Monthly Archives: October 2011

Laws for the GOP to pass…rework the entire bureaucracy…and by rework I mean fire just about everyone

We’re winding down weekly law blogs.  Next week will be the last one that will be published every week…not that I won’t have any more law blogs but they just won’t be on a weekly basis.

So what am I going to suggest this week?  Well I have suggested a few departments be disbanded.  Now if you noticed the theme, I would argue that most of the departments should just be disbanded, with their few useful functions either handed to the remaining departments, given to the states, or simply privatized.  Now we’ve covered Transportation , Education , HUD , the Post Office , the TSA and the USDA.

But that still doesn’t cover a lot.  Why doesn’t it cover a lot?  Well take a look at the current U.S. Executive Branch.

This would be the definition of madness.  And technically one man controls all of that.  I don’t care it if it’s Obama, Bush or George Washington risen from the grave.  No one can possibly lead all of that or should be trusted with all of that.

So I suggest we just get rid of most of it.  The federal government should be there to protect our Constitutional rights, police crimes that cross borders, defend the national borders, resolves conflicts between states and a few other things that are too big for individual states to do.  Most of what’s on that list does not fall into the area of things states can’t be trusted to do.

In fact Congress should make it its job to make this look more like this:

You’ll notice that only the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Justice and Homeland are left.  And quite frankly if I had my way Justice would be all the legal ins and out and Homeland would have the FBI and all other federal police forces (ATF, DEA, ICE, etc) all rolled into that large FBI–it frightens me that numerous organizations are out there with the same purpose to catch criminals which results in numerous overlaps, wasteful spending and of course turf wars.  Also can we please change the name of Homeland Security?  It’s the dumbest name ever.  It’s sounds like Fatherland or Motherland (remind me which two countries referred to their nations that way).  How about Department of Internal Security.  That way you have a federal police force (Internal Security) and a federal prosecutor (Justice) without the two being the same department (you know how every city, county and state does it).

But as to the Departments I will be getting rid of, I will be brief (If you would like a full justification of why just about everything in that Department needs to be destroyed, I will be more than happy to write a whole blog for each request).

Scrap the Department of Transportation: Last week I had a blog saying infrastructure needs to be handed over to the state, that’s most of the Department there…the only thing that’s left and of value is the FFA and that can be regulated by Internal Security but mainly it just needs to be privatized

The Department of Energy serves no useful federal function other the fact that they hold all the nuclear stuff.  Defense and Internal Security can handle those.

The Department of Commerce is entirely unconstitutional right now, but the commerce clause needs to be clarified so even a liberal can understand it only applies to commerce that crosses state borders.  Its only useful parts are the Census Bureau and Patent Office (which can just be operated as independent federal offices), and NOAA which can be privatized.

Health and Human Services is not the concern of the federal government (FDA can be privatized, CDC over to the Department of Internal Defense)

Department of Interior…utterly useless…especially Indian Affairs.  The states can clearly handle all of this.

Department of sucking up to unions…I mean the Dept of Labor…does nothing relevant, kill it.

The Department of Veterans Affairs can be rolled back into Defense.  I think people in the Pentagon will care a hell of a lot more for veterans than bureaucrats in an office.

And then of course there are a lot of independent agencies I’m getting rid of.  I’m not going into all of them but here are a few highlights.

  • Kill the Peace Corp…if we didn’t send them all to Iraq and Afghanistan to help rebuild those places why the hell do we have them?  They serve no legitimate function.
  • Kill NASA and let the private sector take over.  We’ll be on Mars before the next generation if we let the private sector take over…we’ll never get anywhere if we let government continue to handle this.
  • Kill the African Development Foundation…really, does it look like we know what we’re doing with this?
  • Kill the Foundation on the arts and humanities…again this is a private concern.
  • Privatize Amtrak
  • Kill the National Science Foundation…again this should be a private concern.  Not to mention that this thing has become a liberal propaganda wing.
  • Kill OSHA…Two or three times just to be safe, and burn the buildings…I think all the employees should be put in jail (solitary for life) just to be safe, and probably have the bodies burned after they die to make sure they don’t come back.  No government office is as harmful to business, worker happiness and safety as this office which had to have been imagined in the 10th level of hell.
  • Office of Government Ethics…Huh?  Try not laugh when reading that.
  • Selective Service System…yeah we have a volunteer system now…and if it wasn’t too hard to set up in WWII it won’t be too difficult to set up again if we need it.
  • Small Business Administration…you know how best to help Small Businesses?  Stop having an administration that constantly gets in their way. Kill this thing too.
  • Social Security…I think I’ve been clear that we need to phase that out completely.
  • Why is the TVA still around?
  • US Commission on Civil Rights…if there is a real civil rights violation then that’s the domain of the Justice Department so you don’t need this redundant excuse.
  • Office of Drug Control Policy…uh-huh, and that’s worked so well…

Yes there are legitimate functions of the federal government.  But right now it is overstepping those functions, usually at the price of those functions.  The states and the private sector can handle a lot of these things more efficiently, cheaper, with less corruption, less paperwork and at a greater benefit to the public.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Greatest Halloween Film Of All Time

“Ohh, you didn’t tell me you were going to kill it!”

 

So are the first words of this great half hour Halloween special that defines Halloween.

As all right thinking people know, on Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch that is most sincere, flies around the world and gives presents to all the children of the world.


One of the reasons this is the best Halloween film is because this is in the end a holiday for children, or at least the inner child in all of us. It is a holiday based on make believe and imagination (which is why so much of it is dedicated to Snoopy’s always over active imagination). Halloween has been stripped of any religious (pagan or otherwise) trappings it once had and is now only a night of imagination. A night when we can be anyone we imagine (although there may be something of a Freudian-slip in our choices, as in Lucy’s choice to be a witch while saying a Halloween costume should be the opposite of your personality). It is a night to bring out our fears and hopefully confront them (which is why there are so many monsters in the choices of the Peanut’s costumes). It is, and always will be a night of meaningless fun, which is why Peanuts embody the holiday better than any horror film.

Why else do I love this, because I love Charlie Brown. Every place he goes to trick or treat he gets a rock. Does he complain? No. Does he whine? No. Does he demand the others share their candy with him? No. He simply states a fact and stoically accepts. Compare this to Sally’s whining about getting to spend a night with her beloved Linus, threatening to sue, demanding restitution just because she didn’t get to see the Great Pumpkin. The Occupy Wall Street thugs could learn much from Charlie Brown.

And of course there is Linus’ unshakable faith in the Great Pumpkin. It’s admirable, although slightly misplaced on this holiday, and makes us all want to believe in the Great Pumpkin. And even though he has yet to see the Great Pumpkin he still believes–You have to love him for it.

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The dangers and evils of debt relief

China is bailing out Europe and Obama wants to forgive student debt. I don’t know which is worse but they’re both terrible calls.

All of these Other 99% and Occupy Wall Street, in between blaming the Jews for every problem in their lives (and probably fantasizing about furnaces), they’re complaining about bank bailouts and their college loan debt. It’s an odd combination. The Tea Party complained about bank bailouts because they were in support of to good old fashioned Hayek/Friedman capitalism policy. They complained about the size of government because it was against capitalism. They complained about health care because the idea of positive rights is against capitalism. They complained about taxes, regulation, too big to fail all because of one basic reason–all of it’s against capitalism.

The Occupy Wall Street people however are complaining about banks getting bailouts (even though I remember these were the very people who supported Obama…you will recall the right started grumbling during that bullshit that was TARP) because they hate capitalism. So why are they complaining about having debt…oh because they hate capitalism because they didn’t get a bailout themselves. It’s not that they’re opposed on principle to people having money…they’re just opposed to people who aren’t, you know…them, having money. And you wonder why I constantly refer to them as a bunch of whiners.

But let’s deal with their claim that their debt is a problem, a problem the government should fix. Well, technically, they might have a point there if they took the line of argument I made that the government CAUSED the problem by offering loans, grants, and subsidies in the first place. The government caused a bubble in college tuition. It’s their fault. Now if they wanted to end ALL government grants, loans, subsidies and scholarships which would burst the bubble on the cost of college tuition and after and only after ending all the BS forgive all outstanding debt over say $10,000 (because THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CAUSED IT TO BE THAT HIGH) as a mea culpa for truly f!@#ing the system up, I could understand and be in favor of that. However that’s not what Obama is proposing. He’s proposing just forgiving some of that debt. Do you know what that will do? It will make colleges think they can bilk even more in tuition because, hey, it’s not like the kids will ever have to pay it back. Just forgiving debt will drive costs higher, will cause more debt in the long run, and it will even further ruin the educational opportunities of students looking to go to college and put future graduates even more behind.

Everything this administration does boggles the mind. They’re either idiots or evil geniuses. There is no in between. Either they know absolutely nothing about economics, because EVERYTHING they do is the wrong thing (bailouts, corporate takeovers, more regulation, health care, backing unions, everything) or he sincerely wants to destroy this economy . I personally believe Obama and his team to just be the dumbest idiots in the world, but who knows I may be proven wrong. 

But let’s not just focus on forgiving debts and bailouts of losers in this country, because this form of insanity is becoming an international pastime.

Greece is once again about to default on its debt so let’s bail them out again. But this time it’s not just the EU and the IMF (read U.S. money) now we’re adding China. You know how in crime movies they always describe that one loan shark you do not want to owe even a single nickel to because if you do you will never pay it off and you will always be in their pocket. Yeah, China. But more importantly is the simple fact that this is never going to work. Never. Greece is a total entitlement state that spends more than it can possibly take in. And they have shown no inclination to make the massive cuts required (you know kind of like how this country should have started making massive cuts right around the time Enron and Arthur Anderson went under…but Bush knowing nothing about economics, yet still more than Obama, didn’t). But let’s be honest here, Greece is beyond help. They’re going to default. Even if they went for true austerity measures, stopped all socialist policy and instituted Hong Kong style capitalism the economy will not grow fast enough to stop them from going into default. This is just a fact. They passed the point of no return a long time ago. All we can do now is choose whether that default is going to be big, as it is now (we could have made it much smaller had we let them default years ago, but that time is past) or we can choose for that default to be unbelievably massive as another round of bailout after bailout will make it. Greece will default. That is a fact, the only question is now how big do we want to make that disaster and how many of us should go down with her.

But no. Like a the crazy idiot who can’t pay their bills Greece is just going to take out another credit card and put all their new debt on that one. I’m sure that plan will work.

The unfortunate fact is that people, whether it’s the EU or the Occupy Wall Street idiots, don’t want to deal with the facts of debt. Debt is an agreement to pay back what you have borrowed. To socialists who don’t hold property and contract law as sacrosanct this may come as a bit of a perplexing issue, but for the rest of us we understand. In any loan agreement there are two parties. The loaner who agrees to take a risk and loan you money which you will pay back with interest as payment for having the money up front when you needed it but didn’t have it. This person knows they are taking a risk and if they’re smart will not loan out more than they can afford to lose (banks and governments should take a hint). And there is the loanee who thinks that they will do better by taking out the loan and buying something now rather than waiting to have the money and buy it later. It’s a capitalistic act. Both parties make out better. The loaner gets interest on their loan, the loanee gets the benefit of buying something that will benefit them. Each party is supposed to be better off than before (remember capitalism is a win-win system). Now the loaner takes a risk, and they should know it’s a risk, and with any risk you should not throw good money after bad, you should not loan out more money just to get your original investment back. It never works. For the loanee you take on an ethical requirement to pay that money back (and for college students out there, it’s a good investment because you will make more money with a college degree and spend less time unemployed…unless you study Sociology or Modernist Literature, in which case you will rightfully be unemployed and have all day to just sit around and bitch about how life is unfair with other idiots at Occupy Wall Street). If you can’t pay the money back (i.e. Greece, idiots who buy houses they can never afford, U.S. Congress) DON’T TAKE THE MONEY. You’re an idiot to loan money when you can’t afford to, and you’re an idiot to take money when you can’t pay it back. And you’re an idiot and an unethical bastard to say someone else should pay back the loans you should never have taken. But more than just that it ignores that while capitalism is a win-win system where everyone does better on every capitalist transaction, it is also a system about profit and loss. You may do better off of every transaction because you always get what you want; however, what you want may not be in your best long term interest, and if you’re an idiot and make stupid choices based on immediate wants that will lead to your own failure with no one to blame but yourself.

If we bailout people who took out loans on houses they couldn’t afford you encourage more bad home loans. If you bail out people who can’t get a job with their stupid liberal arts degree you encourage more useless degrees. If you bailout banks with bad loan programs you encourage more bad loans. If you bailout businesses with bad growth policies you encourage more bad business decisions. If you bailout countries with unsustainable socialist policies you encourage more socialist policies. Stop bailing out and supporting losers. Every dollar spent on bad policies form the individual to country level is a dollar not going to policies that work, a dollar that encourages more bad choices and less good ones. Stop the bailout and loans by governments which seem to always encourage the worst. Get out of the loaning system, leave it up to the banks, which, as they are convened with profit will only subsidize good choices, and thus subsidize economic growth, and which will be better for everyone. Stop doing encouraging all the things that ruin people’s lives and let them live their lives…not everyone will make it to the top, but it will because of their own choices, not because a government got in the way.

Worrying about people’s debts, especially people who have made bad choices and can’t pay off those debts, worries only helps those about people who have made bad choices allowing them to make more bad choices..and it hurts everyone else. The government seems to have no ability to look at people suffering and subsidize their bad choices…so it needs to leave because all it is doing is encouraging more bad choices. Will this have consequences? Yes. Lots of loans from the personal level to the international level will have to be defaulted on. But the effects of this will be lower prices in numerous fields and capital will be freed up to be given to people who will repay their loans, to people who will invest in education that will lead to a job, to businesses that will grow an economy.

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More Misconceptions of the New Age: Crystals, incense and the rest


So when I asked my friends what they thought of when they heard the phrase New Age I got a lot of responses regarding crystals, incense, and music. I was looking for misconceptions about the New Age, but this really isn’t a misconception…New Agers really do go for all of that…but I think it’s misunderstood as to why we do it.

New Agers believe, not entirely without basis, that everything in existence is really just energy vibrating at different levels (don’t roll your eyes this is one of the more popular theories of quantum mechanics). And with this we find that certain objects have certain vibrations that correspond to certain patterns of thought. That certain sounds and even certain stimuli (like scent) can also help raise the vibration level of the person using them.

Now do New Ager’s believe that just by putting a crystal in our hands we suddenly are lifted to a higher level of enlightenment? No. It’s something we use to focus, to help us remember and concentrate. You know like crosses, stars of David, rosary beads, mandalas, formulaic prayers, water in a baptism, and the Eucharist. Few of us believe in the full power of these things when we’re not of the faith that uses them, but we do understand their uses. They’re tools to help us control our thoughts. We just have quite a few more than most religions because we tend to draw items from every religion because we believe that almost all religions can be a way to truth. If a crystal works for you in helping you raise your thoughts, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. If a crucifix does the same thing use that.

So yes, we do have all those things that make New Age stores so profitable, but understand, in that aspect we’re not really different from any other religion…we all have our tools for helping our thought focus more on God. You have yours. We don’t insult yours when they don’t work for us…

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Top 10 Halloween Films #6 Ghostbusters

“Why worry. Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.”

I could hardly choose a single line to put at the top of this–they’re almost all classics.

The great story of three men, who, after being booted out of the cushy world of academia and have to get real jobs which is a problem for some of them, “You’ve never worked in the private sector. They expect results.” So they do the only thing they can think of, they catch ghosts. Oh and destroy a lot of crap in the mean time…but they get paid well. Meanwhile a moldy Sumerian god is planning on returning and destroying the world. But, as I’m sure we all know the Ghostbusters have this covered. Honestly do I really have to summarize the plot…we’ve all seen it. We all know who to call.

Not exactly a lot of fear here, just a lot of great humor dressed up in the trappings of a horror flick. Something that has been lost in modern comedy, the understated visual gag. Egon moves to the other side of the elevator after turning on the proton pack and the comment about the unlicensed nuclear accelerator…no need to explain the punch line or even to have other characters mention it, just make the joke and move on expecting your audience to be bright enough to get it…and there are numerous examples of this. And then the dialogue is even better. I watch this movie every year and it never gets old. As I said I’m sure you’ve seen it so you know that rather than listening to me talk about the quality of the writing you should just go and watch it.

And of course on the greatest reason to love this movie, the EPA is the villain. That’s right the whole mass destruction is primarily caused because an arrogant, dickless (hey, I’m just quoting a fact listed in the movie, twice in fact), brainless, bureaucrat had to show that he had power. This movie understands that when it’s the federal government vs. small business, the federal government is on the side of the universe destroying evil. It’s a pity the bureaucrat only got covered in marshmallow and not something more painful and befitting the vicious crime of being a bureaucrat.

Of course the lasting impact of this movie can best be summed up with the following line from my favorite TV show:

“Who you gonna call? [awkward silence] God, that phrase is never gonna be usable again, is it?”–Spike

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Top Ten Films of Halloween #7 Alien

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. […] I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”

This is a movie best watched at night with the lights off…yeah it has a lot of sci-fi elements…but in the end it’s a monster movie, with possibly the most horrifying monster the silver screen ever dreamed up.

The first thing that I find a little odd about this is that in the opening scene you hear the engines working as you look at the ship from the outside. I thought that in space no one can hear you scream…oh well, we would have to wait for Joss Whedon to understand you don’t need sound effects when in space. But then again while there is the hum of the engines or the sound of the wind there are very long and uncomfortable silences in this film. Very uncomfortable. Because this movie is about the uncomfortable nature of fear. Long, silent, drawn out, pricks up the back of your spine fear.

And the only thing more uncomfortable is the intentional repetition of violent sexual imagery. It starts with a forced impregnation that leads to a thing that bursts out of man’s gut in possibly the most horrific pregnancy on film to give birth to a creature that is a disturbing amalgamation of phallic shapes . Or as the screen writer put it “This is a movie about alien interspecies rape,”… I have a hard time thinking of a more disturbing 8 word sentence. Add to the fact the initial thing that attached itself to the guy’s face looked kind of like a spider, which is even more creepy, there’s just nothing comforting about this movie. Oh and a disembodied Ian Holm also added to the creepiness.

In fact re-watching this film made me ask myself…why am I watching all these horror films right before I go to bed…this is kind of stupid…

Actually there is one thing that’s comforting about this film: Ripley. You can’t help but love her. Granted she’s even more the hero in the sequel, but she has just about every quality that is imaginable in a hero. Smart, grace under pressure but not eternally cold and when need be the ability to throw off one liners.

It’s almost impossible to think that Weaver did not get first billing…we have come to think of her as the face of these movies. It’s her versus the big ugly thing. That’s the nature of these movies. (Which makes me a little worried at how good Prometheus will be)…but that of course lead me to have a word on the sequels. Aliens was a very different film, it was a James Cameron action spectacular and it was a great one. Aliens 3 I don’t know what the hell they were thinking. And of course Alien Resurrection which is also a piece of crap…but it does have one saving grace: screenwriter Joss Whedon added to the cast a ragtag bunch of space smugglers (which included a morally ambiguous captain with a sense of honor, a quirky pilot and a big thug who had good one liners…I wonder if Whedon ever got around to reusing the good parts of that idea?).

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Halloween’s Greatest Films #8 The Lost Boys

“You never grow old. You never die. But you must feed.”

A true horror classic is an appellation that can be applied to just about every movie in the the Top 9 of this list, so I it could be argued I don’t need to say it with this one, but I will. The Lost Boys is a classic film of Halloween.

Again is this was from a day when vampires would rip your throat out as soon as look at you. And they have fun doing it. No qualms, no remorse, no brooding…just vicious destruction. This is the movie that originally introduced us to Kiefer Sutherland being a badass (although I think we’ll all agree Bauer was far more deadly).

We know the story. Biker teenage vampires lure an unsuspecting teenager into their lair and begin to turn him in an opening gambit to turn his entire family. Meanwhile his younger brother teams up with two socially dysfunctional wannabe vampire hunters who don’t know that you never invite a vampire into your house (which is one of those rules that everyone is supposed to know).

The movie plays, somewhat poorly I’ll admit, with a comparison between vampirism and teenage rebellion (the problem is that one is a phase and the other is by definition eternal), but the destructive, self-centered at the costs of others, you don’t know what I’m going through angles do hold. And it does hold the teenage desire and delusion to be young forever and never responsible for your actions.

It had been a few years since I had last seen this movie, so I had forgotten how bloody (very bloody) killing vampires was in this films, but it works.

As with a lot of the other movies I’ve discussed on this list we see the immortals heightened fear of death, and the overcoming of fear by our heroes…but this also offers us the fear of character Michael as he changes into the vampire and desperately tries to hold onto his humanity. It is this fear that the movie focuses on the most, and arguably tries to tie to that vampire/teenage rebellion theme.

The movie is unsteady at times but makes up for it with the fact that it keeps you guessing as to where the real power of the villains lies. Red herrings, subtle clues, and distractions all leading up to the final reveal by the vampire works for a nice surprise. Of course that leads into its own problems. If this movie has a single great flaw, it’s the random deus ex machina save at the end. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about, if not no need to spoil the ending. It was just a little too convenient.

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Top Ten Films of Halloween #9 Fright Night

“Apparently your generation doesn’t want to see vampire killers anymore, nor vampires either. All they want to see are slashers running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins. “

So observes Peter Vincent, Vampire Hunter, in the great horror classic Fright Night.  If only he had known that worse movies were coming after that…

But back to Fright Night…

It takes a lot to make a teenage boy ignore his girlfriend who is in his bed and willing to go all the way…but seeing your neighbors move a coffin of all things into the basement might be one of the few things strange enough to do that (although probably for most teenage boys that wouldn’t be enough)…but this is the story of Charley, who was unfortunate enough to have a vampire move next door.  And worse yet, his friends don’t believe him, the police don’t believe him and all he can rely on is the help of a washed up B-horror movie actor.  Sucks to be Charley.  Oh, and the vampire has a thing for his girlfriend.

One of the things that makes this movie so good is the vampire himself—Chris  Sarandon (who also played another one of my generation’s most hated villains) as the vampire Jerry Dandrige.  Nonchalant, bordering on arrogance, in almost every scene he is in, it just gives you chills at how comfortable he is at being a mass murderer.  He’s evil and he doesn’t really care what you think about that.  And the director does an excellent job of constantly focusing you on the fangs and blood sucking habit even when not showing them by having him constantly eating or drinking something in every scene.  And thankfully someone remembered that vampires are supposed to be a symbol of sexuality.  Not that Sarandon is the best looking actor in the history of the universe, but almost every scene shows him being the desire of the women in the room.  (And when being turned into a vampire, the girlfriend Amy, seems to also magically go under a transformation from mousy plain Jane to near professional model looks…no explanation is really given for this transformation, especially since it seems to involve a makeup and lighting choices which should have nothing to do with becoming a vampire).  And they continue the darker side of the metaphor further with several overtones of rape (as there is quite a bit of mind control and loss of willpower).

From this…

…To this. Bite of a vampire offers one hell of a makeover.

And we finally get to a vampire movie that plays by the rules.  Sunlight.  Stake through the heart.  Needing to be invited into the house.  Holy Water.  Crosses.  Can turn into fog, bats and wolves.  It’s nice to see somebody play by all the rules.

 

And obviously the fear felt by Peter Vincent and Charley is a central point to this film.  Vincent comes also with the fear that his whole life is nothing but a long sad joke (which may at some level be a comment on Roddy McDowall’s long career as a chimp).  This near paralyzing fear permeates the second half of the film, and leads to our admiration of our two heroes as they are able to overcome their fears and defeat the vampire.

This is a classic horror film.  Not exactly the greatest film of all time, but certainly one that couldn’t be improved.  In fact it would be sacrilege to ever even think of redoing this movie, and if anyone even thought about it I would advocate for a total boycott of…wait…what…they did what?…Colin Farrell, are you f’ing kidding me?  And that twerp who played Chekov in that other crappy remake?  This means war….

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Top 10 Halloween Films #10 Interview with the Vampire


“God kills indiscriminately. And so shall we.”

And so we begin with the top 10 Halloween movies….

Interview with the Vampire is a classic film of vampires. And although I think this did begin some of the trends of having whiny sparkling vampires. But the morose vampires that Louis and Armand are still not the spineless wimps vampires have become. They may be honing their brooding skills to a fine art (of course as a precursor to Angel they’re amateurs at brooding) but they can also engage in vicious acts of hatred and destruction. These are still vampires that can kill and will do so. Pitt’s Louis does so out of need and vengeance and can be very cold about it. Banderas’ Armand even more horrifically does it because he finds it an amusement to put on shows because he’s bored with his near eternal life.

Evil with a capital E

And of course there is Lestat. In this version (the Lestat of book The Vampire Lestat is a very different character) Lestat is something you very seldom see in literature: evil for the sake of evil. He’s not a psychotic or a psychopath who doesn’t quite grasp the difference between good and evil. He’s not a sociopath who just doesn’t care. He’s not on a vengeance kick feeling that if he has to suffer then everyone has to suffer. He’s not even really bored. No, he knows he’s evil, he knows good from evil, and it’s not that he doesn’t care; it’s that he delights in being evil. Iago, Ledger’s Joker, Dracula (in the original novel and The Historian), it’s a short list. Knowingly willing evil for the sake of evil. It’s a horrific thought and thankfully something I’m convinced exists only in fiction. But an instructive one to show us what we are not and should not be. It’s all of our worst qualities stripped of all our best qualities, our egos given free reign of madness and evil. Few things are as frightening. (Although even Cruise’s Lestat falls short sometimes of the pure villainy with which Louis imaged him, as when he mentions it’s easier to kill the guilty and his constant complaining about having not being given a choice when he became a vampire).

And I believe I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating—stories about those who are immortal help clarify the fear of death. The normal person doesn’t fear death as much because they know it is an inevitable fact…the fictional construct of the immortal vampire is far more afraid of death, partly because they trade in it, they’re already half in the grave, and they are afraid of what is not a fact for them. If the fear of death is the fear of the unknown for the average mortal…how much more an unknown is it to someone who doesn’t have to die. You see this mostly clearly when Louis returns to New Orleans and sees Lestat huddled in the corner of a house, afraid to move, afraid to find how the world has evolved; afraid to be himself for fear that he may not be able to survive.

Something else came to mind while watching this movie; you could never get it made today. This movie was made before being PC came into its full stride culturally so I think it got away with things you probably couldn’t now as today people read slights to special interest groups where there are none (while strangely letting real threats to society go without a word). The fact that there are some pretty clear homoerotic overtones between Lestat and Louis, and Louis and Armand coupled with the fact that Lestat is evil and Armand is just short of evil you would probably have numerous groups complaining about how the movie is showing gays in a poor light. This of course would be missing the point that the story was showing all the vampires to just be hedonistically decadent and willing to get hedonistic pleasures anyway they could get it, it has nothing to with orientation, it has to do with a lack of ethics (in just the same way a guy who sleeps around with hundreds of women without any meaning is unethical). And these would ironically be the same people who have next to nothing to say about the fact that actors who come out as gay will often find fewer jobs after coming out. Have to love double standards. Gives you moment’s pause at how many other films haven’t been made because of a fear of being called PC.

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Misconceptions about New Agers: That we believe in a lot of gods

So apparently some people believe New Agers believe in no God (which I dealt with). We do. Some people believe we worship Satan (which I’m not even going to dignify with a full blog). We don’t. And then some people believe New Agers are a bunch of polytheists worshiping an insane number of gods. This is incorrect…but at least I understand where they get this from.

Let me start with a comparison. Catholics worship only one God. That is a given. But they pray to a whole mess of Angels and Saints. Why? Because if you believe in angels,  archangels and saints, you believe that God does use intermediaries that can specialize in certain skills for certain needs and certain problems. Why? Because sometimes grasping the infinite concept of God is a bit much for our brain, especially when we’re under stress…i.e., when we’re praying for help. It is a great help to be able to see an intermediary, someone that looks more human, is more relatable and can be more understanding of what our problems are. Yes, we can pray directly to God, and should, but should you need something more relatable in a time of need you have saints and angels to pray to. (And I apologize if I didn’t get the exact details of Catholic dogma, I did try to be correct in the broad strokes).

Now over to New Agers. Pretty much the same thing with us. We believe in angels and saints. We believe that a Saint from any religion can help us because they have reached a level of enlightenment much higher than the average person at present and will not care about such petty things as what name you attribute to God. If you call on them they will come, be you Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, agnostic or New Ager. It doesn’t matter, you called for help they will come and do what they can (understand however it’s more of a whispering in your ear to see the opportunities to earn what you want or to get out of the situation you want to get out of, or at least to calm or strengthen you as the situation and request may call for). (More along the lines of what you saw in the movie City of Angels than in It’s A Wonderful Life).

However, New Agers don’t just call on saints and angels. We tend to have a much wider base of enlightened souls to call upon. And I don’t just mean Buddha, Krishna, Christ and Lao-Tzu. No we tend to take a lot of the old Pagan deities as well. Do we actually believe in the stories of Mount Olympus or of the Vedas? Not really. But we do believe that there was likely some enlightened soul behind that story, a truth that gave birth to the myth, and that is the person we’re calling upon. Further, I know some New Agers call up figures who were clearly fictional (I’m not going to name names so as not to embarrass anyone). Are they asking for help from no one and getting no help because they didn’t use the right name? No. New Agers tend to believe that the Heaven and all its beings are bright enough to know what we’re asking for even if we get the name wrong. There really was no Saint Christopher in history, but I’m sure some angel or enlightened being who did specialize in helping those in need of protection or guidance during journeys responded to all the calls for Saint Christopher…and if this enlightened being ever needed to reveal itself to someone (an exceedingly rare experience, but moments of revelation are not completely unheard of) it might even identify itself with that name just so as to help the person it was coming to understand what it was there for.   Now in a lot of cases we do refer to the enlightened souls as deities or gods, but more out of respect for the other religions we took them from, not because we really equate them with God.  Although you might hear a New Ager use the term Ascended Master as a catch all for all of these enlightened souls.

So do we call upon a lot of saints, angels, and gods (lower case g…who were likely just enlightened souls from very long ago) for help, and pray to them? Yes we do. But we don’t worship them. No. We understand that they are intermediaries who can better understand our problems and what me may need (although honestly angels are a bit detached as well—absolutely no understanding of how time works, if you’re praying to angels for help be sure to be very specific in terms of when and where). I think it’s safe to say that most New Agers believe there is only one God who uses a very large task force of intermediaries to help us.

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Now I would like to see how this compares to your average Tea Party rally participant…I hazard a guess that the Tea Party is much more well informed.

Bourbon Conviction

 October 21, 2011- Some of you have expressed a little concern that me, of all people, are being a bit hard on the Occutards. Some have said I’ve been a bit strong with the name calling. Well, someone at New York Magazine wrote an article that pretty much sums it all up. Check it out: Are you smarter than a Wall Street Occupier?

  • 84% of Occupiers cannot tell you what the Dodd-Frank Act is.
  • 30% of Occupiers believe that top marginal income tax rate for the top 1% is 0 to 10%.  And 32% believe that tax rate to be 10 to 25%.  The correct answer is 35%.  But that doesn’t include the Bush tax cuts that Democrats want to let expire.  That would push the rate to 39.6%.  And then there is this millionaires surtax.  That’s another 5.6%.  So we are pushing a 45% federal income tax rate for the…

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Some misconceptions about the New Age

So the last couple of weeks I’ve fielded some questions about the New Age that seem to suggest people don’t really understand what New Age belief is (half the reason I wrote “Republicans and Reincarnation” was hopefully to dispel many of these misconceptions) but these few have come up in past weeks so I thought I would deal with them. Now some of these statements actually came from intelligent people, with working brains, these didn’t come from just my trolls, so I thought that another round of what New Agers believe couldn’t hurt. (After all nothing probably helped Christianity more than when they dispelled the claim made by the Ancient Pagans that they were cannibalistic…it’s their own fault really, drinking blood, eating flesh, when you use terms like that don’t be shocked when people don’t understand the metaphoric language).

So the first one that I’m going to deal with is the claim that New Agers don’t believe in God.

Now there are a lot of variations in New Age belief, and I certainly can’t speak for every single person who identifies themselves as a New Ager, but I think it’s a safe to say that we believe in God.

Every meditation, every book, every writer I know of that is associated with the New Age makes heavy reference to God.  And while there is no single book that encapsulates all the idea of the New Age, I would say a healthy majority will turn to A Course in Miracles which begins with the welcoming line “Herein lies the peace of God.”

Now how does this differ from most beliefs of God? Well we don’t believe you have your God and we have our God. For us there’s just God. Whatever name you call, you’re referring to God. Or in the words of author Marion Zimmber Bradley, “…All gods are One, and there is no religion higher than the Truth…” We believe in God we just don’t put the same masks that other religions put on him. And I realize that that last statement comes off a just more than a little pretentious, it’s not meant to. New Agers, at least rational ones, would probably admit that they put their own masks on God. We would just say that we are not trying to project our own flaws onto him as much as other religions might. No jealous or wrathful God here. Nor the many human issues of the Hindu gods. Certainly none of the flaws of Zeus. Definitely not a God that calls for genocide. For New Agers God is more along the lines of Aristotle’s definitions of the gods “reason contemplating reason” but more along the lines of “love contemplating and giving love” as we tend to find the two concepts go hand in hand. But I’m sure we’re missing something too…but at least New Agers are willing to admit we might not have as great an idea as to what we’re trying to comprehend using a limited human brain and even more limited human language.

But let me be very clear here, New Agers do believe in God.

You might also want to look at these previous posts:

In Defense of the Possibility of God

 

Another Attempt to Describe New Age Belief

The Cult of Cthulhu or my problems with most religions

The Problem of Evil

 

 

Next up…the claim that New Agers believe in many gods…

(And feel free to email me or comment about anything else about the New Age you want elaborated)

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Aristotle, Atheism, Books, Books for New Agers, Faith, Free Will, God, New Age, Religion, Spirituality

My faith in humanity is redeemed just a little

Apparently the LA Unified School District has fired the anti-Semite that made those disgusting remarks at the Occupy LA rallies. This is more than I had expected from LAUSD, a lot more. The woman was a substitute (feel free to have chills run down your spine at the idea that that bigot was ever near children) which means that the school did not have to deal with the teacher’s unions (whom I am convinced, by the fact that they often defend pedophiles, would have defended this woman as well).  Occasionally it’s nice to be proven wrong and see that not everyone in California is insane.  Now let’s see if I’m wrong again and a judge will throw out her inevitable lawsuit (and I am more than willing to be disproven once again).

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Law for the GOP to pass: Get the government out of the economy

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”—James Madison Federalist No. 51

Read the above.  It makes clear that people are not perfect.  That the system needs to be made so as to encourage the best and keep the worst down, because if we could expect people to always be at their best we wouldn’t need government.  So when people do bad things, yes, they are to be blamed, but when they do bad things because the government set up a system that ENCOURAGED that bad behavior then first and foremost it is the government to be blamed for making the game one where bad behavior is rewarded.

Which is why these Occupy Wall Street people are such idiots.

Besides  apparently having a large portion of anti-semites in their midst  the Occupy Wall Street people and all their fellow whiners in other cities seem to be complaining about the wrong things.  They complain that the cost of college is too high…ignoring that it was government interference with college tuition that led to high prices.  They complain about bailouts…yeah, thanks for being a couple of years late, the Tea Party already has been bitching about that one for some time now.  Of course the Tea Party realizes that it is the fault of the government for giving out the money that is primarily to blame and not the banks for taking the money (not that the banks and corporations are without blame).  But the government is the one that is primarily to blame.  When you set up a system that can choose winners and losers (which any system with loopholes, regulations that serve one industry or company over their competitors, useless laws and tariffs that keep competitions from sprouting up, give loans to people) you’re going to have the companies this affects try and work the system to their advantage.  Businesses are in the business of making money.  If a government doesn’t get involved in picking winners and losers then the only way to make money is by making a superior product with superior customer service and a great marketing campaign.  That’s hard.  Bribing politicians through campaign cash to work the rules in your favor is so much easier.   It’s not the ethical choice, it’s not the long-term thinking choice, it’s not even a good choice…but it’s the choice that most people will make.  If you set up a system that makes it easier for people to give into their worst inclinations, don’t be surprised when they do. Thus government needs to set up a system where it makes more sense to worry about product, service and marketing than on which candidates to back.

If we had the right system, one where it wasn’t in the best short term economic interests of businessmen, then they would just have to focus on their business.  (Yes I would prefer it if they acted in a long term economic way directed by ethics…but you know I’m dealing with humans, humans don’t always do what’s right, thus we need a system that encourages the best in us and does not give opportunities for the worst in us).  So how do we get that system?

No loans.

Loans to banks and corporations.  Or bailouts…a government loan by any other name would smell just a rancid.  These need to stop.  All of them.  Without question, without exception.

While Bush and Obama weren’t the first to use them, they are the most recent and most egregious examples.  Let’s look at that waste of legislation called TARP.  That worthless half brain Bush would whine “but it would have destroyed the entire financial system.”  This is one of the two reasons Bush was a moron (the other being that he had no plan for the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq).  No it wouldn’t have.  What would have happened was that one bank would have collapsed.  Immediately everything that Bank owned would have been up for sale at fire sale prices.  All of that bank’s competitors would have been buying up notes on loans for a tenth of the price of the loan from the bank that collapsed.  Let’s remember that all the banks were forced to take money not because they all needed it, but to hide which banks were unstable.  Most of the banks were stable and would have been able to buy those notes.

So what?  Well if a bank bought the note on a loan for a house that sold for $200,000, the house would probably have been worth only $120,000 after the crash, but as the new bank got the note for probably somewhere around $60,000 they can work with the homeowner and probably re-fi the cost of loan down to something more reflective of its current value and hey they still make a profit.  So suddenly the loam market is more stable and the remaining banks are probably on more solid ground.

Does this happen overnight?  Nope.  There would probably be a couple of down years, maybe even three, but by the end of the third year (about now) the recession would be clearly over.

But we didn’t do that.  We chose winners and losers and decided, like a bad elementary school teacher, everybody was going to be winner!  Everybody gets gold stars!  What does that invisible hand know anyway?  It’s not like bad businesses with bad business practices should go the way of the Dodo.  No let’s keep the bad businesses around, because despite all the time during their fall into instability they never had the good sense to change their policies and do something intelligent, well that doesn’t mean they won’t be good now that we just rewarded them for bad behavior.  No I’m sure they’ll be a much better business now.  Uh-huh.

But, sadly, next to Obama, Bush is a Rhodes Scholar.  No let’s give out even more money.  Let’s continue picking the winner we want to win, not the winners who can make things like a profit or things people want.  No.  Let’s give a shitload of money to a company that builds solar cells for $6 apiece and sells them for $3 apiece.  I’m sure that business model will work wonders.  Let’s face it, yes Bush was a moron for thinking the financial system couldn’t handle the collapse of a major bank…but Obama giving out money to his cronies thinking it will help the economy was both immoral and somewhere far beyond just stupid.

And let’s not forget that with loans comes the same problem as we saw with college loans.  It ruins the nature of prices.  Costs for the consumer go up, profits go down, quality gets screwed and everybody winds up getting the short end of the stick.

The market (the collective whole of billions of economic choices) knows far more than any government planning ever can.  All you need to do is look at how well the Soviet system worked for both Russia and the satellite nations or at China right now which has built massive city expansions that no one lives in, they provide no economic growth, and show that if we can just keep avoiding shooting ourselves in the foot China will go the way of the Soviets and we won’t have to worry about their economic superpower.  If you need more proof see Thomas Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions.  Central planning never has and never can work.  It will always make the wrong choice; it will always screw up the system.

And as long as the government is giving out money, it will inevitably go to those who buy influence.  Is that wrong?  Of course!  But the government is the one who set up the game.  It may be unethical, but you can’t seriously expect human beings to act against their own interests when there is a way they can make money.  Human beings at both the top and bottom, and every slice in between, have people who are unethical.  That’s why we have government because we’re not all saints.  If you have a system that gives out money it will always go to those who pay for it.

So let’s stop giving money!

No tariffs

I hate taxes in general, but I hate few as much as I do tariffs.  Tariffs are put in to help American businesses when they don’t want to compete with foreign goods that are made better and cheaper.  You know, those things as a consumer you want.  So do businesses make better products themselves?  Nope.  They contribute to campaigns and get politicians to tax their competitors so they don’t have to make a better product.  If we didn’t have tariffs, Government Motors would have collapsed decades ago as it should.  (There is probably nothing more un-American than GM, a company that has used tariffs to avoid competition, given into the bully tactics of unions and taken government money rather than gracefully die.  With the exception of GE there is probably no company I can think of so opposed to capitalism).

Again this is a power of government being used to help those who can afford to buy it to the detriment of the public.  Yes, it’s done by rich people and they can all go to hell for their unethical behavior…but if government didn’t play this game, then businessmen would have no choice but to make better, cheaper products.

No subsidies and a flat tax with no loopholes.

Again, I think it was conservatives who have been beating the drum for years about how we need to do a flat tax without loopholes.  Why do we want flat taxes and to lower the tax rate…well because taxes are too high but the only people not paying them are the ones who can to pay off politicians.

I’d prefer to go to a completely sales tax model, but short of that I would take a completely flat tax, and short of that I’ll take Paul Ryan’s lower taxes (because high taxes are killing everyone) with no loopholes (so the people who aren’t paying taxes, like Obama’s cronies Warren Buffet and GE will finally actually pay something).  Any of those three systems would be better than the current system where you can buy your loophole and screw the small and medium sized businesses.

No control of anything that doesn’t cross state lines.

The federal government has better things to worry about right now than whether or not the Amish are selling unpasteurized milk.  While I would prefer a constitutional Amendment clarifying that the commerce clause only covers commerce that actually does cross state lines, for right now I will settle for that as a simple law.  States can run their own business without the interference of the Feds.  Federal oversight of commerce only helps to over-regulate, over tax, over burden and destroy business of all sizes (except you know if you can buy the right legislation in your favor).  If the federal government would get out of ALL intrastate commerce you find a sudden and massive jump in economies of 49 out of 50 states (California is beyond saving, mainly due to over taxation, over regulation and too much control of the economy).

The 17th Amendment…

…is perhaps one of the dumbest ideas in history.  Yes, let’s take Senators who are appointed by state legislators and make them publically elected.  So now they’re beholden to the whims of the mob and wants of campaign contributors.  I’m sure that will always make for better government when we stop choosing who is best and go for who is popular.  Repeal this joke of an Amendment and replace it with a hard and fast states can only appoint Senators via the collaboration of legislators and governors (no public election whatsoever).  And to keep them in check give the people the right to recall.

Sunset dates on all regulations with Congressional Oversight.

Here’s a radical idea.  Make every regulation that comes out of the executive branch, be it executive orders or just policy by the different departments open to Senate Veto.  And in addition to that make every single one of those regulations come with a 5 year sunset date.  It would not be in most corporations’ best interests to keep pushing for regulations every few years, it would just be too expensive—making better products would finally be cheaper by comparison.  Further this would get a lot of useless regulations off the books.

In short—GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE ECONOMY.  As long as it is in the economy, people will want to buy government power to exploit it to their own ends, and they will succeed.  If you want honest government and honest business then you need to eliminate the power of the one to so heavily influence the other.  If government can’t interfere with the economy and provide free cash, err, I mean corporate welfare, err, I mean bailouts and loans and can’t regulate your competitors out of business then there is no point in getting involved.  If you get the government out to the economy business will for the most part have no choice but to worry about business and the products and services they sell.  Businesses behave badly because the government provides an incentive to do so, take away the incentive and most of the behavior will follow.

Yes government has certain responsibilities and duties in a free market.  We crossed that line almost a hundred years ago and it’s not even visible anymore.  When you have no loan, no tariffs, a book or regulations that doesn’t take up an entire stadium and the government not looking into every legal act of commerce as if it’s a crime against humanity we can talk about where the line should be, but right now we’re so far off that it’s not even a pertinent discussion.

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When Did Evil Become Socially Acceptable?

I could use this to declare all the Occupy Wall Street people as Anti-Semites, but that would be unfair and stupid. They’re not all Anti-Semites. However they seem to be a little accepting of them as this is like the fourth video I’ve seen from the protests. (Still waiting for the ones from the Tea Party…[crickets chirp]…)

But this isn’t about Occupy Wall Street, because this is a far bigger problem. Clearly this woman is evil. No argument can be made against that. However, it just used to seem to me that society had enough decency that we made it clear to sick people like this not to speak up.

We all admit that there are lots of racists and Anti-Semites who hold their perverted beliefs in their minds and souls, but don’t speak up about them. And we all wanted to root that out.

But the fact that I am seeing more and more of this suggests that Anti-Semites feel that it’s now socially acceptable to voice their hateful views. What the hell is wrong with society? In a sane world this woman would be without a job within the next week. Good lord, she said she worked for the LA School District. If I were a parent I would be demanding that she in no way, shape, or form be allowed to work at a school. I don’t care if she’s in the accounting department. A Nazi like this has no right to be working anywhere near children. I guarantee you, the odds of such a thing happening are very low. And even if the LA school district decided that this would be their once in a century right call, they would immediately get sued because judges in California are insane and wouldn’t have the guts to laugh her case out of court and tell her to go to hell while they’re at it.

I’m sure even the idiots at ACORN wouldn’t have been fully in support of forced prostitution of underage illegal immigrants if they had known they were on camera…so when did it become socially permissible to advocate what is essentially the Western world’s most effective barometer on evil (no really, you look at just about any evil in the last 2,000 years of Western civilization, 90%+ are tied in some way to Anti-Semitism).

I think we’ve forgotten that some views are not acceptable even in the most free speech nations. Do they have the right to spew such filth? Yes, yes they do. And they have to the right to be ostracized, humiliated, insulted, and maybe even slapped repeatedly for having such beliefs as well. I will defend your right to say anything to the death, but I will also ensure you accept the consequences of your actions. And advocating pure evil should have severe consequences.
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Let me remind everyone, if you hear people utter things that are (actually are, not just a careless word that could be interpreted numerous ways) Anti-Semitic or racist you have a responsibility to insult and humiliate them publicly. Do not associate with them. Do not do business with them. Do not tolerate such behavior.

And if they’re working at the school your children go to, demand they be fired.

 

 

For another take on the Anti-Semitism that seems to be permeating the Occupy Wall Street Protests please read the post by our friend “Dirty Sex and Politics.” 

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Education, First Amendment, Occupy Wall Street, People Are Stupid, Racism, Tea Party, Tyranny, Welfare