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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"Come! Bathe with me!"

By: Michael Akerman


Inspiration struck last night when I was thinking about making a new blog post, but didn't know what to write, and I came up with a nifty analogy that happens to revolve around an SNL line. Thus, it must be a perfect blog post, because:

1.) It's political in nature.
2.) It involves a nifty analogy.
3.) It revolves around an SNL line.




Before I move on, I wanted to say that I've moved to a private server, can host images and such on it, and will probably eventually expand to a multiple page blog/home page thing.

So, update your bookmarks, even though my blogspot site will redirect you to this site.

And I can verify that my easter egg works on Mozilla Firebird every time I load the site, but I can't verify anything on MSIE.




Multilateralism

I think one of my big quips about the modern political system is that even the conservatives are fundamentally liberal, in the vaguest sense of the word. The Bush administration pushed for multilateralism in the war with Iraq (sorry, "war in Iraq"), Clinton with health care, every modern President (after Nixon, at least) with any important social or military reform. But this is bad politics.

Seeking multilateralism is fine and dandy, and could be useful, but Communism never works. Asking both parties to agree on the neccessity of legislation for political reasons creates a hypocritical situation. Before the War in Iraq, the Republicans pushed for multilateralism, starting a movement among the populace for multilateralism. The Democrats appeared to be left with only one politically sound choice: support the war in Iraq. This made it hard to raise opposition, and created bad policies. Competition is the only way to make truly beneficial legislation.

For instance, competition between the two parties before the War in Iraq would have allowed concerns to be raised and arguments to be addressed. Democrats could have spoken out for post-war policy, moderates would have been swayed slightly, and Republicans would have had to bow to these concerns to allow the war. Oil factories would probably be up and running, a political system would be taking root, and Halliburton would not be milking the US budget for all it's worth.

In short, multilateralism is like the Republican party and the Democratic party taking a bath together. They bathe together with the intention of finishing their baths quicker and more efficiently, but in the end they simply splash around the issue, make a big mess, and they have to spend a long time cleaning up afterward.

~Michael,
...feel free to comment on which Republican and which Democrat you pictured bathing together in the bathtub analogy...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Liberals "Blowing smoke" and Conservatives "Full of Hot Air"

By: Michael Akerman


Now for my scathing rebuttal:




Well, Smith, I must say, I actually do partially agree with you. It is not true that Liberals base all of their decisions on emotion. Nor is it true that Conservatives base all of our decisions on logic and fact. Nor is it true that Liberals base all of their decisions on logic and fact. Nor is it true that Conservatives base all of our decisions on emotion.

My belief is that the actual reasons (on both sides) and the stated reasons (on both sides) are entirely different. The leaders of both parties base their decisions on highly logical principles, such as "appealing to the emotions of the public will get me reelected." Luckily, this demagoguery appeals to about equal portions of voters on both sides, and has little impact on actual voting (Special Note: This does not mean politicians can stop appealing to emotion, because competition dictates that if both sides stop doing something beneficial, one side will start again, and then both will). So both sides must also appeal to logic. Objective observation will reveal that both sides, in fact, use their logic to make decisions, with little or no emotion involved (in my opinion, of course, liberals' logic is wrong, but that's just me).

Now, let's take the death penalty again as our example. The Conservative logic is that the death penalty decreases capital crimes, is thorough and precise in its application, and allows few enough mistakes that it is justified in its use. The Liberal logic is that the death penalty does not decrease capital crimes enough (they'll never say "enough." It's always left unqualified. Demagoguery, remember?), is not applied precisely, and executing even one innocent is worse than a vague possibility of a few other innocents being murdered.

Most of this is hard to prove or based on morals (note: not necessarily emotions. Morals are more logical and rigid), but there are some facts that have been distorted by www.deathpenaltyinfo.org that can be put in a more proper light. First, the statement that the death penalty has not benefited the South: frankly, this is crock. While the South's murder rate is higher than the national average, this has always been this way, especially after the migration to the Sun Belt. The South has a younger, more minority-based population than the North, as well as lower education on average, and a greater level of poverty. Of course the murder rate is higher. Statistics don't lie, and all major studies have shown that these demographics exhibit higher murder rates.

The true question in this case is not the level of capital crimes, but the effect of the death penalty on that level. Since the early 1990s, when Bush really kicked capital punishment up a notch in Texas, Texas' murder rate has dropped 66%, compared to a national 33%. In that time, the difference in minority population between the South and North has, in fact, increased. Difference in poverty and education is essentially unchanged. The only reason for the large decrease is the death penalty.

Turning to statistics again, it has been proven that minorities are executed at a higher rate than whites, compared to their populations. However, minorities also commit capital crimes at much higher rate than whites, compared to their population. Why? I have theories, but that would be another post. Regardless, the disproportionate executions are the result of... well... disproportionate crimes.

Regarding executing innocents, there has never been a case in which someone who was executed was later proven innocent. I can't say anything justifying the possibility of this happening. All things have risks that must be taken.

My personal opinion has little to do with emotions. The death penalty is alright in my eyes because the felon has not only stopped contributing to society, he has been detrimental. I believe in second chances for everyone, but on the second capital conviction, the murderer is a waste of resources. His death is fully justified.

My reason would never appeal to the masses, and this explains the "emotion" theory on political ideals. If I were a politician, I would say that the felon has hurt people and that he has played God. This is how it works on most, if not all, political ideals.

My death penalty reaffirmations (I had assumed they were true, but I checked) are from Sam Francis' article at TownHall.com

~Michael,
...you have to appeal to the gun-totin', hootin'-hollerin' rednecks...

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"Bleeding-heart liberals" and "Compassionless conservatives"

By: UnrepentantNewDealer


This post will serve the purpose of debunking one of the most common misconceptions that characterize the vast majority of discussions about politics, an untruth that has been repeated by those on the Right (and to some extent, on the Left) for so long, that most people have accepted it as fact. The misconception: that the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that the positions of liberals are always based on emotion, rather than reason, and that the positions of conservatives are always based on reason, not emotion. Many intelligent people have fallen prey to this mythThis hypothesis is favored by conservatives, who want to believe that their positions are the only logical ones to take and that the positions of liberals can be dismissed as the illogical rantings of the "bleeding-hearts" and thus irrelevant; those few liberals who actually do base their opinions solely on emotion also favor this hypothesis because it allows them to claim that conservatives don't even have a heart.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since the best defense is a good offense, I will first eviscerate the conservatives' claims to basing all their positions on reason. Take the death penalty, for example. Conservatives claim that they support the death penalty because it reduces crime; that is to say that the everpresent possibility of exucution by the state discourages criminals from committing capital offenses. Until 1976, the death penalty was outlawed as unconstitutional; in that year it reversed itself. Logically, if the conservatives are right, it stands to reason that the rate of capital crimes should have decreased since 1976, at least in states with the death penalty. Instead, according to the FBI, in Texas, which executes more than three times as many inmates annually as any other state, the crime rate is nearly five times the national average. The South as a region accounts for 82% of executions since 1976, yet has long had the highest murder rate in the nation. The Northeast, by contrast, makes up less than 1% of the execution total, yet has the lowest murder rate in the country. (All these irrefutable facts and more can be found at www.deathpenaltyinfo.org; type death penalty into Google and click "I'm feeling lucky) This of course makes a mockery of their only "rational" reason to support the death penalty.

But of course, deterrence isn't their real reason, it's vengeance. Support the death penalty to punish these sick inhuman SOBS and make sure they don't kill again! This is obviously not a logical reason to support the death penalty; it is in fact based on nothing but EMOTION, the same thing they claim liberals' arguments are based on. Those BLEEDING-HEART CONSERVATIVES!!!:)

As a moderate liberal, I oppose the death penalty not just on moral (emotional) grounds but also because it is so inhumane it has been banned by all other true Western democracies, it is irreversible and there is no possibility of restitution (if later evidence would prove your innocense, you can be freed from a jail cell; dead inmates can't be brought back to life, obviously), its unsettling habit of sending minority inmates to death row far out of proportion to the rate of crimes committed by minorites, and the aforementioned fact that it doesn't deter capital crimes. Unlike conservatives, liberals have a position based on fact.

This is a trend that you see whenever you take a "fair and balanced" (Fox News copywrite lawyers: in the words of our Dear Leader, "Bring em on!") look at the positions of liberals and conservatives. Abortion, affirmative action, environmental protection, government regulation of the economy, school prayer, foreign policy, civil rights and civil liberties, social service programs--the list goes on and on; on all of these issues the conservative positions are illogical and fly in face of common sence, reason, and established scientific facts. I don't worry about the hearts of most conservatives, I worry about their heads. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that, on any given issue, conservatives tend to choose the position that makes the least, not the most, sense. Reliance on either logic or emotion alone can lead to tragedy. The great strength of liberalism is that it has both Reason and Emotion on its side on most issues.

See Michael, I told you this would be an inflammatory post!:)

Until next time,

~Michael Smith

...don't even try to resist the urge to comment...