The Biden-Ryan debate: a harbinger of more lost freedoms
What do you get when you mix a crusty politician with a spineless opponent and a moderator happy to reveal her bias?
I'm no Joe Biden fan, but after watching him debate Paul Ryan, I can't help but wonder if he is more qualified to be Vice President and hence one heartbeat away from the presidency. As a doctor, I am intrigued by Biden's brain, which as I wrote before “seems to be a strange amalgamation of islands of genius mixed in with a few islands of idiocy. All smart people do dumb things now and then, but Biden sometimes does things that are conspicuously odd for someone who is generally very smart.”
Biden said “jobs” is a three-letter word.
Biden spoke of a “website number” instead of its address or URL. (What planet is he on? Speaking of a website address is such a basic part of our language and culture that even young children know it.)
Biden thought Franklin Roosevelt was President when the stock market crashed in 1929.
Biden didn't know when televisions went from the lab to the living room.
“What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds.”
— Eric Hoffer
Biden described Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”—thus implying that most blacks aren't articulate, bright, clean, or nice-looking.
I recall Biden's putdown when I think of a man I revere, George Washington Carver, a prolific American inventor who was the real Edison. Carver never received the recognition he deserved because he was black and either innately modest or trained to be that way by a racist society, while people went gaga over Edison's bombastic act and magnified his perceived attributes, making him seem greater than he really was.
Biden's comment also reveals another offensive bias: that attractive people are somehow better, more valuable, and thus more worthy of praise and even the presidency—which was the point Biden was making: that because Obama is a Hollywood-handsome hunk, he is somehow more qualified to be President, and someone that stupid sheeple voters obsessed with appearance will naturally favor. While there is some truth in that (research indicates that American voters do prefer attractive candidates), intelligent and principled people should deplore, not perpetuate, this appearance discrimination (a.k.a., beauty bias or lookism) when it prejudicially disfavors job candidates, including candidates for political office.
Biden said “the middle class has been buried the last four years,” but Obama was President the last four years.
Biden told an Indian-American that “You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” then added, “I'm not joking.” OK, Archie Bunker.
Biden puts his foot in his mouth so often that his party must cringe whenever he speaks, not knowing what ignorance or idiocy might come out.
And yet Ryan couldn't beat him.
I can't help but like Biden in spite of his many flaws, but last night I couldn't help but loathe his rudeness and juvenile behavior as he repeatedly interrupted Ryan and derisively laughed at him while baring his teeth in a manner befitting a lunatic high on euphoriant drugs—no doubt after reading the Alinsky playbook for mocking opponents who have too many facts on their side to substantively assail. Biden was such a mean jackass that the pathetically helpless Ryan should have had an easy time thinking of a way to truncate his deliberate abrasiveness while pointing out the obvious: that the favoritism exhibited to Biden by moderator Martha Raddatz was predictable given that President Obama attended her wedding. She returned the favor by repeatedly cutting off Ryan and challenging him in conspicuously more forceful ways than she did Biden, who appeared to be her teammate.
And she is, and everyone knows it. Ryan missed one golden opportunity after another to point out blatant liberal bias, yet he blew it. Ryan seemed out of his league and in dire need of help from anyone with a brain and enough spine to use it. If Ryan can't handle Biden, could he handle ruthless dictators around the world who have brilliantly Machiavellian minds?
I'm skeptical. Ryan has been touted as a “conservative visionary,” but during the debate he lacked The Right Stuff to earn a Boy Scout merit badge. Sure, Ryan's brain has a few islands of genius, but they seemed lost in a sea of idiocy during the debate. He proved to be a pusillanimous wing man to Romney and an utter disappointment to conservatives and everyone else who hoped that competition would force President Obama to come up with better ideas for stimulating economic growth and moving more people from food stamps and welfare to jobs that paid well enough they could join the 53% of Americans who pay federal income tax. President Obama has done a surprisingly good job for some of his supporters, but they constitute too small a percentage of our population to explain why he now appears likely to beat Romney in the 2012 election, or come very close to it. Considering our economic problems, Romney and Ryan should be cleaning his clock.
The official unemployment rate doesn't reveal the true extent of misery in the United States. The rate doesn't take into account countless people who've given up looking for work, nor does it adequately factor in people who want to work more than part-time or folks who once were well-paid but now work for peanuts. I've met people who went from owning prosperous businesses and living in homes that doctors would envy to working for less than minimum wage and living in flophouses. But hey, they're employed, and someone Obama points to as evidence of his success.
I'm not a Democrat or Republican. Though I agree with conservatives on some positions and liberals on others, I think both groups are too busy fighting one another to realize there is a much better solution that gives both sides more of what they want than they now have. Cooperation is clearly better, yet most political partisans equate it with compromise, and hence a partial defeat they'll vigorously oppose. That's the beauty of my plan: everyone wins, and no one loses.
I understand system justification theory and thus know why sheeple too stupid or spineless to think for themselves reflexively disparage alternatives to the status quo, but leaders smart enough to know better should instantly realize that my plan is preferable to the perpetual partisan bickering that obviously isn't solving our problems.
The most notable accomplishment of our politicians has been to take the United States, seemingly destined to be the world's indomitable economic superpower, and inflict considerably more damage upon its future than all of our past and present enemies combined, including Germany and Japan in World War II, the USSR during the Cold War, Islamic terrorists, and everyone convicted of treason in U.S. history. All of those enemies combined couldn't begin to deliver the KO blow that our liberal and conservative politicians have given to present and future Americans.
The Left wants to blame the Right, and the Right wants to blame the Left, but neither side could have done it alone. They've both screwed us and our children in ways that will surely have future generations loathing us as the Brainless and Spineless Generation that ruined the United States, in contrast to the Greatest Generation whose hard work and sacrifices once saved our freedom and prosperity.
As Americans are fighting to survive, Ryan anointed himself as a warrior qualified to vanquish seemingly insurmountable odds and deliver a KO blow to our economic problems, but he was pummeled by a man who thinks “jobs” is a three-letter word.
Mr. Conservative Visionary Paul Ryan turned out to be Mr. Conservative Disappointment unable to dispel the gloom enveloping our nation. Obama at least gave hope, and Biden has repeatedly given us laughs. Ryan just makes me want to cry. If he is the best we can do, we should all be crying.
No sensible Republican could be pleased with Ryan's debate performance, nor should any sensible American be happy with what Obama has done. He turned out to be a superb crony capitalist, not a socialist, and he was more mainstream than what his opponents feared—but that's the problem.
In the United States, mainstream politics is a synonym for adhering to hidebound ideas that are crushing us with wacky domestic spending (such as research to see if female co-eds go all the way after drinking beer) and the endless wars we cannot afford. Obama, to his credit, understands that we must scale back our military if we hope to have any military without draconian domestic cuts that would infuriate even most Republicans, but as he wisely points to the need to economize there, he spent money as if there were no tomorrow on things that gave depressingly little bang for the buck. He claimed that spending saved the United States from sliding into a Great Depression. There's a chance he's right about that, but there is a much greater chance he's dead wrong, and that spending had no net positive long-term effect but did burden us and our children with national debt that is mathematically impossible to repay without pixie dust or a miracle invented by an Einstein.
Fox News predictably trotted out Republican strategists who put the spin on Ryan's performance, but the purportedly “fair and balanced” news channel didn't ask the obvious question, which is why Mr. Conservative Visionary couldn't go toe-to-toe with a man who is often ridiculed as being an intellectual lightweight and something of a national joke.
From my vantage point as a doctor, I understand how Biden can be both brilliant and bumbling. He had surgery in 1988 to repair two brain aneurysms and his condition was so grave at one point that a priest read him his last rites in a Wilmington hospital. Perhaps some of the daffy things Biden says result from associated brain damage. He's now almost 70 years old—an age when most people have lost some of their sharpness. And yet he pounded a visionary in the prime of his life.
Hoping to dupe their audience, Fox News buried its head in the sand once more, but that's what I've come to expect from them. After listening to them for years, it took an independent news source to inform me that a recent White House inhabitant is a killer. Fox News never misses an opportunity to blast President Obama and his wife—sometimes fairly and sometimes not—so they should be equally critical of Republicans who earned a black eye but got off scot-free, thanks to an ingrained culture of favoritism that rolls out the red carpet for some while throwing stumbling blocks into the paths of others.
We have a right to expect more from our leaders. They are spending money we don't have on things we can't afford, and thus making it all but inevitable that we won't survive as a prosperous nation. The 70,000-plus pages of new federal laws and regulations per year are added to millions of existing federal, state, and local laws that were written long after virtually all commonsensical laws (prohibiting murder, rape, theft, etc.) were enacted. This excess of legislation is reducing what America is supposed to stand for: freedom.
Our out-of-control, freedom-hating government has made me afraid to give away free chicken eggs, free firewood, free microhomes, free medical care, a free ER cookie and Jell-O mold, and other free goods and services. I wanted to give my mail lady a present, but I learned that it substantially exceeded the maximal allowable federal limit. And what might she do to thank me if I gave more? Bring me more bills and unsolicited credit card offers? (see sidebar)
Our leaders refuse to stop “Rachel from Cardholder Services” (the National Do Not Call Registry is intentionally toothless legislation), but if you sell an item at a garage sale that wasn't manufactured to be perfectly safe, heaven help you if the feds get ahold of you!
Nor will our government stop China from perennially selling us products that are often junk and not infrequently toxic. Nor will it stop processed food companies from selling us food that no one would give to their dogs unless they had rocks in their heads. Nor will it stop the Federal Reserve from running a scheme that is robbing us blind and will ultimately lead to our economic collapse. Our government won't stop these miscreants, but it will stop you from enjoying the freedom you're constitutionally guaranteed.
The Supreme Court will soon decide if Americans have the right to resell items that were manufactured abroad in whole or part. Since most everything we purchase is made in part from one or more components made in other countries, if the Supreme Court upholds this ruling, you lose your right to sell your home, car, TV, computer, iPod, snowmobile, boat, and most everything else—unless you get permission from big corporations who think the best consumers are ones on their knees (see notes). The United States abolished slavery in 1865, but powerful special interests are now trying to make economic enslavement a big part of our lives. Surely Obama and Biden would protect us, right?
Wrong. The Obama administration ordered their Solicitor General to file “a legal brief … allowing big businesses to sue people for reselling their” property.
Ryan could have pointed that out and hammered the Obama administration for daring to have Biden pretend to be a friend of middle class Americans when they are instead eagerly trying to place yet another noose around our necks, but Ryan and most other Republicans give only lip service to freedom. That's one reason why I'm less conservative and more fed up with Fox News (and others of their ilk) for selling us fantasies of freedom and lower taxation. Throughout my life, Republicans have sworn up and down that they want smaller government, but when they controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, they didn't shrink government, they expanded it.
If Americans paid more attention to what politicians do as opposed to what they say, we would all be alarmed and none of us would be surprised that the Supreme Court might drive another nail into the coffin of freedom. The question of whether Americans have the right to resell any property would never have been asked if our freedoms were not in serious jeopardy. Many of them vanished long ago, and Republicans never used their power to restore them. I had enough of their empty promises. I still think they are marginally less of a threat to freedom and prosperity than Democrats, but that's not saying much; it is like choosing between being punched in the face or in the gut.
We deserve better, but I predict we won't get it. If Romney and Ryan win, will they restore the freedoms we've lost? Will they consider my plan or something comparable (good luck trying to find one) that helps all Americans financially? My plan could bring Americans together and replace partisan bickering with a new focus on solving problems together, now. But will we get that? No, we'll get reality that once again doesn't live up to the lofty campaign promises of seven million new jobs. Obama promised that in 2008, and in 2012, we're still waiting and wondering if Romney and Ryan, who promise 12 million new jobs, seriously expect us to believe them.
Or should we take a cue from Biden and keep laughing at all politicians until they do what we elected them to do? Help us, not screw us. That would be real change, but as freedom increasingly becomes nothing but a quaint memory, expecting to get it is unrealistic. We can't keep pinning our hopes on empty promises from politicians who pat themselves on the back for pulling the wool over our eyes; we must do something about it.
But what? The first step is for Americans to understand how system justification turns them into sheeple who reflexively disparage alternatives to the status quo and thus actively resist the change we need if we are to have any realistic hope for recovery and a brighter future. Mindlessly acquiescing to mindless authorities (including clueless politicians) has decimated our prosperity and freedom.
The old way of doing things is causing America to fail. When Plan A didn't work and then Plan B failed, most Americans think that it is time to switch back to Plan A without considering Plan C. It's not that Democrats or Republicans are screwing us; it is both of them, endlessly, with most of their solutions proving to be nothing more than more problems. We need real change, not rhetoric of it.
As powerful as our government seems to be, we could make everyone in it—from the President to Supreme Court justices—pee their pants if we unleashed our collective might. We're being screwed in unconscionable ways, but we could quickly end this highway robbery and loss of liberty without breaking any laws or principles of ethics. In fact, we could give the Golden Rule ethic of reciprocity a new luster. We wouldn't need Republicans or Democrats with insultingly empty promises to give us more false hope; we could get the freedom we deserve this week.
Just one big problem: Americans can't figure out how to get something that's really very easy to figure out. When faced with comparable unfairness, some animals instinctively know how to best respond in a way that penalizes the perpetrator of that unfairness without violence. If animals can figure that out, why can't a critical mass of Americans?
Democrats use ridicule against opponents with good ideas to camouflage their lack of realistic plans to rapidly restore our economy. (If they're hiding their ideas, why? What are they waiting for?) Biden's pugnacity proved to be a formidable weapon against the pusillanimous Ryan, but Biden didn't really win, because the American people lost, once again.
Democrats are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Biden didn't unleash a particularly damaging gaffe, but he did. Discussing abortion, he said that he didn't believe in it because of his personal opinions, but he did not want to impose his beliefs on other Americans. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Biden and other Democrats were happy to impose their healthcare plan on a nation that overwhelming said “NO!” Our government has morphed into a monster deaf to our wishes, but they pay rapt attention to wealthy special interests who essentially bribe politicians so they impose their plans on us even when, as in the case of ObamaCare, a majority of voters were dead set against it.
Ryan could have flummoxed Biden by saying, “You think I have no right to impose my abortion beliefs on others, but you and your party, including President Obama, think you have the right to impose your healthcare and many other beliefs on Americans. Your position is logically inconsistent; explain why I don't have that right but you do.”
Ryan wouldn't say that even if he were bright enough to think of it because most Republicans are not committed to preserving our freedoms. Instead, in cahoots with Democrats, we've lost so much freedom that we may soon lose one of the most fundamental ones: the right to sell our property.
In 2008, Obama ridiculed a healthcare mandate or any similar mandate. Ryan could have wiped the smile off Biden's face by asking him which Obama he supported, and why: the one who blasted a healthcare mandate or the one who imposed it.
Ryan could have also said what P. J. O'Rourke did in An Alternative Inaugural Speech:
“And then there is the Tenth Commandment. 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.'
The Ten Commandments are God's basic rules about how we should live — a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. The first nine Commandments concern theological principles and social law. But then, right at the end, is 'Don't envy your buddy's cow.' How did that make the top ten? What's it doing there? Why would God, with just ten things to tell Moses, choose as one of those things jealousy about the starter mansion with in-ground pool next door?
Yet think how important the Tenth Commandment is to a community, to a nation, indeed to a presidential election. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't be a jerk and whine about what the people across the street have — go get your own. The Tenth Commandment sends a message to all the jerks who want redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, more government programs, more government regulation, more government, less free enterprise, and less freedom. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell.”
Go to hell as in buzz off, and go to hell literally for violating one of the Tenth Commandments. As an erstwhile atheist and later an agnostic who once thought religion was so preposterous I skewered it better than anyone, ever (IMHO), I later found proof of the existence of God. I'll define proof: Beyond a reasonable doubt? A million times more certain than that? No, even stronger proof based on statistical evidence and science.
Funny, isn't it? The science I once used to ridicule the possibility of God later changed my mind once I learned more, but I still have zero faith. Instead, I have something better: facts.
Too bad Ryan didn't.
- What Ryan should have said to Biden: “To help them make the best choice, the American people deserve to hear what you have to say, so I won't interrupt you. The American people also deserve to hear what I have to say, so if you continue interrupting me, you will manifest your lack of respect for them as voters.”
Imagine you're in an electronics store and a Sony rep repeatedly interrupted a Panasonic rep trying to explain why his product was a better choice. If a Sony rep did that to me, I'd politely tell him to shut up so I could hear both sides and make the best choice. I'd be annoyed that the Sony rep thought he could bamboozle me into hearing only his pitch.
American voters should be equally incensed that Biden disrespected them. I'm not impressed with Ryan, but I want to hear what he has to say so I could judge whether my poor impression of him was justified. Like other voters, I didn't need Biden behaving like a teenager in dire need of a psychiatrist and more medication, or perhaps the long overdue brain transplant he really needs.
- Referring to Biden's maniacal performance, a Fox News Democratic spokesperson (Tamara Holder) said “he was on something—the opposite of what Obama was on” (referring to Obama's first 2012 debate in which he appeared to be on a sedative). Obama's 2008 performance was markedly better.
Although Democrats did their best to portray Sarah Palin as an ignorant idiot, she countered Biden more effectively than Ryan, whose spine appears to be made of Jell-O. Dick Morris described Biden as a “schoolboy,” while many said Biden acted “unhinged,” “weird,” “nuts,” “insane,” “breathtakingly strange,” or like Bozo the Clown. He was also called a “buffoon” and an “embarrassment.” When Biden was smiling and laughing at especially odd times, such as the prospect of Iran having nuclear weapons, Ryan could have stopped him in his tracks by asking, “Are you on drugs?”
If store clerks can be fired for being on drugs, shouldn't our political leaders be, too? If we tested everyone who works for the federal government, the findings might surprise you. But not me. During my decade as an ER doctor, I saw how people act while on drugs. I see similarities in our top politicians.
Biden's bizarre behavior was obviously intended to discombobulate Ryan and impress voters not smart enough to realize that the VP's disgraceful performance would have been utterly unnecessary if Obama and Biden had more genuine accomplishments during the past four years. With precious little to brag about, they unleashed their secret weapon by taking Biden off his leash.
- Liberal Democrats, the usual enforcers of political correctness in the United States, don't lambaste Biden for his obvious bias and racism because they're on his side, as Democrats. Thus, this double standard is bias itself. Ironic, isn't it? The ones who profess to loathe bias eagerly embrace it when it suits their needs. Very Machiavellian. Very reprehensible.
Liberal Democrats also manifested their bias by going on, and on, and on about Sarah Palin's supposed lack of brainpower while they ignored incontrovertible evidence of beyond-Valley-girl stunningly scatterbrained vacuousness emanating from Caroline Kennedy, who thought she had The Right Stuff to be a United States Senator, as I discussed in Affirmative action for rich white people.
Speaking of double standards, Tamara Holder (see above) said that Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin is “very angry” and “probably needs to get laid.” When Don Imus asked her, “How’s that working out for you, by the way?” she replied, “Well, not so well, but I’m not angry. I cope with it in other ways.”
Use your imagination. As a liberal Democrat, she is free to discuss her personal sex life on national television because she knows the PC police, largely populated by liberal Democrats, won't criticize her for that. But they go bananas when a doctor discusses the science of sex if they perceive him to be a political opponent. My position is simple: Adults should act like adults, which includes frankly discussing adult topics when children aren't around. Leave the childish giggling to kids.
- Referring to this: That's the conclusion of people who know much more about law than I do. I'm not a lawyer or legal scholar and don't profess to fully understand this case, but from reading the amicus curiae filed by President Obama's Solicitor General in support of the respondent (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), even the most charitable (to Obama) interpretation of the case manifests that the Obama administration is, if nothing else, fighting against Main Street Americans, denying them a freedom everyone should have and ensuring Americans pay higher prices than consumers in other countries. If the publisher John Wiley & Sons was happy to sell the books in another country, they should have no right to restrict what the owners of those books do with them, but they are asserting the right to control property after purchase and the Obama administration is going to bat for them, using the power of the U.S. government to clobber Main Street Americans.
This case ultimately boils down to a basic principle: should companies have the power to enforce different prices for different consumers? No! They should have the freedom to set prices in different markets as they wish, but once legally sold there, the owners of the products should have the right to resell them to whomever they wish at whatever price they wish. Essentially what John Wiley & Sons seems to be doing is bleeding Americans for more money because they think we have more money (not always true, of course). Pharmaceutical companies routinely do this, charging Americans much more for drugs than consumers in other countries, but is it fair? I don't think so.
If companies must extract more money from certain customers, why not do that on the basis of income or assets rather than lumping consumers into haves and have-nots based on their country? Why not make Bill Gates pay more for antibiotics than struggling single mothers? Is it really fair to make struggling single mothers in the U.S. pay more than millionaires in foreign countries? I say no, and any ethical person with common sense would say no, but Obama says yes—and he has the gall to pretend to be a friend of middle class Americans! Ha! Obama is siding with a big business that wants Americans to pay more. Some friend.
Now why wouldn't Mr. Conservative Visionary Paul Ryan use some of his vaunted intelligence to use this case as evidence that Obama's “I'm for the little guy” posturing is nonsense? Is Ryan really stupid enough to blow a chance to destroy the myth that Democrats favor Main Street Americans? Probably not. The more likely explanation is that Republicans are just as happy as Democrats to get into bed with big corporations. If Romney were President now, he would likely order his Solicitor General to do exactly what Obama's Solicitor General is doing: siding with big corporations and using their power against us.
At the onset of Obama's presidency, in From Bailout to Bliss I wrote, “While I have many reservations about Obama, I am convinced that he could become not just the greatest President ever, but the greatest hero in history, loved by almost everyone. How could he garner this unprecedented support?” I then explained how.
In a later edition, I gave this update: “After almost one year in office, it is now clear that Obama is going to be just another President who screws the people to serve his special interest masters.”
That's exactly what he is doing by ordering his Solicitor General to side with big business, giving it a potent weapon against average people. But would Romney do any different? No. Democrats and Republicans differ primarily in their words, not their actions.
- In Dispute: Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Supreme Court of the United States timeline: Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- ABA Kirtsaeng preview.
- Kirtsaeng Supreme Court Proceedings and Orders.
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