The Pursuit of Happiness

I read a lot of philosophy, and there is no part of philosophy that I enjoy more than the question of happiness. And why is this? Because I agree with Aristotle that happiness is the end or purpose of life. It is what we seek for its own sake. Ask anyone why they do anything, and their logic will eventually end with the statement that they are doing this to be happy.
 
The problem with Aristotle is that he really never tells us what happiness is. He comes to a logical dead end. I think Epicurus answered Aristotle's problem by defining happiness as pleasure. Religious people desire heaven or paradise which is always described as a place of immense and unending pleasure. The same is true of drug addicts, athletes, or what have you. They all seek some pleasure as their end.
 
Where Epicurus comes up short is that he defines pleasure as the absence of pain. The result is a prescription of simplicity, mild asceticism, and boredom. The reality is that pleasure is multiple. For some people, it is simply a case of getting drunk and getting laid. For the workaholic, it is simply a matter of performing labor that is satisfying. By looking at life, we must conclude that pleasure and happiness is not the same for everyone. This is probably a good thing since if it were I doubt any of us would be very happy. For instance, I find pleasure in listening to music, but I wouldn't have music if someone didn't find pleasure in creating it.
 
My viewpoint on this is a blending of Aristotle and Epicurus. I believe happiness comes from finding the things you enjoy doing and then just doing them. Happiness is the pleasure that comes from a life of productive activity. Activities such as drinking or screwing can be fun, but they have their limits. I also don't see the pleasure people derive from hurting others.
 
I think if Aristotle and Epicurus had gotten together that Aristotle would have simply worked out a taxonomy of pleasures. For instance, there is the pleasure that comes from friendship, the pleasure that comes from virtue, the pleasure that comes from hard work, etc. There are also the pleasures that sick fuckers like the Marquis de Sade or a child molester would have. Not all pleasures are equal or valid.
 
The pleasures I enjoy the most come from intellectual contemplation, aesthetic enjoyment, hard work, writing, and eating fatty foods. This brings us to the discussion of virtues and vices. My tentative theory is that a virtue is a legitimate pleasure while a vice is an illegitimate pleasure. What makes something a vice is that it causes harm to either yourself or to others. Vices are simply excesses while virtues are the means between these excesses.
 
This is fascinating stuff to me. By synthesizing these elements, we find that a truly happy life comes from a life of virtue which is simply moderation in all things. I think this stuff could make a great book. It is definitely something I intend to explore.
 

The Enemy is Islam

Watching all of the recent bullshit in the Middle East, I have to wonder what all of these people have in common. Osama bin Laden, a Sunni, hated al Zarqawi and hates Hezbollah, a Shiite sect. Iraq is torn by civil war between Sunnis and Shiites with Americans caught in the middle. The Arab world could give a shit about Palestinians, but they hate the Jews with a passion. What is wrong with all of these people?
 
The one thing all of these people have in common is that they are Muslim. They are united by a dogmatic belief in their dogshit religion and the acceptance of force and violence as a legitimate means of achieving conversion. This goes all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad himself. In short, they are religiously inspired fanatics who do not respect the lives, liberty, or property of those who differ with them. It doesn't matter if they are Sunni or Shiite.
 
The other thing that unites them is a hatred of the secular west and a hatred of Israel. They especially hate the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. This is purely religious. Looking back over history, you see that religion has always been the problem in this region of the world.
 
Is it possible to simply mind our own business and hope they will leave us alone? No, this won't happen. Despite its name, Islam is not a religion of peace. You don't see Buddhists or Hindus blowing up people and buildings or beheading them. And even if you convert to their religion, if you don't accept their version of Islam, you will probably find yourself dead anyway. These are not nice people.
 
These radicals know that secularism and freedom mean death for their thinking and ways. This is why they are universally opposed to democracy. But this should also tip off policy makers in the West. It is one thing to shoot and kill these fuckheads, but the fundamental way to beat Islamists is to question their religion. Islam isn't true. People find it hard to kill or die for something they suspect is a lie.
 
I don't know if it means airlifting copies of Darwin or what not, but this war will not be won until the Islamic world faces up to the fact that their religion is utter horseshit. It is an intellectual war, and it is one that needs to be fought. Islam will not be destroyed so much as hamstrung and castrated. There will always be fanatics, but if we can keep them trying to achieve some degree of intellectual credibility, viz. Christianity, then we will have made the world a better place.
 

War is Expensive

I am against war. This does not mean that I am a peace loving hippie who would run and smoke dope instead of protecting himself. I am a big believer in having a strong national defense. But I would prefer to never have to use it.

If you've noticed the rising prices at the gas pump, then you know that war comes at a price. War is destruction--pure and simple. It takes a nation's resources and squanders it all in an attempt to destroy another nation's resources for the sake of politics, religion, or what have you.

War is the primary occupation of the parasites that I call the political class. In the days of feudalism, lords would wage war on other lords. This was because the lords had lots of leisure time and were given to theft since this was how they made their way in the world. Once a tyrant has cowed his people into submission, he must turn to other conquests which usually involves taking land and resources from some other tyrant. This thinking persists even to this day. Much of Hitler's conquests were fueled by the insane demands of the German welfare state. In order to keep Germany going, he had to steal from other countries.

Welfare and war also go hand in hand. It surprises people to learn that Hezbollah runs many social welfare programs. It does not surprise me. All political groups use welfare to buy off the public from governments to terrorists groups to leaders of organized crime. People are willing to overlook a great many atrocities and injustices if they are getting some cold hard cash in the process.

In all of this, you can see that warfare is antithetical to liberty, prosperity, and the free market. It is the occupation of thieves and parasites who cannot produce but must loot and destroy. The current crisis in the Middle East has less to do with Israel's occupation of Palestine than it does with Iran and Syria's political aims. They co-opt the Palestinian struggle as a moral justification for their tyranny. But don't be fooled by all of this. The leaders of Iran and Syria want power, and there are those in the West who will use the latest crisis to follow their own course of looting and destruction. Meanwhile, the price tag for all of this goes higher and higher.

The real tragedy in all of this is Lebanon. Here was a country torn by war that decided to give peace a chance and move on with things. The result of this was miraculous as Lebanon began to return to its previous glory. It is really a great country from what I hear. Now, it has been ruined by Hezbollah--a foreign funded terrorist organization which was founded to "protect" Lebanon. Instead, it was a cancer that was in remission but has returned with a vengeance. Peace meant death for Hezbollah. So, they started a war.

It is pretty sad to see all of this, but it is not surprising. Where it will go only time will tell. I just hope people realize the true reasons behind all of this conflict.

The KCSD is a joke

I just got done getting my car back from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department. What a bunch of idiots. I am fairly confident that justice will not be served in this incident. How do I know this? Because these guys keep asking me who the deputy was who took my statement the morning I reported it. The shitheads don't even know who is working for them, what they do, or anything else. If these folks can't even find out who took my statement, it is a virtual certainty they won't find out who took my car.

Your tax dollars at work.



Recent Events

Folks, I'm sorry I haven't written in awhile. My car was stolen about a week ago, and I have been dealing with getting another one. The police are working on finding my car, but I fear the car is wrecked to shit.

There's not much to say about being a crime victim though I have to thank the government for one blessing. The regular larceny that the federal and state governments perform on my paycheck has made me accustomed to getting fucked such that I could be philosophical about the theft of my wheels instead of giving into despair and doing something drastic like eating a bullet, going on a drinking binge, or praying to Jesus to give me my shit back.

Life is a joke. Learn to laugh at it.

World War III

I haven't written in awhile because I've been so wrapped up in the Middle East conflict. Things look grim, and I hear "world war" tossed about. This is regrettable.

I don't have an answer to the conflict in the Middle East, but I still believe in adhering to the Broadway Doctrine. That doctrine states, "We don't start shit, but we will finish it." Unfortunately, I am not in a position to see this doctrine put into practice, but it will help explain the current mess that we have in the Middle East.

Basically, Hezbollah stuck its nose into something that wasn't their business. They crossed into Israeli territory, took two soldiers, and essentially, picked a fight with the Israelis. In short, they started this shit. People will argue that this or that shit was started long before, but this is simply stupid. Right now, traditional haters of Israel like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have actually been sympathetic to Israel's plight. They are not happy with Hezbollah's actions. This is why they remain silent. This is a good thing.

But it is in the nature of Israel as well as the US to overstep in their retaliation. For instance, Afghanistan was justified. Iraq was not. You can expect the same thing with Israel. Pounding the shit out of Hezbollah is justified. Pounding the shit out of the rest of Lebanon isn't. It's like beating up a bully and then raping his girlfriend. Leave the girlfriend out of it.

Israel is probably going to expand this thing and retake territory and/or reinvade Lebanon. This isn't good or justified. This is how world wars begin. As it stands, Israel is given credit for trying to get along with everyone involved while Hamas and Hezbollah are the bad guys. This is probably the only good thing to come out of the "peace process." The conventional wisdom is that the pro-Palestinian side used all of the concessions that Israel made merely as a pretext for the present conflict. They were never interested in a peaceful solution.

The Broadway Doctrine might seem a bit pussified compared to the neocon position, but it is important. You should always seek peace first. Mind your own business. But governments don't do this. They almost always use these things as justification for grabbing power and territory. The Bush Administration post-9/11 is a classic example of this. To borrow some thinking from Nietzsche, people play the victim card in order to gain power. "Morality" is merely a pretext for tyranny. When you see someone whining and crying, never forget that those tears are merely camouflage for a sucker punch. Lincoln did much the same thing using slavery as a means to strengthen federal power. Cheney and Bush do the same thing with the Patriot Act and whatever other power grabs they have made since 9/11.

The problem with the will to power is that it results in endless warfare. This is part of the reason why we have this shit in the Middle East. It goes back to World War II which was a backlash from World War I. It just goes on and on. Everyone is justified in their tyranny because they have suffered at the hands of some other tyrant. The result is a ceaseless train of atrocities.

So, is this the beginning of World War III? Probably so.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. North Korea rattled its sword, and I expect the rest of the world to give Kim Jong Il what he wants.

You probably won't get this explanation in the mainstream media, so I will give it here. Kim Jong Il's regime sits atop a powder keg of public unrest ready to explode and consume him in a firestorm much like they did in Romania under Ceaucescu. Mass starvation has a tendency to cause this. Kim Jong Il does a desperate balancing act of extracting as much as he can for his war machine while winning concessions from the West for foreign aid. That's right, folks. Kim Jong Il is propped up by the United States, the UN, China, South Korea, etc.

Why do they do this? The first reason is that South Korea and China don't want the refugee problem. They'd rather see North Koreans starve in their country than come to their own and cause unrest. The second reason is that the US doesn't want those nukes Kim Jong Il has to be sold on the black market to groups like al Qaeda. So, Kim Jong Il acts a bit nutty every so often and these countries open their pocketbooks to bail his tyrant ass out.

Without a doubt, North Korea is a threat to the United States. But it is the one country that would be easy to destabilize. The neighbors don't want this. This is why North Korea is such a problem. It is a boil on Asia's ass.

My take? Don't invade, but don't give Kim Jong Il a damn thing. His days are numbered. In the meantime, I would have forces in place with no other task except to secure those nukes when the inevitable fall comes.

2. I had to laugh when people were openly pissed that Ken Lay got off light with a massive heart attack and death. Damn, that is some serious hatred there.

3. Pepsi is being lauded for not buying a secret Coke formula from some corporate spies. But let's be real about this, folks. Pepsi already knows what is in Coke. The Coke formula is not a secret. Any decent lab can tell you what is in Coke. And you better believe that Coke knows what is in Pepsi.

Pepsi did the smart thing in this situation. They did what was in their self-interest, and they have reaped a reward. Hooray for capitalism and selfishness. What is so interesting is how the media and the public think Pepsi was being altruistic in all of this. Their feeble minds can't grasp the logic behind Pepsi's actions. If Pepsi had bought that formula, they would have been subject to blackmail, bad PR, and overpaying for information they probably already had by buying a bottle off the shelf and running a few chemistry tests on it. Hell, the ingredients are listed on the fucking can!!

4. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has heated up a lot since Hamas took over. What I find intriguing is how everyone else in the world has wised up and stayed out of that shit. It's like neighbors who have learned to ignore the wifebeating going on next door after learning that the wife fucks other men on the side and has a nasty crystal meth habit. If anything good comes out of this, I hope the term "peace process" has been retired once and for all. I say let them fight and kill each other.

5. My cable news channel of choice is CNN. MSNBC has a pretty good anchor in Keith Olberman, but the network is kinda sucky. Fox News is too much of a branch of White House Communications. So, that leaves CNN for me.

I'm cool with Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and whoever else, but I really fucking hate Lou Dobbs. There isn't a day that goes by that he isn't harping about illegal immigration. Now, he supports raising the minimum wage and his Quixotic fight to save the American middle class as if what middle income Americans need is to form a special interest group the way geriatrics, gays, blacks, transexuals, and midgets have done. And who are the enemies of the middle class? Mexicans and corporations who corrupt the political process.

Lou Dobbs is simply an idiot. He was a respected newscaster until CNN let him open his mouth, viz. Bill O'Reilly. What Dobbs fails to see is that the number one enemy of the middle class is high taxation. Going after immigrants and corporate America isn't going to change this.


Parties, Politics, and Persuasion

"You guys will never win an election."

Someone told me this in response to my declaration that I was a libertarian. I had to laugh a bit because I could really give a shit about winning an election or getting people like myself into public office.

There are two basic reasons for my peculiar stance. First of all, the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party have consistently sold out on any principles they may have had. The fact is that just about any libertarian candidate that did win would do so on a lot of compromise and then compromise even further to remain in office. This is the nature of politics.

Secondly, I see it as hypocritical to force a libertarian agenda. You don't make people free at the point of the gun. They must choose to be free.

The bottom line is that I see voting as a waste of time. It really doesn't matter who gets elected because democracy works. Those representatives will do exactly as they are told no matter what principles they profess. If they don't, they are out of office. This is why both Democrats and Republicans often resemble each other in practice.

So, what is a libertarian to do? My strategy is the only rational one and that is to educate the public at large. Like it or not, an enlightened government will only spring from an enlightened society. This may seem daunting considering how stupid the population is, but this is the same public that overthrew slavery and Prohibition and went against McCarthy's witch hunt.

To me, the libertarian mission is an educational mission. The true power of the movement is not in parties but in think tanks like Cato or the Mises Institute, thinkers, journalists like John Stossel, and popular culture such as South Park. In addition, libertarians often share common ground with liberals and conservatives on various issues. We are not the mainstream, but we aren't on the margins either.

I have no real interest in political power or movements such as the Free State Project which is essentially the same as trying to achieve freedom through force. I think the best thing I can do (along with any other libertarian) is to present my ideas in whatever forum is available and hope they catch on. This means writing entries in this blog, writing letters to the editor on specific issues, and telling people about my beliefs. It worked for Thomas Paine.

I also need to stress that freedom is a relative thing. America has greater freedom than North Korea. About the only thing a libertarian can do in NK is get the fuck out. In the absence of libertopia, I'll take the next best thing. Right now, the USA is it.

The fact is that it doesn't matter if you win an election or not. All politicians are beholden to their constituents including the President. Hell, even the emperors of Rome had to appease the horde. From this, we see that power is at best a momentary illusion. In addition, ignorance cannot last forever. Flawed governments will fail, and they do so out of logical necessity. The only difference is how long it will take.

So, what keeps someone like me going? It is the knowledge that I am right. They could pass a law tomorrow repealing the law of gravity, but it doesn't change shit. I can't unlearn what I know to be true. Reality always wins. Also, this fidelity to truth has already made a huge improvement in my life even if no one else buys into it. While everyone else lives in fear, paranoia, and guilt, I go on my merry way seeing the bullshit for what it really is. This is freedom even if it isn't complete freedom.

I admit that I probably will never see many of my ideas come to pass. But being a libertarian is essential to my sense of humor. Life may be a joke, but I can laugh at the joke.

Overlook, Ignore, and Forget

One of my favorite books is Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. For those unfamiliar with this tale, this guy named Edmond Dantes gets fucked over by some assholes and spends 19 years in a hellhole prison hungering for revenge until the day comes when he is able to enact it. The thing that always gets to me is why Dantes just didn't let that shit go. The guy ends up becoming fabulously wealthy and better off than if he had never been fucked over in the first place. But I suppose the dreams of his earlier dashed prospects meant more to him than the reality of any present good fortune.

This is something I think about a great deal. I have been fucked over. It's hard to get through life without this happening every once in awhile. But I also know that it is pointless to dwell on that shit. By doing this, you give the present and the future to the past. I see people who do this over and over. For instance, I know one guy who wrecks every relationship he gets in because of some bitch that fucked him over years ago.

I don't believe in forgiveness. I can understand when people make honest mistakes, and I'm willing to make amends on that shit. But there are some things you can never forgive. For instance, I couldn't forgive Osama bin Laden for his crimes. There are some people that have been in my life that I will never forgive. But I also refuse to fuck myself by dwelling on what they did to me.

I overlook these things. I ignore these people. I forget they ever existed. This is a good strategy because it enables me to go on in life. I can't change what they did, and I can't right the wrong without causing severe physical harm to them. So, I do what is in my best interest and fuhgeddaboutit.

I am someone who believes in having a solid grasp on reality as well as respecting yourself enough to not let people take advantage of you. This forgetting advice might seem to contradict this, but I find that the key lies in a balance between the extremes. I don't believe in being either naive or bitter. I do believe in not emphasizing some realities more than others especially when they are not constructive.

Maybe you are getting over a nasty divorce. Maybe you are the loser in some office battle. Or maybe some asshole jacked your car stereo and then took a steaming shit on the dash of your auto. I don't know what it is, but I do know that revenge is not the answer. You'll only end up in jail or worse. I can also tell you that life will go on, and it will go better for you if you just forget about the shit. You can't change it, and it makes no sense to relive it. Let that shit go and learn the truth that living well is the best revenge.


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. I am pleased that Andre Bauer beat Campbell. I was afraid that all that free entertainment would be lost forever.

A couple of people have ripped into me for my support (actually mock support) of Bauer. These folks need to get a life. Honestly, why does it matter who is lieutenant governor? It is a nothing job. Besides, all politicians are scumbags except for Ron Paul from Texas.

2. I have had a lot of laughs about the bitchfight on The View between Star Jones Reynolds and Barbara Walters. Folks, they made a huge mistake putting all those women on the same show. Women are despicable to each other. Men get mad and toss a few punches. Then, it ends. That's why feuds in NASCAR only last a week or two. But with women, it goes on forever. And it gets nasty.

I'll give points to Star for being the classiest of the bunch. This is ironic considering her recent controversies. She'll go on to better things.

3. I shudder to hear talk of raising the minimum wage. It is hard to believe we have such wide spread economic illiteracy in this country. Why not raise the minimum wage to $1 million per year? We can all be rich then. But anyone with common sense knows this is stupid because it would effectively unemploy the nation or at least create a vast black market of labor. Yet, people forget all this when it comes to raising the minimum wage a few bucks because they think the same principles that would adhere in my million dollar example are suddenly suspended when reduced to the small scale.

Raising the minimum wage is good politics though it is bad policy. Poor people will think that they are getting something not realizing the increase in unemployment rates and the price of goods and services. But they are stupid, so fuck them. This is the price for having shit for brains.

4. Boris Said has the pole at Daytona for tonight's race, and I like the guy even if he has had some static with Tony Stewart. Can the road course specialist turn left all night long? Why not?

5. PBS's Frontline had a really good program called "The Dark Side" which can be viewed at their website. It is an eye opener. Here's the link:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darkside/

The bottom line of the program is that Cheney hates the CIA, fucked up the CIA operation in Afghanistan letting bin Laden escape, and lied us into the current quagmire in Iraq. In short, the man is a combination of ruthlessness and idiocy.