Archive for April, 2011


April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

“That men know not how to be splendidly wicked or wholly good, and shrink in consequence from such crimes as are stamped with an inherent greatness or disclose a nobility of nature.”—Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses. Book I, Chapter XXVII

I’m torn like I was with the French ban on the Muslim headscarves: on the one hand I detest that a religion proscribes the scarf on the other I am all for freedom of speech (eventually I settled on the latter since freedom is more important to my view than not, and because it allows me the secondary benefit of criticizing the French yet again). Today, Obama released (re-released) his birth certificate to show us what legally we already knew: that he is a natural born American Citizen. We knew this because he was president, and no one can be president who doesn’t meet this requirement.

People who doubt this are idiots. I’m categorically making the statement and if you are insulted by it, you can always recant this belief and not be an idiot. However I hold it to be a contradiction that you can be an intelligent person and not believe what has already been proven. And, no, this isn’t because I voted for him. It’s because it is a fact.

To believe otherwise is to believe that fifty years ago the Democratic party, which was wholly different than it is now—in that it actually opposed civil rights legislation (the so-called “Solid South”), conspired to forge a birth certificate so that an African baby could one day be president. Complicit in this, are all of the newspapers in Hawaii (two I think), the governor at the time and then consequently down the line, the doctors and medical staff at the hospitals, and the subsequent heads of the Democratic Party since that infant’s birth until the 2008 election. Due to planning we should actually say that the conspiracy existed prior to Obama’s birth.[1]

Furthermore, whoever was in charge of this plot (for it couldn’t have been Obama himself, for obvious reasons) had been allowing the opposition party to win elections. This presents two difficulties because either it happened due to incompetence, which is hard to believe since they have been so effective at achieving the goal of getting a Kenyan in the presidential office. Or those elections were lost on purpose (which we can say actually counts as a win) which means that the plan is much more subtle and devious than we can realize. All of this was done without one leak or flaw.

That is what believers in the “birther” conspiracy have to accept as the course of events of American history until now. I say now, because today Obama released his birth certificate to the Whitehouse website (remember .gov not .com [.com used to be a porn site]) to settle the issue. I think this is a terrible mistake.

For two reasons: the first is that I maintain that if a person believes in a conspiracy of such proportion this birth certificate is not going to prove anything. If “They” can make everything happen the way it has happened, then what is stopping “Them” from forging the document in the first place? You are telling me that an organization planning a conspiracy for over 5 decades couldn’t put a stamp on a piece of paper in a hospital. That’s more ludicrous than what the “truthers” believe, and they believe in some bullshit.

Secondly, and this is why I have the quote above, I think it’s a bad move politically but on the other hand it does prove that the President is a better person than I. Here’s why: the controversy wasn’t costing him, or his party anything. For the entire existence of it, they’ve been happy to ignore it and that move makes sense. The people who believe it weren’t going to vote for him anyway so why pretend that the issue of birth was going to sway anyone in the first place. As the movement spread (I think the number of Congressmen who believe in the controversy was estimated at 51% of Republicans) all it did was indicate that the mainstream GOP was being kicked around by fringe elements and that all of the swagger and cowboy-effectiveness[2] that Bush brought to the party was now gone. In short it made them look like clowns.

Then came Donald Trump’s candidacy for President. And while the believers in the conspiracy looked like clowns before now they looked like someone slapped a clown suit on a wino ala Simpson’s episode “Kamp Krusty.” The actual sane frontrunners of the GOP, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney (seriously these are the rational ones) were taking a back seat to Trump who’s only issue seems to be the birther issue. You can tell that Romney and Huckabee are thinking big picture because they have no comment on it. On the one hand if they deny the issue (Tim Pawlenty style) they risk alienating the core believers but on the other hand if they accept it they basically risk losing the independent vote and the minority vote (for whom the related issue of immigration is a big deal, i.e. that whole “real American” thing). Even if you know that Trump is using this whole thing as a publicity stunt, as a GOP candidate you can’t ignore it. Thus there’s the pickle.

The president released the document (which it had already done before and it was viewed as authentic) because he thought that this issue was being a distraction in times where there are serious issues to reckon with. That of course is true, but I would never have done it. I would have made false slip-ups to keep it going and never, ever comment on the issue. I would have done all of this because the more and more the GOP had to mainstream a fringe theory the more and more they looked like tin-foil hatters and that would have made the presidential choice in 2012 a choice between crazy and not-crazy, which makes it much easier for re-election. I would have exploited the stupidity for my own gain, and then as the election approached maybe the October before I would have released the document in an attempt to sway any of the former believers. If I were him I would fire whoever advised me to release it.

Then again, I suppose I should be happy that maybe there will be slightly less crazy in the world. Maybe the GOP can put up a real candidate for president. Maybe.

[1] Or not, I could actually see it go either way. If they picked a child at random they would need a set plan, if they chose him on purpose they could have begun the planning later.

[2] My term, patent pending.

Categories: Uncategorized

Unity: (Metaphysics Book X: 1)

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Metaphysics has been the search for the “one,” an underlying substance that connects all reality to itself, or perhaps we can define it as a search for that which is common to all that is. With this as the goal of Aristotle’s metaphysical writings it’s important to understand what the “one” is, and how it is that we should define it for this intrepid purpose. Frustratingly we cannot read the Metaphysics from beginning to end and hope to get the same thing out of it. It almost must be read in the order that we[1] have been indicating in these passages, furthermore to correctly understand these writings we must also voyage to some of his other writings, most notably The Physics as the two books are related. Here then is the end[2] of the incursion into Aristotle’s Metaphysics in which we discuss this elusive one.

“One” can be considered in four fashions:

1) The continuous primary with movement both indivisible and simplest (i.e. the Prime Mover discussed last week)

2) “That which is a whole and has a certain shape and form is one in a still higher degree.” This whole must be held together by its essential nature and not through artifice or compulsion.

3) “In number, then, the individual is indivisible.” Literally “1” is “one.”

4) “In kind, that which is intelligibility and in knowledge is indivisible; so that that which causes substances to be one must be one in the primary sense.[3]

All of these meanings pertain to the one—it is naturally continuous, whole, individual, and universal. In all because they are more primary than that which comes afterward, these are that which is only predicated, but not as we said in the beginning of our discourse, predicable of others things.[4] For example “fire” is an element because it has its own nature, fire is fire and is its own primary constituent.[5] This line of thinking would shape inquiries for sometime as the belief in the four primary elements (earth, wind, water, fire) were all thought to be made of themselves. Only the Epicureans kept alive the concept of “atoms” and then their thoughts were lost to history for some time as well.

One is “a this” and can be isolated in form of thought. We can separate the one from its accidental features and from other compounds. To be one is “to be the first measure of a kind,[6]” all measurements are taken from the one and are in reference to it. Which is why the American system of measurement, the Imperial, is so frustrating. In this measuring system there is no “foot,” or “inch,” or “gallon[7]” by which other measurements are made as compared to the metric system wherein their actually exists a kilogram, meter, and liter.[8] Without reference to the one our measurements would simply be arbitrary and subject to the perspective of the individual, “In all these, then, the measure and starting point is something one and indivisible.[9]” The base point of any measurement must be that which is indivisible, it must be a “unit” which cannot be divided in any manner whatsoever.[10] Thus from the unit we have unity. That all things are united by this one, this atomic concept that underlies all.

Opinion and subjectivity can play no role. We can leave off with a rather lengthy quote in full, “Knowledge, also and perception, we call the measure of things for the same reason (that measure is homogenous, i.e. distance is measured by a unit of distance), because we come to know something by them –while as a matter of fact they are measured rather than measure other things. But it is with us as if some one else measured us and we came to know how big we are by seeing that he applied the cubit-measure[11] to such and such a fraction of us. But, Protagoras says, ‘man is the measure of all things,’ as if he had said, ‘the man who knows’ or ‘the man who perceives;’ and these because they have respective knowledge and perception, which we say are the measures of objects. Such thinkers are saying nothing, then, while they appear to be saying something remarkable.[12]

[1] Just an aside here: I love writing “we” in this fasion.

[2] Although there will be one more as I like to post my final papers on this blog since I would like someone other than the professor to read them given how much time and effort goes into them.

[3] 1052a15-34

[4] 1052a34-36

[5] 1052b10-11

[6] 1052b15-16

[7] This can be quibbled over since both “foot” and “inch” are references to the body i.e. the former is a man’s foot and the latter the end of the thumb hence “rule of thumb.” However these aren’t standardized and since most men’s feet are actually smaller than a foot, we can dispense with this notion.

[8] Respectively, a kilograms is a golf-ball sized platinum-iridium alloy, a meter is distance light travels in a vaccum in 1/299792458 of a second, a liter is one kilogram of water at 4 degrees Celsius.

[9] 1052b32-33

[10] 1053a24

[11] History disputes have thrown this into question, but some say that the original cubit was a man’s forearm others say that the biblical cubit was the distance between the nose and the outstretched arm.

[12] 1053a31-1053b3

Categories: Uncategorized

Theology (Metaphysics Lambda 3, 6-10)

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

“The moving causes exist as things preceding the effects[1]” Aristotle here is going to lay out a proof for the existence of a creative force in the world. This creative force, which he calls “God,” is a departure from his predecessors who took a different outlook on necessity of the divine. Some of the predecessors viewed the gods in the mythological sense, the world was created by them through accidental forces: the sky coupling with the earth, creating the Titans, who then created the Gods who then destroyed the Titans (or cast them into the bottom of existence called Tartarus). Or the others that spoke of a supreme being for which all exist inside of it. In both cases the world is held to be eternal, i.e. there is no mention of what created the sky or the earth. There is a third group of that disposed entirely with the need for a creative force attributing creation to an accident or at least some kind of uncaused agent such as the apeiron of Anaximander or the atomic theory of Democritus and Leucippus.

Aristotle’s departure is, in a sense, a blending of the three. He disposes of the necessity and even existence of the Gods of the Greeks but retains the notion of an uncaused cause, retains the notion of the Divine Cosmos of Xenophanes but discards the notion of the Pantheistic nature of that God, and also disposes of the accidental nature of creation.[2] Because of Aristotle’s theory on cause he must create a theory of a causer or a mover that generates all other things which are caused. This is the Prime Mover argument, or the First Cause argument for the existence of God. This argument still holds weight and is still argued over to this day.

Paraphrasing the argument, it states that because things which exist, sensible objects, are brought into being there must be something which brings them into being. The cause must precede the effect. This is self-evident as what exists cannot be brought into existence after that which has caused it. The creative force then must also have a creative force for it, which then precedes it. This causal, or creative chain, must then have an originative force that begins all movement and generation. Therefore there must be an original mover or causer that is itself self-moving or self-causing.[3]

Further adding to this claim is that it is necessary that there should be an eternal unmovable substance. The first mover must itself be unmoving as moving or change implies want or incompleteness which is impossible with our notion of the eternally divine.[4] As Aristotle defined the difference between potential and actual as actual being better than potential, again potential implies that something could be something else, implying development or again, want, the eternal substance must be completely actual.[5]

Aristotle also claims that God simply is. “We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God.[6]” It must be stressed here that “good” isn’t implying a moral virtue as we commonly conceive of it. “Good” here is about perfection and usefulness, not the moral good of the modern monotheistic conception. Greek “good” is of a different outlook, but nevertheless the final and most pure form of being is God.

Having thus established the existence of God, Aristotle moves on to the nature of this God. Here is where he disposes of the mythological conceptions of his day, and to some extent our day as well, “Our forefathers in the most remote ages have handed down to their posterity, a tradition, in the form of myth, that these bodies are gods (the heavenly spheres, planets and stars) and the divine encloses the whole of nature. The rest of the tradition has been added later in mythical form with a view to the persuasion of the multitude and to its legal and utilitarian expediency.[7]

While the most remote founders of civilization and philosophy believed that the divine is the architect of nature, it was not they who laid out the religious rules and taboos. Offering conceptions of Gods as overseers of the world who are meddlesome, jealous, and demanding of tribute has been invention of politicians, kings, and those seeking to offer control over the populace (to good or bad effect). For example, creating a rule against murder is one that every society shares. Justifying this rule can go one of two ways. It can be explained that if a society were to permit the unjustified slaying of a citizen that society could not last very long or one could simply say that “God forbids it and will punish those who violate the rule.” The former while being a correct reason for prohibiting murder is more complicated and forces people to view their action in a light which transcends their own egotistical gain while the latter appeals to their sense of self-preservation.

It seems that Aristotle is a deist. One, like American Founders Paine, Jefferson, and Franklin; who believe that there is a creative God for whom pays no concern with the actions of creation. This attitude, or lack thereof, is evident above. If this God did concern itself with our actions that would indicate that it possessed a lacking, or that it needed something. If that were the case it would then indicate that It was not complete and thus not entirely actual, and thus not perfect. The only thing that Aristotle’s God thinks of is its own thought. For nothing else could interest It without negating Its divine perfection.

The Aristotelian proof was later adopted St. Augustine and St. Aquinas as proofs of the Christian God’s existence. Aquinas is more well known for this as he asserted four (or possibly more) versions of the proof categorically referred to as the “Cosmological Arguments.” As I said earlier, these are still matters of debate although I fail to see why. The reason for this is not laid in my denial of the existence of God but in that Aristotle and company actually offer an alternative explanation for creation. Aristotle disposes of creation being borne of an accident but his logical argumentation doesn’t support this denial. The form of the argument, and logic works but the conclusion is based on an assumption.

That being said, it’s either a Divine Force or a creative accident. Notably Greek Atomic Theory, formulated by Leucippus and Democritus and later supported by Epicurus; then later adopted by modern Atomic Physicists can accept the argument and still attribute creation to an accidental combination of atoms first moved by the Big Bang. Everything still works here. The unity of argument between Aristotle, the Atomists, and Modern Physicists is noteworthy. The biggest divergence then is between the Christian founders and the rest as their divergence is in postulating that God intervenes in the affairs of Creation. Something not justified by Aristotle.

[1] 1071a21

[2] However, as I will argue in a future posting retaining the notion of the atoms and void of the Atomists.

[3] 1069b35-1070a4

[4] 1071b2-4

[5] 1071b15-22

[6] 1072b27-30

[7] 1074b1-6

Categories: Uncategorized

An Argument over Triangles

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, on my facebook page, I was sucked into an argument over the bias at NPR. A friend of mine, whom I know in the real world, attacked an NPR article for its liberal bias. Curiously enough, the two of us both possessing Master’s Degrees neglected to observe that fact the page in question was not a news report but an opinion piece on their blog section. Oops, not that this changes the argument that I am going to make (especially since our argument trailed off Friday night and I am just noticing the “blog” fact right now).

The debate centered around the alleged bias (I do not concede that NPR is a bastion of liberal view points) of NPR and that this article was proof of that. If you read the above link you will notice that the author takes a stance unfavorable and even hostile to the Arizona law which requires proof of birth-citizenship for presidential candidates. It’s a bit redundant since the US Constitution requires this, and in my opinion is just shameless pandering to an unfortunately growing viewpoint in this country regarding our President. For those of you unfamiliar the term “birther”* it refers to the opinion that President Obama was not born in Hawaii but somewhere else, I think Kenya is the front runner.

The hostility of the news article (remember we both thought that is what the link was) was the center point of the issue. His point was that being a news organization that receives government money it should have been neutral, he pointed to the last word “Ouch” as being proof of the bias. My counter point was that…I’ll just cut and paste it, “

We’re not talking about a political slant. Birthers (only capitalized for correct grammar) are objectively wrong, it’s not an opinion it’s a fact of the world. Neutrality does not nor should it apply to people who are going to argue over the existence of triangles. To say otherwise would be to say that someone should have given fair reporting to the nutjobs that thought Bush was behind the Indonesian Tsunami (with some earthquake machine or whatever) five years ago.”

I know what a political slant is, and I know what bias is, and I completely concede that there is a bias in the article against the bill and supporters of it in Arizona. The difference for me is that the bias here is deserved, what birthers argue is a false position and should be treated thus. If the point of the fourth estate is to spread information then they have the responsibility to not spread information that they know to be false. Let me explain the difference with examples:

I can make two distinct and completely unrelated assertions:
        1) There is a God.
        2) Triangles have three sides.
        3) I believe that there is no difference between good flan and bad flan.

All three statements are statements that can be made by a person who believes them, i.e. holds them to be true statements. The first two statements are different from the third in that they represent facts of the world. Objectively these statements are either true or false, independent of who they are made by or whether or not any person believes them. The third statement is an opinion that is only true or false subject to who is making the statement.

Statements 1 and 3 are linked in that a person can disagree with the truth or falsity of them since neither has been proven beyond doubt. I can tell a person that, as an atheist, I do not believe that God exists and then we can have a debate over it. Until such time as the statement has been objectively verified the debate is still open. Since statement 3 regards personal taste arguing over it is silly and useless because what one person likes is not comparable to what another person likes, they may just disagree.

Statement 2 is a fact of the world that has been proven. It’s a definition, in order to be a triangle you have to be an enclosed geometric shape with three sides. There are other definitions, such as three angles or having internal angles which equal 180 degrees, any of these will do. The important point is that no person having functioning mental faculties, possessed of the ability of cognition can reasonable argue against the existence of triangles.

Having established that, I must come to my point regarding how this is related to the aforementioned facebook argument. The framing of the “birther argument” is such that they think that it is like statements 1 and/or 3. An argument that is either open because the final conclusion is not yet established (statement 1) or that it is a matter of opinion (statement 3) for which the truth value is a matter of one person’s opinion. The actual fact is that the birth argument is more akin to arguing that statement 2 is false. Like all conspiracy theories their claim is unfalsifiable, that is to say that no amount of information can be presented for them to accept that they are wrong (because that information has been presented and they still deny its veracity, apparently they are all experts on what Hawaiian birth certificates should look like).

The ultimate point is that not every story has two sides. That is to say, that while there may be two sides to the question of whether our President is legally allowed to be president, one side is utterly without merit, and should not be given the consideration of being a legitimate position. The truth is independent of whether or not people believe it. As I said above in the quoted facebook posting I made, to offer the opposing view for the purpose of staying neutral only serves to legitimize an absurd position. No mathematician would think to legitimize the opinion of a person as they were arguing the existence of triangles. When one side of a story is legitimate and the other an absurdity fair balancing is not needed. Perhaps the derision was not necessary (although it was a blog post so that does change things), but pretending that both sides on the issue have something worthwhile to say makes things worse. What’s next an interview with the flat earth society to get their opinion on Astronomical affairs?

*I do not capitalize the names of conspiracy theorists who believe in something despite conclusive evidence to the contrary, this applies to “truthers” and “anti-vaccination people.” Just so we’re clear on this I do capitalize names of organizations that I do not agree with like “Tea Party,” “Socialists,” etc. 

Categories: current events, philosophy

Thoughts on the Budget

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Actually these are more rhetorical questions that I can’t seem to find answers to, these will probably be directed more toward the plan offered by the GOP rather than the Democratic one, which barring details seems to be one that I agree with.

Question 1; can someone please explain how raising taxes, and thus increasing revenue, back to the levels of that reviled socialist Ronald Reagan would not help with the deficit? It seems to be common sense that if you bring in more money you have more money and thus less of a need for credit. The Republicans and the Conservatives tell me this is wrong but I have yet to read one plausible explanation for this.

Question the Second: Alright, there is one reason constantly given but its plausibility rests on the answer to the following: if our corporations are so important to the economy and so patriotic, why do we need to bribe them with tax incentives to stay here? Shouldn’t they want to help the greatest country in history that gave them their ability to make themselves what they are? If I have to sacrifice shouldn’t this country of equality make them sacrifice as well?

Of which we now concern the third question: Despite the objective failure of trickle down economic policies (for instance why we didn’t have the projected budget balance in the 80s in which we tried this experiment), proponents of this plan seem to think that tax breaks create jobs. Yet when the Bush tax cuts were extended unemployment didn’t come down. In fact, if this claim is to be believed then at a point in history when taxes are at the lowest in since WWII our unemployment should also be at the lowest, and this simply isn’t the case. How can we resolve the contradiction?

The nature of the fourth question: I also don’t want to sound like Rep. Ryan is an idiot or anything, I have respect for his willingness to acknowledge that one of the places the money needs to come out of is medicare. That is quite courageous to touch the third rail of politics and directly tell the population with the highest percentage of voting that the money tap is getting shut off. What I wonder though, is why when Obama’s healthcare reform pledged the same thing, there aren’t any false claims of death panels being shouted at Ryan like there were before? I probably should word that better but I think my readers are smart enough to get what I am saying.

The common sense solution seems to not work, but here it is: cut spending, from real sources not piddily amounts, and raise revenue. Maybe this is not why I am a politician.

Categories: current events, politics

Potentiality and Actuality (Metaphysics Theta)

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Almost all of us have engaged in the game of “Desert Island” wherein we pick the things that we would like to have if we were ever to be in the situation of Robinson Crusoe. Almost all of the things that we have to choose from are entertainment media that would help to stave off boredom. If one actually reads Robinson Crusoe this concept actually does exist, although for him boredom wasn’t really an issue but he did have a couple of bibles with him that he read once in awhile. Despite my atheism the Christian Bible is actually a nice pick because of its length, it would take a long time to read that thing cover to cover and there are some interesting stories and depictions of battles to keep one entertained. However if one were stranded with the complete (or even basic) works of Aristotle you would have a much longer text with much more difficult writings to understand. Furthermore if you had read the whole thing, understood it, and were rescued you would have a good understanding of the world. Not the best understanding but given the variety of Aristotle’s topics and analysis there isn’t much you would have no opinion on. That isn’t to say that what you would be reading would be correct, there are several times he makes errors in his writings. For example he doesn’t have an understanding of how reproduction occurs, he seems to get that sexual intercourse is necessary but the exact method of fertilization is a bit lacking. This week’s Aristotle writings discuss one possible error in his judgment.

In defining the difference between potentiality and actuality we are given two distinct definitions for potentiality we are told that they “conform to an originative source, a source of change in another thing or in the thing itself qua another.[1]” All potential is the capacity for change, if a thing realizes the potency inherent in it, it has changed and become actual which is “the existence of a thing not in the ways which we express by ‘potentially.’[2]” Having these two definitions we can then understand that there are always going to be more things which exist potentially than actually.

            The basis for this understanding is that all things potentially can be realized as one or another of the contraries (if they are rational, non-rational can only produce one realization).[3] So for every one thing which exists actually, we had at least two things existing possibly. Only under the possibility of existing can we say that they existed, which is a specious use of the word “existing.” Aristotle recognizes this, “but they do not exist, because they do not exist in complete reality.[4]

            A confusion begins, Aristotle claims that it is false to say that a particular thing is potential but will never be actual.[5] Which is a separation for the concepts of possible and probable. To say that something will never be is different from saying that can never be. One deals with a thing in which an inherent contradiction arises (e.g. a four sided triangle) whilst the other deals with something containing a very high improbability (winning a random number lottery). Perhaps there is a misunderstanding here, of the phrase “this is capable of being but will not be.” Although I am reading it as “this is possible but not probable,” which I do not see as being false nor implying that the things incapable of being vanishing. Those things which are impossible cannot vanish because they could never exist either possible or probable, while those things that are probably do not vanish because I can still form ideas about them.

            A second issue regarding Aristotle’s view is based on his application of the above idea, “If, we suppose that which is not, but is possible, this is not impossible but the result is. We cannot measure that which is not.[6]

            I’m confused by this claim. If Aristotle is saying that which is possible but not in existence cannot be measured this claim is false in the light of modern science. We can postulate the existence of a planetoid for which the orbit would be outside of Pluto’s, we can imagine how big that planetoid might be and the duration of the orbit around the sun to the point that it could be accurately determined if it did exist. We can also do this with isotopes of Hydrogen that cannot exist but understand exactly how these things would behave if they did. On the other hand if Aristotle’s claim is that it is impossible to measure that which is impossible than I have no disagreement. Although it seems redundant to make this assertion.

[1] 1046a9-11

[2] 1048a31-32

[3] 1046b5-6

[4] 1047b1-2

[5] 1047b4-6

[6] 1047b7-12

Categories: philosophy

Budget woes

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m old enough to remember the last time the government almost shut down…which then of course, it did. I remember it specifically because it had shut down, and nothing changed. I also remember that my parish priest, from back when I was a believer in that sort of thing, went to Washington DC and wanted to see an art gallery exhibit which was closed because of the shut down. Luckily some benefactors paid out of pocket to open it. I remember not understanding that if the government were shut down why people still had to work. I was younger then, not too young to understand but too young to really care alot being below voting age and of the general apathy toward politics that most young teenagers have.

That being said, this time I have both the knowledge and the caring but you know what? I still didn’t understand what the fuss was about. Then it took Conservative Andrew Sullivan to explain it to me on Liberal Bill Maher’s show.

My confusion was based on the fact that the GOP was demanding monetary cuts to the budget which the Democrats put up some flimsy resistance. They wanted amount X, the Democrats wanted less cuts…but then the Democrats capitulated as they usually do. From what i understood by Thursday the money was equal, the Democrats would cut the same amount of money that the GOP wanted but for some reason the GOP said it wasn’t going to be enough. Boehner kept talking about reasonable demands, and how the left was meeting them…well I guess, but it didn’t seem that the demands weren’t being met. The cuts were being made, which were stupid bullshit cuts. It’s not like the they were talking about cutting defense spending, medicare, or social security; not its the salad from the dinner plate that needs to go.* Nor does anyone ever actually talk about bringing more money in or raising taxes back to what they were under the hallowed saint Ronald Reagan (whom I beginning to think couldn’t be a conservative republican anymore). It’s almost as if getting more money and reducing spending somehow cancels each other out, which any family on a budget will tell you isn’t the case.

Anyway…Andrew Sullivan explained that this is the fault of the Tea Party. Let’s go back six months to before the election. I had predicted that the Tea Party would fizzle out, then I amended that prediction so that it would have a clear and objective way of being evaluated. In other words, my initial prediction of the end of the Tea Party was unfalsifiable. It could never be wrong even if the sun collapses and the earth was sucked into a black hole, at that point I would have been right but only a billion years off the mark. Think of a conspiracy theorist who constantly adds to their theory in order to not be proven wrong, e.g.
“thermite cut the beams in the WTC”
“-thermite can’t do that it doesn’t direct the heat that way.”
“well it was super thermite”
“-you would need a housing that could hold the thermite, even super thermite, against the I-beam.”
“Super thermite is like paint you could just slap it on the steel itself.”
-“…and what exactly is super-thermite?”
“It’s a top secret classified material designed for cutting I-beams.”

At no point can you prove it wrong. I didn’t want to fall into this trap so I made a time constraint…and I was wrong. The Tea Party is still around although they’ve toned down the yelling. The Tea Party arose because, according to them, fiscal spending was out of control. Why they didn’t do this when Bush was spending all sorts of money is a question I don’t have the answer to, but nevertheless here they are. Lobbying for an end to government irresponsibility…except when it comes to the government actually bringing in more money. Which would also be responsible, but if they are against spending fine. I disagree that it’s the sole problem but whatever.

So why the stand off then? The GOP demand for monetary cuts were met for this time period. Then Sullivan pointed out that there was more to the demand, remember he’s a conservative. The budget conflict was originally about money but it became about something else and the Tea Party is now unmasked. If it were just fiscal, it shouldn’t matter where the cuts came from it should just matter that the cuts are made. This however wasn’t enough, it was important that cuts also pushed a social agenda. The two biggest problems: Planned Parenthood and the EPA.

For once, I was amazed that the Democrats didn’t back off. The EPA was to be stripped of its power because Coal doesn’t pollute or if it does its good for the environment or something like that. And the paltry sum that the government sends to Planned Parenthood was to be stopped. Why? Because Michelle Malkin thinks that women shopping at the mall just pop in for an abortion. Even though the money from the federal government cannot be used for abortion.** Despite the fact that women in large, support the institution, and despite the fact that giving out free contraceptives (among other programs) actually prevents abortion, the Christian base gets all in a huff when it hears the A-word. So it wants the organization cut from funding. I don’t think that anyone can make the straight claim that this argument is only about the money. As I said earlier, if it were then it wouldn’t matter where the money came from.

I just wish my prediction was correct. Since it would be nice if at some point there were extremists that had a reasonable point of view, although if it were reasonable then they wouldn’t be extremists.

*In reference to Maher’s analogy of the budget that its made up of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese being the three largest portions of the budget, with all other ancillary spending being a tiny salad and that all the politicians ever do is argue over whether or not a carrot gets to be on the plate. I like the analogy and the show is really proud of it.

**This is an utter fallacy though. It’s like saying that if you give me ten bucks I can’t use it for beer, but now I can use the money in my pocket for beer and ten for something else. The only way this claim makes sense is if you want your hands free from direct purchase of the beer then I suppose it works.

Categories: current events, politics