36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

July 3, 2014

Post-War Presidents, A Counter-List

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Politics — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

So, our resident Penguatroll listed the presidencies in rank order from Truman on.  Here’s my list.

12. Barack Obama.  We’ve still got two years left, but you can fill out a 16-seed bracket with legitimate scandals.  He’s a complete joke when it comes to foreign policy.  Quick:  name someplace with which the US has better relations than in 2008, or a place which is significantly better off as a result of US foreign policy than in 2008.  Well, I can answer that second question:  Iran and Russia.  On domestic policy, we have “Recovery Summer” 5 years running, the ever-giving miracle known as Obamacare, and scandals ranging from selling weapons to Mexican drug lords, using the IRS to spy on oppositional political groups, etc.  Lately, the only way one Obama scandal gets out of the news is if another one gets in (think Obamacare, the ever-unfolding IRS scandals, the Bergdahl exchange, the EPA ruling that they control everything, and so on).  Further, a Vice President says a lot about a President:  George W. Bush had Dick Cheney, who could shoot a man in the face; Bill Clinton had Al Gore pre-supercrazy (and only kinda-crazy); Ronald Reagan had George H. W. Bush, who knew hundreds of ways to kill a man and probably tried them all.  Barack Obama has Joe Biden.

11. Jimmy Carter.  Carter was history’s greatest monster.  On foreign policy, he was at least as bad as Obama, and in a time in which foreign policy mattered more.  Nevertheless, at least Carter worked on airline deregulation, brought on Paul Volcker, and wasn’t using the IRS and FBI against political enemies.  Also, Carter only had one term in which to fail, whereas Obama has the opportunity to fail over twice as long a stretch.

10. Lyndon Johnson.  The Great Society is a millstone around the necks of future generations and Johnson’s mishandling of Vietnam in 1964 for political reasons was unforgivable, and the idea that anybody thought clowns like Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy were the best options for running the DOD seriously angers me.  The joke about Johnson that Barry Goldwater used was that Johnson was the mayor of a one TV tower town.  Johnson should have stayed there.

9. John Kennedy.  Our Penguatroll gives Kennedy way too much credit, in my opinion.  The Cuban Missile Crisis came about for two reasons:  first, Kennedy mis-handled Bay of Pigs so badly that he probably should have been impeached; secondly, Kennedy was such a clown at the Vienna Summit in 1961 that Khruschev decided he could push the envelope.  In other words, Kennedy took the United States to the brink of nuclear war to make up for his previous failures.  I give him credit for not cracking, but a President Eisenhower or President Nixon would never have been pushed that far in the first place.  Oh, and a President Nixon in 1961 would have prosecuted Bay of Pigs effectively and kept Cuba in the western sphere of influence.  Bonus negatives for the aforementioned McNamara and Bundy; this was Kennedy’s doing.

8.  Gerald Ford.  Ford didn’t do much and basically just exists.  He got an unfair rep because he tripped on airplane stairs once and he didn’t understand the easy way to whip inflation (hint:  stop printing so much money).  The Nixon pardon hurt him short-term, but like our resident Penguatroll argues, it’s probably for the best in the long run.

7. Harry Truman.  I give him credit for a muscular response to Greece and Italy during tumultuous times.  I’m not a fan of Truman’s domestic policy, which was an attempted expansion of the Roosevelt policy.  Thankfully, a post-war Republican party forced significant spending and tax cuts and really stymied Truman; otherwise, he would have ended up lower on the list.

6. Richard Nixon.  I give him credit for fighting in Vietnam, as opposed to the slipshod “limited war” crap that Kennedy and Johnson ran.  I also give him credit for reaching out to a post-PedoToad China and formalizing their turn against the Soviets.  I take away a lot of credit due to his terrible economic policies.  Also, I want to give him some residual goodness for his days on HUAC and the work he did in nailing Alger Hiss as a traitor and Communist spy.  On the other hand, the EPA was a bad idea which has become worse and worse over time.  Nixon was also responsible for price controls and was the true poster child for stagflation, even though Carter gets a majority of the scorn.  Nixon was truly the anti-Clinton.

5. George W. Bush.  Flip-flip 4 & 5 if you want; I already did.  With regard to foreign policy, here’s something you probably don’t hear very often:  US foreign relations improved significantly during the Bush administration.  President Bush was wrong on Vladimir Putin, but at least eventually realized it.  On the other hand, he expanded US influence further into Europe, drawing in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Georgia.  More importantly, he improved relations with India significantly.  It’s important to remember that US-India relations were historically pretty sour (part of why the US was so friendly with Pakistan during the Cold War), but under Bush they improved.  Unfortunately, Obama failed to follow through on these lines and has ruined potential American influence expansion globally.  On Iraq, I consider it to have been a success as of 2009:  the Baathists were defeated, Iraq was no longer a haven for international terrorist organizations, and the potential for a free and democratic Iraq was there.  Unfortunately, candidate Obama was strongly against the war and President Obama pulled American troops, leading to a situation in which ISIS controls a third of the country and the dictator-in-training is cozying up to Iran to solidify his tenuous grasp on power.  I think 25,000-40,000 troops with the right leadership would have prevented this scenario.  On domestic policy, Bush was full of ups and downs:  the 2003 tax cuts were great and free trade agreements with several countries helped.  On the other hand, No Child Left Behind was a bad idea (hint:  if Ted Kennedy was for it, you should probably be against it), bailouts were a terrible idea, and spend-spend-spend is never a good idea.  Bush had good ideas like Social Security reform, but instead of pushing that harder, went for amnesty and Harriet Myers.

4. Bill Clinton.  A person with a combination of Nixon’s foreign policy and Clinton’s domestic policy would have been…well, probably Dwight Eisenhower.  A person with a combination of Clinton’s foreign policy and Nixon’s domestic policy would have been nestling between Obama and Carter at the bottom of the list.  Clinton was the politician qua politician of our generation.  I absolutely hate how much of a slimy, slippery toad he was (but no PedoToad, as at least he liked his girls over the age of 18), but after Hillarycare went down and Republicans won the Congress in 1994, Clinton returned to his populist centrist routine.  The end result was prosperity throughout the ’90s for a president beset by scandals that nobody seemed to care about.

3. George H. W. Bush.  Tony calls him “[p]ossibly the most successful single term President the country has ever had.”  I say no:  James K. Polk was that by a landslide (and land grab).  Despite that, I agree with his assessment that Bush was solid.  On raising taxes, Bush’s bald-faced lie is probably what made him one of the most successful single-term presidents rather than a very successful two-term president.

2. Dwight Eisenhower.  Ike showed us that Presidents should play a lot of golf.  As a side note, a lot of people make fun of Barack Obama constantly playing golf, but honestly, I’d rather he be hitting the links than doing stupid things.  Eisenhower had a pretty solid idea of what a president should—and, more importantly, should not—be and helped America return to a sense of normalcy after World War II.  I give him a lot of credit and rank him rather higher than most historians would on the all-time list.  On net, the interstate highway system was outstanding, although there have been cultural costs (as well as benefits).

1.  Ronald Reagan.  Beating the Commies, beating stagflation, beating History’s Greatest Monster (and Walter Mondale, but seriously…), all that adds up.  Reagan was the prior generation’s politician qua politician, but used his powers for awesome rather than sliminess.  I rank him the second-best president of the 20th century, behind the great Calvin Coolidge.

Net difference, throwing out Ford (because somebody was too chicken to include Gerald Ford in a ranking):  15 points of ranking.  We only had one match (Truman), but you can definitely see three groups in which we shuffle candidates:  Reagan-Eisenhower-Bush, Nixon-Clinton-Truman-Bush, and Obama-Johnson-Carter.  Kennedy is the only president in which we have a serious disagreement, and that’s without me talking about how much of a drug-addicted creep he was.

July 2, 2014

Postwar Presidents, ranked

Filed under: Our Favorites, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 4:42 pm

Inspired by the Quinnipiac Poll which found Barack Obama to be the worst president since World War II, I decided to make my own list ranking the Presidents of ‘Murica since the war. I count peak, in Presidents, more heavily than career length, with one exception.

Honorable mention: Gerald Ford. I can’t really fault him as a President, as he basically did nothing of note except pardoning Nixon (which saved the country from a trial it really didn’t need at the time). He gets an Incomplete; if he had played himself on the Simpsons, I would have given him a C+.

The objectively bad Presidents

11. Jimmy Carter. Carter did more damage in a shorter time than anyone else. If Barack Obama is “the wrong way to be a President”, Jimmy Carter is the “Max Power” of Presidents. The energy crisis and Iran were managed extremely poorly. Nice guy, bad President.

10. Lyndon Johnson. Credit where credit is due — he used Kennedy’s death to launch himself into a landslide victory. That’s good politics, at least, if nothing else. Great Society was a trainwreck, and I don’t know if anybody was hated by more of his subordinates.

9. Barack Obama. Won the Nobel Peace Prize for “not being George W. Bush.” Has mismanaged almost every foreign crisis he’s been involved in. Obamacare is not as a big a trainwreck as The Great Society… yet. I appreciate his moral position on gay rights, but that’s not enough to overcome the other problems.

8. George W. Bush. Afghanistan was a good move that might turned out badly; Iraq was not. So much failed potential in domestic programs — privatizing Social Security would have been a big step towards getting him out of this group. No Child Left Behind places way too much on standardized testing. Patriot Act itself isn’t horrid, but the potential for mischief is not worth the cost.

The President I have trouble ranking

7. Harry S. Truman. Soft on Communism immediately after the war… but ended segregation in the military. Containment was the right play if we weren’t going to go to a general offensive against the Soviets. Handled Korea okay, faced up to Douglas MacArthur and won. Not nearly enough credit for Civil Rights as a whole. He didn’t do anything objectively bad, in my opinion, but could have done better.

The good Presidents

6. Bill Clinton. Gets way too much credit for “fixing” the economy (for which the President deserves less credit than how good the weather is, except the President can’t do as much to break the weather), but deserves some. Made real progress with Ireland, handled the Balkans better than a lot of other people have (which is, admittedly, grading on a curve). Might be a kind of a jerk towards women, but as more time progresses, he gets a bit more shine to him until we have a president who’s objectively better.

5. Richard Nixon. I really like what he did in foreign policy — reaching out to China gave the US a counterweight to the Soviets, getting us out of Vietnam as delicately as possible (after actually trying to win the damn war). Even did a pretty good job with the Middle East. Solid healthcare reform plan. Created the EPA, a mixed blessing, perhaps. However, Watergate was unbelievably stupid and completely unnecessary. A bit weak on science.

4. George H. W. Bush. Possibly the most successful single term President the country has ever had. The First Gulf War was a masterpiece of foreign policy foresight and military strategy. Had the guts to raise taxes, which is sometimes necessary and not always an evil if coupled with spending cuts. Worked more on science than Nixon did. Ended the Cold War (even if he was cleaning up what Reagan had already started).

The great Presidents

3. John F. Kennedy. A willingness to aggressively fight the Cold War in a way that no President had before or since. His victory in the Cuban Missile Crisis could be the single greatest foreign policy achievement since World War II. Cut taxes, worked for civil rights reform, and funded the space program. Vietnam is a major blemish on his record, maybe the only one. There’s no way he could have been worse than Johnson in 1964.

2. Ronald Reagan. Devoted a lot of attention to the economy, even if the results didn’t come out as planned. Displayed decisive leadership when it was needed. An aggressive, well considered foreign policy on the whole is slightly diminished by Iran-Contra.

1. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The man killed Nazis. Ended the Korean War, worked effectively with the Soviets in the Suez Canal Crisis. DARPA and NASA. Built infrastructure, something governments are supposed to do and keep forgetting about because it isn’t sexy enough. Continued Truman policies in desegregation. Economic prosperity. Effectively used his Vice President (Nixon) in a way that few Presidents have since.

So, that’s my list. I suspect Kevin’s — if he ever comes to the site again — would be quite different.

June 20, 2014

I am a true American — suck it, everyone else!

Filed under: Politics, U-S-A! U-S-A! — Tony Demchak @ 4:17 pm

Ever wondered if you’re secretly (or not so secretly) a fascist? I know I always have! That’s why I was eager to see this post on io9. It references the F-scale, developed in 1947. Here’s the quiz itself. I scored a 3.4. The quiz called me “disciplined but tolerant; a true American.” It’s about time somebody else recognized how awesome I am!

June 16, 2014

This is better foreign policy, but not by much

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 1:33 pm

The Economist, on Monday, wrote about a proposed plan for the US in Iraq. Happily, it’s better than the administration’s present policy of doing nothing. It’s excessively sanguine about the Iraqi army’s chances — yes, it’s much larger than ISIS, but the US Army was much larger than the NVA and Viet Cong too — but, it does make sense. A limited intensity campaign of air strikes and naval power (which the article does not mention, but this story from RIA Novosti does), coupled with special forces and aid to the Iraqi army, might help. But the article is probably right that Iran will continue to dominate Iraq because a) they want to, b) it’s beneficial for them to do so, and c) they’re neighbors and co-religionists (the Sunni-Shi’ia split notwithstanding).

The American people have already shown they won’t tolerate additional and more persistent use of force in order to prop up the Iraqi regime. I think the US is focusing on pursuing what I’d call a “blackjack foreign policy” — unlike poker, which can be for high stakes, blackjack is the kind of game that’s relatively easy to break even on. You won’t win a lot, but you won’t lose a lot either unless you’re incredibly bad. Limited involvement is better than pure isolationism, 1920s style, which is what I think a goodly portion of the GOP wants. The Democrats hoped that rainbows and ponies and magic would fix the Middle East and seem surprised it didn’t work.

I have little hope of seeing any sort of positive results out of the present administration’s foreign policy. If Iraq is signaling a shift, that’s good news. I would be delighted to see one President with a clear, logical, foreign policy agenda during my adult years.

June 13, 2014

Too much Coolidge, Obama

Filed under: Keeping Cool With Coolidge, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 1:22 pm

I am all for doing nothing. I personally live up to the Second Foundation maxim of “Never act  unless you must. And then — hesitate.”

Then a friend sent me this article. It’s a Jonah Goldberg piece, incidentally. I actually hope we never get that time machine. I shudder to think what would happen if Obama went back in time to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Look, I can understand why you might not want to go toe-to-toe with Russia. But you won’t even act when hordes of Islamic terrorists retake Iraq with barely a struggle? When Iran is the fucking voice of reason?

You got your second term. People already increasingly dislike you. What on earth do you have to lose? Are you so terrified of appearing to be George W. Bush for even one tenth of a second that you will only do the exact opposite of what he did? Worry less about your damn legacy and worry more about your damn country.

June 12, 2014

Prontra Kevin: more on tuition costs

Filed under: Politics, Schooled!, Science! — Tony Demchak @ 4:54 am

Yes, prontra is a portmanteau of pro and contra, as I am both in favor of and against some of Kevin’s propositions.

The subsidies I described are going to the universities, not to the students, in exchange for a reduction in tuition. More like agricultural subsidies in this sense. I think his cause #3 is responding to the system, not to me, but I wanted to emphasize that part of my solution.

For Kevin’s causes, 1 and 1a I obviously agree with. Item 2 I agree to with reservations. Item 3 makes sense, but again, reservations.

I like the free market as much as anyone else. Probably a bit less than Kevin, but much more than the average guy. I do not like the idea of kicking accreditation out of the process entirely because not all degrees are created equally. If you can get a medical degree anywhere, you get hordes of Dr. Nicks flooding the streets. Yes, hospitals wouldn’t hire them (but what if they were really, really cheap?), but clinics? Maybe they would. The process could use fine tuning, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater. A private institution for accreditation could work, but I’d have to see more evidence before I’d agree to it.

The argument with subsidies I would buy entirely if the student was making the buying decision. In some cases, he is (this applies to Kevin and I), but in many cases, he is not. This feeds into your other points — parents think college = more $ (which is true, on the average), college = more educated people (which is… sort of true — throw enough knowledge at somebody and some of it is bound to stick), and that college = better people (complete bullshit). I don’t think the problem is that students are overvaluing certain degrees, but that parents are.

I like Kevin’s solutions, but I see them as long term decisions. The culture needs to change. This will not happen overnight. However, among Kevin’s continued references to elementary education majors (I’ll take a liberty here and say he is railing not against the institution, but the absurdly low requirements and ease of graduations) lies a problem. How many people, gainfully employed in this profession, who may have done so out of a desire to be blacked out for the better part of four years, are going to tell our next generation that they made a mistake? If we are employing teachers who do not want to teach but just need a paycheck (the Miss Hoovers), all we do is see the cycle repeat.

Fewer high school graduates means fewer college entrants. Agreed, and it’s a direct solution to the problem, and we all know people who graduated high school who had no business doing so. Yet, if they’re bombarded by media that tells them blue collar work is worthless, regardless of pay, parents will scream and holler that their child’s future is being destroyed when those evil teachers flunk the little moron. So, before we make high school harder, the culture needs to change first.

So, set changing the culture aside as a long term ideal solution, but one we can’t fix right now. I’ve already talked about accreditation and subsidies. My solutions, as presented earlier, were focused on reducing debt burdens to students, but Kevin’s right that we absolutely need to address the roots of the cost. As Kevin correctly pointed out, the problem is one of demand. I’ll give you a concrete example. The largest university in the Russian Federation, Moscow State University, has about 40,000 students — and about 22,000 are undergraduates. (Note: the English version of the site incorrectly claims there are 7000 undergraduates; this is a typo.) The rest are graduate students or students pursuing “refresher courses,” or short term learning. The number of graduate students in Russia is slightly inflated because they have two doctorates, as in the British system: the second doctorate is roughly the equivalent of tenure in the United States. There are a couple of other universities with about that level of enrollment — St. Petersburg State is close, with around 35,000 students — but most tend to be quite small.

Compare this with the US. Kevin and I went to a university of around 10,000 students. About 80% are undergraduates, but again, consider the inflation rate of Russian graduate students. We also have to consider that the US has roughly double the population of Russia. Still, contrast this to the largest universities in the US. There are multiple universities with more undergraduates — just undergraduates — than Moscow State has students.

So, the best way to cut costs, as Kevin suggested, is to cut demand. As we can see, there is a lot of demand. How can we do this effectively and realistically?

1) Make it harder to get into college. The United States is the only country I know of that does not have entrance exams to pass to get into a university. Even a private university like the University of Dayton only required an application, an application fee, my scores from high school, and an essay. The ACT and SAT are not entrance exams and have their own problems: I’m talking about mandated exams to get into a university, determined by that university and the department they’re applying for. This should replace the entire entry system as it exists now. You pass the exam, you’re in. You don’t, try again next year. No other criteria for entry, apart from a high school diploma.

2) Force students to choose a major. The longer you go without a major in a university, the worse off you are. I can buy using year one to figure out what you want to do — I’d even argue for a relatively standardized sample of courses freshman year — but after that, you need to decide. No open option bullshit that lasts until the junior or even senior year. Changing the major is fine — go nuts — but pick one and stick with it.

3) Eliminate generic majors. This includes “General Studies” and “Liberal Arts.” Interdisciplinary is fine, but generic is not.

4) Promote associate’s degrees. This is a good compromise for making getting into college harder. An associate’s degree for a specific skill is a much better solution than a bachelor’s degree in “general studies.”

All of these, I think, would reduce demand in the short term, and if we work to change the culture too, we end up with a better education system at more affordable rates, which leads to a better America. Fuck yeah.

 

June 10, 2014

The spike in tuition

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 4:35 am

A good friend of mine shared this link on Facebook.

I liked the article, interesting read — up until it claimed that it was the shift in ideology that caused the tuition spike. I agree, to some extent, that a shift in ideology would cause people to value different things differently. But especially the line that “The Reagan administration was always hostile to universities and loved to bemoan the tuition spiral; what’s more, over the period in question, the universities themselves embraced a hyper-leftist public image that helped them distract attention from the catastrophe they have visited upon the nation’s young.”

So, wait… we got more conservative. I’ll buy that. Reagan disliked universities. I don’t know that I buy that — I’d need to see the evidence — but it sounds plausible. So, we punish them by letting them charge as much as they want to?

College tuition has spiked because it can spike and people send their kids to college more frequently. Because we have this idea that only college graduates are meaningful, high school diplomas have been devalued. So, everybody needs a college degree. Except: a) lots of people who go to college don’t graduate and b) lots of jobs that “require” a college degree do not, in fact, require one.

Set that aside. The mentality is what matters: Everybody has to go to college, because reasons. So how do we pay for it? Loans. Not grants, not scholarships. Loans. Long term loans with low interest that are incredibly easy to get.

So, my argument is this: tuition prices spiked because the direct effects of tuition spikes aren’t noticeable if you’re going to school via loans. Which is probably a majority of people. We all think “MUST HAVE DEGREE” and “paying $240,000 in 30+ years isn’t so bad!”

How do we fix this? There are a few options: 1) make student loans much more difficult to get and/or make repayment more immediate, so a lot of these students will look for jobs instead of wasting their time in college. If the supply of students dry up, colleges either tuition prices or suffer. Employers learn to suck it up and lower their standards for frivolous college degrees. This is my preferred solution.

2) Accept that education is a public good. That means, it needs to be government funded. If everybody needs a degree, and we aren’t willing to accept anything less, then the solution is surprisingly simple: tuition should be free or very close to it. Government (state governments, ideally, but federal government could cut a few checks if needed) gives grants to universities, accepts that it won’t see a direct ROI, and leaves the universities alone. This is a less elegant solution, admittedly. It allows the potential for corruption, but I’m loathe to have government inspectors coming in every so often to figure out if we’re teaching kids valuable skills or not. Any and all education is a good thing (one of the few absolutes in life I do ascribe to), and we accept that the cost of greater education is worth paying, communally. Tighten tax loopholes (which Obama, to his credit, is already doing) and let that pay for the cost.

3) Variation of #1. Tie loan repayment to performance in college. Right now, the grace period lasts as long as you are enrolled in school (unless you consolidate — fuck you, Sallie Mae) at least half time. This is a bad system. Why? Because all you need to do is take classes and not be expelled to not pay loans back. So you’re in college for 20 years, with no degrees? Big deal. Still get to keep drawing on new loans and not paying for the old ones.

The simplest way is this — you get four years. No degree? No grace period. Of course, there are legitimate reasons to extend your stay in college, and so you would be able to submit an exemption form to get this taken care of. You could also tie it to GPA, but GPA is flawed to begin with, and I prefer universities to set their own GPA minimums.

4) Federally mandated ceiling on the price of tuition, tied to inflation and/or cost of living as appropriate. I like this option the least. It is better than doing nothing: much better. However, the response will be unpredictable: loss of tenure, or making tenure track jobs (which are already very difficult to get) even harder to get? Even more overworked adjuncts? Firing administrators with disgustingly bloated salaries? Treat Division 1 sports as a pro league and let it finance itself? Lots of solutions there (some good, some bad), but it will fix the problem.

The important thing is that the Obama administration policy will not lower the cost of college. It will make the cost more bearable, and I’m all for that, but it only treats the symptoms, not the disease. We need to fight the disease. If only there were some place we could train medical professionals… I hear it’s too expensive to go to, though.

June 6, 2014

Why John Kerry?

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 4:46 pm

FiveThirtyEight.com has an article about the decline in Obama’s foreign policy approval rating since his election in 2008. It shows that, even as Obama’s general approval rating has fallen, foreign policy approval rating has plummeted much faster. I only attribute this partially to Obama: as Kevin has pointed out, the Presidency is far too big a job for one man, and he needs capable advisers. So, again I ask, why John Kerry for Secretary of State?

Hillary Clinton was even more incomprehensible, but she does (or perhaps did) have foreign cachet thanks to her husband and her own work. She was also seen as a possible front runner for the nomination in 2016, and it’s a post with a lot of visibility, so even from a purely cronyist perspective it made sense.

But John Kerry is not going to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016. I’m pretty confident about that one. He was beaten fairly soundly by George W. Bush in 2004, and I don’t anticipate his name coming up in nomination talks again. His foreign policy record is basically Iran-Contra. That’s a bit unfair — prior to his nomination, he was quite active as an envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq — but he’s not a foreign policy expert. More importantly, he doesn’t have the respect of foreign leaders.

In my opinion, Obama either needed to back Kerry or fire him after that incident. Maybe at a bare minimum, find somebody else to front negotiations with Russia. None of those things have happened.

I am not well versed in modern American politics, and I can’t really offer a compelling choice for Secretary of State, but I know that Kerry needs to be replaced. If Obama himself had lots of knowledge on foreign affairs, okay, then maybe you just need a solid administrator to mind the store. But he doesn’t.

March 31, 2014

At least it’s a small “l”…

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 4:40 am

I took a political test on the internet, for fun, to see if I’m still well to the right of Genghis Khan.

Here were my results.

You are a Liberal. 4 percent of the test participators are in the same category and 44 percent are more extremist than you.

I can’t really argue much with the graph above. It’s a graph, after all. I also think it’s a relatively fair assessment of my political beliefs. Yet I would still consider myself a conservative, on the whole. I think part of the reason I scored so “liberal” is because I purposely weighted my statements for religious freedom. (The test allows you to weight five of the statements.)

I’m definitely interested to see where Kevin ranks on this scale; I would venture he’ll end up to the right of me, but a lot depends on his weighting.

October 16, 2013

I think I need to take a shower now. Possibly in acid.

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 9:24 am

As is well known, my personal politics are to the right of Genghis Khan. So, when a friend of mine recommend I try this quiz, the result was horrifying.

I’m a centrist. (If you take the quiz, I count as a pickup populist.)

Now, obviously, this is incredibly shallow (as all such quizzes are), but I offer a few explanations for why it claims I’ve drifted to the left.

1. I’m an atheist. I’ve written about this before. A decent sized chunk of the GOP platform these days directly or indirectly involves religion.

2. I’m honestly totally okay with gay marriage. Again, my posting history proves this. This is another red-button (hah!) issue with the GOP these days. I am firmly apathetic on most social issues. I do not believe gay marriage will lead to the decay of western civilization — that’s what cell phones are for.

3. I really think there ought to be background checks when purchasing firearms. While Kevin will undoubtedly counter with something like “do you also want them for kitchen knives, you pinko commie?”, I’m not advocating repealing the 2nd Amendment. I just want psychopaths or criminals to be killing people with swords and not guns. Because that would be awesome.

In all seriousness, it is physically and psychologically more difficult for human beings to stab/slice/dismember one another than it is to shoot them. Think of the current debates around drone warfare, as an example. Therefore, unless you’re relatively sane and/or haven’t been caught at a crime yet, I say stick to close quarters combat. It works better for everyone that way.

Also, I cannot emphasize this enough: swords need to make a comeback.

4. There are only two real options in the USA — Republican or Democrat. There was no checkbox for “enlightened despotism.” If Frederick the Great showed up today and said, “look, I’ll make America even more awesome, only we have to get rid of democracy”, I would immediately sign up.

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