Civil Liberties

Everybody Loves a Good War

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Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle highlights the curiously selective concerns about government waste and abuse on the left and the right:

There's nothing like a juicy report on Medicare fraud or union rules that protect incompetent teachers to get the right-wing blogosphere gleefully abuzz with righteous indignation.

To conservatives, the lesson to draw from such stories is that government is inherently wasteful, ineffective, mendacious, and corrupt. But ask them to extrapolate that conclusion and apply it to the armed forces or the CIA, and you're likely to get blank stares. Go further and suggest that, just perhaps, soldiers and spooks can make mistakes, so maybe persons accused of terrorism ought to have a means of asserting their possible innocence, and you're likely to get hotheaded rebuttals.

By the same token, liberals often linger with almost pornographic delight over the details of waste, fraud, and abuse in homeland security—"At Military Contractor's Trial, Telltale $100,000 Belt Buckle," exulted a front-page article in The New York Times the other day. For those on the left flank, the abuses inflicted in the name of homeland security—bureaucratic bloat, warrantless wiretaps, civilian casualties, indefinite detention without trial, waterboarding, and so on—provide inescapable proof that government is inherently wasteful, cruel, mendacious, and corrupt.

But ask them to extrapolate that conclusion and apply it to, say, nationalized health care, and— well, you get the idea. For many liberals, a single exposé is enough to discredit the war on terror. But a thousand exposés will never give them cause to question the war on poverty.

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  1. But we NEED the Osprey! Civilization will collapse if we scrap it!

    1. I know the Osprey has a bad reputation because of its propensity to crash a few years ago, but it turned out that since the pilots were properly trained, the Osprey has had a good safety record. And now, as I understand it, it’s highly regarded by the Marines.

      Of course, one might argue that if the US didn’t involve itself in foreign wars, the Osprey wouldn’t be needed. However, until the US changes its foreign policy, the Osprey will continue to do its job well.

      1. Everything government touches turns to crap.

        1. Glad I didn’t wish for that.

        2. +5

          Conservatives think every part of the government, except for the military, is inefficient. Liberals think every part of the government is efficient except for the military.

          They are both wrong; the government is always inefficient and incompetent.

      2. Lots of ultimately successful aircraft had early crashes and teething troubles.

      3. I worked on the Osprey program in a past life, and just because the aircraft is a lot more stable these days it does not justify retaining the “services” of thousands of underused/worthless engineers, logisticians, and (for a lack of a better work) secretaries to keep the program afloat. The whole thing (as with practically any other military development program POST cold war) is just an excuse to pay a bunch of people more than they are worth, for shit no one really needs.

        On the practical side of the coin, the thing is completely untenable from a logistics/spares point of view. Shit breaks on it faster than the late Michael Jackson’s face. The engines cost several million apiece, and they last about as long as the double A batteries in your semen encrusted remote. The whole thing represents the worst of the Public-Corporate alliance since slick companies and moronic government overseers helped “develop” (read: randomly threw crap together until it could sort of fly, even then only some of the time) another boondoggle only justified after the fact by aimless conflicts that should not have been perpetuated in the first place.

        So, long story short, that’s one of the many reasons I left that dysfunctional, depressing and wasteful program.

    2. The problem was that airplane pilots would try to fly it like an airplane, and helicopter pilots would try to fly it like a helicopter, but it’s neither and the controls were not intuitive.

      One of my friends at school recently dropped a large amount prototyping his new patented flight control system for the Osprey. He has both is aircraft and helicopter pilot’s license and managed to design a better system.

  2. a pox on both houses, yeah? down with partisans and gubbmints! epi, team red team blue! RARGH!

    I think I’m getting the gist.

    1. FUCK THEM ALL

      1. That sounds tiring.

        1. Whimp.

          1. mice, I only fuck mice…

            1. That’s sick. You’re a libertarian for God’s sake. You’re supposed to fuck dogs.

              1. I thought it was rats – as in ratfucking teabagging, etc.

                1. Tea – as in “tea fucking ratbaggers”.

                  Right?

              2. How are we supposed to have time to fuck dogs when we’re so busy kicking old people into the street from their rent controlled apartments and making sure kids die from a lack of health insurance?

                1. Because we are all business-owning, monocle-wearing, members of the leisure class with plenty of time on our hands, unlike the people who protest the World Bank or the G8.

    2. If the scope of government is the problem, then at some point someone needs to make the case to the voters that who’s running it doesn’t really matter…

      Representative democracy can be helpful, but it isn’t the solution to everything.

      Take spam, for instance. You can even look past all the ads for penis enlargement products that people must buy–or spammers wouldn’t waste the time and effort! No, forget that, people wiring money to Nigerian princes with cashflow problems are all the evidence you need of this phenomenon.

      Voting for x, y or z candidate is very much the same kind of thing. Despite the fact that just about every politician in history has acted the same way–going back to Greece–this time it’s gonna be different. …because this time, the guy I’m voting for really understands economics, this time he really cares about me!

      It’s just like the people who send money to Nigeria and think, yeah, I know just about everybody has gotten ripped off doing this before, but this time, maybe it’s gonna be different!

      Well I’ve got some news for everybody!

      1) Sending money to someone who sent you an email from Nigeria is not the solution to your financial problems.

      2) American politicians aren’t the solution to any of your other problems either.

      As more and more Americans embrace that second principle, we may find our politicians striving to do better.

      …for a little while.

      1. Take spam, for instance

        Yes, please! My buddy and I used to make Spam and Velveeta on Wonder Bread sammiches. Wonderfully, bacchanally delicious. Esp after some Medicinal Marijuana?.

        The statists are banning those next, I’m sure…

      2. If the scope of government is the problem, then at some point someone needs to make the case to the voters that who’s running it doesn’t really matter…

        Done and done.

        Deaf ears, Schultzy, deaf ears.

  3. And the Iraq war has a date of “the end of all combat operations in Iraq” now… per the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10839342

    August 31st… with troops staying until the end of 2011.

    1. I’m sure that will actually happen.

    2. Wait a minute I thought George announced the end of combat operations in Iraq a few years back. You know when he was on that air craft carrier with the big Mission Accomplished banner in the back ground. You mean to tell me we’ve been fighting in Iraq all this time. Man you just can’t trust anybody these days.

      1. That was the end of “major combat operations,” and that was true. It’s been counter-insurgency since then.

        1. Which has been more violent and “major” than during the time of “major combat operations.”

          1. Well, yeah, but in this sense “major” means using aircraft carrier battle groups, strategic bombers, tanks, that sort of thing.

        2. Hey, don’t correct my altered and inaccurate view of history. It doesn’t make my point when you do that. Curse you and your facts.

    3. But administration officials also acknowledged that the bigger worry for the United States was not who would win the elections, but the possibility that the elections ? and their almost certainly messy aftermath ? could ignite violence that would, at the least, complicate the planned withdrawal.

      In part for that reason, “we’re not leaving behind cooks and quartermasters,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Wednesday in a telephone interview. The bulk of the remaining American troops, he said, “will still be guys who can shoot straight and go get bad guys.”

      But all the “combat” troops are leaving. The administration has been telling you that claim is a lie for months. They are still making the claim, it’s still a lie and after our 50,000 “guys who can shoot straight and go get bad guys” start killing Iraqi “insurgents” will continue to do so.

      Blue teamers will believe it and red teamers will be quiet because it’s their war.

      Almost forgot, quote from here..

      1. Ah, that was Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

        I was thinking perhaps it was Vice President Joseph Q. Biden, Esq. speaking. Thanks.

        WTF? Does NYT always do that?

  4. Leftists don’t actually see defense waste as proof of anything about the abilities of government. They see it as an opportunity to score political points against a policy that they dislike for unrelated reasons. Because the conservatives like to rail against domestic waste, the leftys think this is the best way to attack them in the general public (Aha! My opponent is a hypocrite!) But they don’t actually think that the wasted portion is bad in and of itself. Trust me, if fiscally responsibly people stopped talking about the waste inherent to the non-stop handouts that accompany most of our domestic programs, liberals would find new and unrelated ways to slag the military-industrial-security complex and not miss a beat.

    Cliffs: Leftys are only pretending to care about inefficiency.

    1. Exactly. Lefties are all for military action when their guy is in charge.

      It’s no coincidence that 4 out of the 5 times the US entered or started a major conflict in the 20th century, a Democrat was president, despite the fact that the presidency was held by Republicans for the majority of the century.

      I’m counting WW1, WW2, Korean War, and Vietnam War as Dem wars (yes I know Ike sent “advisors” to Nam, but it became a full blown war under JFK).

      1. So *that’s* what happened to the war protests!

        I still have never as the over/under for when “Obama LIED!” signs appear in the front yards of my very concerned neighbors in the PRTK.

      2. Actually “lefties” were mostly opposed to Clinton’s wars, vociferously opposed to Kosovo, a little more wimpy on Haiti. The Democrats tend to ignore their left wing on foreign policy the same way the Republicans ignore paleocons or libertarians. On foreign policy our nation’s elite is happily united.

        1. Yes, all of these protesters agree with you.

        2. This is true. I remember when I was at college in the 90s, the campus activism crew was quite opposed to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq and other places. There was an amusing confrontation when Madeleine Albright came to speak on campus where protesters accused her of genocide.

        3. Actually “lefties” were mostly opposed to Clinton’s wars, vociferously opposed to Kosovo

          Is that true? Kosovo had all the hallmarks of a lefty “good war”: oppressed Muslim minority at the hands of (probably Christianist) white guys. I know there was some opposition, but I don’t remember it being particularly strong.

          1. I’m talking about the far left – the Chomsky cultists, etc. They had big rallies in Boston, at least, denouncing Clinton’s war effort. NPR had an amusing talk show episode at the time with pro-Clinton liberals and anti-Clinton leftists fighting each other. You may be right that if Kosovo were replayed today, post Iraq, the leftists would be more eager to join the pro-Muslim side. But in the 90s there were still lefties around who remembered that Islamic societies tend to be about as anti-woman and anti-gay as any societies on earth.

    2. I have a lefty acquaintance who’s husband wrote a book focusing on the uneven application of the death penalty. In a brief, casual conversation about the book, I flippantly remarked that “I don’t trust the government to do anything, much less administer the death penalty.” She then became miffed and started repeatedly saying the death penalty is wrong because “two wrongs don’t make a right, two wrongs don’t make a right, two wrongs don’t make a right,” which pretty much ended the conversation.

      This made me wonder 2 things:

      1) Why the left can’t see the government’s behavior regarding the death penalty and not be a at least a little bit skepticle about the government’s sdministering of lefty favored programs.

      2) If “two wrongs don’t make a right” trumps any other argument, why the F did her husband spend all that time writing that book?

      1. So what your saying is the particular lefty you were talking to used emotion as her sole reason for her position? I’m shocked.

      2. I agree that two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s why I support the death penalty. Harboring a heinous murderer, which is all life imprisonment is, is a wrong.

        1. Yes, and jail for rapists is harboring rapists…and thieves…well, you get the point that you’re an idiot by now, right?

          1. They’re not as heinous.

    3. Oh, now we see the waste inherent in the system.

    4. To be fair, a lot of lefties are genuine pacifists (or are at least genuinely against optional, non-defensive wars) and do think that the money would be more efficiently spent on their favorite social program, or tearing down corporations or something.

      I do notice a lot fewer war protests these days, though.

      1. For many, it’s the same phenomenon of those in the US who were pacifists through 22 June 1941 and then suddenly became advocates of a glorious war against fascism after Operation Barbarrosa.

        Politics trumps principle.

  5. “For those on the left flank, the abuses inflicted in the name of homeland security?bureaucratic bloat, warrantless wiretaps, civilian casualties, indefinite detention without trial, waterboarding, and so on?provide inescapable proof that government is inherently wasteful, cruel, mendacious, and corrupt.”

    It seems to me that their basic complaint, however, was always about the people running the government (or war) rather than the largeness of the government itself.

    This is the obvious failure that the liberals on the left are flailing at right now…

    They finally have someone with a heart of gold at the controls of the Leviathan, and from bailouts to warrantless wiretapping and oil spills, it doesn’t make one bit of difference.

    It really doesn’t matter whether the government is run by someone who projects himself as a redneck from a Texas or as a black man from Chicago with a heart of gold–big government still stinks.

    When the steering system on the USS Big Government doesn’t work anymore, it really doesn’t matter whether the bus driver has a heart of gold. The ship’s goin’ wherever its wants…

    Actually, that’s a problem conservatives share with liberals too–for some strange reason, they seem to think it matters who’s running things too. …despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    1. You are quite right. Unfortunately the response of liberals is to say “well, this proves Obama is just a corporate puppet after all”, rather than conclude that, just maybe, the Leviathan is so big that it has a mind of its own.

  6. Leftists don’t actually see defense waste as proof of anything about the abilities of government.

    It’s the dadblamed corporate puppeteers, I tells ya! They pervert our good intentions.

    1. but don’t you love having their hands up your ass making you lips move?

  7. Didn’t Mises in Bureaucracy essentially say it was inevitable that government enterprises would be more wasteful and inefficient? And he also said there would be things that only the government should do. So whatever you think government should be doing, it’s going to have some waste and fraud…

    1. The solution is to have government do only those things it absolutely must. The government is pretty efficient at killing, destroying, and causing suffering, so national defense and criminal justice are going to be ideal areas of work for government.

      1. it’s all about economies of scale…think about the effiency of an atomic bomb vis a vis killing destroying etc. if we’d only let them use the bomb, they’d be much more efficient.

      2. Exactly, and that’s why the two sides aren’t mirror images: the right is indeed less likely to be upset over waste regarding a central function of government, like the military. The left, though, ignores waste in areas where the government has exceeded its Constitutional functions, like Medicare and laws favoring unions.

        1. Well, if we start by assuming that what you think is a central function of the government actually is, then you really have made a point!

          1. I would say that for the Fed at least, the central functions of government are pretty clearly defined. Anything that is not required by the constitution is not a central function of the federal government.

          2. So you think Medicare and labor relations laws are a central function of govt, but national defense ISN’T?

            Here’s some more rope, Mr Noose Guy.

        2. Yes, PapayaSF, I posted something along these lines below. I’m finding that you and I are very often on the same page. And, pace MNG below, we do have this piece of paper called “the Constitution.”

        3. laws favoring unions

          That was Herbert Hoover’s fault.

    2. Didn’t Mises in Bureaucracy essentially say it was inevitable that government enterprises would be more wasteful and inefficient? And he also said there would be things that only the government should do. So whatever you think government should be doing, it’s going to have some waste and fraud…

      Agreed. This is why I have antipathy towards both groups, since each one rationalizes why their “waste and fraud” is acceptable, but that of their opponents is not.

      Likewise, those who propose government must intervene into all matters economic to fight “waste and fraud” never hold their side to such standards, since they perceive their goals to be noble and directed towards others who are inherently driven towards unethical means.

  8. I don’t have a problem with military spending. I do have a problem with a military that is stationed all over hell’s half acre and the methods used for military contracts. When it comes to defending there is no such thing as too prepared. (that doesn’t mean start a war with every brown population on the planet)

    I’m glad the focus was on the wastes and not the actual ideas. Although national health care isn’t Constitutional and a military is.

    Not a bad article. Well done and it avoided all the usual suspects of stupidity.

    1. “”I don’t have a problem with military spending.””

      Not even in it’s current state? We are spending roughly 1.2 trillon dollars every two years.

      1. Keep reading…

  9. “But ask them to extrapolate that conclusion and apply it to the armed forces or the CIA, and you’re likely to get blank stares”

    Pull BS out of your ass much?

    1. Such people do exist.

      1. Notice the word “likely”, which means more often than not or greater than half.

  10. Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle highlights the curiously selective concerns about government waste and abuse on the left and the right:

    Welcome to our world, A. Barton Hinkle.

  11. “War on poverty?”
    What decade is this guy living in?

    Dude, this war on poverty sucks! Also, how do you think this siege around Khe Sanh is gonna turn out?
    Have you heard the new Beatles single? And check out my Nehru jacket. Anyway, I gotta get home in time to catch the next episode of “Dark Shadows” on ABC. Peace, man!

    Next up: The Freedman’s Bureau — has it outlived its usefulness?

    1. yes, but you would be well advised to be on the lookout for the douche bag brigade…

    2. Useless agency that’s outlived it’s stated purpose? Whatever do you mean?

      1. Shocked! Shocked! I tell you, to find that going on.

    3. “Next up: The Freedman’s Bureau — has it outlived its usefulness?”

      NO.

  12. It’s sad – until this Arizona b.s. I was really enjoying listening to Rush Limbaugh, and now he and his side have proven just how incoherent they are. I can’t even listen anymore without writhing. They support corrupt and authoritarian sheriffs who violate the constitutional rights of citizens and believe that the immigration enforcement bureaucracy is America’s last hope – so what’s the difference between that and all the other junk they criticize? Blech.

    1. I like Rush’s ability to say things that will get a rise out of people. He’s like an IRL troll, but sometimes he’s actually amusing.

      Limbaugh, Hannity, etc., have never fashioned themselves as conservatives who are concerned about civil liberties; it’s how they most sharply distinguish themselves from libertarians. They decry big, intrusive government and its machinations- unless it’s being used to prevent adults from smoking marijuana, or to ensure that gay people can’t get married to each other. We can have all the big, intrusive government we want in those cases, as far as Hannity and Limbaugh are concerned. Those two issues are why I don’t take either of them too seriously.

    2. You lost me at “I was really enjoying listening to Rush Limbaugh…”

  13. Wiki sez: The F-35 is intended to be the world’s premier strike aircraft through 2040, with close- and long-range air-to-air capability second only to that of the F-22 Raptor.[10] The F-35 is required to be four times more effective than existing fighters in air-to-air combat, eight times more effective in air-to-ground combat, and three times more effective in reconnaissance and suppression of air defenses ? all while having better range and requiring less logistics support.

    “Fabulous- we’ll call him Porky, the flying pig!”

  14. mice, I only fuck mice…

    Sizeist oppressor.

    1. …plus he only fucks WHITE mice so…

      Racist!

  15. Partisans are partisan. Gotcha.

    1. Tautologies are tautological.

      1. Warty has warts. Got it.

        1. Epi has…what, fleas? You seem like someone who doesn’t comb his fur as often as he should. You fucking disgust me.

          1. Don’t project your feline fetish on to me.

            1. libertarians are furries

              1. haters gonna hate

                1. Yiff in hell, furfags.

    2. No, not them, only the other guy is partisan.

      Which explains the headache I had after leaving a family event on Saturday.

      1. Rationalizers rationalize and haters gonna hate.

        1. Old hippies bloviate and *still* crack on Reagan.

  16. Speaking of domestic waste, I suppose its never too early to make preemptive excuses for “the inability of Obamacare to live up the idealistic expectations of its founders” (or whatever careful phrase they’ll use when it turns out the policy is doing bad things):

    10) Corporate lobbyists messed up the bill, taking out the good parts about public option and 1000% taxes on cigarettes (or whatever).

    9) Corporate shills scared the people so much that Obama was forced to rule out the best option – single-payer. The defeat of single-payer was a defeat for children and puppies.

    8) Bush administration holdovers have sabotaged the regulations.

    7) Trotskyite wreckers – I mean, health-care corporations – have sabotaged the health-care policy just to make the Democrats look bad and to promote their insidious free-market agenda (because health-care interests are all in favor of the free market).

    6) Obama lacked the political will to impose price cont – I mean insurance rate caps to protect the women and children and kittens.

    5) Obama was distracted by all those wars he inherited from Bush from giving his attention to the fair implementation of the health-care law – leaving room for the evil boyars around the czar – I mean, the free-market fundamentalists around the President – to take the reform in the wrong direction.

    4) Obama was simply Too Timid To Tackle the Corporate Interests, and instead was Seduced by the moderate Democrats into watering down the bill (a variant of #10 and #9).

    3) The recent news story you read about [insert scandal of the day: health-care rationing of an 83-year-old grandmother’s medical care, leaked memo about the need to encourage the elderly to refuse ‘extraordinary’ care, etc.] is simply an attempt by [Fox News, right-wing bloggers] to exploit an isolated incident to attack health care.

    2) Anyway, the story about [grandma’s health-care rationing, leaked memo about denial of extraordinary care] was taken *way* out of context, because [blah blah].

    1) George Bush!

    1. Beautiful, Mad Max (although I’m not sure the younger crowd of left-libertarians who hang out here will get the Soviet references – they’re so naive and ill-educated).

      You’ve once again illustrated that the “Mad” version of anything is always better than the regular version… Mad Elf… Mad Men… etc.

      1. I like regular cow better than the mad version, but yes, otherwise I agree with your point.

    2. You couldn’t work abortion in there somewhere? I’m disappointed.

      1. Made you look!

    3. To be fair, from a leftist point of view points #10,9,7,6 and 4 are all true. Obama failed everyone – he didn’t make health care more socialistic or more free market – it’s just more bureaucratic. He managed to combine the worst of both worlds.

      1. I’ve heard similar things from disappointed progressives. Meaning (from their perspective) that we now have definitive proof that single-payer is the way to go.

    4. Max, a lovely case study in entropy. If the health-care reform whatever-it’s-called can go wrong in any number of ways, then it is going to.

  17. …they support corrupt and authoritarian bureaucrats who violate the constitutional rights of citizens and don’t believe that the enforcement of immigration law bureaucracy is part of their job description – a small re-write

  18. When government is doing what I approve of, it is honest, efficient and effective. When government is doing what I don’t want it to, it is fraud filled, wasteful and incompetent.

    Both teams, Red and Blue, share this somewhat schizophrenic view of government operations.

    1. Libertarians do the same thing. You want the government to do nothing, and then you claim it does nothing honestly, efficiently or effectively.

      1. On the one hand you criticize the government, yet on the other hand you say the government is dishonest, inefficient and ineffective.

        I caught you libtards in an inconsistency! I’m king of the Internet!

      2. Claiming that libertarians want the government to “do nothing” is a lazy strawman argument. Libertarians acknowledge that the federal government has legitimate functions. In today’s world, however, we have stupid shit like this.

        That’s right: I do not believe that the US military should be wasting its time handing out race and gender-based awards. That is not a legitimate function of the military. It’s politically correct nonsense.

        Desiring to trim today’s bloat and waste down to those legitimate functions does not warrant accusations of wanting “no government.”

      3. Yeah!!! Libertarian BINGO!!!

        Shit, I’m missing, “Teh Somalia iz teh liburtarian dreem.” Damn you, Dan T, I was counting on you for that libertarian bingo.

  19. Here’s what you left-libertarians don’t get when you refuse to draw important distinctions: the stuff the Right wants government to do is the stuff the Founders intended it to do (foreign policy [war], immigration control, courts and law enforcement, …), whereas the stuff the Left wants government to do is the stuff that Progressives and “Liberals” dreamed up in the first few decades of the 20th century.

    Yes, government is a hopelessly inefficient and blunt tool to achieve most of our ends. That’s why we Originalists want to use it only for the very limited sets of things for which it is truly a “necessary evil.”

    Killing and interdicting our enemies is one of those things. Redistributing income in a way that produces “more fair outcomes and reduces social unrest” isn’t.

    1. Yes, of course: the “TEAM RED is better than TEAM BLUE because XXX” argument. So. Fucking. Tiresome. Fuck you, fuck TEAM RED, fuck TEAM BLUE, and fuck your pathetic attempts to act like either is something libertarians should support.

      1. Only when the people of the country finally give up their party affiliations and agree with the One Libertarian Truth as expounded by Pure Prophet Episiarch will we achieve salvation.

        I don’t know what’s sadder, your frequent emotional, ranting, vulgarity-filled posts or your confidence in the relevancy of yourself and the handful of purists like you to the greater political scene.

        I think that if you want to become more relevant you need to work on your outreach to kindred spirits of all parties, and dial back the emotional “you’re all evil morons” ranting.

        1. What’s sadder is morons like you, pathetically trying to convince us that TEAM RED is really, really our best buddy, and they’re not just the flip side of TEAM BLUE. You reek of desperation, because you want your team to win oh so badly, because, well, you’re a partisan idiot.

          Peddle your shit somewhere else, asshole.

          1. Is it the “Useful” part you balk at, Epi or is it the “Idiot” part?

            1. It’s the “TEAM” part.

              1. Splitter.

        2. the stuff the Right wants government to do is the stuff the Founders intended it to do

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          If TEAM RED ever starts to be even close to what you think it is, I’ll consider supporting it a little bit. Until then, go fuck yourself.

        3. Nothing is going to change as long as people think that they have to choose between the two teams. If that is impossible, as Draco seems to think, then nothing is going to change. I will at least choose not to be part of the problem and vote my conscience or not at all. The only way to meaningful change is if more people adopt this attitude, not fewer.

          1. The binary perception is easy and fits within their us vs them view of the world.

    2. Yes, the founding fathers loved entangling alliances, bureaucracies and cruel and unusual punishment!

      1. They loved endless wars as well, and nation-building, and police states.

      2. They loved endless wars as well, and nation-building, and police states.

      3. Hey, at least you are reading the Constitution Hobo! That’s a start!

        1. Maybe you should start sometime.

        2. What are you reading, Draco? The Half-Blood Prince?

      4. Of course, punishments the Founders did not consider “cruel and unusual” included: hanging, branding, flogging, and castration.

  20. Some pre-emptive excuses just in case the various Wars on/in Terror, Iraq and Afghanistan don’t go quite as well as planned:

    10) The war Obama inherited from President Bush has left Obama holding the bag – he works around the clock to get out of the mess Bush left him, and all the Republicans can do is gripe!

    9) Obama had *no idea* that the terror suspect he extraordinarily rendered to the People’s Republic of Torturestan would actually get tortured by goverment agents, and it’s just a coincidence that the questions asked by the Torturestani torturers corresponded to questions the CIA wanted to pose to the suspect.

    8) Anyway, that suspect was probably guilty, and terrorism is scary.

    7) If the suspect turned out *not* to be guilty, at least he should be grateful that he lives in the USA and not in some hellhole like the People’s Republic of Torturestan . . . wait, let me think a little before using that excuse, there might be a logical flaw somewhere.

    6) Did I mention that these wars are all George W. Bush’s fault? And Karl Rove’s. And Dick Cheney’s. Democrats just fight these wars because they don’t want the Republicans to attack them in 30-second ads (as political virgins, Democrats simply are powerless in the face of 30-second ads, which are a Republican monopoly).

    5) There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    4) Victory is around the corner.

    3) We don’t want to send American boys – oops, I mean Americans of both sexes and hermaphrodites – to do the fighting that Afghan and Iraqi boys should be doing . . . I mean, Afghan and Iraqi boys, girls and hermaph . . . come to think of it, maybe it’s too early to use that line again, even in the new improved gender-neutral version.

    2) And I assure the mothers of America, that your sons will not be sent to fight in any foreign wars . . . and I assure the fathers that their daughters won’t be sent to fight in any foreign wars – and to all same-sex couples out there, I assure you that your adopted children and children conceived by artificial insemination won’t be . . . heck with it, it’s so hard to make FDR’s 1940 campaign promise gender-neutral, worse than that 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign promise I updated in #2.

    1) George Bush!

    1. #3 was the LBJ campaign promise (gender-neutral version) and #2 was the FDR campaign promise. Sorry for the confusion.

  21. It?s not really the same thing.
    There is a lot of waste and fraud in defence spending, but conservatives believe that leftie govt programs are ineffective and/or can be performed by the private sector or even useless. One may argue that the defence budget is too high based on the threat to nat. security, but defence is not a “nice to have” program that should be reduced or eliminated just because it is wasteful.
    There is of course also some hypocrisy, like exservicemen complaining about perks to govt employees while ignoring the numerous perks they receive.

    1. Well, we disagree

        1. We’re pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down, yo

    2. It?s not really the same thing.
      There is a lot of waste and fraud in defence spending, but conservatives believe that leftie govt programs are ineffective and/or can be performed by the private sector or even useless. One may argue that the defence budget is too high based on the threat to nat. security, but defence is not a “nice to have” program that should be reduced or eliminated just because it is wasteful.
      There is of course also some hypocrisy, like exservicemen complaining about perks to govt employees while ignoring the numerous perks they receive.

      No, it is very much the same thing and also more than simply an argument based on “efficiency”.

      Because government does not sell it’s services to consumers as the private market does, but impells the public to vote for or accept taxation to fund x, y and z program, it is fraught with corruption and deception related to such justification. And because of the secretive nature of foreign policy and national defense, the public is asked to accept such justifications with very little transparency.

      1. Foreign policy is not secretive, re. transparency in defence spending only in the sense that the avg Joe cannot assess the effectiveness of some weapons program that the DOD may have a hardon about.
        I?m not arguing that it is less wasteful or corrupt, let?s assume it isn?t. But if you believe it is in the interest of nat security then it is irrelevant whether it is wasteful or not, you still need it and it cannot be privatized.

    3. What?

    4. Also, Americans don’t play defence.

      1. Really? Tell that to the Iranians, or Hizbollah.

  22. From HERE:

    When a principle or premise defends one’s case, it is affirmed; when it doesn’t, it’s denied. Think about these two statements:

    * Individuals have the right to engage in consensual private behavior even if it can harm them.

    * The government has the duty to stop individuals from engaging in consensual private behavior that can harm them.

    So, which does our “liberal” believe in? Well, if the issue’s smoking, the second. But if it’s “sodomy,” then the first. And the “conservative”? Just the reverse. What prevails is a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t commitment to any tenet. Moral integrity falls to personal prejudice, and hypocrisy becomes the standard of “social democracy.”

    1. I don’t think most liberals would agree with your first bullet point. They simply view sodomy and the other alternative sexualities as non-harmful.

      In a not entirely unrelated note, I just had the misfortune to be standing next to a 20-ish guy in an “Oakland for Obama” shirt waiting for the WALK sign as he explained to his friend how he was sick of people bringing up “so-called individual rights” whenever the government tries to fix a problem.

      1. Did you shoot him?

        You should have at least kicked him hard in the nuts. Assuming he had any.

      2. “so-called individual rights”

        It’s a living document.

        But seriously, you should have said “No shit, look at what we tried to do with the PATRIOT act, we’re trying to fix a terrorist problem, and all we get from the fucking ACLU is “individual rights this and individual rights that!”

        1. I was thinking about asking him which part of “individual rights” he thought necessitated the “so-called”. Are they rights that don’t really belong to individuals, or do they belong to individuals but don’t have the status of rights?

          For better or worse the WALK sign came on complete with its asynchronous chirping right after he said that, so there was no time to probe his views. Chances are, he was using the alternative meaning of “so-called”, that is, an epithet of smug disapproval — the “fucking” of the elite.

      3. In a not entirely unrelated note, I just had the misfortune to be standing next to a 20-ish guy in an “Oakland for Obama” shirt waiting for the WALK sign as he explained to his friend how he was sick of people bringing up “so-called individual rights” whenever the government tries to fix a problem.

        I had a very similar experience during an online debate where an opponent claimed that libertarians “have a problem with fetishizing individual rights”.

        Such statements are so patently retarded, one is left speechless.

    2. Nice article. Using statements like those is a good way to identify the cognitive dissonance/narcissism of whoever you’re debating. Although I think those specific issues of smoking and sodomy will only work on the extremes of either ideology. Drugs and gay marriage are likely to trap more.

  23. dial back the emotional “you’re all evil morons” ranting.

    Hurtful truth hurts.

    1. True dat *OUCH!*

  24. The left doesn’t believe in Government inefficiency, they only have individual programs and administrations they don’t like.

    1. Someone really worked hard on that. Bless his heart.

      1. While it is crucial to acknowledge all that is right with American government, we must not turn a blind eye to what is wrong with it

        You’re all heart, professor, do tell, what is really the problem with government?

        But while it is natural to lay the blame for our unresponsive public institutions at the doorstep of politicians and the government itself ? this is a mistake. Undemocratic government is just the symptom. The ultimate source of this political illness lies in society at large ? in the private sector.

        Come again? The problem with government isn’t the government itself, but all those damned private citizens under its thumb? Well, a revalation! If only we could just get rid of them, then all would be so much easier.

        1. Jeebus on a pogo stick. Its not government’s fault that government sucks, its, its, its SOCIETY’S FAULT! ‘Cuz, if society would only, like, make government be better, then government would be better, see?

          1. Makes sense. Kids turn out to be brats if their parents spoil them, governments turn out to be repressive, corrupt, and inefficient if the people don’t periodically tar and feather loathsome public officials.

      2. Likely an individual who has never worked a day of his/her life in the private sector.

        1. That could be anyone in Obama’s administration!!! Could you narrow it down a bit, please?

    2. It looks and reads like the extension of a shitty poli sci dissertation.

      1. Hey, quit ripping on MNG’s PhD.

        1. I asked him once if his PhD diploma came covered in rows of candy dots. Never got an answer.

          1. That moron has a PHD? Well, that just proves the educational system is full of shit.

            1. In his defense and fairness he’s not a moron. Flaming assclown, yes. Moron, no.

              Compared to most of his pinko commie friends who frequent H&R he’s a fucking genius.

          2. I asked him once if his PhD diploma came covered in rows of candy dots. Never got an answer.

            Those were ellipsis.

  25. The difference between the liberal position and the conservative one is that the conservatives want to spend money on a legitimate function of government, defense, while liberals want to replace free market consumer spending with centrally planned government spending.

    1. IOW, conservatives are okay with the single most bloated, wasteful, and destructive government program known to humankind. And somehow the constitution allows for that (which is every bit a wealth transfer, centrally planned, and for that matter a massive welfare operation for defense contractors). It would be mind-bogglingly hypocritical and absurd, if not for the glorious constitution that apparently sanctions endless warmongering if we so choose, but not a dime for butter on the domestic side. If that were truly the constitution we have and not just a conservative fantasy version of it, then I’d say it’s a pretty shitty document.

      1. There are certainly problems with defense contracting, however I think a majority of people would agree that having too much defense spending is better than not having enough.

        Also, the government enters the defense contracting market as a legitimate customer creating a demand. Not as a meddling, bubble creating, regulating, interference that can have little to no positive effect on the market.

        Warmongering is a separate issue from government intervention in markets.

        1. You could say government enters the healthcare economy in order to create demand (by lowering costs for lower-income people). The only real difference is one enterprise provides healthcare for people, and the other blows shit up in foreign countries.

          1. Go back to school and take an economics class.

            The government entering the healthcare economy doesn’t create demand because every dollar the government spends is eventually going to come out of yours and my pockets, thus decreasing our ability to purchase goods in any market. Unless the government is directly purchasing healthcare services, it’s not creating demand.

            For example, if I have $100 and the gov. takes $20 of that to “lower healthcare costs for lower-income people”, then that $20 will purchase a physical for some poor person. However, now that I only have $80, I am less likely to spend money to have a physically of my own – or purchase anything else in any market.

            The government can not increase the demand for health care services anymore than it make the Zune more popular than the iPod. Demand is a function of an individual’s needs and wants – the government has no influence over that. Any attempt to influence those needs or wants will create an artificial bubble that will sooner or later pop and once again leave the economy in a shit hole.

            1. But the Zune is more popular than the iPod. In my house.

            2. Demand is based largely on cost. If government subsidizes healthcare for lower-income people it is by definition increasing demand. Nothing you’re saying about redistribution couldn’t equally apply to the military. If government is the source of demand for a service then maybe that’s creating a bubble of sorts but it’s one guaranteed not to pop as long as government sticks around to fund it. Healthcare is arguably different from other products like ipods because everyone needs it; its costs are not associated with choice so much as need, and, again arguably, societies should be allowed to address the needs of its constituents on a universal scale. Just like with the military.

              1. Tony, if we made a web series on the economic inaccuracies you’ve served up since Obama became President (special demerit for your cartoon version of Keynesianism), we’d be here until Trig Palin became President. Look at the God-damned econ graph; you slide down the demand curve when price goes down. You don’t shift the demand curve when price goes down (the definition of demand increasing/decreasing).

                1. Tony is just looking for an excuse to shit on the private sector.

                  As usual.

      2. And somehow the constitution allows for that (which is every bit a wealth transfer, centrally planned, and for that matter a massive welfare operation for defense contractors).

        Getting paid for working does not qualify as a welfare operation, you shit for brains, collectivist fuck.

        1. Getting paid for working does not qualify as a welfare operation, you shit for brains, collectivist fuck.

          To Tony’s point, all government employees are paid workers. How does this argue against the fact that they are paid by a direct wealth transfer from the private sector?

          1. Because, as I explained before, the government acting as a direct consumer is different than the government intervening in a market, and affecting supply/demand when it is neither the source of the supply or the demand.

            For example, the government is a consumer when it purchases computers, paper, office supplies, etc. When the government subsidies sugar or corn, the government isn’t buying that sugar or corn for it’s own use.

            Demand is based largely on cost. If government subsidizes healthcare for lower-income people it is by definition increasing demand.

            That is government intervention in a market, not government participation in a market – as defense spending is. It increases the demand of one segment of the population, not the entire industry. Since you have to take money from another market in order to add it to the healthcare market, the demand for healthcare is slightly increased to the detriment of a market some place else.

            1. Because, as I explained before, the government acting as a direct consumer is different than the government intervening in a market, and affecting supply/demand when it is neither the source of the supply or the demand.

              For example, the government is a consumer when it purchases computers, paper, office supplies, etc. When the government subsidies sugar or corn, the government isn’t buying that sugar or corn for it’s own use.

              That does not address the fact that all such purchases are enacted by the direct transfer of wealth from the private sector (taxation or indirect taxation through deficit spending).

      3. Hey, I happen to like that government program you’re denigrating.

      4. which is every bit a wealth transfer, centrally planned, and for that matter a massive welfare operation for defense contractors

        And jobs program for the poor.

        1. True, and wouldn’t they be better off taking blood pressure or building windmills?

  26. There is a fundamental difference between military expenses and welfare expenses. Funding the military is a legitimate function of government, because otherwise we would have competing private militaries throughout the country.

    1. Amen. I’m sure we’d get better and cheaper customer service

  27. The only real difference between the military and government-run healthcare is that one activity kills people, and one activity keeps people healthy? WTF?

    Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Tony is committed to being retarded.

    1. You tell me how they’re so fundamentally different that one is the legitimate role of government and the other is definitely not. For shits and giggles let’s pretend that our war machine adheres to its proper role and isn’t engaged in global troublemaking that wastes trillions of dollars. Its role is to provide single-payer defense of the people and our territory. It’s not that much of a stretch to extend the definition of protecting the people’s collective interest to include their health. We have single-payer defense because it’s more efficient, more equitably distributed, and yes more accountable than a gazillion private security forces. What’s so hard about extending that rationale to healthcare? All you have to believe is that one’s access to healthcare should not be wealth-dependent, just as you believe with respect to one’s access to armed defense of one’s nation.

      1. Well, shitcakes, Tony… let’s just have single-payer everything, then.

        1. All you have to believe is that one’s access to food should not be wealth-dependent

          All you have to believe is that one’s access to clothing should not be wealth-dependent

          All you have to believe is that one’s access to shelter should not be wealth-dependent

          All you have to believe is that one’s access to utilities should not be wealth-dependent

          All you have to believe is that one’s access to transportation should not be wealth-dependent

          All you have to believe is that one’s access to entertainment should not be wealth-dependent

          Fuck, why pay for anything at all?

          1. How about because we are capable of making rational distinctions between different things?

  28. But ask them to extrapolate that conclusion and apply it to the armed forces or the CIA, and you’re likely to get blank stares. Go further and suggest that, just perhaps, soldiers and spooks can make mistakes, so maybe persons accused of terrorism ought to have a means of asserting their possible innocence, and you’re likely to get hotheaded rebuttals.

    Dumb. Conservatives know the military is inefficient and makes mistakes, they just understand the difference between school vouchers and private citizens operating ICBMs.

  29. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this article unusually objective and the objections to it rather weak.

    Yes, military spending is an enumerated power of the Constitution, but this simple fact does not justify all spending and actions taken under this rationale. Conservatives/Republicans are, IMO, prone to rationalizing why any and all spending on such programs are A OK and the “Constitution” is all they need to support their stance. This mindset extends down to the local executive branches AKA police, where they endlessly argue that police spending and abuses of authority are perfectly fine because “Hey, we gotta have police”.

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