The Democrats are in power, what they should do (and won’t), and how sane people should respond

So the midterms have occurred and the Dems control the House and we have blessed, blessed gridlock.

Even if Trump wants to go forward with even more acts of obstruction of justice (add that to the already impeachable tax evasion and violation of the emoluments clause…I’m not saying he will be impeached, I’m merely saying there is no legal or ethical reason why this man should not be in solitary for life*) the Democrats have more than enough to subpoena power to now show all of his numerous criminal acts for what they are. In reality, it won’t matter. Partisan Republicans exist in a world where their God-King can do no wrong, and partisan Democrats don’t see that this is a very different party from the one that nominated a man of character like Mitt Romney and told shit like Santorum to hit the road.

But just because the idiot is going to be prevented from doing anything doesn’t mean we’ll actually have good government.

I see three options going forward.
The first is that nothing changes, both parties continuing playing to their mentally unstable bases and nothing gets done. This, unfortunately, is the most likely.
However, there exist two possibilities. The least likely, which I’m going to deal with first, is that the Democrats learn from last night, realize that the Sanders/Warren wing of progressivism did not do well last night and the that moderation did win (this isn’t just me making this observation, this is the New York Times which I don’t see towing some kind of conservative line about how the progressive ideology is a losing one). The Democrats have an opportunity to reinvent themselves in this moment and become a party of moderation. But in the likely case they don’t, the disaffected parts of both parties (i.e the sane people) rally around a middle third party which brings us back to a semblance of sanity.

So let’s deal with the unlikely event that Democrats move to the middle.
Ideally the first thing that they could do to show this is not putting Nancy Pelosi in as Speaker of the House, and when they fail to do make this intelligent move it will be the first sign that they have no intention of returning to reality and rather plan to make their own party just as psychotic if not more so than Trump has made the GOP.

But let’s, for argument’s sake, say they wanted to return to sanity. How would they do this without completely infuriating the base.

Well, there are a lot of things that both moderates and the traditional left could reasonably see compromise on.

The first is returning to free trade. Free trade is not a left or right issue. Keynesian, Austrians, and Chicago school economists all agree that more free trade is a good thing. Only socialists and nationalists who really don’t understand economics to begin with think that isolationism is in any way a good thing, despite over 200 years of evidence proving free trade is a near absolute good. So what should Democrats do? They should return the tariff powers to Congress and take them away from the executive branch. Democrats can get behind this, capitalist Republicans in the House and Senate can get behind this, as well as any Republicans who still believe in the Constitution (few though they may be these day). A bill that called for all changes in tariff rates requiring at least Senate approval if not full return of all tariff powers to the legislature could easily pass both houses and I think could get to a veto proof position (if it doesn’t that can only mean that the GOP doesn’t care about law, right, truth anymore…and while I think many of them are moral cowards, I think they would sign onto this).
The next thing to do would be to overturn the Jones Act. This arcane piece of protectionist drivel serves no logical purpose and is a direct contributor to suffering in every disaster in US history. Just show all the people who are without food after a hurricane because there aren’t enough ways to get them food because of the Jones Act and it will pass, again quite possibly with a veto proof majority.

The next thing would be to do what the Republican couldn’t and solve the problems of Obamacare. Yes, they’re the party that created this disaster, but as the old Vulcan saying goes, “Only Nixon could go to China.” Voucherize the whole system as AEI scholar Charles Murray has suggested. Every US citizen gets a $3,000 voucher starting at the age of 21 that they can spend on any medical purpose they want. Every insurance company has to offer a $3,000 plan that covers all major medical and pre-existing and long-term care issues. If you want more you or your employer has to pay for it. Replace Medicaid and Medicare with these vouchers as well (hell, a good portion of those programs already use vouchers so there wouldn’t really be much of a choice). You give everyone health care and restore a complete free market and all the competition. The dollar amount comes from the insurance companies on what they need to not go bankrupt and they’ll make their money offering more at less cost on everything above and beyond. And what research has been done on this says that it will be much cheaper than the current systems as you no longer have the government being defrauded, but insurance companies with their far more competent ways of stopping fraud. Further by making this something tied directly to a Social Security number that only US citizens get you get rid of all concern about the program being exploited by immigration and being a drain on the general coffers. It’s cheaper, gets everyone health care and actually shrinks the size of government. I don’t think you could get it to a veto-proof level, and it’s a coin toss if the Der Fuhrer will sign it, but it would show that the Democrats are willing to govern from the middle.

Then comes being the adults on immigration. I will hold that the Constitution gives absolutely no power to regulate immigration, none—and James Madison agreed with me—but I’ll also deal in reality and say that neither side is ready to actually read the Constitution and admit that open borders are the only Constitutional option until someone wants to put an amendment in (which will never happen). So we need to reform the system we have as we move slowly to the actual constitutional option. The first would be offer a path to citizenship for all currently covered by DACA. The next step would be increased funding for an electronic fence (crime at the border will not go away until we grow up and realize we need to legalize drug use and prostitution because the black markets are far more dangerous than an open and regulated market could ever be…so until we become more intelligent and realize that libertarians are right about these issues, there will be human trafficking and drug smuggling at the border). Next we need a guest worker program. H-1 visas need to be expanded drastically and a documented way to get people to cross the jobs for seasonal work needs to be put in place.
If you want to further deal with issues like bringing children then Democrats need to remove federal control from education and allow for more school choice, especially vouchers. School vouchers guarantee that money only goes to the children of those legally here or children who are citizens themselves, thus a state that goes to a completely voucher-based program would not be attractive to an immigrant who had children as free education would no longer be an option.

Next to deal with the problems of education costs. The first thing Congress would need to do is work to improve and streamline the process whereby colleges become accredited and allow trade schools to be accredited for federal loans. Ideally, all federal loans would be discontinued, but I can’t expect the Democrats to grow up that much. So there needs to be a declared freeze on the size of all loan and grant money the Feds will be offering with a published statement that over the next 15 years that amount will reduced by 5% annually—that should give every college time to plan and cut costs appropriately. The next best thing would be to sue colleges that waste money and put monetary restrictions on any institution that accepts federal money, specifically targeted at reducing the size of their bloated bureaucracies (Here I would like to make it so that most schools choose it’s better to cut costs and just not take federal money, but this would be a moderate step in that direction). Finally, while I’m not thrilled with the idea I realize that college debt is just a psychotic drain on the economy and forgive a portion of all debt held by Sallie Mae…I the idea of loan forgiveness but the government is what caused these prices to skyrocket—it’s like the government stabbing someone in the kidney, they cause the problem they should bare some of the cost. Or at the very least treat it like all other debt and allow people to declare bankruptcy. We should also brush off all of Marco Rubio’s idea of how to pay for college.
Next thing I would recommend is that instead of going to that old Democrat favorite of raising taxes they should just fix the Trump tax bill…namely that a capitalist would have removed all the lobbyist bought loopholes and deduction that came with a reduction in the corporate tax rate. Businesses got the lower rate, logically the loopholes should also have gone away. Democrats can fix this, which both increases taxes and make the system MORE CAPITALISTIC. You don’t get that very often. And while you’re at it, remove all corporate welfare and subsidies. And even better it makes the government less of power broker for picking winners and losers. Always better.

After that, they should disband some the useless parts of the federal government. Specifically the DEA. Drug use is at best a state issue (it honestly shouldn’t be a personal issue but again I’m willing to deal in reality). Stop the insanity of the government harasses legal businesses which are selling products the states they are in say are legal. Stop worrying about who is smoking what. And as for the fact that there is still the issue of drugs coming over the border…just give that function to ICE, it’s a far better use of their time than the concentration camp bullshit Trump has them focused on right now.

It’s no shock that corruption is a problem in Washington. Anyone who thinks that Obama was not as corrupt as you get is just as clueless as the Trumpkins who think the orange crook walks on water. And the Democrats need to acknowledge this and start putting in permanent stop-gaps that require constant and endless investigation into both sides of the aisle and the entire bureaucracy from the president on down. And whatever they create needs to have the power indict and prosecute. And it needs to be set up so that it will always have people from both parties in it so that there will always be someone watching over government.

And finally, the bridge they should cross, but I know they won’t, is push for dismantling the entire entitlement state and replacing it with the Universal Basic Income. Welfare, SNAP, Social Security, Public Housing, Unemployment Insurance, Minimum Wage laws and a thousand other programs replaced by a single cash payment to every citizen over the age of 21 (26 would be better, but again, reality). Gone with the Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, HUD, and subdivision of so many others. It costs less, it reduces the power and size of government (which conservatives should love) and it provides the safety net for all Americans that liberals say they want. If the Democrats really had the courage of their convictions and wanted to be the party that was good for America they would push this.

But let’s be honest. Pelosi and Schumer are going to be the petty little bastards they’ve always been and just obstruct all legislation. What they do put forward will be socialist claptrap and nothing will get done.

So let’s go to the option that we should really embrace.

The fact is that Trump has all but renamed his party the National Socialist American Workers Party and as most of the Republican who lost on Tuesday were of the moderate side it’s only going to get worse. Meanwhile, the Democrats following the Sanders/Warren lead should just be honest and rename the party the People’s Socialist Progressive Party. They’ll play to the worst part of both their bases. The good news that part of each base is only about 10% of the general public for each party. Leaving 80% that might be open to sanity.

What needs to happen is that one of the Republicans that has made a principled stand against Trump and his vile behavior has to start right now work to not challenge Trump for the GOP nomination but run as a third party. They need to start now and work to get on the ballot of all 50 states.

It should probably be someone like Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake (I love Mitt but he’s simply too old at this point) and when the time comes to pick a running mate it should probably be as moderate a Democrat as they can find—but we’ll cross that bridge when we come it.

Whoever it is they should start working with people like Evan McMullin’s Stand Up Republic, and other such groups running on many of the things I listed above that can appeal to the rational center.

But there are a few other things they should include as they would not have to worry about a liberal base to keep in line.

The first would be regulation. Yes, Trump is getting rid of regulations, but he’s doing it with the intelligence of a drunk with a chainsaw being told to cut topiary. It will be a while before we can see exactly what is going on, but given the few specific stories we have (such as the corruption in NOAA) it will become clear that the Trump administration probably is getting rid of as many good regulations as bad (which is hard to do given that the vast number of bad regulations, but Trump will find a way). I think we should go back to having dollar value caps for the damage regulation can do. This will force bureaucrats to find the most efficient ways to do the most good with their regulations.

Second, they should push for a fully flat tax. One single deduction that is the same for everyone (probably around $24000, may a secondary deduction for children) but other than that it’s a flat rate (around 20%) for every person after that deduction.

Finally, they need to push as far as possible on federal ground to end such abuses as occupational licensing, asset forfeiture, and bad patent/copyright policy. Those aren’t necessarily as sexy as some issues, but they are important.

I don’t know if it will be Flake or Sasse, but someone who has the publicity and reputation of challenging the evil of this administration without becoming the evil of the other extreme needs to step up and offer us a third way. And it has to be on issues like this. A middle way that meets the desire of the rational sides of both parties and which seeks the good of the nation, the world, and the individual rather than just the oneupmanship of petty party politics.

Something along these lines needs to be done. The only other option is for both parties to get more insane. I think we all need to push for a sane third party to take over.

*If we’re talking ethically he should be in the Chateau D’if in that Cavizel version of Monte Cristo.

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Text of Trumps acceptance speech with comments:

Elementary Politics

Friends, delegates and fellow Americans: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Who would have believed that when we started this journey on June 16, last year, we — I say we because we are a team — would have received almost 14 million votes, the most in the history of the Republican party?   

(I keep hearing this phrase – this occurs almost every time because the voter base natural increases because the number of people in the nation increases, in fact currently the younger vote outnumbers the older vote, which is new – so what – obviously his percentage of the registered voters did not increase or they would say that…and more people voted against him than any candidate in GOP primary history, they’re forgetting that little fact too…

And that the Republican Party would get 60 percent more votes…

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The Wrong Loyalties

Elementary Politics

This is a sad day in the history of the Republican Party.

While there have been many sad days, especially in recent months, this is the day where yet another once respectable bastion of conservative principles has knelt before the whims of his party and stood behind Donald Trump. About a week after Marco Rubio made this regrettable decision, Paul Ryan has joined him. Both men have stated similar reasons for doing so: “preserving the unity of the party.” Such loyalty might oft be considered noble, but not in such a time as this.

Trump’s deplorable ideology has not changed, and in many cases has only gotten worse. The damage he will bring to the party and to the country will verge on being a irreparable. I understand the desire Mr. Ryan and Mr. Rubio have to preserve the party that once stood for human rights and outstanding economic principles…

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Et tu, Repubblicanos? (A Tragic Tale of Back Stabbery)

The Collision Blog

Welcome to Election Hell. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Keep your hands and feet in the vehicle at all times. If you fail to do so, the rabid animals surrounding the minibus will gnaw on your limbs. Don’t try to feed them, and don’t play apologist for the zombie-like Trump supporters hunched over the carcass of the GOP with dead eyes, nibbling on its liver.

“They just got caught up in the movement.”

Jonestown got caught up in themovement, too.

While people like myself are watching our former knights kneel before the throne of an ego driven self-promoted demigod, we’ve found a few glimpses of hope in the words of individuals like Ben Sasse:

I’ve ignored my phone most of today, but the voicemail is overflowing with party bosses and politicos telling me that “although Trump is terrible,” we “have to” support him, “because the only choice is Trump or…

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April Fool’s Day Politics…the only sane response…

It has become clear that the nation has a lot of idiots and a lot of lunatics. Far too many in fact. I think it’s safe to say that sane intelligent people are the minority. But worse is that the dim and loons are so fragmented that they will never get along with each other. Sadly the only choice is to carve up the nation into different factions. Nothing less will do if we want to avoid the bloody business of civil war (who are we kidding even carving it up will still lead to some war, but we’ll get to that later).

I think due to the myriad of candidates we have had it’s fair to say that we can judge exactly which groups there are out there and each head of these groups will be the new chief executive of each new nation.

I propose a distribution that follows the following map (we can of course do some swaps of individual counties but these more or less follow the population distribution of support for each given candidate).
The new nations and their chief executives are as follows

People’s Republic of New England–Premier Bernie Sanders
The Trump Empire–The Divine Emperor Donald Trump
Progressivania–Prime Minister Hillary Clinton
The Confederate States of ‘Murica–Pres Ted Cruz
The Neoconservative States of America–President Marco Rubio
Lower Canada–Best Bud John Kasich
The Anarchic States of Fuck You–First Citizen Rand Paul (let’s be honest “libertarians” are a fairly anti-social bunch and would want to make it clear that non-libertarians are not welcome)

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Now this break down does a few things. It gives everyone access to a major water way to everyone.  It protects all the xenophobics from having to touch those evil, evil brown people.  It keeps Trump in the traditional home of racism. It keeps the neoconservatives with access to both oceans as they the only ones who will actually want to defend the oceans. Granted the NCSA has more oil but it has less infrastructure and farmland. The Trump Empire and CSM more factories and infrastructure but their economic policies will solve that shortly.  PRNE has more rich white liberals, but they’ll move when they have to live through what they advocate (or at least try to). The ASFU is colder and doesn’t have much, but the residents will be too stoned to care (not that everyone there will be a drug addict but the contact high alone will effect everyone).

So the only thing that’s really to divvy up is military infrastructure. I think Air Force, Army, and Marines can be equally divided up, but Trump, PRNE and ASFU should not have a Navy (libertarians have no use for it, Trump and PRNE wants nothing to do with those dirty foreigners, not to mention I think we all fear they would want to spread their evil). Progressivania, The CSM, and Lower Canada can each have one carrier group to defend themselves and still feel relevant, the other 7 groups will go to the NCSA as they’re the only one who will want to use it for the defense of liberty around the world.  Nuclear weapons will be divided in similar fashion (we can all agree the commies and fascists can’t be allowed to have nukes, if the libertarians want some they can have them some, but they won’t.)

Two years will be given for everyone to move to the state they want…most of the nation’s people won’t bother because most of the nation thinks politics is pointless and has no effect on their lives…they will soon learn the error of that mistake.

So let’s talk about the changes to structure of the Constitution and policies each government will put in place.

The Anarchic States
The Anarchic states will at first change their Constitution to guarantee private property rights to such a degree that even Adam Smith and Milton Friedman would be worried.  Of course they will also abolish all forms of patents and copyrights as modern libertarians hate those things…drugs being legal is a given.

Initially there will be boom of economics followed by a crash as no major companies will actually want to stay in a place where their copyrights and patents aren’t protected (and few foreign trading partners will want to have anything to do with them either with such little protection for IP beyond the sale of basic goods).  Further as there will be no bureaucracy to register property or marriage or anything like that the Anarchic states will soon find their economy looking like former Soviet Bloc nations that had similar lack of government infrastructure.  Initially the residents will not notice as they’ll be too high (either by choice or the contact high) but as the place stops looking like a frat on an early Friday night and starts looking more and more like a used crack den what little economy is left will disappear.

A few of the more intelligent libertarians will pragmatically realize they’ve gone too far and some government needs to be put in place but the rest of the body politic will be too stoned to care and the intelligent will try and move to Lower Canada, Murica or the NCSA.

People’s Republic of New England
The Constitutional protection for private property will of course be abolished…but will be replaced with a right to free healthcare, free education for however many graduate degrees in things like feminist basket weaving and privilege studies you could wish, free housing, guaranteed employment if you want it but a living wage no matter what, guaranteed 20 weeks vacation, guaranteed medical leave, parental leave, leave for days when you just don’t feel like it, and a constitutional guarantee that you will be loved.

Of course a welfare state that would make Mao think it was a little crazy will be immediately put in place.

This will of course lead to complete and total economic collapse that will make Venezuela look like a vacation resort.

Like most virulently socialist regimes they’ll soon try to compensate for this loss of income by invading other nations.  But as the libertarians to the North and the fascists to the West will be too gun happy they’ll of course turn to the only nation that doesn’t pose a major threat…Canada.  But even Trudeau will be able to turn them around.  Thus the People’s Republic will collapse.

The Trump Empire
Here the great Emperor will at first model the new government off of Rome making himself with only one Senate (all members appointed by him) himself a member of the Senate, the executive, the judiciary, the head of the church and the Commander-in-Chief.
There will be nothing else.
Borders will be closed.  Foreign trade will be abolished.
Deportation squads in shiny white uniforms will be created.
Soon the Senate will be abolished and control handed over to regional governors…fear will keep the people in line.

The minorities who supported Trump will soon regret that choice as they will find themselves the workforce of Trump Empire…whether they want to be or not.
Trump will of course pronounce an early victory in stating he has eliminated all Jews from the Empire…because none of them were dumb enough to stay (fool me once shame on you, fool me twice).

Economic output will at first be very high (slave labor is cheap and effective if you’re evil enough to use it)…but of course there will be flaws after a few years, and the Empire will need breathing room.  And while Murica will initially be too well defended, the People’s Republic, the Anarchic States and Quebec will soon fall (mainly because even Canada won’t mind too much that the damn French get taken out).  But soon they will turn their eyes on…

Lower Canada
Lower Canada will pretty much run thing like they’re going now in the USA.  There will be increase to welfare spending, and they will continue the slow death spiral (halted only very slightly by the fact that they will have no foreign military budget to speak of…but most of that will be taken out by the increase in worthless foreign aid that thinks the answer is just throw money at the problem).

They will be invaded by the Trump Empire within about 7 years however and while putting up a valiant 5 minute struggle, like the French before them.  They will fall.

This will of course present a problem for…

The Confederate States of ‘Murica
Initially the Confederate states will grant more power to the states, the power for states to veto laws, the power for the Senate to review executive orders, stronger controls on the executive branch, reaffirming of property and individual rights and a lot of other good things.  However, because of the Judiciary, because you just can’t trust those activist judges, will be gutted of power the powers to interpret law will actually move to the executive branch in charge of implementing those laws as no other branch with the power to interpret law will be there to stop them.  Also as term limits will be put in, as has been seen in every Republic with strong limits on the legislature, the executive branch will benefit and gather even more power.  Initially this will not be a problem…and were it not for the Trump Empire then ‘Murica could probably have seen something like the economic boom of the 90’s again lasting maybe even two decades.

But as they have created a recipe for an executive that cannot by checked by the other branches…like the other Confederacy in time of crisis it will turn quickly into a tyranny and in the face of war all liberties will be suspended in defense against the Trump Empire.  You might have thought this was building up to WWIII…it’s not.

The fact is that these first nations were all so isolationist that no one in the world would be their allies so it would remain a matter within their own borders.  And the weakness presented by the slugfest of a war between them would provide ISIS and the rest of the Islamofascists in the world the perfect weakness to come and attack so being the magnet that draws the poison out of the rest of the world isn’t going to piss off anybody else either.  It will be a new Syria…and this time turnabout will be fair play and nobody is going to take refugees from this conflict.

About 15 years after the nation is split apart these two nations will have all but destroyed each other’s populations and most of their infrastructure (although at least Murica will never use nukes against civilian populations.

Not that the fall of Murica is completely the fault of the Trump Empire.  As the populist desire to strip government of it’s power will lead inevitably to a dictatorial leader, and the factionalism inherent in populism will lead to social collapse…their death warrant was already signed, Trump just hastened it.

Shifting to the other coast…
Progressivania under Hillary Clinton will become like any Western European mildly socialist haven…but without the USA to prop it up it will start falling apart within only a year or so (they’ll also be a tempting target for ISIS and their ilk and won’t have the spine to do anything to stop them)…especially after the refugees from the People’s Republic start streaming in.

They will luckily be temporarily bailed out as with each economic crisis the NCSA will buy up large tracks of land from Progressivania.  Which is also what will keep Muria propped up for a while.

You see, The NeoConservative States of America will be just what its name suggests: Neoconservative.  The first that will be done is a complete capitalist overhaul of the government.  Like Murica you will have strengthening of property and states rights, a lowering of bureaucracy and taxation, and a restoration of checks on the branches of government…unlike Murica you won’t have a disregard to the balance part of checks and balances and the three branches will be more co-equal (but with the most power in the legislature) again not set up to favor the executive.  You will likely see Senators return to being elected by states not the public and a slow deliberate legislation process will return to America.

Also the NCSA gets the land bordering Mexico because unlike every other nation here, they won’t be xenophobes and will actually welcome immigrants from the world over.  This along with the capitalistic reforms that will almost immediately come out of the federal government will produce a Renaissance in innovation and economics that will make what were once the least populated states in the union an economic super power that will laugh at China.

Unlike most of the other nations which will torment and possibly execute what are now illegal aliens, the NCSA will offer them a path to citizenship at the price of four years of military service (thus solving the man power problem that would come in in trying to keep up the previous US commitments worldwide that only the NCSA will be concerned with honoring)…though this man power shortage will be short lived as economic super powers always drawn legal immigrants who want to be a part of the nation and culture that rewards skill and genius.  And not hating people who are different the NCSA will welcome them.
Not being hindered by the populists, fascists, and isolationists, long term foreign policy will be enacted and Marshall Plan like rebuilding programs will be put in place that will make our current deployments stable and drive back ISIS (they’ll survive for a while only because they’ll have so many new targets with such idiotic leaders).  With the massive revenue that will be coming in (despite low income taxes and no corporate, capital gains, death or VAT taxes or tariffs) they’ll be more than willing to buy up land from the failing nations around it…first the eastern portion of California and the Pacific Northwest, then the California central valley…then probably Alaska and Hawaii…

The Trump Empire will foolishly try to invade (big mistake) and the fascists will first be route out of Lower Canada (which will be annexed…only makes sense as most of the inhabitants will have been slaughtered in the Trump labor camps) and then having had enough of this crap will take back the all the other land that the Empire once held…this time not making the mistake of FDR and Trump and making sure that not a single Nazi is left to return.

Murica, in true Texas fashion, finding it cannot stand on it’s own, will offer to be annexed by the only adult in sight.

Finally Progressivania having become an third world nation will collapse and the NSCA will take over in a humanitarian effort to stem the suffering…at this point they’ll return to their proper name, the United States of America…sans a bunch of idiots.

What makes this an April Fool’s day post?  The fact that everything I just said is more rational than the freak show we currently have going on.  And that is either a cosmic joke or just sad.

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What to expect from the Dawn of Justice

Lex Luthor: We should all be careful when we elevate anyone, human or alien, to “super” status.

Ron Troupe: Because we’re all equal.

Lex Luthor: Well that’s just absurd. No – I’m saying we need to be selective and elevate the right people. The right human people.

“I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome.”—Nietzsche

We’re only a couple weeks away from the movie I have been waiting for: Dawn of Justice (you’ll notice I refuse to use the more sophomoric title that was clearly the brain child of an idiot studio executive *

The Trinity

This film is the extension of the brain child of producer Christopher Nolan and director Zach Snyder.  Christopher Nolan uses classic literature as the backdrop for all of his movies (Batman Begins is The Aeneid, Prestige–Faust, Dark Knight–Othello, Inception–Theseus in the Labyrinth, Dark Knight Rises–A Tale of Two Cities, Interstellar–Odyssey).  Snyder has a long habit of tacking on heavy philosophy as well (the speeches in 300 are better than any of the action, is not what you’d call shallow, and even his worst film Sucker Punch was clearly trying to be something more than pointless action—it failed miserably—but there was a clear attempt, I have no idea exactly what he was attempting but he was trying to do something more there.)

And together they went in a slightly different direction with Man of Steel; they went in a slightly different direction by not pulling from literature, but philosophy and made the whole movie a critique of Plato’s Republic (no really, Krypton is set up exactly like the Republic, castes, children raised to fit predetermined lives and are not raised by parents, they even go as far as to show you Clark reading The Republic in one scene for anyone who didn’t already get it) with Zod as the logical end result of Plato’s terrible philosophy.

Now Nolan is probably not going to be involved in the entire DC universe, but he did help Snyder chart the entire universe for the first round of films…and with charting the plots I am really hoping against hope that he outlined the themes of all the movies and they all deal with the same philosophical grounds that Man of Steel did.

I expect to see Suicide Squad tear Foucault a new one, Wonder Woman glorify 2nd Wave Feminism while destroying 3rd Wave Feminism, Justice League Part 1 to destroy Kant and Part 2 to glorify Aristotle (this is pure speculation)…but I am fairly certain that Dawn of Justice will tear the abhorrent beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche (laughingly called philosophy)  to shreds.

What do I mean?
Well first let’s go through a crash course of Nietzsche’s insanity.  Now Nietzsche is very quotable, because he put nothing in context, and you can probably find a line to justify anything but traditional religion.  Some of it even sounds quite profound (again when taken out of context)  but when you take it as a whole it’s a poor and rambling attempt to justify sociopathic behavior.  It’s hard to deal with a man who claims at one moment to love self-reflection and then decry reason and rationality as a perversion of humanity the next. Once you’ve actively denied logic, it becomes impossible to challenge you because like a child your interlocutor just says that they don’t care about that, facts and reason aren’t relevant, they have something better, who the hell knows what that is (it’s like arguing with a Trump supporter).  Nietzsche’s ethics are just as bad, hyping the Übermensch:

I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?… All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape… The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth… Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.—Thus Spoke Zarathustra

While the nature of this overman, like most things in Nietzsche, hard to nail down because Friedrich was committed to an asylum a couple decades later than he should have been, it is clear that the übermensch is not bound by the slave-morality of “good and evil,” to be something superior to the common people, making his own values, free of all traces of empathy, and above the rabble, to do with them and the world as he pleases.

With as abhorrent a vision as this, it is no shock that Nietzsche’s ideas were so easily used by the Nazis (even though he personally did not support such nationalist views while he was alive), and was the subject of condemnation in an early comic which portrayed one of the overmen as a cruel dictator worthy of all the scorn ethical people would put on what Nietzsche viewed as an ideal.  That comic was of course “The Reign of the Superman” by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.  Who quickly realized that the way to truly destroy the values of Nietzsche wasn’t to show how a fascist example of the master race in all its abhorrence, but to show the superiority of ethics in a Superman who was above the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And this is why Nietzsche had to be the target of this addition to the Superman franchise, because the entire comic began as an attack on Nietzschian values.

So how will this play out in the film.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”—Nietzsche

 

“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.”—Alfred Pennyworth

Possibly the only part of Nietzsche that will not be lambasted is the oft quoted warning about staring into the abyss as this is pretty much where Batman is clearly going to begin this film.  His hopeless view that Superman can’t be trusted because “twenty years in Gotham, Alfred—We’ve seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?”

This man has been fighting for so long he doesn’t believe any one beside himself and Alfred are on the side of good.  He sees the worst in everyone.  Granted after Dent, Todd, Quinn, and who knows who else is in this universe, he’s seen a lot of people fall to their worst side. He has fought monsters so long that as Alfred warns it “turns good men cruel.”

So if this movie is a refutation of Nietzsche why make one of the most hyped points of trailers the point where Nietzsche is correct?  Because it was a tip of the hat to let us know which philosophy they would be dealing with…and because as we all know for all his fighting Bruce isn’t a monster—not now, not ever.  And this movie will show that the good can survive the staring contest with the abyss.  (Which will probably be also mirrored in Clark’s doubts about his mission that we get hints of.

“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.”—Nietzsche

 

“This means something.  It’s all some people have.  It’s all that gives them hope.”—Lois Lane

Nietzsche was a real downer of a person.  And for all his claims to hate nihilism, his ideas were more or less nihilistic.

Now certainly the first movie Man of Steel the concept of hope was dealt with over and over.  But we’re going to return to this in this movie and see that, like Nietzsche, people like Luthor find the idea of spreading hope to be a dangerous one…probably because it ruins their ability to control. And we will almost certainly see that the idea of hope is what is going to take Batman out of the abyss and back toward the character out to give people a symbol that we saw in the last time Nolan had his hands on the character.

 

“God is Dead”—Nietzsche

 

“If Man won’t kill God, the Devil will do it.”—Lex Luthor

Nietzsche, Luthor, Zod, and Darkseid (whom we are getting hints of) all believe themselves to be above others, above any concept, laws and judges unto themselves.  They don’t need Gods to give purpose to existence, they just find their own glorification of power to be the purpose.tumblr_o41aveP62f1uorz8zo2_500

But our heroes will show, maybe not in terms of divinity, but a higher concept is still needed to offer a course and goal for humanity…otherwise it wouldn’t be called Dawn of Justice.

“Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness.”—Nietzsche

 

“What have you done?”—Superman

If this Nietzsche quote isn’t an actual recipe for how to create Doomsday I don’t know what is.  And when that monster (I’ll admit I too hope what we saw in the trailer wasn’t the final CGI vision of the monster) is destroyed by DC trinity, it will go a long way to show this glorification of infliction of pain is flawed.

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.”—Nietzsche

With all the discussion from Luthor and corrupt Senators (at least I assume she’s corrupt as she’s with Luthor a lot) about power and it’s use, one can’t help but hear a disunion of the will to power coming into this movie somewhere.  And while I think he championing of the Aristotelian virtues is still a couple movies away, I get the feeling that this film will deal with how power is only a tool to be used for virtue or vice and is in itself not the central point of life or ethics.

“When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexually.”
“I don’t think you’ve ever known a woman like me.”–Wonder Woman

And I can’t help but point out that if you read Nietzsche you may find claims of his wonderwoman.gifanti-Semitism are not as simple as pop culture would have you believe…but his unspeakable misogyny more than makes up for any perceived points by not being a complete Nazi returning Friedrich and his ideas to the category of “complete waste of space and volume.”
And what, to point out the obvious, what better way to put the final nail in the coffin of Nietzsche’s ideas, than to show how wrong his hatred of women as “the weaker sex” with not only a version of Lois Lane who is finally able to figure out who Superman is, but the most bad ass super-heroine in existence.

Granted all of this is based off what we know of Nolan, Snyder, and the few hints from the trailers…but this is what you should go in looking for, as this director and producer have no intention of showing anything so mundane as a overpowered beatdown.

*But still somehow lacked the joy of any of these options.

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Super Tuesday: Who’s on First, What’s on Second?

The Collision Blog

So… That happened.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday and, oh boy, did it not live up to its name. I think the words “should drop out” saw more action in one 24 hour span than Jack Bauer saw in 8.5 seasons. Everyone stood around poking what they assumed was the dead carcass of The Republic proclaiming, “What did you do?!”

Fingers were pointed, accusations made, and every candidate left has absolutely no viable path to the White House, or so I’ve heard. Some are right, some are really, really, really wrong, and others are over in the corner with a yo-yo trying to figure what makes it go up and down; we’ll call them “Ben Carson’s remaining supporters.”

I’m going to agree with some of you, chastise others, and give my own analysis of the situation.

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Yet another Federal Department to do away with…The Department of The Interior

While the Department of the Interior has been in the news for some fairly ridiculous reasons lately, that does not undermine the fact that it is unquestionably one of the worst uses of government power in D.C. which is actively working every day to keep Americans in poverty and hurt the economy.

doe-org-chart.jpg

Born of an era before we had executive level offices that were not necessarily under a cabinet department, the Department of the Interior was originally conceived of a place to stick all the internal brick-a-brack that didn’t really belong in other departments but were federal government domestic issues.  Most of the things originally put in this department (like the Patent office) no longer are in the Department of the Interior.  And what is left is utterly useless.

Bureau of Indian Affairs
But of the things originally put into the Department of the Interior, possibly the worst of all of them is regrettably still around: Bureau of Indian Affairs, this long standing national disgrace, no matter what the eventual fate of the Department itself, must be eliminated.  You know all that land the Natives Americans live on, their Reservations?  Guess what they don’t own it.  The federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs owns it, even the land houses are built on.  Therefore those living there can never get a loan, never turn their property into capital, never actually enter into the 21st century economy because they don’t actually own their own homes and property. They’re just like a 3rd world country with welfare payments (also provided by BIA).  You have to look no further than a Reservation for proof that the welfare state destroys the people who it attempts to “help” and you can blame the BIA and Dept. of the Interior for being the ones who destroy the lives of these people.

And we need to address this issue first because unlike most of the problems in the Department which boil down to give it to the states or sell it to the private sector and close the offices, this disaster of a longstanding government travesty has more intricacies given how deeply we have screwed over, and more importantly how deeply we are screwing them over this very minute, this one group.

Before you ask, yes we are going to get rid of every bit of this god-awful department, but just closing it isn’t the way to do it.

I propose to the following actions
Every Native American currently getting checks from the government just for existing will get a lump sum check equivalent to ten years worth of payments, this should give them an appropriate buffer to either do things they never were able to do on the dole (like get an education and job skills, which sadly is all to often a story on the Res.) or to invest in their own future even if they are already leading a productive life.  As much as I hate welfare you can’t cut people off cold turkey and expect them to thrive…but given the particular evil of this department I don’t trust a slow step down either—so lump sum payment and we’re done with that.

At the same time everyone living on the reservation will get a half acre of land put in their name.

All other reservation land will be given to a corporation in the name of the tribe. Members of the tribe living on the reservation will get 1000 shares, those not living on the reservation but still recognized as members of the tribe get 500 (numbers are of course up for debate, but I understand tribal benefits for many tribes already follow this or similar models).  So everyone now has land in their own name and the rest of the land is held by a corporation.
Thus they can now get loans, use the land and houses as collateral, invest, develop and generally work to improve their own lives with all the same rights that all other Americans (seriously it is just disgusting how we do not grant basic property rights to this one group).  (And personally I wouldn’t mind giving large plots of other federal land to the reservations to also be included in their corporate holdings, they will almost certainly take care of it and make more money off it than the government ever could).  Every reservation will then be incorporated as its own county and thus will only have to deal with state and federal governments. Finally all the casinos will be granted 100 year grandfather clauses from state government interference (I don’t  like getting involved in state issues like that, but no need to further screw over the tribes, 100 years is more than enough time to find some other source of income or come to some understanding with the states they reside in).  The casinos will of course go to the ownership of the tribe’s corporation.
From there they are free to win or lose based on the laws of free enterprise and capitalism.  That much property should be a good head start, but this way from this point forward they would be treated not differently than any other American (seriously how has the government not stopped treating them as second class citizens yet..how was this never part of any Civil Right’s movement?)  Then you won’t have moments like the government getting to decide if land the tribe considers sacred will be used for mining ) (although my suspicion is that if they were actually making money from a lease of the land personally, like most rational folk profit is very sacred).

Of course the Dept. of the Interior is still a huge mess.

 

Look at all the land they own. This needs to end.

Government land in US.png

National Parks Service

Okay here’s an easy one.  Just give the land and responsibilities of these over to the states.  I’m fairly certain someone in Phoenix has a better idea of how to take care of the Grand Canyon than someone in D.C. So that goes for every federal park. The f

Office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Sounds like such a pleasant name for people utterly hell-bent on destroying all progress and quite possibly human civilization.
That line may sound hyperbolic, but these are idiots who enforce the utterly idiotic Endangered Species Act. Let’s ignore that it was private business that brought back the bison and the bees. Now let’s look at what this office does.  For instance they’re involved in saving the Delta Smelt.   A worthless evolutionary dead end that has no ability whatsoever to adapt even to its own environment, and that is about as important to any ecosystem as Obama is to maintaining world peace. To save this worthless excuse of a fish the state of California (originally under orders of the this useless office, but now through efforts of their own idiocy) is dumping over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save the smelt.

Yes in California, a place where there is a drought, where serious water rationing is in place, where water is at a premium…the government is forcing people to dump over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save a useless fish. I’m sorry but the destruction of billions of dollars in agriculture (and the relating economic benefit) is clearly more important than a damn fish that no one but the US government cares about.

Oh yeah and even for the low low cost of destroying California, once the breadbasket of the world, the smelt is still dying..why because nature is about killing millions of species, the Endangered Species Act is not more intelligent than the simple rule of life since the first single celled lifeforms: adapt or die.

All other decisions made by US Fish and Wildlife are equally disastrous and equally stupid.

The Endangered Species Act needs to be overturned in whole and this department needs to be closed (if you want to charge all the employees with crimes against humanity for the massive economic damage they do on a daily basis, ethically that’s fine by me too.)

 

If you actually care about animals, trust the private sector and charity to handle this, they can.  If you hate animals and people keep the Fish and Wildlife around.

US Geology Survey, Bureau of Land Reclamation, Bureau of Mining Reclamation
If these serve any purpose, which is doubtful, it’s something the states can handle at probably half the price.

Office of Insular Affairs
This office actually does need to be kept around since they’re the management of all those territories we still have (which is a federal issue).  But it can go on as an executive office, you don’t need a whole department for it.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
These are the geniuses who told B.P that drilling close to the shore was dangerous and you have to drill further out in the ocean for it to be safe.
Yeah they’re useless.

And finally we get to the problem we’ve been hearing about so often lately

Bureau of Land Management

247.3 million acres.
That’s how much land BLM has.  One-eighth of the US.
Most of that land isn’t park land, it’s grazing land, it’s land with resources, it’s land that could be sold either to the states or the private sector for a huge profit (didn’t we have a debt we needed to pay off?)

There is no reason for the government to own any of that!  There is barely a reason that states should own this land.
This land needs to be sold off.  Granted many people depend on this land for their livelihood and I have no problem with offering them to buy the land they have been leasing at whatever the market place for such undeveloped land is…but if they don’t want to buy it the land needs to go up for auction—probably over the course of a few years as putting that much land on the market at once would collapse all prices, but the government does not need to own this land.  And not only because there is no reason for the government to own it…but because as with all things, they’re losing money on it. Only the federal government can charge people to use land that just sits there and requires little to no upkeep other than what nature provides or what people will pay you to do and still lose money on it.

 

 

We don’t need to get into how unbelievably corrupt and inept and inept the people at BLM are because they shouldn’t exist in the first place.  Even if they weren’t mentally challenged sociopaths they still shouldn’t exist so their extensive laundry list of moral and intellectual failings is a moot point (unless you want to throw them all in jail, which I’m okay with, but first sell the land and close the office).  As a quick intermediary we can just sell the land to the states, but the federal control has to be ended now.

Energy Management
Finally we have the Office of Energy Management (not to be confused with the same office in the Department of Energy).

I’m simply going to quote you from their own web page:

As the lead Federal agency responsible for the protection and sound development of the nation’s natural resources, the Department of the Interior has a special obligation to be a leader in energy management and conservation. As such, bureaus and offices across the Department are committed to conserving energy and water resources, eliminating waste, increasing renewable energy use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts by optimizing the use of energy efficient and water conserving technologies. Bureaus and offices are also striving to incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable practices into the decision-making processes during the planning, design, acquisition, renovations, operations and maintenance of buildings. The Office of Acquisition and Property Management (PAM) coordinates these important Department-wide efforts.

And what in the history of the US Government makes you think that they’re in any way competent to do any of that?
Yeah close this boondoggle as well.

So again, we have a terrible organization that needs to have every single one of its responsibilities either privatized, sent to the states or just ended.

 

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Get rid of the Department of Transportation

So last week we looked at why we should get rid of the Department of Agriculture, but it became clear that hellhole was going to take a bit more research to see just how bad it is, so that will have to wait until next week.
However that is hardly the only Department that needs to go to the chopping block (when I’m done with this series there will only be 5 departments left).

But this week let’s look at the disaster that is the Department of Transportation (I originally was going to do the Department of the Interior based on it being in the news so much, but I quickly saw that would take A LOT more research, so maybe next week)

Why is the federal government in charge of infrastructure? Yes I can see where a federal plan would have been originally required in making sure all the major cities connected to all the major cities and making sure the overall plan made sense. But we have that now. It’s no longer an issue of the headache of getting 50 states to agree to one plan. The plan is already in place. Why is the federal government still in charge?

I mean look at the most obvious example of government control of infrastructure: railroads. Amtrak consistently loses money, consistently has bad service, has no clear plan (for instance why is there an Amtrak station in Flagstaff but not in Phoenix…shouldn’t a state’s capital and the largest city in the state be an Amtrak stop…sixth largest city in the nation and all). And then of course there is that slight problem about Amtrak safety…granted it’s been a few years since the last major crash but that still has not wiped the old jokes about Amtrak from my mind. “Amtrak, where they don’t post the times of arrival, just the odds.” Or of course there was the time the Onion joked that terrorists demand that the US has a better train system because if they bombed it right now no one would believe it was an act of terrorism.

The Miralce that is Roads

And if they’re so incompetent at running what should be the most cost and time efficient form of travel we expect them to do a better job with the roads and bridges? Are you kidding? These are the people who wanted to build a bridge to nowhere (yeah and you would have to be a bleeding heart of a liberal to be a governor and defend that pathetic excuse for pork).  Just look at every high speed rail project out there right now…over budget and not going anywhere, whereas the private sector would love to build these things…but they can’t because the government keeps getting in the way.

How about this?

One, let’s have the government sell all of its shares in Amtrak. We might actually get a decent rail system. Which is actually what I’d like.

Two, I’ve said this before on numerous occasions, but we need national open shop rules. That will cut the costs of most of these operations by at least 50% if not more.

Three, turn all infrastructure repair over to the states (or more local governments).

Four, end the federal tax on gas, currently at 18.4 cents per gallon, but give at least 6 months before it ends so that states can enact laws so that they can collect that same amount (after all if they’re going to be paying for all the infrastructure, they have a right to collect the taxes that are supposed to pay for it).

What will happen? One, you’ll find money will be spent far more efficiently. Having Senators from Hawaii and House members from Vermont vote on infrastructure appropriations for Alaska makes no sense. They don’t know where the actual needs in the system are, they can’t possibly. The country is just too damn big, and no nationwide bureaucracy can either because every division will be arguing its problems are the most needed. But a state is small enough to know (except maybe California and Texas…but you can’t have everything). So instead of pork projects in places no one drives you’ll have the bridges and roads that need work worked on because the people making decisions probably have driven on them.

So more efficient, less waste, less pork and ideally less cost if you put in point 2 (hell the lack of a useless federal bureaucracy alone will save at least 10% off the top). But there’s another advantage…

What is that you say? Well a lot of the states won’t necessarily want to deal with all that sudden new bureaucracy…so what will they do…they’ll hire private companies to turn all the roads into toll roads and maintain their upkeep. Now some of you may have an aversion to that…but there is no reason to. As has been repeatedly shown when private companies take over the upkeep of freeways and highways by making them toll roads they do it for less, they reduce traffic and accidents, they reduce the time it takes to repair and improve roads at a fraction of the cost and you get higher quality roads. And they make a profit. Yes what a shock the government really doesn’t know how to do anything

USTransport-orgchart.jpg

A complicated chart for a whole lot of waste.

. And if you eventually start turning all freeways, highways and bridges into privately run toll roads…well the interesting thing is the states won’t need their 18.4 cent per gallon tax and they can either reduce tax (eventually) or shore up all those state budgets (which I want in the short run…right now I don’t really want the price of gas to drop as that would be better for the oil rich nations that support terrorism). (Oh and companies would have to make public bids for these roads so it’s simply who is willing to do it if for the cheapest amount…it’s a lot harder to bribe politicians for kickbacks when you’re judged only on a public bid and not protected by mountains of federal bureaucrats).

Then you have some of the smaller parts of the Department, like drug and alcohol compliance…again another thing that should never have been more than a state issue. Dear god kill this entire department.
All in all, the government should just send everything that has to do with infrastructure and transportation to the states and private companies. Remind me again…why do we need the department of Transportation?  Sure we’ll need to keep the FAA around (as the 80’s showed, having that as a private sector business where workers could strike would be a terrible idea, at least at present…get some private high speed rail in there as a viable option things might change), but other than that?  Whatever issues of transportation that the military needs can probably be handled by a small office out of the DOD.  There is no reason to keep this mess of a department around.  Privatize or give it to the states, doesn’t matter just so long as the federal department is killed. The only thing that you needed federal control of was setting up the initial planning (and that’s done) and maybe setting some minimum standards for military needs on main highways—nothing else.

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The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Italy

Source: The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Italy

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What if they had a gun?

Elementary Politics

What if they had a gun?

So this week Obama in his usual way, suggested more pointless regulations against guns…because the so-called Constitutional professor doesn’t seem to grasp the Supreme Court making it quite clear the  2nd Amendment details an individual right that does not come with many exceptions.  Granted what Barry proposed was within the letter of the law, even though it is entirely antithetical to the spirit of the law (but that has been the last seven years so many times hasn’t it?).  And that’s just not my opinion, those over at the Heritage Foundation seem to agree that while all of these will face still (and usually successful) legal challenges, the proposals themselves are within the letter of the law:

None of these proposals are legally problematic, as any president remains free to provide guidance to federal agencies and to ask Congress to appropriate money to fund…

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2015: The worst year for movies

Elementary Politics

Okay, 2015 was not the absolute worst year in the history of film (the 70’s had some abysmal entries as well) but it is certainly the worst in recent memory.

It was the year of the spy (4 of them actually watchable).
It was the year of the overhyped and utterly vapid blockbuster with entries like:
Avengers: Age of Great Directors Phoning It In
Jurassic World: The Unbreakable Heels
And of course
Star Wars: J.J. Should stick to making TV

And even on the more serious side of things the selections were often lacking.   Joy which should have been a great story of American entrepreneurship and the trials of bringing a new product to market was just a soap-operaish cheap reproduction of the misery of Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness (only with more misery).  DiCaprio had some fun with a bear, but otherwise the film was dull no matter…

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by | January 9, 2016 · 12:03 pm

Departments to Eliminate: The Department of Agiuculture

 

Old joke: An employee at the Dept of Agriculture is crying in the employee cafeteria. A co-worker comes by and asks him what is wrong and why is he so upset?
Answer: My farmer died!

Without question the Department of Agriculture needs to be dismantled. It’s not a particularly large Department. It only runs at a $149 Billion a year which, in the era of a $18 Trillion debt, is cheap. But the fact is that its $149 Billion spent on what is unquestionably the most useless Department in the Cabinet. If the Republicans are serious about cutting the budget and lowering the debt then killing this department is unquestionably a symbolic must (populist however love this boondoggle and don’t think about killing it–Teddy, looking at you).

What few legitimate functions the Department does serve could easily be taken up by the private sector or state governments with greater efficiency and lower costs (and on a few of those private sectors ones, the Federal government could actually make some money by leaving the issues to the private sector).
Don’t believe me? Well let’s take a look at all the divisions of the Department.

Agricultural Marketing Service: As the name suggests it’s government trying to control the market in agriculture. Oh, and this is also the agency that does a bang-up job monitoring bacterial contamination in food (I fail to see how a private agency driven by a good old fashion profit motive competing with other private companies for the same purpose couldn’t do a better job here than government workers who by definition are less qualified and less accountable than their private sector counterparts. You get rid of worthless things like this and the inept FDA I will bet you Safeway, Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco will all immediately create business to do their own checking which will compete with each other and keep each other honest…not to mention the fact that profit motive dictates that customers dying quickly of contaminated food and thus don’t buy more products).

Agricultural Research Service: Research funding into how to make agriculture more effective. Yeah definitely something for the private sector to be doing as by definition research for private business should be on the dime of those businesses not the tax payer.

Animal and Plant Health Service: This division does a lot of wonderfully useless things. My favorite being enforcing the Honeybee Act which prevents honeybees coming into the US from outside sources (and the way the law reads it doesn’t just mean Africanized honey bees)…didn’t I read somewhere that the bee population is down in the US?  Yes I did...but then I read how private sector fixed this problem all on their own (a problem which probably was partly the fault of the government). Makes you wonder how this divisions stupidity may have effected a species that did quite well on its own.…

Center for the Nutrition Policy and Promotion: These are the geniuses who come up with the food pyramid that’s heavy on starch (and you wonder why the nation is so fat), and likes to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat like a good intrusive government. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that these are also the idiots who have a hand in coming up with the asinine BMI chart that says everyone but size 0 supermodels are obese.

Economic Research Service: Just the word economic in any branch of the government sends chills down my spine. But basically all this department does is collect numbers. Oh and waste tax payer money while collecting numbers, they do that too.USAgri-orgchart

Farm Service Agency: I don’t know a whole lot about farming, but I do know that if there needs to be regulation of farming at some level it shouldn’t go beyond the state level. There is no conceivable reason why we need a federal branch looking into how farms are run.  None.  Absolutely none.

Food and Nutrition Service: A bunch of welfare handouts that should at least be handled by state governments not the federal government. In an ideal world those state governments would roll those programs themselves back to nothing, but one thing at a time.

Food Safety and Inspection Service:
This is this the organization that incompetently looks after the safety of our food along with the FDA (not only do they suck at doing their job, it’s two different agencies that suck at doing this). Trust me if we broke this and the FDA up into two private companies that bid to get the contracts to ensure the safety of food (trust me the supermarkets will invest heavily in these businesses to ensure they never have to make another recall and the bad press that comes with those) then we would have better food and less tax dollars being stolen from us.

Foreign Agricultural Service: WTF? This is the organization that makes international deals for US produce. Why don’t farmers and private traders make these deals? Because government likes to get its stupid fingers into EVERYTHING. I seriously doubt there will be any disasters (and probably fewer starving people in Africa) if we get rid of this waste of an agency.

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration: This group supposedly regulates the market and encourages competitive trading practices. Read that sentence again. Only the government thinks that it can regulate and increase competition at the same time despite the fact that they are patently opposed to one another.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture:
More wasted dollars on research that the private sector could do just as well.

National Agricultural Statistics Service: More number collecting. But a different number collecting group than the other number collecting group in the USDA that is wasting your money. Because why waste you money on one agency that does nothing, when you can get two agencies for the price of two (or twenty knowing federal accounting).

Natural Resource Conservation Service: Because companies and private farmers don’t know how to run their farms for long term profit…oh wait they probably know how to do that better than the government.

Risk Management Agency: More trying to control the market through regulation. Don’t private companies and co-ops have their own risk management? Why do we need to double up on the tax payer’s dollar?

USDA Department for Rural Development: Again this is the private sector’s responsibility, not the governments.

And finally
The Forrest Service: First off, why is the Forrest Service not under the Department of the Interior? Secondly with heavy regulation, could we again spin the costs for this off to a private company to tend the forests, make deals with loggers to thin the forest (which needs to be done more if we’re going to avoid these yearly massive fires we have) and shoulder the burden of those massive forest fires.

So private companies that run things for less and with better results to replace the FDA and Forrest Service and maybe a hundred people to enforce regulation via heavy fines for violators now under the Department of the Interior. Shouldn’t cost more than a couple million (maybe even a profit when you figure we’re going to be leasing all that forest land out at a healthy fee).

There is nothing legitimate that this Department does that cannot be done by the private sector. And there is a lot that just doesn’t need to be done. And even more that is being done that shouldn’t. I still can’t figure out which of these useless branches is giving out subsidies to grow tobacco or not grow wheat, but I do know that we give out $20 Billion every year if farm subsidies. Here’s money to grow tobacco which we can then sue the tobacco companies for selling. Here’s money not to grow wheat so we can artificially raise prices (a prime cause of hunger in the third world). Here’ money to grow corn to be turned into ethanol the most worthless alternative fuel in existence because when you factor in the energy and gas required to harvest that corn it comes out to not only being expensive but costing more in fuel than it can produce (government efficiently at its finest). Oh and that’s acreage going to grow corn for ethanol that is not being used to feed people.

This is without question the most useless Department in the government and it needs to go away forever.

So why do I bring this up? I mean this isn’t all that timely a point. Well I bring this up because recently Ted Cruz listed 4 Departments he really feels need to be eliminated…now while I would probably cut it down to only 5 Departments (and give me some time I will detail exactly how I would like that done), Teddy only listed 4 Departments (Education, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Commerce)…but not the most reviled of all Departments, the one even more useless than Education, Agriculture? Why would any conservative ever not put Agriculture as one of the first things they would love to kill. Well the answer is Teddy isn’t a conservative, he’s a populist, and in this case a populist pandering at the moment to farmers in Iowa.

 

 

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The Big Short: Best Movie of the Year

Elementary Politics

Big short“Whenever you hear ‘subprime’, think ‘shit.’”–Margot Robbie

So at the very end of the year I get a valid pick for Film of the Year 2015: The Big Short

Honestly this should have been part of a trilogy of films. The Big Short detailing the corruption and stupidity of the banking industry, a film details the corrupt abuses of power by the government that sued, harassed, bribed and intimidated banks to make these bad loans in the first place, and finally a film going over the gross stupidity of people who bought houses they couldn’t afford. The three pillars of the market collapse. But we only got this film. (The film does point out that a lot of the people buying are idiots, and that the government had already agreed to a bailout long before the collapse…but the focus is on the unspeakable incompetence of the banking industry).

Regrettably the…

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The Greatest Christmas Film: The Bishop’s Wife

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.

The story of Episcopalian Bishop and the problems he is having in trying to balance family, the normal pressures of his job, and the added pressure of trying to build a cathedral. In desperation he makes a prayer for help. Enter an angel named Dudley played by Cary Grant. Which is good because Dudley does want to help. It’s also bad because Dudley is a bit attracted to the Bishop’s Wife…and well if being an angel wasn’t enough, it’s an angel played by Cary Grant…how much do you want to bet it was not entirely platonic feelings on the side of the Bishop’s wife (not that she would even consider cheating on her husband, but even she observes that this “something wicked” in the time she spends with Dudley).

One of the Bishop’s other problems is the rather vicious rich old woman who has the money he needs to build the cathedral but is demanding unreasonable and selfish concessions for it. And they’re not subtle about how much we should dislike this woman. In one of the first scenes she is openly hostile to the Bishop’s dog…in movies as in real life, if you don’t like dogs you’re as evil as it gets (I understand if you’re not a dog person…but to openly dislike dogs is about as clear a sign as I can see that you don’t have a soul.) But put her in a room with an angel and even he can melt her hard heart. She is only one of the people whom Dudley’s company alone brings them back to faith and redemption.

But this is only one of a multitude of miracles that Dudley performs in the movie. (I really tried to find footage of him decorating a Christmas Tree in only a few seconds but it doesn’t seem to be up on YouTube…go watch the movie, it’s a nice scene and decent special effects for a 1947 movie). For all the headaches he gives our dear Bishop, he does his job and leaves when his role has been finished…although maybe not in the way expected.

But more than just being a feel good movie set at the time of Christmas with an angel, this movie is the greatest Christmas film for it’s last scene. I quoted above the sermon that Dudley wrote for the Bishop. It is short and simple. And it culminates in three simple sentences:

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.

I can think of no movie that more clearly and beautifully states the theme and purpose of Christmas than these words. And it is this beautiful sermon that raises it from simply a great film to the greatest Christmas film yet made.

(Oh, and don’t for a second even bother with that horrendous remake The Preacher’s Wife.)

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