Friday, March 29, 2013

What Democrats Owe George W. Bush and the GOP

All of us Democrats owe George W. Bush a huge debt of gratitude.  He and his his reign created the modern Democratic movement.   It just took a while.

During his reign I could not understand why he was re-elected.   After such a disastrous first term, what possibly possessed us to keep him around?  It turns out we didn't.  Here is one example (of many) of what actually happened.

To use one of Bush's most famous statements, I misunderestimated the power of momentum and fear. It takes a while for people to realize their mistakes - and for people to build organizations and effort to take back the government. 

It's not enough to realize your are wrong.  We needed several other things to happen.

  1. We needed (as always) for the older generation to die off a bit and be replaced by new younger voters.  Voters that remembered the misery of George Bush's disastrously long wars, rather than magic that was Reagan.  Voters that knew real gay people, rather than voters that believed deceitful lies about people they never realized they were friends with.
  2. We needed for the conniving, liars of the GOP to retire - and let the innocent people that believed their lies take over.  Thus they stopped saying they were 'cutting the budget' while boosting it - thus keeping all sides happy (and blaming the Democrats for the budget deficits they created), and began to actually try to cut the budget, pissing off the actual people that really needed the services they tried to cut.
  3. We needed to develop organizations to collect the money and motivate voting.   This takes time to create and work out the bugs.
  4. We needed time to let people admit to themselves that the GOP had FAILED.  That their were no new weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, that they did not catch and kill Osama Bin Ladin in a reasonable amount of time (Doing it 10 years after 9/11 is a failure, not a success).   We needed to see what happens when you remove regulation (economic disasters - Enron, Madoff, Housing collapse)
In my opinion those are the reasons why George Bush managed to hold on for a second term.  Granted Kerry made a mistake or two as well.

But the new Democratic Majority - in both the electoral college and the nation as a whole is in my opinion, directly caused by the many failures of the GOP as a whole under George Bush.

Because lets be honest, it wasn't all Bush's fault.  At the very least, quite a lot of it belongs to Cheney.

They screwed up the economy, they screwed up the war effort, they screwed up our privacy, they screwed up our healthcare, they screwed up oh so very much.

It is only because the GOP did such a horrible job in the early naughts.   From 2000 to 2008, they did everything they could to breed a new generation of Democrats.

So I say Thank You George Bush.  Thank you Dick Cheney.  Without you, there is no way we could have the thriving liberal country that you created.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hyeonseo Lee's story

Some American's like to say the World War II was the last 'good war'.  Granted, that was more popular before September 11, 2001, but it is still said, particularly by the more liberal people.

They are wrong.

The last good American was was the Korean War.   Yes, we did not win, but we saved half a country.   There are currently living in about 50 million people 38 thousand sq kilometers. (Source) This compares to about 24.5 million people living in 46 thousand square miles (North Korea).  Yes, North Korea has about 20% more land, and supports half as many people.  The power of freedom.

Is it such a big deal?  Well, if you want to hear a heart rending story, I strongly suggest you watch Hyeonseo Lee's story.   If it leaves you unmoved, please tell your nearest psychiatrist to check if you are a sociopath.

It reminds me the real reason for two things - why I hate communism and why people become communists.

Free people became communists because they saw huge amounts of suffering juxtaposed with wealthy people not paying their fare share of taxes. They saw the huge suffering caused by shmucks who claim they are 'creating jobs', when all they are doing is letting people suffer and die, because it's not their problem - those suffering and dieing are just a bunch of lazy 'takers'.

I hate communism because it does NOT solve that problem. While it promises to solve that problem, it doesn't do it.  But let's be clear, just because it doesn't solve the problem, doesn't mean that the wealthy should keep their money.

Just because you can die of thirst does not mean you should make people drown.  You need a reasonable mix.  We need some taxes and support for the poor, while at the same time letting people have freedom and the right to make a profit.

In addition, after hearing Ms. Lee's story, and the problems she faced dealing with China and Laos, it is quite clear to me that immigration is the only real answer to tyranny.

That means we need to be willing to accept more immigration.   Frankly, turning Cubans (or other such people) away makes us no better than the Chinese government, sending North Koreans refugees back to North Korea.

As for Dennis Rodman - he can go stay with his friend in North Korea.  We don't need him here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How a Republican lies

I've talked previously about how Americans lie.

Now I am going to talk about the specific sub-class of American known as a Republican, lies.

The example is Senator Ted Cruz.  The data from this post comes from Politifact, which declares Ted Cruz's statement as 'true'.   (Source)   Am I disagreeing with Politifact?  No.  Everything Ted Cruz said is technically 'true'.  But his statement is still a lie.

How?  Well, remember as I posted earlier, Americans lie not by stating false things, but by leaving things out.   Ted Cruz's statement was

"We have a federal government that thinks they have the authority to regulate our toilet seats." 

Why did Politifact say it is true?  Because of the following regulations:

  • Mines must have attached toilets with hinged seats  AND toilet paper.

  • Construction sites (with at least 20 workers) must have 1 toilet and 1 urinal per 40 workers.

  •  Any building covered by the ADA (does not include any homes, apartments, etc.) must have at least one toilet that is accessible to handicapped (17 inch to 19 inch seat height, clearance for a wheel chair, etc.)

That's it.  Those are the regulations Ted Cruz objects to.  Note none of them apply to the toilet you build for yourself.  You want a toilet without paper?  One that is 15 inches tall - with no wheelchair access?  Fine.  You can buy them and put them in your house.  Any reasonable person hearing Ted Cruz's carefully worded statement would not know that.   Because Ted Cruz made sure to imply that he was talking about all toilets, not public toilets.

Then he has the gall to claim we don't need that these regulations.  Apparently Ted Cruz is fine with some sadistic boss saving money by not providing toilet paper, or sufficient toilets or sufficient space for a handicapped person to use a restaurant's bathroom..  And he is stupid enough to not realize that such assholes that would try this bullshit DO exist.  Worse, he thinks that an employee/handicapped should have to put up with this bull or quit there job/not eat at that restaurant.

He has no concept of history - when employers do this and far worse - then shot employees for striking for better conditions.   But I am getting off topic.   Ted Cruz knows the government does not regulate home toilets.  But he intentionally left out the word 'public' from his statement which was only about public toilets.

Why did he do this?  To make it sound reasonable instead of like the ridiculous ramblings of your generic conservative GOP Senator making a mountain out of a molehill.  

 Yes, American has rules requiring businesses to provide reasonable toilets.  Yes they are necessary.  Why?  Because in the past, people have provided nothing.  No toilet at all - or not enough toilets in locations such as mines and constructions sites.   And restaurants used to provide toilets that were unusable if you were in a wheelchair. 

Are the rules reasonable?  Yes.  Is Ted Cruz?  No.

Because that's how Republicans lie.  They take normal, reasonable statements and leave important parts off, making it sound like it is unreasonable.

This is typical of how Republicans lie.

Note - I am not saying that all Republicans lie, just that usually when they lie, they do so using this method.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Terrorist vs Revolutionary.

As I have stated previously, the difference between a terrorist and a revolutionary is rather simple:

Terrorists kill non-combatants.  That includes children, the elderly, wives, daughters, brothers, or just the the shoe shine guy.

Revolutionaries kill combatants.  They leave children and the elderly alone.

This is an important distinction, as we don't want our children and elderly to die.  Nor do we want our wives, etc. to die.The entire reason many people become soldiers/combatants is to protect them.    By breaking that rule of civilization terrorists go from being mere criminals to being something FAR worse.

The case of politicians is a harder question.  If the politician gave orders to the military, then they count as a commander and are a combatant (and therefore are valid targets for revolutionaries).  But if they are just some mayor or other person that does not have the power to order soldiers to kill, then they are non-combatants and targeting them makes you a terrorist.

Many countries undergoing a revolution claim it is just a bunch of terrorists.  Syria for example.

The situation is further confused by the fact that most revolutions, there are a few unethical idiots that decide to become terrorists.  Similarly, many terrorist organizations have 'non-violent' arms that attempt to do the same goals by political means.  For example, many claim that the Sinn Fein was/is the non-violent political arm of the Provisional IRA, a clearly terrorist organization.

But the thing is that you can not blame one group of people for the actions of others, even if their goals are the same.  You can take it as a warning, but you can't blame them.

That is, when anti-abortionists kill an abortion doctor, you can't arrest all anti-abortionists for murder - but you can look at them a lot closely and question them about their ties.

So when you have two similar groups, one being a terrorist, and the other not being a terrorist, both objecting to your rule, you can't claim you are just fighting terrorism.

No, you are fighting a revolution, that may have some aid by terrorists.  If the revolutionists win, then you can look at who they put into power.

If they accept the 'ex-terrorists' as equals, THEN they are terrorists  If instead they reject the terrorists and give them no credit or reward for their terrorism, then they weren't even aided by the terrorists.

They don't become terrorists until they embrace the terrorists.  While they are rebelling against you, only those that actually do the terrorism (or embrace it) are terrorists.  Not everyone else around them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Steubenville rape

Recenetlly justice was service.  Two high school footballers were convicted of rape charges.  (Source)

Make no doubt about it, I believe they are guilty and I believe they should be punished.  They should go to jail and serve their term.  But I do wish to point out a few things about how they will be punished for the rest of their life far beyond a fair amount.

First, some facts of the case.  There was a party.  The boys and the girl got drunk.  The girl became basically unresponsive.  They stripped her and assaulted her body with their fingers.  Pictures were taken.  Those pictures were passed around.   Some were deleted.    But everyone in the kid's social network found about what was done.

The girl woke up naked in an unfamiliar house.  She had blacked out and does not remember anything from the night, but everyone has heard the stories. 

Some of them talked, two teenagers aged 17 and 16 were arrested, tried and convicted as they should be.  The older boy got a minimum of 2 years in Juvenile Jail, the younger got 1 year.  But most likely they will both remain in jail until the age of 21.   The girl was 16.

Also note, that more people are being investigated.   There were 16 people that refused to talk with the cops, so it could be as many as 16 more criminals.

Note the ages.  The girl was a minor.  These two boys have now been convicted of raping a minor.

They will be put on a sex offender list.  (source)  They count as Tier III, the worst kind, because it involved actual penetration.

  • They must register every 90 days for the rest of their lives.
  • They must provide their home, employment, enrollment in any school, any vehicles registered to them or that they might drive, their telephone numbers, emails, internet accounts, Facebook, etc.
  • The sheriff will notify all residents living within 1,000 feet of them, and the schools, and the day care providers, every time they move
  • They can not live within a 1000 ft of a school or child day care unit.

Thank God they don't live in California, Oklahmoa, Florida, or Texas.  There they would not be allowed to live near a park.   What's so bad about not living near a park?  Well there is no size restriction.  So if you have a sex offender living near you, you ask for a 'micro-park' to be built - the size of a single vacant lot - and boom they get kicked out .  The park companies even advertise about how this works.  (Source)

Using this technique, many cities can make it so there is NO legal place to live for sex offenders.  (Miami).  Some states have even made it illegal for sex offenders to live in the entire state.  

Please note that sex offenders are most likely to be these two young footballer kids, not old perverts.  The typical sex offense is not a young woman being violent kidnapped.  (source)

Most likely it happens:
  • At the victim's home (37.4% - next most common is friend's home - 19.2%)
  • By one person, known to the victim (73.5%)  Note this rises to 90% when we are talking about someone under 12.
  • By someone 29 or younger (58%)  (Most common 5 year age group is 20-24: 17.3% for forcible rape, 12.9 for other sex crimes)
  • About 1 in 8 victims are under 18 and when that happens 90% of the time so is the rapist.
  • 85.9% of the time the rapist is accused of raping only one person, general sexual assault that drops to 78.8%
  • 90% of the time the victim is female and the rapist is male.  But 8.7% they are both male.  (0.8% female on female, 0.2% female rapes a man - yes it does happen and yes the guy has to deal with people laughing at him on top of the trauma of rape)
  • 88% of the time the race is the same for the victim and the rapist.
  • 80% of the time no weapon is used.
Typical sentence is 292 months  (24 years) from a jury, 173 months (14.5 years) from a judge, or 139 months (11.5 years) from a plea bargain.  They tend to serve half of that.

Rapists are only 52% likely to be arrested for anything else, as compared with 60% of other violent crimes.  But' that's just arrest - the cops love to go after convicted rapists.  Convictions are 36% as compared to 42% for other violent crimes, and only 32% f the time are they re-incarcerated, as compared to 37% for other violent criminals.

In other words, convicted rapists are LESS likely to commit a crime than other violent criminals.

As for those that commit another sex crime, as opposed to simply being arrested that's a whopping 5.3%.  That's a decimal point in there, less than 6%, not fifty-three percent.  (source)

So what is going to happen to these Steubenville boys?  They will be stigmatized for life, prevented from going to college, prevented from getting a real job, and most likely forced into a life of crime and homelessness.

As for the micoparks  - will they protect your children?  No.  Because it is your strange uncle billy that is most likely going to sexually abuse your children, not these boys.  Unless you patrol them, Parks are great places for criminals to meet late at night.   Putting up a fence just makes them BETTER places for criminals to meet - a little privacy is something criminals like.

The park/school/temple system of preventing sex criminals from moving into your neighborhood only concentrates them in seedy neighborhoods and convinces them to lie about where they live.

Just like NYC had to break up the seedy sex store districts, because it encourages crime, we need to stop trying to concentrate the sex offenders and instead spread them out.  Because honestly, it does NOT make your kids safer, it just makes you less vigilant. 

You see, humans have a weakness.  We take ridiculous steps to avoid the unlikely but lurid fears, while casually accepting extremely likely risks.

We are afraid of airplanes, not cars (let alone motorcycles).
We insist on eating organic steaks, rather than pesticide covered vegetables.

And yes, we push all the sex offenders into a small tight area, screaming "SAVE MY KIDS FROM THE MONSTERS", when the monsters are people we know, standing right next to you.

You want to save your kid from sex offenders?  Let them play with strangers - but buy a nanny-cam and watch them like a hawk with people you know and trust.  Because playing with strangers is a lot less likely to get you kids hurt than trusting them with everyone you know.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Negotiate

The Republican House just submitted a laughable budget.   Note, Obama didn't do much better - both budgets lack specifics.  The Office of Management and Budget - OMB - decide not to judge how much either would save/cost because they didn't have enough detail.

But the GOP version was an insult, not an attempt at a real budget.   The GOP version included a total repeal of Obamacare 'to save money'.  This is like asking your boss for a raise and adding "Oh, and I want the legal right to sleep with your wife as well".

Please note that Republican House has passed other attempts to repeal Obamacare.  All of them went down in flames, never getting past the Senate, let a lone having to be vetoed by the President.

Not just once, multiple times.  How many times?

Here's a news story from July of last year, claiming 33 times.

Did they stop after 33?  No.  Note, that 33 includes attempts to repeal large sections of it, as opposed to the entire thing.   But we all know that the 'part' they try to repeal is core of it - the individual mandate.  

The point is that this has been before and failed so many times. So what's going on?  Are the Republicans morons?  Do they not know it won't work?   No.  They are passing symbolic votes to appeal to their base.  But they either don't know or don't care that doing so prevents a real budget from happening.

Here, let me explain how ANY negotiation works.

First, you don't start out with one goal.  That's for suckers.  Instead you start out with 3 goals,  then calculate 2 more, for a total of 5.

The three goals are, in order:
  1. What you would be willing to take.  (barely doable)
  2. What you expect to get.  (desirable)
  3. What you reasonably could hope to get.  (dream offer)

Next you look at those three goals.  Figure out how much value is between them.  Call that your 'base units'.   If we were just talking about money (but very few negotiations are just about money), then it is easy.  I'll give you a pure money example.

Lets say you are looking for a new job.  Your current job pays 60k (welcome to the middle class).  There is no way you would change jobs, losing seniority, vacation days, 401K contributions, etc. for anything less than 66k.  So 66K is your 'willing to take' number.  Any lower and you don't change jobs.  You think you are easily worth 70k, and you can see someone desperate for you paying 75K.

Those are your numbers, 66, 70 and 75.

Next you have to figure out what a 'low ball' number your opponent might offer.  Anything less than that means they are not serious about hiring.    From your research, you find that people with no experience might work for 60k.   Anything less than that and your potential new employer is wasting your time.  They simply are not looking for someone.   If they even mention a number lower than 60k, forget about getting the job, walk away - they either don't know what they are doing, or are not serious about hiring someone of your caliber.

Now your numbers are 60 (low-ball), 66 (barely doable), 70 (desirable) 75 (dream pay).

All the numbers differ from between 4-6k.   So add on 5k, to your dream pay, and you get 80k.  If they ask you for a number before telling you anything else, that is the one you give.  It is higher than your dream pay and most likely will not be accepted. But who knows, you could get lucky.

You do not under any circumstance ask for 90k.  That is ridiculously too high and will get you laughed at and dismissed, just as if someone were to offer you 50k.  Asking for 90k (or trying to end Obama-Care) is the equivalent of saying "Oh, and in addition to the pay, I also want to sleep with your wife."

It is not an attempt to actually negotiate, it is an attempt to disrupt the negotiation (or prove you are a moron unsuited for the job.)

A good negotiator asks for the 80k, is countered with 60k, and meet at 70k.   Both sides demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of the value of the work
  2. A desire for profit
  3. A willingness to be reasonable
  4. Good negotiating skills

Asking to repeal Obamacare (or just major parts of it), is the equivalent of asking to sleep with your new employers wife.  For God's sake it has the President's NAME in it. It's his legacy, the one thing that everyone will remember about him.  Both sides used it as a major plank in their 2012 election campaign and Obama won.

Frankly, I think Obama would be more willing to let Paul Ryan sleep with Michelle, than to repeal ObamaCare as part of the budget.   Fifty years from now, when they talk about President Obama it will be "First Black President, killed Osama Bin Laden, Reformed Health Care".  He isn't giving up that last statement.

Trying to include it's repeal proves the GOP is NOT serious at all about negotiating, instead they are just pontificating, playing to the base, and pretending to work.

The thing is America KNOWS what you are doing - all of America.  That includes Democrats, Republicans an Independents.

Anyone that is not already a died-in-the-wool Republican knows it is a lie, not real negotiation

And we will remember it in 2014 when the entire House goes up for re-election again - this time without the super-strong, just-gerrymandered election districts you built up last time.   You better pray to god the typical mid-cycle anti-incumbent-president effect counters your stupidity.  It doesn't always work that way.  Because that's the only thing that can save the GOP from yet another huge loss in 2014.

Friday, March 15, 2013

TSA Allowing Small Knives.

We all know how lax the TSA (America's Transportation Security Administration) is like.  They let people carry liquids on planes, they don't even bother to check children or old people for weapons.  Why, if you have a wheelchair, they just let on through, without checking if it has weapons hidden in it.   They don't bother checking your shoes, belts, or heavy jackets, they just trust us.

Which of course is why boarding a plane is the easiest, most hassle free thing to do.

So it is no surprise at all that they have now chosen to let people take Swiss army knives and similar objects onto a plane.  Those fools!

What?  That doesn't sound like your experience with the TSA?

<</end sarcasm>>

OK.  Lets be honest here.  The TSA is a paranoid organization that stops women from taking breast milk on planes (despite it being legal to do so).  They molest children, old people and have been known to disassemble wheelchairs. They make you take your shoes, belts and jackets off, to x-ray them.

Boarding a plane is a huge exercise in security theater and futility (nothing they do will stop ground to air missiles, which will do more damage and are cheaper 4 air plane tickets).

So when the TSA of all people say "Hey, it's safe to let people take swiss army knives and similar items onto a plane", then IT'S SAFE TO LET PEOPLE TAKE SWISS ARMY KNIVES ON PLANES.

Part of the problem here is shear ignorance.  People think you need something called a weapon to hurt people.  No.  Anyone that has had an aluminum laptop attache fall on their head can tell you you don't need something labelled a weapon to kill you.  In addition, anyone that's ever been in a serious bar fight will tell you that a broken glass (like the ones they give you in first class) can kill.

TSA's job is not to ensure that passengers have no weapons.  They can't do that and trying is ridiculous.  Sorry Flight Attendants, your job has some risk.  Not a lot - the number of Flight Attendants attacked by passengers is tiny (and dropping).  In 2012 there were only 101 unruly passenger incidents. (source)  Considering we have over 87,000 flights every DAY (source), that number is miniscule.

The TSA's job is to ensure that the plane doesn't get taken or destroyed, nothing more.  They claim the cockpit doors have been reinforced to prevent anyone using a Swiss army knife or similar item as a screwdriver/pry-bar, cutting tool to get into the cockpit.   Given how ridiculous they are about other things, and the fact that none of the people objecting are giving counter-examples, I believe them.

It was NOT and NEVER was to protect the people on the plane.  Because it doesn't do that.  No ban could do that - or are you going to require all flight attendants to be large men, in the prime of their life, trained in hand to hand combat?  Do you really expect your flight attendant to be able to manhandle someone like the Dwayne Johnson?  Or perhaps you want to make it illegal for anyone that looks like Dwayne Johnson to fly on airplanes out of concern that he could hurt a flight attendant?

Grow up and deal with the fact that life has risk in it.

Considering that the TSA is  bat-shit paranoid about moronic things (they spend much too much money preventing it compared to the amount spent to stop car crashes - which cause more deaths every year in the US than all the terrorist attacks on planes worldwide in the past 43 years combined - wikipedia source vs 32,367 killed in car crashes in 2011)

So when the TSA says it's OK, then it's freaking OK.

Anyone that says otherwise is a paranoid fool that knows nothing about:

  1. Close combat
  2. The risks normal people face every day
  3. How rare unruly passengers, let alone terrorist attacks are.
  4. How much time, effort and money are needed to find these knives 
Or perhaps is simply in the pocket of  the various auction sites that sell the goods confiscated by the TSA (source).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Soda Ban

Bloomberg committed a horrible offense against liberty.  Not because he attacked soda, but because of HOW he did it.   Which is why the Judge overturned his ridiculous law.

As I have said before, the appropriate way to deal with activities the government wants to discourage ids to TAX it, not outlaw it.  Just like we do with cigarettes.   Specifically we can tax large containers of soda versus small ones (just like Bloomberg only planned on banning large containers).

There was no reason whatsoever to ban it.  It was, as the judge said, capricious.   It did not actually prevent you fro drinking more soda, it just made it less convenient.   Or, as my friends say "a dick move'.

It was done without regard to reason, without regard to freedom, and without regard to others.

At heart, his 'inconvenience' technique is a poor attempt at mind control.   I am not against attempts at mind control, but I am against POOR attempts at mind control.   If the government wants to brainwash me, they have to put forth some effort! 

Taxes are a much better method of behavior modification than portion control.

  1. The reason the stores like to sell the big portions rather than small is the minimum transaction cost (you pay the same rent and server salary whether they sell 10 ounces or 30 ounces, but you can charge more for 30 ounces).  So they just switch to "2 for 1" and sell two 16 ounce cups - maybe even glued together), negating your ban with no gain whatsoever.  Taxes however lower sales.
  2. Even if the taxes fail to lower sales, it gives the government money, which it desperately needs. 
  3. Bans anger people more than taxes.  We live with taxes, they make us mutter, not sue.
  4. Taxes can easily be set to auto adjust for inflation.  Ban's don't adjust for anything.
Why didn't Bloomberg tax it away?   Mainly because he is wealthy and therefore did not consider a tax as effective.  He knows how to get around it, and can easily afford the tax.  Also, the GOP is anti-tax, and while Bloomberg is not a Republican, he is affected by partisan politics. 

The judge made the right decision to overthrow Bloomberg's capricious law.  Maybe now Bloomberg will get off his dictatorial butt and realize he should just tax large Soda containers as opposed to banning them..

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Activated Sequester

As I have said before, the Sequester is basically what the GOP claims it wants.  A reduction in spending.  That is why they aren't fixing it.   They don't want a tax increase, so they simply will not make any kind of deal that takes a non-tax increase solution for a tax-increase version.  No matter how much better they get for a tax-increase version

Instead they have used it to cause the government to cut programs the GOP doesn't like.  They are accepting cuts in some programs they do like, in exchange.

The Senate should reject their attempts to 'help' out just the government departments the GOP likes (i.e. the military).

If the GOP is really serious about fixing ANY problems with the Sequester, they must be willing to spend as much money and power fixing the things the Democrats want.

Trying to solve just the programs they like is evil.

It's like if two parents decided to cut back on spending for their kids because of budgetary problems, then the father says "but lets put in an exception to let Billy Bob go on a field trip for the Boy Scouts" while still refusing to send Jill-Anne to her baking class.

You can't just fix the programs you like, while screwing over your partner.

When the senate rejects the GOP's recommendations remember that the Sequester is supposed to be a PUNISHMENT for the GOP, not a real budget.

Yes the Sequester is stupid.  It was supposed to be stupid.

No you can't make it smarter for your favorite programs, not without making it smarter for your opponents programs.

 This is basic prisoner's dilemma logic.   You want to get something, but if you betray your opponent, they will betray you too.

No, you can't complain about your opponent's screwing you over while you are still screwing them over.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Holder's Drones Over America

Attorney General Eric Holder has said he thought it would be legal for Obama to have drones kill Americans inside American territory, albeit under 'special circumstances'.  His actual words were:

"It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,"

Yes, he is totally correct.  Those special circumstances would be called "If he first declared Martial Law".

The problem is that Attorney General Holder does not appear to realizes that Martial Law would need to be declared BEFORE the President could legally do so.

Senator Rand Paul, (a man whom I disagree with about most things but admire his ethics) gave a great old school filibuster to protest Holder's statement.  Note he actually stood up and talked for nearly 12 hours, as opposed to simply telling everything he was filibustering, which is what the lazy republicans usually do nowadays.

Holder should realize this and end this bit of stupidity by admitting that the special circumstances would involve a declaration of Martial Law.   He has not, as of yet.  But he did realize exactly how stupid his first answer was and gave this rather weak response:

According to Carney, Paul asked, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" In his response, also read by Carney, Holder replied succinctly: "The answer to that question is no."

This answer is worded rather strangely.  Note how he specifically answered the exact wording, and avoided the actually question.  It purposefully leave unanswered questions about the definition of 'combat'.   The president should not be involved unless Martial Law is declared.  If they are not, then someone of lesser rank should be making that decision, and drones should not be used to kill unless the enemy is directly attacking a human being (not the drone - no matter how much it costs).

Similarly, cops don't shoot people because they have guns in their hands, but only if they believe the criminal is about to use the gun (i.e. cops can't shoot hunters).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Preppers: More about Crazy

Why do I keep talking about stupidity vs insanity?  Because is so common in politics.  Worse, as I have shown before, Stupidity tends to spread.

There are a certain group of generally extremely conservative lunatics that think the world is going to end.

They tend to 'prep' for it by getting lots of guns, ammo, survival bunkers, and lots and lots of food stored away.

Now please note I am not calling them morons because they think some kind of mega-disaster is coming.  I kind of agree with that.  Nor am I calling them morons for prepping .  That makes a certain amount of sense.  They are not stupid, nor are they evil.

My problem is that these lunatics have no idea how to really get prepared for anything.

If you think there will be a problem getting food for more than a month, then buy a farm and learn how to make it yourself.  Or at the very least become/work at a food distributor (i.e. have a warehouse that will feed 1,000 people for 100 years rather than a puny shelter containing enough food for 4 for a month).

If you think there is a chance you might need more than 1000 bullets, learn how to make them yourself.  (I admit a few of the smarter 'preppers' do this).

If you think you are going to need more than 5,000 rounds, learn how to make a crossbow and how to make crossbow bolts (or at least how to make a bow and arrows).

The idea that you should store more than a month of food is crazy unless you also start a business selling it.   The idea that you need to spend more than a day learning how to shoot a gun is also pretty damn crazy. Guns are simple to use and will scare off people unless they come in huge numbers and then your skill won't matter.   Bow hunting however does take skill, which you really should learn, if you are going try and use one to defend yourself/hunt.

It's not their assumptions that make these people crazy, it is there obviously moronic 'solutions'.

The same problem often exists in general politics.  You have idiots that pretend anti-gay laws are there to support the family, rather than make anti-divorce laws.

You really want to stop divorce?  Put a permanent tax on it - i.e. if you get married, have children, then get divorced, then both parents pay 1% higher taxes than if they had never gotten married.  Put that money to child services.

You really want to make government smaller?  End programs YOU like, rather than ones your opponent likes.  That's the best way to fix things.

You know why people don't do this?

Because their claimed 'reasons'  are a bunch of lies.  They are thinly veiled excuses for their real agendas that they think we are too stupid to see through.  Why?  Because they themselves are too stupid to see through those excuses.

The laws against gay marriage are not about protecting straight marriage, they are about anti-gay prejudice, nothing more.   The attempts to shut down liberal programs are not about saving money, they are about ending liberal programs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stupid vs. Crazy vs Evil

First of all, note the order.  It is based on rarity.  Stupidity is common, while true evil is extremely rare.

I will start with crazy.   Note  I am using an emotionally charged word here, not a technical term.  It makes for a clearer argument.  I am not trying to insult anyone, nor make value judgements about any specific people.   Just trying to use an extreme word for literary impact.

The hallmark of insanity is not believing false things.  Lots of people are wrong about something.  Nor is it their methodology/philosophy.   Lots of people have different processes.

Believing you are President Obama does not make you crazy.  In fact there is one person that believes he is President Obama and is totally sane - and correct. (i.e. the real President Obama).

Insanity depends not on facts, not on your philosophy, but on your reactions and conclusions.

Let's say there was some bizzare movie-esque plot to kidnap President Obama and give him plastic surgery so he doesn't look like himself.  Upon awakening, he would not start insisting he is President Obama.  Instead he gets a phone and makes a call and the Secret Service comes and get him.  They check him over and quickly agree.

If you wake up thinking you are President Obama then the sane thing to do is to call the Secret Service, probably with some code word.  If you try to do anything else,, you are crazy.

Same thing with just about every other kind of insanity.  Extreme Germophobes are not crazy because they don't want germs on them.  Nor are they crazy because they think that germs are everywhere.  They are crazy because of the extreme reaction to these facts and philosophies.  Their desire to obsessively clean everything is what makes them crazy.

Note, insanity is at heart not something sane people can understand.  We don't say "Why yes, I might do that if I had different ethics."  It is illogical and incomprehensible to sane people.

Also note, that just because you are crazy, does not mean you are stupid - but it also doesn't mean you are smart.  Similarly, being crazy doesn't mean you are evil and it doesn't mean you are good either.

As a result, while crazy is relatively common, it doesn't spread.  In a set of 10,000 people, there may be a lot of 1,000 crazy people - but they won't agree with each other.

Next comes evil.   Evil can be quite logical and have reasonable reactions and conclusions.   It doesn't have to be crazy.  Nor is it by default wrong as to facts. You can be totally correct about a situation and still be evil.

Evil is about the methodology and philosophy that you use.  If you see a bank, recognize it has money and that the money is not yours, then non-evil people will accept that and leave it alone.  But if your philosophy says that it is OK to take things that aren't yours that you want, then you would steal the money.  You would do so because you are evil, not because you are crazy.

Evil is something people can understand.  We know full well what we might do if we had different ethics/philosophy.

Which is why true evil is so relatively rare.  You see, you don't have to be a genius to recognize the value of some one else's philosophy.   You just need a genius to create the philosophy/ethics.  Then the average guy can usually see the advantages of the better ones, adopting them and abandoning the ethics and philosophies that don't work so well.   Sure, some people will stick to less efficient ones, but over time, the better ones tend to survive, while the worse ones die out.

Evil, unlike crazy, does spread.  If everyone else is stealing, then it encourages other people to steal.   Luckily, it is relatively rare.  In a set of 10,000 people, there may only be 100 evil people - but they will all agree with each other and can work together (i.e. organized crime, politics, etc.)

Finally lets talk about stupid.  By stupid, I mean getting facts wrong - and/or not using reasonable methods to check them.  When you think the Earth has only a circumference of 30,200 kilometers (Columbus' estimate) when in fact it is 40,000 kilometers, you are wrong.

It's not just getting the facts wrong, but your method of checking them.  Columbus just looked up the Abu al Abbas Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Kathir al Farghani, aka Alfrangus work and failed to realize that a Alfrangus, being Persian, used an Arabic Mile, rather than a Roman Mile.  

Stupid is common.  You have to judge facts for yourself.  Philosophies get tested repeatedly, and learned over years.  Facts often just get accepted. Which means stupidity spreads like evil does.  In a set of 10,000 people, there may be 3,000 stupid people.  And they will all quickly agree with each other.

Now, lets' talk about the situation as a whole

When I agree with your facts, your philosophy, and your reactions, I agree with you.
When I disagree about your facts, one of us is wrong - and possibly stupid.
When I disagree about your methodology, one of us is evil.
When I disagree about your reactions, one of us is crazy.

Crazy doesn't think that well, and doesn't cooperate.  It can't gang up or join with stupid or evil.

Evil has long ago figured out that the rest of the world thinks it is evil and hides it.  Sometimes it gathers stupid to do it's dirty work.

Stupid tends to put forth their stupidity and doesn't understand why other people ignore them.   Stupiid also keeps thinking people don't understand them.

A good example of this is the 'white power' movement.  It is evil and has gathered stupid to it.  The stupid make ridiculous claims that other people instantly see through ("We are just an equal rights movement for whites")   Stupid, being easily fooled by simple lies, puts forth it's own stupid lies that are easily seen through.

Stupid often surrounds it's false facts with huge number of true ones, always shown first.  If someone gives you a list and the first stuff you agree with, then the later stuff seems questioanble, they put it in that order on purpose.  They want you in the habit of agreeing with them by the time they start feeding you bull.

Similarly, evil likes to start out by feeding you a bunch of facts, that you agree with then, then move on to a questionable situation, ending in a false evil philosophy.

Just because someone is right about one thing doesn't make them right about anything else.

You can also agree with someone's facts but object to their philosophy - or reaction/conclusions.

That is, yes, I can agree that most of the prisoner's in the US are black, but I know that is due to poverty that correlates with race, not genetics.  Similarly, I can state that most prisoners are male, but that does not mean women are ethically superior.

It also works the other way around - I can believe that sex abuse is a horrible, despicable crime but I can also know that people arrested for sexual crimes are far LESS likely to commit any other rime than someone arrested for violent or money based crimes.  Sex crimes has recidivism rate of only about 5.3%. (source).

Yes, most people have this fact backwards - they think perverts that get caught are sick and will repeat.  They are wrong.  Mainly because they think 'sex crimes' refers to psychotic child rapists that kill then eat their victims, not random drunk people arrested for peeing in a school yard (guess how many people on the sex offenders list come from which of those categories).

Do not let the evil and stupid people trick you simply because they begin their discussion/argument with true facts.