Archive for November, 2008

Racism Persists!

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

The Associated Press has finally come up with an answer to that most awkward of questions: How come a nation with a black President has an Affirmative Action program in place? At all?

Because racism persists, that’s why.

The day after Barack Obama was elected president, Kari Fulton heard a white colleague proclaim that racism in America is dead.

She cringed, worrying that it might be a sign of flagging interest in the fight against discrimination.

“In reality, racism is still very much alive and well,” said Fulton, who graduated last year from Howard University, a historically black college in the nation’s capital.

Warner Todd Huston at Stop The ACLU is having none of it:

And how does young Kari know this? At 23 she never lived through Jim Crow. She doesn’t remember the days when there were few blacks on TV and blacks in music were segregated to separate genres, not mixing with white singers. She wasn’t around when black CEOs didn’t exist and no blacks roamed the halls of Congress or the White House without pushing a broom. So, how does this 23-year-old girl know that “racism is alive and well”? Because she is a black activist, that’s why.

Well, I wouldn’t bet a lot of money that racism has been banished forever. Sure, it’s still around…in the same way all kinds & types of other prejudices are still around. Blacks are lazy, religious people are mean and nasty, men wage wars on other men because they get some kind of sexual thrill out of it, Republicans represent the interests of the greedy corporate types — those are all prejudices that persist in the minds of the intellectually lazy. They’re all still around.

I notice something else a little peculiar about this.

If, before anyone seriously thought of electing Barack Obama President, I were to step out in the limelight and say “the purpose of the modern black civil rights movement is to control what people think” — well, the first thing that would happen would be that I’d be punished. Lose my job, lose my career, lose whatever anyone can take away from me…probably not go to jail, but a lot of folks would want me to.

Point is, what I had just said, would be denied. By many. Eagerly.

No, no, no, they’d say, the point of it is to help out people who are caught in the bottom layers of society solely because of the color of their skin. To give them help, since they can’t advance any other way. You’ve got it all wrong, it’s not about controlling what people think.

Now the advancement is complete.

We’ve got a black President.

And whatever was militant before He was elected, has to stay just as militant after He is sworn in…not because it’s impossible for people to advance if their skin is the wrong color…but because racism persists.

Somewhere.

So, it always was about controlling what people think. The movement must endure because some people have racist thoughts in their heads.

I hope it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, with all the excitement ahead of us, what an incredibly weak argument this really is. Some people have racist thoughts. Yeah. Some people…eat their own feces. Name something, and whatever it is, I can find “some people” who think it.

That doesn’t mean we should set aside jobs for people of a certain skin color — in the same breath as bragging about how color-blind we are, lying to ourselves and everyone in earshot.

Someone with her whole life ahead of her, who’s worked so hard to associate her worth as a person with black-activism, heard “racism is dead” — and she didn’t like it. She represents, perhaps, millions of others who have the same concerns. Their medication has passed the point of becoming an addiction. If you don’t see that as a red flag, there is something wrong with you.

Agreement Over Clarity?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

One of the things I appreciate the most about Dennis Prager is his unofficial motto, “I prefer clarity over agreement.” To me, that says it all. All too often, we’re deluded into thinking whoever’s nearby and for some reason refuses to go-with-the-flow, that person must have fastened his identity to the role of loose-cannon. He must live to wallow in conflict, and therefore, to create it.

Agreement is desirable. But other things are moreso. And it seems the divide between the folks we call “conservatives” and the folks we call “liberals,” has something to do with this. Especially now. Most of the liberals I know are big on agreement, and elevate it above clarity.

So essays like this one (hat tip: Little Miss Atilla) are of interest to me…

In-fighting is part of politics. There are fierce battles for position and conflict over who gets the credit and who the blame.

Usually it’s kept from public view. But not always. The very public spat between Ron Paul supporters and the rest of the Right is a good example of a “not always” moment. So is Mike Huckabee’s lambasting of Libertarians. And Christians are being scape-goated for the GOP’s declining brand popularity due to strongly held views on social issues and Creationism.

Unchecked, the Right may succeed in disemboweling itself. Staunching the bleeding is hard as restricting faith to the heart prevents mental use of biblical warnings about divided houses. Worse, successful “kills” deplete the Right’s strength. We agree on more than we disagree. There are some very real differences and these will need to be worked out. But using exclusion as a tool in this working out is precisely the wrong approach.

To which I say…the Devil’s in the details. Truth does not smile upon the statement “we agree on more than we disagree” where the good Congressman Dr. Paul is concerned, I’m afraid. Once you’ve made agreement more important than clarity, it’s a treacherously short road to that tragic state of affairs in which the substance of what you have to sell, is nothing but a distant memory, and all you’re left holding is a package and a label.

No, the Prager dictum remains valid, for me at least. Clarity over agreement. After all, the product that is to be sold, isn’t unappealing, isn’t complicated, isn’t negative in any way…and the only time in recent memory in which it could not be sold, is this year, at a time in which the advertisement for it was muted. Conservatism’s champion was chosen as the most-liberal among the available field of candidates. This is when it could not be sold — when people weren’t told what it was.

In my view, elevating agreement over clarity exacerbates this problem. I mean, really: If we’re all supposed to agree with each other without worrying about the meaning of the agreement too much, why not just fall in line and support that new guy getting sworn in on January 20?

I’ll admit my concern with clarity over agreement is not without a bias, in fact, perhaps a bias formed over an entire lifetime. I’ve been noticing something about these folks, be they liberal or conservative, who are so overly enamored with agreement over clarity. What I’ve noticed is — they are big on clarity, too. Their message is not…let us unite any ol’ way. Their message is…let’s unite behind someone I happen to like. In other words, they tend to have an agenda that isn’t really unity. All you have to do is figure out what it is, wait until some guy who opposes it might possibly be running things, and then run over to your agreement-over-clarity guy and say “Hey, let’s all get together and get behind him!” or words to that effect.

All you get back is a dirty look.

So it’s an axiom worth pondering, that perhaps none of us are really wild about agreement-over-clarity. Perhaps that value system draws nothing more faithful than fair-weather-friends.

Here’s a thought: Conservatives could use their various disagreements to put the big reveal on this lie that there is something inherently non-accepting and non-inclusive about conservatism. They could showcase how all these different systems of priorities are united by common values, and that these values are in keeping with the original intent behind the founding of the nation. Example: Some conservatives believe the abortion issue is far more important than the fiscal-responsibility issue; some conservatives believe fiscal responsibility is more important than gun rights. The value system that unites all these positions is a wholesome, simple one…and it doesn’t have anything to do with forcing women to have babies or creating a Christian theocracy in our republic. It just says people matter. People are good, decent, capable of sound judgment, deserve to exist even if they haven’t slid past the vaginal finish line just yet — and are at the zenith of their potential when they sacrifice for the concept of delayed gratification.

You know who really needs to concentrate more on agreement here? Libertarians. I’ve noticed half the people I know who call themselves “libertarians” don’t give a rip about lower taxes or minimalist government, and just want to legalize pot.

And the big question conservatives need to ask themselves on January 20 as The Chosen One’s hand comes off the Bible — is not — “How can we change ourselves to get people to buy next time?” That’s a very foolish and silly question. Who, anywhere, regardless of their political leanings, can logically assert the electorate chose to repudiate conservatism after honestly inspecting its contents? Ten months ago, the Republican party made a conscious decision, codified during the conventions three months ago, that conservatism wasn’t what they’d try to be selling.

No, the question conservatives need to ponder is, instead, “Is this bacterial, or is it viral?” The American People have chosen someone to run the entire government, or the executive branch of it anyway, without knowing one little thing about what He is going to do. All they know about Him is that He is the product of a political-machine climate in Chicago, and He is an anti-war Socialist. If this is a viral infection, they’ll get fed up with His nonsense in a couple years. They have before. If it’s bacterial, an antibiotic will be needed.

Me…my answer is it’s viral. Sarah Palin nailed it when, asked why her campaign failed, she said it was “not our time.” That’s exactly right. Part of the reason it was not the time for the conservative movement, is it didn’t act conservative. Voters wanted to know what it was all about, and the answer their candidate provided was…a bailout. Communism-lite. The product of prioritizing agreement over clarity.

You can hardly blame the voters, then, for saying — why punch the ballot for an imitation brand? Let’s go for the real thing.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Polar Express

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Saw it in 3D yesterday. Way cool. Probably the best thing Zemeckis has ever done.

I said on the way back out to the parking garage it should’ve been called Star Wars VII. Young man coming of age learning about the world of wonder all around him. Strange creatures. Lots of CGI. Bottomless pits. No hand rails.

People do exactly what the girl in the group says, and as a direct consequence, everyone gets hopelessly lost.

Yup, that’s Star Wars alright.

Sally Field, Call Your Office

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

I’m sure this is not a reflection of where we’re headed, right?

It isn’t? There’s a line drawn, somewhere, between where we are, and where this society is?

Where is it, I wonder?

The Papua New Guinea jungle has given up one of its darkest secrets – the systematic slaughter of every male baby born in two villages to prevent future tribal clashes.

By virtually wiping out the ‘male stock’, tribal women hope they can avoid deadly bow-and-arrow wars between the villages in the future.

‘Babies grow into men and men turn into warriors,’ said Rona Luke, a village wife who is attending a special ‘peace and reconciliation’ meeting in the mountain village of Goroka.

H/T to Ace, via Helen, who adds:

But the commenters to the Daily Mail article that discussed the story certainly had sympathy for these female infant killers. One has to wonder about what kind of twisted morality commenters like the following must possess to write the following:

Stop judging these people with Western ethics. The commenters here have no idea how these people live and deal with life. I’ve lived with New Guineans and their minds do not work in the same way as Westerners. Overall they are gentle people and things must have got pretty bad for the womenfolk to kill their own children. In their minds it was the only way to save the village. Save your disgust for the baby killers in this country who should know better.

In any conflict, it’s always the women and children who suffer through no doing of their own. And when everything has been ruined, and the men killed, they have to pick up the pieces and restore everything. They must have really had enough to kill their own children like that.

How horrendous that these women so no other option but to kill there own babies to prevent heartache in the future,its a lose lose situation for them.

No sympathy at all for the male infants that died, just for the women who had to do the killing, how pathetic.

I suggest readers browse the Daily Mail comments for themselves. The nugget Dr. Helen lifted from there is a specimen, not a champion.

I wonder how Sally Field feels about this idea. We already know her opinions about other things. Perhaps the notion of male-only baby genocide would bring such joy to her that her nipples would stick out like pencil erasers.

The article goes on to suggest, if I’m reading it correctly — which is doubtful — that the fighting is still goin’ on. Seems to me, if that’s the case, that the experiment has not only been started, but brought to a conclusion. Didn’t work out so hot. But still. Women kill men systematically…newborn, infant, defenseless men…and the sympathy is reserved for the women who kill. Poor, poor mothers, how desperate they must be.

Can’t get much more deranged than that.

D’JEver Notice? XVIII

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

It is said that the truth has a well-known liberal bias. I agree with this. At least, within the provision that seems to be accepted all-too-quickly by the feeble-minded about truth, that it is nothing more than an aggregate of whatever is spoken most forcefully and most often.

Consider for a moment what the “truth” says about liberal democrats, when they get their own asses handed to them in an election. Do you hear a great deal about how they need to move their positions closer to the center, drop the most fringe-kook beliefs from their platform? I didn’t hear about that in 1988, or 1994, or 2000 or 2004. No, I hear, instead, of the need to find a new and better spokesman. The need to “repackage.” To make things “more easily understood.”

Reassemble?That is not what we’re hearing now, when it is the conservatives and Republicans who got their own butt cheeks extended to them upon a silver platter. Now, things are different. No need to repackage anything; it is the contents within that have to be filtered out, organized, purified…purged.

This difference is all the more bizarre when one considers the extreme imbalance within the wreckage of landscape that is our legislation — on the national level, as well as within several states. Quoth Randall Hoven in the American Thinker (Hat tip to Phil):

The most obvious point to me is that it is the do-gooding liberals who are telling us all what we can and can’t do. The religious right usually just wants to be left alone, either to home school, pray in public or not get their children vaccinated with who-knows-what. Inasmuch as the “religious right” wants some things outlawed, they have failed miserably for at least the last 50 years. Abortion, sodomy, and pornography are now all Constitutional rights. However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution.

Just think for a moment about the things you are actually forced to do or are prevented from doing. Seat belts. Motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets. Smoking. Gun purchase and ownership restrictions. Mandatory vaccines for your children. Car emissions inspections. Campaign ad and contribution restrictions. Saying a prayer at a public school graduation or football game. Trash separation and recycling. Keeping the money you earned. Gas tax. Telephone tax. Income tax. FICA withholding. Fill in this form. Provide ID.

For the most part, the list just cited is post-1960. Neither Pat Robertson nor James Dobson ever forced any of that on us.

I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we’d all be in trouble.)

This is reason number…I lost count…of why I’m convinced His Holiness’ Administration is going to be a serious disappointment for everyone, not the least for those who supported Him most ardently. The foundation upon which His ideas are built, is a philosophy that conservatism has bogged us down too much with “lost freedoms” and an injured economy, and we need His Divine Eminence to bring about “change.” Now, read the above paragraphs again. A change from that means what, exactly? The iPresident Man-God is going to bring this about?

Have you ever taken a minute or two to indulge in a fantasy that is the opposite of what’s jotted down above…to entertain what, exactly, would be different about our nation’s political landscape if the country really was in imminent danger of being placed under the iron fist of a theocracy? The way I figure it, the very first thing that would have to happen, would be some kind of a white-hot blistering inter-creed feud. We would have to figure out, don’t you see, which religion was going to be enshrined as our official state faith once the shredding of the First Amendment was finished and the revolution declared a success. Who is it to be? Methodists? Pentacostals? Baptists? The Catholics do not seem to be that interested, nor is anyone terribly worried about them, so it must be something Protestant.

We haven’t even seen the question raised, let alone anyone try to answer it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think overall paranoia can be a good thing. As Andrew Grove said, “only the paranoid survive.” But for paranoia to be beneficial, it has to be somewhat aligned with…truth. And I don’t mean, by that, the feeble-mind’s version of truth. I mean truth as it measurably exists.

And so far, as Hoven points out, Dr. James Dobson and all the rest of ‘em haven’t stopped me from doing a damn thing. That’s the truth.

Update: Image swiped from Space Invaders, via Gerard.

Best Sentence L

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

The fiftieth award for the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to Thomas Sowell for this most elegant and concise truism…

Too many people who argue that there is a beneficial role for the government to play in the economy glide swiftly from that to the conclusion that the government will in fact confine itself to playing such a role.

Hat tip to Inst.

Yup, That’s How I Left It

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Seattle, as photographed by Andy.

Santa Ignores Elf, Gets Sacked

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Telegraph.uk.

Andrew Mondia, 32, was one of several Father Christmases handing out presents and seasonal good cheer in the grotto of the London fashion store.

The store said an elf had warned Mr Mondia he should not be inviting either children or adults to sit on his knee and it was against company policy.

A spokesman for Selfridges told the Guardian: “It’s vital that everyone bringing children to see Santa can be absolutely confident that the visit will be a happy one. Unfortunately, this particular Santa didn’t behave in line with his training or the standards we’ve set so we acted swiftly and asked him to leave.”

I see the nanny-state is doing well with our perpetually-offended friends across the pond.

Ship. Tea. Crates. Boston Harbor. Ker-sploosh.

Irony

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Hat tip: Peter Rost.

Polarized

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

My household is a dual-income one, now, which means two sets of job responsibilities. So the political loudmouth could not make the trek “home” for the festivities. It would appear, from my e-mail, that the extended family that could so journey, got into a little bit of a polite dust-up around the table.

I continue to marvel at what an incredibly rare event it is for yours truly to actually bring up the subject of politics — compared to the way people recall it later. Thinking back on it, it almost never happens. I’m not saying that to be funny; it’s true. People come to me with questions. I’ve always had this appealing trait that when people ask me what time it is, I tell ‘em how to build a watch…so I suppose it’s natural that when you’re talking about one thing when you go to ask Morgan about the particulars, and by the time Morgan dishes out his monologue you’re talking about ten things, you should recall later that Morgan brought up the subject.

That’s quite understandable.

Doesn’t make it true.

Be that as it may. The subject of the elections came up at a dinner table which was separated from me by about eight hundred miles. So I can’t tell you how. I can only say the inquiry that came my way, was about people becoming tragically polarized, and the question that emerged was in what way did the recent election results address this trend, if they did at all. I take it the options were that the election manifested it, the election healed it, the election opened a new chapter of it, or…some smorgasbord of other alternative answers. Had I already “blogged” about this? What, if anything, is out there that has been written about this?

The reply follows, with just a few minor corrections (and one meaningful one — why do we always see these things after we hit the “Send” button?).

There is quite a bit inspecting the underlying causes, without attempting to attack the problem you specify directly, but you have to understand how to look it up. For example: The 527 groups. They can be used to channel large amounts of money into advertising campaigns *provided* the campaigns are not affiliated with, or directly advocate the election of, any specific candidate.

As anyone who’s been placed on their mailing lists knows, a victory for the opposing side brings on an avalanche of form letters from the 527. If these form letter campaigns are effective — and they must be, otherwise they would not take place — the money comes in. So right there is an artificial device put in place to keep your gas gauge at 50% or very close to it…the effect of this is that a massive war chest will be accumulated on the Republican side as the democrat party continues to run everything…with no opposition anywhere. It is quite unavoidable. Two solid years of form letters from Republican fund raisers to loyal Republican supporters to the effect of “Guess what they’re up to NOW?” is bound to have an effect. Mistakes will be made. Real life will bring challenges to everyone…it always does. Can’t blame conservatives for any of it. There aren’t any.

Also — there is a cause-and-effect relationship between all these drives to “get the vote out.” I’m sure you’ve seen these, all these PSAs, some paid-fer, some not…some of it just mindless pablum echoing from blogs — “Get out there and VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!” as if the subject under discussion is bringing a sandbag to an overloaded levee or a bucket of water to a house fire. Left undiscussed, is that there is one surefire way to get people to vote, that works better than any other: Convince them everything’s going to hell. [Lack of] voter participation, contrary to popular belief, is a sign of good times. People stay home because they’re pretty sure everything’s working out more-or-less OK.

Finally, there is the question of John McCain himself. The Republican party picked him out of a desire to decrease polarization across the board, to help unify — choose someone closer to the middle. The Republican party officials…were after exactly what you are after, to somehow compel people to agree. Supposedly, this was a surefire plan to win the election. Act a little bit more like lightweight democrats.

What did the electorate do? Congratulate the Republican party on doing this wonderful voice-impression of democrats, pat ‘em on the head, turn around and vote for the other guy. He was cuter. But the lesson is, when people get offended about things, they’re often getting offended on behalf of others — with whom they don’t even agree, and people who in all likelihood aren’t even getting offended. I see it with Sarah Palin; all these democrats running around talking (still?) about what a terrible VP pick she was, with that pregnant unmarried daughter and all. You think the average democrat gives a rip about that? No. They’re trying to agitate fundamentalist Christian Republicans…who they hate. Take a poll of all the people who are sympathetic to conservative principles, and the message comes back pretty resoundingly: Fred Thomspon would have been a much better pick, and probably would’ve won. It sounds fantastic at first, but how many Republicans would have stayed home to watch reruns with a Thompson/Palin ticket out there?

So when one seeks to win converts, it never helps to mute the message. Therefore, the moderate sub-spectrum is a politically unattractive place. We just ran the most-liberal-Republican against the most-liberal-democrat, and the Republican got his own hindquarters handed to him. It wasn’t about Republican-ness…it was about moderation. People say they want it. They don’t. They want a messenger who will stand up for his message. They don’t care that much about the contents of the message. Heath Ledger touched on this a little bit in The Dark Knight, giving a brilliant monologue as The Joker: Something about how calmed-down people are, when they know there is a “plan.” If the plan involves death and destruction, they’re not concerned, compared to the way they would be if they thought there was no plan at all.

So I don’t hold out a lot of hope for unification if the plan is to gather toward the middle. Seems to me that’s been tried already, just now. In fact, I don’t altogether agree with the goal. How many people do we want agreeing? Sixty percent? Eighty? A hundred? On how many issues? Some? All? This fixes what, exactly? Does it manifest that things are OK? If so, how? Quite to the contrary, it would be an enormous red flag that people aren’t thinking for themselves.

And we have that problem with things existing as they are right now. I see it in every Obamaton with whom I discuss these things…every single one, so far. Time comes to discuss what His Holiness the iPresident Man-God is going to do to solve our various problems, and all I hear about is ending the war, which means giving up. Close down Guantanamo, sign Kyoto, and roll back the tax cuts. That’s all. After that, the specifics come to an abrupt stop. There are none. It’s just how wonderful the Man-God is, how smart all His people are. This, to me, is not indicative of people thinking for themselves. They can name four specifics, maybe, on which they think they agree with the Man-God, and each item has to to do with helping our enemies, or dealing injury to ourselves. “I need some ‘Change!’ — two twenties for a ten?” “Uh…yeah, that seems fair, sure!”

And the problem exists on the Right, too, to be fair about it. Lots of quoting from scripture (much of it non-existent), lots of sloganeering. Not nearly as much as the hopenchange liberals this year. But it is there. And there is some negative feeling about it too. Sarah Palin gave her best speeches when she showed evidence of some independent thinking going on upstairs. Once she took the housewifey approach and prattled on about how wonderful McCain was, her support started to erode. People wanted to know if she stood for sincere, heartfelt, resolute support for conservative principles, and she made the mistake of giving them two answers. When she’s at the top of the ticket in 2012, hopefully she’ll be in a position to do a better job of it.

The irony? I think people *do* want to be unified. Support for the liberal ideas dissipates, just as soon as liberals talk about how to split us apart, which never takes long. Rich versus poor, gay versus straight, white versus black, man versus woman, labor versus management. Do I need to substantiate this point? Listen to Hillary Clinton talk about an issue…any issue…for fifteen minutes. See if you can pick out who the bad guy is, the Snidely Whiplash who needs to be taken down a peg or two. There always is one. The subject she discusses, doesn’t matter. There always is one. Even when she talks about a tragedy with no villains in it, like Hurrican Katrina, the Indonesian Tsunami, or the AIDS epidemic. If there’s no villain, she’ll make one. That’s emblematic of what liberalism is in 2008, of [what] people chose to buy with their votes this year. They came together, to drive a wedge amongst themselves. Now there’s one-party rule so no wedge-driving will be possible. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull this off.

PS: A great hue and cry has arisen about how President Bush should resign before January 20, and (as usual) if enough people complain, we can make it happen. As a commentary on that, I designed a new bumper sticker:

[From here.]

This morning I woke up to find my hit counter had spiked, because of this. [Note: This was mostly a result of linkage at Maggie’s Farm, so welcome to The Blog That Nobody Reads, you Yankee farmers.] So there seems to be widespread recognition of this. We seem to have a lot of people living among us, who live their lives, perpetually, on a turning point. Always one revolution away from happiness. No schism, means no revolutionary event, and no revolutionary event, means a stultifying boredom [of such magnitude] that they’d never be able to tolerate it once they had it.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Pulp Muppets

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Liberals Want a Refund on the Chosen One

Friday, November 28th, 2008

We’re getting a better picture of the iPresident’s incoming administration. It doesn’t look good. His own supporters aren’t terribly happy.

You know what “change” I’d like to see? I’d like to see The iPresident Messiah Man-God questioned by someone who talks exactly the way He does…”wait wait wait, hold on, hold on, hold on.” Does He lie awake late at night reading books on how to be a prick? He’s got this condescending way of talking down, like He’s trying to restore order where there previously was chaos, and meanwhile He is the one interrupting. What an asshole.

This is how He got elected. Any question not convenient to Him, He wanted treated like a child chewing dinner with his mouth hanging open, or burping at the dinner table without saying “excuse me.” That was just simply inappropriate. We don’t live in a country in which questioning our most powerful elected officials, is some kind of breach of etiquette. There are other countries like that. This country is supposed to try not to be like that. You dick.

Biden will be given nothing to do, it would seem. That genius Joe Biden, you remember him…walking encyclopedia of all this foreign-policy knowledge, so much more of an intellectual powerhouse than that dimwit Sarah Palin. Remember all that?

Aides say Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama sometimes rib each other in private meetings, and they maintain that Mr. Obama was not unduly angry at Mr. Biden for his gaffe predicting that Mr. Obama would be tested by a world crisis in his first six months in office.

Since then, however, Mr. Biden has not had much to say to the news media.

Over under the dome, the guy who’s going to be writing our nation’s tax policy, is in some tax trouble (hat tip: Jawa).

Today, two new reports indicate that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has engaged in further conduct meriting the attention of the House Ethics Committee. The New York Times has reported Rep. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a tax loophole benefitting Nabors Industries at the same time he was soliciting the company’s chief executive for a donation to the Rangel School. In a less serious but still troubling report, the Washington Post revealed Rep. Rangel took a property tax break intended for permanent primary residences on his Washington, D.C. home while declaring New York City as his permanent residence.

The Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and House rules prohibit members from asking for anything of value from “anyone who seeks official action from the House, does business with the House or has interests which may be substantially affected by the performance of official duties.” Members are also prohibited from taking official action to induce another to provide a benefit to a third party.

Well, it’s a good thing we got rid of those slimy Republicans with their corporate buddies and their loopholes and what-not…those ethically compromised Republicans. You recall that too, right? It wasn’t that long ago.

Buyers’ remorse indeed. If this election was like a handyman fixing up your kitchen, or that funny rattling noise your car was making…you’d be flipping through the yellow pages already, flailing around for someone with better references who can do the repairs all over again, right. Him, and the Better Business Bureau.

Well done, voters. You’ll have a chance to try and fix this…in about two years. God only knows what’s going to happen up until then.

Beer and Individuality Linked

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Now this is a thing that makes you go hmmm. And when I go hmmm, like anyone else, I’m thinking back on personal experience…and I must say, the findings make a lot of sense to me.

In Hollywood lore, the lone cowboy tamed the Wild West with two six-guns by day and drank warm beer with both fists in dusty saloons at night.

That stereotype of the rugged individualist who enjoys tipping back a few might not be so off the mark, according to a newly published study by marketing professors at the University of Texas at San Antonio. They found that places where individualism is valued over the collective good also tend to be places where a lot of beer is consumed.

I like reading about these studies that dabble in individualism versus collectivism, because they’re written up by eggheads and journalists — both of which tend to lean heavily toward the “collectivist” end of the spectrum. It’s interesting to me when they try to take a centrist approach, and their colors just shine through.

In this case, there is a theme permeating the column from top to bottom, that this correlation is taking place on a layer of thinking that was the subject of Pavlov’s experiment with the pups. Ring bell…dog starts slobbering. Mention individualism…people get thirsty for beer.

Problem: People don’t mention individualism that much.

I’m probably in a position to comment because I’m the guy they’re trying to study. Anyone who’s been reading the pages of this blog for awhile (which, of course, nobody actually reads) knows we tend to see very few linkages between collectivism and anything good. We see individuality as the source of everything we have that’s worth having — because it is.

And we like beer. Here.

So what’s it look like to me? It’s a stigma. When you’re a true individualist you have to be left behind by quite a few things. First, of course, there are the true-blue collectivists, and you don’t fit in with them because you don’t see life the same way. Then there are the goths. And other rebels who try to be individualists, but they’re more concerned with what others think than they want to admit — so you end up having very little in common with them, either. And then there are the socially inept, the mentally incapacitated, the narcissists, the…well, I’m pretty much recounting middle- and high-school here, aren’t I. Nerds, jocks and smoke-holers. That’s life.

The point is, by the time the individual has been rejected by every collective there is, there’s no one left around except those who are distracted from these social issues. We don’t try to be individualists. We grew up being distracted from all this stuff, while we were fiddling with things. Tinker toys, erector sets, computer programs…that cool slider thing I made out of Dad’s rope and Mom’s clothesline poles, on which I could very well have busted my back, and I’ve often wondered how that didn’t come to pass.

We’re the builders.

And when we’re done building stuff, we just want a nice cold bottle of beer, dammit.

Contrasted with that, collectivists have an identity to worry about, and the identity is externalized from them in that it’s decided by a prevailing consensus within their group. They can get thrown out. Therefore, there’s a stigma — beer happens to be the first and easiest thing to stigmatize. That’s my explanation. And the column seems to veer close to this realization, almost tumbling into it, but then beating a hasty retreat:

“The definition of an individualist is that we act on our attitudes, we be ourselves,” [L.J.] Shrum [, marketing department chairman at UTSA] said. “Whereas in collectivist societies that’s more frowned upon, and you want to make sure you reflect on the good of the group.”

I’ll bet if you could live in one collectivist society after another, for millions of years, watching ‘em rise and fall, you’d see the sequence is consistent. Stigmatize skin color, then right after that stigmatize the things people stick in their cakeholes — alcoholic beverages, hard drugs and tobacco. We start off with the visible things, you see. And then bloodlines…starting with the issue of disposable income in your family tree, and how it affects the way you dress. Again, what’s visible. Thoughts and ideas come soon afterward, at which time skin color is un-stigmatized, but all the other visible stigmas remain.

The researchers also found they could take a group of college students and manipulate those individualist-versus-collectivist impulses a bit, which in turn influenced how thirsty those students were for beer.
:
The researchers first compared per-capita beer consumption with a well-known set of national scores for individualism and collectivism developed by Dutch marketing researcher Geert Hofstede.
:
“Our standard cowboy image is the prototypical individualist. However, Hispanic cultures, Latin American cultures, many Eastern European cultures, are very collectivistic,” he said, adding that those who make the move to the U.S. may be the more individualistic members of their cultures.

But the real picture is even more complex, Shrum said. All people have some degree of both individualism and collectivism, with one side more dominant. And by getting people to focus on themselves or their families and friends, psychologists can bring either trait to the surface.

And that’s what Zhang and Shrum did with 128 undergraduate business students (all of legal drinking age). When they temporarily induced the students to become individualists, they became thirstier for beer. Collectivists became less so.

There’s a glaring hole in this research, and I think the researchers missed it because they were more sympathetic to the collective mindset than they should’ve been.

You see, the collectivist becomes agitated toward the individualist when the collectivist gets the idea that somewhere, beyond the immediate line-of-sight, someone might be behaving individually. Then they crack down with their “convert or die!” sermonizing upon that renegade individual. They accuse him of being a rebel, of actively figuring out what everybody else is doing and then laboring toward the opposite — even though the evidence says the individualist just doesn’t care, because that’s what an individualist is.

Does the individualist get all cranky and lay the smack down upon the collectivist, when he finds out someone’s behaving collectively?

No.

He just wants to be left alone.

To drink his damn beer.

He gets all cranky when someone breaks down the door and barges into his living room, to take that beer away.

Another thing I notice, is they left out ancient Egypt which is commonly thought to have come up with the first thing that could’ve been called “beer.” Yeah, ancient Egypt which came up with so much cool stuff that there are all these theories rattling around they were visited by aliens from other worlds. Oh yeah, collectivist hoards built those pyramids by shoving enormous slabs up the inclines, lots of collectivist labor involved in that. But someone had to design it first. We’re not too captivated by the idea of 400 guys lifting or moving something one guy could not; it’s simple math, really. What fascinates us about that civilization is how the designing got done.

Well whoever did it, after he came up with something he knew would work, probably the first thing he did was sit back and have a beer.

Don’t Get Sued

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

You did have all your guests sign this, or something like it, right?

Guest acknowledges and understands that no warranty, either expressed or implied, is made by Host as to the nutritional content of the meal. This document is offered in order to duly warn Guest that dangerous conditions, risks, and hazards may lurk in the turkey, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce, fixings, drinks, desserts, appetizers, and any or all other comestibles that may be served.

H/T: Stop The ACLU.

Let This Be Our Guide

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

I’m choosing, at random, Sister Toldjah’s mini-library of examples of liberal frustration because hers is the page under my eyeballs at this exact moment. But I could point to just about anything. I could point to the feminists bitching about canopeners or any one of a number of other things.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, here, to see how our liberals behave when everything is going their way. They’re still pissing and moaning. Complaining liberals are all around us. There’s no reason for it at all, and still they complain. The issue now is that there’s too long of a wait between now and January 20. That’s it in a nutshell, I think: Always one revolution away from happiness. Always.

How can we help them? By setting a superior example. Walk up to any conservative you choose, today of all days, ask what he or she has for which to be thankful. Do you get back a deer-in-the-headlights stare? No. Family. Health. Friends. All the things I have my parents and grandparents did not have, my education and career path included. Ask a liberal the same thing and you get back — Obama! And then what after His Holiness? Congress…and…um…er…ah…a few vacuous platitudes, and then it diminishes into a laundry list of complaints about illegal and unjust war, guns lyin’ around, country bumkin, village somewhere missing its idiot, global warming, blah blah blah.

PinupLiberals scrape the bottom of the thankfulness barrel much quicker than conservatives do. Even when everything is going the liberals’ way.

It’s up to the conservatives to show how gratitude is done. Get it out of politics when & where it’s possible to do so…and when it isn’t…look elsewhere. As we saw in late 2000, and then 2004, our liberals don’t understand how to do this. They haven’t got the first clue.

Our guide should be — the Whos down in Whoville. At the very end of the movie, when Boris Karloff has taken all their Christmas stuff away and driven his sleigh up to the top of the hill to watch ‘em boo hoo away. And instead of guzzling their Who-hooch out of paper bags and collapsing into the Who-gutters, they stood up straight, gathered in a circle and start singing this “Rahul Forest” thing.

And Boris Karloff starts to figure out, hey…that’s what it’s really all about. Why, if the Whos can be thankful without all their Christmas crap, then anybody can be thankful for anything, anywhere, anytime.

I can’t think of anybody who needs to learn that lesson right now more than the liberals who were complaining away that America was way too racist a nation to ever elect a black guy…and somehow (!) today, still are. Let’s encourage them to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving, rather than simply going through the motions. Now is their time. Should be easy for ‘em.

Friends, family…good food, great wine…freedom…opportunity…comforts and conveniences of technology we take for granted, and the creative and resourceful people who build and maintain it…jetpacks, beef jerky, diesel generators, pretty girls in teeny outfits.

Rahul Forest, Rahul Forest.

Update 11/28/08: Here is the notorious Gail Collins piece I haven’t been talking about because I think it’s stupid…to the point of acute embarrassment for me when & if I talk about it — hat tip goes to Ace. That’s probably the best example of what I’m talking about, with libs getting their way and remaining unhappy. But like I said at the beginning. If I want to go ’round collecting them, I’d better have more time than I have right now. Because they’re out there. They should not be, but they are.

There I go again…failing to appreciate my own genius, except belatedly. And another piece of my amateurish WindowsPaint scribbling to donate to the public domain.

I’m fairly sure the value of it will only increase in time. In a relatively limited amount of time. As the truth of it is borne out, more and more, day by day…

Thanksgiving Derangement Syndrome

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Finding a problem, making a problem, being the problem?

Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child’s depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?

I often hear of teaching children to have respect for diversity. If that is indeed being practiced everywhere, and means what I think it means, and people are being consistent about it…what the hell is there to argue about?

Thing I Know #8. It is hard to get people to argue about private matters, but easy if you can somehow turn them into public matters.

H/T: Michelle.

How ’bout a Jetpack?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Buck says he’d prefer the car over the coffee table…and to be serious about it, I’d agree. I’m just a big sucker for craftsmanship. Craftsmanship, creativity, ingenuity and originality. But no, I don’t place a sixteen-cylinder supercar with four turbochargers mounted to a thousand horsepower engine on the same level as a coffee table with wooden pushbuttons.

Having said that, this is going on my list as well.

Hat tip to Xenophilia, via John Hughes’ place.

Whassup?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Seems every time the economy really tanks, this thing pops up again.

With call-waiting…

With the pizza guy…

Wasabi…

Girlfriend…

What Are You Doing?

Girl invasion…

Spoof…

Telemarketer…

Superfriends…

Grannies…

Babeez…

Slightly Older…

Simpsons…

Scary Movie…

Teletubbies…

Matrix…

Transformers…

F-14 Tomcat…

Star Wars…

Harry Potter…

Jihad…

Chinese…

300…

Half Life…

Super Mario…

Godzilla…

Lord of the Rings…

And the best one, IMO…

And no, you may not have those fifteen minutes back.

“Hottest Celebrity Moms”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

They’re here. Every single one of them looking fantastic, of course. Which is the point…

There are plenty of beautiful actresses out there, many of who[m] have stayed young and beautiful after having children.

The sensitive males, like yours truly, will be pleased to know the small-dee dad is occasionally worth mentioning.

Todd Palin didn’t make that cut. Sorry, Todd.

Actress Melanie Griffith has three children, one for each of the men she has married.

Way ta go, Mel.

Think of the ChildrenThere’s also a huge flock of oyster-gals reproducing asexually…I would guess…though I tend to think reality is something in the opposite direction from that. Just like the old bearded aliens speaking perfect English greeting Captain Kirk to their paper mache planets, always with the one nubile alien daughter who needs to be taught how to kiss. No momma worth mentioning, alive or dead. Except this is Earth, Hollywood exactly; and the shoe’s on the other foot now. Women give birth. Women have kids. What the guys are doing in there, well, nobody really knows…they’re just rattling around, dropping seed in random places that’s scooped up by someone else eventually.

It’s really sad how self-defeating this is. I understand the point — “real” women have kids and then worry about whether they’ll stay attractive. So this gives them hope. I get that. Hope for what? And, as Edna Krabappel Helen Lovejoy famously said, won’t someone think of the children? It doesn’t seem to be in their best interests for their small-em mom’s market value to be kept up, just in case she figures out she’s done a better job keeping up her “resale value” than that schlubby husband of hers called dad.

So it’s not about the kids, it’s about small-em mom’s self-esteem. Well — what about the moms who’ve already made up their minds that after five or six kids, their market value is spent, and they’re still so in love with the capital-D Dad that they don’t give a rat’s ass about it? What about them? I don’t think it does anything for them to be told how great Brooke Burke looks…after reproducing repeatedly, and apparently all by herself.

So when you start out trying to feel good about yourself, instead of trying to do right by people who are counting on you — you end up accomplishing neither one.

And…you can’t play “musical dads” without diminishing the role of dad. Hope that doesn’t cheese anyone off. I know a lot of folks out there were raised by perfectly decent stepdads and think the world of ‘em. But now that you have sons and daughers of your own, you’d want the daughters to get hold of a decent guy and stick with him for life, wouldn’t you? And you’d want the sons to raise their own kids, rather than taking on someone else’s, or leaving their own kids to be raised by some other guy.

Maybe — just maybe — it all starts with thinking of the Dad as someone worthy of a Capital Dee. Someone worth mentioning.

democrat Or Porn Star

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

NES Coffee Table

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This one goes on my list…

(Of course, Thanksgiving does come first.)

If you’re worried you can’t get it delivered in time, I’ll settle for that Supercar I was talking about before.

Sicker

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Turbaconducken.

You’re welcome. And yes there’s still time. You need to think about letting the turkey thaw right about now. You can shop any ol’ time.

H/T: Melissa.

Sick

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Some bets are just stupid and sick.

Hat tip to Boortz.

People Who Have Met Sarah Palin or George W. Bush Are Exempt From This Rule

Monday, November 24th, 2008

If you think the two people mentioned in the headline are a couple of big ol’ stupid dumbasses, and you think this because someone else told you so — and you believe it right down to the marrow of your bones — don’t get started on any of what follows. Not with me.

Just…don’t.

1. I don’t want to hear what an independent thinker you are.
2. I don’t want to hear about your education. You’re not using it.
3. I don’t want to hear that you’re a “nuanced” thinker, capable of perceiving the world outside of overly-simplistic black-and-white terms.
4. Don’t bore me to tears telling me how much Europe has hated us up until now, or is going to be inspired to not hate us quite so much from here on. Who cares what you think.
5. And I really don’t want to hear you asking about if “America is ready to elect a person of color.” I said she was, when it wasn’t cool to say so. You’re the people who called me ignorant. I won’t even ask if you’re going to recant what you said or apologize, I know that’s not happening.
6. Save your blathering about how intolerant conservative Republicans are. You and I both know you can’t name examples, and you’re not the kind of person who thinks too deeply about that anyway.
7. Clothes that cost $150,000. Don’t even start to go there.
8. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. His Holiness The iPresident-Elect could pass his own modern-day Alien and Sedition Act and you’d be just peachy with it. You know it and I know it.
9. Globular wormening. I ride my bike to work. You probably don’t. Stuff a sock in it.
10. Liberty. You adopt opinions about the intelligence or lack thereof of total strangers, because other total strangers, told you what to think. You don’t know what liberty is. You don’t have the first clue.

Had to get that off my chest.

Among people who have not met Sarah Palin or George W. Bush, any statement that either one of those high-profile Republican contenders is some kind of a big dummy, is tantamount to driving a mile and a half down the freeway with your left blinker on — not a sign of gargantuan intellect.

It is an exceptionally odd prestige symbol a lot of people have. Their numbers are more than significant, and their misunderstanding about how they’re presenting themselves, is quite tragic really.

I have a dream, that my children and my children’s children, will be judged on their intellectual acumen or lack thereof, by people who’ve actually met them. And will grow up in a world in which people wait to personally meet each other, before passing judgment on how smart or stupid everybody is.

Seems like so little to ask.

And yeah, I have the same words for any Republican voter who wants to call Obama a big ol’ stupid-head or whatever. Meet people…then decide. And even then, know a little bit more about things than what you say out loud. A generation or two ago, this was just common sense.

Traits of Leadership

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Some simplistic sycophant linked by Rick has an idea of leadership. It’s got something to do with brazenly stealing the ideas of your opponents right out in broad daylight.

There’s even talk of extending the Bush tax cuts until they expire on their own in 2011, rather than cancelling them sooner, in order to further stimulate.

Clearly, the deficit will not be a priority in the first couple of years of Obama’s first term, so any stimulus measures they feel will help will be considered. Good for them.

Got that?

President Bush signed a tax cut measure.

It worked.

President-Elect Obama campaigned, day and night, week after week month after month, that His Holiness was going to repeal those.

Now that Chosen One is actually gonna get the job on January 20, He has figured out He’d better do what the lame duck was doing to stimulate the economy.

So…leadership is going “Omigosh! I’d better do what that other guy was doing now that I’m about to get called out on my crap!”

Okay…well…Dr. Helen has another idea of leadership. It has a lot less to do with talking and copying, and a lot more to do with doing.

This is interesting:

Stopped. Cold turkey. North Carolina authorities say a shopper clubbed an alleged carjacker with a frozen turkey as he tried to steal a woman’s car in a grocery store parking lot Sunday.

Police say 30-year-old Fred Louis Ervin of Raleigh stole money from a gas station before running across the street to a Harris Teeter store in a town just south of Raleigh. Garner police say he began beating Irene Moorman Bailey while stealing her car.

Other shoppers came to her rescue, including one who hit Ervin with the turkey. Police did not release the person’s name.

I am in the middle of reading an incredible book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why that explains why it is that some people are prepared for disaster and others are not. One of the chapters in the book is on heroism and it found that those who are heroes like the above turkey clubber have confidence in their abilities. They tend to have an “internal locus of control” — that is, a sense that they shape their own destiny rather than looking to someone else.

Maybe the iPresident has internal locus of control.

But…I tend to doubt it. What if you were to replace that dignified, dulcet Walter-Cronkite voice with the voice of, let us say, Gilbert Gottfried? The Savior would be done, of course. You’d have ripped out all that He ever was.

He has created all this excitement around Him, because of His ability to sell ideas regardless of whether they are good or not. He can make crap look like yummy bacon. He’s an appearance manager; nothing more, nothing less. And…it’s rather interesting, that this is the quality held in common by all the democrat politicians that have captured their party’s attention, for the better part of a century now. What does it say about your party when its superstars have nothing in common with each other, save for an exceptional ability to sell unneeded and unhelpful products?

This isn’t the guy you look to when a carjacker needs a good clubbin’ with a frozen turkey. He’s there to close sales. Sales of products, to people who’d be better off without ‘em. That, and to steal credit for things that weren’t really his ideas…against which He was passionately campaigning, back in the olden days a few weeks ago when there was a real chance His ideas wouldn’t be implemented. Before He was forced to change His mind.

Who are these people who think this is “leadership”? How in the world do they get dressed in the morning?

Complete Victory Would Ruin Them

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Fair disclosure: I don’t have any higher-level education. At all (save for a corporate accounting course at a community college once). But twenty years have come and gone since the last time I had a job that didn’t “demand” a college degree. Skill, luck, a combination of those two…whatever. The point is, I’m not a neutral observer in what follows. But I’m not an ignorant or inexperienced one either.

Awhile ago, The Anchoress invited bloggers to define exactly what’s wrong with the world. My response was, among other things, that people as they exist in the here-and-now place too much emphasis on being something, and not enough emphasis on doing something.

Liberalism, if the substance resembles the packaging, ought to be a perfect antidote to this. An end to discrimination would mean that what people are doesn’t matter one bit. We would then turn our energies and interests toward what we, and everybody else, would do.

And yet, take a look at David Brooks’ slobbering Obama-…I’m really struggling to find a noun to place after that hyphen. I need something family friendly. Let’s just say his enthusiasm surpasses what one commonly finds in a G-rated enclave. He’s doing with the iPresident-Elect what Monica did with Bill. (Hat tip to Malkin.)

Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).

This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

Ha ha! How droll.

First problem…does it not defeat all the talking points about January 20 being “an historic occasion” if these people really are the best-suited to “rule,” and it is their natural place to do so? If that’s the case then why was there any wait at all in getting this brain trust ensconced?

Second problem…it’s a case of being over doing. I’ve learned this is nearly always the case when the degrees are given too much importance — discussion about what these people do, comes to an abrupt halt. (In the case of Eric Holder, it is grudgingly acknowledged and then hastily shoved aside.)

The third and fourth problems arise from the second. Degrees are accolades affixed by strangers, usually strangers whose acquaintances will never be made, whose identities will never be known. It is a proxy evaluation of the applicant’s competence, which may be of about as much value as no evaluation at all. And the fourth problem is — as degrees are used as a stencil outline for determining who’s a good “fit” and who is not, the thinking observer cannot help but gather the impression that those deemed worthy, are not nearly as crucial to the exercise as those who are excluded.

I know I should be reacting with hurt feelings, a temper tantrum, some kind of rage when liberals drone on about the importance of degrees. It’s a dual attack upon my biography; I’m not liberal and I don’t have a degree. But my natural reaction is more one of genuine curiosity. Does anyone else see the glaring contradiction? The object of the exercise is to eliminate discrimination. How far we are to go with that, depends on which liberal you ask; there’s no shortage of the complete-utopian types who will soldier on tirelessly until everyone is on precisely equal footing, in all walks of life. Perfect flatness; no compromises. They want the Star Trek universe, except without Captains, Admirals and Ensigns. Everyone on an equal level.

Then their representatives get elected.

And not only are those officials discriminating with the elevation of being-over-doing; they have to. If we were to abolish these prestigious diplomas and degrees overnight, by seven o’clock the next morning they’d latch on to some other thing. They need a “club,” and there is no such thing as a non-exclusive club. Someone has to be left out.

I keep hearing these high SAT scores are indicative of drive, of the ability to “succeed” at all kinds and types of things. I’ve spent my twenty years in what should have been fifty-yard-line front-row-seats, positions that should have qualified me to see it in action, first hand. There is a glimmer of truth to it. I’ve met people with tons and tons of drive, who did of course have their Masters’ and such. I’ve also met people with more drive, who had no more education than yours truly.

And when you line people up according to who-built-what, who laid the bedrock upon which we’re laboring to put down that hot asphalt, who laid the floorboards before we started arranging the furniture…who’s on the heavy end of that spectrum? Who laid the groundwork for what is really used, what actually changed the tomorrow of yesterday? Who made a functional impact? It wasn’t the ivy-league crowd. It could not have been, you see, because they were too busy pleasing others. There’s the rub — that’s what these letters after the names, really are all about.

And on this fourth problem, this particular point, we come to something that is hard to communicate to people because it involves an ugly truth about all of humanity. We are not so much enamored of people who will “get the job done,” as we are of people who will attempt to get it done exactly the way we ourselves would so attempt if we were they. Fact is — when the time comes to make a choice, would you rather have it done your way, or would you rather have it done? — most of us would rather see the attempt fail. Just so long as things are done everywhere the way we would do them.

People do not value getting things done, over getting things done their way.

In fact if you set about a task differently from the way they’d do it, and succeed, they get pissed.

And college professors are people.

The student who says to himself “It won’t work that way, I’ll have to devise my own method if success is to be realized” — won’t graduate.

This leads to a paucity, within our higher ranks, of those who are gifted in thinking about cause-and-effect. If we do this, then these positive-or-negative consequences will be in store for us. The people-pleasers tend to crowd them out, in those extra-large cubicles and corner offices.

Yes, everybody has the foresight — even Harvard people! — to keep the tableware out of the electrical outlet, lest one receive a nasty shock. It’s not a question of having the reflexes to match Mark Twain’s cat who’d stay off the hot stove. The question is how much foresight. How early in the effort can these consequences be anticipated. This exercise in people-pleasing tends to wash that out, much the way your view of a much-anticipated meteor shower is obstructed if you fail to get away from the lights of the city. It becomes a “serving two masters” thing.

But the primary point I wish to make here, is that we do have the basis of a comparison.

Because we’re different. Thank goodness.

And those who have just been elected to rule over this nation, or govern it, whatever terminology you choose — want to eliminate those differences. They say. Everything they want to do is “for all” or “for everybody.” Everything’s possible for everyone. That’s just swell.

But a complete victory here would ruin them. Their public-relations methods have everything to do with showing us how wonderful they are, what a pristine, elevated, superhuman Mount Olympus they have up there above the clouds.

The membership is defined by elitism. Without a terracing of the human landscape, Mount Olympus could not exist, because nobody would be left out of it.

This is permanent and timeless. It matters not one bit if you have a cabinet or transition team you need to form. You have to leave people out before you can leave people in. “We Are Good People” is something that, to act upon an audience in a compelling way, can only be expressed as a comparative statement.

Flesh! Oh, No! XIII

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Regular readers of this blog — which (all together, now) Nobody Actually Reads Anyway! — know that we have been investigating this prevailing sensibility that there is something hideously wrong with nice-looking females showing skin…or with observant and sentient gentlemen noticing.

We have found this to be a particularly craven and cowardly taboo. Nobody seems to want to come out and say there are bad consequences involved in this. I’m not referring, here, to “T-back” thongs and other articles likely to give the gals peculiar and painful sunburns. I’m talking standard summertime apparel. G-rated stuff. Bare cleavage…bellies…thighs and calves…shoulders…backs.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. Even if it is an attention-getting device, there’s nothing wrong with it. And we, here, are more than just a little bit fascinated with people who think there is something wrong with it. They seem so sure of themselves, right up until they’re invited to fill in the details.

Our comments, here, are confined strictly to the scantily-clad ladies who’ve sailed on past their eighteenth birthdays, or whatever passes for the age of majority. We do have our own puritanical streaks with regard to specimens not yet ripe — we pass by a high school every morning on the way to work, and we’ve taken our fair share of double-takes at sophomore gals traipsing in to their morning studies with the entire leg exposed to the late autumn air. Entire. And, as healthy a libido as we’ve shown throughout our 42 years on the planet, nevertheless, there is nothing licentious about our whiplash. We’re somewhat revolted. A fifteen-year-old girl wearing Daisy Dukes before eight in the morning in the last week before Thanksgiving, that’s a WHISKEY…TANGO…FOXTROT if ever there was one. Just not right.

LeggyOnce the maiden is old enough to vote, though, we’re all on board. We figure, if you’re old enough to marry whoever you want to, if the contracts that pass under your pen are legally binding — if you see a skirt at The Gap that ends six inches above the knee instead of three, then you just go right ahead. Especially if you look good in it. We are, after all, a straight male with a healthy libido. And we’ve always been a leg man.

Anyway, this taboo. I said it is craven and cowardly. I don’t mean that as a criticism. It is a comment regarding what makes it fascinating to us. Learning the least little detail about it, is very much like nailing jello to a tree. Nobody stands up for this rule; nobody stakes their reputation on it; nobody voices it on behalf of a third party, and nobody dares to actually draw a line anywhere. So it’s really hard to get some definition to what exactly is being prohibited here, save for the thirty-thousand-foot idea that female humans should not make it easy for strangers to guess what their bodies look like. Hey…that sounds kinda like the Taliban.

All of which is a rambling preamble.

A preamble to John Hawkins’ reply to the author of an e-mail, one “Andrew Bell.” The subject is, among other things, the leggy Sarah Palin, fresh off of giving an interview with a turkey being slaughtered in the background, daring to show some thigh in, of all places…

…wait for it…

…a hotel swimming pool area. That hussy!

Mr. Bell, I suppose, represents many others…I don’t know that for sure, but I don’t doubt it either. He would like John Hawkins to let him know, regarding Hawkins’ other site Conservative Grapevine,

I believe I read in one of your pieces on Right Wing News that you are a Christian. Is that true? If so, then why does it look like you post bikini pictures on Conservative Grapevine as well as RWN? e.g., Sarah Palin at the pool.

Do you think that it’s OK to do that as a Christian?

As a Christian? What in the WORLD…Christ was a prophet who lived two thousand years ago around the land surrounding the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Y’know, I can’t bet a large amount of money on this, but I got a feeling He might’ve seen some thigh.

So this is a Christian thing, this taboo, you say Mister Bell? Wow. Now we’re getting somewhere! If you could somehow find some support for that, that right there might be enough to make me an atheist. Or convert to something else, anyway.

Palin PoolsideI’d like to know how this works, exactly. What does being religious have to do with forcing ladies with nice-looking legs, like Sarah Palin, to cover ‘em up? Womens’ legs are evidence of intelligent design, the way I see it. You know that thing going around about how bananas are an atheist’s nightmare, because they possess so many attributes all of which seem to be orchestrated toward making them easier to eat? The same is true of the female gam. Designed by an intelligent Higher Power, to be observed and appreciated.

Christians have a problem with women wearing shorts? My goodness. I learn something new every single day.

Well, someone does have a problem. There are a couple comments by the Celebuzz link that is the source of the pictures, that are, shall we say…not terribly well thought out. Just a few. Also, there’s a poll in which, as of this writing, five percent of the respondents think Gov. Palin is being a floozy. And the tabloids are eating this up, because somewhere out there is someone who will find this useful. Useful to show others.

Sarah Palin seems to have a lot of this stuff swirling around her, like she’s a gravity well for it. By that I mean, things that are proxy-offensive — getting the cackles up in second-parties, who are getting offended on behalf of someone else. I have not yet met anyone who is personally offended by the fact that Alaska’s Governor owns a tanning bed, for example, and I’ve become knowledgeable of very, very few people who are personally offended that her campaign-clothes cost $150k. The people who are making the noise about these things, seem to be trying to provoke others. And consistently failing at it.

So what’ve we got here. She wears shorts by the pool and has a fantastic looking pair of legs, which she keeps tan with the help of a tanning bed she bought with her own money. She wore, but will not keep, some expensive clothes (I really have no idea how much loot McCain’s, Obama’s or Biden’s clothes cost, and I don’t think you know either). She gave an interview in front of a turkey butchering turkeys.

And then there’s all the bullshit…she banned books, Trig Palin is not her kid, she shoots wolves from helicopters, she doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is or where Africa is.

They say her fifteen minutes of fame is just about up.

I really don’t see how such a thing is possible. The urgency factor that is involved in certain people stirring up stupid-rage toward her, is just so high. High as in — not a comparative, but a superlative. Do not mistake my intended meaning, here, for something synonymous with “a notch or two above average” because that is not what I mean at all. I mean…shattering records. I’ve never, in my lifetime, seen anything like this. Not even toward our lame-duck President.

We get bored with people when we don’t care about ‘em anymore. And somewhere, someone, be they numerous or be they just plain loud…cares an awful lot about Ms. Palin.

Now, I want to see Sarah Palin wearing shorts with an animal being killed behind her. In fact, make sure she’s wearing $150,000 shorts. Blood spattering everywhere. That would make my day.

Food is Death

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Okay, okay, fine. I’ll write something about this “Sarah Palin gave interview with turkey butchering going on behind her” stuff. And I’ll completely avoid the obvious — that if it was Joe Biden or His Holiness The iPresident-Elect Man-God…the same people who are calling Gov. Palin a stupid dumbshit for choosing the wrong background, would be squealing with delight about what a wonderful interview it was and how dare you blame the august luminary for a background that is the cameraman’s responsibility. Or the news producer’s. Whatever.

I’ll avoid any mention of that whatsoever.

I think this is much more worthy of comment. Food is death. If you eat, you kill. Period.

How sick a culture do we live in if real, live, grownup adults writing for real, live, grownup newspapers are only finding out now for the first time that meat comes from animals? Aren’t we supposed to shun the shrink-wrapped vision of the food chain? Aren’t we all supposed to be more nuanced than that?

But now it’s only okay to eat meat (anything else is a sick slutty “celebration of death”) if we never-ever-ever-ever acknowledge that what we’re eating came from an animal? And what exactly are people who work in the farming business supposed to make of all this? What will happen to them when people finally find out what it is they actually do?

Update:

I never thought about this. Looks like Vegans are gonna have to starve to death…

I can get crops to grow by simply putting seed in the ground. The rest of my job is to kill, kill, kill. Kill weeds. Kill insect pests. Kill vertebrate pests. Whether by herbicide, pesticides, shooting, trapping, stomping, you name it — I spend far more time killing than I do making something grow. Mother nature takes care of the growing. I have to remove the competition. There have been days when I’ve trapped 50+ pocket gophers and shot 100 ground squirrels – before lunch. They needed killing, and the next day, more of them were killed because they needed killing. At other times, I’ve shot dozens of jackrabbits at night and flung them out into the sagebrush for coyotes to eat.

Hat tip: Gerard.

And here’s that video of the clueless dolt Sarah Palin using the wrong background for her interview. Really. Seriously. Is this supposed to be evidence of her dimbulbishness? On what planet? What about the news crew? Does Sarah Palin say “Hey, why don’t you shoot me over here?” and the camera crew that is so much smarter than her, says to itself “aw…gee…darn…the Governor has chosen a poor background…can’t say anything about it, with her being the Governor and all…”

An Emperor Has No Clothes situation?

You people call yourselves the “reality based community.” Heh.

Personally, I think it’s pretty funny.

And…that’s about all I have to say about that. Happy Thanksgiving. Go out and get a real turkey. Sucker’s been killed anyway, don’t want it to go to waste.

I Keep Telling You And Telling You; The Most Devastating Thing To Do To A Stupid Idea…

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

…is to take it seriously.

That’s why I ride my bike to work every single day. I tell everybody who asks, it’s about being a moderately fat middle-aged guy as opposed to a grotesquely fat middle-aged guy, and not only that, but UNLESS EVERYBODY STARTS DOING THIS RIGHT NOW THE EARTH IS GONNA DIE!!!! An umptyfratz-many esteemed scientists have told us so so it must be true.

I deadpan that last one. Just for fun. It makes me happy when I get funny looks. I wouldn’t have gotten funny looks on that one just a couple years ago.

The most devastating thing you can do to a stupid idea is to take it seriously.

Or, elect it to be your next President.

Earlier today, I noted that Barack Obama’s team has started hinting that they will move back towards John McCain’s position on interrogation techniqiues. Now supporters of Obama who have criticized the Bush administration’s position on indefinite detention have begun rethinking that policy as well:

As a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama sketched the broad outlines of a plan to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: try detainees in American courts and reject the Bush administration’s military commission system.

Now, as Mr. Obama moves closer to assuming responsibility for Guantánamo, his pledge to close the detention center is bringing to the fore thorny questions under consideration by his advisers. They include where Guantánamo’s detainees could be held in this country, how many might be sent home and a matter that people with ties to the Obama transition team say is worrying them most: What if some detainees are acquitted or cannot be prosecuted at all?

That concern is at the center of a debate among national security, human rights and legal experts that has intensified since the election. Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,” said one civil liberties lawyer, David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor who has been a critic of the Bush administration.

You can’t? That’s all we’ve heard from the close-Gitmo crowd for the last seven years. Indefinite detention supposedly violates American values, we’re losing the war if we adapt to the threat against us, blah blah blah. Certainly Barack Obama never gave any indication of nuanced thinking along the lines of indefinite detention during the last two years while campaigning for the presidency. In fact, Obama made the absolutist case that Cole now belatedly rejects in June 2007:

“While we’re at it,” he said, “we’re going to close Guantanamo. And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. … We’re going to lead by example _ by not just word but by deed. That’s our vision for the future.

Now that Obama has to live with these decisions and not simply snipe from the sidelines, the game appears to have changed. A month ago, the NYT’s editorial board scoffed at the Bush administration’s efforts to keep Gitmo detainees from being released as merely a way to avoid bad press and not to keep dangerous people from killing Americans. Suddenly, the New York Times discovers that the American system does allow for indefinite detention to protect society from dangerous individuals without full-blown criminal trials — as with the criminally insane.

Gosh, and all that “shut down Gitmo” stuff sounded so rational and sensible back in the olden days, when we were reassured it wasn’t really gonna happen soon.

So how far did you get when you parents told you to go ahead and run away from home?

I wish like the dickens I could patent this obvious truth, that some silly ideas seem attractive and sensible right up until they’re about to be implemented and then suddenly the beer goggles fall off. But I can’t. The earliest I became aware of it was when Carlin Romano said it after announcing in a book review that, according to Catharine MacKinnon’s “logic,” he just finished raping her. “People claim I dehumanized her,” he said. “In fact, I did worse — I took her seriously. The worst thing that can happen to a flamboyant claim is to be tested.”

That was way back in ’94. Since then, I have seen the wisdom of his words proven over and over again.

So this McCain voter is not weeping, wailing, or gnashing his teeth. He’s not stomping his feet or holding his breath until his face turns blue. He’s conducting his life, riding his bike to work…occasionally indulging in making an Obamaton squirm about driving that enormous SUV everywhere while the earth is dying. And, just reading the news to see how this hopey-changey goodness turns out. This McCain voter is very much like your mom and dad telling you to go ahead and run away from home, and watching to see what happens next.

This McCain voter is expecting — and not just a little bit — that what comes down the news pipeline, as all this hopey-changey goodness is nailed into place, resembles very much this first example. Oh no, Obamatons, your ideas are being taken seriously! What’re ya gonna do now?

Hat tip: Anchoress.

Hollywood’s Vision of Men, or Lack Thereof

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Two good ones from Dr. Helen…first off, she’s continuing a discussion of sexual harrassment training upon which we were inspired to touch yesterday…oh so lightly…yes, we caressed it…teased it a little. Uh oh, now we have to go to training.

In her most recent installment, a professor who works for the state, has refused to go. He’s demanding the release of an official statement that his attendance in no way suggests or implies he is regarded with suspicion for such shenanigans.

Interesting.

I rather liked this comment from Bowen…

The easiest way to solve this problem is for men to start suing companies and organizations for the most insignificant comment or suggestive action. The problem with sexual harassment is not that men are assumed to be guilty. The problem is that men don’t sue enough. If men started suing en masse then these laws would either go away or be enforced in a different manner.

For example, if men started suing when women talked about their birthday parties or their periods, companies and courts would think twice about their policies. If men started suing when women went to work with their top button unbuttoned, companies and courts would think twice about their policies.

So again, the answer to this problem is not for men to fight these policies, but for men to embrace them whole-heartedly and turn them on women. Only then will women as a whole recognize that these policies are crap and ought to be revisited.

I often hear from leftist camps that the extent to which a society has become civilized, is measured in how it treats the least among those who live within it. I agree with that…if by “the least” you mean — the least organized. We do not need to worry about discriminating against ethnic minorities, or women, or poor people. We need to worry about discriminating against people who don’t organize to picket and litigate. This is where our true cowardliness is preserved, put on display, and chronicled with such unwavering regularity it becomes undeniable.

One set of rules for those who unionize, boycott, protest — and blog. A different set of rules for the others.

Helen’s earlier post points to a twenty-minute Pajamas TV interview between Roger L. Simon and filmmaker Lionel Chetwynd. The subject is Hollywood’s now somewhat-seasoned effort to reduce the differences between men and women, and to encourage women to become brittle bitches through the imagery they pump out.

I already know what the defense to this is…Hollywood’s in the business to make money, ergo, what Hollywood produces, is what the public demands. This is a case of the bullshit salesman coming to believe his own bullshit — it is by far the most common avenue, this failure to distinguish between “my bullshit has just the glimmer of truth about it” and “my bullshit is the gospel truth, therefore anyone who doubts even a speck of it is a moron.” Hollywood does sell what the public demands. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t throw in a few extra goodies on top. To say, whatever Hollywood pushes must be what the public demands, is to support the simplistic equation: Hollywood Product minus Public Demand equals Zero. That doesn’t hold up. Particularly in the area of providing the imagery of these repulsive, gelded men. I see, there, some things being provided by Hollywood that the public did not demand.

I can prove it. When women actually get hold of a man who’s been molded and shaped by this anti-male schtick…a flesh and blood man who’s a shell of his former self, a man who is a parody of himself…they are not pleased. They are not fulfilled. They are unhappy.

Swing on by Feministing if you doubt me. Read some posts. Read some comments. Do those chicks appear to be “happy,” to you?

No, the more accurate formula would be: Hollywood Product minus Public Demand equals Hollywood Agenda. And the first two items are not equal; the third, is decidedly non-zero. I would even say it is palpable. Toxic.

Anti-male conspiracy? I don’t believe in conspiracies; not active ones. Not the kind of conspiracies that call for meetings, and protocols, and secrets, and coordination. It’ll be very hard to convince me ever again that humans are up for any of that. But I do believe in the power of the passive conspiracy, which is most easily brought-about by the stigma. Once something is stigmatized, people will labor tirelessly toward avoiding it, and every step of the way they’ll be convinced they’re making their own individual decisions.

And you don’t have to watch too many movies nowadays, or inspect what you have seen for too long, to see that treating men on an equal footing with women, has been stigmatized.

The result is something the public certainly did not demand: Boring footage. When you know the man of the house is going to be just a big dummy, and his more-intelligent but long-suffering wife is going to be peevishly tolerating him and teaching her bitches-in-training to do the same…watching it unfold, becomes an exercise in suffering through the inevitable — watching something that’s supposed to turn out to be a surprise, fail at it.

Presto. Eighty-five minutes of “family comedy” become as monotonous as six or eight hours. But some “romantic comedies” are more like 140 minutes.

I think that’s why so many cell phones have games built-in nowadays.