Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
According to a piece in the Huffington Post, the word “too” is sexist and hurts women by constantly making them feel like they’re not good enough.
In a piece titled “The 3-Letter Word That Cuts Women Down,” University of Vermont freshman Cameron Schaeffer explains that she had an “epiphany” about the word after talking with a friend about how she should cut her hair.
“Our conversation ended with, ‘Well you don’t want it to be too short or too long,'” Schaeffer writes.
“There is no proper way for a woman to cut her hair, let alone do anything right in this world…Everything is too this or too that,” she continues.
Now, when she says “everything,” of course what she really means is “everything as it applies to women.” After all, the very real damage inflicted by this word is yet another tragedy that only affects us: “In my experience, I rarely hear too thrown around about men,” she explains. “You hear someone say, ‘He’s short,’ but you seldom hear ‘too short.'”
“I never realized how deeply a three-letter adverb could cut,” she writes.
Alright, we’ll have to stop using that adverb then…along with maybe all adverbs? Soon as we get it figured out what we’re not supposed to use — don’t want to cut anyone, after all — we’ll just tack it on to the list.
Which arouses a rather fascinating question: What list?
For the natural disasters we’re supposed to be blaming on climate change, I see we do have a list, although I notice it doesn’t look like any one of the thousands of climate change advocates, paid or unpaid, could be bothered to compile it; seems to be the work of someone who’s sympathies are not with the movement. I know of no counterpart registry of items found to be offensive lately. No, not just lately. We wouldn’t want to forget about all the things we’ve already been taught are offensive, right? We should stop using all of them. Well, in order to stop using all of them, you have to know what “all of them” are.
Here and there, you find someone has taken the time and trouble to accumulate a lot of them…
Am I taking the complaint too seriously? Not at all, judging by what I’m reading here, and I can only judge by that. Schaeffer herself writes,
So what can we do? Well, there are an avalanche of issues women face — from rape to pay inequality to the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I would love to wake up tomorrow morning and see a completely egalitarian world outside, but I am not naive. Women are still objects to a disturbingly large number of people. If society continues on in this way, women will always be unfairly judged. But there are small and achievable steps we can take. We should call on both genders to cut the word too from their vocabulary when discussing women. If we ever want an end to the way females are put in boxes, this is the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead.
Seems to me, it’s only reasonable to ask, at “the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead,” where the journey ends. Banishing the adverbs should involve plenty enough tumult, but that’s only one complaint out of maybe thousands. Soon as the adverbs have gone the way of the Dodo bird, we’re going to have to remember what Item #2 on the list was…and so on, and so on, until we reach the end and women are no longer put in boxes.
And then there’s racism! “Hard Worker,” along with zillions of other things, is racist. Again the question arises: What are the zillions of other things, exactly? If we’re supposed to labor tirelessly to get rid of all of something, then what is it? Where’s the high-level map? How do we add things to the list, or check things off the list?
Is it web-enabled, where we can all get to it? Hosted in the cloud somewhere? Or would that be “ist” too? Er, I mean, also?
Related: If James Madison had been a liberal, Crowder supposes he might have seen the necessity in jotting out the entire list right there at the very beginning…and taken a pass on it, since a quill pen on a parchment can only do so much, right?
Two e-mails yesterday, one from Media Matters and one from the DNC, referring me to this site and this site, respectively. So that I can figure out how to argue with my “Republican Uncle” during the Thanksgiving feast.
It would be interesting to look into what, exactly, do these starry-eyed young proggies envision as the link between winning these arguments, and fixing problems. I think I can see what the DNC has in mind: All across the country, the idealistic young progressive crusaders will argue their slope-foreheaded, doddering old Romney-voting senior relatives into stunned silence — and next year that will translate into more votes for Sanders/Clinton/whoever. But, then what? Because I’ve noticed, voters on both sides of the fence look at elections differently from the way these candidates, campaign-managers, advocacy groups, et al look at them. They don’t see an election as the end-game. More like a down payment, from them to the politicians, and then the politicians are supposed to start making life better. So, Media Matters and the DNC wish to remind the starry-eyed democrat voters that their interests are different from the voters’ interests?
Did they think this through all the way?
No time available for me to make any sort of exhaustive cross-reference between these two lists of bullet points. I did notice, however, that under “climate” they both rely on the throughly discredited “97% of scientists agree” thing…so if you find yourself embroiled in a silly talk over the mashed potatoes with young idealistic crusaders from your family tree, with stars in their eyes and air in their heads, and you catch wind that they have been imbibing intoxicating elixirs from these lists; go easy on ‘em.
I haven’t got a single e-mail from a rightward-leaning organization of any sort, offering me some sort of talking-points list that goes the other way. Don’t think it’s going to happen. Which is indicative of a lot of things, I’d say. The right wing seems to be operating from the a premise that if the point has to be prepped and carried into such discussions, such that it takes shape without any direct involvement in what was actually said, it’s probably not a point worth making. Also, they’re concerned about actually making a living. Yes, even today, on the day before. Some of us have accepted the responsibility of bringing some portions of the feast…main course perhaps, jellied cranberries, squash, maybe some of the firewood. Whereas, the left wing is making preparations of its own. To win arguments.
I think that says quite a lot, don’t you?
Update: This is a rare example of me catching up on what’s happening slightly ahead of others. I heard Rush Limbaugh discussing the “Republican Uncle” retort-supply website, for a few minutes this morning, and then James Taranto had a few thoughts to add as well.
There’s an asymmetry here. After all, if liberals have annoying right-wing relatives who pick arguments at Thanksgiving dinner, it follows that conservatives also have annoying left-wing relatives who do the same thing. But as far as we know, the “How to Win Thanksgiving” genre is the exclusive province of the left.
If we were offering advice on how to talk politics at Thanksgiving (or in other ordinary social settings), it would come down to two points: 1. Think for yourself. 2. Be respectful, and prepare to back off or change the subject should things get heated.
The latter point runs counter to the spirit of the left-wing advice, which treats conversation as a contest and futilely aims at victory. The former runs counter to its substance—namely, prepackaged talking points. Liberals have no monopoly on truculence, but the need to be told what to think does seem to set them apart.
Limbaugh went a bit further. Quite a bit. So far, in fact, that he started in on what I had been thinking all along:
The thing that is striking about all of these is that the Washington Post and the New York Times and the DNC all assume that their readers are rational and reasonable, and it’s only their family members who are the kooks and the extremists and the racists. But remember: To other families it’s quite likely the person reading the Washington Post or the New York Times is the kook in the family.
It’s quite likely that the liberal reading all of these advice pieces is the real kook in the family, and the rest of the family is trying to figure out how to deal with this wacko showing up armed and loaded for bear after having read all this liberal talking point stuff to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.
Ah, her poor dumb inevitableness…the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?
Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported. https://t.co/mkD69RHeBL
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2015
Well, unfortunately for Queenie, the jokes don’t need to write themselves. We have the Internet, all ready to jump in and remind people of things. Should they ever need it.
And, someone on Hillary’s staff did. Could this be some sort of clever ploy I’m not bright enough to understand? Well, humility is important…Hillary’s side is running things, right now, kinda-sorta. But simplest explanations are usually the best, the millennials are running quite a lot too. And, by definition, they had not yet achieved awareness way back when. Or adulthood anyway. This shows all of the signs of someone having their finger on the “Tweet” button, thinking they knew exactly what to say, when they hadn’t heard the back-story. I’m rather likin’ it. Hillary tends to champion a lot of causes that don’t have my support, and in this case she’s suffering massively from ignoring something I think should be getting a lot more attention, which is the problem of rape hoaxes. The “victim deserves to be believed” ploy has a back-story of its own, going back quite aways in our society, enjoying all along the support of those with authority. Well, of course they don’t mean due process should take a back seat! They don’t, do they?
But there’s something else going on here that’s escaping notice. We’ve got this Thanksgiving holiday coming up, in which relatives will gather around a dining room table, start arguing about politics, of course very little will be actually learned by anyone, very few minds will be changed one way or the other…certainly it’s a lot less likely with the time limit imposed by the Cheesecake Nazis, or someone reaching up to drown out what they see as a lot of petty bickering with some classical music, or pop tunes, or heavy metal or whatever. Before that happens though, the subject of the Syrian Refugees is going to surface…and with that, a lot of dishonesty, since it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick some statistics that make it look like President Obama’s taken the correct position. And let’s face it, cherry-picking statistics to get that done, is what a lot of people in media seem to see as their guiding mission, each and every day. But this is not a statistical issue, it’s a national security issue.
It’s also a philosophical issue, and this is where it ties back to the “Hillary says rape victims deserve to be believed” thing. Awhile back, off-line in the e-mails, a couple of my blog brethren and I delved a bit deeply into the difference between the sophists and the dialectics, and how each one of those two sides sees truth.
The bottom line is, sophistry — boiled down to its crude essentials — is winning the argument, period. Not quite so much at the expense of the winning argument being a useful one, but more like, with complete apathy toward that. An example would be…well, we can go back to the last time I blogged about something. A dead lawn looking cool — there isn’t much truth involved in that, since dead lawns look like shit. But the statement has a good shot at being the winning argument, if the value embraced has something to do with laziness. No need to water a dead lawn; no need to cut one either. A dead lawn is the lawn of a do-nothing. It is also the lawn of a sophist. You get to look cool (even if your lawn doesn’t), and act smug.
It is the contrast between the Architects and the Medicators, the former of whom think about things the way one must think about them, when one sets about the task of trying to build things that will actually work. And, to the latter of whom, the point of life is to be happy. The former demands thought, the latter involves feeling.
After seven or eight years of man-crush on Emperor Obama, an entire generation has figured out a new way of “thinking” and it isn’t healthy. You can’t create anything that will actually help anyone, thinking this way. You can’t grow turnips, or rice, or tomatoes, or slaughter some beef, pork or chicken, thinking this way. “This soil is good for growing grapes! Not only is it good for growing grapes, but it is the best soil for growing grapes on the WHOLE planet! And if you do not agree, unhesitatingly, my friends and I will all get together on Facebook, and mock you!” Just like “survivors of sexual assault deserve to be believed.” As is the case with sophistry, the conclusion has nothing to do with whether the soil is really good for growing grapes, or whether the survivor of a sexual assault really did survive a sexual assault.
What Hillary — or her staff — did here, though, is arguably outside the realm of sophistry, since classic sophism is all about Arete, or “moral virtue“. It looks like this fits the definition as far as intent, if not achievement. But there’s something else, isn’t there? Authority figures, and advocates, who drone on about this “victim deserves to be believed” stuff endeavor to create a symbiotic relationship of sympathy, which persists even when the objectives of truth and justice are not being served, and there’s nothing morally virtuous about that. Their message to the rape-hoaxer is quite clear: Don’t worry about all that stuff, sweetie. You’ve got me. My loyalty goes above and beyond, and outside of, the evidence and the truth it speaks about what really happened. This is a prominent feature of what’s being offered, not a hidden one. It is a part of the packaging as well as the substance.
Oh what, she didn’t mean it? Well there were other ways to word the statement, and it was “tweeted” the way we see it above. Now there are two good reasons to wish things had been left unsaid, not just one. Hey, that Hillary Clinton is a real savvy political figure, right? Smartest woman on the planet.
This “deserves to be believed” aspect of the modern American progressive’s flavor of Arete, seems to have achieved dominance. Just as a belief that the accuser really did survive sexual assault, has nothing whatsoever to do with this conviction that she “deserves to be believed”; so too did a belief that Barack Obama would serve as a healing balm of the country’s race relations problems, have nothing whatsoever to do with the conviction that He deserved to be seen that way. It’s just like the crappy, toxic soil that deserves to be perceived as excellent for growing the vineyard — best on the whole planet! And don’t you dare say otherwise! Or even hesitate to believe it! Or we shall mock you!
The sophists of millennia ago who aroused the enmity of Socrates and Plato, would have stopped short of this. There is no “moral virtue” involved, cosmetic or genuine, in claiming to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. What there is, is a weird sort of group cred. Just like sophistry, it ignores truth, or rather makes a fair-weather friend out of truth, showing support for truth only when truth happens to take the side of the superior goals. But its goals are unique.
Today’s liberals have adapted themselves to take a place within a society in starvation mode. They believe the soil is the best in the world for growing the doomed vineyard, not because such a belief is in line with the truth, and not because once they’re seen professing the belief they’ll have a better chance of ensconcing themselves within a cloister of elites wielding real authority. They’re more like rats on a sinking ship, climbing over each other to reach the highest ground. Even their political animals drunk on power, like Hillary, are in this mold because we see them lose their enchantment with power as soon as it involves some actual responsibility. Hillary is just an example of this, but she’s a good one. For decades now, when power involves the power to remember key events in her latest shenanigans, and her butt is in a seat before a Senate hearing trying to figure out what really happened — she’s lost her famous lust for that particular power. Power will have to wait ’til tomorrow, today I’m a victim. Help me! I’m melting!
This is a fine distinction. It is between a desire to ingratiate within a peer group for the purpose of wielding this power and running everything; versus, for the purpose of mere survival. To be among the last to be cast out of the fortress on the eve of a deadly winter.
The takeaway? It could very well be that rape hoaxes are nothing more than a thing of the past, from here on every single accuser can be believed; and furthermore, that the Syrian refugee crisis is not being used as a Trojan Horse gambit by our enemies, and every single case can be safely admitted without negative consequences. And, that Muslims have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. But it doesn’t matter — these are not the people you want in charge when the ship really is sinking, or whenever there’s a reef, iceberg, another ship, or anything else that might sink it. These are not the people you want running things when there is a threat. Because containing and managing a threat, like dispensing justice, or growing a vineyard or building a bridge, is something you do competently only reckoning with real truth. Measurable truth, dialectic truth. “Doesn’t matter who’s cheesed off about it” truth.
And these people do not belong in the front seat, that’s not their bag, baby. They are political-animals through and through. Every now & then they are guilty of pretending otherwise, pretending that their hands really do belong on the steering wheel, but only rarely and only weakly. Behind closed doors, they’re probably amazed they’re getting away with so much, that it’s taking the country so long to come to grips.
Are we not?
Things to do if you buy the conservative narrative:
1. Work hard
2. Find ways to enhance your skill set, so you can make more money
3. Spend time with your family, let your kids see what responsible adults do
4. DON’T turn in your weapons
5. Pay your taxes, but get angry when they’re wasted
6. Hold politicians accountable for wasting money on useless social programs
8. Give to charity
9. CHOOSE your own charities!
10. Start a business, if you’re really sure the time is right
Things to do if you buy the liberal narrative:
1. Support Obama’s latest plan to do X
2. Don’t resist
3. Go on Facebook and help us argue with people
4. Sign Joe Biden’s birthday card!!
5. Did we mention, don’t resist?
6. Do less something, do more nothing, emit less carbon
7. Get angry at businesses for…you know, being in business
8. Wait until WE tell you to work hard! — Keep waiting…
9. Send in extra money after you’ve paid your taxes! Nah, just kidding…
10. Just, like, you know, whatever liberal politicians say from one day to the next…just do that, whatever it is…
Point is, liberals talk a great game about “coming together and working together.” Very often they’ll get busted for trapping schoolkids in some activity that will never promote the growth of any sort of useful skill, and their defense will be “Well the little cherubs are learning to work together, and that’s worth at least as much as all that data, electricity, stuff.” But when you look at what they want people to do, you see there isn’t much opportunity for us to work together.
Here & there they’ll build whole narratives around some activity they want us to do together, but when that happens you’ll notice the “what are we doing together” amounts to just a big ball o’ nuthin’. Like #6 in that second list.
Follow the liberal narrative, and what happens is, to the extent any of us are doing “work” at all…ironically, it ends up being uncoordinated work. Stovepipe work. There’s a lot of chatter involved in coordinating, but that’s about all it is, chatter. Regurgitating Item #1, “Call your representative and tell him to support Obama’s plan.”
Comparing them to the workplace, liberals are — and they really wouldn’t have much chance to learn this, since it’s a workplace analogy and all — just like that guy who talks up a great game about how he did this, he did that…he’s got no clue what you’ve been doing, you don’t know the workings of whatever it is he’s doing, wouldn’t be able to coordinate with him if you tried. And behind closed doors, he’s telling the bosses “And this place would fall apart without me!! These other guys, I dunno what they do around here. I’m the guy who makes it all happen!!” If that guy has any influence, layoffs follow him around, like a shadow. Whether he does or not, bad morale follows him around like a shadow. Because, while he may talk a lot about teamwork, he does nothing whatsoever to promote it, and quite a lot to diminish it.
The Syrnian-refugee thing? Just another example. What is there, should we decide to follow the liberals’ plan, for us to DO?? Nothing. Just support Obama. Don’t oppose, don’t resist. Log on to Facebook and help us argue with people.
I got three e-mails from the DNC this week. They were asking me to host a Syrian refugee in my home…oh no, just kidding, no they weren’t. They were asking me to sign Joe Biden’s birthday card.
What inspired this? So much! The Biden birthday-card thing…the G20 remarks from America’s First Holy Emperor and the whining that was subsequent to that. A little bit of family stuff. And some frankly rather idiotic ideas I’m seeing about gun control, making college campuses more “safe” and infantile…
It’s not that the people peddling these ideas are looking down the road and saying, “Yes, I want people to be completely defenseless when a madman opens fire in a crowded public space.” I think they’re being honest, for the most part, when they focus on what they say is the big payoff…in that case, “If nobody has any guns, it won’t happen, because nobody will have any guns, like duh.” I think they really do have faith that that’s going to work somehow. Some of them, anyway.
But a lot of them aren’t looking down the road at all. This is the trouble with preening. All of this effort being plowed into shaping and molding a narrative: “Good thing we were here! See how much better we are than those other people?” Just like that hot mess on the workplace I was describing up above. Good thing I was here! Got no idea what those other people are doing boss, why do you bother paying them?
You can’t reliably, or regularly, generate good results when you do this preening. Because those who preen are not predisposed to improve, to repair flaws. To do that, you have to 1) hang around to see how the Awesome Wonderful Grand Plan works, 2) find some flaws and 3) be honest, with yourself first of all, that the flaws are there. That gets in the way of The Preen.
Which means, ultimately, that The Preen has to get in the way of improvement. Any improvement. All learning. The beginning of all learning is “I don’t know,” and you can’t say that when you’re preening. Because when you’re preening, you already know everything. Just like the guy who’s had a few too many, is the best dancer in the room and his jokes are all funny.
For an example of how practitioners of The Preen behave when confronted with these flaws, I can’t think of anything better than what I saw yesterday over at Obamacare Facts. The comment thread is absolutely priceless. Especially the contribution, directed toward the moderator who was scrambling around trying to polish the turd, from sue on 11/5/15:
You’re on glue. You have the stupidest solutions and suggestions I’ve ever heard. Just be honest and admit this is a sham, a shake down of hard working citizens and the freedom of this country. This is a cash cow for the government and the health care industry and we’re all held hostage and being forced to buy into something we don’t want and can’t afford.
We see this with discussions about: Social programs, income taxes, foreign policy, refugees, abortion, religion, campaign finance, free speech issues, gun control, the savings-and-loan mess, climate change, prayer in schools — pretty much everything.
And it wasn’t always like this.
What’s different, I think, is that people are grasping at straws for ways to show what good people they are. We have an epidemic of GoodPerson Fever which is really nothing more than a spike disrupting the supply-demand equilibrium. A generation or two ago, there were ways to naturally show what a good person you were, that didn’t require any actual showing: Pretty much, the ten items on that first list.
Nowadays, they’re all getting more difficult to do, and people are being offered incentive after incentive to not do them. So they’re stuck. Preening. Can’t do anything else, other than maybe vote for a black guy to be President to prove they’re not bigots. Or a woman, to show they’re not sexists.
It’s been a constant drumbeat for a decade, it’s never left us for more than a day or two at most in all that time. It has ruined just about everything…
If it gets any worse, we’re going to have to start considering that maybe it’s a real problem.
A rather fascinating discussion unfolded this last week under the comment thread under the “Were the Nazis Right Wingers” post. Severian was challenging some of my definitions, trying to figure out where I stood, making me go “hmmm” here and there; eventually he went back to the Rotten Chestnuts site, and jotted down some of his thoughts about the whole left-wing right-wing thing. Some of what I’m doing doesn’t quite fit in the orthodoxy, because with the left-wing you have to separate outcome from intent — the ideology has yet to achieve, in any significant measure, any of its stated goals. And I’m going by outcome.
This brings about a perception of orientation that has attracted some questions, since scholars tend to classify ideology by intent. Left-wing, according to that, should be about the elimination (or at least, the toning down of the effects) of social classes. In America, we see it always seems to follow the same pathway: “Social class” is re-interpreted to have something to do with actually working for a living, or not. Continuing on with that train of thought honestly would then mean, “Well then, let’s see to it that everyone who wants a job, has one.” Politicians on the left often say something similar to that, but their policies make it much harder for anyone to find work. So we see them taking the path of least resistance — raising the standard of living of those who choose not to work, and diminishing the standard of living of those who do work. That much “equality,” and that’s about all. As far as political power? That’s a bust. Sure, advocates on the left do work hard to increase the number of people who have power; but only insofar as bringing into the fold, people who are likely to agree with them. That’s not a real test of commitment, is it?
So as far as I see it, the distinction in ideology has something to do with maturity. At the extreme “left” people want what they want when they want it. If someone gets in the way, well, they shouldn’t be there. Toddler Rules. Dictatorships, therefore, are inherently left-wing, at least from an American perspective, because it is in our heritage that government power should be shared and not concentrated into a single point.
“Liberal,” according to the more orthodox definition, is supposed to have something to do with equal rights. It is a rejection of primogeniture. If you get a month in jail for jaywalking, and the son of a high government official gets just a stern lecture for exactly the same offense, that’s supposed to be an offense against liberalism. Doesn’t work, does it? We only have to recall how “liberals” reacted with Bill Clinton was caught in his shenanigans with a White House intern, to pop that soap bubble. Liberals are also supposed to reject absolute monarchy…which in the Age Of Obama also doesn’t work. Here in the United States, liberalism is associated with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and all that went with that. And herein lies an irreconcilable contradiction with that “absolute monarchy” business, since FDR had to threaten to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his way. For his plans to be adjudicated impartially, wasn’t good enough for the American Caesar. This is the trouble with judging by intent; you have to go by stated intent when you do that, and in politics, statements of intent are so unreliable.
“Conservatives” are supposed to be all about retaining social institutions. This is supposed to make them more resistant to new ideas, which are welcomed by the liberals. Well, Greg Gutfeld came up with three good exceptions to that one, those being school choice, flat taxes and market-based health care reform. There are others though. Conservatives came up with the idea of welfare block grants to the states, teaching girls and women how to use guns, the Laffer Curve, and the Balanced Budget Amendment — many of which, like Gutfeld’s three, pose threats to liberal-friendly and liberal-favored “social institutions” like deficit spending and teachers’ unions.
In other countries, there is a distinction to be made between “liberal and conservative” and “left-wing and right-wing.” The Left Wing opposes social inequality and social hierarchy, is friendly to communism and socialism, as well as to anarchy. It is much friendlier to the welfare state. Again, because of the historical backdrop involving FDR’s programs, these terms “liberal” and “left-wing” mean much the same thing in America, although it’s important to remember that these meanings diverge in different directions once you start talking about elsewhere.
The “right wing” defends, not so much inequality itself, but rather the institutions that might have contributed to it: Natural Law, economics and tradition (as in, a royal blood line). Communism intends to create a classless society, the “right wing” opposes communism. But then, see, there is that problem again: Intent. What communist society was ever class-less? Ten, maybe twenty hippies toiling over a garden patch back in the sixties; any bigger of a “society” than that, you have classes. And just maybe, the “right wing” is resisting that because they can see where it’s going.
In the United States, we have additional meanings for these terms since we have federalism, or at least, are supposed to have it. Liberalism, in the U.S., has a lot to do with undermining that particular constitutional concept. This gets back to that thing about a dictatorship again, the Toddler Rules. If the feds say it should be a certain way, it should be that way — nice and simple. The right wing, pain-in-the-ass that it is, keeps going on about “states’ rights” which the left wing says is just a code-word phrase for re-instituting slavery, or racism, or something. The right wing, on the other hand, points out that when the federal government can practice supreme authority over the states in all transactions, interstate or not, it invites abuse and that’s why the left wing likes it that way. Which side to believe? Well…we know abuse flourishes in the U.S., whereas slavery has been abolished. But I guess that’s a side-issue. Again, these are uniquely-American complications, so it’s important to maintain an understanding of whether we’re talking about global left/right-wing, or U.S. left/right-wing.
What is written above has to do with definitions made, or recognized, elsewhere. What follows has to do with the observations we can make about the events around us, and how they may affect those definitions.
We see certain behavioral characteristics in those who affiliate with The Left, of course. Joe Biden, before he became Vice President, let loose a famous “racist slip” when he talked about how you can’t go into a 7-Eleven without an Indian accent or something like that…yeah, that’s stereotyping, something left wingers aren’t supposed to do. But he stereotyped because he was grasping at straws for something positive to say that might have a connection with the person he was meeting, and he seized on a group, not an individual, accomplishment. And that’s textbook American left-wing thinking, that groups accomplish things, individuals don’t. Furthermore, that the accomplishment is decidedly bereft of any true excellence, just “fastest growing” and that’s it. It’s just one of many examples. On Planet Lefty, groups, not individuals, accomplish things; and groups, not individuals, have rights. This is distinguished from Classic Liberalism, which is concerned with the rights of the individual.
Rights, in turn, are not necessarily “rights” as you and I know them to be. You have a “right” to a free college education, if we can make enough people angry that this right doesn’t exist yet, nevermind that someone else has to provide it somehow. Or a right to get married, which actually isn’t a right at all. And far from obliterating social classes the way liberals and the left are supposed to be wanting to do, all around the world, American lefties are power-drunk on group privileges. It’s their bread and butter. Chief among these privileges is the privilege of bellyaching about statistical deprivation. Example: Female engineers are paid less, on average, than male engineers — that’s a thing. Heterosexuals are, on average, less well-educated and paid less than homosexuals. That’s not a thing, not worth mentioning. So there is a “bellyaching privilege” enjoyed by some classes and not other classes. And that privilege, in the Lefty Pocket Universe, is a “right.”
If defining is all we want to do, and we only need the definition to work in the United States, we can define the Left Wing around a sort of fairy tale, the Leftist Fantasy that is never quite told all the way. There is the status quo, in which the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; all is despair and darkness. Then comes the revolution. A hero, or band of hardy compatriots, busts open the walls of the treasury with their battle axes and sledge hammers and what not, inviting all of the poor, oppressed villagers to gather around and scoop up as much of the golden coins as might be practically carried. Which the villagers do, then they haul the lucre off in their aprons back to their humble mud huts. After that, all is lightness and good, and there is equality. The defenseless are defended, the guilty are punished, everybody is on equal footing and all is right with the world. That’s the fantasy.
Their difficulty is, it’s hard to keep an awareness of the concept of time while you’re telling this story. The Toddler Rules say, they want everything the way they want it, all of the time. So if the revolution is happening tonight, then that means tomorrow there won’t be one. It’s like trying to drug yourself into a high without crashing afterwards, or trying to have sex without a real orgasm. That darn “time” thing, it says that if this is your moment, then the moment’s going to end soon. They can’t quite get with that part of it, so they live out their entire lives on a hairpin-turn of sorts.
Because a “right” is whatever a regional society declares it to be, The Left has an awful lot of trouble with the whole “good and evil” thing. They have a deserved reputation for failing to see evil when it’s right in front of them. And when the job is one of confronting it, these are not the guys you want leading the sheriff’s posse. They’re great for when non-aggression is the right answer, the problem is they can’t tell when it stops being the right answer. The enmity that they bear, as an ideology, against George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq is a lifetime superlative. Political anger isn’t supposed to be something that’s measurable, but by any measurement, this is at the top. And the funny thing is, they can’t say why. “Illegal, unjust war” they say. Illegal how? They can’t answer. What would’ve happened if the U.S. hadn’t invaded? They can’t answer that either.
As easy as it is for The Left to proclaim brand new “rights” here and there, even when they cost actual money, they’re not quite so quick to figure out if they’re affordable rights, or who is going to be affording them. It doesn’t even rate an afterthought to them. Health care is a right that should be free? You’ve just revived the institution of slavery, and imposed it upon health care workers. College education is a right that should be free? You’ve just done the same thing, to the college professors. Oh wait though, no…doesn’t quite work that way for the profs. But anyway, this is yet another adequate distinguishing characteristic of the Left Wing in the US of A. Such-and-such is a right, we don’t know who’s paying for it, and we don’t very much care.
They do, though, put some thought into sticking the bill to classes of people they don’t like. “The one percent,” in the case of the video clip linked above. So there’s that.
Their level of commitment with running a check on the distribution of politcal power, or lack thereof, ties into this. You don’t have to study this very long to figure out their game plan: If the indigent have more power at election time, democrats win more elections. This creates, for us, another distinguishing characteristic. Anyone with some common sense, and a desire to see the republic endure, would have to have some feelings of dread about “One Man, One Vote”: Should work out fine as long as a majority of people can see fit to back some plans that are good for the community as a whole, and resist plans that are not good for the community as a whole. But as long as there are economic classes, it stands to reason that the classes with the greatest class membership will be the ones more further removed from actually producing anything. What is to be done to protect this system of government from the wreckage that may result? The Left Wing may be distinguished by their answer to this: Nothing, and isn’t that great? And, by their desire to exacerbate the problem. Greater political influence is to be placed on those who don’t actually pay the bills. All in the spirit of “One Man, One Vote” of course. But The Left would be plum-peachy with the idea of depriving the producers in society, of that one vote, so that isn’t really what motivates them.
And you see this, all throughout the modern world. Wherever you have a “leftist regime,” you’ll see a configuration that has become most familiar to us throughout the twentieth century: One man has all the power in the country. And still, there is some sort of phony charade going on, where they can pretend it’s all about one-man-one-vote. In fact, the dictator just recently won 100% of the vote in some sham election. I’m talking about who, exactly? I haven’t even offered enough criteria to narrow down these regimes just yet — could be any one of ‘em. One guy, self-promoted to Sooper-Dooper Field Marshal Ten-Star-General Supreme Blah Blah Blah…sinuses long-ago eaten away by cocaine, mind half-gone with venereal diseases, since the whole damn country exists solely for his amusement, and men like this are running out of ways to amuse themselves. If any one of his entourage looks at him funny, he has them shot or worse. Thus, my remark that led to the question that is the title of this post.
The American Left, far from being in favor of any sort of “equality,” is all about castes. The apex of the power pyramid, with his syphilitic problems and his weird military title and funny hat, is the dictator. Easily identified — “no one is above the law,” but if the law ever comes into conflict with his will, the law changes on the spot. He’s in charge of separating the nation from reality. If the question is “square root of sixteen” and he says five, the answer becomes five. Then you have his entourage, climbing all over each other for the coveted position of second-in-command. And then, within the enclave, those who support the dictator — and, those who do not. Those are the four castes in a leftist regime. Dictator, entourage, supporters, pariahs. Again, I’m talking about who exactly? A plurality of regimes, and far more than just a plurality in fact, fit; so it’s a generalization, but as generalizations go it’s not unsafe.
Lack of critical thinking is a key ingredient of the Left Wing, a core requirement. They live in the ad hom, even while they project this onto their opposition. Many who have endured the frustration of arguing anything with them, or merely discussing anything with them, have seen this-or-that subtopic come to an abrupt halt within a cul de sac of sorts, with “Oh you can’t put any credibility on that, it came from Fox News!” or, “Are you seriously going to question this, when 97% of climate scientists say it’s the right answer?” Point after point after point they throw out there, for which there is no rebuttal — and no way to agree, either, really — and you’re constantly asking yourself “Yes maybe, but what can we do with that within this discussion?” The question does have an answer: Nothing. These are weighty matters, for the Pharaoh and his entourage to solve, not fit for discussion among the riff raff. Our place, in the leftist universe, is merely to support what the powerful have decided. Remember our place. The science is settled. In fact, any definition of the decisions made by the powerful elites, more granular than what the elites are willing to provide, is anathema. Definition of their strategy is very often not forthcoming, and it is wrong to ask the question. It isn’t even fitting to ask for a qualify definition of the problem they’re trying to solve. The Left, in general, is opposed to definitions. They like ‘em so long as they may lead to broader and/or more passionate public support. Outside of that, the process of defining anything is to be shunned, along with anyone who calls for it. Quoting myself on where the definitions fit into it:
What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.
Such passion The Left holds against definitions, that it seeks to obliterate definitions that don’t even pose any sort of a problem for it. Like gender. They hold that this is nothing natural, nothing more than an artificial societal construct, and yet at the same time there is one gender that is vastly superior to the other one. How to reconcile all this? You don’t. You’d have to define things to recognize the problem in the first place, and they’re opposed to defining anything. They think, correctly, that definitions get in the way of what they want to do, which creates fascinating conundrum because the question that naturally arises is, what exactly is it they want to do? And you’re not allowed to ask it. Not unless you’re prepared to take their stock answer word-for-word, and move on to the next question like a good leftist, with total apathy about the conflicts kicked up as this stock answer brushed up against reality. The People, it turns out, are just a bother when they ask too many questions. In fact, people are a bother anyway, a pestilence upon the planet. Children are to feel good about themselves, all of the time, but what are they really? Just an expense. They don’t have jobs, paying or otherwise, other than to sit, do as they like, feel happy. But they cost an arm and a leg. When they reach adulthood, they become what the rest of us are: A blight. A plague upon the planet. Not really part of nature.
Because they refuse to define anything to any useful level of detail, and are perpetually intent on dismantling the definitions we already have, they are a hot mess upon what they themselves call “the economy,” which they constantly brag about strengthening — somehow. A typical argument between a right-winger and a left-winger about the economy, in the Age of Obama, might go something like this:
Right: It stinks.
Left: You think so, because you won’t stop watching Fox News. Truth is, we have X many more jobs this quarter than last quarter.
Right: Yeah, that’s because if someone lost a good full-time job due to ObamaCare, they have to take 2 part-time jobs and that counts as 2…
Left: You just have to stop watching Fox. And anything else I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.
What’s interesting in this exchange is that the Right Wing antagonist has left himself open, with some speculation entirely (or mostly) unfounded. We don’t really know that this is what’s happening, we just have some data that supports parts of it. A good enlightening discussion could unfold from that, probably with some good points made on both sides. But The Left will have none of it. They’re missing the mark of the educated mind:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
They can’t manage it. They’re fanatics. Control-freaks, too: “Don’t watch anything I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.” Just like a controlling husband telling his wife which friends she shouldn’t have.
The idea that the economy is doing better when there are more jobs, is one that has outlived its usefulness. You don’t have to be a practicing economist to see that this has done us great harm, by being what it is: A metric that is just plain wrong. It’s not unlike pulling a car out of a ditch by attaching a cable to a part of the car that’s not part of the frame. Is it possible to construct a scenario in which this flawed metric is doing just great, while the “real” economy is capsizing? Absolutely. In fact, it’s easy. We’re living it now. You just have lots of people “employed,” busting their butts doing work that doesn’t actually help anyone — provides no useful service, manufactures no valuable product. Then you leave the citizenry to wonder, year after year, why the standard of living seems to be on a long, slow decline, even though they’re working their fannies to the bone. Sound familiar? And here we have another distinguishing characteristic: The Left thinks that’s just wonderful. They think the “economy” is “strong,” when there is a lot of activity.
Part of that is because their appreciation of “hard work” is nothing more than fakery. They don’t really believe in it; if they believed in it, they’d have been doing it at some point. You haven’t long to wait to listen to an impassioned leftist describe, in graet detail, the evilness of the “Koch Brothers,” but so many of them couldn’t even get started on telling you what the Koch Brothers did to make their money. The truth is, they don’t think there’s anything noble about making it. They think the nobility is in being impoverished — not just in poverty, but dependent. That’s important. A mountain man who has figured out how to get by on zero dollars, therefore labors under the burden of poverty but not dependence, brings them no value. They value the inner-city dweller, the panhandling bum. Same income level, different level of dependence. The panhandler is the yardstick by which we measure the compassion of society, as such he possesses infinite importance. The mountain man, on the other hand, can be ignored. It’s all about getting democrats elected. So their value system is fixated on the impoverished, so long as they’re properly dependent.
Does that mean they don’t want the economy to do well? Why yes, it does; it means exactly that. How are you going to get democrats elected, when the average American citizen sees a pathway to his own prosperity, by way of thinking for himself, and providing valuable products and services to others?
They don’t think money is earned. They think it’s distributed. They themselves will have no qualms about admitting this, since with each new election cycle, the economic plans put forward by their politicians are concerned mostly with tinkering with the distribution. Tinker, tinker, endlessly; so-and-so has “slipped through the cracks” and we need to “shore up” something. Oddly, this doesn’t mean we should ever revisit any plans of theirs that were implemented before. They can’t ever bring themselves to admit that reality fooled them. I suppose that’s true of all politicians, but The Left is an interesting case study because their politicians are essentially trotting out more-or-less the same plans every two to four years. So if they could ever bring themselves to admit, hey we tried fixing this, our fix didn’t take because of this thing we’ve learned since then; it would sound perfectly credible. I think they avoid doing this because they know if they’re going to do that 2 or 3 times about the same problem, they might as well do it 30 times, and by the time you say it that many times people will start to figure out you’re either lying, or don’t know what you’re doing.
Those would be the two messages The Left wants to avoid most avidly, because there is some truth to both of them. Truth is dangerous to a leftist.
No, each new plan has to be inspired by new outrage. The classifications of the outrage do not change: Someone died in police custody, or someone else has too much money, or power, or racism still exists, or women aren’t making as much money as men. Fresh anecdotes bring value to the leftist, because their real estate is limited there, and as the election cycles tick by they can’t keep feeding on the same ground. They need these stories of discrimination lawsuits getting thrown out of court, so they can stir up fresh, new outrage.
Those are the distinguishing characteristics of The Left; the politicians, advocates and voters. The Right comes into conflict with them, mostly because The Right — being composed of people who actually work for a living, build things that have to work properly so they can get those things sold — is concerned with something that doesn’t even rate an afterthought to The Left: Sustainability. The Right looks further down the road. Their mindset is the one that says: “If I paint this brick and sell it as a gold brick, it might work one time but that buyer won’t be back, so what good does it do over the long term?” Their understanding of human nature is vastly superior to The Left’s, which doesn’t say very much at all really. They may be repulsed by the newer generation’s music, but they’re not going to write angry letters to the radio station to stop playing it. They’ll just turn the dial and listen to something else. Partly because that’s practical, but partly because they know that if Katy Perry fans go months or years without being able to get access to her music, those fans will just start to miss her and they’ll like her music even more. This sets them apart from The Left, which is constantly inundating us with things they want us to learn to like, and scheming to deprive us of things they want us to learn to dislike. We’re looking for distinguishing characteristics to support our proper definitions, and in this case we get two-for-one. The Right is more mature; they understand absence makes the heart grow fonder. And they don’t work so hard to try to control others.
The Right is much less likely to be satisfied with “experts say” statements, even when such statements happen to be friendly to their pre-existing biases. If the details are missing behind such a statement, rightward-leaning people are going to want to have those details; they’ll at least go through the trouble of initially wondering about them, which is another characteristic that distinguishes them from The Left. The latter, upon hearing “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists believe in global warming” will ask very few questions about that. This gets them into trouble over and over again, as they use the “hammer” for its intended purpose, ending arguments once and for all, only to be confronted with these bothersome questions for which they’re unprepared, like: Do 97% of climate scientists agree we can head off a calamity by moving money around the way Al Gore wants us to move it? The Right Wing is much less likely to make this mistake, although it still does occasionally. It has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or intelligence. It is the curiosity that naturally arises when you build something upon which you, yourself, will be depending later. Did I tighten the lug nuts on this wheel? They understand that the same goes for any effort to build anything that possesses genuine value: You have to define things.
The Right doesn’t see the “leaders” or the experts as part of any sort of deity class. They just see these people as people with jobs. And they see them as strangers. Trust is earned, not given. Politicians, climate scientists, pundits — if these people have influence, that just means these people have the ability to break things, just as much as the ability to make them any better. So these impressive offices filled with these impressive people with impressive titles, to the Right Wing, are just nothing more than responsibilities. Which might not be met. And We, The People also have a responsibility, to keep an eye on those people. They’re our servants. They work for us. It’s a tradition that goes all the way back to George Washington. No royalty here; we don’t need it.
The Right is further distinguished from The Left, in that its adherents are much more likely to have actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. As such, they know this country is not founded on any sort of fundamental premise that government provides our rights; it is the place of government to merely recognize that we have them. The way The Right sees it, humans are sacred, dignified creatures; we are a part of nature, in fact we’re the most important part of it. And children are not just expenditures, or cudgels to be used against estranged fathers by vindictive mothers. Children are precious. You put them all together, and you have the generation that will be living in, and leading, the world of tomorrow. That’s another natural consequence of The Right looking two steps down the road, whereas The Left can see only as far as one step.
Because people are sacred, it logically follows that the work they do is also sacred. This puts The Right in the position of being far more open to the likelihood that work can help others. The Left very often envisions The Right as retrograde, some sort of throwback to a past time — “conservative.” This is as fitting a situation for that observation as any other: The Right hails from an earlier chapter in our developmental history, in which profit was a way of assessing the net value of work. The Left seeks to depart from that plane; and this isn’t helpful. Profit is how we figured out what activities were worthy of blossoming into businesses, and what businesses were worthy of launching leviathan industries. The Right still sticks to that, and assesses the performance of the economy by how easy it is to make a profit. That’s our “yes” and “no” signal, it tells us where to steer the economy, allows us to figure out what is worthy of greater investment, and what should die on the vine. The Right Wing dreads the day when, anytime and anyplace an investor makes the inquiry by participating in some new venture, the answer that comes back is always no. They understand that on that day, the oxygen supply will have been cut off for all of us. It comes back to definitions, again. If you invest in something and make a profit, not only do you know that there must have been a demand for that product or service, but you also know there had to have been some quality work and some good decision-making involved too. You have to have all of those things to make a profit.
If there aren’t any profits, that’s exactly like a network device acknowledging every single packet with a failed checksum. With the behavior unaltered, the sending peer will re-send so many times, and then come back with an error that the transmission couldn’t be completed. Then you could reprogram it, but how do you alter the behavior? There’s no right answer. Network no go. The same is true of our economy, and The Right is unique in understanding this. Some things, every now & then, are going to have to work. “Investment” is really nothing more than a question, “Profit or Loss” is an answer. That’s how we find our way around, figure out where to go. On The Left, these are dirty words.
Because you can only make a profit if you make correct decisions, there is a certain nobility about being able to provide for yourself. Like the network packet checksum, it shows everything is aligned and working, in the correct sequence. There’s no such thing as “excessive profit,” because more profit simply means more productive, hard work, and more correct decision-making, more investments that are possible. See, The Left has spun this highly successful deception, this Big Lie, that because they’re looking forward and the Right Wing is looking backward, they must be the ones for progress. But you can’t be for progress if you see profits as evil, or good only in certain situations, in which the level of the profit has to be contained beneath some limit. That’s not progress, that’s anti-progress. Also, the Right Wing’s political leaders are not committed to selling more social programs for the benefit of the indigent classes in order to ensure their longevity — therefore, there’s no vested interest in increasing the population of the indigent classes. This is supposed to be heartless, or lacking in compassion, or some such. That’s actually the way it’s supposed to work. Successful, strong economy, that means more rich people, easier to make a profit, fewer indigents. That’s the desired outcome.
Because The Right has this check routinely run against their suppositions, whereas The Left only has its beliefs, its zealous statements in support of those beliefs, and navel-gazing self-appreciation for how it makes these statements, it follows that The Right is much more strongly tethered to reality. Anybody who’s ever tried to do anything that relies on a strong tethering to reality, will be able to attest to the fact that it isn’t always easy to maintain one. Constant testing and re-evaluation, these are important things, the most precious tools in the toolbox. And you can’t continually test and re-evaluate without the strong definitions, mentioned previously. Gender is not something to be “re-assigned” or re-thought or torn apart, or anything of the like: It is a part of nature. Our place is not to meddle with it, but to accept it for what it is. The Right, also, has a much better understanding of this thing we call “science”; they understand that it is a method. It’s not a club of credentialed elites, it’s not a great dusty thick sealed-shut book full of engraved catechisms. It isn’t a seal of approval affixed by some authoritarian body. They understand that science is a means of discovery, and they understand that when someone says something asinine like “The Science Is Settled,” that person is either trying to hoodwink someone else, or has been hoodwinked himself.
Those are the available distinguishing characteristics between Right Wing and Left Wing; at least, the ones that come to me, and apply in the United States. Again, you see (thanks to FDR) we here in the U.S. have the luxury of conflating “liberal” with “left wing” and “conservative” with “right wing,” which doesn’t work so well in other countries, for a lot of reasons. Primogeniture never really was much of a thing here, so we don’t have “conservatives” harkening back to a bygone era in which the firstborn son got to live in the castle and pass the title down to his firstborn son, etc. etc. If anything, they’re merely “harkening back” to the bygone era in which people aspired to work for a living.
Still and all, it’s a bit wordy. So I would distill all of those paragraphs down to the following three broad categories of distinction.
Cultural Drive: The Right Wing seeks to drive our culture in one direction, where the Left Wing seeks to drive our culture in the opposite direction. We could pose to each side, or to an opinionated-person of unknown orientation, the following question: Is work just for suckers? This lacks the virtue of tact, but certainly does get right to the heart of the matter. Leftists will certainly object to it, but it would be silly and counterproductive to try to deny that they look at “work” very much differently compared to their Right Wing counterparts. To them, if someone has to work in order to survive, and work harder than they’d like to be working in order to survive, that means something is broken and needs fixing. The Right Wing, on the other hand, figures that if it’s “work” it goes without saying that you’re going to have to do some work, and you’re going to have to do some things you don’t want to do — that’s why they call it that. If you got to pick everything, it wouldn’t be work.
Relationship Between People and Government: One of my left-leaning Facebook friends said he doesn’t believe there is any such thing as “Natural Law,” and as I mulled over this I realized this is a good way of locating the surveyor’s twine, to draw the boundary. Is there such a thing as N.L.? This leads up to a question that has been asked, for ages, by Americans who couldn’t be bothered to read the Declaration of Independence: Do our rights come from government? And that leads to: What is a “right,” anyway? Is a right a right, if someone else has to pay for you to have it?
Foreign Policy: Where the above two have to do with domestic matters, The Left is divided from The Right (as well as from common sense) when it comes to overseas situations, and how to handle them. Having been born in the sixties, I’ve often had the impression I’d have a better idea how this came about, if I were born, oh, somewhere around three decades earlier. Liberals don’t define “peace” the way normal people define it. They seem to understand that for a peace to endure, someone has to do some compromising; but they don’t want to be the ones doing it. So if there is peace, but they’re not getting everything they want, then there can’t be any peace. Somehow, this means every military conflict that comes along is the fault of their opposition. It’s all unnecessary. They seem to go so far as to say, without saying it, that the military itself is a useless relic from an earlier time, and if we work at it we can get rid of all armed conflict, like Smallpox. They don’t say so; and this would directly contradict their hero-worship of FDR, who “won World War II” and so forth. But such a belief would pose no contradiction whatsoever, against the ideas they have for the problems that confront us in the present. In fact, going by the policy proposals they advocate for foreign policy today, it’s difficult to see any use they have for international borders, at all. And that would make sense. Borders are, among other things, definitions.
So these are the meanings I have in mind; the long and the short of it, literally. Severian objected, at least at first, to the realization that under this perception of what the ideologies really mean, every dictatorship in the history of the human race, going all the way back to the Pharaohs, would be “left wing.” To which I say, yes of course this is true, how can it go any other way? “Right Wing” is a belief in, among other things, Natural Law — which would get in the way of a good, honest dictatorship.
To which he replied, with his description of the five buckets. This is great stuff. Had to Facebook it right away. His explanation of it:
Imagine that we set a whole bunch of famous leaders down and gave them a pop quiz: “What is the purpose of government? What is the State for?” Then we sort them into buckets.
One common answer would be “the State exists to create Utopia here on earth,” and guys like Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Obama would be in that bucket. Their Utopias would all look different, and they’d employ different means to get there, but all those guys would agree that their governments are trying to create a perfect world.
Another bucket contains guys like Oliver Cromwell, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charlemagne, and Ferdinand and Isabella. Their answer is something like “government exists to give greater glory to God, and/or punish His enemies.”
A third bucket is full of guys who answered “the purpose of the State is to give me and my entourage the highest possible standard of living” — Genghis Khan, Louis XVI, pick your ancient empire-builder.
A fourth bucket reads “the State exists to keep the natural world in balance.” Egyptian pharaohs and Confucian emperors fit here — they have to do their daily rituals or the world falls out of whack.
A fifth — very small — bucket reads “Government exists to protect its people’s life, liberty, and property.” Here you find George Washington, Jefferson Davis, William Pitt, and (arguably) guys like Pericles and the consuls of the Roman Republic.
I’d argue that the guys in the “state as utopia” bucket are the Left, and the “protect the people’s rights” bucket are the Right. That leaves the vast majority of all governments that have ever existed in the middle three buckets. Doing it this way, I think, helps clear up some of the confusion about behavior and attitudes — Obama, as you note, behaves as if he believes His presidency has kept the seas from rising, but I don’t think He actually does. Nor do His followers.
Here, I think we are wrestling with another question that, although it might not serve adequately as a distinguishing characteristic, nevertheless highlights the difference between how left-wingers and right-wingers think: Believe. The more we look into it, the more we return to that pivot-point, like a homing pigeon, which is the difference in consequence. The Right Wing has to work with it, the Left Wing does not. It’s almost as if…I would say, exactly as if…the Left Wing formed its relationship to reality, when it got busted by its mom for taking cookies out of the jar, and pulled a fast one on her with a bit of nonsense about “Actually, I was putting it back.” And that worked, either because the small-em mom wasn’t into confronting them about the obvious falsehood, or she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the drawer.
Whereas the right-winger, in the same situation, ended up having to carve his own switch.
Truth, therefore, to a left-winger is whatever successfully sells the pitch. Belief is a dedication to whatever that “truth” is. It is only the right-winger — and, true, genuine centrists — who see truth as truth, something that is inextricably fastened to consequences. This brings us back to the analogy of “Did I put the lug nuts on the wheel the right way?” It inspires a whole different way of thinking, a whole different direction of thinking.
So it is belief, but not as we know it. Over here. They do “believe” that Obama has something to do with the rising of the seas. They’re willing to say it…and there’s nothing more to it than that, in their world. Say this thing, get to keep my cookie.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Severian found the topic sufficiently engrossing, as do I, to go over to the “daughter site” and jot down a few extra thoughts. “Three Signs You Might Be a Secret Leftist.” The three signs are:
1. You think the world is perfectible.
2. You never trust your own lying eyes.
3. You claim dictatorial powers for yourself, because you’re the victim in everything.
It seems to me that he and I disagree about the “Pharaoh,” because we see different things in that example. It’s too late to psychoanalyze Ramses The Great, but we can put together some crude profiles of dictators more recent, and the traits we see in dictators we know are pretty much the traits we should expect to see. Toddler Rules. There is an atrophied ability to resolve conflict, or no ability to resolve conflict at all, because there’s never been any need to do so. “I want what I want when I want it.” They do a lot of twiddling once they’re in charge of things, but they don’t grapple with consequences, don’t spend a lot of time wondering “did I tighten the lug nuts,” since they don’t put in a lot of lug nuts, and in any case won’t be the ones driving the car.
I should say something about their destructive impulses. Somewhere I noted that the leftist regimes we see here in the U.S. recently, over the last forty years or so, all have it in common that they make a big show out of building something great and grand, but can never quite articulate what exactly that is. If you were to ask them “All fine and good, but what are you destroying?” they’d be able to tell you. Now if someone can tell you what he’s destroying but can’t tell you what he’s building, doesn’t seem to have that figured out himself, that might be a good tip-off that this person is a destroyer and not a creator. The Left Wing, in our country, can’t quite make that leap. They want to think of themselves, and be thought-of by others, as creators and not destroyers; but, that seems to be nothing more than spinning a wild yarn about putting the cookie back in the jar.
Yay. Yes, we’ve slowed down quite a bit as of late, but we’re still ticking, at 8,079 posts and 25,806 comments.
Video footage of Yale students losing the plot over a faculty head and his wife, who said everyone should calm down about Halloween, has caused much head-shaking in liberal circles. And it isn’t hard to see why. The head’s crime was that his wife sent an email suggesting academics and students should chill out about ‘culturally insensitive’ Halloween costumes. It’s okay, the email said, to be a ‘little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive’ on this one day. For his wife issuing this mildest of rebukes to over-sensitive over-18s, the head was accosted by a mob of students insisting the email made them feel unsafe. When he told the crowd that he thinks university is about providing education, not a ‘safe home’, they screamed at him to ‘step down!’. ‘Who the fuck hired you?!’, the most unhinged of the students cries.
It’s unnerving, odd, a terrifying snapshot of the new intolerance. We could see the culture of ‘You can’t say that!’ in all its swirling, borderline violent ugliness. It wasn’t a whispered or implied ‘You can’t say that!’, of the kind we see all the time in 21st-century public life, in response to people who criticise gay marriage, say, or doubt climate change. No, this was an explicitly stated ‘You can’t fucking say that, and if you do we’ll demand that you be sacked!’ That it was stated at Yale, and in response to a bloody email about Halloween, has added to the hand-wringing among liberals, who want to know what’s gone wrong with the new generation.
Okay, fine. It is indeed interesting, and worrying, that students are so sensitive and censorious today. But I have a question for the hand-wringers, the media people, academics and liberal thinkers who are so disturbed by what they’re calling the ‘Yale snowflakes’: what did you think would happen? When you watched, or even presided over, the creation over the past 40 years of a vast system of laws and speech codes to punish insulting or damaging words, and the construction of a vast machine of therapeutic intervention into everyday life, what did you think the end result would be? A generation that was liberal and tough? Come off it. It’s those trends, those longstanding trends of censorship and therapy, that created today’s creepy campus intolerance; it’s you who made these monsters.
I think it’s even worse than that, though. The prior generation is not acting just as an enabler of this sort of behavior; it has been a forerunner. The ramifications of this are heavy, in that they would mean this whole lunacy is inter-generational, it didn’t just start this year because it’s never really stopped.
I’ve also noticed something about it: It’s theater. Correcting whatever caused the offense is not nearly as important as manifesting that the offense took place. Also, the drama that ensues has a lot of value nobody ever seems to discuss, as a diversionary tactic; the expression of offense alters the outcome.
The perpetually offended, therefore, have a loathing against whatever conclusion would most likely have been produced, had the discussion not been interrupted. It’s not just an isolated defensive outburst against “offense,” it’s a whole way of life. Down in Missouri, that Melissa Click woman who called for “muscle” to block that reporter from covering a protest — I’m still having trouble with the concept of a protest that isn’t supposed to be seen — just did it again, citing “death threats” as the reason for canceling her class as she deals with the ensuing troubles. Death threats, yes it’s always death threats…
Losing the argument? Stir the pot a bit. Death threats, not feeling good, sprained ankle, being offended. These are people who start arguments, and figure they ought to be the ones to finish them. If ever it doesn’t go that way, they reach for a sort of “ejection seat lever” and there’s your real cause of offense. That’s why we’re seeing so much of this. It isn’t an ever-evolving society reaching new heights of sophistication and learning that certain things should be taboo, and it isn’t even (completely) a thing with thinning skin, upon those who are getting offended. It’s a tactic. A tactic used by those who just want to skip ahead to the fun part, where they win the argument, without slogging through that boring thing that involves some actual arguing.
Viewing it through that lens, we see this embiggens the ramifications involved somewhat. Quite a bit, actually. These are not isolated incidents at Yale and Mizzou. Like Rush Limbaugh said, “It’s only getting started here, folks.” Even that isn’t completely right, “it” isn’t just getting started.
These are people, being groomed to run the world of tomorrow, to make all of the Big Decisions That Really Matter within our society of the near future — being taught how to start arguments and not to, in any civil way, finish them. Now think of that. That’s really not much different than teaching a whole generation of passenger airplane pilots how to take off, but not how to land. Tomorrow’s executives, professors, politicians and other authority figures are being taught how to hit the emergency-eject button when they figure out they’re losing the argument, so they can get their way even when they find out in mid-course that they’re wrong. Taught that, by the precious snowflakes of yesteryear, who were taught precisely the same thing, and have been getting offended constantly since then — and have taken over academe.
The point is, nothing significant just happened, except that we’ve been forced to give a greater share of our attention to something that’s been happening already, for a long time. When we bring it to a stop, that’s when life starts getting better for everybody.
Nothing to add.
Happy Birthday, United States Marine Corps.
I’ve long had a theory percolating away in my cranium about the English language. That’s about all I can do with it, since the theory, while refutable, is not provable. Until it’s directly refuted, I have found it occasionally worth mentioning because it explains what is baffling to so many people, but it’s a bit involved and weighs somewhat on the listener’s capacity to pay attention. So perhaps if I spell it out here, this will ultimately be revealed as a more proper forum, down here in the blogging “basement” where it can hang around, dehydrate, molder just a bit, while I see fit to link to it. Or not.
One of the virtues of this theory is that it explains not only what is baffling about the English language, but also about software engineering; not only the challenges that arise when one coordinates a team effort to build something new, but why it is we’re surrounded by so much stuff already built that…that…well, you know…
Perhaps I should just dive into it.
The many observed and mostly-unexplained inconsistencies involved in the English language come from two simple causes. One, the language was defined & refined back in the olden days, obviously before the Internet. Of course, there were other things back then to serve as precursor substitutes for the functionality of the Internet — but, not the Internet’s ability to offer up some sort of instantly accessible, centralizing “Oracle” resource, like for example a time server. The language, therefore, accumulated all its various permutations through an implementation of what we in software engineering call the Stovepipe Antipattern.
Publishers acted like software developers. Publishers, and dictionary-editors. They processed a bit until ambiguities arose, and then they coped a bit. Process, cope. Cope, process. They didn’t work completely in these “stovepipes” while settling their encountered ambiguities, in fact I’m sure they were more conscientious about the necessary coordinating than today’s software engineers, even when today’s software engineers are trying hard. But they did all their “networking,” of course, within walking distance. If an encountered question was truly perplexing, it would be escalated as high as any other pressing question…but, again, within walking distance. All the way to the (local) top: Some old gasbag. The senior senior editor guy, whose WordsCarriedGreatWeighttm. That gasbag, in turn, would create the problem.
He, of course, did not enter the question on some listserv, or search engine. In resolving the thorny problem, he drew from his massive personal experience — and that’s all. How else could it have been done? So he would have had to have harkened back to his previous experience, which was after all the commodity he possessed that drew all these other professionals to him, seeking his counsel. Perhaps back to when he was just a freckle-faced copy boy running around on the publishing-house floor…when some answer had been produced to the thorny question. By that previous generation’s local senior gasbag.
And that previous, generations-past old codger who “had” the answer; was he giving the question the attention it commanded later? Almost certainly not. Ambiguities, I’ve noticed, have a way of becoming visible only after the passage of time. It’s pretty often people discover they’ve been wrestling with them without realizing it, offering up the “right” answer that is so certainly and so unanimously right, only because no one has ever questioned it. So this old codger whose WordsCaarriedGreatWeighttm would “answer” the question, once and for all! — locally. Which would create a wrinkle, because if there was an ambiguity in that publishing house, there almost certainly was another encounter with the same ambiguity over in some other publishing house, which in turn relied on the vast accumulated wisdom of some other old duffer with big bushy gray eyebrows in which you could hide cigarette lighters. And he, I think, within the same timespan would resolve the same question. Differently.
It’s undeniable, isn’t it? To deny it would mean to presume the questions did not arise, which would be daffy. Or, that they arose, and were settled, conveniently, exactly once per generation, with one single answer for each — just as daffy. We can test that. At least, if we have spent any time in a career that deals with words. How many places have you worked in which someone was wondering where to put the ‘M’s in “commemorate”? Or why the word “inflammable” exists? From such tests, we postulate that the same questions must have arisen in many different places, within relatively the same span of time. And we know for a fact they didn’t have any convenient or expeditious ways to coordinate the answers.
We further know, without a doubt, that this “Ask Yoda” method must have worked — but only for the immediate need, just to resolve the pressing issue so the day’s work could be completed. Just to get an answer. Acquire the best and most informed opinion that might be acquired…within a few footsteps.
A cultural grudge or two, brought on by previous historical events, can do wonders to keep these “right” answers to a common question anchored in opposite directions, even after the discrepancy has come to light. This is easy to prove, if one is honest about one’s own passions. I have no problems admitting I’d like to chuck an extra crate or two of tea into a harbor, whenever my browser settles on the idea that I’m some sort of cockney or canuck writer and starts underlining words like “honor” or “theater” as if they’re misspelled. It’s human nature to arouse a little bit of ire about it, as in “THIS way’s right, that way’s wrong…fuck those people.” One does tire of seeing the same idea re-presented over and over again, when one “knows” how wrong it is. I’ve just about had my fill of this idea that “James Bond” is just a code name, and lots & lots of different characters in the franchise have been having these adventures using the moniker. Fuck those people who keep coming up with this bad, wrong, terrible idea.
Anyway, yes, the English language is broken in lots of ways. So it necessarily follows that it’s a real tragedy it has become dominant, right? Wrong. I said at the beginning, there were two causes of these many fractures. The above paragraphs explain just one cause. The other cause is, simply, that the English language was used, and therefore, abused. Had another language achieved dominance, the same questions would have surfaced in the same publishing houses with that other language, and it would have been exposed to the same abuse, just as you find more bugs in a software system when you run more tests on it.
There’s a genre of expository writing where the author explains in detail how he got something completely wrong. The name for this form is “nonexistent” because no one ever does it. Similarly, you will never hear a lecture from an economist explaining how he got some prediction totally wrong. For instance, Obama’s economic team swore that the stimulus bill would set off an economic boom through the magic The Multiplier. They were wrong and it was a flop, but no one talks about it because it is simply not done.
This is something you see in all fields, not just public policy. You never read about scientists discussing how they screwed up an experiment or fell for some nutty idea that sounded good at the moment. What we expect and what we get is equivocation, denial and when that does not work, an attempt to flush the incident down the memory hole. It usually works too. Paul Ehrlich was hilariously wrong about human populations, but he has paid no price.
Well, I can explain it, I think. Opinion-makers and opinion-distributors like Ehrlich pay no price for being wrong, because very few people care; and people don’t care because they, in turn, also pay no price. “Turned out to be right/wrong” has little practical meaning anymore. Our system of forming and governing societies, our style of discussing weighty issues, come from times in centuries past when being right or wrong meant the difference between living or starving. Now, it means the difference between strutting like a peacock on Facebook, or…fuming away on Facebook.
It has almost as insignificant a bearing on our station in life, families, fortunes, careers, all the things that matter, as…the outcome of an organized sports event? Well no. Nothing has less impact than that. But it’s pretty close. Been that way for awhile, and our dedication to the dialectic has suffered as a consequence.
Political views and religious belief are indeed two very different things, and many liberals have even criticized the pseudo-religious trends in their movement and party. Nevertheless, some recent events should make us wonder just how religious liberal orthodoxy has become…Perhaps liberalism is more like a religion than we thought.
“When a group confuses politics with moral doctrine, it may have trouble comprehending how a decent human could disagree with its positions,” [David] Harsanyi explained. This, he suspected, “is probably why so many liberals can bore into the deepest nooks of my soul to ferret out all those motivations but can’t waste any time arguing about the issue itself.”
The accusations are endless. If you don’t believe in liberal positions about climate change, the minimum wage or social justice programs, you must have been bought off — there simply is no other possible explanation. How could you hate the poor so much? How could you doubt established facts? How could you hate yourself?
“Don’t like big government? You’re a nihilist,” Harsanyi adds. Supporters of traditional marriage and sexuality are “transphobic, homophobic.” Pro-life advocates “may claim that you want to save unborn girls from the scalpels of Planned Parenthood, but your real goal is to control women — even if you’re Carly Fiorina.”
This move to silence the debate does not end with Twitter. Last month, 20 climate scientists petitioned President Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — a law intended to fight organized crime — against people who “denied” climate change.
Any mature Christian who has struggled with his or her faith has likely encountered the idea of theodicy, answering the question “if there is a good God, why is there evil in the world?” Christian history is rich with this perennial struggle — to explain God’s goodness to a world where injustice prevails.
Recently, liberal pundits seem to have taken up the cause of explaining why bad things happen to good people: we don’t have a large enough federal government. In May, an Amtrak train derailed, making national news. Who better to blame than congressional Republicans, who capped federal funding for Amtrak (a private for-profit corporation) at a measly $1 billion? Even as preliminary reports suggested the driver was to blame, liberals argued that a lack of “infrastructure spending” was the real culprit…congressional Republicans are to blame, because they were unwilling to dedicate more taxpayer dollars to the nebulous, job-creating savior “infrastructure.”
This thinking is so off-base it also proves an insult to religion, but sometimes liberal ideas can only be explained by comparison to faith.
Whether self-styled progressives question your ideas by calling you psychotic, demands that you “check your privilege” or blames all our woes on the insufficiency of big government, please understand that they are merely acting on the basis of firm convictions. We must not stoop to their level by questioning their motives or mental health. Only acknowledge that their faith can be as bigoted and entirely wrong as the most benighted religion.
One of the most effective bumper-sticker slogans that spiritual leaders have used to encourage their flock to re-think their dedication to the faith, has been some variation of “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s a good question in that it directly targets the fair-weather friends. Christ, like anyone else unfairly persecuted in the times in which they lived, would not have too much use for fair-weather friends. It’s not too hard to find some New Testament scripture that confirms this.
I have long been wondering the same thing about elevating the next generation, and giving that next generation the tools it needs to elevate itself, to a platform of independence and prosperity. There, too, we need a test of fair-weather friendship. I’ve noticed quite a few people are pretty good at slinging around the stock phrases. “Get him the help he needs to succeed in school and life” and so forth. My all-time favorite has to be “We don’t teach them what to think, we teach them how to think” — so seldom does it turn out to be true.
Old people fear outliving their savings. Now that I’m fast approaching the stage of life where one becomes an old person, or can at least start to see the “old person zone” looming on the horizon, I notice what life has to teach old people, as much as what old people have to teach others about life. I’ve noticed life is teaching them they didn’t save enough. There were all sorts of problematic expenses they didn’t anticipate, and in some cases, brand new expenses they did not predict. The young, the old, the in-betweens, seems everybody’s problem is not enough cash. How come the old people don’t say something like: It’s far better to overestimate your expenses than to underestimate them?
Or: Find a livelihood in which the money comes from helping others, work your ass to the bone at it, see to it you pay yourself first?
What’s the measure of dedication? If we were all arrested for making our kids more prosperous, or for giving our kids the tools and skills they need to become prosperous, would there be enough evidence to convict us? There would? Are you so sure?
You may need to read John Hawkins’ latest for a reality check. We actually do quite a lot to keep kids poor, and over their entire lives.
The 7 Keys To Trapping As Many Americans As Possible In Poverty
Keeping Americans poor in a prosperous country like America is not as easy as you think. After all, this is the “land of opportunity.” Legal immigrants pay tens of thousands of dollars and wait years for the opportunity to come legally and illegal immigrants often risk their lives just so they can get here and do menial work. This is the country that made Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even OPRAH into billionaires and it’s a nation where you can have everything from hoverboards to medicine for your pet delivered right to your door. So when there’s so much wealth and opulence everywhere, how do you lock Americans out of that success?
No matter what you do, there will always be a few poor people around, but to really maximize those numbers there are very specific government policies abetted by a few cultural attitudes that will make all the difference.
The seven pointers are: Keep taxes and regulations high, encourage dependency, encourage people to have babies out of wedlock, demonize success, screw up the education system, have massive immigration, and ratchet up expenses.
The babies-out-of-wedlock thing is a sticky problem for me, since I’m guilty. For others, I’d say the biggest problem is the “screw up the education system” because it is the most subjective. To follow the conversation along, you have to have a little bit of what they used to call an attention-span…which is something I notice lately is going out of fashion, and maybe that’s an eighth point that could go on this list. Within my own history of making money, not that I’ve made a lot, but it’s been a consistent observation of mine that the money follows the paying-of-attention. This new generation, which I sometimes call a “Not a Lifeguard Worth a Damn” generation, concerns me most of all because so few within it possess the ability to just stop, watch a designated target, and invoke some sort of plan when the target changes state in any way. It’s way too far above them. Or beneath them.
I’m generalizing, of course. There are exceptions.
But the education thing — the worst offenders are going to say, of course education is critical and that’s why we started this curriculum that…blah blah blah. And if you happen to notice, some of this blah-blah-blah is only weakly connected to, or isn’t connected in any way to, the actual making of money, you get back this half-truth litany. Something about how, the point to it is not to make money, necessarily, but to broaden horizons or some such.
There is truth in this.
But, it just brings us back to my original question. If the crime is one of elevating the next generation to prosperity, and we’re arrested for it, is there enough evidence to convict?
In other words, where is the level of commitment? The spirit of dedication? Same thing people asked me all the time when I didn’t marry somebody…which turned out, when all was said & done, to be the correct decision. But in this case, we don’t need to worry about the correct decision. Life is being quite consistent, with regard to all sorts of age brackets, womb to tomb, in its repeated teachings and it doesn’t very much care if we learn it or not: Not enough savings. Not enough funding. Not enough margin for error. You forgot about how to pay for X.
Before free trade was possible among the hoi polloi, the way you elevated your stature was to capture territory, which usually involved killing. Or you could take the direct approach, and bonk someone over the head for the money in his purse. Capitalism gives us a way to realize our fortunes, change the future for our descendants for the better, while helping others. What a wonderful gift the ages have given us, by unfolding this relatively young chapter in human development during this lifetime. Do we have sufficient appreciation for it?
Well, if we were arrested for & charged with the crime of showing proper appreciation for it, would there be enough evidence to convict?
This thing at about 2:00 has always bugged me. The idea of a “guy who can do no wrong” at the very apex of a nation’s power-pyramid; to believe Nazis were right-wingers, you have to believe that configuration is left-wing here, here, here, there, there, there and over there too…but with that guy with the tiny mustache, suddenly that’s right-wing.
From the comments:
I think the problem we have is that people have no idea what Conservatism is. It’s baffling to think that someone could even associate Conservatism with the Nazi’s, when we support limited government, and we’re against socialism.
This week I learned two things about American politics — as improbable, at this late date, as that may be. Some among us can study things quite awhile and still miss fairly obvious things. Anyway, the two things I learned are 1) All, or nearly all, of the disagreements have to do with which direction to go; and 2) the electorate is being subjected to one lie after another about this.
Over and over I’ve been seeing disputes about direction, falsely represented to the people as disputes about extent. A great example of this was CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla’s question that set off Sen. Ted Cruz on his rant-heard-’round-the-world:
Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown, and calm financial markets of the fear that a Washington crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show you’re not the kind of problem-solver that American voters want?
And, depending on who summarizes what follows, for your benefit, you’re going to get a story about a brave Senator speaking truth to left-wing biased media power — or a story about how Republicans can’t handle tough and honest questions. As usual, everyone’s got an opinion. But how many remember the actual question?
It has the appropriate punctuation at the end, but I don’t really see a question there.
The premise is shaky. Is a resolution to raise the debt limit really about where a debt limit should be? Or is it about…just getting it raised? “…prevent a government shutdown…calm financial markets…”
One of the most wrong-headed people I know, is fond of saying “It’s true to a certain extent.” She says this when something is undeniably true, but to acknowledge the undeniable truth would be to concede defeat about something she wants. And I don’t think she’s ever been compelled to go without something she wants, so she goes after this “certain extent” thing. She doesn’t really have any such certain-extent in mind, she’s just avoiding things. The same is true of liberals when they argue with you on the Internet.
Them: Tax cuts hurt the economy, raising taxes would help the economy.
Me: A tax, by the very definition of the word, places a burden on whatever it is taxing. Therefore, that is just the sheerest nonsense.
Them: Well look here now, taxes hurt when they’re too high OR when they’re too low, what we have to do is find the optimum level.
Which is really just more nonsense. I reply with the analogy about the drag being imposed on an engine by the fan belt, the alternator, the power steering pump, fuel pump, oil pump, water pump. These devices help the car, true enough, but the drag isn’t what makes the car go. If science could provide some way of achieving the same functionality while cutting the drag in half, you’d go for it right? And it has, and we did.
Furthermore, progressives are — progressive. If the application of the word contains a shred of honesty to it at all, it is because they don’t believe in standing still. There’s no “certain extent” or optimal level of anything. We all know it. Liberals argue as if we could achieve this optimal level, and they’d go away happy. The ensuing years would not bring any of them back to say something like “It’s a problem that the rich aren’t paying their fair share” — they wouldn’t say that, because everyone would be paying their fair share already. Does anyone believe that? If you do, you’re just wrong. Progressives progress.
Why do they lie about it, and pretend to be struggling with the fine location of some midpoint? Simple. If people knew what The Left really does want, very few among us would ever support them.
I suspect most guys understand the problem here. Not all of us, just the ones who ever said: “She thinks I’m invisible even though I treat her like gold, she’s lavishing all her attention on that guy who’s an asshole and a jerk.” Any guy who’s been in that situation. Which is most of us. But, eventually we do solve the problem. How did we get that done?
Turns out, there’s always one reason why women don’t make any damn sense, it’s because women are people and people don’t make much sense. Young dudes, you want to write that one down and keep copies of it? You’re going to find in the upcoming years there’s a lot of wisdom in it. Chicks don’t make sense, because chicks are people and whoever said people make sense? You think dudes make more sense than chicks? To solve the problem: Discriminate. Start discriminating, and don’t ever stop. There are two kinds of chicks, because chicks are people and there are two kinds of people.
Some are assholes to people who are nice to them, and nice to people who are assholes to them. Others — including you, without a doubt, if you’ve ever been inclined toward this business of “She’ll spend more time with me when I treat her well” — at least have the polarity hooked up properly. You may be learning some things right now you’ve been needing to learn, but it does take a certain level of maturity to do that: Be nice to people who do good things for you, and when people are assholes, just leave them be. Oh yes, that’s a maturity thing, a growing-up-right thing. So now the next thing is: She’s broken, you’re not, you want to try and fix her? Be careful. Don’t waste your time on others who have yet to get this basic wiring diagram hooked up right, those who have the polarity reversed. This will suck the life right out of you. You’re running through this thing called “life” just one time, and it isn’t a dress rehearsal. The future is not guaranteed.
The point is, everything is like that. All the disagreements, anyway. “Oh no, we don’t want to get rid of the debt limit entirely,” they might say. “We just want to up it to nineteen or twenty trillion dollars or something.” Nope. That’s not an honest expression of the disagreement. The disagreement is about whether there should be a ceiling at all. It’s about whether debt matters. It is, like everything else, a dispute between broken-people and not-broken-people.
There are disagreements about Caitlyn Jenner being a female or a male. Again, an honest presentation of that disagreement wouldn’t involve that particular individual at all. The disagrement is not about whether s/he is a man. It’s about gender itself. And again, it’s about directions and not increments. One direction says gender is natural, irreversible, and maybe disguisable but nevertheless undeniable. The other direction says gender is nothing but a social construct.
The Left, as we know it today, pulls this crap pretty often. “Oh but it’s not one or the other, there are shades of gray in between.” They have yet to define how that matters. Increments show that a measurement is relative; when we observe that a point on the Earth’s surface is East of one thing but West of another, this proves the relativity. It does not, however, show that East is West, or vice-versa. And the same is true of relative measurements that deal with abundance and absence, like heat & cold, light & darkness. So, no. Even if you can define your increments of something like gender, which would really just be more nonsense, this still wouldn’t show that men are women, or women are men. These are two different things.
This has been invading our culture for a long time now. You see it in our movies. One of the things kids today don’t understand about Star Wars, for example, is that when it first came out back in the 1970’s it was commonly called a “Space Western.” What does that mean? It means, right up until Darth Vader turned out to be Luke Skywalker’s father, it was about good and evil. The Grand Moff Tarkin, and then the Emperor, were Rufus Ryker; Darth Vader was Jack Wilson; Luke and Obi-Wan shared the role of Shane. Today they’ve gotten rid of that, and it’s lost to history that the franchise held an appeal to us because it was a tale of good versus evil. Bad guys, nowadays, can be bad just by wanting to hang on to their stuff. Good guys are “good” in the sense that they have good excuses for stealing stuff. All sorts of crimes are ultimately redeemable, as the bad guy becomes a good guy. Nothing’s off-limits, not even slaughtering unarmed “younglings” in a Jedi temple. It’s heartbreaking to see, but today’s kids are lost in the same desert that surrounded us, back in the day, within which the first two Star Wars movies were a welcome oasis. But it isn’t just Star Wars. Good and evil are just relative terms, all over the place, with the result that the characters are uninteresting and nobody wants to see the movies a second time. But Hollywood just keeps doing it.
You see sanity taking an extended holiday with the “isms,” too. Racism, I think, is when you are picking winners and losers based on race. Silly me! Nowadays, you’re a racist if you don’t discriminate against white people. And if you do discriminate this way, it shows what a wonderful not-racist you are. It’s just one more example, we’re not debating increments, we’re debating directions. It’s a conflict between people who do, and do not, have their directional bearings in order. It’s about the direction in which you’re marching, not about how far you go before you stop. And, about half of us have our wiring throughly screwballed.
All lives matter, or black lives matter? Supposedly, there’s something wrong with “all lives matter.” But what?
Liberals, being twiddlers, are continuing to twiddle and twiddle away, twiddling to find the perfect set of laws that will make us all perfectly free. Laws, of course, don’t do that. They prohibit, by their very nature, things that otherwise would be allowable. This makes us less free. In response to this, their counterargument is the same as it is with all of the above — well, yes, but what we have to do is find this perfect balance. More nonsense. If liberals ever did find the perfect concoction of laws in Year N, they’d be right back in our faces in Year N+1 to say “there ought to be a law.” The progressives have to keep moving. So again, this is about directions and not about increments. And their direction — that we need to outlaw more things, in order to make ourselves more free — is not reasonable, rational or sane.
Directional sanity eludes us yet again, when we go to a mandated “sexual harassment course” in the workplace. These courses, I have discovered, offer very little by way of helpful instructions about how to sexually harass. What they’re about, is a whole new set of rules that are put into effect whenever someone has decided harassment has taken place. In short: She gets an itch between her ears, and everybody’s guilty. Does “she” have good judgment about such things? A sense of fair play? Is the bitch even sane? None of it matters. And why do we have these rules? Drum roll, please: to foster a workplace environment that is non-hostile, non-threatening, and fair to everyone. Yes, they say that with a straight face. Being forced to work one cubicle away from a crazy cat lady who’s spoiling for a legal fight, and being guilty until you can prove your innocence, means you’re in a “non threatening workplace” somehow. Again, we’re not arguing about incremental stops within the spectrum, we’re arguing about the endpoints and about nothing else. When it comes to sexual harassment, the endpoint that’s won the argument for the time being is the nutty, nonsense-universe one.
Part of that is because the concept of “everyone” is being teased and tortured through endless, nonsensical debate, as well. The workplace that is “non-threatening to everyone” is only non-threatening to some. The others don’t count.
And then there is one of my personal favorites: If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. This was a jump the shark moment for President Obama, because for a brief moment the whole country could see that liberalism is based on falsehood. It is a sick game of make believe. Lots of liberals have come out since then, to protest that what President Obama really MEANT to say was that the business couldn’t exist without these roads and bridges and what-not. Indeed, this was all part of His remarks when He said that silly thing. The problem is: None of that provides any justification, not even in the slightest, for saying “you didn’t build that.” This is just further evidence that we’re not really arguing about increments, we’re arguing about directions. And President Obama’s direction, as He accidentally revealed, is: That business is not yours. Property is not yours. I’m a popular dictator, so that means the entire country is going to engage in this game of make-believe, that you didn’t really build anything. He was quite explicit, after all.
I suppose from the above, it might look like I’m saying with some more years of living, more years of accumulating experience, some more clear-headed thinking about what people really want other people to do — the increments start to lose relevance entirely. That life, ultimately, with this greater experience, eventually is reduced down to just the compass points. That as the airplane of this experience gains more altitude, the bearing becomes more critical. That people who say “Oh we don’t want to go all the way, we just want a little bit” are to be ignored, because their supposedly intended stopping-points are mythical. Which would have to mean, as we learn more about the true motives, the disagreements become much simpler, not more complicated. And that when all’s said and done, everyone doesn’t necessarily share the same ultimate goals, after all.
Why, yes. That is exactly what I mean.
By way of Chicks on the Right.
Hillary Clinton’s non-testimony testimony this past week has me waxing philosophical. Next year I’m closing out my first half-century on the planet. That’s a rather ethereal, fluffy reality that’s hard to grasp. I know how to grasp it though: The probability that I’m past the midpoint, has ceased to be a likelihood and is now a certainty. What am I to do with that bit of cheerless information? First, we can distill it further: If life is a book, maybe I’m not yet on the final chapter but I know I’m in the final part of it. My perspective on the whole thing no longer matches the perspective of: A young adult, a teenager, a toddler, a baby. My dreams and complaints bear only a passing similarity to their dreams and complaints. Whereas, the complaints of those with one foot already in the grave, assuming they still possess all their faculties, match mine thought for thought and syllable for syllable.
One should strive for the most uncomfortable paradigm shifts, both large and small; that’s how we learn. Have I got any more earth-shattering humdingers headed my way, from this point forward? Perhaps, but the evidence suggests I should keep an eye out for just the smaller ones. On the other hand, if I’m wrong, it would be beneficial to jot down what I don’t expect to see changing, throughout the course of my second-half-century…or beyond. Think of it as a bread crumb trail.
The geezers have it in common with me — I have it in common with them — that we’re distressed the younger minds don’t show some more curiosity. This lament from the middle-agers precedes me by a great deal: “Leave home, pay your own bills and solve all the world’s problems while you still know everything!” Exasperation gives way to humility. We ask ourselves, “Was I that arrogant at that age? Did I show that much confidence about so little understanding?” and after just a moment or two of honest reflection, someone like me has to answer: I was worse.
Maybe that closes the matter. Sit down Grandpa, drink your Ensure and stuff a sock in it. I’d actually be open to this, but for one thing: That’s one of the things I’ve been noticing. The “Beverley Hills 90210″ societies in which the young enjoy a complete monopoly on coolness, cachet…it being their turn to talk, all of the time…they don’t do well. Sometimes they prosper, on paper, as in pulling down very high numbers of dollars at their jobs, and blowing very high numbers of dollars on frivolities as well as essentials. But they don’t do well over time. How could they? The wisdom doesn’t accumulate, doesn’t get passed down from one generation to the next. No one in his sixties has anything to say that’s worth saying unless he looks like he’s in his thirties. And on average, whatever that guy’s saying isn’t going to reflect reality too well, since his facial features don’t. You can’t fight reality on one front, and claim to be its ally on another. That’s another thing I’ve noticed.
You want to find someone you can trust? Or, apply some test of trust to the people you’ve found already, or who found you? Look for the man who is willing to admit to his faults. Not, I hasten to add, eagerr to admit them. Just willing. Eagerness to admit faults is yet another problem, and that’s yet another thing I’ve been noticing in this first half-century. It stands to reason that men who are eager to discuss their mistakes are also eager to make some more. No, look for the guy who is eager to inspect the effects, to identify what he wants to do better next time. And to compile an inventory of mistakes from that.
Before I learned those things, I had very little interest in politics. I remember my revulsion against Ms. Clinton’s husband, when he came on the scene, had a lot less to do with political ideology than it did with public behavior. It was connected to my profession. Bill Clinton reminded me a lot of many people, not just one or two, who had made my life a bit less bearable. In hindsight, I know their role was to educate me, show me how to take responsibility for communicating details, by taking very little responsibility for it themselves, or none at all. This is something I needed to learn. Had I spent the entire time around people who took this responsibility on my behalf, I wouldn’t have learned it.
I haven’t been putting much thought into whether other people needed to learn the same thing. Maybe that’s a mistake. I’ve been blogging here & there about a bit of this and a bit of that, but I haven’t explored this particular bunny trail too much. Grandpa’s been sitting down and shutting his cakehole, as ordered. Anyway, I had this flash of inspiration about my “real job”: I excelled at making complex computer network systems behave a certain way, but ultimately this talent wouldn’t be worth a whole lot if I couldn’t communicate what these certain-ways were, or what they were supposed to be. This was a very sobering, even unpleasant, realization because that meant I would have to figure out how to communicate with people who thought differently, saw life differently. I would have to achieve some skills in places where I had no talent at all, in order to make use of the other places where I had more to offer. Rather like a potato or cabbage farmer, who knows how to grow the biggest produce for miles around, but can’t drive the cart to get it to market. I still remember that little jolt of economic panic, as if it was yesterday. What to do?
I noticed there was a certain personality type that always seemed to be around when I failed this way. President Clinton served as a living archetype of this, back then, and he still does, now his wife does too. These people make good leaders and colleagues for someone else, not so much for people like me. At least, I used to think that. Lately I have begun to entertain the idea that they don’t make good leaders for anybody at all. And as far as good colleagues…well, I suppose that happens now and then. You can make entire collectives out of people who think and strategize and speechify this way. And they’ll be very happy working together, and be fun to watch occasionally. Although they won’t get a lot done. Very little that’s positive, anyway.
But that’s not a problem for me to solve. People like me need to avoid having people like them, as colleagues or bosses. They aggravate me, and I anger them. That’s a fourth thing I’ve learned. I learned it awhile ago. My revulsion against the modern liberal, actually, came out of this. Until that point, I thought Jimmy Carter’s streak of failures was some sort of an anomaly, hanging like an albatross around the neck of one failed past president. Around this time, I began to realize that Carter’s pattern of failure was the modern liberal’s idea of success.
A fifth thing, which continues from the fourth thing, would be a list of the things we don’t want to see in these leaders. Or shouldn’t want to see, anyway. This is perhaps the one realization I’ve had, from the five decades, that would have helped me out at an earlier time.
1. The first thing we should not want to see in our leaders, is eagerness to be the leader. People who harbor this kind of zeal to bark out orders to others, make bad leaders. I remember one gentleman, no longer with us, who didn’t work this way. He’d hang back, let everyone make their own decisions about how to do their work from one hour to the next, one day to the next, one meeting to the next. Then he’d come alive, like a fly-eating house plant, when a question surfaced that would require some authority to be answered properly. Until that happened, he knew how to lie dormant and let the team resolve the smaller issues the way the team saw fit to resolve them. Contrasted with that style, the “little emperors” constantly barking out orders cause a lot of trouble. They destroy morale, because they want to hog all of the credit whenever something good happens, and when something goes awry you can count on them hunting for somebody to blame.
2. A very close second: We should make a much better effort to weed out those who work the crowd’s emotions too much. It really isn’t very important which emotions, positive or negative, make up the candidate’s stock-in-trade; doesn’t matter if they’re working up the crowd’s enthusiasm, wistfulness, loneliness, fears. When you’re talking about people who can achieve results no other way, have made a Maslow’s Golden Hammer out of strangers’ emotions, you’re talking about people who only pretend to have any control over the situation at all. This is why you see leaders looking for scapegoats. If they generate the results they want by working the crowd’s emotions, and they’re not getting the results they want, well…yes, that has to be someone else’s fault, of course. How could it be otherwise?
3. We should be paying very close attention to how leaders delegate. Be wary of the leaders who shun details. This is tricky because delegation is a necessity in even the simplest of projects, and it is in the nature of delegation to entrust details to someone else. The question is, what does the leader do with these delegated-details? The leader we don’t want, thinks he’s too good for them. Think about the relationship between the captain of your passenger ship, and the ship’s engines. Yes there are layers of officers and engineers between the skipper and the engines, nevertheless the former “owns” the latter, and should be ready to go down with the ship if he doesn’t know them as well as he thinks he does. In fact you, “captaining” your commuter vessel, have a similar relationship to the rivets that keep the bridge intact that supports your combined weight. Such captains are captains of not just the ships, but the parts, the crew, and most importantly, the strands of trust that form the webbing that keep it all afloat. So stay away from leaders that delegate, as a way to discard, duties and details.
4. In the same way we need to be avoiding leaders who shun details, we should be avoiding leaders who conceal them. We should be making a particularly keen effort to avoid leaders who make a sport out of this sort of (occasionally) clever obfuscation, as we’ve now seen both Clintons do.
5. Process and outcome. I’ve noticed things about this before. What’s the job, is it one of generating a certain desired end state, or is it one of following a defined process? The leader should match the job. The litmus-test question is only obvious: What do you do if you’re put in a position where you have to pick? Sometimes it’s appropriate to blow the results, because the process demands that you fail. Some leaders are a good match for this. Others are a bit like James Tiberius Kirk with the Kobayashi Maru Scenario.
6. We should stay far away from leaders who mistreat rules. I mean, the ones who seem to think the whole point of having rules is to hurt society. These would tend to be the ones who, overall, can be seen citing rules as reasons for not doing something. Can’t build that dam, it would violate the Endangered Species Act; can’t prosecute that crime, don’t have enough evidence that the guy did it. Most murder mysteries on the teevee have someone like this, it’s usually the killer: “Fine Lieutenant Columbo, you know I killed him but you have no proof!” During the five decades I have noticed, both in fiction and in real life, that it’s the same people who are everlastingly wandering around in these stink-clouds of stalemate, constantly coming up with new ways to say the same thing: “Aw shucks, I guess that’s the end of the trail and we’re going back empty-handed.” It isn’t that these people lack vision. They have a very strong vision, and it’s a vision of not getting the job done. A real leader is someone who starts the exercise with a vision that the goal WILL be attained, the question that lingers is how. What’s it take to do it, what has to be done, who’s the best person to do them. In my fiftieth year, I’m old enough to remember when that was part of the definition of “leader.” I guess that’s changed, somehow. We need to change it back if that’s the case.
7. A real leader believes in the rising tide lifting all boats. You’re looking at the wrong guy if he’s often seen to make a big deal out of who has how much; whose “turn” it is to pull out a victory; “everyone has to get a trophy or else no one does.” Call ‘em what you will, the pivot-point people, the see-saw people, pie-people, zero-sum, balancers. They don’t have their eyes on the prize. This gets into outcome over process, again. Like Gen. George S. Patton said, “Have taken Trier with two divisions. What do you want me to do? Give it back?” That’s how you see it when your bus is teetering on the edge of a cliff, and someone manages to pull it back — you don’t care if that person is a man or a woman, gay or straight, right? And you’d never think of saying “Let it fall, we’ve had plenty enough [blank] people saving the day for now, we need to see some saves by someone in a different ethnic or economic group.” A real leader sees victory in victory. The team scores, the team succeeds, the team prospers. That’s the right mindset.
The distinction we’re really making here is between excellence and mediocrity. It can be hard to recognize this because the mediocre leaders have their followers, and the followers don’t see those leaders as mediocre. Jimmy Carter was a good example of that, and so are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That’s what makes these spectacles embarrassing, even by proxy against those who are merely watching, not supporting. It’s awkward because there’s supposed to be something special and extraordinary about Obama and Clinton, and even their most exuberant fans cannot say what this is.
They can’t, but I can. What makes them extraordinary is their ability to sell liberalism. Period, full stop. This has a powerful potential to convince people there is something remarkable about the people, because there is something remarkable about this feat. Liberalism is not easy to sell. At least, not across a decent stretch of time, throughout a sustained cycle of “buy some, experience it, buy some more.” It isn’t easy to sell that way because it’s not a good idea. It takes a special liberalism-salesman to sell it that way.
When these “fans” of rock-star liberal politicians talk up how special and amazing these rock stars are, they’re talking about that.
About three minutes in, the video-collage of the cishet white males doing their — whatchamacallit? Confession or something? That was really creepy.
I can certainly see why, in a saner time, college professors tasked their students to read Atlas Shrugged, one of the core points of which is what a valuable and vital tool guilt is, to people who wish to make oppressed lower-class playthings out of other people. Thinking persons who are not shackled by guilt, cannot be ruled this way. Such complete inter-class subjugation requires either brute force, or the “sanction of the victim.”
It’s really true.
By way of The Barrister at Maggie’s Farm.
Ten posts a month, then six, now down to about four. I suppose I should say something.
I’ve been working evenings and weekends, since about the beginning of summer, on a project that demands some specialized skills offered by not too many other people. I’m already gainfully employed the forty hours a week, and I’m learning that in spite of my past experiences working many more hours than that, these days I’m not too gifted at time-management with the 41st hour and onward. But, because of what I did manage to get done, along with other achievements on other things, I learned a couple of weeks ago I scored Employee Of The Month. Which is actually a real thing, where I work. Lots of people you have to beat to make it to the final round, I mean up to a hundred, really smart futhermuckers too. And there’s money involved. A good-sized chunk of it, when you consider that every month someone is snagging this spot. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse levels of money. Ruth’s Chris…mmm…
I am honored. I am humbled. I am…befuddled. There’s a bit of a story behind that. More about it later.
While all this is going on, at the beginning of the month a screwball opened fire with several pistols in a community college, taking out nine and hurting another nine. It happened up in one of my favorite cities, Roseburg, OR. Not that I know anybody who lives there or anything. But Roseburg is a handy halfway-point between my boyhood hometown, and where I live now. We’ve spent many a restful night in the North part of the city, when journeying there by car. Which is something we haven’t done for awhile. Nevertheless, we’re very familiar with the place.
Those who wish to know my thoughts about it, could peruse my Facebook page, which has been updated pretty constantly on that as well as on life’s little events. While the blog languishes. This is not a courteous or proper way to treat my readers…and although we’ve been calling this “The Blog That Nobody Reads” for over a decade now, the truth of the matter is that there are some. The question that may be lingering now is whether someone’s writing.
To summarize. I’m shocked and saddened like anyone else — and, I am just completely blown-away by the lack of shame, and knowledge, on the part of those who seek to further restrict the American citizen’s ownership and responsible use of firearms. The deficits seem to be embiggening, in the shame as well as the knowledge. They’re reached bedrock in both of the pits, and are continuing, against all odds, to dig further. It’s as if every active-shooter event makes them more ignorant than they were after the one that came before, and more brazen than they were after the one that came before.
A common refrain is that doing something is better than doing nothing. This is yet another example of liberals failing to understand the motives of their opposition. This is a special strain of ignorance that is shrink-wrapped with a companion-brand of matching apathy, with a side order of pride in the apathy. See, liberals don’t know what motivates conservatives, because they don’t care what motivates conservatives. They’re proud of not knowing and of not caring. They’ll be the first to tell you so, and they’ll also be the first to opine about it. If you merely recognize all of these things at the same time and point out what this means, that they’re forming opinions about a matter on which they have yet to gather any reliable facts, they’ll surely take offense. It is not within their method of understanding the world around them, to recognize that their offense is taken at the mere calculation of the sum of the parts, which they have so unabashedly provided.
They speak of magazine capacity restrictions. So far, reports have held up that the shooter had six weapons on him, seven more at his home. So although the state of Oregon doesn’t have these restrictions in place, nevertheless it seems that whole topic has already gone ’round and ’round in this case, and screwballed its way into irrelevance. They want background checks, but the shooter, again according to the information we have thus far, acquired his weapons legally and therefore in accordance with these background checks. They want registration databases. Again and again I’ve asked the question: How does that work? Alright you have a database record that says one person has all these guns. Then what?
They are displaying their deficits not only in relevant knowledge, and in shame, but also in strategic thinking. These questions of “How’s that work, exactly?” consistently fail to evoke any sort of reaction, let alone coherent response. Like a small child who wants a toy, they just want their stuff and that’s pretty much the end of the conversation.
I don’t trust them when they say they want to stop these shootings. I believe they do have emotional reactions in the wake of the incidents, and there may be some revulsion mixed in there. But I think if they were to stop and self-inspect for a bit, they might discover there is some lust mixed in there too. As in “Oh, maybe with this latest shooting we can get some of the things we want that we couldn’t get last time.” Not so much preocuppied with preventing the next shooting, as with exploiting the last one.
The repeated discussion does not seem to be getting us anywhere. The time has come, I think, to recognize this as what it is: A mental enfeeblement.
I’ve discussed this before. And it isn’t even a groundbreaking idea, psychologists have been exploring it for years. People tend to want to control other people, and when people experience difficulty maturing naturally, when their growth is stunted, of when they’re damaged for whatever reason, they start to go off on some endless question for The Perfect New Rule to make everything better.
As far as these feelings of loss of control go, every mass shooting certainly does — pardon the pun, it’s unintentional — trigger them. The feelings are reasonable. It is the response that is in error. It isn’t even sane.
The American citizen’s right to keep and bear arms goes all the way back to the founding of our Republic. The gun culture which forms a symbiotic relationship with that right, actually predates the written constitutional recognition of it. They’ve both been with us all this time; and the active-shooter phenomenon as we know it today, is a relatively recent thing. Gun-grabbing advocates know this, understand this, and are willing to admit to all of it. Once again, they have no problem with the parts but object to the sum of them, bristle at the act of mere calculation. For the sum of the parts is simply that gun control is not, and cannot be, the answer. This is clear and obvious proof that there is something else busted, some other gasket blown, some other gear stripped. Hacking away at the leafy part of the weed gets us nowhere. And worst still, if implemented, it may diguise the deeper problem.
If I write a web service and it crashes and with a malformed error message, that is two problems, not just one. Part of the reason my wife and I got our fancy dinner last night — oh yes, I’m starting to get outspoken about this, I figure I’ve earned it — is that I treat that as two problems, not just one. And ALWAYS, always always always, fix the problem with the error-reporting first. No exceptions to this. If there’s a time constraint in place and you need things working now-now-now, that’s an organizational problem and not a software problem. Take your time. Make it fail correctly, then worry about making it succeed.
There’s something else broken. Anybody who thinks it’s acceptable behavior to gun down innocents to make some sort of statement, has some threads stripped in their bolts upstairs. We’re all going to be safer if these people can somehow be denied access to the hardware? Who can conclude such a thing, save for the most mentally lazy, and the most assuredly removed from the immediate situation?
It’s just another “Those People” Conversation, about what most-recently-tweaked New Perfect Rule should be imposed upon distant strangers. How should we twiddle with the public policies, under which those people shall be living? There are people walking around, among us, building (hopefully not often) things we actually use, sharing highways with us, voting, and even accumulating levels of influence far greater than what’s available to the average voter. But not thinking. My questions about How Does This Registration/Background Check/Magazine Capacity Restriction should actually WORK, remain for the most part unanswered…can we stop pretending there is rational thought going into this rule-twiddling?
It’s a mania, a psychological malady.
We see it across a whole spectrum of other issues. Communism itself, is really little more than this sort of zaniness, rolled out to ultimate consequences. Just a bunch of shameless twiddlers, wrecking their havoc upon the innocents, the “Those People.” кто кого? They have no strategy in mind. They certainly have no desire to live under their own Perfect New Rules.
They are the McDonald’s fry cook who gets a half hour for lunch break, and can be seen sprinting over to Carl’s Jr. as fast as his little legs can carry him. No wait, they’re less like the fry cook than the executive who gets the job of revamping the menu.
In fact, this gives way to a whole nother complaint I have about twiddlers. They are not people who twiddled with the actual work — and settled on a method they discovered to be superior, through the school of hard knocks, repeated practice, process of elimination, all that good stuff. They are idea people. Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals”:
At the core of the notion of an intellectual is the dealer in ideas, as such — not the personal application of ideas, as engineers apply complex scientific principles to create physical structures or mechanisms. A policy wonk whose work might be analogized as “social engineering” will seldom personally administer the schemes that he or she creates or advocates.
When one reads the history of their perseverence in the face of repeated failure, until they ultimately prevail after many years, sometimes decades, or even a full century — one is tempted to credit them with a positive attitude. The temptation subsides when you realize how little the upper layers of consciousness have to do with the struggle. It’s a lot more like a sexual urge, or some involuntary reflex like a cough, sneeze or hiccup. They’re not invested in the slightest, not even so much as sunbathers on a beach being surprised by a mock-interviewer with questions about an entirely fictitious “White Privilege” tax.
Nevertheless, they’ll hop on that stupid bandwagon, and every time. It shows what good people they are.
Why is it they’re never quite done showing what good people they are? After awhile, it comes off looking like an attempt to hide something. One has to wonder what that is. Are they hiding it from themselves? Just how much salving does a non-guilty conscience require?
We cannot keep our rights, any of them — except perhaps by random, and increasingly unlikely, happy accident — unless we fight these twiddlers. And all of the time, about everything. It is a chore of necessary upkeep, just like an oil change. Just like controlling any other sort of parasite. Driving the locusts away from the corn, or the moths away from the sweaters. It’s a pain in the ass, and sometimes you feel a bit foolish about it. It doesn’t matter, it’s a job that has to get done.
We’ve tried ignoring them, and we lost our health care system as a result.
They contaminate our processes. In an increasingly complex society such as ours, process is important. Not a one among us can afford, any longer, to try to be an experienced practitioner in everything. Here and there, now and then, the endeavor will call upon us to pick up a rulebook, checklist or execution script, and implement each step, with faith in the axiom that someone who assembled this was doing something to validate what they were saying, or at least talking to someone else who had so validated. But, we have the twiddlers. Twiddling is not validating. So…today, the technologies we use are complex. We all have to follow processes and we don’t have time to validate everything. Which processes were built by a validator? Which ones were built by a twiddler? It’s the same problem you have looking over a family tree constructed from dozens of different sources, going back hundreds of years — all content, no foundation. This fellow way up here on the upper branches, was really the father of all his children? There’s no way to know for sure. Questions of verity, much of the time, weren’t raised until the fingers that wrote down the names and dates had long ago crumbled into dust. Thus it is with our processes; no way to know.
This touches back upon the celebration last night, with the Missus and me. We were celebrating the triumph of outcome over process. “Process” and “Outcome” loom large in the “weaknesses” section of my employee performance review, at the close of my first year back at The Place Where It Didn’t Go So Well. The powers-that-be put it right there in writing that I made my contributions to outcome, and in so doing showed the benefits of my experiences working at previous employment situations that placed a premium value upon this. But I caused distress to engineers who were more concerned about process, which is something I still don’t fully understand to this day. After about three years, the tension exacerbated over the differences between my processes and theirs, and I had to walk the plank. Interested friends and relatives urged me to consider the whole experience a one-off, ignore the bad feedback. But, my confidence was shattered, for a time.
Hence, my befuddlement. My own processes have not changed. How could they? I’ve been at this too long and I know what I’m doing. But I suppose these don’t work everywhere. These are processes built, in fact evolved over time, to generate a good outcome; they do not justify themselves through any other means. And once I’m left to implement them in a place where the importance of outcome is subjugated, and process becomes the point, they don’t work.
They work where I am now, and in other places, places where the project stakeholders ask “Does the damn thing work?” It is not a slope-foreheaded moron‘s question. It may be a simple question, and therefore it may even be an unsophisticated question. But it’s important. The distinction between process and outcome is important. What’s the goal?
Public safety is one area of life where outcome should be the supreme goal. It isn’t that process doesn’t have a place. Visit a gun range sometime, one where accidents have never happened. You’ll see process flying thick and fast. But it is process that, and this is key, is justified by positive outcome, with a history to support that. The process does not take the top spot. The bosses do not say, as they are heard to say in certain circles where twiddling reigns supreme, “If you didn’t follow the steps we’d rather leave the problem unsolved.” That way, you see, lies disaster.
The best-case scenario possible, ever, in an environment of process-over-outcome? Over time you will discover you are building a golden fortress of “perfect” process, that is a static structure sitting on a dynamic foundation of reality. It will be perfect within the snapshot of time. But it won’t last. Only a dynamic structure will endure on dynamic ground, and to get that you have to have people who think for themselves. That’s what it takes to react to situations on the ground.
Hey, if this was all baloney — well, I suppose that’s what we would’ve been eating last night. Baloney. Mmmm…fillet mignon…mmm…
Only downside, for Mrs. Freeberg anyway, is this. Following the events of my disgrace four years ago and the shattered self-confidence that went with them, I made a point of keeping my silence about how people did their jobs. Who am I to say, after all? They’re probably keeping those jobs; I hadn’t kept mine. (So I have been opting to confine my opinions to how they were doing their voting.) Now, the genie has been let out of the bottle.
First time I ever intoned, “As August Employee of the Month, my verdict on how that person did his job is THIS…” I got back an exasperated eyeroll. Along with a quite understandable inquiry of, Omigosh. Is that going to become some sort of a thing now? The start of pattern?
The answer to which is: You’d better believe it cupcake. Yes, there is a humility aspect to being a good Christian, and pride goeth before a fall, of course. But this is a business that requires confidence. Genuine confidence, not just cosmetic bluster. You have to form a vision of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it that way, then implement all sorts of tiny pieces for some extended period of time, confident that the eventual results will be what you have in mind. Without that, you can’t do anything. But if there somehow still is something virtuous about nursing such self-doubt, well, ya know I’ve more than done my time.
I always did know I was doing it right. I think we all know that on some level, everyone who’s actually built anything. Just like we know the twiddlers are wrong, and that they’re not harmless. This isn’t a complicated problem for us to solve. Herbert Spencer said it best:
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.
And there you have it. The definition of what a “twiddler” is, a statement of the problem, and a strong suggestion of the ultimate answer, all rolled up into a single artful, elegant statement.
Gutfeld says, “We are the cleanup crew.”
“And so when a liberal asks you, ‘Why are you a conservative?'; simply say, ‘So that you can be a liberal.'”
That part sums it up nicely. It isn’t the first time someone’s noticed, liberals depend on the conservative way of life being practiced by someone else, somewhere, whom they can then proceed to regulate and tax. Conservatives, on the other hand, could do quite well without liberals.
Except for the Internet! Those conservatives put their ideas out there on the Internet, which we wouldn’t have if it were not for those wonderful liberals and their wonderful Big Government solutions. Right? It must be true, President Obama said so. Erm, there’s another side to all that…
According to a book about Xerox PARC, “Dealers of Lightning” (by Michael Hiltzik), its top researchers realized they couldn’t wait for the government to connect different networks, so would have to do it themselves. “We have a more immediate problem than they do,” Robert Metcalfe told his colleague John Shoch in 1973. “We have more networks than they do.”
Before returning to the video clip above, permit me a quick bunny-trail on this whole Internet thing. I do not understand this zeal, be it bona-fide, cloaked and saturated in oily deception, anywhere in between, to give the credit for apparently all significant human achievement to this shapeless, functionally anonymous leviathan which is the government. What would be the point? That in order to accomplish really meaningful things, we must leave the matters up to politicians? Politicians are just representatives of the rest of us. At BEST.
The zeal does not look like a drive or determination to make things better. It looks like a manic phobia against success, or at least, success credited to identifiable individuals. That’s the only perception of it that makes it understandable, to me: Success can be acknowledged, achievement can be acknowledged, as long as there isn’t an actual name attached. Unless it’s a really big name, a huge name, like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Someone safe, someone whom ordinary people won’t know on a first-name basis.
Someone not likely to say “If I can do it, you can too.” Or…”What’s your excuse?”
With the attitude toward risk: Everything Gutfeld says there is true, too, but in four minutes the video can’t delve into all the applicable nuances. Liberals are more welcoming of risk in this context over here; conservatives are more welcoming in that context over there. There certainly is a measurable difference in personal reckoning with the risk; Barack Obama doesn’t really plan to grapple in any personal way with the consequences of the Iran deal, and I don’t see His followers welcoming refuges into their own homes. Liberals are forever tinkering with the framework of policies, statues and rules, in an endless pursuit of the perfect law-cocktail, to be applied to someone else. These classes of someone-else people are sometimes revered by the liberal, sometimes loathed. Think of: Minority beneficiaries of racial preferences, and gun owners, respectively.
Kinda like the girl you dated in high school who finally figured out she was out of your league, and giving you The Speech: “Someday, you’re going to make a wonderful husband for somebody…(else).” Except the snobby girl at least had the guts to try a bit before moving on to greener pastures. When it comes to assessing risk, our friends the liberals are aware of and maintain the difference between the “us” and the “them” all the way, stem to stern, epidermis to marrow of bone, beginning to end. The odd thing about it is that their rhetoric is all about everybody living together, all things being equal for everyone. They don’t mean it.
They do seem sincere with their ballyhoo about climate change; is there not something going on there, with liberals being risk-averse, and conservatives avoiding the issue? Again, no. It’s another front in the propaganda war in which liberals have won without firing a shot; the common understanding meshes with the statements in liberal talking points, word for word, but it doesn’t match with reality. Supposedly, the conservative viewpoint denies there is any such thing as — any of it, right down to the greenhouse gas effect. It doesn’t work because conservatives are actually the ones who get out and do things, and when you get out and do things you often have the greenhouse gas effect looking you right in the eye. Some conservatives work in real greenhouses, believe it or not!
“Risk averse” means, to assess the risk. This requires definition. The closest liberals come to actually assessing the risk involved in climate change, is something like “If nothing is done then by the year 2100 the mean global climate will rise by [insert number here] degrees — Celcius!” In assessing risk, conservatives don’t stop at rhetoric that might come in handy for agitating the masses. They want to actually see what the risk is. I know, crazy talk right?
Quoting me again:
What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.
It bears a casual relationship to that earlier observation about identifiable individuals, as opposed to super-individuals the average person will never meet, or “government,” achieving noteworthy things. Liberals are not merely opposed to defining things; with regard to the definitions that have been established already, they have an enduring passion against allowing those to stand. And it has not escaped my notice that this passion becomes particularly inflamed in the case of definitions that have weathered earlier storms, that have visibly made other human accomplishments possible.
Other definitions have yet to be made, and if they were made, would help the liberal cause. Starting with: How, exactly, does it make things better for our society, or humanity as a whole, to move all this money around the way liberals want us to move it, out of concern for this “climate change” problem? The whole issue has become uncomfortable now because the question is being asked more and more frequently, centrists want to know the answer to it too, and liberals still balk at it. They continue to escape into their protective-bubble comfort zones, repeating homilies about how conservatives “deny” there is any such thing as carbon, or something. After a few minutes of thumb-sucking, they re-emerge to wonder aloud why those outside the bubble haven’t moved the money around the way they want, and they bleat some more. Make some speeches, fund some studies with other peoples’ money…fly around in some jets. Then the cycle is repeated again.
It would take many more paragraphs to fully explore the difference in attitudes toward risk. I haven’t done it. The clip doesn’t do it. But Gutfeld is definitely on to something there.
Somewhere along the line, liberals and conservatives start talking past each other, each side expressing thoughts that are doomed, well before launch, from ever being received as intended. And these days I see it happens fairly early in any given exchange. We’ve got quite a few people walking around among us who say “Nothing ever comes of it, no minds are changed, don’t even start because it just pisses everyone off.” The command ends with a dangling preposition, but there may be something to it anyway.
But of course, we have President Obama, the end result of chanting “hope!” and “change!” — and not discussing anything. So I think it’s fair to say we’ve given don’t-discuss-it a good, fair try, and that doesn’t yield success either.
Anyway, it seems to me from all I’ve been hearing and reading that the point where liberals and conservatives no longer understand each other, has something to do with truth. As in, investigations (video auto-plays) (hat tip to William Teach at Pirate’s Cove):
[House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union” that she did not accept that the videos — which have rocked the social conservative movement this summer — were accurate. She said she was concerned by the undercover filming by the Center for Medical Progress, which produced the edited clips.
“I think they should be investigated as to how they obtained those and doctored those and had them be accepted as something that was an indictment against Planned Parenthood. Because that’s not true,” she said.
I think of “investigation” the way Nancy Pelosi wants me to think of it, as an effort to get to the truth; but it is clear, from these remarks, that she does not think of it that way because she already knows what truth is. “Investigation,” therefore, has to mean something in her world that is a lot closer to the meaning our political leadership generally has in mind: Theater. Far from any sort of effort to get to anything at all, it has more to do with talking than listening.
Here and there I’ve opined about the divisions between people who work according to process, versus those who place weight on the outcome of an effort; like here, here and here. The distinction has lately begun to consume me, perhaps because over the last few years I’ve been forced to evaluate it from all sides. It’s hardly a liberal/conservative thing, doesn’t start out that way anyhow. Some people go all day long, then all year long, never really learning anything, never being forced to have their minds changed about anything. And so they turn their whole lives into a sort of choreography, which is what I see the Congresswoman doing here. It’s really quite amazing when you think about it — here she is in mid-sentence talking about finding out what the truth is, and she already “knows.”
We saw the same thing with “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” There are many other such examples. And yes, it does seem to settle into the split between conservatives and liberals. I see it in the behavior. Liberals say to conservatives, “That’s not true” and the conservative, quite visibly, loses momentum. As if to say “It’s not? Maybe it’s not. Where did you hear it’s not? What is the truth of the matter?” And this has been observed, understood, morphed into a new strategy. I’ve caught a few of them doing it. They’ll say “That’s not true!” and sometimes I will make a point of questioning the questioning, without losing any momentum. This is enlightening. Very often, it turns out they have no basis whatsoever for saying the earlier statement was not true.
It is as if someone herded them into a big auditorium, and told them “Look, no matter what it is, just tell the conservatives it isn’t true. It’s like hitting a shark on the nose; it works if you do it right, and hey, it’s your only shot.” And this defines the whole fragile relationship between liberals and truth: It is a fair-weather friendship, always contaminated, and that’s at best. This sentiment of “Let’s just see if we can get away with it” is always lingering, in there, somewhere.
Conservatives telling liberals something is not true, on the other hand, usually is not like that. And the liberal reaction is different too. As a strategy, “just say it isn’t true and see what happens” wouldn’t work with liberals. They don’t care. Their reaction is “You’re a conservative, who are you to say what’s true?” This gets back into John Hawkins’ observed feedback loop:
Liberalism creates a feedback loop. It is usually impossible for a non-liberal to change a liberal’s mind about political issues because liberalism works like so: only liberals are credible sources of information. How do you know someone’s liberal? He espouses liberal doctrine. So, no matter how plausible what you say may be, it will be ignored if you’re not a liberal and if you are a liberal, of course, you probably agree with liberal views. This sort of close-mindedness makes liberals nearly impervious to any information that might undermine their beliefs.
I haven’t got what it takes to be a liberal recruit, let alone a full-fledged one prowling the pages of Facebook, trying to spread the anti-gospels. I would be required to believe that liberalism is a pursuit of goodness and human progress, it is in mid-stride trying to eradicate war, hunger, poverty, illiteracy, blight, et al. Also, trying to achieve total equality. It’s at the “Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet” stage with all of those. So far, so good; I have a lot of projects like that. But also, I would be charged with the duty of deflecting and ignoring all undertones of uncertainty, from outside as well as within. It doesn’t work for me, because if I’m not done with applying a method, and have no results to show, then how do I know the method is working?
Thus it is proven: Liberals do not think, at least, not the way normal people think. Here I have to once again ponder an unsavory thought, that their ideas are different because their notions of truth are different, and their notions of truth are different because they’ve simply never had to reckon with what truth is. They are the little kids who never got busted for telling a lie, all…uh…up of which grown.
Phil and Severian were kind enough to copy me on a lengthy e-mail exchange about dialectics and sophists. It’s a “lengthy” exchange only in the sense that it isn’t really long in terms of number of messages back-and-forth, but rather in the size of each. I didn’t realize how much fresh meat there was until Saturday morning when I loaded them into a text editor, and took the time over a cup of copy to read them word for word. Fascinating stuff. Hope they “go public” with it sometime soon.
The bottom line is, sophistry — boiled down to its crude essentials — is winning the argument, period. Not quite so much at the expense of the winning argument being a useful one, but more like, with complete apathy toward that. An example would be…well, we can go back to the last time I blogged about something. A dead lawn looking cool — there isn’t much truth involved in that, since dead lawns look like shit. But the statement has a good shot at being the winning argument, if the value embraced has something to do with laziness. No need to water a dead lawn; no need to cut one either. A dead lawn is the lawn of a do-nothing. It is also the lawn of a sophist. You get to look cool (even if your lawn doesn’t), and act smug.
It is the contrast between the Architects and the Medicators, the former of whom think about things the way one must think about them, when one sets about the task of trying to build things that will actually work. And, to the latter of whom, the point of life is to be happy. The former demands thought, the latter involves feeling.
Now that election season is in full swing — and I’m viciously opposed to that, this early in the game, but whaddya gonna do? — I’m recognizing once again how cleanly the American Left and Right slip into this. There must be a way to exploit this to make things easier for people; like, for example, the visitors from abroad who will occasionally be heard to inquire, What’s the difference? Poor brave souls, you can hear it in their voices they’ve already figured out it’s a contentious issue, and the answer they get back & the conversation that ensues vary greatly with whom they ask.
With same-sex marriage, it is only just lately that The Left has discovered the broad and intense appeal of leaving people alone. It’s almost cute. Of course they don’t really mean it. I was referring to this, indirectly, when I noticed how easy it is to tell the Left and Right apart when you imagine a specimen of one of those, or the other, intoning “Because fuck you, that’s why!” Now — what could that person be doing? And I came up with some examples of each. And in each example, a person from The Left saying that, was interfering with someone else; and a person from The Right, was…not. Such clean distinctions often depart from the plane of reality. But this one doesn’t. The Left tells people to go fuck themselves when it’s interfering; The Right says the same thing, more in the spirit of “If you have a problem with me doing it, it must say more about you than it does about me, because this really has no effect on you.” The three examples I found for that were, eating meat, heading to the gun range with hardware that holds more than ten rounds, and wandering out to one’s own patio in one’s underwear for a cold bottle of beer.
As of the time of my scribbling that, I may have been engaged in 33% of those.
An acquaintance wandered into view to disrupt the flow of thought (on Facebook, thank goodness, not on my patio), merely for the purpose of disrupting it evidently; she offered rebuttal but without foundation. It’s a thought that has been regurgitated before in settings such as this, and perhaps it should be distilled into a single word: LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame. What an odd time in which to be asserting such a thing. The Left, today, has precisely one example to offer of their own saying “Fuck You” in the context of leaving people alone, and that’s same sex marriage. Except their position is that the Kentucky County Clerk should be sent to jail for defying their will, and they clearly expect to impose similar penalties on others who pose such a problem, so it doesn’t hold. The Left knows about as much about leaving people alone as your dumbest childhood pet knew about trigonometry.
This is a feeling, not a thought; and you can tell it is one, because when it goes out dressed up as a thought, the costuming is bad. It doesn’t act like a thought; doesn’t stay still long enough to be tested. LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame is a chestnut bandied about by leftists, and as leftists, they have found reasons to be leftists. Good luck persuading them to stop being leftists, for even a fraction of a second. So no, they’re not acting like it’s true, and their argument that it’s true, with all the bovine fecal matter stripped away from it, comes down to being a prohibition against anyone within earshot or line-of-sight doubting it or hesitating to accept it. Other than this proposed taboo and the penalties that would come with it, they offer no reason for this idea to win out over its opposition, none. It’s pure sophistry.
A feeling dressed up as a thought, won’t stay in one place when challenged. Like the jello being nailed to the tree, it jiggles, wriggles, loses composition, regains it again at its own convenience. It’s the difference between the static and the dynamic. LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame…until it’s time to show what a good person I am, by siding with the spotted owl against the loggers, or pushing same-sex marriage, or prattling away with the latest spin about climate change. And then they’re as different as night and day.
I have long been spooked by this sort of attitude, this casual approach to truth, this non-dialectic. “I think X simply because it makes me happy to think X — and, what, shouldn’t that be enough?” I suppose the answer to that is up to the person thinking it. As an upholding of the importance of feeling over the importance of thought, it wouldn’t work for me because any triumph in the upholding of feeling would be defeated by the lingering discomfort: But how do I know that is true? I haven’t done anything to test it, and the contradictions are so glaring if I merely open my eyes to the fact that they’re there. The one about LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame, but, the left is so much better in so many ways — that one, just by way of example, is resplendent. So much so, it occurs to me that there must be considerable difficulty involved in ignoring it. It impresses me as the sort of lie that honest people can only get into the habit of telling, after they’ve had a lot of practice lying to themselves about it first.
So I had been running it through my mind a few times exactly how I was going to get myself & my wife to Chico, and when the time came to execute…well, I would have to say I flubbed it. It ended up being one of those “For Future Reference” kinda things. We waited what seemed like a dog’s age for the very first stop light, just yards from our front door, and after a few minutes of that took a strange and meandering route to the freeway. Then, headed straight into the “Across The Top” project, which annoys me terribly. But not terribly enough for my distracted brain to actually plan around it, evidently.
Now that I’ve demonstrated my ability to take time-consuming side-routes in my driving, allow me to indulge the same in my writing: Sacramento is Seattle’s retarded little brother when it comes to managing traffic. It has recently upgraded itself, to its credit, from “We’re vastly inferior and we have no clue” to “We’re vastly inferior and let’s start doing something about it.” Having shrugged off the burden of Dunning Kruger, its first move out of the chute is to make things much worse. There is a thin ribbon, with no lane changes possible, stretching…I don’t know how many miles. I’m always so aggravated, I make a point of clocking it, then I forget. No lane changes means a stationary parkng lot where a moving avenue should be. Not sure why, it just does. Someone who designs freeways has yet to realize this, but I have no room to come off all cocky about it if I keep forgetting that I should not be going there.
And then I had my brilliant flash of insight.
I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, congratulations to Sacramento for finally figuring out that just because there are high occupancy lanes, doesn’t mean the traffic is being managed well. It doesn’t even mean you’re burning less fuel or being kind to the environment — it can mean the opposite. There has to be a whole system in place, with a quality design involving interrelated parts. I guess there were enough civil engineers going on trips, following my footsteps, driving cars on the freeways in Seattle and then Sacramento, learning what I learned, finally figuring out Something Had To Be Done. Now, progress is being made; but progress made, without a proper sense of direction, might not be a good thing. Just because you’re moving “forward” doesn’t mean you’re headed to a better place. With some learning, we’ll eventually get there. Another thirty years or so.
The flash of insight was crystallized, a bit here and a bit there, in the days that rolled on by afterwards. What did it for me was the dead, shit-colored lawns. Such comments from me, I understand, can cause offense; the new neighbor who lives across the street, still won’t talk to me or make eye contact with me. I learned the awkward way that he’s part of the shit-colored-lawn brigade, guess I spoke my mind a bit too casually. In my defense, I should point out our neighborly conversation began in the first place because he was admiring my lawn and wanted to know what I put on it, so I can easily recall why I assumed he wasn’t part of the shit-colored-lawn brigade — it did seem reasonable and safe at the time. And the passion behind my dislike of this “Golden Brown Lawn” publicity spree, is such that it is difficult to maintain a cover over the geyser.
There is so much feeding into it. Starting with, What ever happened to that idea that…if you want to take your family someplace special, maybe save up some cash for a rainy day fund, or get some elective surgery, whatever…you work hard at your job and show how valuable you are? What ever became of that? Winning prizes by having the shittiest-looking shit-colored lawn? A thousand bucks? How about, a thousand dollar bonus for being really good at the work you do? Did that somehow get eliminated as a possibility? What is all this crap…win with your lottery ticket here, win that contest there. Are we kids, or grown-ups? Can’t we save money anymore?
And don’t hand me that line of bull about conserving. I mean, yeah I get it, small numbers adding up into big numbers. Lots of gallons of water going into each lawn-watering, lots of lawns, hey, let’s just tell the sheeple that it’s cool to have a dead lawn, think of all those gallons that will be saved. Who’d a-thought, right? The cool thing now is to make your house look like the local shopping mall for crystal meth, yippee! Just like Billy Madison convincing all those kids that pissing your pants is the cool thing to do — in fact, exactly like that, just lacking in that adorable but unhygienic nobility. I’m sure the math does back up that there’s some conservation going on here, but let’s be honest. Conservation is not the goal, the goal is laziness. “I’m doing my part! And oh look…I don’t have to get up to cut the grass. Well cool. There’s a Friends marathon on teevee this afternoon anyway.” Yeah, don’t hurt yourselves sacrificing too much, sheeple.
I still owe you an explanation for my brilliant flash of insight, don’t I? It’s coming.
Had an errand to run sometime this week, which means after the debacle with this single-lane Across The Top thing, since that was last weekend. It was after work. Car radio was off, so the gears in my brain were churning away furiously…I took the backroads to a shopping mall, to miss the commute traffic, and ended up going through a tiny knot of suburbia. There it is again, a whole square mile, or more, of dead lawns. Rolling by my car windows as I make my way through the neighborhood…drug dealer’s house, drug dealer’s house, another drug dealer’s house, another another another. Looks like shit, it’s disgusting. And then — the local park. Lush, green, immaculate, trimmed.
While this is all happening, there are these knock-down drag-out discussions with the big-government types on social media, meandering along the tired talking-point of “Without government, who would build the roads?” Ugh, always with those damn roads. Yeah, yeah, roads, sidewalks, park benches, police and fire departments. So bizarre. We start talking about “taxing the rich” and, is it really hiking way out on a limb, to suppose that the cause of the disagreement has something to do with the federal level? Seems kind of self-evident, to me. It’s really about control. Isn’t it? We talk about public spending versus private spending, what we’re really talking about is diverting resources. We’re talking about influence being channeled, away from the people who are closest in proximity to whatever problem is supposed to be solved, toward people who are much further away. Not as likely to solve the problem, but they’re “our leaders” or something.
How come these justifications for continued & greater government spending, are municipal? Seems like avoiding the real issue.
I should have pulled over, parked, and snapped a picture. It captures the psychological malady quite nicely. It’s no different from the fatty on a diet intoning, only half-jokingly, “These calories don’t count because” …it’s a special occasion, her husband isn’t seeing her, she’s not recording it in her app…whatever. This is no different, and it makes no more sense. This money, this carbon, this water, is not really being spent because it’s being spent publicly.
That is the craziness that has lately started to consume us: Not only are our infinitely wise village elders infinitely wise, but it makes sense for us to turn over our resources for them to spend on our behalf, because when they spend the resources the resources aren’t really spent. If I am to upsize my 4-cylinder into a V-8 — provided I can find one nowadays — that is just an appalling offense. But our public officials can fly to faraway places on enormous jets, for no higher goal than a publicity stunt, to rename a mountain, whatever…even, irony of ironies, to give speeches about how we all need to drive smaller cars. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, but there’s something wrong with you if you notice it.
We’re really no better than that fat cow playing her game of “calories don’t count if.” Watering the lawn at City Hall, or the State Capitol building, doesn’t take any water. Doesn’t count.
Kim Davis, the county clerk from someplace in Kentucky who refused to hand out gay marriage licenses, got out of jail the other day, which is a bit bizarre to me because it seems like nothing’s settled. Does her ass belong in jail, or doesn’t it? Now that she’s out, and very likely headed back in again, the thought occurs to me that you can make all the arguments you want to support one answer, or the other, and at the end of it you’ll have done nothing to defend what’s being done — it’s cocked up no matter how you slice it. Those who say she got what she deserved for “not doing her job” are entirely failing to see the issue from the perspective of their opposition — not that that’s going to bother them too much, they like failing at this. The more estranged they are from the thoughts and feelings of their opposition, the happier they are, not that that will intimidate them in any way from having their opinions. That’s what it’s like when you’re punch-drunk on winning arguments, and don’t care about anything but winning the arguments. Somewhere along the line, solving problems just sort of falls off the radar. Ahab has to hunt his whale.
And what an easy problem this was. Drive to the next county and get your fucking license.
What really scares me about it is, not quite so much the so-called “jailable offense” of not recognizing gay marriage, or “not doing her job” as county clerk. What I find truly frightening is we’re dealing with genuine irrationality. The writhing beast that lusts for this sense of vengeance, wants to see Kim Davis in jail, wants to imbibe more and more of the elixir of winning-arguments, does it? Clearly doesn’t care about anything else. Think on this: Imagine the argument-winning power of driving to that other county, getting the license, driving back and waving it in Douglas’ face with a big fat smirk on yours. Just imagine.
She would be reduced, and instantly, to lasting irrelevance. You could write an article for Slate, or Huffington Post, about how this serves her right and then we’d all move on to the next thing. As it is, the writhing, irrational beast sent her to jail, and in doing so made her something of a martyr. There are three possibilities: One, the writhing, irrational beast has become so irrational, it cannot follow even the simplest of strategies to accomplish its goals. Two, the writhing beast is not so irrational, but has goals that are concealed from view — I am misunderstanding what those goals are. Three, the writhing beast, being an aggregate of many individuals, is a composite made up of different people, with different goals.
And this is where it all comes together. All these examples; the local road “improvement” that works so well that it brings freeway traffic to a complete stop; the water conservation movement that pretends to be about sacrifice but really just celebrates laziness; the settling of the gay marriage dustup, ONCE AND FOR ALL, that doesn’t even try to settle it, once, or for all, or anything of the like.
No, it isn’t a conspiracy. What it is, is a very perverse motivation acting upon the elites, to pigeonhole the rest of us into large, growing, all-encompassing groups of people, united into such defined class with as thin a common cause as might possibly be defined, so that the groups can swell to a membership status close to universal…and then, start fucking with us.
The County Clerk thing, that’s supposed to be about freedom and equality. What is that, really, though? It’s targeting someone, ostensibly for “failing to uphold the law” or “not doing her job,” but separating her from other officials objecting conscientiously in similar ways. And then throwing her butt in jail. Equality. Freedom. Mission accomplished?
The road thing is a measurable failure. Zero miles an hour is a measurement, and it’s rather hard to form an argument against it.
Only the water conservation thing holds any merit, since when the water is not being used for a lawn it most certainly is being conserved. But here too, we see a situation in which those among us who are empowered to dictate our directional approach to addressing a problem, are picking a direction quite out of harmony with finding an actual solution to the problem. A golden lawn is the New Cool? Well, you guys go first. Why is there green grass around City Hall?
A week ago I was writing about how the masses who are asses fuck with us, when you get right down to it, destroying things because they’re bored and haven’t got anything better to do. Those are commoners; these are elites. Both enticed, and often, and relatively recently, to habitually fuck with the rest of us. These two forces combine, to bring pressures upon those of us who seek to live life productively, responsibly, and respectfully toward others around us. My “bottom line” point to all this? Something is different; something has changed. The change is not good.
The energy we have to burn to confront these two pressures acting upon us — I wonder if it could be contributing to climate change? — is no longer a tangential expense. Somewhere along the line, and perhaps it is a shift going back years and years, moving along at a glacial pace, that rocket-fire-burn we have to do, to prevail against the fuck-with-you from above & below, has moved into the center, into the limelight. It has become the biggest challenge involved in being an adult, living out one’s adulthood, whereas in our parents’ and grandparents’ time, it was the smallest.
What’s changed? Simplest explanation is the best. People didn’t fuck with our grandparents so much, because there wasn’t much point to it and there wasn’t any available time. People had to be productive in what they did. But also, if you were a public servant there were alternative options available to you to engage in graft. Today, if you want to engage in graft, it seems this has become the first step: Define a large, nearly-universal group of people, then start applying an inconvenience, an agitation, an annoyance, to the group. Start fucking with the people in the group. It can be an annoyance large, or small, but it has to be a frequent one.
If the inconvenience is not applied to a very large number of people, and it isn’t applied easily, and it isn’t applied frequently, graft is harder. If we really are all being treated with respect, and equally, graft is much harder.
So this is the repair job I made last weekend…
…and, here is the additional wreckage that I shall be fixing this weekend.
I’m afraid it is exactly what it looks like, which is a pissing contest between two alpha-dog-males. Is it sexist of me to presume the vandal is a male? If so, it’s not the only poorly-advised thing I’m doing here…how does that old saying go, “never get into an argument with a fool, he’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience” or something. Well, we know how this is going to go. It’ll rock back and forth, weekend to weekend, until one of us relocates or else concludes that it just isn’t worth the hassle anymore. Repair, destruction, repair, destruction. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s a dialogue. Me: “Stop wrecking my fence, for I will never stop rebuilding it.” He: “Stop rebuilding, you have located it in a terrain outside of your control, and I’ll remind you of this without end.”
It’s a contest between order and chaos, and this was the inspiration behind that observation I made so many years ago, about Architects and Medicators, formerly Yin and Yang — two halves of humanity that actually should not be coming into contact with each other. Most of our problems in society, I maintain, result from such contact being made. This is just the kind of thing that reinforces that view.
It’s the kind of thing that inspired my very first thoughts about it:
The guy who’s never held a job, gets drunk all day, doesn’t pay child support, thinks he’s doing everything just right. He’s got problems, of course; but he figures his problems are caused by the cop that busted him for loitering, the district attorney who learned about the child support delinquency and decided to go after him, and the judge who sentenced him. You know, in his own world, he’s right. Where he comes from, people don’t take responsibility. They push it off somewhere else. So the problem comes not from his refusal to accept responsibility — they come from the expectation of others that he should do so. He has is own expectations: His ex-wife should marry some hard-working lunchbox carrying guy, who will cheerfully take on the responsibility of raising another man’s kids. This would free him up to be left alone to smoke grass and drink hooch all day, since, after all, that’s what he’s used to. That’s the way it’s supposed to work: Responsibility for those who accept it, and not for those who don’t. Purely optional.
Who cares where we would all be, if we all coped with life the way he does? How does that matter? Who ever said we should all do everything the same way, anyway?
Maybe that’s the answer.
Of course, how it matters is easily answered: When he doesn’t pay child support, his kids get hurt. That makes sense. But it makes sense in our world, which is the point. In the miscreant’s world it doesn’t make as much sense. Because nothing does; nothing matters except feeling good, and all of the time. The conflict is between immediate gratification, and delayed.
Because of that, there arises another conflict between the limited universe, and the unlimited. Example: A few months ago I, the creator/preserver/repairer/homeowner, chanced across a brand of mulch and grass seed that actually caused me some excitement. Over the past few days or weeks I have made the discovery that the stuff has an unfortunate tendency to spawn grubs, and the grubs attract what we think are skunks. Earlier this summer I thought I was living in a universe that didn’t have skunks in it. Since my desire is to create, preserve and repair, the way I look at it now is that I was living in a universe that has skunks in it, I just didn’t know it at the time. So there is reality, and then there is my perception of it — two different things.
This helps to explain the Medicator mindset, with regard to fences destroyed that someone has to rebuild, and child support not paid that someone else has to produce. Would the Medicator acknowledge that someone has been harmed? And the answer is no. The limited universe. There is a periphery around it, and all the people hurt by his lust for immediate gratification, and his sloth, and the thrill he feels from lobbing bricks through windows, are outside the periphery. They’re in “Here Be Dragons” territory. You aren’t supposed to be talking about this stuff. Might make him feel bad. And the whole point to life is to not feel bad.
“Point to life”; see, there is another clear, crisp, primal definition of the difference. There is a conflict between those who worry about the impact they’re having about the world as they pass through it, and those who worry about the impact the world has upon them. It seems at times like neither side can ever hope to even begin to understand the other. Over on this side of the wall, for example, doesn’t it just necessarily follow that “the point to life” has got to be entirely invested on what we’re doing to the things around us, rather than the other way around? And it is often outside our way of understanding things, when we are confronted by the true answer: No, not for everybody it doesn’t. There are people who think we’re all here to be entertained. And not just a few people either.
They are not harmless. They wreck things, and they wreck them because of the Morgan Freeberg Charismatic Wrecking Ball Theory. It is, near as I can figure, a process of elimination. Nobody really wants to just sit and do nothing, for any length of time, anymore than anybody can really “lie in bed all day” on a weekend. Sooner or later you have to get something to eat, shit shower & shave, make things happen. If you want to make things happen, you can build, preserve or destroy, just those three things, nothing else. Building demands coping with the delayed gratification; preservation, as I shall demonstrate in a few hours as I attend to my fence repair chores, ditto. That leaves one thing left — and that’s why I have a fence I have to fix.
And every fucking weekend for the foreseeable future, it would seem. What a foolish errand of mine this is! And yet…it is a perfect microcosm of our society as a whole. Is it not? The fence is torn asunder, repeatedly, ritually, like the gizzard of Prometheus torn from his gut ever day, because it sits on the boundary of these two worlds. All of the trouble takes place on that boundary, while the champions of each side labor tirelessly to reach across, and teach that other side how it’s gonna be. It’s an endless drain on the resources, but both sides keep doing it because neither side has a choice. And of course, only one side is worried about resources.
Thought I’d go ahead and blog about it. Why not? I can put in zero hours, let the vandal win; put in one hour, “win the argument” for this weekend, and move on to the next thing; I can put in two hours, implement the repairs and then blog about the situation. I’m opting to go full tilt, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Because that conflict we have on the create/preserve/repair side of society’s “fence,” is also worth some pondering. Probably more worthwhile than anything else involved, for you see, if this is really a battle of wills between the two sides, it doesn’t do any good over the long run to try to win at that battle, and then keep quiet about it. Sooner or later, the Medicators/Destroyers have the potential to find a voice, make their own P.R. department if you will, and prevail in the court of public opinion. And so those of us on this side, have to find that second hour, come up with the resources to spend on that, too. While we’re actually working for a living, building things that actually work, or at least trying to, or learning what we need to do differently to make them work.
In this way, we’re being double-taxed. Makes one wonder what the net cost is, dealing with the conflict every day and every year. We don’t often bother to tally it, because we haven’t got any choice. But, I’m sure some reading this post will think, among many other things, “Morgan you really should take stock of how much time, materials and supplies you’re putting into this.” Which is absolutely correct. The same is true of all of us; just because we have no choice but to continue in the conflict, burning away time that might be spent on other things if the conflict was not there, and we can’t see a way right now to make the conflict go away — doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be adding, calculating, computing, assessing. We’ve shown ourselves, as a society, to be quite gifted at this “tolerance” thing, we’ve been tolerating an awful lot. Figuring up the cost of the tolerance, that’s one place where we could stand to show some improvement. There’s little point to it the way things are now, but perhaps the better-comprehended numbers would motivate us to explore some options, and some of those explored options might provide the point.
Speaking of which, this is my favorite theory for the time being to explain it all: The point. An appreciation for delayed gratification, is something you learn early on, when there is a point. We’re dealing with the glassy-eyed nihilists, I think, who failed to see the point to developing such a thing, as they teetered on the brink of majority age. And so their situation is a confusing and sad one: They delight in the thrill of breaking windows, wrecking fences, et al, but they’re also trapped in a world in which that’s about all there is to do. Now there’s no way they can grow any further, except by way of losing arguments to fence-repairer Architect types like me — which is not something that’s going to happen, certainly not with any frequency. The current battle does not favor my side. Spock said it best: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”
From Geeks Are Sexy.
Chris Cillizza writes in the WaPo about the unprecedented shift in Donald Trump’s favorable/unfavorable polling in Iowa, from 27/63 back in May to 61/35 now. Did I say “shift”? More like “reversal”:
Numbers just don’t reverse themselves like that in the space of a few months (or ever). Especially when the politician in question is totally known by the electorate. Once you are both totally known and broadly disliked — as Trump was in May both in Iowa and everywhere else — you are doomed. One hundred times out of one hundred.
That’s why I was SO certain of Trump’s inability to matter at all in the 2016 race when he, somewhat stunningly, decided to enter it 70-odd days ago. In the almost 20 years — gulp — I have spent following politics closer than close, I’ve never seen anything like the total reversal in how Trump is perceived by Republican voters. It is, quite literally, unprecedented.
After toying around with a few other theories that might explain, by themselves or cumulatively, she offers up this one:
The public has not only gotten used to Trump as candidate, and gotten used to seeing that he can stand his ground, but people have also become accustomed to the ideas he expresses, thoughts that initially may have seemed far out of the mainstream because they hadn’t been commonly voiced by politicians. An end to birthright citizenship for the children of illegals is the sort of issue only talked about previously by Senator Vitter (and relatively obscure bloggers like me), and how many people had ever heard of it before Trump, or knew the arguments pro or con? Trump dragged the idea out into the sunlight to be discussed and dissected, and many people who heard him decided, once they became familiar with the discussion, that the idea had some merit. Over time, the shock value of Trump’s positions generally has been diluted.
From the comments:
Those in the media who tell Trump supporters they’re stupid don’t seems to take into consideration that a lot of these same people have been treated like rubes by the GOP for years. The GOP claims to be the “big tent” party but then distance themselves from anything too conservative, especially social issues, where they lecture their base that they must “evolve.” This despite watching Obama break laws to encourage mass illegal immigration, and the Left using social issues such as same-sex marriage and HHS’s birth control mandate to needlessly harass religious institutions and private citizens of faith.
So who is stupid, the guy who keeps getting suckered into voting for GOP candidates with conservative stances that only surface in an election year, or the guy who has not always been conservative but is passionate enough about current issues to boldly voice his opinion and not back down now? It’s a gamble, but is it any more of a gamble than voting for the anointed candidate Jeb, who is fairly in line with the Left on key issues like immigration, and who can’t seem to display that he has any fight in him?
Most comments I’ve seen about Trump support what he’s dong as a candidate more than the idea of him actually winning. Apparently our pundits can’t differentiate between the two. But we’re the stupid ones, huh?
I suppose I didn’t realize it at the time, even though I was contributing to it, but there must have been a baby boom going on two decades ago give-or-take. Today, a lot of the households I know are coping with coming-of-age stuff. Stepping out, first “room of my own,” graduation, enlistment, et al. At the same time, the nation as a whole is trying to figure out, When did it become acceptable for an open and avowed socialist to run for President of the United States? And why has our society become so fractured, and contentious? When did that happen?
And a thought occurs to me: I tend to get into trouble when I point out things that everybody else already knows, but have made some silent, collective decision not to discuss openly. I have noticed this gets people all HowDareYou-ey, no matter who’s breaking the silence, as if the guy who broke the silence was actually around when “everyone” took a pledge to remain silent and is now breaking that pledge. When, of course, that is not the case and could not have been the case. Well…here I go again, I suppose…
Before reading further, one has to face an unpleasant truth, since we’re talking about people. People, a lot of the time, make no damn sense. And people, a lot of the time, really hate reading or listening to ideas that have to do with the fact that our species often makes no damn sense. Oh sure, we have no problem acknowledging that about the other guy. But, we seem to have this ego-alarm that reminds us, even when we don’t want to admit it, that “people” means everybody, a real everybody, not just the everybody-of-convenience we like to define moment to moment, as in “everybody is making a big mess” or “everybody needs to work harder and do their part.” And the idea here has to do with what “everybody” does when they’re at this age. Which seems to sound the alarm — “Hey, I was once that age, that asshole’s talking about me!”
Well…yeah. So with that said, let’s plunge into the darkness. The big idea is that people, when they are teetering on the brink of adulthood, are somehow compelled to approach life with a challenge, as if it were ever their place to do so. I’m not sure why this is. Possibly, this is the age at which life starts to challenge them, and they figure if they can turn the tables on it then that will sort of make everything good & right. But “they” means, of course, “we” — best I can figure, everyone’s done this, whether they realize it or not. It’s as common as a heartbeat.
The challenge goes like this. “Okay life, I’ll give you six months to a year for you to tell me what you’re all about. After that, you’ve had your shot and I’ll just make a decision without you.” Life, then, like Linus during a Charlie Brown Christmas Special, is supposed to drop what it’s doing, explain itself, and intone “There, person, that’s what I’m all about.”
Which it isn’t gonna do, because it’s got bigger fish to fry. There’s a lot more wrong with this than a preposition at the end of a sentence. Nevertheless, we do it. And whatever answer we get back at that age, we tend to keep around for a very long time. “Life,” meanwhile, has a tendency to speak to us much more loudly at the later stages. The challenge then becomes one of shedding this leaving-the-nest answer we think we got previously, in whole or in part, and replacing it with the answer we get later that’s better informed. We, as a species, aren’t too good at doing this. The impression we get at the close of the teenage years, we tend to keep for awhile; default tendency it to lug it around, all the way, into the coffin.
At age eighteen or so, if the answer life gives back is “live to the end of this war, and see to it your buddies do likewise” — then, that is how that person is going to see life. If the answer is “get these crops harvested in the fall so that we all don’t starve to death,” then that is how that person sees life. If the answer is “bullshit people so that they do what you want,” then ditto. Soldier, farmer, politician.
It really makes no sense at all, when you think about it. But it’s in our wiring, in our DNA: Eighteen years, plus a few months, at the very latest and that’s when we’re supposed to jab a finger in the air and declare Ah ha! Now I have it all figured out! Again, ending a sentence with a preposition is not the most-wrong thing about this; there are many others. Ah, the ego. “My evaluation is complete! How could it not be? I’ve seen everything!”
These days, without some clear and forceful reason why they should not be headed elsewhere, the default presumption is that they should all go into college. And then become liberals, since all the professors are engaged in a grand conspiracy of sorts to make them that way. Well you know, perhaps the professors really are; but allow me to stand up and offer a defense on their behalf, since no such conspiracy is needed. And if there’s a point to this Big Idea, that, surely, is it — we could harvest a whole generation of these lefty-leaning millennials, even if our colleges campuses were all solid-red Republican. There are other factors at work.
Parenthood has a way of setting one’s priorities. Get nothing else done, see to it at least that your kids have what they need. It’s an easy trap for us, a lot of parents fall into it. It’s hard to break out of it. But if we don’t, then after that leaving-nest-span, eighteen years, seventeen, sixteen, or twenty — there we are. Kid’s bellowing into the wind, demanding life explain to him what it’s all about, and life is remaining silent because the kid has always had everything he needed. So now, after life’s continued to remain silent after this little grace period he’s offered it, he has to do that highly irrational thing we all seem to be doing, and crystallize his “educated” finding, his decision.
Liberals are winning, right now, because they own a lot of “real estate” here. They own the man-child teetering on the brink of adulthood, who has concluded: “It isn’t about anything, it’s all futile.” That’s today’s liberal. The liberal who reached majority age yesterday, concluded: “It’s about avoiding this pooling-up of luxuries, so that very few of us have all the wealth, while everyone else starves…equality, man.” And with some, it has been: “Burn this bitch to the ground, no justice no peace.” Before that, it was: “Peace, make love, not war.” And before that — oh, yeah. Live long enough to go home. Or, avenge Pearl Harbor, if that’s your drift. At any rate, there’s a generational split for you.
So we wonder why the kids are starting to lean left. Or, lean nowhere, become smug little nihilists. We should be wondering why we’re wondering. You’ve heard that saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? So have I. I loathe it. But, there’s a truth to it; there is a reason we tend to keep saying it. Show me the journey a man takes, and I will show you the man. The journey has that sort of impact on people, the destination does not. What journeys do our children take, right before they become grown-ups? What ones are they compelled to take? What ones must they take? Answer that, and you’ve answered the more pressing question of what they will become. Even if the answer to that is a nullity; that, then, is what they will become.
But of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s really up to the person to decide if he wants to become a something, or remain a nothing. And he can decide that anytime he wants. The fact that so few people manage to do it in adulthood, means absolutely nothing. The options are open all the way.
Image from Liberal Logic 101
Big-time Illinois Lottery winners aren’t getting the largesse. They’re getting left out.
Without a state budget agreement two months into the new fiscal year, there’s no authority for the state comptroller to cut checks over $25,000. That means smaller winnings can be paid out, but not the larger lottery wins.
Susan Rick, who lives in Oglesby, Illinois, planned home fix-ups and a visit to her daughter after her boyfriend won $250,000 last month. But they were told to wait.
Rick tells the Chicago Tribune that if the situation were reversed, the state would “come take it, and they don’t care whether we have a roof over our head.”
Lottery spokesman Steve Rossi says state lottery, like every other state agency, is “affected by the budget situation.”
A crisis! And you should never let one go to waste. Guess Illinois had better elect some more democrats, who can then screw things up even further.
The boyfriend, Danny Chasteen, told CNBC:
“For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break,” Rick said. “And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up.”
Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller’s office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.
From the comments:
The Illinois lottery is setup similar to the New Deal’s Social Security Fund which is also broke. Lottery funds collected are made available to the state government.
A quick check will reveal that the Illinois state government has more debt than income. Therefore lottery funds collected are spent before they are received. The same situation exists with the federal government. The difference is that the federal government can raise the debt ceiling, borrow money needed for todays expenses and defer payment to children and grandchildren. Illinois can not print currency and put it in circulation.
Every Quantative Easing dollar printed takes buying power from the dollars in your pocket and savings.
The Illinois version of Quanitative Easing is an IOU from the state. Which takes buying power away from lottery winners.
From Bad Words:
What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. She’s jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated…down to the second…It’s as if the NSA was following you around…and it was stuck in your head…telling you what an inadequate failure you were…psychologically waterboarding you…all day long…every day for the rest of your life.
Note what all the technology and bureaucracy that wonderful, noble company has invested hundreds of millions in doesn’t ask her to do. Learn. Think. Reflect. Teach. Inspire. Lead. Connect. Imagine. Create. Grow. Dream. Actually…serve customers.
The economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. That much you know. So what does it make?
It makes assholes.
The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.
And that’s not just a tragedy. It is something approaching the moral equivalent of a crime. For it demolishes human potential in precisely the same way as locking someone innocent up, and throwing away the key.
Consider Mara again. Who in Christ’s name would design such an inhuman system? Whose sick joke of an idea is a “store” like that? What do you even call it? Because it’s surely not a “store”.
Yes, I have noticed this lately on a subconscious level; when I move my purchases away from one source, toward another one, it seems to be less and less often over some issue involving quality, and more and more often over an issue far simpler. Like a lot of old farts, seems somewhere along the line I have embarked on a new mission to figure out who doesn’t want to do business with me, weeding out who is only pretending to want to do business. And there are more than a few vendors who only go through the motions of it.
Who would design such an inhuman system? I think I may be in a position to say: It is a conflict, as so many things are these days, between process and outcome. The writer errs in the presumption that the outcome must be the fulfillment of a design. I submit that you don’t get here by way of design, you get here by way of a great big jumble of smaller, incremental movements, enacted by a great and vast community of manipulators, which isn’t a community at all because they’re never meeting each other — all driving toward this final nightmare, with not a single one of them laboring away with that image in mind.
So then what were they trying to do? Ah, that answer is even simpler: They were hoping to find one anemic carrot in a thistle-patch full of sticks. “Great idea Barbara, wireless headsets, that’s the ticket.” “Never would have thought of that Steve, sales quotas in real time.” Trying to build up a little tiny bit of credit in their accounts, before the next beat-down.
Column concludes with a bit of welcome wisdom:
We’re obedient constructivists. Pragmatists. Rationalists. So you probably want to know: what can we do about it?
It’s pretty simple.
Don’t be an asshole. Remember the Asshole Factories? Here’s a secret: they’re churning out assholes by the millions. And so should you bravely decide to be an asshole, what you’ll really be is just another interchangeable, forgettable, rapidly depreciating commodity.
So who should you be?
Be yourself. The person you were meant to be. Whether you believe in heaven or the inferno, freedom or fate, the simple fact is: each and every one of us was put here to be something greater than Just Another Asshole stealing pennies from his neighbors to pay off Even Bigger Assholes.
Hat tip to Gerard at American Digest.