The Big Think

July 3, 2015

Generation Hugbox

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:18 pm

Trigger Warning – Generation Hugbox: “Once upon a time classical liberalism was known for advocating free speech, free thinking, open discourse, and challenging dogmas. In the modern use, liberals are associated with the sexual revolution and freedom of alternative lifestyle. These days, liberalism has become something altogether different. It has become the very thing it once hated, and it is not even aware of this change.”

(Via .)

July 2, 2015

IRS

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:05 am

Investigators find proof IRS destroyed evidence in targeting scandal:

“‘We’ve confirmed the backup tapes no longer exist,’ Koskinen said. He maintained Lerner destroyed the hard drive on the computer and no additional information could be retrieved.

Despite a subpoena order to provide documents, IRS employees working night shifts demagnetized the contents of Lerner’s’ computers, according to the inspectors general.”

The Justice Department has refused to press charges. This will be minimally covered by the media, and nobody will go to prison.

Nixon was a schmuck.

June 30, 2015

Nonprofits and Civil Society

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 4:42 pm

Nonprofits and Civil Society: “Yes, Churches that Oppose Gay Marriage Should Still Get Tax Breaks”

In a conversation the other day I suggested that it wouldn’t be too long before we started seeing the earnest call to remove churches’ tax exempt status. Just a few days later, it has begun. This article proves the unmanageability of such a suggestion.

June 29, 2015

Trust Us

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:11 pm

US Caves to Iran, Drops Key Demand to Inspect Nuclear Sites: “…the US has agreed to Iran’s demand to drop inspections of nuclear sites from any final deal over its nuclear program. The goal of the talks involving Iran and the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia is a deal that would limit Tehran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.

According to the New York Times, Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all public matters in Iran, demanded that most sanctions be lifted before Tehran has dismantled part of its nuclear infrastructure and before international inspectors verify that the country is beginning to meet its commitments.

He also ruled out any freeze on Iran’s sensitive nuclear enrichment for as long as a decade, and he repeated his refusal to allow inspections of Iranian military sites.

Reports have also surfaced that US President Barack Obama has sent a private letter to Iran’s leadership. Its contents have yet to be disclosed.”

The entire civilized world is screaming at the top of its’ lungs to this administration: “YOU’RE BEING PLAYED! DON’T BE FOOLS!” Yet somehow, somehow, they don’t see it. Or don’t want to. This will end badly.

Sow the Wind

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:24 pm

Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country: “we have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist. To be frank, the court majority may impose on the rest of the nation a view widely shared by elites, but it is also a view shared by a majority of Americans. There will be no widespread popular resistance to Obergefell. This is the new normal.

For another, LGBT activists and their fellow travelers really will be coming after social conservatives. The Supreme Court has now, in constitutional doctrine, said that homosexuality is equivalent to race. The next goal of activists will be a long-term campaign to remove tax-exempt status from dissenting religious institutions. The more immediate goal will be the shunning and persecution of dissenters within civil society. After today, all religious conservatives are Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was chased out of that company for supporting California’s Proposition 8 [a legal position, remember, that was supported by a majority of Californians and only overturned by judicial decree].

Third, the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.

In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.

This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.”

To the “free to be, you and me” Boomer generation, this is the result of 1960’s let-your-freak-flag-fly no-penalty thinking. Note that this is not the end result. It’s simply a stop along the journey. Where does this train lead? One thing you can be absolutely certain of: it won’t stop at your own personal definition of enough. Sooner or later society will speed past what you personally consider to be ‘far enough’ and go rocketing off into the darkness. When people say “oh! but now things are bad!”, please remember those of us that stressed rule of law and strict reading of legal language as opposed to the dangerous “intentional interpretation” that we’ve gotten lately. Laws must be interpreted according to the actual language (“lawyer speak” that, for all its obtuseness, has evolved specifically to make things clear and incontrovertible). Once judges begin interpreting and enforcing laws based not on the words but on the perceived intent of the writers, then we enter into a very dangerous area where what IS can be manufactured easily from what we WANT, not from what is clearly written (see: King v. Burwell).

From this article:

“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent,” Roberts writes in his dissent. “Just who do we think we are?”

However, the chief justice also seemed to recognize that this was a landmark decision, which would likely be viewed positively in the future.

Writing that he has “no choice but to dissent,” Roberts made it clear that his decision was based in the “restrained conception of the judicial role,” rather than a personal view of the definition of marriage. As he writes:

Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer…

…”Those who founded our country would not recognize the majority’s conception of the judicial role … They would never have imagined yielding that right on a question of social policy to unaccountable and unelected judges.”

Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration …

If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

If you get what is to you a right result but obtain it using a terrible means, do not be surprised when that same means is used against you to further what you thought to be enough well past that point.

Wind. Whirlwind.

UPDATE: A prescient article from not too long ago.

June 25, 2015

What Once was Humor is Now Tragedy

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:59 am

Sadly, this was a punchline in 1947.

grinandbearit.jpg

Why do we feel this is appropriate behavior now? Is it just because people want to see their side “win”, no matter what that means in the long run? Are we that short-sighted?

June 22, 2015

But I Was Told That We Solved This

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:37 pm

Wait Lists Grow as Many More Veterans Seek Care and Funding Falls Far Short – The New York Times: “One year after outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say. The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many veterans.”

June 16, 2015

Speech

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:32 am

“America is the land of opportunity” and “America is a melting pot”
“I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
“Affirmative action is racist.”
“Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”
“When I look at you, I don’t see color.”

What our grandparents believed. Common sense, common decency, right? Well, if you have the misfortune of being a student at the University of California, these statements are now officially considered to be microagressions. The administration (headed by former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano) has deemed these, and other common-decency-based statements, to be expressions of microagressions. They are no longer allowed in classrooms in the California public university system.

Groseclose believes political correctness has jumped the shark when it can be considered a harmful “micro-aggression” to say something opposed to racism. He said the climate at universities is now so bad that even some liberal professors operate in fear.

“Just before I left UCLA, a liberal colleague and I talked about how disgusting the new micro-aggression policy is. I asked him if he ever worried about being dragged before some investigatory board via some trumped up charges. He responded, ‘That’s why, around here, I just try to minimize my contact with other humans.’”

Groseclose said he hopes that donors and taxpayers will wise up.

“I wonder if taxpayers realize they’re paying for this,” he said.

We live in the crazy years.

June 13, 2015

Black and White Thinking

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:58 pm

Instapundit:

“What would a university do if an applicant self-identified as ‘black’ on an application but showed up looking ‘white’? And if the university made such a judgment, what on earth would that mean? How would the university defend its belief that a student didn’t ‘look’ black?  What sort of bizarre racial stereotypes would it rely upon in making such an appearance-based judgment? And if the university actually decided to take action against the student for racial misrepresentation, what on earth would that mean? How would the university judge whether the student was really ‘black’?  What percentage of blood would suffice for such a progressive institution? Fifty percent? Ten percent? One percent?

And if an individual, like Rachel Dolezal, has no black ancestry at all, would a progressive/liberal university allow her to self-identify as black, as they would (presumably) do for gender classification, if the student was born male and self-identified as a transgendered male (without yet having any surgery)? After all, the EEOC recently ruled in the Lusardi case that an individual in the Army who was born male, yet self-identified as female (but had not undergone surgery to remove his male genitalia) was to be considered a female and allowed to use the women’s bathroom.

The problem with progressive thinking is that black is white, male is female, and as Orwell observed in 1984, ‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.’ After all, if one can destroy words, ‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.’”

Excellent questions that put a fatal stake in the heart of progressive gender/racial/identity thinking. It’s not even reduco ad absurdum. It’s easy to imagine this happening right now in our colleges, and you don’t have to stretch current events or thinking to make it happen. When/if it happens I’m sure you’ll get all sorts of handwringing and clever obfuscatory misdirections, but the folks who espouse these lines of thought are increasingly beclowning themselves with their pretzel logic. The rest of us know. I hope “the rest of us” will soon include college administrators.

Hack

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:27 am

Via Instapundit:

Screen shot 2015-06-13 at 6.25.24 AM.png

If I were a government worker, this would make me seriously reconsider the ability of the government to protect my medical privacy. Oh, who am I kidding….

May 26, 2015

Promises

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:31 am

Sticker Shock for Some Obamacare Customers – Bloomberg View: “So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they’re finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected.”

“The only thing we’re gonna try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed on to you. And we estimate we can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 a year.”

Barack Obama, Oct 15, 2008

May 25, 2015

Trust Us, We’re the Authorities

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:34 am

County sheriff has used stingray over 300 times with no warrant | Ars Technica:

“Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, can be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as the devices have become scrutinized, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed.

This template application, surprisingly, cites no legal authority on which to base its activities. The SBSD did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

‘This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it),’ Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars by e-mail.

‘Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn’t care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling,’ he said.”

So when Civil Libertarians get their shorts twisted and talk about the slippery slope, this is what we’re talking about.

May 15, 2015

ACA

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:37 pm

Is Obamacare Working? Quarter Of Americans Who Bought Health Insurance On Exchanges Couldn’t Afford Medical Care:

“More than a quarter of adults who bought health insurance on exchanges created under Obamacare skipped important doctor visits and medical tests because they could not afford to pay, a study published Thursday by Families USA found. Among low- and middle-income adults, the proportion of people who avoided care was even higher, at nearly one-third.”

Health insurance is not health care, and the people implying that everything would be okay if everybody was forced to purchase health insurance are having their massive, misleading worldview exposed. As consumers’ (government mandated) insurance has continued to increase every year, more and more people are having to make the difficult choice between paying the premium for a high cost, high deductible policy, and forgoing treatment. Premiums will continue to go up. Deductibles will increase to save money. But actual health care? That will remain an afterthought. I think we’ll eventually see statistics touting how Obamacare has reduced hospital visits but the reality will be because people can’t afford insurance and visits. And since one is mandated and the other is up to the consumer, we know which one will be neglected. Better hope that pain isn’t something serious…

Welcome to the Affordable Care future.

May 7, 2015

Pamela Geller: A Response to My Critics

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:22 pm

Pamela Geller: A Response to My Critics—This Is a War | TIME:

“So, why are some people blaming me? They’re saying: ‘Well, she provoked them! She got what she deserved!’ They don’t remember, or care to remember, that as the jihadis were killing the Muhammad cartoonists in Paris, their friend and accomplice was murdering Jews in a nearby kosher supermarket. Were the Jews asking for it? Did they ‘bait’ the jihadis? Were they ‘provoking’ them?

Are the Jews responsible for the Nazis? Are the Christians in the Middle East responsible for being persecuted by Muslims?

Drawing Muhammad offends Islamic jihadists? So does being Jewish. How much accommodation of any kind should we give to murderous savagery? To kowtow to violent intimidation will only encourage more of it…

…You can try to avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. The shootings in Garland, Paris, and Copenhagen targeting defenders of free speech, and the raging jihad across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, are the disastrous consequences of avoiding reality.”

May 1, 2015

Must Be One of those Tea Party Loons

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:47 pm

Wait… he’s got a D in front of his name? Who knew?

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution”:

“It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.

Then you make another statement that somehow these companies are not credible because they collect private data. Here’s the difference: Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.

Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have.”

Good for him.

April 18, 2015

Eating Out or Substance

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:00 am

Shriveled grapes, shriveled liberty:

“Takings-clause jurisprudence is quite recondite. The government, however, says two contradictory things. It says the Hornes ‘acquired’ raisins and hence must either surrender a large portion of them — in some years, 47 percent — or pay huge fines. But it also says the Hornes do not have sufficient ownership of the raisins to raise constitutional objections.

The government says the Hornes voluntarily entered their raisins into the stream of commerce, so they must comply with the RAC’s raisin reserve requirement. But the Supreme Court has hitherto rejected the idea that a person must give a portion of his property to the government in order to purchase the government’s permission to engage in a lawful business transaction, such as selling a commodity. The government says its required contributions to the raisin reserve merely regulates raisin sales. The Hornes say it is not a mere regulation but an expropriation.

The government says it owes the Hornes nothing in exchange for the raisins they supposedly owe it, because they somehow benefit from the government’s manipulation of the raisin market. The Hornes say it would be unconstitutional for the government to come on their land to confiscate their raisins or the proceeds from their raisin sales, so it is unconstitutional to fine them for not complying with an unconstitutional requirement.”

Outdated laws should be deleted. Those who slavishly adhere to them in the interest of maintaining their bureaucratic organizations should be forced to look for another line of work. Eating out our substance indeed.

“District 12 shall continue to produce their quota of raisins”

February 18, 2015

Externalities

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:54 am

A great summation of positive and negative externalities as they pertain to the ACA. Yes, it’s actually rather more interesting than that stunning sentence would indicate.

February 12, 2015

The Destroyer Goeth

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:40 pm

The Destroyer Goeth:

“Jon Stewart’s genius — ‘and for once that overused word is appropriate,’ Aucoin of the Globe insists — is that he provides intellectually lazy people with an excuse for forgoing the hard work of informing themselves at anything but the most superficial level about political events. Human beings being what they are, there will always be an acute need for humor in our political discourse; Stewart’s contribution has been to substitute humor — and an easy, vapid, shallow species of humor at that — for the discourse itself, through what Jim Treacher deftly described as his ‘clown nose on, clown nose off’ approach to commentary: When it comes to Obamacare, the minimum wage, or the national debt, you don’t have to get the economics as long as you get the joke.”

Stewart has always had an uncanny behavioral resemblance to a certain class clown during my high school days. Able to be sincere and intelligent when the circumstances called for it, he nonetheless opted to play the buffoon and go for the easy laugh. Smart guy who ended up looking pathetic and adolescent at my 10th reunion. He was still reliving the high school glory days while the rest of us had moved on.

If Stewart truly represents the Genius that his admirers are lauding, if his leaving the daily show is “akin to the Beatles breaking up”, then that says quite a bit about his average viewer, and what it says shouldn’t make them feel too comfortable.

February 5, 2015

Check Pants Status Re: Fire

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:31 am

Brian Williams: Big, Fat Liar | Ricochet: “NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years…

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

‘I would not have chosen to make this mistake,’ Williams said. ‘I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.’”

(Via .)

No sir. It’s not a “mistake”. A mistake is getting the tail number of the aircraft wrong. A lie is saying you were onboard it an hour earlier when it crashed as a restult of rocket fire, then repeating that same statement for over a decade.

Kind of makes you wonder what else he’s “mistaking” about.

February 4, 2015

The Police No Longer Work For You

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:40 am

The Police No Longer Work For You:

“To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that ‘at times, illegal weapons are present’ at such poker games, and that ‘Asian gangs’ have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

It is a mystery why we put up with this obscene police behavior. Gambling itself is not illegal in Virginia; it is simply controlled by the state. So the Fairfax police department did not bust these hapless poker players with guns drawn for doing something truly immoral and fully outlawed, merely for doing something in a way not approved by the state legislature. Were gambling actually forbidden in Virginia, then a crackdown could at least be understood, if not condoned in so paramilitary a fashion. Yet Virginia’s stance on the matter is not to treat gambling as malum in se, but rather as an instrumentum regni: our government prefers to funnel gambling money into its own coffers for its own ends, outlaw the same thing when it’s done outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and then steal the money of the poor fellows who happen to get caught….

…Governments control gambling not to legitimize and sanitize the practice, but to extract as much money from the citizenry as they possibly can. In the state’s eyes, the fault of the poker players in Fairfax lay not in betting money on a card game, but in not pouring money into the state’s bank account while they were doing so.”

Because Public Safety.

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