Saturday, July 16, 2011

On Sleep

Since last Sunday night,  I haven't had much of a regular sleep pattern. As a result of the recent affliction with rhabdomyolysis, I've been placed on a variety of drugs and the effects have been disruptive to say the least.  One of my doctors placed me on amitriptyline, which worked last night and throughout today as far as getting me to sleep.  Tonight, however, there is no such effect.  

My life feels like a dream state at the moment.  I find that I awaken two or three times before I'm really awake. This usually works out in the following manner: 

1. I awaken and go to the door of my bedroom, look back at the bed, and see myself lying in it asleep.  
2. Immediately after the panic that sets in at this sight I awaken again and either repeat the process or find that I really am awake.  
3.  I usually feel as though I am doing the same things repetitively, a kind of deja vu that goes on and on throughout a day.  

It's disorienting to a degree, but also incredibly liberating.  Despite the aches and pains that are holdovers of the rhabdo, which has largely gone away from my upper body and only bothers me in the lower back and thigh area, I feel as though I can push through pain because there are times when I don't feel that my pain is real.  It's strange to experience, but it's something that enables me to get things done that exhausted me over the past two weeks.  

My own personal beliefs about existence defy easy categorization, as I subscribe to a holographic model of the universe wherein every possible outcome is contained within a hologram.  What gives our life shape and form is our consciousness of a particular outcome to the detriment of all other outcomes.  Put simply, I am information processing other information and deciding which information forms the path of my life.  By settling on one outcome out of an infinite variety of outcomes, the me that is me takes a particular course of action.  At the same time, other versions of me take all of those other courses simultaneously.  

Time is an illusion of finite restrictions within an infinite construct.  I believe I'm growing older, and therefore a linear progression emerges to meet my belief.  Entropy is assured within the system, and therefore I age.  I believe that expectations dictate outcomes to a large extent, which is why I think faith is so important to so many people, including me.  I don't believe that I'm ever really going to die in a final sense.  When this skin has sloughed off of me, and what others knew of me is gone, I'll still be here in a different form.  I don't regard a corporeal form as essential or even as a defining characteristic of who I am.  I am not 185 pounds or a hazel-eyed brown-haired male.  

What I am is an intellect, an ability to process information and analyze it.  The reality that I see around me is simply my assimilation of information into a recognizable form.  It isn't the essence of that form; rather, it's a mere representation of data.  

When I was younger, I struggled with the notions of reconciling God to reality.  How could God be omnipresent in a reality of fixed points and finite progressions?  I came to the conclusion that God was energy, because energy is present throughout the universe.  The spark of the divine, kinetic and potential, always in a balance, unable to be destroyed or disposed of in the greater reality.  

We see the characteristics of God manifested in different personas by religions that seek to qualify and quantify God.  There really is no monotheistic religion to speak of when you consider what religions say about God.  At best, religions are henotheistic.  That is, there are manifestations of the same persona that differ. Shiva, Kali, and Ganesh are merely manifestations of Brahma.  All of the Egyptian gods are merely manifestations of Amun, Amun-Ra, or Aten.  

In Western Christian tradition, we have a Triune model of essence and energies.  The essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same, but the energies or roles differ.  God the Father is the Creator, God the Son is the Savior and Intercessor, and God the Holy Spirit is the Helper.  The mushrikin who predated Islam believed in shirk, or sharing, in the sense that they regarded one god as superior to the others but they shared a number of lesser gods through whom the superior god's authority and power could be manifested and known.  Modern Islam repudiates this entirely.  

Judaism merges the chief Canannite god El with their own flavoring, so to speak: El Shaddai.  Elohim is, after all, plural.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me is not a preclusion of other gods, it is simply an admonishment of giving those other gods the same reverence as a particular god.  

The corruptible cannot inherit the incorruptible, and so when I lose the corruptible, I am merely prepared to enter union with the incorruptible.  I am purified, so to speak.  My consciousness is no longer bound by a paradigm that decrees I construct a physical reality with my conscious mind in order to represent the pure information before me.  This world is incomplete, rich in detail though it is.  

Sleep does not come, and to a degree, I do not feel that it is necessary.  When I feel tired, I wonder if exhaustion is real or simply something conjured up to represent an overload of sorts.   I got a lot of books out of my apartment today.  I was extremely tired as I picked them up and loaded them into the truck, but at the time when I would have stopped to recover, I simply thought to myself that none of it was real anyway.   I wondered why I attached such value to books in the first place.  Tangible objects for an intangible essence.  
At times, it feels very real to experience these sensations.  I can be sitting here and feel as though I'm suddenly falling, only to be jerked back to stillness in this chair.  The reaction is visceral: increased breathing, palpitations, dilated eyes that hurt in the glare of a computer screen.  Sensations are the connection to this, and I wonder if I'm being misled on some level by physical stimuli.  

Parmenides did not believe in time or motion, as motion would require us to undergo an infinite progression towards a destination.  1/4 of a inch, 1/8 of an inch, 1/16 of an inch, 1/32 of an inch, and so on and so forth. Time measures a progression, but I think time is as much a matter of conditioning as it is positioning. If you place two atomic clocks together, but one is elevated higher off of the floor than the other, time will run faster on the lower clock because it is closer to the Earth.  

We are conditioned from a young age to regard the progression of hands on a clock face as a passage ofsomething that we can neither see nor hear nor touch nor taste nor smell.  What if Adam and Eve realized time in the moment they bit into the fruit?  What if they became cognizant of that devil in that moment, and their cognizance became the means by which they lost sight of eternal existence, an exchange of eternal concepts for finite and limited concepts that bring on age and infirmity?  

We buy into this concept and paradigm, teaching ourselves that a 24 hour clock is real when in truth our bodies are on a 25 hour cycle.  Our circadian rhythms run on a 25 hour cycle, but the way we schedule our lives isn't based on that cycle: it's based on our planetary progression in relation to the sun.  Each day we short ourselves an hour and expect to stay constant and refreshed.  

The hubris of humanity can be seen in its efforts to say daylight time by rewinding a clock.  I wait for sleep as though sleep is a passenger on an airplane that hasn't arrived on time at the airport.  My body tells me that it needs sleep, and my mind says that my body isn't real anyway.  I see another law in my members waring against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner to the law of sin that is in my members so that the good I want to do, I do not; and the evil I do not want to do, that I do.  I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

The war within continues on and on, between knowledge and belief, neither of which are objective camps, but both of which seek to persuade and convince.  What can we know, anyway?  It's all obfuscation.  I know that I am tired and that I should be tired but that I am still awake no matter how tired I am.  All I can do is think.  At least I have my mind and the ideas within it to keep me company in these moments.  Information is comfort, and I know why love physical, tangible books so much.  They are the anchors I drop in rough seas, and I can moor myself to them even when buffeted by difficulties.  

A strong tower.  I wonder sometimes if I am dreaming all of this, or if someone else is dreaming it and if when they wake up my existence will be no more.  I just know that I am here and that there may be a there, but it is not relevant.  Endless abstractions and subterfuge that come out like foxes at night and in the morning to play around with my thought processes when I am deprived and depraved.  

As for me, I will go and read a book until this too has passed or I have passed it.  

The Audacity of Hubris

Yesterday, Barack Obama threw down a gauntlet in the form of a 24 to 36 hour ultimatum to Congress in regards to the debt negotiation.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the Executive Branch executes and the Legislative Branch legislates, right?  In short, the ultimatums, if there are any to be given, are given by the Legislative Branch to the Executive, whose occupant can exercise a veto power if he finds that the dictates of the Legislative Branch conflict with the Constitution.

Presidents have always demonstrated an arrogant certitude on one level or another, and Barack Obama is no different from his predecessors in that respect.  What sets him apart is this: his inability to realize that for the first time in a very long time, Congress is actually starting to push back on what has been a rather routine occurrence up until now.  The debt ceiling has been raised 75 times since John F. Kennedy was President, and on every one of those occasions, the ceiling was raised with nary a ounce of resistance or a peep of pomposity from Congress.

What Obama has managed to accomplish is simple: he has expanded his predecessor's faults and overreaches to such a degree that America and Congress have begun to awaken to the implications.  George W. Bush claimed for his office the power to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial or due process; Barack Obama now claims for his office the power to execute American citizens without trial or due process anywhere in the world.  George W. Bush went before Congress to ask for a blank check to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he got what he asked for and then some.  Barack Obama wages war in Libya and elsewhere without any hesitation, defying the 90 day limit of the War Powers Act with impunity with his refusal to seek the imprimatur of constitutional legitimacy by asking Congress to approve actions beyond the 90 day limit.  George W. Bush set records for deficits and overall debt accumulation until Barack Obama came along to shatter his records in short order.

If you could conceive of a more arrogant, unconstitutional, and unrestrained White House than that of George W. Bush, surely your conception must be that of the Obama Administration.  It's an Administration whose claims of power are truly breathtaking to behold: Congress may require every American citizen to purchase private products and services.  The President can have any American citizen executed on mere suspicion rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt or even a mere preponderance of the evidence.

This is no longer the America we grew up with.  I'm 33 years old, and as young as that may be to some of the people reading this, it's still old enough for me to remember a time when Presidents had limits on their office. I remember the Bolton Amendments, and the subsequent and very real threat of impeachment that loomed over the Reagan Administration for its flouting of those amendments.  I remember when a President sent his Supreme Court nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Committee turned his nominee down or forced the nominee's resignation from the process.  In short, I remember checks and balances.

In this environment, we find that on one front where the country's future fiscal health could be imperiled, Congress has at last discovered some form of cojones.  Barack Obama could and should have been impeached for his misuse of TARP funds to direct a bailout of the auto manufacturers, especially given that Congress rejected a direct bailout of the manufacturers beforehand.  He could and should be impeached for his violation of the War Powers Act with regards to our Libyan debacle.  Let us not even begin to consider the Deepwater Horizon fiasco, or the revelations with regards to the Minerals Management Service that flared up afterwards.  The federal government basically facilitated a private corporation's mismanagement of a crisis and the subsequent coverup.  A company whose malfeasance and misfeasance will reap consequences for an entire ecosystem in the years and decades to come had the U.S. Federal Government at its service for no-fly zones over the Gulf and blockades of public beaches for news personnel seeking to report on the crisis.

With all of that, Congress has picked the debt ceiling as its cause du jour, even as revelations emerge that this Administration facilitated the arming of Mexican drug cartels in Project Gunrunner, a project that has as its dubious legacy the murder of two U.S. law enforcement agents with guns smuggled by the ATF over the border to the said cartels.  It's a charade, not least of all because Congress will not dare to fail in raising the debt ceiling in the end.  We have a government of nihilists to a degree, but those nihilists do not want the U.S. Chamber of Commerce funding their primary and general election opponents in 2012.

The audacity of Barack Obama's hubris is evident in the way he seems to dare those nihilists to go all the way, even if it costs the country its credit rating and results in a utter fiscal catastrophe for the long term.  If the country defaults on its debt, cutting entitlements will no longer be an optional item; it will be mandatory.  All of the programs that Barack Obama points to as critical to his base will be on the chopping block, and yet he talks to those who pander to a self-destructive element with such arrogance that he just might trip that wire and lead us to the brink of implosion.  The President does not dictate in such situations, nor does he tell Congress what to do when one chamber of that body is controlled by the opposition and the establishment leadership of that chamber cannot get the votes to pass legislation it desperately wants to pass.

If we do default on our debt, and I have a problem believing that we will, Barack Obama's timeline ultimatum will likely go down as an even dumber gambit than the no new taxes gambit of Eric Cantor.  The inflexibility of the two men is astonishing, each more willing than the other to put the country at risk in order to make a name for themselves.  As the warning signs flash and the alarms go off, both men seem determined to make this struggle about themselves rather than the country as a whole.

If there is a debt ceiling deal brokered, and this President demonstrates the temerity and the narcissism necessary to veto it in order to make some hubristic point, we will face a circumstance where the blame is large enough to go around.  Republicans made Barack Obama's spending possible by refusing to rein in their own President when he set new deficit records.  God save us from the next President, given what he has as a foundation to build upon.  The audacity of hubris from one President to the next only increases, if history is any indicator.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anarcho-Misogyny: Sex As Commerce

In working through anarcho-misogyny as a theoretical approach, we have examined issues of gender, the roles associated with it, and the privilege that inevitably arises from bigotry.  While sex has been examined, it has never been called for what it is: a commercial exchange at all levels.

Allow me to explain: human beings have needs and desires, but central to the satiation of both is the ability to attain the means of gratification.  Value-exchange as a means of gratifying simultaneous yet varying desires is the chief means of achieving gratification, be it through money or gifts or gestures.  Women are taught about sex for what it is in delicate terms; namely, that it is the source of achieving the life they desire.  A man will do what is necessary to satiate his sexual drives, and women are taught from an early age not to sell their sexuality short by giving it away too easily. 

In the hierarchy of commodities possessed by both genders, sex is primary.  It is the most valuable, in-demand commodity possessed by a woman.  There are many intelligent and sophisticated women in the world, but these qualities are secondary to their sexuality, if we are to be honest.  They may increase the allure of the central commodity, but they are definitely not the commodity men seek.  A man values sex above all else, and measures his virility and value by his ability to attain sex, if he is honest.  

A man's attractiveness is measured by his ability to get sex.  How many of us have walked into a bar, restaurant, or club and seen as much? The men who are sexually active are obvious: confident, poised, and at ease in themselves and their manner.  The men who are not sexually active are even more obvious: nervous, standoffish, and fidgety around the opposite sex.  There are degrees between the extreme, but the more sex a man is having, the more he resembles the former description and the less he resembles the latter.  

Women are not turned off by a man's obvious sexual activity; in point of fact, it renders a man more attractive because it signals a woman that the man in question has the means to attain the commodity women have to offer.  Money, security, confidence, these are the currencies through which the exchange takes place.  The right alchemy of these currencies can assure a man greater opportunities for sex, and a greater array of mates to select from as he decides who to expend his currency upon.  Women are turned off by a man's obvious lack of sexual activity, because it signals that he does not have anything to offer them in exchange for the commodity they possess.  

A man who advertises chastity as his value available for exchange might as well be a eunuch; only an unbright neurotic of a female seeks a man's chastity as her prize.  Few if any females ever walk around bragging about the number of male virgins they have deflowered.  Those females who do talk about a man's virginity in exalted terms are usually overtly religious or morbidly obese.  In either event, they are among the most unattractive and unbalanced women, because fundamentalist religious belief and morbid obesity are usually evidence of a deeper angst.  

There are those men who have figured out how to bluff, and they are the men who bridge the two extremes.  While they are of limited means, they have learned how to appear as though they have exactly what a woman wants.  

We utilize certain terms and a type of jargon to civilize or lessen the impact of sex as commerce, as we call it love or romance.  How romantic is it to place the price of two and a half month's salary on an engagement ring that signifies assent to life-long commitment?  About as romantic as fifty shekels for a woman's virginity taken forcibly in a field, as Deuteronomy puts it in 22:29.  Every kiss begins with Kay, he goes to Jared's, or some other such nonsense.  

At the end of the day a whore gets cash, while a fiancee gets a ring with the promise of community property.  The contemporary era has brought with it a sense of empowering honesty for women who no longer bother with the semantic formalities

"Natalie Dylan is the ultimate virginity-marketing mogul. A 22-year-old women’s studies graduate from Sacramento State, Dylan needed the money to pay for her master’s degree in family and marriage therapy. She announced the auction on Howard Stern’s radio show in September 2008 and justified her decision in the Daily Beast and on The Tyra Banks Show. After her media blitz, Dylan received over 10,000 bids, half of which were for over $1 million.

Dylan approached her virginity like a good capitalist. “The value of my chastity is one level on which men cannot compete with me,” she said to Tyra. “I decided to flip the equation, and turn my virginity into something that allows me to gain power and opportunity from men.”"

The irony of financing a master's degree in family and marriage therapy by prostituting away your virginity is stunning.  Of course, the script becomes even richer when you consider that Natalie Dylan was a women's studies graduate.  Oh, feminism has done wonders, as Dylan's story would indicate: she has realized that the value of her chastity is one level on which men cannot compete.  Men do not wish to compete, of course, given that they will typically give their chastity away for a song or less than zero, given how much many of us expend on dates, high school dances, and proms.  It's an expensive proposition for a man to lose his virginity, but lose it he must in order to avoid the stigma of being an old virgin.  

When a woman is taught to value herself, what she is really taught is how to self-assess the price she might attach to her sexuality.  Self-esteem for a girl is getting a good deal in the context of sexual relationships and even non-sexual interactions with the opposite sex.  How many men fall into the role of the friend who brings coffees and chocolate to the female they believe they secretly like?  Women, even as girls, are preternaturally aware of the affections of men and boys, and they are well-equipped to exploit such affections to their advantage.  

The woman who can get the value without having to exchange the commodity sought by her long-suffering but less than attractive suitor is one who can have her immediate whims met while waiting for a suitable candidate to satisfy her long-term goals and wishes.  The suitor may possess means, but his means are not enough to merit his love's ultimate reciprocation.  

What are men to do in such a reality?  It may not be a problem for the men who possess the means, or the knowledge to feign such means in order to bluff their way to sexual success, but men who possess neither the means nor the knowledge are condemned to a miserable existence indeed.  These men are ironically the very types who would fit the chivalrous mold.  They are noble, chaste or monogamous, usually of good intent and character, and they would do anything for the object of their affection.  In our culture, however, they are the weak and feckless fools whose ideals blind them to the reality of sex as commerce.  Something in their souls recoils at the idea of distilling an act or exchange they regard as holy and even sacred down to a commercial exchange.  Principles meet reality at some point, and the result is usually painful.  

For such men, the answer is to face the truth, much like those women who are told to act like a lady and think like a man, whatever that means.  The last thing anyone should want to do is act like the lady of contemporary mores, because she thinks exactly like the type of man she pursues.  How else do you explain her success?  She knows how to have a meeting of the minds through the genitals and the equitable division of property.  The subtext of every relationship she engages in is one of sheer commercial viability and value.  Her sexuality is one value on which only certain men can meet her expectations or price.  

Men have to realize that a lack of means should not condemn you to chastity or even loneliness.  The trick is look powerful, for a woman's sexuality is a bifurcation between the physiological and the subjective.  A woman wants to be desired.  It is innate to who she is, and if we are frank, all women are narcissists who believe themselves to be worthy on some levels of a high level of exaltation.  There is nothing a woman loves more than the spectacle of looking down on someone lesser who approaches her from a position of worship, but she does not usually reciprocate their approach in the desired way.  

The data on rape fantasies among women suggests as much.  There is a physiological response to stories about rape that women exhibit in the form of increased vaginal blood flow and lubrication.  But there is also a subjective element as well, because the woman isn't focused on what she wants: she's cognizant of what the attacker wants, and what he wants is her to the extent that he is willing to break with acceptable behavioral norms and mores in order to get her.  

This is not to say that women consciously want to be raped, but it is to say that women do want to be desired on a level that defies appropriate standards of conduct.  Men who are sexually successful understand this.  Such a principle is contained in depictions of sexuality throughout our culture and its art, as the following infamous scene from Basic Instinct shows: 

For a man to be sexually successful, he must remove from his mind and psyche all misconceptions about sex.  Sex is not chivalrous or romantic, it is primal and centered primarily around concepts of power.  A woman does not voluntarily surrender herself sexually to a man unless she perceives that there is some gain to be had.  In simpler terms, she must be made to believe that by engaging in sex with a particular man, she is gaining something equal to or greater than what she is surrendering.  

Depending upon a woman's mood or place in life, this may be a long term or short term value or medium of exchange.  If she is looking for sexual gratification in the form of physical satisfaction, she must believe that the man she is considering for sex is capable of gratifying her.  If she is looking for security and stability to go with her sexual satisfaction, she must believe that the man she is considering can meet her needs on a long term basis.  All that is at play here is power, whether the man appears to have it in sufficient amounts along particular lines or whether he appears to lack it along those specific lines.  

It is not merely power that is at play in such dynamics; it is violence or the suggestion of violence.  Anyone who has ever had sex and honestly reflected on the process after the fact has to admit that there is an element of violence to the act.  Parties struggle for positioning, each seeking to gratify themselves with the other's body in doing so, and each utilizing strength, agility, and flexibility from a physical standpoint to accomplish their satisfaction.  

In similar ways, a man's willingness to step outside of convention and what is held to be acceptable in his pursuit of a woman is similar in some sense of the rapist whose victim is aware that he desires her and has broken with standards in order to have what he wants.  If you've ever watched a friend of yours whose outrageousness with women seems to work, much to your shock, you've seen this principle in action.  He says things that are abusive and inappropriate with a certain joie de vivre, and far from being offended, the target of his abuse laughs along, not insulted in the slightest.  Instead, she is aware of the fact that her abuser is toying with her because she is the object of his desire.  Whereas convention and mores dictate that she should be offended and even angry, her reaction, just like his behavior, defies convention and all concepts of what is appropriate.  

Physiology and its behavioral outgrowths are stronger than convention and cultural norms that deny what is in favor of what ought to be.  The more we resist what is in favor of what ought to be, the more we reveal what is.  This idea is manifested in the United States, which despite its reputation as the most puritanical industrialized nation, manages to produce and purchase more pornography than the rest of the world combined.  

Just as chimpanzees exchange sex for meat, sex among humanity is little more than an exchange of value for value, made more complicated by our innate need to be desired sexually and the connotation of power that such arrangements lead to among our social networks.  Moreover, men who seek to transition from their current sexually inactive status must understand the value of deceit and its place in the animal kingdom as a means of attaining sex.  

The male topi antelope utilizes a warning snort when seeking to detain a female topi for more mating opportunities.  After the female has mated with him initially, the male will look in the direction she is heading as though a predator is lying in wait, and he will snort in warning.  The female will hesitate and head back in his direction.  As a result, the male gains the opportunity to mate additional times with the female.  

Male Augrabies flat lizards mimic females of their species in order to go into the territories of other males and attain sexual access to females within that territory.  A gamma dung beetle uses his feminine appearance to avoid combat and sneak into territories held by dominant alphas in order to sexually access females as well.  What males of the human variety must realize is that deceit is a means of gaining access to females that is documented throughout nature, and there is nothing wrong with such methods.  In point of fact, the more inappropriate you are, and the more you master the balance between inappropriate and unseemly, the more you increase the chance of gaining what you want.  

Dispense with the formalities, and concern yourself only with developing your own power, and you will gain greater self-satisfaction.  The great myth of sex is that it is about the other party.  It is not, insofar as their gratification is separate from your own.  If you find it empowering to be able to get your sexual partners to gratification, then by all means do so, but only because it gratifies you to do so.  If you do not wish to be concerned with anything other than your own gratification, approach sex from that standpoint.  

Women have a saying: it's all about me.  Those men who have been relegated to a subordinate and humbled status as a result of their agreement with such claptrap ought to start realize that if they are ever to gain happiness and fulfillment, it must be about them and what they want.  A woman's desires are incidental to getting what you want.  Insofar as identifying those desires enables your progress towards that end, it is fine to concern yourself with those items of concern.  Inasmuch as a woman is able to deflect your concern by rendering your concern with her desires an end in and of itself, it is not fine.  

Men who have sexual success with women often leave a trail of embittered women in their wake, because they live their lives on their own terms and women are unable to shift those terms in their favor.  Long cherished institutions that benefit women to the detriment of men should be done away with by male refusal to participate.  Laws ought to be changed by men who organize and coalesce around an agenda of change that is concerned with freeing men from constraints that inordinately favor women such as alimony. 

But none of this will happen so long as men continue to believe that their individual success is mutually exclusive to that of other men.  A man must go beyond his concept of pride to realize that polygyny is not conducive to monopolizing women.  While you are not immediately sexually involved with a woman, it is perfectly appropriate for another man to utilize her as he sees fit so long as she consents.  The fact that he does so is not a reason for you to become angry with him, even if he is a close personal friend.  Wives and girlfriends within the context of the relationship are the ones who break their word to cheat, and they are the ones you should harbor anger towards, if you harbor any anger at all.  In truth, if you have realized that a woman lied to you about her sexual fidelity, you really have no cause for anger at all because you've been relieved of the deceit by the revelation.  The only cause for anger towards a close personal male friend in this context is if he lies to you about his actions either by outright deceit or omission.  The bond of brothers should be one where transparency and honesty can define the relationship.  

Monogamy is the means by which women monopolize the assets and attention of their targeted male; it is  not the means by which naturally polygynous males monopolize the assets and attention of women.  Sex and the commercial exchanges which underlie it do not lend themselves to monogamous arrangements.  Once gratification is achieved, what is the point?  The end is gratification, and there is nothing beyond that end.  

There is a myth promoted by women that there are ends beyond gratification such as conception and marriage, but the truth of the matter is that those are decisions made by women.  A man's consent to sex is not consent to all possible outcomes after the fact, including conception, birth, monogamy, and marriage.  His assent to sex is assent to sex.  If a woman makes the independent decision to conceive or to carry a conception to term, that is her decision alone and the consequences of her independent decision are hers alone to bear.  

The problem with men is that we have not been effective in mobilizing or organizing in order to codify these principles into law.  Advocates of privilege for women have been tremendously effective in changing the law to gain the privilege they seek, and men should seize the political process to effectuate change for their own benefit without shame.  It is not immoral to contend for your own rational self-interest; to contrary, the most immoral legacy of feminism has been its shaming of men for daring to resist the notion of responsibility as defined by women who seek to appropriate a man's wages and assets to support the end result of their decisions to have a child or divorce their husbands.  Such responsibility is not responsibility at all, because one cannot be responsible for a decision made by others who denied you meaningful input in the decision!  

The time has come to recognize that the terms, the jargon, the idealized notions about sex and relationships that are promoted by a feminized culture are unrealistic and detrimental to the interests of men.  Such concepts are weighted in the favor of women, who manage to appropriate the terms of the debate for their own advantage while simultaneously professing victimhood!  In advertising, in movies, and in the larger culture, men are the ones being depicted negatively.  Insofar as women are being depicted as sexualized creatures, they have the power to change that depiction by refusing to take the acting jobs and commercial gigs on principle. The notion of sexuality as power or the road to objectification is varied throughout the feminine perspective, and the bifurcation is sharply delineated among the two camps.  Depicting the objectification of women as a problem that has its roots in male privilege denies the role of women who play along to their own advantage.  This blame myth, divorcing females from responsibility for their choices by depicting an overwhelming patriarchy, benefits neither men nor women.  

Women need to learn that responsibility is individual rather than corporate or communal.  It is not the role of the state or men to facilitate a means out of the consequences of a woman's decision, just as it is not the role of the state or men to tell women what their decision has to be.  With individual determination comes individual responsibility, and this is a lesson that the feminist movement needs to learn in order to get beyond its emphasis on female privilege as a means of equality.  

Anarcho-misogyny is concerned primarily with addressing such contradictory notions and ideals and demolishing them with logic to reveal what is, rather than concerning itself with what ought to be in a manner that glosses over what actually is.  Candor undiluted by tact or subtlety is at the core of our ideal, regardless of what polite convention may proclaim as appropriate for discourse.   Sex is commerce, whether sold by the prostitute on the street corner or the debutante at the ball.  Our ideals should not get in the way of stating things for what they are. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pandering Without Delivery: The Republican Way

As Republicans continue their utterly feckless retreat from debt reduction, we might pause to consider for a moment that the Republicans are never interested in pursuing an item unless it is practically impossible to achieve the item or success is guaranteed.  In other words, so long as the ultimate outcome is clear, the Republicans are willing to seriously pursue a goal.  If there's any doubt as to the outcome, what Republicans do is simple: they pander.  They use the item as a means of drumming up support and ire among their base and those independents who can be recruited to the cause, only to yank back at the last because they have neither courage nor conviction.

That's the defining trait of the Republican Party over the past forty years: neither courage nor conviction.  If debt reduction is so vital to the future of this country, and the threat of a default is a means of getting a deal done, then the Republicans would have taken the 5 to 1 deal of $2 trillion in spending cuts for $400 billion in tax increases.  By walking away to childishly insist that they have a Burger King form of governance, where they have it their way, right away, the Republicans likely sacrificed the best deal they would have gotten.

This President is not Bill Clinton. There is no balanced budget on the horizon that will emanate from the White House and tick off the Democratic caucuses.  He is a hardened partisan and a pragmatist who understands the back door is often the way change gets done.  Allow me to explain, briefly: you remember those high-risk pools for the uninsured and state healthcare exchanges that are scheduled to begin in 2014?

Those are the way forward to universal single-payer healthcare, because when companies look at the fines they'll pay versus the cost of their health insurance plans, they will make the simple economic decision to jettison their employer healthcare plans and dump their employees into the state healthcare exchanges.  Since many of us will enter those exchanges with pre-existing conditions, we'll go to the exchanges rather than the private alternatives because we'll only be able to afford the exchange provided insurance.

As expenses grow, the government will step in to facilitate a solution to a problem they created in the first place by tinkering with healthcare throughout the decades.  You know that managed care model that the government now condemns as the exemplar of what is wrong with our healthcare system?  That's the legacy of Ted Kennedy, whose 1973 legislation ushered in the HMO era.  You know that employer provided health insurance that's so common nowadays?  That's another legacy of government intervention through tax credits.  And those skyrocketing expenses that characterize our healthcare?  That's the legacy of under-reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid, because private healthcare institutions pass along the cost to the insured.  Additionally, we pay higher prescription drug costs here because our government bans prescription drug reimportation.  That's important, because countries like Canada and the nations of the European Union all have price controls. The drug companies sell there at controlled prices, and recoup the difference here by gouging you and me, because our government doesn't have price controls nor does it allow us access to cheaper drugs from markets who do have price controls. We're paying the price for the rest of the world.

The genesis of everything that is wrong with healthcare can be traced back in one way or another to government interference.  And what you need to understand is this: the Republican Party in its current incarnation is not your friend, because nearly every bit of the healthcare reform legislation that passed into law had its genesis in Republican think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.  They moaned, groaned, pranced, and pandered, but at the end of the day, they knew what was going to come down.  They campaigned on repeal knowing they wouldn't be able to deliver.  Even if they had clear majorities in both houses of Congress, with a veto proof majority, the Republican Party would not repeal Obamacare.

Their only interest is pandering to those of us who believe in a pro-life agenda, a small tax and small government model, and the right of states to set their own agendas with minimal federal interference.  In the end, some of the worst federal expansion in terms of size, expenditure, and power has come under Republican majorities and Republican presidents.  George W. Bush presided over the biggest expansion of the federal government in five decades.  That's reality.  He wasn't a conservative; he was as big government as they come, as were the allies who lined up in Congress to pass his agendas into law.

Instead of insisting on accountability in the aftermath of 9/11, the Republicans added the Directorate of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, and gave the NSA even more power to surveil American citizens.  It wasn't as if the government didn't have enough power to prevent 9/11, or enough foreknowledge.  They did, but they failed to do their job.  There's no evidence that more federal power leads to greater performance at the federal level.  Just take a look at Medicare and defense spending.

The Republicans never deliver on Republican principles.  They never deliver on pro-life policies, they never deliver on smaller government ideals, and they never deliver on a balanced budget or fiscal responsibility.  They never cut the size of government in a meaningful manner, and they never deliver real spending cuts.  Remember that nearly $40 billion package of spending cuts that turned out to be an increase in spending of almost $4 billion?  That's the Republican strategy: smoke and mirrors.  The accusation of smoke and mirrors that Mitch McConnell hurled at the President the other day was the height of hypocrisy, given the past forty years of Republican history.

Republicans campaign on one agenda and deliver the opposite consistently.  If you're ready to line up with that gang in 2012 as the lesser of two evils, prepare yourself for a Republican Party that governs like Democrat Lite.  Less filling, tastes like shit.  The bottom line is this: it's time to sweep every Republican incumbent out of office and send a message that pandering is so 2010.  The best outcome from these negotiations would be the passage of another temporary increase that would force the President to deal with the debt ceiling in an election year.  If the Republicans have any sense of strategy whatsoever, they'll pass a temporary debt ceiling increase in the House, force the Senate into an up or down vote, and force the President to make a decision on whether or not to veto the temporary increase.

That's how badly the Republicans have messed up debt negotiations.  All of the momentum is now on the President's side because they were so woefully unprepared for a $4 trillion gambit.  That's how serious they were about spending cuts: they didn't already have a proposal with specifics lined up.  No, they were flat-footed, because they never envisioned such gamesmanship coming from the White House.

What is so pathetic about this entire charade is that spending cuts are obvious: end Afghanistan and our ill-advised occupying adventures in the Arabian Peninsula, and save over $170 billion a year.  That's $1.7 trillion over a decade!  Cut our military spending by eliminating layers of bureaucracy and administrative costs, along with ending wasteful weapons programs, and set a goal of reducing the defense budget by 30% annually.  That's around $210 billion a year, or $2.1 trillion over a decade!  Wow, we have $3.8 trillion in spending reductions, or, given the $2.3 trillion the Pentagon announced it lost on September 10, 2001, a little over $1.5 trillion more than the Pentagon can lose track off over time!

We might consider eliminating the ATF for its Project Gunrunner fiasco, given its history of incinerating women and children at Waco and shooting families at Ruby Ridge.  It's a dysfunctional and corrupt agency, or an agency that functions properly at the behest of an overreaching Executive Branch, depending on how you want to look at it.  Either way, we'd be best served by its elimination.  We might do the same for the DEA, given that we've clearly failed to stem the tide of drugs into this country over the course of the DEA's history.  We know prohibition as policy really doesn't work.

We'd save around $3.4 billion annually and $34 billion over a decade, but we'd be getting the federal government out of drug prohibition and gun enforcement, two areas in which it has no constitutional role to speak of whatsoever.  So, we've got a little over $3.8 trillion in spending cuts over a decade to point to, and we've eliminated two federal agencies.  Then there's the matter of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

These three programs comprise half of the federal budget, but they also enable the Republicans to call President Obama's bluff.  Remember when the President threatened to withhold payments for Social Security and other programs because he couldn't guarantee that the money would be there in the event of a default?  He lied.  According to the Daily Treasury Statements, there's more than enough money on hand to cover those benefits, and if Obama vetoed a temporary debt ceiling increase, and then tried to wriggle out of paying out Social Security benefits, the Republicans could ream him on the facts.  It would be a choice of President Obama to play politics with the lives of seniors and disabled Americans, not a fiscal necessity.

But back to those programs and how to reduce costs: Medicare alone loses $60 billion a year to fraud by the government's admission.  There are groups who assert that the losses run as high as $120 billion a year.  If we simply eliminated the fraud in that program, we'd save anywhere from $600 billion-to $1.2 trillion over a decade.  Now we're at anywhere from $4.4 trillion to $5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade, and we didn't have to cut Medicare benefits even slightly!  We just had to cut fraud!  If Republicans and Democrats can't agree to fight fraud and waste in Medicare, then we've got bigger problems than debt reduction.

The bottom line is that cutting government spending is not difficult.  The cuts are obvious.  What is staggering is that the Republicans can't cobble together a $4 trillion package of spending reductions with all of their considerable resources, given that it took me a whopping 30 minutes to cobble together anywhere from $4.4 trillion to $5 trillion in spending reductions over the next decade, and I didn't even have to cut entitlements benefits to do so.

Then again, I'm not pandering to a constituency out of contempt for their intelligence.  I don't look at the national debt as a political tool to expand my political power and influence.  I'm just a guy who is interested in a solution to a problem, and when your interest is genuine, solutions tend to be more apparent.  When your interest isn't genuine, you join the Republican Party and run for office to get closer to the likes of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell.  Pandering without ever delivering: it's the Republican way for electoral success!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'll Call Your $2 Trillion and Raise You $2 Trillion More

As part of the Republican Party's goal of self-destructive embrace of debt default as a strategic gambit, the Republicans found themselves faced with an offer from President Obama to cut $4 trillion, only to back off of the idea themselves.  The simple truth is that the Republicans should have already had $4 trillion worth of debt reduction over the next decade.  What debt negotiation looks like right now is amateur hour on the Republican side, because they can't point to anything specific.

It now appears that the Republicans didn't actually have a plan put together before they came to the table; instead, they went to the table with a blank slate and tried to hash out the specifics of a total amount they had in mind as a goal.  One could easily slash $2 trillion from the budget over the next decade by ending the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere.  It's not even that we have to end the wars completely; it's that we don't need to field an occupying force to get to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Unmanned drone strikes have proven remarkably effective, as have Special Forces operations.  Small groups of soldiers utilizing discretionary warfare tactics have accomplished more strategically over the past six months than massive ground forces and air campaigns have over the past decade.

Moreover, given the fact that the Pentagon announced on September 10th, 2001 that it had misplaced some $2.3 trillion, we can make a cogent argument that accounting reform is desperately needed at the Department of Defense.  Moreover, the savings that might be utilized from a closer scrutiny of the historically corrupt accounting over at the Pentagon could be substantial.

Today, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky floated the idea that the Senate Republicans would vote to disapprove of the debt ceiling increase, a move that would spark a presidential veto and enable, you guessed it, a debt ceiling increase.  Generally speaking, we can read the tea leaves and know that when this deal is done, little if anything substantive will be done to cut spending.

When this President calls your gambit and doubles it, you call his bluff with specifics.  The Republicans have failed miserably at this task.  $2 trillion was only a start, given that a yearly deficit is approaching $2 trillion.  We aren't talking about merely cutting spending; rather, we should be talking about eliminating entire departments of the federal government.  I have yet to hear a single such proposal emanate out of the Republican ranks, who are more concerned about bribing constituents with dollars from the public coffers than they are about fixing the legacy of forty-one consecutive years worth of deficit spending.

Many of you who read my writing regularly want me to hit the Left, but it's incredibly hard to do that when the Republican Party continues to underwhelm.  Nearly everything the Republican Party supports is a means of increasing federal power and spending.  The Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, indefinite detentions, military occupations around the world, even though we already have over 1,000 bases around the world.

It would be quite simple to deal with Social Security by simply calling the President's bluff on class warfare, if the Republican Party had any sense whatsoever among the ranks of its leadership.  It's simple: let's institute an income limit for eligibility to receive Social Security benefits.  That is, if you have additional retirement income in excess of a certain amount, you don't get to collect Social Security in addition to that.  Moreover, the Republicans could propose to lock Social Security with a constitutional amendment, thereby barring Congress from continuing to loot Social Security surpluses so that they can underreport the annual deficits.  Neither option is likely to play with the President, but the Republicans would appear interested in preserving and securing a popular program for decades into the future while simultaneously denying Congress a source of revenue it should never have had access to in the first place.

If the Republicans wanted to go further, they could simply point out the Medicare as a program wasted at least $1 billion over a decade long period and likely wasted tens of billions of dollars more, as an Associated Press report noted:

"Billions more in taxpayer dollars may have been wasted over the last decade because the government-run health program for the elderly and disabled paid out claims with blank or invalid diagnosis codes, such as a "?" or "zzzzz." Medicare officials say even smiley-face icons could have been accepted."

Smiley faces.  Question marks.  "zzzzz."  The same report found that nearly $5 billion in Medicare payments went to claims submitted with improper or no diagnostic codes whatsoever.  It stands to reason that we don't have to slash benefits, we just have to confront waste and fraud in Medicare to ensure its survival if the American people do in fact want it to survive.  These are the arguments the Republicans should be making, and yet they are not.

I am absolutely disgusted with the performance of the Republican establishment during these negotiations.  Obama be sent into unemployment in 2012, and a good many of the longstanding incumbents on the Republican side of the aisle should be sent packing right behind him. $4 trillion over a decade is doable, but not if you're totally unprepared to entertain the idea.  As it stands, the Republicans are losing this battle by failing to put forth anything other than excuses.  They don't need to be negotiating with Obama; they need to be putting the specifics before the American people and making their case in the court of public opinion.

The debt negotiations are a farce, and if the Republicans fail to deliver an alternative in August, we won't forget in 2012.  It's time for those of us who can take the time and go work in Boehner's district for a primary challenger.  It's time for those of us who can take the time to do the same to the likes of McConnell and others as well.  Otherwise, you can expect nothing more than posturing out of Washington no matter who the President is after 2012.

Religious and Secular Law: A Clash of Ideals

There are movements afoot throughout the United States to enact laws which bar the application of Sharia law in U.S. state courts.  The efforts of those who seek such a bar to Sharia law are problematic for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that a secular law bars Muslims from contracting and resolving their disputes in accordance with their own religious beliefs.  In essence, a Muslim in a state where courts are barred from considering Sharia law is effectively barred from following his conscience in day to day living.  He or she cannot appeal to the courts for civil redress when faced with a dispute over a matter of Sharia law.

This may seem fine to you, but consider the fact that banks are increasingly catering to Muslim communities with halal lending.  Let's say that a state passes a law that bars the enforcement of Sharia law, and the bank who lended a Muslim customer money for his initial mortgage or business loan in accordance with Sharia's ban on interest-based loans refuses to issue further credit or financing to the customer under halal terms due to the legal uncertainty injected by the state's ban on Sharia law.   The Muslim has a choice: betray his conscience by violating the religious law that governs every aspect of his life, or he can follow that conscience and be placed at a total disadvantage financially speaking.

To be quite honest, the idea of religious law applying in civil courts is not new.  New York courts frequently apply Jewish law in divorce proceedings when both parties have agreed up front to be bound by such law.  Christians in the early Church were admonished by no less a figure than the Apostle Paul for going to secular courts to resolve disputes amongst their own kind according to secular law in Corinthians 6:1-8.

The simple truth of laws that bar the application of Sharia law among consenting parties is that they are a thinly veiled attack on religious freedom.  It's perfectly reasonable to tolerate halal banking and Jewish tradition in adjudicating divorces, but laws currently under proposal make no reasonable exceptions that respect the right of individuals to transact commerce and conduct their personal relationships according to their deeply held convictions and beliefs.  There is no public policy argument to be made that such reasonable applications of Sharia or Jewish law should be barred.

Additionally, it is quite possible for courts to utilize common sense in ensuring that where religious laws are overbroad, public policy prevails, as it did in the case of S.D. v. M.J.R., 2 A.3d 412 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2010). In this case, the husband argued that his religious belief that he had a right to have sex with his wife any time he pleased negated the intent requirement for rape.  In other words, his wife's consent was irrelevant to the matter.  The trial court refused to issue a restraining order to the wife after a divorce based on its holding that the husband's beliefs negated criminal intent.  The appellate court overturned the lower court's holding, and rightfully so.  Religious beliefs do not excuse a person from liability under a criminal code for crimes like rape or murder.

Among consenting individuals who demonstrate informed consent, agreements governed by religious law and tradition are perfectly reasonable.  States should honor those agreements and adjudicate them accordingly if they do not offend community standards egregiously.  There are any number of mitzvot and Sharia law requirements that do not offend community standards or impede the rule of law.  In point of fact, they are conducive to the free exercise of religious conviction.  The point of religion is to impact and guide day to day life, with everything from commercial to personal relationships influenced according to the ethics and mores thereof.  The state has little if any business painting in broadstrokes where such arrangements are concerned.

When states do attempt such broadstrokes, their efforts ought to be condemned for what they are: a cheap, pandering appeal to fear and bigotry.  While it may be expedient for political figures to build constituencies out of division and resentment, the end result is a balkanized population rather than a cohesive society with reasonable and moderated policies that respect the right of consenting adults to choose arrangements according to their own consciences.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Michelle Bachmann Is An Idiot and Other Epiphanies

Michelle Bachmann made news by signing on to a truly odious document issued by The Family Leader, the contents of which proclaimed the following:

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

Yes, and that child was also more likely to be split from his mother and father and sold to another owner, or to see his father hauled off to auction at his family's owner's whim.  The document, which ultimately calls for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as consisting of a man and a woman, is a clearly anti-conservative and anti-small government piece of writing.  In it, The Family Leader calls for presidential candidates to declare their support for everything from a ban of Sharia Islam and protection from pornography, along with a cooling off period for quickie divorces.  For starters, there is no federal role in defining marriage.  Marriage is a matter for the states to handle, and the federal government has not one enumerated power that would justify its intrusion on the issue of marriage.

Those who advocate for federal intervention in marriage do so ostensibly to defend its sanctity, but they are unwittingly opening the door for federal authority to turn with the tide of public opinion.  Simply put, if you acknowledge the authority of the federal government to define marriage as between a man and a man, you also acknowledge its power to define marriage in other ways.  The 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution gives states wide latitude to regulate marriage, and this is the way it has always been.

Additionally, the protection of children from pornography is the province of parents who may justifiably appeal to state and local governments to place reasonable limitations on the display and dissemination in order to accomplish their goals.  From zoning laws to obscenity statutes, the history of pornography regulation has been clear: it is a state and local issue.  To the extent that the federal government has deigned to involve itself in the matter of pornography, it has done so incorrectly by flagrantly overstepping its enumerated and limited powers.

As far as Sharia Islam goes, there is no other type.  Should Muslims wish to contract amongst themselves according to Sharia law, that is their business.  There are limits to the reach of Sharia law, as we in the United States do not tolerate honor killings or amputations as a form of criminal punishment. Most of the 8 million Muslims in the United States are quite comfortable with such reasonable limitations, and many of them fled regimes where such harsh punishments were the norm.  Our courts are perfectly capable of defining the public policy limits of Sharia law, as are our legislatures at the state level.  What The Family Leader and its advocates are after is quite obvious: a reduction of Islam to subservient status.

It is intellectually disingenuous and constitutionally noxious to call for the practical equivalent of a ban on Islam on the one hand while simultaneously calling for the following:

"Fierce defense of the First Amendment's rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience..."

If this document were calling for a restriction on one of the 613 Mitzvot, or a federal intervention in kashered law, we wouldn't even be entertaining this discussion seriously.  Perhaps the federal government has an equal protection interest in restricting Israelites from dealing differently with Gentiles in matters of finance, as the commandment against lending to another Jew at interest clearly promotes such differences in treatment.  The simple truth is that it isn't any of the federal government's business, and neither are quickie divorces.

What is more egregious about Michelle Bachmann's signatory status on the document is her reaction to criticism: she said she opposed slavery as a horrible institution, and added that she was opposed to economic enslavement as well.  As if.  We are not under economic enslavement in this country by any means.  If our current condition is enslavement, the rest of the world should be so fortunate.  Americans, even when facing economic difficulty, have greater riches than many others in this world could ever hope for in their entire lives.

There have been a number of tremendous and critical overreaches by the federal government, from TARP to backdoor bailouts by various regulatory agencies and the Federal Reserve.  However, far from facilitating the economic enslavement of banks, these overreaches ultimately liberated those banks from the rightful consequences of their own actions with public funds.  While the rest of us will pay the bill for the bailouts in the form of long-term tax policy reform and inflation, we are not slaves.  We are voters with the power to take Washington back and kick every last individual out of Congress.

The politics of victimization and resentment, built as they are on constituencies of division, may enable Michelle Bachmann to get out of Iowa with a caucus triumph, but they do no good to the long-term interests of the GOP or the goal of freedom-loving small government enthusiasts who seek to remove Obama from office in 2012.  A win for Bachmann in Iowa would be catastrophic for the Republican Party and for the goal of the Tea Party in getting Obama out of office.  The woman is an extremist who supports and opposes federal overreach depending on the issue at stake.  If it assists her in gaining electoral traction, she's fine with the federal government regulating matters that have traditionally been left to the states.  This isn't principle, it's pragmatism.

We've seen forty-one years of pragmatism in a row, and where it leads is clear: massive debt, increasing federal power, and an unconstitutionally broad role for the federal government.  Michelle Bachmann is an idiot and a panderer, and her momentum in Iowa should be derailed at all costs.  If she wins a primary, it plays right into the mainstream media's narrative about the Tea Party and the libertarian movement; namely, that we are nuttier than hell.

I leave you with a list of Bachmann quotes, as an idea of the coverage inundation we'll see if Bachmann comes to be the face of the GOP in 2012:

''Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.''

She ought to take several deep whiffs of carbon dioxide to test out her theory.

“But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”

Because John Hancock was right there at the Emancipation Proclamation.

''And what a bizarre time we're in, when a judge will say to little children that you can't say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it.''

I'd like to see the exact documentation on this claim, please.

''If we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.''

Yes. And if we wiped out corporate welfare in the form of monetary policy manipulation and inflation, we'd be able to keep a constant dollar value that, coupled with gains in productivity, would have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty since 1980.  Unfortunately, we've been too busy printing up dollars to paper over the fraudulent activity of Savings and Loans, hedge funds, investment banks, and other too big to fail entities.  If you really want to know where the onus for the minimum wage comes from, it's the monetary policy that prioritizes bailouts for the wealthy at the expense of a monetary policy that allows those who mismanage their businesses to fail if the guilty parties are heading up multinational conglomerates and financial institutions.  Without corporate welfare and bailouts for wealthy shareholders of big banks, there is no need for welfare in the form of a minimum wage.  The reason we can't repeal the corporate income tax is that there are too many giveaways built into the tax for big business to ever support the repeal of the tax.

''We will talk a little bit about what has transpired in the last 18 months and would we count what has transpired into turning our country into a nation of slaves.''

Isa pickin' cotton, Massa!  I swear Isa doin' so!

''I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence.''

Oh, good grief.

“The President of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.”

Simple arithmetic eludes Michelle Bachmann, which is exactly why we need her in the White House to manage the deficit...because a lack of mathematical prowess is a prerequisite for the presidency.

“I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I'm not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I'm not a scientist.”

Thanks for making people of faith sound as stupid as you are, Michelle!  A lot of people who believe in the Bible are in fact deep thinkers, but it's good that you're honest about your own walk.

I write this as an act of mercy.  As scathing as I am towards Michelle Bachmann, it's better for someone who actually wants Obama out to take the shots as Bachmann now, because it will be a slow death if she gets the nomination.  It is absolutely vital to the future of this country to see Barack Obama turned out of office in 2012, but it is even more critical to get an individual into the White House who won't be a gaffe a minute machine.  Michelle Bachmann is not that candidate.

As to who I think that candidate might be, I'll say this: you've got Gary Johnson and Thad McCotter.  Either one of those candidates could take Barack Obama on in a debate and mop the floor with his record, and if given the opportunity, they would do so.  Johnson has executive experience, and McCotter has a proven conservative voting record with moderated tendencies.  Both are individuals who have shown an ability to work with others across the aisle to get legislation done without completely selling out small government principles.  I don't agree with everything both men have done, but compared to the rest of the field, they're electable and won't embarrass the hell out Republicans and libertarians.  Moreover, either of them could beat Barack Obama in 2012.

Intellectual Incoherence and the National Debt

The other day, I was struck by an exchange on Bloomberg between Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Al Hunt of Bloomberg News on "Political Capital with Al Hunt."  Al Hunt asked a very simple question: if 23 million jobs were created under Bill Clinton's Administration while only 3 million were created under the Bush Administration, how could Republicans characterize a tax hike as being negative from a jobs standpoint?  The Republican immediately went into the default rant that has come to characterize everything Republicans have to say these days: job growth under the Clinton Administration was due to Ronald Reagan.

I'm serious.  He actually claimed that the jobs generated under Bill Clinton were the consequence of Ronald Reagan's policies.  Apparently, the four years of recession that preceded the Clinton Administration were the fault of someone other than Reagan, presumably Jimmy Carter, who gets blamed for everything these days, and the economic record of America under William Jefferson Clinton is a credit to Ronald Wilson Reagan, who did everything short of walking on water during his tenure as president.

The Republican talking points these days, as in the past, are tax cuts, tax cuts, and tax cuts.  The only change is that Republicans are preaching spending cuts as an accompanying feature of their tax cuts, because under the Bush II and Reagan Administrations, tax cuts were paired with spending increases of staggering proportions.  Moreover, what Republicans conveniently omit from their mythic view of the Reagan Administration is this: Reagan raised taxes in some form or another six out of the eight years he held the Presidency.

A tax cut works from a stimulative standpoint by freeing up money for private investment. Depending on the policies that accompany the tax cut, the investment may stay here for domestic industry or be funneled overseas for foreign industry.   The benefits are obvious either way: on the one hand, domestic investment leads to growth in industries and more jobs; on the other hand, foreign investment leads to cheaper products that are then imported to larger markets like our own and eagerly purchased by U.S. consumers.  Additionally, workers in emerging economies then purchase American consumables like paper products and the like, which in turn stimulates American business.

However, when a tax cut is paired with a spending increase, the purpose of the tax cut (private investment) is defeated, because governments who pair revenue reductions with expenditure increases run deficits. Those deficits then provide a demand for private capital to finance government debt rather than, say, job-generating investment opportunities in the private sector.  How, then, do you explain the apparent economic growth that accompanies a Bush-era tax cut that somehow raises overall federal tax receipts or the economic growth that accompanies a Clinton-era tax increase?

It's quite simple: inflationary monetary policy.  We haven't had a single quarter of economic growth in this country since 1994 absent Federal Reserve monetary stimulus.  By expanding the supply of dollars while Clinton raised taxes, the Federal Reserve accomplished two things: one, it made credit more widely available; and two, it devalued the existing debt.  I defy you to find a single instance in our history where the United States government has actually repaid debt without resorting to the issuance of more debt or by inflating the dollar in order to cheapen repayment.

We issued debt in dollars that were worth a certain amount, and we repaid in dollars that were worth far less than their original value.  We also managed to flood the markets with liquidity in the form of new credit.  That credit was used to inflate the U.S. economy, to blow it up with millions of new jobs short-term.  Though taxes did go up, their effect on the overall economy was minimal compared to the massive injections of liquidity from the Federal Reserve.  We collected more devalued dollars to repay old debts because there were more devalued dollars in circulation thanks to the Federal Reserve, and economic growth is dependent upon the Fed's manipulation of the credit markets.

The same thing happened with the Bush Administration, where a tax cut was pointed to as the reason the economy was doing better.  What no one wanted to acknowledge was the doubling of the base monetary supply conducted by the Federal Reserve, an act that flooded markets with liquidity, thereby enabling subprime borrowers to go out and buy homes with mortgages that were destined to fail issued by banks too big to fail.  The debt skyrocketed under the Bush Administration because spending was given booster rockets, as we waged two wars and enacted a prescription drug benefit while increasing federal outlays for education.  All the while, tax cuts were espoused as the panacea for what ailed everything.

Well, here we are: we're $14 trillion in debt.  We're still in Afghanistan, and we're offering troops again for Iraq.  We're striking in Yemen, we're bombing Libya, we're off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and we're still Saudi Arabia's military on call.  We are also deploying Special Forces soldiers throughout South American countries as part of the War on Drugs, a war that is the predecessor in folly of today's War on Terror.  A dollar from 1980 is just 34 cents today.  We're in hock to Social Security for $2.5 trillion, because the real amount of our national debt is $16.5 trillion.  You see, Social Security surpluses are automatically loaned to Congress by law, and Congress has used those surpluses since 1985 to underreport the actual operating deficit.  It's why then Bush Administration bureaucrat Mitch Daniels refused to certify the United States federal government's books when asked to do so by Senator Fritz Hollings, who noted that while the government required such certification for private corporations, it resolutely refused to certify its own books.

Greece and Spain are on the verge of revolution, and the German government is pressuring Italy to join their ranks.  What the solvent countries of the European Union don't want you to know is that their debt aid packages are predicated on cutting spending, just not the spending that involves paying for arms from France and Germany, because what a country like Greece needs right now is a bunch of guns.

The United States is still the last best hope for the world, but our government is too dysfunctional to lead, either here or abroad.  We can't even set our own house in order, and this is a failure directly attributable to bipartisanship.  Thirty years of agreeing to pair tax cuts with spending increases led us to the current destination.  Today, we have a promising step in the right direction: spending cuts paired with revenue increases.  We've got the following offer on the table: I'll give you $2 trillion in spending cuts for $400 billion in tax hikes.  That's a 5 to 1 deal in your favor!

However, Republicans can't bring themselves to betray principles today where tax cuts are concerned, even though they've spent damn near thirty years defecating on every principle of small government conservatism imaginable.  We now have an agency of the United States government that gropes six year olds between the legs and forces our wives and sisters to stand in naked body scanners that show everything to onlookers whose line of vision is aligned with that of a TSA screener.  We have the NSA asserting the authority to intercept every single phone call, email, text message, and electronic communication of any sort that we make without a warrant or probable cause.  We have Republicans paradoxically saying that marriage is a matter for states to define, only to profess their support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman when states like Vermont and New York exercise their 10th Amendment power to define marriage as they see fit.  The President now asserts the power to execute and assassinate U.S. citizens without a trial or any form of judicial review.

Despite the fact that the President has asserted such an outrageous claim, he's still in office.  Republicans have yet to bring articles of impeachment.  This same President used TARP funds to bail out car companies even though the law governing TARP funds and their distribution said nothing about automotive companies whatsoever.  In point of fact, had the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 permitted such nonsense, there would have been no need for an an up or down vote in Congress on the issue, a vote that saw such a proposal defeated hands down.

He's also embroiled us in Libya beyond the 90 days a president is permitted to deploy U.S. military forces without congressional authorization, and we are conducting actions that amount to warfare by any reasonable definition in various countries around the world. We're doing this despite the fact that Libya never attacked us, and presented zero threat to the safety and security of the United States and its citizens. This President deserves to be impeached and removed from office, but there are no calls from Republicans to that effect.  The reason is simple: George W. Bush deserved the same for his performance in the lead-up to Iraq and for his administration's utter failure to detect and prevent 9/11, but the Republicans rallied around him and resolutely refused to entertain any such effort.  George W. Bush asserted the power to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial while denying them access to legal counsel, the charges against them, or the right to review the evidence against them.

Think about that for a moment: a Republican president asserted a power to detain American citizens, potentially for life, based on mere suspicion.  You can't say that it was based on actual evidence that would hold up in court, because if it that had been the case, the Bush Administration would have sprinted into court to hold up their convictions as political capital.  Despite the fact that George W. Bush flouted every conservative principle of federal restraint in authority and spending, there was no resistance from his party that amounted to anything other than sound bite on television.  Today, the Republican Party cannot oppose Barack Obama effectively because they would be open to charges of rank hypocrisy.

Today, the entirety of the Republican platform can be summed up as follows:

1. Tax cuts are always good and will result in better economic performance, even when they don't.
2. Deficits don't matter until we say that they matter, and that won't be until we have a Democrat in the    
    White House.
3. Marriage is between a man and woman, and should be left to the states unless they say otherwise, at
    which point we should amend the Constitution to say that marriage is between a man and a woman.
4. Illegal immigration ought to be dealt with, unless it involves confronting illegal hiring of aliens.
5. We can have guns and butter, through multiple wars and prescription drug benefits, and we don't need
    to raise taxes.
6. Ronald Reagan was perfect and never raised taxes; he just implemented "revenue enhancements."

God save this honorable republic from the asinine Republican establishment and its intellectually incoherent dogma and its rank hypocrisy in action.