Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I don't use marijuana. But I do stand by this.

A comment that I made at

The marijuana laws exist for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is to take something normal and useful and safe (the WD40 of the drug world) and make it illegal. Its very ubiquity and utility guarantees a demand for more and more enforcement, “necessitating” harsher laws, more police, more raids, etc. ; it also serves as a backup justification for any other mistakes they make. (A raid of the wrong house magically becomes a righteous raid because, almost inevitably, some cop is going to find a joint.)

Marijuana/cannibis isn’t illegal because we need protection from it. It’s illegal because many forces within the state need it to craft a growing, authoritarian, moralistic, anti-constitutional police state. If cannabis had never existed it would be something else.

Marijuana is not the End which necessitates the Means of an aggressive police state. It is the Means by which the End of the aggressive police state is created, justified and maintained.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

She's got it.

Commenter "Thena, Sultana of Stale Raisin Bread" addresses the difference between poor, working class and middle class:

The difference (IMO) between working-class and middle-class is not just about income but about security.

I figure it this way:

the genuinely poor are those who struggle to get by on a day to day, week to week basis. The keyword here is Survival.

the working class (where I see myself) are those who get by but can’t really get ahead - able to pay the rent but not save up enough for a down payment, perhaps, or employed but uninsured, for instance. The keyword here is Security.

Real middle-class status, to me, implies a certain basic level of security: you know you’ve got enough to take a hit and keep rolling in a “One down three engines good” sort of way. You own your home (or have a mortgage that you can easily keep up with); you have health insurance and savings and a 401K or a government pension and you can reasonably expect that things are going to be Okay - maybe not fabulous, maybe you won’t make that trip to DisneyVille this summer, but you’ll eat regularly and go straight to the ER when you injure yourself instead of waiting a few days to see if it gets better on its own. The keyword here is Stability.

(In this paradigm I’d use “Savings” as the keyword for the upper class - being those who have money left over to save or invest after their material needs and comforts are assured for the foreseeable future - and “Surfeit” as the keyword for the genuinely wealthy, the people who have more money than I can figure out what to do with. And I am capable of finding good homes for absurdly large dollar figures, I work in a state government accounting office. At the moment.)

By this measure I believe there are a whole lot of people in this country who are not middle class but call themselves by that name because they don’t want to admit the economy’s broken.

(In case you were wondering about the name: there was a period where most regular posters at Pandagon had a food-related nickname, or a foody variant on their normal nickname. Why, I cannot recall.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Name the people in the picture

Foreground: Mr. Barack Obama, future candidate for US President; Mr. Stanley A. Dunham, Mr. Obama's maternal grandfather.

Background: Unidentified future McCain-Palin "Real America" supporter.
Ummmm... Yeaaaaahhhhhh.... Riiiiiiiiiight...

It has been interesting and instructive to watch representatives of the American Right and the GOP complain about how the "liberal media" (which is a unicorn fantasy in itself) favours Obama, they want him elected, and so forth.

Before I make my short point, just this first: no movement or party which has received the ass-kissing that it's candidate got in 2000 and 2004 and right up until Katrina can complain about the media. There's a joke about how the left and right both hate the media in America: the left hates it because it doesn't do its job, and the right hates it when it does. Bush and the GOP received ludicrously favourable coverage and they can't complain.

Let's use Vincent Bugliosi's simple test of reversal of situations. That famous American trial lawyer, in analyzing Bush v. Gore, asked the reader this: if the situation had been reversed, and Gore was seeking the relief that Bush was seeking, would those judges have decided the case exactly the same? The answer is an inarguable no. (Scalia, for example, decided in favour of Bush using the "equal protection" principle that he had mocked and derided in every single other case that he'd ever heard. For that matter, would the media have been silent if the USSC had decided in favour of Gore and we found out afterwards that no judge recused themselves even though one exclaimed in public that she was horrified that Bush might win, and two others had close relatives on the Gore team who would later receive senior governmental posts?)

That test in place, let's ask ourselves two simple questions:

1. If it turned out that Michelle Obama had become a drug addict, stole from her own charity, forged doctor's signatures and later crushed the whistleblower, and only evaded jail by her husband exerting his political influence, would Obama even be the nominee, let alone in the lead? Obviously not. Yet that's what happened with Cindy McCain.

2. If it turned out that Michelle Obama or Jill Biden had been members of an anti-American secessionist organization until very recently, and had, while their husbands were in office, actively inserted themselves into their spouse's jobs, including having space in their offices, would these Democratic figures get away with that? Obviously not. But nobody outside the lefty blogsphere mentions this about Todd Palin.

Liberal media my foot. The American right is whining so loud because they have to deal with a bit of their own medicine now. They've had it their own way so completely for so long they are getting ugly, like a spoiled child hearing the word "no" for the first time.
I hate to admit it, but he's right.

Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail:
Since 1993, the largest number of francophone Quebeckers apparently has wanted no part of federal parties, and therefore of the government or governance of Canada. Canada is no longer a country they wish to participate in governing, but one from which they wish to withdraw cash, like an automated teller machine.

They want to influence decisions in Ottawa without taking any responsibility for those decisions. They want neither to separate from Canada, nor to govern it. They want, through the Bloc Québécois, a variation of an old and enduring ambition: to be part of Canada, but only sort of, and on their terms, which means some sort of associate status, égal à égal, separate but not fully separate, sovereignty but with association, autonomous but still tied, somewhat in but somewhat out, or, in the metaphor of the brilliant Quebec journalist Jean Paré, parishioners in a church called Canada they seldom attend except for important occasions like Christmas, Easter and maybe marriages. They want to take but not to give. And they always prefer leaders, when given a choice, from Quebec.

Many words spring to mind: "provincial", "tribal", "selfish". They're harsh. They hurt. I wish it weren't this way. But it is. And Simpson goes ruthlessly on in his accuracy:
Conservatives and Liberals in Quebec now appear like parties from the "other," that is to say, the rest of Canada. This perception, in turn, allows the Bloc to portray Quebec's interests as unrepresented in those parties and therefore threatened by them.

It's the acts and lies Constitution debate from the 1980s all over again. Those purporting to represent Quebec storm out, and then convince their electorate that they were kicked out and unwelcome when in fact the wound was self-inflicted. It's where I think that Mulroney's legacy is most poisoned. During his near-decade as PM he and his nationaliste allies accepted, spread and reinforced the lies about Quebec's betrayal during the patriation efforts. There's nothing like an insulting and energizing lie when it comes to sticking to a soul.

What's fatiguing about this is that Quebec's political class often seems wedded to the philosophy of demand and the magic of extortionate pressure. Picture an entire political class being operated under the same principles as a 1970s British trade union. The idea of cooperation is baffling to them. Cooperation and compromise is met with a series of new demands:
Quebeckers have a Premier who, although a federalist of a certain variety, is always demanding, never happy and seeking by all avenues to expand Quebec's powers, prestige and transfers. They have a Prime Minister in Ottawa, of whatever political stripe, who pays enormous attention to the province, owing to its 75 seats and the always-possible threat of national dismemberment. And in the Bloc Québécois, they have their very own, homegrown opposition party, always demanding, never satisfied, and seeking, like the Premier, to expand Quebec's powers, prestige and transfers. ... In this culture, nothing is ever enough.

Simpson ends his article with a question to which I have no answer: What now?

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Hostage to Fortune.

About thirteen months ago I made a prediction over at Pandagon.

In discussing a possible move by the Democrats in the US Congress I said:

Yeah, like the current Dem leadership in Congress has the stones to do this. They are too busy denigrating their own base whilst trying to peel away votes from the 25% of Americans who would neverevereverevereverEVER! vote Democrat.

I’m going to make a prediction here. The Dem performance in 2008 will be far, far poorer than they anticipate. They are alienating liberals and progressives by abandoning their objectives and principles, and they are alienating independents because of their inaction on the war and their constant, demonstrated weakness. Today’s call for 2008: record low turnouts; surprisingly large GOP votes; record levels of vote fraud in bellweather areas.

You read it here first.

So, there's a number of predictions there:

1. The Democratic leadership would continue to foolishly tack to what it and the MSM erroneously called "the centre", i.e. it would continue to move to the right and be Republicans whilst claiming to be an alternative.

2. The Democratic leadership would continue to "alienat[e] liberals and progressives by abandoning their objectives and principles...".

3. The Democratic leadership would continue to "alienat[e] independents because of their inaction on the war and their constant, demonstrated weakness...".

4. "[R]ecord low turnouts" [amongst Democrats and independents] in the 2008 elections.

5. "[S]urprisingly large GOP votes" in the 2008 elections.

6. "[R]ecord levels of vote fraud in bellweather areas". I should have clarified that I meant GOP voter fraud. I should also note that I should have said "swing states". In any event, a prediction for high levels of GOP vote fraud, by which I mean voter suppression and perhaps computer theft like Ohio in 1984.

The American election is coming up. Let's see how I did.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Best quote on abuse of authority that you will hear for a while.

"When your only tool is a hammer, everyone looks like a nail."

Commenter "Cynical in CA" over at The Agitator.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Helpful Cultural Hint

judicial activism” (modified noun)
Term used by American conservatives to decry any judicial decision with which they disagree.

Cultural interpretative note
The visitor to the United States is cautioned that the phrase is not to be taken as an objective descriptor, but rather as a subjective pejorative. A judge declining to substitute his judgment for that of the legislature on a matter on which conservatives wish him to act is a “judicial activist”, even though he is exercising deference to the wishes of the elected legislature. Conversely, a judge who renders a decision of which conservatives approve is not a “judicial activist”, even if the decision in question goes directly contrary to the clear language of the statute and the expressed intent of the legislature.