I enjoy the State of the Union address. I watch it every year, without fail. Some years I can watch it straight; others I have to watch through a comedic lens. I genuinely appreciate a good speech. I enjoy the pageantry of the State of the Union, and unlike others who think it should be retired, I think this country would be less than it is without the President appearing to talk to us about his perceptions of the union, and his plans for the next year.
The last six years have been enjoyable times. Compared to the Presidents who preceded him, Barack Obama shines when he is speaking. Neither W nor Clinton could hold a candle to this man when he has a message and wants to talk to you about it. Reagan is the only President in my living memory who comes anywhere close to being as magnetic a personality as our sitting President is.
Still, there is a part of the current State of the Union that I really disapprove of, and once I describe this to you, I’m betting you’ll agree with it.
I’m sitting there watching the speech, and I hear the President get to the subject of equal pay for women, and John Boehner doesn’t stand up for it. None of the Republicans stand up for it. By their actions, they appear to be opposed to all of the policies which the President set forth, many of which deserved applause. I was just rewatching the Nightly Show from the night of the speech; and during the “Keeping it 100” segment, Amy Holmes says she would not support the President’s call for equal pay by standing for it. She apparently thinks she should be paid less than a man for doing the same job. Or is there another factor at play here?
There is an obvious conclusion which can be drawn from these displays of disdain for progressive causes. They sit on their hands because they don’t want to give approval to the party in power, that much is clearly true. They sit on their hands because they want to hold the power for themselves. That is also true. It’s all about the power, wielding the power. It isn’t about what is good for the country, or what is good for the people in general, it is about the power and the power alone.
I can hear you now dear reader The Democrats Are No Different! and if they fail to stand and applaud for progressive causes, for things which will be for the good of the nation, then they are just as craven and should also face rejection at the polls. Having viewed the State of the Union as I have for decades, I haven’t noticed the Democratic party failing to applaud proposals they agree with. Only the Republicans appear to feel the need to openly crave power in this fashion.
So it makes me wonder. Why exactly should we vote for these people who are in it for the power alone? Maybe we should elect people who go there to represent us? Just a thought.
Feb. 14, 2019. Edited Youtube and Nightly Show video links, converted to WordPress.
In an argument on DC’s forums last year, amidst all the caterwauling, hair tearing, and general hatassery concerning the President and the upcoming elections, I proposed the following;
Barack Obama could well be considered the best President since Dwight D. Eisenhower
I said it at the time largely because I like to take a devil’s advocate position, but I also said it because I’ve become quite weary over the last 6 years listening to idiots run down the sitting President. Generally, I’m right there with them. I mean, given the track record of U.S. presidents in recent history, it’s not hard to thrash a president and have a receptive audience. Let me run down a bit of the history of presidents over the past fifty years, just so you can get a feel for where I’m coming from.
I first started paying attention to politics when Carter was in office. I couldn’t vote back then, but I thought Carter was getting a raw deal leading up to the election of 1980. His policies weren’t anything to brag about, but the weakness of the president and the country that conservatives railed about was largely an illusion that they invented simply as a tool to use against him. As history has demonstrated, Reagan didn’t know anything more than how to hit a mark and say a line (mostly) correctly; and people in his employ did negotiate with the Iranian hostage takers. In 1984. Again? Who knows.
Reagan’s term in office was hardly anything to brag about either; in spite of what armies of conservatives say otherwise. Yes, it’s true, the Berlin wall fell on his watch, but that falling had almost nothing to do with US policies in the region, and everything to do with ham-handed bureaucrats behind the iron curtain, and a Soviet President elected to usher in a new era of openness demanded by the people. What Reagan should be known for, the albatross that he should wear, is Reaganomics or trickle-down economics, which has been shown to be a complete failure and has actually contributed more to economic instability than any other action committed by any other US executive in modern history.
Reagan’s real legacy is the S&L debacle, brought about by loosening regulations on financial institutions, almost exactly as predicted by people opposed to that action. The Iran-Contra affair that I mentioned previously barely moves the needle compared to the destructiveness of Reaganomics.
But Ronald Reagan was popular and was elected to two terms. His popularity even earned his Vice-President, an almost unknown political animal named George Herbert Walker Bush, a term as President. [Listen to Bagman and hear how he helped Spiro Agnew avoid prosecution, and then sought out Spiro Agnew’s advice on how to beat governor Dukakis.] But the damage done by Reaganomics continued to plague the nation, and not even a short, victorious, righteous war to stymie the aggression of a Middle Eastern dictator could secure him a second term in office.
As a peacenik, someone opposed to war in general if not in principle, George H.W. Bush’s willingness to go to war didn’t earn any points with me. None of the things his successor said or did made me believe he was any different. Bill Clinton’s term in office benefitted from the investment of the LBJ administration in space technology, in the form of microchips that were finally small and powerful enough to drive the information technology revolution that we are in the middle of; which makes his term in office seem halcyon in hindsight. But his willingness to involve the US in every correct world event (with the exception of Rwanda. Which he says he wishes he’d gotten involved in as well) lobbing missiles like they were footballs at every hotspot on the globe, provided the grist for the mill of anti-American sentiment around the world.
Packing a bomb which exploded on 9-11. That’s the takeaway that history will draw from this era, the post-post WWII decades. When the US fumbled the ball handed to it by the old-world European powers, and let someone else take up the lead internationally (who that will be remains in question) the election of Bush II will not be remembered for what Al Gore supporters would like it to be remembered for, but for the results of America being asleep at the wheel internationally almost since the end of the Vietnam war.
Bush II didn’t steal the election, he simply won it on a technicality. So he got to be the guy in charge on the day when the buzzards came home to roost. The saying roughly goes we get the best enemies money can buy and we made the enemies who attacked us on 9-11; both figuratively and in reality. We trained a good number of terrorists to resist the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, including some who later worked for Al Qaeda, possibly even OBL himself. The administration was warned but ignored those warnings, and then set about fighting a war that would end up being the longest in US history, and arranged for that war to occur based on false evidence. In the process the Bush II administration destroyed American credibility on the world stage (whatever was left of it) torturing innocent people who just happened to be in a warzone at the wrong time.
To finish off his term, Bush II (prefer W? Use that) also failed to act on the looming financial crisis (also about which he was warned) and consequently handed the election of the next President to the Democrats, who could have run the proverbial yellow dog, and it would have won. If it hadn’t been for Sarah Palin’s circus show, there wouldn’t have been anything of interest about the election of 2008.
With that as a backdrop, you can imagine what I thought of Barack Obama going into his first term. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for him in the primary in a vain (?) effort to throw the election his way instead of towards Hillary Clinton (I have no use for political dynasties) but I voted straight Libertarian for my last time in that general election. Held my nose and voted for a Republican in Libertarian clothing.
But Obama pretty much did what he promised. Oh, I know, he cratered on a lot of things that privacy advocates and conspiracy mongers think he should have taken a hard line on. But he has tried ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without looking too ridiculous in the process; and no matter how much saber rattling the Conservatives do, the anarchy currently afoot in Syria/Iraq doesn’t amount to much in the scheme of things unless you happen to have business there. Happen to live there (if you do, you have my sympathy. But do you really want to help Bashar Assad stay in power? Really?) The Syrian revolution managed to win the Republicans seats in the midterms, blowing out the possibility of a more productive congress in 2015, but in the end they remain on the wrong side of history.
Why, you ask? Why are they on the wrong side of history? Why would Obama be considered a good President? Because the general trends are predictive and obvious. I tripped over them even if you, dear reader, did not.
Since the Cold War ended and we blithely went on unchanging in or priorities, the Old World powers found their legs and stood on their own again. If you want to visit countries with the highest ratings for health, productivity, happiness, etc., look no further than the old economies that hard liners in the US still wrongly dismiss. Proof of this can be found by the ease with which Germany absorbed the poorer provinces of Eastern Germany, long held back under Soviet rule. How the French absorb refugees into France at a rate that rivals the US.
Canada’s adoption of the Canada Health Act hasn’t proved disastrous for the Canadian economy as predicted. It’s services continue to improve at an impressive rate, leaving the US in the dust. Even Mexico City has better healthcare than we have in the US, finally making the claims of liberal agitators like Micheal Moore truthful, if only in hindsight.
The writing is on the wall, has been on the wall for sometime and US citizens apparently never noticed. Socialized medicine, for lack of a better appellation, appears to be the future. The notion that individuals can pay for health services as needed and build the kind of infrastructure that the average person wants (emergency services, research, etc) has been effectively shown to be a pipe dream; and that systems can and do function with the amount of complexity required to provide services in a timely fashion.
Ergo we will all be charged something to provide the services we all say we want but don’t want to pay for; or rather, underestimate the cost of. But that subject is beside the point I’m trying to make, and I don’t want to get distracted from it. This is the point.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is out this morning and reveals that 15.9 percent of American adults are now uninsured, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013 and has shown improvements in every major demographic group with the exception of Hispanics who did not advance.
If the ACA, Obamacare, continues working; if we actually expand on the basics of standardized healthcare provision set down by the Obama administration, What then? When Presidents back to the time of Truman tried to get this done?
Because Eisenhower was the last President to put his name on a fundamental change that was positive to the US as a whole. LBJ might have done this with his Great Society, but his term was marred with Vietnam (which could have been avoided) Eisenhower managed to avoid any major conflicts, and established the Interstate system with funds Congress had given to the military.
I’m not planning on doing an exhaustive search back though 60 years of Presidential history just to make my point. Truthfully, when I first proposed the idea, I just stated best President in our lifetimes. I was born in the age of Kennedy, and while his ending was tragic, what LBJ achieved in his name was of more importance than anything he did aside from not starting World War Three during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the grand scheme of things that is what he will be remembered for, aside from his words that took us to the moon on LBJ’s watch.
Which is really all that matters to history.
LBJ might pull a close second, even with Vietnam on his record, but that just really speaks to the lackluster nature of our leaders post-WW II, not to any high achievement on LBJ’s record.
What’s funny is, I’ve heard similar talk in the news media of late, which is why this subject came back to mind, the subject of Obama’s greatness, given the scheme of things. Obama took the shellacking of his party in stride, decided he wouldn’t sit out the last two years of his Presidency and play golf; at least not yet anyway (If you ask me he’s earned it, having taken less vacation than the last two Presidents) he took his Presidential pen in hand (something else he’s done less than recent Presidents) in order to reduce the suffering of people that were within his power to help.
It is noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority.
The title caught my eye Every President Since Eisenhower. Well that’s interesting. Not a recommendation, but at least a true observation on the consistent obstinacy of houses of congress across the decades. So I went looking farther. A piece from this time last year in the New York Times lays the case out pretty well;
Mr. Obama, barring tragedy or resignation, will get to serve eight years, but his margin of victory last November was not overwhelming. He won 62 percent of the electoral vote, which ranks 16th among the 30 presidents who sought re-election after their first terms. Mr. Obama’s electoral vote percentage was better than any of the 10 first-term losers, of course — but among the 20 winners, it exceeded only James Madison in 1812, Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Harry Truman in 1948 and George W. Bush in 2004.
That’s just going on percentages. Puts him in the running with Clinton, well below Eisenhower or LBJ in historical importance based on electoral percentage.
But that’s a little dry, don’t you think? Surely it means more than that, historical importance? More than the President’s popularity with the voting public? Not necessarily. Specifically, I have a hard time believing that Reagan will maintain his high rating (historically ranked 10th in importance) even with his overwhelming second-term victory percentages, given the looting that his administration ushered in and is only now coming to light.
Still, the cost-cutters will be hard pressed to nay-say Barack Obama’s place in history if he stays on course through the rest of his term.
You are reading that right. Obama most conservative federal spender since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Don’t hold your breath waiting for your conservative outlets to spin this the right way, they won’t; or they will take Heritage Foundation’s tack on the subject and insist that Bush II’s war costs should be saddled on Obama. In any case, the groundwork has been laid. My work here is done.
When I say that Obama is the best President since Eisenhower, it’s not a compliment to Obama or Eisenhower. I just want to make this point clear. It’s an observation on just how predatory our government has been in the past, continues to be at present. Imagine what US society would look like if Americans thought of themselves as not engaged in a zero-sum competition with their fellows? If we elected a government that actually focused on common welfare and not killing perceived threats to our ever-diminishing piece of the pie?
That is how Obama is different than his predecessors since Eisenhower, or at least since Carter. This is the first time the military agenda hasn’t dominated every second of the sitting Presidents time. The first time in decades that any social advancement has been registered; or more precisely, the first time the downward slide of the average American has been noted publicly.
Editor’s note, 2019. What I find amusing in this Orange Hate-Monkey hellhole we are trapped in, is that a lot of people are now saying that Obama was the best president during their lifetimes. So all the flack I got when I said the very same thing in 2014 means absolutely as little as I thought it did then. I was right, for once. We as citizens should build on this discovery, that Obama was the best president of our own experienced lives, rather than be distracted by the same-old glittery glamour of sabre-rattling and outright warfare that has come to be synonymous with US policy since WWII.
We will look back on the Obama years as a halcyon moment we should have known to cherish. Because it will be a long time before we ever have it that good again.
Rachel Maddow whittles away the unsubstantiated reports in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash investigation and points out that NATO warned the world on June 30th that Russia was training Ukrainian separatists on vehicle-borne anti-aircraft capability.
I’ve spent a good portion of today writing responses to accusations that the segment is biased and not based on facts.
I get it, it’s popular these days to insist that television news is biased. If it isn’t FOX news’ conservatives incessantly whining about liberal bias (liberal meaning “anything not Conservative” i.e. mindlessly jingoist with a heavy helping of Jesus on top) it’s the blatant bias of FOX news itself making up stories that they think their viewers will ascribe to (#Benghazi, anyone?) as detailed on any number of channels including MSNBC which the clip above comes from.
The “why” of the location of the plane, it’s status right before it fell out of the sky, will only be answered by the fight recorders if they are ever found. Flight recorders that the separatists claim to have already found.
Conspiracies are already spinning on the subject. Ukraine shot the plane down. Ukraine thought they were targeting Vladimir Putin’s plane (the story from Russian news sources that Rachel Maddow relates) the plane was loaded with corpses and crashed on purpose to frame the Russians. I’m sure there will be more.
Ukraine hasn’t been shooting down planes in the area; Ukraine would have known (since they control their own airspace) that the plane was a commercial airliner. The separatists have been, and shot down a plane at the same altitude and similar heading earlier in the week (not to be confused with a shootdown from more than a decade ago) So they clearly had the capability to do it again, and the motivation to continue hampering Ukrainian efforts to put down the separatists.
The separatists exist largely because Russia funds them. There is a conspiracy theory (which theorists like Dan Carlin deny is one) that suggests that the unrest in the Ukraine is due to US intervention in the region, that we’re trying to pull the former soviet state into the NATO alliance. That that is why Russia acted to claim the Crimea through the use of the separatists.
The truth is that Kiev wants to get closer to the EU, to be considered part of the EU rather than a satellite of Russia. If I understand the political structure of the country, the governors of the various regions are appointed not elected. That has lead to unrest in the outlier areas away from Kiev and its direct control, parts of the country that want to elect their own leaders directly. There is also a history of distrust between the Eastern and Western sections of what we call ‘Ukraine’ today (bad blood from WWII during the occupation by Germany) That is why the separatists accuse the government of Kiev of being under the influence of fascists.
Russia would of course like its territory back. Kiev has been historically in and out of Russian control for centuries, and was actually the first city to be called Russia (Kievan Rus) and would probably be the capital of the country of Russia if the Mongols hadn’t taken it and occupied it. But none of this means that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin should be handed the keys to Kiev just because he wants it under his control.
Putin and Russia are as accountable for MH17 deaths as the US is for funding and equipping terrorists in other regions; as in, completely accountable if you are living anywhere outside of Russia or the US. As the saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword.” The trick is to not be the one living by the sword. Vladimir Putin is the last of the KGB. When he dies, that era dies with him. If we can just stop funding the MIC in the US, the other half of the equation will also close.
It really isn’t propaganda or fallacy to say Russia is to blame for downing the plane. The separatists exist as a military force because Russia has encouraged them. Whether the equipment came from Russia recently, or was soviet equipment left in Ukraine at the end of the USSR, it exists because of Russian expansionism and empire that goes back centuries in time.
Putting the shoe on the other foot (to turn another phrase) I saw the same kinds of denial surrounding the downing of Iran Air Flight 655, the Iranian commercial airliner destroyed during the Iran/Iraq war, a conflict we heavily funded and supported. Everything from the excuse that Reagan gave and the US government still sticks to (an accident) all the way to full blown conspiratory “plane full of corpses flown at the Vincennes on purpose” insanity.
But we shot that plane down in cold blood and killed all those people because we were there and ready to kill. The same is true for the groups fighting in Ukraine right now, and the group in question gets its backing from Russia and is equipped with weapons made in Russia. They are the ones ready to kill. They get the blame. As much of the blame as the US got for that downing of an Iranian airliner.
Does that mean war? No. Not even vaguely (I’m sure John McCain is already strapping on his sword, if he ever takes it off anymore) that does mean that Russia and their proxy separatists should answer in international court and pay restitution at the very least. If someone can be found that actually gave the order to shoot that plane down, that person should be put on trial. But I think we’ve had enough killing in the world of late. How about we not call for more, just right now?
The Facebook group For America scrolled across my newsfeed today. It advertised itself with the demand that you,
“Like if you miss Ronald Reagan.”
Iran-Contra? The S&L meltdown? No, I don’t miss Reagan, because I remember what it was like to live during Reagan’s time (only marginally better than Carter’s time) But the key to understanding “for America” and their linkage to Ronald Reagan is Reagan’s introduction of fundamentalist christianity to the political scene (the code phrase “judeo-christian values”) leading almost directly to the debacle of the last election with prominent elected Republicans seeming incapable of discussing anything other than rape.
…but For America‘s real reason to exist is right their on their front page, repeal Obamacare. Talk about living in the past. And this sham group hopes to trick people into liking their page and all the baggage that brings with an appeal to good-old-dayism. Reagan would be proud.
Most Trekkers would count First Contact as the last good Trek movie, and at first blush I’m inclined to agree with them, even if the film rather significantly retconned Zefram Cochrane’s history (He was originally from Alpha Centauri, not Montana) and paved the way for the four-year punch-to-the-brain that was Enterprise.
In the plus column, we had a big screen showdown with the Borg, a new movie-worthy starship Enterprise, actual gunfights, Worf back with his real crew, and even a little rock & roll, all set on some their-past-our-future Earth. It was like all five of the good ideas from the entire NextGen era of Trek fan fiction made their way into one really decent script.
But then there was the Borg Queen, and that ruined everything.
His work is a derivative work much like Deep Space 9 is derivative of Babylon 5, which makes anything I have to say on the subject twice removed from the original work he’s riffing on over at Something Awful. So I took the time to peruse the list of awful moments in SciFi, of which the list itself probably counts as one of the most awful moments in SciFi considering how broadly the realm of SciFi is construed to be within the list.
The cheap shots at James Cameron aside. The clearly irremediable lack of taste in what is or isn’t good Science Fiction. I mean, if we’re going to be picking on Dr. Who aliens, the phosphorescent painted garbage bag that is the Rutan really ought to rank as the most awful. However, believability was never a requirement for filming Dr. Who, or any British television programme for that matter. Suspend disbelief. Have another Guinness. Getting to the point, I just have to question what dart board the author picked the worst moments off of, including the number 22. Perhaps it’s like 42, the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Seriously, the love scenes from Attack of the Clones are fresh on your mind, and the best awfulizing you can do is summon the ghost of Reagan? For shame.
As for the derivative work at TechRepublic, the fact that he uses the phrase jump the shark without further explanation establishes his true geek credentials (or at least his bona fide age) when it comes to judging media. Not everyone breathing today was around to watch Fonzie in that episode of Happy Days. I’m surprised that most people around today would realize that Happy Days ran for so many years that towards the end it began to be a parody of it’s former (more engaging, more interesting) self. But he makes several valid points.
I would have to agree that First Contact represented a beginning of the end for Star Trek as we knew it. I liked Insurrection, but it was little better than a two hour next generation episode. First Contact was the last good film, but it also appears to have started several trends that lead to Nemesis a aptly named film if there ever was one and Enterprise.
Nemesis (as I’ve pointed out elsewhere) is so disconnected from cannon that it doesn’t even count as Star Trek, and the same can be said of Enterprise. But those are just the end of the franchise at the moment. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes, and the road to Star Trek irrelevancy is similarly paved.
I’ve always traced my abandonment of hardcore Star Trek fandom to Paramount’s ham-handed attempts to start their own network on the backs of Star Trek fans; But truthfully, it started much earlier. It started with Final Frontier and Undiscovered Country; with poorly executed scripts on the one hand, and the sabotaging of a potentially good film on the other. Both films suffer from both ills, and I’d be hard pressed to say which one is more flawed at this point in time.
…and for those people who love Undiscovered Country, let me just say Valeris. Kim Cattrall as a Vulcan. I’m not buying it. I would have bought her as the third actress to play Saavik much easier than as yet another Spock protege. At least I could have pretended she was Kirstie Alley had she simply been named Saavik. Also we have Chekov reduced to a comic element. (“Why not just waporise them?” You were in security once, remember?) Those two pieces alone are enough to make me dismiss the film. Like Generations that followed it, The opening sequence is the best part of the film. The rest of it is just filler.
Those two films mark the beginning of the end of Trek for me. Final Frontier was shafted on effects to such an extent that I began to wonder if Paramount thought the fans would buy anything (Enterprise proves they will, at least for a time) no matter how low budget it looks. Undiscovered Country had a lavish effects budget, but suffered from a complete lack of plot and consistent characterization.
I would go so far as to say that Undiscovered Country foreshadows what First Contact hints at, and then Nemesis drives home with a vengeance; that Star Trek is just another franchise to Paramount, and that the only thing that matters to them is dollar figures in the financial ledger. They don’t care what the fans think, they don’t care what the latest offering does to the overall saleability of the franchise, and they certainly don’t care about established cannon or WWGD. (What Would Gene Do) Just spend more on effects, and the fans will eat it up.
Truthfully, a corporation is only going to care about dollar figures anyway. As long as the fans keep buying, they’ll keep turning out Star Dreck. The only thing the fans can do is stop buying, and I am solidly on that bandwagon.
Fool me once, shame on you to paraphrase Mr. Scott. I’m done with being fooled by Paramount. J.J. Abrams may be able to walk on water in Hollywood, but that still doesn’t make him Gene’s equal in my book. He’s going to have to prove his product is worth my investment in time and money before I’m shelling out for tickets to this one.
J.J. Abrams getting his hands on the next Star Trek film could well rank in the top ten most awful moments in SciFi, but that remains to be seen. Paramount (a subsidiary of Viacom, which is really all that needs to be said on the subject) owning the rights to Star Trek definitely ranks in the top five.
The moment when Star Wars jumped the shark was the moment when George Lucas was convinced he could script a motion picture. That also happens to be the same film in which the Midi-chlorians are introduced, but the parody wasn’t in the introduction of the plot device, it was in the brain of the director who could in fact only parody what he had shot on film before. This becomes quite obvious in Attack of the Clones. Several of the lines are word for word repeats of lines in previous films. I’m sure it was done as a tribute to the previous film, but the line between tribute and parody is very fine indeed, especially if the previous work is your own. Think of M. Night Shyamalan casting himself as a major character in Lady in the Water which, if it was SciFi, would count as one of the most awful moments. Paying tribute to yourself isn’t something one should do in public.
Star Wars having jumped the shark actually means less, in the scheme of things, than Star Trek. Star Wars never pretended to be anything other than a rollicking space adventure (at least the original film did not) so it’s becoming something more contrived than it was before really is a moot point. If you didn’t enjoy the first film, you didn’t bother to watch the rest. If the later films aren’t entertaining, don’t watch them. Works for me. As far as I’m concerned there were only two Alien films before AVP showed up. (Alien3? Never heard of it) So your Star Wars saga only has three films (pick any three) in it? no problem. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Which brings up the last post in the series, When did Trekkers jump the shark? I’m not sure that fandom itself can Jump the Shark, but if it can, then it should apply to all forms of fandom. Quoting again:
Once upon a time, Trekkers (or, if you prefer, Trekkies) weren’t universally mocked as basement-dwelling pointy-eared social reprobates who were more likely to have a working knowledge of fictional faster-than-light propulsion systems than they were the mating rituals of their own species. Though it may be hard to fathom, there was an era when Trekkers were seen as quaintly optimistic hobbyists fascinated by a vision of the future that saw mankind as better off socially, intellectually, and technologically than it is now, and who supported an amusing little sci-fi show that had a good heart and was boldly ahead of its time in social commentary, if not production values. Trekkers were no more unusual than folks who passionately followed a sports franchise or popular musical act, though they probably had better costumes.
Any Trek fan that cares whether he’s called a Trekker or a Trekkie is automatically a Trekkie; and the get a lifers amongst the Trekkies make up a very small percentage of Trek fandom on general.
Deriding the whole of Trek fandom for the excesses of the few is no different than deriding all of sports fandom for the actions of the face painters in the endzone of every football game; and declaring that thereby all sports fans are no better than the average ignorant Roman citizen cheering the violence at the coliseum while waiting for their promised loaf of bread.
Something I take great pleasure in doing every chance I get. …what was your favorite sports team, again?
What are my worst moments in SciFi? Do you mean other than the first ten times some busybody with a camera decided to shoot a film purportedly based on a book near and dear to my heart? (name a film, any film) Or perhaps the unavoidable blurring of the lines between Horror and SciFi that all those 50’s monster movies created? Is Slither SciFi? Is it awful? Awful disgusting. Cardboard cut out characters voicing unconvincing lines?
That line and the entire host of Star Wars prequels would easily be the worst moments in SciFi for me, except that the next film I watch could easily supplant them as worst. I’m not seeing a lot of good film these days. I did learn a few things reading the awful list. I learned that Robocop 2 & 3 are good enough reasons to hate every subsequent thing done by Frank Miller. Saves me the trouble of having to see The 300 after the disappointment that was Sin City. And I learned than nobody ‘gets it’ when it comes to wrestling on the SciFi channel. What’s up with that? It’s fiction, yeah; and it is horrifying. But SciFi? I’d have ranked that one much higher on the list.
Lastly I learned that good ideas, like the government not being free to spy on me, or robots being designed to be prevented from harming people, were superfluous; just forget ’em. That camera watching your every move really doesn’t remind you of 1984, and the idea of deadly machines should comfort you like the cold embrace of The Terminator. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to think the future will be a bit brighter than that, even though it makes for good cinema.
Been going back and forth with a self-identified libertarian ever since posting this entry to the blog. Going back and forth enough that I think I could write a novel on the subject of misguided libertarianism alone.
I just can’t wrap my head around why, as a libertarian, you would want to claim kinship to proposals that have failed so miserably. And yet, this particular libertarian does so, repeatedly.
So, I’ll run through the argument again, see if I can make a dent.
None of the proposals were made by Libertarians. All of them were proposed by average politicians, most of whom had an agenda at odds with the notions of ‘freedom’. Ergo, libertarian only in name, and that name applied by a man intent on wielding a hatchet.
In order for the proposals that are being referred to as ‘libertarian’, to actually be libertarian, they would have had to produce some net gain of liberty and freedom. Let’s look at the failed programs in question. Assess the amount of libertarian thought that goes into them.
Gov’t retained control of Bush’s ‘privatized’ social security accounts. So you could ‘invest’ a part of your portion of the Ponzi scheme however you wanted, but you still had to go through the same bureaucrats to gain access to it, and I dare say that your benefits would not have been changed just because your portion of the fund did better than the next guys.
Calling it ‘privatization’ was a complete misnomer anyway. No control of current payroll deductions was offered in the plan. The proposal amounted to no more than a gov’t controlled 401K plan. All funds for these 401K’s would come from additional voluntary deductions from the employee’s paycheck (check the facts) additional funds that would go into gov’t coffers, be subjected to bureaucratic control at outlay, and yeild not one iota of freedom or liberty over the long haul.
That isn’t privatizing social security; it’s a meaningless little shell game with no net benefit to the individual. What would have been most likely to occur was the further takeover of the stock markets, inflating already overpriced stocks, yielding a net windfall in taxes for the gov’t to fund further adventures in empire building by the sitting president.
Other than the label, no obvious libertarian content.
Reagan used the bubble created by the Savings and Loan shell game to pay for his increased military budget, and to stave off the recession that eventually did occur during Bush the first. None of his talk about reducing gov’t ever amounted to action. Gov’t increased in size during his term in office, just as it has for every other president in the modern era. No net gain for the individual, no real libertarian content, in spite of the fact that the administration at that time gave credit to CATO’s plan to deregulate Savings and Loans.
But what about voucher systems. Surely vouchers and their defeat is a blow to the libertarian cause? The problem here is, the record doesn’t actually show that vouchers have been defeated in all cases. While the privatization of schools (complete laugh there. Tax funded schooling, even when those funds are handed to the parents of students, isn’t privatization) was fought at the local and state political level; the teachers unions and other groups that rely on gov’t school money are national organizations, with vast resources at their disposal. The wonder is that even with the brute force of the NEA opposed to every change in the gov’t school system, the public school facade has crumbled a bit in the last 10 years. There are charter schools that are excused from most of the controls applied to gov’t schools, and in some places real voucher systems working. There are more and more private school options, and home schooling is in vogue.
Some of the voucher programs deserved to go down to defeat. The structure of these systems contained no benefit to the average person in terms of liberty and freedom, either because of restrictions placed upon use of the tax money, or because of the use of tax money in and of itself. I spoke to several owners of private schools in past years about this subject. Most of them would not have taken vouchers even if they had been offered. The cost of taking them would have far exceeded the benefit of access to a larger student body.
A similar fate lay in wait for medical savings accounts. The insurance lobby dealt with the threat to their profits quite handily. They did this by making themselves the arbiters of what is or isn’t a tax deductible medical savings account, and structuring those programs that offer them in such a way that there is no cost benefit to the individual to participate in one. Hardly a libertarian defeat.
But surely foreign policy is…? Don’t even get me started on that subject. I’ve had a message from a friend concerning this issue sitting in my inbox for over a year now. I’m still working up the rant on the subject. I think it will be a novel when I’m done. Calling the gov’ts continued infatuation with armies and things that go ‘boom’ a failure of libertarianism is about the lamest excuse for journalism I’ve seen in a long time. Libertarians are far from being “of one mind” on the subject; we are neither isolationist nor pacifist. To make these assumptions is to purposefully mislead the reader into thinking libertarians cannot cope with the challenges facing us today.
The conquest of the Middle East that Bush has embarked on has only just begun. How that’s going to turn out is anyone’s guess. Libertarians were warning people for years that something like 9/11 was bound to occur if we kept meddling in the affairs of other countries. Now that it has occurred, we have every right to eliminate the threat to us. I don’t know when (or if) the gov’t will ever get around to that.
The big picture, like the forest lost in the trees, looks very different from the portrait being offered. Some idiot with a hatchet and penchant for word play writes a book and an article and talks about how libertarian politics has failed; don’t just shrug and go along with it.
It was nearly a hundred years from Marx and his manifesto to popular support for socialism; and that being based on the juxtaposition of altruist principles in agreement with socialist principles. Objectivism and Libertarianism emerged, what, 50 years ago? Throwing in the towel already, are we? I’m not willing to call the game ‘over’. It continues as long as I draw breath.
If your response to all this is still “Uh huh, what you’re saying is: it is not libertarian enough for you to call it libertarian.” Then I’d like to suggest the following; “put your paper hat back on and stop bothering the customers”. Leave the thinking to those of us more suited to the task.
Mea culpa review 2019. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. This entire post was a trip to the No True Scotsman fallacy theme park. Every single objection I listed proves that libertarianism fails at solving the world’s problems. Now that I am no longer hitched to that label as anything other than a delusion I still cling to, it all seems so clear to me. Motivated numeracy on parade.
Put your paper hat back on and stop bothering the customers. I remember when I thought that line was clever. Waited breathlessly for a chance to use it. It’s just another clever line that was never clever, looking at it now.
Read a rather amusing hatchet job the other day “The Unmourned End of Libertarian Politics”. The poster who forwarded it didn’t include a source for the article. I am always suspicious of articles that are posted without source reference, It makes fact-checking that much harder. So I decided to take the time to look up the source for this one.
As for the content of the article, the author takes many liberties with the label “Libertarian”. Most of them erroneous. While his examples are indeed libertarian positions (ending Social Security was one of them) the people who are promoting them are far from libertarian in belief. Most of them tout the ideas a conservative, and the politicians promoting these ideas would never admit to having any libertarian leanings.
In browsing the write up on his book, It looks as if Ronald Reagan is one of his heroes. Reagan too promoted libertarian ideas cloaked as conservative ones. One of them was the the foundation of the Savings and Loan debacle. Just like his current peer in office, Reagan’s attempt at ‘free market’ corrections to the Savings and Loan mess were only free market in name, and left the industry wide open for the type of theft that eventually brought Savings and Loans to an end.
So too the ‘privatization’ of Social Security proposed by ‘W’ wasn’t privatization at all; and the voucher systems intended to correct the failing public schools were not rejected by the citizenry but were in fact shot down by teacher’s unions nearly everywhere they were proposed. Some limited voucher systems have taken hold. Find the info here.
The foundation that the author is part of also leaves me cold. New America? What’s wrong with the old one? How about we just discover Real America, and leave it at that, eh? Like the New Deal, I don’t think there’s very much American over at New America. Maybe it’s just me.
As it is, the Libertarian Party is still alive and kicking (albeit hampered by a core constituency that seems to think not voting is some form of effective protest movement) Mark Twain’s quote sprang immediately to mind when I read the article title.
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”
What has come stumbling to it’s ineffectual end is the illusion that we have two parties in the US today. Anyone who has been paying attention should have a hard time determining the difference between Liberal and Conservative right now; trying to separate the Socialists who are only looking out for our best interests, from the Fascists who are only doing what’s right for the rest of us. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the effort.
2019. You know, once you pull your head out of your big, fat ass the world tends to look completely different. What amuses me about posts like this these days is how convinced I was that everybody else was clueless and I was the only one thinking clearly. Now I’m just happy to still be thinking, muddled as it all seems to be. Saner but sadder, from a philosophical standpoint.
Once again, I cite the Big Bowl of Crow I ate a while back. Still trying to digest some of that.
Every conservative that I know makes a point of saying they are a “fiscal conservative”. They are, nearly to a man, worried most about the size and cost of government, and want to see it get smaller. Ask any American on the street prior to 9-11 what was most important for the government to focus on, and they would probably respond with some variation on “re-instituting fiscal responsibility”.
Over the last 8 years, Bush and the Republican gov’t he leads have passed one (miniscule) tax cut, while jacking up the budget and the deficit to record levels.
At the pace that ‘progress’ is being made in the Middle East, Mr. Bush will leave office with the U.S. still mired in Iraq, with the neighboring nations posturing militarily in an attempt to make us blink, putting us in the most volatile foreign policy situation since FDR died in the White House, leaving Truman to finish WWII.
…And Republicans acrossthenation are consumed with what? Passing Anti-abortion measures so that they can try to coerce the SCOTUS to overturn Roe V. Wade.
This despite the fact that the average American, while perhaps not being favorable on abortion themselves, still favors a woman’s right to choose the procedure. I don’t know which political page they are working from, but this spells Democratic Victory in the next election, in the book I’m reading from. I’m batting a thousand so far.
Which reminds me, I’m sticking to my previous assessment on the subject. The only thing I’m curious about is how the new members of SCOTUS will justify striking down the most recent ill-conceived fascist notions concerning abortion law. As if this hasn’t happened before.
So, in the end, the only thing Bush will have achieved in 8 years: handing Democrats* control of the government for the first time since Reagan took office. Way to go, George.
*I wrote Democrats but I was thinking liberals at the time. Bill Clinton was never a liberal. He advanced Reaganomics while president. A liberal would never have done that. Who knows what Hillary would have been as president? We’ll never know now.
Another historical piece from the archive. On rereading it, I remembered that I had used a little literary license in writing the piece.
The first time I heard the word ‘Libertarian’ was at the Texas State Capitol building, about ten days before the the Gulf War in ’91. During an anti-war protest there, I got to talking to Terry Liberty Parker, and he mentioned that Libertarians were against the war, unlike the Dems. I have since fallen out of friendship with Mr. Parker (and, in fact, his behavior is at the core of why I’ve become inactive in the party both times it’s happened) but I will always be in his debt for introducing me to the party. I had said several times prior to that event, in discussions with ‘the wife’, if I was given a choice between socialism and fascism, I would choose socialism because you live longer (socialists just want your money, fascists want you to agree with them philosophically, or they shoot you. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time) but I could not understand how the Democrats (the party of Jefferson, the party that cast itself as the opposition to the Vietnam war) would be in support of a war that was not in our own interest. I was all for getting involved with a group that wanted to end the military adventurism that we’ve been involved in since the end of WWII, so I started looking for libertarian meetings and talking to libertarians when I found them.
I was already an Objectivist, I had read most of Rand by that time and found her philosophical outlook to be very much like my own, so I was already ‘in tune’ with the core of Libertarian thought. At some point I took the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” and found that I was a dead center Libertarian (These days I’m nearly 100/100 on the chart) I spent a good bit of time in the old TCLP office on Middle Fiskville Rd. talking to Bruce Baechler, and I think he was the one who made me feel most comfortable with supporting Libertarians as more than just a protest vote.
Anyway, what follows was what I posted in response to a request for “Why I am a Libertarian” articles. The ‘Republicans coming to power’ was Reagan in ’80. I thought Carter was a great president at the time. ‘The wife’ still does; don’t hold it against her, though. She hates the current Democrats.
I am a libertarian because I believe, first and foremost, in the concept of limited government. Most people, when told this will exclaim “ah, you are a Republican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. But I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted, why the term PC was ever created and why taxes were increased, even in the face of Democrat dominated legislatures and presidents.
When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?
It took eight years of a Democrat president to convince me of the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying. You well may laugh, but to an honest man, this was shocking. I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only ‘help’ that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.
Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom. Jefferson and those who started the ball rolling way back when understood this. They were Democrats. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the allegiances of the parties have shifted over the course of 200+ years, which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.
Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.
Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government. If there is a core libertarian belief, then that is a good portion of it; the requirement that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history. We are the Libertarian Party, and we are here to stay.
Current date June 11, 2016. The wife of the blowjob president is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party and I support her. It is a weird world we live in. I still have libertarian delusions but I have medications that keep those in check.