English: Anonymous Español: Anonymous
English: Anonymous Español: Anonymous (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed a bunch of people on Facebook talking about, and amused by Anonymous. I’m stuck in Kingman on my way home from PHX to LV–not stuck stuck, just timing my drive so I can avoid the staring contest with the setting sun that is the 93 at this time of year–so I decided I’d write about that.

Because what the hell, people?

Synopsis:

Iggy Azalea is an Australian white female rapper, Azealia Banks is a black American of the same basic description, and they don’t like each other for shallow stupid whiny popstar reason as outlined in this Huffpost article I skimmed. They both try to sound like Nicki Minaj on purpose which seems like an objectively awful idea, but I’m pretty sure none of them are having trouble scraping up to $200 for rent these days, so I might be wrong about that. Maybe I should have tried to become a rapper.

Anyway, Anonymous got involved. You’ve probably heard of them. Ironically, they’re one of the better known hacker groups, and they occasionally dress up what they do as social justice. They’re definitely the kids that never got over not being liked in high school, who never had that epiphany most of us prickly types have, where we realize people don’t like us for reasons, adjust our sails towards a comfortable middle ground, and plot a happy course through society. These are the guys that are still mad at society for not appreciating how wonderful they are, and how stupid the rest of us are. Still whiny. And they really, really, want people to fear them, because fear is better than the contempt and dislike they’ve encountered their entire lives.

Unfortunately, the only venue where they aren’t impotent and ineffectual is manipulating data and breaching security, which, being the sort of illegal thing that brings you into contact with angry men with guns (either law enforcement or angry victims) requires them to do so in hiding. But boy, oh boy, are they fierce while they cower in the shadows!

The Current Thing

Now, there are few things more irrelevant to my daily life than hackers or popstars, but this actually made me mad. This got my attention because of what Anonymous is doing. What they want today is for Iggy Azalia to apologize to Azealia Banks for what they believe to be racist comments, in 48 hours, or they’ll release a sex tape of hers.

Give. Me. A. F*cking. Break.

First off, if you are the sort of person who looks at pictures or videos of naked ladies that they didn’t want to share with you, punch yourself in your dick, right now, as hard as you can. You deserve it. Then get a life. I realize the internet lets you do things from the comfort of your home, but you’re functionally no different from any creep hiding in a tree with a pair of binoculars, okay?

Second off, if you’re applauding this, what the hell is wrong with you? I didn’t bother reading through Azealia/Azalia Tweet war, maybe one or both of them are racists who should apologize. Doesn’t matter. You know what’s worse than racism?

A bunch of masked men ganging up and sexually assaulting a twenty-four-year-old girl.

Which is exactly what Anonymous is threatening to do. It’s not okay. Don’t get me wrong, racism is Bad; it’s damaging, painful, and generally messes stuff up that doesn’t need to be so complicated. Still, if a girl shouts something racist in a public park, it’s still not okay to pin her down, tear her clothes off, and post the pictures on the internet. Even if her music is awful. 

Is that. . . like too complicated a concept or something?

I guess maybe if Anonymous admitted women were actually people, and treated them as such, they wouldn’t be able to rationalize how afraid of them they are. So don’t be amused. Ridicule them. Anonymous doesn’t matter, doesn’t deserve to matter, and it’s about time they remembered that.

 

 

 

MNiC Feature Traveling Places

Traveling: The Places We Can’t Go Again

English: View atop High Dune, Great Sand Dunes...
English: View atop High Dune, Great Sand Dunes National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I left grad school, and just drove, traveling, I had destinations, but no route to speak of. I wandered, and, looking back, the things I remember often aren’t the things I thought they’d be.

Sure, there was the thunder of Niagara, and somber majesty of Rushmore, but it was those strange little moments between places. It was waking up to the lumbering of a harvester in the pale light before dawn on a foggy morning. It was a perfect little Main Street town in Oklahoma, where every shop, home, and business was a boarded-up husk. It was the rusting hulks of the iron ore ship along Superior’s cold shores. Seals in the moonlight in the Bay of Fundy. I could go on, and on, and on, but everywhere civilization was as full of decay and new growth as any forest. It was so alive. The highways and the rails the veins and arteries of a breathing, growing, hungering continent.

The world is strange and wild, and we are, whatever we think, made in its image. We have changed it, are changing it, but we reflect it in spite of ourselves.

It’s a strange thought, then, how many things I have left to see, if I have the wherewithal to get to them, and how many I would like to see once more, but never will again. I couldn’t even trace the route I drove anymore, and–if I did–everything would be different.

You can’t drive the same road twice; that’s just the way of the world.

So here I am, looking back, and I see that my life is full of things I’ve already done for the last time. Some of that is good. I might go back to Great Sand Dunes National Park, but I’ll know the sand will form up around me, and render my down sleeping bag useless. The older wiser me would also probably pause to wonder why I was the only who applied for a back country permit that day, but to take that from my younger self would be a form of cruel robbery. I wouldn’t trade it.

Look at that guy who has no idea how cold he’s about to be!

Not for the world.

Camping on a sand dune in a sandstorm on a cold windy night is miserable in such a myriad of strange and creative ways that it’s not really worth describing. You just have to be there. Besides, it was when I woke, if waking is what you do from five hours of gray shivering haze of minute-long catnaps, that this story finds itself.

There was something primordial about waking up chilled, shivering, aching with the cold, before the first light of dawn, feeling the insidious creep of dew and the surprising weight of the blowing sand which had half buried me. I was glad for it, it defanged the wind. There I was only living person for miles, beneath a sky full of stars–no matter how many times I visit somewhere far from the city lights, I find myself thinking, I forgot there were so many! Memory is simply not up to that task.

Rising, shaking off the sand that enveloped me as entirely as the useless sleeping bag, I felt almost staggeringly alive, like something emerging from a grave, or perhaps just a past long buried. As I set about shaking off the sand, packing up, and moving, my body shook the chill and my limbs banished the ache, and some deep part of me was certain this was how I meant to wake up; cold, hungry, aching, damp, and before the sun.

The air had gone still, and the light of those stars, reflected off the dunes, was enough to see by. It was too cold to be still. So I had put in a mile on soft sand before the first lightening of the eastern sky. Miles are a long way on sand, cresting dunes and then running and sliding down them like waves.

Then the sun rose.

It’s one of life’s purest truths that at some moments we are more alive than others, and I have rarely been so alive as I was when the sun rose over me, and my shadow stretched back along the trail of my passage, the only footprints on the dunes, already vanishing.

It was extraordinary. A place I can’t go back to, and a place I’ll never leave.

Next time, I’ll bring a sleeping pad and some sort of polar fleece lining.

 

zOnramp

A Sequentially Good Day

One of my friends noted that yesterday (12/13/14)  was the last consecutive-numbered date we’d likely live to see. Being a General Killjoy (recently promoted from Colonel), I pointed out that I did plan to live until April 3, 2021 if I could manage it. I’m actually even optimistic about Star Wars Day, 2032.

Be warned, this isn’t a particularly deep post, or anything. We’re not talking about the ethics of torture, torturing ourselves, immigration, flat tires, or even the challenge staying put poses me, but every once in awhile the world throws you just a spectacular day. Yesterday was one of them, and it deserves to be acknowledged.

In spite of my location here in the warm deserts of the Southwest, I’m a weather person. I like cold, and storms, and snow, and the stuff that comes along with all that wet. Like trees. Technically, I a sat out the early hours of the morning eating cold pizza and listening to the sound of rain on the tin roof of our patio, while the cool wind blew, then I slept, and woke up to head in and get some work done.

And I did. And, really, a cool day with hot coffee, where I get a lot of writing done is already a really good day. And look at these clouds!

From there, I left home to meet my little sister at a work event she was attending at the zoo with the rest of her Las Vegas office. The drive, though! Obviously, I couldn’t really take pictures, but I snapped a couple. Not that pictures are much good for this sort of thing. The only life after death for a sunset is in recesses of human memory.

And this one was worth remembering! Dark heavy rain cloud, in a patchwork with clear sky of shifting color,  rain falling, set alight by the setting sun, all shot through with gold-tinted rainbows against the backdrop of the Valley’s peaks, red-lit against the blue of the fading eastern light. All as the living light of the city herself awoke. I have seen a lot of sunsets in a great many places, and very, very, few like this.

After that, it was on to the zoo, where Zoo Lights is ongoing. It’s the first Saturday of Winter Break, so it might be safe to say it was thronged. My sister went and got herself a rather, uh, daring haircut, which entertained everyone who knew her, and we had a good time wandering around, talking to people, and eating some surprisingly delicious catered food! Pulled pork is almost always a win in my book. Most the animals were either asleep or hiding from the throngs of screaming neon-lit children, but it was a spectacle in and of itself.

Protip: If you don’t want to end up on the internet, don’t walk into my shot.

To top it all of, I spotted a couple of shooting stars from the ongoing meteor shower during the drive home. Where I live with my girlfriend, who is also pretty cool.

Good work, good weather, good scenery, good times with family; this is pretty much what life is about.

So, yeah, good day.

MNiC Feature CIA Tort

The Other Arguments: CIA Torture Report

CIA Torture: The Arguments No One Wants to Make

 

If you haven’t read the CIA Torture Report, you should at least read up on the highlights. I mean, we’re paying for it, right? The torture and the report. A couple of dollars from your last ten or so tax returns funded some guy you’ll never meet being forced to stand on his broken leg.

As they tend to do with most divisive topics, the Right and Left have taken strong positions on the popular side of two completely different arguments.

The Left has taken the tenuous position that, Torturing people is, like, bad, dude, while the Right has made the equally bold assertion that, Not getting blown up by terrorists, is like, good, dude. In addition to the obvious response to both (Yeah, no, like, reeaaaalllly?!) you’ll notice that neither side has taken up the opposing rather less popular “Torture is Good” or “Getting Killed by Terrorists is Good” corollary viewpoints. Convenient, that.

However, those are exactly the arguments we need to make, because those are the arguments each side needs to refute, and they’re not going to do it. Understand, I don’t necessarily endorse or agree with what I’m writing here. We simply need to explore both sides. Why? Because an argument with only one side explored is like a one-sided coin, it exists only in a theoretical sense, and has no actual value. If we want to be the Good Guys, we better have reasoning in place why what we’re doing is Good.

 

Torture is Good

 

Torture is good. I know that’s not popular, but it is. Torture is good for a very simple reason: we are trading many deaths for the pain of a single individual. Furthermore, most modern torture methods are either psychological or otherwise physically non-damaging, so it’s not as if the end result is someone crippled and ruined. This also circumvents one of the largest problems inherent in torture during previous eras; we do not need to worry about the crippling of innocents.

If we take care to use enhanced interrogation techniques on assets believed to be both hostile and withholding critical intelligence, we have created a scenario where the worst case outcome is short term discomfort for an innocent individual, the neutral case is temporary pain to an individual intent on causing pain and harm to innocents but not aware of critical intelligence, and the best case is temporary pain to an individual resulting in the prevention of numerous military and/or innocent deaths.

So we have a worst case situation where a single individual endures pain they do not deserve, a common enough occurrence in life with or without the CIA, and a best case scenario where thousands or perhaps millions of lives are saved because we exceeded the pain tolerance of a single individual with critical intelligence. Indeed, the mere knowledge of enhanced interrogation’s existence may help the intelligence community exploit assets.

Certainly care must be taken. Oversight by civilian panels to prevent abuse, a clear criteria establishing when enhanced interrogation is appropriate, and an expanded knowledge of how to maximize results and minimize damage are necessary. In the end, though, any attempt to assert that the pain of an individual, particularly a known hostile, is somehow worse than the deaths of civilians is hollow. Not, certainly, in the world we wish to live in, but in a world where men bomb subways, fly planes into buildings, and force religious minorities into sexual slavery. When staring at that reality we are forced to accept that torture is not, as some would label, a necessary evil, it is, in fact, a net force of good.

 

Getting Killed by Terrorists is Good

 

It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

And so it does. It’s a more colloquial bit saying that you know a man by his enemies, and similarly so that if you’ve made no one angry, you’re doing something wrong.

Every death of a good man or woman, civilian or military, is a tragedy. It is someone’s heartbreak and pain. It is a loss to the world. And it is a good thing. Because as long as they are dying and we are fighting, the truisms regarding the inaction of good men are not yet relevant to this world.

Sometimes good people need to die, so that the bad people don’t win. It might not seem fair, and it isn’t kind, but it is the world. If you are dying right, bleeding out after a terrorist’s bullet or bomb has found you, it might not strike you that getting killed is a good thing. But it is, because you are dying for a good thing. Everyone, everywhere, good, bad, and mostly in-between, will die. It is why you die that matter, more than where, more than how, more than when. Indeed, there could even be said to be a certain sort of shame to dying simply because you cannot live any longer.

As long as you’re dying for a good why, the deficiencies in the rest of the details are easy enough to overcome.

Right now, somewhere in the world, probably Iraq or Syria, there’s a man on his way from blowing a five-hundred-year-old mosque to blow up a thousand-year-old to mosque, raping the minority woman he’s just claimed as his property near the still-warm corpses of her husband and brothers–perhaps later he’ll decapitate an aide worker. This particularly scenario is dramatization, sure, but no single part of it hasn’t happened, or isn’t happening.

And if you asked that man what he thought of America, he would say, “Death to America!” If he bothered to say anything rather than commit some mindless atrocity. He hates everything you stand for, everything about you, and would happily kill you if he could.

When all is said and done, getting killed by terrorists is unfortunate, and sad, but it is good. It means you, and the people you’ve sided with, are probably doing something right.

 

My Actual Position

 

Like I said, neither of the proceeding two sections necessarily reflect my views, they’re just the necessary accompaniment to the main two points being made regarding US torture policies by the parties in control. What I do believe is sometimes we need to take actions that leave ourselves vulnerable, or refrain from actions that might protect us, because they are wrong. Let there be no ambiguity here: I mean, even if it kills us.

For me, the question is really rather be a living Bad Guy or a dead Good Guy. That’s an extreme case, but it’s where both of these arguments tie together. You can make almost anything sound like a Good Thing, when you dress it up right, but I honestly, on a gut-level, don’t think you can make a winning case that torture is good. You can argue the outcomes are good, you can argue the ends justify the means, but you can’t argue that it’s a good thing.

Some people would say this outlook was naive, and they’d be right, except that I accept torture probably does and has led to terrorists being caught and lives being saved. That’s disputable, but I think most people will spill most secrets to avoid painful personal consequences. I accept that taking this tool out of the toolbox may render us more vulnerable. I accept the greater risk, and believe it’s worth living with. More to the point, I accept it’s worth dying for.

America is about individual liberty. It’s one of those things that’s either universal or an illusion. Sure, we have various socialistic programs and principles, such as healthcare, highways, and the military, but at the end of day, all these things are considered in the light of how they reflect and enhance the ability of each of us to reach for what gives our lives meaning–meaning as defined by ourselves. We acknowledge no overreaching right of outside powers to determine our means or our abilities, and reject the concept.

I do not believe in holding ourselves to a higher standard I believe in being the higher standard to which others must hold themselves. We are, by our own assertions and by our aspirations, the Good Guys, and when undertake a program of action which undermines that by predisposing that the rights of the individual can be crushed to further the perceived protect of the rest, we lose that. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”

If in the pursuit of survival we destroy the very fabric of who we are, what can we call that but suicide?

 

MNiC Feature Pain Test 1

Pain Tolerance Test w/ Special Guest

MNiC Feature Pain Test 1Tolerating Pain

 

I was looking up pain tolerance a couple weeks ago, because my back’s been hurting, because I am old, and it’s been preventing me from working out as much as  I’d like. I’m poor, so not using my gym membership is like pulling teeth. As you can see, it’s just painful all around.

And that’s just no good. Since it doesn’t seem to be getting better from resting it (I think it has more to do with posture and spending too much time staring at a computer, I got to wondering about just working through pain. I’m not really concerned with the pain itself, I just don’t want to seriously injure anything. And that got me wondering about pain tolerance. I came across an interesting article on Runner’s World‘s website, regarding pain tolerance and thresholds; more intriguing, the testing method they used was simple to replicate.

The test was simply to plunge the individual’s hand into a bucket of ice water and see how long they could hold it there (up to a 3 minute limit) and then ask to rate the pain on a 1-10 scale. According to the article:

The runners–all of whom lasted the full three minutes–rated the pain an average of 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Most of the nonrunners in a control group, by contrast, gave up halfway through the test and rated the pain as 10.

So I thought, I wonder how I would do on that? Note they don’t say anything about sample size, and it seems to me this measures cold tolerance rather than general pain tolerance. Also, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question going on here: Are athletes tougher or are tougher people more likely to be athletes? As it turns out, a bit of both.

Lauren volunteered to help out with the testing, because she’ll do what needs to be done In the Name of Science, because she’s awesome. The results were pretty entertaining. We didn’t film my first run, but I didn’t think it was too bad. So out went the camera, with Lauren volunteering for the filmed version.

 

The Test

 

Lauren had, as you can see, a rough first round, but she stepped it up on the second round to go the full three minutes. I noticed it hurt less the second time, too. I’d rate it about 5, the first time, maybe 4 the second. I may have a slightly warped scale. My family has a documented weird reaction to several pain medications, which has caused a few problems. I remember when I had my wisdom teeth removed, whatever was supposed to knock me out the first time didn’t (the second worked juuusssst fine), and let’s just say, I know what it feels like to have a cavity filled without much in the way of numbing from Novocaine.

The first time she let me go for almost five minutes, which wasn’t very nice.

We hypothesize this divergence is due to various painkiller-type chemicals being released by our bodies after/during the first go. It seems possible that my higher tolerance might have something to do with my own body being more used to pain, and therefore more inclined to churn out the chemicals needed to tone things down. Sort of like how people sweat more if they’re in shape. Working out regularly, even moderate exercise, apparently increases pain tolerance by up to 20%, so that does make a certain sort of sense.

In the meantime, I’m searching out a few more possible tests to do, just to see, as I get back into working out, how much, if at all, my pain tolerance changes.

 

Possible Complications

 

Researching this, I did find a few interesting things, and they might cause disruption and ruin the already dubious scientific rigor of these tests. First off, regularly experiences pain can actually increase sensitivity, according to Wikipedia . . . apparently through strengthening neural connections. That makes sense, really, when you think about it. I mean, using your fingers for dexterous tasks increases dexterity, right?

Second, less surprisingly, pain tolerance is partially physical, and partly mental. I suspect much more the latter than the former, not that they’re truly as separate as we like to pretend they are. Any kind of endurance is rooted in the ability to disconnect the mind from the stimuli telling us we’re bored, tired, in pain, etc.

Third, I don’t want to actually cause harm to myself. So I went and found some scientifically accepted methods of pain tolerance.

 

Methods

 

Cold Water Immersion Test – I’ve already done this, so I won’t describe it, but I will do a follow-up in the next month or so.

Hot Water Immersion Test – Exactly what it sounds like. The literature I found for it used a 47*C/116*F temperature, which should be easy to reach since our hot water tap releases water that might be more accurately described as “steam”.  Some time in the next couple days I’ll try this one.

Electrical – This one’s a little more iffy. I’m not sure there’s an easy/safe/cheap way to do this, so I probably won’t. And I doubt I can afford to rent one of the army’s experimental pain rays.

 

LVSunset

The Traveling Bug

Home for Thanksgiving

 

Almost to LV

Las Vegas

I’m sitting here, waiting for my tire to be repaired. It’s taking longer than expected, but that’s okay, because it’s free. Tires are only a year old, and haven’t had much wear on them. That’s a mixed blessing. The lack of travel is weighing on me. More than I thought. I’d been apathetic about writing this blog for awhile, because I simply didn’t have anything I felt especially warranted using my relatively scarce free time to say . . . I thought of so many things while I was driving and while I’ve been home.

Sunset from the bridge near home.

I don’t understand exactly why I’m wired this way. It’s like waking up the day after an illness, and feeling that strange lightness and abundance of vigor somehow forgotten was there. Maybe it’s the head cold I’m rocking (I feel like someone stuffed my head inside a church bell and gave it a good bong), but that’s the best metaphor I can come up with right now.

That’s seems overly dramatic, but it’s the truth. I feel more alive when the wheels are turning or my feet are moving. Right now I’m staring at a road up over the mountains I drove when I was younger. It’s not accessible anymore. I’ve been looking at maps, trying to find a back way in.

It’s been nice to be home with my family; it’s been more than six months since the last time I made it back to Las Vegas. The year’s been mild and beautiful, and the garden at my old home is still overgrown and green, all the rose bushes still blooming.

Not bad for December!

The Journey Home

There were a number of times I wanted to stop along the way. I did stop in Kingman for a coffee, and at Burro Creek, just to stretch my legs and wake up for a bit. The whole trip was in a bit of that cold-induced fog where you aren’t quite sure if you’re tired or congested–or if they’ve secretly been the same thing all along. Anyway, now you get how the “Traveling Bug” title was a clever pun. Yeah, I’m funny. You don’t have to tell me.

Odd ripple clouds.

 

I took the drive slow, and careful, hoping to make it all count. It was a beautiful day. Just enough rain to put the scent of the juniper and creosote into the cool air, clouds enough to make the drive easy on the eyes. This part of the country is rugged, and harsh, and water rare, but it’s at its most beautiful when the rare rains come. Water fills dead rivers and the scent of it fills the air. Hawks, kestrels, and falcons were all out, in fine form, after the thirsty little creatures of the ground.

Burro creek, on the Old 93 bridge.

 

Phoenix

I’m back in Phoenix. New tire. It’s a rainy day, which is exactly the sort I like. Today marks a full year of dating my current girlfriend . . . first time I’ve ever reached that mark. I’m almost over my cold, but I’ve passed it on to Lauren (happy anniversary!), so she’s on the downhill as I’m finally climbing out. With any luck, the Kleenex will last.

The storm today is sort of strange. A series of concentric rings. I’ve never seen anything quite exactly like it before.

Concentric ring winter storm.

On the Bounce

Life’s interesting right now. The reason the repair to my tires was free was that there was so little wear on them. I sort of hate the idea that my tires don’t have much tread wear after an entire year. I feel sedentary, and I can’t say I like it. On the other hand, my life is pretty good on the balance–certainly I have plenty to be thankful for.

 

I’m Confused as Hell by Obama’s Immigration Move

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Don’t Get It

Usually, even when I disagree with a political decision, I understand the reasoning behind it. Often there are more or less cynical ways to interpret any particular decision, but the as long as you approach the situation from the perspective that the people who came up with the law, proposal, or whatever are smart people, it makes sense. There’s a tendency on both sides to assume the other side is either stupid or evil, and that’s wrong, it’s ignorant, and it’s silly. People disagreeing with you doesn’t make them stupid, or evil, and ignoring their arguments sure as hell doesn’t make you smart or give you the moral high ground. It’s a useful skill in life to take a view directly opposed to yours, and then turn around to see it from the alternative perspective. Usually, when done right, their arguments make sense, even if they might not lead to an outcome you personally agree with.

 

That said, Obama’s recent actions on immigration are . . . confusing. I thought there’d be something to it that made it make sense when he announced it, some sort of surprise that gave it shape. Well, I’ve been flipping it over and over, and it still makes no sense. By his own repeated assertion, it makes no sense legally. It makes no sense politically. It makes no sense from a perspective of compassion or humanitarianism, either. It just makes no sense. It comes sort of close to sense from two different angles, sort of, but both those interpretation are so cynical and petty that it sort knocks them back out of sense, and I’m inclined to hope I’m just missing something.

 

 

 

How Does This Benefit Democrats Politically?

 

So, according to Gallup, about 15% of voters regard immigration/illegal aliens as the most important problem facing the United States, and that’s a spike; it’s polled about half that most of the year. That means 1/7 of Americans think this the big issue; but this is the combined total for people both strongly for or against it. Dissatisfaction with the government  tops the list at 19%, and that’s not a split group.

 

So Obama has just made a major decision regarding the future of millions of people without a single democratic or republican vote. Even a great many people, myself included, who are very much pro-immigration reform are way wigged out by that. No, it doesn’t fling the door to tyranny wide open, but it’s hard to shake the sense that it certainly undid a couple of deadbolts.

 

One wonders why, in a political climate when a few people care about immigration, and most of them back the reform angle proposed by both Democrats and moderate Republicans, but a lot of people are nervous about government overreach, Obama has just decided to take all the pressure off of Republicans regarding one their biggest weaknesses as party . . . in a way that plays directly into the Beware Big Government narrative the GOP has ridden to a total massacre of the Democrats in two consecutive midterm elections.

 

What’s more, while two thirds of Americans support immigration reform, across a broad swath of political alignments, barely a third support unilateral action by the President, and a large majority oppose it. Even among Hispanics, Obama only manages to scrape plurality support. In other words, practically nobody, not even the majority of the people who stand to directly benefit from reforms, want the President to do so in this manner. At best, it’s popular with the people in the far, far, partisan end of the spectrum — you know, the ones who were already going to vote Democrat no matter what.

 

All Obama had to do was propose moderate immigration reform a few months, and the Republicans would have owned it. They would have had to go against a good portion of their own base and the vast majority of America to oppose it. It would probably have passed, or dramatically strengthened the Democrats moving into 2016.

 

Instead, he chose a route where there’s not a lot of political gain to the president or his party, and enormous (if the capitalize on it correctly) benefit to their opposition.

I mean, I’m not a politician, but tossing your opponents a lifeline tied to a noose around your neck does not seem like a good strategy. Especially if you do it while hurling insults at them and poking them with sticks. Maybe the answer is simpler? It’s simply an act of compassion from a president with basically no political capital left to lose? So. . .

 

 

 

What Does it Actually Do for Hispanics?

 

At first glance the politics seem straightforward, right? Hispanics vote more Democrat than Republican, although not by too much when Obama’s not on the ticket. This is the political payoff for their votes. I mean, that’s cynical, especially coming two weeks after the election . . . But that’s how politics is done. The problem is, if this is a reward, it’s a really, really, bad one. Just really bad. Terrible. Other people are arguing over whether or not this is legal or not. It seems like a bad idea which undermines rule of law, regardless of legality, but, other people can argue that one. What I’m talking about is the purely practical, no the overarching legal framework regarding separation of powers.

 

Here’s the new situation: If you’re here illegally, you can apply for a permit to stay, if you already have family here . . . because the president has made a nonbinding promise not to enforce a law . . . for the last two years of his presidency . . . through a legal-ish decision . . . that can be reversed by him . . . or his successor . . . or overruled by a congress he controls neither chamber of . . . and in no way solves the underlying issues in any lasting manner . . .

So that’s the reward? Ending any chance of real resolution to the adversity faced by these people? Like, “Congrats, welcome to America, here’s your freedom, and by freedom we mean your entire life is completely subject to the whims of a single individual!” Yay?

 

And it’s worse than that, isn’t it? Because there is an excellent chance that a Republican president will reverse this decision, and they can do it with a stroke of a pen. No debate, no congressional votes. Just an email to the next AG. Political heat will be pretty minimal, too: “Of course, I support immigration reform. I just take my oath to enforce the laws passed by Congress more seriously than my imperial predecessor.”

 

Which means it’s worse than even that, right? Because there’s the inherent implication that not voting Democrat will lead to this order being revoked. It effectively killed a legislative solution, which is desperately needed, replacing it with a tenuous promise. So the end result is: Vote for the Democrat, or else. The reward for Hispanics who voted Democrat? Here’s a freaking gun to the head to make sure you do it again, you’re welcome. Not just any gun, but a gun that will, it seems increasingly likely, pass to Republicans in two years. Worse, there’s a reasonable chance that a Democrat president will do it, too, if they’re relying on a more traditional working class coalition than Obama brought to the table. They can even use the same line from the end of the preceding paragraph. And neither needs to pull that trigger on day one. They can wait until, say, the 2018 midterms.

 

Think about that: There’s a pretty even divide in the Republican party between those (mostly in purple states) who want to reform immigration, and those (mostly in safely red states) who are much more draconian. If purple-state Republicans don’t do well in the midterms, the voices from the red-staters will be that much more irresistible. And, again, because this is an executive order, voting Democrats into Congress won’t in any way protect Hispanics from retribtuion.  So Hispanics in swing states may end up, thanks entirely to Obama, going into the 2018 elections with the understanding, vote Republican or else. 

 

I think, were I an illegal immigrant, I would be less than appreciative of that. That’s the sort of Banana Republic shit that eventually leads to buses full of students being kidnapped, executed, and dumped in shallow graves. You know, the sort of thing these people were trying to leave behind. And, on top of it all, there is zero chance I would participate in this in their shoes: Give my name and address to a government that will quite possibly use that information to tear me away from my family at some random and unpredictable point in the next half decade? Yeah. Thanks. Pass.

 

 

 

So, Like, What the Hell, Then?

 

We’re looking at something that will, most likely, help the political opposition far more than Obama’s own party. Something that doesn’t help the people it’s designed to help. Enacted via a process that even a fair portion of President Obama’s supporters do not approve of. I mean, really, if you’re anywhere to the right of Far Left, you’re against this . . . and really, how much of the support from that sector is out of loyalty to Obama rather than actual support for this sort of action?

I don’t get it. Somewhere, somehow, this must make some sort of sense, or it wouldn’t have happened. I have two theories, both of which are not pleasant.

 

 

A Desperate Ploy for Relevance?

 

I think it’s fairly common opinion now that Obama’s six years as president have been . . . lackluster. I think we can say that now without excessive disagreement. Most arguments among partisans are about why. His major accomplishment is the ACA which has become steadily more unpopular, may be rendered unsustainable by the courts in the next year, has been under assault from within and without, and, it turns out, has been, at best, a wash in terms of accomplishing its stated outcomes, and didn’t even meet the revised-down sign-up target of 7 million subscribers until 400,000 people were incorrectly added to it. The last election went poorly, in a “Oh, my house is burning down,” sort of way, his popularity is dropping, he’s a “lame-duck” president with no real power left, and so on. Maybe his ego just demands that he have some sort of legacy, and this is it. He can’t handle being a failed president, so he’s going to sink whoever he needs to sink to stay relevant, even it doesn’t actually accomplish much.

 

If so, he’s off to a bad start: All the major networks declined to show his speech. Or . . .

 

 

 

Maybe Sinking His “Allies” Was the Point

 

Democrats ran from Obama this election. They blame their defeats on his failures, and claim he’s dragging them down with his own incompetence. They may have a point, since the party has reached a new low in popularity. I mean, they spent nearly as much time and effort trying to scrape his residue off their boots than actually campaigning against their opponents. Still, that’s a pretty poor way to the repay the man on whose coattails most of them rose to power, right? Some petty payback might be in order. The journey from Chosen One to Pet Pariah is tough to handle for anybody. In this respect the president has my honest sympathies. He could never have lived up to the expectations foisted upon him, and he’s faced with the specter of not even meeting the comparatively low bar of Better Than Bush. Maybe this is his revenge. He’s still got two years left, and two or three more stunts like this will be enough to derail any Democratic campaign.

 

Or . . .

 

 

 

Perhaps More Likely

 

I could be missing something. There’s sure to be an angle I haven’t checked. You can never see it all. Maybe this is part of some brilliant gambit I’m failing to see. Still, from every angle I can think of, it seems like the President would have been better served by putting a bucket over his head last night and pounding with a hammer until he passed out.

If you’ve got a theory that makes more sense of this I would love to hear it. In any case, time will tell.