Saturday Night Live On Rational Irrationality

Saturday Night Live did a cute skit this weekend on how undecided voters know nothing about politics. It’s actually an excellent demonstration of rational irrationality – most people are ignorant and irrational about politics because there is little incentive for them to be otherwise.

I think most viewers assumed the joke was at the expense of a few comically ignorant voters, but actually the joke is on everyone who thinks their vote matters. The election will certainly be decided by ignorant and irrational voters, so any effort you put in to actually understanding the issues is totally wasted, as far as the electoral result is concerned – you will get the same President that these ignorant, irrational voters choose regardless of how much effort you invest in understanding the issues.

Open Question For Republicans

Publicola:

Bush & the current crop of republicans are in love with the idea of power. They also seem to think that bigger government is okay when they’re in control. The “who else are they gonna vote for?” attitude seems to be alleviating any fears of repercussions for their actions.

That’s a fair observation, but:

Who else are you gonna vote for?

Let’s see:
Democrats? No, too evil.
Libertarians? No, too crazy and too loser-y.
Other third parties? No, see “Libertarians” above.

Well.

Looks like you-all will be reluctantly going to the polls in November ’08 and making your marks beside whoever (and note that it doesn’t really matter who) has a big “R” beside his or her name, and the reason is that whoever it is won’t be quite as bad as whoever has the “D” by their name.

Not quite.

But don’t go thinking that they’ll be “good”, any more than George Bush has been “good”. All that they’ll be is not a Democrat. And for the vast majority of you, that’ll be good enough.

For the few of you who think otherwise though, you might want to consider a different course of action.

A Vocational Chat With Voters

I thought it time we had a little talk. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve called you here this evening. Well, you see, I’m not entirely satisfied with your performance lately. I’m afraid your work’s been slipping and…

…and, well, I’m afraid we’ve been thinking about letting you go.

Oh, I know, I know, you’ve been with the company a long time now. Almost… let me see. Almost ten thousand years! My word, doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday… I remember the day you commenced your employment, swinging down from the trees, fresh-faced and nervous, a bone clasped in your bristling fist…

“Where do I start, sir?” you asked, plaintively.

Well we’ve certainly come a long way since then, haven’t we? And yes, yes, you’re right, in all that time you haven’t missed a day. Well done thou good and faithful servant. Also please don’t think I’ve forgotten about your outstanding service record or about all of the invaluable contributions you’ve made to the company…. fire, the wheel, agriculture… it’s an impressive list, old-timer. A jolly impressive list, don’t get me wrong.

But… well… to be frank, we’ve had our problems too. There’s no getting away from it. Do you know what I think a lot of it stems from? I’ll tell you… It’s your basic unwillingness to get on within the company. You don’t seem to wan to face up to any real responsibility or be your own boss. Lord knows you’ve been given plenty of opportunities. We’ve offered you promotion time and time again, and each time you’ve turn us down. “I couldn’t handle the work, Guv’nor” you wheedled, “I know my place.”

To be frank, you’re not trying, are you?

You see, you’ve been standing still for far too long and it’s starting to show in your work. And I might add, in your general standard of behavior. The constant bickering on the factory floor has not escaped our attention. Nor recent bouts of rowdiness in the staff canteen. Then of course there’s… hmm, well, I really didn’t want to have to bring his up but I’ve been hearing some disturbing rumors about your personal life. No, never mind who told me. I understand that you are unable to get on with your spouse. I hear that you argue, I am told that you shout. Violence has been mentioned. I am reliably informed that you always hurt the one you love. The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.

And what about he children? It’s always the children who suffer, as you’re well aware. Poor little mites. What are they to make of it?

It’s no good blaming the drop in work standards on bad management either, though to be sure the management is very bad. In fact let’s not mince words: The management is terrible. We’ve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars, and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is a plain fact.

But who elected them?

It was you. You who appointed these people. You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you. While I’ll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate. You have encouraged these malicious incompetents who have made your working life a shambles. You have accepted without question their senseless orders. You could have stopped them. All you had to say was “No”.

You have no spine. You have no pride.

You are no longer an asset to the company.

image

From V For Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Consent of About Half

[T]o secure [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . Declaration of Independence.

As a market anarchist, I have no problem with this statement.

The problem is when “consent of the governed” actually isn’t consent. Iraq’s constitution is a good example of “consent” in action. 63% of Iraq’s adult populace turned out, 78% voted in favour. That’s 49%. 49% of the adult population just bound the other 51% (and their children) to a form of governance they did not choose, and in 2.5m cases, actively rejected. This is consent of the governed?

We are the people of Iraq, who in all our forms and groupings undertake to establish our union freely and by choice . . . Preamble, Constitution of Iraq, AP translation (emphasis mine).

Or not, as the case may be.

Voting: Not Good For Your Health

Why? Because an indefinite detention at an undisclosed location isn’t good for your health, either:

CTV.ca | Elections Canada wants right to share voter list

OTTAWA — The chief electoral officer says he might be willing to break the law by sharing the confidential federal voters list if he thought it would help public safety or security.

That’s what you get for voting, suckers: another chance to get your name ran through the famously-accurate Homeland Security Terrorist Database.

I’ve Got Better Things To Do

Sunni Maravillosa points to a guest editorial in the Seattle PI:

Besides, don’t you find it somehow empowering to see your neighbors voting? Isn’t it a good reminder that we’re all in this together? I’ve always thought that the polling station is one of those few places where you can actually see democracy working in its pure form.

Our lives are so complex. Shouldn’t we at least keep a special day with a simple, distinct ritual that symbolizes the system we’re proud of?

I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.

The shallow bubbly praise of voting contrasts quite nicely with the fact that it was only a few months ago that the Washington State Governor’s race was a front-page fiasco, don’t you think?

“You can’t beat going to the polls”, says the valiant pundit. I think I in fact can:

I could wash my car in the rain
Change my new guitar strings
Mow the yard just the same
As I did yesterday
I don’t need to waste my time
Crying over you
I’ve got better things to do

Maybe when I don’t have so much going
Or quite so many irons in the fire
I’ll take the time to miss you like you’re hoping
But now I can’t put forth the effort it requires
Well I’d love to talk to you
But then I’d miss Donahue
That’s right I’ve got better things to do

Check the air in my tires
Straighten my stereo wires
Count the stars in the sky
Or just get on with my life
I don’t need to waste my time
Crying over you
I’ve got better things to do
I’ve got better things to do yeah
— Terri Clark, I’ve Got Better Things To Do

Every Vote Counts, Right?

In Washington state, not so much:

SEATTLE — As the results of 2004’s general election are being contested in court halfway across the state, two people pleaded guilty Thursday to voting twice in the election.

Doris McFarland, 83, and Robert Holmgren, 59, each admitted in King County District Court that they forged the signatures of and cast ballots for their recently deceased spouses.

Maybe, Voter, you ought to try your hand at something where you don’t lose out to dead people.

Apathy, um, wins?

After a 19.7% voter turnout resulted in the incumbent mayor being on top in the local primaries, with 34% of that 19.7%, the local free paper ran the headline, “Apathy Wins”.

Um, no, folks, if you took notice of the fact that apathy won by a 4:1 landslide, there would be no mayor, nor city government for that matter. Those who vote for “please just leave me alone” are never permitted to just drink their own beer, and they never will be, as long as electoral politics allow the few to rule the many.

lung’s adorable platform

(lung is using john’s account. john is not using it right now)

hi! this is lung.

lung loves w. w. loves lung. but lung is worried about what will happen to america after w. stops being president. there are bolsheviks all around! (john kerry is a bolshevik. michael more is a big fat bolshevik. he has a pointy bolshevik hat with a big red star.) thinking about america without w. to protect it makes lung sad.

w. will have to stop being president because the consitution says he has to. lung thought about changing the constitution (it is easy! for lung.) but w. told lung that the constitution was given to america by the fee masons and the angle in the whirlwind so not to change it. lung understands about esoteric stuff. (lung is soror l.u.n.g. in the Order Templar Orientis and is also little sister lung in a hong kong social club called “triad”. she is a secret oath-bound lung!*) so lung will not change the consitution. but what about the bolshie hordes? what about poor little america?

so next election lung has decided to throw her donut in the ring! lung will run for president (also lung will run for vice-president, and congress, and everthing else. it will be the lung party. the lung party will be held at a location TBDL, bring your phat beats and glowsticks!) lung urges all her friends to endorse lung. (with donuts) do not worry about election finance laws. those laws were written by bolsheviks. nobody has to obey laws written by bolsheviks. they are not real laws.

LUNG’S ADORABLE PLATFORM

1. lung is a self-sufficient weapons system. this will save a lot of money if lung is president, and vice-president, and congress. goodbye irs! (they are all bolsheviks anyway)

2. billy beck will be named head of the new Homeland Groove Department.

3. martin mcphillips will be named head of the drug enforcement administration.

4. all the laws against drugs will be repealed. they are all written by bolsheviks anyway. (this will be a good joke on martin! dont tell him! tee-hee) the world is approaching the “dwell point”, the strange attractor, the archaic shamanic revival where all the children and the tribal wise men will eat mushrooms and stuff in icky old huts.

this is a bad thing.

the lung administration will encourage patriotic americans to stay alert against shamen and tribal children and dwell points by entering the beautiful crystal palace of western rationality.the beautiful crystal palace is shiny and happy and artificial and chemical and smells like perfume and matchheads. stay awake – no shamen allowed!

5. lung does not completely understand plank #4 of her platform. john wrote it. once lung found a big chunk of funny-smelling crystal rationality in a trailer in montana. (it was marked “property of montana militia”) lung gave it to clintor. clinton put the rationality in a funny-looking glass thing and smoked it. then he bombed serbia. lung does not understand. (john says tim leary and terrence mckenna were secret bolsheviks with pointy hats and that we must stay perpetually alert to their archaic menace.)

6. the capitol dome will be painted pink with hello kitty on it. lung loves hello kitty.

yay! it will be an adorable campaign. (except maybe not for anybody running against lung. maybe they should just stay home) best of all, after president lung’s term is up, vote for president another lung! and lung! (no, lung does not know which lung. all the lungs look alike to lung. bye!)

footnotes;

*lung is also a secret member of skull and bones. her secret skull and bones name is “lung”.

ps: john also says that “shaman” actually means “sham men” then he laughs and laughs. john has been up for a while.

pss: john says he has a great idea for a movie where they save a dead rock stars brain and put it in a scary tank and it hypnotizes people and controls the world and shoots lightening bolts and glows and stuff. He calls it “they saved kurt cobrain!” then he laughs and laughs and laughs. lung is worried about john.

Careful With That Endorsement Of W, lung!

From Declan McCullagh’s Politech mailing list comes this:

Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He’s one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission,…

There’s a Q & A session with the bureaubot in question that’s particularly amusing:

Q: How can the government place a value on a blog that praises some politician?

A: How do we measure that? Design fees, that sort of thing? The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don’t think we’d hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you’d have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.

It seems absurd, but that’s what the commission did. And that’s the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly would have us move in. Line drawing is going to be an inherently very difficult task. And then we’ll be pushed to go further. Why can this person do it, but not that person?

Q: How about a hyperlink? Is it worth a penny, or a dollar, to a campaign?

A: I don’t know. But I’ll tell you this. One thing the commission has argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign.

Human jackal liberals and asshole conservatives take note: the government is about to tell y’all to shut your fool’s mouths. Maybe once a few of you have been hit with six-digit fines for illegal electioneering, y’all will rethink your love for government and “regulation”.

[snicker]

No, I don’t believe that, either.

In any case, I think that No Treason is safe from being charged with giving support to any particular political campaign, with the afore-mentioned exception of lung.

Come to think of it though, lung is probably safe, too.