Steel City Cowboy

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Some True Stifling of Dissent

I'm used to hearing leftists whine that their dissent is being stifled when someone in the government criticizes them or verbally disagrees with their viewpoint in a high profile manner. Their claims look even sillier than usual though, when contrasted with the real deal:

Last year, the corrupt and insulated Pennsylvania legislature, with the help of some in the judiciary, gave themselves a pay raise, in direct contradiction to Pennsylvania law. As pay raises cannot take effect until the next term begins, lawmakers gave themselves immediate "unvouchered expense" accounts to bridge the gap. Lovely.

The Pennsylvania media - mainstream newspapers, local talk radio, blogs - all went ballistic. People who generally didn't pay much attention to the slimy actions of their elected representatives had little choice but to hear about the whole thing, and they were pissed. Months of continuous pressure from the aforementioned sources resulted in the legislature repealing the pay raise and in many reps giving back the unvouchered expense money they had already received. There is a pending lawsuit demanding the return of the rest of the money. The incident has also sparked a number of groups, like Pennsylvania Clean Sweep, who are attempting to mount a massive "throw the bums out" campaign. I hope they succeed.

Now, though, it looks like the legislature is preparing to fire back. This article from WTAE-TV claims that Pennsylvania lawmakers are attempting to gut local newspapers' revenue streams. Un-freaking-believable. These people have absolutely no sense of who is working for whom here.

You work for us, you sons of bitches, and don't forget it. You obviously did not learn your lesson when you got your greedy asses smacked for giving yourselves a pay raise in a midnight session last year. And now you're directly retaliating against newspapers?! Are you completely insane? A lot of people can argue fine points of what the First Amendment applies to and what it doesn't, but I a sneaking suspicion it applies to things like, oh... newspapers and citizens writing articles about lawmakers who have been stealing our money.

Good luck at the polls.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How the United States is not Germany

It has come to my attention that certain people still make the direct and serious comparison, despite it's prima facie silliness, of President George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler, and of the United States to pre-WWII Germany. I began a response email to one such person, and found that it turned out well, so here it is. Something for the folks who just don't seem to get it...

Post WWI Germany was a grim and embittered place. There was a huge amount of resentment amongst Germans for the power they had lost on the world stage since the debacle of the Great War. Their currency was horribly devalued (I'm sure you remember from your school days the cartoon picture of the German person taking a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread, etc.). They had had their pride completely destroyed as a national movement. Many Germans actively wanted and advocated for an actual dictator, thinking that facism was the only way back to world prominence.

Now, I don't know about you, but it's my viewpoint that even the poorest Americans have large TVs in their houses and expanded basic cable. They're fat, which means they have plenty of food. Stuff is cheap. We are not anywhere close the financial situation of Post-WWI Germany. Anyone who thinks we are is clearly lacking in their grasp of history and of the current standards of living in the United States.

Also, I don't see anyone wanting George Bush to be our dictator. Really. A lot of leftists say that he acts like a dictator, but those accusations are basically silly, as comparing the actions of the administration as a whole to the actions of any dictatorial regime in history will show. In fact, the best argument against that viewpoint is that those critics who say such things haven't been hauled away in leg irons because, well, that's what dictators do to their critics.

Nazi propaganda placed the blame for all of that not on the German people themselves, but on the Jews. It also put forward the notion that Hitler was Germany's last hope against the infiltrations and machinations of the evil Jews.

While the Republican party does contend that most Democrats are soft on national security, that is a far cry from the old Nazi line. Clearly, there are many people on both sides of the political divide who are capable of running our executive branch in a manner that enhances our national security. It is to the Democrats shame that their last Presidential nomination was NOT one of the people. If John Kerry had been even remotely believable about national security, he probably would have won. But his actual unsuitability to the situation does not mean that the other side was claiming that George Bush is our last hope against the invading Muslims. Indicating (correctly) that one person is unsuitable is not the same as saying that you are the sole person who is.

In fact, I'm still waiting for the administration to say that: "George Bush is America's last hope against Muslims." I haven't heard it yet, and as such, the comparison to Hitler will have to wait just that much longer.

In addition to everything else he did, Hitler was a populist. He promised something to basically every group in the country. In contrast, GW does not mind pissing off his opponents. I think that he kind of has "a thing" for it, actually. I know that I do. Now, were GW promising the lefties their socialist utopia, and the righties their isolationist dreamworld at the same time, we'd know he was pandering. Unfortunately for that point of view, GW has delivered on much of what he promised in his campaigns, and it has made him very unpopular with a lot of people, the exact opposite of what Hitler was doing.

Hitler was a brilliant speaker. He could work a crowd like Marshal Mathers. President Bush might be a lot of fun at a cookout, but I've personally seen the guy speak, and he's no Hitler. As an orator, he's only so-so. Probably subpar, if we're being honest. He won't be selling any used cars, so the "power of personal persuasion" thing that Hitler had goes right out the window for GW.

And finally, the stupidest part of the argument that George Bush is somehow like Hitler, and that the U.S. is similar to pre-WWII Germany: Stormtroopers. Oh, we've heard the talking heads refer to certain people or groups as "brownshirts" or "stormtroopers" or the "gestapo", but let's remember for a second what these groups did in Germany. They kidnapped German citizens from their homes, from their jobs and off the street. They kidnapped ("arrested") dissenters, critics, and anyone they thought might disagree with them. They took them to prison. Then they tortured them. Then they killed them. That's it. And it wasn't like this only happened at the end. ("Oh it's coming!" the leftists say.) This was how Hitler and his squad rose to power. When other tactics failed, they silenced their opposition through brutal physical intimidation.

It seems to me that people who makes comparisons like this have lost all sense of magnitude. To them, an official statement that the administration disagrees with an opponent's position is the same as an actual abduction. After all, it's an attempt to "silence dissent."

But what they fail to realize is that degree really does matter. There is a big difference between shooting someone with a water gun and a shotgun. But, as we've seen in the ludicrous "zero tolerance policies" enacted in school districts, leftists can't seem to tell the difference, nor do they even want to. If you gave me the choice, I'd pick being shot with the water gun. But to hear many leftists today, you can almost picture them saying "It might as well be the shotgun. Shooting me with a water gun will crush my will to respond anyway, so what's the difference?" Well, at least I picture them saying that. Then I laugh.

You want to say that the U.S. is like Germany just before the Nazis took hold? Be my guest. Just be sure to back it up with... something. Personally, I think that's a little like fishing not just without bait, but without a rod, reel and boat, too. Good luck with that!