Archive for November, 2011

NEWS LINKS: Fired school chief got $900,000, still wants jobless benefits

by Staff Monkeys

  • In Philadelphia, the city school superintendent was given a settlement of almost a million dollars when she was fired earlier this year. Apparently, she’s having trouble making ends meet, because this poor ol’ jobless woman has filed for unemployment benefits. The school board had agreed as part of her settlement not to oppose her unemployment claim.
  • People don’t necessarily become criminals because they’re the smartest people around. A Colorado man burst into a Kansas couple’s home as police were chasing him and he held the couple hostage. The man offered the couple money in exchange for hiding him, so they fed him snacks and watched movies with him until he want to sleep — at which point they escaped and called police. The kidnapper doesn’t think that’s fair, so he’s suing for breach of oral contract.
  • A new Gallup poll shows that Newt Gingrich is the current leader in intensity of support for the Republican presidential nomination, maintaining his position as the latest GOP flavor of the week. This particular poll measures intensity of support for candidates, and it shows that the intensity of support for Mitt Romney is the lowest its been so far. It seems that Republicans are looking for almost anyone they can turn to other than Romney. (Don’t get your hopes up. The always-accurate Monkey Poll can assure you that Ron Paul isn’t going to be that candidate. Sorry.)

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Don’t be surprised when an insane system produces narcissistic leaders

by David McElroy

If you dig beneath the surface of most politicians, you’ll find a narcissist. Once you understand who narcissists really are — and what it is they crave — there’s nothing surprising about it. The only surprise is how few people notice it.

For more than 20 years, I’ve worked with dozens of politicians. By dealing with them in very stressful situations — when their careers and egos are on the line — I’ve seen sides of many of them that the public never sees. So I’m willing to say without question that most of them are narcissists. Most of them honestly believe the world revolves around them and their needs.

In casual conversation, we think of narcissists as those who are in love with themselves, but the reality is much different. A narcissist craves attention and love and respect, but he’s secretly empty on the inside. He projects a false self to the world in order to get what’s sometimes called “narcissistic supply.” He’s like an emotional vampire who desperately needs other people’s attention and admiration to survive. (You can read much more than you’ll probably ever want to know about narcissism here.)

So is it any surprise that people who crave attention and admiration from others gravitate to politics? Of course not. To these people, the entire world revolves around them and their desperate needs. They matter. Other people don’t. They can be charming and manipulative when they need to be — when they need to impress you or make you love them, so you’ll give them the attention and love they crave.

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Lesson for John McCain’s ’08 voters: The lesser of two evils is still evil

by David McElroy

People frequently tell me that they don’t really support either the Republican or Democratic candidate for president, but that they’re choosing the lesser of the two evils. That’s what conservatives tended to say in 2008 when they voted for the contemptible John McCain.

It’s true that Barack Obama hasn’t been great for people who love liberty, but it’s just as true that McCain would have been a disaster. Just look what he’s trying to do right now in the U.S. Senate.

McCain is pushing a bill that would give the president the power to snatch any American of his choosing and sending him to a military prison for a military trial — just by claiming he’s a possible terrorist. That means if a president doesn’t like you or me or anyone else, all he has to do is tell the military to collect us and send us to Guantanamo or anywhere else of his choosing. On the floor of the Senate today, McCain is reacting angrily to efforts by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to delete this insane clause.

This is the sort of thing we would expect in the sort of dictatorships that we’ve traditionally opposed. However you try to dress it up as being about national security, this bill is evil. And McCain is the biggest backer of the bill.

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NEWS LINKS: Lack of interpreter leaves deaf man jailed for 25 days

by Staff Monkeys

  • A Colorado county is facing a lawsuit after it arrested a deaf man and left him in jail for 25 days because it didn’t have a deaf interpreter. Police broke down the door of a motel room where the deaf man and his girlfriend were engaged in a dispute. The pair were “verbalizing sounds” while arguing, apparently in sign language. When the man didn’t respond to police commands that he didn’t understand, they tackled him and then spent the next 25 days in jail — without even knowing why he was in jail.
  • If you think your identity information is safe in the hands of the state, think again. Two New Jersey DMV workers have been arrested for selling the identities of motorists for as little as $200. We don’t trust the government with our identities, but we don’t mind if they take our pictures, because you humans think we all look alike.
  • The state of Washington is about to make life much more painful for people in chronic pain. New state rules are making it tougher for doctors to write prescriptions for patients who need a lot of pain medication, so pain clinics have pretty much stopped taking new patients — and some are even turning away old patients.

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Will I run for office? The short answer is ‘no’; the longer answer is ‘no way’

by David McElroy

I’ve been reading your articles in the last two weeks and find myself agreeing with what you say. Have you ever thought about running for office? We need people like you!

Have I thought about it? Yes. Do I have any intention of doing it now? No.

There was a time in the past when I believed it was possible to bring about change through the electoral political system, so I was seriously interested in running for office. Or maybe I was simply still egotistical enough to believe that maybe I could make a difference. Either way, I don’t believe now it’s possible to solve the problems, both because of the size of the problems and because of the nature of the voting public.

Even if I thought it might be possible — in the pragmatic sense — to fix things, I’ve come to the conclusion that the entire system of choosing a person to “run the country” is pretty darned immoral. (I know we have Congress to technically make the laws, but you know what I mean.) I’m happy to have you join us. If you stick around (and maybe poke through older articles), I think my position on this will become more clear. Either way, you flatter me by suggesting the possibility. Thanks.

I am currently a sophomore enrolled at [Big Name] University. I am currently in a Political Science course, in which I have to write a paper explaining the purpose of radical thought in our political tradition. I read a few of your columns on radical ideas and I was curious to see what role you think radical thought plays in U.S politics. Thanks in advance.

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Here’s the jobs growth Obama promised—in federal workers

by David McElroy

Never let it be said that Barack Obama hasn’t delivered on any promises. He promised more jobs, and he’s delivered. The only problem is that those jobs are the ones we want the least — government employees, the kind we have to pay for.

Economist Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University put together this chart showing the trend of federal employment over the last decade. You can see the sharp uptick in the last three years. She comments:

“On net, since January 2008, federal employment has increased by 85,000 – counter to the movements of employment in state and local governments and in the private sector.  In aggregate statistics such as the unemployment rate, this increase has obscured harsh private sector job losses.”

The good news — if you want to look at it that way — is that 85,000 additional people have jobs. The bad news is that taxpayers are having to pay for these unproductive jobs. The further bad news is that the productive part of the economy is doing even worse than the unemployment numbers suggest, because this unproductive hiring masks the number of true job losses.

When are the neo-Keynesians calling the shots in Washington going to accept that their economic voodoo doesn’t work?

NEWS LINKS: Kansas teen says she won’t apologize for ‘mean’ tweet

by Staff Monkeys

  • The Kansas high school student who made news last week for making critical remarks on Twitter about Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has decided she’s not going to apologize for her tweet. Although she only had a few dozen followers when she made the remark, the governor’s staff found out about it and sent a complaint when got back to the 18-year-old’s principal. She now has more than 5,400 Twitter followers because of the publicity.
  • The U.S. military campaign to win friends and make the world safer continues to do just the opposite after an incident in Pakistan which killed 28 Pakistani troops. Whatever really happened, lots of people in Pakistan are angry and have taken to the streets to express their rage — burning American flags and and effigy of Barack Obama. (At least in that respect, maybe they’re just as angry with him as many Americans are.)
  • Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination received a boost in New Hampshire over the weekend as the state’s largest newspaper endorsed him. The newspaper’s editorial said the country was in need of “innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership,” but still endorsed Gingrich anyway. We wonder whether it was all a big typo.

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Black Friday orgy of consumerism makes me very uncomfortable

by David McElroy

There’s a war in this country between people in love with consumerism and those who seem dead set on stopping it. I’m a conscientious objector in that war, because I’m not on either side. I defend the right of people to be as shallow and materialistic as they want to be, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

Few things symbolize our consumer culture the way the Christmas buying season does, and the focal point of that season seems to be the traditional opening — the day after Thanksgiving that we’ve come to call Black Friday.

Three days ago, I wrote about the efforts of anti-consumer activists — who I’d say are downright socialist in their orientation — to stop people from buying from major companies on Black Friday this year. The people waiting in line for a Black Friday sale here Thursday night certainly didn’t believe that big companies were dictating anything to them. It’s when I look at these two groups — the materialist-oriented throngs of shoppers on one side and the anti-consumerist socialist activists on the other — that I realize just how ambivalent I really am about this. I don’t like or agree with either side.

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NEWS LINKS: New study gives more reason to doubt global warming

by Staff Monkeys

  • For 40 years, various environmentalists have made dire predictions about how bad things were going to get — pretty much immediately — if everyone didn’t listen to them and follow their prescriptions about how to re-order society and the economy. Those predictions never have proved accurate, but it doesn’t stop them from making even more claims. The latest study about climate change says we’re still going to see “drastic changes,” but it claims the risk isn’t as immediate as the previous alarmists have claimed. How many times do they get to cry “wolf” before they lose credibility?
  • Even though cost estimates have tripled for California’s high-speed rail project — before anything is even built — the state says it’s going to go forward with the massively expensive project, even though it won’t be finished before 2033 at the earliest. If they’re currently admitting the project will cost $98 billion, it’s a sure bet that it will cost five times that much if it’s ever finished. File this one under “boondoggle.”
  • In China, the government is tired of paying to educate students in subjects that don’t provide useful jobs to graduates, so it’s announced it will be slashing various majors in Chinese universities. Among the first to go are psychology, U.S. history and military technology.

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Creating new enemies: Latest crisis points to need to end Afghan war

by David McElroy

Why are U.S. troops still in Afghanistan? Can anybody come up with a coherent, logical and pragmatic reason? I can’t. All I know is that the longer they stay, the more we’re turning former allies into enemies.

Early Saturday morning, U.S. forces killed 28 Pakistani soldiers, but that’s about as far as agreement goes on what happened. The Pakistani government claims the attack was unwarranted and unprovoked. An unidentified western official claims the attack on the Pakistanis was self-defense. In the meantime, Pakistanis are in the streets protesting, as you see above. I don’t know who’s right. We’ll probably never know the facts. Either way, though, we’re managing to turn millions and millions of people against us. Isn’t it time to declare the mission over and pull out?

The stated purposed for invading Afghanistan was to destroy terrorist training facilities in the country and to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. Well, bin Laden is dead and we’ve destroyed the facilities that concerned us. We’re not going to accomplish anything else, contrary to the bluster of various politicians about completing the mission.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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