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Not So Much With The Nuclear

So the headline today is that the senate “invoked the nuclear option” and made a rules change that would limit the endless filibustering.

Not so fast. Using the term “nuclear” makes it sound ginormous, when it’s really not. To be clear, what the senate did today was to ensure that a majority vote on executive branch and non-Supreme Court judicial nominations. That’s it. They eliminated the “super majority” nonsense only on executive branch nominees. Nothing else. The minority in the senate can still filibuster everything else. So we’re still stuck in super majority hell for any other bill.

Why such a limited “nuclear” strike, when they could have effectively eviscerated the filibuster? The standard argument is that democrats understand that they will one day be in the minority, and are therefore not interested in neutering minority rights. Nonsense. The senate changed the rules today. They can change the rules tomorrow, and every day after that. And if democrats in the senate don’t think that republicans won’t go ahead and eviscerate the rights of the minority if they ever take over, they haven’t been paying attention to GOP tactics. Republicans went “nuclear” when they launched an unprecedented number of filibusters on the duly elected majority. I’m not buying the “looking ahead at future ramifications” horseshit argument.

No, I think that democrats limited the radius of the nuclear strike because they want the cover that having recalcitrant republicans give them. The blue dogs and the corporatists like being able to avoid taking votes on many of the issues that republicans filibuster. Not voting on those issues allows them to keep both their “blue dog” and their “democrat” cred. This enables certain democrats (like Dianne Feinstein, for example) to not cast votes that may jeopardize their seats. I mention Dianne Feinstein specifically, because I really believe she would be in trouble in California if she had to let her blue dog freak flag fly. Most of the blue dog senators would probably be safe because they legitimately represent states whose views are blue doggedy. But the corporatists would be in trouble.

This “nuclear” vote wasn’t about making government run much more smoothly. It was limited for a reason. I suspect that Harry Reid was worried about protecting “democratic” seats. I think he’s mostly wrong. I think that if a corporatist democrat gets ousted for being too corporatist, they’re more likely going to be replaced by a more democraty candidate, than they are by a republican. Limiting the “simple majority” to executive branch nominees isn’t going to have much impact on elections, since most people don’t pay much attention to judicial nominees.

While it may seem like Harry Reid took a giant step forward to restore democracy, it’s really just a tiny little baby step. Don’t everyone get too excited over this.

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Libertarian; So Full Of Shit

We’re all familiar with the basic ideas behind libertarianism. They really boil down to two words; freedom and responsibility. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? It sounds great, until you grow up and experience life. But I’m not going to take apart the ideology again (see my past posts).

In this post, I’m going to point out how libertarians are massively full of shit, particularly when it comes to the “responsibility” part of their equation. Let me begin with the granddaddy of all libertarians; their messiah, Ron Paul. We’re all familiar with his incredibly racist newsletters (if you’re not, click here). You know, the ones that bore his name, but that he didn’t write and had no idea how they happened, even though they helped raise enough money to get him out of 3/4 of a million dollars worth of debt in the 80s? How a “responsible” person racks up that kind of debt (it would be equivalent to around $2 million today), I don’t know, but I digress. So the newsletters wrote themselves and had the happy side effect of paying Paul’s bills? Really? What happened to taking responsibility? When your name appears on something, isn’t it purely your responsibility? Not when you’re the grand poobah of libertarianism, apparently. I can’t tell you how many times a libertarian has replied to my posts about the newsletters by using the “it wasn’t his fault” defense.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we saw the grand poobah’s miscreant son follow in his father’s footsteps. Rand Paul was caught plagiarising lots of shit. What did Mr Freedom and Responsibility do? Did he take responsibility and apologize profusely? Not even remotely. He blamed the media who exposed him, calling them “hacks and haters”. I couldn’t help but notice that he never called them liars. Even he couldn’t, with a straight face, say they were lying. No, they were hacks and haters for telling the truth. He still hasn’t really taken responsibility for his own actions. Responsibility is the annoying and inconvenient half of the libertarian formula. And how did libertarians react to this information about their demigod? They mostly obfuscated by pointing at someone else, who they claim did something worse. When they addressed what he did, they dismissed it as a “footnoting” problem.

Now we have another asshat libertarian who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a story on Mark Patterson. He’s a state representative in Idaho who was pissed that conceal/ carry application was denied because he failed to disclose a rape conviction that was on his record. It was a conviction because he plead guilty. This guy is a staunch libertarian acolyte of the grand poobah, so you would naturally expect that he would apologize for not disclosing the rape conviction, take responsibility for it, and move on his merry way, right? You won’t be shocked to hear that he didn’t do that. In the (now) libertarian tradition, he didn’t take any responsibility for the fraudulent application, claiming that the Men in Black guys erased his memory, or something. Maddow did a segment on this asshat last night. She turned up another rape trial (no conviction that time) and a whole bunch of other gratuitous lying. In addition to dodging that whole responsibility thing by claiming amnesia, this libertarian acolyte decided to follow the grand poobah and his miscreant son’s path by attacking the sheriff who denied him the permit. He’s rantings include claiming, “[the sheriff] ….a bare-knuckled campaign to intimidate me from serving the people of Idaho.” So the sheriff is trying to intimidate you by denying you a permit that you’re not legally entitled to have because of what you admitted you did? I Googled, and Googled, and Googled, but I never managed to find the part of his statement wherein he took responsibility for what he did.

I’m starting to see an epidemic among libertarians. One in which they cast off the “responsibility” part of libertarianism whenever it becomes inconvenient for them. Now keep in mind that this is a group of people who love to point the finger of hypocrisy at everyone else. Let me be clear, I’m not accusing all libertarians of being full of shit. But I am accusing all libertarians who support the Pauls, and anyone who behaves the way they do of being full of shit. If you support and bolster people who champion libertarianism without taking responsibility for themselves, you’re full of shit.

And you’re seriously undermining your ideology. You are why libertarianism is a joke that I thoroughly enjoy mocking mercilessly.  And you know what? When I point at you and laugh, it’s not my fault. I take no responsibility (you should all appreciate that). It’s your fault for not making an effort to be less full of shit and less laughable. Seriously, you should focus making the case for why your ideology is so brilliant, instead of constantly demonstrating you’re full of shit. Take responsibility for yourself. Hold your leaders responsible for what they’ve done, and show me why you have it right, and I have it wrong. But until you do that; I laugh, oh how I laugh!

 

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Safer

Readers of this blog or followers of the various places I exist on social media know that I spent several months volunteering with the Bill de Blasio campaign. I must say that last night was a good night. There was much jubilation at the victory party last night. Progressivism steam rolled both fear mongering and the tired fallacies of trickle down economics. My primary reason for jumping on the de Blasio bandwagon when he was in fourth place was really centered around his position on ending stop and frisk and firing Ray Kelly. I’m not going to rehash the reasons why ending this policy is so important to me, since I already made my case here. De Blasio’s stance on ending the practice of stop and frisk actually turned out to be the primary line of attack against him. His opponent actually put this ad out two weeks before the election;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGVDSr0-PFY[/youtube]

It was a disgusting and transparent attempt at scaring New Yorkers. Classic modern republican campaigning. It’s never about getting you to vote for something, but instead to get you to vote against something out of fear.

While canvassing for the campaign, I actually spoke to a few (mostly older) people of color who were afraid that New York would be less safe if our police force didn’t stop harassing young men of color. That was actually kind of shocking to me because I expect that if someone isn’t going to base their opinions on the facts, they would surely base their opinions on their own self interest. I want to now share some facts with you, that I shared with those people I spoke with. Yes, crime is down in New York City. Crime was on a steady downward slope for ten years before Ray Kelly ever started his racially discriminatory practices. That would be two years before Guiliani started these unproved and racist approach, referred to as "the broken window" theory. stop and frisk is part of that strategy. The idea is that if you spend your resources going after low level street crimes, you will discourage those small time criminals from becoming Jamie Dimon (or something).

Here are some more facts about crime;

From 1994 – 2010, crime started to sharply decline in many large cities in America.

During that time, New York City’s violent crime rate dropped 29%.

In that same time period, Los Angeles’ violent crime rate dropped by 59%.

In that same time period, New Orleans’ violent crime rate dropped by 49%.

In that same time period, Dallas’ violent crime rate dropped by 37%.

In that same time period, Baltimore’s violent crime rate dropped by 37%.

These statistics all came from the FBI’s uniform crime reports. I encourage you to look them up for yourself. 

None of these cities were practicing the blatant racism that is stopping and frisking young men of color. If I wanted to be as stupid and reactionary as supporters of stop and frisk, I would be proclaiming that stop and frisk slowed down the decline of crime in New York City. But since I’m not an idiot, and I understand that correlation isn’t causation, I’m not going to make that claim, although producing a republican style "you’re going to be shitting in your pants" ad around this premise might be kind of fun.

No one has ever produced any credible evidence that stop and frisk is effective. My belief in the destructiveness of this program isn’t based in a warm and fuzzy egalitarian, one world utopia. It’s based in pragmatism. So if you’re worried that on January 2nd, New York City is going to become a post apocalyptic, Thunderdome-like hellscape, you’re just wrong. And if you think that I’m just some doe eye sunny optimist, you should definitely provide me with your evidence to the contrary.

But until you do that, my pants will be devoid of the shit that irrational fear produces, and so should yours.  

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