Culturalism · Personal Finance

Money Doesn’t Equal Dignity

“You need money to have human dignity.”

Nowadays we have a lot of public discussion revolving this concept. People claim increasing the minimum wage, expanding healthcare, or offering free education serves to avoid the negative outcome. And that sex workers and porn artistry are “last resorts” for women struggling in a moribund, patriarchal world.

But oddly enough, having more means nothing if your personal code is bankrupt. Take Steven Spielberg. He’s a world famous influencer with a fantastic career, and more money than most could imagine. Yet reality is a cruel mistress.

His adopted daughter, Mikaela, recently came out about her pornography career, which she describes in the following terms:

“I’m doing this, not out of an urge to hurt anybody or be spiteful about it, I’m doing this because I want to honor my body (emphasis added) in a way that’s lucrative.”

Remember, this is the child of a mega-rich Hollywood power couple (who are apparently supportive of her choice). She likely had access to expansive educational, healthcare, and career-oriented resources throughout her life. Even if we want to ascribe the cause to various forms of abuse she experienced growing up, the specific avenue of pornography was certainly not a “last resort” for her in terms of a career, which she admits to pursuing.

So Bernie and Lizbeth can continue waving their hands, but having more means nothing if you possess no dignity.


Culturalism · Personal Finance

The Masks of China

As some of you already know, Xi Jingping was photographed at the Beijing Coronavirus hospital wearing the transmission prevention mask which has become iconic during the crisis. This is while reports suggest he has failed to visit Wuhan, where the outbreak originated.

From what we can see now, there are a few possible takeaways:

1. The virus threat is not serious, and Xi simply has to put up the image of containment, in a (non-malicious) propaganda act.

2. A massive calamity is being covered up in China, but we still need take the Thomas Friedman approach, because their government is honest.

3. It’s the Russians.

Thoughts?

Culturalism

Mitt Romney Has No Conscience

Much has been made of Willard Romney’s decision to vote for the “Abuse of Power” article in the Senate’s impeachment trial. Republicans are angry, while Hollywood leftists can’t stop praising Corporations are People for his brilliant move.

 As it turns out, the actual process remains less interesting than Romney’s justifications. In a speech beforehand and an interview with Fox News, Romney did the prototypical. He appealed to God, the Constitution, and his conscience.

Yet it’s highly doubtful that he has one. Let’s turn back time for a second. In 1994 and 2002, Romney staunchly defended the right to abortion, and then bounced back in 2006 as he prepared to run for president, now “firmly pro-life.”

In 2005, Romney vetoed emergency contraception for rape victims, only to cycle back and support access for all women in 2012.

Romney famously declared “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” but proceeded to defend the Wall Street bailout as a way to prevent an economic meltdown.

For all his love affairs with the Constitution, Romney endorsed waterboarding, denial of Miranda rights, and the Patriot Act. He also responded to a debate question on congressional military authorization by saying “You sit down with your attorneys and tell you watcha have to do”

As if that’s not enough, Romney has been on both sides of the Obamacare and immigration debates.

Then we have Romney’s famous “phony” speech, where he roundly attacked Donald Trump as a fraud. Of course he infamously proceeded to congratulate Trump on winning, and audition for Secretary of State.

But yes, he is a man with a conscience.

Culturalism

No One Cares That You Were "Right"

“He’s been saying the same thing for decades!”

It’s a common theme in politics: roll out the clips of an elder statesman railing against some unholy creation of government or corporations, and use it as reason to vote for them today. After all, he was right.

But no one really cares. When Ron Paul ran in 2008 and 2012, supporters made a big deal of pointing it out. “Ron’s been consistent,” they’d say. “We have to vote for him!”

The result? About 11 percent of the primary ballots, and not even a VP nod.

Fans of Bernie are trying to do the same thing, and on his second national go around he still isn’t wiping the floor with the opposition, at least not on THAT point.

We can explain it simply enough by considering normal human attitudes. When you try to persuade someone who’s convinced otherwise, how frequently do they concede the point? Typically never. And even if you successfully nudge them in the right direction, the chances of getting recognized for it is almost zero. Perhaps the key is to blame human pride, yet that doesn’t make things any better.

Another factor revolves around how the collective outrage consensus shifts over time. A conservative likely saw Ronnie as the best thing ever in 1984, while a Gary Hart supporter probably disagreed. Neither of them knew the precise impact various policies would have, or future economic developments. That’s because 1984 is not 2020, and the most important issues were different at that time. They were blinded by their environment.

Hope should prevail though, because GenZ types will have plenty of TikTok videos to use in their campaign ads for the tech plutocracy.

Culturalism

What Trump Has Accomplished

I am not much for petty electioneering, but at times it becomes obnoxious to hear people proclaim their hated public figure to be “a complete failure,” without evening attempting to consider the facts. They just sit and scream.

In the case of Donald Trump, the prevailing narrative is that he is anti-poor, anti-gay, and anti-woman. As we will see, the actual LEGISLATIVE record puts more than a few chinks in that brilliant and pink progressive armor. One simply has to look.

On Women

Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (Along with the INSPIRE Act, designed to expand number of women in STEM and business)

INSPIRE Women Act (See above)

Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 (Focused on resolving conflict by having women play roles as mediators and mitigators)

Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019 (Meant to eliminate backlog of 100,000 rape kits, overwhelmingly to the service of women victims)

On Veterans

American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 (Provides grants to hire veterans in law enforcement)

Jobs for Our Heroes Act (Makes it easier for veterans to get CDL jobs)

VALOR Act (Expands apprenticeship opportunities for veterans)

Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017 (Helps protect veterans from scams)

Enhancing Veteran Care Act (Reform to improve VA service provision)

Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Revamping of VA claims process)

On Criminal Justice

Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (Focused on reducing violent crime through use of Rapid DNA system)

Justice Served Act of 2018 (Meant to reduce DNA backlog in criminal investigations)

INTERDICT Act (Action against drug smuggling related to the opioid crisis)

Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (Directed against sex trafficking on the internet)

Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017 (Additional protections for victims of trafficking)

Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (Expands certain Medicaid services, while providing penalties for companies that misclassify drugs)

Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 (Restricts printing of SS numbers on official agency mail)

Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (Ensures the compilation of information on, and institutes penalties for, elder abuse)

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018 (Creates the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency)

Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018 (Modifies restitution laws for victims of child pornography)

Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 (Reforms juvenile justice system, preventing children from being held in state prisons, and working to reduce racial disparities)

First Step Act of 2018 (Major reform of federal prison system and sentencing rules)

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (Increases penalties for animal abuse and torture)

On Taxes and Retirement

Taxpayer First Act (Reform of IRS appeals and tax enforcement)

SECURE Act (Substantial overhaul of retirement rules, allowing Americans to save more over their lifetimes)

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Historic reductions in taxes for individuals and corporations; also simplifies tax filing with deduction rules)

On Healthcare

National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018 (Improves suicide hotline structure)

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017 (Advances research into hearing loss or hearing issues in infants)

Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (Eliminates pharmacy “gag clauses” which result in Americans paying more for prescription drugs than necessary)

Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 (Similar pharmacy reform for Medicare/Medicaid)

SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (Opioid crisis response legislation)

Action on AIDS treatment

On Science and Technology

Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (Addresses marine debris issue)

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (Improves waterway infrastructure throughout the country)

National Quantum Initiative Act (Creates national plan for advancement of quantum tech, including quantum computing)

Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (Improvements to weather data accumulation and forecasting)

Culturalism

The Power of Chant Warfare

While in college, I wrote a piece about the futility of “respectable discourse” in the modern age. I pointed out that those who practice such behavior are made out as suckers and left to drown in the popular swill of rage.

To be quite sullen, I think I was correct. We have already long witnessed the analysis of “post-truth politics”, although this descriptor implies a nostalgic longing for some better time, which probably never existed. You can cycle back and study the 1800 election for good measure.

The better general term to use is “Chant Warfare.” Whenever someone attempts to inject reality into a discussion, the normal response is to hoot and holler until they cannot be heard.

Think back to Occupy Atlanta and their “agenda.”

Consider being a representative supporting Obamacare, or one desiring to replace it. The advanced human species will ensure you have a reasoned discussion.

Best of all, try presenting facts to the caravan of paranoid Del Spooners who want a paycheck. The floodgates will gush.

The danger lies with how these “Scream first, listen after ten years” attitudes will play out in November. If their guy, gal, or someone in the trans community fails to make the Oval, what happens next?

Culturalism

The Impoundment Act Is Unconstitutional

Trump broke the law.

That’s the shrill new screech echoing in the footsteps of the GAO report, which claims his administration was a bit naughty when it withheld foreign aid to the government of Ukraine. According to the GAO, this constitutes a violation of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

Of course this output presents a critical question: how has the federal law on impoundment not been ruled unconstitutional?

As a bit of background, the legislation was passed under the administration of President Nixon to curtail congressional rage over his “setting aside” of money he did not believe in spending. To be clear, Nixon was not vetoing the spending, but simply declining to release it for specific programs.

The Act simply represented another attempt by Congress to keep the coffers flowing and hamstring the president into agreeing to “all or nothing.” We see the consequences regularly today with Trump signing massive spending bills because there is no way to pick and choose based on practicality or need.

Supporters of impoundment restrictions will point to the alleged supremacy of the legislature, but history undermines them sharply if we assume the branches are co-equal.

For instance, Congress passed the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, giving the president power to pick and choose what he would accept from appropriations. Bill Clinton used this mechanism 82 times to help bring the budget under control, but the legislation was struck down by a liberal-conservative SCOTUS majority in Clinton v. City of New York, which concluded that the president must to accept all or nothing with spending bills.

In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer noted:

“does not violate any specific textual constitutional command, nor does it violate any implicit Separation of Powers principle.”

Now, if we stick with the court’s majority opinion that Congress’ power to spend cannot be moderated or limited save on a “take it or leave it” basis without a constitutional amendment, then how exactly is it permissible for them to turn around and restrict the president’s power to release funds using only a legislative act?

It’s time to challenge the Impoundment Act before the Supreme Court.