in the primaries, Trump outperformed his numbers.

Trump outperformed his numbers in the general election as well, and inconsistent voters voting were a small part of the reason for it.  The bigger, and probably the biggest, reason is, like the Brexit vote in the UK, explained by one of the undergrad exercises Sociology Departments undertake at — I've got to believe — every college and university in the world.

I wasn't in the undergrad program so I never got to participate in the exercise, but I got to hear all about it in my graduate seminars when we discussed the pitfalls and pratfalls of public opinion measurement.  During one of the many university festivals taking place each year, the Sociology Department set up — under the cover of a fictitious ethnic or cultural diversity program — a food stand that gave away an unlikely sample of street food from a foreign culture.  In the exercise that I got to hear about, the street food was Laotian or Cambodian, and they gave away two sample of ethnic food: a mini pork kabob, or a mini dog kabob.  Each customer was allowed to pick just one.

Those who lined up for the free food were funneled in at one end, and had to funnel out at the other.  In between, they were regaled by carefully choreographed protests of animal cruelty staged by other members of the Sociology Department who were not working the kabob-stand.  Sometimes the staged protests were joined by other students, unaware that it was a con.  And of course the University administration — who were well aware of the entire production — received many complaints about the group of animal abusers serving dog meat.  The University would dismiss them, saying "Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we will look into it."

But there was nothing to look into; it was all pork grilled on a hibachi.  It didn't matter if you asked for the free pork kabob or the free dog kabob: you got pork.  Those giving away the kabobs kept track of how many of each they handed out.  It was after you got your free food — and they gave away a lot of free food; these were college students on a budget — and you were funneling out the far end of the free food stand, where the sociological experiment reached its conclusion.  You were asked one question and one question only, right in front of the carefully choreographed protesters: did you get the pork or the dog?  …and you had to answer the question or else they'd hold you up and not let you out.

Ninety-five percent of those who went in for free food reported getting the pork.

However, twenty-five percent of the food given away was dog.

…which means that four out of five people getting the free dog kabob lied about it.

Why would people lie?  Apart from having masses of presumptuous ideologues screaming in their ears about how horrible they are for the choices they make, even if the screaming is staged … I can't think of a single reason.

But that brings us back to the inaccurate polls and the Trump victory: being told you're racist when all you want is to not lose your job to China; being told you're a homophobe when you don't want to have your tax dollars being handed — in any amount — to people who refuse to follow immigration laws in coming here when you do your damnedest to be law-abiding; being told you're islamophobic when you don't want your company to move to Mexico and take your job with it; being informed by the smug and sanctimonious that you are deplorable and bigoted for wanting to provide for yourself and your family and be left alone to do it … is not simply presumptuous, factually insupportable, and serves no purpose apart from stoking the self-righteous egos of the faux-pious who make those assertions.  It gets in the way of understanding what people in a democratic society want, need and expect from that democratic society, and the government which runs it … as measured by the pollsters who try to find it out.

If a democratic society refuses to understand what its people want, need and expect because sneering contempt and demonizing denunciation masks those wants, needs and expectations, it will cease being democratic.   Crack a history book.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


©2016  Ross Williams

One of the best parts of being a libertarian is that I can observe democrats and republicans and criticize both without having anyone be able to level charges of partisanship upon me; they still do, but it's not supportable.  When I criticize republicans it's not because I am a reflexive democrat lashing out; it's because republicans are doing something worthy of criticism.  When I criticize democrats it's not because I'm a knee-jerk republican with a jerky knee; it's  because democrats deserve being kicked.

Around sixty million Americans voted for Donald Trump, whom I've been calling Donnie Combover since early in 2016, and who I may start calling Prez Cheeto due to a comical internet meme I ran across this week.  In this picture, our recent presidents were depicted as six saltine crackers, an oreo, and a cheeto.  It was a deliciously racist swipe that covered all bases, and it leaves me wondering what's next.  My money's on a gummi worm.

But now that we mention racism, of the sixty million Americans who voted for Trump, every single one of them has been called a racist.  This is because democrats by and large do not know how to engage in meaningful public discourse with anyone who disagrees with them, and they resort to silencing dissent before it occurs by branding critics as unworthy of holding valid viewpoints; no discussion is necessary.  …which is the essence of the prejudice and bigotry that they are railing against.

Even so, there are indeed racists who voted for Trump, just as there are racists who voted for Clinton.  Sexists as well.  How many women — Lena Dunham — declared that a woman must vote for Clinton because she's a woman?  That's sexism.  And there were millions more women voting for Clinton because she's a woman than men who refused to vote for her ditto.

It's now the first weekend after the election, right when the democrats feared an uprising of racist attacks against innocent, peace-loving, love-loving, love-trumps-hate vomiting democrats.  And there are indeed reports of this.  Hundreds from across the country.  Notwithstanding that all but a few dozen have been shown to be hoaxes or events from months or even years ago being regurgitated today as current events — as if the Trump Train travels effortlessly through time — there's still the matter of the nearly sixty million racist Trump voters [less the two dozen or so verified activists] who are not doing their part.  They're either not racist, or least no more racist than democrats, or they're lazy.

And frankly, lazy is not a viable criticism of those who vote republican.  Say what else you like, you might be correct.  But they tend to hold jobs.

Even so, of the dozens of actual, verifiable incidents with racist overtones perpetrated by assumed Trump supporters occurring since the election, only three [thus far, in my browse of news sites] involve violence of any form, all of it excessively minor and all individualized.  The rest are incidents where someone said or wrote something that is rude and impolite. …like "all Trump voters are racists."  …or "half of all Trump supporters are deplorable."  Things like that, but going the other way.

Once again, I feel I should remind people that I'm a libertarian.  Liberty means, in part, being able to say and write what you want, even if what you want to say or write is undiluted assholery.   …like "all Trump voters are racists."  A few dozen racist idiots driving around college campuses full of weepy, larval democrats shouting gloating taunts through bullhorns can, accurately, be described as assholery.  But in a free country, assholes are the price of freedom.

Yes, it's bigotry and prejudice, but it's no more bigoted and prejudicial than the actions of the few tens of thousands of anti-cheeto idiots doing, essentially, the same thing.  I say "essentially".  That means there are pertinent distinctions between the two groups of assholes.  Distinctions which I shall point out.

Assholes using free speech upon self-pitying democrats did so exclusively by taking the message to the target, putting themselves at risk in doing so.  One such asshole was dragged from his car and fairly severely beaten for his efforts. 

Assholes using free speech upon President Cheeto and his voters, on the other hand, usually did not talk to their target.  Yes, there were several hundred who formed a human centipede around various Trump Towers in major cities, but most of the meemies did their screaming in Portland Oregon and Oakland California, and other safe spaces where republicans are virtually nonexistent.  When a staple of your political philosophy is the procedural  obliteration of the Second Amendment, and the people you are shouting slanderous comments toward do not subscribe to compulsory disarmament, why take unnecessary chances?

And they did not limit themselves to screaming.  In Oakland they set fires by throwing gasoline bombs, toppling cars, breaking store windows and … hey, since the windows are broken, let's not waste the opportunity.  Nothing says we're against greedy corporate bastards elected president who we've labeled as automatically racist like fulfilling racial stereotypes and looting everything you can stuff in your pockets or otherwise carry away.

In Portland, they threw rocks and bottles, and at least one trash can, at cops [hitting none, sadly but not unexpectedly], smashed dozens of windshields in nearby parking lots and one vehicle being driven by a woman caught in the middle of it all who was trying to get to "an emergency" of unspecified significance.  But they did all this while shouting "peaceful protest!!", so that makes it all right.  Apparently.

Not content with inarticulate rioting and mayhem, the political philosophy given over to sensitivity, inclusion and an end to school bullying beat a California high school student for having posted pro-Trump comments online.  It was a girl who was beaten.  By another girl.  One was black, the other white.  I'll give you less-than-even odds at placing them.  The attack was recorded — for posterity, undoubtedly — by a friend of the attacker.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the standard disposition of in-school assault in this affluent California school district is expulsion.  But given the circumstances, "officials" are looking to make this a "teaching moment" by instructing the victim of the assault on the motivations her attacker had in committing assault and battery.  And if this sensitivity training is anything like the rest, the victim will be required to attend, and will be compelled to acknowledge fault and responsibility when it's over, and then promise to never do it again.  Failure to do these will result in punishment.

In a similar vein, my wife reported, on Wednesday evening, that a number of her friends from high school she keeps in touch with online have children that just couldn't bear going to school that day, out of fear.  I initially thought they were the children of tear-stained democrats taught by their schools and/or parents to be irrationally paranoid, but now I must conclude them to be Trump supporters presciently wary of the children of irrationally paranoid democrats.

These are exaggerated examples of the same infantile behavior seen nationwide, most notably, at Yale University.  The election coincided with their midterms, and one economics professor made the exam optional for those students so traumatized by learning they were in the electoral minority that they couldn't get out of bed and stop crying.  Because, as so eloquently stated in 2008 by the new president we acquired then, elections have participation trophies that convey equal power and privilege to the loser.  Or something along those lines.  Which is why we saw millions of bawling, blubbering sick-calls in to the office on the first Wednesday in November of both '08 and '12, made by republicans who couldn't bear to face the day when their guy lost the election.

Except we didn't.  The only million moron march visible today is populated by democrats.  In 2013, after Elizabeth 'Pocahontas' Warren successfully ran for US Senator in Massachusetts, she complained that the system was rigged against outsiders in favor of insiders and incumbents — a well-known and accurate pan-historical reality of all politics built on democracy.  She was right, for possibly the first and absolutely the last time in her life.  Earlier in 2016, Donald 'Cheeto' Trump made the same claim, and millions of democrats, led by Pocahontas Warren, circled around him and claimed he was an outlaw unwilling to accept the results of the election that was indisputably going to be decided in favor of Hillary 'Medusa' Clinton — the insider and [proving that once is not enough] incumbent-once-removed.

Fast forward to early this morning, and the online petition demanding that the Electoral College abandon its Constitutional presumptions and elect, instead, the Former First Lady Macbeth has exceeded two million signatures.  One-in-thirty of those who voted democrat are declaring that they are not content being assholes about the election, or even moved to violence by the election, or simply driven to puerile catatonia by the election.  One-in-thirty democrats are declaring they cannot accept the results of the election.

Democrats make a number of assertions about those who are not democrats.  Yet every sin they accuse others of perpetrating are committed, first and primarily, by democrats themselves.  Projection apparently serves democrats in the place of introspection and self-awareness.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

One Oh Eight

The One-Oh-Eight That Nearly Wasn't
©2016  Ross Williams

I seriously don't have what it takes to be a decent manager of a decent baseball team.  I'm far too temperamental.  I'm far too easily provoked.  I'm far too intolerant of pitchers who can't find the strike zone, hitters who don't recognize pitches that are outside the strike zone when they flail at the plate, and umpires who refuse to call the strike zone as defined by the rulebook.  Ask my wife.

The most common phrases heard at my house — and for several hundred yards around it —during baseball season are "Throw the goddam ball over the goddam plate!  The plate is the white thing laying on the ground!!"  "What in the hell are you swinging at?!"  And … well, let's just say I exercise the hell out of the profane sections of my vocabulary when I scream at umpires.  I would do the same from the dugout and probably all over the field if I were a manager.

I am cut from the mold of Earl Weaver and Lou Piniella, so it's not simply loud profanities which would be all flying over the field.  Bats, balls, bases, helmets, clipboards …  Umpires who refused to do their job at enforcing the rulebook as written in preference to their own inept comprehension of it would be particularly at risk.  Clue, boys: knees to nipples over the plate.  If you can't see a pitch and project the spatial geometry of the strike zone in relation to it, then perhaps a bat to the back of your skull would help.  Frankly, it couldn't hurt.

There'd be only a handful of umpires left standing at the end of a season with me as a manager.  But for some reason, demanding that umpires follow the rules they are there to impose on others is considered bad form.  I wouldn't last a season, but I'd make a mark — not to mention a few dents — and be entertaining as hell.

I'd probably also inspire open revolt among the players under me.  For some other reason, players paid multiple millions of dollars to consistently throw a ball through an invisible rectangle suspended above a white pentangle, or hit a ball thrown through same, or hit the cutoff man, et cetera, don't like being screamed at because they cannot consistently do what they are being paid multiple millions of dollars to do.  And — after all — it ain't my manager's money they are being paid under false pretenses, is it?

So to anyone wanting to bitch and whine at me because I think I know so much more than managers that I can do their job for them, you can keep it to yourselves.  I've already conceded that I don't.

But I'm a Cubs fan.  Have been since I was 7 years old in '68 and I went to my first real baseball game at Wrigley.  The Cubs lost — to the Giants, I recall.  As a Cubs fan I'm used to having the rug pulled out from under me.  Sixty-nine was a vague blur in my childhood.  Eighty-four was appalling, losing to a clearly inferior Padres team due to panicked ineptitude.  But if the inferior Padres could take the pennant in '84, the Cubs could take it in '89 from the superior Giants — the only team I actually loathe.  Nope; couldn't.  Ninety-eight was a Cinderella dance.  But '03 … more panicked ineptitude.  Oh-four, the bloom was off the rose and they were simply not as good.  Oh-seven and -eight, the superior Cubs lost to inferior others due, in no small part, to astoundingly inept umpiring that should have resulted in occipital contusions bearing the "Louisville Slugger" imprint, — and would have had I been in a position to accomplish it.

Twenty-fifteen was a really good team finding its feet.  They made a pathetic showing against the inferior Mets in the Pennant series, and I refused to watch any of the games after the first two inning of game one, simply because I didn't need the aggravation it would cause.  They can lose without me, I told my wife who, gamely, put up with watching them on TV.  And lose they did.  She'd come to bed and jostle me awake; I'd ask how bad it was, she'd tell me.  We'd go to sleep.

Twenty-sixteen, however, was The Year.  They were clearly the superior team in all of baseball, even — arguably — in historical comparison.  They had the pitching, they had the hitting, and they had the nerve to generally ignore the panic that sets in during pivotal games and the crucial times within them.  And that is the consequence, in truly major fashion, of the not-me-like manager they have: Joe Maddon.

"Trust your guys" is what Maddon preaches.  For 161 games of the regular season [one was rained out and not rescheduled], for 4 games in the division series [bad name for the first round] and 6 games of the Pennant series, he practiced that philosophy.  Hell, even for the first five games of the World Series, "Trust your guys" was going strong.  Even when they got shut out 1-0 by a third-rate starter who, by all accounts, should have given up four runs for every six he pitched against the hitting the Cubs have.

The Cubs were down three games to one going into the final World Series game at Wrigley, where they'd dropped two straight in pathetic fashion.  Maddon, trusting his guys, led them to win game 5 by a score of 3-2.  Back to Cleveland.  And Maddon stopped trusting his guys.  He indicated a single-minded devotion to the pitching tandem of Arrieta and Chapman prior to the game, apparently forgetting that he'd used Chapman — a one-inning guy — for two and a third in game 5. 

Arrieta was spectacular in game 6 — the hitting was even better; he pitched into the seventh and had two on with two out and looked to be running out of steam.  In the Six Degrees of Separation game, we stand at 3 with Jake Arrieta: he is the cousin of the wife of our Orkin guy.  With Arrieta limping to get out of the seventh and with a 5-run lead, Maddon had an entire bullpen at his disposal, some of which hadn't seen action in the Series, and most of whom had seen very little.  Any one of them is capable of getting one out and possibly pitching until ineffectiveness in the 8th or 9th inning in order to save bullets for the now-virtually-inevitable Game Seven.

But no.  Maddon's single-minded devotion to Arrieta/Chapman, despite a 5-run lead, was not about to change.  Circumstances be damned.  The fact that he'd just used his one-inning guy in three innings two days before, and had a well-rested bullpen besides, didn't alter that.  Arrieta, then Chapman.  "Trust"?  Pfffsh!

So in comes Chapman — the one-inning guy — to pitch his fourth and fifth innings in three days.  He starts leaking, exactly as I knew would happen.  "Maddon is trying to 'cute' his way to disaster" is how I described it — fairly loudly — on my way upstairs to seethe in front of the mlb.com version of the game and spare my wife the profanity of me being in the same room.  The first step of the three-step plan to lose the series by overthinking it.

An inning later the Cubs added two and the Indians added one and the final score was 9-3.  It was a blowout that had not needed the closer to do more than emerge from the dugout at the end and high-five the team coming off the field.  Yet he had pitched another inning and a third, spanning two innings.  I was glad the Cubs were going to Game Seven, but fearful of the consequences if it wasn't another blowout and the one-inning closer was actually needed for his role.

The scuttlebutt prior to the final game of the Series was Maddon's selection of Hendricks/Lester/Chapman as his preselected pitchers.  I immediately got chills. 

The Cubs were up 5-1 in the bottom of the 5th, and Hendricks walked a guy with two out.  Never mind that ball 3 was a grooved change-up that an umpire who knew the strike-zone would have called for the final out of the inning.  A feeling of dread came over me as Maddon emerged from the dugout.  "Give him five, give him five…" I muttered at the TV.  "He's doing great."

Discussion on the mound, all too brief.  Dread turned to nausea.  "He's one out from qualifying!  There's a four-run lead!!" I screamed.  Maddon took the ball, he signaled for the lefty.  I felt ill.  Step two of the three step plan to lose the series by overthinking.  I stomped upstairs to fume in front of mlb.com.  Is this how you trust your guys, Joe?

Sure enough, Lester — despite being the legitimate ace that he is, but unused to relieving and cold in what would be his between-start side-session day — allowed another runner on a twenty-foot dribbler that Grandpa Ross, now in as the personal catcher for Jon, yanked down the right field line.  Two outs and runners on second and third.  For godsake, if that's what you wanted, Hendricks could have done that!!  Then came the wild pitch that managed to get thrown, oh, all of 45 feet before it plowed into the turf and caromed like a pinball behind home plate.  Two runs — yes, two — scored on that monumental  ineptitude.

Jon Lester got the third out, settled in to pitch three full and — the end of the fifth notwithstanding — otherwise good innings, Ross hit his career-ending homerun in his first at-bat.   I came back downstairs to watch the game on TV.  The Cubs were up 6-3 in the 8th when Lester — on his off-day — wore out.  Apparently he wore out, anyway … he gave up a two out grounder that went for an infield hit.  I say "apparently" because, as with Hendricks in the 5th, Lester was one out from pushing it to the next inning  and was, despite having a runner on, doing quite well.

Maddon emerged from the dugout.  I immediately felt ill.  Step three of the three-step plan to blow the series by overthinking.  He's going to bring in Chapman — the one-inning guy who's thrown three and two-thirds over the last three days, spanning five innings.  I was incoherent in rage.  "Trust your guys"???  Even my normally placid wife was up and pacing in what passes for disgust in her cool demeanor.  "He's getting too cute," she muttered.  I grabbed a melatonin from the cupboard because otherwise I'd be too agitated to sleep for the next several days; I stomped upstairs, and caught, on mlb.com, Chapman giving up Lester's base runner, and then a two-run homer to tie the game.  Exactly what I expected out of a one-inning guy who'd been used four times too much over the past three days. …when the rest of the bullpen had been used not-at-all.

I stomped and shouted, livid, watching as once again the rug was being pulled out from under me.  They can lose without me.  Thank you, Joe, for trusting your guys.  It could have been a 6-3 game into the 9th by letting Lester finish the 8th.  It could have been 5-1, with Hendricks getting the resume- and confidence-padder of a World Series victory if you'd have waited another out before pulling the starter.  Several relievers could have gotten a jolt out of throwing a few pitches if they'd been called on in the game-6 blow-out, and who knows, you might have discovered a thing or two about some of them.

I went to bed.  With a melatonin in me and being emotionally drained, I fell asleep.  At some point my wife came in the room.  "Are they done losing?" I asked.  She looked annoyed but didn't say anything.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Some time later I was awoken from fitful dreams of unlikely alternate and heroic endings to Game Seven by a piercing "WHOOOOO HOO!" coming from downstairs.  I stumbled down the steps to see on TV the Cubs players crawling all over each other in the middle of the diamond.  "What the hell happened?" I asked, still two-thirds asleep.  My wife was misty-eyed and couldn't speak.  I heard the insufferable Joe Buck prattling away saying who-knows- [and who-cares-] what, and watched a slow-motion replay of Kris Bryant grabbing a grounder, heaving it and sprawling, and then Anthony Rizzo bounding into the air.  I saw the final score — 8-7.  Cubs.

No shit?

The Cubs won despite the distrust shown in them over the last two games by the guy who manages by trusting his guys.  I'll be damned.  As it turns out, the bullpen needed to be used after all, the rest of the guys needed to be trusted, and they pulled it out.  We rewound the DVR by a full inning.

You needed to trust your philosophy, Joe.  You needed to trust your guys.  It didn't need to be this difficult.  You're the better manager and I shouldn't need to remind you of this.  Don't let it happen again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

None Of The Above

None Of The Above
©2016  Ross Williams

The presidential election of 2012 had almost 80 million votes cast, divided across the two major party candidates and the scads of third party nebishes.  This may seem like a lot of voters, but in a nation which has nearly 300 million voting-age citizens, it's just over 25%.

After it was over, the republican party did their best impression of a self-pitying, petulant teenager lamenting why so many registered republican voters didn't show up to vote for Romney.  Those missing voters said, "You gave us the candidate you wanted but we didn't."  The republican party scoffed, "Of course you wanted him.  We picked him out just for you."

The republican party has lost ten million voters since the coronation of King Barry Hussein in '08, for one primary reason: republican voters have given republicans a majority in Congress in every election cycle since Barry took the leather chair for the purpose of stopping his top-down imperial authoritarianism, and the republican majority in Congress never even tried.

The republican party establishment kept whining, "but he'll only use a veto to negate it and we don't have the votes to override."

Not the point, you flatulent jackasses.  You didn't even TRY.  The more time Congress spends passing bills heading to a veto, the less time Congress would have had to dither and concede on Barry Hussein's other poisonous legislation, and it would at least have slowed his megalomania down some.  There's a strategy to effective controlled retreat as any decent book on military doctrine could tell you.

The republican party has furthermore lost thirty million voters between the Reagan re-election and the Barry Hussein coronation, due entirely to the republican party being slowly swallowed by religious tight-assery.  During the election of 1980, Reagan was endorsed by a fledgling grassroots political outfit calling themselves — ironically enough —the Moral Majority.  Reagan, who was running against the bumbling moron Jimmuh Cahtuh in '80 didn't exactly need the Moral Majority's help, but what the heck.

The Moral Majority's founder, Jerry Falwell, was a common fixture in the Reagan White House during that first term.  In 1984 Reagan was re-elected and Reagan, who never had a real need for self-righteous blowhards, stopped taking Falwell's phone calls.

Falwell reacted exactly like the self-important simpleton he was, and insinuated his political movement into the republican party and slowly, line by line, reworked the republican party platform from a conservative position into a religious tight-ass position.  Many believe the Moral Majority dissolved in the late 80s or early 90s, but it didn't.  Like ACORN, it simply rebranded itself into many smaller groups all holding the same "personal is political" perspective, and all working to obliterate republican conservatism and replace it with religious tight-assery.

Interestingly enough, in a "black is the new white" and "up is the new down" manner,  the republican party platform is still called "conservative".  Political conservatism, however, means fiscal restraint.  Classical conservatism was just as likely to abuse the constitutional limitation of government power on social feel-good legislation [and significantly more likely, in fact] than its democrat contemporaries, but only to the degree the money to pay for it existed in cold, hard cash — and conservatives weren't willing to raise taxes in order to get more cash.  Many republicans of the classical conservative era were famously liberal.  Nixon and Rockefeller come to mind.

A breed of democrat called "pay-as-you-go" felt largely the same way: abuse government power any way you want, but don't spend more money than you have in your pocket.  Republicans and pay-as-you-go democrats grew up during the Depression.

A second breed of democrat who came to age after the war were called tax-and-spend liberals.  Their political ambitions were to abuse government power in much the same ways as conservative republicans and pay-as-you-go democrats, but they felt limiting the abusive government to the amount of cash on hand was a stupid limitation.  They wanted to raise taxes, and not simply raise taxes, but borrow as much money as they could possibly borrow, even if they had to accept usury rates to do it.  And usury rates it was.

Which led us to Carter and his famous Misery Index which he largely brought upon himself by being an insufferable boob.  Carter's boobery then led to Reagan, which led to the Moral Majority endorsing Reagan.   Reagan's indifference to theogogues  led to him dumping the Moral Majority in '85 like a cheap hooker, which led to the cheap hooker infecting the republican party platform with self-righteous religious tight-assery and completely redefining what it means to be conservative.

And because the republican party has spent the bulk of its domestic efforts between 1985 and the coronation of Barry Hussein in a [thankfully] unsuccessful attempt to rework the US into a quasi-theocracy, spending as much money as possible in order to ensure that the nation is made constipated, another 30 million republican voters, in that nearly three decades, have quietly and disgustedly exited the party through the back door.

There are forty million ex-republicans simmering and steaming on the sidelines, having avoided the voting booth for five, ten, thirty years, saddened by what their party has turned into and sickened by how their party refuses to act in the interest of those who continue to vote for it.  And then along comes Trump, who does well in early primaries.  This surprises many long-time political observers, in the republican party and otherwise, only proving that — for observers — they are surprisingly unobservant.

Republican party leaders wet their panties, "He's in the Clinton's social circle and has donated millions to democrats!!  He's really a democrat!"  And republicans have spent the entire Obama administration caving in to every move the democrats made, and refusing to put up even token resistance when they were given Congressional majorities in both houses; for all practical purposes they are democrats, too.

The republican party leaders stammer, "But … but … but …Trump isn't even conservative!"  And this is meant to dissuade how many of the forty million voters the republican party spurned over the last three decades, most of whom left because the party completely redefined conservatism?  I see zero.  If the republican establishment was attempting to convince zero of their ex-voters to come back and not vote for Trump but vote, instead, for any of the gaggle of troglodytic candidates put up by the party this time around, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

So far, the republicans haven't made a single argument as to why Trump shouldn't collect the most votes in republican primaries.  Let's see if the democrats can do any better in positioning themselves for the general election.

Democrats scoff, "Trump is a fascist!  He is an authoritarian fascist!!"  Well, … he is a democrat, after all, so that would stand to reason.  You don't enforce Obamacare, for example, without massive police-state apparatus using layer upon layer of bureaucratic imposition.

Democrats sneer, "Trump is only a reality TV celebrity!!"  Exactly the same type of celebrity that democrats turn to when they need to know what kind of political policies to chase after.

Democrats mock, "Trump is a racist!!  He wants to build a wall to keep immigrants out!!"  First, it's to keep illegal immigrants out, and Barry Hussein's administration has made the eVerify program mandatory  for all employers, not simply defense contractors, in order to prevent those same illegal immigrants from getting jobs once they get here.

Democrats chide, "…and Trump isn't even a real businessman.  He's had a dozen [of his hundreds] of businesses go bankrupt!"  And each and every government agency, operating thousands of government programs, are all and invariably bankrupt, not the least of which are the myriad social programs that all the illegal immigrants — after being unable to get jobs because the racist eVerify program Barry Hussein made mandatory won't permit it — will pay to continue to live here illegally.

The presidential election of 2012 drew out only 80 million votes from the roughly 300 million possible voters in this country.  There's over 200 million non- or sometime-voters flying under everyone's radar.  These people don't like democrats; if they did they'd have voted for them.  They don't like republicans; if they did they'd have voted for them.

These rare voters get calls from pollsters asking about their current political opinions, but their opinions are thrown away because they come from individuals "unlikely to vote" and thus nobody knows what they think about the issues or the candidates.

Except, as we've seen, those unlikely to vote are exactly those who have been voting in the republican primaries.  There is no reason, at this point, to assume that won't also be the case in November, drawing tens of millions from the over 200 million reserve voters, most of whom don't like either party.

Millions of voters from the forty million ex-republicans have been voting for Trump in record numbers to punish the republican party for being arrogant and self-serving.  Trump is now the only one left capable of being the republican candidate in November.  Expect more tens of millions of sometime-voters to pull the lever for Trump to punish both parties for being arrogant and self-serving.

Trump is the personification of None Of The Above.  American voters have demanded this candidate for decades.  They will now have one on the ballot.

Trump, in a landslide, an embarrassing, mortifying landslide.  Two-thirds or more of the popular vote.

Oh, and ... what it will do to the country?  Why does it matter now?  Neither democrats nor republicans seemed to care what happened to the country when they were the ones doing it. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Help Wanted

Patsy Wanted for Immediate Blame
© 2016  Ross Williams

As more and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana possession and even licensing its sale, more and more people are asking when the United States will finally end its moronic War on Drugs.  The answer to that is trivially simple to anyone who even marginally understands the psychology of democratic government: government will end the War on Drugs when they find someone to blame for it.

A democratic government cannot and will not ever permit itself to be seen as the culprit for perpetrating and prolonging a grand stupidity, such as The War on Drugs, or the equally insipid War on Poverty.  A democratic government is installed by The People and The People possess far too little critical introspection to permit them to accept blame for large-scale insanity.  A scapegoat must be fitted — retro-fitted, to be accurate — into the yoke of blame.

As most can probably imagine, it's the job requirements for this patsy that are so difficult to fill.  A successful candidate must have a highly visible position.  The general public, too preoccupied [or dim] to understand the true nature of the problem, must be able to immediately recognize the scapegoat's connection without having it explained to them.  Ergo, no conspiracy theories need apply.

In The War on Drugs the players are the drug users, the street peddlers, and the drug cartels.  It would almost certainly have to be one of these which get the official blame for the War on Drugs.

A successful candidate must, furthermore, be a plausible bad guy, meeting the public's need for simple, straight-line blame-laying and without arousing too much public sympathy in the process.

In The War on Drugs, the drug users are far too sympathetic a group.  They are seen as victims.  They are the ones dying of overdoses, or incarcerated for a bazillion years by an inflexible system. The street peddlers are disproportionately black, ergo another victim class, and thus cannot be saddled with responsibility. And the drug cartels are foreign, usually hispanic from Central or South America when they aren't islamic from central Asia, and it would violate our current anti-jingoist sensibility to blame a non-American for an American problem.  Besides, hispanics and muslims are currently seen as victims of American imperialism [sic].

The government is undoubtedly looking, but hasn't found anyone to blame yet.  As soon as they do, the torches and pitchforks will come out of the closet and we'll have ourselves a good old-fashioned boogeyman hunt.

It's been done before.  Doubt me?  The Civil Rights Era was made possible only because government stupidity demanded it.

The entire fiasco was created by state governments in the post-Reconstruction south institutionalizing discrimination against blacks. It was mandatory under the law — the Jim Crow Law. If a white merchant was caught serving a black customer the white merchant would have his store burned to the ground and looted by government-inspired rowdies and thugs — and in the early days of Jim Crow it happened a lot. In many areas, black customers were just about all the customers there were, and serving black customers meant the difference between making a profit and going bankrupt.  Or, more correctly, it made the difference between having your store [and possibly your home] torched and going bankrupt.

These stupid state laws were rationalized by federal courts about a generation after they were created —  most notably Plessy/Ferguson and "separate but equal". Two generations after that we discovered that not only was this creating an economic problem, but a very very very large societal problem as well. So quick! Find someone to blame to take the heat off government stupidity.

And who did the government find to blame for government-imposed institutionalized racism in commerce? Why, the merchants, naturally. ...the merchants who were following the law to avoid being burned out of existence.  Merchants were an immediately recognized part of the equation, and because they were the ones required by law to discriminate, they were very easily made into the responsible party.

The next generation of laws the government gave us solidified this blame.  The new laws essentially declared: "Look at what you bigoted merchants did!  We leave you alone for one minute and you create a whole system of discriminatory commerce!"  …because Jim Crow laws were really, apparently, Jim Crow Business Model.  To be sure, some white merchants in the Jim Crow south wouldn't have needed a law to force them to refuse service to blacks, but most white merchants, judging by the number of merchants vandalized to obliteration for violating Jim Crow, would gladly have taken blacks' money even if they wouldn't have gladly taken blacks themselves.

We can see the results of this self-serving buck-passing today in the sturm und drang of gay marriage.  Among our nation's thousands of bakeries, photographers and florists are maybe two dozen individual shops operated by bigots who don't want to have anything to do with gay marriage to the point that they'll refuse money in exchange for their service.  Leaving aside the hypocrisy of their reasoning and the vacuity of their business acumen for a moment, and concentrating solely on the moronic reactions of the hyper-sensitive, it appears that the shift of blame away from government worked well in the minds [sic] of these overly sensitive simpletons.

You can't swing a dead cat today without hitting three gaggles of protesters all claiming that a single bakery in Oregon, or a single photographer in Colorado, or a single pizzeria in Indiana willing to voluntarily turn away business from a gay wedding is the exact same condition as a law mandating these businesses [not to mention their thousand of competitors] to deny service to the same gay wedding, and thus the equivalent of Jim Crow.  They will set their hair on fire screeching about the constitutional imposition of non-discrimination and "public accommodation", forgetting that the Constitution applies only to the government and that "public accommodation" is, like "god" and "christianity", not a phrase found in the document.

In any event, the only true "public accommodation" in this free country with citizens possessed of property rights is the government itself — the government is the only institution not permitted to discriminate; any citizen, or the business he operates, is supposed to be free to be whatever type of self-righteous bigot he chooses to be.  You may be a bigot about gay marriage and refuse to sell pizzas for a gay wedding reception, or you may, as I would, be a bigot about gay marriage bigots and refuse to patronize that pizzeria for friday night movie marathons.  Similarly, you may be a bigot about dirty old men under cover of "transgendering" being in the women's restroom, or you may, as Bruce Springsteen is, be a bigot about those anti-dirty-old-men bigots.  Yes … it would seem Bruce Springsteen is among the faux-sensitive fops who can look the other way when it comes to sexual predation and pederasty.  Who knew.

So, … government shifting the blame for its own stupidity onto others works well.  But do you need another example?  Fine.

How many people believe that health insurers are the ones responsible for the hyper-inflation of healthcare costs in this nation since the late 1960s?  The answer to that question is: most of them.

Why do they believe this?  The answer is: because government told them so.

And why is the government telling them so [stop me if you've heard this one]?

Health insurers aren't the ones who decided to start insuring non-insurable events.  It was the government which required them to.  At this point, the only people quibbling are going to be those who don't understand how insurance works, or those who are elected by them.

An insurable event is one that is very very expensive to fix while simultaneously being exceptionally rare.  Such events would include a tornado blowing your house into another county, wrapping your car around a telephone pole, or falling down the stairs and breaking 27 bones.  This is why you can insure a $250,000 house for $1,000 a year, or a $40,000 car for $750 a year, and why you used to be able to insure your catastrophic health issues [a generation ago] for $200 a year.

A non-insurable event would be everything else, and primarily consists of circumstances that are inexpensive to fix and common as dirt.  For example, why does homeowners insurance not cover plugged toilets or dirty furnace filters?  Because fixing a plugged toilet or changing a furnace filter is a very common event and they are very cheap to accomplish.  True, some people don't know how to [or physically cannot] do these things, and must hire a plumber or furnace repairman.  And yes, some people don't have the money to pay plumbers.  But that doesn't mean it isn't cheap.  Insuring these events would cost more than paying out-of-pocket.

Why does auto insurance not cover oil changes and windshield wiper replacement?  Same reason: they're cheap and common.  Insuring these events would cost more than paying out-of-pocket.  And over time, like, say, the course of one generation, the cost of an insured oil change would triple, while the cost of insuring the oil change would quadruple or more.

Now, why does health insurance cover doctor visits for the sniffles and childhood immunizations?  It didn't use to.  These are [or were, at any rate] very very cheap, and extremely common.  The reason they are covered is because the government required health insurance to cover these events.  The cost of insurance skyrocketed in order to have the money to pay for them, and doctors, having more insurance paperwork to fill out and send in, had to hire more staff and the cost of healthcare rose. …which caused the insurance companies to pay more to the doctor, which caused insurance companies to have to increase insurance premiums.

Then, because covering sniffles and vaccines worked so well, the government required health insurance to cover prescriptions and lab tests.  Health insurance costs rose to be able to pay for it all, doctors had to hire more staff to fill out more paperwork and the cost of going to the doctor increased.  And in order to cover the increased cost of going to the doctor the insurance companies had to increase premiums once again.

Repeat this every few years with new government requirements until health insurance is ungodly expensive, a $20 doctor visit costs $400, and the paperwork takes an hour to complete.  Then, — and who could have predicted this — when enough Americans are bankrupted by the expense of government intrusion into their healthcare, the government comes back and blames the insurance companies for creating the mess. 

Sound familiar?  At this point, the government, such noble good-guys that they are, promised to fix the problem of too many government requirements thrust upon health insurers by adding more requirements onto health insurers, and we got Obamacare.

Sadly, most Americans — even those who distrust government remediation — accept the government fantasy that health insurers did this all on their own.  And even more sadly, many  — including millions who lived through the generation-plus of government imposition into insurance coverage in the first place — fail to comprehend what even more imposition will lead to.  These imbeciles are truly confounded by the bankruptcy of nearly a third of the insurance companies after only five years of Obamacare, and are left with inventing conspiracy theories to explain it all. 

Yet another example of the government imposing stupidity on us and then blaming others for doing what they were told: the '08 financial meltdown.  Among the edicts given to the financial industry during the Clinton administration was the "everybody needs to be a homeowner" notion.  Credit be damned, and mortgage lenders who checked the credit ratings of potential borrowers too closely could be cited for discrimination by the alphabet soup of regulators and prohibited from lending money ... essentially forced out of business.

In other words, the government forced banks to stop determining if a new homeowner could actually repay a 30-year mortgage before they gave out the 30-year mortgage.  A decades-old practice of bundling up mortgages and selling them to other banks — all approved by the government, by the way — allowed the mortgage lender to dump unverified credit mortgages onto other financial institutions.  The bundles got bigger and bigger until only the biggest banks could buy them, and then when the credit-less homeowners started defaulting on their loans in large numbers, the whole house of cards collapsed.

Everyone who was conscious between early 2008 and yesterday afternoon knows the result: millions of homeowners got thrown out onto the street when their houses were repossessed by banks, and the government blamed the banks for it.  The government even invented a new crime called "predatory lending practices" to describe what the banks did while following the government's rules for making home loans.  The government then prosecuted many banks for "predatory lending practices", finding all guilty, and forcing several into liquidation.

Phwew!!  Dodged that bullet, dincha, Uncle Sam?

The US government taxes and regulates US manufacturing into moving to Mexico, and then blames the company when the jobs leave and go to Mexico.  And most Americans swallow it whole: yes, it's those evil corporations doing this all on their own.  The government gives tax breaks to other businesses to stay in the US [with their jobs] and then blames corporations for being greedy bastards who don't pay taxes.  And most Americans demonstrate once again that they have no gag reflex: yep, those vile CEOs in the one-percent.

The US government would dearly love to end the War on Drugs, but — darn the luck — there isn't anyone that idiot Americans would accept as a suitable scapegoat.  When they do … watch out.  Have a torch and pitchfork ready.  It's sure to be a hoot.