Thursday, October 21, 2010

I support Justice Clarence Thomas

Just got an email from CREDO (I got on their email list after voicing support for one of their gay-rights causes) demanding that Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas apologize to Anita Hill.

I remember the confirmation hearings, I remember the unsupported allegations by Anita Hill.  She was the ONLY person to testify at those hearings against Clarence Thomas, in spite of the fact that the Democrats ran the Senate at that time (and I find it hard to believe that, if any shred of evidence to support any allegations actually existed that they would have aired them, especially given the public statements at the time that "We're going to 'bork' him."

Nancy Altman who worked with both Thomas and Hill at the Department of Education testified before the U.S. Senate that:
"It is not credible that Clarence Thomas could have engaged in the kinds of behavior that Anita Hill alleges, without any of the women who he worked closest with—dozens of us, we could spend days having women come up, his secretaries, his chief of staff, his other assistants, his colleagues—without any of us having sensed, seen or heard something."
Not just her, but a number of women came forward to testify in opposition to Hill's claims against Clarance Thomas.  Staffers to Senator Joseph Biden (who was the chair of the Judiciary Committee and an opponent of Thomas) alleged that there were a total of 2 people who made statements to them in support of Hill.  I can only assume that neither was credible enough to testify or as willing to risk getting caught lying as Hill, as neither testified before the Senate.

I can never know the truth of her statements in any absolute sense, but if she did, in fact, lie, there is no possible justifiable reason for her to do so.  If she did not lie, than she is an idiot for making such allegations without supporting evidence.  I believe her to be an ideologue, not an idiot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marksmanship and Life 3 - Self Position

Learning to let the rifle rest where it wants to is fundamental to being able to hit your target.  The bullet is propelled down range by a small explosion, and the recoil caused by that explosion will move the rifle.  If the marksman is trying to consciously "muscle" the barrel to point to the target, then that will be the weakest support for the rifle's position.  The recoil may be initially directed back, but the weakness of the barrel's support due to the "muscle" action will cause more successful motion against that direction than will be directed elsewhere.

Therefore, when aiming at a target, one should sight in, relax for a moment and see where the barrel points.  The way to adjust ones aim from that point on is to move ones body until the barrel points properly to the target.

Being able to properly direct ones efforts is fundamental to being able to achieve one's goals.  The results of effort are achieved by the "explosion" of action one aims at one's hoped-for goal.

My experience is that in the undertaking any significant effort there is always resistance from the inertia of the status quo.  This is not a bad thing, as the status quo is usually the safer path and deviation is usually risky.  I think of it as guard rails, it protects me from carelessness, but also makes it difficult for me to get off into the really fun places beyond them.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  As I expend effort I am invariably pushed back upon.  If I am properly situated I can withstand and overpower the pushback, but if I try to act in a manner out of my nature, I am invariably knocked over onto my ass.  This is because my natural support for the action will be weak, the action is likely to end up misdirected and will not bring the best possible results.

My opinion, therefore, is that the best way is to first know oneself, then analyze and understand the goal, and, finally, if necessary, adjust one's position so that the desired goal is a more natural outgrowth of one's daily activities.

Living under the roof of the Washington D.C.

One of the logical problems I have perceived and am trying to understand well enough to define is the mechanics of enforcing our natural rights when the state does not respect or honor them.

Taxation is theft because it is involuntary.  I think tithing to be superior as it is voluntary, and most churches seem to do pretty damn well with it.  Even as I believe that the government does not have the moral right to seize part of the wealth I produce, I do not have the means to resist them.  In fact, the principal mechanism for rights enforcement is financed by taxation, property forfeiture (at least there is some due process with the IRS), etc...

So how can I demand my rights be enforced by those funded by the infringement of those same rights?  Am I not really asking for others to have their rights infringed upon to prop up mine?  This is not to say that I have any doubts that the state is acting immorally, but there seem to be no way to make it behave beyond trying to change the hearts and minds of those who support the state with the persuasion of argument.

As long as I live under their roof (i.e. the protection of their armed enforcers) I accept that I must either follow their rules, unjust as I view them to be, or expect to pay the consequences for breaking those roles - to argue those rules to be fiction is absurd.  It's just a little frustrating to feel like I should be able to be more free.  It seems....unfair and unjust.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"blind faith in the market"

Sayeth Barak Obama (peace be upon him):
The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.
I'd like to respond to this sentiment of our President:
His basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the government and we let the politicians and bureaucrats do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.
Given that more Americans are organized in corporations than in government bureaucracies, even the moral fallacy of being for the "greater good" being defined as benefiting the most people fails to support His radical views.  On the practical front, I challenge anyone to find a place on this planet where a centrally planned (i.e. government run) economy has ever lead to prolonged prosperity for the citizens of that nation.

"a deep observation about" useful idiots

Chris Matthews
But how would those miners have survived, the 33 of them, and their loved ones living above if they`d behave like that with the attitude of every man for himself. This is above all, and deep down they`re in the mine about being in all there together. It`s about mutual reliance and relying on others.
He further implies that the message coming from those opposed to the increased intrusiveness of the government is "a statement that we're not all in this together."

First, I would like to assert that it is human nature to project ones own personality and motives onto those around us.  When a person assigns a likely motivation to someone else based upon no evidence, but just "common sense" I think that says more about the person talking than the subject of the talk.
I would like to divide humans into two camps for the purposes of the observation I would like to make:
  1. Those who believe that voluntary co-operation of self-interested individuals is the best way to supply the needs of the community as a whole.
  2. Those who believe that physical coercion is the best way to supply the needs of the community.
Any activity mandated by the state is, by it's nature, physical coercion, because at some point continued non-adherence to the dictates of the state must lead to violent action against those resisting. Admittedly on a few rare occasions the state may blink in the face of popular resistance, but I believe that history shows this to be the rare exception and not the rule.

Some comments about these two groups:
  • It is not that the people in group 1 will not organize to fulfill the needs of their community, they will just not force the participation of others into their endeavors.  I think this seems like the natural solution to them because they themselves are willing to voluntarily act for the communal good.
  • By contrast, I can only assume that people in group 2 feel that force is needed to meet community needs because they would only act against their self-interest for the communal good under duress, and they assume that most people are like them.  I assume this because I am assuming that these people project their motives the same way I project my motives.
And this is the basic reason I believe that those in group 1 are more likely to act in a moral manner than those in group 2.

Of course, what defines the "communal good" is not always obvious, and good people may disagree on this depending on their values, perspective, and specific local knowledge. This is the functional reason why the people in group 1 are more likely to act in a correct manner than those in group 2

Then, to illustrate the idiocy of asserting that self-interested capitalist attitudes would have lead to the deaths of the miners, Daniel Henninger has an interesting write-up in the Wall Street Journal. (the basic gist of it is that without the innovation of a special drill bit by a "greedy capitalist" none of the miners could have been rescued alive.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Louisiana Educational Pyatiletka (пятилетка)

The Louisiana Career Options Law requires that all High School students have a "Five Year Plan" for their education.  Am I the only person who finds the choice of words here just a little disturbing?

"Beginning in the 1998-1999 school year, by the end of the eighth grade, each student shall develop, with the input of his/her family, a Five Year Educational Plan. Such a plan shall include a sequence of courses which is consistent with the student's stated goals for one year after graduation. Each student's Five Year Educational Plan shall be reviewed annually thereafter by the student, parents, and school advisor and revised as needed."
Hmmmm, so the average eighth grader has at least a reasonable idea of what they will want to do with their life.  OK, OK, so it's actually about where they will want to be a year after High School, but doesn't knowing that require knowing if you want a professional career, a technical career, or some other life path?
"It is the intent of the law that students have a focus while in school to help make learning more relevant and meaningful."
Sounds like a well intentioned law, hope those good intentions lead somewhere nice.

Now, I'm not trying to assert that having goals is a bad idea, nor would I assert that people should not at least start thinking about this stuff by the time they're ready to start High School. What I don't understand here is, why is this the business of the government?  So some people won't do this unless they're forced to, it is for their own good after all.  But who are these arrogant busybody jerks who claim to know our best interest better than we do?  Oh yea, that would be congress - they are elected to manage our lives for us, after all.  Besides, this is all for the children, and we don't hate children, do we?