Archive for October, 2012

Not Caring and Not Nice

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Thinking some more about this spectacle I saw last night. I find it particularly bewildering what I’m continually told, throughout the years, about democrats and the support they somehow pick up from people who don’t lean left politically, but just want to make sure the poor are, uh…well…I guess we disagree about the verb that follows that. “Independents” who want to make sure someone is looking out for the poor, poor, pitiful poor, and somehow that can’t be managed outside of government.

It’s completely obvious that across time, the definition of the “poor” is changing. You can live in a two-story house with a garage with two nice cars in it, and if the payments and the mortgage cause you some indigestion then that means you need to vote in some politicians who “care” about you and will give you some perks so you can “make ends meet.” I hear a lot of complaining about a “vanishing middle class” and it seems to me the people doing the complaining are the people who are doing the vanishing: If you’re not rich you must be poor, in the sense that you need this government to give you material things it forcibly took away from other people, otherwise you’re boned.

And the definition of “looked after” or whatever, likewise, is changing. In my world, you’re either making it or you’re not. We use this as information, to figure out whether or not we’re on the right track. This mindset of mine seems to have swung out of date by, oh I dunno, maybe as much as a century…and I’m not sure exactly when, how or why. But it isn’t a bowl of soup or a hunk of bread anymore. Obama gonna buy you a cell phone. Obama gonna put gas in your car and pay your mortgage. Obama gonna send you back to school. Subsidies, grants, loan guarantees, deductions, exemptions, ObamaCare waivers, targeted tax cuts, the sky’s the limit. Everyone bitches up a storm about the tax code being too complicated but very few people seem to genuinely care about it.

Speaking of things people are supposed to want, but don’t care enough about it to insist on it: Nice-ness. I’m reminded of the notorious interview conducted back in ninety-nine, by she who was called back then “The Queen of Nice”:

How this pertains to the veep debate last night: Throughout all these years, as the question comes up “Who’s being snookered by these craven democrats, and why?” it has been repeatedly explained to me that maybe the logic and rationality of their methods is a bit hard to see at times, and maybe it isn’t there at all, but you know what? Perhaps that isn’t what people want when all’s said and done; perhaps these guys win elections, and deserve to, simply because they put forward the impression that they care. They’re nicer. They’re working to put together a world that works for everybody, in which everybody has a part to play and a place to be, not just the very, very fortunate among us.

Um, then it has to be explained to me…how come it is, that a “performance” such as what we saw last night, doesn’t shed votes and support? On a massive scale?

Quite to the contrary, I heard on the radio that while the independent vote didn’t move much one way or another, among self-identified democrats there is an intense and enormous expression of positive approval for Crazy Joe’s above-mentioned — and scare quotes included again — “performance.”

Can any Republican anywhere, ANYWHERE, state a better case as to why these people should not be running anything? Blogger Friend Phil said it best so far: “If that wins arguments, we’re in deep trouble.” That really says it all, there’s nothing that has to be added to that.

And yet, add I shall. Like for example: The conservatives. I’ve been hearing from the conservatives, throughout the years, arguments for civility and compromise. We don’t want to do X. That would make us like those other guys. We don’t want to be like those other guys. Let them do that.

And it seems, to me, from those very same people I’m hearing: Congressman Ryan made a mess here. He shouldn’t have taken the high road. He let Joe Biden get away with murder. He lost the debate because he was too nice. Hmmm…these people want to be respected in the arguments they’re making, they want to be taken seriously. That must mean, they do not want to be looking like me the way they look to me right now.

I have the impression that, among the people who declare Joe Biden the winner, there is a lot of overlap with the phony-deficit-hawk set. These are the people who want “the rich to pay their fair share” because, deficit. But they can’t tell you to the nearest trillion how much debt there is, whereabouts the annual federal budget deficit is, or even the difference between deficit & debt. They don’t know and they don’t care. Can’t even define “rich” and “fair share.” They just want a beatdown lowered on people who are better at making money than they are. They don’t seem ready to offer any numbers on much of anything, other than reciting some talking point that they picked up from ThinkProgress that happens to have a number in it.

We need to come up with a motto for these people. We could start with the song from Ten Years After:

Tax the rich; feed the poor; ’til there ain’t no rich no more.

More like: Tax the rich, borrow from China, use it to buy votes from the poor, when Paul Ryan calls you out on your bullshit then just talk over him like the overbearing, condescending rude jackass you are.

These people, like Rosie O’Dingbat, are supposed to be “nice.” They’re supposed to be building a world that works for everybody and that is supposed to obviate the need for them to illustrate any kind of point or counterpoint that relies on logic, reason, soundness of fact or common sense. Whether you’re into facts/logic/reason or not, it doesn’t seem to me like there’s any reason left to support these guys. And I’ve pointed this out before, but it seems more and more like belaboring the obvious. They’re not nice; not unifying; obviously not trying to build a world that works for everyone, quite to the contrary, appear to have it all settled in their minds who’s supposed to be interrupted, talked over, “spanked,” sent out of the room so the big kids can talk about what to do (to everybody). We know their policies aren’t good, we’ve tried ’em, they aren’t even trying to be nice people, they’re being jackasses and high-fiving each other right out in broad daylight over the success they’ve enjoyed being jackasses. They’re spending money like it’s going out of style and they don’t care. They kill jobs. Uh, what’s left??

Ultimately, it isn’t really their fault. It seems we’re learning something about our fellow citizens, our fellow voters. They claim to be motivated by things that, when the rubber meets the road, it seems don’t really matter to them very much.

Joe Biden’s Performance in the Debate

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

That is the subject, is it not? There’s no reason to dwell on Paul Ryan’s performance; he performed. He recited the facts, told the truth, provided an impressive and eloquent summary at the end. Regarding the interrupting, he took the high road…there are some “with friends like these” types of supposed-conservatives who are trying to start up a narrative that says this was a mistake, Ryan was too nice and might even have lost. I don’t know why they’re trying to do that. It isn’t true and it isn’t a clear majority opinion anyway, so I don’t see the point.

I’m more concerned about Joe Biden. I think he might need some medical attention upstairs. I’ve been saying the same about his boss for awhile now. But Crazy Joe seems to have a chemical imbalance.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why anybody says Biden won. Krauthammer says it’s because they heard the debate on the radio. This makes sense to me, I must say. I suppose on the radio, the crazy old drunk who interrupts all the time ends up looking assertive and strong…it could happen.

Makes Me ProudBiden’s e-mail to me afterward says, and I quote, “I did my best to make you proud tonight.” He did. I was very proud of Paul Ryan’s patience, wish I had some of that.

I’m also keeping a running tally on who’s the worst moderator out of the four debates. Jim Lehrer has lost this title. And I think that airhead broad is going to keep that title right up to the end. What an annoying silly little twit. “I want to move on to, I want to move on to, I want I want I want.”

Some stats I heard and saw: Debate length 90 minutes, Biden interrupted 82 times, MSNBC survey says Biden won 53% to Ryan’s 44%, CNN says Ryan won 48% to 44%.

As we saw a week ago, 25% of respondents will say the democrat won regardless of what actually happened and may not have even watched. That’s how many said President Obama won last week. I propose deducting these points from Biden’s scores because, well why not?

I conversed with some of them. Asked them my favorite question: What specifically did Biden say that really put him over the top? if for no other reason, to demonstrate that you actually watched it. That question didn’t get answered. Come to think of it, the same is true of Biden’s supposed “victory” over Sarah Palin four years ago. “Stop asking me why he won, he just did, because, hope.”

This is why we, as a country, are polarized. Turns out it doesn’t really have that much to do with political parties. People like me are fed up — beyond fed up — with this whole “I’ve got super magical mannerisms and an air of confidence about me, and I’m going to win this thing even if the facts and reason say I should not.” The beginning of this was the beginning of a disaster, and I’m afraid near-future events will make that conclusion an unavoidable one. It’s been playing nonstop since that horny used car salesman type from Arkansas started running twenty years ago…if I never see it again, it’ll be too soon. But some of my supposed countrymen can’t get enough of it. Yay Joe! He just interrupted again! Awesome!

He’s an overbearing asshole and that’s supposed to be a “win” of some kind. Uh, is that benchmark going to remain anchored to a fixed spot throughout the duration? Because if Crazy Old Joe is running for President in 2016, I’d hate to see him climbing up on the debate desk to take a huge crap on it or something. That’s about the only place he can take this.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Which is here.

I just mentioned over at Facebook that we were starting to watch it, and people got in my face because I didn’t include my Hello Kitty of Blogging movie review template. Of course I didn’t, we only just started watching it and I didn’t know what the movie would have in it. So now I’ve seen it, I’ll fill the template out over here.

[ ] Tits
[ ] Sex
[ ] Exploding cars
[ ] Guns Realism: [ ]%
[ ] Creatures eating people
[ ] Murder/mystery
[ ] Intrigue/espionage/complicated plot
[ ] Cool music
[ ] Swashbuckling
[ ] Good & evil wo/pain-in-the-ass hipster moral ambiguity
[ ] BigBad
[ ] Client (rich powerful sucker the BigBad is trying to rip off)
[ ] Dragon (glorious bastard)
[ ] Slimeball
[x] Pirate/ferryman/eccentric with highly recognizable cool ship
[ ] Mooks
[ ] Philip K. Dick type of alternative-reality headache
[ ] Maguffin
[x] Chase [x] foot [x] flying [x] water craft
[ ] Indigenous peoples
[ ] Good guys held captive
[ ] Following a trail of clues
[ ] Sinister plot [ ] take over world [ ] kill lots of innocents
[ ] Love triangle [ ] girl-boy-girl [ ] boy-girl-boy
[ ] Revenge [ ] protagonist [ ] antagonist
[ ] False lead/decoy
[ ] Traitor
[ ] Supernatural/sorcery
[ ] Ghost getting all pissed off because the good guys aren’t finding its body
[ ] Creepy young boy or girl
[ ] Grisly deaths for the bad guys
[-] Race against time at the end
[ ] Cliffhanger

As you can see, it’s got all three kinds of chase scenes but hasn’t got much else. Thankfully, it’s missing any scenes with conference tables, which of course are good-movie-death, capable of transforming a decent movie into a lousy one, pretty much instantly. UNLESS Darth Vader is threatening to use the Dark Side of the Force to crush some guy’s larynx.

Tits, guns and car explosions would’ve been nice. That’s an oh-for-three…we do have Vanessa Hudgens, who is very lovely but also very young and very thin. She’s just a little girl. The plucky and annoying kid who was the star of the show should’ve brought his Mom, who should have been played by Naomi Watts or Diane Lane or someone hot like that.

There’s a bee versus bird chase. It is very silly and rather annoying. The Rock plays the ukulele, which is more entertaining than you think.

In the end, I found this less functional as a vehicle for evening post-debate entertainment, than as a meter reading of our young people and what’s going on in their lives. Let’s see…they’re growing up in broken homes, either having step dads or identifying with other kids on the movie screen who have step dads. Oh and it’s okay to be a complete butt to your step dad, he’ll just roll over and take it…we were amused imagining my kid saying stuff like this to my girlfriend. Me: How far & fast would he sail across the room with a split lip? Her: From you, or me? Me: You’d have my permission. We’d just watched Joe Biden yelling like a crazy man for an hour and a half, then we get to watch this twerp. Age gap aside, I couldn’t see much difference.

Oh yeah, and they must like Luis Guzman immediately figuring out how to drive the Nautilus within a half a second or thereabouts, much like the little girl from a generation ago doing the same with a “Unix system” in Jurassic Park. In fact, I learned something tonight. You know why they do that? The little whelps identify with it. They get up to open their presents from Santa on December 25 at 7:00, have everything all unwrapped at 7:01, by 7:02 they’re wailing “Is that ALLLLL??” and by 7:04 they have it all figured out. So if Guzman did what real people do, with “oops” and “what the–” and “what’s this lever do?”, not only would it have interrupted the rhythm of the story, not only would it have gotten all the characters killed, but the young audience would have found it alien and annoying.

When I was a little kid, I really didn’t need to do much “identifying.” My idea of identifying with people in a movie was to say “Hey, if I was doing what those people are doing, that would be cool!” So Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was great stuff. All the identifying I needed, even though those little English kids were quite weird. Well screw them, I just liked the car.

But kids today have this need to relate and say “that kid there reminds me of me” or “I would like to be that kid.” Very much like…an older kid, mid-to-late teenage years, wanting to be like James Bond. I don’t know what this means. I’d like to think kids are maturing more quickly. But I’m afraid what it really might mean is, they’ve been brought up to reject anything they might perceive to be alien, even as they and the adults around them drone on about the benefits of diversity — they only want to think about people and things who remind them of themselves, or what they would like to be. Everything else can go straight to Hell. I hope that’s not what’s happening. That would not be a good thing.

Ten Reasons You Should Vote Against Liberals Even If You HATE Conservatives

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

I’m shying away from specific predictions about the debate tonight, because among the specific predictions I could make, I’m seeing a big jumbled toss-up of remote possibilities, sure things, and everything in between.

I do have one general prediction to make though: Some of the items on this list, are going to be demonstrated before our eyes. Perhaps all ten.

Might make this a continuing series. Lord knows, after the last five or six years we’ve been seeing, I can keep adding to this list for awhile, with precious little time invested and even less effort.

Feel free to add on to what I missed in the comments, so as we embiggen it over time I can give you credit.

1. For the last four years now, all of the duties of President of the United States that have something to do with giving speeches, have been addressed thoroughly. The time’s come to start taking care of the other stuff.
2. Liberals have a quirky understanding of the concept of “freedom” that doesn’t work terribly well. Seems to have something to do with getting free things.
3. Because of #2, it is evidently beyond their understanding to notice their policies consistently make goods and services more expensive. Although, only for those among us who still pay for them.
4. Liberals also have a strange, special understanding of dignity. That, too, appears to have something to do with being given free things. And that, too, doesn’t work terribly well.
5. They lack understanding of the economic concept of scarcity vs. abundance. Over and over again, we see our friends the liberals trying to reprogram us to appreciate something a bit more, and their favorite techique for achieving this is to make the whatever-it-is more plentiful, ideally so we can’t ever get away from it even if we want to. Examples abound: Liberal women who can’t or won’t attract men; college grads; green energy; hip and edgy left-friendly “comedy” that isn’t funny; perpetually offended secularists and homosexual activists. Of course, humans aren’t wired this way. Of course, this lack of comprehension on their part is everybody else’s fault.
6. Speaking of fault: They place a lot of emphasis on this, at the expense of developing disciplines critical to actually solving problems. It’s like they stopped maturing somewhere during the teenage years.
7. A diligent, scrutinizing, skeptical “watchdog” press. With a democrat in the White House, we can’t have one.
8. Their idea of the Constitution seems to look something like: “US CONSTITUTION: ARTICLE I: ROE v. WADE. END OF CONSTITUTION.”
9. If our economy is going to get better, that would necessarily involve fewer people being poor and more people being rich. That’s both a cause and an effect, since this is a cyclical process. But I’ve just described exactly the situation liberals don’t want. The unavoidable conclusion is that liberals, whether they consciously realize it or not, want the economy to keep sucking.
10. Perhaps most importantly: Liberals are repelled by common-sense solutions. So highly do they value their own rhetorical flourish, after discussing things with them awhile you find they are drawn to the solutions most likely to fail, for the simple reason that the far more logical alternative is also boring and therefore would be selected by the humdrum hoi polloi, from which they seek to distinguish themselves. When their faily solutions do indeed fail, they consistently avoid admitting the obvious and instead counsel toward repeating the exercise with some trivial meaningless parameter changed, hoping for a different result, which of course doesn’t happen. In this way, their process for making decisions is less likely to succeed than another one driven purely by random chance. Summarizing it concisely: Asked what two plus two is, knowing that Sarah Palin would say “four,” the liberals we know today would be more drawn to “three” or “five,” because if she isn’t wrong then they don’t want to be right.

Fooled Again

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

So I’m seeing this emerging meme coming out from multiple different sources — it’s wasteful and pointless to generate a list — that the reason President Obama’s performance in the debate last week sucked so much, was that Mitt Romney lied about so much stuff, and when honest people like His Holiness Our First Godly President come up against lies it’s just like Superman stumbling across Kryptonite or something. Just completely discombobulates ’em, they don’t know what to make of it. The result is the disaster we saw last Wednesday which, really, we should’ve expected it all along. Darn that Romney, he’s such a liar.


Borrowing a page from Family Guy, without the comedic flair, for just a second…This reminds me of a few years ago when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out. Indy fans like me were relieved to see there was no problem at all with Harrison Ford’s apparent strength, agility and vitality with all his…uh…experience. He looks, if a bit weary, then also weatherbeaten, rugged, alert, driven, persistent, strong and (somewhat) fast. Overall, it works. But there were three big problems:

One, nuking the fridge.

Two, emerging from the tomb to find a bunch of bad guys relieving him of his prize.

Three, gawking at the ultimate find when a bunch of bad guys follow him into the chamber, again training their guns on him and holding him captive.

Others have already complained about the first of those three, which has no connection to this anyway. So let us concentrate on the last two. Which do.

Let’s see…lifetime-experienced rough-and-tumble world-wide adventurer Indiana Jones was fooled this way twice in the first movie, perhaps arguably one time in the second one (the “Lao Che Airlines” thing), twice in the third. And it happens twice in the fourth. Three times, if you count being abducted and thrown in the trunk of the sedan at the beginning. Lara Croft, on the other hand, seems to have been snookered this way one time at the Tomb of Qualopec, and then afterward learned her lesson…right? I think she did. Indiana Jones, on the other hand, is some kind of a dumbass. It makes me truly worried about the fifth Indy movie. Okay, in we go into the tomb…hey Indy, got an idea, most of the people who are along here are afraid to go in anyway. We’ve got some nice big-caliber guns, think maybe we should station someone outside as lookouts? Nah.

Yes, that’s taking it a bit too seriously. This is a fictitious character. The job is to gratify audiences, and for most among us, this doesn’t ruin anything.

The President of the United States, on the other hand, is not a fictional character. He’s real and, furthermore, not-gettin’-fooled is actually in the job description. But it’s worth pointing out, I think, that the excuse he’s using here is exactly the same as what the democrats were using a decade ago, after that imbecile George W. Bush fooled them into passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, a.k.a. The Iraq Resolution. It is exactly the same. Then, they were confronted by simple, durable and irrefutable logic: Hey waitaminnit, “somewhere in Texas a village is missing an idiot” as you people like to say…the idiot apparently fooled you…what t’heck happened here? What does that make you? And the response came back, well, er, uh, it’s like this, George Bush lied to us. We got fooled because we believed what he was saying, we’re such good people and all.

John Kerry lost the election. It was a squeaker, and there were a lot of factors in play. It is plausible to think back that, what determined the final outcome here, was that the sales pitch simply wasn’t workable: We are sophisticated and good, put us in charge of everything, we’ll make sure everything goes alright until someone tells us something that isn’t true at which time it will all come undone because we aren’t capable of dealing with that.

This just exposes the weakness of liberalism: It doesn’t pursue success, it pursues excuses for failure. It places no more value on either one of those two things, than the other. It’s a political ideology dedicated to the-dog-ate-my-homework.

Indiana Jones has a great excuse for defeat, nowadays: Those darn bad guys, they’ve got guns & junk. This is the guy who singlehandedly defeated an entire convoy. The cream of the crop of Hitler’s mighty military machine. On horseback.

Obama is supposed to be ushering us in to a new age, in which the oceans finally recede and the planet begins to heal.

But tell Him one little fib, and the one loose thread on his sweater has been pulled and the whole thing comes undone.

Funny thing, though, is this. Some of this damage would have been deflected, successfully I think, if the President simply came clean: I lost the debate because I underestimated My opponent. Just a tiny bit of humility…not this proxy stuff, where He apologizes on our behalf to foreign dictators, or commands us to turn off our thermostats so Europe will say okay. Just a smidgen of the good, old-fashioned, money-where-your-mouth-is, first-party stuff. I made a mistake. I was caught with My pants down and I will do My best to make sure it never happens again.

But…not gonna happen. It’s like milking a fish. Or, a refrigerator protecting you from a nuclear blast. Necessary parts just aren’t there.

I dunno why they keep using this excuse. I hope they keep doing it.

I’m really not pleased with a future in which the resourceful and capable Indiana Jones I knew as a teenager, is a relic of distant history, but Barack freakin’ Obama is still going strong, being applauded and cheered on and congratulated for being the Food Stamp President. Are we that ticked off at the very concept of strength, practical intellect, human capability, wherewithal? Are we that enamored of thumb-sucking and making excuses? If so, things are going to have to get a whole lot worse before they get any better.

Romney Could Shoot Big Bird in Broad Daylight, Set the Carcass on Fire, Urinate on it to Put the Flames Out, and Not Lose a Single Vote

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

anywhere. I don’t think this is going to work, I really don’t.

Mitt Romney may have won the first presidential debate, but what stuck in many people’s minds was his threat to fire Big Bird. Apparently, Romney thinks America’s debt problem can be fixed by picking up pennies along Sesame Street.

Pressed to explain how he would balance the federal budget while cutting trillions of dollars in taxes, the allegedly masterful debater offered up just two specifics: He would repeal “Obamacare” (even though the Congressional Budget Office says the healthcare act actually reduces deficit spending) and eliminate the federal subsidy to the Public Broadcasting System.

Directly addressing beleaguered debate moderator Jim Lehrer, the former anchor of the PBS “NewsHour,” Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you, too, but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Romney went on to say he would save additional money by tossing popular federal programs back to the states (the same states that do not have enough money to operate the programs they already have) and by making “government more efficient” (the same boilerplate assurance that every candidate for even the lowliest office offers up when he has no real clue how to fix a budget).

So, after many long months of campaigning and promising to cut the deficit while also cutting taxes, the single genuine and specific spending reduction Romney has stipulated is the one one-hundredth of a percent of federal expenditures that helps pay for Big Bird, Downton Abbey and the rest of the PBS lineup. Defenders of PBS were quick to point out that eliminating the federal subsidy for public television would trim an amount equal to just six hours – 360 minutes – of spending at the Pentagon.

You want my honest, honest reaction — not as a blogger or political ideologue, but as a citizen? I’ll give it to you, exactly the way it popped into my head: “Downton Abbey too? I’m paying for that?? WTF??”

Big BirdThe trouble with the argument really all boils down to just this: In the fourth paragraph there is a defense offered for the continuing spending, at the federal level, on the strength of these programs being “popular.” In the fifth paragraph there is another defense offered on the strength of proportions, the “just a drop in the bucket” line of reasoning. The problem is that when the bucket has been upgraded to such a size that can hold everything that happens to be popular, what you’re left with is a bucket so huge that everything outside or inside is a drop, by comparison. And that’s when you need to bring in an experienced business executive like Romney. Even if you hate him personally, or hate Mormons, or whatever…none of that stuff matters anymore, because the fiscal discipline has gone missing and someone needs to bring it back.

It’s like this. I remember many years ago when Dr. Laura Schlessinger was on the air. A married woman calls her up looking for advice on how to handle her “verbally abusive” husband. Now, Dr. Laura was even more jaded against the idea of lazily conflating verbal abuse with the physical and sexual counterparts, than I am…and I don’t like this idea at all, myself, for the simple reason that the definition of verbal abuse is essentially non-existent, everything spoken could be reasonably included in it. Definitions must define, that is their job, if they don’t define things then they are useless. When everything is included, nothing is.

Well — it emerged that the wife had announced her decision to lose some weight, and then she proceeded to watch her favorite teevee shows, on the couch, eating chips. Like the columnist above defending Sesame Street and Downton Abbey and everything else that’s “popular,” she made the argument of proportions. It’s just chips! She didn’t say there was dip involved. Actually, she didn’t say there wasn’t, either…

Dr. Laura made the obvious point, and it further emerged that this is all the husband was saying, as well: Look lady, you’re either trying or you’re not. When you want to lose some weight, and your idea of passing the time every night is to watch the idiot box eating chips, there’s a problem. Well the same thing applies to these subsidies. We’re either worried about the deficit or we’re not. If we’re still coming up with creative new ways for the federal government to spend the loot that it borrows from China, then we’re not trying, it’s as simple as that.

And I don’t think anybody heard anything different from Governor Romney’s comments last week. Romney’s not losing a single vote over this. He could shoot Big Bird in broad daylight, set the body on fire, piss on the flames, set it on fire again, and it would only help his campaign.

Why are the progressives so out of touch with the rest of America? Because most people are rational thinkers when they’re hurting; they stray away from truth, logic, and common sense if & only if they feel like they can afford to do so. Progressives, on the other hand, are intractably fastened in their minds to the idea that the progressive way is the right way and all other ways are wrong…furthermore, that anyone & everyone who shares their biases and their outlooks on political matters is automatically cool and popular, not only that but smart as well. So they figure — hey let’s play this up! Romney is gonna kill Big Bird! In their little rooms with the big doors locked up tight, and all these “special” people helping them plan everything, I’m sure that makes a lot of sense.

It isn’t going to work because out here in the real world, people go in to Wal Mart and Target and what do they see there? That little slut Elmo, whoring himself out like there’s no tomorrow. So Elmo is a capitalist, but Big Bird somehow has to be on welfare. It doesn’t compute, and ultimately it doesn’t work. And that effectively destroys the whole argument about “all of PBS is six hours of military spending,” the proportion nonsense. The military can’t sell merchandise through Wally World; also, ya know, funding a military is something the federal government is supposed to be doing. Look it up, folks!

There is a long standing pattern going on in the history of American politics, in which the political left is riding high whenever it’s in emotional sync with the rest of the country, and once it loses this tactile bond with the mainstream it loses it real big. In other words, they’re great at calculating the political gain to be exploited when their finger happens to be on America’s pulse, but once the pulse is lost they’re really lousy at finding it again.

I think that trend is continuing here. They’ve lost the pulse and they can’t find it again.

“There Are Several Ways to Talk About Taxes”

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Blogger Friend Phil made a humdinger of a post over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging. I was hoping he’d work up something similar at his “real” blog where the general Internet community could take a gander at it…and luckily, he did.

There is the dollar amount of taxes one pays. There is the rate of tax one pays. There is the total amount of tax that the government collects. And there is the percentage of the tax burden one pays.

Democrats and our self-described “Progressives” like to shuffle these around as if they are interchangable to make things sound like they want them to sound.

Dictator Morgan Fixes the Economy

Monday, October 8th, 2012

What would I do? Besides the obvious…repeal ObamaCare, pass a real budget, and drill-here-drill-now. What other steps could I take if I were King-for-a-day?

Well it turns out, the things I would do, from the straightforward to the silly, are all things that are highly unlikely to ever happen, even though in all seriousness they would probably work pretty well. If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from this, it is that we are tying the knot for our own hangin’. Here it is, in Letterman Top Ten form…

10. You know where you can stick your global warming, “climate change,” or whatever it is today.
9. If you’re really that concerned about some other guy’s tax bill, you can’t vote.
8. Radio stations cannot carry more than 1 ad a week containing the phrase: “Find out if you qualify.”
7. All female politicians wearing pantsuits 60% of the time, or more, must resign immediately.
6. ADA reform.
5. Payroll tax holiday for 180 days.
4. No boutique fuels.
3. You can’t tax ammunition.
2. You can’t tax beer.

And the Number One thing that Dictator Morgan Freeberg would do to fix the economy…

1. The tips you leave for Hooters waitresses are tax deductible.

None of it will ever see the light of day. We’re way too enlightened, too sensitive, far too infected with a raging case of GoodPerson Fever.

This, I think, is divine punishment on us. I really do think that. Consider the cause-and-effect here: We have GoodPerson fever. We have it because there is a preciousness, an economic value, in these silly little things we can do (and not do) to show what wonderful good people we are. In basic economics, a commodity is precious when it is rare, so the unavoidable conclusion is that we are starved for opportunities to prove what good people we are.

So we act all uppity and hands-on-hips-ey and butt-hurt-ey when we see bad things. Which is why I’m particularly partial to Items #7, #3, #2 and #1. They are confrontations against cultural quirks we have allowed to set in…quirks that, at first glance, don’t seem to really exist or, if they do, are harmless. Well, they exist and they’re not harmless.

This thing, that thing, some other thing we used to ritually do…each of which carries some incremental impetus to potentially make our economy take off just a bit…we don’t do it anymore, or we seriously hesitate, because we’re afraid of ticking someone off. That’s the truth of it. GPF is killing off our economy. And the other truth is, if more of us were genuinely good people and were more worried about staying that way, than proving it to a bunch of butt-noses who need to be minding their own business, we wouldn’t have GPF in the first place.

Hiding Under a Bush

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Robert at Small Dead Animals wants to know how to discuss things with an Obama supporter. Brave man. I know this is above my pay grade when I see the phrase “gotten us into” included twice in the short paragraph he includes, to clue interested readers in on what the problem is:

Obama hasn’t gotten us into this mess, which is the worst recession since the 1930’s, and based on the fact that much of the collapse revolved around lack of regulation in the housing loan business, there’s no quick fix. Once people started losing their homes, it has a domino effect. George W. Bush is the one who got us into two wars, gave tax cuts, and added medicare benefits without EVER including them in his budget. Obama got the hand he was dealt. And I can tell you that the Republicans have done absolutely EVERYTHING they can to stop every effort he makes to get the economy back on track.

Maybe that’s the best way to deal with it, I dunno: “What if George W. Bush started agreeing with Barack Obama on everything?” Well check that, no it wouldn’t help matters any, all it would do is illustrate the obvious: These people are obsessed with faces and names, they don’t care about the content of any ideas, which is the very first step to caring about what ideas work and what ideas don’t.

The whole thing is just silly.

“Hey look, the debt is unsustainable. You took in this much, you spent that much…”

“Oh yeah, well Bush got us into, blah blah blah blah blah.”

(Long, incredulous pause, then more slowly…) “You took in this much…you spent that much…”


(Longer pause…)

Maybe cheesecake is the answer after all.

You know, I guess if the point is going to be made that someone has to talk to these people because the survival of the civilization we know depends on it…probably the best place to start is with the “there’s no quick fix” thing. Not because there’s some easy diplomacy there — there ISN’T, because the Obamachron’s ego is wrapped up tightly around every sentence, every syllable — but because it’s the most delightful and pure bundle of silliness out of the whole thing. Yes, it might look like an attack. Yes, that will send the other party into defense mode, which isn’t helpful. But it simply cannot be allowed to let stand.

It reminds me of: “Why do you let your daughter interrupt you when you’re on the phone with me?” “She’s four!” Um, yeah…that is a correct fact, I don’t see what that has to do with anything. It is equally correct that “there is no quick fix.” Why do people assume that just because these simplistic statements are correct, they somehow invert the very truths that make up the universe in which we live? Hocus pocus, and we’re suddenly back in Joe Biden’s alternate reality of “must spend money to keep from going broke.”

The oasis is so far that we will die of thirst before we get there, therefore we should head in the opposite direction…you know, even that analogy makes too much sense to fit, since we live on a globe that is round, and that plan would eventually work, die-of-thirst and trans-oceanic travel considerations notwithstanding.

I suppose that’s all just a bunny trail. It never ceases to amaze and fascinate me how people use nonsense to prop up other nonsense.

Commenter dashing recommended a link to a video showing a timeline of the financial & housing crisis. I think it’s this one. I’m pretty sure, without checking, there’s a progressive “debunking of the urban myth” that addresses this. After all, it threatens them. That’s why they don’t want us watching Fox News, right?

Tenebris says: “They could find the guts to pass a budget, rather than hiding under a bush.” Heh. Funny!

But ultimately, what we’re really seeing here is Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things. The recurring theme has nothing whatsoever to do with ideas that bring good results, or ideas that do not; it isn’t about ideas at all. Said theme is only concerned with: Strip these people over here of any influence at all, give as much influence as you can to those other people, over there. Put it all in a big snow globe and shake it all about, and things should work out more-or-less okay. If that had anything to do with ideas, there’d be some thought given to: Duh, hey, waitaminnit that’s exactly what got done in November of ’08…we’ve been down this road already. Well I suppose “Republicans have done absolutely EVERYTHING they can to stop every effort he makes” is included to preemptively dismiss that most obvious point. But by “some thought” I’m referring to something a bit more focused and disciplined than, anticipating an obvious point and including a catchphrase to preemptively shunt it aside.

Some kind of concern for outcome is what I mean. It’s entirely missing here.

The concern is all being systematically piped to that other thing discussed above, the stripping influence from some individuals and elevating the influence of other people. These vocal myrmidons are the “useful idiots” of those other people. I know this for a fact, because I get the e-mails. Michelle and I are having our anniversary…can you send three bucks in right now…it’s me, Michelle, Barack’s birthday is coming up can you kick in five…get on the social networking sites, and say this stuff. We’ll need your help in November, vote out those Republicans, they’re stopping the really cool ideas we have that I don’t want to talk about right now.

Useful idiots, using up the last of their usefulness.

I don’t know what’s more pitiful and pathetic: The name “George W. Bush” is still flying about thick & fast this late in the game, or, they’re setting up the talking point that President Obama only had a friendly Congress for the first one hundred thirty-three days. Um, hey…that is the length of time President Obama got to deal with a Senate with sixty senators on His side, a filibuster-proof super-majority. Modern Nero has to have that in order to get anything done? And His ostensible supporters are admitting to this?

That one seems to me like something that would be better left unsaid.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Eight Painfully Obvious Rules That Are Hard to Follow

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

People on the left say the economy is turning around. People on the right say the economy will turn around, as soon as Romney kicks Obama’s butt. Whichever one’s right, the economy can’t keep sucking forever, and we’re going to have to re-learn these things when we pull out of “punch the clock, suck my thumb, hope gas prices don’t go higher” mode and actually do some impressive, real things again.

1. DO NOT play the “one foot in front of the other until we get there” game; make a list of the whole thing, stem to stern. The temptation is to say “I can keep two or three things in my head, no problem,” but by the time you get up to four or five things, this natural ability is being exhausted and if there is a failure event, it will have to do with leaving something undone, resulting in failure of the whole project. Besides, without defining the list you can’t define the stature of any item within the list, like for example, is this the highest priority item to which we should be attending right now. In fact, you can’t make a qualified statement about any item at all, dealing with superlatives, without an understanding of the complete body of work, nor can you sequence these items in any way. So make the list.

2. If the project is more complex than a list, make a matrix. This means, for each item, there are multiple things to be done. Tracking progress is therefore a two-dimensional endeavor, with a width and a height. This provides definition for what you are doing with each item. Without this “horizontal” definition, working from a simple list where a matrix would be more suitable, there is exposure for you to realize late in the game you haven’t been processing all items the same way and then you’ll have to burn off your time playing catch-up with some kind of self-audit, the product of which will be some kind of two-dimensional matrix anyway. So you might as well make it in prospect rather than in retrospect.

3. Understand that when things possess meaningful differences relative to one another, they are not the same and should not be treated like they’re the same. This is, perhaps, the most difficult rule to follow out of the eight.

4. Understand that when the differences are irrelevant, then for all practical purposes, the things being compared are the same. They should not be treated like they’re meaningfully different. (Words like “meaningful” and “meaningfully” are important, since all things in the universe are unique in some way, the question that arises is: Are the differences meaningful with respect to what you’re doing.) This is, perhaps, the second-most-difficult rule to follow out of the eight.

5. Understand your effort. There are three high-level classifications of effort: Creativity, preservation and destruction. They are not interchangeable. You have to sort these things out according to the end goal, since some things are created for the purpose of destruction, and some things are destroyed so that other things can be preserved. Your effort pays the price, as your likelihood for success diminishes, when you start to become confused about what it is you are trying to do.

6. Understand how to achieve excellence, and align your personality with what it is you’re trying to do. There are four high-level classifications of ways to achieve this excellence, and the job you’re doing drives your effort to achieve excellence: 1) Extraordinary achievement that doesn’t cost anybody else anything. 2) Extraordinary achievement that results in consumption from a finite resource, at a cost to your competition. 3) An extraordinary amount of activity, or time, exhausted without any catastrophic events encountered. 4) There is no way to achieve excellence in this job, the best you can be is adequate. When people cannot achieve excellence in what it is they’re trying to do, it often emerges that their personality is a good fit for one of these four things, and their job demands excellence through one of the remaining three.

7. When solving problems, solve the “big” problems; look for trends. Make a statement of the problem and don’t be afraid to use the word “whenever” if it fits the situation. Example: “My computer speakers are popping” would indicate the amplifier, speakers, sound card or cables require replacement. “My computer speakers are popping whenever the fan across the room is plugged in” would indicate something else is the throw-away item, and might in fact be a fire hazard. It’s important to identify the problem correctly if the objective is to implement a correct and effective solution.

8. Evaluate ideas from others, as ideas. Demand specifics. Just because someone speaks “with great weight” or “seems to know what he’s talking about,” doesn’t mean the idea is any good. In fact, it’s well established that very often the truly bad ideas come from the “smartest guy in the room,” for the simple reason that the human dynamic doesn’t make it likely that such ideas are challenged, or confronted with any social necessity to improve or evolve.

Everyone with a brain knows these rules apply. Everyone who thinks on it diligently for any length of time at all, understands these are necessary for basic quality decision-making. For driving decisions that are more likely to achieve the desired result, than a decision about the equivalent situation driven by a random-chance process. The challenge is to stay true to them when you’re actually working on something. Examples abound of bright, smart, talented and capable people failing to do this, and what follows is an accounting of tiny little fails becoming bigger ones.

Memo For File CLXXI

Friday, October 5th, 2012

So Wednesday morning, before the big debate, I followed through on my big fancy plan. I shook up the schedule and by a quarter to four in the morning, I was swinging on to the freeway entrance ramp with my mountain bike strapped to the back of the Honda. Destination, Angel Island. The woman can’t join me in things like this for another couple of weeks, the manly thing to do is check it out by myself ahead of time and see what there is to do. I’ve lived here quite awhile by now. Should’ve been to Angel Island already.

Driving that early in the morning, I’m always blown away by the pack mentality of people, especially when the trucking flow is on the light side and the freeway is pretty much an empty parking lot. Big empty spaces, interrupted by small dense “flocks” of cars. I wonder if they know they’re doing it. I was particularly amused by the fellow who was speeding by a good ten miles an hour, until he got right on my ass and hovered there, clearly frustrated. I was in the second of four lanes, all empty, and he just hung there like a cow who encountered a bail of hay and didn’t know what to do. I shifted right and he proceeded onward. Californians.

Tiburon, where the ferry terminal is located, is very much like Petaluma it turns out: Sleepy. My schedule was not a good fit here. I arrived about 5:30 and ended up finally grabbing a plate of chow a little bit past eight. My one chore between that, and the departure of the first ferry at ten o’clock, was to move the car from two-hour parking to an all-day arrangement, this was accomplished by nine. Having managed that, I took to exploring Paradise Drive, probably about as far as the park on the North side of the peninsula. I recall thinking at 9:43, alright I really should turn around now and maybe I’ve already screwed up my schedule…but, it worked out, I managed to double back and walk my bike on to the dock at 9:58. The ferry ride itself is a cash proposition and the boarding is quick. This particular line has no space for cars; bicycling and walking, that’s all you get. Simple. Inside of five minutes we were watching the pier recede, making good time over the water.

StitchingAngel Island is a popular stop-off for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and I was a bit embarrassed, and surprised, that the younger set was making a go of it in the middle of a Wednesday morning. Don’t they have school? Evidently some arrangements had been made. By this time it was a bit balmy for my jacket, and the chosen tee shirt of the day was “One Big Ass Mistake, America.” Which doesn’t quite fit…but I guess, in these times, that’s not seen as vulgar as it would’ve been back in my day. Had I known there would be this many juveniles around, I would have opted for “Re-Defeat Communism in 2012” instead. There were two other bicyclists on this ferry ride, a couple somewhere around my age, maybe just a couple years senior. When time came to disembark the woman approached me and said, in hushed tones, “I really like your tee shirt.” I hear this a lot back in Folsom, there’s always a daily compliment-count, which month by month is on a perceptible increase. I was expecting the compliment-count for today to be zero since, hey, this is Marin County. And I said so. “Yeah, no kidding,” she said. “Gotta hand it to ya.” Oh well, that’s one. Two, actually, since her husband clearly approved as well.

This means something. Tonight was going to be the big debate. For anyone following this stuff, for whatever reason, the air was thick with suspense.

Regarding the Island, I’m left a bit concerned about what to do without bicycling. I have noticed there is stuff you can do, the signs say so, but I didn’t try it out personally since the bike was my mode of transportation for the day. There is something called a “Segway Tour”; I do not believe this is in the cards. All this technology coming out of The Jetsons, with no hint of the rocket-powered vest I was supposed to have by the 1990’s. A moving platform that does the walking for you? Can’t get past that. Looks like a decline of civilization to me.

I can see why the island is a great place to take kids, though. The military structures out there, abandoned and not-abandoned; they make learning fun. Truly a mind-expanding experience. I pushed onward, on the paved avenue that is the perimeter of the island, past the sign that said, 1.6 miles down 3.4 miles to go. By which time there was a half hour before the first return ferry would leave the island. I had to make a decision here: Stick to my original plan as opposed to hanging around an extra hour or two, loop the island, keep taking pretty pictures — I could have two out of those three. I vacillated on this a bit, and ultimately decided things would be much more exciting for everybody if there was still some exploring to be done, so I used the remaining minutes heading back the way I came. Sissy. Oh well, it’s fun that way.

This time, I didn’t shave things quite so close. I pulled up to a picnic table with the ferry terminal barely within line-of-sight, and started hydrating. As I was about to get going again I heard a voice behind me, “Did you loop it?” It was my two admirers, again. No, I said. It’s my first visit to the island and I’m here for pretty pictures, not performance benchmarks. It was their first time too, but they didn’t bring a camera. I think they said they opted to push on through. Well we got to talking about the nonsense that’s going on; we found common ground in our failure to understand Obama fans, and started comparing notes.

They’re not stupid, we all agreed. Not necessarily anyway. Some of them are actually quite bright. But their way of looking at the world is different.

I realized I had just jotted down the draft of an e-mail a few hours earlier, while it was still dark in Tiburon, waiting for a diner to open. And the subject didn’t have anything to do with national politics; not much, anyway. It had to do with economies. How people go about fulfilling their needs and their desires. There is bartering, in which something of value is surrendered whenever an expense event comes along, and then there is insuring, which means to classify the expense events and get whole classes of such events “covered.” Quoting:

[W]hen you barter, you have to earn, and as long as you’re earning you might as well pull in five clam shells when the bartering transaction for which you’re preparing demands only two or three…An economic model that encourages saving, is in rapid decline, while the replacement economic model that does nothing to encourage saving is in rapid ascension. So people don’t save, and they are not fortifying the mental discipline required to do the saving. They cut costs, and feel this false sense of accomplishment, but they fail to see it as the subtraction equation that it is. So they sacrifice things that are important to them, feel the pain of it, at the end of it the numbers still don’t come out right, then they feel abused, beaten down, get jaded and cynical. As I have these exchanges on Facebook with Obama fans trying to “educate” me on how the Affordable Care Act will make everything all moar-better, I sometimes ask them if they’re under the impression that health care coverage might be in a process of replacing the dollar as our society’s primary legal tender. Cool bike bro, thanks hey you know what, I’m selling it — really? How much you want for it? A year of basic coverage. That’s kinda stiff, I’ll give you six months for it. Make it nine. Sold!

Now what’s wrong with a society in which we’ve been pussified, done away with bartering, and take care of all our expenses by making sure “it’s covered”? I’ve already discussed the savings aspect; nobody has savings because nobody has any reason to have them. Closely intertwined with that is the dependency issue: It isn’t always covered! When there’s an expense, and it’s unavoidable, and no savings and revenue stream to support a line of credit…then you have a beggar. And so we have a future filled with whining, incapable mooching beggars. That is the real Obama agenda, it seems to me: If you try to save for a rainy day, and enjoy some success in doing so, then you’re “rich.” The Obama zombies say, oh no, that’s not true because Obama doesn’t want to punish you until you make X. I’ve been hearing the number “two hundred and fifty thousand a year” quite a bit there…well here’s a question, what’s Y? Meaning, the gross annual income you need [in order] to maintain some assurance that you won’t be a whining, mooching beggar post-retirement. As you’re no doubt aware, Y and X are moving treacherously close together, and Y may have passed X already for a lot of us. So Obama’s target, whether people want to admit it or not, is not “millionaires and billionaires flying around on their corporates jets”; it is self-sufficiency. In intent as well as in ultimate result, His war is against those who are attempting to accumulate the personal wealth needed to simply handle their own problems without bugging other people. In years past, that is what we were all supposed to be trying to do. Lately it is treated as some kind of neurosis, or worse. “C’mon, what’s the matter with you, you have ENOUGH money why do you need more?”

Complicating this is a subtle misunderstanding with just a glimmer of truth in it: “Making sure it’s covered” feels like the responsible thing to do. And it certainly is, when it’s known that a catastrophic event occurring within some set definition would likely be outside of your ability to pay. But I think it is generally understood that there’s nothing responsible about going before Congress and whining that your contraceptives cost too much and you need someone else to pay for them.

Yacht ClubConsider what happened in that particular boondoggle: It was an election year stunt from the very beginning. It was about Congress, not the White House, so whether it worked or not is something to be determined within each district. But overall it’s a huge fail. Main Street understands the difference: There is $300 for Sandra Fluke’s birth control, and then there is $300,000 for liability events with your car insurance. The car insurance liability is much bigger, and it becomes reasonable to say, I’m probably not going to have that in the bank so I’d better get it covered. With the smaller number, let’s face it, it’s just bitching. Wah! I don’t wanna have to pay that! And then there is the very concept of liability…the coverage is in place to keep from screwing the other guy over. Fluke & friends just want to get their jollies. Alright, medicinal purposes or whatever…it’s still their thing. No, I don’t want to buy it for them, and more importantly, Main Street doesn’t want to either. Bottom line: This was one step forward and three steps back for the democrats — and to this very day they think it’s a win.

But here is the point: Our country, today, has a crisis with hard work. We don’t seem to have a good understanding of what it is. There is evidently a whole lot of loud, opinionated people running around, many of them nursing resentments, who see it as what could best be expressed as “suffering that pays something.” Dig a hole, dig another hole, take the dirt from the second hole and put it in the first hole, dig the first hole and put the dirt in the second hole…at the end & middle of the month you get a check. Um, that’s not what work is supposed to be. It’s supposed to have something to do with objects changing states for some purpose to be served. Also, we have a problem with that check. You cash it and pay some bills, buy food, hopefully there’s enough left over to put in savings. Well that part is right…but there’s a massive neglect of human potential taking place here when so many think of it as THE bills. THE this-credit-card, THE that-credit-card, THE heating bill. It’s easy to fall into this trap. And I guess, as long as something makes it into savings, it doesn’t really matter…but it seems people forget the bills do not represent injury, they represent activity. The trap of “paycheck happy face, bills sad face” reduces human potential because it makes it untenable to seriously consider taking on a new bill.

Anyway, my new friends passed the test. They weren’t hateful and they didn’t think all the Obama voters were complete idiots and they weren’t skinheads or racists, they were genuinely tired of the bovine-used-food. On the ferry ride back, we exchanged names, the husband offered me a glass of the bubbly in which they were partaking — it was a celebration of their twenty-fourth anniversary — and the wife said something funny. The reason they came to the island was they had this fantasy about expatriating, buying an island, starting their own country. “One rule,” she said: “Anyone can come, bring your own money because there’s no taxes and no welfare, and don’t be a dumbshit.” Heh heh, I like it. But Ayn Rand had thought of it first, of course…they weren’t up on the story, so I found myself struggling to compress the eleven hundred pages into the two or so minutes left before we reached Tiburon.

The cub scouts were no longer on board, so I relaxed the vocabulary constraints to make it all fit. “So this lady who runs a railway company, who’s not a dumbass, finds she can’t get her shit done without relying on a bunch of dumbasses, and she starts to suspect, at first as a joke, that someone’s going around making all the guys vanish who know what they’re doing…leaving behind a whole bunch of dumbasses. And then she finds out that it isn’t a joke, someone is really doing it, meanwhile the dumbasses keep passing their dumbass laws that make a whole bunch of dumbass problems, which being dumbasses they blame on the wrong things, and use the new problems as an excuse to pass even more dumbass laws…”

Toward SFYup. A prophecy. For the times in which we’re living right now.

So I got their full names, and they must have liked me because when I checked, I found they really exist. They have my e-mail address, assuming they didn’t forget it. I may hear from them and I may not. At any rate, I have a great tip from them on where to find the best margaritas in town.

But it is sad, isn’t it, when the spiral is so out of control that, it starts to become an appealing wedding anniversary activity to indulge the fantasy about the island. I think the sadness has a lot more to do with what’s going on, than it has to do with them, since they are not alone. Atlas Shrugged, as I pointed out, is really not much more than that fantasy. I’ve talked to others who have such a fantasy. I’ve had it. Way back early on in my career, my duties had a lot to do with showing people how to use computers…Reagan was president, I was young, the government really wasn’t doing anything to tick me off yet. My residence fantasy was about the Arctic, way up where you have a midnight sun during the summer and noon blackness in the winter. My house would be four stories high. Three of them underground, plunged deep into the frozen, rocky soil. And there I’d just sit and write stuff, English words for human consumption, code for computers, on fifteen kilowatts or so from my own diesel generators. Yeah…people. People like the dumbass who was riding my back bumper hours earlier, lacking the common sense needed to quit hovering and pass me already. I got good and tired of dealing with ’em.

What is interesting to learn from all this is: The people who get tired of people, fantasizing about islands and winter-wonderland fortresses and so forth, do not tire of other people who think the same way. And there’s a good possibility we outnumber the dumbshits, so the fantasies about isolation may very well be entirely unnecessary. There is much stress and despair caused by the tactic used by the dumbshits, which they use and use again because it works, of pretending they are the real “everyone.” Everyone knows the Affordable Care Act is wonderful, everyone knows Obama walks on water, everyone knows you shouldn’t listen to talk radio or “hate radio” as they call it. They pretend to be everyone. But they aren’t. They may not even be a majority. They may not be even close to that.

And from all that, I conclude the following: By pretending to be “everyone” when that isn’t really what they are, they are sowing seeds of disharmony and disunity — where it did not previously exist. The easy thought to have is that the people fantasizing about expatriating and buying their own islands, they must be the problem since they’re the ones with the fantasy. At first blush, that does seem like common sense talking. But is it? And is there something to it? I don’t think so; perhaps I’m personally biased, but I really don’t think so.

And now, to the debate: Yesterday morning I was listening to Rush Limbaugh, and toward the end of his program he had someone comment on His Majesty’s debate performance by way of comparing Him to a drone. As in the military plane. I thought this really nailed it: Some people are very bright but, like the drone, they execute their processes within the confines of pre-defined and pre-learned mission parameters. The drone suffers in its effectiveness and suitability for the mission, when it encounters a situation outside of these parameters. Once that happens it will disengage and start flying in circles overhead.

This, claimed the caller, was what President Obama did: He encountered a situation outside of the established mission parameters, disengaged and flew in circles overhead, waiting to be shot down.

SchoolingI think that explains part of it, maybe most of it. Probably all of it. But I’ve got this idea lurking in the back of my head that perhaps being disengaged was in the established mission parameters. Someone got it into the practice notes that, if Obama could look down, with a dejected expression on His face while Romney went on about whatever, the viewers would tune in and see poor little Barack Obama absorbing all this abuse from the rich white guy, and a sympathy vote would be triggered. I suspect that might have been the thinking, and I suspect further: the subtlety involved in discerning this is a tip-off, not that it’s a clever idea, but that it has resoundingly failed. Simply put, people just didn’t see that. That might have been the intent, but that isn’t what it looked like.

And, just like in the Fluke situation…even with the feedback that’s come out, I’m sure there is a mindset within their ranks that this was not a fail, but a glorious success. And the people who feel this, feel it sincerely. Obama really kicked some ass in that debate.

See, there is a truism to all this, where it hooks back to the “make sure its covered” people who want to start a whole new economic system without any actual trade and therefore with no savings: The effect of what they are doing, is to make weakness into the coin of the realm. You get something, because you need it…what you’ve done to help other people is irrelevant to this. This is where the real damage takes place, because when an activity is rewarded you’re always going to get more of it. (Coincidentally, or maybe not, in the third part of Atlas Shrugged this is explored in nauseating detail.) Say what you want about “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” the one undeniable virtue of this trade system being replaced, versus the “make sure it’s covered” system that is replacing it, is that the coin of the realm is fastened to the helping of other people…that’s what “work” is supposed to be, not the digging of two holes, but the helping of other people. Remember that? Therefore, it tends to make more of that. As long as people remember what work is supposed to be all about. Yeah, we’ve been slacking off there.

But “make sure it’s covered” makes need into the coin of the realm. It is bound to result in more people needing more stuff — more weakness, less strength. And, ya know what? It doesn’t do an awful lot for our sense of community, our readiness and willingness and ability to live peaceably with each other, when it gives rise to these retirement fantasies about expatriating and buying islands. Nor does it make sense to put the blame on the people having those fantasies. This is nothing more than a natural consequence.

So…two objectives, one is to reduce human suffering, the other is to foster a sense of community. Two things attempted, in both cases the outcome of the exercise is the precise opposite of what’s intended. Double-fail.

Flying Boot Repair

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create. ” — Spock

Was going to keep this thought to myself, but I came across a smug, holier-than-thou editorial about that goofball Todd Akin in USA Today. I have no problem with it in terms of the facts it cites or the conclusions to be drawn from them, my beef with it comes in the form of a question: What, exactly, are we to do with this information?

Ponder that question awhile, and you will have the answer to another question that has been agitating us in the last several years. Why have American politics become so damn contentious? I’ll give you a hint: What really clinched the decision to go ahead and write this up, was the opening paragraph in which the author uses a quote from H.L. Mencken to equate “enlightenment” with…well, he doesn’t come out and say what, exactly, although it is clear that he thinks voting for Claire McCaskill, the Senate seat incumbent and Akin’s opponent, is the enlightened thing to do.

Here is the epicenter of the problem. Such a vote cast, as a result of reading this column (let us assume for sake of argument that the Missouri voter was undecided prior to reading the column) would be based on an idea not of enlightenment, the way I define it, but on sheer lunacy. Let’s see if I can summarize it: Akin’s comment proves he is a sexist pig, that in turn proves there are still some sexist pigs out there, and we have to keep them out of the Senate. Is that the thinking? Because if it is, it does not work very well, does it…we’ve had sexist pigs in the Senate for as long as we’ve had a Senate. If the Senate is to be kept under its current democrat-party leadership — which, to date, suffers from a dearth of tangible achievements it can carry into election season — solely to broadcast some message of goodness about the voters who elect those senators, about the most flattering message we can manage to achieve at this point is “we give a fig about sexism in the Senate, once in awhile.” This is not a trivial point; the underlying foundation for the editorial, its whole reason for being, is that the politics involved in deciding Senate leadership are motivating the Republicans to behave inconsistently. That is the point to this column. It has nothing else to say, other than reporting on the relevant events (idiotic things said by Akin) to buttress that observation. Leaving the question effectively unaddressed: What to do with the information?

Of course it is not the columnist’s job to resolve it for us. But it’s hard to respect the train of thought upon which he has launched us, if there’s no potential in it. Let’s see…we could elect only democrats, who are known for rising above the inconsistency that tends to result from political forces? Eh, that doesn’t work. Is there something else we can decide?

What really sums up the problem here, is a gem I was jotting down early this morning in a discussion with someone about the Affordable Care Act. I’m quite pleased with it, if I dare say so myself; it is not bumper-sticker quality, but it might be plaque-quality.

A lot of this “regulate and tax ’em so they know how much we think they suck” remedy would work just great, in a universe where everything with a problem could be fixed by simply lowering a beatdown on it…I envision teevee and appliance repairmen wouldn’t exist there, everybody would fix their refrigerators & furnaces by giving ’em a good kick. But we live in this universe not that one, cause-and-effect is a bit more complicated here.

…and this, I submit, is the great brain-fart of the modern times in which we live. The elections, just like a weekly business meeting, offer us an opportunity to solve problems incrementally and cyclically, revisiting the results of our previous work at regular intervals. It is, therefore, an opportunity to self-test on our ability to think things through rationally. We aren’t doing so hot. Election after election after election, we are discouraged, demoralized, disgusted…

…I notice the people who are most vocal about this disgust, are also the ones most vocal about some kind of “change” which is not distinguishably different from the change that went into effect in the previous cycle. We should face facts: If this was the weekly business meeting rather than the biannual election, then the project manager would by now have dismissed the whole team and put together a new crew. His boss would insist on it. We stink at this.

Why do we stink? Because the vocal ones are living in that other universe. For all the talking they do, they don’t really have much to say, it’s all an appeal to throw the boot at the teevee. My favorite example is, higher taxes and more strict regulation on the rich, greedy, evil corporations who gouge the consumers with their high prices and offshore the jobs. Time after time we see: What do those corporations do in response, do they say “Everyone thinks we suck, we’d better keep the jobs at home and lower our prices so they change their minds”? Eh, no. Nobody even says so. Everybody understands that is not what is going to happen. What is going to happen is, the rich, greedy, evil corporations will say “huh, so it looks like we have some new operating costs.” They’ll slim down their services or their manufacturing to accommodate as best they can — read that as, offshoring the jobs — and then, whatever increased costs they can’t absorb in this way, they’ll pass on to their customers. Precisely the opposite of what we wanted.

Every time. Unavoidable. It is the very definition of suck-ass problem-solving, as suck-ass as you can get, right? If you’re making more of what you wanted to eliminate, complete ineffectiveness would be a dramatic improvement, since a zero is always greater than a negative…so that’s pretty bad. And yet we keep doing it. Well, politics is a great place to repeat mistakes, since all the problems are always caused by that other fellow.

Can’t find the “line tool” in the new version of Microsoft Visio — give the computer a good kick, that’ll fix it.

Lord knows, I can identify with the feeling and the desire. But the simple fact of the matter is, feelings and desires don’t fix things. Deep down we all know this to be true, and we know that if expressing frustration and resentment was all it took to solve these problems, they’d have been solved quite awhile back.

But you know, the years come & go, and I never fail to be surprised with the difficulties that supposedly mature, thoughtful adults have, channeling that basic, basic understanding into their actionable thinking.

Trucker Joe

Monday, October 1st, 2012