Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Tag: progressive

Signal to Noise Ratio

In my conversion from being libertarian (with a small L) to a progressive (because I couldn’t bring myself to calling myself liberal) has been a journey fraught with mistakes. In rejecting my old politics, I’d forgotten what was valuable from that old political belief system. Just as in rejecting Christianity (my Catholicism) I’d rejected all of it. After watching Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth with Bill Moyers I was able to reclaim and keep what was good from my Catholic upbringing. It’s time I do the same with my political leanings.

Note- I use the lowercase L because I never joined the party. The reason is they wanted me to sign an oath:

"I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political of social goals."

I agree with it in principle and I totally oppose the neocon doctrine of preemption, but why did I not sign it or take it? I can’t quite articulate why at the moment and I apologize for that but it boils down to that I think of it as an unspoken principle. No party should advocate the use of force to achieve political ends. And yet we know that our government controlled by these parties use force all the time to do so. They also use laws to achieve political and social goals that are just as detrimental as the use of force. Such as the poorly named ‘war on drugs’.

But I digress.

Although political and religious ideas can never reach the precision of a scientific theory, I believe that using the principles of science to form a better view of the world is essential in producing ideas that are workable in the real world. And so I believe in taking what is useful and figuring out what works. I rejected libertarianism because they were never going to get into power and frankly their philosophy prevented them from doing so. They want small gov’t. Well to trot out a phrase ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. I concluded that corporations would fill that power vacuum left by the gov’t. And to me libertarianism became a bait and switch philosophy. I started looking at the history of progressivism and found myself agreeing with the Teddy Roosevelt era progressive policies: break up monopolies, ending child labor are just a few of the things I agree with.

Another note: I should have also questioned whether or not progressivism is also a bait and switch philosophy.

Anyway my point is I believe in the adage of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And that we should listen to our political opponents. The problem is picking the signal from the noise. And since Obama has become President the noise level has become extremely high. So here’s a nice clean signal extracted from the noise.

Republicans and Libertarians have the right idea here. One lesson we should all take to heart.

I’m not quite sure a high signal-to-noise ratio means there’s more signal than noise or more noise than signal. Does low signal-to-noise ratio mean that’s a bad thing? Anyway if the number on the left is higher than on the right, that’s a good thing. It means there is more signal than noise. So 2:1 is good and 1:2 is bad. I’ve forgotten a lot of my radio training.

Postscript: I should probably add there are differences between liberals and progressives, but the terms have become so conflated in public discourse that it’s takes time to explain the differences. I’d recommend Wikipedia as a good starting place to get the basic definitions about the differences.

More headlines to piss you off

You can skip to the bottom for the headlines if you are ready to be pissed off. I didn’t always think that Republicans were bad. In the 1990’s, I listened to Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy. I thought Clinton was a bad president. The main reason why I leaned towards the Republicans they were closer to the Libertarians. I held libertarian beliefs and read Ayn Rand. I even believed that Liberals were closet socialists and that big government was bad. I even voted for George W. Bush in 2000.

Here I am today a progressive and a registered Democrat. I voted for Obama in 2008. I’m not going to regale you with the details of my political transformation, but I will say the main reason I changed had more to do with my core philosophy of how I look at the world. Political belief is unscientific.

When a scientist observes the world and comes up with theories he tests it to see if his theory is sound. A good scientist knows when his theories have failed and moves on. He’s always changing and revising his understanding of the world. And so I have applied that principle to my view on politics. I try to pick a system that works best for people. Right now, progressive politics, seems to be the most effective. That could change in the future. In fact, it must. I’m beginning to suspect our choice of politics may be tied to our personality type.

I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that Republicans were evil and that Democrats were good. There are plenty of Democrats that I don’t have much faith in, Reid and Pelosi, come to mind. I’m not a liberal. I am a progressive. The term is used interchangeably and confuses the issue. It’s not a relabeling. I know I need to expand on that so you’ll understand where I’m coming from and how I got here. On to the headlines.

To understand the bullshit shenanigans the Republicans are pulling on this stimulus bill I thought I’d give you two examples:

Bike Paths=Green Pork?

Katie Couric Disses Energy-Saving Weatherization As Embarrassing

That’s right. Senator DeMint wants to ban any funding for bike routes and paths, and Senator Mitch McConnell wants to get rid of funding for weatherization. Both of these Senators want to prevent America from even baby steps to wean us off of dependence of fossil fuels, foreign and domestic.

So what are the benefits, As Obama said, it’s a threefer. You put people to work building bike paths and weatherizing homes. You save money on your energy bills. You reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Actually you get a fourfer. You help the environment upon which we all depend.

The problems that face us as individuals, as a community, as a nation, and as the world are immense and daunting. The Republicans, and I sure a few Democrats, but mostly Republicans, cannot see any further than the next election and protecting the interests of corporations at the expense of everyone else. In their own bubble, with their own set of limited facts, they believe they are doing the right thing. I’m sure some of them do know better.

It would be far better to convince the Republicans that it is in their best interest, not to mention, the best interest of America, to do the right thing, to lead us towards a more sustainable way of living. But if they don’t, then they must be voted out of office. Democrats aren’t perfect. They too have some problems, but the progressives have an in and are working to dominate the party. Progressives aren’t always Democrats. Teddy Roosevelt did a number of progressive things.

Next time I plan to have more links and less soapbox.

Oh, and one more thing, while I’m on my soapboax, the Republicans have been trying to get people to visualize how much money is being spent for “pork” by stacking it end to end. X billion dollars would reach from New Jersey to El Paso, or four times around the globe, or some other such bullshit visualization. It’s a distraction. Think how many homes could be saved from foreclosure with that. How many families that would help. Think how many people could have health insurance coverage. A stack of money benefits no one. You can show a benefit by how it’s spent. For example I could say the money spent on the Iraq war would stretch from here to the Moon or around the globe five times. I don’t know how big a stack it is, nor do I care, but you get the idea. I could say that for the money we spent on the Iraq war would have paid for universal health care for every man woman and child in America. That has actual payoffs for America as a whole.

What payoff has invading Iraq given us? Certainly not cheaper oil. A devastated country, thousand and thousands dead, thousand of wounded vets. You say it’s made the world a safer place. Has it? Dick Cheney was saying that we could expect a major terrorist attack on America because of Obama. That to me says Cheney’s people didn’t do a very good job of reducing terrorism in the world. At best, they merely contained it. And I don’t think they really did that.

No Rest for the F***heads

I was on the wrong side when Clinton became President. I listened to Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy. I thought Newt Gingrich was smart. They are not stupid people. Their arguments aren’t dumb. My worldview was limited to thinking Ayn Rand was the best thing since sliced bread. As a former libertarian, I thought if only people had the facts I did, they’d come around. The problem was my facts were cherry picked and did not reflect the wider world, it’s history or human nature. I was trying to fit the facts to my world view and not the other way around.

Newt sounds smart and reasonable for about the first two minutes and then you come to realize he’s batshit crazy. Limbaugh was very entertaining. I really enjoyed Paul Shanklin’s conservative parody songs, though I must confess some of them were borderline racist and misogynistic. I should have known better, I was glad to see that someone was making fun of the Democrats and not just Republicans. As for Liddy. He’s someone I could still respectfully disagree with, despite how reactionary he is. He’s by far more educated than most conservative pundits with the possible exception of Michael Wiener (aka Michael Savage).

It feels good for once to be on the right side with the right people at the right time. How do I know I’m on the right side this time? I don’t. Only time will tell. I never felt I could adequately defend my views when I was of a libertarian bent or persuade others with evidence they’d accept. This time I do feel I can adequately defend those views. I know that some would not accept the evidence I’d present but this time I don’t fucking care. If they won’t examine it, that’s their fucking problem.

Winning the election was the easy part for Obama. Now comes the hard part. Bush & Cheney still have 70+ days to screw things up even more. Their supporters, and most especially the pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and Michael Savage will continue to be major fuckheads. These people and their ilk will not stop being fuckheads. In fact their fuckheadedness is just beginning. Obama isn’t Clinton 2.0. There will be no Monica 2.0, no Troopergate 2.0, no Whitewater 2.0, no pick your Clinton scandal 2.0, real or manufactured. Their attacks on ACORN and questioning small donations over the Internet will only get louder and shriller. Who knows where else they will attack? Probably they’ll make complaints of voter suppression and stolen elections. They’ll pretend that didn’t happen in 2000 or 2004. They are not interested in working with us. They are not interested in bipartisanship. They only know how to do one thing, attack.

It looks like the Democrats will be 3 seats shy of a supermajority in the Senate. That will be the Republican’s line in the sand, where we can expect the most obstruction. We cannot be like them. Just because they want to be fuckheads doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to them. We have to show them we can be decent human beings. Isn’t my calling the fuckheads being counterproductive? No. I want them to know how I really feel, but that I’m capable of moving past that. I’ll have to demonstrate that after all this namecalling.

If those on the conservative side of the aisle don’t want to give Obama a chance and work with the progressives, then they deserve to be miserable for the next four years. I will not let them screw this up. There’s too much at stake.

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