Meniere’s Awareness

It seems silly to me that people still don’t know what Meniere’s is. I guess that is because it has become so central to my life these days.  For the last couple of weeks I’ve toyed with writing several articles on various subjects, including some work on short fiction that I’d like to finish someday.

But for the entirety of these last few weeks my hearing has been burdened by painful tinnitus. So loud that I can’t even soothe the sound away with rainymood or any other white noise treatment. I have a hard time forcing coherent thoughts through a barrier of noise that impenetrable, much less the capacity for multiple readings necessary to weed out all the random keystrokes that slip in when you aren’t paying attention.

I wandered over to a fellow sufferer’s blog earlier today (thanks to my reddit habit) and noticed he had put a new entry up on it. For those of you who don’t know what Meniere’s is, I’ll post a short quote;

Symptomatically, most people experience “attacks” of violent rotational vertigo (feeling like the room is spinning), a feeling of fullness and pressure in the affected ear, loud ringing known as tinnitus, and progressive hearing loss. Many sufferers also report nausea, cognitive impairment (brain fog), fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

Meniere’s disease affects .2% of the population, roughly the same rate of incidence as Multiple Sclerosis. Yet virtually no one has ever heard of Meniere’s disease.

Here’s the bit that caught my attention. A study I’d never run across conducted in 2000. The sample size is on the small side, but it still represents a statistically valid group.  The attention grabbing quote was this one;

“Meniere’s disease patients are among the most severely impaired non-hospitalized patients studied thus far … Patients describe impairment in travel, ambulation, work and other major social roles as well as trouble learning, remembering and thinking clearly.”

While this is clearly hyperbole from an unknown author (I can’t seem to track down the original article quoted) the dense jargon in the study backs up the statement. Quality of life is reduced below the levels of deathly ill cancer patients.  Very few of my vertigo attacks didn’t include my begging everyone in earshot to please kill me.  The sensations are intolerable, and yet you have to tolerate them. You cannot escape them. Had someone offered me an easy way to end it all while in a vertiginous state, I would have readily taken them up on it.

That is what Meniere’s is like on the bad days.  On the good days I just kick myself for being unable to accomplish the simplest tasks because I’m lucky to remember my name from one minute to the next, like the last two weeks have been.  There are days I forget. Mercifully, there are whole months that go by and I’m not forced to remember why I’m not working in architecture anymore. Looking forward to having a few of those days sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.

Back to the point.  The point of writing this. Meniere’s awareness. At the bottom of the Mind Over Meniere’s post (I hate that blog name. Sorry. I’m sure mine is annoying to many as well) is a link to yet another Change.org petition. One amongst thousands. This one seems silly, but maybe it will have a genuine effect if Bono can be convinced to help raise Meniere’s awareness.  Who knows? Couldn’t hurt to have someone say the word Meniere’s in front of a crowded audience.  Surely someone will notice.

The song they’re asking him to announce in front of is Vertigo. It goes to show you how far out of music that I am; I don’t think I’ve even heard the song before. There was a day when I knew every artist on the charts. Knew who they were and what they sang.  The last thing I remember U2 doing was Joshua Tree.  Are they still a thing?

Anyway. Sign the petition if you are so inclined. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that I want this damn ear to stop ringing so I can organize a few thoughts.


Editor’s note: 2019. We have another famous musician who has contracted Meniere’s disease. Huey Lewis announced in 2018 that he was ending his current tour because of the effects of Meniere’s on his hearing. Here he is talking to the Today Show,

On Monday, Lewis spoke of when the disorder – which causes vertigo, ringing and hearing loss – first surfaced. “As I walked to the stage [in Dallas], it sounded like there was a jet engine going on,” he said. “I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find pitch. Distorted. Nightmare. It’s cacophony.”

RollingStone

Someone should get ahold of him and see if he is willing to be the poster child for Meniere’s. That is what we sufferers need. Someone to carry the torch of research for us.

How To Fix US Politics

First thing I see on Facebook this morning (still chewing my toothbrush)

The final tabulation of the percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the midterm elections is 36.3 percent. That’s the lowest turnout since 1942 (when the U.S. was in the middle of World War II and many couldn’t get to the polls).

To what do you attribute the record-low turnout? (a) Most Americans are so turned off by the negativism and mean-spiritedness of politics that we don’t want to participate. (b) We don’t think our vote makes any difference because big money has taken over. (c) We like the direction the country is moving in and therefore feel no reason to vote. (d) We’re working so hard these days that we just couldn’t take the time. (e) Other? (I’ll give you my assessment tomorrow.)

Robert Reich

The number one reason that I’ve heard cited for not going to the polls during my time canvassing over the years has been that the person did not think that their vote mattered. With Citizens United and other outcomes to point to, those people who didn’t believe they should be voting now have something concrete to point at and say “see, my vote doesn’t count”.

It is true that voting is not enough participation to see that your views are expressed by your representatives; but then voting is just the last event in a long chain of actions that a responsible citizen should be taking in order to make sure our representative government works.

You cannot (like so many libertarian/anarchists/voluntaryists on the internet) simply say “I’m not part of this system, it is imposed on me” and thereby withhold your permission for government to operate at all, simply because you don’t agree with what it’s doing. The systems do not require your permission to continue operating.

In fact, the new leaders in our government prefer that you don’t participate and simply accept their plans for you. They’ve got a pretty good money making scheme going here (have had it going for awhile now, since Eisenhower’s time) and all this noise about participation sounds like interference.

We owe it to ourselves and our children not just to vote, but to take back our government from the corporations currently profiting from it, and eliminate those corporations from the process entirely because they are not only not people, but their participation allows certain moneyed people more access and influence than whole classes of real suffering people who actually do the work in this country.

So the short answer is (b) in my experience, but the solution is not just to vote, but to invade the Democratic and Republican Parties with our selves and our views and turn this country around. Prove that American’s still have a will of their own.


Further, the following groups were specifically formed to eliminate the effects of Citizens United, to get money out of politics and hand the government back to the people, where the power belongs.

Wolf PAC‘s petition reads I support a Constitutional amendment saying that corporations are not people and they do not have the right to spend money to buy our politicians. Can’t get more straightforward than that.  They have had some success getting states to back this.  Check their website for the latest info.

Rootstrikers is the group associated with Lawrence Lessig. His book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It is free online now. The group is more generally aimed at ending the corruption, of which Citizens United is just a part, not just amending the Constitution.

Move to Amend is another petition group, this one without a specific petition it is promoting. It’s list of goals currently reads as follows,

  • Accountability and responsibility, both personally and organizationally
  • Transparency
  • Community
  • Movement building
  • Dedication to Move to Amend mission, goals and tactics
  • Commitment to anti-oppression within ourselves, communities, work places, policies, and representation

Click the link and read up on the group if you want to know more.

Revolution Already in Progress; Now Go Vote!

I have a confession to make; several of them actually, and not all of them will occur here.  I used to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out on the forums of Dan Carlin’s website (newly renovated) largely because I tended to agree with his political arguments and loved his history show. Since I first signed on those forums I’ve abandoned them several times because of various hostile posters, only to be drawn back again because of some inane argument presented in of his Common Sense podcasts.

The latest Common Sense (titled Kickstarting the Revolution) is a nice illustration of why I have stopped spending time arguing with devotees of Carlin’s on his website, and why I contemplate abandoning his political podcast altogether.  Starting from the false attribution to Churchill which he repeats and is debunked on Churchill’s website like so;

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: “Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?”

Never mind that I personally can disassemble the assertion by simply observing that I have never been an ideologue, and it is not solely the realm of the young as he insists when he brings up that misquote (ideologues making up the bulk of liberalism in his argument) since there are any number of hidebound hoary old ideologues out there insisting that their ideology must be followed, and that make up the bulk of the Conservative wing of the Republican party. But that’s just where he starts to go off the rails.

I don’t think a lot of you have perhaps considered that we are a month away from the 2016 election kickoff, and I know what you are thinking because I always think the same thing; already?!? Yeah, the midterm elections are a month away. If you’ve got some fancy-schmancy wise interesting outside the box idea for impacting the 2016 Presidential elections for all our good, you need to start it now.

No Dan, that isn’t what I’m thinking. What I’m thinking is that you (and the vast majority of the electorate apparently) are once again mistaking authority for ability.  Attributing to the President more power than he actually has, and holding him accountable for actions beyond the powers of his office (on the one hand) and expecting the next President will be able to exercise powers he doesn’t have in order to fix things which aren’t under his control in the office of President (on the other) What this podcast represents, at the end of another long and winding hour and a half, is one more episode chalked up in support of the dictator theme; the false dream that electing the one right person will fix things, skipping over the very obvious fact that what is important right here and right now is that people go vote in the midterms.

The lackadaisical way that US Americans approach the obligation to participate in government both highlights the need for a requirement that people participate in their government; while at the same time reinforcing the observation that we get the government we deserve.

This reliance on the President, this common belief that this one person can fix the ills of an increasingly complex system inhabited by hundreds of millions of people who are all going about their merry way living their own lives, is the worst kind of naivete.  Couple that with the blind insistence that the calcifying remnants of the two party system are no different from each other, in the face of the popular takeover of the Republican party by the Religious Right in the form of the Tea Party, evidence that the revolution that you agitate for is already occurring, has been occurring since 2008…

…Well, it boggles the mind, the lack of understanding of the system itself that these views now represent.  I’m more than a little mortified.  The reference link for this podcast points toward Lawrence Lessig’s site. I agitated for Dan to interview Prof. Lessig for ages on the show, and now that he’s done that and promotes him, he links the Prof. to the completely dysfunctional idea that 2016 is somehow more important than the day to day operations of party machinery, or the impending disaster that will be handing the Senate over to the hidebound Republicans if only their Ebola-fearing voter base goes out and votes this month.

That isn’t how the world really works. Yes, the individual can matter, does matter.  Yes, authority grants a certain amount of power, but that power is limited by design and by the reality of there only being so much one person can do.

The fallacy here, as I so often come up against, is the externalizing of purpose. The false idea that your purpose in life can be satisfied by some external agent, can be defined by someone else than yourself.  That voting actually does something aside from (as I’ve alluded to many times) seal the deal that you make when you set out to support a candidate or a position and then work to see the goal come to pass.

You have to decide what is important, you have to do the work to see it successful.  You cannot simply go vote and expect others to carry your goals forward with them while you deal with things you deem are more important.  They will do what they think is important.  Either you accept that their goals are at variance with yours, or you don’t and are never (and will never be) satisfied with any outcome no matter how much better it may make your actual conditions in life.

…in that vein, the Democratic party and the Republican party are simply tools to be used, just like any other social structure.  They are no more and no less good or evil (or monolithic) than the individuals who work in those groups to advance the goals they set for themselves.

So go vote this month! But not just vote, go scope out your local party, see how the sausage is made in the hands of the people who currently hold power; and if you want wild ideas about how the internet can fix the problems of aging structures in or government, maybe you should take a look at this;

Pia Mancini and her colleagues want to upgrade democracy in Argentina and beyond. Through their open-source mobile platform they want to bring citizens inside the legislative process, and run candidates who will listen to what they say.

TEDGlobal 2014

If we want to get away from the kind of world that Noam Chomsky outlined in Manufacturing Consentor the kind of world where the wealthy buy the votes of or representatives as described by Professor Lessig in Republic, Lost; How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It then we should listen to people like Pia Mancini, or dedicate ourselves to one of the many groups who are working daily to modify the system so that is is more responsive to the voting population of the US.

The Wolf-pac – We must reverse Citizens United, Restore our Democracy, and Save the Republic. Join the Fight for Free and Fair Elections in America! That has had success in at least one state house.

Move to Amend – which has been trying to get legislation through congress; and not having much luck at it.

Lessig’s own Rootstrikers.org – which is the third iteration of his groups attempts to form a movement behind the ideas he has put forward again and again.

Or maybe even a group like Represent.us that is facing pushback on the local level in Tallahassee right now while trying to make inroads on the problem of corruption in or governments.

Governments.  Plural.  More than one.  Local, County, State & Federal; not just the President. So go vote, because that’s all that is left to do right now with one short month left in this election cycle.  But don’t allow yourself to sit back after voting and expect the problems to be solved, or (even worse) wait for a President to be elected who will fix the problems we face, that will do so in a way that you approve of (which is a pipe dream) go out and change the system by participating in it.  At least then you will have earned the right to bitch about how things turned out, rather than just pretending you have that right because you have a right to free speech.

Much Ado About NSA

Dan Carlin chose to make his latest Common Sense episode all about the historic outrage that is the NSA spying on us, likening it to the kind of outrage that Lawrence O’Donnell pokes holes in during the attached video segment.

Approaching this idea from the perspective of ‘Vampiric Memories’ (memories of several centuries) as Dan does, what would be most striking was not that governments do what governments have always done; but that the people who run this government are more varied in race and sex than at any time previously in history.

Now, this observation can lead to other insights such as how white men aren’t nearly as bad as we’ve been lead to believe since we don’t run everything anymore and it all still sucks, or that inclusiveness in government hasn’t gone far enough because the suckage of government hasn’t been alleviated yet.

But what you cannot say is that this is an outrage as has never been seen before, and it’s only our relative blindness to change (for various reasons) that allow this outrage to continue.  Should the NSA programs be brought down?  Certainly, and it appears that they will be.  But can we tone down the histrionics, please?


Edited to add the following;

Seriously Dan?  Another podcast on the same subject? Only this time to attack the false premise that NSA spying isn’t a big deal?  I’ve been trying to tell people that privacy was dead for a decade or more.  I use my real name on the internet and yell from the rooftops repeatedly that there is no such thing on the internet as privacy, precisely because I suspected the NSA was doing exactly what it’s been shown to be doing over the last year.

Just because I’m ready for a new subject to discuss, has nothing at all to do with the assumed importance of the NSA spying problem.  The real problem is, most people who object to the spying aren’t willing to fight the hard fight it’s going to take to get the laws changed to forbid the government from engaging in this kind of data collection; largely because most of them think like you and don’t want to dirty themselves by getting into political fights, joining parties, and changing the system.

When you’re ready to seriously get involved, let me know.  I have some pointers on that score.

Mukasey’s Paradox is Just a Sign of the Times

A dose of Common Sense (120) via Jonathan Turley and the LA Times, and Dan Carlin:

The problem for Mukasey was that if he admitted waterboarding was a crime, then it was a crime that had been authorized by the president of the United States — an admission that would trigger calls for both a criminal investigation and impeachment. Mukasey’s confirmation was facing imminent defeat over his refusal to answer the question when Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suddenly rescued him, guaranteeing that he would not have to answer it.

Once in office, Mukasey still had the nasty problem of a secret torture program that was now hiding in plain view. Asked to order a criminal investigation of the program, Mukasey refused. His rationale left many lawyers gasping: Any torture that occurred was done on the advice of counsel and therefore, while they may have been wrong, it could not have been a crime for CIA interrogators or, presumably, the president. If this sounds ludicrous, it is. Under that logic, any president can simply surround himself with extremist or collusive lawyers and instantly decriminalize any crime.

However, this is only half of Mukasey’s Paradox. The other half occurred last week when Mukasey refused to allow contempt charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to be given to a grand jury. Bolten and Miers stand accused of contempt in refusing to testify before Congress in its investigation of the firings of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. Mukasey wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that their refusal to testify could not be a crime because the president ordered them not to testify under executive privilege.

Jonathan Turley, LA Times

Dan laments the failure of the balance of powers to fix the problems apparent in the Democrat leadership (Schumer and Feinstein) confirming Mukasey to the Attorney General position, even though Mukasey’s answers to the waterboarding question should have been a red flag to anyone interested in seeing justice done within the current lame duck administration. But the failure of the balance of powers happened long before the confirmation hearing, long before the current administration even.

We have an imperial President. We’ve had one since Lincoln forced the Southern states to return to the Union. With secession removed as the ultimate threat to union, there is no real threat that can be used to bring the federal government to heel in events such as we are facing today. Illegal wars, illegal use of police power, etc, etc, ad nauseam.

But it’s not just the lack of real power from the states. There also isn’t any real voice for the states at the federal level. The senate was intended to be the representatives of the several states in Washington; but that representation went away when the Senators became just another set of beauty pageant winners, like the President himself. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution makes them just another popularly elected office, subject to the same forces as the President, and aspirants for that office.

As presidential hopefuls they will bend over backwards to shield the president from criticism (so that they will one day be shielded in turn) as popularly elected officials they will pander to the media and to special interests so as to insure their reelectability. This is a theory advanced by more knowledgeable people than myself. Stumbled across this tidbit while researching this post:

the primary purpose of having state legislatures elect senators was to give the states a constituent part in the federal government, thereby appeasing the anti-federalists, protecting the states from federal encroachment, and creating and preserving the structure of federalism. Senators were seen as, and acted as, the states’ “ambassadors” to the federal government, representing the states and their interests.

and

[The Seventeenth Amendment] was primarily a rebellion of emerging special interests against federalism and bicameralism, which restrained the ability of the federal government to produce legislation favorable to those interests. Changing the method of electing senators changed the rules of the game for seeking favorable legislation from the federal government, fostering the massive expansion of the federal government in the twentieth century.

(from the Independent Institute)

So, the separation of powers has been subverted by the popular vote and those seeking favor from the federal government.

This yields things like what we are seeing today. Presidents that declare war without legislative approval. Presidents that write the treaties that they want without consulting the Congress. And Congress remains silent because Congress doesn’t want the responsibility; Congress isn’t profited by being responsible, elections frequently hinge on their being able to claim that they were not responsible.

Thusly, irresponsibility becomes something to champion, and decadence becomes something you pay extra for. Apparently, irony and paradox aren’t far apart.

Even if there is no exception to the president ordering crimes, there is no crime because the president ordered it. Perfection.

So, once again, this comes down to the structure being broken on purpose, and those who profit from the current broken system not being willing to fix it. How many different ways can you say “not sustainable“?

Common Sense 120 – the Environment again.

Common Sense 120 get’s two posts. Mukasey’s Paradox deals with the first half of the show. This one is about the second half. Dan Carlin continues to talk about global warming, even though polls have shown that Global Warming now world’s most boring topic.

Seriously, I’ve gotten back into my forum addiction of late, and they’ve been beatin’ the dead horse of environmentalism over at Dan Carlin’s forum for quite awhile now.

The news article that inspired show 120’s second half (the source of which Dan won’t reveal) sounds like it was written by the average socialist turned environmentalist. Anyone who can use the phrase culture of growth as a negative is someone whose opinions can be discarded. Sorry, that’s how I feel.

In Dan’s defense, he doesn’t buy into this article either. In fact, the tough question is really about global warming supplanting the real environmental concerns of the average citizen. Cleaner water, cleaner air. Out of control consumption. Let’s deal with the problems we can handle, hope that we won’t have to give up our freedom in order to save the planet. Which is what the promoters of combating global warming are really asking for.


Some examples of the arguments I’ve been in lately.

Quote:
Anyway, just becasue all of these things are true, I don’t understand why this means we shouldn’t begin changes in our society to lower GHG emmissions. Not only do these contribute to climate change, but they also affect health, air quality, and visibility.


Because there isn’t any way to do it with current technologies without top down command and control type scenarios. If you take all the cars off the roadway and force everybody onto buses, the impact on pollution would not be that significant. Studies have show (in Austin, anyway) that it’s not vehicle exhaust that causes the majority of pollution these days, it’s businesses (that gets back to the EPA and the disconnection that was put in place to keep people from being able to sue polluters directly) which are given license to do so. These studies don’t stop the EPA from requiring expensive vehicle inspections, all the same. There is already too much command and control, and it’s not working.

If new technologies emerge (and if gas prices continue to climb, they will) that produce cleaner burning fuels, or transportation options that are superior (read as more convenient) for the individual, then the GHG problem becomes a moot issue. Any attempt to reduce GHG (as the study shows) with current technologies will not yield a net benefit. The developing nations are always excluded from these plans, and the majority of new emissions are going to come from those countries.

We are at a crossroads, just as civilization was at a crossroads in the late 1800’s, when whale oil drove industry, and consumption projections showed that there weren’t enough whales to provide the oil to sustain growth. Some people ran around screaming about the end of the world, proposing scenarios of doom and gloom for the world’s future. Other people went out and developed crude oil as a replacement.

Put me in the latter camp this time around as well.
http://ranthonysteele.blogspot.com/2005/11/peak-oil.html



One of the threads dealt with a news piece over at Fox News. I would have disregarded it, but it’s by an author that I respect that I first ran across at CATO.

And then you get these sorts of responses:

Quote:
Scientific American has an excellent article entitled ‘The Physics of Climate Change” published about a year ago.

One way of viewing the AGW debate is to treat the problem of cost like buying insurance. If we’re incorrect about AGW and all the carbon we are dumping into the atmosphere doesn’t act as a blanket the way the laws of physics have demonstrated it does, we’ve bought insurance we haven’t used. If however, CO2 and other greenhouse gases block reflected infrared light, as is almost certainly happening, we’ll be very relieved to have stated mitigation earlier. Ounces and prevention, you know.

…except that we can never afford the cost of the insurance required. That is the point Lott is actually echoing (rather than the title of the thread) which is the main argument in Goklany’s paper. That even if global warming is occurring (which isn’t proven) and even if humans are causing AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming, which also isn’t proven) that we can’t know for certain that a fractional rise in temperature isn’t a good thing (and we don’t) and that we can’t make the kind of impact that the laymen thinks we can simply by passing laws and sacrificing comfort. That negating human impact on the climate is a pipe dream.

No one is talking about stopping innovation and not having cleaner air, water, whatever. There are too many armchair environmentalists out there who are willing to pay extra for the knowledge that they aren’t hurting the environment. Innovation in these areas will occur anyway. What Lott and Goklany are saying (and I agree with) is that let’s get the best return on investment, let’s only pay for the insurance we need, rather than bankrupt society trying to return the world to a natural state that never existed in the first place, which is the goal of the hardcore environmentalists.

Lott at CATO: http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=3996
Indur Goklany’s policy paper What to Do about Climate Change: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9125

These are the pieces that need to be argued against, if you are going to argue.

…and businesses are innovating all the time trying to catch that elusive environmentalist dollar.

REI, anybody? How about Whole Foods? What about the fact that you can’t find a carpet, flooring or paint manufacturer these days who doesn’t push their recycled low-VOC minimal environmental impact products?

Businesses follow the dollar, and the average dollar is green.


Quote:
Plants indeed use carbon dioxide, but the flaw to your point is deforestation.


From Brown University:

Demand for wood may lead to forest growth, not decline, study says

Increased demand for forest products was a cause of increased forest cover in India during the last three decades, according to a joint study by researchers at Brown and Harvard University in the May 2003 Quarterly Journal of Economics. The finding contradicts the idea that economic development inevitably leads to deforestation.

Not buying the doom and gloom. Not even vaguely.

When I was growing up, we burned our garbage in an ash can in the back yard. The city would come by once a month to collect the ashes and metal, and dump it in a big hole just outside of town. We would go out there with our .22 rifles on occasion and shoot rats. No one ever checked their gas mileage (other than to guess when they’d need to fill up again) and emission controls were unheard of, as were seat belts.

I was a poster child of environmentalism not long after that. Recycling cans and bottles, recycling paper (which has largely proven to be a wasted effort. Paper recycling has a negative impact on the environment) I was chewed out by more than one person at my first office for being too militant about recycling.

Then the government got involved, and the socialists (or statists if you prefer) saw an ‘in’ for their recently discredited political movement, and shifted their focus to pushing for environmental concerns, needing more government to fix the environmental problems.

Global Warming is a socialist’s wet dream, because there is no way to fix it without handing all control over to the state, and relying on the elite to tell us what we can and can’t do. Carbon footprints and consumption monitoring. I’ve refused to call myself an environmentalist since then.

If the only choice I have is between my choice and no choice, I’ll take my choice and the possible end of the world as we know it, for a thousand, Alex.

Common Sense 119 – A Delegate Conspiracy and the Establishment Clause

Podcast link. [Broken]

Excellent first half of the show, Exposing the Super Delegates. How many Democrat voters realize how their party is structured?

I’ve talked to dozens of people over the years who have whined (yes, I mean you, whiner) about the theft of the 2000 elections by George W. Bush, because the popular vote wasn’t for Bush, it went to Gore.


Never mind that the election was a statistical tie (as was the 2004 election) in most locations around the country. Never mind that the legislatures of most states (including Florida) are empowered to choose who their electors should vote for in the event of no clear victor in a national election. Never mind that the method of selection for national representatives (other than the Senate) is left up to the states to determine, and that includes the President. I’m no friend of election in the first place, so maybe I’m biased. Still, one has to wonder what limitations on majority rule can be maintained when everything becomes a popularity contest, a beauty pageant, first and foremost.


Several people have made a point to tell me that the thing that most needs fixing in our government is the electoral college, because of this outrage. How outraged will they be when their own party takes the popular vote and renders it meaningless by using the super delegates to select Hillary Clinton to compete against John McCain instead of Barack Obama?

Think it can’t happen? Then you don’t understand your own party. From the Wikipedia:

Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as “all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.”

The 2008 Democratic National Convention will have approximately 796 superdelegates. Delegates from state caucuses and primaries will number 3,253, resulting in a total number of delegate votes of 4,049. A candidate needs a majority of that total, or 2,025, to win the nomination. Superdelegates account for approximately one fifth (19.6%) of all votes at the convention.

This has been done before, as Dan pointed out. The truly pointless candidacy of Walter Mondale can be wholly laid at the feet of the super delegates.

What I want to know is how will Bill spin it afterwards? After he uses party muscle (and bribery; er, contributions to super delegates) to get what he wants?

I don’t think it will happen, though (sorry Dan) The representative for the district I reside in, Lloyd Doggett, is a long time leader of the Texas Democrat party, and he announced Texas’ intention to throw the Clintons under the bus by publicly declaring his support for Barack Obama before the recent debates here in Austin.

So I guess I’ll have to revise my prediction of a Clinton victory.


The second half of the show dealt with smaller government. Smaller government as in most government power being in the hands of local and state governments (as the founders intended) rather than in the hands of large federal bureaucracies (as the US government is currently structured) This is a trend that is occurring now, with California and several other states being willing to go head to head with the feds over things like pollution controls and the drug war.

What we are seeing is not new, this is the way that an out of control Washington D.C. is reigned in. The states simply ignore what the federal government tells them to do, or actively thwarts it (as in the case of Medical Marijuana) It was known as the Principles of ’98 (1798, to be exact) the first time it was tried, and Jefferson was it’s architect. My only question is, why this has taken so long to take root?

In a general sense I have no problem with this. I fly the Gadsden flag for a reason. It hearkens back to the times before the Constitution, when individual land owners within the several states decided to act to secure their rights as free men. Individual freedom first and foremost. State power should be subservient to this. Which is where I draw the line.

The bill of rights for the US Constitution should continue to (and currently do) apply to all governments constituted within the federal boundaries of the United States. Which means there will be no establishment of religion (as Dan calls it, a “god-abama”) or various other governmental permutations that would violate the basic rights of the individuals who reside in those areas. If different states really want to secede (like Vermont for example) more power to them. If they want to stay members of the United States, they need to conform to the requirements of the constitution.

I’ve often wondered why we don’t invite other countries into the US as states, rather than drafting these ridiculously convoluted trade treaties. I can understand why other countries might decline, considering the vampiric nature of our current government; but if we could get back to the kind of government we started with, before the cause of individual rights was lost in the political subterfuge of states rights and slavery, what population wouldn’t want to join?


March 2nd addition – I completely missed the solution to Dan’s God-abama conundrum. The solution goes like this:

If you’re homeschooling, teach whatever you like. I’m betting parents that homeschool aren’t going to teach ID [intelligent design] Even if they do, the percentage will be so low as to be insignificant.

Private schools will not teach ID, because they survive on the prestige of their alumni. If the alumni are flipping burgers because they can’t fathom critical thinking (all that is required to understand the evolution vs. ID argument) chances are the school won’t be in business too long.

Government schools are the only chance for ID to take hold, and that is why it must be resisted without compromise in that arena. If there were no government schools, there would be no widespread issue concerning what science is or isn’t, because the blindly religious would maintain their own failing schools or home school, and the rest of the population would rally around verifiable results.

I’ve often thought that the way to get what we want out of the schools, if we have to pay for them with taxes, is to issue vouchers to the parents directly and let them hire the teachers and maintain the schools. We hand the job of crafting tests and developing standards that verify real educational results to the businesses that demand an educated workforce. And then let the market determine the outcome.

But that wasn’t the question asked at the beginning of this thread. The question was about ID in relation to Dan’s assertion that we could let the religious have segments of the US as their own playgrounds so that they would leave the rest of us alone.

And in that framework the answer is NO to ID.

A market solution is the only counter to Dan’s original conundrum. And it only occurred to me today, even though I’ve frequented http://www.schoolandstate.org for a few years now.

Separating school and state is the only workable solution short of standing on the establishment clause and allowing the states to secede, because schooling is the major point of contention between the religious and the secular.


March 4, 2019. So much crazy here. I wish I had access to the original audio for the Common Sense episode this was about. Sortition was a thing I was into. I remember that. Sortition is itself not a problem so long as the incapable are barred from serving. This measure should also be taken on the subject of election. President Trump proves this. Election itself is not a problem so long as everyone within the country is mobilized to vote and required to vote. This removes the popularity contest that is the problem with the current system. Everyone voting means that popularity of the candidates is irrelevant. Issues will rule the day again. But sortition works in a pinch, too.

Common Sense 118 – Which Evil do You Prefer?

Entitled Crazy Alien Mutant Whigs (Dan, where do you get these titles?) and with a nod to Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) Dan once again quotes from a very good article. Written by Sriram Khe it asks the question “what is the previous year truly relevant to this one?” His suggestion? Not 1968 or 1964. No, it’s 1979:

If ever there was a competition for which year since World War II will qualify for the title of Annus Horribilis, 1979 could be a leading candidate. First, a list of some of the events from that year:

Jan. 16: The shah of Iran flees the country, and goes into exile.

Feb. 1: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Iran, and is warmly welcomed by millions of Iranians.

April 4: Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is hanged in Pakistan.

July 3: President Jimmy Carter signs a directive to support the opponents of the pro-Soviet government of Afghanistan.

July 16: Saddam Hussein becomes the president of Iraq.

Nov. 4: Americans in the U.S. embassy in Tehran are taken hostage.

Dec. 25: The Soviet Union begins to deploy troops in Afghanistan.

read more | digg story

I had to repost it. Good points, good article. Not so for the article from William Kristol, a New York Times OpEd piece entitled Dyspepsia on the Right from which the following quote was highlighted:

“It’s not easy to rally a comfortable and commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power.”

Kristol fashions himself as a Neoconservative, but I prefer the label that actually describes the political positions he favors. He is a Fascist. The statement above has all the flavor of something Goebbels might have said in the time leading up to WWII. If we follow people like Kristol to where they want to go, we will be the bad guys the terrorists have tried to paint us to be.

Dan draws a parallel between the phrasing above, and Britain during it’s empire phase, saying that it’s false. “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” (Thucydides) is, in fact, closer to a true observation of the events unfolding around us (there isn’t much difference between an imperial monarchy and a fascist dictatorship) and that it would at least have been a wash, politically, if we had not gotten involved in the Middle East in the first place.

Which is what this is all about. Kristol’s piece is all about how the Republicans must rally behind McCain because he is truly the “lessor of two evils”. That supporting someone dedicated to victory in the Middle East is better than allowing someone admitting defeat to gain office. Khe’s piece is no more and no less a list of the evils we have brought about through our involvement in the Middle East.

Is securing the supply of oil from the region really worth the cost it has inflicted? Don’t kid yourselves people, that is what our involvement has always been about (Common Sense 115 goes into this) and in the end, all those millions of dollars, and all those thousands of lives have bought nothing more than that. How do you define victory in a war against a tactic? (terrorism, similar to a point made by Dan way back in episode 61) and is it worth the price? If a change in policy yields more funds to find alternatives to oil, and consequently deprives Middle Eastern regimes of their number one funding source, how is that not also victory?


A brief nod to the last part of the show, talking about the fat police and recent findings in a study of socialized health systems in Europe. The future of American health care is something that I’ve voiced my opinion on in the past. In a recent Dutch study, it’s been shown that people who are healthy actually cost the socialized systems more than people who eat, drink and smoke to excess; because the people who live unhealthy lives die early and cost the system less.

So, get out of my face, fat police. I want my burger and fries now.


I’m going to end where Dan began. Defining where all of us misfits stand politically. We know we aren’t left or Democrat, or right and Republican. But that doesn’t mean that we are Martians or Whigs. What it means is that two parties (actually, it’s one party with two heads, one fascist, one socialist. Choose one if you dare) and a left – right political spectrum doesn’t begin to describe the varieties of views that are possible.

There is a reason that the Advocates call their booths Operation Politically Homeless; and there is reason why David Nolan created the Nolan Chart, and that wasn’t just because he wanted to promote the Libertarian Party. His reason is probably similar to my reason for promoting the Advocate’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz whenever I get the chance. I do it because, in order to change people’s views of the world, you have to change their philosophy. The most basic principal in today’s (erroneous) political philosophy is that there are two sides to an argument, and those two sides can be adequately expressed as right and wrong or left and right.

I see it all the time in poll questions. Do you favor or oppose expanding government involvement in the health care system? Those sorts of questions exclude a broad range of viable alternatives; including my favorite, getting the government the hell out of the health care system. But the false left – right dichotomy forces people to choose the lessor of two evils, more government health care (it’s actually the greater of two evils, but that’s an error in perception relating to the popularly held belief that we have a free market health care system now. We don’t) and couches all the arguments that follow within that frame of reference.

I’m not saying that all political misfits are libertarian (the anarchists who claim ownership of the label would have massive coronaries at the prospect of having to expand libertarianism to that extent) what I’m saying is that we as a people really need to acknowledge the fact that the political system, and the philosophy that governs it, is completely out of touch with reality; and needs to be revamped or replaced. And the place to start the process is defining where we stand politically, so that we can see who we are standing next to, and what our leaders are really asking for. If you don’t know that, everything that follows is simply so much hot air.

Common Sense 117 – Terrorists and Liars

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

Entitled Fanatical Deradicalization the first half of the show is about options in the War on Terror. Personally, I’ll stick to the observation that there isn’t any way to win a war on a tactic, any more than there’s a way to win a war on a substance or a market.

However, I thought about what would happen if we began using the methods described (Fighting terrorism with terrorists) in the second piece, essentially breaking the thought processes (or lack of them) that the terrorists currently use to justify their actions; deprogramming them and sending them back to their people to change them as well. That was back during the Clinton years when the terrorist tried to bomb the World Trade Center the firsts time. If it works, I think we should do it.

The first piece (by Gary Anderson) proposes an interesting method for turning the populations of the Middle East towards our cause by painting the terrorists in the proper light by buying ad time on popular TV stations in the area. But I have to agree with Dan that the more interesting proposition is simply letting the people in the region experience the return to Islam that the radicals want to impose on the Middle East. The suggestion was that we use it as a threat, I suggest we just vacate the premises and let the chips fall where they may.

Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

The second part of the show dealt with lying Presidents and what their punishment ought to be. I’m solidly behind the idea of impeaching presidents. I think we should have started with Woodrow Wilson (The Federal Reserve alone is worth impeaching him over) and every President afterwards to the present day. All of them were impeachable, and at least some of them should have been (Clinton should have been removed from office. But not for lying about sex; talk about a minor charge) Let’s start now. It’s not to late to teach the bureaucracy that there are consequences to their actions.

Common Sense 116 – Voting for Cake & It’s Not the Environment, Stupid

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

I had to go digg up the article that Dan referenced in the first half of the show, it’s that good:

The big lie of campaign 2008 — so far — is that the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, will take care of our children. Listening to these politicians, you might think they will. Doing well by children has now passed motherhood and apple pie as an idol that all candidates must worship.

A moral cloud hangs over our candidates. Just how much today’s federal policies, favoring the old over the young and the past over the future, should be altered ought to be a central issue of the campaign. But knowing the unpopular political implications, our candidates have lapsed into calculated quiet.

read more | digg story

This guy is ‘spot on’ (as the English say) and he doesn’t pull any punches. Not even Ron Paul has had much to say on the subject, because what is there to say? Hey, old people, you’re going to have to give up your benefits? Hey, young people, we’re going to raise your tax rates another 40%? No, neither of these solutions work, and yet one of them will have to be imposed; and sooner rather than later.

The sad thing about the Social Security situation is the same story as the situation with foreign policy. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows the system is “broke and broken” but no amount of pointing this out to the politicians for the last 20 years or so has made any difference.

Bush’s half-hearted attempt to introduce ‘private’ (they weren’t, but that’s what they were referred to as) accounts early in his first term met with such a backlash from seniors and Democrats that I doubt anything will be done to solve this problem. It looks like the ‘third rail’ of the political arena will simply be allowed to ‘go to ground’ (bankruptcy) where it will be effectively be rendered harmless to the politicians who remain. Good luck with that.

The second half of the show involved the introduction of the Tata Nano, and the effect that industrializing the third world will have on the environment.

All the issues in this show are presented as having to do with can people vote against their own short term best interests, in favor of long term best interests of the world as a whole; or at least, a larger group than the single person casting a vote.

As far as Social Security goes; as the population ages, and as the taxes start rising on those who are still working, you will see cuts in benefits to the elderly. That move will benefit the people who hold the power at that point in time, and the citizenry they cater too. No amount of whining by the then shrinking pool of boomers will matter that much. Considering it was the boomers who failed to act when the problem became apparent, I’m not going to shed too many tears over the prospect, even if it’s my benefits that get cut.

However, the case for environmental degradation resulting from third world industrialization is hardly a cut and dried matter. Expecting the rest of the world to stay undeveloped just so that we in America can continue to enjoy massive levels of consumption is building castles in the sky. People are going to do anything to improve their lives, and if that means they need a car, they’ll be buying Nanos. Consequently, we may be growing crops in Greenland again in the near future, and sea levels my rise a few inches. Global warming isn’t what we should be worrying about.

I realize the average person prefers to be scared rather than informed; however, the briefest step back from agreeing to whatever draconian measures the enviro-whackos want to impose on us, will reveal several rational objections that make good arguments for doing something else entirely. Arguments like this one from CATO and Indur Goklany:

The world can best combat climate change and advance well-being, particularly of the world’s most vulnerable populations, by reducing present-day vulnerabilities to climate-sensitive problems that could be exacerbated by climate change rather than through overly aggressive Green House Gas reductions.

read more | digg story

The report is written in college level English, I’m sorry. I’ve listened to the audio, and the average person shouldn’t have a problem understanding that targeting greenhouse gas emissions (what environmentalists are doing when they worry about more cars on the roads) will produce a less positive result than targeting things like Malaria prevention, for example.

So, I wouldn’t ask the Indains and others to forgo buying automobiles; it’s a waste of time anyway. Either individual liberty (the ability to make choices for oneself) leads to long term survival for the species, or the species is doomed no matter how you slice it. Pretending that smart people (read as environmentalists) can save us from ourselves, if we hand our freedom over to them, is just another form of magical thinking.

It won’t work.