Archive for October, 2008

Jennifer Rubin Discovers the Yin and Yang Theory

Friday, October 31st, 2008

In a fascinating contribution of hers called The Palin Rorshach Test, Jennifer Rubin notes that Sarah Palin, the Alaska Governor currently running for the White House with some old guy, is far less interesting than the discourse and debate she has inspired. Rubin’s column explores the real differences between Palin supporters and Palin skeptics…then it delves into the skeptic side of that schism, and takes a look at what truly motivates those who so recoil from Caribou Barbie.

Sure, there’s a strong suspicion that many in the anti-Palin camp are posturing to ingratiate themselves with the Washington cocktail set. (One defender of Palin recently said to me of Palin opponents: “They want to be above the respectability bar, not below it.”) But I will accept for sake of argument that most advocates on both sides are sincere. And I’ll ignore for a moment that a number of Palin skeptics may have another candidate already in mind for 2012. So what’s the real difference between the sides?

I think it breaks down into “Players” and “Kibitzers.”

The Players are those who engage in politics not simply as an intellectual exercise but as a sport — a combat sport. They appreciate the need to sell and engage voters. They like the rough and tumble of campaigns. They understand the point of it all is to “win, baby, win.” And because they see politics as a group activity they are attuned to the audience — the voters. They watch the crowd, not because the crowd is “right,” but because without the crowd (voters), this is all an academic exercise. It is not hard to see why talk show hosts fall into this category. They, after all, make their living engaging the public and understand precisely what it takes to hold their interest.

That is not to say that the Players don’t care about ideas or the message. To the contrary, because they see the message of conservatism as a valuable and potentially winning vision they are extremely attuned to finding the right messenger. If you trust the message to the wrong candidate you get 1996, or worse.

On the other side are the Kibitzers, those who don’t hold office or run campaigns or much bother with real voters. They write books, tell us what is wrong with conservatism, and scold the poor slobs who run campaigns. They lack any visceral sense of actual conservative voters. Their bent is decidedly academic and their approach to politics is sterile. If you can simply come up with the ideal blueprint, go on Charlie Rose’s show, and write a column for the New York Times or Washington Post, the light will go on, the conservative movement will be saved, and they will earn the applause of their peers.

Now, some of the Kibitzers, truth be told, don’t care much about ideas: it is sentiment and word pictures that catch their attention. They’d rather toss around elegant phrases unmoored to any reasoned argument — slip the surly bonds of analysis, as it were — than mix it up in the hurly-burly of real electoral politics. [bold emphasis mine]

Yup, that’s Yin and Yang. The Yin allow their social skills to atrophy until a very seasoned age, so they can concentrate on making things work. The Yang allow their functional skills to atrophy indefinitely, so they can concentrate on socializing. This thing we call “The Right” in our country is predominantly Yin while The Left is predominantly Yang, but each side of the left-right divide is a composite of unlike parts.

In other words, there is a sprinkling of Yin in the left. Liberals do get things built. Al Gore’s a great example of this.

And there’s a sprinkling of Yang on the right. This is the phenomenon Rubin is noticing. Most conservatives are concerned with substance, and just a few are concerned with style. These are the folks who’d prefer to “toss around elegant phrases unmoored to any reasoned argument.” And they do not like Sarah Palin, not even a little bit. They liked John McCain way back when, in the olden days, when the New York Times liked him. Palin offends them, and not just a little.

It’s the stuff she does. She’s a “get it done” gal. When she fires someone, there’s a reason why — she wants ‘em gone. She doesn’t want to just go through the motions of firing them. And if you get in her way, she’ll fire your ass too.

The Yang are not so burdened by what causes what, and what’s a consequence of what. That isn’t their world. Being superior communicators, want to replicate themselves in others. These are the people who stop you from doing something “the wrong way,” but can’t tell you what awful consequences will be conjured up should you continue to do things that way. They are schooled in procedure, and not in cause-and-effect. Internal to any given culture, most of the social problems develop from Yin and Yang having contact with each other too quickly, too intimately, and without adequate…buffering. For better or for worse, this apparatus we call the “conservative wing” falls under “any given culture.” Hence the divide that has come to Ms. Rubin’s attention.

But the whole country is divided this way right now. It is reaching a tragic zenith.

Since no one but the Yin can make something work that previously did not, it’s up to them to build up a society. And no one but the Yang has any desire to replicate their own behavior in others, therefore, it’s natural that once things are comfortable and functional, the Yang take things over. With no challenges left to a mature and evolving society, eventually, they succeed at this…and then such a society becomes all about commisserating with one another, all about empathy. At such an event horizon of societal maturity, that society will forsake the values that were necessary to getting it built. Unfortunately, what’s needed to build something is identical to what’s needed to maintain it, so this high level of societal maturity will always turn out to be cancerous. The Yang, therefore, will always have it in their destiny to ride such a maturity back downward again, into the ground, as they seek to obliterate or convert anyone who isn’t like them.

The United States is at a very high level on this bell curve of societal maturity. Out here on the west coast, I can say that this spot of earth on which my fanny is sitting right now, when it was trod upon by (European) people for the very first time just a couple centuries ago, the paramount concern was starvation; after that, rattlesnakes. Here we are, just one or two clock-ticks later. Five generations, perhaps six or seven. And we’re worried that Starbucks might have put the wrong flavor of syrup in our lattes. It’s more common for schoolchildren to be held back a grade over concerns about their “social skills” than about their academic achievement.

Everywhere you look, someone’s calling someone else stupid.

But look what Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe had to say this late in the last presidential election…and if you think anything’s improved since then, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…

Gallup found in January 2000 that while 66 percent of the public could name the host of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” only 6 percent knew the name of the speaker of the House. Last year, a Polling Company survey found that 58 percent of Americans could not name a single federal Cabinet department.

The ignorant can be found in the highest reaches of academe. Of more than 3,100 Ivy League students polled for a University of Pennsylvania study in 1993, 11 percent couldn’t identify the author of the Declaration of Independence, half didn’t know the names of their US senators, and 75 percent were unaware that the classic description of democracy — “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” — is from the Gettysburg Address.

These tidbits are nothing new. Or old. They’ve been going on for awhile, and they’ve always been remarkable given this long-running crescendo of our political-argument din. It seems every single year we make just a little bit more noise about things compared to the year before. Can we really be that ignorant of the essentials of the subjects that so thoroughly capture and hold our passions?

Can you really have that much heat with so little light?

It would seem the answer is yes. But only in a society that has ripened to the point where the cells that make it up, are scrumptious…juicy…heaving and undulating…ripe to the point of rot. Ready for an unstoppable malignant spread. Near the apex, ready for a complete Yang-takover, and the subsequent ride downward into chaos, like in the closing chapters of Atlas Shrugged, like in the fall of Rome, like in the sinking of Atlantis.

Like a lawn dart, straight into the ground.

The natural consequence of forgetting, from sea to shining sea, what it takes to get a useful thing built and what it takes to keep it working.

Are we there. Are we approaching the apex, or past it.

That’s what this election is about.

Thing I Know #130. The noble savage gives us life. Then we outlaw his very existence. We call this process “civilization.” I don’t know why.

The Obama Supporter’s Bedfellows

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Go ahead and vote for your Messiah. Just know who’s punching the same chad you are, that’s all I ask.

After all, some of you have been making quite a lot of noise about our bedfellows. It’s only sensible that you put some thought into who’s under your own sheets.

JongErica Jong, and some of her comments as translated from an interview she gave to the Italian magazine Corriere della Sera:

Here’s a translation of Jong’s more spirited quotes to the Milan-based Corriere, as selected by [Christian] Rocca.

“The record shows that voting machines in America are rigged.”

“My friends Ken Follett and Susan Cheever are extremely worried. Naomi Wolf calls me every day. Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can’t cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces her to a bundle of nerves.”

“My back is also suffering from spasms, so much so that I had to see an acupuncturist and get prescriptions for Valium.”

“After having stolen the last two elections, the Republican Mafia…”

“If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it’s not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets.”

“Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act.”

She also laments that not all of America’s men of letters share her devotion to Obama.

“Tom Wolfe and John Updike are men of the right and Philip Roth is at this point a hermit who leads a monastic life in Connecticut, far from everything and everybody.”

I would also request you watch the first four minutes of Idiocracy (2006), specifically, the part about what happens to the human race once it is free of natural predators. No natural predators. The necessity to think independently, to resist, to defend, to try and try again, to simply string together words that make some sense — all removed. Nothing left to do except to get along with each other…by sharing a conviction to vote for a thoroughly underqualified candidate for U.S. President.

That’s exactly what’s happening.

Think of an entire species of humanoid, isolated in an ecosystem, each specimen of which is so delusional and addle-minded to seriously believe Dick Cheney is pulling troops out of Iraq in case Obama loses and blood starts running in the streets so he can lead them against the citizenry. Think of such a species starting from scratch, with the wheel yet uninvented and fire yet undiscovered. How far would they get? Indoor plumbing? Electric heating? Calculators? Nuclear fusion?

Penicillin? Voting machines?

Sense to come in out of the rain?

We’re thinking of putting — about to put — people in charge who ought rightfully be sat at the far end of the dining hall, at the kiddie table. Seriously.

Hope Ms. Jong’s back gets better.

H/T: Boortz.

Retreat to the Oasis

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Speaking of Feministing…I was clicking around in the sidebar and I stumbled across this beauty that was uploaded apparently Monday.

Be thankful for your girlfriend (or boyfriend, for that matter) who enjoys having fun. Be thankful for friends still in possession of a decent sense of humor, and a willingness to share same.

And spare a little bit of pity for the fellow with a feminist gal-pal.

Ok, so my boyfriend and I are kind of kinky. He got the idea to wear sexy costumes for each other on halloween, and I think it would be fun. So I did some investigating, and as I expected, most ‘his and her’ costumes consist of a fully clothed man and half-naked woman. This is issue number one.

Issue number two is the lovely outfits I will post at the end of my rant. They are the ‘Coroner’ and ‘Sexy Jane Doe’ or whatever. In otherwords, a man who’s job is to deal with dead people is looking at a sexy dead stranger. Yeah, I couldn’t find a costume where the man is dead. After seeing a whole one outfit for men being skimpy and the rest being complete while the girls are all showing at least some skin, this just set me off.

So, am I right being mad about the whole coroner and Jane Doe outfit? Am I just looking into it too much? Or is there a deliberate power dynamic being displayed?

Feministing is the long, tough, personal-record-setting eighty-mile bike ride under a blazing sun on a hot summer day. Hooters is the ice-cold mug of lager right afterward.

Can you imagine being around a “lady” like this on a regular basis? She demands the partying and revelry take a back seat to cultural reform…on the thirty-first of October fer chrissakes.

Where is this world. Where is this fantasy planet, in which an unpleasant, complaining woman holds more appeal to a gentleman than a damsel with a more pleasing disposition and a skimpier costume. This is the utopia you want? This is what you think you can bring about? What sort of lobotomy must take place upon the male mind to make your dreams come true, battleaxe. Men are visual creatures. We like looking at you, and your various parts, if you take the time and effort to make yourself look nice. It’s been that way for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, and the true irony is that during that time it has been an unspoken fountainhead of real female power in our various societies, around the world.

Here you “feminists” are trying to get rid of it. Jousting at windmills. And doing a fairly stop-and-go, here-and-there, half-assed job of it.

Begone from my sight, you snarky grumblebunny thoroughly unpleasant termagant. Bring on the hot wings and ale. Wenches! The Emperor’s palate is parched! Step lively!

Heteronormative Dating

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Our soceity’s rules for dating give men most of the power. Did you know that?

Sometimes I just have to wonder where we’d be if the angriest and most bitter feminists were naturally inclined toward reaching out toward and empathizing with those of a different mindset, rather than toward preaching to the converted. Heteronormative? Who the hell do you know who talks that way?

H/T: Cassy.

She’s Jumping Ship

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

The democrat faithful who are jumping ship, represent a real event. It’s really going on. Don’t know how big of a phenomenon it is; know way to really find out before Tuesday night.

But I like the substance of what I see of it.

Instead of celebrating [Joe the Plumber's] aspirations, they were mocked. He wasn’t “a real plumber,” and “They’re fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund manager,” and the patronizing, “I’ve got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber.”

Having worked in politics, I know that absolutely none of this is on the level. This back and forth is posturing, a charade, and a political game. These lines are what I refer to as “hooker lines” — a sure thing to get applause and the press to scribble as if they’re reporting meaningful news. [emphasis mine]

H/T: Neal Boortz.

Wealth Envy

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

We’ve been flirting with it, and acting upon it, for much longer than you might think.

Spread It Around!The personal income tax, the federal government’s main source of revenue, is collected overwhelmingly from a relative handful of Americans. Indeed, the most recent IRS data shows that the top 1 percent of filers paid nearly 40 percent of all income taxes. That means the top 1 percent paid about the same as the bottom 95 percent, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. The bottom 50 percent paid just 3 percent.

Given that poorer citizens always outnumber the rich, political philosophers have long worried that government based on majority rule could lead to organized theft from the wealthy by the democratic masses. “If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city,” Aristotle warned.

The Founders of the United States shared Aristotle’s worry. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be, as James Madison put it, “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” Madison and others therefore made it a “first object of government” to protect personal property from unjust confiscation.

There follows a fascinating walk-through of American history, and within it, our various misadventures with the various cul de sacs of frenzied, frothy populist rage injected into our tax code. Behind the link above.

So what’re you still doing here?

Hat tip to Red Planet Cartoons, which also gets credit for the graphic.

Reprehensible

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

The Yin and Yang series is about how there are two ways to think out every problem, and thinking people are divided into two camps whether they realize it or not because each individual selects one of those two ways of thinking and sticks to it for life. The ninth installment explores how this takes place inside the cranium.

I’ve written much about this, but to explore it at a high level it comes down to this: You can think like a Yin by traversing the first three pillars of persuasion in sequence — fact; opinion; thing to do. Or, you can think like a Yang, by anticipating what a group consensus will find to be reprehensible, and doing the opposite. The first of those two techniques works well when you are in solitude and don’t have to reckon with the opinions of others. The second works only in a group environment, which explains why some of us get lonely faster than others — they’re deprived not only of happiness when others aren’t around, but also of the fuel for what they have adopted as the convention for rational thinking.

Where do Republicans and democrats enter into this? Republicans recruit primarily from the Yin; democrats draw their support primarily from the Yang.

And this is why their talking points are different. The two issues I think illustrate this best, are 1) waterboarding, and 2) hate crime legislation.

To the left, waterboarding is simply awful. Don’t do it. What we don’t discuss too much is that on the right, a lot of people think it’s awful too. Except the right wing is home to the truly nuanced thinkers here. They’re the ones asking all these pain-in-the-ass questions. The first three pillars in sequence; cause-and-effect. IF THEN. So, IF we waterboard, THEN someone somewhere will think we’re bad. Who is that, exactly? Who thinks that? IF we stop waterboarding, THEN someone will think we’re better people than we’d otherwise be? What happens then? And when they ask those questions and await answers, they’re left sucking air. There are no answers. It’s just empty rhetoric. So they don’t take the argument seriously, because the argument isn’t there to be taken seriously.

Hate crimes, likewise, are simply awful. But hate crime legislation is only attractive to you if you neglect cause and effect. IF we enhance penalties based on motive, THEN the government has a compelling reason to examine motive that it didn’t have before. IF it examines motive, THEN it must necessarily examine thought…a personal attribute previously thought to be private and sacrosanct. This is a problem. The Yang are not properly equipped to care about any of this. There is only the group consensus, which is sort of a replacement-deity, to be considered. The crime is awful, therefore, any punishment of the crime must be good. Four legs good two legs bad.

In announcing that things are deplorable, the right does not communicate the messages very well. The left excels at this. Every little criticism against Barack Obama, now, is raaaaaaaacist whether it is legitimate or not. Simply repeating his own words, without comment, can be racist now. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is hung in effigy in front of some guy’s house and you have to count on the fringe kook right wing blogs, like this one, to see it treated as anything more remarkable than a routine news oddity tidbit, like a giant spider snacking on a bird.

It isn’t that the right wing sucks at broadcasting the “That’s Deplorable!!!” sound bite. The problem is with models of thought. That just isn’t how the right wing thinks about things. It’s better equipped to deal with real life, in a world filled with spiders eating birds, killer whales biting seals in half, lionesses stripping planks of bloody flesh off of captured antelopes while they’re still alive, and islamic militant fundamentalist jackholes shooting schoolgirls while they run out of burning buildings.

You cope in a world such as this, by reacting, logically, to such instances of barbarism. To find something to be repugant to your personal value system and then just go around announcing it loudly, to hopefully win recruits…really doesn’t accomplish very much. Especially when you’re doing it to bolster an argument that you shouldn’t be doing anything about anything — that’s when it becomes glaringly unhelpful.

D’JEver Notice? XIV

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Think of this as an extension of D’JEver Notice? I, in which I made the point that each one of the industries that have “let us down,” if you take the time to inspect how that industry works and how it has morphed in recent history, you find it fails to stand as an example of the weaknesses of capitalism because it no longer adheres to any capitalist model. You have education, healthcare, the world oil market, and — since I wrote that above installment, which has turned out to be prescient — we’ve had this huge ol’ dealy-do with the subprime lending mess.

Capitalism didn’t create those problems. It didn’t leave us; we left it. We started messing around with some cross-breeding against the marxist way of life and that is when the real problems started.

Big Red FlagNow there’s an election upon us in which we get to figure out an answer to the central question: Are we ready to give up on capitalism? Are we ready to put the socialists in charge of our government, unopposed, when they aren’t even ready to admit they’re socialists? And it occurs to me:

Capitalism is “failing” because we have seen it fall short of a standard that is so inherently silly, we cannot even say what it is, out loud, and still preserve a healthy, decent sense of shame. That standard is this:

To motivate all those involved in a financial transaction, to act in the interests of other parties similarly involved, to the detriment of their own.

And here, I’m specifically calling out those “Wall Street traders” who sold those Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) to suckers, along with the banks that made those bad loans in the first place that later on were packaged into these SIVs. That’s your failure of capitalism, there; people failed to look out for one another because we had this “Wild, Wild West” thing going on in the lending industry. Capitalism unfettered and running amok.

To make this look like the Wild West, you’d have to have a very special Wild West. Basically, you’d have to have the Marshal acting as a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE), sitting on a huge sack of gold bullion. Sort of insuring the town saloon — if Frank Miller shows up on the noon train and starts smashing up the town saloon, the Marshal would have his bag of gold ready. Except he wouldn’t offer a settlement to the saloon owner to replace his big ol’ bar mirror he bought in St. Louis. No, he’d be giving the gold bullion to Frank Miller for smashing up the saloon.

See, the government’s standing behind these bad loans…that’s the genesis of the problem. Now, the bank has to make bad loans. It would be irresponsible of the bank not to. Look at all that free money from the government just waiting to be snatched up out there. That isn’t capitalism.

But anyway. The point is, socialism…which is running for President in six days, and true to form, is afraid to call itself socialism…also has a thoroughly miserable job of living up to this impossible standard. Motivating people to engage in transactions, looking out for everyone else. It doesn’t succeed at this any better than capitalism does. The difference is, a) unlike capitalism, socialism is internally structured to count on meeting this impossible goal; and b) unlike capitalism, when socialism fails to meet this impossible goal, we have a lot of people running around who don’t remember. Seems the folks who suffer from the shortest memories have the loudest voices about this.

In my opinion, Barry O needs to get his talking points in order. Right now, the issue that confronts him is that the people who don’t want to see him win, are making the point Barack Obama wants us to become a socialist country and socialism doesn’t work! And the Obama/Biden campaign has responded with two rejoinders that really should put us in our place:

No he isn’t…

…and…Yes it does.

I know he’s all hopey-changey and makes the leg tingle, etc. But shouldn’t voters at least press him to pick one of those two mutually exclusive responses? No I’m not, and Yes it does. He’s supposed to be so clean and articulate and he likes to use the cliche “Let’s be clear” a lot. Fine. So be clear.

Is an Obama presidency all about giving up on capitalism, or not?

Image credit: Yet another outstanding cartoon resource linked by Rick.

Embarrassment

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Jules Crittenden

Embarrassment

And the lack thereof. Michael Malone at ABC beautifully, if tragically, with shame, reports on the ”get-a-room” performance of the national media in this presidential election year and his own awakening:

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer,” because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

Yeah, well here’s my advice on that point, Mike. Call yourself a reporter, an editor, a columnist, a commentator, whatever it is you actually do. “Journalist” is a bogus word for people who are trying to make it sound like this wretched business is something exalted, something professional, something that requires arcane, secret knowledge hard come by. All things it never was, as amply demonstrated on a regular basis by some of the best in the business working at some of the finest publications in the nation. Yes, there are some skills, knacks and tricks of the trade. It helps to be familiar with stuff like … your subject matter … the English language … telephones and computers. Bloggers, untrained, in a couple of years have shown that millions upon millions of dollars have been wasted in this country on journalism degrees.

Dadgummit, but I do love reading about people spending good money to get degrees in things, and then regretting it.

No, that’s not really true. I don’t like reading about that at all. I do like it when going through rituals, is a process thought to be equivalent to actually learning something, or achieving something, and then at the eleventh-hour one or several folks have light bulbs go off in their heads…duh…hey, maybe this wasn’t a good thing we did here. And if ever there was a ritual exalted inappropriately, placed on the same level as learning something or doing something, inappropriately — this stuff we nowadays call “journalism” is a wonderful candidate for such a problem.

We’re waking up.

Don’t know if it’ll be enough of us, or whether it will be in time. But we are waking up.

Unfortunately, I think it’s safe to say now that journalism is changed forever. Irredeemably. All because of Obamamania. Some eighty or ninety percent of this slow erosion — and that’s a conservative estimate — took place within the calendar years of 2007-08.

Sad.

Hat tip: Insty.

Hopeful Signs

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

File this one under “optimistic exuberance, possibly to the point of derangement.”

…there is another story out there that the MSM refuses to address…I’m referring to the widespread phenomenon of registered Democrats openly supporting John McCain. There are numerous “Democrats for McCain” type organizations. There are numerous websites and blogs written by Democrats touting McCain’s candidacy. There are pro-McCain grassroots efforts being led by Democrats. And we all know friends or relatives who are Democrats, who voted for John Kerry in 2004, and who are no fans of President Bush – but who are going to vote for John McCain this year.

I don’t put a lot of stock in this, for the record. To me, this is unfolding the same way it did sixteen years ago, and I think that’s exactly the stupid little moebius strip under our feet right now.

And that’s exactly the way things are going to stay.

Right down to those first twenty-two months of a youthful, male, charismatic, unopposed, hard-left-liberal presidency…which will bring the wrath of the midterms down on its own arrogant head, in November of 2010. At which time we’ll see a second “Gingrich” revolution — under exactly the same circumstances as in ’94. For exactly the same reasons.

Except this time, with a longer-lasting legacy.

That’s my prediction. You read it here first.

But I still like reading this. Hope this guy turns out to be right, and I turn out to be wrong.

Hat tip: Roland the Gunslinger, at The Saloon.

Obama, No Merci Beaucoup

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Hat tip: Gerard.

Filibuster Proof

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Having a democrat President, a democrat House and a democrat Senate is not enough. For Hillary Clinton, it’s worth forming an alliance with Al Franken, to stump around in an effort to make the new Senate filibuster-proof.

“Al Franken was taking on the vast right-wing conspiracy before other people even admitted it existed,” she told a crowd of 2,000 supporters on the University of Minnesota campus, urging them to give her rival, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate. “Al Franken, with your help, can be our 60th vote.” [emphasis mine]

While I remain a staunch anti-filibuster advocate (When I Start Running This Place, Item #30), it’s an interesting canary in a coal mine in this situation; with 41 Republicans in the Senate the filibuster would be the last hurdle for bad ideas, or at least, extreme ideas.

Think about it: With the results in from an election in which Obama became our President in a rout, and democrats solidified their holds on both houses of the legislature — what kind of acts would still need that pesky filibuster to be removed, or rendered ineffective, in order to pass?

Here’s something else to ponder. Since the question posed above is simply belaboring the obvious (my respected pro-filibuster opponents use that argument on me, fairly often), it’s well-established that we already have quite a few people who are concerned with it. Hillary’s no dummy with that fine political art & science of figuring out what’s bothering people. She could have come up with a laundry list of good ideas, that might perish in the legislative chamber of a nation gripped in left-wing fever if there are 41 Republican votes in the Senate to bottle things up. Somehow, it was worthwhile to leave this undone. And I notice that’s the case pretty consistently.

The democrat party loves to talk about victory over Republicans.

It loves to talk about tactics and measures put in place to make sure they’re unopposed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were so enthused, with the prospect of defeating terrorists?

They so seldom talk about the fine details of what exactly it is they want to do. They hate Joe The Plumber so much. All Joe The Plumber did was initiate a dialog about this, at such a level that such a dialog became truly useful to people. If democrats thought they had a platform that would become more popular to us as we learned more about it, right about now Joe The Plumber would be getting a phone call about a Cabinet position, or an Ambassadorship.

That’s not what’s happening to Joe right now.

Their euphemisms disturb me. A lot.

So many of their most effective euphemisms involve placing discussion of generalities, where discussion of specifics would be in everybody’s better interests. Barack Obama has been babbling constantly for the last two years about “the failed policies of the Bush administration.” He could have been talking about an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He could have been talking about making sure each year’s budget is in the black — no new spending. After all, we “know” that’s what he really means, right? But he doesn’t say those things very often; instead, he talks about “the failed policies” with that name always following afterward.

No politician worth his salt will choose a strategy that involves risk and cost, over another one that does not.

I’m hearing the word “common sense” bubbling to the surface of the political-speech stewpot as well. In a sane political cycle, a singular use of this term would inspire stigma, and repeated uses of it would result in career suicide. But it seems Sen. Obama’s margin over his opponent widens by a point every time he uses that phrase, so it’s working out very well for him.

Implications of “common sense”:

You and I are not only united, but our unification is a piece of distant history. We are united in our goals as well as in our methods for reaching them. What I’d do in a situation, is identical to what you’d do in the same situation…or, at least, our reactions would be substantially similar. We need not make early commitments about what exactly is to be done — we can leave the real decision making until later, because you and I have this fraternal notion of trust in each other.

Is that the situation with the political climate of our country today?

More to the point, what has Obama, or Hillary, or the democrat party in general — done to foster a climate like that?

Therein lies the patently absurd dishonesty to which we’ve unfortunately become accustomed, and begun to accept. The democrat party is making a good show of including “everyone” in what they’re going to be doing. But Hillary’s effort here is typical of her party’s efforts. They want a complete election cycle in which they are so powerful, that nobody else’s opinion matters. They’ve done such a splendid job of gathering campaign funds, now, that they have a golden opportunity to explain the details of why they need that, to the rest of us.

And they won’t do that. They won’t do it, because it would hurt them. They act — in many, many ways — like people ready to assume a substantially different behavior, after a point of commitment has passed. The point of commitment means everything to them. If they had a real fraternal camaraderie with the rest of the nation, something in which the phrase “common sense” would be meaningful, the point of commitment wouldn’t have such an impact.

They act — more than a little — like the blushing bride waiting for the rings to be exchanged so she can gain back the weight, stop wearing make-up, spend truckloads of money down at the mall, start shagging the best man, and never cook another meal again.

Caveat emptor.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Spooky Left-Wing Economics

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

“Mr. Rearden, the law which you are denouncing is based on the highest principle — the principle of the public good.”

“Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that ‘the good’ was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good at the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to be for their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it — well, so does any burglar. There is only one difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act.” [emphasis mine]

– Atlas Shrugged, p. 442 (35th anniv. reprint ed., Signet)

CartoonSo Rick links to a story about Henry Rearden, oh I mean Joe The Plumber, and how JTP is fearing for the future of our country. Good fear to have; I share it. And, by the by, he complements it with the cartoon you see to the right.

Zossima, the local liberal gadfly, indulges in his long-supported habit of saying…his stuff…I think the least I can do is whatever I can to ensure his words achieve greater visibility. It is the very least I can do.

…I’ll go along with any plan you guys propose as long as you have a real solution for dealing with the deficit. Kinda funny thing you might want to take your head out of your kiester to notice: $11 trillion in US federal gov’t debt is largely due to the tax and economic policies of Reagan and two Bushes. Clinton balanced the budget and brought prosperity. I’m just sayin’…

Okay. So the subject under discussion is liberals with their little “Robin Hood” schtick and how much that fowls things up. Zossima wants to talk about the deficit. Okay…we’re going to tax the snot out of people who actually make the jobs in our country, who make business actually happen — because that’s the only way we can “deal…with the deficit.”

So I couldn’t help but wonder

Great point, Zossima.

So if spreading the wealth around will bring down this public debt you want to discuss (as opposed to the subject at hand), how come nobody’s been able to make it work that way?

You’re so smart and you make things so simple. This should be an easy question for you.

Zossima comes back, and boy, he really puts me in my place. The answer was so obvious, I don’t know how it ever got past me. I feel like Luke Wilson in Idiocracy, you know, when he got in the wrong line at the prison…just the biggest dumbass…

Huh, lessee, the simple mind asks for a simple answer. Well, under Clinton, taxes were increased. And under Clinton, we had economic prosperity and a balanced budget. Under Reagan, Bush the elder, and Bush the doofus, taxes were decreased, deficits soared, and we are now on the brink of economic ruin.

Well then. Allow me to retort.

Bzzzt! WRONG! Sorry, try again. When Clinton came to office, the public debt held by our government was somewhere around 4.1 to 4.2 trillion. When he left it was up around 5.7 trillion.

So back to my question. When did it work?

If you check out that link, you’ll see Rick found the hard data derived from what I had referenced before getting into it…you’ll also see where I call out this difference between public debt, which is a balance sheet item, and this budget deficit thing which is a year-to-year statistic, commonly confused with public debt to make democrats look good.

But try this. Go look up the statistics for the public debt of our government. How it’s carried from one year to the next; how it goes up, how it goes down. You’ll see it’s spun out of control, regularly, since the founding of the nation.

When does it spin out of control?

When a Republican is in the White House?

When a democrat is in the White House?

When the Republicans run Congress?

When democrats run Congress? When the democrat party comes up with bold, new, innovative social programs?

No, no, no, no and no.

It’s WAR, stupid.

Wars are expensive. Cold wars and hot wars. And lately, when a Republican becomes President, the public debt spins out of control if & when there is a war on. Not quite so much when there’s a democrat President.

Is that because democrats know how to deal with finances and debt? Hah. Tell me another. Nobody, who’s paid the slightest bit of attention, can possibly take it seriously that democrats have anything to do with fiscal restraint. They don’t. It’s the wars. Republicans go ahead and deal with what’s going on, in the here-and-now; democrats put things off until some other time that might turn out to be more convenient (when a Republican can take the fall for things). So yes. Our public debt explodes when a Republican is in office, so that smaller wars can be fought at that time, when they need to be fought — rather than be allowed to putrify and become gigantic wars for someone else to deal with.

Which would, then, explode our nation’s debt anyway.

Like it or not, that’s the history of our nation. Back to the very beginning.

But back to the subject immediately under discussion –

Economics is all about cause and effect. I get that these wonderful liberal Presidents like Carter, Clinton and Obama are cause, and a “balanced budget” is the effect…lots of leftist twits have told me so…nobody’s been able to draw a line logically connecting the two together. They can’t. You don’t jump-start an economy by making it more expensive to buy goods and services.

You don’t create jobs by making it more expensive to provide those jobs.

You don’t bring down the price of a company’s products by making it more expensive for that company to bring products to market.

This stuff isn’t debated often, because there simply isn’t a debate to have about it. It’s math. Simple, third-grade math.

When Truth is Ignorance

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

It CAN be, you know. Case in point…another female slut bellyaches away about being called a slut, right after calling herself one

The idea that sexual women are worthless derives, pretty clearly, from a time when women were property; yes, ye olden days. Days when your father could trade your virginity for a goat. In that time, if you had the gall to bone someone before marriage, you damaged Dad’s goods, and might therefore cause him to get a low-quality goat, or no goat at all. It wasn’t really a moral question so much as a question of ownership; your body belonged to Dad or Husband, not to you, so using it for your own pleasure was equivalent to borrowing someone’s car and bringing it back with a broken headlight and a big dent in the hood.

*sigh* Here we go again…ye olde facts of life…

Women, whether they choose to be insightful about this stuff or not, are in a position to be spoiled rotten here. If & when they have a child, it’s their’s. There is no question. Therefore, some of the more ignorant ones are a little slow to catch on to the pitfalls of too much “experience.”

Let’s sum it up this way. If you were a guy, ladies — IF you were a guy — how much money would you have to be paid, to father a child you had good reason to believe was not yours? And so, yes…what was jotted down above about fathers and daughters and goats, while a crude summary, remains a fairly accurate summary of how things worked. Ignorant truth. Back in ye olden days, a man trying to marry off his sexually seasoned daughter was placed into a compromising position. That’s the way an economy works. Econ one-oh-one. Sorry, feminists, that’s just the way it is.

And it works that way now, too. If a lady says a gentleman is good enough for her, for marriage, for a movie, for a cup of tea, for a roll in the hay…that’s a pretty big compliment, even if she’s been granting the same privilege to other suitors. But it’s a much, much bigger compliment if she’s been showing some discretion. If she discriminates in favor of the fella. Yeah, discrimination. It’s usually a good thing if you’re on the pleasant end of it, especially if you’re wanting to get some attention from a lady who already has a good bit of yours. And so when one of the Sex in the City girls motions for that night’s stud to come on up, well…it’s not going to cause too much of a thrill for him, compared to the same gesture from another lady who asks more questions first.

In other words, if a lady accommodates casually, she is appreciated casually as well. She’s no longer capable of extending to her various beaus a true compliment. So this strain of feminism longs wistfully for a time and place and plane of existence, in which sluts are valued as much as, more more than, the girls who are more chaste.

Not gonna happen. Sorry.

Wow, we sure have a lot of people stumbling around, dreaming of perfect fantasy societies that never have been, and can never be.

Politically Correct Girliemen of the Week

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Yasser Abdel Said murdered his own daughters for dating boys who weren’t Muslims. And that silly FBI put out a notice on him, that was so insensitive that it actually called out the facts. Gasp.

Since this murdering bastard butchered his daughters here in the USA, and we’d really, really, like to get him up close and personal with the Mexas execution chamber, Yasser hit the big time, when the FBI posted some ‘Wanted’ info on this steaming load. That’s when this sorry saga strayed into the Girlieman spotlight.

Initially, following the lead of the murdered teenage girls’ great aunt, the initial FBI ‘wanted’ blurb was thrillingly real:

“The 17- and 18-year-old girls were dating American boys, which was contrary to their father’s rules of not dating non-Muslim boys,” The FBI “wanted” poster read early last week. “Reportedly, the girls were murdered due to an ‘Honor Killing.’” (Fox News)

In record time, ‘some Muslims’ whined about the use of ‘honor killing’. These homegrown Jihadikazes are worried that rank and file American individuals will get the ‘wrong’ idea since ‘honor killing’ ‘attaches a religious motive’ to this crime. These murderer coddling traitors to everything we hold dear worry that “honor killing” might make a rational adult discriminate against Mecca Maniacs. If by ‘discriminate’ they mean someone, like me, wants to see this man, who killed his daughters to preserve the family honor, burn in the hell he deserves, then I am guilty as charged.

Going gutless and furtive, the FBI beat a hasty retreat, by rewriting the wanted blurb to make it okey dokey for traitorous, American hating, Sharia loving, scumbags like CAIR. That’s when a craven, Jihadikaze coddling, coward named Mark White, media coordinator in the bureau’s Dallas office, left a lasting stench in our nostrils.

‘…[He whined to Fox] that the FBI changed the wording “because the statement was not meant to indicate that the FBI was ‘labeling’ anything.

“The person who wrote it up did not see the misunderstanding that [the original wording] would create,” White said.

White added that the FBI should not be in the business of calling cases anything that is not described in law.

“It’s our job to find the fugitive. It’s not our job to label this case anything other than what it is, what it is from a criminal perspective,” he said, noting that there was no legal definition of an “honor killing” and that such a motive had not yet been proven in court. That will come out in the trial, and the jury can decide that.” (Fox News)

When challenged about the FBI’s double standard – they, routinely, use the equally ‘discriminatory’ term ‘hate crime’ – this stinking stain on humanity’s butt spewed more weasel words. Blah, blah, blah.

The irony here — a lot of Americans don’t understand very much about Islam, even after all these years. The debate that swirls under the surface, is whether the religion is inherently violent, or whether it’s been hijacked by violent fringe-group radicals.

Politically-correct backpedaling like this, has at least the potential to make the entire religion look more dangerous than it really is. It creates an appearance that in order to make the religion look harmless, you have to suppress facts. Make sure things stay un-discussed. This isn’t a matter of correcting a mistaken record — it’s a matter of whittling down the scope of what can be mentioned.

What people indulge in that for the purpose of making large numbers of other people to think good things about something…or to prevent them from thinking bad things…it lends, at the very least, an appearance that shenanigans are goin’ down. Someone’s selling a pig in a poke. It accomplishes the exact opposite of what’s intended.

Date Local

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

What a painful awakening. A bunch of loyal liberal readers of Feministing are just starting to figure out that the word “liberal” has absolutely nothing to do with liberty. It’s quite the opposite. It’s all about large mobs of people telling each other what to do.

The activist side of liberalism is truly a loose cannon on deck. It is a cannon ball rolling around on deck. There is no telling what will end up in the crosshairs next. It’s like a frenzied chubacabra…no, a Tazmanian Devil. A Terminator robot that has somehow fried a circuit and is consequently convinced that everything in earshot or line-of-sight is somehow Sarah Connor.

The next cultural activiity in the path of the juggernaut: Long-distance dating. It’s that green thing again. Long-distance dating is bad for the environment.

The Census tells us there are about 100 million single people in America over the age of 17. We don’t know how many of those folks are in long-distance relationships, but the available research suggests that at least a quarter of all college students are dating out of town. Since the rate is going to be much lower among the general population, we’ll make a conservative estimate of 1 in 15 for all single adults. That gives us around 6.7 million unmarried Americans in long-distance relationships. Add in the 3.4 million married people who told the Census that they live separately but aren’t “separated,” and our total rises to more than 10 million individuals—or 5 million LDRs.

If all of these people made like our two-career couple and drove the distance from D.C. to New York City every two weeks, they would produce a total of about 18 million metric tons of CO2 a year. For comparison, 6.9 million metric tons would be added to the atmosphere if we suddenly eliminated all the public transportation in the United States.
:
No, our Date Local movement won’t be overbearing. It shouldn’t try to break up every cross-country love odyssey. Instead, it will discourage this special type of conspicuous consumption at the margins, nudging people toward the realization that breaking up is in their own, and enlightened, economic self-interest.

So let’s give it a try. Date Local’s message is a simple one, in the best traditions of liberal reform. All you have to do is date here. Date now. Date sustainably. And if you absolutely have to date long-distance, do it via Amtrak.

You ever watch a group of young kids play together? I mean, barely just past toddler stage? You know how there’s always one girl, who’s figured out how to string syllables together…and because she’s just so adorable, she’s become accustomed to people doing things she tells them to do? And so for the time being, this has become her mode of communication — do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.

That’s modern feminism there. That’s modern liberalism. What people are told to stop doing, doesn’t really matter. The important thing is the knuckle-rapping. It’s like a shark swimming — they can’t stop doing it. It’s an inherent contradiction, because within the twenty-something set, when most people have been recruited into being good liberals, they rallied to the cause for the express purpose of not being told what to do.

That’s probably why the comments under the Feministing post, are just a tad…scathing.

I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me who I should love.
Posted by JenTheFem | October 24, 2008 11:12 AM

I think the problem with this is that if you love someone enough to opt for a long distance relationship, you love them enough to try to keep your relationship together against all odds. As bad as I feel for the environmental ramifications in this situation, I do not think I could just break up with the person I love more than anyone in the world just to date someone closer. I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet who could hold a candle to my loving, brilliant feminist boyfriend. This waiting will pay off someday.
Posted by Sparkles | October 24, 2008 11:13 AM

“if we have a local food movement, why not a date local movement?”

Not exactly the same, yeah? I mean, okay, some people are in long distance relationships for the wrong reasons (I have been), but that doesn’t mean we should shame the rest.
Posted by MaggieF | October 24, 2008 11:16 AM

uhhhhhhhhhhhh.
this is ridiculous. i dont even know where to start.
Posted by Aint I A Woman | October 24, 2008 11:18 AM

Ok, no, I’m a lot pissed. A large number of good friends are in life-long partnerships that started as long term relationship. And a more than fair number of good friends have been raped by “local” boy dates. Including my SO twice.

From this should I assume that all local relationships are doomed to failure and guaranteed to end in rape? That they’re filled with misery and cause an endless expenditure in gas costs for driving endlessly around the city?

I’m sorry, but this is ludicrous, offensive, poorly thought out and dismissive for no worthwhile reason. I don’t care why Slate thought it was a brilliant idea, but for you to try and expand on it with a disgustingly short-sighted and exclusionist post really demonstrates a lack of forethought and empathy.
Posted by Cerberus | October 24, 2008 11:27 AM

This is an awful post. I never thought i’d see a post on feministing about how one should lead their love life. Thanks a lot.

The love of my life and I have been together for almost 7 years (anniversary in November). Last year I had to move 3 hours away to continue my education. I now commute back and forth once a week (spending 3 days in Toronto, 4 days in Kingston). I refuse to own a car, so I take either the bus or the train, and buy ticket packets ahead of time.

… and you want me to feel GUILTY for trying to sustain this long-term, supportive, positive relationship?

OR would you rather I gave up my dreams of achieving a PHD so i could “stay local”?

Yeah, basically, you can take this post and shove it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bus to catch.
Posted by kitty stockings | October 24, 2008 11:29 AM

Liberal feminists. They exchanged one institution of self-important, strutting martinets — for another one. And they don’t even know it.

H/T: Cassy Fiano.

Best Sentence XLV

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

The Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award, this morning, goes to Tim Siggia. Blogger friend Virgil sends us a link to Siggia’s latest, in an off-line.

They delved into just about just about every aspect of [Joe] Wurzelbacher’s life, and, lo and behold, they found out Joe was an unlicensed plumber — this bit of information being gleefully provided by the plumbers’ union, whose bosses undoubtedly had their own reasons for wanting to get Joe. It wasn’t just that he had asked the wrong question of a Democratic candidate — an absolute no-no in union circles — but the union hadn’t gotten that slice of Joe’s income, in the form of union dues, to which the bosses consider themselves entitled. But Joe’s standing as a plumber is not the issue here. The issue is a candidate who, in an off-script moment, told both Joe The Plumber and the rest of America who he really is and what he really stands for.

That there above, all of it, is wind-up.

Smackdown follows…

The fact also that Joe The Plumber, a lifelong workingman, is now under persecution by the political party that continuously has portrayed itself as the workingman’s party, makes the hypocrisy of it all particularly odious.

Maybe nowadays it’s more like “lawyer party.”

Fact Check Follies

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

James Taranto, in his Best of the Web column, reminds us that this stuff called “fact-checking” isn’t quite as cut-and-dried as it’s represented to be sometimes. There really isn’t any good way to tease this so I’ll just lift it all in.

Here’s one of the most hilariously hair-splitting “fact checks” we’ve seen so far this campaign. The Washington Post gives John McCain three “Pinocchios” for something he said on “Fox News Sunday”:

“[Barack Obama] said [William Ayers] was just a guy in the neighborhood. He wasn’t just a guy in the neighborhood. We need to know the full extent of that relationship.”

Wait, didn’t Obama say that about Ayers? Not quite. According to the Post, he did not say “just”:

Obama was questioned about his relationship with Ayers in a Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia back in April. He described Ayers as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” He made the point that he was “8 years old” at the time that Ayers committed his “detestable acts” while acknowledging that they had served together on the board of an education fund.

In other words, Obama conceded that he had a casual relationship with Ayers, a truthful statement. Had he said what McCain says he said–”He’s just a guy in the neighborhood”–and left it at that, that would have been an untruthful statement.

If you look at McCain’s statement closely, it’s not even clear that he was quoting Obama when he said “just.” He was speaking rather than writing, so we have to punctuate the sentence for ourselves, but one plausible punctuation is: “[Obama] said [Ayers] was just ‘a guy in the neighborhood.’ ”

Clearly McCain’s point of contention is not whether Obama used the word “just” but whether there was more to his relationship with Ayers than he claimed. The Post seems to believe that there was not, but solely on the basis of Obama’s say-so. That’s not fact-checking, it’s campaigning for Obama. [emphasis mine]

That comes very close to winning the latest Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award.

What comes next on this subject of Obama’s menagerie of America-loathing friends, easily snags the Best Headline I’ve Seen Lately award…in blogger friend Rick’s opinion, as well as my own…

I was 5 when they killed Sharon Tate, but I wouldn’t hang out with the Manson Family now

The Angry Left Points Fingers…

Friday, October 24th, 2008

without a trace of shame.

[T]he notion that the McCain campaign, and conservatives more broadly, have stooped to an unprecedented level of “sleaziness” with negative, nasty and mendacious campaign tactics has become the accepted media narrative over the past several weeks. “Smear” is the word you most often hear nowadays next to “Republican.” But while it may be true that some in the conservative fever swamps have resorted to ugly tactics, they don’t hold a candle to the left’s rhetoric over the past eight years.

H/T: Gerard.

Check out the examples. Bush is fighting wars on behalf of Israel. Now, envision how ugly a journey in that direction of thought can possibly get…and then multiply by a factor of ten, maybe then you have something resembling reality. Anti-semitism in its most raw, naked form. We’ve had it out front-and-center for years now, courtesy of our Angry Left.

That’s just the worst of it. Go see what these leftist luminaries have had to say about Republican campaigns, rallies and gatherings…and other things. Watch ‘em compete with each other to see who’s best at being theatrically horrified.

Paul Krugman.

Joe Klein.

Keith Olbermann…perhaps more deserving of being cited in this Rogue’s Gallery, than anybody else.

And now, telling the truth about Barack Obama, when & where truth happens to be less than flattering…is equivalent to something called “sleaze” and it’s dishonorable.

Cut me a 24-karat gold plated break.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form XXIII

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Daniel J. Summers liked Rick’s cartoon, so he swiped it shamelessly, and gave us the credit for it. That’s the nature of blogging, of course; we did the same, offering credit to Rick but not to Cadillac Tight, or Exhibit A Press.

He throws in a great link, by one of our favorite columnists, Neal Boortz. It’s a letter to the undecided voter. If it wasn’t destined to fail in what it is trying to do, I’d call it the most important letter anyone’s written this year…maybe this decade. At this point, however, my optimism is somewhere between flickering and snuffed. Buy gold.

Then he lays the smackdown. Nothing outside of what I’d noticed, about a week ago — indeed, what he’s doing is giving me credit for talking about it, of which I don’t know I’m deserving because at the time I wasn’t the only one talking about it. It was being played up as some kind of phony-baloney Joe The Plumber scandal.

Joe the Plumber does not make 250,000 dollars a year. He doesn’t even make close to that.

He just wants to.

This does not detract from my admiration for the real Joe the Plumber. It doesn’t change my desire for people to pull the “I Am Spartacus” thing with Joe.

Quite to the contrary, I think that’s thirty tons of awesome.

After a week of cooling-down and thinking about other things, I’ve noticed a new wrinkle about this Joe The Plumber thing that was unnoticed before. Or, more likely, noticed but un-commented-upon. I find it worthy of comment.

Invited to address the Joe The Plumber thing during the third Presidential debate, Sen. Obama said

Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber, what I essentially said to him was, “Five years ago, when you were in a position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then.”

And what I want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet have money, I want to give them a tax break now.

Poor Barack was trying to make a point back then, that I’m just starting to notice now…he was tripped up by the facts, since back on October 15 a lot of people failed to make this crucial distinction between pulling in a quarter million a year, and wanting to do that someday. Therefore, his comment seems quite silly, and it’s not my intention to make it that way.

But there’s a fascinating point to be made here with regard to time. It’s an important point. It has to do with how some of us see ourselves…it has to do with that graphic of the kitty looking at itself in the mirror and seeing a lion, that I used when I wrote about Joe The Plumber (link above).

A few years ago, when a certain family member was going through a tough time he’d brought down on himself by seeing little besides perfection in himself and little besides flaws in others, I remember being drawn into a semi-heated argument. I do have faults here and there…sometimes, when I say stupid things, I’m slow to recognize it — this was not one of those times. This time I said something exceptionally wise and failed to recognize it. I’m like Obama that way. I fail to see my own wisdom and brilliance here & there. I’m working on it…

…anyway, what I offered was some kind of counseling against comparing onesself to others. It’s inappropriate, first of all; it’s a fool’s ambition to live out one’s life with a goal of being better than some-other-guy. Last I checked, they don’t carve anything about that on tombstones. Find a tombstone that says “He did better than Frank over there” with an arrow under it…you let me know. But there’s another point to be made: We betray our narcissistic intentions, some of us, by comparing our gonna-dooz with others’ hav-dunz. Gonna-dooz, and have-dunz. Those are two different things.

Obama, here, committed a sin in the world of socialist propaganda. He discussed the subject of time.

I think Joe The Plumber is “thirty tons of awesome” because he understands the difference between gonna-dooz and have-dunz, and in forming his values, he forms them around the gonna-dooz. That takes courage. That takes balls.

Barack Obama understands the difference too. (On October 15, like many of us, he mistakenly thought making 250,000 was a have-dunz of Joe’s…when it’s not.) He wanted to discuss Joe’s have-dunz. And his point was that most of us — and what he meant, in spirit, was all of us — are lacking the gumpshun we would need, to make plans around our gonna-dooz. We aren’t that great. We aren’t that strong. We need a tax policy that’s formed around our limitations, because our limitations define our identities.

Two men. One of them is thought to be the very incarnation of “The Change We Deserve.” Isn’t there a profound irony there, that the more majestic, godlike figure who presents himself as ready to lead a nation of hundreds of millions, is the one facing backward? And the guy playing catch with his son in front of a house that costs less than Barack Obama’s necktie, is the one with the leadership and courage that is needed to look forward? Thus endeth the lesson — on this one point, I trust, I have defined exactly what’s cockeyed about the situation.

Barack Obama is Ozymandias. It’s just a fact. He may win the election…or not; it may take two weeks for him to wither away into clay feet on a pedestal, or it may take four years, or eight. But he’ll get there. There is absolutely no question about it. He is Ozymandias, because while he is very impressive in the moment, history will treat him unkindly because he does not have the courage to truly look into the future. He commits a twin crime, two, possibly intermingled and inseparable, crimes of thought: He confuses mediocrity with excellence, and he confuses gonna-dooz with have-dunz.

The Change We Deserve? We’ll find out soon.

Cross-posted at Cassy Fiano.

D’JEver Notice? XIII

Friday, October 24th, 2008

So now we have clothes-gate. Which, in my mind, is nothing more than a resurrection of tanning-booth-gate.

Which, by the way, kinda dropped under the surface like a bowling ball plunking into the ocean last month. Haven’t heard much about that ol’ tanning bed lately. That scandal seems to have died kinda like that chap James Bond killed in the men’s bathroom in Yugoslavia…it didn’t die well.

I’m surprised to see it resurrected in another form. It looks like — what’s the word? Ah, yes — desperation.

Well, here’s the thing. Can someone tell me what exactly would happen if Sarah Palin went shopping at Ross Dress For Less, Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx for all her clothes to wear on the campaign trail? Kind of a support-your-local-redneck wardrobe program? What would happen then? Would all the talking heads look upon her with respect, as the icon of a redneck tidal wave not to be taken lightly? As an oasis of venerability in a desert of hypocrisy? As a noble public servant, decent down to the marrow of her bones, living a life of consistency? Truth? Believability?

No.

No.

No, no, no.

What we would hear from our news-cycle talking heads, is a bunch of pious rot about what a lofty office the Vice Presidency is, all the transformation that has been thrust upon it throughout history since it was first occupied by John Adams…how it should be looked-upon with reverence, respect and awe by all of us…especially by those of us who seek it.

And then, with varying degrees of subtlety, we’d be left to ponder the injustice of someone holding herself up as somehow worthy for this high office, while she runs around in moldy old clothes.

YEAH. There’s some hypocrisy going on with regard to this issue. But not the kind people are discussing much.

Maybe there’s even some of that old-fashioned sexism, too. What are the gentlemen wearing? And how much did those duds cost?

Barack Obama: Agent of Chaos?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! …Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair.

Heath Ledger as The Joker, Dark Knight (2008).

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Ezra Klein, at the beginning of the year (H/T: Is Barack Obama The Messiah?).

I wept.

“Anonymous,” commenting on Ezra’s post.

The Joker’s right. People really don’t care that much about the goal of a plan, or whether the consequences that follow naturally from a plan are in harmony with the stated goal of the plan — just so long as there is one.

I keep hearing, from time to time, this thing that Obama calls us back to our higher selves, that he is a more evolved being, summoning us to the next higher plane of evolution. Question: How many species in the animal kingdom are built around just one instance of the species occupying the hub of a communications network, Obama-style, while the lowly underlings abandon whatever passes for rational thought and slavishly perform whatever tasks they’re called to perform by this hub-overlord? Drones, that take solace in the fact that there’s a plan…never mind what it’s supposed to do, just so long as there is one. I can think of quite a few such species that aren’t very evolved at all. Ants. Bees. Wasps. A little higher up on the tree, there are pilot whales. Lemmings. That’s about it, I think. The Borg-like behavior tops out at the lemming species.

Unless one accepts that the Obama supporter is more evolved than the lemming.

I wonder how evolved the electorate is, as a whole. How prevalent is this voter who doesn’t care what the plan is supposed to do, so long as there’s a plan. This human bug. Maybe that’s a minority; a paper tiger. Who knows, maybe McCain could wrap this whole thing up right now by going after the “dammit, I want to know what my next President is going to DO and he won’t get my vote until he tells me” vote.

The Chosen One has eased off somewhat on all the Messiah nonsense since January, when Klein wrote his piece. Somewhat. A little. But measurably; somewhere, there must be some polling data that told Him that would be a smart thing to do. Perhaps, even in 2008, you can’t lead our nation without at least making a show of spelling out what your plan is, as opposed to repeating over and over again that you have one and that it involves “change.”

But perhaps you can. Obama’s talked somewhat about pulling our troops out of Iraq, and offering a tax cut to everyone except Joe The Plumber…other than that, if he’s elected, he will be perhaps the most commitment-free President since — well, ever. It will be quite bizarre. He could do just about anything, and nobody would be able to say any of it is directly contradictory to any campaign-trail promise, anywhere. And forget about ever criticizing him about anything. That would be racist.

H/T to blogger friend Rick for the graphic.

Cross-posted at Cassy Fiano.

Rob Roy: Movie Greatness

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Rob RoyJeffrey Perren of the Atlas Society pays homage to one of the world cinema’s most underrated films.

At bottom, it is a straightforward story. Rob Roy, an early 18th century Scottish leader is seeking to better his lot in life and that of his clansman. He borrows a thousand pounds (about $1 million in today’s currency) from a local Scottish Lord, Montrose, in order to invest in and herd cattle to market.

In short order, conniving Killearn (his ‘factor’ or accountant) and bastard whoremonger and wastrel gambler, the foppish Archie, cook up a scheme to steal the money and blame the theft on Rob’s close friend, Alan McDonald.

It is movie greatness because the hero, Robert Roy MacGregor, is tall, clean, pure, strong…and flawed. There’s one Big Bad and two Dragons. It is a child’s fairy tale…except dealing with real, adult, grown-up finance and credit headaches.

If you drag this classic home from Hollywood Video on a Friday night, and that night your credit card company or your auto loan company or your mortgage company calls asking about your next payment — do yourself a favor. Watch something else until Sunday night.

It’s a story about a middle-class man, saturated with honor, finding himself in miserable financial straights anyway. About the financial entanglements of great and powerful but flawed men, ruining the lives of humble but more honorable men.

And it has a vicious rape scene. And a powerful final duel, in which a DRCJ gets sliced in half the wrong way. Okay, I’ve said way too much. Go get that movie. Uh…don’t watch it Monday through Thursday. You’ll want to make a special event out of this. Tiger shrimp on the gas grill, on kabobs, with lime juice. Best chardonnay you can get. Pop this baby in. It’s a real treat. Trust me.

Oh, and if, at the end of it, you don’t think Tim Roth is not richly deserving of a marble statue in his likeness in a town square somewhere — you are absolutely tasteless. You deserve to see your lands raided, your home burned to the ground, you dog and your kid brother shot by Englishmen, your wife violated, your cattle slaughtered, and your flesh cut to ribbons one scratch at a time. Blarney.

Yet Another Atlas Shrugged Casting Call

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Dagnyhere. Yeah, it’s six months old. Deal.

Nobody thinks anybody else’s is perfect. And picking away is always great fun. Pick away.

Himbos

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Dr. Helen is taking on the pressing issue of the himbo — the male bimbo.

I was looking at my hotmail account and came across the ridiculous caption, “Is he a himbo?” at MSN. According to the urban dictionary, a himbo is the male version of a bimbo, whore, or slut. I stupidly clicked on the article (I know, I know, don’t do it) and read the following:

It’s a good thing I was reading the tabloids at my doctor’s office, because after looking at the latest Us Weekly and In Touch, I felt like I could use a heavy dose of antibiotics. I’m not sure when it hit me, but somewhere between the picture of Lance Armstrong holding hands with Kate Hudson (not long after he’d stopped canoodling with Ashley Olsen) and the snapshot of John Mayer catching some rays with Jennifer Aniston (mere months after telling Jessica Simpson he wanted to see other Wonderlands), I started to feel a little queasy.

I’m no stranger to the porcine habits of men, what with being one and all. But doesn’t it seem like these guys are going a little beyond piggy lately?…

Or perhaps these guys should take a cue from Cary Grant: By all accounts, he was the Ho of Babylon, and yet his legacy is all rakish charm and sex appeal. It’s a matter of style.

Maybe I give Cary Grant a pass cuz he made Notorious, while Matthew McConaughey made Failure to Launch. Whatever. I’m just saying, guys — have a little self-respect, OK? Seriously. Keep your shirts on. Live strong.

So, let’s get this straight. If women play the field, they are liberated. If men do the same, they are pigs with no self-respect. Give me a break. The guy who wrote the article is either jealous of these guys or has been so indoctrinated to telling females what they want to hear that he has to diss his own sex to make himself feel important. Either way, I say, if you’re male, single, and upfront with the women you date, let your inner himbo shine is you’re so inclined.

I’m of two minds about this. First, I think Helen is coming off a little bit thin-skinned on behalf of us gents. As a real man, I can watch you float one double standard after another, without getting my pride or my sensibilities wounded. That’s what being a real dude is all about. Knights and damsels; opening the door for the lady; laying the overcoat down in the mud puddle and all that stuff.

On the other hand, I draw the line at being diminished. And that is one of the ways we’ve been very effectively diminished, lately. This behavior is unacceptable. That behavior is unacceptable. This, that, this, that…such-and-such is threatening…oh dear, he made me feel uncomfortable. We think this is paying gentlemen some sort of compliment because of our roots — in the olden days it was called “chivalry.” So we think this is just a grandchild of chivarly. Men are expected to do this, and not to do that.

This isn’t chivalry. It’s a form of class warfare.

Thing I Know #237. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between being held accountable to a higher standard, which is an act of love, and being staked to the ground by a shorter leash, which is an act of hate. There aren’t too many ways to distinguish these things. I do know of one: Love is reserved for individuals. A class can’t be loved.

I notice it is a recurring meme in feminist circles to decry this double-standard with regard to sluttiness; girls are expected to remain chaste, guys are expected to whore around. There is truth in this. But only in middle- and high-schools. Feminists, you’ll notice, will use passive voice with regard to describing this double standard, avoiding like the dickens having to mention the venue in which male sluts are worshipped and female sluts are roundly condemned. They avoid mentioning it because it is so relevant. It’s all about the setting.

It’s also about the fantasies people have with regard to their own gender. We have a James Bond movie coming out next month. If it’s decent, it’ll have a “bop count” of at least three. So the feminists do have a point, because if you made a film franchise about a female spy who sleeps with four or five studs in the course of each adventure, for this reason or that, it would bomb at the box office. Where the feminists are steered wrong, is their refusal to separate fantasy from reality — nobody’s thinking too highly of a real flesh-and-blood guy who sleeps with half-a-dozen conquests a week — and, once again, feminists are confused about what can be done about certain things. They forget, again, that men and women are fundamentally different. We have different fantasies about ourselves.

Men don’t recoil in disgust from stories about women who sleep with lots of men. Women do that. At the same time, nobody is really attracted, in large numbers, to such an idea. It simply lacks any redeeming value for anyone at all.

Except as an object of ridicule. In which case, all gender-flavored favoritism, in one direction or another, vanishes. Male sluts and female sluts are equally ridiculous. Just look at Bill Clinton’s image during the last two years of his administration; the man’s very name was a punchline.

Bottom line: I don’t think either gender is honored, or validated, whatever, through any kind of cultural permissiveness vis a vis their pokey-pokey pecadillos. How that myth ever got started, I’ll never know. But I do agree with Dr. Helen that it’s become a rather inexpensive way to make yourself look like a “good egg” to nameless faceless multitudes, to chastise those knuckle-dragging men into doing this-or-that thing or stop doing some other damn silly thing. There can be some merit involved in that. Guys should wash their hands and leave the seat down, and a lot of ‘em don’t. But generally, it’s good to be wary of costless ways strangers can make themselves look decent. I’ve found once the method emerges, people will exploit it, in droves, to make themselves look like they have more redeeming qualities than they really do.

Enough of that heavy-thinking nonsense. I’m gonna go download some pictures of good-looking ladies in skimpy bathing suits now.

Transformational Nonsense

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

New responsibilities have caused a slowdown in my commentary, at my place as well as at Cassy’s during my guest-blogging stint there (about which she was forewarned). And maybe that’s good, because I wanted to see the impact of Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, and at the time he actually made it I was running into difficulty obtaining a complete transcript of his remarks.

Now that I’ve seen it from beginning to end, I must say I’m much more concerned than I was before. And that, in itself, is interesting. From time to time I have been commanded by the prevailing viewpoint to believe this-or-that personality was a Being of Greatness, when this was my opinion of such a person already. I notice, at such times, disappointment is assured. Colin Powell used to be the exception to this. Since I watched him command the military all those years ago, the first time Saddam Hussein had to be taken down a peg, I have been greatly impressed with him. Based on what little I personally knew about him, he struck me as something of an Omar Bradley, a “soldier’s general.” The guy at the top who keeps things real.

In fact, I would not have been called-upon to reconsider that, had the prevailing viewpoint not happened along to imperiously intone that I should worship Joint Chiefs Chairman Powell, then Secretary of State Powell; that I should start thinking what I was already thinking. But the prevailing viewpoint is a wonderful reverse-barometer.

When the prevailing viewpoint tells you to think what you’re already thinking, it’s a pretty good indication you should start re-thinking.

And I’m sad to say, that’s exactly what’s happened here. I don’t know what race Secretary Powell has been watching. I don’t know what Barack Obama he has been watching. The points that stood out for me, the most:

 • That Barack Obama is symbolism and substance;
 • That he is “intellectually curious”;
 • That he has the ability to inspire, to be a transformational figure;
 • That the McCain/Palin ticket has drifted “toward the right” and become all about Obama’s supposed relationship to William Ayers;
 • And, the implication that there is something significantly influential about the murmuring that Obama is a Muslim.

On that last one, I do agree with Powell about the underlying concern. This is an American value that goes all the way back to the beginning, that you should be able to run for President — or any high public office, for that matter — with whatever religious faith you exercise in your personal time, that you deem most appropriate. I agree with him a hundred percent that “Barack Obama is not a Muslim!” is not the correct retort (although it’s true), since this implies that if he was a Muslim, he’d be just as unfit to serve as if he was nineteen years old, or born in India.

On the other hand, as a fighting man, General Powell knows better than this. In a country attacked by Mongols, there would be a stigma attached to being Mongolian. Even if it was a misguided Mongolian sub-sect that did the attacking, the stigma would remain, and running for President of that country with even a hint of Mongolian heritage would be quite out of the question. That’s not racism. That’s a reasonable survival instinct. It is, to coin a phrase, an “attribute of sovereignty.”

But Powell overestimates the importance of this charge. Perhaps he has reason to; he cites remarks from people he knows, whom I don’t, who he says are responsible for peddling this myth that Obama is a Muslim. Whatever — it reads like Obama campaign talking points. It isn’t just Bill Ayers. Obama has a long history of associating with people who have lots of bad stuff to say about the country he seeks to lead…and not much history of associating with anyone with good things to say about it. I say again…a history. Not just an oopsie here & there.

As far as the intellectual curiosity — and halfway in between, there was something about unifying people, shared values, trying to make things work for everyone…can’t remember the exact words — who in the world has Powell been watching? Nobody I know.

Senator Obama, the one I’ve been watching, seems determined to make America work for that definition of “everyone” that has become, unfortunately, popular of late:

Everyone (modern):
1. Exact opposite of the classic definition. An elite class, which carries an identifying attribute that excludes others.
2. Me (as in, the person speaking).

Everyone is sick of this. Everyone is tired of you. We need to come up with a tax plan that works for everyone. This was the only time and date for this meeting we could find that would work for everyone (sorry you can’t come).

This is a symptom of the pestilence visited upon our modern times, that we have so many people running around in positions of power, babbling away with that word “everyone” and meaning something exactly the opposite. Keep your eyes and ears peeled in the days ahead, as we wind up the last two weeks of this campaign season, when people start talking about “everyone.” There’s always a definition. A distinction. Something that sets apart the “everyone” they really want to discuss, from the real “everyone.”

Obama wants to make our tax structure work for “everyone,” as an example. He means the opposite. To get to the “everyone” he really means, you have to mark off all the high income earners who justify compensation worth more than 250 thousand in a year, and break ‘em away — Obama’s “everyone” is whoever’s left over after that exercise.

“Everyone”‘s values — that doesn’t include some of us. It doesn’t include people who feel abortion is wrong, that it’s murder. So if you have a religious or personal problem with subsidizing this procedure with your tax money, then congratulations, you are officially outside the “everyone” Barack Obama likes to talk about.

On the intellectual curiosity. I’d love to see Secretary Powell sit down, in front of a small audience, and try to justify this. When has Sen. Obama ever been curious about anything? Ever? Oh yes he’s gifted at saying what he thinks ought to be done and ought not be done. I’ve been watching that guy all year long, and I haven’t seen him qualify any of it, even once. By that I mean, start to logically explore what’s likely to happen if we do what he wants done…or don’t do what he wants done. He’d probably have more reasonable opinions about things if he were to engage in that (see, I just did it myself). But he doesn’t do that. He just intones. He just commands. We should start doing this. We should stop doing that. Should, should, should. Must, gotta, ought to.

Sorry, that’s not being intellectually curious. That’s being a control freak.

I’m not a spring chicken anymore; in my early forties, I like to think I’m somewhere in the belly-button midpoint between crib and crypt. With the life I’ve already lived, I’ve spent all of it building things or participating in groups of people trying to build things. Every single month out of every single year, minus a brief sojourn here & there.

And I must say it bothers me mightily to see someone who’s shouldered so much responsibility in defending our country, engaging in this classic confusion between the following two:

1. “Style and substance”;
2. The readiness, willingness and ability to put a soothing and forceful voicebox behind an arbitrary opinion first.

That worries the dickens out of me. Believe me, I’m in a position to know: The first opinion voiced, is not necessarily the best one. It’s usually not. And it’s usually the most damaging opinion, because it tends to be the opinion that draws support, and the accompanying resources, when it lacks the merit to justify them.

I have seen so many people, do so much damage, that way. By chiming in, Obama-style, on their opinion of what’s “right,” while others in the room are more thoughtfully weighing the other alternatives, and the likely benefits and consequences of them. Powell, to me, represented the thoughtful presence in the room, the guy who was thoughtfully weighing likely benefits and consequences. If he has that much admiration for the guy who speaks up first and ends up running things, I guess I must have been wrong about him. Now I have an answer to my question about how he rose to the top so quickly — like all contradictions, it was ultimately resolved by my checking my premises. As Professor Hugh Axton promised, I found one of them was wrong.

Cross-posted at Cassy Fiano.

This Is Good LVI

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

In an open letter to Peggy Noonan (H/T: Conservative Grapevine), Ace of Spades touches on the dark, sinister, evil power of the beltway to turn good conservatives into liberals.

That’s one of the reasons the base is a “vast and broken hearted thing”; whenever something or someone we can celebrate happens to it, there is no shortage of “conservative intelligentsia” who can be counted on to suddenly “grow” in their thinking. The pain comes not from any disappointment in the selection of or performance of Gov. Palin, but from the fact that all too often conservatives are left to feel betrayed by the very people who have made their fortunes by proclaiming themselves to be our spokesmen.

Whoooo gotttsssss itssss preciousssssssss???

It’s often said the U.S. Constitution is a perfect document. This is not true. Our government is beleaguered by a debilitating design flaw. Our country is supposed to be dedicated to the concept of federalism: Minimal powers accorded to the overall, centrist government, with the balance of power devolved to “the States respectively, or to the people” as mandated by the Tenth Amendment.

Yes, believe it or not, that is the intended design: People in Tallahassee should not be deciding how fast you can drive in Broken Bow, Nebraska, and people in Atlantic City shouldn’t be voting on the capacity of the automatic pistol you bought in Colfax, California.

And yet, we have a nation’s capitol. It is surrounded by a beltway. Good conservatives like Peggy Noonan, Earl Warren, Anthony Kennedy, et al, cross over that moat surrounding the castle. And they become hard-core left-wing radical fringe extreme liberals.

It’s the power. All that power sucked into the gravity well that is at the galaxy’s center. They don’t believe in local government anymore. They don’t believe in local intellectual acumen anymore. Once they are part of the octopus’ head, they don’t think the tentacles can be trusted with anything anymore.

They are seduced to the Power of the Dark Side. Once down that road you start, forever will it dominate your destiny.

Meanwhile — can anyone prove to me Sarah Palin is a dimwit? Because if you can’t…and you haven’t met her personally…you people who say she is one, are pretty much talking out your asses. There’s been a lot of ass-talking goin’ on, inside the beltway as well as without, over the last fifty-one days. Ass-talking commencing without running into too much by way of resistance. Or question.

That’s a serious problem. When we forget all about the Tenth Amendment, we’re supposed to be forgetting about it out of a conviction that people in our nation’s capitol, must be gifted, reasoned, intelligent, logical thinkers to end up where they now are. But curiously, the people who spend all their time in that ivory tower within the moat that is the beltway, find it so easy to say Sarah Palin is a chucklehead and a know-nothing redneck, when they haven’t personally met her. Huh. If they’re really worth all this confidence from the rest of us, shouldn’t this at least give them some pause?

Perhaps This Will Get the Message Across…

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

…even where all other techniques fail. I’m having such good luck lately commanding the innerwebs to do my bidding, that I have to assume I’m on some kind of a roll and try to make the most of it.

If it doesn’t work, I’m in a position to guarantee it’ll still come in handy. Moreso than I want.

Donated to the public domain. Steal away.

Joe The Plumber: American with a Capital A

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

My girlfriend wanted to go shopping for Halloween costumes on Thursday, during her lunch hour. Now, she works in downtown Sacramento and we live in Folsom, which presents a problem because there’s a good twenty or thirty miles between the two, and Al Gore tells me if I drive my car too much I’ll kill the planet, something I don’t want to do. So I packed up my son’s lunch and homework and saw him off to school, then hopped on my bike, with my AM radio piping in some talk radio for the trip.

One of the last things I did before I left the house was a quick update to The Blog That Nobody Reads, which involved an unusual wistful request about upcoming cultural changes, something that is typically outside of our field of interest. Of course, it had to do with the elections — a recurring four-year event in which all our lives are impacted, and practically shaped, by whatever values and sentiments emerge from the ballot box as “prevailing.” And so it is the one time I’m forced to care about what others think. So now I’m worried. I’m particularly worried that the signs indicate, with an undercurrent of certainty, that we’re about to botch it and botch it good.

I asked that a “meme” take over on the innernets with regard to Joe the Plumber; that people rise up, and say loud and proud, “I AM JOE THE PLUMBER.”

That was Thursday morning. On Friday Iowahawk, intentionally or not, obediently complied

I hope you will join me in expressing a simple bit of solidarity with this guy, Spartacus style. I AM JOE. I am a Wal Mart schlub in flyover country who changes my own oil and unclogs drains without a license. I smoke and drink beer and toss the football in the front yard with my kid, and I figure I can fend my way without handouts from some Magic Messiah’s candy bags. Most everyone in my family and most everyone I grew up with is another Joe, and if you screw with them, you screw with me.

Are you a Joe? Say it proud. Leave it on every goddamn newspaper comment section and online forum. Let these pressroom and online thugs know you won’t stay silent when they try to destroy the life of a private citizen for speaking his mind — because for every one of them, there are a million Joe Wurzelbachers. And for that we should all be thankful.

No, he didn’t “obediently comply” quite so much. It’s a case of great minds thinkin’ alike. Whatever; that was the kindling catching under the big-wood, and now the bonfire is ablaze.

Blogger friend Buck thinks I was ahead of my time. I prefer to think of it more as a natural resonance thing. Real Americans exhibit a common behavior, that is synchronized not through genuine collaboration, but by shared values. Joe the Plumber did not come looking for Obama; Obama came looking for Joe, and when Joe didn’t give Obama the answer Obama wanted, the Obama campaign started looking for ways to destroy Joe. I have an emotional reaction to that. Real Americans have the same reaction to that, that I do. The small-a “americans” who support Barack Obama, don’t react the same way and can’t react the same way, because it would conflict with their rabid, tingly support for their messianic but decidedly lackluster presidential candidate.

But anyway.

I put out my call for solidarity with Joe early enough that it preceded any real knowledge I had about the fellow. It came before what emerged as a swelling of new facts about Joe the Plumber…the whole license thing, tax lien thing, etc. etc. etc. None of which really matters to me at all. But what does matter to me, is something I heard coming out of Rush Limbaugh’s program just as I took my mountain bike off the Jedediah Smith recreational trail and pointed it down J Street, into downtown:

Joe the Plumber does not make 250,000 dollars a year. He doesn’t even make close to that.

He just wants to.

This does not detract from my admiration for the real Joe the Plumber. It doesn’t change my desire for people to pull the “I Am Spartacus” thing with Joe.

Quite to the contrary, I think that’s thirty tons of awesome.

You see, Joe is not speaking out about his objections to Barack Obama’s Robin-Hood tax plan with regard to his current economic status. He is objecting on behalf of his own dreams, which is quite a different thing. Joy Behar revealed herself to be a small-a american when she called those dreams “fantasies.” I’ve been familiar with that mindset for awhile. Years and years ago, the Sacramento area had a left-wing radio talk show host piped in from Los Angeles, and I remember this talk show host had a caller who was discussing tax plans and social programs and what not. The talk show host asked how much money the caller made, and I think the number was 44,000 a year or something. Talk show host said “Okay, then; you, will never, ever make more than sixty thousand a year. In your life. EVER. I guarantee it.” Or words to that effect. I’m paraphrasing. But the point was that we’re stratified, economically, and we’re stratified in perpetuity, womb to tomb.

I am Joe because I do not believe that is the case.

When You Dream...I do not believe we walk around from cradle to grave with “R” or “P” etched into our foreheads, marking us as rich or poor. I believe we ascend and descend; I believe we ascend and descend quickly and strongly. I would even add “violently.” Furthermore, I think that is the point of having an America. At all. I think the country was founded by people who figured out life is not about abundances of security, quite so much as of opportunity. Liberty…to succeed, to fail, to rise, to fall. Real freedom — when it’s sweet, and when it’s sour. I think they figured out when you have too much security, that things don’t move. I think they figured out what life is, and like babies emerged from the womb, were hungry to live it. They figured out life is motion, and therefore, life is danger. At least, that’s what life is if you’re of the mindset that equates responsibility with danger.

I think the country was founded by people who wanted things to move. Joe gets it. He’s got his big ol’ dreams, and being a capital-A American he’s going to work toward them. Maybe his dreams are on a completely different level from anything he’s done before. In fact, maybe when measured on a probability scale, they really do become fanciful. Maybe he will never succeed. Maybe he’s got his on-days when he works like a Tasmanian Devil toward achieving those dreams, and maybe he’s got his off-days when he never lifts a finger to bring himself any closer to those dreams. Maybe his lack of a license is a tell-tale sign that he isn’t really dedicated to what he’s supposed to be doing.

But they are dreams and they are not fantasies. Because here’s the difference: Barack Obama walks up to Joe, and says…if & when you make a quarter million a year, I’m gonna take some from you and spread the wealth around. And Joe, who I presume is not a loyal Republican or democrat and doesn’t really have a historical stake in the right-versus-left thing, says to himself…hey, that’ll work out alright for me in the here-and-now, but he’s screwing around with my dreams.

And so he safeguards the future. If you’re reading, Ms. Behar, that is the difference between a dream and a fantasy.

The small-a americans can’t have dreams like those. They’ve given them up. And they know it. That fills them with fear and rage; when they see someone like Joe, a Genuine American, who has dreams about the future and thinks they’re real enough that they deserve protection, it all bubbles up to the surface. Michelle Malkin calls it JTPDS, for Joe The Plumber Derangement Syndrome. And she’s got examples. Lots of ‘em. Go read up.

I have seen this kind of anger before. I have seen it…roughly…a month and a half ago. When Sarah Palin started making the news. Women hate Sarah Palin because — and when they explain it, themselves, they don’t make an awful lot of sense.

 • She is seen as ideal because her son is being deployed to Iraq…..how does that speak to her credibility as a candidate?
 • children with crazy names: Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow, and Piper…. i feel sorry for them!
 • married to high school boyfriend…. come on how about some exploration! [emphasis in original]

This is not the way right-wing “hate” works, I notice. You haven’t long to wait if you’re looking for examples of how people on the right wing are perceived to be puttin’ the hate on people on the left wing. The accusations fly fairly often. And if you look at what inspires or provokes those accusations of right-wing hate, you see the motivation is something similar to what set off Plumber Joe.

It isn’t tax liens, or plumbing without a license, or hunting moose or giving one’s own kids crazy names. It is “HEY…your tax-the-rich plans are screwing up my dreams.” Dreams of starting a large, successful business; dreams of teaching my kid how to use a target rifle; dreams of buying my wife an enormous SUV that she can’t commandeer without a hydraulic stepladder on the side, just because she’s a wonderful woman and I think she deserves it.

The Left, on the other hand, just dredges up ugly tidbits…some of which aren’t even ugly. Sarah Palin’s got a tanning bed. Todd works for BP oil. Joe the Plumber called Social Security a “joke.” He’s divorced. Over and over again, they play up these things as scandals, and in so doing reveal how out-of-touch they are. And, the lengths they’ll go to putting America under the control of the “correct” people.

I Am Joe The PlumberIt’s the kind of snarking you do when you catch someone doing something wonderful, that you could’ve done awhile ago, and in the days since then have made some kind of commitment toward not doing it. And to think — all Joe did, to set off this kind of anger, was dare to dream. To imagine himself as bigger tomorrow than he is today, to to make some substantial choices toward bringing that “fantasy” to reality. And to do some thinking, which leads to Step One: Don’t support Barack Obama, or any other soft-socialist, for any position of power.

He saw the light, along with millions and millions of capital-A Americans. If this guy gets his way, then what is the freakin’ point to what I’m trying to do? That’s the dangerous message. That’s the genie that was let out of the bottle. That’s where the American identity lives. We don’t prove to each other, or to a bunch of foreigners around the world, what wonderful “civilised” people we are by backing the “right” policies…abolishing guns…abolishing capital punishment…signing carbon emission treaties…etc. Americans are not here to be wonderful — we aren’t here to be, period. Americans do. We dream, and then we do.

Joe The Plumber speaks for me. I am Joe The Plumber. His story is my story. So say we all. Or, at least…many of us. We think the way he thinks. We do not see ourselves, tomorrow, bound by what defines us today. To us, this is what being a real American, is all about — we dare to dream big. And when you screw with Joe, you’re screwin’ with the rest of us.

The rest of you who hate him so much…there are lots of other countries out there, who hate Joe for the same reasons you do. They’d love to have ya, I’m sure. Think on it. Hope you get your place overseas all set up and furnished by the end of the month, and no, DON’T take an absentee ballot. It’ll just weigh you down, and that’ll make your jet plane emit more carbon.

Cross-posted at Cassy Fiano and Right Wing News.

ACORN Fraud

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I was perusing this ABC News article that offers a defense of ACORN, and a lot of things didn’t sit right with me about it. And indeed, an hour or two later I saw that Terry Trippany, CEO chief cook and bottle-washer of our parent site Webloggin and contributing writer to Newsbusters, shredded the hell out of it.

His three findings:

1. The “experts” named in the article are just as problematic as you would expect. Ekspurts usually are. You wouldn’t trust a complete stranger to assure you a restaurant is okay after it reopened in the wake of a closure by your health board. Why would you trust a complete stranger to assure you of the purity of anything else? But that’s a generalization. Trippany has details. Read up.

2. A political science professor makes the claim that none of the illegal ballots have been cast by people fraudulently registered to vote. Or, anyway, that none researched, have been found to be cast by such people. Her statement presumes that she’s been engaged in a process that would find such problems, which she doesn’t come out and say. She provides no reassurances that she’s been looking too hard, either. And since she’s an Obama/Biden donor, this is far from persuasive.

3. A singularity is used to prove a negative with regard to a more broadly occurring pattern: “…a Republican prosecutor handling a key Acorn registration fraud case has said there’s no evidence indicating the group was involved in vote fraud.” That’s simply bad logic. Old TV shows are in black and white; penguins are black and white; therefore, penguins are old TV shows.

It is both indefensible and unprofessional to use an Obama campaign contributor without attribution as an expert in a news article to dispute John McCain.
:
For a more honest assessment of ACORN and I suggest Stanley Kurtz and Jim Hoft. ABC news clearly can’t be counted on to objectively report their activities. [emphasis mine]

Well hey. They wouldn’t be resorting to this kind of propaganda if it didn’t work.

Meanwhile, I had a couple of other objections to the ABC News piece. The article repeatedly makes assurances that there’s nothing to worry about, based on efforts by the Justice Department that are presumed to be effective and energetic…not outwardly qualified that way…and generating lackluster results within a specific scope.

“This stuff does not threaten the outcome of the election,” said [political science professor Lorraine] Minnite. “How many illegal ballots have been cast by people who are fraudulently registered to vote? By my count, it’s zero. I just don’t know of any, I’ve been looking for years for this stuff.”

For all types of vote tampering and fraud, including vote buying, Minnite says the Justice Department has averaged seven or eight convictions a year.

I’m amazed and impressed that this is a convincing argument, for some of us. I wonder if they so casually accepted this “can’t find it here” kind of logic with regard to that other issue…waterboarding? We ain’t been doing it lately, so just quit worrying about it?

My other objection has to do with ACORN acting as an unbrella organization, with both a voter registration wing and a political activities wing. They’ve endorsed Obama officially; they’re federally funded; they’re eyeball deep in scandal and from the looks of it, deserve to be. Worse still, as you chase down these links you find some of them disappear. Someone’s protesting they have nothing to hide while, simultaneously, doing a splendid job of behaving as if they do.

And then there’s the matter of “registration drives” in general. It is a solution in search of a problem. This country does not have a shortage of energized, motivated voters. It has a sickening, suffocating abundance. There is no reason whatsoever to allow any linkage between public funding, and voter registration drives — no reason at all not to require that all such drives be one hundred percent self-reliant and privately supported. It’s simply not a valid expense to present to the overburdened taxpayer right now.

In fact, I’m unsold on the idea of allowing them at all, even if they are privately funded. Voter pruning drives are more what we need. I say, don’t filter out the left-wingers and don’t filter out the right-wingers — both of those would be clearly wrong — but do make everyone take my voter test before they walk into that booth.

I’m just sayin’. We have a fairly consistent pattern of presuming certain ideas are illegitimate and unsuitable for consideration, just because we don’t hear anyone saying ‘em out loud, or read of anyone writing them down. So I’m writing it down: TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE VOTING. It’s more than legitimate to say we have people voting who shouldn’t be, because they’re just too ignorant. It’s way more than legitimate to say that. It is central to all the problems we’ve been having for the last generation or two…or three or four.

As a democratic republic, this nation relies on the presumption that the people who make decisions within it, know what they’re doing. It’s past high time we took some steps to make sure that’s the case. Don’t go arguing with me about that, and then claiming you love the country and want to see it prosper. The country’s drowning under a deluge of stupid voters…many of whom it seems don’t even exist.

Cross-posted at Cassy Fiano and at Right Wing News.