Bizarre Japanese TV commercial of the day

Buzzfeed put together an interesting collection of “five insanely good TV commercials.”  I don’t know that I’d go that far, but there’s some pretty good stuff.  Interestingly, three of the five are from Japan.  I found this one oddly compelling:

The asymmetry, part DCCXI

Really, just really, try and imagine an elected Democratic judge saying anything even half this crazy (and, yes, from my old home!!):

(CNN) — An elected county judge in Texas is warning that the nation could descend into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and is calling for a trained, well-equipped force to battle the United Nations troops he says Obama would bring in.

The comments by Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who oversees emergency planning efforts, were broadcast by CNN affiliate KJTV. He made similar remarks on radio station FOX Talk 950.

Saying that as the county’s emergency management coordinator he has to “think about the very worst thing that can happen and prepare for that and hope and pray for the best,” Head told radio host Jeff Klotzman that he believes “in this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid.”

Referring to unexplained “executive orders” and other documents that Obama and “his minions have filed,” Head said, “regardless of whether the Republicans take over the Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the United States Congress and he’s going to make the Constitution irrelevant. He’s got his czars in place that don’t answer to anybody.”

Obama, Head said, will “try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations. What do you think the public’s going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war … I’m not talking just talking riots here and there. I’m talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever.”

Good God!!  This man is an elected judge.  Let’s just hope Lubbock never needs anybody actually mentally competent in charge of emergency management.

Ayn Rand vs. the real world

Thanks to Paul Ryan I’ve been listening to/reading all sorts of Ayn Rand stuff lately.  The one thing I’m kind of surprised nobody ever seems to address is that modern western Europe pretty much completely undermines her philosophy on an empirical level.  According to my understanding of Rand’s philosophy, given the very large public sectors and economic redistribution in UK, France, Germany, Norway, etc., these should be places where there is basically an all-powerful dystopian state that has stamped out any vestige of human freedom.   Ummm, not exactly the case last time I looked.

On a related note, I like this post in TNR about being an Ayn Rand believer until it meets the complexity of the actual world we live in:

When I arrived at college, however, my relationship with Objectivism began to unravel. Interested in law, I took a part-time job at a small criminal law firm. There, I met the kind of people Objectivism doesn’t have answers for: people who had done dumb things for dumb reasons, people who had done dumb things for noble reasons, people who had screwed up, people who hadn’t done a damn thing but got accused of it anyway. I also met the people they left behind, like the daughter of an accused death row murderer. Or the parents of the accused, who thought they’d raised him right, but who would now be raising his daughter on their own dime. There were many kinds of people who came to that office, but for all of them, life was not clean and neat and linear, at least not anymore. Some of them had been their own undoing, but many were the victims of dumb, bad luck.

Of course, luck doesn’t exist in the Rand/Ryan world.  The successful simply earned every bit of it and the less successful are just parasites.

I also really liked Tomasky’s take on the fact that it really quite odd to wholesale adopt Rand’s economic vision, but categorically reject her atheistic vision:

Our modern-day Rand devotees confuse me in numerous ways, not least the conundrum that she could be (to them) so powerfully and emphatically right about economics but so wrong about everything else. Because after all, Rand was pro-abortion–at a time when most of society didn’t even say the word–and she was a devout atheist, more atheist than even Phyllis Diller (apparently true, look it up).

So here we have Paul Ryan, who makes his staffers read that execrable and tedious John Galt nonsense, but who is as right-wing a Catholic as Scalia, and who believes that life begins at French kissing.

How does a person reconcile these beliefs? I mean, let’s say I idolized some economics writer of the early to mid 20th century. But then I found out that person held beliefs in other human realms that I found repugnant. He was a racist and a Nazi sympathizer. I think that I would very quickly demote his economics in my mind, figuring that there was something in the way he saw the world that should make me look askance at his economics… [emphasis mine]

And the frustrating thing about the level at which political dialogue is conducted is that, if Ryan were ever asked this question, he’d just say, “Well, there are some things about her I admire, and other things I don’t,” and that would satisfy the political press, but you can’t pick and choose like that, and defenestrate from your own personal Rand something so central to her as her atheism. That’s just shallow and creepy.

Rand herself would say that to take out the atheism actually unravels the economic philosophy of which Ryan is so fond.

On another note, Rand’s morality based on radical individualism is also at odds with what we know of the evolution of human psychology.  We are group-based creatures.  It’s clearly no accident that most every society has defined a system of morality where what’s good for the group/tribe is “good” and what’s bad for the group/tribe is “bad.”  Furthermore, just casual attention to politics should make it clear the power of Social Identity Theory and just how readily we group the world into “us” and “them.”

I think Rand’s philosophy is an interesting philosophical exercise, but no more than that.  To base one’s personal politics on it is just folly.  Especially since evidence from many nations and evidence from human psychology consistently proves Rand wrong.

Photo of the day

Alan Taylor has put together a post with all of the National Geographic Traveler photo contest winners.  There were two that really stood out for me:

One of seven Merit winners, by Lucia Griggi. “Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean.” (© Lucia Griggi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

 

Viewer’s choice winner, by Michelle Schantz. “A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finmmark, Norway.”(© Michelle Schantz/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest) 

Chart of the day

Oh, everyone is always bemoaning the state of K-12 education.  If only it could be like the good old days.  Obviously, there’s a lot we could do to improve it, but that doesn’t change the fact that our children is learning.  These charts get right at it (via Drum):

Again, there’s a lot more we need to do, but it kind of reminds me of how everyone was convinced that crime was going up in the 90’s when it was actually undergoing a considerable decline.

Medicare

Saw this Romney Medicare ad the other day on TV and boy did it infuriate me more than most.  Apart from the fact that Obamacare cuts to Medicare are actually about cutting waste and creating inefficiencies– things conservatives (or anybody) should actually favor, I hated the false generational warfare it tries to create:

Here’s the text of the key quote:

VOICEOVER: “You paid in to Medicare for years… Every paycheck… Now, when you need it… Obama has cut $716 billion dollars from Medicare. Why? To pay for Obamacare…. So now the money you paid for your guaranteed healthcare… Is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”

So wrong.  On an otherwise unrelated Medicare post (wonderfully titled, “the comforting little lies seniors all tell themselves”) Drum points out that most seniors get way more in benefits than they actually paid into the system:

So, here they are being hugely subsidized by younger generations and yet they are supposed to be mad that they’re not getting what they paid in?!  Please!  Drum:

On a wonky note, it’s worth pointing out just how outrageous this whole “no one over 55” approach is. If you don’t want to rein in Medicare growth in the first place, that’s fine. But if you do want to rein in Medicare growth, current and near seniors are the #1 group that should be required to share in the pain. Seniors all like to think that they’re just getting their due from a system they paid into all their lives, but it ain’t true.

On a similar note, Tomasky quotes a very succinct explanation on why, of course, Ryan’s plan would make things worse ever for those over 55:

The estimable Henry Aaron of the Brooking Insitution explains that premiums for seniors who stay enrolled in traditional Medicare under Ryan would increase:

The reason is technical, but easy to understand. The premium for those who stay in traditional Medicare under the Ryan plan would be calculated as under current law, but the average cost of serving those who remain in traditional Medicare would go up as private insurance companies market selectively to those with relatively low anticipated costs. The average cost of those who remain in traditional Medicare would therefore increase. As a result of this gap, the financing for traditional Medicare would become progressively less adequate, throwing into doubt the very survival of the program.

Faced with these facts, as Tomasky puts it, “lying is so much easier.”

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