Category Archives: Politics


I am no fan of Trump.  Those who know me know I’ve consistently referred to him as a buffoon.  I have not supported his candidacy in any way, and never will.  I want to still be able to make fun of Bill Clinton for being a philanderer and sexual predator without being a hypocrite.  Among other things.  But I see people consistently getting things wrong about him, so this is to address several of those things.  I would like to see people understand the Trump phenomenon better than they do. Continue reading Trump

Silenced again.

This is a comment I was unable to post to a FB conversation because, apparently, I have been blocked from any kind of conversation with the “friend” that was hosting the conversation.  This was the comment that would have explained what I was doing in the conversation, but, having been blocked from doing so, my participation is being forced into a form that will leave me looking more than a little incoherent.  Which is more than a little uncool with me.  Cowardly and intellectually dishonest, in fact.  I’m neither going to include the full name of the person involved, nor hide the mentions of her first name that I wrote in the comment.  If you know who this is, you can know that I’m calling her out for conversational cowardice and intellectual dishonesty.  If not, don’t worry about it.  

The reason I brought this point up here is that a week or two ago, Amy and I had a long and unpleasant conversation about her assertion of a “fact” that racism is only found in systemic oppression, and not in individual acts of hatred and cruelty motivated by race. I disagreed with that usage of the word, because it’s not the way ordinary people use it. They also use it to describe indiidual acts of hatred and cruelty motivated by race, and belief in racial superiority. As the CBC did in this article (although, honestly, they didn’t quote any of the graffiti that used terms that indicated a racial aspect to this, as I pointed out above). The hatred (which I neither share, nor condone, nor excuse in even the smallest degree) was focused on people based on their religion and their nationality/ethnicity.

Again, I am not a fan of hatred toward Muslims. The only Syrians I have contempt toward are named Assad. I’m not opposed to helping refugees from Syria. Nobody can provide evidence to the contrary because none exists. I’m not trying to distract any attention from this act. I think it’s deplorable, and that those who carried it out should be made to account for it.

For those who disagree with the idea that racism is only an institutional phenomenon, welcome to my side of the disagreement.

Some More Thoughts on Gun Control and Mass Shootings

Another excerpt of comments from a conversation.

I’ve got no particular problem with the kinds of things Will was talking about (background checks, mental health requirements, and license requirements), but I return to my previous point, and will add another — they aren’t going to work until their enforcement is funded, and they’re not going to really stop horrible things from happening. There are enough guns in circulation that nothing is going to stop someone who really wants a gun from getting it. If we can’t keep weapons and drugs out of prisons, we’re not going to be able to keep them from people outside prisons.

But passing laws to attempt to change the behavior of people who won’t obey laws is ridiculous on its face. It’s like trying to stop people from speeding by reducing the speed limit.

To the notion of strengthening regulation, and reducing the number of guns:

Reduce the numbers how? There are about 300 million guns in the country. If you got rid of 90% of them, there’d still be 30 million — enough to have a reenactment of WWII. And there’s no way you’ll get more than 10% of that in real terms in an environment where you can’t pass a ban on assault-styled hunting rifles.

And how are you going to strengthen those regulations without *funding their enforcement?* That’s the Achilles’ Heel of nearly every gun control scheme floating around — no one has made any serious effort to fund the existing laws. Without that, regulations have no strength at all — they are virtually meaningless.

I think the best idea is to pay attention to the realities of the situation. School and other mass shootings scare the hell out of us and piss us off, but they’re exceptionally rare events, and reducing their frequency by any kind of government effort is extremely unlikely — they tend to happen in gun-free zones, for one thing. Accidental shootings are more dangerous and quite preventable with gun safety education. The NRA has Eddie Eagle curriculum for gun safety classes for pre-schoolers that they make available for free to anybody who wants to use it. That doesn’t take any change in law — just people willing to stand up and do it. Why every school in the country isn’t doing this is beyond me. Well, except the part about how folks hate the NRA, and assume the curriculum would be brainwashing kids about how cool guns are. Which it doesn’t: That’s not sexy, but it could really be effective.

Gridlock is a Feature, Not a Bug.

I am guardedly optimistic about the process we’re going through right now, wrt the Sequester <tm>.  The part of policy-making which is so annoying is the part where the process is working — the part where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because those darn other-siders won’t just get out of the way and let us have our way!  Nobody is supposed to get their own way all the way — that’s not what pluralism and democratic institutions are about.  We are supposed to hammer out workable compromises, making concessions in return for concessions on the other side that give us some of what we want.  And what we’re facing right now is a very abrupt change in the way we’ve done things, and that’s really what’s causing the frustration.

Previously, the way we greased the gears of compromise was to give people on each side something they wanted to get — an increase in spending here or there, or a tax break, etc.  And the way those played out tended to be things that increased the deficit.  Now, we’re in a situation where increasing the deficit isn’t available.  We can’t give people what they want that same way anymore.  We’re going to have to give up things we want — everybody is.  And this is hard, because every dollar spent, and every dollar  brought in through taxes (maybe even every dollar borrowed — thinking about that) has a constituency who don’t want to lose what they’ve got.  And the more dollars, the more powerful the constituency.  So, there are loud voices (money and power buy volume) proclaiming that the sky is falling — recall the doom-and-gloom about the Sequester two weeks ago, and how now the word is “We never said all of this was going to happen in a day or a week.” Continue reading Gridlock is a Feature, Not a Bug.

BSA policy on gay scouts and leaders, Mormon style

Okay, so I just spent a while in a thread about the proposed change in BSA policy regarding gay youth and leaders on Deseret News, and it was my daily dip in the part of Mormon Culture that drives me up the walls — the smug, self-righteous, never questioned confidence that “we” are right about everything, know everything, and those who disagree are sad, stupid, unrighteous people that we will deign to pray for God to enlighten. Makes me want to swear like the Rodeo Song (it’s gotta be 40 below somewhere).

In what way is a policy that denies men participation in this program who have not violated the Law of Chastity compatible with the teachings of the Gospel? There seems to be this idea that this policy change is being driven through by NAMBLA as a way of “recruiting” lots more gay youth they can have sex with. Because, presumably, there are tons of young men out there thinking “I just can’t decide if I want to have sex with boys or girls,” and, if they can only listen to a promotional video where someone extols the highlights of choosing the gay lifestyle (it’s just a non-stop orgy, donchaknow, until God kills you with the AIDS, because he hates fags), they’ll instantly be drawn into the clutches of these evil perverts.

Sorry, but that’s just pathetic nonsense. Continue reading BSA policy on gay scouts and leaders, Mormon style

The Ongoing Fiscal Crisis, and Democratic Processes

Everybody elected works for the people in about the same proportion.  They were all sent there representing a constituency, and all of those people deserve to have their voices involved in the process, even when they are wrong.  The purpose is not to come up with the optimal outcome — it’s to come up with an outcome that most people can accept.  Fighting and maneuvering and compromising is an important part of the process.  It’s annoying to watch, but it’s designed into the system, and it’s a feature, not a bug.

And it’s the only way we’re going to get this deficit problem solved.  We’ve tried all kinds of commissions, and passing laws to limit how much can be spent and how much can be taxed, and they have clearly and abjectly failed.  Now, we’re disturbingly near the point where we can’t maintain the illusion that we can ever pay back those we have borrowed from, so borrowing more is becoming less and less possible, and that’s the only reason we might be able to fix the problem.

We can’t do it all by cutting government spending, because every dollar spent has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should get at least triple more than they do, and why anybody who wants to cut it is stupid, evil, short-sighted and, probably, greedy.  We can’t do it all by increasing taxes because every dollar taxed has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should not be the ones paying as much as they do, and why somebody else should pay more (and someone is probably greedy there, too).  So the solution is to get all those constituencies together in one large dialogue where the rules are that, when it’s done, the deficit has to go down reliably and consistently in real terms (no more gimmicks like leaving all the unspecified spending cuts for 2 to 120 months down the road).  It has to go down this year, and next year, and drop to zero in less than a decade, and not go back up.

How we accomplish that will require serious negotiations in good faith, and the people in power have no real experience in doing that.  Word on the street is that the President is particularly bad at it, for example, but his Vice President is pretty good at it.  But they can only go as fast as the electorate are willing to go, and that’s where the growing-up I mentioned before needs to take place.  Less with the dismissive rhetoric, more with the listening respectfully, and more with the doing the homework it takes to understand the process.

On Gun Control

Much of the problem is that the rational folks on both sides of the issue often ignore each other in favor of pointing to the crazies on the other side and saying “That’s just crazy!” They also tend to ignore the crazies on their own side, and focus on the other rational folks on their side. Thus, they function in a paradigm where all the crazy people are on the other side, and all the rational people are on their own side. It’s a false paradigm. Until that falseness is widely recognized, the issue is unresolvable.

What rational folks on the gun control side need to hear and understand that the pro-gun folks understand:

  1.  Semi-automatic is not machine gun. You get one round fired each time you pull the trigger. You just don’t have to work a bolt action or lever action to load the next round.
  2. Semi-automatic rifles are useful for hunting and target shooting. They are used for these things far more often than they are used to kill children in movie theaters, by many orders of magnitude.
  3. There are millions and millions of firearms owned by lawful and responsible people which never cause a problem for any lawful person or society. Owning a gun and carrying a gun does not prove that a person is unstable or dangerous.
  4. Most hideous gun events involve the violation of multiple existing gun laws. Like mass shootings in gun-free areas.
  5. Changing gun laws doesn’t change gun realities. Only law-abiding people change their behavior in response to changes in law (obvious to anyone who has driven a public road or freeway). Changes in law will not stop those who disregard the law, but it can turn safe and honest people into unintentional technical criminals.

What folks on the pro-gun side need to hear and understand that the gun control folks understand:

  1. Many people have never had any contact with a firearm of any kind. What they know of them, they have learned through TV, movies and books, where they are used to kill and injure people hundreds of times a day. They find guns scary, and don’t understand why any sane person would want them to exist.
  2.  While they might like to think of a world without weapons and violence of any kind, they don’t really think it’s reasonable or useful to talk about taking all guns away. Reasonable regulation is not necessarily the camel’s nose that leads to full registration and forced disarmament.
  3. It does make sense that people who own guns use and store them responsibly, and that they be trained to use them safely and effectively. Nobody wins when people use and store their guns irresponsibly. These things will probably not be legislated, but it’s good to advocate them at every turn, to show the gun control folks that the goal is not to produce a fantasy wild-west scenario.

A little assurance from each side that their goal is not what the other side fears can go a long way to calming people down. After that, constructive dialogue can follow. It’s not as much fun at pointing at the crazies on the other side and laughing at them. It requires more thought and consideration. That’s why it rarely happens. But it is possible.

What a twisted line of reasoning!

Anti-McKenna Ad

This ad has been bugging me for several weeks now.  In the world of half-truths and distortions which is political advertising, this really stands out as using really tortured logic.

The text, taken from the website of the organization sponsoring it, is as follows:

Republican Rob McKenna claims he’s a moderate.  But it turns out the National Republican Agenda would make abortion illegal, restrict access to contraception, cut education, essentially end medicare, and deny nearly 13 million women access to cancer screenings.  (2012 Republican Party Platform; CBS News, 8/1/2012; Us News & World Report, 3/2/2011; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/2011; White House Council on Women and Girls 4/2012)

Rob McKenna is definitely not who he says he is.

Okay, let’s Just look at the claims here:

1. Republican Rob McKenna claims he’s a moderate.

Evidence for this claim — none given.

It probably is true that he has claimed this. McKenna has stated that he is no longer opposed to the Affordable Care Act and doesn’t want to see it repealed.

Oh, but that’s evidence that he actually is a moderate. Whoops!

Moving on:

2. But it turns out the National Republican Agenda would make abortion illegal, restrict access to contraception, cut education, essentially end medicare, and deny nearly 13 million women access to cancer screenings.

Evidence for this claim: (2012 Republican Party Platform; CBS News, 8/1/2012; Us News & World Report, 3/2/2011; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/2011; White House Council on Women and Girls 4/2012)

The evidence supports the claim, although the terminology used to characterize what that evidence says is arguable and selected to make McKenna look as bad as possible.  Par for the course in political advertising.

Now, the whopper:

3.  Rob McKenna is definitely not who he says he is.

Evidence for this claim:  Nothing at all.

For claim 1 and 2 to justify claim 3, you would need to show some connection between things Rob McKenna has said about himself and some selected excerpts from the RNC Platform.  Evidence that he supported or endorsed the Platform would be a start, but you’d really want to show that he supported those particular sections as written and characterized here.  But none is given, or even seriously hinted at.

So, what you’d have to believe is that McKenna supports all of those things just because he’s a Republican, and all Republicans must slavishly follow every item of the RNC Platform.  So, when he says he’s a moderate, he’s really just trying to trick you because there is no such thing as a moderate Republican, and everybody knows that.

This is one of a series of ads.  Another has the same structure, but the 2nd claim this time has to do with McKenna supporting the campaigns of current and former Republican candidates.  Once again, the only way that fact has anything to do with a conclusion is if you accept that supporting a Republican candidate in any way is proof that you’re not a moderate and must, by implication, be an extremist.

These ads aren’t being put out by McKenna’s opponent.  They’re being put together by a list of usual suspects:  Our Washington, PO Box 9100 Seattle WA 98109. Jason Bennett, treasurer.
Top five contributors: Democratic Governors Association, Washington Education Association PAC, National Education Association Advocacy Fund, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Justice for All PAC.  Essentially, a Super-PAC funded by the people who have claimed outrage over the Citizens United decision that made the Super-PAC possible.

Full disclosure:  I’ll be voting for McKenna, because he’s the last remaining Republican in the race, and he’s not obviously unqualified to do the job.  I don’t think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I think he’s good enough to support.  I recognize that he’s not as nice looking as his opponent, and that he’s much more likely to have received some wedgies and noogies back in school.  But he’s not this evil, deceiving woman-hater these folks are using such insultingly stupid logic to make him appear to be.  I’m looking for people who support his opponent to distance themselves from this grossly misleading advertising as a way of showing they have more character than this.

Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity (the original)

(This is the original version of this post, which I believed was gone, and was very depressed about, but then set out to recreate, the result of which is here.  But, then I found this lying in my drafts folder, and thought I’d post it here.  My information on Margaret Sanger is better in the other version, but I still like the feel of this one.  My ideal form would probably be to merge the two, but I don’t think anyone will care that much)

This grew out of a comment in a thread on FB to the point that it is virtually guaranteed to earn tl;dr response from most anybody.  But it says some things I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately, and I prefer writing when the Muse strikes.

Progressivism (as in, the dominant thinking behind the Progressive Era, not the more recent usage synonymous with Liberalism, although there is a connection) and Fascism (as in, the dominant thinking behind the Nazi and Fascist movement in Germany and Italy), are both based in the notion that massive, centralized power in the State can and should be used to alter the nature and state of humanity and improve it. Continue reading Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity (the original)

Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity

This is the second attempt to create a post that explains some things I’ve been thinking on for a while now. The original version was essentially complete, and I was just ready to push “publish,” but I decided to spell-check it first, and spell-check crashed FB, and I lost the whole thing. I was very, very sad. And angry. But I really, really liked what I said, so I’m going to try this again. But I’m going to write it in OOo Writer, and paste it in here when I’m done, because I don’t want to try a third time. It came in response to a comment connecting Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and her ideas about eugenics and Adolph Hitler and his ideas about eugenics, where another commenter said that that comment displayed ignorance and lack of insight.

There is more merit to the comparison than you might think. Progressivism of Sanger’s time shares some key core beliefs to the Fascism of Hitler: the biggest of which is a belief that centralized political power, concentrated in the hands of the “better” people (defined, essentially, as the more-enlightened) could alter and improve the world, nature, humanity and human nature. Their differences, when it came to eugenics, were primarily those of method and means. Sanger preferred to keep the less “fit” from breeding by means of contraception, while Hitler preferred to gather them into camps, taking what he could that he wanted from them, and killing them in startling numbers. Clearly, these differences are very significant, and the latter are very (correctly) repugnant by today’s standards. But the goal was the same – improve the human race by stopping the less desirable from breeding. Sanger also shared Hitler’s belief that lighter-skinned people were superior to darker skinned people, but is, evidently, miscast as a vicious racist by several misattributed quotes or quotes out of context.
Continue reading Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity