Monthly Archives: February 2011

Movies for New Agers: Inception

What is the most resilient parasite? An Idea.

The Academy Awards are this weekend. Now given that Nolan has twice been robbed of directing Oscars for directing two of the greatest films of the past decade (
Dark Knight and Inception) I don’t hold too much hope that this near completely irrelevant award show will have the good sense to admit the basic truth that Inception was unquestionably the greatest film of the year (okay maybe not unquestionably, I can see how an argument for The King’s Speech or The Town might work, but I still think Inception is superior hands down).
Reality is that the Academy is probably going to show it continues to be out of its mind and give the Best Picture award to something like
The Social Network (who in their right mind would want to watch a movie about Facebook?).

However, Inception is not just a great movie in its own right; it is also a wonderful film that demonstrates many of the themes and ideas of New Age belief. Now I’m not sure Chris Nolan is actually sympathetic to the ideas of New Age thought; nor am I saying that the movie is arguing that these ideas are true—however, whatever Nolan’s intent, the film does allow for several ideas of New Age belief to be understood in a deeper, or at least more understandable, way.

Where to start?

“Dreams feel real while we’re in them.”
One of the first ways this movie demonstrates New Age principles so well is in its portrayal of what we perceive to be reality to be an illusion, a dream. And not just any dream but a dream with layers. What New Age thought realizes that many other beliefs systems do not is that the afterlife is as much a dream as this world is. The cycle of karma and reincarnation is going constantly between two different levels of the dream, neither one the reality we will embrace when we reach enlightenment, but both appearing quite real when we are in them. This constant cycle of never being able to escape the dream and its intoxicating nature is shown again and again in Inception. In the group of men who come to Yusef every day to dream because “The Dream has become their reality”; in the nature of Cobb’s totem, a top that never stops spinning symbolizing this constant cycle that never ends; in the shade of Mal’s call to stay in limbo because “you don’t believe in one reality anymore” the temptation to stay in the dream and how hard it is to separate ourselves from its Siren’s call is shown in Inception as a perfect parallel to New Age belief.

The nature of the illusion of the dream

Inception also does a wonderful job of showing what the nature of the illusionary world is. Not only does the film do an excellent job of pointing out the fluid nature of time and our perception of it (see the video above). Time is in the mind like everything else, and our perception of it can be just as fluid. Also there is the fact that it shows that the time spent in reality is negligible to the time in the illusion. “Who would want to be stuck in a dream for ten years?” Remind me how long ago the big bang was? Inception also starts with the basic premise that New Age belief, along with most eastern philosophies would agree with that, “pain is in the mind.” Everything is in the mind. Because it is ideas that create and form the world of the illusion.

“The smallest seed of an idea can grow to define or destroy you”

Ideas are what create and drive the world. The physical is probably the least important thing in life. It is ideas that are the prime factor, and this is shown quite well in Inception. We move forward or don’t by the force of our own ideas. And like Cobb’s projection of Mal, we often put our own worst obstacles in front of ourselves and have no one to blame but ourselves. It is our ideas that need to change and not our physical condition. The movie shows us that we are the ones who create our own prisons through Mal’s decision to remain in limbo, “She had locked something always something deep inside her a truth she had once known but choose to forget. Limbo became her reality” but it further shows us that we are the only ones who can truly free ourselves, notice that in Inception the idea while it can be suggested to the character of Fischer must come from himself if it is to become rooted in his mind. But Inception also shows how ideas, especially those left at that bottom level of limbo (i.e. for a New Ager the physical world) affect our ability to move out of it—Cobb could not move on before he dealt with his issues with Mal in limbo, and no one is reaching Enlightenment until they deal with their issues here on this planet.

The Labyrinth of the mind and Ariadne’s thread

But luckily Inception shows the way out of limbo which is strangely similar to the way out of the prison we have created for ourselves in real life. While the dream of Inception is intoxicating and filled with deep personal issues, the character of Ariadne (named after the mythological character who led Theseus out of the labyrinth and then married the god of spiritual understanding) tells Cobb “Your guilt defines her. It empowers her…if we are going to succeed in this you have to forgive yourself. “An interesting parallel to a New Ager is the lack of forgiveness and guilt and fear is what keeps us from achieving Enlightenment. But even Cobb knew a spark of this truth himself as he was obsessed with a song entitled “No I have no regrets” (the song they use to time their kick out of the dream, also that is the translation of the lyric we always hear in the film). He knows, just as we need to learn that it is regrets that tie us to that bottom level and it is regrets that prevent us from living in the real world. And it is through happiness and forgiveness that we give up our regrets, or a Cobb states, “Positive emotion trumps negative emotion any time. We all yearn for reconciliation, catharsis.”

So the question now only remains will you let go of your regrets, forgive and love?
“Do you want to take a leap of faith, or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?” And you may complain that death seems to be the way out in Inception keeping in mind that death has always been a metaphor for killing our lowest and darkest fears that hold us back.

And on a final note. The pitch went down and it wobbled.

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Filed under Inception, New Age, New Age Movies

What’s wrong with this paragraph

So I was reading an article today on how polarized Congress is today an d I came across the following paragraph:
“For only the second time since 1982, when NJ began calculating the ratings in their current form, every Senate Democrat compiled a voting record more liberal than every Senate Republican—and every Senate Republican compiled a voting record more conservative than every Senate Democrat. Even Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, the most conservative Democrat in the rankings, produced an overall voting record slightly to the left of the most moderate Republicans last year: Ohio’s George Voinovich and Maine’s Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. The Senate had been that divided only once before, in 1999.”

So if you’re on the outlier side of Democratic party you’re a “conservative” the opposite being “liberal” –but if you’re on the outlier of the GOP you’re “moderate,” the opposite of moderate being “extremist.” Seldom do I see media bias so blatant as this.

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Books for Conservatives—Parliament of Whores

“Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.”—P.J. O’Rourke

P.J. is probably the greatest political satirist of this generation (likely to go down in history with the likes of Jonathan Swift and H.L. Menken for his biting wit). And while all of his book will probably be recommended by me at some point (well most of them, you can skip Holidays in Hell) there is probably none better than Parliament of Whores. I would argue that it is one of the most well written books on the topic of government, and one of the few that remains timeless in its observations. It should be required reading in every high school government course, and it is an absolute must read for conservatives.

Granted, it was written back in the early 1990’s so you might think things have changed in government since then (after all back then people were unhappy with crappy Bush economy and the less than spectacular war in Iraq so they turned to smooth talking charlatan liberals…okay nothing has changed) but it’s still remarkably relevant.

O’Rourke analyzes almost every major aspect of government. The stirring rhetoric and philosophy of our founding documents—and points out most of the charges against George III can also be accurately (if not more egregiously) applied to our own government. The stultifying boredom of the election process. The illogical nature and bizarreness of each of the three branches of government. And, of course, a clear look at how truly insane the bureaucracy is which culminates in this charming observations about the Department of Agriculture:

“I spent two and a half years examining the American political process. All that time I was looking for a straightforward issue. But everything I investigated – election campaigns, the budget, lawmaking, the court system, bureaucracy, social policy – turned out to be more complicated than I had thought. There were always angles I hadn’t considered, aspects I hadn’t weighed, complexities I’d never dreamed of. Until I got to agriculture. Here at last is a simple problem with a simple solution. Drag the omnibus farm bill behind the barn, and kill it with an ax.”

O’Rourke is one of the few authors who can balance humor and reason in perfect measure and never let either one stray too far.

His insights into the nature and pointlessness of government is and probably always will be a relevant observation on our own Parliament of Whores.

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Everybody needs to return to sanity or Get your priorities straight

Everybody needs to return to sanity or Get your priorities straight.It is now utterly apparent to me that everyone is going insane. How is this different than normal? Well usually everybody is just stupid, but recent events are pushing this way beyond stupidity.

On the liberal side… how about legislators running away because they know they’re going to lose, or the union protests with their Marxist overtones. My personal favorite in all of this is I’m seeing many of these libs chant “power to the people” even though the majority of the people in Wisconsin: 1.)Voted in the conservatives who want to strip unions of their unethical right to bully and 2.) Support the governor and the legislature in following through on this…so apparently to liberals “the people” only mean people who vote for democrats. So, they’re crazy.

But I want to point out absolute insanity on the right more than on the left today. Last week I saw on a friend’s blog that a Republican in Georgia is trying to pass a bill to investigate if miscarriages are legitimate or actually abortions and prosecute offenders…if that left you going “huh?” you’re not alone. But I thought, hey, it must be one crazy legislator in Georgia. But then my wacky state, Arizona, is trying to have a bill passed that will outlaw abortions based on race and/or gender. And how exactly are we going to enforce that? Arizona can do some wacky things, but usually there’s method to the madness (like the current bill that denies citizenship to the children of illegals…they knew it was unconstitutional when they passed it, they’re trying to force this to go to the Supreme Court so the court can change its interpretation on the 14th Amendment, because, let’s be honest here, we all admit that when the 14th was written nobody in Congress or any of the states intended it to be used in this way). But there’s no method to this, just madness. And then there’s the fact that quite a few states are pushing for laws that are going to ask to see Obama’s birth certificate before they put him on the ballot…really guys? I mean yes it’s quite justifiable to loathe this man’s very existence (I personally can’t wait for the trial on charges of treason), but come on, is this the best we can do in opposition?

Clearly the right is going insane. This insanity is based on an inability to get their priorities straight (actually the right in this sense may always have been insane). Yeah let’s worry about abortion because we don’t have major foreign policy issues and major economic issues. Those apparently aren’t the biggest things to worry about, no let’s worry about abortion. How can anyone be this out of their mind? States should be worrying about slashing their budgets, cutting the fat, making their regulations attractive to business and suing the federal government over healthcare. All economic issues. After that states should be concerned with education standards and this growing illegal immigrant problem. Maybe ten thousand points after this abortion might be a relevant issue to debate, maybe but not likely. (Of course the left is just as insane on this issue as they’re bitching to no end about the government ending federal funding to Planned Parenthood as if doing so will outlaw abortion…are there no private donors for Planned Parenthood? Is this really the issue to go to the mat over? Federal funding of what should be a private institution not beholden to the government in any way?) For the federal government all those issues above plus, oh I don’t know, maybe something involving foreign policy….perhaps sending a carrier group to the waters around Israel to remind the Iranians to watch their step. And maybe we could decide to actually fight a war and at the same time rebuild Afghanistan…or just leave. At this point I’m okay with either, but this standing in the middle crap and not picking one of those two is just pointless. But guess what, for the federal government, abortion (aside from cutting spending in that area, as all useless expenditures should be cut) is also something where down there on the list of things to get around to, really far down there.

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Laws the GOP should pass #14: What to do with the Department of Education?

So teachers have been in the news a lot this week. Primarily because union hacks in Wisconsin who like to call themselves teachers are bitching that their $100,000+ compensation just isn’t enough. Problem is that these union members aren’t teachers. They’d like to call themselves teachers but in reality they’re self-deluded hacks. How do I know they’re not teachers? One, teachers teach. It’s a calling for a real teacher—yeah, they’d love more money but what concerns them most is teaching—therefore no teacher would abandon their students to protest their salary being cut. The second reason I know they’re not teachers is because Wisconsin schools, especially those in Milwaukie are some of the worst performing schools in the nation. Teaching is what teachers do, and if they’re not teaching, I’m not sure what they are, but they’re not teachers.

A side effect of this has been a return to the oft repeated claim that teachers are not paid enough. This is a fine sentiment, if and only if teachers actually did their work…which most of them are not doing. I remember a Barry Goldwater quote: “We can all agree that good teachers are not paid enough and bad teachers are paid too much”… except that nowadays the unions and the far left do not want to distinguish between good and bad teachers and just wants to give everyone a massive taxpayer funded salary.

So what does this have to do with the Department of Education? Well, quite frankly while I might be tempted to say that everyone in the Department of Education should be given a pink slip, a bill for all the tax-payer money they’ve wasted since their creation, and a “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out”. I will admit it could theoretically serve a valid federal function. (Yes I do believe that there are things the federal government should do).

Federal Law 1.
The first of these is to create a national teaching certificate. The amount of hoops a teacher has to jump through is currently insane and change from state to state. Here’s what you need to be a teacher:
1. A Bachelor’s Degree in your field of study.
2. Pass a subject knowledge test
3. Have a minor in Education (Child and developmental psychology, lesson planning, classroom management/discipline theory, history of education).
4. An FBI background check
5. A TB test (and maybe make sure the teachers are up on their vaccinations).
And if you want, make it a provisional certificate that must be signed off by a supervisor after five years of teaching for a life time certificate. Teaching is not something that needs constant classes—yes, teachers should keep up on educational research, and maybe if we didn’t have to go to constant and worthless “professional development” seminars on our own dime we could afford a subscription to professional magazines. Really teaching isn’t a profession that can be taught. You either are or are not a teacher. Even without training a good teacher can command a classroom and convey knowledge and wisdom. Even with years of training, a Ph.D. in Education and their subject matter, a bad teacher will still be unable to control a classroom or convey the slightest bit of factual information. Teaching is an art. And as with all arts, artists are born not made. (This is one of the easiest ways to spot a bad teacher; they first and foremost want to tell you what degrees they have…it’s because they have no skill at actually teaching to brag about).
Creating a basic federal teaching credential will remove much of the power the teachers’ unions have at driving away people who actually want to work.

Federal Law 2
Ban the teachers’ unions and replace it with merit based pay. If pay is merit based you don’t need unions to fight for your pay. (Also you can’t claim to be a professional and claim to need a union). If pay is merit based, as has previously been argued for and always shot down by—want to take a guess—the teachers’ union, then teachers could theoretically make upwards of $120,000 after you include benefits, which is really good pay. And hey, if crappy teachers are only making $10,000 a year (well quite frankly I’ve met teachers who that would be far too much for the joke that is their services).

Now you might be correct in saying the federal government can’t force a state or local district to move to merit based pay with a salary scheduled based purely and only on a 5 year average of your test scores. But what the federal government can do is make every single federal dime (for any and every federal program…if states want to bow down to the ultimate evil that is teachers’ unions and save the federal government a few dollars in spending, I can live with that too, and hey we’ll all know which states to avoid). Granted it sounds a little extreme, but this is something that needs to not just happen now, now, now, but actually sometime around a hundred years ago so I’m tired of waiting—the teachers’ unions need to be destroyed. Their destruction needs be put ahead of the destruction of Al-Qaida, they’re that destructive.

These salary schedules should be based on a five year average of test scores because we all have had that class that just won’t learn…although if all teachers are being held accountable this might happen less and less. For a pathetic 50% pass rate (or 0% growth from the previous year, because if you got losers you shouldn’t be completely blamed for having to do the previous year’s teacher) you should probably get about $25K a year (and a warning that if you don’t improve you’ll be tossed out to the street) and if you can get 100% pass rate (or 35% growth from the previous year) I think $120K is more than fair. You might complain that if every teacher could do that then we’ll be spending more than we do now, which might be true, but as everyone will now be competent and educated I think our economy will be in better shape and our welfare programs will be needed less. Now the exact salaries should be differentiated by individual states/districts because $30K in a city is certainly a lot less than $30K in the barbs, and even less than $30K in the country (so cost of living does need to be accounted for).

Also principal and superintendent salaries need to be capped. While they are a sadly needed portion of the infrastructure of a school, they are currently obscenely overpaid. Their salaries as well should be tied to test scores (and probably at best should never go about 150% of the highest paid teacher…of course the usually general incompetence I’ve seen in these areas probably should put that more in 110% range). And again I’ll grant this is states’ rights issues, but all 50 states need to be pushed to do this.

Granted good teachers aren’t in it for the money. But they might push themselves a little harder if they were rewarded for their good work. And they certainly would work even harder if the idiot with their meaningless Ph.D. and 20 years overpriced salary wasn’t paid more for doing inferior work.

Federal law 3 (This one is necessary because without it the 2nd part makes no sense).
Testing. You know how that joke of a law “No Child Left Behind” established testing, and it was a good thing because not everyone had to meet a minimum standard. (And trust me I have seen an actual effect where even the bad schools are now trying to meet some standard. The worst now would try at least raise standards enough to not be shut down. However, trying and succeeding are two different things). Well, the problem is each state was allowed to come up with its own tests. So we’re going to judge you on the test you make up for yourself. Anybody want to guess how many states watered down their tests? Hint: the number is between 49 and 51.

The federal government needs to come up with standards for every grade level that are to be administered in every state. (I have no idea of how we’re going to establish standards for the arts and PE, and yes there will have to be some wiggle room for special ed…but I’m a general idea person, not a detail person, I trust someone can come up with something if we actually moved forward in this direction). The tests need to be the same for every state, be difficult, and be set to a list of standards that make sense (ever read some states educational standards? Some of them read like stereo instructions or make no logical sense).

Now, some will claim that testing is ruining education. First keep in mind that education sucked long before “No Child” so I don’t think that’s it. It makes a nice talking point, but there is no proof for it yet. Now you may claim that testing hasn’t raised scores either. Which I have anecdotal evidence to disprove, but more importantly, until you put in real tests (which we don’t have yet) you can’t tell whether or not standards and testing are working.

Further, I might add, any decent teacher views standards as the low bar you have to meet. You then add on to that bare minimum standard. Any teacher that has trouble meeting any of the standards I’ve seen is quite frankly beyond inept. And this complaint about standards and testing hampering teachers is a talking point without substance. But please prove me wrong on that one, I’m willing to admit one or two states out there may have gone the other way of insanity and put standards that no human could reach (I’m willing to admit the possibility, just haven’t seen it)…and besides shouldn’t goals and standards be something to strive for , shouldn’t they be really high.

In the end these are about the only things I can think of that a relevant Department of Education could do. All of its other truly useless divisions need to be scrapped. Even though they’re a small portion of the budget, it’s a waste of money.


Filed under Education, Laws the GOP should pass, Teacher's Union, Teaching

Law of the week.

I know, I know the law of the week is supposed to be up on Monday. I’ll have it up tomorrow and it will be a rather long one. Sorry.

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Life is Not Fair! Deal with it.

So this truly moronic line (seriously it’s getting to a point where I can’t refer to this man without a string of profanity laced insults, he is really that dumb) came out of Obama’s mouth during his interview with Bill O’Reilly:

“What is absolutely true is I think in this country, there’s no reason why, if you get sick you should go bankrupt. The notion that that’s a radical principle, I don’t think the majority of people would agree with you.”

There is no reason why if you get sick you should go bankrupt? No reason? First let me deal with his crappy word choice before I give you a reason. Most people when they get sick don’t go bankrupt. Hell most of us when we get sick don’t even go to the doctor. So it’s not getting sick, it’s getting life threatening illnesses that could drive you bankrupt. Also not everyone who gets cancer or another life threatening illness goes bankrupt, even under the old system. So to be accurate what he should have said is:

“What is absolutely true is I think in this country, there’s no reason why, if you get a life threatening illness you may go bankrupt.” Now that I’ve corrected this idiots’ word choice to be factually accurate, let me deal with his idiot logic. No reason at all? You, the President of the United States can’t think of a reason? None at all? How about, life’s not fair.

Life is not fair. It throws things at you that you, in this lifetime, have done nothing to deserve and there is no way to combat it. It’s nobody’s fault. Now if you are a New Ager like me you might comfort yourself with the belief that everything happens for a reason, and everything is an opportunity to learn (and that there may be some multi-life karma in there too), but whether my spiritual beliefs are true or not…life isn’t fair.

It never has been fair. It never will be fair. Nothing we can do can or ever will change the very nature of this universe that it isn’t fair.

But it can be just in terms of how humans deal with each other.

I would like to ask Obama: Is there any just reason why I and the rest of America should go bankrupt and give up our liberties to choose what we want to buy or not to buy just because someone else can’t accept the fact that they’re going to die? Is it just that I must pay for their treatments which are necessary because either they: A.) not live a lifestyle which would have prevented them from getting this disease or B.) just drew the short end of the stick. Now a lot of you are going to complain about part A, that I’m insensitive or blaming the victim…no, not really. The biggest killers are heart disease (caused a lot by unhealthy living) and infection (more often than not caused by being old, they were going to die one way or another)…however the biggest cost for medical payments are cancer, which is either genetic (i.e. nobody’s fault) or brought on my unhealthy living (if you’re obese you’re at a much higher risk) and degenerative diseases (genetics) and occasionally long term issues like diabetes (most cases of which are completely preventable). Nowhere in this list did I see anything I caused. Why do I have to pay?

I’ll make you a deal, I’ll treat my dying (and by extension my life) with a little dignity, not waste everything I have on trying to prevent that which cannot be prevented, I’ll live life rather than simply try to prevent death, and I won’t ask anyone else to pay a dime (not even my children if I ever have them). For this, don’t ask me to pay for the fact that the only time you’ve valued living is when faced with death and thus are willing to throw boatloads of money away for procedures and treatments that will only delay the inevitable.

Now granted there are many people out there who have long term diseases that aren’t fatal, that cost a lot, and that get crappy expensive insurance or can’t get insurance…but that’s probably due to the fact that the government enforces state monopolies for insurance companies…and because they have insane regulations that force drug companies to charge outrageous prices to make enough to pay for research and still have a profit (and they are entitled to profit)…and because the lack of Tort reform creates obscene insurance premiums for doctors which they in turn pass onto their patients. (Oh there’s Medicaid and Medicare fraud, and the costs illegals place on the system) None of which was addressed by ObamaCare…only stealing from me was addressed in that petty excuse for a bill. Certainly isn’t fair (which it will never be) or just (which it could be if we didn’t have morons in Washington).

Oh but there was a second part to his statement:
“The notion that that’s a radical principle, I don’t think the majority of people would agree with you.”

Obama, you moron, it doesn’t matter if a lot of people agree with me or not, because truth and right have nothing to do with a popularity contest, but it is an incredibly radical notion to suggest that stealing from me is better than fixing a broken system. It is extremely radical to redefine the function of government from protection from outside forces to nanny state. It is obscenely radical to say you have the right to force me to buy things whether I want them or not. They are all radical notions. And you would know that Mr. President if you had a single brain cell focused on anything other than how cool you think you are.

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Filed under Health Care, Obama

Laws Republicans Should Pass #13: Trains!

Obama wants to spend some $53 Billion on high speed trains! Obama is clearly mad…but you would know that if you looked at his budget.

We have more debt than the country could literally pay off in a year even if we focused on nothing but debt! And he wants to tack on another $53 Billion. Granted at this point $53 Billion is chump change, but when our attitude should be taking a machete to the budget adding to it is not the answer.

But the argument from Obama and his ilk goes something like this: high speed rail is better for the environment. Building it will create jobs. It will increase economic activity. It will lower our dependence on oil. It will lower shipping prices, and thus benefit the economy even more. There are more arguments, but you get the idea. High speed trains are not only cool; they’re good for the economy.

I agree completely. So if they’re good for the economy that means there is money to be made. And if there is money to be made then there are private investors to be found.
So why don’t private investors invest in high speed rail? Well…
1. Government regulation will stop any private endeavor in its tracks.
2. Right now any new investment will be taxed to death by the socialist-in-chief if he has his way.
3. No system can be productive if unions are allowed to dictate as they currently are in the rail industry.

So I have a compromise for Obama. Let;s pass a bill that will destroy all the useless red tape, require open shops for the rail industry, and for the icing on the cake, any investment into high speed rail will not be taxable—the initial investment will be treated like a donation to charity and tax deductible, the capital gain and dividends will not be taxed for, let’s say, 20 years. I think you would easily find the investment money then…and with those incentives if nobody wants to invest, it probably wasn’t an industry that would have done anything in the first place.
Now liberals will object to lots of things about my proposal. They’ll have objections to shoving their Democratic Party Fundraising arm known as the unions out. Like I care. Union leaders and members should be grateful we don’t try the lot for treason for what they’ve done to this country.

Others will complain that by exempting the investment from taxes I’m not concerned with the debt either. This objection doesn’t quite me a prima facie case for logic but I’ll deal with anyway. Yes we might take in a little less revenue on the front end, but all those construction workers laying rail are getting paid (taxable income) and buying things (sales tax) and they’re placing orders to steal foundries and companies that make high speed trains (dear God let there be some other company other than GE for this) and those companies have to pay more people and invest more…and you know how the cycle of this logic works.

I love trains. Most economic conservatives love trains (we’ve all read Atlas Shrugged a little too much). We’re not opposed to high speed trains. But there is a way to have high speed rail that works (the private sector) and a way to have a system that costs a lot, doesn’t work, doesn’t run on time, and has a high chance of killing you (government run Amtrack).

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Filed under Capitalism, Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass

Multiculturalism is dead.

German Chancellor Merkel: Multiculturalism is dead.

British Prime Minister Cameron: Multiculturalism is dead.

French President Sarkozy: Multiculturalism is dead.

These three countries tend to agree on nothing. When two them agree on anything you tend to get a world war with the third. When all three of them agree you’re generally talking about self-evident, incontrovertible truths like 2+2=4, the sun rises in the east and the fact that multiculturalism is dead.

Oh and the former head of Australia and Spain agree. As does prominent Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

But what does it mean that multiculturalism is dead?

Does it mean we should all be isolationists and no longer look to anything but the few things our own particular culture has produced for wisdom and accomplishment? No. These heads of state are too intelligent to make such a preposterous assertion, even though that’s what I’m sure most of the left will try to spin this as. But that still doesn’t tell us what it does mean…

To say multiculturalism is dead means that people from the world over can’t say they want the blessing and advantages of the free westernized world, with all its economic and personal success, and not adopt the culture that created those advantages. You can’t move to Germany, England, France or even the United States and not adopt the culture.

It means that these advantages and advances do not come from the mere luck of the draw in terms of geography (after all Africa has more resources than any other continent and is dirt poor), from accidents in history (history tells us that history is made by those who make a choice not by random happenstance) or just because your ancestors made some really good inventions and you’re riding the wave (remind me again what happened to Babylon, Persia, Egypt and Rome…oh that’s right the wave never lasts). It means that a country is great because of the culture it has which creates greatness, not in spite of it.

Yes I am saying that certain cultures are unequivocally superior to others.

For instance, any culture that treats women as less than human: Inferior. Unquestionably, unmistakably, undeniably inferior. Go on, tell me that a culture that treats women like dirt is of equal value to one that respects women as equals to men. Go on, I really want to hear some liberal sacrifice one value to defend another. Some other qualifications that mean your culture should be thrown into the dust bin of history: placing faith above reason (although placing reason above faith might be just as stupid, they both have their fields and shouldn’t step on each other’s toes), not valuing the individual, and not honoring the rule of law.

Does that mean western civilization is perfect? No. Hell no. It has things we can, need to, and will eventually improve upon. It just isn’t completely shit for brains. Does that mean a culture is either on one side or the other? No. In the 1800’s the culture of India was far superior to others in many respects, but when it came to throwing living women onto their husbands’ funeral pyres they were clearly inferior to much of the world (and thank you Britain for getting rid of that, one cheer for colonialism). Conversely 1800’s Britain has some of the most advanced legal protections for the individual in the world, but were clearly inferior in their colonialistic policies of trying to rule everybody (two boo’s for colonialism). Over here in America until the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments we had just as much bad going for us as good.

But it does mean that while you don’t need to shed everything of the culture you came from, you do need to leave a lot behind because it was that culture that made the place you left a hellhole. People need to adopt the language of the country they are moving to. They need to adopt the laws and legal traditions and leave their old laws behind. They need adopt the toleration for difference that the west has developed, the toleration that says ‘over here we make fun of everybody, no one, no topic, no group is sacrosanct.’ And if you can’t adopt the freedoms that make the west great and, well, free…then don’t come here. We’re not going to force our culture on you if you stay in your own country…but don’t buy our goods, ask for our help, and come to our countries and then say that your culture is superior. (Oh, and don’t try to blow us up either, we get awfully touchy about that sort of thing and will force democracy down your throat if you threaten our survival, otherwise we simply don’t care). (Oh, and try not to kill your own people, the west doesn’t have a great track record of defending the oppressed, but we’re getting better.)

And dare we forget that western civilization has a long tradition of reciprocation (especially the America version of civilization): adopt the best of our society and we’ll incorporate the best of yours into our overall structure (ask anyone of German, Italian or Irish descent, and within another generation or two you’ll notice a much heavier Asian influence in American culture—which is a good thing). But it’s the new comers that have to make the first move…like doing little things like coming here legally (or at least with a really good persecution story…and, to our friends to the south, just because your country is hell but could be fixed if you tried is not a good persecution story), learn the language (nothing brings people together like a common tongue, and nothing drives them apart like not being able to communicate), don’t insist on you ass backward misogynist religious traditions being written in our legal system, love dogs. You know, the little things.

Multiculturalism is dead. Many cultures have things to learn from. But that does not mean the freedoms, values, and liberties of western classical liberalism are not superior to anything and everything that has come before. They are superior and to not admit this little fact is a bit of insanity. You can’t defend every civilization as being perfectly equal in value unless you’re an idiot or President of the United States (but I repeat myself). You don’t have adopt what I consider to be superior traditions….but don’t come to a place ask for all its blessings and not want any of the culture that created those blessings.

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Books for Conservatives (but liberals should read this too): New Threats to Freedom

So it’s been a while since I recommended a book, sorry about that. But right now I’m going to recommend a book that I recently discovered New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow.

This selection of original essays offers something to entertain, enlighten and offend both those on the left and the right. It is a discussion of the various forms that threats to our beloved liberties are coming from. And believe it or not it’s not just liberals in the government who we should be trying to oppose. Society, the overly religious, the ivory tower, and our own indifference are forces that have some of most beloved (although sometimes overlooked) liberties at stake. Probably our own indifference being the biggest threat. But Obama does rank a close second it seems.

None of the essays sound like they come from a crazed person wearing tin foil and talking about the CIA—quite the opposite in fact, as all of the writers are not only calm and logical in their cases, but know their way around the written word as well. (This collection for instance reminded me why I can’t help but love Christopher Hitchens, even in spite of his rabid atheism).

Economic rights are certainly covered, so conservatives should be happy, but our social rights, as liberals are keen to point out, are also at threat. Like the right to make mistakes or the right to eat what isn’t healthy for us.

Of particular poignancy, even though this book was written about a year ago, is the essay “The Abandonment of Democracy Promotion” by Tara McKelvey on how we have stopped trying to export democracy represents a threat to our freedom. The key example used in the essay is that we have ceased our spending for democracy promotion in Egypt. … I wonder, do you think that might come back to bite us in the ass?

I won’t go over every single essay, the writers in this collection do much better than I could, but I would say that I found almost every selection insightful and enlightening. However of my personal favorites I would suggest you read are:
“The Decline of the American Press Freedom” by Anne Applebaum
“Multiculturalism and the Threat of Conformity” by Christopher Hitchens
“The Fairness Doctrine” by David Mamet
“The War on Negative Liberty” by Katherine Mangu-Ward
“The Tyranny of the News Cycle” by Robert D. Kaplan

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Laws the GOP should pass #12: Get rid of government unions.

So this week the economic idiot-in-chief wants to unionize TSA workers. Let’s see, their outrageous union salaries and pension plans are driving states and businesses into bankruptcy as has been shown time and time again during this recession and Obama wants to expand union power? Madness! Madness! And let’s mention that unionizing employees has always and will always reduce employee productivity and customer service…given the TSA I hate to imagine how they could get worse than they are now, but I’m sure their union will find a way. Oh and it’s not like a union in the airline business has ever resulted in problems for airlines (like air traffic controllers striking and shutting down the country). Obama is clearly mentally unhinged or owned by the unions. Either way the best interests of the American public are not even an afterthought in this decision.

However, I’ve already gone off on the idea that TSA should be privatized and replaced with several Israeli style security companies. So let’s deal with this stupid idea of unions in government. Why are there unions in government? Why do government employees need good wages or protection? Honestly if you need protection from your employer and your employer is the people who write the laws, rule on the laws, and enforce the laws, and arbitrates all management/employee disputes…you’re just plain screwed, because no matter how good your union employer is, they are still the one who sets the rules of the game (again see the air traffic controller strike). So, logically, the only real reason we have unions in government is kickbacks to union heads through union dues (yes the logic really is that simple).
Hence the law of the week. GET RID OF ALL GOVERNMENT UNIONS.

But, but, but, liberals stutter searching for a legitimate reason against this (after all those unions pay for the largest portion of their reelection campaigns), but then who will protect the wages of government employees. Right now the public is out for blood and if you get rid of unions then the salaries and benefits of government employees will drop like a rock.

To which I respond: So? What’s the problem with that scenario?

Ideally government work should be underpaid. It should be crappy salaries; it should be something you want to get out of. Honestly there are exactly three departments in the entire government where we need people to make a career out of their government jobs: The Department of Defense, Justice, and State—and they don’t need unions because either they’re law enforcement and soldiers, lawyers or diplomats. All professionals, all of which do not need a union to protect them (let’s be honest here the people with guns are the least scary on that list).

Pushing government salaries lower (can we start with Congress?) will convince people to not make a lifelong career of doing nothing in civil service meaning that people will either get real jobs in the private sector or show that they’re utterly unqualified to be paid more than the meager civil servant salary they get. And since there will be a high turnover this will be the perfect place for every college grad to pick up that experience thing they are always so lacking on their resumes. This will in turn help the private sector sort the qualified from the incompetent so there will be more efficiency in the private sector. Trust me this line of logic when you work it out has no downside. Oh, and we save on federal, state, county, and city spending. So, less taxes.

Any other objection? Other than I’m stopping the time honored and Democratic Party and Union tradition of fleecing taxpayers and filling their own coffers? No? Didn’t think so.

There is no reason for government employees (at any level) to have unions. Scrap them.


Filed under Government is corrupt, Laws the GOP should pass, Unions

Why Obama thinks we need government…

Here are the words of our President:
“There’s only so much a church can do to help all the families in need, all those who need help making a mortgage payment or avoiding foreclosure, or making sure their child can go to college. […] There’s only so much that a nonprofit can do to help a community rebuild in the wake of disaster. There’s only so much the private sector will do to help folks who are desperately sick to get the care that they need.
“And that’s why I continue to believe that in a caring and in a just society, government must have a role to play; that our values, our love and our charity must find expression not just in our families, not just in our places of work and our places of worship, but also in our government and in our politics.”

I pulled this off of an article where some liberal wanted to whine about Conservatives misusing the Constitution called “It’s my Constitution too”…To which I can only respond 1. This quote has nothing to do with the topic provided by the columnist, and 2. Yes it is your Constitution too; now why don’t you actually try to read it and follow it…you’ll be the first liberal in decades to do so…but back to this quote.

I agree with President Obama that there is only so much that the individuals, families, churches, non-profits and business can do in the face of tragedy and adversity. I agree with him completely. They have limited resources after all. But why do they have limited resources? Oh, that’s right they’re taxed on EVERYTHING! Sales, income, corporate, gas and deductions for pyramid schemes like social security, Medicaid and Medicare. People can only do so much because the government is fleecing them for every cent they earn!
If Obama wanted a just society he would let the free market and meritocracy work out the problem created by government intervention and the welfare state, there would be no end to what we could do. Americans are the most generous people on Earth in both terms of money and time donated to churches, causes and charities (don’t believe me, go read Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks, pages upon pages of statistical data to back up that assertion…oh by the way conservatives are more charitable than liberals) and maybe we could be more charitable if a third of our year wasn’t spent coming up with money for the modern day Sherriff of Nottingham.
Oh and if we had our money back to give as we please we would be far more effective in our charity. Individuals do not give money to drug addicts…welfare does. Individuals do not go out of their way to help criminals and the worst society has to offer…welfare does. Individuals may be very giving in their charity but, unlike welfare and entitlement programs, there is an unspoken bargain being made: I will give you food or money or time or help, but you must use this to help make yourself a better person. No such bargain exists in getting entitlements from the government—and thus no improvement occurs.
What Obama should realize is that there is only so much government can do. It can only give money. Individuals, families, churches, non-profits and businesses can give help.

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It’s not our problem: The suicidal joys of Isolationism

“[America’s] previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan. Evil is an outreach program. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harboring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park. In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does. America has to act.”—P.J. O’Rourke, Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about getting out of world affairs in the wake of the current Middle East riot. As is always so popular in America, Isolationism seems to be making a comeback in the psyche of the nation. Great idea. Let’s take a look at how well isolationism has always worked in this country’s favor over the last century…
Coming off our crazy Manifest Destiny kick, Americans swung into a full isolationist mode in the early 20th century. So much so that when people started dying by the thousands in WWI we chose to do nothing. Thousand of soldiers—British, French, Italian, German, Austrian, to name a few—suffered in trenches with some of the most horrific conditions modern warfare has to offer. But it’s not America’s problem so we do nothing. The Ottoman Empire (ally of Germany and Austria) begins genocidally slaughtering Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks so brutally the Allies actually issue a statement using the words “crime against humanity” for the first time (so I doubt everyone in America was ignorant of this). America still does nothing, because still not our problem. Then one of our ships gets torpedoed while going through a war zone, so now it’s our problem. We come in with enough troops to end the war (if we had come in years earlier it would probably have ended the war then and spared thousands upon thousands suffering and death, but, oh, that’s right it wasn’t our problem at the time).
So World War I ends. President Wilson has a good idea in the form of a world organization to oppose tyranny and support democracy around the world, the League of Nations, but the isolationist quickly take power again in America and decide not to be a member of the organization. I’m not saying American participation in the League would have stopped World War II from happening, but explain to me how it would have hurt. So in the end the League of Nations is filled by almost nothing but countries that have pacifist views that will cower when anyone with a gun shows up.
The first major failure of this war weary League and America (both parties are equally guilty) is allowing the continuation of the Red Army in the former Russian Empire. World War I ended officially in 1919, but the Russian Civil War didn’t end until 1923, yet no one even really offered to help the White Army put down the communists (good call, because the Soviets didn’t cause any problems over the next 70 years or so). No, rather than actually take out the root of the problem at maybe the cost of a few thousand more lives for Western nations, here in America we chose the policy of going into a hysterical fit over the fear of communists in our country, mobilizing every federal and state power to track down what turned out to be nothing more than a few dozen radicals with access to gun powder and a rough skill in making bad mail bombs.( I’m not saying there weren’t Soviet agents ever in America, there were, but odds are they didn’t become entrenched until after the Russian Civil War was over.) So we’ll use police powers against our own people over the fear of a foreign nation but won’t actually deal with that foreign nation we fear, because it’s not our problem.
The next few years brought up other things that weren’t our problem. The Spanish Civil War, which allowed the country to fall to fascism. Italian aggression and empire building in Africa, but not our problem. The growing Maoist Army in China, not our problem. Invasion of China and Korea by Japan, not our problem. And dare we forget all those things Germany under Hitler did that weren’t our problem. Crimes against humanity each and every one of them. Not even counting the Holocaust, literally millions of people are being killed, raped, enslaved, and tortured. Americans can’t be that stupid to not know anything about this. Yes, many chose not to learn anything, just as nowadays many don’t bother to read about what goes on in the Sudan, because we know deep down if we knew we would be morally required to act, but American ignorance was one of choice, not one of lack of information (also much like how after we went into Germany all we found was a country filled with “Good Germans” who never knew what was going on in the concentration camps). And if all American’s were really that ignorant of these things, then how does one explain the very few Americans who went to all these wars to fight against fascism, to fight for what they believed to be right. They had to learn about it somewhere.
But these things weren’t our problem.
Then once again a weird thing happened. Low and behold after nearly every other nation who opposed fascism had fallen or was under siege, all of a sudden the fascists turned their eyes to us and it became our problem. Who could have guessed that an ideology founded on conquering the world would ever come to American shores. Completely unpredictable. So once again it suddenly became our problem again, and we went in and took down most of the bad guys. Then we went back to isolationist tendencies. Now some history buffs out there will call me crazy, because Truman’s post war policies could hardly be called isolationist—after all, we helped rebuild Western Europe and contained the Soviet Union. True, we contained the Soviet Union. This was isolationist in itself. Let’s go back to the day immediately following Japan’s surrender and look at the situation. You have Soviet Russia preparing to take total control of Eastern Europe as a “buffer zone” between them and Germany. Even at this point in history everyone knows Stalin is a worse butcher than Hitler. The bulk of the Soviet Army (devastated far more than the rest of the Allies by the war) is racing across Asia hoping to get a foothold into Japan and thus more land to control, thus leaving everything up to Moscow with minimal defenses. Gen. Patton (certainly not the most stable of men, but a strategic and tactical genius nonetheless) has this wacky plan to push the Russian army in Europe back to the Russian border if not destroy it completely. It was August, giving us at least a couple of months before those infamous Russian winters set in. Oh, and America was the only country that was a nuclear power at this point. It wouldn’t have been bloodless, but had the Allies decided to attack Soviet Russia it wouldn’t have been a long war, nor would it’s outcome been in the favor of communism. But we chose once again to not deal with a problem until it affected us.
We create the U.N., but then give two of the most evil governments in the world veto power to stop any action intended to stop their tyrannical ways.
Some more things that weren’t our problems after that. Eastern Europe is placed under a dictatorship as brutal and bloodthirsty as the one we just liberated them from. China, with Soviet help falls to communism. Tibet, after asking for U.S. help, receives no help and falls to Maoist butchers. The Soviet Union becomes a nuclear power (yes we did recognize that as our problem, but the fact is if we had recognized them as a problem a few years earlier, they wouldn’t have been around to become a nuclear threat). And after some half-hearted (I’m insulting the politician who made war policy, not the soldiers who fought) fighting we allow the communist to take North Korea (it’s not like allowing that one would ever lead to problems). Cuba also falls to communism, but not directly our problem, until low and behold communist from one part of the world start giving communist in another part of the world nuclear missiles.
So isolationism is not looking like a good option at this point to anyone who can count hundreds of millions tortured and killed as a direct result of it, but the U.S. still can’t give up it’s isolationist way. So we now try a kind of halfway isolationism. The use of the CIA to work behind the scenes and the use of the U.S. military only in “police actions.” The problem with police actions is if you have rules about when and where your troops can fire back at the enemy, and what lines they can cross, and just generally the falling short of fighting a real war then all you end up with is a lot of U.S. soldiers in body bags and a wall in D.C. commemorating the fact that despite being excellent soldiers, who never actually lost a real battle, politicians will make their deaths completely worth nothing by just leaving countries like Vietnam to communist governments.
Then Khmer Rouge takes over Cambodia and does things that might turn a Nazi’s stomach, but again, not our problem.
All this time it would take a whole book to recount all the bloody things being done in Africa that weren’t our problem.
Iran falls to a dictator whom we don’t support, falls to a dictator whom we do support, then falls to a radical Islamic cleric who no one in the world of the sane is not disturbed by. Our president at the time of this final change of power decides it’s best to be weak, and let them hold American hostages until he leaves office. But then again this is the same man whose grand stand against the invasion and resulting crimes against humanity in Afghanistan by the Soviets was best combated by boycotting the Olympics. Way to take a stand, Jimmy.
So we learned not to use police actions. So still not wanting to actually fight real wars, because it’s not really our problem, we just start arming people in their wars against our enemies. People like the rebel soldiers in Afghanistan to fight the communists (this guy named Bin Laden comes to mind), and people like Saddam Hussein to fight off Iran. I wonder if that policy ever came back to haunt us?
Oh wait, it did. Hussein invades other countries; we kick him out of Kuwait but leave him around for the next generation to deal with (incompetently I might add).
Our genius plan of dealing with the collapsing Soviet Union is to support whatever dictator comes along in the Balkans, which once again leads to genocide and U.S. troops having to go in under the cover of the U.N. (really wasn’t even our idea, it required Tony Blair twisting Clinton’s arm to get U.S. troops to go). And I’m still trying to figure out what drugs were being passed around when it came to our policies involving Russia itself, but the result was what it always is, let’s not get involved.
Then let’s try and help out in Africa, until a few bullets get fired (in a war zone of all places, who could have predicted that) and it’s decided that’s it’s better for a few soldiers to have died in vain, than to actually clear Somalia of the warlords.
Afghanistan falls to psychotic religious fanatics, not our problem. At least until the New York skyline gets a permanent makeover.
Is it just me, or does it seem that all of these things that aren’t our problem have a bad tendency of becoming our problem, and rather big problems at that? Ironic because they weren’t necessarily always big problems, in fact they would have been more easily dealt with problems back when it wasn’t our problem.
And let’s look at another pattern that seems apparent to me, when what wasn’t our problem becomes our problem we go in long enough to stop the current problem without sticking around long enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The few places we gone into with a plan and have stuck around in (Germany, Japan) seem to be pretty stable.
So no matter how you want to look at it isolationism on any country’s part, but especially one as large as the U.S. seems to lead to three things: (1) Torture (2) Death (3) and problems that become so big they do become our problems.

I’m not sure what should be done about Egypt, Yemin and Jordan right now, mostly because we need to wrap things up in Iraq and Afghanistan before further overextending ourselves…but not doing anything is a really dumb idea as history has shown.


Filed under War on Terrorism

Laws the GOP should pass #11: Taxes and elections

Two things are happening right now. First the 2012 elections are starting—may all the current front runners crash, burn and be forgotten…not only because they’re kind of wasting our time this early, but also because all the front runners right not (Romney, Paul, Palin, Obama) are losers. But the other thing that’s starting to happen is that most of us are receiving that wonderful yearly reminded of highway robbery called your W-2. I got mine today and once again I’m back to my stated belief that being an employee of the IRS or Social Security Bureau should be a death penalty worthy crime (goddamn thieves, it’s a shame I don’t believe in Hell).


What do elections and taxes have to do with this week’s suggested law? Everything. But, you say taxes are on April 15th and elections are 6 and half months after that in early November…. Yeah they are. Think about it. These two dates that the government can arbitrarily decide on were placed as far apart from each as was humanly possible. Do you think there is a reason for that? Could it be that politicians know that sadly people have very short attention spans? Maybe, that if people still felt the bitter taste of paying taxes in their mouth, tax and spend liberals and spineless Republicans would never get reelected. Yeah, actually that’s probably it.

Which is why I suggest we move all national, state, county and city elections to April 15th. Hell I’d say we make it a Constitutional amendment that tax day and election day are on the exact same day.

Think of the kind of cost cutting politicians we’d get in Congress if you had these two events on the same day. Politicians campaign promises would sound like “In my six years in the Senate I brought not a single dime of tax raising pork back to this district and I promise I will cut the budget another 20% in my next term.” Politicians who spend money on non-essential expenditures will not last long. People will have a very clear vision of what welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare are actually costing them. You do this and I can almost guarantee balanced budgets and low government debt within 10 years.

The only way to even improve on this is if we moved both election day and tax day to July 4th…a day which honors a time when people knew what to do to tax collectors and intrusive government.

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