Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks for giving questions

I'm hearing a lot of people with concerns about their ability to shine in political discussions, and particularly this Thanksgiving, with Obama's OFA advising its zealots not only to inject politics into Thanksgiving dinner, but to actually push the mashed potatoes aside and sign up some desperately needed 'customers' for ObamaCare (and we used to think multi-level marketing was a pain!), they are doubly concerned.
"I don't eat and breathe this stuff, there's no way I'm going to remember all these facts, and how can I possibly know whether or not the statistics they tell me are accurate? How am I to know which point they advance conflicts with which clause of the Constitution - If I try arguing about this I'm going to look like a fool."
To which I'd like to answer, "Yes you probably will. As would I." And I'd remind you, that responding to statistics, is the primary means which people use in order to avoid having to face up to principles.

There may be a few issues you can gain some authoritative command of the facts over, but there are very few 'Good Will Hunting' types out there who can memorize all of these points, or even recall them at just the right moment and present them in just the right way to effectively put your opponent in their place.

But there's something else to consider here, and that is, what if you do remember what you need to remember, and point it out in such a way that leaves your opponent speechless?

What has your reaction been when someone has done that to you? When you are standing there, at a loss for words, unable to answer back... do you feel convinced by them? Or do you feel annoyed, frustrated, even angry, that you were unable to make a good reply? Did that sense of humiliated frustration, sway you to their point of view?

If you did not feel converted when you were left speechless, do you really suppose they will be, should you succeed in doing that to them?

And what about those watching your discussion? Well they be more likely to think the issue over on hearing your unanswerable answer? Isn't converting, or at least getting others to consider your position and reconsider their own, your real goal?

My point is, having the right answer on the tip on your tongue, at the right time, is nice, and leaves you feeling good... but can that alone really accomplish anything more than getting you recreational slamming points?

What might be more likely to change minds?

Think about it a moment, what do you want the person you are talking to, and those listening, to come away with? Don't you want them to question what they might have previously accepted with little or no consideration?

Then... why not forget about memorizing the statistics and the witty replies, and focus more on the questions that should be asked? And by the way, if you understand, and keep your principles in mind, the right questions will naturally come to mind when someone says something that doesn't gibe with them. The questions that come to mind in that case, will be questions that the person you are speaking with, and those listening, will be far more likely to willingly participate in asking and thinking further about.

There's a Reason for that.

Western Civilization didn't catch on because of its answers... those are still being argued about more than 3,000 years on... but because of its questions, and its method of comparing your answers to reality, and pursuing the questions which those answers lead to. Questions such as:
  • What is real and how do we know it?
  • What is Good? Why should we care?
  • How can we recognize what is not Good?
  • What is a Good life?
  • What is Happiness?
  • Should what is Right and Wrong, guide our actions?
  • What is Beauty?...What is Truth?...What is Justice?
  • What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?
Ask the right questions, and your listeners will question their own answers, and reality will do the rest.

Question what they assume to be true.

Question their assumptions that a law can make happen, what no one actually in that business for decades and trying to get an edge over their competitors, was ever able to make a reality. And a bureaucrat has solved it?
  • If insurance companies could have found a way to ignore pre-existing conditions, they would have put their competitors out of business, wouldn't they?
  • What makes you think that govt bureaucrats and regulators, are going to make work, what no business has yet been able to accomplish?
  • If we're mandating by law, that we do what must result in loses... who is going to pay for those loses? How are we going to save money, by increasing financial loses?
  • Do you think that regulations can prohibit cause and effect? Can regulatory law over rule reality?
  • Why should I not have a say in what features I do or don't pay for?
Think about what you know about your life, about your business, about trying to do your job, about having to comply with regulations or even ludicrous policies handed down by distant corporate managers which you and your fellows know to be folly, and apply them to the healthcare solutions you are being presented with.
  • How can laws and regulations written three years ago and thousands of miles away, improve my physicians ability to care for me today and tomorrow?
  • Is it possible for those laws and regulations to not make it more difficult, and costly, for any doctor to provide me the care I need?
  • How is my health going to benefit, by restricting what my physician thinks is best to do for me?
So when your Obamanautic relative brings up the wonders of signing up for ObamaCare, particularly the sort found here, listen to what they say, and question those things they assume should be unquestionable.
  • Why should I be forced to sign up for ObamaCare, if I already have insurance I like?
  • How is it Just to force me to buy what I do not choose to?
  • Is Justice served by preventing people from making their own choices?
  • Can the Greater Good be served by forcing individuals to do what they judge to be wrong for them?
  • Why should my healthcare be made into a political issue, rather than a medical issue?
  • Why do I not get to decide whether or not I even want Health Insurance?
  • Is it right that voters get to decide what I do in my personal life?
  • Can I be said to be living my own life, if the most important decisions I have to make, are made for me by distant others and against my will?
What it comes down to, is asking Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, and particularly asking them in relation with a person being able to live their own life, and with what makes life worth living.

This Thanksgiving, after family and friends, I'm most thankful for those who are willing to ask those questions which Western Civilization, and America, cannot exist without being asked and pursued.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A few daring old questions that keep cropping up.

Recent posts from friends & family ranging from legalizing drugs, to vile insults posing as self-righteousness wit and on to risking or abusing other peoples lives for their own good, prompts a few questions worth asking:
  • Do you have the right to live your own life, or not?
  • Do you have the right to use the govt to live other people's lives for them, or not?

  • Does it matter how sure you are that you'll improve their lives?
  • Does it matter how sure they feel they are about improving your life?

  • Are drugs the only area of our lives these questions apply to?

  • If you haven't bothered to understand what your rights, and govt's limits, are, what's the likelihood that those with the power to violate them, for your own good (and theirs), will be bothered about violating them?

  • Does expecting others to respect your rights, require anything in return from you?
If these questions haven't overwhelmed you, here's a couple posts I pursued them a bit further on:
The next time you give your support, or opposition, to someone's political opinion, ask yourself these questions.

"...poor your-ick..."
I dare you.

I double-dare you to take the next step and ask them these quesitons.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Same as it ever was: What the Conservatives threaten to do, the Democrats actually do do.

As always, what Conservatives only ever threaten to do, the Democrats actually do do. The most recent case in point being Harry Reid having changed the rules of the senate, busting the Filibuster and opening the door to unhampered majority rule. That rule change fundamentally transforms the nature of the senate. The ability of senators to engage in unlimited debate, which at times become unendingly long winded word-a-thons, has been a critical feature of the Senate (and once the House too), since the beginning of the Senate, and since Thomas Jefferson wrote the manual for them.

And every administration, and every majority, has been frustrated by the Senate's feature of unlimited debate, aka: 'The Filibuster', ever since.
ProRegressive's guiding principle: "Might makes right"

And every minority has been supremely thankful for it.

And We The People have benefited immeasurably from numerous majorities and administrations, who, though cocksure in their rightness, have been made through that feature to feel the pressing need to craft legislation, and to find appointments, that would be more capable of surviving the reasonable deliberations of the senate, than their own heartfelt desires might have wished or allowed for.

Majorities, no matter their party, have always been furious at having their ability to get their way stymied by the minority. The majority has often, down through the centuries, blustered and threatened much in trying to get their way, up to and including threatening to change the rules and end that critical feature of unlimited debate. One such case is pointed out in this snippet from the Senate.Gov site:
"...In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could filibuster. As the House of Representatives grew in numbers, however, revisions to the House rules limited debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued on the grounds that any senator should have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue.

In 1841, when the Democratic minority hoped to block a bank bill promoted by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, he threatened to change Senate rules to allow the majority to close debate. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton rebuked Clay for trying to stifle the Senate's right to unlimited debate....."
But those majorities and administrations have always backed down from their threats, because they were eventually made to realize that that ability of 'unlimited debate', was critical to the very purpose of the Senate. What the senates purpose is, and why unlimited debated is critical to it, is made clear in this passage, again from Senate.Gov:
"A key goal of the framers was to create a Senate differently constituted from the House so it would be less subject to popular passions and impulses. "The use of the Senate," wrote James Madison in Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, "is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch." An oft-quoted story about the "coolness" of the Senate involves George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who was in France during the Constitutional Convention. Upon his return, Jefferson visited Washington and asked why the Convention delegates had created a Senate. "Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?" asked Washington. "To cool it," said Jefferson. "Even so," responded Washington, "we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.""
The deliberative body of the senate, was designed to cool the heated impulses of the House and the Administration, especially upon critical issues, such as administrative appointments, judicial nominations, etc.. It is not enough for the senate to simply reach an agreement - the senate is specifically designed to prohibit a too easy agreement by a majority, being pushed through over the concerns of those who feel the issues have not yet been discussed fully enough, or who, as representatives of the interests of their states, feel  that those interests will be intolerably harmed by the issue at hand. It is critical to the purpose of the senate, that even a single Senator should be able to, if not convince their fellow senators to agree with them, then to at least compel them to consider the issue further, and by slowing down the entire business of the senate, they are able to ensure that their fellow senators feel the heat of not sufficiently heeding their concerns.

One way to accomplish that, is to remain on the floor speaking, holding the floor by force of mouth, for as long as long as they are able to stand and speak, which decades later came to be known as the filibuster. Filibusters, by design, prevent the senate from going forward, for at least as long as it takes for their fellow senators to agree to some mitigating measure, or else agree that the issue in question wasn't in fact worth the time it was costing them, and agree to table it so that other measures can be attended to.

Short of that, the process is supposed to come to a halt. This is not a glitch, it's a feature!

It is a feature of a deliberative body, to deliberate to the fullest extent which its members - who you should remember, especially today, have been elected to represent the interests of the millions of people in their states who elected them to the senate - feel further deliberation should be had (a point which even Hillary Clinton grasped, when it suited her).

Can that power be abused? Unquestionably. Name me a power that cannot be abused?

But it is more important that its exceptions should not be allowed to discredit the rule. A deliberative body , by its very nature, must be prepared to do just that, and it should not impose or amend its rules in such a manner as to put an end to that which it is - a deliberative body.

Not surprisingly, this feature of the Senate has always provoked heated debate and threats to abolish the rule, from conservatives, liberals and leftists alike, but as usual, what conservatives have only threatened to do, the proRegressive leftists have followed through on doing, as soon as they felt they had the power to follow through on their threat, even, and perhaps especially, when what they previously had claimed to believe upon principle, no longer meshed with their desires of the moment.

Not co-incidentally, the person who first followed through on the threat to abuse the powers of the senate, was our previous college 'professor' president, Woodrow Wilson. And not too surprisingly, he had once piously (and correctly) stated that:
"...It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. Unless Congress have and use every means of acquainting itself with the acts and the disposition of the administrative agents of the government, the country must be helpless to learn how it is being served; and unless Congress both scrutinize these things and sift them by every form of discussion, the country must remain in embarrassing, crippling ignorance of the very affairs which it is most important that it should understand and direct. The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function. The argument is not only that discussed and interrogated administration is the only pure and efficient administration, but, more than that, that the only really self-governing people is that people which discusses and interrogates its administration. The talk on the part of Congress which we sometimes justly condemn is the profitless squabble of words over frivolous bills or selfish party issues. It would be hard to conceive of there being too much talk about the practical concerns and processes of government....."
Forcing the senate to talk much about contentious issues, until someway around them is found, is precisely what the filibuster ensured. But later, when Wilson was in power and frustrated that he couldn't get his way on those issues which some senators found to be contentious, then President Wilson, reversed his concern for administrations being fully interrogated, and instead:
"... stormed that the “Senate of the United States is the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.” The Senate, he demanded, must adopt a cloture rule."
Again, that 'little group of willful men' were not simply a few buckaroos holding up the proceedings of the local Elks Lodge, but were senators, men who were duly elected to represent the interests of the inhabitants of their states, some numbering in the millions, and as such, their unwillingness to go along with the wishes of the President, represented far more than simply their own 'willful' opinions, they were exerting the rights which Wilson once defended... when it suited him.

The principle which he seemed to grasp as a disinterested academic, he reviled when his own opinions and interests were at the heart of the issue in question, revealing that he never understood it as a principle in the first place, nor cared for 'principles' that were not subordinate to the interests of the moment. After calling for a special session of congress, Wilson proposed that the rules of the senate be amended with a rule for Cloture, which enabled "a two-thirds majority to end debate and permitted each member to speak for an additional hour after that before voting on final passage."  which was adopted.

There is a case to be made for cloture, as much as I dislike admitting it, at least as it was originally adopted, that being that if a super majority of two thirds of the senate could be persuaded that a point had been fully fleshed out, and that the interests of all were sufficiently attended to, then that super majority should be able to move past further unproductive and obstructive talk, and on to the action of taking a vote upon it.

Part of me is still rankles at that, it seems to me that the 'deliberative body' should remain just that, but though it is critically important that the senate's rules should be formed so as to ensure that the rights of We The People are properly considered, its rules are just that: rules, not rights. And it is a reasonable position to take, that with a two thirds super majority being the constitutional threshold for other important decisions, Supreme Court nominations, etc., a case can be made that it comports with how important Senate decisions are constitutionally structured.

But there is no case to be made that proRegressives, either then, or later, or now, took their positions upon principle, rather than hypocritically putting on airs in order to get their way. Wilson was sure he could get a 2/3 majority, and that the opposition couldn't - had he felt otherwise, he would have found a different, more satisfying, number.

And a more satisfying number is precisely what the Democratic majority in the Senate decided upon again, when in 1975, having recently picked up some seats in the senate, but not enough seats to reach a two thirds super majority, they made the same utilitarian power calculus as Wilson had, and altered the rules for invoking Cloture, reducing it from the original and reasonable two thirds super majority, down to a more usefully attainable quantity of three fifths, which is the magic number of 60 votes required today... er... yesterday.

Same as it ever was.

What the ProRegressive says is a matter of principle, is a 'timeless principle' only when it suits him. Just as Wilson postured a fine defense in his earnest dissertation, so did Sen. Barack Obama in 2005. Then, he too was so concerned for what the American people expect, that he said in defense of the filibuster:
"...What they don't expect is for one party - be it Republican or Democrat - to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster - if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate - then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse...."
Such a 'principled stance' has proved to be, just as with Wilson in 1917, and by Obama today, to have been discarded, without even the semblance of concern for principle, in order to suit their interests and desires of the moment:
"...I realize that neither party has been blameless for these tactics. They've developed over years, and it seems as if they've continually escalated. But today's pattern of obstruction -- it just isn't normal. It's not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can't let it become normal...."
Translation: The proRegressives have decided to have their cake and eat it too, for the 'greater good' which...  just so happens to serve their own political interests.

IOW: The only principle a proRegressive recognizes, since the days of Thrasymachus, is that of 'Might makes Right'.

Same as it ever was.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

More surprising NEWS of the day.

Ok, enough people have asked me, so here's my take on the latest NEWS from out of the White House, Washington D.C., Obamacare, Common Core and Foreign Affairs:
Oh. Look. Liars are telling lies.
Oh. Look. Hypocritical liars are responding as they've heard that the people they pretend to be, would have responded.
Oh. Look. The fools who elected the liars and hypocrites are upset that their lack of attention has put liars and hypocrites and thieves into positions of power over their lives.
Gee. What a surprise.

In other news, the head lying hypocrite in the White House thinks the flaws in the laws he 'wrote', to manage what he doesn't understand, can be fixed by giving more orders to control what he doesn't understand; meanwhile, the fools who thought they could make a buck from his plan, are upset his new plans to fix his old plans will bring them to ruin.

In other news, the diseducational system which made all of this possible in the first place, is frantically trying to adopt standards (which contain no standards) for that which it fears to define (namely Education, which is not to be mistaken for 'college & career ready skills'), promising that it will improve what it has consistently failed to do, by the very means with which it has already succeeded in creating such a colossal failure from an equally unprecedented success, in order to escape blame for what it is faced with having created today.

Gee. What a surprise.

In other news, the world wide wolves are eyeing our positions and lands with great interest.

Gee. What a surprise.

You want to fix this?

If you find any of this surprising, and want to know how to 'fix' it, start with fixing yourself. Here's a good starting point. If you can't do that, or can't even be bothered to attempt doing that, you have no business trying to fix anyone or anything else.

Gee. What a surprise.

Here's some 'NEWS' you can actually use, via Plato, 360 B.C.E., from "Laws - Book V"
"...The same praise may be given about temperance and wisdom, and all other goods which may be imparted to others, as well as acquired by a man for himself; he who imparts them shall be honoured as the man of men, and he who is willing, yet is not able, may be allowed the second place; but he who is jealous and will not, if he can help, allow others to partake in a friendly way of any good, is deserving of blame: the good, however, which he has, is not to be undervalued by us because it is possessed by him, but must be acquired by us also to the utmost of our power. Let every man, then, freely strive for the prize of virtue, and let there be no envy. For the unenvious nature increases the greatness of states-he himself contends in the race, blasting the fair fame of no man; but the envious, who thinks that he ought to get the better by defaming others, is less energetic himself in the pursuit of true virtue, and reduces his rivals to despair by his unjust slanders of them. And so he makes the whole city to enter the arena untrained in the practice of virtue, and diminishes her glory as far as in him lies. Now every man should be valiant, but he should also be gentle. From the cruel, or hardly curable, or altogether incurable acts of injustice done to him by others, a man can only escape by fighting and defending himself and conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them; and no man who is not of a noble spirit is able to accomplish this...."
You want to hear something 'new'? Stop looking for it in the 'news', that is, and always will be, the same old same-old. If you want something truly new, you'll only find it in the old truths applied to the new day.

Anything less than that, is going to be less than surprising.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Obama and the far left: Not even lying

Everyone it seems, from all walks of life, are upset that the Obama Administration has not only lied about -and take your pick of NSA, IRS, Benghazi, ObamaCare - but shows no regret for having done so. Jon Stewart is driven nuts by it:, even Bill Mahr is calling them out over it. The UK's Daily Mail is appalled over the 29 (I think it's closer to 37, but who's counting) repeats of 'If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period.', and while White House press secretary Jay Carney isn't quite clear on what the issue is, even Congress, which you'd think knows a thing or two about lying, is flustered by their behavior.

My reaction? You've got to be kidding me.

Jon, Congress, UK, guys... your surprise shows that you're missing something important here; something important about this administration, and, to some extent, about yourselves as well. These guys are  not doing what you on occasion (some more often than others) do, telling lies, in truth they aren't even lying.

A liar is someone who, at the very least, is aware of, and is concerned about, what the truth. is. If there is one thing a liar knows, it is what the truth is! And in telling lies, the liar is concerned about what the truth could do to them if it became widely known. While a liar will do everything they can to hide it, they still have a healthy fear of and respect for, what the truth actually is.

We should be so lucky as to have liars in, and supporting, this administration.

What do I mean? Ask yourself, what is the typical reaction of a liar when called out on their lies?

Anxiety, embarrassment, panic, desperate evasion, bluster, and, at least over being caught, regret... right?

Can you really call out the Obama administration and those of like mind on those points?

Early on, well after telling the American people 'If you like your healthcare, you can keep it' numerous times, the president said bad politicos had slipped some language into the ObamaCare bill which put that oft repeated promise in jeopardy. And then, he and his fellows went right on saying that 'If you like your healthcare, you can keep it', time and time again.

Get clear on that. He acknowledged that it was no longer possibly true. The Truth of the matter was out there. Then he went right along repeating the same usefully comforting, but untrue, assurance.

Think.

Only now that it has become common knowledge that that is not, and cannot be the case, have they now modified their comment to 'If you like your healthcare, and it hasn't changed, then you can keep it', which they are now earnestly repeating as if that was what they had meant all along.

Not only is there no plausibility here, but there is no fear of being revealed as having been, and currently telling, words which convey no measurable amount of truth in them.

Why?

Because they aren't even lying. They aren't concerned with hiding the truth, they are only concerned with creating the result they want. To them, truth and falsehood are simply adjectives of marginal interest (when useful), to be applied only as useful means for achieving their ends. Period.

Liars respect the truth and work around it. This bunch, within and without the White House, do not. They have no regard for, or thought for, what is true... or even any sign that they acknowledge that such a thing is of importance. What they do have, is a set of goals they want to achieve, a plan for achieving them, and whether or not those goals will accomplish what they say they will, doesn't even enter into their plans or considerations.

They know where they are. They know where they want to be. Even their goals are only a means of getting what they want. They know what they want, and based upon what that truly is, they are pursuing the only means to achieving them: Power. They pursue power, and what they want, is power, for it's own sake, and happiness, let alone the pursuit of it, doesn't figure into their plans at all.

That leaves quaint issues such as 'lies' and 'truth', as little more than useful things to be noted here and there only in so far as they sway you into helping them achieve their ends, and they will say what they think needs to be said, and in what manner, in order to get there. If denial seems to be useful, they'll deny. If apologizing seems to get them what they want, they'll apologize. If, like Hilary, they think a show of frustration might be useful, they'll give that a whirl and see what difference it might make; they'll cheerfully trot out whatever words seem most likely to help them accomplish their next step. Not because those words have any relation to being true, and not with any concern for whether or not some or all of them might be false. They know where they are, they know where they want to be, and they have a notion of what they need to say in order to cause the right reactions in a select set of useful people... and for them, that's what the purpose of words are.

To get you what you want. For the greater good. Not only is that, in their eyes, justification enough, it is all they are concerned about, and being the ones who define just what 'the greater good' is, ensures that it won't interfere with what they want.

And that my friends is what they mean, when they tell you that their words depend upon what the meaning of Is, is.

Not whether or not something is good, or beautiful or true - but because they want it, and whatever it is that you think their words mean, is only a means for them getting what they want.

That's not lying.

Liars know what is true. Liars respect the truth. Liars fear the truth. Liars are concerned about what is true and what is false. When you use words without respect for what is true or false, when you use words as a means of weaponizing those who hear those words, in order to achieve your ends, that's not lying.

That's not even lying.

That's the pursuit of power for power's sake. And for those with enough hubris to believe that they can handle power, that they are capable of wielding the power to do whatever they think is best for others without restraint... their language doesn't even rise to the level of lying - it simply works the levers of public opinion and moves them closer to getting what they desire... their precious.

Is the Obama administration a pack of liars?

Don't I wish.