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.

Name:
Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I Know Why the Caged Libertarian Chirps

I Know Why the Caged Libertarian Chirps
©2017  Ross Williams



I receive far too many rations of shit from my fellow libertarians for pointing out things that President Cheeto is doing to further libertarianism.  Specifically, he is reducing government regulatory intrusion into business, he is calling out the corrupt and disingenuous press, and he is doing his damnedest to throw a monkey wrench – albeit incoherently at times [like, all the time] – into the unelected bureaucracy that actually runs everything political in this nation.  The Swamp, the Deep State, whatever you want to call it.

The rations of shit I receive go like this, “Yabbut, yabbut … he’s not a libertarian – you have no grounds to support him!”

I never claimed, nor have I ever implied, Donnie Combover to be a libertarian.  He is libertarian only to the degree that libertarian ideals are not inconsistent with his own priorities.  I’ve simply acknowledged that some of the things he’s doing are in our favor.  Until libertarians stop gazing into their navels and create a cogent, coherent political philosophy that deals with reality in a manner that large numbers of our fellow citizens can accept, the only way libertarians will get any part of their philosophy enacted is by such coincidence.  As long as Trump is doing those things that I – and we – favor, I will acknowledge that he’s doing them.  …as should every other libertarian, frankly.  Intellectual honesty counts for something.

The next ration of shit I am attempted to be force-fed is, “Yabbut, yabbut … he’s doing X, Y and Z that are very very anti-libertarian!!”

No kidding, and when the subjects of X, Y or Z come up – as they have many times – I will be found among the libertarians criticizing his policies or other efforts.  To be honest, I will criticize those efforts  substantially more intelligently than most other libertarians can muster, judging by what I’ve seen from fellow libertarians.  For I will criticize those policies, whether directly from him or from those in his administration, consistent with libertarian philosophy, and not from a position saturated with personal desire.

Case in point: the caterwauling over the directive given to federal prosecutors to advise mandatory minimum sentencing laws be invoked once more upon drug offenders.  We had just gone through an eight year hiatus from those laws under the Justice For Sale Barry Hussein administration.  I will say once again: the Attorney General does not have a legitimate luxury of picking and choosing which laws he will enforce, contrary to what Shyster Generals Holder and Lynch claimed.  The Executive branch is the law enforcer, not the law maker, nor the law reviewer.  If laws are stupid, then it is the legislature’s obligation to correct them.  If laws are unconstitutional, then it is the courts’ duty to nullify them.  I understand that mandatory minimums are stupid but, libertarians, please remember what political philosophy you claim to support.  Stop justifying a government that does what it wants despite the rules it must follow.

Besides which, because the nation is now beginning to wake up to the dual realities that mandatory minimums are stupid, and that drug prohibition in general – and marijuana specifically – is stupid AND not a legitimate federal power in the first place, the draconian enforcement of mandatory minimums on drug offenders may just push enough of our major-party fellow citizens out of their statist stupors to support a widespread correction of the matter.  But in the mean time, let’s pretend we’re better than idiot liberals.

It’s often at this point of the conversation that I point out that among the non-libertarians are both Ron and Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash.  They, also, are simply doing a few things that lie coincidentally in the direction of libertarian ideals.  These individuals are simply more libertarian than, say [and my apologies for once again picking on liberal democrats], Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Chuckles Schumer, John McCain, Lindsey Graham …

But libertarians they are not.  If Rand Paul were a libertarian, he would not continually sponsor tepid legislation that would permit the courts to ignore mandatory minimums if, like, no one had a problem with it, or anything.  He’d instead sponsor a law that would completely rescind mandatory minimums.  And he’d also sponsor legislation taking drug criminalization out of the hands of the federal government and its unelected DEA dictators.

Similarly, if Justin Amash were a libertarian he wouldn’t be playing into the hands of the Deep State swamp by enabling the swamp’s frantic histrionics over a political outsider threatening the Deep State’s unelected way of life.  Libertarians who are libertarian are noticing that “the appearance of impropriety” is suddenly an impeachable affront to our form of governance when it has never been before.

Libertarians who are not libertarian, though, are lauding Amash for having the principle to acknowledge that the corrupt FBI director being fired for being corrupt looks bad enough to be impeachable, so therefore it is.  It looks bad because the corrupt FBI director was in charge of the agency investigating the allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to swing the election to Trump.   It becomes “Obstruction of Justice” – i.e., inappropriately using the influence of the position of President to sway the activities of others.

Those investigations are continuing.  Firing Comey didn’t even provide a speed bump to them.  The “looks bad” argument is thus unsupportable.  No justice was obstructed there nor, by the looks of it, will it ever be.

Russia could not have swung the election by any illegal means in the first place.  Everyone with at least two brain cells to rub together in sentience understands this … which necessarily excludes most liberals.  The Deep State swamp understands this as well, but they’re too busy whipping up their insentient supporters to care.

For the record, the only two ways of illegally swaying an election are as follows:
1] Rig the vote-counting mechanisms so that 2+2=5 in Column A but 2+2=3 in Column B.  This did not happen; all precinct totals were tallied multiple times and – thanks to Jill Stein – tallied once again just to make sure.
AND
2] Create individual votes that do not belong, or alter individual votes after they have been cast.  Because the US no longer uses paper ballots, altering votes after they are cast is simply impossible.  But it is very possible to create votes that do not belong … by voting multiple times under false names, or in multiple locations.  I don’t think I need to remind anyone of which political party does not wish to have Voter ID laws to reduce the occurrence of improper voting…

No.  If Russia did anything, it was to serve as a conduit for, or even instigator of, political espionage that made internal democrat party data public. …data that made Hillary “Medusa” Clinton look like the manipulative, drunken, corrupt, vile-tempered shrew she is.  Data that pointed out who manipulated her own party’s primaries to the dismissal of the socialist twit Bernie “Trotsky” Sanders.  In other words, if Russia did anything at all, it did what a free and independent press would have done to the democrats, just as they had been doing to the republicans, were there a free and independent press in the United States to do it.  But of course there isn’t, because they are corrupt and disingenuous as all libertarians understand.

Nonetheless, the libertarian hero, Justin Amash, abets the corrupt and manipulative unelected Deep State swamp by signing onto their frantic hyperbolizing about the “looks” of impropriety.  And he is called principled for doing so.

Yet where was Amash during the Barry Hussein administration when Barry impropriously attempted to manipulate a federal court reviewing his Obamacare, by claiming that courts do not have the Constitutional authority to review legislation for constitutionality?  The answer is: he was in Congress saying nothing about it.  He was especially not saying that Barry Hussein’s infantile challenge to the federal courts was a bad looking attempt at Obstruction of Justice at least as onerous as Trump firing the corrupt and mealy-mouthed FBI director Comey.  Amash didn’t have principles at this point.

Where was Amash during the Barry Hussein administration when Barry created, and validated, a treaty with Iran to the exclusion of the Senate which is Constitutionally required to ratify all treaties prior to their validation?  The answer is: he was in Congress saying nothing about it.  He was specifically not saying that the Iran deal was a thorough subversion of the Constitution by power manipulation and thus comprised an actual threat to the republic.  Actual power manipulations are significantly greater than the mere appearance of power manipulation.  Amash didn’t have principles at this point either.

Where was Amash from the winter of 2015 to the late summer of 2016 when Medusa  was found with tens of thousands of emails from her days as Secretary of State sloughed off onto a private, unsecured computer server hidden in her bathroom, among which were hundreds of classified conversation threads and – significantly more damning – evidence that the Clinton Foundation was selling foreign policy considerations to the highest foreign bidder, to be delivered upon the election of Medusa as President?  Answer: he was in Congress saying nothing about it.  Still no principles to be found in Justin Amash.

Where was he when Medusa’s husband, Cuckold Bill, visited Barry Hussein’s second Shyster General, Loretta Lynch, who was in charge of investigating the mishandling of classified information by ex-government officials … to “talk about grandchildren”?   By coincidence, or not, it was immediately afterwards that any meaningful investigation into Medusa’s classified data problem and her sale of future US foreign policy was dropped onto the lap of the same corrupt FBI director Comey.  Amash was in Congress saying nothing about it.  Still no principles.

Where was he when the corrupt FBI director Comey invented a brand new caveat under the “mishandling of classified data” laws saying that even though Medusa did in fact violate the same laws that hundreds of normal people are in prison for violating, and thousands more have permanently lost their clearances and can never hold a job for the government again, somehow, because Medusa did not “intend” to violate the law, there was no prosecutable violation of the law?  He was in Congress saying nothing about it.  A continuation of no principles.

If Amash – not to mention his libertarian acolytes – wish to claim that holding our government officials’ feet to the fire in the face of appearance of impropriety is a libertarian principle, I will eagerly agree.  Government officials in a free society are required to be beyond reproach.   …whether they are elected, appointed, or hired … But Amash did not realize he had a principle on this subject until Trump fired the corrupt FBI director for being corrupt.

The sad fact of the matter is, there isn’t a government official whose actions are anything but reproachable.  This includes Amash, Massie, either of the Pauls – and certainly includes Trump, his imperious authoritarian predecessor, and his drunken, psychotic challenger.

But Amash doesn’t stand on principle, here.  He forfeited any claim to principle when he sat idly by during the reign of Barry Hussein silently watching the guy, and virtually everyone under him, abuse their power.  I do not accept that Amash suddenly found Mises and became a born-again libertarian.  Anyone who claims Amash is acting to further libertarian philosophy for any reason other than coincidence is delusional.  Amash is furthering libertarian ends only insofar as they are not inconsistent with his own priorities – which in this case is significantly more consistent with protecting the Deep State swamp.

Except for protecting the Deep State swamp, he’s not much different from Trump.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Law is Sometimes a Pain in the Ass

The Law is Sometimes a Pain in the Ass
©2017  Ross Williams



As military operations go, the one staged last week against Bashar al-Assad’s airbase which began the gas attack on the Syrian city of Homs was small potatoes.  It was smaller than small potatoes.  It was tater tots.  But you can’t convince some people of that.  They’re too busy with the cigarette lighter and gasoline trying to set their hair on fire.

To recap: Syria dropped sarin bombs on their own people in Homs, because the city is crawling with ISIS.  ISIS is busy trying to topple Bashar al-Assad’s government because the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr, wants all the land in the region for himself.  After all, the land is the ancestral home of Bakr’s tribe, and apart from Syria includes most of Iraq, parts of Jordan and slivers of Turkey, Saudi and Israel.  Two days after the chemical attack on Homs, the US launched an even 5 dozen cruise missiles at the airbase from which the Syrian bombers took off − one missile malfunctioned and fell into the sea. Since then, every ignorant screaming meemie in the world has been screeching their particular ignorance.

Those whose comprehension of world politics begins and ends with denouncing “neocons” are declaring that Trump is a crypto-neocon − just like they always knew he was, even [presumably] when he was a New York democrat.  This attack on Syria signals, to them, the new US intention of commandeering yet another nation in the Middle East for its oil, of which Syria has almost none.

On the flip side of this fantasy are the cheers of elation from a large group of Syrians who desperately hope it’s true.  There’s a reason Syria is stuck in the middle of a six-year civil war: Bashar al-Assad is a junior-grade megalomaniac and expert-level machiavellian asshole.  Syrians have been trying to get out of Syria for six years, and go somewhere, anywhere else − perhaps you’ve heard.  It’s not because Assad’s Syria is a paradise, even without a civil war romantically illuminating the night sky.

Happily for those who see neocons in every closet, and sadly for the Syrian outliers, Trump’s attack on the Syrian airbase was a direct response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons; nothing more and nothing less.  It doesn’t signal anything except that Syria violated International Law by using chemical weapons − again − and don’t do it any more.  The US attack is what Barry Hussein implied would happen almost four years ago, the first time Syria used chemical weapons.  [http://dblyelloline.blogspot.com/2013/09/just-do-it.html]

The world’s sympathy junkies, on the other hand, those who see all the atrocities committed by megalomaniacal, machiavellian assholes and bawl, “somebody needs to do somethi-hi-hi-hingggg” have gotten exactly what they have perpetually demanded …  and they don’t like it, nosir, not one little bit.  Personally, I plan to be surprised by their unsurprisingly inarticulate geopolitical hypocrisy when I have more time in my schedule; March of 2075 appears open.

Not to be outdone, at least one group of pseudo-libertarians posted a thoroughly moronic internet meme advertising that this group of libertarian is completely unaware of what is commonly considered the central theme of libertarianism.  They once again renounced the holy “non-aggression principle”.  The non-aggression principle − or NAP as it is usually short-handed in libertarian circles − is very simple in its theme: never, ever initiate force; the only legitimate use of force is in self-defense, or in the defense of others.

The pseudo-libertarian meme equivocated the US attack on the Syrian airbase − in defense of Syrian civilians from chemical weapons − to Clinton’s siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas.  It then suggested that Argentina would arbitrarily have been justified in attacking the US because of it.  One of my most consistent criticisms of libertarianism as it is smugly practiced by far too many is the libertarian willingness to cite the holy NAP right up until its principles would be acted on.  This has become utterly predictable and cliché, and serves only to support the claim that libertarians are poorly closeted pacifists unwilling to put their jealously protected Second Amendment where their big fat mouths are.

Either the non-aggression principle says what it means and means what it says, or it does not. If it does, then the only philosophically consistent libertarian position is that Trump was justified in attacking Syria for using chemical weapons against [mostly] defenseless Syrian civilians merely because ISIS forces were nearby.  Please note, being justified is not the same as being wise.  There are many valid arguments for the US attack being unwise.  The only problem for libertarians is that before one can make those arguments, one must first have a fairly solid grounding in International Law, foreign policy practicum, and military doctrine − all traits that are vanishingly rare among the pacifist, isolationist libertarians whose main talent seems to be quoting theory from the safe-space confines of their own navels.

On the other hand, if the non-aggression principle does not say what it means and means what it says, then it’s as useful as week-old fart gas, and should be dispensed with immediately.  I often suggest this option, considering how frequently and thoroughly the principle is abandoned by its pseudo-libertarian proponents when push comes to shove.

The one, unifying characteristic of all the flame-pated mopes surrounding this event, though, is the nearly complete non-comprehension of International Law.  Those parts of International Law which actually are understood are nearly universally misapplied. 

International Law, for those who do not know − which is, as I say, virtually everyone in my audience − does not consist of a library full of leather-bound law books stuffed with internationally-concocted statute from the wise statesmen embodying an international legislature.  There is no such legislature.  There are no such statutes.

International law is the accumulated body of treaties between nations, supposedly guiding how those nations interact with each other.  An action that is described as a “violation of International Law” is an action that abrogates one or more conditions of a treaty to which that nation is signatory.  Some treaties are private contracts between a small number of nations; other treaties are required to be joined by any nation wishing membership in the Old Boys Club of nation-statehood.  One such treaty is the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits − among other things − the use of chemical weapons on anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason.

Without going into the long and tedious history of the evolution and migration of International Law from its Treaty of Westphalia origins to yesterday afternoon, a short course on International Law relevant to this incident would be:
1] a civil war is no other nation’s business apart from the nation which is fighting it and its treaty partners;
2] killing civilians is only prohibited if done knowingly, deliberately, and with no pretense of having a military target; accidental or “collateral” civilian casualties are permitted;
3] the use of chemical weapons is always prohibited;
4] …I’ll get to number four after a few paragraphs.

For better or worse, the US is considered a treaty partner with Syria in fighting off the ISIS rebels in Syria’s civil war.  Our most recent ex-president finally realized he could not convert Syria’s two-sided civil war into a ménage a trios, and stopped attempting to create a group of “good rebels” to arm and fund.  All arms and funds the US had previously provided to the nonexistent “good rebels” went to the ISIS organization.  The US has a few thousand soldiers currently in Syria undertaking special operations against ISIS rebels.

The Russians, for what it’s worth, are also Syria’s treaty partner; Syria is and has been for generations, Russia’s client-state in the Middle East.

A current tactic of the ISIS rebels is to place a sniper on the roof of a Syrian apartment building, school, hospital [etc] and randomly shoot whoever is in range. The hamfisted Syrian and Russian military response to this has been to obliterate the entire building − typically full of Syrian civilians who don’t want to leave it for fear of being shot by the ISIS sniper.  The Syrians and Russians kill a lot of Syrian civilians this way.  This is rude and barbaric, but not a violation of International Law.  The US typically complains about it, but does nothing else.

Last week, the Syrians used chemical weapon bombs in place of conventional bombs against a similar target in the city of Homs.  The US complained about it and very broadly hinted that it would do something about it.  Two days later, it did.  It fired 60 cruise missiles at the airbase that housed the aircraft which staged the chemical attack.

Just like there is no international legislature which debates and legislates international law, there are no international cops with a sworn duty to run around the world arresting heads of state who give orders, field commanders who parcel out orders, and soldiers who carry out orders that violate International Law.  There are no international enforcers of International Law.

At this point, those willing to advertise their complete ignorance of foreign policy are going to say, “Yabbut… yabbut … what about the UN?  What is the UN doing about this?”

The answer is: exactly what the UN was designed for.  Bickering.  The UN was created specifically and deliberately to be a “deliberative body”.  The UN was created specifically and deliberately to have no enforcement mechanism or power.  The UN is for debate … argument … lecturing … posturing … preaching … pontificating … whining … wetting one’s panties on a world stage … demonstrating the quality craftsmanship of Russian shoemakers … but not being able to do one damned thing about any of it.

Yet many people want International Law to be enforced, and violators of International Law to be punished.  Without enforcement and punishment, what good is it?

Indeed.  That is a very good question.  It is answered by point number four of International Law relevant to this matter that I skipped earlier:
4] violation of a treaty provision is considered by International Law to be an Act of War against all other signatories to that treaty.

Enforcement of International Law and punishment for the violators is done, traditionally, by warfare.  An aggrieved nation uses its time, effort, money, international reputation, and the lives of its soldiers to compel other nations to abide by the terms of the treaties they share, and to militarily punish nations for breaking those terms.  If International Law is to be enforced, it will be done − ultimately − in exactly the way the US responded to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

Violations of treaties do not oblige military action, it simply legitimizes it.  There are countless violations of treaties every single day which are not rejoined by military force.  There are even many violations of treaties to which the US is among the aggrieved nations to which the US does not respond with military force. …and look no further than the current situation with North Korea. …or Iran.

In the absence of any nation willing to enforce treaties and the International Law they foster, treaties guiding the conduct of nations are pointless, and International Law is null and void.

If we want treaties against the use of chemical weapons, then nations must be willing to use war to punish nations which use those weapons.  If a nation is willing but the people of that nation demand the nation cease its attempts to compel others to comply with the treaty because doing so is rude and “imperialistic”, or the action of a “neocon”, then the nation may as well remove itself from that treaty and become a pariah nation existing outside the law … that no one is willing to enforce.  If no nations are willing, then the treaty against chemical weapons is useless and should be − just like the perpetually renounced holy NAP − dispensed with.

International Law is a noble idealism, but it relies on base, crude violence to make it work.  How important is International Law to everyone?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Follyswaddling Healthcare

Follyswaddling Healthcare
— or —
How to Abandon Libertarianism in One Intemperate Moment of Political Insecurity
©2017  Ross Williams



I'm going to remind libertarians of many thing they already know, but generally forget they know when it comes to the idiotic national conversation we've had about healthcare in the last decade.

First, rights are not what the government gives out to its citizens; rights are what the government — in our nation, with our definition of governance — is required to protect.  That is the sole government responsibility regarding rights.  What the government gives out to citizens are called entitlements, and the list of entitlements the US Constitution authorizes our government to dispense are as follows:
1. not a damned thing;
2. the list ended three bullet-points ago.

Second, rights are free for the taking, but they are certainly not free.  They are simply what the government leaves the citizen alone to acquire for himself, to the degree the citizen wishes it, and has the capacity to acquire or make use of it.  The examples to illustrate this are infinite.  The First Amendment, for example, acknowledges a citizen's right to property.  But property does not appear out of thin air; it generally belongs to someone else first.  Does a citizen's right to property compel the current owner of the property to deed it over to the citizen who desires it?

Of course not; that is both stupid and confiscatory.  What the right to property permits is the current owner and the potential future owner to arrive at a mutually agreeable price and other terms under which the transfer of ownership shall be made.  The government isn't obliged to give anyone forty acres and a mule, nor to compel others to provide same.  If a citizen wants these things, the citizen is instructed to save his money and find someone who wishes to trade for it.

Third, rights include — essentially — everything that isn't nailed down.  Rights are, Constitutionally:
1] not limited to what Amendments 1-8 specify as rights [9thAM];
2] include every aspect of human interaction not directly given to the federal government and not prohibited to the states to control [10thAM]; AND
3] the states are prohibited from legislatively controlling anything that was not also given to the feds [14thAM, Sec 1].

Protectable rights are, in a very real sense, any power to act that is not listed in Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution as a power for Congress to make law upon — and those Congressional powers to legislate are very very few.  Congress is given no authority, for example, to regulate who is allowed to use our roads, therefore driving is a right.  States cannot deny that right in their own laws, though they are allowed to regulate how the roads are used — speed limits, rights of way, skills tests, et cetera.

Congress is given no authority, for another example, to regulate who may marry whom, therefore marrying your homosexual lover is a right.  States may not deny that right in their own laws, though they may regulate certain aspects of marriage, such as the minimum age necessary.

These are all things that libertarians comprehend about rights.  Hell, these are all things that virtually all Americans, libertarian or not and adequately inculcated in American civics, understand about rights, even if they do not like the specific consequences. …and I'm thinking particularly of the religious right morons and gay marriage, here.  Even they understand this, as it makes their skin crawl.

So how is it, then, that we conveniently throw all this comprehension of rights to the four winds when the subject becomes healthcare?  Healthcare is not an issue given to the government to control; it is therefore a right.  Why do we indulge the facile and insupportable, and claim a governmental role in healthcare when government involvement does not join with any other right?

We have the right to say what we wish.  But if we have stage fright, does the government provide us assertiveness training?  No it does not.  If we are inarticulate stumble-tongues, does the government provide us speech therapy?  No it does not, not even when Dubya is elected President and could have used it.  Does the government provide a bullhorn? …a soapbox?  Does the government reserve a sidewalk on a popular street corner? …compel the first four hundred random passers-by to stop and grant rapt attention?  And if we are unable to think of anything to say, does the government provide a pre-written speech?

No.  It does not.  Our right to say what we wish begins and ends with our own willingness and ability to actually use the damned thing.  If we cannot speak in public, or cannot make others listen, or cannot think of what to say that anyone would want to hear, the government has no obligation or duty to assist.  The lack of government providence does not negate our freedom of speech.

We have the right to write what we wish.  But if we are illiterate and cannot strings words together into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into thematic essays, does the government provide literacy training?  No, it does not.  Even when it tries to it doesn't.  …as anyone even marginally familiar with public education in the United States knows.  If we have nothing to write with, does it give us a pen?  If we have nothing to write on, does it give us paper?  If we have a batshit manifesto burning a hole in our Kaczyniskiist hovel, does the government provide us a publisher?

No.  None of these things.  And yet, the absence of government assistance does not erase our freedom of the press.

We have the right to marry the person of our dreams, because the Constitution does not give the government the power to stop us.  But if that person does not wish to marry us back, does the government compel the object of our affection to meet us at the altar?

Of course not.  Logistically, it would be a nightmare for people like Jennifer Aniston.   But this doesn't affect our right to marry whom we wish.

We have the right to employment, because the Constitution does not give the government the power to prevent it.  But if a citizen wishes to be employed as the bazillionaire CEO of Microsoft, does the government oust Bill Gates and install the new hire?  If a citizen wishes to be employed as the next Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, does the government do lunch with George Lucas and make it happen?  If a citizen simply wants to be hired by any old company at any old position making any old amount of money, does the government impose itself to make even that happen?

Absolutely not, and this still doesn't deny our right to a job.  Something about a free market.

We have the right to buy the shirt we like, the sports car we want, the home we pine after in the neighborhood we covet; in short, to acquire property.  But if we don't have the money necessary to complete the transactions, does the government give us the money?  Alternately, does the government coerce the transaction without it?

Certainly not.  If we need money to buy what we want, we are advised to avail ourselves of our right to a job.  But the government's hands-off attitude toward our right to accumulate property does not invalidate our right to accumulate property.  Our failure to accumulate the property we want only speaks to our priorities, financial abilities and other manifestations of a free market, and nothing else. 

We have the right to a haircut, a pedicure, a Papa John's pizza, and a Caribbean cruise — and every other service you can name.  But if we don't have the money for these because we used all our money on that fancy sports car two paragraphs ago, does the government step in with the cash? …with coercion?  …with even so much as a coupon?

Not a chance.  A commercial service being a right does not suddenly imbue the government with the authority to compel the service to be provided, nor its terms and conditions.  More free marketeering.

Healthcare is a right simply because the government is given no defined authority to control it.  It is a service — just like the haircut we have a right to get.  Our right to acquire healthcare, as with the haircut, does not grant the government any authority to compel it, nor to set the terms and conditions of its acquisition.  Our ability to acquire healthcare rests entirely with us, with our priorities, and with our financial abilities.  The free market, when applied to the right of healthcare, does not suddenly mean that the commodity being sought must be free of cost, or that the cost must be borne by the government.

Yet healthcare today is exclusively discussed as a government providence.  This is what democrats use to base their baseless belief that it is a right, and what republicans and libertarians use to claim that it is not.

Libertarians should know better.  Libertarians should be smart enough to avoid the equivocative word traps laid out by the mealy-mouthed  Bernie "Trotsky" Sanders and other "progressives".  Any libertarian who does not know, and cannot recite at a moment's notice, the very specific and crucial difference between a right and an entitlement has no claim to calling himself a libertarian.


This is a "taxation is theft" moment in a "taxation is theft" conversation.  Rights are what the government leaves you alone to get for yourself; entitlements are what the government gives you.  This is true whether it is speech, press, property, employment, pedicures or a prescription.  If the government is providing healthcare, coercing it upon reluctant patients and setting the terms and conditions for its providers, then it is an entitlement and not a right.  If healthcare is a right — and it is — then the government must stay out of the picture.

As libertarians, we know this.  Let's pretend we're libertarian, m'kay?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Frienemy of the American People

Frienemy of the American People
©2017  Ross Williams



I periodically have to remind those with whom I'm discussing weighty topics that you don't get points for being right, you get points for being pertinent.  Being pertinent means, naturally, being right, but it also means being relevant to the issue under discussion.

My go-to illustration for this notion is that when the topic at hand is balancing your checkbook — where the relevant arithmetic is confined to addition and subtraction — it doesn't matter how many times you correctly recite the multiplication tables; your checkbook is not getting balanced.  Yes, nine times seven is sixty-three … so what?

And you must be able to answer the "so what" challenge if you ever hope to claim an intellectual position in a rational discourse.   "So what?" demands that you explain the pertinence of your position; if you cannot, then your position is no more valid than any childish quibble offered up by a six-year old — which I make certain to point out to those who can't explain it.

You are sitting at your laptop with your online banking open in a browser, and your Quicken software open to your checking account reconciliation tablet.  Your wife comes up behind you asking if you can afford to buy a new washing machine this month.  You reply by saying "Nine times seven is sixty-three." She responds by saying "So what?" or something less kind than that.

If you can't answer her, then you'd best close Quicken, log off your bank's website, and go back to minesweeper, because you are clearly overmatched by the rigors of second-grade arithmetic.   Hire an accountant.  Give the task to your wife.  Do something, anything.  But don't pretend you are competent at balancing the checkbook.

The issue at hand, and for several months, is fake news — with whatever consequence and implication that brings to those observing the proceedings.  And the assertion is that the mainstream press is thereby the enemy of the American people.

To be honest, this is one of those QED moments of philosophical clarity that Socrates would have killed for.  …and yet … people are quibbling and protesting and stomping their feet and wetting their panties in public over the statement.  Strangely, libertarians are among them.  And to the degree that the mainstream press is involved in the foregoing foot-stomping protests, they are adding evidence — as if more evidence is, at this moment, anything but overkill — that the "fake news" claim is real and that the mainstream press is indeed the enemy of the American people.

"Yabbut, yabbut, yabbut!" they whine; "because 'Free and Independent Press'!!  We're written into the Constitution, fergodsake!"  Please!  We haven't had a free and independent press for decades.  If you think we do, you haven't been paying attention. 

Of all the major news outlets, Foxnews is notoriously in the hip pocket of the Republican Party.  That's not free; that's not independent.  Virtually every non-republican understands this, and the sad part is almost all republicans understand this as well, even if they are loath to acknowledge it — even to themselves.  The support and proof for this?  Where do republicans go to get their information from? Foxnews.  Why? because it doesn't annoy their sensibilities.  They will not have their preconceived notions challenged by listening to Foxnews.

Of all the major news outlets, everyone BUT Foxnews is in the hip pocket of — and giving a happy-ending reach-around to — the Democrat Party.  This, also, is neither free nor independent.  Virtually every non-democrat understands this, and the sad part is almost all democrats understand this as well, even if they are loath to acknowledge it — even to themselves.  The support and proof?  Where do democrats go to get their information from? any news outlet that is not Foxnews.  Why? because it doesn't annoy their sensibilities.  They will not have their preconceived notions challenged by listening to, e.g., MSNBC or CNN.  …or The Daily Show, or Last Week Tonight, or anything by the fop Stephen Colbert, which are, judging by comparative ratings, where most on the American Left get their information.

Meanwhile, the 40-percent of Americans who do not self-identify as either democrat or republican [and which includes libertarians by definition], where do we go to get information from?  There is no major media outlet on the national news landscape even marginally fitting the qualifications for and duties of a free and independent press. 

The qualifications and duties of a responsible free and independent press are objectivity and skepticism.  [It wouldn't hurt to also have literacy — Foxnews editors, I'm looking at you, here].  The press, today, is not objective; they are not skeptical.  They are advocates for ideology and adversarial to those who defy the ideology they promote.  For those who can't see a difference, allow me to nutshell it: a skeptic demands, "Demonstrate to me you're right" while an adversary asserts, "No matter what you say you're wrong."

Non-aligned information seekers are left to bounce between the sanitized piety of Foxnews and the solipsistic sanctimony of whichever of the democrat mouthpieces they choose, while suppressing their gag reflex. 

The inescapable bottom line is that the American press is not serving the interests of the American people.  Yet, as an institution, they command — and demand to command — the monopolistic power, backed by government preference and deference, to form the ideas and outlooks the American people possess.  The media — all of it — become downright pissy when they are challenged on this, as we have seen in the last several months.

This means that we don't have news or anything remotely resembling it.   Available information is scrubbed by the mainstream media for its ideological purity and spoon-fed in intellectually predigested dollops.  It is pabulum.  It is, in short, fake news; propaganda.  Yes, it may contain one or more cherry-picked facts, but … so what?  In any sufficiently large body of data, there are reams [and often reams and reams and reams] of facts contrary to the purpose for which the cited facts are used … as even a cursory glance through the "global warming/climate change" brouhaha will attest.

We are left having to concede that the mainstream media is, indeed and relevant to the entire "fake news" subject, the enemy of the American people, as stated.  Why does it matter who said it?  Just because he's a dick, a putz, a veritable schwanz?  So what?  Dicks are capable of being right and pertinent.

Why does it matter how he said it?  Reality is real whether it appears in angelic vision, or is revealed in the company of profane tirade.  This reality is stated bombastically by a boor?  Again, so what?

Face it.  Trump was correct about the American press.  The only reason the media wish to quibble over it is because their ox is getting gored — and it's about time; the only reason individuals wish to quibble over it is because they don't like the guy who reminded them of what they almost certainly already knew — rudely and without tact.  And, well, he's an eminently unlikable guy for reasons both valid and farcical, but … so what?

If it matters who says something true and relevant, and if it matters how they say it, then the problem is not with the one doing the saying.  The problem is with the one doing the hearing, and in particular, the problem is with the ego of the one doing the hearing.


You cannot participate in an intellectual discussion if your ego is involved.  If you wish to involve your ego, then I'd advise you to at least make some money at it: respond to one of the many George Soros ads for insta-hooligans and get paid to troll real life.  Just don't pretend to be competent to discuss it intelligently.

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.