Author Archives: Stephen Gordon

What if the Founding Fathers could have posted to Facebook?

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds posted a link to a post over at Cool Material which, in a humorous manner, displays what might have happened if historical events had Facebook statuses. I had so much fun with the historical events graphic, I thought I’d take a stab at what some of the Founding Father’s posts might have looked like along with some of the potential comments left afterwards.

Founding Fathers on Facebook

Founding Fathers on Facebook

Government-Run Amputation Panels

For some time, we’ve been using words and sometimes charts or graphs to describe the multitude of problems with government-run health care systems. The Greeks have finally allowed us to put a face to the issue. Well, perhaps a few extremities lower. From the Daily Caller:

This Saturday, one of Greece’s most respected newspapers, To Vima, reported that the nation’s largest government health insurance provider would no longer pay for special footwear for diabetes patients. Amputation is cheaper, says the Benefits Division of the state insurance provider.

In a true free market, health insurance providers couldn’t allow this sort of imagery, as it would hurt obviously their sales. Who’d want to purchase insurance from a company with a reputation of cutting granny’s feet off instead of covering the cost for therapeutic shoes?

The photograph above is from some Civil War amputation footage. I’d like to thank Congress and the president for bringing the United States one step closer to 1865.

The most revolting political video I’ve ever seen

Here are the first two tenets (of ten) of the organization dubbed 10:10:

  1. 10:10 is a voluntary emissions reduction campaign for any person, organisation or business to commit to cutting 10% of their emissions in a 12 month period starting in 2010.
  2. 10:10 is an inclusive campaign. Every person, business and organisation is welcome to join.

The video below (the original has already been deleted from their website) depicts what they mean by the word voluntary.  Those who can’t handle graphical depictions of school children being blown apart shouldn’t watch this, and parents should be advised that this is the sort of material from which some of you may wish to shield your children.

Here’s their current explanation as to why they deleted their own video:

Sorry.

Today we put up a mini-movie about 10:10 and climate change called ‘No Pressure’.

With climate change becoming increasingly threatening, and decreasingly talked about in the media, we wanted to find a way to bring this critical issue back into the headlines whilst making people laugh. We were therefore delighted when Britain’s leading comedy writer, Richard Curtis – writer of Blackadder, Four Weddings, Notting Hill and many others – agreed to write a short film for the 10:10 campaign. Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn’t and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended.

As a result of these concerns we’ve taken it off our website. We won’t be making any attempt to censor or remove other versions currently in circulation on the internet.

We’d like to thank the 50+ film professionals and 40+ actors and extras and who gave their time and equipment to the film for free. We greatly value your contributions and the tremendous enthusiasm and professionalism you brought to the project.

At 10:10 we’re all about trying new and creative ways of getting people to take action on climate change. Unfortunately in this instance we missed the mark. Oh well, we live and learn.

Onwards and upwards,

Franny, Lizzie, Eugenie and the whole 10:10 team

They may have deleted the video, but the Internet has a very long memory, indeed. I’m sure political opponents of the environmental movement will be using this footage for years to come.

Perhaps it’s time for a little compassionate libertarianism

“It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity.

“This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism. And on this ground we will govern our nation.

“We will give low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private health insurance they need and deserve.

“We will transform today’s housing rental program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families find stability and dignity in a home of their own.

“And, in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic work of homeless shelters and hospices, food pantries and crisis pregnancy centers people reclaiming their communities block-by-block and heart-by-heart.” - from George W. Bush’s 2000 Republican National Convention acceptance speech

True fiscal conservatives, especially libertarians, are among the most compassionate people I’ve ever met.  Time and time again I’ve witnessed the poorest of libertarians being the most generous with their money, especially when the giving process is personal and not directed through some government agency or large non-government organization. When a house burns down across the street, these are often the first people to show with food and clothing. When someone needs money for a medical calamity, these are the people who host the bake sale and pass the hat. They’ll assist in a traffic accident or help a stranger fix a flat in the pouring rain. Or give a homeless guy a few bucks. When you see that glass jar with a tattered photocopy of some local kid in need taped to it over by the checkout counter at your local mom-and-pop store, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Compassionate conservatism, at least of the variety schemed by Karl Rove and practiced by George W. Bush, has been a topic of constant ridicule from the left, libertarians, and the few fiscal conservatives with enough testicular fortitude to criticize Republican leaders for their hypocrisy regarding economic issues. True to his word,  Bush intervened in the health care, housing and welfare reform arenas, providing us with costly programs like Medicare Part D, the collapse of Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, and problematic Faith-Based Initiatives, respectively.  And let’s not forget the federal expansion of the No Child Left Behind program or the federal intervention of the Terri Schiavo case. While these big-ticket items provide enough fodder to dismiss compassionate conservatism, there are countless additional examples of how Bush and his cronies managed equate the word “conservative” with a redistributionistic domestic policy or expansion of government.

A bit of fast forwarding provides the same general liberal and libertarian criticisms of compassionate conservatism today, but the populist mood has shifted and provided us with a Tea Party movement willing to, at least in part, take aim at the policies of the previous administration.  The Tea Party movement has also provided new fiscally conservative candidates, emboldened the few small-government conservatives holding public office, and forced others to wear a temporary, election year I-also-hate-deficit-spending-except-when-they-forced-me-to-vote-for-it cloak. For better or worse, the political landscape has certainly changed over the last couple of years.

President Obama’s election combined with a Democratic takeover of Congress led to an interesting phenomenon: An increase in the sales of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.   All of a sudden, non-libertarians were no longer wincing when being criticized for greediness and the Tea Parties of early 2009 sported a lot of Rand-influenced signage.  During those days, I ran into a plethora of activists who could easily illustrate how individual “greed” is actually a virtue.

By the time the April 15, 2009 Tea Parties had concluded, the initially blurry composition of the movement had focused into a coalition of libertarians and fiscal conservatives with a better defined message regarding greed and compassion. Still today, there is a clear-cut and not-necessarily-defined-by-party-lines “us” and “them” — “them” being the liberals, the big-spenders, the establishment, the liberal media, elected officials, and so on.  In other words, the big-government political elite and their enablers.

In the process of defining “them,” fiscal conservatives also began to brand who the “us” are: the victims of the big-government political elite and their enablers. Populist identity politics in the Tea Party era focuses on the rights, and the votes, of people afflicted by government policies — especially redistributionistic ones. While a few people still concentrate on the Randian self-victim angle, a great deal are now concerned about how fiscal deficits will impact their children and grandchildren, how cap-and-trade legislation places arbitrary regulations on industries, and on how socialized medicine removes personal choice from large sectors of our society.

It seems that Bush’s brand of compassionate conservatism was designed primarily to win enough liberals without repulsing too many conservatives in order to win on Election Day.  This played out to three large sectors of the voting population:  It guilted the “haves” into paying for the “needs” of others, it bribed the “needy” in exchange for votes and the word “conservative” was tacked alongside socialistic policies in order to pacify other elements within the GOP.

That formula couldn’t work today because the “haves” are becoming fewer in number and those remaining are less inclined to pay taxes for either social or corporate welfare. Despite the protestations of the Mike Huckabees and Lindsey Grahams of the world, the word “conservative” is being redefined and the current incarnation deals more with fiscal than social issues.  Providing government services to classes of people in exchange for votes will always exist, but as the system continues to collapse, people have less faith in the ability of their own sector of society to continue to be the beneficiary of government largesse.

“Compassionate libertarianism” is not some policy of economic redistribution, as others have suggested in the past. It isn’t pandering for votes, although that could be a positive consequence. It doesn’t require compromising any values, therefore it isn’t oxymoronic.

“Compassionate libertarianism” is concentrating the imagery of the libertarian message towards the victims of government benevolence. It focuses on the small company forced to shut down because of ObamaCare or other tax and regulatory burdens. It illuminates a new class of unemployed as a result of Cap-and-Trade. It highlights a working family which just cut their food budget while paying for the more expensive food of people who don’t work at all. It centers our attention on the small businesses which are laying off employees while the government continues to hire.

Other examples include those suffering from collapsing roads or utility systems because government can no longer pay the bill. People being forced to purchase insurance they don’t desire. The family farm which can’t compete with the government-subsidized mega farms. The non-bailout automobile companies competing with those obtaining government cash. Someone who dies as a result of a government-influenced denial of his or her medical care. The people being looted, as opposed to the looters and beneficiaries of the looting process.

For the first time in my life, it seems that more people sympathize with the people being looted than with the looters. Maybe this is because more people are being personally impacted by our current fiscal crisis than has happened for quite some time.  And this seems to have led to additional education about our Constitution and the history of the dawning of our republic.

Perhaps this is the time to turn our country’s sympathies toward those individuals who are working hard and doing the right thing but having their property confiscated in the variety of social and corporate welfare scams being administered in D.C.

If we are going to be compassionate, let’s at least aim it at the true victims in society — the ones actually being tyrannized by our government, as opposed to the looters who receive the spoils of this economic and political war.

From Saxby Chambliss’s Office: “All faggots must die”

Here’s where you can find the offending quote on the Internet.

Here’s the challenge that was made to find the culprit:

The above comment was left today by “Jimmy” on my post about the DADT cloture vote. The IP address *appears* to resolve to the neighborhood of GOP U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ Atlanta office. The ISP is “United States Senate.” I’m confident that the JMG internet sleuths can get to the source.

Here’s the IP: 156.33.20.72. Get busy, geeks!

Here’s what the Atlanta Journal Constitution has written about it (so far):

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss confirmed Tuesday that he investigating whether one of his staffers left a threatening slur on an Internet discussion of the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.

“We have seen the allegations and are moving quickly to understand the facts. This office has not and will not tolerate any activity of the sort alleged,” Chambliss spokeswoman Bronwyn Lance Chester said. “Once we have ascertained whether these claims are true, we will take the appropriate steps.”

And here’s an additional update:

I’ve just gotten off the phone with Atlanta Journal-Constitution political writer Jim Galloway who says that Sen. Saxby Chambliss has confirmed that the “All faggots must die” comment left here on JMG earlier today did indeed come from his Atlanta office. Galloway reports that Chambliss told him his office is conducting an internal investigation.

And people wonder why I think social conservatives in the Republican Party should just shut the hell up.

UPDATE: An AJC commenter provides the following:

This “investigation” smacks of religious persecution. Whoever made the comment was just paraphrasing the Holy scripture: “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13) Our laws should reflect God’s law, right? This is a Christian nation after all.

Lest anyone think this sort of thought process is an isolated event, let’s take a look at what former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore wrote in a concurring opinion in D.H. v. H.H. (a case where a lesbian was attempting to obtain custody of her children):

“The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

UPDATE II: The AJC provides the following:

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ office has determined it was indeed the source of a highly publicized homosexual-bashing slur on an Internet site.

But in a statement, Chambliss’ office said it has not discovered exactly who was behind the slur, and has turned the matter over to the Senate Sergeant At Arms.

“The (Sergeant at Arms) has worked side by side with our personnel to determine whether the comment in question emanated from our office. That appears to be the case,” an unsigned statement from Chambliss’ press office read.

“There has not been a determination as to who posted the comment,” the statement read. “That part of the review is ongoing, and is now in the hands of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.”

Spokeswomen for Chambliss did not return a reporters phone calls or emails seeking more details.

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