Friday, November 07, 2008

Of Course We Lost

I'm kind of amazed that any conservative is surprised at our defeat. All of you were here for the last couple of years, right?

All of you were here during the primaries, weren't you? The primaries where the Democrats had to agonizingly decide who among their socialist monarchs was most liberal and most likely to inspire great crowds and celebration, while the Republicans chose which lifeless, ancient talking head would attempt to cut a weaselly "moderate" line? Doesn't anybody else remember reading up on every Republican we were putting up this year with increasing horror?

All of you were here when Barack Obama proved his unbelievable charisma by defeating Hillary Goddamn Clinton in the Democrat primaries, right? Surely I wasn't the only one who realized that nobody defeats a Clinton among Democrats by accident or mistake. We condescended to Obama at our peril because he was a political newcomer and relatively young. We failed to heed the ridiculously obvious warning: he had bested the Clintons in the Democrat political machine. He was the new champ.

All of you were here when we picked John McCain for our candidate, weren't you? Did you really think that most actual conservative voters would forgive Mr. McCain for his repeated backstabbing of his own party? Shit, we were all screaming our fool heads off at him for the "amnesty" debacle half a year before the primaries started. Conservatives really hate McCain, and a watery middle-ground candidate can never defeat a champ. If anything has proven that the current primary system is broken, this cycle has.

All of you were here through agonizing months of flip-flopping and waffling and insufferable liberalism on the part of the conservative candidate, weren't you? McCain is a great man and a war hero, and if e'er we meet I shall buy him a drink. But he never did stick to his guns on anything besides the War on Terror, and as Mark Steyn and others have pointed out the war hasn't been a big issue since the surge worked so phenomenally. It was absolutely painful listening to McCain attempt to approximate what a conservative might sound like (only softer) on every domestic issue imaginable. Are all of you honestly going to tell me that you were blind enough to not know how that looked next to the calm, smooth Obama, presiding with absolute confidence and vision over his people?

And all of you were here through the most lackluster political campaign of my admittedly short lifetime, right? It was absolutely pathetic, the way Sean Hannity had to keep harping on about William Ayers as if it were a good argument, because the McCain campgain was doing nothing to provide us with better ones. Okay, so Obama has very little experience and he is/was associated with some shady people. Noted. Now


Nobody got around to answering that particular question, least of all McCain himself. If a candidate's campaign can't actually offer me a good reason to vote for him, then why should I? Attack ads are extremely potent weapons; useful tools in a politician's repetoire. But they aren't enough alone.

Despite all of Obama's charisma and confidence, he was an abysmally weak candidate. He had scant experience, a shady background and pretty much a stock standard liberal platform. Numbers-and-facts wise this campaign was giftwrapped for us. But, as many pundits painfully relearned this cycle, elections are not about numbers and facts. They're about confidence and ideals. We aren't picking some utilitarian, mathematical position like a federal reserve chair. We're appointing a figurehead to make rousing speeches, rally us together against common enemies and threats, and showcase American ideals to ourselves and to the rest of the world. The Republicans had a chance to choose among them their most inspiring leader, to showcase conservative ideals as America's ideals. We hedged our bets and nominated the wateriest, weakest-kneed crowd pleaser we could find.

When entering a contest of ideals, nominate a strong and inspiring idealist. That's the first rule. Scratch that - it's the zeroeth rule. It's the essence of the game. We might as well have nominated based on alphabetical order if that wasn't our goal. How did so many of us forget that part?

Admit to yourself that you knew we lost this election a year ago. There were little jerks, sure, little spots of hope. Palin was a big one. Joe the Plumber was a last little sparkle. But you knew. You knew as well as I did, when McCain was nominated... about two weeks after that, watching him on television. You knew we had lost. You knew there was no way that our please-everybody-mo-tron was going to knock out a champ. And the Democrats picked a champ.

See you all in four years. Hopefully we'll have found someone who can shout the conservative ideals from the rooftops with a fraction of the same inspiring courage that John McCain showed in the Hanoi Hilton, in a different arena. And let's hope that next time we don't confuse the two again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Got It Memorized?

Since I'm dreadfully sick of hearing about this garbage, let's get it straight one last time:

In the 2000 election, the Supreme Court did -not- decide who would become president. At all. Obviously, as any constitutional scholar would note, if there were an exact tie or some other craziness, that falls to the House of Representatives, not the Supreme Court.

Here's what happened: as most any who were alive at that time can remember (based on the fact that "I demand a recount!" has become something of a cultural catch phrase) presidential hopeful Al Gore was not satisfied with the vote counting process in Florida, where the numbers were very close. He had lost by the initial count, and therefore demanded that the votes be recounted in several districts of the state of Florida. The law allows for recounts, but does place reasonable limits on them (because obviously, in the absence of limits, someone could theoretically deadlock the country for an unknowable amount of time until all of the ballots were counted umpteen billion times.) These exact limits are left up to the individual states themselves. Florida state law states that all recounts must be submitted within seven days of the end of the electoral period.

By the time we were on recount number three (and Bush won all of the recounts) seventeen days had passed since the official closing of the polls. I don't remember every detail of what happened next, but I do remember two things for an absolute goddamned certainty:

1. The United States Supreme Court ruled that seven days meant seven days and not "whenever the hell we feel like it." That was the ONLY thing they decided: that the Florida vote counts had to follow the Florida law. Since Bush won the initial count AND every recount, he had thus won the presidential election.

2. Bush won every other recount, even the bizarre ones held by the New York Times. He won excluding absentee ballots. He won excluding military ballots. He won. It was a very slim margin, no question, but he also won, no question.

So look, I've read two history books that are already stating that the vote was so close that the Supreme Court voted on who would be the next president, and that this is strange because the constitution rules that the House of Representatives should do such. Please, please, oh God in heaven please, don't let this become one of those constantly-debunked-but-still-believed-by-the-general-public historical myths that will live on forever and ever. The Supreme Court was fully in its power to do what it did, and in fact would have been dreadfully remiss no to.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quickie: Harvey of IMAO Nails It

Perhaps the most succinct summary of the healthcare issue ever written, by Harvey at IMAO:

"It's an imprudent choice to provide the government with a financial incentive to prefer to see you dead rather than ill."

Well said. Now put it on a T-Shirt so I can buy three.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flag Burning: Free Speech vs. Cultural Confidence

The flag burning issue is pretty contentious, and I can understand why. To be perfectly honest, my mind is still not quite decided about the whole thing. I suspect a lot of others don't really know what to think about it either.

The real issue at stake here isn't whether or not the burning of the American flag in protest is a good thing. Most any American despises the actual burning of their nation's flag. The issue is whether or not such an act should be made illegal or, to take it a step further, be made nationally illegal in every state by the introduction of an amendment to the United States constitution.

On the one hand, a nation must have confidence and willpower that it may continue to exist. A nation that isn't willing to defend its national symbols could be perceived as weak, and as the last forty years of international affairs should have taught us the perception of weakness (especially American weakness) can lead to thousands of deaths, and not just the deaths of Americans either. A nation simply must have the will and pride to defend itself, and that includes the defense of the nation's symbols, artifacts and cultural treasures. A nation that no longer cares about its own symbols is a necrotic nation, rotting from the inside out.

And this is not purely an academic concern. In a world where many of the advanced nations are multicultural "motel nations" that have no strong ideals of their own one does not have to look far in order to find examples of why this is a bad thing. Nations like Canada, Germany, Italy and France, once so vital and thriving that they fought hard wars to maintain their ways of life and defend the ideals of their nationhood, are now barely even geographic markers of territory. They are dying nations, consumed by guilt and ennui instead of pride and national will. America is not immune to the same general slide, and the vigilance of the American people is the best and only true safeguard against such a decay of values. A nation that will defend its national symbols proves its strength and relevance, and asserts that it is not willing to allow its values to be assaulted and stand idly by while it happens.

On the other hand, one of those American values, and one that, at current, is experiencing a most alarming decline, is the idea of property rights. If you own a house, you set the house rules. If you buy an ice cream cone, you get to decide who eats it. If you buy a work of art, you can place it on whichever wall of your house or apartment that you wish. If you own land, you are free to develop and renovate it. If you, for example, bought an American flag, you could do what you like with it. You could hang it on any wall, you could fly it from any flag pole you establish... and yes, you could burn it. It's your symbol of America to do with what you like.

Now, don't get me wrong. It behooves the owner of a symbol of their own nation to treat it with respect and dignity. I should hope that those who obtain an American flag display it proudly and observe those rituals regarding it that help to infuse it with meaning. However, requiring such reverence for a national symbol on your own property by law strikes me as counter to certain ideals that the flag itself represents. It's a sort of meddlesome category of law that paces the gray line between the sacrifices of freedom that all cultures must make to ensure the cohesion that makes a society great and the type of infraction upon personal choice and property that puts yet another government intrusion into the lives of the citizenry.

On the other other hand, the government already determines a lot of what you can do with your own things on your own property, and rightfully so. It is legal to purchase the ingredients of methamphetamine, but it is illegal to make or sell the stuff. It's illegal to saw off the barrel of a shotgun in your own garage, it's illegal to commit treason or conspiracy in your own basement, it's illegal to pirate movies or software on your own computer in your own bedroom or study, etc. A nation can decide that certain behaviors or actions are too damaging to be protected by the right to property ownership. In addition, the government can regulate what occurs on it's own property, and so the government would be absolutely fully in its rights to claim that the American flag cannot be burned in public or in view of the public, in the same way that indecent exposure laws work now.

Mark Steyn makes an interesting point in this article, where he states, "
For my own part, I believe that, if someone wishes to burn a flag, he should be free to do so. In the same way, if Democrat senators want to make speeches comparing the U.S. military to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, they should be free to do so. It's always useful to know what people
really believe." Indeed, he has a good point. Modern political commentary is very heavily stifled and super polite, to the point where people think that Ann Coulter is mean (if you think that Ann is mean, I invite you to spend ten, maybe fifteen minutes on a construction site one of these days). Stifling the free speech of those who hate America will only make it harder to root out those who truly despise America.

So to end rather abruptly, that's the discussion. Do we defend an important national symbol, or do we allow others to attack it in the name of free speech? I'm leaning toward Mark Steyn's position here; that restricting free speech in such a fashion isn't worthy of a free society. But on the other hand, is failing to come to the defense of one's national symbols worthy of any society? I just don't know...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All the Same?

The primary failing of the modern intellectual is this: he believes that all men are like himself. No matter how many times he is proven wrong, he clings fervently to this belief. I'm sure that you've recently heard some of the modern pieties expressing this sentiment: "Deep down, we all just want the same things," "All men are really just looking for happiness," "We all really want peace," "Nobody likes to fight and die," "Everyone prefers a friend to an enemy." Of course, this isn't true. In some greater sense, all people seek satisfaction of some kind, but in any real, useful, tangible sense we do not all want the same things.

Part of the reason that capitalism works while other economic systems fail is that people don't want the same things. Sure, most everyone wants milk, but many want it for cheese or butter or cake and not for the milk itself, and some desire different uses of milk in different quantities. Still others could care less for milk, and wish that the nation's productive power would produce more meat instead. A capitalistic system allows the end consumer to set the demand for what they wish industry to produce through pricing and purchase or, more often, a failure to purchase. This is an incidental point, so I'll go no further, but the point is that the very basis of our economic system is that people are -not- the same, that some people would rather spend all of their money on leisure and others would rather put it in the bank, and that without this obvious difference our society might collapse as communism did, based on a faulty idea of human behavior.

But as useful a point this is for illustrating that people have complex differences, it does not refute the intellectual point that people do not have basic differences; no matter which nation we come from or which side of an argument we're on, we all want the same things. This often leads to the denigration of those who continue to struggle, for clearly they are only prolonging a meaningless fight when both parties could come to terms. The idea that we're all the same is the motivation behind the intellectual fixation with diplomacy: if we already really agree on the ends, all that remains is to peaceably find the means.

Decry it how we like, however, people do not want the same things, even at a basic level. People from different cultures have radically different ideas about what is acceptable, what is true, what the future holds, etc. For example, in many Islamic cultures, it is accepted that Islam will spread to conquer the entire world. This isn't some cutesy point about whose face will be on the currency, either. This is about who can vote, who makes the rules and who is subservient.
The American intellectual assumes that everyone is like the Americans. He assumes that everyone wants universal suffrage and that people only embrace the alternative out of ignorance. This attitude spawns from multiculturalism. The idea that all cultures are inherently equal and cannot be judged by any higher standard than their own leads to the elimination of distinctions between nations, because pointing out differences might infer judgement. From there, it's a short hop to the idea that everyone is basically the exact same. Intellectuals believe that they've found the truth, and that anyone who hears about it couldn't possibly disagree with them.

Ironically, they hold the belief that others disagree with them out of ignorance, out of ignorance. Because one cannot truly understand anything without making some kind of distinction or judgement (this is how the human mind works, after all) multiculturalism has doomed is followers to understand nothing about any culture but their own. Multiculturalism demands from its followers only that they feel a sort of fuzzy warmheartedness toward other cultures, not that they actually learn anything about those other cultures, especially not if it's something negative. But the truth of the matter is, cultures can be objectively compared. It doesn't even require a belief in God, if you insist on being difficult. In America, women are allowed to vote, do not live in arranged marriages and are free to be dependent only on themselves virtually free of stigma. In Iran, during the equivalent of the "I dos" at a wedding, the man gives his affirmation clearly, while the woman is in another room. The bridesmaids slam her head into the wall, and if she whimpers, cries or groans in pain, that's a "yes." Are you honestly going to tell me there's no significant difference between the way those cultures treat women? Or try to bluster your way through this by saying something like "Well, women were abused in western culture too..."

Well, they're full equals now, even if certain realities take longer than a single generation to iron themselves out. In the east, however, they're still property. We're not all the same, our cultures are not all equal, and the assumption of such is the foolishness of hoping that the world will become perfect by acting like it is. It doesn't work. It never has. It only leads to tragedy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Soldiers Aren't Crazy

I went to my mother's apartment for supper last night. While there, I watched Boston Legal with my sister. The show was hilarious, but unfortunately they'd take five minutes out of every ten to go on long-winded rants about things the writers knew nothing about. Finally, I was able to hear a Hollywood writer's true feelings about the Iraq war! In case you haven't heard they've been silenced and oppressed by us evil right-wingers.

So in between ridiculous rants about why people should be able to sue the TV because they agreed to go on a show and didn't like the results, they sounded off on something that really touched a nerve: veterans.

They talked and talked on their moral high horse about this veteran who committed murder because of PTSD. Oh man, they would not quit talking. It was on and on about how America has abandoned its veterans and how there are all sorts of homeless vets that we do nothing about and how George W. Bush, with a wave of his scepter of evil power, cut veteran's health insurance all by himself because he's an evil dictator.

Alright. I'm going to go down the list here:

1) Veterans aren't insane. They're not. I have buddies who have been in combat with the Army, the Marines and the Navy. Hell, I have a friend from high school who was on guard duty at Baghdad International Airport in '04. It's true that having to kill someone changes you, but it doesn't turn you into some kind of lunatic. Hollywood is obsessed with the idea that veterans are just potential murderers, barely human. They way they represent vets is ludicrous. I mean, it raises serious questions about why you would let someone who would just get confused and kill someone vote. Veterans aren't insane alcoholic-schizophrenics, they don't have trouble holding down a normal job and they're not crazed killing machines out for blood, okay? Can we all get that straight?

2) The US government may not be perfect, but it doesn't just abandon vets the way it did in the 40s and 50s. They understand PTSD. They'll provide you free counseling if you want. They'll help you get into college. They'll help you get a job. My buddy who was medically discharged from the marines got a job when I couldn't because the government helped him out. I'm sick of hearing this bullshit about how they abandon their soldiers, because they don't.

3) 90% of those homeless "veterans" you see aren't veterans. They claim to be veterans because they know people will be more likely to take pity on them and give them money if they say they are. They're not freaking vets, okay? The vast majority of the homeless suffer from severe schizophrenia and don't know what the hell they're doing.

4) George Bush isn't responsible for everything that happens. He isn't a dictator, he doesn't have all-reaching power. We have a constitution. You should read it some time. Hundreds and hundreds of people vote on every law that gets passed. If health care benefits to veterans making more than a certain amount got passed, more than just George Bush was involved, and there were probably good reasons.

5) Health care is not a crisis. I understand that there are a lot of uninsured people, but the vast majority of them could afford health care if they wanted to. People could live with family or in a smaller house or apartment, they could drive a smaller or older car, they could spend less on eating out, they could get a smaller TV, they could not blow their money on a $650 gaming machine. But they don't, because they want those other things. They'll take it at the risk of having to pay a doctor's bill. That's their choice, and it should be their choice. If something is important to you, you can afford it. You'll find a way. But most people will give up if it's not immediately provided for them. Well, if the government gives you healthcare, the government controls your healthcare. We demand hundreds of choices of breakfast cereals and movie rentals, but when it comes to healthcare we don't want a choice? Not me. I don't want it provided for me. I want choice and freedom, and I'm willing to pay all attendant costs myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

He's Out

Fred Thompson is out.

Who the hell do I support now? Fuck, I hate the Republican party right now.