Thursday, June 18, 2009

You kids, with your Twitter and your rap music and your internal combustion engines...

I've created a Twitter feed for this blog, as well as for other politics-related writing I do on line. My username is superfluousjohn, or you can go to my feed by just clicking here.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Democratic Party I grew up with

I feel sorry for whoever owns the company that makes those “Dissent is Patriotic” bumper stickers. Their stock price must be in the toilet by now.

I have thought for years that the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building was the best thing that ever happened to Bill Clinton during his administration, and probably the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party in decades. Overnight, the rising hostility to the government was all but emasculated as the Democrats and their media lackeys gleefully painted anyone who seriously criticized them as the murderous spiritual kin of Timothy McVeigh. Any meaningful dissent was proclaimed to be automatically illegitimate; anyone who objected to federal power now had blood on their hands. It was the greatest propaganda coup the government could have asked for. I always found liberal complaints during the Bush years about how hateful, vitriolic, and intolerant conservatives were to be incredibly hypocritical; it's as if the Y2K bug deleted their memories of the 20th Century.

Watching the response to the news of the murders of abortionist George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns, the most striking thing was the barely-disguised triumph on display. Given how hard Barack Obama’s partisans have worked to portray anyone who opposes the Chosen One as a racist, a lunatic, or some sort of cryptofascist, this is a godsend and they're playing it for all it's worth. Now there are bloodthirsty right-wing terrorists hiding under every bed, and anyone who has ever had the temerity to criticize the government while a Democrat was in the White House is potentially one of them.

It doesn’t help that so many liberals seem to be brought to near-hysteria by the sight of actual opposition even at the best of times. The media coverage and commentary when the “Tea Party” movement at the forefront of the news was a case in point: the suggestions that it was somehow fascistic or antidemocratic to have a gathering to protest the new president’s policies, the accusations of racism on the basis of absolutely nothing except the conviction that anyone perverse enough to oppose Obama must be racist, and the utter confusion when presented with idea that economic freedom or being able to keep what you earned actually matter to some people.

It was especially striking when contrasted to the kid gloves with which the fashionable lefty thugs at anti-globalization protests are handled when they decide to start smashing up some local buildings and cars. Given the attitude shown towards peaceful protests at the Tea Parties, I can only imagine the utter pants-wetting terror that would have ensued if the tea partiers had started vandalizing buildings, throwing rocks and debris, or brawling with police. The media would be dutifully shrieking in hysteria before the first shard of shattered glass hit the ground. And all that was before there were any actual bloody shirts to wave.

Much as the conservative reputation for supporting economic freedom is badly overblown, liberal support for civil liberties and things is usually pretty superficial, a few honorable exceptions aside, as is their supposed concern for separation of powers. Rather like conservatives, they will often talk a good game about the freedoms they claim to support when out of power and then change directions when they get control.

Many liberals spent the last 8 years acting as if George W. Bush was a uniquely wicked figure whose policies just sprang fully-formed into being like Athena. But the developments of the past 8 years were not an aberration or a change in direction, they were a continuation of past trends with a firm basis in past precedents from both parties, many of them established by our most honored past statesmen. If Bush achieved greater heights of oppression, power-grabbing, and usurpation than previous presidents, it was by standing on the shoulders of giants. Many of Bush’s most condemned practices, such as torture and his refusal to acknowledge the constitutional limits of his office and the separation of powers, are just the natural evolution of the Bill Clinton administration. Bush’s principal innovation was to have the United States government torture people in-house rather than outsourcing the job to friendly regimes in Third World hellholes.

So, there is no reason to expect any serious support of civil liberties from the Democrats, especially if there are more violent incidents tied to opponents of the current administration. I expect the idea of outlawing "hate speech," as most Western democracies do, to move from the leftist semi-fringe to a more mainstream position. (Which is especially worrying when you consider how promiscuously the word "hate" is used by many liberals when describing opposition.) Erosion of privacy, security from search and seizure, and due process will continue; I’ve been saying for years that Bush’s homeland security machinery would end up being used against domestic right-wingers, and I’m even more confident of that now.

Obama has all the accumulated powers built up by George W. Bush, a domestic law enforcement establishment that grows more militarized with each passing day, and much stronger support among the opinion-shaping class and institutions than Bush could have ever dreamed of. Things could get ugly.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Fr33 Agents

Not long ago, as I mentioned here, I got a position as one of the bloggers for Bureaucrash. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter there was a change in leadership and, it appears, in the direction of the organization. As a result, I've departed from my blogging post there. As the old saying goes, God never closes a door without opening a window, and then quickly slamming the window shut again on your fingers as you try to climb through. Or something like that. I'd like to give a big "Thank you" to former Crasher-in-Chief Peter Eyre for giving me a shot there.

Happily, there is good news. Thanks to the efforts of some former Bureaucrashers, a new group called Fr33 Agents is up and running in order to create a new network for libertarian activists. It's just getting underway, but the site looks pretty nice already and I encourage everybody to give it a shot. And if you feel you don't currently have enough contacts in the all-important White Male Alienated Loners Ages 25-40 demographic, swing by my profile and add me as a friend.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review of Economics for Real People

We're always on the cutting edge here at The Superfluous Man, and so I'm happy to bring you a review of 2004's Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School by Gene Callahan. In all seriousness, though, it's an excellent book for anyone who wants to explore the subject of economics and is looking for a place to start. It's also great for anyone who wants to get an overview of some of the distinctive features of Austrian economics and the ideas of important figures like Ludwig von Mises without the risks involved in carrying around economics treatises so massive that they threaten to collapse into singularities and gradually consume the earth from the inside out.

Suite101 made me submit an actual photo of myself- never a good idea- for my profile and said I was supposed to smile in it. That's something I try to avoid in daily life, because I look like a complete jackass whenever I smile. (I also sometimes have an annoying, shrieky, mad scientist-like laugh that I find embarrassing, so I pretty much do whatever I can to avoid ever displaying any positive emotions whatsoever when other people are present.)

I bring this up because I wanted to prevent anyone who saw my profile picture from getting the impression that I write while popping Quaaludes and/or sitting in a big cloud of marijuana smoke. Not the case. I achieve that dopey, confused look with no performance-enhancing substances of any kind.

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