Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: A petition to denounce and condemn billionaire Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer:  greedy capitalist and pollution-creating hypocrite.

Tom Steyer: greedy capitalist and pollution-creating hypocrite.

I don’t usually play the part of provocateur, but there are occasions when I make an exception.  Two entirely separate events came together in my mind and demanded a little satirical activism.

The first event was the fact that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich used MoveOn.org, which has a vast reach among Progressive activists, to publicly “denounce” and “condemn” the Koch brothers for making perfectly legal political donations, and to invite other Americans to join with him in this little exercise in socialist shaming.

So far, 202,240 people have signed a document that could easily have come from the revolutionaries in China during Mao’s deadly Cultural Revolution (Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai vividly illustrates that terrible time); or from the Kremlin during the height of Soviet Kangaroo trials; or from East Germany’s Stasi state (see, e.g, the harrowing film “The Lives of Others“); or from Cambodia when the killing fields ran red with blood; or from Maduro’s Venezuela; or from any other totalitarian political organization that maintains power by targeting and denouncing individual citizens so as to sow fear in and gain control over the general population.

The second event was an article at PowerLine about Progressive billionaire Tom Steyer.  Steyer recently announced that, in a single year, he plans to spend $100 million of his own money to fund political candidates who will vote against the Keystone pipeline.  The sweet song Steyer sings is environmental protection, but the reality is that the pipeline will compete with his huge investments in the “green energy” sector.  Additionally, during the first decade of the 21st century, Steyer turned his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management L.L.C., into one of the largest coal project investors in the world.  The fact that Steyer has since stepped down from Farallon and that Steyer kept all these investments offshore (in Asia and Australia) seems to have blinded the Gaia crowd to his environmental depredations.

It seems to me that, using the Reich algoritm (buying elections is bad), Steyer should also be denounced and condemned.  So I started a petition to do just that.  You can find and sign the petition here.  Or if you don’t feel so inclined, you can still read the petition’s text:

MoveOn.org is hosting a petition that Robert Reich authored urging the American people to denounce the Koch brothers “for using [their] vast wealth — more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of Americans — to corrupt our democracy.”  The petition tells the Koch brothers that their legal political contributions are such that “You are thereby undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. You deserve to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.” *

Reich and MoveOn.org, however, have not mounted a similar petition to denounce, shame, and condemn Tom Steyer for using his vast fortune to pervert the political process and, by destroying competition for his American-based “green” energy projects, to enrich himself at the expense of the American people.  Clearly, this was an oversight on their part.  Thankfully, it’s not too late to object to Steyer’s undemocratic conduct.

Based upon the facts set forth below, this petition asks that the American people denounce Tom Steyer for using his vast wealth – estimated at $1.6 billion – to corrupt our democracy.  He is undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government.  He deserves to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.  It also asks that Steyer be denounced and condemned for destroying potential competition for his profitable “green” energy projects and for pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in profits acquired by funding massive coal production projects in Asia and Australia.

And now for the facts behind this deserved denouncement and condemnation:**

Tom Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C. (“Farallon”), one of the world’s largest hedge funds.  He withdrew from Farallon only at the end of October 2012.

Steyer’s personal net worth is estimated at $1.6 billion, making him a 1 percenter among 1 percenters.  He recently made news when he pledged to use this vast personal fortune to fund Democrat candidates to the tune of $100 million in 2014 in exchange for their efforts to oppose the Keystone pipeline.

The proposed Keystone pipeline will bring oil from Canada, a stable democracy that protects its workers and its environment, to America.  The oil flowing from the pipeline will lower fuel prices, increase job opportunities, and decrease American dependence on oil produced in countries that exploit their workforce and the environment, and that use oil monies to pursue policies hostile to the United States.

Unsurprisingly, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 82 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents, and even 51 percent of Democrats support the pipeline.  Steyer, however, opposes the pipeline and is willing to use his vast personal financial resources to pervert the process by buying access to politicians.

Steyer’s proposed $100 million injection into Democrat politics in 2014 not only perverts the political process but, if Steyer is successful in putting his candidates into office, will also destroy potential competition for the myriad businesses in which Steyer invests.  As matters now stand, the Keystone pipeline, when built, will cut into Steyer’s profits from myriad investments, including Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the pipeline; Greener Capital, Steyer’s newest “green energy” hedge fund; and even BP, in which Steyer holds (or has held) millions of dollars in investments.

Even worse than Steyer’s undemocratic behavior is the fact that his newly green persona provides a cover for his own vast contributions to CO2 production.  Publicly available information reveals that Steyer made his fortune in significant part by financing some of the world’s largest coal projects.  None of these projects was in America, however, which may explain why the American media hasn’t commented on Steyer’s past involvement in CO2 production and overall pollution.

Beginning in 2003, Farallon, while under Steyer’s direct management, was actively involved in coal transactions taking place in Asia and Australia.  Although Farallon does not disclose the details or scope of its investments, publicly available information makes it reasonable to believe that, since 2003, Farallon has spent between $1 billion and $2 billion to fund international coal mining projects.

On average, coal output on projects that Farallon funded has almost doubled thanks to Farallon’s (and, therefore, Steyer’s) contributions.  It’s worth noting here that many of these projects occurred in countries that do not enforce strict emission controls on the coal industry.

Thanks to these investments, Farallon may well be the single largest private coal investor in the world.  The Koch brothers, by contrast, own a now defunct coal mine that, at its peak, produced .04% of the production from the coal mines in Farallon’s portfolio.  It’s therefore reasonable to believe that Farallon has profited to the tune of around $400 million thanks to his company’s overseas investments in coal production.

Like any good 19th century robber baron, Steyer doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty abroad, but likes to keep his image clean at home.  There is no evidence that he has remorse for the coal his money has produced overseas, or for the land and lives despoiled, or for the CO2 emission that coal created.  He has not confessed and repented; nor has he used his vast wealth to remediate the damage to both people and the environment that his profitable investments caused.

Steyer seeks to earn a halo from environmentalists here at home, as well as to increase his profits in the green energy sector, by using his coal money to deny Americans the jobs and lower energy costs that would result from the Keystone pipeline.  He should be denounced and condemned in the strongest terms by the greatest number of people.

* http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/we-denounce-the-koch.fb40?source=s.fb&r_by=1472247

** http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/the-epic-hypocrisy-of-tom-steyer.php

Again, if you believe that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or if you’re in as mischievous a mood as I am, you can sign the petition here.

Jonah Goldberg offers an interesting take on the Left’s escalating hunt for heretics

People_burned_as_hereticsPart of the Left’s ongoing hunt for heretics arises for a simple, pragmatic reason: it ensures that people with opposing views keep their mouths shut. That pragmatic fact, though, doesn’t mean that there isn’t an additional emotional layer giving real satisfaction to the troops who carry out the elite’s marching orders. Jonah Goldberg, who has spent a lot of time thinking about liberal pieties, offers this interesting take on the Left’s recent escalation of its witchhunts:

But while I was prepping for the speech, I read some reviews of Jody [Joseph] Bottum’s new book (which I’ve now ordered). In, An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America, Bottum argues that today’s liberal elites are the same liberal elites that we’ve always had. They come from the ranks of mainline Protestants that have run this country for generations (with some fellow-travelling Jews and Catholics, to be sure). But there’s a hitch. They champion a

social gospel, without the gospel. For all of them, the sole proof of redemption is the holding of a proper sense of social ills. The only available confidence about their salvation, as something superadded to experience, is the self-esteem that comes with feeling they oppose the social evils of bigotry and power and the groupthink of the mob.

This strikes me as pretty close to exactly right. They’re still elitist moralizers but without the religious doctrine. In place of religious experience, they take their spiritual sustenance from self-satisfaction, often smug self-satisfaction.

One problem with most (but not all) political religions is that they tend to convince themselves that their one true faith is simply the Truth. Marxists believed in “scientific socialism” and all that jazz. Liberalism is still convinced that it is the sole legitimate worldview of the “reality-based community.”

There’s a second problem with political religions, though. When reality stops cooperating with the faith, someone must get the blame, and it can never be the faith itself. And this is where the hunt for heretics within and without begins.

Think about what connects so many of the controversies today: Mozilla’s defenestration of Brendan Eich, Brandeis’ disinviting of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the IRS scandal, Hobby Lobby, Sisters of Mercy, the notion climate skeptics should be put in cages, the obsession with the Koch brothers, not to mention the metronomic succession of assclownery on college campuses. They’re all about either the hunting of heretics and dissidents or the desire to force adherence to the One True Faith.

It’s worth noting that the increase in these sorts of incidents is not necessarily a sign of liberalism’s strength. They’re arguably the result of a crisis of confidence.

To use a household analogy, I point out to my children that those of their peers who are happy and self-confident never bully people. Instead, they bring people in. Indeed, oone of my daughter’s friends is the perfect example of this, a sunny soul whose very real popularity rests on the fact that it’s a pleasure to be in his company. It’s only unhappy, self-doubting people who take it upon themselves to make other people’s lives miserable.

In the world of school, I tell my children (a) these kids are more to be pity than censured; but (b) to stay away from them. In the real world, I hope I’m still big enough to pity the anger, fear, and self-loathing that drives the Left but, to the extent they make it impossible to stay away from their reach, they need to be confronted and their policies destroyed.

The other offensive thing about that Shipman-Carney photo

I have mentioned before that I have the smartest readers.  I got more proof of that today:

Recently Drudge and American Thinker had articles on the Jay Carney and Claire Shipman household having old Soviet propaganda posters displayed in their kitchen/great room.

That’s not what stunned me. What caught my eye was the amount of food displayed on the counter for breakfast for a family of four. Good Grief!! What a carb overload! and the amount of butter! I realized that this was a staged photo but still…….

According to the administration 1 in 6 are hungry, 50 million or so are on food stamps, etc,, etc, etc. Aren’t we told about starving Americans every day and how we must sacrifice to help them? Isn’t this picture insensitive to those who don’t have enough to eat? Or eat that well?

Not to mention Michelle O’s campaign to “persuade” Americans to eat natural and healthy. The only healthy things I see are the strawberries (pricey), the orange juice (pricey), and the egg (notice that it’s brown, ergo probably free range or otherwise organic, and pricey.)

If this picture featured a conservative couple instead of a liberal power couple, can you imagine the outrage that would ensue?

Well, now that you mention it….

Shipman and Carney

When Facebook friends go too far: “Denouncing” the Koch brothers

Koch-brothersSome of my “real-me” Facebook friends aren’t really friends at all. They’re people who were friends at specific stages in my life, but I haven’t seen them in years and I stick with them on Facebook only out of curiosity. The curiosity factor arises because I view people’s lives like story books — if they were once important to me, I like to see how their personal narrative is progressing. I like to hear about their marriages, and their children, and their parents, etc.

Mostly, I vicariously celebrate their life milestones.  Sometimes, though, I learn things about them that dismay me. That was the case when a person who was a good friend of mine long ago, but whom I haven’t seen in almost twenty years, boasted on Facebook that he had signed a despicable Moveon.org petition “denouncing” the Koch brothers:

We, citizens of the United States, denounce you, Charles and David Koch, for using your vast wealth — more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of Americans — to corrupt our democracy. You are thereby undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. You deserve to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.

PETITION BACKGROUND We do not denounce the Koch brother’s because their wealth of more than $50 billion exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of all the citizens of the United States, or because they run and own one of the largest petrochemical businesses in the world, or because of their right-wing views. If Americans obey the law and play by the rules, they’re entitled to their wealth and to their opinions. But the Koch brothers are using their vast wealth to alter those laws and rules to their advantage. They’ve established a political front group, Americans for Prosperity, and are building their own permanent political machine, including hundreds of full-time staff in at least 32 states. They are pouring money into federal and state races. The Koch brothers are thereby using their vast wealth to undermine and corrupt our democracy — a shameful betrayal of our nation for which they deserve to be widely denounced.

So far, over 23,000 people have signed a document that could easily have come from the revolutionaries in China during Mao’s deadly Cultural Revolution (Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai vividly illustrates that terrible time); or from the Kremlin during the height of Soviet Kangaroo trials; or from East Germany’s Stasi state (see, e.g, the harrowing film “The Lives of Others“); or from Cambodia when the killing fields ran red with blood; or from Maduro’s Venezuela; or from any other totalitarian political organization that maintains power by targeting and denouncing individual citizens so as to sow fear in and gain control over the general population.

Usually, I look at the idiocies emanating from Facebook friends and ignore the stuff.  After all, if you were born in, raised in, and currently live in America’s bluest regions, you can assume that most of the people you meet will parrot the Democrat party line.  For the reasons I stated above, however, the MoveOn petition transcends idiocy and heads straight for evil.  I therefore left a comment asking my friend a few questions:

Why isn’t MoveOn.org condemning the 58 people and organizations who are ahead of the Koch brothers when it comes to being political big spenders (the biggest of whom, I noted, donate to Democrat causes)?

How is this attack different from the Two-Minutes of Hate directed at Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s 1984?  

Does my friend think it’s okay for Sen. Harry Reid, one of the most powerful people in America to use his taxpayer-funded bully pulpit to launch daily attacks against private citizens?

What does my friend think distinguishes what he, Harry Reid, and MoveOn.org are doing from the tactics that the blacklisters used in the 1950s — a tactic that Democrats routinely describe as one of the greatest evils in American history, following closely behind slavery and the way we treated Native Americans?

I expected my friend and his friends to fire back immediately with defenses detailing how dreadful the Koch brothers are and how they deserve to be “denounced.”  Interestingly, so far the only sound I’ve heard is *crickets*.

The Brendan Eich witch hunt makes HBO’s Silicon Valley must-see TV

Silicon Valley HBOOne of the most awful defenses the usual suspects offered on behalf of Mozilla came (natch) from the New York Times, which opined that Mozilla is “special” and therefore cannot be held to ordinary corporate standards:

Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization. Mozilla’s primary mission isn’t to make money but to spread open-source code across the globe in the eventual hope ofpromoting “the development of the Internet as a public resource.”

As such, Mozilla operates according to a different calculus from most of the rest of corporate America.

Like all software companies, Mozilla competes in two markets. First, obviously, it wants people to use its products instead of its rivals’ stuff. But its second market is arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.

When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

Short version:  Silicon Valley is a unique outpost of Progressive corporate responsibility and no tech company can afford to offend the delicate sensibilities within that small, unique world.

That sounded nonsensical, but it may well be that Silicon Valley denizens really do like to think of themselves as special in unique and Progressive ways.  Indeed, we have proof of that, and in a pretty funny form that was created and finalized long before anyone thought of anything other than JavaScript in connection with Brendan Eich.

Last night, HBO debuted a new half hour show called Silicon Valleywhich HBO promises will be the Entourage of California’s high-tech world:  five young men will become very, very rich, and then navigate their way through the perils and pleasures of wealth and insincerity in a uniquely rich and powerful environment.  Because I’m not a fan of HBO’s leftist sensibilities, I yielded only reluctantly to my husband’s importuning that I give it a try.  From the first minute, though, I was hooked.

I don’t think I would have been quite so hooked if it hadn’t been for the Brendan Eich witch hunt.  Without that context, the show really is just another Entourage, meaning that you can only remain interested for so long in foul-mouthed, stereotypical young men (computer geeks, as opposed to Hollywood geeks) living the lush life.  But what the show did wonderfully, really wonderfully, was to satirize the banal Progressivism that those who have struck it rich in Silicon Valley believe that they must bring to bear on every facet of life.

When the episode opens, the main protagonist is working as a low-level drone at “Hooli,” a company that’s clearly modeled on Google/Facebook/YouTube/Yahoo or any other Silicon Valley company that seeks to think “out of the box,” by turning the workplace into a playground and the world into a Progressive paradise.  In fact, Hooli’s real goal is to keep its isolated, banal, self-involved founder very, very rich, which various corporate sycophants and tech geeks along for the monied ride.

One of the more interesting characters, and one that the hero opts to work with, is a weird guy who is fanatically opposed to college, which he believes stifles creativity and initiative.  As he points out, most of the tech world’s great ideas came from college drop-outs.  To him, college is a place where the top-heavy administration’s entire goal is to churn out people who are burdened with debt, can’t get jobs, and have had their creative abilities sucked out of them.  When this guy gives a well-attended talk to that effect, the only opposition he gets is from an old hippie who hurls content-free insults.

It was both a surprise to me and not a surprise at all to learn that Mike Judge is the show’s creator.  Judge denies having any political leanings.  That may be true.  He may just be an iconoclast who’s willing to take on the Leftist shibboleths that completely dominant Hollywood and the professional class.  Whatever his motivations and beliefs, his product is refreshing.  

For all that Silicon Valley  satirizes the brainless, corporate Progressivism that oozes out of Silicon Valley, I doubt that even Judge could have envisioned either the fascist attack on Eich for his personal beliefs or the “we’re special” defense that the New York Times offered up on Mozilla’s behalf.  In a world run by Leftists, reality routinely outruns satire.  Nevertheless, if you have access to HBO, and if you are willing to tolerate HBO’s endless obsession with sex and foul language, check out its premiere episode (which you can see online).  In the unlikely event that it manages to maintain its satirical tone for even a few episodes before sinking into the usual Hollywood quicksand of mushy feel-good Leftism, it’s probably a show you’ll enjoy and one that, moreover, deserves support.

(Should I throw in a few typical review points here?  Yes, I shall.  Production values are expensive; acting is workmanlike; obscenity is rife.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.)

Regarding what happened at Mozilla, I yield the floor to Ben Shapiro who perfectly articulates the problem with thought-crimes

Firefox logoBen Shapiro has published a post that perfectly articulates everything I want to say about the Mozilla thought-crime purge.  I therefore hope that Ben will forgive me for quoting him at some length.  After detailing the way in which Brendan Eich’s outing and subsequent destruction began with OKCupid, and then spilled over to Mozilla, Shapiro says:

Was OKCupid’s action legal? Sure.

Was Mozilla’s action in forcing his resignation legal? Of course.

Were both of them not only wrong, but morally disgusting?

Absolutely.

This is not about the issue of same-sex marriage. I have personally taken the position that the government should get completely out of the business of marriage. If two men or women want to live together and get married through any private institution of their choosing, I’m fine with that; I hold the same position with regard to one man and one woman. And TruthRevolt is obviously not attempting to crack down on pro-same-sex marriage companies – Google is pro-same-sex marriage, and yet we recommend them as an alternative browser to Firefox.

This issue is far larger than the small and parochial same-sex marriage issue. It is about the chilling of political freedom by small sects of motivated political players. It is the same issue as A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson over his comments paraphrasing the Book of Corinthians. It is the issue of McCarthyistic blacklisting and voter intimidation and ultimately, the issue of utilizing power to silence dissent. In America, we typically prize freedom of speech. And while OKCupid and company may be exercising their market power in fully legal fashion, they’re certainly advocates for quashing freedom of speech.

Imagine a world in which all gay people in America were at risk of firing thanks to religious bigots mobilizing against their perceived sins. Imagine a world in which market power wasn’t just utilized to get gay people fired, but government became a tool of the anti-gay mob. Would that be wrong? Now switch the parties. That’s reality.

[snip]

This is a fight for freedom, whether or not you agree with Eich’s political perspective. Privately-held political beliefs are no excuse for wheeling out the stocks and demanding public canings. To stop such activity, we will have to fight fire with fire.

We are not powerless in this fight. TruthRevolt will not stand idly by. Neither should you.

Sign our petition, and uninstall Firefox today.

By way of comparison and contrast, let me introduce you to the New York Times‘ take on the subject, which is that, because Mozilla wants to market itself far and wide, its best business tactic is to engage in blacklisting:

Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization. Mozilla’s primary mission isn’t to make money but to spread open-source code across the globe in the eventual hope ofpromoting “the development of the Internet as a public resource.”

As such, Mozilla operates according to a different calculus from most of the rest of corporate America.

Like all software companies, Mozilla competes in two markets. First, obviously, it wants people to use its products instead of its rivals’ stuff. But its second market is arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.

When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

The post expands on that topic, but it boils down to this:  Because Mozilla employees are activists, they cannot be expected to cope in an environment that tolerates diversity of thought.

No more Firefox for me — I don’t do business with fascists

Firefox logoAs of today, I am no longer a Firefox user.  I think that, after you read about Brendan Eich’s travails, you’ll agree that you don’t want to be a Firefox user anymore either.

Back in 2008, when Prop. 8 was on the ballot asking California voters to legalize gay marriage, Mozilla co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to support traditional marriage.  Keep in  mind that, at the time Eich did this, President Barack Obama was on record supporting traditional marriage, a position he switched only after he’d secured his second term in the White House.

The same-sex marriage tyrants, having gotten hold of this information, didn’t waste their time doing something as enlightened as persuading Eich (as Obama was apparently persuaded) that his attitude was on the wrong side of history.  Instead, they did to him what they didn’t do to Obama:  they forced him to leave his company.  They destroyed his livelihood.  They abandoned reasoned debate in favor of thuggish tactics.

I’ve been unhappy with Firefox for awhile because it crashes constantly.  Inertia, however, kept me with it.  Today, hearing about the totalitarian attack on Eich for his temerity in supporting marriage as it has been understood since the dawn of human kind (man, equipped with tab A, ready to mate before God and civil society with woman, equipped with slot B), put an end to that inertia.  I’ve deleted Firefox from my hard drive.

I’m currently operating in Chrome.  I fully understand that the Google guys are also to the left of Left, but at least they haven’t (yet) destroyed someone’s life work for daring to support the same position that the whole world, through all of history, supported up until a few years ago, and that Obama either supported or lied about supporting up until only two years ago.

If you have suggestions for a good browser that doesn’t carry with it a totalitarian streak, please let me know.

 

Liberal tolerance

Man with mouth taped shut1.  British Christians are slowly being banned from advocating traditional Christian views . . . such as the belief that marriage should involve one man and one woman.  The only allowable morality is that which does not align with traditional Judeo-Christian doctrines.

2.  A well-known Hispanic actress was fired from play because she supports a Tea Party candidate.  “‘Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission [District in San Francisco]. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,’ Lopez [wife of far Left S.F. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi] said.”  In other words, Hispanics are not allowed not hold any views inconsistent with the Democrat party platform.

3.  Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York:  “The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”  Support the Second Amendment?  New York is not the place for you.  Agree with roughly half the country that pregnant women aren’t the ones making a “sacrifice” when they abort a fetus?  Leave New York.  Now!!

That’s just from the past couple of days.  Please feel free to add any I missed.

Bag bans — a microcosm of Obamacare

I went to a Safeway in Mill Valley because it was convenient.  When I got to the check-out, I was reminded why I never shop at that Safeway:  their town council banned plastic bags and you get charged five cents per bag for a paper bag.  Next year, all of the stores in Marin County will be subject to these rules.  I have no words for how much I loathe this liberal police state law.  Let me count the ways:

Let me begin by saying that the problem isn’t that I’m being charged five cents per bag.  I’m cheap, but I’m not that cheap.  I’ve understood since I was a child that stores don’t really give bags away for free.  Instead, the cost of bags is folded into the prices they charge.  I’m paying not only for the groceries, but also for the staff, the facility, the shopping carts, and the bags.  I therefore don’t mind stores such as Goodwill that charge for bags as a way to keep their overhead down.  That’s a business decision, and I’m happy then to make my own decision:  Do I want to pay the ten cents or will I just make do without a bag?  After all, I don’t need to go to Goodwill.  I can do without cheap books or I can find them at other stores (or online).

The five cents per bag charge at Mill Valley (and soon, all Marin) stores irks me because it’s not a business decision.  It’s punitive.  The local governments are punishing me for having the temerity to use a paper bag.  Moreover, once it goes Marin-wide, I can’t avoid it, unless I want to drive 50 or 60 miles to a fascism-free county.

As it happens, I adore paper bags.  I’m forced to use a recycling bin and paper bags are an easy way to collect recycling.  They can go right into the bin along with the recycled refuse filling the bag.  Paper bags also make great packing material, covers for textbooks, stable (non-tippy) bags in which to carry food to potlucks or school events, fireplace starters, etc.  I’ve already paid for them by paying a higher price for my groceries than I would in a store (e.g., Goodwill) that says “We keep prices down to help save you money.”  Marin stores, though, are being forced to say, we charge you money to punish you.

There are two alternatives to paying a fine to use a paper bag:  You can bring your own, or you can toss individual items into the car (as you do at Costco).  I’m going to opt for the latter.  I refuse to become a bag lady.  I will not be forced to buy bags, which I then need to remember to carry around with me wherever I go, and which I need to remember to wash regularly so I don’t poison my family.  As to that last point, washing bags means that I’m doing an extra load of laundry every week, which means increased water and electricity use.  Surely that can’t be green.

I go crazy when I see all the liberal drones in Marin dragging around their little bags.  It makes me feel as if I’m living in a third world country.  They look like derelicts.  They’re feeling righteously smug, and I’m looking at them and thinking that they’ve been brainwashed to accept a Zimbabwe lifestyle.  (Let me say here that, while I don’t agree with them, if people want to do this, I applaud them.  Why?  Because they’re freely making a decision and it works for them.  That’s how life in a free country should be.)

Bottom line:  The bag ban forces me to buy a product I don’t want or to pay a penalty.  It is a microcosm of Obamacare.  It is a denial of free will, it perverts the marketplace, and it is an unforgivable form of coercion against a free citizenry.

Three degrees of separation

I enjoy reading my Liberal-Lefty friends’ Facebook posts because they are so insightful into the mindsets of the Left.

One insight that I have gained over time is that the differences between us conservatives and the Progressive/Left are so profound that they are unlikely to ever be bridged, barring some cataclysmic, life-changing events. What I have tried to do is understand why this is so. I share this with you because I greatly appreciate the insights that Bookworm group has to offer on such issues – be it “yay” or “nay”.

Our disagreements appear to come down to three levels of separation.

1) First, there are objective facts (OK, I am being deliberately redundant here). These are easy enough to resolve. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock world has arrived: everybody is so overwhelmed with information that we can’t absorb and process all there is to know and we therefore choose our facts selectively.

As Ronald Reagan said, ““It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

In discussions, factual disputes are easy enough to resolve: my typical response to Liberal /Lefties is simply tell them to “Google it”. Amazingly, many apparently don’t know that you can Google entire texts or sentences. A good example was the recent George Zimmerman trial…many people with whom I disagreed told me outright they were too busy to bother looking up facts. The Left operates on so many facts that just aren’t so.

2) The second level of separation involves our assumptions or premises. These are tougher to resolve, because we assume and presume events based on our past experiences. I suspect that we humans are hard-wired to build assumptions (true or false) as a defense mechanism: for example, my cave ancestors probably assumed that to allow a saber-tooth tiger to stand in their path was not a good thing and that such assumption is one reason why I stand here today.

We go through life building mental templates on how the world works in order to short-circuit decision making and evaluation. Otherwise, we would soon be overwhelmed with indecision. As long as our world templates work for us, we continue to hold onto them. Many formerly Liberals (e.g., David Horowitz, Bookworm) only became conservative when one or more events (e.g., 9/11) rendered their previously comfortable world views untenable. For me it was Reagan’s second term, when his policies led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic resurgence. I, young man at the time, knew then that my Democrat world template had been very, very wrong.

I use the word “comfortable” deliberately, because our templates represent our comfort zones. Losing that comfort zone is terrifying. Imagine if all of a sudden nothing in the world made any sense to you; you would feel totally deracinated and quite possibly insane. You would also feel a deep sense of personal failure, as in “how in the world could I have been so deluded?”

And, the older you get, the more frightening that sense of loss, confusion and failure would be. So, the older we get, the more desperately we defend our mental templates, selecting and force-fitting “facts” to fit our own perceptions of reality. I believe this is where modern Liberalism and Progressivism are today (Google “Paul Krugman”). As Thomas Sowell put it, people of the Left expect the world to conform to their misperceptions. Eventually, however, reality hits like a 2 x 4 between the brow…as in “Detroit”.

I believe that this dynamic also explains the sheer viciousness expressed by many on the Left when the presumptions of their world templates are threatened (as by Sarah Palin or by black conservatives, for example). This is also the reason why I believe that world Islam will fail, because it doesn’t work and eventually people in Muslim worlds, aided by the internet, will eventually realize this (some of my Middle Eastern friends assure me that many already do). Reality is a harsh mistress.

This level of separation helps to explain why Liberals and Conservatives usually talk past each other. We try to rationalize our positions to each other, but our rationalizations only make sense if the other party shares the same assumptions and understandings of how the world works. We operate from completely different templates.

3) Faith. This the most difficult and potentially dangerous degree of separation, because it addresses fundamental values that are non-negotiable. Our “faith” defines how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world, irrespective of facts, logic and reason. I cannot, for example, “prove” the veracity of my Christian faith. Environmental extremists and atheists cannot “prove” the righteousness of their positions. We just “know” that what we believe to be true is true. There is no logical argument that I know of that can challenge faith-based values. Our values define who we are and how we perceive the world to be. Utopian fascist ideals (Progressivism, Nazism, communism, Islamism, etc.), for example, are defined by a faith in a future to come – they require no proof. Abortion is a similar issue of faith and values – there is no middle-of-the-road compromise if you believe abortion to be murder and that murder is wrong (a value proposition). Psychologists have claimed that only very powerful shocks to the system can challenge faith.

I have no dealing with the first degree of separation. I admit, however, that I am totally stumped on how to address (2) and (3). Any ideas?

Found it on Facebook: Romney is evil? Really?

One of my old high school classmates, who is gay and Progressive, posted a heartfelt plea today that all of his Facebook friends do whatever is necessary to keep the “evil” Romney out of office.  Evil?  That’s an awfully strong word.  Hitler was evil.  Mao was evil.  Stalin was evil.  Pol Pot was evil.  Saddam Hussein was evil.

But what the heck has Romney ever said or done to earn the appellation evil?  I meant to ask my friend, but my computer is dying and for reasons entirely unclear to me, it will no longer let me post any comments to Facebook.  I’ll have a new computer by next week and, if I remember, I’ll politely ask this guy why Romney is “evil” as opposed to merely being a mainstream politician and member of Lincoln’s party, whose mainstream politics somehow offend this guy.

I’m actually being a bit disingenuous here.  I’ve known for decades that Conservatives think Progressives are misguided; while Progressives think Conservatives are evil.  It’s just that I don’t remember this level of hysteria from before.  People disagreed, but the passion that characterizes the “Leave Britney alone!” video wasn’t as obvious, and the insults weren’t so blatant.