Sunday, March 21, 2010

An exercise in futility: "Throw the bums out!"

My friend Billy Beck writes,
I keep hearing about how this DeathCare deal will be the end of the Democrats in November. I cannot think of a single reason why that should matter, and there are many why it doesn't. (For instance: when this thing is in the bag and done, who do you think is going to come along and take it all apart? Like Medicaid, for instance? {snort} Stop with the comedy, already. You will go to your grave carrying this rock.)
Jack Gargan's movement that began in 1990, and the "Contract with America" nonsense of 1994, really did a lot to restore liberty to this land, huh?

There's a line in Heinlein's novel Friday:

"If the horse can't jump the hurdle, shoot the horse. Keep on doing this and eventually you will find a horse that can clear the jump -- if you don't run out of horses. This is the sort of plausible pseudologic that most people bring to political affairs. It causes one to wonder if mankind is capable of being well governed by any system of government."

This was in an exchange discussing the assassination of bad public officials, but it still applies to Americans' notions of voting out bad politicians. Tea Partiers and other similar groups figure that eventually they'll elect someone "good" and undo what bad people had created. History has shown, though, that this trial-and-error has never worked, and if you think about it a little, there's a very good reason it never will.

Ask yourself what this "hurdle" is. It is governing, which can indeed be done "well" -- in that the people are restrained (to whatever end) by government. It only takes enough force to do that, because "governing" in all cases, without exception, is merely rule. (Note to Billy: it took me until a couple of years ago to realize "in all cases, without exception.") And the last sentence is no problem, because anyone can be "well governed" if he submits.

Libertarians like to talk about "restraining those who violate life, liberty and property," but as an ex-libertarian I must ask, why does a government need to apply to me, since I violate no one's rights in the first place? The very reason, the only reason, for the state's existence is because I and others refuse to surrender our lives, our liberty, our conscience, to the decisions of others. I don't need to force others in anything, because I will use peaceful mutual exchange to get things from others. Virtually all of society, however, cannot get what they want from me without force. Thus they band together, calling it a "government." There is actually no shortage of people who can do that "effectively," whether forming the government in the first place or acting as its "officials," and it's really quite easy to do:
Give us what we demand, cried out the multitude, lest we seize it by force.

And the merchant replied, Depart in peace while ye yet can, for ye have no right to my possessions save with my consent, and as I have done no wrong to any man, none of ye have any authority to seize any of my possessions.

Behold, cried out his neighbors with one voice, that we have declared ourselves a government, and as such we have given ourselves the authority.

The merchant replied, Ye have no authority, for one cannot give authority unto oneself.

That matters not, they replied and began to grumble, for we are a greater number than thee and thy family, and because of our greater numbers, we have decided that thou shalt pay us tribute.
The paradox is that when voters cast their ballots and call it "democracy," they're not setting a "hurdle" for an election winner to follow. It's the election winner that will make them jump hurdles, And when any particular citizen-subject cannot clear the hurdle that has been set for "the people," then the government need have no compunction at all to dispose of him.

Once you understand the nature of government, the futility of voting in someone "good" becomes evident. It isn't possible to receive anything "good" from a system that is fundamentally based on forcing others against their peaceful wills. The only way to make government "better" is to restrain that, and it can't be done from within. It can only be done by individuals on the outside.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Attention idiots and other race-baiters: you can leave the whole planet now

Many Americans, certainly every black person and race-baiter, has heard about the Wal-Mart "incident" in Turnersville, New Jersey, several days ago: someone got on the PA system and said, "Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now." If you watch the video, some utter moron actually dialed 911 (or said he did) over this!

This morning, the Yahoo News article was updated to say an arrest was made. Right now it doesn't say who, but according to ABC News, Wal-Mart suspected a customer. Fox News merely mentions a 12 p.m. news conference.

From the start, my money has been on a non-employee. It could have been an employee looking to create trouble, but race-baiters not only seize on this very sort of thing, they could have created it themselves using the easily accessible PA systems.

Look at the "victims" to see just how awful and frightening it was (I say that sarcastically):
"It could have led to violence," Arter told "It could have triggered someone who was having a bad day. I don't want to be an innocent bystander to something because of someone's not-so-funny joke."
What "violence" is she talking about? That everyone not black would suddenly round up the black people? Actually, any risk of "violence" was from black people who'd go ape over the announcement and start causing destruction. Oh dear, was that "racist" to say "go ape" about black people? Then how is it appropriate to use that slang for "going crazy" about white people? Just who are the ones making something into a racist term when it isn't?
"I can't go back in," said Patricia Covington, who was also in the store and spoke to "I went to Target instead. I can't bring myself to go back in there."
That's a lot of baloney and illustrates Americans' general stupidity in using verbs they don't understand. She was still physically capable of returning. She simply didn't want to.
She and her friend Sheila Ellington were checking out when they heard the announcement. An attorney, Ellington is also a member of the Gloucester County Minority Coalition.

Both were frightened, unsure of whether the person on the microphone was going to do something violent.

"This voice was controlled and confident," Ellington told "It didn't appear to be a prank."
"Ellington is "an attorney who specializes in bias," and "she told officers she'd like the incident to be reported as a bias incident as well as harassment." I suppose it was pure coincidence that she was right there, being checked out?

Is she enough of a damn fool that she really thought something serious was about to happen? "It didn't appear to be a prank." Did she really think Wal-Mart was starting to organize something? Does she even have two working brain cells to realize that Wal-Mart would never try such a thing, because of the obvious ramifications?

"Controlled and confident" -- how did she know? Or is that just race-baiting spin to make something worse than it actually was?

NPR's naturally sympathetic coverage:
An African-American who was in the Washington Township store at the time says in the Inquirer that it took five minutes for store management to get on the p.a. to apologize.

"We waited and waited. Some people just left their carts in disgust and said they couldn't believe it," Victoria Arter tells the Inquirer.
Five minutes, really? Did she time it? Yet other news accounts say that a manager "quickly" went on the PA.

At least the caption is correct: that other woman says she was there. If the incident happened at 7 p.m., the sun was about to set even though Daylight Savings Time had just kicked in. So that interviewer, and CNN's, went to "the scene of the crime" long after the fact, stupidly looking for soundbites from anyone who could claim, "Yeah, uh, sure, I was there!"

I just noticed a block of text on the left margin of CNN's article: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc." and "Racism and Bigotry" are two separate links on two separate lines, but bunched together so that you'll think they're one block of text.

We'll see in a couple of hours who's been arrested (with my updates, 80 minutes), but I bet if the person had gotten away with it, this racial Reichstag fire would have been more ammo for the race-baiters to use against Wal-Mart: cash payouts (like when Michael Richards' supposed "victims" were looking to get money out of it), promoting a certain quota of black employees as recompense for the "incident" (who by definition are unqualified if they weren't already being promoted), and cushy "advisory" jobs for locals -- like "an attorney who specializes in bias"?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When will James Sikes come clean?

I will presume that my readers have heard of James Sikes. As of right now, just type jame into Google News' search box, and "james sikes prius" is the third suggested result.

It sounded fishy to me from the start. I IMd a friend on March 8, the day it happened,
The radio news said some guy's Prius outside San Diego started "accelerating out of control" today. The car got up to 90. The driver called 911, and a cop pulled in front of him and braked to slow both cars down. But wait a minute, if the car was still accelerating, what good would that do? And why didn't they tell him to put it in neutral?
It turned out the 911 operator did tell Sikes to shift to neutral, but (the news conflicts here) he ignored it and/or said he couldn't because he was holding his cell phone.

On March 9th, I IMd the same friend,
The more I hear about this, the more I think he was probably caught speeding and made this up. In Southern California, 94 on highways is not much above the norm.

CBS radio news played his 911 call, saying his voice showed terror, but he didn't sound that scared to me.
And that was just the snippet that the mainstream media played for sensationalism and sympathy. The full recording of the 911 call made me smell a rat.

Over at Three Sources, brother JohnGalt linked to Michael Fumento, who's been exposing Sike's lies. I replied,
Thanks for the link, JG. Fumento is the man.

This didn't smell right to me either. At first I thought, "Here's another idiot who doesn't know to push it in neutral," but he was TOLD THAT and yet ignored it. What about the woman who testified before Congress about her Toyota going out of control, yet not so badly that she had time to call her husband? She said she just wanted to hear his voice one last time. Riiiiiight.

From the start, I've been telling a friend that, yeah, there probably are a few genuine cases of a problem, but now everyone's jumping on the bandwagon. The next day, a housekeeper driving her employer's Prius experienced...ta-da! A stuck accelerator!

It's like the swine flu hysteria: a couple of students come back from spring break with the flu, and suddenly entire schools shut down because "hundreds of students complained about flu-like symptoms." On beautiful spring days, no less.

In the San Diego case, the pedal was physically stuck down, the driver said. He also claimed he reached down and tried to pull it back. But an article I saw yesterday very briefly mentioned that when the police examined the car, both pedals were in their resting position.


First, 90 mph on a Southern Cali freeway really isn't much faster than normal.

Second, the guy said he was passing a truck when the accelerator stuck.

Third, the cop was coincidentally in the area, or at least close enough for pursuit.

You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to put it all together: the guy was speeding, saw a cop car or thought he saw one, and figured that "my accelerator stuck" was the way to get out of it, get his name in the news, and maybe get some cash from Toyota. The very moment that the mainstream news^H^H^H^Hpropagandists started the crap, every unscrupulous Toyota owner knew how to extort the company.

There was a guy in the Bronx who recently claimed his new debit card was stolen. A total of $7200 was drained from his account before he alerted Bank of America. His PIN would have also been necessarily stolen, because there were multiple ATM withdrawals. Surveillance cameras showed only that whoever it was wore a hood tightly drawn around his face.

I don't believe the guy for a second. New cards must be activated by calling a number, AND at the least entering the last four digits of your SSN. And if it isn't the phone number registered to your account, you'll probably talk to a live customer service rep and go through further verification. So unless he's had his SSN stolen, and other info to verify his identity, it's basically impossible for a thief to steal and activate the new card.

Bank of America initially refused to reimburse the guy, saying it had every indication of fraud by the customer. But they relented in the face of bad publicity, which was really too bad. Now every BofA customer requesting a new card knows what to do, see?
But now it doesn't look like a way to get out of a speeding ticket. In later comments, Lisa gave these links to Forbes, where Fumento debunked Sikes' claims and reminded us that Sikes "stopped the car on his own," and a Fox News article that shows Sikes as the type I wouldn't trust to discard my used chewing gum.

The NY Daily News has reported:
The story of a runaway Prius appears to be ballooning out of control.

In the wake of a congressional memo that raised doubts about James Sikes' tale concerning his out of control Toyota more than a week ago in California, the 61-year-old now just wants to be left alone.

"We're just fed up with it all," said Patty Sikes, his wife.

Online reports have increasingly called into question aspects of Sikes' claim that the accelerator got stuck and he was unable to stop, and others have delved into his personal finances, revealing that in 2008 he declared bankruptcy with more than $700,000 in debts.

Since the incident, Patty Sikes says she and her husband have received death threats, and that the whole thing has "ruined" their careers.

"Life is just not good anymore," Patty said.

According to the memo, obtained over the weekend by the Associated Press, efforts to duplicate the circumstances with the accelerator described by Sikes to police failed.

"It does not appear to be feasibly possible, both electronically and mechanically, that [Sikes'] gas pedal was stuck to the floor and he was slamming on the brake at the same time," the memo stated, noting that every time they hit the brake the "engine shut off and the car immediately started to slow down."

The investigation did, however, show that the front brake pads had been worn.

"Visually checking the brake pads and rotor it was clearly visible that there was nothing left," it said.

Skepticism over Sikes' harrowing tale, which had him speeding along at upwards of 94 mph on Interstate 8 near San Diego last week, is understandable in the aftermath of the infamous "Balloon Boy" story that saw dozens of media outlets get fooled when the tale turned out to be false.

But as of now, it would appear that Sikes and his wife are not looking for the attention the Heene family allegedly craved.

"Everyone can just leave us alone," Patty Sikes said. "Jim didn't get hurt. There's no intent at all to sue Toyota. If any good can come out of this, maybe they can find out what happened so other people don't get killed."
Other news reports indicate he just wants a new car. Riiiiiight. If my life had been so threatened by a product in good faith, I would have never let this go.

Jalopnik has been revealing even more about Sikes' (alleged) past. This and other exposés explain why Sikes now wants to be left alone. He's been caught.

You should have never pulled this stunt, Sikes. A few people learned the hard way that you're not to be trusted. Now the country -- and people beyond -- know.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Note to ABC: you can all go to hell

I have no love for Cablevision, whose customer service is actually pretty good, but whose tech support is abysmal. They never could explain the occasional, seemingly random outages for three or four hours at a time (and which for all I know could happen more often, when nobody's home). One time the goddamn idiot "technician" on the phone wanted me to reboot my cable box, completely clueless though I repeatedly said I was getting no signal to begin with.

Cablevision can get away with this because they have a monopoly. It isn't because they're the biggest cable company, but because my home county of Westchester has granted them exclusive "rights" over all cable operations. (Because these aren't true rights, I enclosed that word in quotes. The proper word for what's given to people by government is authority.) But I've stuck with Cablevision for nine years because they have the fastest Internet service for the price. Satellite with DSL wouldn't work for me, and even the new FIOS doesn't look promising for me. Verizon claims to be faster but has to compare their $145 monthly plan for broadband to Cablevision's basic $45 plan.

But regarding the "failed negotiations" between Cablevision and ABC, I have to side completely with Cablevision when I say: to hell with you, ABC. Cablevision has been paying $200 million annually to ABC, and ABC has been demanding $240 million. ABC has pulled the plug on the "negotiations" of the last two years, consequently pulling the plug on ABC broadcasts over Cablevision. I woke up this morning to find that ABC made good on its threat.

ABC's pitiful claims like "Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year" are outright lies. Who the hell does ABC think they're kidding? Cablevision's customers may have paid $8 billion last year, but Cablevision hardly "pocketed" it. Certainly its owners made a profit, as they're entitled to, but the bulk of that $8 billion went to pay for operational costs and licenses -- including licenses to ABC for the right to broadcast the programming.

And why won't ABC note that out of that $8 billion, $200 million went just to ABC? Why won't ABC note that they now want $240 million for what's otherwise standard "free" airwaves broadcasting, including commercials?

The more complete quote is, "Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year", and now customers aren't getting what they pay for." That last part is true: I'm not getting what I pay for, because ABC is demanding too much.

"This follows two years of negotiations, during which we worked diligently, up to the final moments, to reach an agreement."

"Rebecca Campbell, President and General Manager WABC-TV," you execrable liar.

The plug could have been pulled at any other time in those two years. Is it a coincidence that it happened right before the Oscars? Now, I couldn't tell you the last time I watched anything on ABC, and I rarely watch awards shows. However, I wanted to see how Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin would do as co-hosts, and I expected Christoph Waltz to receive Best Supporting Actor for his superb portrayal of a charmingly sinister Nazi "detective."

Well, I'm not throwing an antenna on the roof just for the Oscars, so I'll just have to see what I can get online.

Then you have idiots like this: "Cablevision, the Country's fifth largest cable provider, removed ABC from its channel lineup after failing to come to an agreement over fees." No, ABC blocked Cablevision. ABC controls the broadcasting and stopped its signal to Cablevision. How can people be so fucking stupid? If Cablevision could have kept broadcasting, it would.

And just when I thought Regis and Kelly, the self-centered morons who individually or together are the very definition of "insipid," couldn't be any more lacking in gray matter, here's this exchange between two of the biggest idiots ever on television:
Kelly: Have you seen what’s happening here in New York between Cablevision and WABC? I was reading about it today in the paper and I saw it this morning on the news. I couldn’t believe it.

Regis: Starting Monday here in New York, if Cablevision and Channel 7 don’t come to an agreement, viewers will not be able to watch “Regis & Kelly.”

Kelly: That’s right.

Regis: Just a reminder, Cablevision gets paid by the subscribers and Channel 7 is not paid.

Kelly: They’ve been negotiating this -

Regis: For two years now –

Kelly: And apparently, it’s, you know, I always thought our show is free, but apparently, Cablevision subscribers pay for the privilege to watch this. [Laughter]
So why does Cablevision pay $200 million annually to ABC? Is that a charitable contribution? Goddamn airheads. For all we know, post-mortems on them would prove that's literally true.

It's bullshit like this that prove once again how free markets are the only way to go. Having the option for another cable company would demonstrate that ABC's demand for $200 $240 million annually is absurd -- and possible only because the state has destroyed cable competition. Another cable competitor could provide programming à la carte, or at least more channel packages of greater variety, that I and many other viewers want but can't get.