Monthly Archives: July 2014

Video of the Day – Hope and and and and and and Change

Speaking of speaking properly, the “greatest orator since Lincoln” sure had a hard time with words yesterday.

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Filed under Video of the Day

Oh, just STFU

Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” song is horrible because “standards of linguistic correctness” are about white privilege, says boring, humorless person who teaches our children. She teaches at Ohio State, by the way. Go figure.

A little rumination on Weird Al’s violent reactions against “bad grammar” raises deep and longstanding questions of social equity regarding class, education, race, age, ethnicity, gender, and how these relate to languages, dialects, and social registers. There is ample research on these issues (which any sociolinguist could point you to), but the upshot is that the notion of “Proper English” typically serves to prop up the already-privileged speakers whose native language variety it is (sort of) based on. This puts speakers whose native language variety does not approximate “Proper English” at an immediate disadvantage in society, the same way that privileging Whiteness puts those who are not White at an immediate disadvantage in society. It is not the linguistic differences themselves that do this (just as it is not the racial/ethnic difference themselves that determine privilege), but the *attitudes* about them. This is why many linguists are having a hard time laughing with Word Crimes: to do so feels like complicity in an ongoing project of linguistic discrimination that intersects with class, race, and other kinds of discrimination…On its face, this video teaches people that there is a right way to speak/write, and if you don’t do things that way, you’re a bad person (or a sewer person? or a person with a disability?) who should not breed.

It’s just a silly song, for fuck’s sake. I’m so tired of this. Criticize the song for not being truly educational if it really bothers you, but why does every single thing have to have a hidden racial undertone which means we should feel guilty about laughing because to laugh at Weird Al would mean we’re complicit “in an ongoing project of linguistic discrimination that intersects with class, race, and other kinds of discrimination.” Is there anything in existence that the Left can’t make about race? I will write a special blog post about how pretty and smart you are if you can find me one thing. If she would have just excised the section quoted above out of her post, she would have a pretty useful, serious post, containing some good advice for teachers. But no, we must inject race into everything.

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Filed under Advice, The Left

My favorite person this week: The Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles

Democrat fundraising e-mails lately have been on the verge of suicidal. They are so fucking crazy and desperate, it’s pathetic. Shorter DCCC chair: “Our fake impeachment talk sure is an awesome way to freak money out of our fuckwit base!” Andrew Stiles did a little photoshopping and, honestly, the tone isn’t that far off from the real emails…

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Hilarious. Stiles also nailed Salon to the fucking wall yesterday with this piece:

Salon has published an important piece urging our nation’s Thought Leaders to stop pretending Senator Ted Cruz is an intelligent person. Read all 1,200 words of it if you insist, but the upshot, essentially, is that being smart and holding conservative political views are mutually exclusive. On the other hand, it wouldn’t require much editing to rewrite the piece in a way that would condemn the intellect of another alleged genius, Barack Obama, and pretty much every Democrat who might run for president in 2016. For example, Salon writer (and presumed Obama superfan) Nathan Robinson argues that the “preexisting consensus” about Cruz—that despite his moral failings as a Republican, he does possess a “sophisticated mind”—is wrong because of Cruz’s tendency to speak in “platitudinous drivel” and engage in “performance art.” Unlike Obama, obviously, who historians have already declared “the smartest guy ever to become President.” Obama is “cerebral,” has written two memoirs, and received his undergraduate degree at an Ivy League institution only slightly less prestigious than Cruz’s alma mater. He probably watches The Colbert Report and “gets” all the subtle, intellectual jokes. Nothing platitudinous about “Hope and Change,” or “Economic Patriotism.” If Cruz was really a genius, Robinson asks, would he have “alienated all of his colleagues” in the Senate? You know, just like President Obama has alienated his Democratic allies in Congress, who are unimpressed by his scholarly aloofness. Cruz is a gigantic liar, too, and doesn’t even have any political successes to his name, so he’s clearly an idiot. Unlike Obama, whose one transformative accomplishment (Obamacare) suffered a disastrous rollout and would never have passed in the first place if voters hadn’t believed the gigantic lie—“You can keep your plan”—the president repeated ad nauseum.

Stiles then copies and pastes several paragraphs of the Salon article, replacing Cruz’s name with Obama’s, and you honestly can’t tell the difference. Go to the link to see. Stiles concludes:

Did you even notice the difference? More importantly, we should all be asking ourselves: Is it racist to publicly question the intelligence of a prominent Hispanic politician? I think we all know the answer.

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Filed under Politics, The Left

Afternoon Links

LOL. Assholes.

Detroit residents are struggling to pay their water bills at such an alarming rate that the city’s utility announced a few months ago that it would cut off water for between 1,500 and 3,000 people every week…Now, an unlikely group seems to think it can step in and solve this systemic problem. PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will offer financial assistance to 10 families who can’t afford their water bills — if the families go vegan, that is…The group asks people who are interested to take photos of their overdue bills and send them in along with a pledge to go vegan. It gives no indication of what it would do should someone accept the funding and then immediately start eating meat again.

State Senator of mysterious party affiliation (he’s a Democrat, but you won’t find that anywhere in this article) now facing additional federal charges, including racketeering.

Incompetents spend millions of taxpayer dollars unsuccessfully trying to make Afghans eat tofu.

That’s a heck of a correction, Think Progress.

“The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.” Fantastic, fair Sam Harris piece on why it is obvious whose side you should be on in this conflict. The original transcript – before he went back and annotated it because the Left started screaming at him – was better and easier to read but it’s still definitely worth wading through.

We gave lots and lots of weapons to Afghanistan and now we have no idea where they are, of course.

If you selected “automatic renewal” on your ACA exchange plan, you’re in for a real shock in 2015.

“Death to the Jews” chanted the crowd waving the black flags of ISIS…in the Netherlands. Good luck, Europe.

LOL. North Korea’s midget man-child is mad no one’s paying attention to him.

I swear there are undiscovered tribes in the Amazon who know more about guns than the American Left does. The refusal to even Google shit is astounding to me. Bob Owens uses something called facts to obliterate this ridiculous Atlantic piece.

Meanwhile, in the terrible mistake that is the country of Pakistan.

I tend to blame anti-semites for anti-semitism, but that’s just me.

Sharknado 2 (premiering tonight on SyFy, don’t miss it!) is being touted as “the most important film ever made about climate change.” Yeah, the first one really made me wake up. Me and America, I think it’s fair to say.

LOL WaPo’s Greg Sargent attempts to destroy the Halbig case, gets hoisted on his own petard.

OMG

A koala named Timberwolf has suffered only minor injuries after he was found clinging to the bottom of a car that travelled 88km before the furry stowaway was discovered. The four-year-old marsupial was discovered clinging to the grille of the vehicle by its occupants when they stopped at a service station in Gympie, Queensland, on Friday. The family in the car did not know they had a koala passenger for the 88km journey from Maryborough. Staff at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital treated the koala, naming him Timberwolf after their football team. Luckily, Timberwolf suffered only minor injuries from his joy ride, with a torn nail being the worst of his woes. However, staff discovered the koala also has chlamydia, which will require antibiotic treatment.

Hamas’s military command bunker is underneath a hospital and every reporter knows it, but they’re not reporting it, mostly because Hamas threatens them.

Don’t laugh. No, really.

Women should not laugh in public in Turkey, the Deputy Prime Minister has said in a speech on “moral corruption” in the country…Among his other complaints was people having too many cars and using too much petrol, and women talking about “unnecessary” topics on the phone instead of meeting face-to-face.

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Filed under Around the World, Guns, TV/Movies, Uncategorized

Video of the Day

I don’t know about you, but when I watch this “anti-gun” commercial all I can think is: “I should go out and buy a gun so I can protect my family from crazy people in case the cops don’t get there in time.”

Charles C.W. Cooke explains:

I am reliably informed that the folks over at Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control outfit, Everytown, believe earnestly that the above commercial makes the case for stricter gun control. The intended message, presumably, is: “We need to keep guns out of the hands of violent men with restraining orders.” A laudable aim, in and of itself. Does this come across? Not really, no. What the video ends up doing instead is demonstrating a) that people who are willing to abduct children and shoot women in the face are not likely to follow the laws (the victim already has a restraining order out against her assailant, which frankly doesn’t seem to be doing much); b) that the victim would have been better off with a gun in her hand than with a phone connected to the police department; and c) that, firearms being a great equalizer between men and women, any rules that make it difficult for potential victims to get hold of guns (and make no mistake: Everytown supports them all) put vulnerable people in danger.

#FAIL

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Filed under Guns, Video of the Day

How the Left argues: A Case Study

I frequently get into arguments with Leftists (and people on the right too, but we’ll focus on the Lefties today) on social media because A. I love a good debate. B. They often post things that are factually inaccurate and need to be corrected. C. Once in awhile, I get someone to actually think a little bit about their own beliefs and we should all re-think our own positions from time to time.

Last night I got into it with a few “progressives” who provided a textbook example of how the Left argues. We’ll call these two people John and Kate. John starts off in typical fashion with a completely inaccurate meme:

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When asked the source for this meme/these statistics John didn’t know, which I assume means it was randomly found on the Internet and, as we all know, random things on the Internet are ALWAYS FACTUALLY ACCURATE. So, we have Step 1 in the Left’s argument process: Throw out random facts, which you haven’t bothered to fact check, as if they are true.

I kick off the conversation with a quick debunking of the “facts” in this meme:

“LOL. We grew at NEGATIVE 3% last quarter. The Dow is up because the Fed is pumping money into the market (quantitative easing), which is A. Unsustainable B. Increasing the debt. C. Benefitting mainly the uber rich. The real unemployment rate is in the double digits: Your number only includes people who are still looking for jobs, not the many people who have stopped looking and dropped out of the workforce. We have the lowest labor force participation rate in many decades. Deficit has gone down mainly because of the sequester (which Obama decried and which is no longer in place so it will go back up again). The debt is still exploding.”

John’s response: “And who started the deficit? Democrat Bill Clinton had a surplus, Republican Bush did not.”

I find that starting off with simple questions can quickly give you an indicator of the extent of the person’s knowledge, so I simply ask: “Do you understand the difference between the debt and the deficit?” To which John replies: “Yeah. The only way to lower the debt is to get the deficit down, no? Clinton had a surplus, Bush a deficit. That’s where it started.” (As you can see, we’ve already begun Step 2: Blame Bush.)

Ok, so now I know that John doesn’t really understand what the deficit is and how it factors into the debt. If he did he would have said, “If you want to decrease the debt, you can’t just decrease the deficit, you have to eliminate the deficit and not just for a year or two.” The surplus has to last for awhile. Third grade math example: If I get in $1,000 (my ‘deficit’) of credit card debt a year for four years and the fifth year I lower my ‘deficit’ and only get in $800 of credit card debt, have I lowered my overall debt or am I still in a $4,800 hole? “Surpluses” like the Clinton-Gingrich “surplus” are always destined to be very temporary and don’t decrease the debt, mainly because entitlement spending continually escalates. So I explain to John:

“The deficit is the yearly difference between how much you take in and how much you spend. Obama’s deficits have been, on average, over a trillion dollars every year he’s been in office. Bush’s last deficit was $458 billion. Obama’s deficit is lower now than his first few years in office (only because he TRIPLED the deficit when he got in office and Republicans took over the House in 2010 and have slowed spending a bit). When you are spending more than you take in in any given year that adds to the debt. You can’t lower the debt if you have a deficit. You can only lower the debt if you spend less than you take in in a series of years. It’s like your credit card bill. All we’re doing now is paying interest on the debt (a debt which Obama will have doubled by the time he leaves office; it was a little over $10 trillion the day he took the oath, it’s over $17 trillion now and rapidly going up). The reason we had a “surplus” for a time under Clinton was that the Republican House balanced the budget (the House holds the purse strings). Clinton did not submit a balanced budget. He submitted a deficit. To his credit, he let the Republican House negotiate him into signing a balanced budget, something this President would never do.”

John’s reply:

“This, however, does not answer the question: why did Bush run a deficit. The answers are obvious. He gives them himself. Tax cuts, and the war in Iraq. I’ve no intention on discussing that, only to point out that the fact on the ground is that the Democrat had a surplus, the Republican a deficit.”

Step 3: Ignore everything I just said and reiterate that it’s Bush’s fault.

Notice that at no point yet has John acknowledged that Obama has anything to do with the exploding national debt/enormous yearly deficits. The fact that there is a national debt at all is apparently “Bush’s fault!” because he had budget deficits (like every other modern President). So, I try explaining again to John:

“As usual, the only argument you guys have is ‘BUSH’S FAULT! BUSH’S FAULT!’ Yes, Clinton left office with a balanced budget, but he, like all recent presidents, increased the national debt while in office, leaving the country more than a trillion dollars deeper in debt. Bush left office with a deficit and more debt. None of that has anything to do with the fact that Obama has vastly outspent his predecessors. Clinton’s debt record is “best,” Bush’s is bad but Obama’s is by far the worst.”

Now I get radio silence from John, but now Kate has joined the conversation. She starts off by responding to someone else on the thread who is asking John what he thinks about the terrible economic indicators under Obama (median household wealth is down, median income is down, unemployment is up, part time jobs are becoming the norm for a lot of people instead of full time, etc.) John doesn’t respond to that person either, but Kate says:

“As for median household wealth being down, that is support for the progressive view that the decline in unions has resulted in corporations and some small businesses keeping the money at the top for the sole use of CEO’s, bonuses, and (if appropriate) stockholders rather than investing in the economic health of the US through appropriate wages. Likewise, it is not the POTUS who determines whether companies are going to hire mainly part time employees in order (once again) to keep the money at the top. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Under those conditions, if employees aren’t hired full time or aren’t paid livable wages, the blame lies squarely on the business sector. I’m curious as to what excuse the “persons” disguised as corporations have when making record-breaking profits for NOT paying livable wages and contributing to the healthcare of the employees who help make them their profits?”

Someone else responds to her on that (noting that Obamacare has a lot to do with companies now hiring more part-time, etc.), but I’m showing you that so you understand how/why we eventually get on the topic of wages, etc.

Kate then starts replying to my conversation with John:

“I love how those opposed to Obama absolutely REFUSE to admit any impact Bush has had on this administration. Just as an example, the current administration inherited wars that OF COURSE caused tremendous debt – which those blinded with hate of Obama do not take into account when discussing rising debt. It isn’t that liberals blame everything on Bush, they just refuse to take his impact out of the equation when looking at the current situation. They refuse to forget that Bush left the country in a severe recession and on the brink of depression. How dare they!!!! The irony of the is that it is the conservatives who are in the blind ‘blame game’!”

Ok, there’s Step 4: Establish a straw man.

No one “refused to admit” Bush’s role in growing the debt. I actually just blamed him (scroll up) for making it worse. Note, neither John nor Kate have yet to lay any blame on the man sitting in the Oval Office for the last six years who has almost doubled the total national debt. We keep repeating Steps 2 and 3. I reply:

“I acknowledge Bush had a big hand in increasing the debt and I intensely dislike him for it. Obama will have more than doubled it by the time he leaves office. Simple truth that you guys refuse to acknowledge. Nearly halfway through Obama’s second term and you guys are still screaming “BUSH’S FAULT” over everything. It’s pathetic. At some point, the guy who has been sitting in the Oval Office for the past six years has to be held responsible for something.”

She replies:

“Once again, there is a difference between screaming “BUSH’S FAULT” and giving credit to Bush where credit is due. The topic is mainly raised to counteract accusations where “you guys” are screaming “OBAMA’S FAULT” for EVERYTHING negative in the universe – whether he had anything to do with it or not. On the whole, “you guys” want to pretend that this POTUS came into a clean slate. That kind of blindness is really sad.”

More straw men, so I simply reply: “No one on this thread has said everything in the universe is Obama’s fault or that he came in with a clean slate. I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Kate then replies to the person who is owning her on the Obamacare argument by saying the evidence showing increased premiums and deductibles is wrong and that most people are actually experiencing lower premiums and deductibles (she doesn’t provide any evidence of that, which, to be fair, she can’t because it doesn’t exist. She’s wrong). She then makes a bizarre claim: “The ACA, as compromised for Republican votes, surely has short comings.”

At this point John has found another pointless meme (from a site called “Conservatives Are Destroying Our Future” – sounds like a bunch of reasonable policy experts who should be taken seriously!) so he returns to the conversation just to post this and then leaves:

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So, now we’re back to a version of Step 3: Ignore all the facts that were just laid out and go back to tacitly blaming Bush. We’ve also moved on to Step 5: Post memes and/or links to random studies and/or Salon, Think Progress, Daily Kos, etc. articles in lieu of making an argument. 

Anyway, I’m still in conversation with Kate, who i have called out for implying in one of her above posts that running a business is as simple and straightforward as just lavishing high wages and benefits on employees because it’s a nice thing to do; as if that doesn’t effect prices, profits, etc. I also weigh in on her bizarre claim that the “ACA was compromised for Republican votes.” At this point I’m thinking, surely she knows that not a single Republican voted for it, or ever planned to, nor did any of them have a hand in drafting it. I must have misunderstood what she was saying.

I reply:

“You seem to be suggesting that if a company makes a profit they can just up everyone’s wages and benefits and it’s that simple, as if paying people more than what their labor is worth doesn’t effect anything. That’s not how it works. What is your suggestion? For the government to set wages, prices, profit levels, stock dividends for all companies coast to coast? Not sure what you mean by “the ACA as compromised for Republican votes.” No Republicans voted for it, nor were they ever planning to. No Republicans were involved in the drafting of the law. There were many kickbacks thrown in to get Democrat votes, but not Republicans.”

I then reply to John and his meme, to which I get no response:

“I don’t understand what your argument is at this point. Are you trying to make the case that Obama is some kind of deficit hawk? As I explained above, Obama lowered his own deficit for one year (each of his deficits have been higher than any of Bush’s, even Obama’s lowest one). Obama has the five highest budget deficits the U.S. Government has ever run and he has almost doubled the overall debt. Clinton’s lowered deficit and eventual balanced budget was, once again, lowered from Clinton’s OWN previous deficits. Clinton still added over a trillion to the national debt overall during his presidency. When he took office the total outstanding public debt was $4.1 trillion. When he left office it was $5.7 trillion. So, the point is, even if Clinton and Obama lowered the deficit for a year or two from their previous high deficits, it doesn’t lower the overall national debt. If you are consistently running budget deficits at all, it increases the debt. Smaller deficits just mean you’re growing the debt a bit more slowly than you were growing it the year before. It’s still making the problem worse, not better, and the interest keeps accumulating (which ultimately increases the debt more).”

Now Kate’s reply to me (by the way, she never responds to me on Republicans and the ACA, which I take to mean that she didn’t realize it was passed on a party line vote, which is amazing):

“This statement says everything about your position: ‘as if paying people more than what their labor is worth doesn’t effect anything.’ There are people who CANNOT survive on their wages without getting government assistance, and yet you automatically assume that a raise would pay more than what their labor is worth. You immediately devalue their contribution to the company and to society. It is that mindset that devalues the wage earners in this country that is destroying our economy and the very fiber of our country. I view it as a complete lack of empathy as to what is happening to our citizens.”

So, we’ve arrived at Step 6: Reduce your argument to some form of “Oh yeah, well you’re a big meanie who lacks empathy.”

My response:

“First of all, you didn’t respond to my question about whether your solution would be to have the government set all wages and prices, etc. Here’s another question: should we pay burger flippers at McDonald’s $50 an hour just to be nice? You realize that means prices will go up, right? That means they end up in the same position, with the same buying power, as they were in before. The market decides what someone’s labor is worth. It’s called supply and demand. Welders make more money than fast food workers because their labor is worth more because their skills are in higher demand. Empathy has nothing to do with it. It’s basic economics. The answer is not to arbitrarily fix wages, but to help people acquire skills so they can grow and compete. McDonald’s cashier is not supposed to be a career. It’s supposed to be an entry-level job for a teenager. If you force McDonald’s to pay a cashier more than their labor is worth, McDonald’s will just replace them with a robot.”

Her reply:

“I don’t need to answer whether I accept your made up solution, since I have given you absolutely no reason to ask me whether I think the government should set all wages and prices. Nor did I ever suggest that McDonald’s “flippers” should make $50 an hour. And I object to your constant insinuation that other people don’t understand simple ideas such as that increases in wages could make prices go up (unless, of course, executive bonuses go down, but how dare anyone suggest such a thing!). Is it your premise, that “we” should pay CEO’s hundreds of millions of dollars a year because they are “worth it”? You discredit me the same way you do the value of workers. I will counter, however, that the concept that the “market” decides what someone’s labor is worth is no longer automatically accepted as a truism. Now that the majority of the “market” is controlled by a very small number of corporations (antitrust laws be damned), the market model is too skewed, That is what you don’t seem to understand. I’m afraid you are too busy having all those conversations with yourself, which is why I think you can’t understand what I and others have said about any of these issues.”

Step 7: Repeatedly refuse to answer the question. I asked a simple yes or no question. Her resistance to answering is telling. Kate has given me reason to ask whether she thinks the government should set wage and price controls, especially with this last answer. She “objects” to my insinuation that “people don’t understand simple ideas such as that increases in wages could make prices go up.” Therein lies the fallacy in her (and the Left’s) raise the wage! argument. If you understand (as she says she does) that increased wages mean increased prices (if you now have to pay the burger flipper $15 an hour, you now have to increase the wages of your shift manager – who was probably making $15 an hour – to $30 an hour and on up the chain). This obviously results in a price increase because now everything is more expensive because your butchers, suppliers, truck drivers, etc. have to abide by the increased wage ladder, too. There’s also the fact that heads of businesses aren’t all just fat cats sitting around, much as the Left imagines they all are. They are constantly making decisions about growing their business, opening up new stores, investing in new products, hiring more workers, etc. Kate won’t answer me on price controls because she refuses to acknowledge that what she’s asking for is for the government to impose wage and price controls. That’s the only way her idea can work. Government would have to raise the wage and then prevent businesses from raising prices (I shouldn’t have to tell you that there’s a name for this idea and it never works). She also expresses a desire for executive bonuses to go down, in order to pay the workers at the bottom of the chain more. Again, you’re essentially asking for government to set a limit on how much executives can be paid. That’s the only way that happens. I would have gotten into this (and her claim that a “very small number of corporations” now apparently control “the market” to a degree that means the basic laws of supply and demand have been nullified or something. What?) more with her and plainly, instead of subtly, asked her the question no Lefty can ever answer: Why not set the minimum wage at $50? Why not $100? But it was 2 in the morning and I was tired. Note that she completely ignores the parts of my argument that don’t fit her progressive Unicornland narrative: the idea that maybe we should teach people skills and turn them into assets instead of simply treating them as mouths that need to be fed/problems to throw money at; the reasons (basic supply and demand, what skills a market values/needs) why a welder or construction worker or engineer or auto mechanic makes more than a McDonald’s cashier. Her argument boils down to the typical Leftist talking points: people who own businesses are evil people who should have their money redistributed and I want to give poor people free stuff, logic and math be damned.

Anyway, suddenly Kate found a Politifact “fact” that she must have been convinced she could really get me on because suddenly we were back on the deficit/debt train. She quoted a Politifact article (from a year ago) stating that Obama’s claim (at the time) that “the deficit is falling at the fastest rate in 60 years” is true.

I simply responded by asking: “How much has the national debt decreased?” Then I used the simple credit card example I used above to prove my point about why, even if what Obama said was true for that one year, it does nothing to address the larger problem. “If I get in $1,000 of credit card debt a year for four years and the fifth year I only get in $800 of credit card debt have I lowered my overall debt or am I still in a $4,800 hole?”

In a separate comment I posed the wage control question again: “So, you’re not calling for the government to institute a higher minimum wage?”

Kate responds correctly to the debt question: “The national debt has not decreased overall. As a matter of fact, it is expected to double over the course of Obama’s presidency. It will definitely not decrease with an obstructionist Congress blocking all attempts to improve the economy.” (Step 8: Revert back to the talking points: obstructionist Republicans’ fault!) “However, all of that is much too complicated for this thread.” (Step 9: (Now that I’m losing the argument and have been forced to concede your original point) it’s just all too complicated to discuss.) “And I, unlike you, do not consider the debt standing alone to be the most pressing issue this country faces.” (Step 10: It’s not a huge problem anyway! What’s the big deal?)

She continues in another comment: “Your last insulting comment has ended this discussion for me. I should not have to point out that I have the intelligence to understand that debt in your example accumulated. Since you seem to feel that I do, I have no desire to encourage your further “put downs.” I’m very sorry that you don’t understand that setting a MINIMUM wage does not constitute the government setting ‘all wages and prices.’ Good night.” (Step 11: Suddenly claim that you’ve been insulted and put down as an excuse to leave the conversation. Optional to Step 11: Put quotes around random words.)

Anyway, while all that was going on I was replying to her acknowledgment that the debt has increased. Me:

“No, it hasn’t decreased. It has increased. That’s my point. Even if you’re running a smaller deficit than you were running last year you’re still adding to the debt. Conservatives and libertarians would love to actually address the debt and fix the problem.”

I then reply to her claim that I “insulted” her:

“I don’t know what insulting comment you’re referring to. I asked my minimum wage question again, which you still won’t respond to. You implied that Obama had accomplished something by having one year of a slightly lower deficit. I used an example to prove it’s meaningless in the grand scheme of things. No put down involved.”

Ok, so at this point she goes up and DELETES the Politifact quote she posted.

I comment: “LOL. Way to delete your original comment that I was responding to.”

She replies: “LOL – way to assume it had anything to do with you or knowing that you were responding when I did it. Center of my universe you are not. :)”

Several minutes have now gone by, plus she responded to my response to her Politifact comment (that’s where she accused me of insulting her), so the idea that she didn’t know I had ever replied to the Politifact quote is ridiculous and disproven by scrolling up (assuming she hasn’t deleted that comment too). (Step 12: Put the inconvenient facts down the memory hole. Optional to Step 12: Start with the passive-aggressive smiley face emoticons.) I reply: “You posted a quote from Politifact, which I responded to. You said my response was ‘insulting’ and had ended the discussion for you. Then you deleted the comment you were complaining about my response to.”

At this point she replies to me by posting the following meme implying that I’m a greedy asshole (because I understand how the laws of economics work, sorry!):

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“Starvation wages”…KOCHTOPUS!!

Anyway, she now goes back and edits her last comment so that it now reads:

“LOL – Way to assume it had anything to with you or knowing that you were responding when I did it. Center of my universe you are not 🙂  Two other of my posts didn’t show. One about my full realization that conservatives and libertarians have an absolute obsession with the debt and a single-minded idea that it is controlled only by reducing expenditures. The weakness is to ignore other elements of the equation related to building a healthy economy (including more employment and better wages) and country with an end result of reducing debt through more “income”. Much too complicated for conservative talking points. Another to point out that whereas I don’t think I discussed the minimum wage earlier, supporting an increase in the MINIMUM is not in any way equivalent to suggesting that government control all wages and prices. Either that is too complicated for you to understand or you were insulting by accusing me of that leap. Either way, discussion with you seems pointless.”

Step 13: A. Declare that “discussion with you is pointless.” B. Accuse your opponent of being insulting/arrogant/condescending, then immediately act in the manner in which you just accused them.

Now she’s replying to my last comment which was a reply to her previously unedited post:

“Sorry, but you have misstated what happened ONCE AGAIN, and misunderstood what you have said that is insulting ONCE AGAIN. I sincerely am leaving now, but I was not going to have the exchange end with your misrepresentation of what occurred. Yes, I deleted a post where Politifact determined that a statement made by the President about the deficit falling was true. I deleted it because I determined it served no purpose to post it. I deleted it before even reading your comments. The remainder of your last post is merely you having a fictional conversation with yourself. Good night.”

Theory: She deleted the Politifact quote because she posted it before she actually read through the article and when she realized they make my point halfway through the article, she deleted it. But that’s ok, that’s embarrassing, she doesn’t have to admit that.

Step 14: Insinuate that your opponent is a crazy person. “You are too busy having conversations with yourself.” WTF are you talking about? I’m having a conversation with YOU. If you’re talking about your feelings rather than responding to my arguments that’s not my problem.

Kate really tried to make Step 14 happen. She started going back and editing her comments so it looked like my replies were to an imaginary person rather than to her. “The remainder of your comment is you having a fictional conversation with yourself,” she said. Yes, now it’s me having a fictional conversation because you’ve gone back and edited your fucking comments so that I now look like a crazy person who’s talking to myself.

I brought this up but, of course, never got a reply: “You keep going back and editing your comments after I’ve already responded to what you originally wrote, so this conversation now doesn’t make sense to anyone looking at it.”

I briefly addressed her last couple points and then went to bed: “Increasing the minimum wage means other wages go up, which means prices go up, which means everyone is back to having the same amount of purchasing power they had before. I agree a healthy economy and more employment could help reduce the debt through more income. Raising the minimum wage isn’t going to do it though.”

FIN

The thing about the Left is that they don’t know what they don’t know. They think they know everything because they’ve been told that they are the “elites,” the “intellectuals,” that their opponents are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who believe in Jesus and angels (gasp!) and must therefore be fucking idiots on every topic. (P.S. There are plenty of atheists on the right). But, in reality, my encounter with the average Leftist almost always involves me spending most of my time debunking absurd claims and/or explaining basic facts to them. Pro Tip: If you’re only getting your news from Salon, Think Progress, Daily Kos, MSNBC, etc., YOU’RE NOT GETTING ALL THE INFORMATION. I certainly don’t know everything and I get stuff wrong of course, but I read everything I can all across the Left-Right spectrum. Because if I didn’t, I would be even more stupid than I already am. It’s useful to read the other side’s arguments because it’s helpful to know what your ideological opponents actually believe and how they really think. Most Leftists have no idea what their ideological opponents actually believe. They live in a bubble in which they only talk to people, and read things, they agree with. Conservatives/libertarians have an advantage here because the American education system is steeped in Leftist thought and ideology. So, we have read our Marx and our Chomsky and our Said and our Keynes and our Zinn. Most Leftists I encounter have NOT read the other side’s thinkers (i.e. Hayek, Toqueville, Friedman, Burke, etc.). That’s why most conversations between the two sides play out like the one above. 

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Afternoon Links

Oh dear. A Democrat Senator plagiarized a significant chunk of his 14-page (!!) master’s thesis.

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Ok, timeout. 14 pages was the length of my average paper as an undergrad. I think I wrote a 14-page complaint letter to U.S. Airways once after they lost my luggage both to and from my destination. How can you not be able to fill 14 pages on a subject you supposedly know something about? And who the hell assigns a 14-page master’s thesis? Anyway, Senator Walsh dug his hole deeper – as senators are wont to do – by claiming that he plagiarized because he had PTSD (he didn’t) after getting hit 100 times with IEDs during his military service in Iraq (he actually only got hit by one).

Rarely do I fully embrace an NYT editorial, but this weekend I did. The “progressive” New York Times finally catches up to the “conservative” National Review, which was calling for getting rid of federal marijuana criminalization and leaving it to the states 20 years ago.

As usual, Mark Steyn nails it. An excerpt from a must-read blog post:

Bush may have been loathed by large numbers of Europeans and Arabs, but he had very cordial relationships with their leaders, from Blair and Merkel to the brace of Abdullahs in Jordan and Saudi. Obama’s too cool to work the phones…With regard to what’s happening in Gaza, the US president has no relationships with anybody in the region who matters. To define American “allies” as broadly as possible, name one who has any reason to trust Obama or his emissaries. In Cairo, General Sisi regards Obama as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer; in Riyadh, King Abdullah regards him as the enabler of the Shia Persian nuclear program; and in Amman, the other King Abdullah regards him as the feckless bungler who’s left the Jordanians with the world’s wealthest terrorist group on their eastern border. Shuttle diplomacy, of the kind the vainglorious Kerry is attempting, only works if you already have a relationship…And in this case the regional leaders’ crude self-interest outweighs whatever value they might place on staying on the right side of President Fundraiser and Secretary Windsurfer. General Sisi wants to destroy the Brotherhood in Egypt, to which Hamas has significant ties. The Saudis are Israel’s new best friend and see them as their last chance to scuttle Iran’s nuclear ambitions. So we are in a bizarre situation where the Arab leaders are more hostile to Hamas than Washington is…Progressive humanitarianism, as much as old-school colonialism, prefers its clientele “helpless,” and, despite Iranian weaponry and Iraqi money and the human sacrifice of its schoolchildren, the Palestinians have been masters at selling their “helplessness” to the West. In Europe, colonialism may be over, but colonialist condescension endures as progressive activism, and the Palestinians are the perfect cause. Everywhere else, from Nigeria to Nauru, at some point the natives say to the paternalist Europeans, “Thanks very much, but we’ll take it from here.” But the Palestinians? Can you think of any other “people” who’d be content to live as UN “refugees” for four generations? They’re the only “people” with their own dedicated UN agency, and its regime has lasted almost three times as long as Britain’s Palestine mandate did…For all the tedious bleating of the Euroninnies, what Israel is doing is perfectly legal. Even if you sincerely believe that “Chairman” Arafat is entirely blameless when it comes to the suicide bombers, when a neighbouring jurisdiction is the base for hostile incursions, a sovereign state has the right of hot pursuit. Britain has certainly availed herself of this internationally recognized principle: In the 19th century, when the Fenians launched raids on Canada from upstate New York, the British thought nothing of infringing American sovereignty to hit back — and Washington accepted they were entitled to do so. But the rights every other sovereign state takes for granted are denied to Israel. “The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews,” wrote America’s great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer after the 1967 war. “Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem … But everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab”…Thus, the massive population displacements in Europe at the end of the Second World War are forever, but those in Palestine a mere three years later must be corrected and reversed. On the Continent, losing wars comes with a territorial price: The Germans aren’t going to be back in Danzig any time soon. But, in the Middle East, no matter how often the Arabs attack Israel and lose, their claims to their lost territory manage to be both inviolable but endlessly transferable. And so land won in battle from Jordan and Egypt somehow has to be ceded to Fatah and Hamas. As I said, this is all the stuff that never changes, and the likelihood that it will change lessens with every passing half-decade…What sort of human capital do you wind up with after four generations have been born as “refugees”? If you’ve ever met a charming, urbane Palestinian doctor or lawyer in London or Paris, you’ll know that anyone who isn’t a total idiot – ie, the kind of people you need to build a nation – got out long ago…The UNRWA is forever, running its Mister Magoo ground operation and, during the periodic flare-ups, issuing its usual befuddled statements professing complete shock at discovering that Hamas is operating rocket launchers from the local kindergarten. But, like I said, that’s all the stuff that never changes, decade in, decade out. The problem this time round is that everything else in the region is changing. Jordan’s population has swollen by 25 per cent, refugees from the Syrian civil war. Does anyone seriously think the UN has plans to set up a refugee agency to minister to them until the year 2090 and beyond? ISIS have destroyed the Christian churches in Mosul and chased the entire Christian community out of town. Does anyone seriously think the Europeans will be championing Iraqi Christians’ “right of return” for the next three-quarters of a century? ISIS is doing what winners do in war: It’s shaping the facts on the ground. It wants no Christians in Iraq, and it’s getting on with it. General Sisi wants to kill the Muslim Brotherhood: He’s getting on with it. The wilier Brothers have slipped over into a collapsing Libya to make common cause with various al-Qaeda affiliates, as the Libyan state implodes: Its would-be successors are getting on with it. In the new Middle East, everyone and his uncle has an Obama-Clinton “Reset” button and they’ve pressed it. But they’re not Jews. So nobody minds, and no preening Botoxicated buffoon of an American emissary comes to lecture them.

Walter Russell Mead has a great explainer on the Gaza conflict, delving into what is making this round more complicated than usual: the fact that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are backing Israel on this one. I can’t pick and choose parts to excerpt, it’s all too important. So just go read it.

Better headline: “Why you should blame Iran for pretty much every major conflict in the Middle East.”

Did Obama put politics ahead of security in Iraq? Multiple reports point that way and, honestly, would anyone be surprised?

Bringing up the Shaneen Allen story again. There’s a link at the end of this piece where you can donate to her legal fund if you wish. Here’s a refresher on her case:

In October of 2013, a Pennsylvania resident named Shaneen Allen drove into New Jersey’s Atlantic County and was pulled over by police for an “unsafe lane change.” When the detaining officer arrived at her car window, Allen informed him that she was carrying a concealed firearm, and presented her Pennsylvania carry license as proof of eligibility. Unbeknownst to her at the time, however, was that New Jersey is among the 20 states that do not recognize Pennsylvania’s permit. In consequence, she was arrested. If convicted of the charges that the state has elected to bring, she will be locked in prison for up to a decade. A single mother of two young children, Allen works more than one job and as a result leaves her home at odd times of the day. After two robberies made her aware of her vulnerability, she became convinced that she should be prepared to defend herself and her family, and resolved to do something about it. Which is to say that Allen bought her firearm, and obtained her concealed-carry permit, not to commit crimes but to prevent them. This has failed to move the prosecutor, Jim McClain, an overzealous man who has routinely declined to use the considerable latitude with which he has been entrusted by the state. Under New Jersey’s rules, McClain could have declined to press any charges against Allen, recognizing that she was guilty of little more than an innocent mistake. He could have treated it as merely a misdemeanor and sent her to municipal court. He could have permitted her to enroll in one of the diversionary programs that New Jersey has established for peaceful first-time offenders, thereby sparing her both the prison time that will take her away from her children and the felony conviction that will almost certainly destroy her career in medical work. Instead, he has sought punishment to the fullest extent of the law: in this instance, a three-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, and an extra year or more for possession of illegal ammunition. This is a travesty of justice. The travesty can be reversed.

Well, this is terrifying:

Nearly half of the contractors with access to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) online data network do not have a required security clearance, according to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In an audit released on Thursday, the OIG warned that sensitive information of beneficiaries and USDA employees are at risk due to security failings in a multimillion-dollar IT contract that is being administered by AT&T…Due to “inadequate oversight” the system has numerous security failings, the OIG found. In addition, mismanagement over the AT&T contract has led to nearly $2 million in billing errors, resulting in the agency paying for services they are not getting…”USDA faces an increased risk of sensitive information being lost, disclosed, altered, or destroyed, and is paying for task order services that are not being provided,” the OIG said. The contract required employees at AT&T with access to USDA data have at least a secret level clearance with a background check. The OIG found that nearly half of the AT&T contractors working on the system did not have clearance…The USDA did not even know who has working on its data system, leaving it vulnerable to “unscrupulous persons.” Both the USDA and AT&T could not provide an “accurate listing of all AT&T personnel working on the UTN,” the audit said. A former IT specialist for the USDA was recently sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing $113,000 from her coworkers by accessing their Social Security numbers.

You probably didn’t hear it from the mainstream media this weekend, but we have completely evacuated our embassy in Libya. That’s how bad the situation is there. As Walter Russell Mead notes: If Obama were a Republican the media would be raking him over the coals for his failure in Libya.

Since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub…If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows. Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq? When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?…But luckily for Team Obama, the mainstream press would rather die than subject liberal Democrats to the critiques it reserves for the GOP. So instead, as Libya writhes in agony, reputations and careers move on. The news is so bad, and the President’s foreign policy is collapsing on so many fronts, that it is impossible to keep the story off the front pages. “Smart diplomacy” has become a punch line, and the dream Team Obama had of making Democrats the go-to national security party is as dead as the passenger pigeon. But what the press can do for the White House it still, with some honorable exceptions, labors to accomplish: it will, when it must, report the dots. But it will try not to connect them, and it will do what it can to let all the people involved in the Libya debacle move on to the next and higher stage of their careers.

The people who were out protesting for a $15 minimum wage this weekend would be far better off (and would end up making much more than $15) if they used their time to actually learn a skill (like welding) rather than bitch and moan. 

Must read from an Israeli citizen.

“Hamas and North Korea in secret arms deal.” Doesn’t surprise me.

God I hate millennials. Get over yourselves and grow up already. Either make a commitment or don’t.

D.C.’s flagrantly unconstitutional handgun carry ban has been struck down in no uncertain terms. Bravo.

The Taliban is already making good progress in their retakeover of Afghanistan.

This seems to be a trend among our supposed journalists lately: Passing off photos of dead Syrian children as though they are dead children in Gaza.

Best headline of the weekend: “Russia Regains Control of Gecko Zero-G Sex Satellite”

Syria had its bloodiest week yet with 1,700 killed, but no Jews to blame, so no one cared.

Elsewhere in this burning world, Boko Haram has kidnapped the wife of Cameroon’s vice PM.

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