Category Archives: Dumbasses and Authoritarians

“Climate Change”, and the false dichotomy of “evil or stupid”

As we run up to the midterm elections, the drumbeat is once again sounding throughout that land, that Republicans… or rather, everyone not Leftist… are “anti-science”, “pro-ignorance” etc… etc…

I am constantly hearing some variant of “Republicans are either evil or stupid for not… X”.

The sad part of course, is that a certain percentage of non-leftists, including libertarians and conservatives are in fact, nuts, particularly about science… and another large block are ignorant.

Of course, so are large blocks of those on the left… but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

There are certainly many scientific issues over which the ideological spectrum split, but likely the biggest one, with the most uniform split (there’s very few whose ideological “side” don’t match the position staked out by that side, to some degree or another)….

“Climate Change”

Ok, talked about it here before, and there’s plenty of great resources on the topic (try Climate Skeptic for a start)… But it’s an issue among my friends right now, and Neil Degrasse Tyson has been talking about it lately (before his most recent brouhaha), facebook is… well, pretty much always covered with it etc…

Let me just lay things out for a bit…

First, YES, there ARE loonies out there who say that there is no climate change “because Jesus” or “It’s all a conspiracy man” etc… etc… etc…

Feel free to ignore them, as you would on every other subject. They don’t represent any kind of reality based universe, never mind a rational position.

There are also those who simply say that there is no such thing as climate change whatsoever… But mostly they are either ignorant of, or don’t understand, the science, math, or historical record in question

And yes, there are far more of those than there should be in 2014.

However, some of us come to our positions through a knowledge of science, engineering, math, the scientific method, research methodologies and data analysis.

There are those, myself among them, who actually DO understand science, and don’t believe in CATASTROPHIC, ANTHROPOGENIC, global warming, leading to systemic, catastrophic climate change.

We are not irrational, ignorant, evil, driven by unsavory motives, or stupid.

We come to this position, because we understand that:

  1. The question isn’t whether climate is changing and will change in the future, it always has and always will. The question is how much has it, how much will it in the future, and why.
  2. Catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming leading to catastrophic climate change, is a tightly interconnected theory. For any element of the conclusions to be correct, ALL of the suppositions within the theory must be correct. The instant any of them changes, at all, the theory falls apart.
  3. The mathematical models for this have always been highly speculative and have proven non predictive both forward and backward.
  4. The data is greatly variable ( and often poor) in quality, and is adjusted in ways that make it less than useful for a model with high sensitivity predictions, because small changes or inconsistencies in the data make big changes in the model.
  5. The catastrophic model adopted by the U.N. has some major dependencies which are entirely theoretical, and have not been borne out by historical facts; specifically estimates of forcing, estimates of weighting of various factors, and particularly estimates of extremely high sensitivity to certain factors (especially CO2), that while throughout all of history have exhibited one behavior (a stable, negative feedback system), for some reason (i.e. humanity is bad and stuff), things have changed now… even though CO2 has been much higher in the past, and it didn’t happen then… Such that a very small change in CO2 will have a large multiplier effect, transforming the stable negative feedback system that the climate has been throughout the entirety of history to this point, to an unstable positive feedback system.
  6. There is no evidence for this catastrophic theory, nor does it correspond with historical models, or models that prove to be historically predictive (i.e. if you run the model backwards and forwards in time, it matches roughly with what actually happened).
  7. This prediction has been made since the mid 80s (prior to the mid 80, from the early 70s they were predicting global cooling and ice age by the way), and the models have proven to be grossly inaccurate. They are constantly revised to reflect the same conclusion, but never actually predict what ACTUALLY happens in the real world. There was initially slightly more warming than the previous historical models predicted, but by 1991 warming was back to the historical trend line, and there has actually been no significant warming since 1994-1998 depending on exactly which dataset you look at.
  8. Human outputs from all of industry, vehicles etc… Make up less than 1% of total atmospheric CO2… actually between .3 and .4%. The VAST majority of CO2 comes from forests, oceans, animals, and soil (and the bacteria contained therein). They also absorb CO2 in the natural CO2 cycle.
  9. If the historical, non catastrophic models prove correct, and they have so far, there will be between less than 1 and just over 2 degrees centigrade warming in the next 100 years. This is not catastrophic, and is consistent with warming/cooling cycles throughout history.
  10. If all human output of carbon dioxide and other theorized elements of climate change stopped right now, today… That number wouldn’t change at all, or at most very little. Within the margin of error.
  11. Once you take the catastrophic sensitivity to a tiny change out of the model, many other factors become far greater “forcings”, particularly the suns variability (relating to sunspot cycles).
  12. If the catastrophic models are correct, either we already have, or we soon will, pass the point of no return. We would not only have to completely stop emitting CO2 entirely, but we would have to take large amounts of it out of the environment.
  13. No matter what, the developing world isn’t going to stop burning wood, and coal, and growing and modernizing and using as much hydrocarbons as they can. They don’t give a damn what european liberals think, they just want to cook their dinners and have lights at night.
  14. No matter what, China and India aren’t going to stop being 60+% of all CO2 emissions from human sources (that’s according to the environmentalist group, the earth policy institute. UN numbers say it’s more like 30-40%), because if they did they’d all be plunged into even greater poverty and likely starve to death.

What it comes down to is this:

  • If the catastrophic models are correct, it’s too late to do anything about it anyway.
  • Even if every western nation utterly stopped producing ANY output which contributed to climate change, it wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever.
  • If the catastrophic theory is wrong, and everything point to it being so, then we would be spending trillions of dollars, destroying economies, ruining millions or billions of peoples lives etc… All for little or nothing.
  • There are real, actual, proven problems that are far more likely to be important, and that we can actually do something about, that are much better ways to spend our time and money.
  • Ok… so why do so many people support the idea… particularly so many scientists?

    The same reason anyone does anything… because it aligns with their perceived incentives, beliefs, worldview, narrative, and identity.

    To wit…

    1. Funding
    2. Social signaling an ingroup identification
    3. Politics
    4. Power and control (climate change legislation is all about taking power and control from one group, and giving it to another)
    5. Ideology and alignment with world view
    6. The precautionary principle
    7. Anti-capitalism
    8. Funding
    9. Because if they don’t, they don’t get jobs, their papers don’t get published, they don’t get university positions etc…
    10. Because they know that it’s not as bad as the press makes it out to be, but that making it super duper scary is the only way to make the morons out there pay attention and actually make some of the good positive changes that need to happen (like more energy efficient technology, and more research into alternative energy)
    11. Because the entire world has lined up into teams, not just about climate change, but about ALL social, cultural, and scientific issues… Evolution, homosexuality, everything else about the environment etc… and one team has decided to label themselves “progressive” and “liberal” and “pro science” and the other team “anti science”, and nobody wants to be “regressive” and “anti-science”.
    12. Did I mention funding? There is no funding in saying “things are going to be about like they always have been, with some small changes as expected, and maybe a very small degree of increased change… it will have some moderate impacts”. That’s boring, and it gets ignored, and no-one gets any funding, and you can’t do additional research on it. No-one is paying for research into squirrel populations and how “1 degree per century of climate change will impact them).

    Yes… I repeated myself, in several different ways there… That was intentional.

    The Broken Record

    Catastrophists have a record, of being broken records… and being mostly or entirely wrong.

    From 1974 until 1985 or thereabouts, many of the exact same scientists, politicians, pundits, and environmentalists who today are saying are going to warm our way into a combination of ice age, deserts, and typhoons everywhere… were saying the exact opposite.

    At the time, their theories and models said that we were going to precipitate our own ice age, blocking out the sun, and that crops would fail and we would starve to death.

    The fact is, we’ve heard over and over again for decades that if we don’t do exactly what this one particular group wants us to do about any particular issue within 5, 10, 20 years etc… that we’re all gonna die, the world is gonna end, everything will turn to dust, there will be no birds, no trees…

    Anyone remember when acid rain was going to kill us all?

    Yes, in part, it’s because we did respond to the concerns of the environmentalists, regulations were changed somewhat, technology got better, we polluted less and cleaned up more. These are all good things.

    But mostly it was because they were dramatically overstating both the problems, and the solutions; either because they actually believed it, or for political reasons…

    Seems to me, mostly for political reasons.

    Mostly we haven’t done what they asked.

    The world didn’t end.

    We didn’t all die.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t right this time…

    …One of these times they just might be… or at least they might be more right than wrong…

    …it just means that we should really be very careful, and very skeptical, about what they say, what we believe, and what we do about it.

    Oh and one more thing…

    There is one final, and almost universal test of the validity of someones claim that “everything has to change”.

    It can’t prove that a claim is true… but it can nearly always prove a false claim to be false, or at least greatly exaggerated.

    Simplified, it’s called the “Act as If” test.

    Does the person making the claim, act as they would if the claim were true, and as urgent as they say?

    Is it conclusive? No… but it’s a pretty strong indicator.

    Do those who say they believe in truly catastrophic anthropogenic global warming pass this test?

    Do they actually act as they would, if they actually believed their predictions.

    The answer is very much no… not even close.

    So, if they don’t… why should anyone else?

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    Why Do We Give These People So Much Control Over Our Lives

    In one of the most mind boggling moments in American politics ever, Florida Governor Rick Scott refused to debate his opponent, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, because……..Crist placed a fan underneath his podium.

    Scott claims that the rules forbid any electronics on stage, however Crist says that the rules didn’t ban fans on stage. Scott wouldn’t come on stage for four minutes and then after Crist ripped into him for being petty, Scott eventually came on stage.

    Question is, why are we electing people who cry about fans and give them so much control over our lives?

    I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

    The view from the bubble

    They say we’re entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Except, of course, if we’re Paul Krugman:

    When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

    And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.

    But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn’t deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

    As usual, his screed is filled with cherry picked statistics, unsupported claims, and plenty of vitriol for those who don’t agree with him. He uses these weapons, such as they are, to paint a picture of Barack Obama as a consequential and successful president. While I certainly won’t argue with consequential (there have certainly been consequences for electing Obama), the bar Krugman sets for success is convenient for his case but meaningless to Americans outside the elite bubble.

    How does Krugman address this?

    Yes, Obama has a low approval rating compared with earlier presidents. But there are a number of reasons to believe that presidential approval doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on. Obviously the midterm election hasn’t happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage – Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states – most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn’t what you’d expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.

    More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.

    Krugman’s point about changing the country for the better is an interesting one. It inevitably leads to the question of better for whom. We the people, pesky knaves who base our opinions on the reality we face every day, have been rejecting the claim that Obama has been successful in poll after poll for years.

    That rejection is not hard to understand. Jobs are still hard to come by. Our hours have been cut. Our benefits have been slashed. Our savings haven’t earned interest in half a decade. We see more and more people on the streets, not just in big cities but in suburban towns. We know we might be one job loss away from joining them. We see a generation graduating from college into a hopeless economic situation. We know our children might be next. Worst of all, we’ve had to listen to the media trumpet recovery and economic good news while our situations are still terrible.

    Instead of acknowledging the reality faced by the people, Krugman moves to silence and marginalize us. Our opinions are due to partisanship and being down on politicians in general. With a wave of a hand, he rewrites our stories to fit his narrative. This leaves room to for Krugman to explain Obama’s successes using only his preferences and priorities for reference. Inside the bubble, he matters and we don’t.

    “Bad” or “Wrong” or “I don’t like it” is not equivalent to “Unconstitutional”

    In a comment on someone elses post, another reader wrote “The DEA is an unconstitutional and illegal agency”.

    This bugs me… We frequently see these sorts of statements made about the DEA, the ATF, the federal reserve (where ok, there’s at least a rational and reasonable though flawed argument to be made… most of the people shouting stuff like that above aren’t making those arguments, but still)… Basically any federal agency that they don’t like, or which enforces laws, or uses delegated powers which they personally don’t like.

    No, the mere existence of the DEA is not unconstitutional or illegal. It is perfectly constitutional in that it is an executive agency chartered to enforce the laws promulgated by the legislative branch.

    The fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to outright ban or criminalize such substances as the DEA is chartered to regulate, or to ban or criminalize their manufacture, use, or possession (and only limited power to regulate their sale. No, sorry, regulating interstate commerce and making such laws as necessary for the general welfare does not grant them such broad and deterministic powers… and Wickard v. Filburn is bad law and needs to be overturned), does not mean that all laws relating to such substances are illegal or unconstitutional. There are legitimate regulatory powers that such an agency may lawfully and constitutionally exercise.

    AS CURRENTLY EXTANT AND IN THEIR CURRENT ROLES AND ACTIONS… The DEA often engages in unconstitutional behaviors, and acts to enforce unconstitutional laws. That much is certainly true. But they are not inherently unconstitutional, or illegal.

    Those are actually really important distinctions. Not just semantics or distinctions without difference.

    This is so, because you go about addressing the issues, and solving the problems, differently. Things which are blatantly and directly illegal or unconstitutional are best addressed in one way. Things which are peripherally so, are best addressed in a very different way.

    You have to shoot at the proper target, with the proper ammunition.

    Also, it’s really important to remember, that “bad and stupid” or “harmful” or “undesirable”, or “pointless”; does not necessarily mean “unconstitutional”. Nor does “constitutional” mean “good”, or “useful” or “effective”.

    That’s not even a matter of judges discretion or interpretation… The constitution actually provides far less protection of rights, and limitation of powers, than people believe it, expect it, and wish it to (at least explicitly… the 9th and 10th amendments… there’s much bigger and messier issue).

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    The problem with “Wouldn’t it be…” and “Wasn’t it…”

    Progressive ideas usually begin with:

    “Wouldn’t it be great if…” (progressives are generally theorists)

    Ok, right there with you so far…

    Conservative ideas usually begin with:

    “Wasn’t it great when…” (conservatives are generally empiricists)

    Yup, that works for me too…

    The complication is the next step, taken by both progressives and conservatives:

    “Since that would be great, it is our moral obligation, to use the force of government to MAKE it that way”

    … and that’s where we part ways.

    The problem, is that I believe I have no moral right to force MY personal beliefs, preferences, or ideas on anyone else (no matter how “great” or “right” they may be).

    I also believe that we have a moral obligation to use the force of government as little as possible (even if doing so may be “for the greater good”).

    Of course, that’s where the kicker hits, from both left and right…

    “Since you oppose something which is great, and which is a moral obligation, you must either be stupid, or evil”

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    Armed Customer Kills Armed Robber; Family of Robber May File Lawsuit

    In January of 2012, two armed thugs entered a Waffle House in Chesnee, SC. One thing these thugs didn’t account for: the possibility that one or more of the customers might be carrying a concealed handgun. One customer by the name of Justin Harrison saw his opening to act and fired several shots at one of the thugs Dante Williams, DRT.* The other thug, unfortunately, escaped with his life (he’s now the taxpayers’ problem for the next 30 years).  

    Tamika McSwain, cousin of Dante Williams, is upset that Harrison “took the law into his own hands”** and that charges were not filed against Harrison for doing so. Due to this perceived miscarriage of justice, McSwain says the family might file a lawsuit. McSwain also contends that more training should be required before someone earns their CWP. Harrison’s CWP instructor David Blanton, however; disagrees.

    “Not only was he defending his own life, which the law says he can do [***] but there were other people in the restaurant,” Blanton said.

    Harrison, in defending his own actions said “They got the gun, he [Williams] picked it up. He could have said no.”

    And that’s the bottom damn line, Tamika: your dirt bag cousin could have said no. Your cousin made a very bad choice and he paid with his life.

    Let me further say, I really don’t give a rat’s ass how “sharp” or “goofy” or how much he “loved to dance” or that you think he was “a respectable boy.” On that night at least, he was a thug. A thug who deserved to die. People like your thug cousin are the reason why we need to have the right to carry weapons in public places. I wish people like your cousin didn’t exist at all. In a world without people like your cousin, we could beat all the guns in the world into plow shears. But as long as we do have people in this world like your cousin, we will need guns and people willing to use them to defend the rest of us.

    *Dead Right There

    **This phrase drives me crazy. The law is always “in our own hands” particularly in a threatening situation like this one.

    ***Isn’t that so nice of the law to allow individuals to protect their own lives!

    Freedom, Group Identification, and Consequences

    To anyone trying to make the Cliven Bundy issue, or the Donald Sterling issue, or the Brendan Eich issue about freedom of speech…

    …PLEASE STOP…

    They are unrelated, and MOSTLY irrelevant, to free speech.

    None are a question of freedom of speech.

    All three are a question of bad PR and violating contract terms.

    These idiots are not victims of oppression… at least as far as speech goes.

    “Well, that’s just your perspective… this is mine”

    No… You can have your own opinions, you cannot have your own facts.

    This is not an opinion or a perspective, it is a fact. In making this argument, you are entirely and completely incorrect, in both fact and in principle…

    That’s not so bad… it’s OK to be wrong… everyone is wrong about many things, every day.

    What IS so bad, and why you must be corrected, is that by passionately advocating such a patently false viewpoint, and making weak and specious arguments to support it, you weaken the very important ACTUAL battle to restore and maintain free speech.

    Using bad arguments for your cause HURTS your cause, it does not help it.

    There are some very serious threats to free speech in this country, particularly on college campuses and in schools. There are supreme court cases in this session, and coming up addressing these issues right now… and the picture is decidedly mixed.

      We are dangerously close to criminalizing, or at least accepting some kind of official sanction, on “hate speech” in this country. We already HAVE criminalized “suspect motivations”, through “hate crime” law.
      The Government is spying on and intimidating reporters, with the DOJ going after those it perceives as enemies.
      Witnesses are being suppressed out of fear of government retaliation.
      The IRS has gone after conservative political groups, simply for being conservative.
      We have enacted insane regulations about who can say what, when, and with how much and whose money, when it comes to politics and elections.

    These are HUGE REAL PROBLEMS.

    By equating things which are not about rights and freedoms, to things which are, you weaken rights and freedoms, and make them more difficult to defend.

    Freedom of speech means you have the right to say as you damn well please and the government can’t stop you or punish you for it (except in some very strictly limited ways).

    It doesn’t mean that private persons or organizations have to publish you, support you, employ you, associate with you, provide you with a forum or an audience, or listen to you.

    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence.

    If you can’t back everything you say, and accept the consequences, then perhaps your problem is not one of lack of freedom, but of lack of courage.

    “But… but… political correctness… thought police… BAD”

    Yes.

    I never said that political correctness WASN’T a chilling force on freedom of speech and even freedom of conscience… Of course it is.

    …But that is not the same as government using force against you because of it (though with “hate speech” and things like campus “speech codes”, we have to be very careful of that).

    The problem with believing in freedom is that you have to believe in it for everyone, including people you don’t like, or whose ideas you don’t like, or who do bad things with it.

    Private individuals and organizations can choose who they wish to associate with freely, and who they wish to support or oppose freely (or at least they are supposed to be able to).

    That means both things and people that you like, and things and people that you don’t.

    That means you can be fired for expressing yourself. It means you can be fired for your political and social views. It means you can be fired for your private behavior. It means you can lose your customers, your money, your reputation…

    In fact, everything but your life, and your freedom.

    A free society means we have to put up with that.

    We don’t have to like it, but we DO have to put up with it.

    And many of us actually have very little problem with it… so long as it’s aligned with THEIR personal beliefs.

    Frankly, I don’t see very many “social conservatives” complaining very much when it’s “progressives”, gays, atheists, muslims, “perverts” etc… who experience negative consequences for their beliefs (admittedly, that is certainly not true of all. Some do decry all of this as suppression of free speech and freedom of conscience).

    Most “social conservatives” aren’t complaining when church groups or conservative groups try to get certain things banned, or removed from libraries or schools, or have teachers, or school administrators, or abortion providers fired…

    …because you don’t like their ideas or how they express them.

    …Really, most anyone who you would identify as the enemy, or the “other side” or whatever other outgroup identification it may be…. seems it’s ok to you if THEY have to live with the consequences of their choices, actions, and words…

    Most of you are only complaining when it’s happening to those you identify as YOUR ingroup, or for people whose opinions and ideas you agree with.

    Again, not always, not everyone… but most.

    The same of course is true of “the other side”… starting to see the point yet?

    So really… What you’re asking for is not “freedom of speech”, it’s “freedom of speech that you like”, and freedom FROM both speech, and consequence that you don’t.

    That’s not freedom. That exactly the same as “the other side”… you just like the opinions better.

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    The own goal of Okcupid

    The ousting of Brendan Eich from his post as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation is seen by many as a blow against intolerance. It is in fact the opposite, and if gay rights groups expand such ‘outings’ as a tool to suppress opposition, they risk deepening the antagonism and resistance by people who view them as a threat to our culture.

    Let us start by examining Eich.  Eich is a well regarded software developer, one of the numerous people whose brilliant inventions have made the Internet the powerful, revolutionary tool it is.  In 1995, he was hired by Netscape to produce a tool for an upcoming release.  Rather than producing the limited implementation that his bosses had envisioned, Eich invented a new scripting language, now known as Javascript.  Javascript allowed local browsers to execute code to control browser behavior.  It revolutionized the Internet; rather than browsing through static web pages served by an overworked server, it allowed a website to push logic such as form validation to a user’s computer, allowing web pages to become dynamic entities that interacted with a user.  Javascript continues to be actively developed and is used universally to this day. Anyone who spends more than a few hours on the Internet a week is almost certain to benefit from it, and thus is the beneficiary of Eich’s wonderful invention.

    Given his nearly two decades of experience in maintaining and improving a critical piece of the Internet infrastructure, Eich was a logical choice to lead the Mozilla foundation.  The flagship product of this non-profit is the Firefox browser, which traces its lineage to the Netscape browser, and Eich had been one of the people who had shepherded the project as it grew like a phoenix from the ashes of a defunct company.

    Now let us turn to the OKcupid complaint that was served to people using Firefox.

    Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

    Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.

    If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site.

    However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid.

    Now, let us be clear: the complaint against Eich had nothing to do with his job. Firefox was not an anti-gay software platform.  In fact, I doubt that it’s codebase contains any logic pertaining to sexual orientation.

    The Mozzilla Foundation produces open source tools that allow people to publish informsation and communicate with each other via the Internet.  If anything the Mozilla Foundation has and will continue to help members of marginalized groups or groups that are discriminated against to connect with and support each other.

    That wasn’t going to change with Eich at the helm.

    So, OKCupid wasn’t upset at the way Eich was doing his job, they wanted to fire him because they hated that he had once supported a political movement they hated. They wanted nothing but failure for him.

    But what was his crime?  The political movement he had given $1,000 to that lost in the courts.  Proposition 8 cratered.  Completely.  And with changing demographics, it will be decades before something like it has a chance of winning at the polls and being upheld by the courts.

    In short what the senior officers of OKCupid were hoping to do was to intimidate the opponents of gay marriage into silence.  Rather than being gracious victors who foster peace, they wished to continue fighting.  And in doing so, they will only embolden their opponents in the culture war to fight harder.

    Most of the opponents of gay marriage fear the cultural upheaval that would result from such a massive change to an institution that they see as the foundation of society.  The way to get them to accept the change is by showing them that the inclusion of homosexual relationships in the set of legally sanctioned unions will not destroy society, that their lives will continue, their communities prosper, and their children will be allowed to grow to realize their potential.

    Attempting to destroy their livelihoods and drive them out of civil society will go against that goal.  Persecuting them will only harden their hearts against those who persecute them.   OK Cupid did not strike a blow for tolerance.  Rather, they flamed the fires of intolerance, and who knows what those flames will consume should those fires burn out of control.

    I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

    Facts Are Stubborn Things, Mr. Reid

    Every individual who has told the press that they have had a bad experience with ObamaCare is either lying or are too stupid to know how to use the Internet. This is the latest line by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), anyway. Perhaps it’s these kinds of accusations that gave one Colorado woman the presence of mind to record her phone call with the “Connect for Health Colorado” navigator due to her own problems with the website.

    Rebecca Ryan of Fort Collins has a preexisting condition but until recently, she was covered by a different government healthcare plan called “Cover Colorado.” The reason for changing her plan? As it turns Cover Colorado did not meet the requirements of ObamaCare and some 14,000 plans were canceled as a result. Rebecca liked her healthcare plan but wasn’t able to keep it. Sen. Reid wants Americans to believe Rebecca is lying about this “horror story” but this is only the beginning of Rebecca’s experience so far with ObamaCare.

    As it turned out, Rebecca could save $15 a month with the new plan with one little caveat: she would lose her doctor whom she has received care from for the last 9 years. If, however; Rebecca wants to keep seeing this doctor she can do so if she is willing to pay an additional $140 a month:

    Rebecca: So, the lowest monthly premium is, um, way higher than I was paying before and I thought this was supposed to be lower.

    Rep: Now this could be way higher if it’s a doctor, if you have a doctor that’s (??) in there. So, often, if you have a doctor that you work with, you can be picking plans that are higher, if that doctor is a more specialized doctor.

    Rebecca: She’s just a general family doctor. She’s not specialized.

    A few minutes later, Rebecca was looking for dental coverage but was having some trouble with the website. The navigator explained that she needed to remove the filters Rebecca had in place for her doctor (stupid citizen!):

    Rebecca: Do I have to go through the whole filter thing again?

    Rep: Is your doctor listed when you hit ‘Find a Dental Plan’?

    Rebecca: I don’t know why she would be. She’s not a dentist.

    Rep: But she was put in as a provider? (pause)

    Rebecca: Ok, my hospital was listed too, so I removed them both [as search filters]. However, what if I want to keep her? I’ve been with her a long time, and I don’t want a different doctor.

    Rep: If you want to keep her then you’re looking to pay the 515 dollars a month.

    Rebecca: So they’re going to penalize me because I want to keep my doctor?

    Rep: Yes.

    There you have it Mr. Reid. One individual whose experience is that 1. she lost the healthcare plan she liked, 2. can keep her doctor if she wants to pay a higher price, and 3. had some difficulty with the website (I’ll leave it to the readers and you to decide if its the fault of Rebecca or the website).

    And lest you believe, Mr. Reid; that Rebecca, the original reporter on this story, or I have taken this call out of context, please feel free to listen to the entire 24 minute conversation in the player below.

    You see Mr. Reid, no amount of smearing of the groups which oppose ObamaCare, no amount of calling people liars, and no amount of repeating “billionaire Koch brothers” can change the objective fact that some people are now worse off than before ObamaCare. Perhaps many others will also record these phone calls to expose your lies. I’m quite confident that Rebecca Ryan of Fort Collins, Colorado is but one person being hurt by this boondoggle.

    Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive

    Last week at United Liberty, Alice Salles posted a very disturbing article about the NSA and GCHQ intercepting and storing webcam images from supposedly private web chats. Between 3 to 11 percent of these images contain sexually explicit content. What would the NSA and GCHQ possibly want with these images apart from a few individual agents getting their jollies?

    According to secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden, it seems that these images are to be used to embarrass any would-be critics of the NSA, GCHQ, or anything else the federal government doesn’t want the citizens to get too uppity about. Glenn Greenwald explains:

    By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

    Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

    Greenwald is in no way being hyperbolic here. Some of this might sound like some kind of Alex Jones nonsense, but these conclusions are based on actual leaked documents he shared in the article itself (I highly recommend everyone read these). Here are two leaked Power Point slides that I found to be very revealing and disturbing:

    effects

    Pay special attention to the last bullet point on the second slide: “The 4 D’s: Deny / Disrupt / Degrade / Deceive.”

    These are the tactics that are to be used against American critics of the federal government! The federal government is using the internet via social media to destroy lives and reputations (for national security?). As outrageous and Orwellian as this all is, as I learned reading Jesse Walker’s latest book, these tactics are not new. J. Edgar Hoover had a program called COINTELPRO, and there was a similar CIA program during the Nixon administration dubbed “Operation CHAOS.” The only difference now is the technology to carry out these operations is vastly improved.

    In the light of these blatant, strategic lies, how can we ever trust anything we are told by the federal government? It seems the “Innocence of Muslims” video deception Obama’s Ministry of Truth tried to sell us during the 2012 Benghazi attacks was only par for the course!

    This revelation made possible by the hero and patriot Edward Snowden* should serve as a warning to us all any time the government accuses anyone of being a terrorist or a traitor to take such accusations with a great deal of skepticism.

    *And yes, he is a hero and a patriot make no mistake about that.

    LAPD Officers Fire Shots at Innocent People; Taxpayers Punished

    Remember the LAPD shooting incident that occurred during their manhunt for Christopher Dorner just over one year ago? The one in which eight LAPD officers fired 103 shots into a vehicle that kinda sorta looked like the one Dorner was believed to be driving but turned out to be two women delivering newspapers without making any threatening moves to justify using deadly force whatsoever?

    Though fortunately, both women survived, these eight cops would surely be charged criminally or at the very least never be allowed to work for law enforcement ever again…right? Maybe, maybe not (I have read conflicting reports). Some may be terminated while others may be retrained.

    But the very idea that these cops should ever be allowed to have a concealed carry weapons permit (CCW) let alone patrol the streets as police officers is absurd and irresponsible. As outrageous as this determination is, there was actually an effort to clear the officers of any wrongdoing (These cops were dealing with a very stressful situation, after all). Thankfully, Chief Charlie Beck told the Police Commission that the officers should be found in violation of LAPD policy (I should hope this would violate LAPD policy!) at the very least.

    The victims of this shooting/attempted murder will be compensated at the tune of $4.2 million plus an additional $40,000 to replace the vehicle at taxpayer expense. Certainly this is the very least the City of Los Angeles could do.

    Any time one of these events happen, I can’t help but wonder, what would happen to a normal person who behaved this way? What would be the reaction if eight individuals sans the government issued costumes fired shots into a vehicle because they were feeling threatened by someone and resulted in the exact same outcome?

    I think it is very safe to say that all eight would be doing hard time at San Quentin and would be paying damages to the women with their own money. It’s also safe to say that none of the 8 would ever be allowed to own a firearm in the future or allowed to vote if they lived long enough to get out of prison.

    And rightfully so.

    The government issued costumes should not protect individuals from an irresponsible, criminal act such as this. But unless and until we hold local governments and local law enforcement accountable, these criminal acts will continue and we will continue to foot the bill.

    The First of Many “Outrages” of 2014

    I’m not much of a fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie but I find the faux outrage by the Left about the George Washington Bridge closing* absolutely nauseating. Louis DeBroux over at United Liberty almost completely matches my attitude about how the Left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) are handling this scandal. DeBroux rattles off a good number of scandals on the part of the Obama administration, nearly all of which make the bridge closing look like a prank (read the article and you will understand my point). On his last two sentences, however; DeBroux hits it out of the park:

    So was the bridge closing an abuse of power? Absolutely. Illegal? Very likely. Should everyone involved be fired or prosecuted? Without a doubt.

    But forgive me if I can’t work myself up into a lather with outrage when the same people now bellowing their fury have been conspicuously silent over far worse abuses from their own camp.

    *When I first heard of this, my reaction was “But if not for government, who would close the bridges and roads to exact revenge on political foes?” Seriously. What would happen if this bridge was managed by a *gasp* private, for profit greedy Capitalistic company? What would be the motivation to ever close the bridge other than necessary repairs?

    ACLJ Threatens Lawsuit Against Public School that Supports Muslim Missionary/Charity Efforts

    The following, unbelievable story is happening in America of all places!

    DEARBORN, MI This past fall, Emily Sanders enrolled her son Adam into Haigh Elementary School in Dearborn. Emily a devout Evangelical Christian is a single mom trying to make ends meet and faces additional challenges as a minority in a majority Muslim community. “I don’t normally let these kinds of [religious] differences bother me,” Emily said. “But when my child brought home a note from the school requesting a donation to a Muslim charity with an agenda to spread their faith with my tax dollars, I had to take a stand.”

    The letter Emily is referring to one sent to all the parents from the school’s principal, George Ellis. Part of the letter read: “We are very proud to be part of this charity that provides hope to poor children of Somalia. Please send a care package (shoe boxes work great!) filled with toys, candy, coloring books, crayons, and other such goods along with a $7 check (to cover shipping) made out to Crescent Hope. We will be collecting these donations, Friday, December 5th during Eid al-Adha.”

    Emily, being unaware of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha and the charity Crescent Hope at first shrugged it off. “Sending toys and candy to poor children sounds like a great thing at first glance but when I saw that there was more to this charity than this, the alarm bells started going off.”

    The alarm bells were triggered primarily from a key section of text on Crescent Hope’s home page: “We provide spiritual and physical aid to the children of Somalia with the purpose of sharing the Prophet Muhammad’s message of hope and peace.” Further down on the home page reads: “[T]he children receive the packages, each complete with a pledge they are encouraged to sign that states that they agree to the statement: ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.’”

    Upon reading this, Emily decided to take action by contacting the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a religious rights advocacy organization which primarily files lawsuits on behalf of Christians who have been victims of religious discrimination. The very next day, Emily was contacted by the ACLJ’s Chief Council Jay Sekulow. After about an hour long conversation with Emily, Sekulow promised to take action against the school.

    On Wednesday, November 20th, Sekulow made good on this promise sending the school’s principal a cease and desist letter. After mulling over his options, Principal Ellis announced to the school children that the packages would be returned to the students and no other donations would be accepted adding: “It’s disappointing some meaningful efforts of our students were misinterpreted.”

    Manahil Al-Asmari, mother of three students who attend Haigh Elementary had a typical response of many of the parents: “I don’t understand why the ACLJ wants to deny these gifts to these poor children. I mean the school wasn’t forcing any of the students to participate who didn’t want to participate.” Another mother who didn’t want to be named said: “This is discrimination against Muslims pure and simple! If this was for a Christmas toy drive, no one would bat an eye.” Her son agreed adding “This is the definition of bullying.”

    Others such as the Dearborn Chapter President of CAIR, Aahil Muhammad is organizing a protest against the school’s decision. “Whether the Christians like it or not, this is a majority Muslim community and they are the minority. We shouldn’t be denied our religious freedom because the minority is offended by our beliefs. I should also point out that it was the student body who decided to support Crescent Hope and the administration supported that decision – at least until ACLJ came along.”

    Outrageous isn’t it? The idea taxpayer funded government schools can be used as a vehicle to promote a religious agenda different than your own? Before you continue reading, think about what you are feeling at this moment. Is this right or should Emily have just respected the will of her community?
    » Read more

    As Painful As Possible, For As Many As Possible

    I haven’t blogged about the shutdown, because, well, I haven’t blogged much about anything. Mea culpa.

    I haven’t had time because I’m, quite frankly, not personally or professionally affected. Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, however, is very personally AND professionally affected. Warren operates private concession operations that handle all on-site activities at parks, with a good portion of his business based upon federal parks.

    These parks use no federal employees. They don’t require any federal dollars to operate. In fact, they pay rent to the federal government as part of the terms of their lease. So of all things, you’d think that the Feds would want them to remain open. In fact, in all previous shutdowns (including 1995 & 1996), they have remained open.

    Not this time. They’ve been ordered to close.

    I can’t do justice to all the coverage that already exists for this. While I assume many of my readers are also daily readers at Coyote Blog (and Popehat), I can’t be sure.

    All of Warren’s post on this topic can be found here. Check them out, please. You will not be disappointed.

    As it pertains to the shutdown, I have little patience for the Republicans here. The Republicans are playing a gambit they can’t win. The Dems are NOT going to defund or delay Obamacare. This is stupid on strategic and tactical levels. You can’t win and you’re going to damage your brand in the process. WTF are you thinking?!

    But what I see from the Obama administration is wrong on many more levels. It seems that the administration’s tactic here is to screw as many people as possible, to make this as painful as possible, and then hope the blame rests only on the Republicans for what the administration has done. There is no reason to close these privately-operated parks. There’s no reason to throw people out of their homes because they rest on federal land. There’s no reason to close open-air memorials that don’t require human workers to operate. While I’m not sympathetic to Republican partisans, I have to say that naming the barriers that closed the World War II memorial “Barrycades” is quite smart.

    I’m still filled with nothing but disgust for everyone in Washington. Both sides are angling for a “win”. I want to see both sides lose, dammit!

    Unfortunately, I know that in Nov. 2014, lawmakers from both parties will probably enjoy >90% re-election rates. And people wonder why I say that democracy doesn’t work?

    Bye Bye 4th and 5th amendment: Obamacare info may be used for Law Enforcement and Audit activities

    Well… we knew that the 4th and 5th amendment meant nothing to them… never mind HIPAA… but really?

     

    Obamacare Marketplace: Personal Data Can Be Used For ‘Law Enforcement and Audit Activities’

    Maryland’s Health Connection, the state’s Obamacare marketplace, has been plagued by delays in the first days of open enrollment. If users are able to endure long page-loading delays, they are presented with the website’s privacy policy, a ubiquitous fine-print feature on websites that often go unread. Nevertheless, users are asked to check off a box that they agree to the terms.

    The policy contains many standard statements about information automatically collected regarding Internet browsers and IP addresses, temporary “cookies” used by the site, and website accessibility. However, at least two conditions may give some users pause before proceeding.

    The first is regarding personal information submitted with an application for those users who follow through on the sign up process all the way to the end. The policy states that all information to help in applying for coverage and even for making a payment will be kept strictly confidential and only be used to carry out the function of the marketplace. There is, however, an exception: “[W]e may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities.” Here is the entire paragraph from the policy the includes the exception [emphasis added]:

    Should you decide to apply for health coverage through Maryland Health Connection, the information you supply in your application will be used to determine whether you are eligible for health and dental coverage offered through Maryland Health Connection and for insurance affordability programs. It also may be used to assist you in making a payment for the insurance plan you select, and for related automated reminders or other activities permitted by law. We will preserve the privacy of personal records and protect confidential or privileged information in full accordance with federal and State law. We will not sell your information to others. Any information that you provide to us in your application will be used only to carry out the functions of Maryland Health Connection. The only exception to this policy is that we may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities.

    The site does not specify if “appropriate authorities” refers only to state authorities or if it could include the federal government, as well. Neither is there any detail on what type of law enforcement and/or audit activities would justify the release of the personal information, or who exactly is authorized to make such a determination. An email to the Maryland Health Connection’s media contact seeking clarification has not yet been answered

    The second privacy term that may prompt caution by users relates to email communications. The policy reads:

    If you send us an e-mail, we use the information you send us to respond to your inquiry. E-mail correspondence may become a public record. As a public record, your correspondence could be disclosed to other parties upon their request in accordance with Maryland’s Public Information Act.

    Since emails to the marketplace could conceivably involve private matters regarding finances, health history, and other sensitive issues, the fact that such information could be made part of the “public record” could prevent users from being as free with their information than they might otherwise be. However, as noted, any requests for such emails would still be subject to Maryland’s Public Information Act which contains certain exceptions to the disclosure rules.

    Read the fine print eh?

     These are such clear 4th and 5th amendment violations I can’t believe anyone didn’t immediately say “uh guys… we cant actually do this”…

    … but as I said, we know that our elected and selected “lords and masters” don’t give a damn about the 4th or 5th amendments (or really any of the others ones any time they become inconvenient).

    So while I’m sure they were told they couldn’t do it, I’m sure they said “ahh well the disclaimer and release is enough, we’ll be fine”.

     Yeah no.

     And as far as HIPAA goes… In reality these terms of use are not anywhere near an adequate HIPAA disclosure release, so using any of this data in any manner other than for healthcare purposes would be a federal offense.

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    It isn’t, wasn’t, aint ever gonna be…

    I mentioned Social Security as an entitlement payment in my post on the government shutdown, and it raised a fairly common objection in several who read it:

    They don’t think of Social Security as an entitlement, or a welfare payment; they view it as their right, by virtue of having contributed to the system for their entire working life.

    So, time to correct a very major, and unfortunately common, misconception.

    Social Security, is NOT a pension, nor is it insurance.

    Now, I realize that the majority of the American public believe this is so, because they have been deliberately defrauded by our government…

    First read this to understand the scope and scale of the fraud, and the problem it (now only vestigially) masks:

    The Greatest Fraud in the History of the Human Race

    Ok… so, by now, most people understand that Social Security, as it is, is essentially a legal Ponzi scheme (whether they accept that, or admit it… if they can do basic match, they at least understand it).

    What I really didn’t fully appreciate until recently, is that often, even people who understand this is true, don’t understand why or how it got that way.

    There is a very common misconception, even among otherwise economically, historically, and legally well informed and educated people, that the current state of Social Security is somehow a twisting of what it was intended to be, or taking advantage of loopholes etc…

    Many people believe that Social Security was set up to be an annuity based insurance and pension plan. That paying FICA contributions was supposed to buy you into a long term annuity, or investment plan, and that your Social Security payments were intended to be the product of that investment.

    They think that the “trust fund” exists, and was set up to collect and invest the contributions of the workers who paid into it, so that the investments would fund the workers retirements.

    They believe that the problem with Social Security is that congress has been raiding the trust fund since 1958 (most don’t know it was since ’58, but they are sure that’s why Social Security is broke).

    Unfortunately, every bit of this idea is entirely incorrect… and people who hold that idea generally do so, because they were deliberately misled.

    I’s simply not true… though many… perhaps most… people believe it is; but in fact, Social Security was always nothing more than a pyramid scheme, and an entitlement.

    They misunderstand entirely… Because they have been deliberately deceived; as has been the majority of the population.

    Social Security was NEVER, EVER, an annuity, pension, or insurance.

    Actual insurance, annuities, pensions etc… were not part of the legislation that created it, or anything thereafter.

    Also, there never was an actual “trust fund” as such… simply an accounting of surplus contributions which were, in theory, to be placed into low yield “no risk” treasury bonds.

    Note, I said “surplus contributions”… this means contributions in excess of payouts to existing recipients. Because benefit payments are not made from the proceeds of investment, they are made using the payroll taxes of those currently paying in today (this is why we call Social Security a ponzi scheme… When Bernie Madoff does it, it’s fraud and he goes to jail. When the government does it, it’s… well it’s still fraud, even worse fraud… but no-one goes to jail sadly).

    The sham of it, particularly the sham of the accounting trick they called the “trust fund” was publicly proclaimed as early as 1936 (by Alf Landon in his presidential campaign).

    Social Security is, and always has been, a tax and entitlement distribution scheme.

    The government lied, and called it insurance, but in fact it has never been anything other than a payments and distributions pool, funded by taxes.

    You can look it up, in 42usc (the section of U.S. code defining the various programs known as Social Security).

    The programs collectively known as Social Security are referred to as insurance several times, but in fact they very clearly are not. The legal definitions and descriptions make this very clear. Social Security is a tax and entitlement disbursement scheme, by act of congress.

    There is no individual ownership, no accrued value, no capital gain, it cannot be transferred, and it can be changed (or removed), at will, by congress; without being construed as a taking without due process.

    It is NOT INSURANCE.

    Perhaps I am not explaining this properly…

    It’s not that congress went against the intent, or written provisions of the law, and changed Social Security from what it was supposed to be, to what it is…

    It’s that in fact, the law was NEVER what they told the American people it was.

    In fact, if the law HAD been what they sold it as, then that law would have been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court (as had the earlier railroad pensions act, which actually DID created a property based pension scheme). It was specifically because it WAS a tax and distribution, that congress had the power to do it; and was argued thus before the court in 1937.

    Helvering v. Davis clearly defines Social Security “Contributions” as a tax, and social security “benefits” as welfare payments. This is the basis for it’s constitutionality.

    Fleming v. Nestor in 1960, reaffirmed that FICA is a tax, and that the “contributions” are government property, to be done with as the government sees fit; and that “contribution” through FICA did not cause one to accrue a property right to any asset, pension, or insurance scheme, nor did it create a contract consideration, right, or obligation on the part of the government. Further, it affirmed that “benefits” were NOT insurance or pension disbursements, but entitlements by act of congress, and that congress could change them at any time in any way they chose, without being construed as a taking under the 5th amendment (though they did say that they must have cause and due process to do so… but any legitimate cause within their purview would do).

    Justices Black and Reich, specifically dissented from the majority opinion, explicitly and expressly addressing the issue of property rights. They believed that such contributions, to such a program, SHOULD as a matter of moral and public good, be considered property, and have property rights attached. They acknowledged however that the law as written did not, and that by strict interpretation the majority was correct… They just thought it was better to make it property anyway.

    Unfortunately, it’s not… It is neither a pension or insurance, and never has been, from the very beginning.

    However, almost every explanation ever given the public, and in most documentation, it is referred to as insurance, or even a pension.

    All as part of the greatest fraud in the history of the human race.

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    Defunding and Debt Limits and Shutdowns Oh My!

    Welcome to the sideshow folks…

    Step right up and enjoy the posturing, rhetoric, and antics of our congressional clown crew…

    Over to your right you’ll see the amazing vocal endurance of Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz as he tosses red meat to the base…

    … To be serious, there are a large group of people, who don’t understand why the rest of us consider what Ted Cruz did (a 21 hour “filibuster” of a motion in relation to items within a continuing resolution for funding the federal government for the next six months), both harmful to the country, and nothing more than grandstanding.

    For them, it looks like Cruz was (in the composite words of many Americans on the right):

    “Taking a brave and principled stand against the funding of a bad law that will harm our country.”

    In reality, he was doing no such thing.

    Cruz is being maligned by his own party because he was being a clown. This “filibuster” was nothing but a clown show.

    It may be viscerally satisfying, but it’s idiotic. It will do absolutely NOTHING for the Republicans, of for those against Obamacare, except throw red meat to the stupider side of the base.

    This is underpants gnomes strategy.

    Step one: “Non-filibuster a piece of already passed legislation that I can’t stop by doing this… but that’s OK I wasn’t really trying to, really I was just trying to get media attention and attract donations from the less intelligent and aware side of my political base”.

    Step two: … uh….

    Step three: Electoral Victory?

    “But, one brave man, standing up for what he believes in, can do amazing things. A small group of patriots can change the world, just look at the American revolution.”

    No, they can’t. No guns involved in this one. No big foreign war distracting the occupying power. No actual fight going on among the actual fighters… just a series of bargaining and trading; while the rhetorical fight goes on among the spectators.

    It may be emotionally satisfying rhetoric, but that’s all it is, rhetoric.

    You are not a member of the patriotic few, bravely standing up against the despotic elite, risking all for freedom.

    In fact, unless you support drug legalization, getting the state out of marriage…and almost everything else… giving up legislating morality and goodness entirely… You AREN’T EVEN ON THE GOOD GUYS SIDE.

    You’re just another guy on the badguys side, who wants the badguys to tax the tea a little differently.

    Oh and as “just another guy”, you actually aren’t on their side at all…

    You’re a spectator rooting for your team from… not even the stands… from the comfort of your own home; with the game streamed lived via satellite into your living room.

    “But what would you have us do? Just give up, let the Democrats run the country into the ground”

    Nope… Not at all…

    I’d have you stop assuming the rhetorical mantle of revolutionary patriot because it makes you feel good; and stop supporting things which reinforce that feeling, without actually DOING anything.

    If you buy Ted Cruz’s stunt, you are perpetuating this crap.

    If you want to actually do something… ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. Get involved with your political party on a local level. Get onto policy committees. Become a subject matter expert for the party on something you know, and use that position to help steer the party, and the politicians in the party, in the right direction.

    That’s actually doing something. This thing with Cruz? It’s just something you can say you supported so you can feel morally vindicated while not actually doing anything.

    “You’ll see… Cruz was right, this is bad law and we must stop it. Cruz will be vindicated, time will tell”

    Well of COURSE he’s RIGHT, we all know that… it’s AWFUL law… even Jon Stewart thinks it’s bad law… but that doesn’t mean he was doing any good… or even try to for that matter.

    Vindicated how?

    Sure he’s increasing his own fundraising, and certainly he’s right about Obama care… but to be vindicated you have to have done or said something substantive, and then been proven right later.

    How has he done that?

    He’s hurt the Republican party badly with the center, and provided yet another target for mockery and ridicule… and to scare those who think this sort of thing is either stupid or crazy…

    Yes, he’s increased his own fundraising… and tripled that of everyone on the left.

    This is not some brave heroic last stand. This was a foregone conclusion. Obamacare would never, under any circumstances, be defunded. This wasn’t a filibuster. This wasn’t moral courage.

    If it was a serious attempt to stop Obamacare, fine, that would be great. Even if it were a futile attempt, if it were even structurally capable of stopping it, sure… it wasn’t and isn’t.

    It wasn’t really even a symbolic gesture.

    It was pandering, to the lowest common denominator. It was Ted Cruz setting himself up to be the poster boy for the low information voters of the right.

    And he knew EXACTLY what he was doing… By all accounts Cruz is a brilliant man.

    “It doesn’t matter if he was doomed to fail, it was the right thing to do anyway. Standing up for what’s right is never wrong”

    If that’s what he was actually doing, I wouldn’t be so irritated by this.

    I’m irritated because this is what they do instead of something useful. “I supported Ted Cruz’s filibuster but those nasty democrats and RINOs passed it anyway”

    The people who believe this, don’t seem to understand that what Cruz did actually hurt us. Us being those of us who really fight against government overreach, and bad law.

    It gave cover to the people who wanted to do nothing anyway, it encouraged a few whackjobs to make spectacles of themselves, and it INCREASED the morale and assumed moral authority of the other side.

    Do you not realize how stupid and ridiculous this makes anti-obamacare people to the middle? How hysterical it makes them appear to the other sides donors? How this is a permanent harmful soundbite/video clip?

    It’s idiots like this that made them able to paint Mitt Romney as an ultraconservative ultra right damn near American Taliban…

    When in fact, he wasn’t conservative enough for a lot of people to bother even coming out, and they just stayed home rather than vote.

    This is NOT a dedicated small group of principled people fighting against government overreach… That would be excellent.

    This is the Republican equivalent of a college student “sticking it to the man” by wearing Che Guevara t-shirt an shouting about oppression and justice, out in front of the admin building.

    “You don’t understand… Cruz is different… he’s the only one of the Republicans with the guts and the principle to stand up and do something”.

    If he had actually done that, I would more than agree… I’d be cheering him on too.

    But he didn’t.

    If he were actually different… I’d be 100% behind him… Hell, I think he’s a good man, and in general he will probably be a good senator, though it’s a bit early to tell. If nothing else, he’s a LOT smarter than most Senators.

    But really… other than that… he’s not much different than any other professional politician.

    I’ve read the mans bio, read some of his speeches, hell I was even on a conference call with him and Marco Rubio at some party event during the campaign last year.

    Yeah, he’s accomplished, and he’s got a hell of a back story (great family tale), but… what is it you think makes him so special?

    He’s a smart guy, apparently a great legal mind, clerked for Rehnquist, editor of the Harvard law review… which are great things sure… but but I don’t see what you seem to see that makes him particularly exceptional among senators. He’s been a politician basically since law school; either full or part time.

    He spent less than a year in private practice before going into an administration job, then less than 4 years out of the fedgov, where he ran for office twice, before going back to the fedgov.

    He’s a professional politician.

    I think he’s probably going to be a good senator (kinda hard to tell 9 months in), but I don’t see anything there that says anything other than professional politician… He’s a smart man and seemingly a good man… and those are great things… but he’s still a professional politician, and has never been anything but a professional politician.

    I mean… he actually voted… in fact the senate voted unanimously 100-0… for the motion he was supposedly filibustering…

    How can you even call it a filibuster if you’re going to vote for it?

    So… In the next show, we have the “Government Shutdown”.

    As of right now, the Republicans in congress have refused to sign any continuing appropriations bills that require the raising of the U.S. federal debt ceiling, and which fund Obamacare.

    Therefore, the Republicans are trying to pull a repeat of 1996 and “shut down the government”; again to foster the illusion that they are taking a principled stand against excess spending and government waste etc… etc…

    They aren’t.

    “Why can’t they just balance the budget, instead of raising the debt ceiling again… That’s not a solution, that’s just making the problem worse?”

    That’s the question of a well meaning, intelligent person, looking at this problem from a rational perspective…

    So it’s completely irrelevant to anything they do in Washington of course.

    First thing, the whole “Defund Obamacare” spiel is, and always has been, a sham. It’s more redmeat for the base. It’s not going to stop Obamacare, never was going to, never could; and even if it could, the republicans couldn’t get it past the senate, or a presidential veto, or an override etc… etc…

    It’s just PR.

    The Republicans saw what happened to Mitt Romney. They know that a large portion of the electorate doesn’t think they’re conservative enough and so won’t bother to vote for them… This is how they’re trying to address that issue. Nothing more substantive than that.

    This still leaves the debt ceiling issue… and of course, incurring yet more federal debt is a bad thing. We are already at more than 105% of GDP (of course, that’s far lower than most other nations, but it’s still quite bad).

    However, since it is quite literally impossible for any continuing appropriation to be passed that doesn’t require increasing the debt ceiling… In fact, even without a continuing appropriation the debt ceiling will need to be increased (because of credit payments, entitlements, and other already legislated spending); the debt ceiling is GOING to be raised.

    Either that, or an accounting trick will be used to do the same thing.

    It’s not a solution. It’s a requirement of the circumstances.

    Balancing the budget… that’s a joke; given that we haven’t actually PASSED a budget or OPERATED under a budget , since 1997. From 1998, the government hasn’t been funded with a passed budget, it’s been funded with omnibus spending and special appropropriation bills, and continuing resolutions.

    In fact, since Obama was elected, we haven’t even managed to pass an omnibus spending bill, and have exclusively funded the government with special appropriations and continuing resolutions.

    The reality of the “debt ceiling” is, the U.S. is NOT going to default on its credit payments, under any circumstances.

    In the first place, a U.S. credit default would trigger a world wide economic collapse and long term depression the likes of which have not been dreamed of outside of dystopian fiction.

    So yeah… that’s bad… let’s not do that.

    Even if that weren’t true, the politicians in this country are not going to let people miss entitlement payments… which is the whole reason why we don’t have a budget in the first place…

    Every politician in America knows that if they get blamed for their constituents missing a social security check, they are done… dead… never to be elected to anything, even dog catcher, again.

    So, any threat not to raise the debt ceiling, or to have a true and complete government shutdown, really is just grandstanding.

    Until we make serious cuts to entitlements, we are not going to have anything close to a balanced budget. No politician in this country who has actually managed to get elected and wants to be re-elected is going to EVER under any circumstances, vote to cut entitlements. Therefore we are never going to have a balanced budget again… or at least not until there is a real unavoidable crisis, where they can cover themselves by saying “we had to do it to save the country”, and their opponents can only look like irresponsible liars if they try to say otherwise…

    Of course, if this country weren’t filled with economically and politically ignorant “citizens”, then perhaps the electorate as a whole would understand that we’ve long past the point at which such a crisis could be avoided, and that something really needs to be done right now…

    Unfortunately, what looked like it was going to be the first major group of voters working for entitlement cuts in this country, the “tea party”; was quickly overrun by a huge number of these idiots who, completely un-self aware were saying, with complete sincerity “get the government out of healthcare and welfare… but don’t touch my social security and medicare”.

    The politicians noticed this… Particularly the smart ones… Like, say, Ted Cruz.

    I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

    Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

    Quote of the Day: Failed Attempt at Intimidation Edition

    “If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these [Snowden] documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world – when they prevent the Bolivian President’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today – all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.”

    Glenn Greenwald writing in response to his partner David Miranda’s 9 hour detention by UK authorities at Heathrow Airport.

    Joe Scarborough vs. The Minister of Truth

    MSNBC is typically a safe place for the Obama administration to promote talking points, propaganda, and bald faced lies. Imagine Press Secretary (or more accurately, Obama’s Minister of Truth) Jay Carney’s surprise on Morning Joe when the host Joe Scarborough wouldn’t allow him to get away with arguing that the ongoing congressional investigations into the Obama Administration are ‘phony scandals’.

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    The Minister of Truth, Jay Carney:

    “The president will go back to Galesville, Illinois today to deliver a speech about where we need to move the economy, what we should be focusing on here in Washington. And it shouldn’t be on the skirmishes that cause gridlock. It shouldn’t be on the phony scandals that have consumed so much attention here, uh, all to come to not. It should be focused on what we can do to strengthen and grow the middle class…”

    Scarborough responded:

    “You brought up ‘phony’ scandals. That’s like, seriously? That’s like throwing red meat in the middle of a dog. So I’ve got to ask you this question: ‘What phony scandals?’ Do you think the IRS scandal is a ‘phony scandal’

    Carney responded by saying the Republicans have been ‘cherry picking’ information and that the president has cracked down on officials who have been responsible for any wrong doing. Carney went on to say that President Obama “is not focused on pretend scandals that Republicans want to turn into partisan skirmishes.”

    Scarborough would have none of it.

    “You say that there’s cherry picked information…let’s just take this IRS scandal. The fact is its far different from what you said. In the beginning you just said it was the Cincinnati office and then we find out there were more people in Washington involved. In this past week we found out that despite what any of us think about the investigations on Capitol Hill…I see you smiling…I don’t know that there’s anything to smile about. That this wasn’t just a couple of crazy people in Cincinnati. This information actually went up to the Chief Council of the IRS which was one of two political appointees by the President of the United States and the entire IRS.”

    Carney then accused Scarborough of contributing to the ‘line’ by Republicans.

    “Is that the truth or not, Jay.” Scarborough interrupted. “Don’t give me talking points. That doesn’t work on my show and you’ve been here long enough to know…I’m not someone you can talk down to from your podium. Answer my question, Jay!”

    In so many words, Carney didn’t take back his assertion that the scandals in question are ‘phony’ and that “we need to get to the bottom of what happened at the IRS” but the public’s attention and the attention of congress should be on the economy (how bad can the truth behind these scandals be if the president wants to get the public’s attention back on a very anemic economy?). In other words, pay no attention to the scandals behind the curtain or to the fact that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    This is a very interesting comment considering that Carney’s boss wanted to turn the nation’s attention back to the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict last week.

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