Daily Archives: June 16, 2012

God Bless Citizens United v. FEC

So while liberals have been throwing hissy fits for over a year about the Citizen’s United (Really the creation of Super PACS owes a lot to various relegation and legislative changes and to just Citizens United v. the Federal Election Committee, but Democrats know their base doesn’t do well with complex ideas, so they just pick on Citizens United, and I always try and play in the opposition’s ballpark, so we’ll just refer to Citizens United). But the night of the Wisconsin recall hit a new level of pathetic from the left with the whimpering of possibly the whiniest human being on earth decrying the death of democracy.

You know personally my first inclination is to slap the little loser and tell him we’re a republic not a democracy. But we are a democratic-republic, and despite his inability to use words properly, the dimwit meant that the democratic feature of the republic died. He’s wrong, but what do you expect from idiots.

Now first off let’s deal with the lies. The Democrats claim they were outspent 7 to 1…if you actually look at real statistics the number is closet to 3 to 2 or 1.5 to 1. Now they were outspent, but it wasn’t by much.

Also I failed to notice that they complained all those years they had almost limitless funds from unions and big time contributors like George Soros, Warren Buffet, and 90% of Hollywood…not to mention the glory days before FOXNews and when you only had the Big 3 to get your info from…or the glory days before the internet and the news outlets were your only source of info…or the glory days before talk radio when there literally wasn’t any choice but what the mainstream media fed you. Let’s be honest there is just a lot of corruption on the left that they like to ignore…
…and some take it even worse than the whiner in Wisconsin…

(I love Downfall parodies, they’re hilarious)

But let’s ignore the minutia and get to the heart of the matter.

The central liberal argument is that Citizens United v. Federal Election Committeewas wrong—that money is not speech

Every so often they get something right as they did in Citizen’s United…now to overturn Kelo

and therefore cannot be protected under the First Amendment—that whoever has the most money always wins. The first point is just obviously stupid, but this is an argument from people who don’t get why we have to have the legal fiction of corporate personhood. They also don’t understand that your property rights are sacrosanct and under the theory of natural rights (which is kind of the basis of our entire legal system); that your property, including money, and what you do with it is an extension of your person legally, ergo spending money is speech if you choose it to be.

But let’s ignore the unspeakable idiocy of the argument that money isn’t speech. Let’s focus on what they’re saying about democracy, because that is even more laughable (or frightening).

The argument against Citizens United is based on the argument that who has the most money wins.

Let’s look at this argument.

Certainly if I have half a trillion dollars and my opposition has $10 I will probably win. But seldom in American politics are things so lopsided. And do you really think that if the Klan or the American Nazi Party had a trillion dollars they could actually get any real power in this nation? Logic tells us that at a certain point you can spend all the money you want and if the people hate you, you’re screwed. You just have to look at advertising…Hollywood occasionally spends the GNP of third world nations hyping some piece of crap that almost no one goes to see…if the logic of Citizen’s United opponents were applied then everyone should just follow the hype.

But let’s look at some extremes. On the one side did we forget that a felon in West Virginia and a challenger in Arkansas, both with no money to speak of, gave a sitting president a run for his money this year in the primary? Or on the other side let’s look at a man like George Soros. Now I don’t have to believe that Soros is some evil mastermind on the level of Lex Luthor or Ernst Stavro Blofeld to admit that (A) his politics are somewhere to left of the current French president’s and (B) through direct contributions and contributions to PACs like Moveon the man has dumped an obscene amount of money into U.S. elections. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories, but the fact is the man is very progressive and very giving of money to causes he believes in. As is his right. But here’s the funny thing…if the people who oppose Citizen’s United were right, then all the money he has spent combined with all the money unions have spent over the years then it should never have even been close in 2000 or 2004, and the country should already be so far left that Obama would look like Reagan right now. Strangely I failed to see the retirement age lowered to 50 or minimum wage raised to $20 an hour, universal public health care, or a 70% tax on income above $100,000 here in Sorosandia.

Money helps. No doubt about that. If you can get your message out it certainly is more effective. However in a day and age of twitter, blogs, and YouTube, it’s not just money that matters. It’s having a message that resonates with people…even if that message is the mentally retarded statements of “Yes we can” and “we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

But there’s a deeper problem than the common sense issue that money can’t buy everything in politics. It’s the implications of human nature.

Notice what is implicit in the argument that money is all that matters to democracy. Notice what is says if you believe that the person with the most money, not the better argument, always wins. It means that all people don’t have stupid and shortsighted moments, as I believe it means that people are incapable of rational thought. That they will follow the shiniest piece of polished metal provided by the person with the most money—that there is no rational thought, that no matter how extreme an idea, if it has money backing it, it will win. Ummm…if people are actually that dumb, then why do we have any democratic elements in our government? Democracy is based on the idea that the majority of the people, when put together will more often than not make the right choice, not because they believe the shiniest lie, but because reason will win the day with the majority of people more often than not. It is a premise based on the idea that a human being and human reason has value. If your argument is that money drives everything, then you must state you believe that humans on a whole have no ability to reason. Now is human reason perfect? Hell, no. That’s why we have always been a republic that limits the momentary whims of the masses and forces compromise and slow deliberation.

Now I will admit that human reason is not perfect, but taking money out of the equation will not solve the problem of imperfect reason being a driving force in our elections.

Now if you actually wanted a functioning democratic election, as the critics of Citizen United claim they want, what should they be arguing for?

Well, how about Voter ID check or clearing the voter rolls in every state every two years and making everyone re-register. You know to prevent fraud, and felons, and illegal immigrants from voting in mass numbers and making sure that the democratic principle of one man, one vote was actually allowed. As for making everyone re-register, if going down to the post office or going to a web site to pick up a form and sending it in is too much work for you, then dear God, you are not qualified to be deciding the future of this nation.

Or how about this one I know would never pass, but you would have to admit would get rid of the majority of influence of money in elections…require people to earn a high school diploma before they can vote. Okay liberals, get all the insults out now…I’m a racist, I’m a bigot, I’m closed minded, I don’t know anything about democracy, blah, blah, blah…I teach high school, I have been working in schools for nearly 14 years, and have been working consistently in alternative education with at risk youth for the last seven…do you have any idea how easy it is to get a high school diploma? Or a GED? I’m sorry but you seriously have to try to not pass high school. And I’m sorry given how much the income difference is between a high school diploma and having nothing, you’re an idiot’s idiot to not get a high school diploma. And when you put those two sentences together you realize that high school dropouts are actively trying to be an idiot’s idiot. Can’t imagine why I would want these losers voting. I mean who do you think falls most easily for flashy ads, the person with a bare bones education or the person who actively tried to remain ignorant. And if voting is really that important to you, getting a GED is not that difficult, really it’s not. If we were to institute this, you would find pandering by politicians drop quite a bit, and low and behold you might see better legislation.

Or you might go back to what the Founders correctly envisioned for the Senate: State legislatures and governors working together to nominate and elect the most qualified in the state (as opposed to the most popular) to the upper house of Congress. It would completely eliminate money’s influence on Senators themselves…and if people are so worried about SuperPAC money influencing federal elections…right now to influence the Senate you have to influence maybe 40 statewide elections (I figure about 60 seats are safe Republican or safe Democratic seats) going back to pre 17th Amendment republican ideals you would have to influence the same 40 state wide elections but this time for governors, plus influencing one to two houses of the state legislature. Even the most well funded SuperPacs would go bust before being able to make a dent in the long term. But to do that you would actually want to try and take out the influence of money…instead of say, hypocritically just wanting your traditional sources of money to be the only ones that counted.

Or how about this one: Get the government out of the economy. If you placed legitimate restrictions on how far the government can get into the economy, then guess what, all those businesses and business people wouldn’t care about elections. As long as the government has the power to pick winners and losers, you’d be a bit of an idiot to not do everything in your power to make sure you’re not the loser…but if you got the government out of the economy you get rid of the incentive to be so involved in elections…at which point why would business waste their hard earned profits on silly things like elections.

But the people who bitch about Citizens United don’t care about any of that…they’re just unhappy that now other people have a chance to fight their endless union coffers.

***
One last note on a pragmatic side issue. I’ve heard that nearly a trillion dollars will be spent on the 2012 election (when you count all the elections at all levels). Given how crappy the Obama economy is (and yes it is his fault, if it wasn’t for him we’d be in a full recovery by now) I want you to think how bad it would be if you took out a trillion dollars. Yes that trillion is going to a limited sector in the advertising business…but those people who get the money then spend it on other things and it moves through the economy…I want you to imagine what the economy would look like if you took yet another trillion out of GDP. Just a pragmatic consideration to keep in mind.

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Filed under Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, Economics, Education, Election 2012, Evils of Liberalism, Government is useless, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Obama, Patriotism, philosophy, politics, Tyranny, Unions

The Best Patriotic Films #18 A Few Good Men

Lt. Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?

Lt. Com. Galloway: Because they stand on a wall and say, “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”

I know it’s an odd choice.  Yes, no one will deny it’s a quality film, and Cruise’s impersonation of Nicholson alone makes the movie priceless, but few would initially think of this movie as patriotic. Neither the writer, the director nor any of the actors are ever going to be on a who’s who of patriots (although the three lead actors might be on a who’s who of the mentally unhinged).  Yet strangely for the most part this movie shows parts of what makes this nation great, namely the admirable and honorable nature or our armed services.  (I also could go on about how this shows the beauty of our legal system, for all its flaws, but I’ll save that for a later film).

Specifically the idea that people join the armed services not because they can’t get jobs (which ignores the fact that your average enlisted man or woman is better educated than the average civilian, and doubly so for the officer corps…oh by the way, in case you’re an idiot who should never be allowed anywhere near the chain of command it’s pronounced “core” not “corpse”), or the violent brutes who just want to kill people, or whatever other lies and insults isolationists want to hurl on the military.  No as it is made clear people join because they believe in their country, they believe that they can serve something greater than themselves, or as one of the accused Marines puts it when offered a deal to get out of his trial,

“We joined the Marines because we wanted to live our lives by a certain code, and we found it in the Corps. Now you’re asking us to sign a piece of paper that says we have no honor. You’re asking us to say we’re not Marines. If a court decides that what we did was wrong, then I’ll accept whatever punishment they give. But I believe I was right sir, I believe I did my job, and I will not dishonor myself, my unit, or the Corps so I can go home in six months… Sir.”

And I don’t know if it was intentional or not by the writers but even the movie’s villain, Nicholson’s Col. Jessup did what he did, initially, out of right intentions.  He ordered what the movie calls a “Code Red” (although I think this is not really a term used by military personnel) or soldiers punishing their own for being screw-ups (minor beatings, hazing style humiliation, and in the case of the movie forcibly having your head shaved…oh the injustice, he inhumanity, someone call the UN Human Rights council).  It’s a time honored tradition in military organizations and I’m sure still going on to this day although officially looked down upon…probably because it works in ensuring the cohesive workings of a military organization.  And Jessup orders it because he wants to ensure that the Marines under his command are capable of doing their duty and defend the lives of Americans that they have sworn to protect.

“Maybe we as officers have a responsibility to this country to see to it that the men and women charged with its security are trained professionals. Yes, I’m certain that I read that somewhere once.  And now I’m thinking, Col. Markinson, that your suggestion of transferring Santiago, while expeditious and certainly painless, might not be, in a matter of speaking, the American way. Santiago stays where he is. We’re gonna train the lad! […] We’re in the business of saving lives, Matthew. That’s a responsibility we have to take pretty seriously. And I believe that taking a Marine who’s not quite up to the job and shipping him off to another assignment, puts lives in danger.”

The man may be a complete jackass, as are many people, but he was right.  The Marines have a duty to protect America, and as a Marine Colonel he has a duty to make sure every man under his command is able to do that. *

Hell, he even has a point, after his famous “you can’t handle the truth line”

“You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom! You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like “honor”, “code”, “loyalty”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!”

Now what makes him the villain of the movie is that he says “We use words like ‘honor’, ‘code’, ‘loyalty’” but rather than living those words he only uses them.  Rather than fessing up to the fact that he ordered the punishment when it all fell apart and probably just getting a slap on the wrist and losing his impending high profile promotion, he chooses to dishonorably let two men under his command take the blame for something he ordered.  But the movie actually does make clear that the hypocrisy of those who hide behind these words is not the majority of the Marine Corp,

Kaffey: Oh, thanks, Jack. And I want to tell you that I think the whole fucking bunch of you are certifiably insane! This code of honor of yours makes me want to beat the shit out of something!

Capt. Ross: Don’t you dare lump me in with Jessup and Kendrick just because we wear the same uniform. I’m your friend and I’m telling you, I don’t think your clients belong in jail but I don’t get to make that decision! I represent the government of the United States without passion or prejudice and my client has a case! There you go.

Now some out there make this bizarre logical jump that if there is one bad apple in the military then all of them are bad.  Others seem to suggest that just by wearing the uniform you are in a rank somehow higher than sainthood.  The truth is there are assholes, criminals, and idiots in Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.  The truth is also that, unlike some nations, these dregs of civilization do not even constitute a fraction our armed services—they’re the few and far between exception and their presence does not taint the honor of those who serve a higher purpose (which you’ll notice all the people you hate in this movie are only out for themselves and don’t care who they hurt…okay with the exception of Sutherland’s character, that guy was just crazy).

Now, I have some issues with some of the more liberal overtones of this film, but we can leave those for another day.

Kaffee: Harold.

Dawson: Sir?

Kaffee: You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor.

*The real villain of this movie is the doctor who through gross incompetence failed to diagnose early on that the victim suffered a serious and eventually fatal heart condition.  Every action that led up to the character’s death was based on the fact the doctor said all of whining about medical problems were just that whining and not based in a medical reason, and he just needed to toughen up (although given that the victim was willing to sell out a fellow Marine to get his transfer by falsely accusing him of a crime, I can’t see why the other characters wouldn’t assume he was dishonorable and weak willed). But the fact is, that in the context of this film, if the doctor had done his job, no one else would have come close to crossing any lines as the kid would be have given a medical discharge and that would be that.  But rather than own up to incompetence, the doctor falsely accused the two Marines of using a poison.

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Art, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, Patriotism