• Category Archives Politics
  • Tax hikes on “the rich” hit everyone.

    Money is confusing.Perfect example cited at a second or third remove over on the Whatever. Read it.

    It certainly is a little lame to complain about not having enough money when you’re making 250K and have to let your nanny, gardener and housecleaner go because of a tax hike. I recommend not doing that except among other similarly afflicted socialites. Here’s the world’s smallest violin.

    However, ask yourself where the sympathy is for the nanny, gardener, and house cleaner.  They’re being let go as a direct result of that tax hike. The same taxes that “stick it to the man” also stick it to the everyday joe the man employs. This is true whether it’s directly as a gardener, nanny or housecleaner to said man or indirectly as the pool guy whose services are no longer required, or even the maid at the one hotel the man doesn’t go to when he shortens his vacation this year due to financial concerns.

    Corporations don’t let VPs go when they get hit with a big tax hike, they lay off guys and gals like me.

    To Mr. Scalzi’s point, Henderson is still doing just fine. It’s those domestic servants out looking for work now, not Henderson. But, I suppose that’s alright as long as the politicians can crow about ‘taxing the rich’ and everybody thinks that’s smart.

  • 9/11 2010

    So this is the obligatory post. I have lots of thoughts on the events of this nine year old date and their aftermath, but I’m only going to cover one set today.

    Sacrifice. Quite a few people today have talked about honoring the sacrifice of those who lost their lives on this day.

    What exactly is a sacrifice? Dictionary.com says … well, it has a lot of definitions, not all of which apply, but all of which involve some deliberate effort by those performing the sacrifice. Rushing up the stairs of a burning building to save who and what you can, knowing the risk, is a sacrifice. Crashing the plane you are on rather than letting it be used for further atrocity, that’s a sacrifice. Even stepping up and attempting to impose order on the chaos of your co-workers in a crowded stairwell, giving up your place in the rush in order to stand on a bit of high ground and get things moving more smoothly, is a sacrifice. Showing up to work in one of the towers or even the pentagon was not. It was just bad luck. Calling it a sacrifice cheapens the concept and the efforts of those who did, and have been attempting to, actually do something about those events and their consequences.

    So, in the interest of my peace of mind I’ve been busily assuming that all the people yammering about the sacrifice of those those who died on 9/11 are talking about those people who have lost their lives while doing something about those events. I’ll save the honor I have to give for them, thank you.

  • Climate Gate. Wow.

    Phil Jones of the CRU (Climatic Research Unit) said, when asked to share the data his organization had been collecting on historical temperatures of the Earth, “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

    Maybe, Phil, because that’s the entire bloody point of scientific work, to find something wrong with it. You, sir, if you were acting as a true scientist in this case, should have been eagerly lining up for someone to point out possible flaws in your data collection methods or conclusions thereon. For that is how scientific truth is discovered. Make a hypothesis, collect data, and then try and knock holes in it. When all the people who disagree with you can no longer find actual flaws in your data or conclusions, you’ve found something. But, I suppose, if you never look for those flaws you can cling to whatever hypothesis gets you more tax money.

    That quote and the continued resistance to sharing the collected data says more about the group’s scientific creds than anything else ever could.

  • Liberal Gun Nuts

    So, I get this tweet from Eric James Stone (I and his other millions of fans) linking to a post written by someone he claimed to be a liberal making sense on the second amendment. On the Daily Kos no less.  Being as enamored of mythical beasts as well as jackalopes I clicked through for a looksee. … He was right.

    Not only did the guy make sense, he did it without simply invalidating all those things the liberals hold most dear in this one, oh so special, case in which he was called upon to make sense. Bravo sir. Bravo.

    His larger point though, the car he was riding in if you will, was not so logical and it’s where most of his power to be persuasive from a liberal point of view came from. He was saying, in that oh so self-righteous way we all know and love, that conservatives are about taking rights away from the people while liberals are about keeping rights in the people’s hands.

    This only works if you consider putting the control of any given right into the hands of the government to be keeping it in the hands of the people. I beg to differ. I already have the right to donate money to Maplethorpe, or, conversely, to NOT donate money to Maplethorpe. Funding the NEA with tax dollars actually takes that second right away.  I already have the right to donate money to the poor. Funding welfare projects with tax dollars takes that right away.  The principle is universal.

    Putting ‘rights’ into the hands of the government to administer lessens the rights of the people in every case. In some cases we are losing the right to be a jerk. So what.  That is nevertheless a right you are actually taking away rather than leaving in my hands. I’ll wager nearly all the arguments about what the government should and should not regulate hinge on one side considering a particular behavior to be jerky that the other doesn’t. (mmm jerky)

    That’s the liberal position. The government should not allow people to be jerks, and the liberals get to decide what being a jerk IS. The conservative side of that argument (Largely, I’ll not defend all things done in the name of conservatism) is to keep the government out of the matter as often as possible, thus leaving the rights in the hands of the people by default. The people who wrote the constitution were very careful to make it clear that the government had no powers other than what was specifically granted in that document for that very reason. Everything else was already inherently in the hands of the people and getting the government involved just screwed things up.

    So, thank you Angry Mouse for making a cogent point from atop your tower of unassailable non-jerkiness.

    If I hear of an article calling for the government to mandate that every household shall own and maintain a proficiency in the use of firearms I will point out that, once again, the author of that article has missed the point.

  • The Hurt Locker, Again

    So, I re-watched the first three quarters of this film last night.  I did this for two reasons.

    First: It’s up for an Oscar and people are both bitching about it and howling its praises to the moon.  I wanted to see how it bore a second watching and if the good things I remembered were actually that good and so forth. I didn’t finish it.  Admittedly it was getting a little late, 11:30 or so but I was not, at all, sucked into the conflict. I knew how it ended and that was enough, I didn’t need to see it again. It wasn’t compelling a second time. Any conclusions I draw from this must, of course, be informed by how often I watch films more than once. It happens. I’ve seen quite a few films more than once and enjoyed them immensely: Soldier, Equilibrium, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, The Kingdom, the list goes on. Wasn’t happening with The Hurt Locker.

    I suppose my perspective is a little different from most folks though by no means unique. I’ve been in combat, in the Middle East. They got quite a few things right in the film. But when they got things wrong, they really got them wrong and I didn’t care to see the ending again.

    Which brings me to my Second reason for watching it twice. There’s a scene where an insurgent, who is undoubtedly the guy who shot and tried to blow up the heroes, is lying bloody on the ground under the care of a US Army medic. The medic tells his Colonel that the insurgent has a survivable wound if he can be picked up in 15 minutes.  The Colonel tells the medic in his crazy voice, “He didn’t make it.” The Colonel then repeats the phrase, with a significant nod, to another soldier, not the medic, standing nearby. Then he walks away and the camera follows him.

    My friends have cast some doubt on whether or not a gunshot rings out as the Colonel walks away. I watched the film a second time to find out for sure. It most definitely does.

    The film makers tried very very hard to give the impression that an American soldier, under orders from his Colonel shot and killed -murdered- an unarmed and wounded enemy combatant. And they did it casually, in front of quite a few other soldiers, a crowd even, not one of whom raised an objection.  To that I say, screw you mister film-maker. That is complete crap and it betrays your underlying motives for making the film and your opinions of the American fighting man, both of which are wrong and nasty if not downright evil.

    Such acts have happened, I’ll not deny it. They don’t happen like that. They don’t happen easily. They don’t happen casually. They don’t happen without objection, especially in front of a medic or a crowd of soldiers. They don’t happen without charges of murder being brought and prosecuted.

    None of which, of course, will or should have the slightest bearing on whether the film wins a Best Picture Oscar. An Oscar isn’t about political opinion or truth in film-making.  I don’t think it merits the award as a work of art, but that’s just me. Now, Jeremy Renner, he deserves an Oscar. I thought his performance was brilliant as were those of the rest of the cast, including the crazy Colonel.

    It being hailed as the best Iraq war film ever made? Well, last I checked the field wasn’t very deep yet. I suspect holding that opinion may have more to do with The Hurt Locker bearing out, subtly and well, the opinions about war and soldiers the mainstream media has been inculcating into the population for the last 60 years.

  • Business Becomes Government

    Author and thinker Jerry Pournelle muses on some interesting topics today.

    In a nutshell, business, if allowed to, will use government to restrict its competition, to secure its place in the market.  And as it does so it concentrates more and more economic power into the hands of fewer and fewer people. This, in turn, allows those powerful few to manipulate the political process in ways that give them more power. A corollary of that manipulation is the concentration of political power into the hands of those politicians who will bow to business, or, looked at another way, use the powerful business interests to collect and increase their own political power.

    Things quickly devolve from that point into a struggle between the powerful few in business and the powerful few in government, both trying to increase said power. There’s only so much of it to go around after all.

    We’re watching such a struggle take place right now, over healthcare. Something has gone wrong in the republic.

    Normally, I’m all for business being left alone to do pretty much anything it wants as long as the government has the power to enforce a certain limited set of laws designed to prevent criminal abuse. And we already have those laws on the books: libel, homicide, negligent homicide, personal injury, theft, anti-trust, etc…

    It’s when business starts using the government to enforce its advantage that we have a problem. But then, at that point, the problem isn’t really business anymore is it? It’s become government again.

    The answer always seems to be less government nowadays.

    Of course, there is a point where less government becomes bad, as we slide toward anarchy. But we can deal with that when we get back into the same galaxy as that end of the sliding scale, hmmm?