Friday, November 27, 2009

The GOP, Third Parties, and The Prisoner's Dilemma

The Prisoner's Dilemma is one of the great exercises in game theory. The classic definition (pulled from Wikipedia) is this:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies (defects from the other) for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent (cooperates with the other), the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?

These choices can be summarized in the following table:

Prisoner B Stays SilentPrisoner B Betrays
Prisoner A Stays SilentEach serves 6 monthsPrisoner A: 10 years
Prisoner B: goes free
Prisoner A BetraysPrisoner A: goes free
Prisoner B: 10 years
Each serves 5 years

The GOP presents its base with a similarly cruel choice. Only their most delusional Kool-Aid drinkers could call them the party of small government, minimal regulation, low taxes (deficits have to be paid for eventually), and personal freedom. They certainly have had their (brief) moments in certain areas - the Contract For America comes to mind (that lasted about two years) as did the Reagan presidency (which had several benefits at the cost of an increased national debt). One must keep in mind that Reagan was not in any way the choice of the GOP leaders - they wanted George H.W. Bush to be the 1980 nominee. So if one is a conservative or libertarian the GOP represents, at best, the lesser of two evils. There are other, smaller parties out there that would provide far better governance if brought to power, but the fear is that voting for them will split the vote and allow the Democrats to take control (and, ummm, how's that logic working for you right this minute?).

So our current State of the Union is thus:

Two prisoners voters are given a choice of parties. Each of these parties promises low taxes, small government, and personal liberties, but the large, dominant party is known to lie like a rug. If one voter votes according to their principles and the other cowers in fear and votes for the party they know will betray them, then the evil progressives win and they get 10% closer to socialism or fascism (take your pick). If both voters chicken out and vote for the Party of Betrayal, then they'll only get 5% closer to socialism / fascism. If both voters stick to their guns (in the most literal sense) and vote for a Party with Principles, then they are rewarded with 10% less government. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation election. How should the prisoners voters act?

Voter A votes GOPVoter A votes 3rd Party
Voter B votes GOPGOP wins - 5% more gub'mintDems win - 10% more butter / 10% less guns
Voter B votes 3rd PartyDems win - 10% more socialism / fascism3rd Party wins - 10% more freedom

One would think this is a no-brainer - Electing the GOP versus electing the Democrats gets you the same results, just not as quickly. To pretend otherwise is to engage in a spectacular display of willful ignorance of very recent history (take Bush - either one - please!). The only thing that keeps the GOP relevant is fear, and that fear is mostly irrational... but that's a topic for another post.

Update: If it makes you feel any better, the progressives feel the same way about the Democratic Party. It seems that nobody outside of DC is terribly well-represented.

Update 2: I've never gotten what exactly it is that causes a group of people who ostensibly fear and loathe the corruption that occurs when power is concentrated and centralized in Washington DC to be so willing to ignore and even go so far as to embrace the exact same phenomenon when it occurs in a political party.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A million thanks to the Nobel Committee!

There's a bit of incredulous moaning all over the libertarian / conservative blogosphere this morning over Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Never mind the dubious honor of joining this largely blood-soaked brotherhood. Really, for most of these awards I think they choose the winner by counting the bodies - Carter, Arafat, Gore, etc. They even nominated Adolph Hitler once (yes, it's true).

But back to Barry. He's incredibly gifted in many ways as a politician, but his number-one weakness is his ego - he actually believes his own hype and can't seem to exist outside of the spotlight. Just as he was coming back down to Earth and perhaps facing the realization that his magnificence alone can't do everything he wants, the Nobel Committee comes around and cranks his ego back up to eleven. Nothing anyone else could do could possibly make Obama act more foolishly over the next year or so.

So thanks again Nobel Prize Committee! Yes, you're a bunch of hapless reindeer-molesting morons, but the unintentional consequences of your stupidity will serve the rest of us just fine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whither the Massachusetts Kennedy Seat

Apparently people outside of Massachusetts are befuddled by the inability of the citizens of that state to consider a replacement for Ted Kennedy that's not related to him (the closer, the better).

It's simple. They're progressives. They don't want to be responsible for their jobs, their housing, their health care, their insurance, what they buy, what they eat, etc.

Why on Earth would they want to be responsible for picking a Senator?

What I can't understand is why conservatives and libertarians would have a problem with this. What could be better for us than another eternally scandalized, useless, brain-damaged drunk across the isle? It's all win-win from where I'm sitting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Ted Kennedy Health Care Bill?

h/t Ace

Apparently at least one prominent Democrat wants to name the Health Care legislation after the late and unlamented (at least around here) Senator Kennedy.

If you ask me, they couldn't pick a more appropriate name to drive this bill home.

(pic h/t Ghengis @ AoS).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Death Panels, Oh My!

As much as I'm not convinced that Sarah Palin is made of Presidential timber, she did drop an extraordinarily adroit turn of phrase when she predicted that government-run health care would result in the creation of "death panels" that decide and control which people with expensive-to-treat medical conditions will be treated and which ones will not. It doesn't particularly matter whether or not it's specifically in the bills that are being debated; simple supply and demand dictate that such things will inevitably occur. It's short, it's snappy, and it resonates. I'm not sure it's entirely honest, though, because "death panels" exist right now in any situation where somebody else pays the way.

There are only five possible resolutions that can occur when a potentially huge medical bill looms:

1) You have private insurance and you can get your insurance to cover it.
2) You get the government to pay for it.
3) You get a charity to pay for it.
4) You or your family have sufficient financial resources to pay for it.
5) Nobody pays for it and the treatment doesn't happen.

Of the four resolutions under which the treatment occurs, the only one that offers full control is #4 - if you pay for it yourself. Unless you shell out the cash, you have to deal with some sort of "death panel." With private insurance, you usually have some control over which "death panel" you'll have to deal with. With the government, you'll have no control. With charity, you'll have no control. If it's really important to you that you or your family don't ever have to fight for the medical dollars to save a life, then what you really need to do is make the decisions that take you to a place where you have the financial wherewithal to control your own destiny.

The Democratic intention to move the entirety of health care under the iron umbrella of government mandates will eliminate your ability to even create a situation where you have empowerment. Ben Franklin's aphorism that those who will trade liberty for safety deserve neither could not possibly apply more than it does here. True freedom and true safety are the results of being able to rely on yourself and your family. Under any other circumstances, you'll probably find yourself staring down the barrel of a "death panel." It's bad enough dealing with them now; if the government is the only choice in town it will be much worse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Education - Where does all the money go?

I've spent part of the summer watching our idiot legislature in California fail to balance the budget for the nth time, and I always wonder - with all of the resources they have, how on Earth can they fail at such a relatively simple task? I decided to tackle the largest state expenditure: K-12 education (just under 30% of the state budget). We spend a ton of money on this, and the results are abysmal.

Now, since I'm looking to solve problems rather than perpetuate the existing state of epic failure, I'm going to use a zero-based budget. Starting from scratch. We'll start off with the basic facts:

In 2007-8 (the last years I could find data for), there were 6,275,469 students enrolled in K-12 education in California. There were 295,222.7 "Full-Time Equivalent Teachers" teaching them, for an average of about 21.5 students per teacher. Since I like nice, round numbers and small class sizes I'm going to go for 20 students per teacher, which will give us 313,773 Full-Time Equivalent Teachers (hereinafter referred to as Teachers). I only want the best teachers, so we'll compensate them at $75,000 per year each - this works out to $60,000 in salary, $9,000 in health benefits, and $6,000 in retirement / pension contributions. All very generous numbers, which will hopefully keep the teachers on my side through the rest of this. We're also going to assume each student has 7 classes per year (yes, I know there are single semester classes; I'm assuming it all evens out), which works out to $3,750 in teacher compensation per student per year (PSPY).

Of course, students need textbooks. Since I'm generous, I want the best textbooks for my students and I want new ones every year. Let's call it $100 per book per student, times seven classes per year - $700 PSPY.

Students need more than just textbooks: chalk, lab equipment, computers, art supplies, athletic gear, sets for the school play, etc. Let's call it another $100 per student per class- $700 PSPY or $14,000 per classroom per year (at this point the teachers are probably giggling, crying, or some combination of the two).

Let's see. We need a place for students to learn. I want really nice buildings, so I'm going to budget $4 a foot (you can get some of the nicest possible "Class A" office space at this rate in most cities), and 100 sq. ft. per student - plenty of classroom space, plus bathrooms, lockers, cafeteria, gym, etc. This works out to $400 PSPY. We'll throw in another $50 PSPY ($7,000 per classroom) for new desks and other furniture.

Kids need food. Lots of it. Let's say a Whole Foods Pizza each, plus a drink and some fruit. Nice, healthy, nutritious lunch for $10/ head times 180 school days - this works out to a whopping $1,800 PSPY.

Schools don't just run themselves. They need administrators (principals, superintendents, and whatnot), clerical and other skilled workers (secretaries, school nurses, etc.), and service personnel (janitors, kitchen staff, maintenance workers, etc.). We'll figure one administrator at $100,000 and one clerical / skilled worker at $50,000 for every 300 students, and one service person at $35,000 for every 100 students (kids are messy). This works out to $850 PSPY for "support staff."

I'm probably forgetting tons of other stuff, so figure another $500 PSPY (or an average of $35,000 per classroom) for the always-important "Miscellaneous" (keep in mind that if you rent office space at $4 / ft, building maintenance would be included).

This is far from what our reality is. This is pretty much a budget for "dream schools" - schools that should exist in a perfect world. But add it up. My schools cost $8,050 per student per year, for a total of $50,517,525,450 - and most of my costs don't assume any sort of quantity discounts. California's budget for 2009-2010 for K-12 education in dilapidated buildings with ancient equipment, obsolete textbooks, food that's unsuitable for pigs, and supplies purchased by teachers who are paid an average of $45,000 per year - after horrendous, heartless, painful cuts by the evil Governor - is $59,637,256,000. $9,503.23 per kid, 15.3% more than what perfect schools should cost.

So what I want to know is - where does all the freaking money go?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Most Economists are just Cargo Cultists with PhDs.

Analysis like this is the main reason that I consider Economists to be even less useful than astrologers. Economists spend so much time staring at numbers and trying to find curves that describe them that they forget (or ignore) the fact that their data aren't the result of some mathematical equation waiting to be discovered, but are the sum of millions (or billions) of people each making dozens of decisions per day. This is the economy.

The problem begins when economists start loving their numbers too much and confuse correlation with causation. We wind up with PhD-level cargo cult analysis. In this case, the reason for increasing unemployment is simple: the government is scaring the crap out of business. The rule of law is even more subservient to the whims of politicians than it has been in the past (GM / Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings, anyone?). We're facing very significant tax increases in the near future, and the politicians are being even more disingenuous than usual when describing how it will pan out. With the "card check" legislation in the pipeline we're faced with uncertainty as to whether we'll be able to easily adjust our workforce to economic and other business conditions. Those of us who are strongly affected by the value of the dollar are deeply concerned about the government borrowing money with its printing press.

Any downturn creates opportunities for well-run companies to expand, but right now the uncertainty is exceptionally high. There are some opportunities that are irresistible under these circumstances (I just expanded one company this year), but for the most part we're looking at mountains of potential problems offset by a bunch of politicians and economists saying "don't worry - trust us - we know what we're doing." Umm... yeah. Right. You guys have just been batting 1.000 lately.

Businesses don't like uncertainty. More uncertainty = more conservative management. We're going to wait and see how things shake out before risking what capital we have left. There's no surprise here; we're just (mostly) rational people making (mostly) rational decisions.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The left's useful idiots and other fellow travellers

Dan Riehl has his take on Mark Levin's attack on Newt Gingrich and Colin Powell. As is typical, Mr. Reihl is a nice guy and takes a middle road:

Newt has much to contribute to the GOP, I'm sure. But he's been far too inconsistent over the years to generate the kind of broad support that would make him a successful national politician on the Right.

Newt is a respected part of what was for the Right. And as an intellect, he can offer much more. But some future face of the GOP that can win he simply is not and will never be, again.

I like to be a nice guy myself (blog title notwithstanding), but I think this take is a bit generous. Plenty of good men and women have gone to Washington and become corrupted by its influence. Instead of doing the right things and pushing the country in the right direction, they become more concerned with "getting along by going along." They give a little here and a little there with the hope of eventually getting something in return, but it doesn't happen. And you'd think that eventually this would bore its way through their thick skulls, but the empty platitudes dropped on them by their scheming opponents blind them to the truth - they've become the useful idiots of the left.

Back in 1994, Gingrich was at the vanguard of the conservative movement with the Contract With America. His star has long since faded (along with the Contract's promises), and what he really wants these days is a return to relevancy. A little corner of the spotlight. The Republicans and conservatives will let him give him the occasional convention speech, but he's moved off the 'A'-list with the rest of the guys who were almost, but not quite, great back in the day. But the left - the left will give him attention, flatter him with praises of his importance in being a crucial bridge between the Right and the Left, and allow him to play The Statesman (all the while snickering under their breath). Gingrich bought this hook, line and sinker, and then gave them a big wet kiss when they landed him on the boat. Let's not give him credit for being anything more than he's become - a worn-out, dried-up old attention whore.

As for Powell, I've never really seen him as anything other than a political opportunist. Republicans embraced him with thinly-concealed fantasies that he was The Great Black Hope that would make them look less pasty-white everyone who's not, well, pasty-white. Powell went along with it because it kept him relevant. Now that the Republican party is in shambles he sees no need to kowtow to them, but he's trying to limit the amount of bridge burning he does as he jumps to the ascendant movement. Powell's post-military career he been all about his own agenda and not that of a particular party. I'm not sure about every nuance of his beliefs, but they seem to be much more Progressive than anything that could be described as conservative or libertarian. While this makes me respect him far more than I could a turncoat like Gingrich, it doesn't necessarily make him "friendly."

In any case, don't mourn the "loss" of these guys - it's time to look to the future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Abortion Debate

The one thing that really bothers me about the abortion debate is that as debates go, this one sucks. Both sides really stink it up when it comes to reasoning through this complex issue. Pro-lifers generally hide behind their Bibles which is great when preaching to the choir, but utterly worthless outside of their little clique. Or they'll say "life is sacred," and then get hammered into the ground with the death penalty. But I'll take it easy on the pro-lifers, because I'm on their side. Besides that, it's more fun to beat up on the pro-choicers. Let's take some of their ideas and just... run with them.

The first centers around the question of "When does a fertilized egg become a human being?" Many learned people have come up with arcane and elaborate formulas for this, which can be debated until the heat death of the universe. I prefer much more simple and elegant solutions that can be proposed and discussed in the space of no more than two martinis. So a couple of years ago, I came up with a Modest Proposal-esque solution to this dilemma. It's really dead simple (rimshot, please): Let any mother abort any baby at any time, with one condition: under penalty of death, she has to eat the fetus. Raw, straight up, and no Tabasco sauce. If it's not a human being - just some foreign tissue growing inside of her then there's nothing really wrong or gross or even cannibalistic about it, right? Heck, it just came out a nearly sterile environment and any toxins in it are just stuff she's got in her already. Just think of it as a really exotic dish. Biologically speaking, it's not nearly as gross as eating sushi, and I love to eat sushi. In fact, since some sushi is actually served alive, we really don't even have to kill it first. If you catch it early enough you can just suck it right down like an oyster. Maybe we can throw in just a little Tobasco. Remember: it's not a baby or anything like that. And ... um... how's that argument working for you right about now?

Another line of reasoning suggests that OK, OK, maybe it is human and all, but since a fetus isn't viable outside of the womb it's not really all the way human or something like that. This assertion fraught with problems to begin with (as anyone born prematurely can attest), but let's just take it at face value because we can have fun with it. The obvious question that comes to mind is "why stop at birth?" Babies can't survive on their own, nor can small children... or even many adults. If they can't support themselves then they're not viable, and we should be able to abort them instead of letting them drain our financial and biological resources (hey, they're costing me money and that's standing between me and more sushi). You could even go so far as to say that people who don't make enough money to pay taxes aren't viable in the sociological sense (ditto). Heck, we could solve social security insolvency, welfare problems, and eliminate the possibility of any Democrat being elected to anything ever again right there! It's tempting.

And finally, we get to: "My trigger finger is part of my body and the government can't tell me what to do with my body!!!"

(For the moonbats reading this, yes, this is satire, and no, I'm not going on nor advocating a shooting spree. But if you can eat the fetuses... well, you win.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter - Whoopdy Do

Watching people get excited about Senator Arlen Specter (Ambiguous-Pennsylvania) switching from a Republican to a Democrat is like watching a bunch of five-year-old analyze a chess match by counting the number of pieces each player has.

As a practical matter, the Democrats go from enjoying a 62-seat majority to enjoying a 62-seat majority. Just because Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have Rs after their names doesn't mean squat. It's how they vote that counts. And those votes were lost to the Democrats a long time ago.

As I've said before (well, not here), the Republican's best strategy would have been to kick Specter, Snowe, and Collins out of the party after the "2009 Stimulus" bill was passed with their votes. Not as an angry, infantile response, but as a dramatic gesture indicating a strong strategic shift in policy and as protection against the inevitable backlash that will occur once the repercussions from the massive increase in debt start to roll in. Apparently they're still convinced that the hill to stand and fight on is gay marriage (a wrong stand on so many levels). Americans really need a new party - one with libertarian ideas, but not so many Libertarians.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon hates rainbows. Or something like that.

There's been quite a bit of speculation as to why or how Amazon started suddenly filtering out sexually-themed material, particularly gay- and lesbian-themed books and items.

I generally subscribe to Occam's Razor and would bet it was a stupid policy move that backfired. Hackers? Not terribly likely - the sheer scope of modifying a huge, complex system in a precisely targeted manner would require almost complete and undetected pwn4ge over a long period of time. Glitch? Again, targeting such a precise (and politically controversial) target? Please.

But if I had to pull out my tinfoil hat, I would suppose that if they wanted to mollify a certain group of customers who can't stand to see certain types of product on their site they could do something like this, retract the move, and then (rightly) claim they can't do such filtering because of the backlash.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Circling the drain

School budgets have been all over the news in the past few months. I must confess to being entirely unsympathetic - over the past few decades there has been a negative correlation between increased funding and academic achievement. Correlation, of course, is not causation. While it's true that money and the quality of education are inexorably linked, it's not in the way that most believe it is. You see, I've been to the promised land - a public school that not only worked, but excelled. But why was it better there?

I have some answers that are informed by my personal anecdotes. I went to public schools both in Texas and California. Back in the day, Texas had many "Independent" school districts that were funded by local property taxes. These property taxes were staggeringly high in the middle-class community we lived in - about 3% per year just for schools. The school districts were overseen by a locally elected board of parents and managed by the best administrators the boards could find. There was pretty much no secrecy. Waste was impossible to hide. Texas being a "right to work" state, anyone who didn't perform was shown the door. Teachers cared about education, because if they didn't produce results they'd be fired. Students cared because high standards were demanded and enforced. The overall attitude was that we were the best and if you didn't do your part teaching or learning then you were letting down the team, and you did not want to go there. The results were amazing. Three of the four high schools were ranked (academically) in the top ten in the country. National Merit Scholars had to be crammed into two pages on the yearbook. 98% of students who attended my high school would graduate from college (not just attend). Academic Decathlon teams didn't worry about placing at the district level; they worried about getting more than 50% of the golds at state. If a student missed more than 5 days of class in a semester (regardless of the reason), they would have to repeat it. If you didn't have cancer, your were in class. Students and teachers didn't just show up to learn and teach, they showed up to dominate. Keep in mind that this was not a particularly affluent area; it was middle-class (with maybe 5% upper-middle class). In my mind the key difference was the culture of excellence demanded by the board, who had the power to enforce this culture in the administration, teachers, and ultimately the students.

I absolutely hated that place as a student. As an adult, I can't believe how absolutely lucky I was to have been there for two-thirds of my high school career. You see, I moved to sunny Southern California for my senior year. Allegedly I was in one of the best high schools in the region. It couldn't have been a bigger waste of one year of my life. Yes, there were a few decent teachers (perhaps 15%) who cared and put in solid efforts teaching their students. Only one of them could have even held a job at my old school back in Texas. To the overwhelming majority, you were a warm body in a seat for so many minutes per day. If you happened to learn anything (assuming actual knowledge was even being offered) then that was nice (albeit unexpected). The culture was about meeting the minimum standards necessary to get by. I quickly discovered that the only thing they really cared about was your presence during 2nd period, because their attendance percentage during that time was what controlled the amount of money they would get from the state. Aside from 2nd period, I spent about 50% of my senior year at the beach and still managed to graduate. To this day I don't worry about having missed anything. This is the culture you get when standards are set by government bureaucrats at the local level, state, and federal levels. Nobody is actually, personally accountable for anything other than meeting some practically meaningless guidelines written in Government-Issue weasel-words. The local school district doesn't care about educating kids (they would deny this) - they actually care about meeting state standards so they can get their money. The teachers have a union so powerful that they have the closest thing possible to tenure the day they are hired - a few that are exceptionally motivated will put in extra effort, but the overwhelming majority do not. The state people care about getting as much money as possible to expand their fiefdoms and budgetary control. Ditto for the feds. Any learning that takes place above some absurd lowest-common-denominator is a happy (and incidental) side effect.

Just like business, schools benefit immensely from local control and the only way the locals have real control is if they control the purse strings. It's the Golden Rule - "whoever has the gold makes the rules." The larger an organization is, the more accountability is blurred. It's extraordinarily difficult to maintain high standards as they grow larger, and the rare people with the ability to organize and lead huge groups aren't terribly attracted to civil service paychecks. There aren't nearly enough of them to go around in the business world which is one of the reasons executive salaries have been "bid up" to such absurd levels. Our local-yokel parents in Texas had the sense to bring in (and pay for) six-figure management skills, and got the commensurate results. Sadly, that all went by the wayside in the early 1990s. Texas courts ruled, in a fit of egalitarian insanity, that it was unfair that some school districts wound up with more money than others. Never mind that certain communities decided to make huge sacrifices to have exceptional education - this simply wasn't fair to the communities that wouldn't or couldn't do so. They were given the choice to share their local tax dollars with other school districts (leaving them no better off than if they were state-funded) or subject themselves to funding (and control) from the state. During this court battle our schools could not collect local tax dollars or receive state funding, but they actually had sufficient cash reserves to keep the district (and the lawyers) going for two years before they ultimately submitted. I'm not sure how long state-funded schools would last if pulled from the teat but I'd imagine the time would be measured in minutes, not years.

Before it was neutered, this incident allowed my old school to provide me with one final lesson in life. Liberalism isn't driven by those looking for the greater good. It's driven by tiny people who are so obsessed with jealousy towards those who do better than them - even if those people make huge sacrifices to do so - they'll do anything possible to destroy that success and bring others down to their level. It's people who are too selfish and lazy to do well making sure that nobody else can either so as to protect their meaningless and ill-gotten self-esteem.

P.S.: I can see some people whining and crying about how I might have learned something from the few decent teachers available during my senior year. Nope, not the case - due to the deficient standards in the local schools, what was being taught my senior year was generally at the level of we were being taught as Freshmen and Sophomores in Texas. Even considering the options we had to take classes at the community college across the street the opportunities simply were not there. These problems were exacerbated by lazy administrators who were unwilling to adjust for the relative levels in areas where taking other classes may have made a difference.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Greatest Speaker Evah!

Is it just me, or does Obama without a teleprompter sounds like .. uh uh ummm uh uh ...the world's most boring porn soundtrack?

Libertarians need to ... get a life

I've been beating on Republicans a bit lately, and so, having been inspired by a Girl in Short Shorts, I'll take a break and beat up on Libertarians. Your party sucks, please get over it. Don't get me wrong - most of the ideas are pretty good, and at least you vote your beliefs (unlike the Coke / Pepsi partisans), but given a choice between discussing political philosophy with a bunch of Big-L Libertarians and converting to Marxism - well, it'd be a tough call.

My biggest problem with Libertarians is that if they can't have it 100% their way, they want to take their ideas and go home. It's taken over 80 years to create the Keynesian mess we're in today, and it's going to take at least several decades to get out of it. Personally, I think the best road to take is to gently (or cattle-) prod your friends into more (small-l) libertarian ideas and inject those into the Coke and Pepsi parties.

It's pretty easy. For example, Republicans generally understand that the media hates them and their only hope is to be so ridiculously effective that even Obama's lackeys can't cover it up. This means not spending the country into the ground and promoting / going along with ridiculous economic policies (hello, Bush era!) that plunge the world into recession. You can't keep activist judges off the Supreme Court if the unemployment rate is going up faster than Obama's illegal campaign contributions.

Another example: Republicans pretty much get that prohibition doesn't work with guns. It's not a huge leap to get them to understand that it doesn't work with drugs either, and that side effects of the drug war include funding corruption in Mexico, the Taliban, a huge chunk of the organized crime in the US, and stuffing nonviolent offenders into our already overcrowded prisons. If a police state like the Soviet Union couldn't keep the drugs out, how is an open democracy going to do it?

Some other notes, while we're at it:

We're not going back to the gold standard, so get over it.

Ron Paul is a crank who is tight with people who wear sheets on their heads. You don't want to ever associate yourselves with someone like that. Dump him like smelly leftovers.

Ron Jeremy has a better chance of being elected President than Bob Barr. Seriously.

And, finally, highlighting the backwards "love" in R-evol-ution makes you look like a bunch of retarded hippies. Even if it didn't, it's not that clever. Knock it off.

Republicans aren't ready to Move On and embrace Change.

Note: Believe it or not, I don't hate Republicans. Most of my friends vote that way. I'd generally rather have them in control than the Democrats, although over the last four years I'd call it a wash. If you're a Republican and reading this, think of it as tough love.

The Great Republican Blame Machine continues its witch hunt... now it's the Libertarian's fault their party is now less relevant than the winner of America's Next Top Model. I'm picking on Robert Stacy McCain in the link, but he's hardly alone in this foolishness and I'll give him points for showing my reply shredding his less-than-erudite commentary. Never mind that the so-called "Liberaltarianism" he harps on doesn't exist outside of the speculations of a few columnists. The Socialism (excuse me) Progressivism embodied by the Democratic Party is pretty much the antithesis of Libertarianism. A few of the most ardent potheads and cokeheads may have voted for Obama on fight-for-your-right-to-party grounds had they actually been able stagger through the bong smoke or pull their noses away from the bathroom counters long enough to go find a ballot box (not likely), but believing this had any meaningful impact is about two orders of magnitude more asinine than believing the youth vote got Obama elected.

The theories have been piling up since November, each more hysterical (in both the humorous and insane senses) than the next: Obama used the Internet better. Republicans are underrepresented on Twitter. Obama had a better MySpace page. Google is run by Democrats. OK, well, these things may have cost some immesurably small number of votes ("You know, I was thinking about voting for McCain, but Obama Twitters! That is change I can believe in!"), but it's nothing like the number of votes they lost by nominating an indecisive old crank who - despite his crankiness - couldn't stomach a Jeramiah Wright commercial. Republicans would, in general, rather worry about Twitter than worry about the fact that 15% of their base is comprised of small-minded bigots who weren't going to nominate a Mormon who might have actually stood a chance at winning. Because that would be like voting for the Devil or something (there's an excellent documentary on people like this).

The real problem is that Republicans are too comfortable with the status quo to get off their fat butts and do anything - and I do mean anything - about the situation. It's not just that they're completely and totally unwilling to police their own, take a short-term hit and let a wobbly member of their party lose a seat (which might actually keep the rest of them in line). They won't even do the little things. Take, for example, NBC. Their MS-NBC channel was pretty much an Obama infomercial during the entire Presidential Campaign. Their parent company, General Electric, is one of the great purpotrators and beneficiaries of the global warming scam. So you'd think that Republicans, as a matter of principle, would avoid funding their political opposition by watching NBC programming. Wrong. The SuperBowl comes around, and they're suckling at the Socialist teat that gives them their precious NFL. I mentioned the possibility of missing a sporting event that they'll barely remember three weeks later to several Republicans. Here are the excuses I got:

"But dude, it's football."

"I'm not a Nielsen rater, so nobody will know."

So, you know, what you do when nobody's watching doesn't really matter. Nice to know that deep in their hearts nearly all Republicans have the same underlying moral principle as the Obama Administration. But what about when people are watching and counting each and every individual action? For instance, with Obama's other group of die-hard supporters: Hollywood. I can understand them not being able to watch a different channel. That would require pushing a button on the remote control (and in some cases, actually leaning forward or - extreme! - standing up). But with Hollywood, they have to decide which completely arbitrary and nonessential entertainment activity they will occupy their time with, then leave their houses, drive in their cars, purchase tickets for, etc. Can they control their spoiled little selves and not support people who will use their money to fund the Reign of the Obamessiah? Umm... no. That would mean missing X-Men XVIII - Wolverine Gets A Haircut. And we can't have that, now, can we?

Republicans need Change. They need to start with their small actions, and follow-up at the ballot box. Until they change themselves, they can enjoy watching the Progressives continue to ... progress.

As for me, I'm not watching NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, XNBC, LNBC, or RGNBC (not sure if the last few exist, but I want to cover all of my bases). I don't care who does or doesn't count this.

I'm also not going to see Hollywood movies. There are plenty of good foriegn films out there.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day late, a dollar (or trillion) short.

Ahh... the $800 bajillion dollar stimulus bill passes the house. All 177 Republicans and a dozen or so Democrats oppose it. And the crowd goes wild!

Too bad the Republicans are a few years late and just under $1,800,000,000,000 short (Republicans bail out their Wall Street pals + Democrats buy themselves a couple million more votes). Nice to know the party’s representatives in Washington found their cajones when all they could offer was a meaningless gesture that didn’t even create a speed-bump in the house. Actually, never mind - meaningless gestures don’t require any guts. They’re just sucking up to try to salvage what’s left of their power, and their base is positively swooning over it. Pathetic.

What did their sudden discovery of fiscal responsibility accomplish? Exactly, precisely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Losers who go around signing Internet petitions accomplished more than this.

But whose fault is this really? The congresscritters? Bush? Try the Republican base. They keep voting these ballot leeches back in - despite their miserable budgetary performances - year after year after year because of the abject terror of losing any ground on other issues. "Vote for us or gays will marry and babies will get aborted! Liberal judges will tell filthy hippies it's ok to smoke weed!" (Disclaimer: I'm actually for two of these four issues). Everyone just sort of forgot that when you spend the country into the ground, fail to stop the insane lending requirements that created the housing bubble, and then tell everyone you're regulating Wall Street when you're ummm... not... you create crisis that end up getting you voted out. Am I smoking crack, or did the Republicans control the House, Senate, and Presidency just a few years ago? They had full control; they could have fixed these things. Democrats may have created some of these policies, and share much of the blame, but doing nothing to solve these issues makes the Republicans their dim-witted co-conspirators. Responsibility for these problems falls on them, and now the monetary chickaaaahns.... are comin' home..... to roost! And you're still going to get gays marrying (fine with me) and drive-through partial-birth abortions for 12-year-olds without parental notification (not so cool with that). That's what sacrificing your principles and voting out of fear gets you.

Vote every single one of ‘em out and start over. Or better yet, just dump the Republican party and go somewhere else.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment is one of those ideas that works better in theory than in practice. In theory, I have no problem with the state killing killers. In practice, the people doing the prosecuting achieve considerable political gain for pushing for the "we're all mad so let's kill somebody" solution instead of actual, you know, justice. Because actually killing the right person may be difficult if not impossible and we can't let that screw up our next election, now can we?

Blatant and well-publicised prosecutorial abuse doesn't even seem like much of a career detriment these days if the new Senator from the Great(ly screwed up) State of Illinois is anything to go by.

There's one exception where I think capital punishment is appropriate and necessary, prosecutorial misconduct be damned: Any legislator caught accepting bribes should be crucified (old-school) in front of their legislative building, and their body left in place to rot as a warning to the others. It gives a whole new meaning to "getting nailed." Or maybe death by impaling. Tough to decide which.

Pelosi - More abortion will help the economy

From an interview with George Sephanopolous at ABC News (via Yuval Levin at The Corner via DrewM at Ace of Spades), Nancy Pelosi delivers this little nugget of Progressive Truth:

Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

It digs down to one of the most basic, core, fundamental differences between progressives and libertarians / conservatives.

Progressives see people as a liability - mouths to feed, drains on the limited resources of our fragile planet and benevolent state, etc.

Libertarians and conservatives see people as assets that can contribute to the economy with their work and the betterment of humankind with their inventive genius.

Of course if the people in these movements make these judgements based on their peers, it's easy to see why they feel this way.

It also underscores the real reason that Progressives fight so hard for the open borders and refuse to do anything about illegal immigration. People's political beliefs are often based on those of their parents. Progressives need to build new generations of people who are dependent on their largess to support their power base, and the numbers they gain jumping the fence are roughly the numbers they lose to "family planning" (I just love the way that euphemism drips with irony).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Caroline Kennedy for Senate!

Caroline Kennedy's qualifications for the Senate are about the same as Paris Hilton's (minus the sex tape). And, come to think of it, I may owe Paris an apology for this one...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State!

Another winner! Of course, she's got a pay-for-play scandal going too (via John Stephenson via Instapundit via Ace of Spades).

Such a shock! Am I the only person that remembers that the only Clinton-era scandals that Hillary wasn't elbow-deep in were the ones involving her husband's penis?