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True Blue Door

True Blue Door's Journal
True Blue Door's Journal
November 21, 2014

Overview of President Obama's historic accomplishments.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, even of the most historic achievements:

First black President of the United States.

Averted total Soviet-style economic collapse due to 2008 mortgage-backed securities failure.

Saved the American auto industry from total annihilation.

Largest expansion in healthcare access in half a century.

Largest nationwide reconstruction program since Roosevelt administration.

Largest investments in green technology in US history.

Got Osama Bin Laden.

Diplomacy with Iran.

Reversed Bush tax cuts for the rich.

First US administration to regulate CO2 emissions.

Opened the military to gays.

Ended the Iraq War.

Reduced the federal budget deficit year after year.

Increased the minimum wage for federal contractors.

Created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Created ARPA-E (the Energy Department equivalent of DARPA to pursue green energy)

Rebuilt America's relationship with Europe.

"New START" nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, signed and ratified.

Helped the Libyan people end the rule of Moammar Gaddafi.

Appointed most diverse Cabinets in history.

Yielded marijuana regulation authority to the states.

And we will see what comes of the recent climate change deal with China, and the immigration order potentially affecting the fate of millions.

---

Anyone who denies this President is a Great President, a Great American, a liberal, a progressive, and a Democrat among Democrats, is either a liar or a fool. Or both.

November 21, 2014

The Three Dimensions of Liberalism, and the Three Dementias of Conservatism

Given the vast number of liberal ideas, and the wide range of opinions among us, it's kind of surprising to realize that basically all of it can be boiled down to three independent and coequal values: Liberty, Equality, and Opportunity.

Another word for Liberty in a liberal context is autonomy: The practical ability of individuals to make free choices with all forms of coercion (legal, social, economic, etc.) minimized.

Equality can also be stated as fairness, and refers to systemic guarantees that nobody's exercise of Liberty is permitted to limit anyone else's, and especially not across generations. In other words, you do not have the freedom to enslave someone - that is not a free choice on your part that can be permitted, because it violates the independent value of Equality. Nor do you have the right to create rigid social classes perpetuated by inheritance: People don't choose their parents, so public services are a matter of both Liberty and Equality, as well as Opportunity.

Opportunity is the "progressive" in liberalism - not merely the neutral permission of science, philosophy, free thought, social diversity, and political experimentation, but boldly pursuing them as ends in themselves and collectively committing to that pursuit. Not to seek advantage over others, and not to serve the vanity of an identity group, but as a fundamental expression of life and consciousness. Not to escape anything, but to forever seek the new and open new roads to those who follow.

Not only are these values fundamental to liberal thought, but the presence and interconnectedness of all three distinguish liberalism from other moral systems.

For instance, libertarianism rejects Equality entirely and sees Opportunity as a dependent variable on Liberty (defined by libertarians as lack of government involvement - a preposterous corruption of the value), rather than being an independent political dimension. In other words, they only acknowledge one of the three as a fundamental value, and corrupt the meaning of that one to suit irrelevant fetishes.

Conservatism rejects all three and serves a totally separate pseudo-moral system whose only values are Power, Primacy, and Proximity. I refer to these as the Three Dementias of Conservatism, since they result from developmental failure rather than from philosophical or moral reflection.

Power just means "might makes right" - 'I have the right to do something because I have the power to do it and you don't have the power to stop me', and they're totally satisfied with such justifications (at least of their own behavior), so long as there's not much conflict with the other two conservative values. They can respect the power of liberals when we hold it, but they see our having it as a profanation because we don't worship the power we hold as they do, so we're "unworthy" of it.

Primacy means that things which come before and are already established are inherently preferable to new ideas, ergo their belief in a fantasy Golden Age that the present has degenerated from, and their love of imposing authoritarian cultural orthodoxies. They can respect the primacy and orthodoxy of liberal ideas they inherit as established, but they again see them as profane because those ideas are inherently anti-dogmatic. So they try their best to ignore them while whittling away at the philosophical foundations that maintain them.

Proximity means how closely someone or something resembles them or flatters their vanity. This is why they're racist, xenophobic, sexist, and religious bigots, despite the damage it does to their prospects for Power and the level of deviation from Primacy that might be involved. The reflection in the mirror is their North Star for moral perfection.

November 20, 2014

How to instantly prove conservatives are liars about economics.

Conservative: I stand for people earning their way through hard work, not handouts!

Liberal: So, how do you feel about inheritance taxes?

Conservative: Shut up.

November 15, 2014

If you were writing Dante's Inferno, who are the three people in the center of the 9th circle?

Dante put Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot in the most horrific depths of hell, gnawed forever by Satan.

While Satan is obviously a fictional character and hell an allegory for living psychological states, it's a morally enlightening exercise to think about who you regard as the three most absolute evil human beings of all time.

It would be a trivial answer to just pick the three biggest murderers and say Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. But if you look deeper at the nature of their horrors, you find that's not necessarily an intelligent answer.

Stalin and Mao killed people mainly via the chaos and paranoia they recklessly unleashed, magnifying their minutest impulse into a political imperative. They were akin to catalysts of a riot, rather than architects, and then acted desperately to stay in power against both real and imagined conspiracies to overthrow them like vast numbers of other tyrants in history. What distinguished them was not their crimes, but merely the scale of the states they ruled.

Dante reserves the 9th Circle for betrayers, and in my book the three betrayers in the lowest frozen depths who are eaten perpetually by Satan's three heads, are the betrayers of democracy - those who inherit its gifts, and throw them away as if they're nothing.

#3 Richard Nixon

Nixon grew up in the bosom of American democracy, privileged and nourished by it, and still could find nothing in his heart but contempt for everything it stood for. After a long series of some of the greatest leaders the world has ever known, he bullied and lied his way into power, and then used that power mostly to fuck everyone over and try to make himself into some kind of monarch. He had even tried to make a ridiculous special Secret Service uniform that looked like some pompous Praetorian Guard costume, but nobody else was interested. Dick Cheney in later decades was merely a degenerated clone of Herr Nixon - all the bloodthirst and hate with none of the political competence. But Nixon deserves the blame for Cheney's crimes too, since so much of what he did led directly to them, as well as the crimes of the Reagan administration between the two.

#2 Adolf Hitler

We tend to think of Adolf Hitler as the worst person who ever lived, mostly for aesthetic reasons. Mao probably killed more people, but it was the way Hitler killed them that gets to people - the rationalization along aesthetic lines, as if mass murder were a genre of art. It was as if an entire nation adopted the viewpoint of a serial killer.

But it's also the radical contrast between those crimes and the circumstances preceding them that makes us think of him as the absolute worst. Adolf Hitler rose to power democratically, arguing his way into a significant minority share of legislative authority in the Weimar German government before politicking himself into the Chancellorship. Only from that position did he declare himself dictator and embark on his career of Satanic madness.

Ruination that took a thousand years to unfold in the Roman Empire, unfolded for Germany in a generation: Monarchy, to democracy, to tyranny, to ruin. And he brought down an entire continent with him, and sowed the seeds of the Cold War that nearly ended the species. The narcissistic rat preferred to see his people reduced to ashes than to see them move beyond him. But Hitler lived in a time when there was a Bulwark of Freedom to fight him and refute his ideology. Not so the vilest human who ever lived...

#1 Julius Caesar

It's hard to understand the Roman Republic and early Empire today. They were utterly alone on Earth, standing like a mile-high column in an absolutely flat plain. There were military competitors - the Persians/Parthians for instance. And the distant Empire of China was very orderly and technologically advanced. But these were just elaborate kingdoms - more developed versions of ancient Egypt. Rome was something else. Not a rigorous democracy like Athens had been, but the most liberal and progressive large-scale society on Earth for centuries. They claimed to be "the world," and they were not wrong. Their philosophers stood upon the open plain and saw immortal truths, and the freedom to choose their path.

But for all the problems that came along afterwards - the conspiracies, the civil wars, etc. - Rome still believed in the open plain, in the freedom of people (as they defined "people" - Roman men, of course) to choose. And then some charismatic, ambitious general decided that the freedom to choose was the problem, and stabbed it in the heart as surely as he himself was a decade later. He swept in from his Gallic conquests with an army of soldiers who had known only a life of obedience rather than the freedom of Rome, and turned the entire "world" the Romans knew into a macrocosm of his camp in Gaul.

No one in all of history is as diabolical as Caesar. His own unfeigned words in De Bello Gallico are those of an unfeeling bastard who ordered the total extermination of entire peoples who resisted him, bragging about horrors even his contemporaries found somewhat shocking. The machine they had unleashed centuries earlier had come home to roost, and there was cruel justice in that, but the man who directed it against Rome herself was the singular author of two millennia of ever-diminishing freedom and ever-waning light. A man who had known all the blessings of a free republic, come home to murder it in its hour of weakness, and unleashing 1500 years of tyrants, madmen, and selfish hereditary monarchs on people reduced to universal slavery.

He caused vast numbers of slaves to be freed, only to enslave everyone else as subjects to the tyrant. He fed the poor, only to guarantee an unending future of poverty and misery. He feigned respect for institutions he destroyed, and created himself the founder of what Rome hated most: Monarchy.

Who knows what might have been possible if Caesar had been something other than he was? Nothing inherently stood in the way of industrialization and growth into modern republic. It could have happened 2,000 years before it did. Instead, an endless series of miscellaneous and boring history of feudal tyrants, military dictators, useless Fortunate Sons inheriting the slavery of millions for a hundred generations, callous religious cults rising in the darkness where the light of philosophy had died under tyranny, and chaos.

The five centuries of Rome as a charnel house of oppression belong to Caesar. The thousand years of "Rome" as a degenerate Eastern autocracy belong to Caesar. The medieval chaos in the ruins of Rome belongs to Caesar. The deplorable ignorance and fanaticism of medieval Christianity belong to Caesar, since it grew in the soil he had sown. The millennia of kings and tyrants throughout Europe who ruled in his name, or inspired by his example, right up to 1917, belong to Caesar. The Kaisers and the Czars belong to Caesar. Napoleon belongs to Caesar. The Holy Roman Emperors and the French Kings belong to Caesar.

He stood upon the Open Plain, and decided to dig a hole 2,000 years deep. Fuck you, Julius Caesar.

What do you think?

November 11, 2014

Dizzying new photo from China's lunar probe.

This was taken yesterday by the Chinese space probe Chang'e 5:

[img][/img]

The Moon is probably in front of the Earth judging by the fact that Chang'e 5 is a lunar probe that recently swung by the Moon, but you can't really tell based on lighting - the Moon is naturally much darker than Earth.

I actually had a bit of vertigo when I first saw this image. That's how you know a space image is great - when you get dizzy the moment you realize it faithfully represents what your own eyes would see out a window. What we're seeing right there in this image is a secret - something human brains did not evolve to process. That's why it's slightly terrifying, and infinitely amazing.

I'm glad that China's space program (along with India's) is new enough at the space probe game that they still bother to take images like this instead of resigning their probes to abstruse scientific work and writing off such images as worthless PR stunts.

http://spaceref.com/onorbit/change-5-view-of-earth-and-the-moon.html

November 9, 2014

I have no patience for people more concerned with obsessing on their enemies

than on coming up with a strategy to accomplish something.

Make two lists:

1. Everything you want to accomplish.
2. Everyone and everything standing in your way.

If #2 is longer and more elaborately-written than #1, you have a fucked up and self-destructive attitude, and you won't accomplish shit until you throw List 2 in the garbage and stop wasting your time.

I don't want to hear about "Third Way". I don't want to hear about it from its advocates, and I don't want to hear about it from its opponents either. I want to hear what a single person is doing to accomplish their goals, or not.

Let this be the motto of my politics: That which does not matter, gets no play.

November 8, 2014

Free up time for Presidents to do important work by creating "United States Master of Ceremonies."

Or MC USA. Presidents of the United States spend too much time doing ceremonial and diplomatic functions, attending dinners, luncheons, and receiving ambassadors, etc. Some countries take care of this by having their political and ceremonial leaders separate, often by having ceremonial monarchs or else some other position. We could do it with an "MC USA." They could even be an elected position with no actual authorities - just the country's favorite entertainer.

Admittedly it could get rather buffoonish, given some of the people we would likely have elected MC in the past, but that would actually be geopolitically smart - our leaders could be as boring and intelligent as necessary, while our MC would put on the shows to distract the idiots among us and among others. Moreover, the MC position would likely be much easier to integrate racially and sexually than the Presidency, which will always resist women and minorities even after the firsts are taken care of.

November 8, 2014

The Demonym Game: A flock of geese, a school of fish, a ______ of Republicans.

I had a lot of fun playing this game a few years ago elsewhere, so I thought it might be fun here too in light of recent events. What is a properly descriptive term for a group of Republicans? Give as many answers as you want.

November 7, 2014

Vote: What was the worst act of GOP Treason ever?

Here is the short list of Republican acts of treason over modern history:

The Business Plot (1933)

A group of wealthy industrialists attempted to hire a WW1 general to lead a fascist revolution to overthrow the Roosevelt administration. It would initially be a bloodless coup, although given how such things typically evolve in history, it's unlikely it would have stayed bloodless. Fortunately the general was not on board with the idea and reported the plot, although the Roosevelt administration, wishing to avoid potentially creating divisions in the American people at a dangerous time, chose not to prosecute it.

Watergate (1972-1974)

The Nixon administration formed a secret squad within the White House to conduct illegal covert operations to steal information, suppress leaks, and spy on political opponents. Serious discussions were underway to evolve the organization into a secret police force that would assassinate the President's enemies by the time the scandal broke.

October Surprise (1980)

Members of the Ronald Reagan presidential campaign and Republican Party were in contact with representatives of the Iranian revolutionary state that was then holding hundreds of American diplomats hostage in Tehran. They sought to ensure that the hostages would not be released while President Carter could benefit politically from it, so they (the Reaganistas) struck a deal with avowed enemies of the United States to benefit themselves politically.

Iran-Contra (1984-1987)

The Reagan administration had been financing fascist terrorist groups in Central America, but the US Congress took a dim view of this and banned any further support. Reagan ignored the ban and continued funding them illegally. This did not rise to the level of treason (merely impeachable crime), but the method of generating the illegal funding did: Selling weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy of the United States.

The 2000 coup (2000)

A number of interlocking conspiracies led to the final, fraudulent result of the 2000 US presidential election, but the two key factors were the criminal defrauding of the Florida vote through mass-disenfranchisement and other illegal behavior by the Republican Florida Secretary of State. The final act, however, was the lawless and arbitrary ruling of five members of the US Supreme Court, ordering the state of Florida to stop counting votes, and using as justification such bizarre Orwellian reasoning as that thorough examination might yield a different result and thus call Bush's victory into question. It was the most naked example in US history of electoral interference, and overturned the actual result of the election through raw exercise of power.

The US Constitution remained in a state of suspension for the next 6-8 years as a result of the ensuing dictatorship, leaving only state governments and a few standalone federal bureaucracies in effective operation. The next two acts of Treason followed directly from this one.

Torture (2001-2008)

Following 9/11, for years on end thousands of terrorism suspects - including innocent people whose names merely resembled suspects, or who were denounced by paid informants in third-world countries - were held in secret prisons and tortured to confess and give the names of other "terrorists." Anyone they named in order to stop the torture was also likely to be tortured if captured. Several prisoners are documented by the Red Cross to have been tortured to death, but their remains are classified and tape recordings of their torture were burned by the CIA to avoid justice. Crimes for which German and Japanese military officers were hanged after WW2 were finally gleefully admitted by Republican officials once they felt confident of never being brought to justice, though only after years of lying denials.

Iraq War (2003-2011)

Iraq had not attacked the United States, did not have the military capability to attack the United States, had no plans to attack the United States, was not in any way involved with terrorists, and there was no evidence whatsoever to the contrary on any point. Nonetheless, the Bush regime fabricated intelligence to claim so, retaliated against US intelligence officials who contradicted their lies, bullied and threatened Congressional leaders who opposed them, sabotaged UN weapons inspections efforts, ignored a United Nations refusal to authorize action in Iraq, and ordered the aggressive invasion and conquest of Iraq at the expense of 5,000 US lives, 40,000 or so Iraqi civilians through direct US military action, and ultimately a million Iraqi civilians from the ensuing chaos and deprivation.

Aside from the human toll, it also cost the United States taxpayer over a trillion dollars, much of which was stolen through no-bid contractors associated with Dick Cheney who delivered inferior or nonexistent goods or services for the money. The current situation with ISIS is a direct result of the Iraq War, as is nearly 10% of the US national debt. Surplus equipment from the Iraq War was then given to local police departments, contributing to the militarization of police forces in the United States. Thousands were tortured as a direct result of this war. Once again, German and Japanese military officers after WW2 were executed for crimes identical to this.

Vote suppression (2000 onward)

The GOP has gradually perfected the "science" of rigging elections by preventing likely Democratic voters from exercising their rights, usually by targeting racial minorities for selective and extraordinary demands to prove their identities, leading a state of intimidation and deterrence against voting. In many cases Republicans achieve office solely because they illegally stopped a sufficient number of opposing voters from participating, effectively sabotaging American democracy and ruling by force and fraud. The number of Americans prevented from voting by Republicans tends to grow with each passing year.

Vote for which one of these you consider the worst Republican Treason, or add your own in comments.

Update: I forgot about Nixon in 1968 (before he was President) sabotaging Vietnam peace talks to give himself the leg up in the election. Thanks to KingCharlemagne for bringing that up in a comment. Vast numbers of American and Vietnamese lives were lost in the war in the years following, which may otherwise have been saved. If you want to vote for that as the worst GOP Treason, vote "Other".

November 6, 2014

It looks increasingly like Rick Scott's win is illegitimate. If so, what do we do?

DU user Hissyspit brought a very important Bill Moyers article to our attention illustrating some of the races where it looks like - or is close to looking like - vote suppression may have produced an illegitimate result. The most significant is the Florida Governor race, where it appears the margin of victory for Rick Scott is easily within the range of apparently disenfranchised voters.

If that proves to be the case, we need to emphasize what that means: It's not some mere technicality that taints the political mandate of a victor - it would mean that come inauguration day, Scott would be an unelected local tyrant whose acts carry no legal authority, but who is acting outside the law with the complicity of other officials. Meanwhile, it would also mean that his opponent, Charlie Crist, is the legitimate Governor-elect.

If, as time goes on, we find that Scott's official election was indeed illegitimate, what can we - and more importantly, Floridians - do with that information? One of the things that struck me about the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election was the obsequious willingness of Democrats - and not just officials, but Democrats in general - to just accept a lawless Supreme Court verdict and surrender both the truth, justice, and democracy in service to some mirage of social harmony. Al Gore's surrender was particularly disgraceful, and the fact that most Democrats apparently wanted it was the most disgraceful thing of all, so a decade and a half later we all should reasonably demand more of ourselves and our party than that.

The government of a state, particularly one as large as Florida, is no less important than that of the whole nation, and in fact has more direct impact on people's lives. If it proves out that Rick Scott defrauded the election through his vote suppression schemes, then Florida Democrats need to (a)say so loudly and publicly, (b)demand their officials say so and act accordingly, (c)support whatever court cases need to ensue, and (d)when The Five fascist revolutionaries on the US Supreme Court declare Scott the winner regardless of what evidence is presented to them, they need to have a plan beyond that for civil disobedience and state-level political Cold War. Charlie Crist will probably not be much help, but it should be sought and demanded anyway.

Now, what do I mean by point (d)? Simply, Democrats in the Florida legislature would refuse to recognize Scott's authority, as would Democrats on every political level of the nation, and as would Democrats in the Florida Executive branch. Those on the state and local level would find as many ways as possible to publicly demonstrate this refusal of recognition and cause highly organized and disruptive spectacles. They would issue one demand, and it would be an absolute one: Rick Scott resigns and a special election be held with all legitimate voters allowed to vote. If that sounds radical, it isn't - we just live in such a politically enfeebled era that basic American citizenship sounds extreme.

If Scott is found illegitimate and this doesn't happen, then there is no Florida Democratic Party and the rank and file members of whatever it is that calls itself that would need to create one immediately within the fake one and take the mentioned steps. The same could be said for any other state where the same thing happens. But, of course, I reiterate that it is not yet proven that Scott's alleged victory is illegitimate - just highly likely.

I'm actually very relieved that - notwithstanding major concerns about the North Carolina Senate seat - that it doesn't appear (preliminarily) that the Senate flip is illegitimate. Resisting an illegitimate legislature is a much more nebulous strategic question than resisting an illegitimate Executive leader. Opposing an unelected Governor is far simpler in terms of political strategy and tactics.

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Name: Brian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969

About True Blue Door

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.
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