Archive for November, 2011

Best Sentence CXX

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

The Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award goes to mushroom, commenting at blogger friend Gerard’s place. It’s actually two sentences but we’ll find a way to cope:

True religion — What does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

False religion — What does Gaia require of you? To deceive wickedly, to attack your critics ruthlessly, and to walk in the arrogance of settled science.

The subject is the Bret Stephens column in the Wall Street Journal this morning, The Great Global Warming Fizzle. Which has some pretty good candidates for a BSIHORL as well:

So what to make of the U.N.’s latest supposedly authoritative report on extreme weather events, which is tinged with admissions of doubt and uncertainty? Oddly, the report has left climate activists stuttering with rage at what they call its “watered down” predictions. If nothing else, they understand that any belief system, particularly ones as young as global warming, cannot easily survive more than a few ounces of self-doubt.

Meanwhile, the world marches on. On Sunday, 2,232 days will have elapsed since a category 3 hurricane made landfall in the U.S., the longest period in more than a century that the U.S. has been spared a devastating storm. Great religions are wise enough to avoid marking down the exact date when the world comes to an end. Not so for the foolish religions. Expect Mayan cosmology to take a hit to its reputation when the world doesn’t end on Dec. 21, 2012. Expect likewise when global warming turns out to be neither catastrophic nor irreversible come 2017.

Obituary for the Cain Campaign

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

There’s a pretty good chance it’s real, and The Other McCain’s summary is so concise and excellent I want to make sure it’s filed away. No matter where Herman Cain goes, this is going to become relevant later:

Despite all of the obituaries for the Cain campaign, then, what do we know about the three accusers whose names are public?

Everybody keeps saying there’s an awful lot of smoke for there to be no fire, but each of these women has something in her background that tends to taint her credibility. A month into this, and we have no actual proof that Cain did anything wrong. [bold emphasis mine]

We’re going to see this again even if Cain is toast. It has not escaped my attention, and I hope it has not escaped yours, that a series of wretchedly inconvenient disasters is systematically falling upon the hapless heads of smaller-government candidates. Bad debate moments, bimbo eruptions, awkward interviews…

No, nobody can control Fred Thompson and Sarah Palin and Rick Perry botching it during debates and interviews, nor is there any evidence, to my knowledge, to suggest someone is behind the scenes coordinating Cain’s gals like little string-puppets. Except Gloria Allred, that is. But the media can control how big of a story each of these debacles can become. And they’ve been making use of that advantage, nonstop, pretty much since the Bush/Gore hoop-de-doo. And before. Well by now, with responsible Americans reading about our mushroom-cloud public debt, passion for fiscal restraint is running high and the countering passion to bloat the government further is running commensurately high.

They’re backed into a corner. What do wild animals and people do when they’re backed into a corner and have one weapon? And so we hear a bunch of fluff about small-government candidates; fluff that has nothing whatsoever to do with how they would govern if they were ever elected. Someone, somewhere, decides the fluff should be repeated over and over again until something happens. Bad on them. The rest of us decide they should get away with it. Bad on us.

Brent Bozell:

Ginger White makes an adultery charge against Cain and she’s on NBC within hours. But when Juanita Broaddick accused Chelsea’s father of raping her in a 1999 Dateline NBC interview, then-anchor Tom Brokaw never allowed one single second of her voice to break into the NBC Nightly News.

So this is really a minor skirmish within a big war about economic systems. Social contracts, as I said before.

Speaking of which — I notice something about this, that nobody anywhere is discussing, which I think is particularly worthy of note. The feminists are conspicuously silent about it. We seem to have an alternate social contract in place, sort of an underworld economy, set up gradually and unconsciously for the use of nominally pulchritudinous, Sigourneylicious females. Serial bankruptcies, serial evictions, “go-away money” and an occasional press conference. Living in the twilight of their years of man-appeal, it seems they start to feel God’s gifts slipping out of their wrinkly but well-manicured fingers, along with their marketability. They begin flailing around for some sort of “retirement” plan.

And so we have our completely bizarre moonlight ritual of sexual harassment litigation. What’s the phrase we wanted to toss into the time capsule? “Non-sexual gesture that made her feel uncomfortable.” There ya go. Somewhere in a Wall Street Journal (may or may not go rummaging in the archives to find it) someone was guessing the break-even point for these things to be around a hundred grand. I’m doubting like the dickens this is an accident. Wherever a community of people rely on a meal ticket, someone in our system of “law” will pop up to inflate that meal ticket by whatever means…and when the break-even point is a hundred large, a “go away” jackpot of fifty is obviously not unreasonable. It becomes a question of simple math.

It’s the paycheck of that alternate, subterranean economy. The commodity of choice. The coin of the underworld. Have some sympathy, it must be a wretched way to live. And this is the world modern feminism has built. Young women who feel reticent about starting families, are discouraged from doing so, and if they’re feeling ambivalent about educating themselves and refining some precious skill in a hard vocation that could make some real money, they’re discouraged from that as well. Just learn Astrology, Buddhism and oppressed-minority-studies and it’ll all work out. Well, all of them cannot become tenured professors in the Oppressed Minority Studies Department. So we have this underworld-economy. An alternate market system for unskilled single ladies past their prime. He looked at me funny, give me some money.

I can recite it with my eyes closed: “It’s very important to note that the intent of the accused is entirely irrelevant, it is the perception of the person who might have been offended that decides everything.” Nobody ever stops to ask “Hey waitaminnit, why is that??” Here we have a bunch of lawyers all of a sudden legislating how humans at work interact with each other. Someone, among them, came up with this rule which clearly has special importance. And is also extraordinarily dangerous. It’s like going into an oil refinery and telling everyone “It’s very important that you be smoking, all of the time.” There’s a rule that would, clearly, be subject to lots of question. But this other one is subjected to none at all. No real chance to avoid the problem of looked-at-me-funny, it’s too late for you, that’s what you get for making the mistake of having a boss who would hire a woman who’s a nutcase. So it’s all on you.

Why does it work this way? Because these subterranean unskilled past-their-prime single females depend on it for their livelihood. They haven’t got anything else.

It’s occasionally said that Jack the Ripper was a force for good in a way, because that string of murders made the public aware of the plight of the indigent in Whitechapel, especially of the “working women” who plied their trade there. This, too, was an alternate underworld market thriving and writhing beneath an opaque surface, serpent-like, out of sight in merry, oblivious Victorian England. Perhaps the derailment of Herman Cain’s candidacy will eventually culminate in a similar, edifying lesson for us all. The situation’s very similar when you think of it: Weird things taking place, because we haven’t been taking care of our gals. Everyone’s raised from childhood to think of females in the here-and-now — carry their luggage, open the doors for them, carry out their vendettas, never ever let them starve. But it’s not so easy to think of their future, and it’s interesting that few people have done them greater long-term harm here than our feminists.

“The Missing Links”

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I’m still nursing some regrets about waiting so long to subscribe to Burt Prelutsky. Better late than never.

But in his latest, he’s struggling to figure out how liberalism came about and why it’s sticking with us.

…[H]ow is it that anyone can look at the results of communism and socialism and not see them for the nightmares they are and always have been? After all, the evidence is in plain sight.

For all its claims to idealism, communism has invariably resulted in blood-thirsty regimes, whether in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba or East Germany. For the glories of socialism, you need only look to the riots now taking place in Greece. Tourists who have for years been attracted by the ruins of ancient Athens will now have even more reason to visit, although they will have to watch out for Molotov cocktails and tear gas.

Even here in America, which has generally been heading in the wrong direction ever since FDR adopted Norman Thomas’s socialist platform as his own, we have seen the pathetic results in our own streets. We see young dunderheads demonstrating for the end of capitalism, the destruction of corporations, and the forgiving of student loans, while simultaneously demanding high-paying jobs, free health insurance and the latest products devised by the brain of corporate billionaire Steve Jobs.

His problem, of course, is that he’s thinking too logically. The reference works to consult here can come from Dante, Milton, Pope Gregory I, some old Shazam! comic books…The Seven Deadly Sins. Pride, envy, greed, wrath, selfishness, sloth, injustice. It’s not any organized process of rational thought, it’s just plain sin.

Sin against proper thinking as well as sin against God and man. Liberals do a bang-up job going through the motions of thinking logically: “We tried tax cuts under Reagan and Bush, and they didn’t work!” “We tried [unregulated] capitalism, and it hasn’t worked!” “We TOLD you there were no weapons of mass destruction!” But seriously: When was the last time a liberal had his mind all made up about something, and some evidence came rolling in to give that liberal and his idea a good stiff whack in the nose, and the liberal changed his mind? With sufficient certainty and respect to this new evidence, that he’d take the time and trouble to alert other liberals to it as they entered into their rote monologues, if for no other reason than to save them from making asses out of themselves. Have you ever seen a liberal do that? No, you haven’t and you’re not going to. It isn’t in ‘em.

Just ask them sometime. Have you ever been sure of something and then been forced to change your mind because of new evidence. Some might pretend to be former Republicans, and use your query as a launching pad into one of their favorite monologues, so you may have to refine the question — has new evidence ever persuaded you toward a less progressive thought than what you held previously? Over your entire lifetime? This one’s going to be a cul de sac. They’ll change the subject, or some Cheesecake Nazi will change the subject for them, or they’ll accuse you of being a bad person and pull a switcheroo, start waxing lyrically about how they’re better than you are. But you won’t get an answer.

See, this is why good people like Prelutsky end up frustrated. Liberals do not examine evidence, think on what it all means, and reach conclusions like normal people do. They reach the conclusions first. They do their thinking in terms of stories, and they write the stories backwards. The “dunderheads demonstrating for the end of capitalism” are a perfect example — they wrote the final line of their narrative first. Classic Robin Hood stuff, really; the ancient evil regime shall be overthrown, the treasury with all its vast riches will be busted wide open with the treasure spilled out in the streets for the desperate peasants to gather up. Then they’ll storm down the stairs of the dungeon, break down the heavy doors, shatter our chains with their swords and set us free.

But on the way, they’re asked what their protest is all about. Uh, derp derp derp — they have no answer. A few of them have muttered something about how now that they’ve assembled, they need to meet and figure out what the plan is…which makes everyone else go, uh, what?? And then you know what happened next. Someone came up with the idea that the tent cities were emblematic of this model society, this new world they were trying to build, and everyone else was going to see that some other way was possible. Obviously, not too much reasoned, rational thought going into that one. As the autumn gets nippier and wetter and sloppier, we in our comfy apartments and houses are supposed to settle in with our hot toddies and rum, turn on the six o’clock news, and see that camping is possible. That’ll bring capitalism to an end for sure…not exactly the best-thought-out of battle plans. And that’s before the vandalism, robberies and rapes started.

See, they think in narratives and that’s where they get into trouble. All these evil bad people are running things, this “ninety-nine percent” is being oppressed, we’re gonna overthrow this terrible system and put something in that’s equitable. Every time they have to fill in some more plot points beyond just those vitals, it’s like watching a Tyrannosaurus Rex doing push-ups, in that they lack the equipment needed just to get started. I remember awhile ago my son and I rode the light rail, and we ran into a genuine communist. Wanted to tell us all about Michael Moore speaking at some event in San Francisco…we both listened patiently, and I made a point not to ask any questions that wouldn’t be asked by someone truly sympathetic. So I had to ask a question when he got to the part about turning out all those horrible people running things now including President Obama. This was spring of ’09, when His Holy Eminence was still muttering platitudes with every speech about “hope” and “change” and “reversing the failed policies of the last eight years.” I was being sincere, I really thought this Michael Moore thing was a bleed-over from the elections of the previous autumn. And it wasn’t. So your movement doesn’t like Obama? I thought He was the agent of change you were talking about, didn’t you just have your revolution six months ago?

The commie had no idea what to say. I wasn’t being an antagonist who had figured him out; I was being a friendly, or acting like one anyhow, and I’d completely derailed his train of thought by asking a question about time. Our new young friend had become disciplined to think only in terms of snapshots. Narratives, dreams, and the passion of the here-and-now. Nothing else.

So, no. They don’t care how the Soviet Union turned out. That isn’t how they think. They pretend it is, but it isn’t.

Paul Krugman Wants Higher Taxes

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Evidently, not enough people have figured out yet the lunacy involved in spending more money on new programs, and then flailing around for more tax revenues to pay for it. So Paul Krugman is intent on showing everybody how crazy it can get. Calling Nurse Ratched:

The supercommittee was a superdud — and we should be glad. Nonetheless, at some point we’ll have to rein in budget deficits. And when we do, here’s a thought: How about making increased revenue an important part of the deal?

And I don’t just mean a return to Clinton-era tax rates. Why should 1990s taxes be considered the outer limit of revenue collection? Think about it: The long-run budget outlook has darkened, which means that some hard choices must be made. Why should those choices only involve spending cuts? Why not also push some taxes above their levels in the 1990s?

Let me suggest two areas in which it would make a lot of sense to raise taxes in earnest, not just return them to pre-Bush levels: taxes on very high incomes and taxes on financial transactions.

Noel Sheppard points out the obvious:

As I’ve noted many times in the past, if we had only grown our total expenditures at the rate of inflation since 2007, we would have had a $413 billion deficit in the just-ended fiscal year 2011. This would be even lower in the current year given projections of $2.9 trillion in unified tax receipts.

When you consider that total unified outlays in 2007 – before the Democrats took over Congress! – were $2.7 trillion, and that they rose to a staggering $3.8 trillion in just four years or 41 percent, it’s just absurd to blame our fiscal woes on revenues.

That last paragraph from Sheppard nails down exactly what’s so nutty about all this. If our federal disbursements increased by 41 percent over, let’s say, about 25 years I could then see why so many people might trudge down the Krugman path and demand higher taxes on the very rich. “It must be done,” “The money can’t come from anyplace else,” and all that…I could see it. Wouldn’t agree with it, but I could see it.

We’re talking about an equivalent increase over four years. Fine, one MORE time, here we go again: What do you do with your household budget when you’ve increased your expenses by five-twelfths over four years, and find yourself in financial trouble?

What do you do when you’re running a business, one of your employees does that with his own household budget, and comes barging in one day demanding a raise?

Picked the Wrong Country

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Having a bit of a “Wish I’d Said” moment with regard to some argument I had somewhere with a bunch of liberal twits about the Obama stimulus. Like most of the population of the continental United States, I live within a hop-skipana-jump from the nearest site of Obamastruction. It’s a $22 million project to widen Folsom-Auburn road, of which the Reinvestment Act kicked in just $1 or $2 million, enough to push it over the hump. They just finished it; it did need to be done; if it took a full two years just now, it probably would have taken two years any other time, so what’s my beef with it?

Just that it’s idiotic to be doing this to all the roads in the country at the same time. This is construction that is not in your way, too much, unless you’re going from anywhere near downtown Folsom to anywhere near downtown Auburn. And then you can’t get around it. Anyway, the dialogue looked like:

Morgan: If it’s about economic stimulus, how does it make sense to be doing work on all these roads at the same time?

Liberal dimbulbs: Because, roads have to be maintained from time to time, you idiot. (Nightmarish, Mad Max scenarios involving unmaintained roads…)

Morgan: Uh, you need to go back and read the last four words of my question again.

In Obama-land, “END CONSTRUCTION” might as well mean “CONSTRUCTION AHEAD SOMEWHERE IN THE NEXT THIRTY MILES.” Liberals are trying to convince me it’s a good thing, by showing to me how difficult it is to tell them anything. As for the economy, it’s been sputtering along about as well as you’d expect any economy to do, in a country where it takes 50% longer to deliver something by truck. From anywhere, to anywhere.

Anyway. I was flashing back to that discussion when I read about the British expats having a tough go of it in their adopted country of…Greece:

Last month, I dropped off my two-year-old daughter Nicci Alise at her nursery during a downpour that lasted barely an hour. But this being Athens, that’s all it took for many of the shoddily maintained roads to flood. As I navigated the five-minute drive home, stinking bags of uncollected garbage sailed past in the torrents.

It could have been a scene from Slumdog Millionaire, except that I was driving past multi-million-euro mansions with gilded gates and cascading bougainvillea in one of Athens’s most affluent suburbs. The imagery was potent. Greece 2011: a country that has allowed itself to be capsized by its own accumulated waste.

It’s been barely a fortnight since new prime minister Lucas Papademos was parachuted in, and Greece’s so-called ‘national unity’ government has already devolved into a Mexican stand-off over the crucial signing of the eurozone rescue deal. But regardless of any new political scenario, Greece’s citizens still face years of brutal austerity when, even now, there are so many who haven’t been paid in months.

On that rainy day, the city’s refuse collectors were on strike, as they had been for the past fortnight, along with a good proportion of Greece’s labour force. We were in the grip of a 48-hour general strike. Airports, state schools and banks stopped working. They were joined by bakers, doctors, customs officials, taxi and bus drivers and even judges. Clothes shops and tax offices shut down, but the beggars who clog Athens’s road junctions cleaning windscreens were still hard at it.

Every night, my husband Dimitri and I log on with foreboding to the strike website that has the most reliable information on the next day’s industrial action. That’s right: we have chosen to live in a country where we must consult a website devoted solely to strikes. It is dawning on us that we must be crazy.

The truly dangerous thing about liberalism is its cozy relationship with anybody who can help it with its own P.R. Its representative icon is the freshly-resurfaced road, or the newly-opened bike path, or Thumper and Bambi cavorting away in a protected habitat somewhere. Piles of uncollected garbage would be a more fair and accurate emblem. Tidal waves of red ink. Bloated, exorbitant pension plans, and web sites devoted to strike activity.

This part is a bit weird:

‘The first thing to go was our boat,’ says British expat Tessa, a mother of three from Cheshire whose Greek husband has been forced to leave the family behind and relocate to Dubai after losing his lucrative civil engineering job here. ‘Then the Maserati and then the Volvo. Now I’ve just got the Mazda,’ Tessa laughs, aware of the contrast between her family’s concept of hardship and that of the average Greek.

Liberals ought to be able to agree that if liberalism brings eventual results that are identical to those that arrive from anarchy, or whatever worst-case they imagine to be involved with responsible, minimalist government, then liberalism must be a fail. They won’t agree to that, of course…but they should.

Smartly maintained roads, filled with stinking trash. And big fat bills for the roads that were maintained before, that cannot be paid. In fact, from all I’ve been able to see of it, wherever someone’s made an issue out of health and retirement benefits for “The Workers,” there lies a dangerous sinkhole of insolvency. But hey. I’ve yet to hear of anyone complain of potholes in Greece. Maybe that’s our future. Nobody complains of potholes, nobody knows if the potholes are there, nobody can get their cars down the roads to find out because the trash is piled too high. Maybe the garbage collectors are on strike again, check the website…

I guess, as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. With some awesome retirement benefits for the paving-people. After the strikes are over, that is.

Update: Bleaker and bleaker…but the print media manages to get some stories out of it, so it can’t all be a bad thing huh?

“Leave the Occupidiots alone!”

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Hope it’s some kind of parody…but it looks genuine.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

The “Post-Bush/Gore/Florida/2000″ chapter is going to be a very interesting one as future generations study American history. There is much to be learned from this hostile relationship between this era’s political left, and masculinity; the former desires to disenfranchise the latter, the more the better. It is an incremental effort. To destroy masculinity completely, once and for all, is not quite as important as creating as much disruption against it as possible.

Now logically, what does masculinity or femininity have to do with any kind of political goal? Nothing. And yet here we are.

Being angry has a lot to do with being a good leftist. Near as I can figure, that’s because being a good leftist has a lot to do with some bolluxed-up definition of being a good person, and when simpletons see good people come in contact with bad people, they demand that the good person become enraged. Failing that, they might start to re-evaluate who’s good and who’s bad…can’t have that…

…and so we have all these American Castrati running around, doing their very best to act angry while simultaneously doing their very best to act unmanly. It’s always been surreal, after awhile it began to get funny, then it began to get tedious.

Then, they did it a whole bunch more times, for a few more years. Decades. Generations.

And, again, here we are.

Someday I should jot down the few simple reasons how & why liberal plans go gunnybags. One of the derailment points has to do with abundance; liberals continually gum things up for themselves as they embark on a plan dedicated to making us appreciate some certain thing by means of exposing us to more of it. Lots more of it. Across all kinds of issues, they have this tendency to increase popularity of things by means of a deluge. I notice they’re particularly fond of closing off all escape routes so we can’t get away from whatever it is. That’s supposed to increase the acceptance of the thing, offer an incentive to people to view it favorably, so that more people accept it and the people who already were accepting it do so with a fondness that was not in evidence before.

That isn’t how human nature works.

I’m not more eager to see men pretend they’re not men; I never have been; some people might have had an appreciation for this I never had, but I don’t think they’re any more eager to see it either. People don’t like things better when they see them more often. We’re just not wired that way.

Why Blacks Don’t Join the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Now that Airhead Autumn is thinning out, it’s getting more embarrassing to the far left that it never got much of that oh so coveted diversity going. Stacey Patton of the Washington Post tries to figure out why that is, and does a piss poor job of it. It ends up being not much more than a bunch of rationalization.

Blacks have historically suffered the income inequality and job scarcity that the Wall Street protesters are now railing against. Perhaps black America’s absence is sending a message to the Occupiers: “We told you so! Nothing will change. We’ve been here already. It’s hopeless.”

While the black press and civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the National Urban League were critical to past protest movements, black churches were the organizational force behind the rhetoric. Church leaders mobilized famous names and unsung heroes to end segregation through meetings, marches, demonstrations, boycotts and sit-ins. But where is the church now?

Some argue that the black church is losing its relevance, especially among young people who have been turned off by the religious theater of celebrity preachers. Even after lenders were accused of targeting black churches and communities as fertile markets for subprime mortgages, these churches are not joining Occupy protests en masse.

Fellow Right Wing News contributor William Teach picks it a part, and asks a good question:

After some filler about past inclusion by Blacks in protests, we find out that the Black church leaders are not telling the Blacks to get out there, and that there are just no leaders to tell Blacks to join….hey, isn’t that kinda racist, saying Blacks aren’t smart enough to figure it out themselves as to whether to join the Occupiers or not?
:
My own theory is that Blacks are smart enough to realize that squatting in city parks, sitting in one’s own urine and feces, surrounded by the truly unwashed, being exposed to rape, sexual assault, regular assault, theft, violence, and an absurd amount of “Working Groups” is a Bad Idea.

My theory is mostly the same, although simpler. It’s like saying, how come only-children aren’t as excited about becoming competitive? Answer there, as with here, is: There is no reason to be. Logic is the Great Equalizer with creed and race; group-think is not. Group-think reverberates its messages within social or working groups, and the simple fact is that our social and working groups remain racially polarized. Yes, it is embarrassing to the left, to the protest movements, and to Occupy Wall Street. It puts the big-reveal on the idea that we as a society cannot protest our way toward racial harmony.

The Occupy Wall Street movement simply doesn’t make sense. It’s an “underpants gnome” business plan: Step 1, we protest, Step 2 ????????? Step 3 everything’s fixed.

No wait. Scratch that, the underpants gnomes were a little more specific on Step Three.

If it made sense, you could recruit across communities, racial, gender, sex-preference lines. The irony is that capitalism does this. If something makes sense, people move. Occupy Wall Street doesn’t make sense, and it only appears to make sense when you’re being moved toward it as part of a big flash-mob crowd. Things look different outside of the crowd. Rather like drinking large amounts of alcohol; the drunk thinks all his jokes are funny, and he isn’t quite talking loud enough.

Memo For File CXLVII

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I was thinking back to twenty years ago, when my soon-to-be-ex-wife came by to pick up all her stuff which she decided included the washing machine and dryer. She had decided, when she couldn’t shut off the water outlet after unhooking the washing machine, that this was my problem. It’s difficult for me to dredge up any details from that time, since my brain was in shutdown mode, and the few memories that were being made were not ones I cared to keep. Work sucked and home life sucked. I do, however, recall this theme that was permeating through: Day and night, I was being threatened, because the people with whom I associated at work and at home figured men were beasts of burden, and the way you motivate a beast of burden is to threaten it.

Since then, my life has been in a more-or-less continual state of improvement, and that is undoubtedly because I was determined to apply what I had learned. But because I don’t really have any firm recollections from that time, this is mostly acting on ghostly shadows of what I learned, rather than on actual memories. This has always bothered me. I’m most comfortable acting on hard fact, especially when my efforts have to do with trying to keep my life from sucking. This has been mostly a “gut feel” operation. It’s been a much better success than a gut-feel operation could be expected to be, and for this reason, today I couldn’t be an atheist even if I wanted to be one.

But this leitmotif of motivating men through threats, remains. Tell the man to jump and he’s supposed to ask, “how high?” I was given cause to think on this, again, with that silly Microsoft PowerPoint commercial I put up. Which I saw in my hotel room, while I was picking up my son. Who lives with his Mother. Away from me. Hmmmmm…and lately I got in that argument with the feminists about movie posters, and I was struck by the behavior of one of them who I think might actually be in need of psychiatric help. She made a big show of how she, and the other feminists, did not need my approval and could have any opinions they wanted to have, whether I liked it or not. Oh, okay…as if I had said otherwise. And then, almost in the same breath, walked me through that yellow-light-red-light thing, where I was given so many chances to recant my contraband statements, and having failed at this I would be excoriated or excommunicated or some equivalent thing. What an amazing hairpin turn. You need to meet with our approval; we do not need to meet with your approval. A single paragraph of silliness that pretty much distills the entire feminist message.

As well as — why it just isn’t working. And won’t ever.

Somewhere, I read that when Darth Vader flung the Emperor Palpatine down the Death Star shaft at the end of Return of the Jedi, and became mortally wounded because the Emperor was shooting that fingertip-lightning at him, the certainty of his impending demise had nothing at all to do with the lightning. The idea was that, since Anakin Skywalker had given himself to the Dark Side, and subsequently became dependent on this life support suit for his breathing, lymph functions, kidney functions and so forth — essentially, for the twenty years previous, every breath and heartbeat he had were gifts from the Emperor. So the suit was emblematic of this absolute dependency relationship between Vader’s loyalty and Vader’s life. Vader, therefore, not only served the Empire at the Emperor’s pleasure, he continued to draw breath at the Emperor’s pleasure as well. Must have been a sucky existence. But I think that captures the situation. The dream of feminists, the nightmare of men.

When archeologists dig up the remnants of our civilization and try to figure out where it all went wrong, I think they’ll find that’s it. By then, perhaps, they’ll have some word to describe this practical capability of doing things whether someone likes it, or not. “Authority” doesn’t capture it, “autonomy” doesn’t capture it and “independence” doesn’t capture it. “Freedom” and “liberty” come closest to describing what I have in mind, but they don’t quite get there either. What I have in mind, is what we try to grant “whistleblowers” when we’re afraid they may face reprisal, and battered women who are afraid their abusers may seek them out for revenge; the liberty to act, or not act, completely free of fear of any retaliation.

There must be two strains of this. The assurance that the rules are going to come down on your side, and the assurance that if someone goes outside the rules, they won’t be able to bring harm to your life or property. You have to have both of these, and then you get some kind of power. Passive power, but power real enough to significantly alter your behavior.

The archeologists will discover our civilization was doomed, when it became determined that women should have all of what this word describes, and men should have none of it.

A man doesn’t perform right in his job, you threaten him with the loss of his livelihood.

A man doesn’t perform right at home, you threaten him with the loss of his possessions and family.

Threaten, threaten, threaten-threaten-threaten.

Feminists tune out at this point, since the complaint seems to make men into sympathetic figures, and they’ll tolerate absolutely none of this. But the concern isn’t about men, the concern is about masculinity, and our modern feminists cannot be expected to appreciate the difference between those two things. They think it’s all a bunch of “ick.” The arrangement violates Stein’s Law, which says whatever cannot last forever, won’t. And it trashes masculinity, since it is inherently un-masculine to be put in the Darth Vader situation, acting out of fear and utter dependence. Please don’t do — whatever — to me. Please don’t shut off my — whatever.

A man who wants to live a life of true masculinity, therefore, must become dedicated to two things: Love nobody except those who truly love you back, and make some serious money. Go for what’s called the “fuck you money” — defined as, enough of a stash that you’re never painted into a corner, having to accept arrangements you otherwise wouldn’t because of concerns about your own solvency.

Feminists do a lot of bitching about what our society tells women and girls. But what does society have to say to men and boys who want to love those who would love them back, or are trying to make fuck-you money? Has it offered them any words of encouragement there? I must have missed it.

The irony is that men are most helpful to others when they are most masculine. The masculine man continues to put others before himself. But he internalizes the decision about priorities. Who needs my help? What really needs to be done, here? This is what we’ve been trashing. A man cannot behave that way when he’s teetering on the brink of the oblivion of disapproval, or dismissal, or loss of paychecks or loss of coital privileges. It’s all up to the external authority to make decisions about priorities. Vader does what Palpatine tells him to do. That’s when men have to act like pussies. That’s when the cell phones come out in the grocery aisles. Honey? I think they’re out of white rice, will brown rice do? What’s a “coriander”?

Another irony: Women don’t find that attractive. Stepford Wives, hardcore brittle feminists, every single woman (just about) in between those two extremes. Women hate this not-quite-complete-male behavior. They recoil from it. And yet look how hard we work at bringing it out, in men, by removing all their other options. So, no, the men are not sympathetic figures in this complaint because they do not have to be. This thing we do hurts many more people than just the men.

Someday, we should invent a word to describe this situation where you can act, or not act, without fear of losing these things that are staples in the life you are trying to live. Interestingly, I notice conservative and progressive agendas, alike, are powered by the human drive to acquire the thing this word would describe. The agendas become different when they represent different constituencies, use different tactics, and form different visions about where society is supposed to go. But they’re driven by a common human desire. Meanwhile, the answer upon which we appear to have settled is that all of this thing should go to the women, and none of it should go to the men, since we need the men to do things and there is no other way to motivate a beast of burden.

Stein rule. Things cannot go on this way, indefinitely, and that means they won’t.

“As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly!”

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Thanksgiving, 2011

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Washington:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Lincoln:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Palin:

On Thanksgiving, my family’s traditions will reflect the loyal, active, robust, big family life that shaped me. We’re so fortunate to be together to share the making of another year’s memory. In these late autumn days with temperatures dipping to 20-degrees below zero, we’ll brave Alaska’s biting cold to run and skate and ride – just because we can, and for that I am so thankful. Life in America’s Last Frontier is not an easy living, but it’s a good living. Here in Alaska, where I’m never without inspiration, an optimistic pioneering spirit still permeates, and harsh conditions force us out of self-centeredness and towards community – often in order to survive.

This need for selflessness – and the blessings that come with it – sharpened for me almost four years ago when I was given the gift of broader horizons, clarified priorities, and more commitment to justice and compassion for my fellow man who faces challenges and fears. I was granted this through a gift that arrived in a tiny, six-pound, awe-inspiring bundle. We named him Trig.

I know America’s potential for goodness, thus greatness, because I see it every day through my son. Nothing makes me happier or prouder than to see America’s good heart when someone smiles at my Trig. I notice it happens often in airports. Often a traveler passing by does a double-take when they see him, perhaps curious about the curious look on his face; perhaps my son momentarily exercises an uncontrollable motion that takes the passerby by surprise. Perhaps, as an innocent and candid child announced when she first met Trig, they think “he’s awkward.” But when that traveler pauses to look again and smile, and maybe tells me what a handsome boy I have, I swell with American pride. I am so thankful for their good heart. They represent the best in our country and their kindness shows the real hope we need today.

I am thankful that, as in so many areas of life, the bitter people who say bitter things about someone facing challenges are so outnumbered. There have been stinging criticisms, even from people still screaming that Trig should never have been born, but we know those critics may be the loudest and most malicious, but they’re not the majority.

To me, when individuals reflect the greater societal acceptance of someone facing challenges, they show the best of humanity – even by offering a simple pat on Trig’s head or a knowing smile shot our way. Conversely, when a society works to eliminate the “weakest links” (as some would callously consider the disabled) or “the unproductive” (as some would callously consider the very young and the very old), it eliminates the very best of itself. When a society seeks to destroy them, it also destroys any ability or need for sincere compassion, empathy, improvement, and even goodwill. And those are the very best qualities of humanity! Those are the characteristics of a country that understands and embraces true hope! America can be compassionate and strong enough as a nation to be entrusted with those who some see as an “inconvenience,” but who are really our greatest blessings. Through Trig, I see firsthand that there is man’s standard of perfection, and then there is God’s. Man’s standard is flawed, temporary, and shallow. God’s standard lasts an eternity. At the end of the day, His is what matters.

So, this Thanksgiving my family will bundle Trig up and grin while we watch him through ice-frosted eyelashes as he curiously takes in all that is around him in the crisp open air. I hope your Thanksgiving gives you the opportunity to find that reminder of what really matters, too. For me, my perfect picture of thankfulness is my perfectly awesome son. With him, all is well with my soul and I know I am blessed.

Limbaugh:

Now time for a tradition, an annual tradition, and that is The Real Story of Thanksgiving from my book that I wrote back in the early nineties. I wrote two of them, actually. In one of the books I wrote, The Real Story of Thanksgiving. And reading from it has become something we do every year on the program because it’s still not taught. The myth of Thanksgiving is still what is taught, and that myth is basically that a bunch of thieves from Europe arrived quite by accident at Plymouth Rock, and if it weren’t for the Indians showing them how to grow corn and slaughter turkeys and how to swallow and stuff, that they would have died of starvation and so forth. The Indians were great — and then, in a total show of appreciation, we totally wiped out the Indians!

We took their country from ‘em. We started racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia; spread syphilis; and, basically, destroyed the environment. That is the multicultural version of Thanksgiving, and it simply isn’t true. The real version of Thanksgiving is in my second best-seller, 2.5 million copies in hardback: See, I Told You So. “Chapter 6, Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving — The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century … The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs.” In England.

So, “A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community. After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

“And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found — according to Bradford’s detailed journal — a cold, barren, desolate wilderness.” The New York Jets had just lost to the Patriots. “There were no friends to greet them, he wrote.” I just threw that in about the Jets and Patriots. “There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims — including Bradford’s own wife — died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

“Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of” the Bible, “both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.” Everything belonged to everybody. “They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.

“Nobody owned anything.” It was a forerunner of Occupy Wall Street. Seriously. “They just had a share in it,” but nobody owned anything. “It was a commune, folks.” The original pilgrim settlement was a commune. “It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the ’60s and ’70s out in California,” and Occupy Wall Street, “and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way.” There’s no question they were organic vegetables. What else could they be? “Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage,” as they saw fit, and, “thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That’s right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism.

“And what happened? It didn’t work!” They nearly starved! “It never has worked! What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.” If it were, there wouldn’t be any Occupy Wall Street. There wouldn’t be any romance for it.

“The experience that we had in this common course and condition,’” Bradford wrote. “‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing — as if they were wiser than God,’ Bradford wrote.” This was his way of saying, it didn’t work, we thought we were smarter than everybody, everybody was gonna share equally, nobody was gonna have anything more than anything else, it was gonna be hunky-dory, kumbaya. Except it doesn’t work. Because of half of them didn’t work, maybe more. They depended on the others to do all the work. There was no incentive.

“‘For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,’” without being paid for it, “‘that was thought injustice.’” They figured it out real quick. Half the community is not working — living off the other half, that is. Resentment built. Why should you work for other people when you can’t work for yourself? that’s what he was saying. So the Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the under-girding capitalistic principle of private property.

“Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, ‘for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’ … Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes,” it did. “Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you’re laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.” This is what happened. After everybody had their own plot of land and were allowed to market it and develop it as they saw fit and got to keep what they produced, bounty, plenty resulted.

“And then they set up trading posts, stores. They exchanged goods with and sold the Indians things. Good old-fashioned commerce. They sold stuff. And there were profits because they were screwing the Indians with the price. I’m just throwing that in. No, there were profits, and, “The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London.” The Canarsie tribe showed up and they paid double, which is what made the Canarsie tribe screw us in the “Manna-hatin” deal years later. (I just threw that in.) They paid off the merchant sponsors back in London with their profits, they were selling goods and services to the Indians. “[T]he success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans,” what was barren was now productive, “and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.’

But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering-in-socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That’s where the original Thanksgiving story stops, and the story basically doesn’t even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God,” the pilgrims giving thanks to God, “for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony,” for surviving the trip, for surviving the experience and prospering in it. “The bounty was shared with the Indians.” That’s the story. “They did sit down” and they did have free-range turkey and organic vegetables. There were no trans fats, “but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day,” as acknowledged by George Washington in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789, which I also have here.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Not Playing the Same Game

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Kagan’s non-recusal and what it means:

James N. writes:

It is remarkable that Elena Kagan apparently plans to hear and judge the Obamacare lawsuits, although there is a documentary record of her acting as an advocate within the administration for strategies to get the bill through Congress.

Of course, many Republicans are calling for her recusal, which is absolutely required by the appropriate rules for judges.

It’s interesting that no Democrats agree. That they do not agree tells us much about who and what they are.

They don’t agree because they believe it would be wrong of her to follow the rules. They think it would be wrong because, for them, the purpose of Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation is to overthrow the republican system of a government with limited powers.

For the Democrats in Congress, it would make no more sense for Kagan to recuse herself that it would for her to appear in purple underwear and deliver her opinions in Norwegian.

The electoral system only works when both parties are playing the same game. That is, in our country, no longer the case.

LA replies:

Well put. The two parties are not playing the same game. They play different games, under different rules. What are these different rules? The Republicans more or less follow the laws and constitutional procedures, the Democrats deliberately and consciously break them. But the Republicans, while they complain incessantly about the Democrats, never identify this underlying fact. Why? Because that would show that the system is no longer legitimate. And the function of the Republicans, as “patriotic, conservative Americans,” is to uphold the goodness and legitimacy of the system, a legitimacy which rests on the belief that everyone in American politics shares the same basic principles and loyalties. So the Republicans, as defenders of the system and its presumed basic unity, cannot expose what the Democrats are. If they exposed it, politics would be replaced by open war between two radically incompatible parties and America as we know it would come to an end.

I have a long history of objecting to the term “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.” When a cliche is allowed to calcify like that one has, it’s a sign of intellectual laziness and therefore of a process of atrophy. Nobody ever seems to say “no difference,” or “not a nickel’s worth of difference,” it’s always that damn dime. And, too often, people take the statement way too seriously and start to broadly infer that terms like “conservative” and “liberal” must be meaningless, any difference between the two must be an illusion.

I do have trouble criticizing it, though, when its offered as a critique against the Republican party establishment, that it isn’t fighting back hard enough. I notice this is very often true. As far as explanations for the inadequate resistance, this theory of being unable to admit to “different rules” makes good sense to me and explains a lot.

My teachers, and yours too, probably, said Republicans and democrats had the same goals in mind but different ways of getting there. Seen any signs that this is the case? Me neither.

Hat tip to Gerard.

Channeling Ted Kennedy at the Grave

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Yeah, that’s weird:

In the thick of the negotiations, [Sen. Majority Leader Harry] Reid, too, recalled the days when deal makers could bridge the partisan divide. He visited Ted Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery with former Sen. Chris Dodd. Dodd poured some whiskey on Kennedy’s grave while Reid recited a prayer, the majority leader told lobbyists at a meeting, according to attendees. He told the group that he missed both men.

Passive Parenting Leads to Snowmen Puking All Over Your Living Room

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Memo For File CXLVI

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In business as well as in all walks of life, people will make decisions to change the course of their enterprises, or the course of the ventures placed under their stewardship, if and only if

1. They feel empowered to do so.
2. They feel authorized to do so, which is slightly different from the question of feeling empowered.
3. They perceive that they, personally, are likely to experience a net gain from the change in direction. I say “net” because by & large, most changes in direction start out at a cost to the person who instigates them. They have to make it big to break even.

Now, we have certain “Dagny Taggart” personality types who can be relied upon to instigate this change of direction, when it’s called for, consequences be damned. And we have other personality types who are the opposite, Lord knows. Bureaucrats, bred to the bone. If the rulebook says plow the ship into that iceberg, then that’s what we’re gonna do. But this question of personality-type is simply a sway upon question #2, and maybe #1. The triad of questions is really what drives the decision-point, within all of us.

All three tumblers have to click into place before the lock can be opened. If the lock is opened, creativity is applied, and if it isn’t it isn’t.

Without that, people will just follow the rules. And here is your explanation for Robert Conquest’s Second Rule of Politics: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.” It isn’t because group-think turns conservatives into liberals (although there’s something to that). People simply lose their incentive to think independently. They color a little bit out of the lines, they get their noses poked for it, they do it again, they get poked again, repeat a few times…and then they say, y’know what? It just isn’t worth it. I’m here to earn a paycheck. The third tumbler locks shut, then the second, then the first.

No more innovating.

Oklahoma Woman Shoots and Kills Intruder

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I don’t comment on these very often, because too much of the time it seems like I have to keep researching to find out the whole story even though, examining the pattern as a whole, it seems almost all of these Castle Doctrine defenders end up being justified. That having been said, this looks to me like a complete run-down of everything that matters, at least, what the network saw fit to put on the air…

I note that every single word in that item is concerned with re-actions, not actions. Except, that is, for Ms. Jackson and the intruder. I don’t hear anything about officers being dispatched to the scene, which is odd since the call is supposed to be twenty minutes and Jackson is repeatedly begging that someone be sent.

At the two-minute mark in this tape, or thereabouts, the dispatcher makes a reference to someone being on the way. Wonderful.

Google and I are not getting along with each other well enough to figure out what happened to this investigation, and the District Attorney’s decision about whether or not to press charges. It’s been two years by now. Maybe that means she’s clear; I hope so. I hear on the tape the dispatcher is advising her “you can defend your property if you need to” at about 5:47. On the teevee newscast they make a comment about Oklahoma state law that backs this up.

I don’t see why this was called a homicide at all. I don’t see why it was referred to the D.A.’s office.

It looks to me like there’s a lot of fuss and trouble being made to provide answers to the public that nobody needs, and nobody’s demanding, while other questions are being neglected. I don’t know if anyone is too worried about being protected from Donna Jackson and her shotgun. On the other hand, most people if put in her situation there, I think would rather wait ten minutes than twenty for some help to arrive, and five minutes would be even better. Why did it take twenty? When they said “opened an investigation” I thought it would be about that.

It sounds like there’s a lot of adrenaline going, on the dispatcher’s side of the call, after the shot was fired that wasn’t there before. Thought I heard someone say “get someone out there” just before that point, which sounds really bad to me. Hearing a lot of detail about where exactly she lives, three minutes afterward, which sounds even worse.

Can’t find out anything about this after this turning-over-to-D.A. thing. I hope that means Ms. Jackson beat the rap. Dispatcher seems to be about as useless as a bag without a bottom, although I get the feeling that’s got to do with process and procedure. Sheriff’s office contributes two pieces of helpful information: Who the perp was and what might have been wrong with him, and what they’re doing to protect the public from the homeowner with a shotgun. Hooray!

In that TV newscast up there, beginning to end, it’s treated as a bad thing that just happens to people now & then, completely unavoidable, like a tornado. More than half of the information we get from the interviews, on a time basis, has to do with how people felt. Nobody takes action to prevent a damn thing, except one person, and she’s in trouble for it.

Just going off this, it seems we are devolving into a pussy society and we deserve every bad thing that is coming our way. Human interest and drama drama drama, but no will to confront evil. Not much effort going on to protect the innocent. There’s a law that says Ms. Jackson is within her rights, but at some point at least, it seems that law isn’t counting for very much.

Hillary’s Qualifications

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen argue that President Obama should awaken to His unsuitability for further leadership, decline to run for re-election, and the Secretary of State should step in:

He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Never before has there been such an obvious potential successor—one who has been a loyal and effective member of the president’s administration, who has the stature to take on the office, and who is the only leader capable of uniting the country around a bipartisan economic and foreign policy.
:
Even though Mrs. Clinton has expressed no interest in running, and we have no information to suggest that she is running any sort of stealth campaign, it is clear that she commands majority support throughout the country. A CNN/ORC poll released in late September had Mrs. Clinton’s approval rating at an all-time high of 69%—even better than when she was the nation’s first lady. Meanwhile, a Time Magazine poll shows that Mrs. Clinton is favored over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 17 points (55%-38%), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 26 points (58%-32%).

But this is about more than electoral politics. Not only is Mrs. Clinton better positioned to win in 2012 than Mr. Obama, but she is better positioned to govern if she does. Given her strong public support, she has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington.
:
Having unique experience in government as first lady, senator and now as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton is more qualified than any presidential candidate in recent memory, including her husband. Her election would arguably be as historic an event as the election of President Obama in 2008.

I’m gonna tear this one up. Not because I dislike Hillary Clinton and think she’s vastly overrated. Although I do and I do. But because to the best I can see, the excerpt above exhaustively captures everything the column has to say about why Clinton would make a good candidate/president.

I’m seeing something about loyalty and experience. I’m seeing an almost delusional bandying-about of that word “would,” as in “would become”; classic left-wing insanity. It makes me feel good to think such-and-such a thing is going to happen, therefore, I have fooled myself into thinking it is likely to happen. Gonna put all my chips on red, and your chips too.

Hillary’s loyal, because she hasn’t back-stabbed her boss, and since her decision right now is not to run, that suggests strongly that she’d have nothing to gain by doing so. Another classic left-wing mistake. This person didn’t go on the attack during this window of time, therefore this person can be trusted. Sometimes the tiger doesn’t eat you because he isn’t hungry.

And the experience. When she was running for Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seat, it was great fun asking Hillary fans what she’s actually managed to accomplish. Uh der, der, she tried, uh, it’s for the children, homina homina homina. The situation’s unchanged, now, a decade later. Is Hillary just a wonderful Secretary of State, one of our best ever? How so, exactly?

I’m not criticizing to dissuade the proposed solution. Frankly, I think the whole question is a waste of attention cycles. If it became completely obvious to everyone, everywhere, that Obama needed to step down, that would be an everyone-but-Obama epiphany because Obama Himself never would agree to it. And as they approached Him to bow out for His re-election bid, I think the last word on it would have to be His, and He’d never agree to it. As far as whether that’s good or bad for the democrats’ prospects in terms of hanging on to the White House, I don’t think it matters very much.

Their policies have been given a fair shake, and they reek.

But none of this has to do with what I really want to scrutinize here, which is everything else within her qualifications stated here. I’ve saved the best for last. I want to go on the attack against this: The “how someone else will react” aspect of it. This practice of pundits speaking out, with great fanfare and bumptious glory, on behalf of other people they don’t know, will never meet, and certainly do not have the same priorities that the pundits have. This creepy vicarious-confidence thing.

“Has the stature.” “Ability to step above partisan politics.” “Capable of uniting.” “Commands majority support.” Polls say, better positioned, blah, blah, blah, oh would you please for crying out loud stuff a sock in it. I’m completely fed up with seeing this happen with Mitt Romney, I’m not the least bit enthused about watching it happen with someone else. The willful denial of the plain fact that mediocre is mediocre, the hallucination that mediocrity is some sophisticated form of excellence.

For years and years, now, I’ve been confronted by people broadcasting to everyone within earshot and line-of-sight what they’re all about, by announcing their frenzied, jubilant support of Hillary Clinton. The problem isn’t that I disagree. The problem is that they’re trying to tell me what their values and priorities are by doing this, and they’re failing, because there isn’t much being communicated. If there is a Hillary Doctrine, then what is it exactly? What would Hillary do differently about her health care plan? She’d almost certainly have one, and it certainly wouldn’t be “bipartisan” in any way, shape or form. How about stimulus spending? What would Hillary do there that any other democrat wouldn’t do? Drill-baby-drill? Iran? North Korea? Crony capitalism? I’m sure she can make statements about all these things, but can she make any that are uniquely hers? Stray off the beaten path in any way?

I referred to Romney above. This predilection for pretending there’s something superior, extraordinary and unique about candidates who bring nothing of the kind — arguably, because they bring nothing of the kind — is not a trait exclusive to democrats. But it certainly is something we still see, this late in the game, in great abundance. If we had need for it, it would lose value because of this abundance. But we never had any need for it in the first place.

Excellent is excellent. Mediocre is mediocre. When you’re reduced to arguing that something is the very best just because you’ve got some polls, and a gut feel, that it would be popular even though there isn’t anything really different about it…well, what you’re doing there, is proposing a sandy foundation for your mighty fortress. You’re arguing for a fad. That’ll work great — today. Tomorrow’s a new day, and that’s the problem; that’s pretty much what we did last time, isn’t it?

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.

Aristotle.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Intemperate Remarks

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Thing I Know #58. To insult a man says nothing about other men, but for some reason, anything said against one woman is perceived to be said against everything female who ever lived.

Because there is some truth in this — it’s a Thing I Know, after all, not a “thing I kinda sorta suspect might be true and someday I should maybe check it out” — my remarks in the post previous could be fairly regarded as somewhat reckless.

I should watch what I say. Yes…

Now, let’s juxtapose.

Hillary Clinton has risked a huge backlash after sympathising with those who rioted in support of the officials caught up in the Penn State ‘abuse’ scandal.

The Secretary of State said she could understand the ‘passion and emotion’ of the students who flooded the streets and overturned cars when they learned football head coach Joe Paterno had been fired.

She said that two members of her own family had gone to Penn State and made the team so she could appreciate their point of view.

Her poorly chosen comments are likely to enrage the families of the victims, who are still coming forward with fresh accusations.

Paterno was fired along with assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of molesting boys over 15 years and raping one in the shower.

This is not an attempt to hide behind the excuse of “Yeah, but this other person over here did the same thing.” That would be completely lame. Besides of which, the two cases of intemperate commentary are not the same…

Hillary Clinton is our current Secretary of State. She holds our nation’s highest diplomatic post.

I, on the other hand, am nothing more than the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for The Blog That Nobody Reads.

Why I Need to Play Golf on Sundays

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

I’d like to see a scrutinizing, inquisitive conversation take place about this: From where do we receive this conventional wisdom that, if you want to unload palettes and palettes of your crap, a sure-fire sales technique is to offer a family portrait of the matriarch cracking the whip and yanking the putz back in line? What gets that going? What keeps it going?

The obvious answer is “It must work, because if it didn’t work we wouldn’t keep seeing it.” Okay. I’m sure it must work; why does it work?

“Why” is a special word. A what, when, where and a who are all usually answered by means of a singularity. You point to one thing and there’s your answer. Why is more complex; many factors often contribute to a why, and I’m open to the idea that this is the case here. People buy more crap when they see a woman ordering a man around.

I notice whenever I’m seeing it in action, logic is somehow disconnected. Here I’ll walk you through what I mean: Simply take this spot at face value. PowerPoint is a software product facilitating a medium of communication that is so powerful, so persuasive, that it can get you anything you want…unless you’re the man of the house, in which case, it won’t. That’s the product. So the maker of the product is putting on an ad that says the product only works a part of the time. Family men are outside the market that the advertiser is trying to reach. Uh, really? Who buys software? Is this an attempt to reach out to a younger audience? Get the academic editions of the software titles moving off the shelves? Color me skeptical; I don’t think the average college student is too excited about his mom telling his dad that dad can’t play golf.

Another place the logic breaks down: When our current President uses it. Just listen to Him, He does it all the time. Can’t make it all the way through a speech without it, it seems. Michelle won’t let Me do this, Michelle makes Me do that, better not let Michelle catch me in this…again, we have a “huh, what?” moment. Did this guy just get elected to the presidency because He’s supposed to be “sort of God” or something? What a sloppy, disconnected illusion we have here. Barack Obama is above everybody, we’re all better people because He’s our President and He’s just a little slice of perfection…things become right instantly when Barack Obama says He’s behind them…infinite authority and all…but Michelle Obama tells the deity to jump and He says, how high? Okay then, if that all fits then I guess Michelle Obama is really in charge of the universe. Why didn’t we just elect her?

Current operating theory — and not exactly going out on a limb: This has nothing to do with anybody anywhere except family females. Somewhere there is some research, and perhaps some marketing experience to back it up, that chicks will open their purses faster if you run this simple idiom past them. It’s not true of any females I know personally, but then again, I have no idea how many females are like that because when I get a clue that a female is like that I stay as far away from her as I possibly can. I figure they want me to. So I’m in a bit of a weak spot if I rely on anecdotal evidence, I personally don’t have much. What I do have is from many years ago, before I learned who I needed to avoid. I’ve been in a committed relationship for seven years. For all I know, maybe nearly all women are of this vinegar-over-honey, Rueben-Rueben-I’ve-been-thinking, fish-needs-a-bicycle mindset. I have to approach this with humility; a lot could be going on without me knowing about it. Actually, that’s got a lot to do with why I’m asking the question.

But is this really well thought out? Selling computer software to women who hate men. Why do they need computer software? They Facebook, they tweet, they text on their phones to other man-bashing females, if they need something done apart from that they just order their schmuck to get it to work on the computer and they start yelling at him if he doesn’t get it done. Then they watch Twilight or Sex in the City or something. Seriously, why would they need PowerPoint?

I find it sensible to speculate some executive somewhere got a vision. Sales of this product are down among women age such-and-such to such-and-such. Advertising agency, what can you do about this? Advertising agency says, when we want to ratchet up activity in that particular demographic, we do this…and presto. It fits. Over the last fifteen to twenty or years or so, there’s been this creepy trend where if you buy something that costs more than fifty bucks they want to know all about you. Annual income, approximate age, zip code, industry…please help us complete our survey…blah blah blah…and I just have this dim fuzzy recollection that this is the time span during which we’ve seen more of this “look at her order him around” trope.

Women of sound, capable mind, everywhere, should get really pissed about this. They should revolt. I would. I can tell you from personal, albeit filtered, experience that there are a lot of women who do not think this way. They don’t find it charming when Obama makes up stories about being ordered around by His ol’ lady, they don’t buy more junk from someone whose ads tell stories about female dominance, and they damn sure don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of gelded, hairless males standing around waiting to be told what to do.

Someone, somewhere, is operating from a repository of research that isn’t very well married-up to reality. Or, if it is married-up to reality and some correlation has been found between diminishing men and moving merchandise, we must have some man-bashing females running around spending money to buy stuff without any understanding of what it’s supposed to do. I’ve used PowerPoint. I’ve met women who get that emotional thrill out of the idea of men being passive and ineffectual. I have trouble seeing the two go together — lots of trouble. Not that PowerPoint is hard to use. But from my own tidbits of anecdotal knowledge, it would be like a pot-bellied pig using a blender or something.

The cool thing about teevee ads, is you can tell whether they succeed or fail based on whether you keep seeing them. I think we’ll see more teevee ad females ordering around their hubbies…but this particular one, I believe, is not long for the world. I think it’s a fail. But I’m not sure of this at all; time will tell.

Update: Thinking about this some more…there’s a much bigger phenomenon taking place here, involving corporate America bringing products and services to market packaged with messages that involve cheap mindless gimmicks. The gimmicks are becoming more valuable in the marketplace of ideas, if & when they demand very little by way of empathy or critical thinking. In effect: The producers/marketers insult the consumers of the products by portraying them in flat, simplistic ways, and then the consumers reward the marketers for this by buying their crap.

My Newest YouTube Subscription

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Oh yeah, definitely, I’m going to be very interested to see what else rolls in from this guy’s account. Can’t wait.

It’s clear to me he couldn’t wait to show the whole world what he’s been doing, and what his face looks like, and most of all how proud he is of the shenanigans. But he doesn’t want to show us what the uniform looks like because he doesn’t want to “ruin that.”

Okay then dickhead, keep on doing it. Enjoy your twelve-year-old scotch and your bloomin’ onion. And think what you want, it’s a free country thanks to men and women much better than you…but whether you want to acknowledge it or not, these expensive drinks are merely tokens. Much like moon-cast shadows, or the tiny piece of ice sticking out above the ocean’s surface warning of an enormous berg beneath. Which, in this analogy, is the gratitude. You get the tasty treats and the liquors, the real veterans get the gratitude.

That was the take-away from all this, right? That some people live their lives finding ways to serve others, and other people live their lives finding ways to sponge off people? That’s the message you’re trying to get across, true? Okay, so noted. You have succeeded.

Thanks for the reminder, and enjoy the perks asshole!

How pathetic. It’s like calling yourself a master car thief, when you’re just running around detaching the hood ornaments because you don’t know how to drive.

And my suggestion for anyone who’s concerned now about paying for the meal of a serviceman in uniform is: Look for the clean teeth. Not that I can speak from experience, but there is this little thing called boot camp where you’re taught to do all the little things…they don’t let you do anything else until you’ve completed it…and from all I’ve managed to learn about it, brushing your teeth in the morning is not an optional thing. I’ve yet to meet a real veteran with teeth like those. Even wounded soldiers with hooks for hands have clean teeth.

Get Any Job That Teaches You to Show Up on Monday

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Politico offers a headline calculated and designed to make you hate Newt Gingrich more than you already do: Newt: Fire the janitors, hire kids to clean schools. And when you click it open and actually read it from top to bottom, you find the former House Speaker is making all kinds of sense, no wonder they want him gone. Hey Politico! Yeah, there is someone I trust a little tiny bit less than I did three minutes ago, but it ain’t Newt Gingrich.

He added, “You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation. They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars.”

Annoy a Liberal: Succeed“They all learned how to make money at a very early age,” he said. “What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don’t do it. Remember all that stuff about don’t get a hamburger flipping job? The worst possible advice you could give to poor children. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you are in a fight with your girlfriend. The whole process of making work worthwhile is central.”

Newt is still in recovery mode with me after the couch commercial with Pelosi. Diggin’ himself out of a hole, but doing a very respectable job of it. His comments here, from the tippy top all the way to the bottom, make rock solid perfect sense. And he’s calling out a problem that, if unattended and allowed to fester further, can be expected to do us incalculable damage. There’s a mindset that is creeping in, in fact has been creeping in for a number of decades by now, that “kids” should not be doing anything at any time of the day that they wouldn’t choose to do, even if they’re getting paid to do it, and if ever they’re deprived of the option of just getting up & walking off to something they’d prefer to be doing then that’s some kind of abuse. Therefore, work just has to be completely out of the question.

Ironically, I notice it’s common for girls of tender age to be working at something, although their problem is a little bit different. They get stuck in retail. We love the idea of girls going to college to get an education that will make them independent, but name a course she can take that will lead to a promising, practical career, and you will have hit on an idea that is still anomalous today. We still have it in mind that girls should go to college — to take silly stuff for their coursework. Not engineering or architecture; and, if that is the case, only because it’s some kind of a “program” or other event that’s supposed to inflate the reputation of somebody else, not because she’s shown an aptitude for it. You have a daughter who’s coming of age, you want her to work, if she’s pretty you just make sure word reaches something somewhere with a phone or a cash register, and you’re done. The businesses want pretty girls by the phones and cash registers. The point is not that things are easy for girls, by any means, or for their parents; the point is that you have to get creative and imaginative with boys. Cradle to crypt, our males are given stronger and more plentiful incentives to be lazy.

I’ve noticed over the years we have a lot of people who talk about “rooting for the underdog” who, when you get to know them a little bit better, you find they’re just describing the way they relate to people. For instance, you ask them about the friends and acquaintances they have and ask them to describe each one, you’ll get back a whole bunch of weaknesses. She’s allergic to shrimp. He has PTSD. They’ve both been out of work since last January, she just scored something part-time but I’m worried sick about him. Their kid just got busted for a DUI. That one has ADD, that other one is an insomniac, he’s got dyslexia, she’s screwing every guy in town. It’s a wonderful way of looking at life if you want life to be a soap opera, and I guess maybe that’s what’s going on here.

But what’s the stereotype of soap opera watchers? Housewives, retirees, unemployed people who have reached some state of contentment with being unemployed. They’ve got some system of subsistence going, that had to be set up in the first place and therefore required some nominal level of problem-solving skill; perhaps most taxingly in the case of the housewives. But they’re all done with that and are tuning in now for some “junk food TV.” As for what they do while they watch the soaps, the stereotype is divided between those who are folding laundry and those who just veg out. But the stereotype is united on the idea that their brains are all turning to mush, and I consider the stereotype accurate on this point. Watching soaps turns your brain to mush. Looking at people as fascinating little portraits of weakness and dysfunction, turns your brain to mush. We are wired to become whatever we watch.

People look at other people as vessels of strength, when they must. See, that’s the lesson. Once again, our challenges mold and shape the way we look at life, and the profile of aptitudes and talents we develop in response to those challenges. The prospective employer who is hiring someone to do a job, and has a tough time finding the right person for whatever reason, nurses a fascinating amalgamation of hope and despair. Hope, out of necessity — this thing has got to get done, it’s well within the perimeter of known human achievement, therefore there has to be someone out there who can do it. Despair, because of the seemingly endless journey involved in finding that person, the sheer quantity of frogs that have to be kissed to find the prince, you might say. But through the process of interviewing people and seeing one candidate after another who isn’t up to the task, without even being consciously aware of it he’s being given an incentive to ask the most productive of questions in human relationships: What can you do? It’s the antithesis of the soap-opera-viewer’s way of looking at life. Some people can tell you what their friends can do, and other people can tell you what their friends can’t do. He can fix my car. He can build brick walls. He can wash windows. He’s my butcher, he’s my baker, he’s my candlestick maker. Versus…the aforementioned…he can’t drive, she can’t spell, he can’t eat salty food, he can’t do math, she has a phobia, so-and-so doesn’t like such-and-such and won’t eat it.

Liberalism is not a political ideology. It is a whole different way of looking at life and the people who live it. It is despair.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Two Warning Sirens at the Same Time

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Hate it when that happens, don’t you? So hard to concentrate. Can’t ignore one and tend to the other; one has to be prioritized ahead of the other, and then, best-case-scenario, the problem of lesser importance will have to just sit & cook, which can’t be good.

Both of the clarion calls have to do with public officials abusing their stations. Ed Darrell says it stinks to high heaven that Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are eating dinner with people. Sarah Palin says something is wrong when you can become a millionaire faster inside Washington than anyplace outside of it. Okay, so…these two things are not connected in any way, other than they’re going off at roughly the same time. One’s got to do with the judicial branch, the other seems more concerned with the legislative. Darrell and Palin certainly do not lean in the same direction ideologically. The more progressive of the two would certainly assert a vast superiority on his part in terms of intellectual horsepower, of a magnitude almost incomprehensible, and his cohorts would certainly rush in to add their support to such an assertion. Quickly.

Desperately.

The only thing they have in common, really, is the message “We have to do something about this right now.”

If we can only attend to one while the other festers, it is good that there are many differences because we can use these to prioritize sensibly. The first test to apply, although by no means the definitive one, would be resonance. I imagine myself standing before a crowd that represents the entire electorate, holding my hand over one and then the other, measuring the audience’s reaction to each. Admittedly, this is not good for much other than grins, since I’m no fan of public opinion on these things and I’m certainly not a fan of the results that mob rule has brought us. But it does bring a grin, because Darrell would lose big here. And there is certainly a lesson to be picked up from it: Since when has majority public opinion, particularly the majority that is measured by audibles, ever been kind to or biased toward Sarah Palin? Loud people despise her. The correlation between a randomly-selected person’s loudness and the intensity of spite and scorn felt by that person toward her, is so perfect, that we never did get a believable answer about how she’d do running in an election against the current President, since it was all based on a bunch of irrational yelling about “won’t she please go away!” and then she did. And now, we know these people are irrational because they’re still angry with her, over something, even though she did exactly what they wanted.

But seriously: Audience applauds for Ed Darrell’s complaint that two justices are having dinner. Audience applauds for Sarah Palin’s complaint that civil “servants” are becoming overnight millionaires without doing too much service. The loud people who hate Sarah Palin so much, hand her a victory anyway; it isn’t even something we need to ponder, let alone subject to an actual test.

So the next difference is the structure of the argument. Darrell is complaining about persons and parties holding an interest in a case before the Supreme Court, exerting undue influence over the judicial officer who will have a say in the outcome. Palin is essentially complaining about “an endemic problem” of what amounts essentially to bribery; legislators selling their votes. We have codes of conduct, rules of Congress, etc. that are supposed to stop such things from happening. But Palin is taking the case to us because Congress is making the rules that apply to Congress, and it’s writing them in such a way that they don’t apply to what really needs fixing. Darrell is mobilizing the masses because the rules against Scalia and Thomas eating dinner…well…they just don’t apply.

Let’s examine that a little more closely. From the Oliphant article:

The two justices have been attending Federalist Society events for years. And it’s nothing that runs afoul of ethics rules. In fact, justices are exempt from the Code of Conduct that governs the actions of lower federal judges.

If they were, they arguably fell under code’s Canon 4C, which states, “A judge may attend fund-raising events of law-related and other organizations although the judge may not be a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program of such an event.“

“If they were” implies Oliphant had the previous sentence worded as something like “The Canons are not applicable to [or enforceable against] Supreme Court justices, as they are to lower federal judges. If they were…” Then re-worded one sentence without re-wording the other. Now, I’m a coffee-o’clock blogger. I have no room here to scold Oliphant or his editor over this, I do much worse than that pretty much constantly. But it is a red flag for something that deserves more inspection than it got, certainly more inspection than the readership is being encouraged to give it. Another red flag is present in this unanswered question about why the Canon applies to lower courts and not to the Supreme Court. Why drop that grenade and then just walk away?

As is typically the case when the motive for writing the treatise is to agitate the masses, and asking the question gets the agitated but answering it might remove the agitation — it turns out there isn’t much of an answer to find, because none is necessary. The U.S. Constitution, Article III, says the following:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. [emphasis mine]

An impartial reading of that would have to infer that Congress has a substantial authority over these “inferior Courts,” which is not necessarily applicable to the “supreme Court.”

In Federalist 51, James Madison writes about the independence of the “departments.” You might have heard this number before a few times from people quoting Federalist Papers, since this is the one that expresses the concerns about independence and co-equality:

It is equally evident, that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible on those of the others, for the emoluments annexed to their offices. Were the Executive magistrate, or the Judges, not independent of the Legislature in this particular, their independence in every other would be merely nominal. [emphasis mine]

Much more on that subject, and you really should read the whole thing. Now, much has been debated about this co-equal business. But it’s clear that independence of these divisions of government is a driving concern. Congress cannot tell the Supreme Court to jump, and expect the Supreme Court to yell back, How high?

And yet, Congress can tell lower courts what to do. They must be able to do that, if the Constitution specifically charges them to make the calls about bringing these lower courts into existence, or rubbing them out again.

In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton addresses the issue of picking judges out and telling them their time is up. These comments seem to apply to all levels of federal judicial office:

The want of a provision for removing the Judges on account of inability, has been a subject of complaint. But all considerate men will be sensible, that such a provision would either not be practised upon, or would be more liable to abuse, than calculated to answer any good purpose. The mensuration of the faculties of the mind has, I believe, no place in the catalogue of known arts. An attempt to fix the boundary between the regions of ability and inability, would much oftener give scope to personal and party attachments and enmities, than advance the interests of justice, or the public good. The result, except in the case of insanity, must for the most part be arbitrary; and insanity, without any formal or express provision, may be safely pronounced to be a virtual disqualification. [emphasis mine]

So the two points to come out of this are: The power to remove judges by name, is a very dangerous power because of the difficulty involved in constitutionally investing that without also investing the power to indirectly determine how cases would be decided. Doubtless, the framers felt they were already treading on treacherous ground just empowering Congress to establish and dissolve the courts. And, more important than that: Congress has power over the lower courts that it doesn’t have over the Supreme Court.

Which answers the question Oliphant and Darrell inspired the agitated masses to ask, but they don’t want answered. Congress did not exempt the Supreme Court from the codes. Congress passed the codes to apply to the lower courts, and only to them, because that is the limit of their authority. Go back and read Article III again, the way that sentence is phrased. The Supreme Court is empowered and insulated in ways the inferior courts are not. It is unavoidable.

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, is drawing applause even from people who come out and say they don’t want to give it to her. Her remarks are cogent, logical and reasonable. They draw from the knowledge she has gained from actually experiencing what she calls “graft,” and being elected to the Governor’s office to effectively deal with it.

I’ve learned from local, state and national political experience that the only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform. Sudden because our permanent political class is adept at changing the subject to divert the public’s attention—and we can no longer afford to be indifferent to this system of graft when our country is going bankrupt. Reform must be relentless because fighting corruption is like a game of whack-a-mole. You knock it down in one area only to see it pop up in another.

What are the solutions? We need reform that provides real transparency. Congress should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act like everyone else. We need more detailed financial disclosure reports, and members should submit reports much more often than once a year. All stock transactions above $5,000 should be disclosed within five days.

We need equality under the law. From now on, laws that apply to the private sector must apply to Congress, including whistleblower, conflict-of-interest and insider-trading laws. Trading on nonpublic government information should be illegal both for those who pass on the information and those who trade on it.

She could be criticized here for jumping the gun; she currently holds no office, and thus no position of authority of any kind. A critic might ask, why five grand? Why not ten, or three? And isn’t she pretty much just running around being a solution in search of a problem, anyway, just polishing up her corruption-fighter cred, while the country has so many other problems?

But the critics can’t say things like that. Palin is merely attending to the responsibilities she has, as the person pointing out a problem, to present possible answers so that it doesn’t amount to just a bunch of mindless bitching. As for being a solution in search of a problem, well, when there really is a problem that criticism can’t apply. And who among us can say there is no problem here, or that the public is not rightfully concerned about it?

Another key difference is something I’ve slowly learned to expect from Ed Darrell. If you follow all his links and read the whole thing behind each link, you find out he must not have wanted you to do that because, with all his references properly chased down and arguments properly evaluated at face-value, and compared with the evidence he brings, the whole thing crumbles. In this case, to really nail things shut he makes a reference to Caesar’s wife. Behind his link, we find:

Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.

Prov. The associates of public figures must not even be suspected of wrongdoing. (The ancient Roman Julius Caesar is supposed to have said this when asked why he divorced his wife, Pompeia. Because she was suspected of some wrongdoing, he could not associate with her anymore.) Jill: I don’t think the mayor is trustworthy; his brother was charged with embezzlement. Jane: But the charges were never proved. Jill: That doesn’t matter. Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. When the newspapers reported the rumor that the lieutenant governor had failed to pay his taxes, the governor forced him to resign, saying, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”

Mmmmm, hmmmm. The appearance of impropriety.

But Ed chose not to excerpt the final paragraph of Oliphant’s story, about Justice Kagan:

Moreover, conservatives argue that it’s Justice Elena Kagan who has an ethical issue, not Scalia and Thomas. Kagan served as solicitor general in the Obama administration when the first legal challenges to the law were brought at the trial court level. Her critics have pushed for Kagan to recuse herself from hearing the case, saying that she was too invested in defending the law then to be impartial now. Kagan has given no indication she will do so.

I’m generally not too enthused about the “Back off, because your guys are doin’ it too” defense. But a defense exists to deflect an offense, and when the offense is the Caesar’s Wife play — essentially, that the mere appearance of something fishy should rise to the level of something substantial, because of the high office and authority a justice holds, when in a more mundane circumstance it certainly would not — the mote-in-thy-own-eye defense not only works, but it’s completely devastating. Here sit these nine justices, just out of reach of the tendrils of Congress because the Founding Fathers hashed out over & over again how these departments are supposed to be related to each other, and that’s how it ended up. The Darrell and Oliphant argument essentially boils down to: Scrap that part of the design, because we’re upset about it, and we think we can get other people upset about it. They wouldn’t pretend to have thought this through, or to be representing anybody else who’s thought it through, to the extent that Hamilton, Madison, et al did.

Same old liberal democrat nonsense. The peasants are revolting, so just give it to ‘em.

Palin, on the other hand, is stirring up the peasants to lift pitchforks and torches over something this carefully-designed machinery is doing that it was never designed to do.

It’s Natalie’s Fault

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Hmmm…

What’s causing it? Seems to have something to do with this picture…

A while back Blogsister Daphne was giving me a friendly jibe, in the form of a list of Hollywood damsels I should find pulchritudinous. And I gave it back to her by pointing out who she forgot. My reasons should be obvious.

I’m wondering what caused the spike, trying to think out the various scenarios. I’m thinking a little bit about web security vulnerabilities. Seems a Google bot discovered Ms. Wood from our archives and connected a category page to the image. Search terms that come out of this, include “Natalie Wood hot” and “Natalie Wood naked.” Yeah, good luck on that guys. International traffic, although a part of life and something to be expected, and by no means an inherently bad thing, makes me a little suspicious. All three of those qualifiers also apply to guys looking for pictures of naked women…as does the suspicion. And the suspicion factor multiplies when we’re dealing with guys from France looking for pictures of a naked Natalie.

I’m reassured to see a Google search for “Jessica Alba no clothes” hitting the same page. This suggests hot-button is the page, not the image, and the situation is no more complicated than the ‘bot making a find, and the indexing algorithm promoting it in the database because the find has been in high demand. We are supposed to be elevated in priority when search engines do their stuff; it’s part of the hosting service. Hasn’t netted us a result like this before now, but then again, to a “big” blog eighty hits an hour is nothing to write home about.

Update: Ah, hah. Hubbub from the radio sez: The investigation around her drowning death is being reopened. Didn’t know, we’ll have to look into that. That does help explain some things.

Siri Argument

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Joe Parachuter

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Some twenty years ago, one of my fellow coders arranged for a bunch of us to, as they say, “jump out of a perfectly good airplane.” This was back in my Detroit days. We went, we came back to work, didn’t feel much like writing more code…after all, the whole thing was to take a break from spending a hundred hours a week or more writing code. Although maybe we did anyway. But I remember one among us yelling “Oh! So now he’s Joe Parachuter!” whenever one of us freshly deflowered former parachute-virgins would start to opine authoritatively about parachute jumping. And looking back on it, it was funny…I’m sure every single one of us who had something to say, said it in such a way to suggest we’d been doing it since we were old enough to walk, when in fact it was an entirely new concept to us just hours before.

Of course, I was one of the truly dedicated ones. I went up and did a second jump, at three thousand feet, the following weekend. So that’s two jumps for me…nineteen years ago. Yeah, I’m Joe Parachuter. Come gather around, I’ll tell you all about how incredibly tiny those cows seemed to be, half a mile beneath my feet, on that brisk spring morning in ’92. Yeah, I don’t need to down too much grog before I sound like I must be the guy who freakin’ invented parachutes.

The point to this is to single out a very special kind of human hubris. Perhaps it would be appropriate to invent a new word to describe it. Think of this as the impulse to — after we have finished some challenging task, envisioning ourselves as the very pinnacle in all of human achievement with regard to that particular task, nevermind who else might be more accomplished at it, who might have come before, what others may have achieved. I learned to swim today! I’m freakin’ Aquaman, or Greg Louganis, or something.

If you’re thinking this is a rant about America’s First Holy Roman Emperor, you’re right.

All bow down to His divine leadership, as we observe the Great American Smoke-Out:

Now, fair’s fair here, and I know His Eminence is not leveraging His own personal success quitting smoking to inspire the occasion. Truth be told, I don’t know what inspired it, nor do I care. To me, a vice is an individual thing; if I choose to partake and others do not, that’s fine, and if others opt for it and I do not, that’s fine too. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to kick a habit, or to start in on a habit, because it’s a designated date for a lot of other people to do the same thing. Can’t even start to relate to that. But hey, if you’ve been wanting to quit smoking for a while and this is what gives you the impetus to get over that little peak of resistance, then I say more power to ya.

Me, I’m — grass no, tobacco no, hard drugs no, beer yes, wine occasionally, hard liquor very rarely. If someone else is doing exactly the same thing, or doing something completely different, it doesn’t have a bearing on what I do and I can’t understand how it has any effect on anybody else. But like I said: If you’ve been trying to quit, and this manages to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, then whatever it takes and you have my blessing.

But the hubris about which I was opining earlier. This thing where, something is done and it’s a big deal to the person who does it, although obviously it might be fairly mundane to others who have done that and much more…for the person who just did it, to say “I am Joe Parachuter! I am the vanguard of this effort! I am a living icon, emblematic of all of mankind’s efforts to do…whatever it is…” And to then start recommending others do it, as if you’re leading the way.

I’ve never really had to “quit” smoking. The summer before the parachute drop, I dated a young lady who was heavy into smoking, and it seemed natural to take up the filthy habit myself. This was in Seattle, which I left for Detroit a few months later; when she was history the smoking was history. My parents both quit smoking back in ’74, about fifteen hundred miles apart. Dad moved down to Arizona for the summer to get his doctorate. He wrote back to my Mom every day, to say now I’m down to half a pack…now I’m down to four, now I’m down to three. By the time he came back, Ph.D. in hand, he managed to get it to zero. Mom, meanwhile, just quit cold turkey. I’m guessing she just figured out she was only smoking because the person she was with happened to be smoking. And I’m guessing I take after Mom.

All of which is a rather round-about way of saying: Even if you happen to be the President of the United States, there’s something a bit off about you if you quit smoking — especially if you’ve been going about it in the extraordinarily leisurely way President Obama has been — and, based on that experience, hold yourself aloft as the poster-child of quitting smoking. I respect that Barack Obama has the cred to say “I was hooked on smoking and I managed to quit.” But I can’t quite see where He gets off saying “If I can do it, you can too.” I recognize that’s not a word-for-word quote. But let’s get real. That is the intended message here, is it not? And isn’t that just a little silly. Barack Obama could have quit smoking in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007…what about all those other people who, due to some family hardship or job requirement or whatever, had to quit smoking on some specific day? And what about the people like me and my Mom, who just (although maybe we’re lucky this way) seem not to have addictive personalities? And what about people who never started? Don’t we get to be emblems too?

The other thing that impresses me about this is at 1:03: “Today, some big tobacco companies are trying to block these labels, because they don’t want to be honest about the consequences of using their products. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising.” Yes the word-smithing is very careful. But you do realize, don’t you, that what He’s saying essentially boils down to: “These people are booger-butts, because we’ve come up with a swell plan to destroy their entire livelihood, and they’re not actively participating in it with us.”

Yeah I know it’s cigarette companies. Believe me, I don’t have any more sympathy for them than Barack Obama has for them, on His best day. But that doesn’t make the message any more sensible, does it? “Look what bad people these people are, for not assisting us in their destruction.” Does it really matter that the tobacco industry is not a sympathetic figure? Who’s next? Isn’t that a question that just has to be asked?

Their Inherent Self-Contradiction

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

So when I first rolled out of bed a couple hours ago, I was thinking about this linkage I did to the White House’s exuberant confidence in the health care law’s upcoming day in court, not so much in the context of how charmingly bubbly they are with this heady air of confidence, but what a stark contradiction it is to, oh, let’s say…President Obama taking the unprecedented step of literally talking down to the justices during a State of the Union address for a decision He didn’t like that well.

And then I was watching this…

The young lady who begins speaking at 0:23 is obviously progressive of bent, like our current President, obviously anxious to make an impression on whoever is listening regarding who she is and what she’s all about. And she must be something of a nervous dimwit because she ends up portraying something that’s already become a caricature. Seriously, I mean, how do you see it when the words that come out are:

Just coming from a place [folds hands over chest, gesturing to herself] of having, y’know, being in college for a long time, and taking a bunch of environmental studies, courses, and knowing, that y’know that climate change is real, and a big part of climate change is y’know the United States is, I guess, [unintelligible] consumer driven, y’know, um, [crosstalk] [it gets pointless to transcribe any further somewhere around this point]

I’m going to go way out on a limb and make a connection between Barack Obama and the curly-haired feminist. Just assume they can find a thing or two on which to find agreement…which I can probably cite some solid examples…but also, assume further, that they’re carbon copies of each other across a whole bunch of issues because they share a common background, two Venuses emerging from a common ocean.

Be that the case or not, they’re making a common mistake. Each is presenting an argument that derives all of its persuasive power merely from the fact that it is being presented. In the White House’s case, there is more, of course — if you read the story you see there is at least one decision (more than that, actually) running in their favor, from U.S. Court of Appeals Justice Laurence Silberman. But the White House, in the comments they’re making about this case since the Supreme Court’s announcement that it would hear arguments, is not relying on that. As is their custom, the logic of their statements relies on no-logic. Just bravado. “It’s going to go our way, for look how enthused we are!”

That is silly. I’ve been watching this and weighing it in my own mind, and I still have a lot of uncertainties about it. But one thing I know for sure is that neither side has reason to double-down. This is looking more and more like one of those things that depends on what mood Anthony Kennedy is going to be in on some crucial day sometime before June.

What if you were to accept the White House argument at face value? Then it gets even sillier: Things are going to go our way, because we are feeling optimistic and enthused, because the case is going to be decided by these chuckleheads who so thoroughly screwed up that Citizens United decision. So, say what? John Paul Stevens, the one justice who’s been replaced since Citizens, was the one big problem?

That’s the logic. So, obviously, the argument does not rest on logic. It rests on passion. And the trouble with passion is that it’s fleeting and personal. You cannot use it to forecast something, and it means very little outside the mind & body of the person who happens to be feeling it.

That’s the common mistake shared with li’l Miss Lots Of Courses And Stuff. She has an argument to present, and the argument does have a foundation, but the foundation of the argument is the presentation of the argument. We can see she’s very passionate about climate change being real, therefore it is. There are other people sympathetic to what she’s trying to say, who can present some actual evidence, but that isn’t material to the point she’s making here. The point she’s making here is: Look, this is the way it is, because see, here I am saying it and I’m so, y’know, articulate and stuff.

I don’t want to pick on her over the y’knows and the ums. It’s a perfectly natural thing to do when you’re speaking before a large crowd and your concentration is divided. But in her case, I think…and I’m absolutely certain of it in Obama’s case…there is an ancillary purpose to all the audible filler. It’s to hold the floor — and — send out an audible signal that you’re determined to hold the floor. She will not be interrupted, she will not be cowed or intimidated in any way.

I’ll tell you the trouble with this kind of thinking.

As an avenue toward making decisions, it must yield the best decision less often than a purely random-chance avenue would. That’s because, for her to accomplish her goals, the outcome has to bear the imprint of her personality, just as when President Obama makes a decision about something there has to be a palpable feel of “it was decided this way because Barack Obama is the person who decided it.” That seems like a good thing to have happening when it’s a child, of the age of three, or five, or twelve. We want kids to feel like they’re a part of what’s going on.

But this is mutually exclusive from the desire of having a reproducible result. This is a most glaring error when we watch the simple things being decided. In the most extreme cases of left-wing immaturity, you can see the frustration starting to form when they decide simple things: “But wait, where’s the part where I get to notice something that escaped everyone else’s attention?” See, that’s an important part of maturity. If you’re really gifted with an unusual insight, and it really does come in handy, there will be opportunities to show it off later. If the decision we’re making right now is a simple one, it’s a simple one. Some conclusions really are obvious. Recognize them, the way anybody else would, and move on.

It’s when that is excluded as a possibility across the board, all the time, that the real damage takes place because a coin toss would say “ObamaCare will survive its Supreme Court challenge” about half the time, whereas the White House we have now will say that all the time as a hard-and-fast rule — not of predicting Supreme Court decisions, but of propaganda. They’re weighing the statements, and established beliefs, and backgrounds and histories of the nine justices about as thoroughly as Li’l Miss Been To College is weighing the evidence of climate change.

The contradiction is that they’re making these steadfastly-bad decisions, decisions less likely to result in the correct outcome than a process relying on random chance, in support of a search for something that has nothing to do with the matter at hand: Individuality. They’re looking to establish an identity. They want to distinguish themselves. Li’l Miss Been To College sees fit to stress this point during her intro; in the case of Obama, of course, it’s always been what He is all about.

And yet, in both cases, what they’re pushing is antithetical to individuality. ObamaCare is all about a war against the individual. Li’l Miss Been To College And Junk comes right out and admits, if I’m parsing her y’knows correctly, that climate change is all about the US of A being too materialistic & stuff.

Individuality has its place. Definitely, I’m a big fan of sticking to your guns when you manage to see something that’s escaped everyone else’s attention, as long as the decision is an important one and you’re sure of whatever it is you think you know. But when you’re out looking for that occasion, you become very dangerous, especially when part of your agenda is to deny that opportunity to others. The problem isn’t that others don’t have a chance to be special; that’s not really important. The problem is, that’s a tell-tale sign that you’re motivated by insecurity, and can therefore be relied on to pursue this process of making steadfastly-bad decisions. Maybe you can bring some special insight on the complicated ones, but you’re a spoiler for the really simple ones. Like…uh…let’s say, bring my laptop in out of the balcony, before I go to bed, if it’s going to rain. People like this tend to arrive consistently at the wrong answer when there are no subtle variables in play, whose comprehension by a uniquely fastidious and insightful decider might lead to an altered, improved outcome.

I don’t deny there are some conservatives who have this problem. But the thing we have come to know as “liberalism” in this day and age, has slowly emerged as a manifestation of the problem: Persistent display of one’s own personality and talents in even simple deliberations, while denying that opportunity to others, thus subordinating evidence and logic as actionable factors, and arriving at conclusions by means of personal insecurity rather than reason.

“Will Republicans Blow It?”

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Dr. Thomas Sowell notices what I’ve been noticing:

The smart money inside the Beltway says that the Republicans need to pick a moderate candidate who can appeal to independent voters, not just to the conservative voters who turn out to vote in Republican primaries. Those who think this way say that you have to “reach out” to Hispanics, the elderly and other constituencies.

What is remarkable is how seldom the smart money folks look at what has actually been happening in presidential elections.

Ronald Reagan won two landslide elections when he ran as Ronald Reagan. Vice President George H.W. Bush then won when he ran as if he were another Ronald Reagan, with his famous statement, “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

But after Bush 41 was elected and turned “kinder and gentler” — to everyone except the taxpayers — he lost to an unknown governor from a small state.

Other Republican presidential candidates who went the “moderate” route — Bob Dole and John McCain — also came across as neither fish nor fowl, and also went down to defeat.

This actually goes back quite aways. Generally, a conservative politician is injured when the difference between him and his opponent is muted, obfuscated, toned down or otherwise made difficult to perceive; a liberal politician is injured when that difference is highlighted. Bold, primary color Republicans win elections. Passive, muted tone Republicans lose them.

I actually heard a woman on the radio yesterday morning counter-attacking the people who had criticism for John McCain, insisting that he deserved to be defended because, hey, he picked a running-mate who really ignited the base. Uh, yeah. That’s what running mates are for; they bring things to the ticket that the guy in the top slot cannot bring. Well you know, based on what I have seen — I don’t think they can bring that. I think, on Election Day, people who are slightly of a conservative bent but not passionately in that camp, will make a decision about bothering to vote based on whether they can recognize what the top contender would actually do once elected. This is an enormous demographic, I think people are right to be putting some serious energy and curiosity into finding out what it takes to bring in their votes. But I don’t think a moderate candidate brings those votes in. I’m not entirely sure why there is this widespread perception that this is the case.

Maybe it’s the irrational fear of America becoming a Christian theocracy. Not the people who cling to that fear, but rather, the people who are playing to the concerns of people who cling to that fear. You know, I don’t think people who have this phobia vote for Republicans. I don’t think it happens one time out of a hundred.

Answering the Professor’s question: Wouldn’t bet against it.

Lifting, Voting Against, Obstructing

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We find this video at Lex Communis by way of blogger friend Rick.

You’ll be wanting to head over there for a transcript. I looped the third minute of this a couple times to see if I missed something, and when you watch it you’ll understand why.

Nancy Pelosi is a most curious higglety-pigglety hodge-podge of shrewdness and lunacy. This thing about “you can vote against lifting it but you can’t obstruct it” is something I recognize from some of my animated conversations with lefty bloggers and commentators, I’ve sometimes referred to it as “I never said anything about blowing up the car, I just suggested checking the fuel level with a match” or “Nobody’s saying we should jump off the cliff, we’re just saying walk out to the very edge, climb over the guardrail, face outward and leap forward as hard as you can.” More abbreviated, I call it “I never said A, what I said was B.”

Whatever it is, Nancy Pelosi is very far from being the only person doing it. And some respect is due, I think, she is the former Speaker of the House, constantly lauded as the most powerful female in Congress, plus she’s loaded. Obviously this tactic of “I never said A, what I said was B, and it’s all about B” must be disseminated, somewhere, from some central location, and she must have used it with some success somewhere along the way.

But she’s talking in circles here, contradicting herself in statements just one sentence apart. I think what she’s trying to say is, you can vote against raising the limit but you can’t obstruct the debt itself as it approaches that limit. But it’s like she forgets to make that distinction, and based on her words alone I can’t leap to the conclusion that this is what she meant, just because it would make more sense and it’s kind of close to the guttural sounds escaping her maw. Frankly, she comes across as a dingbat.

Now Mr. Stewart — obviously he’s coming at this with a different orientation compared to me, but it’s still worth pointing out this thing he says after the six-minute mark which is different from my own opinion: Members of Congress are sent there, by the voters, to make government into a lever that will streamline us and make us more efficient. This is the progressive viewpoint that appeals most strongly to Main Street; when people want to get left-wing politics sold to people who don’t care about politics one way or another, this is the packaging. How did Elizabeth Warren put it: Nobody does anything on their own. Okay, she too didn’t say A she said B: Her quote has to do with getting rich on your own. But that is the mindset. A problem is defined, and either we send people to Congress to come up with some solution to the problem, or else nothing is done. Classic False Dilemma. There is no third choice, it’s all of one or none of anything. That was Bill Maher’s argument just now, that anybody who isn’t in favor of the government doing more, must be lazy. He must have been right, a lot of people cheered and clapped when he said it.

I know a lot of progressives, and most are decent people. I try to define my disagreement with them according to the effects of their policies, which over a long term for some reason they don’t notice, and keep it away from the character stuff. But here, I can’t help but nurture some suspicions about character. The “If we’re going to do anything about it at all, we have to have government do it” is a recruiting drive, a zombie-bite exercise, a deliberate attempt to make liberals out of the no-care-that-much crowd. The “I never said A what I said was B” is a retention effort, a shoring-up, an attempt to stop liberals who are already recruited, from seriously considering the arguments of The Enemy, stop them from defecting. And I have the impression that even when that last one is implemented incompetently, the way the Former House Speaker did it, it still works. These things they do to help advance the liberal cause, always seem to work. They work even when they don’t work, going down in defeat only when they face off against a contrary force that is somehow more powerful; two steps forward and three steps back, but still, the two steps forward got done.

When the beneficiary of their actions is the country, rather than the liberal agenda, suddenly nothing works. And we aren’t supposed to notice. They’re going to make us like something better, so they’ll bury us in a great big taxpayer-subsidized abundance of whatever-it-is, and we end up getting sick of looking at it. Or, they’re going to make sure everyone can get something when they need it, by passing regulations against the suppliers…so nobody wants to supply it anymore, the market isn’t given a signal that the reserves are getting low, and we end up with a shortage.

In other words, their efforts to help the country tend to run into this problem in which said efforts produce results exactly the opposite of what was intended. Their efforts to help themselves, don’t ever seem to run into that. Maybe it really does happen, and I don’t notice because the effects are muted. Like for example, the effort to make Barack Obama look like some kind of deity, which I frequently mock in my subtle way by capitalizing the H when I refer to Him. That seems to have backfired, as of today. Well making Obama look like a demigod would be of benefit to Obama, and the democrat party, so it seems to me that when it starts to backfire there is some responsible changing of course, a tripping of circuit-breakers if you will.

Now, Obama’s health care plan is supposed to benefit the country, not quite so much the democrat party (except through the reputation it would gain from solving a vexing societal problem, or at least trying to). That has backfired too. But there’s no changing of the course, no tripping circuit breakers. Oh, no. They’re doubling down. You see it in stories like this (noisy ad auto-plays). No, we’re gonna win. We are confident. Compromise is for losers.

As I said, many progressives don’t care about this stuff, and all progressives do not have all progressive faults. Far from it. This is an elite crowd I’m singling out, even John Stewart isn’t part of it. I don’t think. But what I’m seeing here is worse than any old plain character problem. This is a special character problem that uniquely disqualifies the person laboring under it, from being qualified to fix any problem that really needs fixing. When you have to have this well-oiled public relations machine, that hums along so nicely that it seems to benefit from design and engineering far superior to what went into the solutions you’re presenting from the others who are supposed to be benefiting from your concern and your compassion, something is terribly wrong.

I Made a New Word LII

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Incompeconomy (n.)

It had to be done. Because while this is fantastic…

Ineptocracy: (n.) a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

…its luminous effect only enlightens us on the nature of the problem that threatens to destroy us, not quite so much on how it came to be. It doesn’t break down this destructive machinery into its component parts; doesn’t point the way toward a solution. I’m a big believer in sensible pessimism, but optimism is a vital ingredient in finding a fix. To anything.

Also, simplicity is a virtue. So let’s concentrate on just the economic aspects of it:

Incompeconomy: (n.) an economic model only partially dedicated to the free exchange of goods and services, requiring that those who produce things comply immediately and unconditionally with the commands of those who do not.

This part requires special emphasis: Not “be influenced by the commands” of the non-producers, or “take into account the commands” of the non-producers.

What we are talking about here is a situation where the people who do not produce things come up with an idea…and maybe they jump through some kind of hoops, bribing and blackmailing and arm-twisting to get their 51 percent support of something, some activity that gives them that feeling they’ve done some real work…and it becomes law. Producers do not tell non-producers what to do; non-producers tell producers what to do.

IncompeconomyAnd then everyone sits around and wonders why the economy sucks.

And yeah, the way I see it, one’s a subset of the other. Ineptocracy is a society, Incompeconomy is the economy within that society. Throughout all of it, the persistent working model is that the people who know what they’re doing, are shackled and bullied and cajoled by those who do not.

The point is, there are people out there walking around, just as free to cast their votes as you or me, who believe in the Incompeconomy. They do not come out and say it, but they are passionately agitated against its opposite. They view this as a non-negotiable point, that the producers are a threat to society unless & until they are hamstrung by some wise benevolent authority emanating from the ranks of those who don’t produce anything.

Very much like the dictum that the military should be placed under civilian control. In fact, this is the other side of that coin. The military should be under the command of the non-military, because, among other reasons, the whole point to the military’s existence is to achieve and maintain a monopoly on destructive power. Therefore, freedom depends on the law of the land subordinating them to something else. Well the thought process here, too nonsensical to be stated word-for-word even by those who believe in it, says the same thing about creative energies. Those who create are just as dangerous as those who destroy, therefore we cannot preserve our liberties until these creative forces are placed under the the control of something that is not a creative force.

It’s been thought out to the “Yeah, mmm, hmm, that sorta makes sense” stage, but not to the “We get better results when we follow it than when we don’t” stage. In fact, we’ve been following it, and the results are pretty wretched. Some day, we should make a point to debate the merits of this system of belief.

I got a feeling that those who believe in it, will come up with a defense of some kind after all. It will involve a caricature of the producers that doesn’t gel too keenly with reality; some Snidely Whiplash character who somehow makes his mega-millions by dumping glowing green sludge into rivers, kicking pregnant bunnies and squirrels out of the way when he carries the barrels. Twirling his mustache or something.

Best Sentence CXIX

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The one hundred nineteenth award for BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) is snagged this morning by a fellow member of the Ace of Spades, HQ page on the Hello Kitty of Bloggin’. For those who are signed up with the Hello Kitty, your link is here. And the sentence is:

Has there ever been a Marxist/totalitarian movement that hasn’t expected the women in their group to sexually service the men, willingly or not?

We Want Certainty

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I’m hearing on the radio that a poll has come out saying Mitt Romney broke 30% — a first for him, in five years. He’s spent a full cycle being a “perceived front-runner” but hasn’t had managed to ignite any real enthusiasm. He still can’t. It’s fair to predict he won’t. People who argue with me about “might as well get behind Mitt” keep citing polls, which to me is such a glaring sign of weakness that if they knew how I saw it, they wouldn’t say it. Strong arguments do not depend on what other people think.

Dad forwarded on to me the obituary for my high school counselor. We cannot remember this gentleman with too much fondness, over & above that basic threshold human beings feel for one another when it’s time to answer the Grim Reaper’s call. In my high school days, I was “out of circulation” which is to say the teachers felt no enthusiasm about having me in their classes, and I felt no enthusiasm about giving them reason to feel enthused. Children do not have the maturity to say “I am out of circulation, I wonder what I can do to put myself in circulation” — they’re either in, or they stay out. Today, I make more per year than most of my peers who continued their promising grooming sessions to someday become The Boss; the recently departed recommended something that communicated an unwelcome pessimism, something about scrubbing latrines in the Navy or Air Force. No, he was not giving a compliment to the Navy or the Air Force, nor was it a comment that held the armed forces in any kind of outright contempt. But it was obvious he was looking for a receptacle for the refuse, and he figured that was it.

When The Dark Knight came out, I was so impressed with this scene in the hospital room between The Joker and Two Face that I made a Thing I Know out of it:

Thing I Know #274. Heath Ledger’s Joker had it exactly right. People will choose brutality, injustice, carnage, malfeasance, death or destruction every time as long as the alternative is true chaos. They want to know there is a plan. If they get the idea there is no plan, they go nuts. If there’s a plan, they’re somewhat satisfied, no matter what that plan actually is.

My struggles with high school are of absolutely no interest to anybody, I think, save for parents of kids who are going through some similar trials. And it’s only of limited interest to them, since my experiences do not translate well into advice that could be followed by someone else.

But The Joker did nail it. People go nuts if they get the feeling there’s no plan.

Once they are saddled with “no plan” fatigue, and the question swivels around to stare them in the face “what’s the plan?” — there is this tendency to come up with thought detritus. That, apparently, is preferable to “I don’t know.” A bunch of junk fished out of a swimming pool filter or lint trap in a dryer. Packaged up and presented as a good idea, when the person presenting it lacks the stones to say “This, right here, is a good idea.” Because it isn’t one.

That’s Mitt Romney. He is the good idea chosen by those who are afflicted with no-idea fatigue, and are no longer looking for good ideas.

Republicans choosing Mitt Romney because he’s polling at 30%, is like slugs choosing salt because the salt is polling at 30%.