Monday, August 17, 2015

Slut-Shaming the Republicans Over the Fox News Debate

In the new political paradigm, where candidates receive questions from moderators, Facebook, Twitter, or just get yelled at by annoying ass activists, a new pattern has emerged.  The entire debate can be blamed on the candidates and their party.  At least, that's what the Democrat reaction to the Republican debates on Fox News suggests.  Bernie Sanders slams them for not discussing climate change or income inequality.  Jennifer Granholm slams them on Real Time with Bill Maher for never discussing the middle class. They seem absolutely stunned that the content was entirely controlled by the moderators of the debate and not the candidates.

This is effectively victim blaming.  Slut shaming.  Fox News asked them questions on particular topics, and it's somehow the candidates fault for encouraging Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier and Chris Wallace and Random People On Facebook Who Sent In Questions.  Democrats are implying that Republicans should have known better than to let the reporters control their own debate, and instead should have spent the whole time pontificating on social justice.

It's not clear how we can blame candidates for the content.   Candidates can't just say no to questions.  If they don't answer, it makes them look worse.  Unless it's Newt Gingrich being asked about his personal life.  The only way they could possibly be responsible is if they picked the questions themselves.  That would defeat the purpose of the debate.

Not every news outlet will cover every topic.  Each outlet has their own preferences, their own audience, their own biases.  Go on Fox and get asked about God and guns.  Go on MSNBC and get asked about the merits of wealth redistribution (as long as the wealth being redistributed comes businessmen and not from actors or musicians or athletes) and "white supremacy".  Go on MTV and get asked about boxers or briefs.

So it's a mystery why anyone would complain when the Republican candidates have not been discussing what the Democrats want them to.  If your preferred topic wasn't discussed, it just means you're watching the wrong news channel.  It's not the candidate's fault for answering what's asked.  It's your fault for being too lazy to use the remote.

I suppose any Republicans who are annoyed by this could take comfort in the fact that the tables will be turned after the Democrat debate.  If the Democrats fail to address Republican concerns, I fully expect the press and politicians and activists to let them have it.  Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and the others must be heavily criticized for these things they have no control over.  After all, that's what happens with Republicans.  Failure to do so would mean the media does not care about real justice.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Castro Owes Cubans Millions

In the Cuban newspaper propaganda rag, Granma, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro hilariously insisted that the U.S. owes Cuba money.  This, because of a years long trade embargo from when Castro decided to join the ranks of communist aggressors back in the Cold War.  It's not the first time Castro and his pals have blamed the embargo for struggles in Cuba.  But they always neglect to mention that Cuba is perfectly capable of trading with everyone else.  The United States is about 20% of the global economy.  That means Cuba still had access to the other 80%.

Cubans still drive cars from the fifties.  Nobody stopped them from importing cars.  Americans do that all the time.  Restrictions on real estate sales (You need a license to live in Havana) restrict the mobility of the population. A mobile labor force is critical to a modern economy, and restricting where people can live reduces their mobility and hurts an economy.  They've also had to deal with food rationing and lack of transportation, although this was alleviated with the addition of more private markets and private taxis.  Thus, the only small successes they had came from capitalism.  Castro Cuba's lack of freedom destroyed the economy, not inability to trade with America.

The greatest evidence of this is the fantastic success of Cuban-Americans.  Cuban-Americans started as refugees, but formed a thriving community in South Florida.  Their descendants have found success that exceeds the average American.  Cubans living in a free society perform brilliantly.  Cubans living under the repressive Castro regime struggle.  The conclusion is obvious; responsibility for Cuba's failure rests with Castro, not with America.

It is typical of third world douchebag dictators to attempt to redirect blame to external actors.  They run their economies into the ground and blame U/S "imperialism" to cover for their own ineptitude.  For Americans, this is both amusing and infuriating.  The amusing part is that the "wise grandfather" of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales had a little temper tantrum and lashed out at us rather than admit his own mistakes.  The infuriating part is that we know there are still left-wing ignoramuses who will believe him.

The real reason Cubans have suffered is that they are reaping what Fidel Castro sowed.  Although there were minor capitalist reforms, the system remains communist, which has always resulted in disaster.  Cuba has suffered because of communism, not because of the embargo.  The only reason Castro's policies didn't lead to ruin sooner was "sugar daddy" nations like the U.S.S.R. and Venezuela who kept him afloat.  But these nations suffered because of their leftist policies, and now those wells have dried up.  Cuba is in desperate straits because Fidel ran it into the ground.  If anyone owes the Cubans, it's him.  Perhaps he should turn over all of his accumulated wealth, which is almost a billion dollars.

I don't really expect Castro to turn over his money.  I don't expect him to change his mind and accept that capitalism was always the wave of the future, not communism as his pal Kruschev thought.  Castro has entered his "crazy old man off his meds" phase.  It's annoying to hear someone spewing old communist canards, even while enjoying a lavish lifestyle that communists are supposed to hate.  But I take comfort in the fact that eventually he'll die of natural causes the same way his ideology did.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Campaigns Based On Lies Never Succeed

We learned in 2012 that basing a slogan on a lie is a bad idea.  When Barack Obama said "You didn't build that" he was referring to the fact that government builds roads and bridges and infrastructure, not businesses.  He was explaining that government creates an environment of safety, stability, and predictability, all of which encourages entrepreneurship.  Supporting infrastructure, defense, and law enforcement are just a few of the ways that government does this.

So, when the Romney campaign seized on the "You didn't build that!" sound bite and adopted the "We Built It" slogan, I knew it was a mistake.  Even though the campaign was pushing the idea that private business, not public policy, is the primary driver behind the economy (a true statement), the slogan was willfully ignoring the real meaning of the president's statement.  Jon Stewart famously skewered Fox and Friends for it's edited version of the speech.  The entire thing was based on a lie.

Romney's campaign suffered for that, and deserved to suffer.  By deciding that the president had committed a huge gaffe and shown himself to be a statist, planned economics, Marxist douche (which really isn't what happened), the campaign, the party, and the right wing seriously damaged their own credibility.  It made them look unprincipled and partisan; willing to push any narrative that appeared to hurt their opposition, regardless of facts.

In August of 2015, #BlackLivesMatter is making the exact same mistake.  Just a couple of days ago. there was a parade in memory of Michael Brown.  Activists are remembering Michael Brown as a "victim of police violence."  He was actually a "robbery suspect who was shot while resisting arrest."  Despite this, the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" slogan (based on something that never happened), is still popular.  All of this despite the fact that the Justice Department cleared Michael Brown's shooter, Darren Wilson.  All of this despite the fact that the independent medical examination ordered by the Brown family lawyer does not support the narrative.

This is not the only falsehood upheld by the movement.  Activist Deray McKesson claimed that Vonderrit Myers, another black youth shot by police, did not fire at police.  There is overwhelming evidence showing that Vonderrit Myers did shoot at the officer who killed him.  McKesson also bizarrely refused to say when lethal force was justified.  Other activists, including Mark Lamont Hill, have been pushing the "Every 28 Hours" narrative.  Hill claimed that an unarmed black man was killed by cops every 28 hours.  This was thoroughly debunked by Politifact.

Now, there is a valid point to some of what is said by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the same way that the "You Didn't Build That" people had a point.  The former is a movement formed primarily because black people are more likely to encounter police, (frequently with negative results) and mechanisms that hold police accountable seem inadequate.  The latter was a reminder to the more statist/collectivist amongst us that the best way humanity has found to produce opportunity for ordinary people is through free markets.  But in both examples, activists willfully repeated false statements, robbing themselves of credibility and distracting from the true message they were trying to get across.

If the #BlackLivesMatter movement wishes to gain broader acceptance, they must acknowledge where they've gone wrong.  They must acknowledge, as Jonathan Capehart did, that Darren Wilson was innocent.  They must acknowledge that Michael Brown is not a hero or a victim, but a suspect shot during an arrest.  They must acknowledge that some of these shootings of black men were justified and certain others (like Eric Garner) were tragic mistakes, and not acts of racist brutality.  They should direct their focus on incidents that actually appear to be murder.

As the Romney campaign learned, failure to acknowledge facts and building a movement on lies ultimately fails.  If #BlackLivesMatter activists want meaningful reform, they must stop pushing false narratives.  They must not assume that every officer involved shooting is murder, but instead carefully review each case.  If their grievances are not based on facts, they are not legitimate grievances, and there will be no reason to take the movement seriously.