Category Archives: Politics

Meet Jonathan Tasini, modern-day Jacobin

I’ve never thought I’d see the day when I defend Arianna Huffington from the likes of this guy, but she deserves a little fair treatment because this is a matter of professionalism.

I am no legal expert, but Tasini is not suing as a statutory nor contractual manner, rather, he says that this is “about justice.” The nature of progressivism as antithetical to success is laid bare in Mr. Tasini’s rhetoric. He and his fellow unpaid writers have no right to claim any of the sale price of the Huffington Post to Aol. Here’s why:

The writers are under no obligation to write. If they were feeling slighted for not being paid, the door is freely open for them to leave.

The writers gain a benefit from writing for HuffPo. They get exposure, and the throngs of sycophants in the comments are a constant source of ego stroking.

The writers assume none of the risks Arianna took when she started the site. Nor do they assume any risks for the ongoing operation. They don’t pay her anything for the web hosting—which for a heavily trafficked site like hers would be enormous—nor do they have any liability for any damages the site may have been sued for. If the Huffington Post went out of business instead of succeeded, Arianna would be in no position to blame the writers she welcomed into her bevy.

This is why, after so many years I’ve learned to avoid having to trade services “for free.” The value of the returns becomes fuzzier as memory fades. Exposure doesn’t always lead to additional business; in fact, a reputation of doing services for free or cheap will only attract the worst of possible “clients.” I have little sympathy for Arianna, and much less so for the likes of Tasini. But as a professional matter, let this be a cautionary tale: nothing comes for free.

Gov’t shutdown averted; Boehner loses some and wins a lot

Jennifer Rubin has the definitive commentary on this budget deal. Predictable stuff: the Left claiming credit for avoiding the shutdown and the President’s “ability” to have  bipartisan solution; elements of the Right claiming Boehner sold us out.

I’m quite disappointed in losing the Planned Parenthood rider. This deal comes at the cost of every unborn child who dies between now and the time that the organization is finally defunded from the federal till. This has been a moral weight on this nation and will continue to do so.

We have, however, gotten a glimpse of the Democrats’ arguing tactics. So few have predicted how virulent the Left would argue the sanctity of a woman’s abortions, and now that we’ve seen this demagoguery we can expect worse once Paul Ryan’s budgetary proposal is debated for next year’s fiscal year. We have to be prepared to counter such messaging issues as forcing the elderly to choose between pills and eating dog food. If not, the weight of our entitlements will crush us.

Libya and schadenfreude

Our President took a long time to get his head together on the matter of Libya. This is nothing new for him of course, and this indecision has led to us diving in at the worst possible timing. We could’ve turned the tide on this matter two weeks ago when the Libyan citizenry were crying out for our help with a no-fly zone.

However, we’re there now, and through a shameful process no less: no Congressional consultation—which is forgiveable under the War Powers Act—but not until there was a United Nations Security Council vote. This is, as I said on Twitter, a feature of This President’s brand of misgovernance, although it is a bug in what we’ve grown accustomed to as the American way of doing things.

I am with my fellow Conservatives in ridiculing Our President for the way he’s acted in this matter, because of the rank hypocrisy when it comes to process. Our President, back when he was a Senator and a candidate, was not exactly a believer of the “Bush Doctrine.” In 2007, Biden openly stated that military action without Congressional approval is cause for impeachment.

The reaction from the left is amusing. We have the die-hard anti-war folk like the soon-to-be-gerrymandered-out-of-a-career-and-finally-so-for-the-love-of-God Dennis Kucinich, whom I admire—to an extent—for sticking to their misguided principles. Then, we have the clownish Defenders Of The One whose First Cause in everything is defense of Our President. The latter group, in its defense of its idol, has basically validated everything Bush has done, and have tied themselves in knots over their former anti-war stances. Laid bare, many of them aren’t so much anti-war as they were anti-Bush.

I may enjoy a little bit of schandenfreude over all of this, but, despite all the bungling and punting, the Libyan citizenry is fighting for their freedom and we’re there to help now. I support the freedom effort in Libya, and I want us to root for success in that endeavor.

Why the Egyptian protests are personal to me

In 1986, I was but a little child. My mom took to EDSA on the first day of that historic People Power Revolution. I remember only a few details. One, the first day was okay, but my mom left after that and fled to our ancestral province of Pampanga, where we waited out the events in case the demonstrations turned for the worse. I don’t blame her for fleeing.

I went to school in La Salle GreenHills; it was there that the NAMFREL count that exposed the corruption of the 1986 election was held. To this day, the blackboard that held that tally remains preserved at my school’s gymnasium.

I grew up with reminders of hard-earned national freedom. In my third year of high school we read Dekada ’70, a harrowing, realistic depiction of the darkest days of the Marcos era. We compared our national experience with the events of Tiananmen square. By the time I was 20 years old, I was one of the people who were on the streets calling for Estrada’s expulsion from office.

It is this background that has made me sympathetic to popular, (relatively) peaceful revolutions such as the Ukrainian Orange Revolution of 2004, Lebanese Cedar Revolution of 2005 and the Kyrgyz Tulip Revolution. Egypt, however, is quickly descending into madness when what is needed is the leadership of our country to provide the necessary impetus to tip Egypt in the right direction.

Egypt is personal to me, because I cannot imagine being an Egyptian whose revolution is suppressed by an American-propped dictator, with goons hired with American money, armed with American guns. What if, in 1986, the interests of the United States were such that it needed the tyrant Marcos to stay in office? Would they have supplied him with material aid to suppress a demonstration of millions? You’ll excuse me, then, if I do not toe the anti-Islamicist line on this matter. There are far more important things than worrying about outcomes. We have to pay for realities first.

My opinion on opinions on Egypt

Following the overthrow of Tunisia’s dictator, on January 25, protesters took to the streets of Cairo to protest Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign. I haven’t been silent on Twitter, but I’ve been in support of this movement despite a few concerns. The reactions from Americans is wide-ranged, but cross party lines. Members of both parties tend to hold similar positions.

A common opinion is that Hosni Mubarak is a really terrible person, but we can’t afford Egypt to fall into Islamicism because of the Muslim Brotherhood. The true nature of the protesters remains a mystery from this distance. I’ve heard it all: that this protest is a Socialist revolution, that it’s Islamicist, that it’s moderate, that it’s not anti-Semitic. If this were truly a Islamic Revolution of 1979 Iranian levels, we won’t see photos like this. I will acknowledge that Egypt is on the brink of a more Islamic government, but it is also possible that it won’t be. What the Egyptian people want is to be able to make this choice.

Mubarak himself was our little guard dog in Egypt. He’s kept the government secular for the most part, and has kept a peace treaty with Israel. However, his policies have come to a head and his people are fed up. Mubarak has governed his country into a position where his continued tenure is indefensible. He is seen as an oppressor of his people and if we were to support him in the name of our self-interest, we would be guilty of continuing a crime perpetrated upon Egypt by the West for the past 30 years.

What is happening today is the result of a political and moral calculus that may have worked at the time, but had no way out. There was no follow-through. The Shah of Iran and Mubarak are merely tiles in a pattern. If Egypt descends into Islamicism, we—the United States, through its historical actions—are partly responsible for laying the groundwork of this outcome. The Islamic Revolution was not unforeseeable, and neither is what is happening in Egypt.

The outcome in Egypt is not beyond our control. Despite our president’s disappointing statements over the past days,  he and our government still have the chance to help on the side of freedom. We might well be able to atone for such missteps as the 1991 Iraqi uprising. Erring on the side of freedom is not a bad policy.

(A few links that I couldn’t contextualize in my post above but well worth visiting: National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez: Naïveté on Egypt Is Dangerous; Daniel Pipes: Turmoil In Egypt and Roger Simon interviews “Sandmonkey”. Three pieces with three different perspectives on the turmoil in Egypt. All worth reading.)

The Unicorn Express on the Rainbow Railroad

The idea of a nationwide, high-speed railroad system for passenger use has been bandied about long before our President mentioned it last night; it will be bandied about by other “visionaries” long after the mediocre dolt has been voted out in 2012. It was mentioned by the one Conservative guest at TEDxMidAtlantic in 2009, Aris Melissaratos. It’s the grand vision that seems to be the panacea from Liberals who want to solve the environmental issues surrounding travel.

The Unicorn Express on the Rainbow Railroad is a quixotic idea. Here’s why:

The politics of Eminent Domain. Even after the atrocious Kelo decision, a modest tic-tac-toe layout of nationwide high-speed rail will result in massive land grabs, cutting across communities the way the Interstate system didn’t do. Americans are a scrappy bunch, and being told that you’ll have to relocate, while being bought off with money that won’t recoup what you’ll lose, is not something they’ll take lying down.

Geography. I’m not going to discount the ability of civil engineers to produce what they need to. But how exactly will the national bullshit train run through the Rockies and the Appalachians? Yes, the Europeans have rail systems that cut through mountains using tunnels, and cross them using bridges. But the geographic challenges over such a large expanse means construction cost will skyrocket.

Sociology of travel. Americans love the open road. The National Route system, and even the Interstate, allows us to travel wherever we want, on our terms. We love cars for that very same reason. For very long distances, flying has been a great solution. It needs improvement and innovation—and not the Ryanair kind, either—but our high-speed travel already exists. It moves on railroads of air. American consumer air travel is democratized and affordable. It is the envy of other nations, even European ones (of course none of those snooty bastards would ever admit to that). Despite what our president says, our cars and planes aren’t going anywhere. Our Interstate isn’t going anywhere. Of course, if he impliments policies that make it difficult for us to use our cars (higher taxes on fuel, etc), I fully expect an effort from the opposition to prevent these things from happening.

The way our communities are set up. We have major cities that serve as hubs for industry and commerce. We have the suburbs that surround them and house those who work in the cities. We have exurbs. In order for the national bullshit train to work, population density between the cities served has to reach a critical mass of demand. This requires enough people to choose not to fly nor to drive from one city to the next. There are two ways to make people choose rail: make rail a better choice, or take away the choices that aren’t rail (again, backbreaking taxes on fuel and air travel).

People are not cargo. (No, this is not a Nazi reference, even though a friend of mine @akhanukov made humrous note last night.) Our national freight train system is the envy of the modern world. Combined with our very advanced trucking system, we are able to transport goods across the nation at high speeds, and efficiently. And by “efficiently” I mean as compared to the logistics of other nations, not “efficiently” according to the standards of one who thinks that this system is inherently flawed or evil. People, however, don’t take kindly to being moved around like cargo. This remains a big problem in the airline system, where some companies offer cheap flights with long travel times because of multiple stops to maximize passenger participation. The Unicorn Express offers a limited number of routes to reach a destination. Say, you want to get to Chicago from Baltimore. You may have to stop through Columbus on the Unicorn Express. And you know that stop isn’t going to be a one-minute load/unload like you see in the DC Metro, either! It remains a more convenient choice to fly in.

These are but a few issues that I can see with the Unicorn Express. I haven’t even delved into the economics of running that damn thing, but if it’s even anything like what’s going on with the Phoenix light rail (thanks Keith Casey!), it will be a project that will never turn a profit, one that will continue to suck away at taxpayer revenue for generations to come.

Conservatism and bad food

Based on the tweets I saw today, Rush Limbaugh launched into an extended diatribe against the dietary inadequacies of fruits and vegetables. He did this because our First Lady, Michelle Obama, has been spending much time touting the value of these foods as a means to combat obesity. Even if we stipulate that Rush is accurate, the body of human knowledge—the science, if you will—surrounding the benefits of more plant fiber (not Metamucil, mind you) is vast and undeniable. They have been a part of a healthy diet for a very long time.

Plants have evolved fruits to benefit themselves: they are seed-dispersal mechanisms with benefits to the animals that would aid them in their effort to perpetuate the species. Yes, the trace elements found in fruits and vegetables are miniscule in amount and easily supplemented. Yes, fruits are about 90% water and greens are about 70%. Yet, it is the dietary packaging of a whole fruit or a fresh vegetable that provides the best means to get the best benefit. Instead of trying to make a case for fruits and vegetables here, just look at the health profile of a person who lives without roughage. Find me a man who lives on grains and the flesh of animals alone and I will show you a very unhealthy man.

But because Mrs. Obama has chosen to promote fruits and vegetables, Rush has chosen to attack the low hanging fruit instead of going after the real prize. Sarah Palin is equally guilty of this by celebrating with baked goods in response to Mrs. Obama’s finger-wagging.

I have a personal rule. I prefer not to advise pundits and public figures on what they should say. Whenever I do, I imagine myself wearing their faces and bodies—pundit-drag if you will—just to resist the temptation. I can bear to do it this time tonight. Rush and Sarah are doing their adherents a disservice. Eating fruits and vegetables are an act of free will, of personal responsibility to one’s own health and long-term enjoyment of life. Just because Michelle Obama wants to beat us over the head and tell us we’re such horrible fatasses for not eating enough fruits and vegetables, doesn’t mean that we should go after the fruits and vegetables themselves.

If you still can’t separate the tyrant from her vegetal yoke, think of it this way. We like to say that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Well, fruits and vegetables don’t oppress people; the mannish fishwife married to the President of the United States does.

My thoughts on Sarah Palin, Gabrielle Giffords And Blood Libel

Whose responsibility is it?

On Saturday, Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ08) was shot by one Jared Lee Lougher as she was meeting her constituents at a local Safeway. The intent was murder; six other victims died, she was critically wounded with a shot to the head. Less than an hour after the initial report and long before it was cleared that Ms. Giffords was in fact, critically wounded but not dead, Liberals chatter started blaming Palin for her map featuring crosshairs. Giffords’s district was one of those targetted.

The coincidence was unfortunate, but it was all that it was. Coincidence. And yet the meme was that this was somehow Mrs. Palin’s fault. The firestorm on Twitter and blogs has reached to insane levels; with each side trotting out evidence that they are somehow parties to “violent rhetoric,” that the Democrats had bullseyes on maps as well, etc etc.

The attack on Giffords was Jared Lee Loughner’s responsibility alone. He got the gun; he shot those people. Even today, as reports indicate that Loughner consumed no political mass media, the meme is being pushed that it’s somehow this “climate of hateful rhetoric” that led to this.

Damn the facts, Pima Country Sherrif Dupnik and the rest of the il-Liberal un-intelligentsia would want you to shut up and talk according to their rules.

Toxic? I’ll show you toxic.

Or rather; Jimmie Bise will show you toxic. If you listen to the latest edition of his podcast—The Delivery #73 (It’s not yet up but soon it will)—he quotes from Thomas Jefferson’s campaign against John Adams. He also explains that if rhetoric caused murder, pro football players will need security on the level of the Secret Service. Give the podcast episode a listen when it goes up; most of the political stuff is in the first half.

This matter of “blood libel.”

I first encountered the term blood libel, not from Sarah Palin, but from Glenn Reynolds when he first described the attacks on her. I’m not Jewish; in fact my first encounter with a real-life Jew was when I moved to America in 2001. That the term is emotionally charged especially for the Jews is understandable, but it is not a phrase that is exclusive to them. It’s been a part—uncommon as it may be—of political discourse, and it’s been used by many other commentators across multiple disciplines to describe a false accusation of murder; that the person thus falsely accused commits murder for whatever nefarious purposes they wish. Jim Geraghty has the compendium.

I have no doubt that Mrs. Palin willingly and knowingly used the term. The usage is as manipulative as it is provocative. John Podhoretz has his thoughts on the usage; it’s well worth reading the Jewish perspective. As an outsider though, I surmise that her usage is an attempt to put her plight on the level of those of the Jews. I understand why it offends. A small part of me hates the fact that she went on the passive-aggressive offensive here, but she’s caught in a catch-22: her silence was used to damn her. Now her statement was being used to damn her. Had she not used “blood libel,” something else would’ve caught their attention. She would’ve been accused of claiming victimhood anyway.

She is… fatiguing. This is perhaps the most important between-the-lines point of Podhoretz’ post I linked above. I’m tired of having her foisted upon me, of people demanding I take responsibility for her words, of being accused of complicity in murder because they accuse her of the same. I knew of her long before August 29, 2008. I supported her through the election and even to this day. But I can no more be held responsible for her words and deeds as she should be for those of Jared Loughner.

Opportunities, opportunities.

Let’s be honest. A lot of people found opportunity in this event. From those who used it to attack Sarah Palin to the deceptive—if not politically, evil—folks of No Labels. There was one opportunity in all of this, and that was to ease things over and help people reach some kind of catharsis. Tonight, at the Tucson memorial, our President gave the speech of his career. He has shown an amazing capacity for dignified decorum.

I want to believe that there is room, despite ideological differences, to afford him the treatment that I would want others treat my political allies. I would rather treat Obama the way I’d want people to treat Palin, than to treat him the way people actually treat her. If that makes me a squish. Well then. That’s not my problem.

Gays and Conservatism

Gays are people. Not “gays are people, too,” but “gays are people.” Period. With the approach of CPAC and the obstinate withdrawal of the FRC and CWA from the event because of GoProud’s sponsorship, now would be a good time to remind people about Conservatism and how gays fit into it.

It’s the Liberty, stupid.

Today’s Movement Conservatism publicly appeals to the aims of Maximum Liberty. This is not the anarchic disorder that ultimately leads to the emergence of a despot, but an Ordered Liberty that emerges from the dynamics between individuals and groups acting on agreed-upon rules of engagement.

The Conservative paradigm of the relationship between the citizen and his government is one of a contract; that the government exists by consent of the governed. The relationships between individuals, however, is not so clearly defined. A person does not exist by consent of his fellow man. The Libertarian ideal—”your right to punch me ends as your fist approaches my face”—is a good rule of thumb, but it is a rule of thumb. Every person, or group of people acts to maximize their exercise of rights, and society has a competitive aspect to it.

The heart of the “gay conflict” in Conservatism is over the very nature of homosexuality.

As our understanding of psychology, human behaviour and genetics expands, we further see that a person of one sex being attracted to another of the same sex has a Natural Cause, no matter how un-Natural this may appear. We’re learning that same-sex attraction is not a Construct, but a Phenomenon. It’s associated with certain Behaviours, but the Nature of homosexuality has to be assessed separate from the Behaviours it evokes.

As I engage these discussions in person and on Twitter, I’m seeing a common misconception that Homosexuality and Queer Culture are one and the same. It is not. This distinction has been recognized by none less than the Catholic Church, in its stance to “love the sinner but hate the sin” and by calling upon Catholic Homosexuals to live a life of celibacy. While the Catholic recommendation of celibacy places a gay’s spiritual health mainly as his responsibility, I do not understand why some American Evangelicals—Protestants—find that being homosexual is irredeemable.

Aaron Brazell reminded me of the Calvinist, deterministic background of what we see in American Protestantism today. While an in-depth discussion would detract from this article greatly, here’s how I see the thought process goes:

  1. Being homosexual is a sinful nature in and of itself.
  2. Therefore, choosing celibacy while maintaining one’s homosexual nature does not produce a state of grace.
  3. One can only be in a state of grace—salvation—if one has renounced one’s homosexual nature.

Whereas the Catholic approach challenges a gay to live a celibate life on the off chance that the deprivation of an appetite would lead to a state of grace, the Protestant approach is to demand that a gay deny his very nature. This demand is easy to make because no matter how much Knowledge is gathered that gives us a greater understanding of Homosexuality, this Does Not Matter in that Homosexuality is Evil By Nature. This does not compute to me; this appears to be a spiritual Catch-22.

The politics of gaydom is about moving the Overton Window.

Not the Glenn Beck book, but the process by which what seems a radical concept gains normative status. Less than sixty years ago, the very idea that a gay man can openly associate with other gay men in public was unimaginable. We’ve heard the stories of closeted men and their sympathetic lady friends posing as their “beards” for the world to see when they associate in public.

Without going into a whirlwind tour of gay history in America, it’s sufficient to say that even in mildly insular suburban areas, it is no longer socially acceptable to publicly shun a gay or lesbian merely for being who they are. As our understanding of homosexuality increases, so has acceptance.

We’ve gone from a society whose fathers “beat the gay” out of their sons into one where few do, and one where we are worried that our gay children are having the gay beaten out of them by their schoolmates. This is not a bad thing, and as with all organic changes in society, there will come a time when different challenges will face the gays of that generation.

While the politically savvy Social Conservative organizations are working at keeping the status quo, a vocal minority does receive attention for trying to roll back society’s mores. Without an open debate between the two extremes of radical progress and regressivism, one side will gain dominance.

The FRC and CWA want to marginalize gays. For now, it seems that they’re marginalizing themselves. But we don’t know how this action will impact the environment down the line. We don’t know if this will be a long-term positive or negative for gays, Conservatism, and the relationship between both.

Tolerance and acceptance do not equal approval.

To appear at CPAC with GoProud does not mean you cosign the statement that “it’s okay to be gay.” State recognition of gay marriage does not say that either. The only people I’ve heard say this anyway are those who think that homosexuality is a chosen state of being, and I want to emphasize this.

When I say that homosexuality is “normative,” I do not mean that one is not “normal” unless one is homosexual. I mean that one can be homosexual and not be “abnormal.” The Social Conservative condemnation of gays focuses on one key difference between gays and straights: choice of sexual partner. To the Social Conservative, this detail eclipses everything that makes us similar, enough so much so that anything that comes forth from a homosexual is by nature of its origin, a fruit of a poisonous tree. I don’t know what to call that kind of objection. “Bigotry” seems hackneyed and politically loaded.

I don’t know how to end this write-up.

I’ve dreaded most that in contrast to most of my written work, I have no conclusion to this post, even one this long. I just want to reassert my thoughts on the matter as I’ve shared them on Twitter. Hopefully this gives anyone who reads this some additional perspective.

Josh Treviño on Ezra Klein

Compiled with permission from his tweets today:

The thing to understand about @ezraklein is that he wasn’t saying something dumb within his context. Progressives really do think this. The idea that the Constitution is too old and Book-of-Revelations opaque for modernity goes back to late 19th-century progressivism.And before that, it had its roots in the Southern slaveholding critique of the Constitution’s inadequacy, elaborated by Calhoun. In this light, @ezraklein is really part of a long anti-Constitutional tradition. It’s good that’s out in the open now. Because for those who dismiss or deride the Constitution, as do @ezraklein and the progressives, there’s only one adjective: anti-American.

Video backstory is Klein expressing (veiled) frustration at the Constitution on MSNBC this morning.

There is a sweet, delicious irony in hearing Ezra Klein espouse the same arguments that pro-slavery anti-Constitutionalists spake over a hundred years ago. Savor this moment.

What’s in a country’s name?

Well, when it comes to countries, not that much, and at the same time, a lot.

The background story is on Outside The Beltway. Basically Chris Albon wondered out loud why we—Americans—keep on calling The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire “The Ivory Coast,” despite the post-colonial government’s protests to do so.

Quick answer: it’s easier in Anglophone writing to refer to countries in English. This may seem a little disrespectful, but I haven’t heard the Spanish government insist that we call their country “España,” nor do the Germans demand we call their country “Deutschland.” I don’t hear Filipinos demand we call my homeland “Ang Republika ng Pilipinas,” either, but that is the official, national and Filipino vernacular name. Similarly, we don’t demand that Spanish-speaking nations stop referring to us as “Estados Unidos,” nor do we demand that Iran stop referring to us as “The Great Satan.”

I did raise a concern with the political connotations of certain countries’ names. The Burma-Myanmar divide is particularly poignant. I do not consider Burma’s military government to be politically legitimate. That they have renamed their country to its pre-colonial roots doesn’t quite matter, because the people who have called themselves “Burmese” have this name thrust upon them.

Sometimes, the adoption of a non-Anglophone orthography and its coincident pronunciation can actually be socially awkward. Casual conversation is rarely served by a man who recounts his European vacation which starts at the canals of Veh-NEET-chi-ya, north to ROH-ma, with a quick run to FHRKRKRKahnce, where he admires La Tour Eiffel in PHAKKRR-ee, and finally taking another plane so he can enjoy some vodka in MOSK-va.

Having spent my childhood in the Philippines, we used to refer to nations in our vernacular. We called France “Pransya,” Spain “España,” Germany “Alemandya.” Some curiosities also exist: we called Indian nationals “Bumbai,” which is an adoption of Bombay, and the United Kingdom has been consistently referred to as “Britain” or “England,” as if the differences between the three terms were nonexistent. Because Filipino—our official national language, not “Tagalog”—allows for the adoption of words at a much faster pace than its parent dialects, the language has become more Anglophone. Many English words that have translations in Tagalog have been adopted, and especially in cosmopolitan Manila, the USA is referred to as “USA,” or “States,” and in the middle of a mostly Tagalog sentence, an Anglophone word would make an appearance. (e.g. “Nag bakasyon ako sa France,” which translates to “I vacationed in France.” Also, “France” is not typeset in italics when writing in Filipino, and that modification is reserved to truly foreign words.)

In the end, a writer should have the leeway to decide how to refer to a country depending on one’s audience. Were I to write an article in Filipino that’s geared towards rural Filipinos I may use more vernacular translations, not much so with writing for Manileños. Anglophone writers shouldn’t be ashamed of claiming this privelege and remember their readers when writing.

Clarifying a few concepts on Net Neutrality

Once more—hopefully my last—and this time, with feeling.

Net Neutrality is not license to pirate, or abuse bandwidth.

That people think that Net Neutrality prevents ISPs from treating “traffic” differently is a gross oversimplification. Comcast already enacts measures to protect its network from heavy BitTorrent usage, a process called “bandwidth shaping.” Comcast also has a cap on the total data transfer (used capacity) per month, and exceeding that cap will incur additional charges from them. This is a prohibitive measure, but at the same time, they do not shut down a user unless he grossly abuses his service, which he agreed to when he signed Comcast’s TOS.

What is Not-Net-Neutral is an ISP charging extra money for using a particular protocol. Does anyone remember Usenet? When I signed up for Comcast in 2001 I had limited capacity to access Usenet, and over time, Comcast left it out all together. Verizon FiOS terminated Usenet access in 2009. They had their reasons, such as the proliferation of child pornography and pirated material, as well as a decline in user base.

It may be easy to imagine charging a suscriber extra money for using BitTorrent, but that assumes that the usage of that protocol is de facto worth charging more money over. Whether a person pirates an album, a movie, a piece of software, or if he uses it to seed his favorite Linux distribution, the ISP has no business being the policeman to this. One look at Usenet and you can see that ISPs would do the same, not just to the BitTorrent protocol, but other areas of the Internet.

Net Neutrality is not “regulating the Internet,” it regulates Internet Service Providers.

Huge difference between the two. If you want to see a “regulated internet,” look at access in Iran, North Korea, and China. Those governments block websites from being accessed by their citizens, no matter who the ISP may be. Net Neutrality aims to prevent ISPs from being your censor, in favor of content that they provide.

Does this force an ISP to allow its users to access objectionable material, including, for example, jihadist forums? Not sure. But this prevents an ISP from charging more money for potential jihadists to access to those forums. ISPs block access to sites on the net that are known to serve up malware and child pornography, but this has been a matter of the ISP being free to do so. Unfortunately, I admit I have not analyzed the FCC rules on this matter as of blogging time, but it really, really irks me to hear people claim that “Net Neutrality regulates”—and this point, switch to sotto vocce, and cue some eerie music—”The Internet.”

Net Neutrality is not anti-competitive.

The major duopoly in our broadband market is Verizon and Comcast. Comcast is planning a merger with NBC. This will make Comcast a content producer with the means of distribution. Without Net Neutrality rules, Comcast can tack on charges for access to streaming video and even competitor websites.

Dear Conservatives, would you like to pay Comcast more money so you can access FoxNews.com, and watch their video coverage online? And if you’re willing to pay for that, what about accessing other Comcast/NBC competitors? How much extra are you willing to pay before you get tired of being fleeced? What if Comcast/NBC offers you access to MSNBC online without an extra charge? ISPs are already contemplating these moves!

The duopoly we have today is no different than having a monopoly. I love the service I pay Verizon for, but some days I get the feeling they may be waiting on Comcast for cues.

Remember: data should be data. Net Neutrality is content neutrality. See the first entry above.

If cellphone companies are forced to allow competing services such as Google Voice and Skype, and these services are abused, Net Neutrality doesn’t stop an ISP (in this case, a cellphone company) from charging more money for the excess capacity usage. However, it prevents them for singling out services and protocols that compete with their services directly.

Yes, there is a political discussion to be had.

Concerns about legislative timing, the role of an executive office—especially one that’s been warned as not having jurisdiction to do this—or whether this is a regulatory role better suited for Congress, or a bunch of other concerns are real and need to be discussed. However, a clear understanding of the issue and what’s at stake leads to a clearer, more intelligent debate.

Conservative friends, to knee-jerk conclude that Net Neutrality is bad because of its origins in goverment, without understanding what the future Internet would be like without it, is boneheaded and a fulfillment of the anti-intellectual, anti-factual caricatures Liberals have painted about us. We have to understand this issue. Even if you come to the same conclusions as you would have without having understood, and no matter how boring this is, a clear grasp of facts helps prevent the spreading of FUD and leads to more intelligent discussions.

If there’s one thing I learned from all these years blogging, understanding an issue will only lead to better things.

Net Neutrality’s little wars

With today’s passage of FCC rules on enforcing “net neutrality,” many are still wondering how it affects them. It’s been the topic of the most boring debates known to man, and yet can affect all of us. Today I’ll try to identify the warring parties and at least help clear some air.

Data is data. Or at least it should be.

A few years ago, Comcast instituted a 250GB monthly cap on total bandwidth for each subscriber account. It was enough for me to leave them for another ISP, Verizon FiOS. In the two years that I’ve been their subscriber, I have never been notified of any bandwidth abuse. There were rumours of an unspoken “cap” for FiOS subscribers, but these never amounted to anything. Not even the heaviest torrenter was reported to have been charged extra money. In the case of Comcast, a subscriber who exceeds his bandwidth cap gets charged additional fees. Comcast, at least right now, doesn’t care what service (Netflix, Youtube, streaming audio, Vimeo, Hulu) or protocol (bloggers, this includes FTP to your servers, also BitTorrent, or HTTP web browsing). All Comcast cares about is that you exceeded your cap, and now you have to pay.

The first conflict is an ISP‘s subscribers with each other

Capacity is a finite resource; only so much data can be served over a network per unit of time. If you’ve ever experienced slower speeds during peak hours, it’s probably because that bandwidth is being shaped so that everyone has a relatively decent online experience. That means that the heaviest users can affect everyone’s online experience. You all pay pretty much the same rates, but the greediest people get the most out of it. It’s almost like the problem with the commons model, which torpedoed British agriculture and also threatens fishery today. This war between subscribers is nothing new, and this really isn’t a Net Neutrality issue, until…

The second conflict is between an ISP‘s subscribers and the ISP itself.

Capacity actually costs money to fulfill. If Comcast says you get 250GB a month and you don’t use it, the ISP saves money. The closer you are to reaching that cap, the more you cost Comcast. And if you go over, Comcast costs you. Comcast is well aware that certain services and protocols use capacity more than others. Streaming audio is nothing compared to your nightly online viewing of The Daily Show in HD, and even with bandwidth shaping, Bittorrent still takes a toll on their network. So, to try to discourage you from hogging their service, they may start offering their own content which then saves on bandwidth. Or, they may offer service tiers based on the site accessed. Those tiers based on the accessed site is one of the major conflicts of Net Neutrality. Imagine where you have to pay extra to access sites like Facebook, Hulu, Netflix, or Youtube. That payment goes to Comcast, in addition to what you would pay for Hulu Plus, or Netflix’s monthly subscription fee. None of that extra money goes to those sites I mentioned. You, the subscriber pay them, and you pay Comcast in addition. At some point, you might get tired of paying Comcast that extra money, and you stop visiting these sites. When enough users quit, the sites die, Comcast has the money you paid them before, and, well, where are you?

The third conflict is between the ISP and the CDN.

A CDN—Content Delivery Network—buys bandwith from the ISP just as much as you and I do. Netflix, the company, pays Level 3 Communications, a CDN, to serve their content to their subscribers. The Not-Neutral part comes in when Comcast wants to charge Level 3 more money for being on Comcast’s network, because Level 3′s subscribers are hogging Comcast’s capacity. Comcast, in this case, does a triple dip. Another aspect of this conflict is when the ISP charges more money to access a certain service, such as Facebook, Hulu, Netflix, or Youtube, but not another, such as Vimeo, then that is beyond unfair. You can probably imagine what it means for Comcast if they invested in Vimeo.

“Net Neutrality” is not a Liberal/Conservative issue, it’s a consumer/provider issue.

I understand the Conservative impulse to say “well, I don’t want to have to pay for utility I don’t use.” Well, then. You shouldn’t be paying for cable TV, because it follows the same cost-spreading principle. A similar gripe is that we are paying for the usage of others. In some circles, that’s a problem, and I have no problem with data usage tiers and caps. I have no problem with charging heavy users more money. The huge problem is in the ISP telling you that they are charging you more money for using a service or protocol, for any reason, including excessive bandwidth use. This may sound like splitting hairs, but there is a world of difference. In the second model, the ISP tells you what costs more money. Do you like watching streaming football games? What if they told you that accessing that site costs extra, but if you buy their TV package they’ll throw that first year of NFL coverage for free and then charge you more money next year?

When you purchase Internet Access, that’s what you’re paying for: Internet, and Access.

The ISP agrees to serve you the data at (almost) the speed they advertise, and to give you the capacity they say they do. They let you access the Internet, wherever on it you may go, using whatever protocols you have available (which includes FTPing to your web server, and yes, even seeding that copy of Ubuntu or something less legal). The core idea behind Net Neutrality is that data is data. Cut through all the commetary and the FUD, the anti-socialistic rants from Conservatives and utopian appeals by Liberals, and the issue isn’t really all that difficult to understand: who decides what you get for what you pay for?

ALSO read: Another take on Net Neutrality on The Right Sphere.

The Liberal obsession with the dwindling majority

There a typical Liberal meme positing that the predominant majority in America—mostly referring to Whites, but extends also to Christians—is facing a period of fear and horror as their majority starts to dwindle. I think it’s little more than a case of projection, and a way for these folk to assert their superiority over their ignorant lessers.

We’ve heard it before during the 2010 election season: that the Tea Party is comprised of mostly white people who are actually protesting their dwindling white majority in America. We’ve heard that the Tea Party is lashing out against their increasing irrelevance, and that they have laced their economic protests with “dog whistles” and that the true essence of their lament is—say it with me—”RAAAAACISM!”

Every now and then, we hear it from Liberal commentators who repeatedly remind us that there will come a point where Whites will be a minority in this country when all the non-Whites are combined. Most recently, Ross Douthat writes on Christians and Christmas:

[...]this month’s ubiquitous carols and crèches notwithstanding, believing Christians are no longer what they once were — an overwhelming majority in a self-consciously Christian nation. The question is whether they can become a creative and attractive minority in a different sort of culture, where they’re competing not only with rival faiths but with a host of pseudo-Christian spiritualities, and where the idea of a single religious truth seems increasingly passé.

Or to put it another way, Christians need to find a way to thrive in a society that looks less and less like any sort of Christendom — and more and more like the diverse and complicated Roman Empire where their religion had its beginning, 2,000 years ago this week.

Not that I would call Mr. Douthat a “Liberal,” as most of his commentary leans Conservative—if a bit anemic on the polemics and whose apologism lacks [oh, I'd rather not go there]—but I’ve been seeing more and more of this kind of commentary through my readings.

I’m left wondering how these pundits see America, and Americans. I don’t get these writers; I really don’t. What is their point in reminding Whites that they will be the minority some day? Is it to remind Whites that one day, they, too, will have to embrace pluralism, and by extension the Liberalism these pundits peddle on their other columns?

It seems that they want their audience to see America the way they do: a multicultural mess of Balkanized ethnic ghettos, where different ethnicities are so obsessed with “celebrating” their heritage so much so that they cannot function around other equally obsessed ethnicities. Nope, Liberals would never admit to seeing America that way, but every race-obsessed commentary they produce ends with that view.

What they don’t see, which I—an immigrant to this country—see is that American identity is transcendent. It goes beyond race, and the principles that make this country what it is are not a collection of “White-people-ideas.” Liberty, the concept of respect for private property, government as a function of the consent of the governed, and more, are all parts of a political philosophy and national ethos that are not confined to White people. In fact, these ideals are the very sources of American prosperity and opportunity for all.

Race-obsessed pundits who invoke the Dwindling White Majority meme are doing a disservice to their non-White readers. They are the ones who are tarring the ideals of economic and personal liberty with the brush of racism. They are the ones stoking racial animosity, and by insisting that Conservatism is racist, they are denying their readers the opportunity to embrace an ethos that will serve them well.

Perhaps there is one more, and far simpler, explanation for this explosion of “Dwindling White Majority” columns. Perhaps these writers who indulge in this drivel are having to deal with the idea their philosophy is becoming irrelevant, and that the only way they can scare people away from embracing not-Liberalism is to fling accusations of racism. Oh, but could these people really be so petty?

A short word on DADT Repeal

The military is given the courtesy of making its own rules, but when they don’t reconcile with the ethos of the times, civilian authority will have to be re-asserted.

We—as civilian bloggers, tweeters, pundits, scholars—can debate until world’s end about the pros and cons of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. What was once a concession to allow gays into the military has become a weapon, compromising their ability to serve their duties efficiently.

Set aside the logistic difficulties of quartering, and other devilish details, the truth is that during training, our servicemen learn to serve their country and their fellows. This is the same process of socialization that has been described by sociologists for other systems such as athletic teams, prisons, fraternities and the like. We know that those who serve go through this process, sexuality be damned.

I’m not going to try to make a case for gays openly serving in the military, because honestly I don’t have to. No one has to. When push comes to shove, when the military is ready save for a few squeaky wheels, the civilian authority gets to tell the military “gays can openly serve; deal with it,” and they have no choice but to obey.

That point being made, we must remind ourselves that the military is no place for activism (from all ranks), that our servicemembers have limits on their civil rights that we do not experience, and that the freedom to openly serve has its specific social responsibilities just as being a member of society, no matter one’s sexual orientation, has its responsibilities.

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will open new challenges for our servicemen, but it will be the end of a period of even worse challenges. The ball is in the politicians’ court now. We can only hope they do the right thing.

Morally Exploring Julian Assange

In which I attempt a moral analysis of Wikileaks and Julian Assange without engaging in gratuitous moralizing.

The news that prefaced the actual release of the diplomatic cables made one thing clear: Bradley Manning committed a crime by breaking the secrecy of classified documents. Now that’s out of the way, what about Wikileaks’ actually disbursing the documents? And what of the press that covered the release, and passed along their contents? I’m not going to make legal pronouncements; let’s leave that to the lawyers. But the morals?

There are three approaches to ethics, something I covered a while back. Let me repeat it here:

  • Virtue Ethics focuses on the intent and character of the doer.
  • Deontology posits that there are moral duties towards a formal action, the deed itself, absent consideration of the consequences. Immanuel Kant is one of its most famous adherents, and (almost?) all religions are deontological by nature.
  • Consequentialism judges the rightness or wrongness of an act based on the consequences produced. Its largest failing is that it doesn’t necessarily provide a guide as to what to do at the time of the dilemma itself.

Wikileaks breaks secrecy, but do those revelations show that this information deserves to be kept secret? This is a central question when discussing this issue. As the contents of the leaked cables come out, we see a partial picture of how international diplomacy works. Countries whisper to each other, backstab each other, conspire against each other and form alliances with each other while all claiming to be part of a global community. It’s a horrible truth, but much of this information falls under the realm of common sense and conventional wisdom.

What about certain secrets, the ones that reveal horrible acts? One of the revelations is that a government contractor fed into a Pashtun pedophilia ring. There is no situation, under any political or moral calculus,that this is excusable. No matter how “acceptable” this is among the Pashtun, this is not “acceptable” anywhere, just as executing gays for being gay may be acceptable for the Taliban, but it is not acceptable in a Western society.

The better question to ask about the Pashtun pedophilia ring would be: could this information have been released without jeopardizing international diplomatic relations? The answer is YES. Assange and friends have clearly indicated that the paradigm in this day and age is for Information to be unfiltered and free of government, journalistic, or corporate filtration, but at what cost? Was the listing of facilities we considered “vital” a necessary sacrifice in releasing this information?

It’s clear that Assange cares little about the consequences of his actions. The man proudly claimed the deaths of 1300 Kenyans to be “worth” revealing what he revealed, only to retract his statements when he was called on it.

In the past, records of government-endorsed crimes remain veiled for a very long time, if not forever, until at least someone with a conscience and nothing to lose decides it is time for this information to be released. It’s also a conventional rumour that “anonymous” leaks are sometimes initiated from within the government itself. But there is a reason for this release to be controlled. Yes, at times it means we don’t get to prosecute the government contractor promoting a pedophilia ring in a timely manner, but this also means that 1300 Kenyans may still be alive. The release of these cables does not assure that our contractors will deal with the Pashtun on nefarious means, it just means that records will not be kept.

Ross Douthat commented on the inevitable turtling early on. Today, Paul Carr of TechCrunch echoes this sentiment, in a language even their readers should be able to understand:

I hate Julian Assange. I hate the way he’s posing as a champion of truth and justice whilst hiding in the shadows and resorting to blackmail in a drawn-out attempt to avoid having to justify answer criminal charges in a publicly-accessible court of law. I hate the fact that he’s trading on a myth that We The People have a right to know everything our governments are saying and doing in our name when, in fact, we elect people to act in our best interests on a global stage without necessarily giving us a heads up every time they want to have an off-the-record chat with a dictator. (If every tiny decision has to be made based on how it will play in public, then we’ll soon end up with a whole load of crowd-pleasing decisions but very little actual diplomacy. Palling around with Chinese leaders or Arab kings might be a strategic no-brainer but it doesn’t play great in the heartland.)

[...]

Thousands – maybe millions – of people had access to the cables – which, as openness goes, is pretty impressive. Hell, even a lowly Private like Bradley Manning – the junior soldier with a grudge against the American military who allegedly leaked the documents to Wikileaks – had access to them. Now, however, thanks to Wikileaks, all of that is likely to stop. What’s also likely to stop is the routine documenting of casual conversations, the candid sharing of opinions between allies – and a whole bunch of other acts of openness which if Wikileaks actually meant a word it said, the organisation should be all for. And for… what? So that millions of us who had no real business – beyond a basic prurient interest – in knowing what conversations are being had behind closed diplomatic doors could feel important. Well, great. Responsible openness’ loss is a few million busybodies’ gain.

Julian Assange is no hero. If he is the only one we have left who can lead government to accountability, then we have lost faith in our ability to police ourselves; in our ability to hold our government responsible; in our ability to bear the weight of the crimes committed in our name without us even knowing, knowing full well that in a world like ours, those afraid to sin are doomed to be killed by those who do. Assange is, as Hitchens writes, a megalomaniac with a political agenda. As a believer in Ordered Liberty, I cannot abide by Assange’s anarchic world view. Anarchy and chaos are enemies of liberty.

My next post on this issue will discuss the matter of the permanent State, the difference between established corruption and a corrupt establishment, and the moral costs a civil society bears.

Who’s afraid of the big, bad veto?

Shortly after last week’s large Republican win, a common meme was that our victory was insufficient, as the president still has his veto, which prevents the Republicans from passing and repealing laws as necessary. This fact has been debated by pragmatists and idealists: if repealing Obamacare is going to get vetoed, why bother trying?

The truth is that while the GOP now has a majority in the House, it remains a minority in the Senate and the president still has his veto. This is why gamesmanship is key. On Friday, I ranted a little bit on Twitter:

my Twitter rant on Nov.5 2010

The link I shared was to Neo-Neocon’s lament about the veto. The blame game is only a small portion of the strategy that Republicans will have to engage in for the next two years.

People are craving for good governance, but many are at a loss as to what that even looks like. It remains a challenge for Republicans to control the debate and expose the Big Truths behind Obama’s policies.

Part of the problem is the short-form, rapid, run-and-gun commentary from political commentators. Many readers outside the political class also don’t expand their inquiries beyond those whom they trust, another problem. The problem we’re facing in the GOP is that—to wax philosophic—the Democrats retain control of the ends of polity, while glossing over the accidents and the means by which to reach them.

For example: Obamacare introduced some very wild (and in the eyes of many, alas, noble) “ends:” guarantees against losing insurance due to pre-existing conditions, an extension of coverage for “children” up to the age of 26, among others. These outcomes were sold us unmitigated good by our President. However, former Speaker Pelosi nor our President nor anyone, really, was able to explain clearly what the “accidents” of those ends are: higher premiums, insurance companies closing down, or the ending of individual plans for young children.

When I insisted that blame be placed squarely on Obama for the people’s economic woes, it comes with the challenge to explain to people that Obama is so inherently misled that anything that comes out of his office has to be treated with suspicion. Ground cannot be yielded on this. The President will definitely push back: he will claim once again that the GOP is the party of no, and that if only they would ride along with his policies and give him political cover, things will get better for everyone.

The GOP will make even bigger gains in the Senate and the House, and perhaps even defeat Obama in 2012, if we can make the case that it is Obama who is obstructing the policies of good governance from the Republican-controlled House. (It goes without saying that the Republican-controlled House’s activities actually have good governance as a goal, or else it will be another case of all hat, no cattle.) Thus the challenge to us Republicans is to promote policies that actually have the good of the people in mind, and to make sure that we have ownership of those policies. We’ll see how that goes.

Maryland: the forgotten state in 2010′s elections

Bob Ehrlich was one of the worst casualties of the Republican political massacre of 2006: under his governance, Maryland’s government had budget surpluses, which were (generally) put to good use. However, many Republicans were dragged down as the country turned sour towards President Bush and the rest of Congress. Ehrlich was by no means perfect, and part of his program to get his house in order was to finally end the price controls on the energy market in the state. But as they say: in politics, timing is everything. It was, in the end, the final straw for Maryland’s voters.

O’Malley’s term has been marked by growing deficits in the state budget. Since the 2006 elections, Maryland has grown into a residence state for the many workers of the expanding Federal Government. It’s why Maryland has weathered the Great Recession unlike other states. The growing technology sector in Baltimore serves the government moreso than private businesses, and the same can be said about most industries in the state.

The growing patronage economy in Maryand is why the Tea Party movement didn’t take root here. Many Baltimore residents are disillusioned with O’Malley, but remember the sting of Ehrlich’s missteps. Ehrlich’s campaign has been lackluster and uninspiring, and O’Malley’s attack ads defined him. Even if he were too moderate for the Tea Party’s tastes, he could’ve ridden the wave this year. He tried to warn us of the looming crisis in unfunded pensions for civil servants, but his warnings fell on deaf ears.

In the end, no matter what shoulda, coulda, and wouldas Ehrlich may have taken, nothing hurt him more than the fact that most of Maryland is doing… okay, if by okay we mean we’re hanging on by a thread but we’re holding on tight. Maryland’s “okay” status won’t last long, though, and its voters are unprepared for this. Republicans have the House, and have enough to gridlock the Senate. Reductions in Federal spending will be on the agenda, and even if spending cuts were more modest than originally planned, the gridlock will still hurt the political class living in the state. It doesn’t seem that anyone cared about these issues this year.

Marland voters had to choose between two candidates who have a lot of baggage. Ehrlich lost partly because people didn’t want him enough, but also because they weren’t tired enough of O’Malley, and as a result, our state had the least exciting election in a cycle that made history. Whether that equips us with the best governance for the days ahead, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Politics and voting

This post on Crooked Timber expresses an opinion that I’ve heard from many dissatisfied voters as an election approaches. Exchange all his references to his preferred party and it might as well apply to anyone. However, he lost me here:

However, once your ass is duly dragged and you’re in the voting booth, the last thing they want you to do is your civic duty (which would be to vote for the candidate you think is the best; that’s how voting systems work, strategic or tactical behaviour is a pathology of a badly designed system) or political expression (which also wouldn’t have you voting for their guy). Once you’re there, they want to argue in purely instrumental terms – you have to vote for the Democrats because if you vote for your minority party, you have no chance at all of being the marginal voter.

Emphases are mine. I found the link from a retweet by the tack-sharp Julian Sanchez. I responded (rather sloppily) by saying that “voting systems shouldn’t be design-able.” I totally deserved his response: “voting is necessarily designed. You think first-past-the-post winner-take-all was discovered in the wild?”

Twitter, of course, isn’t the best medium for these things, but my gripe over the author’s lament lies not in the designed nature of voting systems, which of course aren’t built ex-nihilo, but in his description of “strategic and tactical” behavior as a “pathology” of a “badly designed system.”

Yes, the two-party system sucks, but even in the multi-party systems of parliaments worldwide, power coalesces around two poles. Coalitions are formed and parties compromise on a portion of their beliefs to get their pet ideologies pushed. To call this behavior a “pathology,” which I think connotes “symptom” is to ignore the fact that while there are flaws to our current system, a dualistic system in politics has been in place, even in the early, pure Greek democracies of the polis.

One of the best examples of “pathological” behavior was the failure of Greek ostracism. Once people realized that they can actually campaign for themselves and against others, ostracism became a farce and was abandoned.

My only point is that the tendency for dualism in politics is an old one, and the complaints are age-old. It may seem like a “bad design,” built and by people, but in many ways, it’s a reflection of human nature that’s been observed in small and large groups.

Political dualism forces us to make strategic and conscientious decisions. We’re forced to prioritize, and I have a morbid fascination with how people do so. Imagine what politics would be like if people refused to form coalitions because otherwise worthy allies believe in issue X whereas you oppose it. The short answer would be that such a system of uncompromising fellows will find themselves overrun by a strongman, a titan who cuts through the bickering my exterminating their opponents. Daniel of Crooked Timber may gripe about the two-party system, but what I find more dangerous is when the opposing parties undermine elections through a corrupt system of what is basically bid rigging. Machine politics in cities and insular states, like how Alaska has been described recently is a greater danger to our freedom than “strategic and tactical” behavior.

Katie Couric and her unwashed middle

That woman. She stepped in it deep yesterday with this feature by Howard Kurtz on the Daily Beast, where she talks about the “great unwashed middle of the country.”

That same middle of the country has a clear understanding of what “unwashed” means, and I don’t think it means what that woman thinks it means. From @tommccammon:

Couric uses unwashed to mean simple and uneducated, when it means unbaptized. Really shows her ignorance.

Typical, Liberal hubris, for her to use an idiom the true meaning of which she has no knowledge. They are unwashed, because they have not yet been brought into the body of Christ through baptism, not that they refuse to wash themselves.

So in the spirit of mutual contempt and ridicule, let me dismiss Ms. Kouric with her nasty club pics, courtesy of Jim Treacher. Imagine what that dance hall smelled like after she ventilated her unwashed middle, and be thankful you weren’t there.