Archive for the ‘Ayn Rand Spins’ Category

Sacrificial Screwup

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Yahoo News has a humdinger this morning:

The company behind the film Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is replacing 100,000 title sheets from the film’s newly released DVD and Blue Ray versions because the copy writer incorrectly described the late Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, as a story of “self-sacrifice.”

Put simply, that’s like calling Michael Moore a tea partier.

Rand, who in 1964 published a collection of essays called the The Virtue of Selfishness, renounced self-sacrifice on principle. She famously argued that altruism must be rejected “if any civilization is to survive.”

As the producers noted in an apology announcement, Rand’s work extols “a society driven by rational self-interest.” On the back of the film’s retail DVD and Blu-ray however, the movie’s synopsis contradictorily states “AYN RAND’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice comes to life…’”

++Raspy sigh++. Feeling for the producers, here. It’s a form of fucking pollution. Some days, you just can’t get away from it.

Now we get to the funny part: The collectivist-minded folk are having a field day over this, gloating up a storm as only they can. The schadenfreude I can understand, I suppose…why the gloating?

What lesson is to be learned from this: Statists have been getting their message disseminated, throughout the recent generations, by indoctrinating the weak-minded who don’t actually take the time to study or read things. Were we to re-live the twentieth century a hundred more times, it would probably work out that way a hundred more times, because that is their nature. A collectivist economic model driven by the superficial appearance of self-sacrifice, intertwines itself with intellectual laziness, because the two go hand-in-hand. Is there any other way to distill the moral of this real-life parable?

If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Donald Boudreaux writes an article in the WSJ that requires a subscription. Greg Mankiw excerpts:

Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries—”for free”—from its neighborhood public supermarket.

No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district. Fortunately, though, thanks to a Supreme Court decision, families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer. Private-supermarket families, however, would receive no reductions in their property taxes.

Of course, the quality of public supermarkets would play a major role in families’ choices about where to live. Real-estate agents and chambers of commerce in prosperous neighborhoods would brag about the high quality of public supermarkets to which families in their cities and towns are assigned.

Being largely protected from consumer choice, almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal. Poor people—entitled in principle to excellent supermarkets—would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.

How could it be otherwise? Public supermarkets would have captive customers and revenues supplied not by customers but by the government. Of course they wouldn’t organize themselves efficiently to meet customers’ demands.

Responding to these failures, thoughtful souls would call for “supermarket choice” fueled by vouchers or tax credits. Those calls would be vigorously opposed by public-supermarket administrators and workers.

Opponents of supermarket choice would accuse its proponents of demonizing supermarket workers (who, after all, have no control over their customers’ poor eating habits at home). Advocates of choice would also be accused of trying to deny ordinary families the food needed for survival. Such choice, it would be alleged, would drain precious resources from public supermarkets whose poor performance testifies to their overwhelming need for more public funds.

As for the handful of radicals who call for total separation of supermarket and state—well, they would be criticized by almost everyone as antisocial devils indifferent to the starvation that would haunt the land if the provision of groceries were governed exclusively by private market forces.

Hat tip to one of my friends over on the Hello Kitty of Bloggin’.

On Atlas Shrugged, The Movie

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I was right. Anybody who watches the movie first without reading the book is making a dreadful, dreadful mistake. At least catch the Cliff’s Notes fer cryin’ out loud.

As far as the people who read it, it seems everyone gets a different experience out of it. Whatever made an impression on you, and wasn’t quite captured to perfection in the screenplay, might sour you a bit. But that is an unalterable circumstance. Once you cut some slack for this, and I think this is only just reasonable, you must conclude this was a very, very decent cut. Could have been a lot worse.

Atlas Shrugged Part IThere is no Dan Conway. From what I remember in the book, he was present only for a single scene. There are other characters who are much more important than Conway, and some of those are missing as well. But I think some of the story flow was left out. And the final cut clocks in at barely a hundred minutes, so I don’t understand why. Some of the scenes feel a bit rushed. But this comes under the heading of “how could it have been made a tiny bit better?” and not “how come the movie sucks so badly?” This doesn’t suck, not by a damn sight; it’s quite good.

Just left wondering what it would’ve looked if Francis Ford Coppola directed it, is all. Or Peter Jackson. Two characters meet for dinner — they will exchange some lines that will become critical to some plot point later — well, they jump right into the lines then the scene ends. Uh, why? The audience is never left guessing at what will become important. But they’re left guessing what it means, if they don’t already know. For this reason, I expect some exasperated reviews from people who didn’t read the book. And the people who did read the book, are treated to an abbreviated reading with some acting, nothing more. I don’t see the need for the rushing around. Makes it feel a little bit like a finger puppet show.

At the end, a whole fistful of legislation is announced by Wesley Mouch speaking at a podium. Okay…but again, the story flow was bleached out a little. Why did any of this seem like a good idea? The book covers this extraordinarily well. James Taggart, as the leader of the Looters, personifies not only the non-producers who grab at the levers of power and ruin the free market for their unscrupulous ends, but the twits and the dupes who fall for the speeches, as well. He makes the speeches and you can see him believing his own nonsense. There are real people walking around just like this. The book version of Taggart captured that. In the movie, he’s reduced to being a spoiled ineffectual grown-up whelp ruining daddy’s railroad company — which he is, but when he doesn’t bring any more than that it cheats the final product out of something.

I don’t have a problem with Eddie Willers being black. But I do have a problem with him being weary. In the book, he was a stammering nervous-Nellie type, much like a typical Ayn Rand villain, but with the integrity, values and capacity to learn how to run a large business. His purpose there was to act as a foil against Dagny so the message could get out that if you keep your cool and think the possibilities through logically, you can see some that don’t appear to be there at first. Eddie would panic, Dagny would tell him to quit panicking and she’d come up with a (temporary) solution. This guy just brings Dagny the latest news, sighs and rolls his eyeballs so we understand this is just more-of-the-same — heavy-handed regulation from the betters in Washington, Dilbert-pointy-haired-boss-management from James Taggart. Well, that much should be evident.

I would have kept the names of the three parts. They were named after Aristotle’s rules of thought. This one was just the first of the three, “Non-Contradiction” and I don’t know why it wasn’t called that.

LibrarianMy gal noticed Dagny seems to be wearing the same clothes all the time, and had a problem with that. My problem was with Dagny wearing clothes. Looks like another “pretty blonde blue-eyed gal who would look completely awesome naked, solves a mystery while wearing all her clothes” thing. But that’s quite alright, that’s what the book’s about. Oh, and someone get Dagny a samrich. Why’s she a blonde? Where are her glasses? After 1,050 pages I read all those years ago, I can’t recall what exactly the book said about her appearance…my mind’s-eye got all busy with it and churned out something resembling the graphic you see to the right, of a typical librarian icon image, light on the implied fetishism. Someone seventeen years out of touch with her sexuality, all business, gliding through the marble and mahogany hallways of power with real executive confidence at a prim and proper 5′ 2″ but you just know you don’t want to get on her bad side. She’ll chew you up and spit you out if you tick her off; get her in the bedroom she’ll tear you up some different way. Both of these tempests are kept under lock and key under a covering that is mostly opaque. Mostly, but not all.

So Taylor Schilling didn’t deliver on this image exactly but she brought her A game to the acting. You know, that’s good enough. The skinny blonde chick is quite talented, and she delivered. My complaints about her, to the extent they could be called “complaints,” are insignificant and deal almost completely with the packaging & not the substance. The gal needed to bring more plumpness in the breast & thigh department — if she was a bucket of chicken rather than an actress bringing a role to life that’s been languishing 54 years waiting for the favor, maybe it would affect my final word. Oh well. Maybe more re-enactments will follow, and the next Dagny will bring some curvature to the character.

The above offers the only complaints I have — all Drama 101, movie-making stuff, and some taste disparities about costumes & casting. As far as getting the damn thing on the big screen, which has involved wait of a half a century, the project is a success. Directing was good, scenery was good, writing was mostly good. I’m looking forward to Part II. And the final scene deserves some extra props; it was everything I wanted it to be, and then some.

I’m hoping they’re taking a “whet the appetite” approach. First part 1:40, second part 2:00, third part 2:20…something like that. How long does it take to read all of the climactic speech in Part III? Three hours (see answer 5.1). So yes, there is going to be some trimming going on all the way through…but you knew that already.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

Memo For File CXXXV

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The time has come for someone to jot down into visible words what everybody with a working brain knows already, but nobody with shame will admit out loud. Well, I have more brains than shame, and I am ready, willing and able.

We all have to make decisions, and some of us prosper or suffer according to the wisdom or stupidity of those decisions. The rest of us don’t, so the ones who don’t, start to make stupider and stupider decisions as the quality of their decision-making begins to suffer from atrophy. They have little incentive to make wise decisions, so as the necessity fades away over time, so does the quality. These people who enjoy the luxury of peeling-off with whatever decisions feel good at the time, not having to worry about whether they’re wise or not, are also enjoying more and more of a majority status. And what’s even worse, is that as they flail around for some method by which to make these decisions, they tend to settle on exactly that one: Majority. Go along with what “most” people are already thinking.

Or, echo what the most audible people in earshot, say they are thinking. Make your mark by not making your mark. “Change” the final consensus to what it was already. You can easily tell a man who lives off the sweat of others, and knows he lives off the sweat of others, because he has no history to offer insofar as going against the majority — he’s been on the “winning” side every single time.

Well, that isn’t the ugly truth everybody knows & no one wants to admit. I’ll get into that straight-away:

Salesmanship TriadAmong those who labor under a natural incentive to try to make wise, logical, reasoned decisions, the wisdom/logic/reason usually does not have the final say. We like to think it does, but it’s really a hodge-podge of three things which could be thought of as legs on a three-legged stool:

1. Does the idea make logical sense;
2. Are you any good at selling it to me;
3. Was I already leaning in the direction of doing it anyway.

And the thing that makes us hesitant to admit this, is: There is a summation involving these three legs. One leg may be very weak, and the sale is closed anyway if the other two legs are stronger. Any one of the three legs may be weak and it can still be a slam dunk, if the other two legs, or just one of the other two legs, can compensate.

And I do mean any one. The idea may not make logical sense, in fact it may be downright silly. You’ll buy it anyway, or at least you’ll feel a powerful compulsion to buy it anyway, if the other two legs are stronger. Salesmanship and prejudice.

Our current President is best described by means of this three-legged stool. He brings so much skill and talent to the salesmanship aspect of it that the other two legs don’t need to be there at all. He can sell ideas that are disliked by the prospective buyers, even if the ideas make no sense whatsoever. That’s the problem. That’s why He isn’t right for the immediate future of the country.

This also explains His remarkable appeal, or at least, the appeal He used to have some three years ago. “I can’t explain it, there’s just something about Him!” They said this over and over again. All who were waiting for details to support this, were left sucking air…but that’s perfectly alright, they were told, if you ever met Barack Obama in person you’d understand immediately. Well, now it’s later and the understanding is crystal-clear. Those who value unity over clarity, saw Obama as the perfect unifying force. He would get up and sell…uh, something. And by the time it was over everybody would come to agreement. Then what? That part doesn’t matter, see the important thing is that everyone would agree.

Now, what has Obama sold us in three years.

1. There is something wrong with you if you say anything against…um…whatever it is Congress put together in this health care bill here. Haven’t had a chance to skim through it or anything, but Let Me Be Clear it is wonderful.
2. Jessica Simpson has put on a little weight.
3. The Cambridge police acted stupidly.
4. Time for a beer summit.
5. When there’s an oil leak in the Gulf, we need a drilling moratorium. Yeah, that’s the solution.
6. We need to move to alternative fuels and we shouldn’t drill at all.
7. Brazil, on the other hand, should drill to its heart’s content.
8. We hope to sell China lots and lots of stuff.
9. And the latest humdinger: If the price of gas is a problem for you, you need to get a new car.

That is by no means an exhaustive list. But it is a useful cross-section, a useful sampling, and oh by the way did you notice the one theme permeating through it all? The one common characteristic? Not a single item on there makes a damn lick of sense.

And thus it is with all other persons, in all other capacities, in all other walks of life. You’re going to generally find the greater the talent is invested in selling things, the less sense the ideas are going to make. Thing I Know #271 provides some insight into why it always has worked, and always will work, this way…

Someone please enlighten me on this hero worship for people who are good at selling things. An excellent salesman is useless in selling an adequate product; an adequate salesman will move it just as quick. You only need an excellent salesman to sell a crappy, substandard product, or excessive quantities of a product, that people don’t need.

Am I saying whenever you encounter a wonderful salesman you should turn around and run as fast as your li’l legs can possibly carry you? No, of course not.

But, I’ll be honest with you; I’m reasonably sure I’ve sailed past the midpoint, by now, between cradle and crypt. And the years I can now review in hindsight, have strongly suggested that to me over and over again — not only should I run away from wonderful salesmen has fast as my li’l legs can possibly carry me, but screaming at the top of my lungs in holy terror, arms flailing overy my head, wouldn’t exactly be uncalled-for.

The years ahead of me might very well teach me something contrary. But it hasn’t happened yet. And I’m left without any reason to expect such a thing to happen.

After all, I’m part of the people who still suffer when they make dumbass decisions. Maybe we’re a dwindling minority now…but I’m actually thankful to be on this side of the line. It keeps your mind sharp, somewhat, if you stand to lose things when your mind isn’t sharp. It’s like John Wayne said (apocryphally): “Life’s tough. Life’s tougher if you’re stupid.” It is a regretful situation for us all, that life is working that way for fewer and fewer of us. Too many of our peers are allowed to live relatively pain-free, in fact with a right to file grievances if they’re ever troubled with any pain at all, while being stupid and staying stupid. And as a direct result of this, we have placed value on so-called “leaders” who have no skill at all other than to lengthen the stool-leg that has to do with salesmanship, so the other two legs needn’t be relevant.

In fact, isn’t that what all the yelling is about lately? Which ones among us should be privileged to never feel any portion of the community pain — which arrives as the direct result of stupid, nonsensical decisions that were made — because the salesmanship skills were so stellar, so amazing, so off-the-charts impressive.

Your Atlas Shrugged Study Guide

Monday, March 21st, 2011

By now, if you’re going to take my advice and read Atlas Shrugged in some form before the movie comes out, and you haven’t gotten started yet, I’m pretty sure you’re screwed. The movie is only about the first part out of three, and I read all three parts in the course of about four or five months, so this is somewhat consistent with my rate.

If you have started Part One and need some direction, this summary is for you. These are the ten points I expect to see in the movie — bearing in mind there are other people who have seen the screenings, and I am not one of them. So this is just an educated guess. The pieces I’m most certain are going to be there, appear first.

I think it’s mostly spoiler-free.

Now if you haven’t started it yet and would like to, you might get some value out of it too. Start here — then grab hold of the Cliff’s Notes.

1. “Who Is John Galt?” is a piece of slang people use in this made-up future, to express bewilderment, resignation or despair. It means: We’re not going to come to a resolution on this so let’s change the subject. It roughly translates to “oh well, whaddya gonna do?” Contrary to what you might expect, each and every word is deliberately chosen, although nobody who uses the phrase understands the meaning. This isn’t explained until well after the end of Part One.

2. Heroes. An Atlas Shrugged hero is an Ayn Rand hero, and Ayn Rand heroes possess certain characteristics. By choice, they are entirely disconnected from the eddies that reverberate through human social structures; they are entirely unresponsive to scorn, scolding, humiliation, insults, bickering, backtalk, disrespect, contempt, ridicule…there is only one personal slight that will get their cackles up, and that is the theft of their property. They make commitments very sparingly, but are religious about keeping them. The first thing they worry about, with any decision they make, is the eventual result. The last thing they worry about is whether someone else approves of it. If you’d like to flesh this point out without putting in a huge time commitment, maybe you’d be up for renting The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper.

3. Villains. Ayn Rand villains also possess certain characteristics. They are usually emotional, shrill, impetuous and unstable. The exceptions to this tend to wield authority over large organizations, which will inevitably crumble into nothingness simultaneous with their calm, cool personas. They are socially well connected because they worry constantly about being popular. But they’re completely two-faced so their abundant connections don’t say anything for their character. They whine a lot about fairness and blame. Nothing is ever their fault.

4. Companies. Atlas Shrugged is a story of companies as well as of people, and companies can be good & bad just like people. In this story, a company that is good is named after a person. A company that is bad is not. Good companies meet their deadlines reliably and bad companies do not. The point is that when commerce depends on delivery of a product or service, and the delivery isn’t made, there are multiple levels of suffering that ensue, directly caused by the commerce that is not taking place. You’ll also notice a lot of the bad companies are partially or completely invested in the public sector.

5. Profit. You’re going to find an Atlas Shrugged hero shows a certain fidelity to it. Early in the book there is an exchange between two people who manage a railroad company; it is a family-owned company and this is the brother, and sister who have inherited it. The argument is about canceling a contract with a steel company that has failed to deliver. The sister says the time has come to cancel because according to the terms of the contract, they have the right to do it and they need to move to a steel company that can make delivery. The brother is against this, not for reasons having to do with the continuing survival of the railroad company, but because he’s concerned about giving the unreliable steel company a “chance.”

6. Looters and Moochers. A moocher is someone who lives off the work of others without consent. A looter is someone with direct or indirect control over the state rules, who uses that control to direct resources to the moochers in exchange for their support, which is usually provided in the form of votes. When looters and moochers decide things, they end up making damn sure nobody else can decide anything at all. And that’s a problem because neither one produces anything of value to anybody else.

7. The Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule. Legislation that is passed in Atlas Shrugged, is exaggerated caricature of legislation in real life that was most offensive to Ayn Rand, meaning legislation that is most statist. The commonality is that the people who know the least about how business really works, are going to be the ones who appreciate the positive cosmetic attributes of the legislation but the legislation will ultimately have a toxic effect on commerce and therefore on people. The Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog rule effectively outlaws competition; it says for any market there is to be served, one and only one company will be in charge of servicing it. After Part One this nonsense is going to get much worse.

8. Technology. You’re seeing two technological innovations here that are just starting to come into existence, and these are “maguffins”; they exist not only to complete plot points to drive the story, but also to define the characters as we see the reactions people show as these things are pursued. The two innovations are 1) an artificial metal alloy that doesn’t melt below four thousand degrees, and 2) an electric motor that draws its power from the static charge in the air. The villains place absolutely no value on these things at all, in fact they make arrangements to spend money on stopping these new things from becoming available. Naturally, they plan to spend this money out of what was forcibly seized from other people.

9. Thought. There is a persistent theme playing out that Atlas Shrugged villains are very casual about their thinking, which allows them to simply borrow thoughts from other people, because they don’t have any skin in the game — their standard of living, or lack thereof, is never directly connected to whether or not they have reached a correct decision about something. Because of this, their ability to think clearly has become atrophied over time. The only time they plan ahead is when they try to figure out how to preserve and expand their power. Atlas Shrugged heroes, on the other hand, profit personally and suffer personally according to the decisions they make, in all things. There is a scene where just a few of them oversee the construction of a new railway and then drive a locomotive over it at full speed. The whole point to this scene is that when your very life depends on getting all the answers right, it changes the way you look at the world.

10. Aristotle. The three parts of Atlas Shrugged are named after his Three Laws of Thought. If you don’t have time to read Atlas Shrugged before the movie comes out, read up on those three laws. The point is this: If people in a society “make” money without producing anything of value, what ultimately is going to start happening is that the most influential and far-reaching decisions are going to be made by people who disregard Aristotle’s rules of thought. And when that happens, everyone who lives in that society is going to pay a very high price for it. The unavoidable end result is that since such a society will not maintain the incentives to create wealth as quickly as it is being consumed, the very existence of each individual inside will be forfeit. So this is really a decision-point, a crossroads between life and death.

Liberalism is a Holdover From Human Evolution

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Wordnik offers a singular definition for a most obscure word, which to the best I can tell, completely fits the meaning I had in mind. I might as well work this the way the children do, weaving it into conversations hither & yon waiting for the smackdown from someone who knows how to use it better than I do. Beats the heck out of making up yet another word.

Prerational (adj.): Antecedent to the maturation of intelligence.

It seems this word can be used to describe “antecedent” within the span of an individual’s lifetime, or within the natural “maturation” of human technological/social progress. It is the second of those that I have in mind.

Liberals like to describe conservatives as evolutionary holdovers; lately, I have been turning this around. But sincerely. I really do think liberals are leftover fragments from human evolution — or at least their ideas are. These people called “liberals” are merely articulating, and making the mistake of placing their beliefs in, ideas that used to make the world go ’round. They are ideas hard-wired into all of us. But they are static ideas, dead ideas, and sensible adults have shrugged them off and left them in the ground, where they belong, to rot.

Let me explain. For me to do that, we need to take a trip backward in time. There are no fragments of bone or pottery to directly substantiate what I’m saying, there is only human nature and the stuff we know about cultures, the periods of time in which they flourished, and how long they lasted. Human nature bears much more of the burden of support for my recollections, here, than the point or section within any timeline, so the classical science of archeology doesn’t help us out here too much. So let us take stock of what we know.

We know that this thing we call a technological society, is a relatively recent turn. At the founding of our nation, just the blink-of-an-eye ago in the grand scheme of things, if you made it your business to go to Philadelphia to argue with your buddies about whether the word is inalienable or unalienable, the right to keep and bear arms, and so forth, you did this after sowing a crop or reaping a harvest. We were an agrarian society just 240 years ago. Somewhere, maybe someone was figuring out how to burn a fuel to move a rotor arm to get the plowing done; but even that first nibble of “real” technology was mad-scientist stuff. Time was precious only because time was needed to work the land. Land was the real wealth.

Town MeetingNow, when you live in an agrarian society and land is the real wealth, your efforts in solitude are vital to your continuing existence but only for the purpose of doing what had been done before. Later on, when technology started to become a dynamic thing and partner itself with farming, you would have to keep “an ear to the ground” and figure out what new amazing bits of information might be available to pare a fifteen hour task down to a two hour task. But while that is only an occasional event, you just toil away. So it would seem natural that whatever is in motion, for the most part, is something “bigger than you.” You work your acres, the wife tends to the house, and far all other concerns there will have to be a town hall meeting of some kind. And why shouldn’t there be one? Land is the real wealth; land defines the nature of the issue; and the land upon which the issue is concerned, is off your spread. It’s a public road, or a public waterway, or something that will or might happen to the entire town. We need to go to a meeting to resolve it.

We also know that compassion is hard-wired into our human character. With or without a technologically advanced society, we are naturally concerned with the economic status of our peers. Or lack thereof. If someone is doing badly, we want to get involved and help them. The more closely we identify with them, the quicker we want to help. We recoil instinctively from whoever else in our ranks, for whatever reason, fails to share in this instinct.

We tend to be more vigilant in seeking out neighbors who might need our help, during the lean times. Liberals find that to be regrettable. They would like this to be a constant floodlight, and not a strobe.

If the person who needs our help, is in that situation through their own doing, we’re slow to factor that in. Even if it has long ago become a cyclical pattern. Conservatives find that regrettable. They think the widow should be given greater priority for our aid, than the town drunk.

But in solitude, attending to our own chores, or together down at the town meeting, we do the best we can and we offer help to whoever needs it. That’s what civilized humans do, without regard to the level of civilization in the community they call home.

It is an inextricable aspect of agricultural living, especially during the ancient times when technology moved more slowly, that innovation must take place almost entirely within these town hall meetings. Well, as anyone who’s ever been in a business meeting knows, group configurations are not amenable to innovative thinking. To engage in innovative thinking with just four or five people assembled, is hard. Really hard. It is several orders of magnitude harder, when the nose count moves up to seven or eight; at that point, you run into the situation where a short, crisp agenda must be put together, and used, and guarded, by a strong chairman. Otherwise, hours will disappear into the void with nothing resolved. By the time you’re up to a dozen people you might as well forget about innovative thinking. If it emerges that something needs to be poked & prodded & researched, or written up into a report, this will be delegated to an individual or a subcommittee. Because, how else could it be done.

The group comes up with ideas. That’s all it does, really. It isn’t fit for narrowing possibilities down, acquiring new information, or anything of the like. This is not where people renew or strengthen their grasp of reality. The only thing upon which they can renew or strengthen their grasp, in that environment, is their own social stature within the assembly. As individuals.

This is the great difficulty involved in chairing a meeting. You’re there to offer your comments on some matter, or to solicit the comments; but those assembled for the meeting, are offering the comments to buttress their own social standing within the community. Generally speaking, altering the outcome of the decision, toward an outcome more beneficial for all concerned, is a side benefit to the individual participant. The primary motive behind his contributions to the discourse, is to elevate or preserve his standing. This is the tragedy of the human condition: Inwardly, we know without anyone pointing it out, that innovation is best accomplished by the individual. But we have it hard-wired into our DNA, over time, by the slow, cruel forces of evolution — to expect all this innovation to take place in a meeting environment. We understand this is ineffective, in the extreme. But the spectacle of it gives us comfort.

Here’s where the trolley starts to come off the rails though. I mentioned the impulse of basic human compassion up above. The meeting environment does not focus this or enhance it; it rather diminishes it. Groupthink, born in an agricultural setting like so many others of the things we do, is accustomed to a farm livelihood. It is accustomed to the idea that manual labor is the only way to prosper, and therefore we should all have roughly the same amount of stuff. It is also accustomed, paradoxically, to the idea that you can only receive this basic, subsistence-level quantity of stuff, if you are “good.” That’s right, groupthink can shut off this basic impulse of human compassion just like a spigot. It is much better at this than any individual.

I’m speaking here of the Freeberg Village Theory, discussed here and here and here and here and here and here. The process by which, in a season a famine, one or several individuals are declared somehow unfit. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

GTFOThe result is ostracism; and, unfortunately, archeology and the other human-history sciences are a help here. We have actual evidence of various cultures sitting down to have meetings of this kind.

And famine being a seasonal thing, it wouldn’t take long to become accustomed to this.

And so, in a relatively instantaneous window of time, the human genome would adapt. We would work for our harvest on our own pieces of land, and then we would move off them, congregating in a public place, to figure out all the stuff that requires figuring-out. All the off-routine stuff. New things. A new tribe has been set up a mile or two away; the hunting is bleak this season; new faces in the community. It works this way today, and it must have worked this way at the very beginning.

To some degree or another, the community adopts socialism. Perhaps we can keep all of our goods and our profits as individuals, but it will be brought to our attention that so-and-so needs some aid and those of us who are in a position to, will get together and provide it. Or perhaps there will be a common store; we will put some allocation into that store, and those who are in need will take some out. Or perhaps that is where all of the community’s wealth must be placed. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

But in some situation or another, there will be a pariah. A cast-off. A runt of the litter. A new set of the ostracized will be defined, and then carved off, again and again, every time the provisions become too lean to feed everybody. The community becomes a pencil, and the lean times occasionally force upon us a sharpening. You can’t sharpen a pencil without tossing away some shavings.

Now consider what liberalism is. Think about what they believe. And think about how they do their arguing about what they believe.

We “all” have these “rights”; the rights are not actually codified into any one single document, or even body of documents. Quite to the contrary, the rights are manufactured in a casual way. It seems the test is, if I can think of the right and it sounds kinda cool, then a right it is. And it is non-negotiable.

“All” means the least among us enjoy these rights. It doesn’t seem to apply to a true concept of universality, by any stretch. No, the liberal extolling the virtues of this “right” has some community of people all picked out who are supposed to enjoy the right. In all of Creation, there are few creatures more bewildered than the liberal who has just been asked “can Rush Limbaugh receive new kidneys, if he really needs them, under ObamaCare?”

Also, you can be denied these rights in total if you are defined out of existence in some way. Unborn babies come to mind as the best example; there need not be others, for this illustrates the point. A veritable cornucopia of rights for you that are etched in stone, granted to “the least among you.” But only if you make it this far: To the magical vaginal finish-line. You have to count. You have to live in the commune to receive your sustenance-level package of foodstuffs. Once you count, you get everything, but if you don’t count you get nothing. You are shut out of the village gates, to starve…so the people residing within can receive their infinitely voluminous platters of magical ever-expanding “rights.”

It is not a mental illness or a sign of intellectual weakness. A lot of liberals are actually pretty bright. The thinking that is shut down in order to make liberal ideas look good, is more of a “won’t” than a “can’t.”

It is the natural consequence of doing too much thinking, particularly thinking about social experimentation, political science, and socio-economic realities, in groups. Accepting too casually and with insufficient skepticism, the idea that when we innovate we should do the innovating in a forum so poorly suited for it.

How many times have you argued with a liberal and noticed — it starts with the liberal demonstrating to you the fitness of the idea the liberal is trying to argue. The argument proceeds from that point, like a line being drawn upon a paper, and then it seems to spiral into a black hole…or clamber upon a merry-go-round where it starts spinning in circles. At that point, you’re demonstrating your idea to the liberal and the liberal is sitting in judgment of it. Ever notice they all seem to go that way? And overall, there is a lot of difficulty involved in persuading the liberal to even engage the idea directly, let alone accept it or some piece of it. No, when the liberal sits in judgment, he sits in judgment of you.

There are some things you can point out to try to get the argument back on track. One of my favorite things to point out is “you know, decent people sometimes have the wrong idea, and creepy jerks sometimes have the right one, so it really doesn’t matter if I have these personal deficiencies you’re pointing out…” Kinda gets out of the is-not-is-too stuff. But overall, that must not be a good way to handle it because they head right back to that. Maybe my character flaws are just too glaring.

I must say, though, it tends to have the appearance of a neurotic twitch. Like an inconsolable toddler clutching a security blanket, they continue to catalog the deficiencies of the opposition on a personal level. Very, very odd behavior indeed…for someone who’s supposed to be arguing that “rights” are to be upheld, at all times, in all situations, for “all” of us even “the least among us.”

Another constant in these things is that the liberal isn’t arguing the opposition is bad; what the liberal is arguing, to be absolutely accurate about it, is that the liberal is a better person than this opposition.

It is prerational thinking, thinking from the communal, agricultural eon of human existence. It is the thinking humans engaged before they were truly capable of, or had much need for, intelligent community discourse about complex issues. What the liberal is doing, is exercising an instinctive impulse left over from our evolutionary journey. He is anticipating a famine in the next winter to arrive, laying down the argument that when the time comes to ostracize people from the village, the ideological opponent should be selected for this elimination before the liberal is selected. He is demonstrating his relative worth as a person.

This gets right to the nut of what modern liberal thinking is. It is the polar opposite of what it pretends to be. It is an argument of “when the time comes there’s not enough milk and wheat to go around, everyone remember I’ve earned mine. He hasn’t. I get his.”

And every time a liberal attacks the character of his opposition, what we are seeing is yet another example of this. No, I can’t prove it. But the more we see of liberal behavior lately, the more it becomes rather silly to try to doubt it.

“I Do Think at a Certain Point You’ve Made Enough Money”

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Here we go again. The “When you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody” moment was not enough to license me to call Him a socialist.

Maybe this latest one will do the trick. It’s become a little bit of an “Everyone else is blogging it, I might as well follow ‘em” thing. But it’s pretty important to get it talked-about (hat tip to Hot Air), for the three reasons below.

One. You have a right to make as much money as you are able, so long as it’s legal. It’s property. You’ve a right to it. Our current President shouldn’t be President if He doesn’t agree. Really, in my world this is an impeachable offense, and no I’m not kidding.

Two. Closely related to One: This country works according to a Constitution. That which the Constitution does not specifically authorize, is unauthorized. That is supposed to be the design; we have not always been faithful to it. But how in the world do you legitimize the Chief Executive even giving a rat’s ass how much money some individual has made? It’s an issue that simply isn’t on His plate. He shouldn’t even be thinking about it.

Three. “Wealth Gap People” are potato-sackers. Think about how you walk; you move your feet apart from each other. That is how a free-market economy works. Think about how you walk in a potato sack race, with your feet unable to move apart from each other. That is how non-free countries work…or don’t work. We can move apart from each other, we make progress. This is not to say the suffering of the poor is the engine that drives our economy, that is not the case at all. What drives our economy is that individuals can succeed and they do not have to endlessly wait for everybody else to catch up before they can make the most of it — they can kick in the afterburners at any ol’ moment, provided the fuel & spark are ready to go.

His Eminence is fond of “national dialogues” and “teachable moments,” especially when He is trying to get people to forget about swomething. Well, I think this is a wonderful call for a national dialogue, and a Jim-dandy teachable-moment. Let’s have one of each, I say. His Holiness thinks at a certain point, you’ve made enough money. Who agrees with Him about that? Should our country have an earnings cap? Maybe a lifetime cap? Should we address the billionaires at the tippy top and tell them: The President’s right, and you can’t earn anything anymore. All those in favor say aye?

Let’s take that vote. I’d like to know what the final tallies are. And I think we’d all benefit from thinking long and hard about it.

“Government Doesn’t Have Responsibility; People Have Responsibility”

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Charity is will; government is force.

Thing I Know #343. The hard obligations of “charity” wax, the charitable feelings wane.

I see, from the language used, why people who embed the clip are anxious to announce it’s from 1978. That really isn’t important. What’s important is that you watch until the righteous schooling that takes place at 4:00+. Go Milty.

Hat tip to Boortz.

“The Thousands of People You Killed Won’t Even Know You Killed Them”

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Yeah, Stossel’s a nut who wants to legalize pot. But I like his style, I agree with him more often than not…and I really like the point he’s making here.

Real life continues to counsel us, over and over again — when you have a decision to make and there is risk to be weighed on both sides, you really need to look at both sides.

Governments of all kinds of countries, living and dead, continue to tell us — naw. We like to look at just one side. It is our nature.

Hat tip to theCL at Washington Rebel.

Timely. And that’s an understatement.

Health Care Bill Attacks Inequality

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Causing pain to a genuinely bad man, in order to possibly save the lives of the innocent, has been stigmatized beyond belief within just a few short years.

Why is there no stigma against wealth-envy? Why no stigma against even raising “inequality” as an issue? It sounds like what it is: Pure jealousy.

1. Architects are not concerned about whether someone else possesses more wealth than they do. Their concern over whether someone else possesses more skill, begins and ends on the question of whether or not that other person can help them in some way, and whether there may be low-hanging fruit for them in the self-improvement department.

Medicators don’t want anybody else to have something they don’t have, be it skill or money. Jealousy is a common failing for the Medicator. They easily fall prey to “Tall Poppy” syndrome.
:
20. An Architect doesn’t particularly care how many other Architects there are.

A Medicator wants everyone else to be a Medicator. Convert or die.

From Architects and Medicators…the latter of whom, sadly, only go through the motions of truly living life. Everything has to be guaranteed. Everything has to be equalized.

The battle continues.

For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.

Speaking to an ebullient audience of Democratic legislators and White House aides at the bill-signing ceremony on Tuesday, Mr. Obama claimed that health reform would “mark a new season in America.” He added, “We have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”

So it’s okay to call Him a communist now, right?

It’s worthy of note that nobody is out there even implying that it’s always the same people who are rich, and always the same people who are lacking health insurance. People have been, in fact, doing a dosey-do for the last thirty years. Yes, the hated Paris Hilton still has her loot. But other folks are out there, pulling in lots of rotten lucre, starting businesses, losing them, losing their health insurance, starting again, making more millions, losing them, making them again…

It’s the living of real life. Life is a dynamic thing. If it isn’t, then nobody prospers. This is the age of Reagan that Obama would like to end?

Answer me this: How fast can you run in a potato sack race? You know…with neither one of your two feet permitted to move too far away from the other.

What’s really amazing to me, is what should be immediately obvious to anyone with working synapses. But somehow isn’t, I guess. When you worry too much about what the other fellow has, you are broadcasting to all within earshot and line-of-sight, that things are not really going that badly for you. Am I right or am I right? Think about third-world mudpuddles out there, where people really have nothing. Where they live at the bottom tier of Maslow’s pyramid…where they have a tough time just growing things to eat, in the soil. Are they concerned, there, with some other guy having an easier time of it? They spend lots of minutes per day fretting over that issue? Doesn’t look like it to me.

I’d sure like to know why this jealousy achieves such currency. The natural reaction ought to be “Oh, well if you’re worried about someone else, I guess things aren’t going too badly for you…lots of room, still, for you to fall.” That would be a natural reaction and it would also be a wise one.

Daughter Released, Wife Does Not Require Surgery

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Good. That’s a very serious injury, and I’m sure the Senate Majority Leader is relieved. Ms. Reid is still in the hospital in serious condition; hope everything goes back to normal, as close to normal as possible.

As far as the crappy legislation is concerned, I dunno. It was on the ropes…or, lumbering onward with extraordinary awkwardness. Obviously, this near-tragedy can be used in all kinds of interesting and disgusting ways to give the crappy legislation new life. Let’s just say this much for Sen. Reid: If he elects not to do that, it will favorably influence my regard for his character.

You can tell by the comments under the linked story, that it’s pretty easy to find some scolding against comments “attacking family members.” Not so easy to find the “attacking” comments themselves (it seems Politico had three of those, and whacked ‘em). Because of that, I have more concern about the scolds than about the attackers. They seem to be in a great big hurry to prove they are decent human beings in relative terms — by demonstrating some nameless faceless stranger, somewhere, is not as good as they are.

It makes me nervous when people get in that mode, especially when there is crappy legislation in the hopper. Some of them are bound to work in Congress. And there is a bad habit in there, I cannot help but notice, for people to try to redeem themselves — from what, I don’t know? — by voting yea on crappy legislation they might otherwise reject.

If the legislation is wonderful when you’re a glorious compassionate human being, it would be just as wonderful if you were a perfect asshole. Bad law, on the other hand, doesn’t anyone a good person.

This concern of mine is much bigger than the health care issue. Why were Sen. Reid’s family members rear-ended by that truck, anyway? Was the driver texting someone on a cell phone? Did he spill his coffee? Nod off after driving eleven hours without a break? Or maybe…God help us…just two? What other crappy legislation can we see tossed into the hopper because of this?

If there’s one thing I have absolutely no faith for anyone in Congress to say out loud…or even think to themselves…it is this: “That’s a terrible thing that happened right there, but there’s no sense trying to make a law about it because that’s just the way life is sometimes.”

Memo For File CVII

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I’ve decided the time has come to honor the advice of The Bastidge, and follow it. There is certainly a valid point to be made that the world, and therefore the populace that inhabits it, straddles a chasmatic divide separating two unacknowledged communities, and that each of these communities in perfect isolation would enjoy a harmony that must elude us as we co-exist with each other as a monolith. The divide has something to do with order versus chaos, clarity versus obfuscation, substance versus packaging, individual rights versus community obligations, opportunity versus security, pulling your weight versus fitting-in, logic versus emotion.

We’re seeing it right now with the health care debate. And it substantiates the point all the more when we observe that much of the controversy and dissention swirls around this ramshackle, oxymoronic thing called a “public option.”

I called this “Yin and Yang” out of a desire to get to the bottom of what causes people to pursue, throughout their entire lives, one way of thinking over another. The Yin work within boundaries; the Yang do not. The concept is centuries old, and dates back to periods in different world cultures in which femininity itself was a concept synonymous with the stewardship of quiet, contemplative female chores. In societies like this, it naturally follows that men think of things the way women do in ours, and women must think of things the way men do in ours. Here’s a litmus test: Friend of a friend buys a new car. Or, gets carjacked. It’s a great story to tell for sure, but who is to spend time talking about it?

In an agricultural setting, what happens to one has at least the likelihood of impacting everybody else. And so it makes good sense for people to get together somewhere and swap stories. But these are “Shut Your Girl Mouth Men Are Talking” societies. To whatever extent checking-this-out evolves to become a necessary household chore, it is a manly chore. A railroad’s coming to town, maybe (how does this change things?). Farmer Brown’s crops got wiped out by the cold weather (are ours next?). Who goes down to the saloon to find out about this stuff. It’s not the Mama; there are meals to be cooked, a floor to be swept.

Now, we have the automobile. The printing press. The Internet. Womens’ Lib. And when the time comes to swap tidbits of useful news, who does that? Here is what a lot of people are missing: This is a perfect reversal. We do not have mead halls where the men go to drink beer out of steins and compare prices of bushels of corn. It would be awesome if we did, for sure. But it’s not happening, because the gender roles in our society have flipped around in a perfect one-eighty. Men retreat into their own little worlds, not unlike the kitchens that enveloped their great-grandmothers. Their “kitchens” may be just about anything: A computer with a stubborn virus on it; a classic car that’s being rebuilt; a ham radio or a model train set down in the basement; but there is always a project, it always has a border around it, and that’s what men do.

This awesome Art of Manliness article offers a chronicling of what happened to our mead halls. It began, irony of ironies, with us guys being decent and kind enough to give the ladies the right to vote. Prohibition followed that, and…

For centuries, a man could visit a bar and be in the exclusive presence of other men. Because drinking was seen as a corrupting influence on the “purity and innocence” of women, bars were completely off limits to ladies (exceptions were made for prostitutes, of course). Out of the presence of women and children, men could open up more and revel in their masculinity over a mug of cold ale. However, the bar as a men’s only hangout would quickly see its demise during the dry years of Prohibition.

By banning alcohol, Prohibition forced drinking underground. Speakeasy owners, desperate to make a buck, accepted all drinkers into their establishments, regardless of gender. Moreover, the economic and political empowerment women experienced during the 1920s and 30s made drinking by women more acceptable. By the time Prohibition was repealed, the female presence at the local watering hole had become a common appearance.

World War II only further eroded the male exclusivity of bars and pubs. As more women entered the workforce, it became acceptable to socialize with their male co-workers in taverns and lounges after work.

Today, there aren’t many bars around that cater only to men (gay bars being an obvious exception). Instead, bars have become a place where the sexes come together to mingle and look for a special someone.

Note the article’s title: “The Decline of Male Space.” Men used to own the world. Now, we don’t. We have relinquished the privilege and obligation of socializing, turned it over to the gals, and toddled off to the basement to go play with our train sets. The women do what we used to do — they hold court and they compare their notes with each other, try to see if there’s some hidden meaning of everyday events that might affect the family.

This is precisely what their great-great-grandfathers did. The very same thing.

And so I grow weary of having to explain this. Yes, “Yin” is traditionally female, although I use it to describe a personality attribute that predominantly is to be found in our males. Yang, likewise, is traditionally male, although it describes things our women usually do and that our men, typically, don’t. The concept didn’t flip around, the gender roles did. And so, I have to concede that The Bastidge is accurate in his critique:

Your theory’s alright, if a bit vague and rambling. But Yin and Yang have a specific meaning, and you’re using them more or less backwards.

Yin is a concept roughly aligned with the female, but the concepts covered in your theory- group consciousness, socializing, consensus, softness, weakness, emotion, passivity, are all associated with it.

Yang is roughly male, but also strong, factual, direct, resolute, hard, aggresiive, etc.

In their crudest, most basic form, yin and yang refer to the female and male sexual organs.

My use of these names was arbitrary anyway, and that was on purpose. For the last five years I have seen these as placeholders for something more descriptive that would, and should, come later. After I’d given it another think. Well, with this morass of a health care “debate” that has been taking place, and will surely flare up again later this year, I’ve been forced to give it another think. Besides of which, I’ve met lots and lots of manly-male guys who do their thinking in a much “Yangy-er” way than a lot of the females…so the genders don’t fit well in any case.

And I think the terms are these:

Architects and Medicators.

The word “Architect” is chosen with care. Way back in our history, when written language was a novel idea, architects were “master builders” (which is the etymology of the term). These things they labored to construct, with every little piece of it not put in place properly, could very likely collapse and wipe out an entire family in a heartbeat. And so laws were passed condemning failed architects to a death by stoning (Code of Hammurabi, Law 229). That’s a little gruesome, but it had the effect of galvanizing their chosen profession into a noble discipline.

In their own little community, a “Climategate” e-mail scandal would not, could not, have been tolerated even for an instant. Things were the way they were — period. An angle was ninety degrees, or it wasn’t — period. Up was up and down was down — period. There was no room for bastardizing the peer review process into some mutation of what it was intended to be, to ostracize and excoriate colleagues who spoke measurable truth. The architect, hundreds of years before Christ, lived in an object-oriented world and thought about that world in an object-oriented way.

Okay, now let’s look at what I’ve set up as the polar opposite.

“Medicator,” similarly, is chosen with deliberate thought and intent. “Physician” doesn’t work because physicians are supposed to adhere to the Hypocratic Oath and First Do No Harm. The verb “medicate” is applied to addictions, primary among those being mind-altering substances. It speaks to a process of adjusting one’s emotional response to reality as a first priority, with recognizing that reality as a distinctly second-place priority. Medicators do not heal. Nor do they seek to do harm. The long-term welfare of the body is simply outside of their concern. It isn’t that they don’t care, it’s that there is an emotional well-being that they prize more highly.

To recognize reality as it really is, and to adjust one’s emotional profile in response to the reality so that it is unconditionally cheery, are two mutually-exclusive goals. It may not seem to be the case when reality happens to be pleasant. But when reality is unpleasant you can choose to wrestle with it to whatever extent is required to fix a problem, or you can choose to ignore it in order to keep your emotions on a high and even keel. The sacrifice of long-term satisfaction in order to achieve a short-term high is, of course, a defining hallmark of medicating.

One Revolution AwayNow, these people trying to shove this fustercluck of a health care bill down our throats: It’s no mystery at all where they come down. They are medicators. It is not a primary goal of theirs to actually treat illnesses, heal the sick, bring “healthcare” or “access to healthcare” to “the uninsured.” Nor are they trying — architect-style — to solve any kind of a problem, President Obama’s unceasing speechifying notwithstanding. Think on it: When is the last time you heard anyone in Washington use those phrases above? Been awhile, hasn’t it? No, lately it’s about “getting this done.” Beating the opposition. Winning. Make things the way they/we want them to be. But wait just a second…we’re half way through an election cycle, one that began with their decisive victory. They already beat the opposition. Their victory is forgotten, however, just like a druggie’s high, and they find themselves incomplete, hungry, after-buzzed, struck with a raging case of Delerium Tremens if they don’t score another victory. And after they get that done, of course, they’ll need another and another and another. They live out their lives on a hairpin turn, just like a druggie. Time loses all meaning for them. Bliss is constantly one hit away.

It’s not about health care, of course. It’s about how we think about the world around us. The medicator lives in a gilded cage, waiting passively for someone to come along and fix the latest problem. He does not solve real problems, he does not support anyone who would solve real problems, he does not live in reality. He considers reality itself to be an inimical force. This, ironically, provides a liberating effect. Of course it’s all about the way one does one’s thinking to perceive the world around him, and with someone else assuming the burden of actually fixing the problem, the thinker enjoys the luxury of thinking about things as a non-architect. In a non-object-oriented way. With every little thing on God’s creation, melted together into a sloppy mess. And this overly-medicated “thinker” does not think, in turn, about the resulting mess; instead, he picks up an emotional vibe from it, and shares it with other self-medicated thinkers. That’s the model of reality as perceived by the medicator: A great big ball of warm, gooey wax that’s all melted together, and is now giving off vibes. Hopefully good ones, but if they’re bad ones then someone else needs to fix something — or it’s time for another “hit” of something via one-more-revolution.

Disciplining a child provides a similar contrast. To the architect, everything is cause and effect: The child engaged in undesirable behavior, therefore something needs to be modified about what the child perceives as proper or improper. The solution is to teach the child a new taboo. This can be done through direct communication if the child shares the desire that his behavior should be proper, or through punishment if he does not. First of all the transgression has to be properly categorized — bad attitude, or simple misunderstanding? Then we assess what the child understands about etiquette and go from there. In the Architect’s world, that’s what we do.

In the Medicator’s world, the exercise really is one of medication! Concentrating on something is not a task that was, for one reason or another, failed in this case; it is an ability that has gone missing because the child’s “brain isn’t wired quite right.” Of course the solution is to put the child on a prescription for some goop that will alter his emotional state, and make the process “easier for him.” (It’s nearly always a him.)

Another acid test is when a complex system of any kind starts producing the wrong output, because some unit within it starts to go all wonky — with all the other units in good order. To the Architect and Medicator alike, this is a no-brainer, but they come up with polar-opposite solutions. The Medicator wants to chuck the whole thing and start from scratch, whereas the Architect sees a puzzle to be solved in separating what’s good from what’s busted. Think of Blondie and Dagwood getting in one of their matrimonial melees about whether to call the plumber.

I commented last month that I had finally expunged the malware from my HP Mini notebook. My victory announcement was premature, it turned out. The beastie lived on, downloading other crap onto my platform. It shames me to say it, but if I were to act purely on logic and reasonable cost-benefit analyses, I would have taken the “scorched earth” approach much, much earlier than I did, and lost a lot less time. It became an Ahab/whale thing; I lost sight of fixing the problem, and concentrated instead on figuring out entirely useless trivia about it. Where’d I pick up this thing? What exactly does it contaminate? How come these packages over here can detect it and fool themselves into thinking they’re cleaning it, when they’re not? How come that package over there seems to have “wounded” it (toward the end, it locked up the netbook instead of popping up an ad, which is what it was clearly trying to do)…but can’t quite get all of it?

See, neither Architects or Medicators enjoy a monopoly on always having the right idea. Medicators throw things away in bulk — they are much more inclined to announce “this entire thing is bolluxed!” That is often the right approach, and I have to make a confession…my second one, now…that I’ve often missed out on this advantage when it comes up. Medicators seem to think life has no puzzles in it, none whatsoever. And they probably think this because, in the world they construct around themselves by accepting some responsibilities and simply walking away from some other ones, they’re absolutely right. Choices confront them — choices in which the wrong answer results in some kind of personal suffering — and they become petulant, unpleasant, and then someone else swoops in and solves it for them.

In their world, the question of who gets the “rep” as a problem solver, is completely isolated from the record of who did or didn’t actually solve problems. At no time has this been more evident, than this first year of watching our new President struggle with the demands of His new job. He is a dedicated Medicator. He fixes nothing. The only responsibility He takes is to refine the emotional buzz that comes from this thing or that one…and having failed even at that, He has a ready finger-of-blame to point somewhere else so He can give Himself a good report card. Which He did, actually. That one single act speaks volumes not only to how He thinks about the world and the challenges within it; it is a tip-off to how medicators think as well. You’ll notice this about them if you know some really dedicated ones personally. They enter into conflict with others, because they tend to demand the final word about their own work. It was up to par, the other guy just has a mistaken interpretation of “par.” They followed the instructions they were given, it’s the other guy’s fault for not giving them the right ones.

Running a meeting is yet another good litmus test. Some meeting chairs do it right: Agenda item, question, answer, does anyone have any objections, next agenda item — boom, boom, boom. Others engage in this ludicrous and time-consuming practice of using the forum to adjust the emotional tenor of the participants, as if it’s a high school pep rally. Buying a car: Any salesman will tell you, some people turn their thoughts to the TCO with considerations such as gas mileage, service records, availability of parts. Others worry overly much about how they look when they’re tooling around in the car, what strangers will think of them.

Homeowners’ Association bylaws can be written to accommodate one of these halves of humanity, or the other, or both. This is a rather interesting situation, because the bylaws represent an attempt to “architect” a successful neighborhood, through the “medication” of the emotions of the people who observe it. Here and there, though, we see stories in the news surrounding HOA bylaws that are, to turn a rustic phrase, just plain stupid. They don’t do anything to make people feel good and it seems extravagant and far-fetched to suppose they could have anything to do with preserving the value of the property. Banning the American flag is the one example that springs immediately to mind, since those stories have a way of jumping onto the front page.

The last time we linked one of these, the story in question showcased a persistent trait among the Medicators: proxy offense.

[M]anagement told them the flags could be offensive because they live in a diverse community.

The controlling curmudgeon lays down the curmudgeonly rule, and the curmudgeon is silent on whether he or she personally finds the emblem, the e-mail, the cologne, the pin-up calendar, et al, offensive. It’s much more often proxy: Some third party is offended. Or some third party could be offended. The impossible-to-meet “Could Be Interpreted As” standard of cleanliness. It is conceivably possible, therefore the contraband has to go. The curmudgeon will oversee the removal. But it’s business and not personal, see? Just like something out of The Godfather: “Tell Michael I always liked him, it was business, not personal.” Some nameless faceless anonymous person complained, or could complain.

This dedicated Architect says — Medicators really shouldn’t be running anything. They don’t want to. They don’t want the responsibility. This is why these columns are now coming out, some serious and some satirical, that speculate openly that President Obama is perhaps bored and disenchanted with His own job. I no longer consider it to be commentary outside my sphere of knowledge, to proffer that President Obama had some serious misgivings the first time He made a decision about something that had little-or-nothing to do with winning an election, saw that His decision had a direct bearing upon the outcome, and emotionally recoiled. I have seen this happen too many times, up close. In the months since then, the country has been buried in this “awkward stage” in which He tries to confront each and every single challenge with a vision that, as this-or-that chapter reaches the final page, the emotional buzz of those watching has been fine-tuned and frothed up into a desirable state of bliss. This is, I’m sure, why we’ve seen so many speeches out of Him during His first year, and will doubtless see about that many out of Him during His second.

We live in a society in which our every want and need is met, with resistance or inconvenience that is at best negligible. It may not seem like that to us at the time because we’re spoiled; we tend to mistake a temporary slow-down, or wrong turn, or setback, for a real possibility of failure in acquiring what we’re trying to acquire. Deep down, we all know we’re not really being challenged by much of anything; we will get what we are trying to get, one way or the other, so long as some minimal quantity of our peers are also trying to get the same thing. If all else fails we’ll band together and our populist rage will force someone to give it to us. We’re supposed to be so worried about “the economy” but we have our beer, our coffee, our big teevee screens. The only things that are really in jeopardy are the self-respect and dignity that come from having a job, and the same for our children. All other things are guaranteed, in one way or another. They don’t face any real jeopardy.

This state of hyper-safe hyper-civilization has aggravated the divide between — whate’er you wanna callzem, Yin and Yang, or Architects and Medicators — as I’ve pointed out before. It creates a bigger divide on such fundamental questions as: What is a good speech, anyway? What is a convincing argument? Is it thinky-thinky or feelie-feelie? In other words, do you progress systematically among the first three pillars, basing your opinions/inferences upon available fact and things-to-do upong the opinions/inferences. Or, do you just stir up a whole lot of motivating emotions in your audience, get them all outraged against some straw-man Snidely Whiplash, anti-logical exuberance for your “ideas,” Obama-style?

And the fact is, Architects have a definite idea in mind about the answer to such rudimentary questions.

Another fact is, Medicators have a definite idea about the answer as well. These ideas are not the same. They are opposites.

Another fact is, neither side is willing to budge on such issues. If you have a pulse, and a brain, and you’ve been using your brain to solve problems that confront you here and there…each day you stay alive further enmeshes you in the answer you chose, way back, before you were five years old.

And the least inconvenient fact of all is that if we cannot agree on questions like those, we aren’t going to agree on anything else.

We are engaged in a discourse between people who understand how to make real decisions, and those who do not understand this and do not seek to understand this. They don’t see the need. But since they’ve “won,” for the time being it is their job…even if they continue to find ways to weasel out of it, and blame others when the job goes undone.

Haiti as of Now

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Or to be precise, as of nine days ago. Harry has a report that ought to cause some measure of distress to Alyssa Milano:

Outside of trying to destroy Israel and bring down Western civilization in general, is there anything the UN is useful for? According to Jeff Andrus,

USAID, when in control of all inbound flights, had food and water flights stacked up all the way to Miami , yet allowed Geraldo Rivera, Anderson Cooper and a host of other left wing news puppies to land.

Pulled all the security off the rescue teams so that Bill Clinton and his wife could have the grand tour, whilst we sat unable to get to people trapped in the rubble.

Stacked enough food and water for the relief over at the side of the airfield then put a guard on it while we dehydrated and wouldn’t release a drop of it to the rescuers.

No shower facilities to decontaminate after digging or moving corpses all day, except for the FEMA teams who brought their own shower and decon equipment, as well as air conditioned tents.

No latrine facilities, less digging a hole. If you set up a shitter everyone was trying to use it.

I watched a 25-year-old Obamite with the USAID shrieking hysterically, berate a full bird colonel in the Air Force, because he countermanded her orders, whilst trying to unscrew the air pattern. “You don’t know what your president wants! The military isn’t in charge here, we are!”

If it’s about helping people in need, rather than buying up some relatively cheap PR, someone important is going to be checking this stuff out and chewing off enough ass to get it fixed. Ms. Milano just might be as big a help there, potentially, as anyone else. I have a big pledge for her if she chooses to step up…maybe not by her standards…but I don’t think I’m alone in saying my purse strings would loosen up, considerably, if I could just get a little more confidence in what’s going on.

Hope someone gets on this.

Best Sentence LXXXII

Friday, February 5th, 2010

The eighty-second award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to The Blog Prof, writing about local politics in Macomb County, MI.

The first rule in a Democrat hegemony is to threaten public safety to either 1) raise taxes, or 2) continue to fund overgenerous benefits to unions and thus avoid making necessary cuts. This is what I termed the “human shield” strategy, and Macomb County has trotted it out many times. How many more examples does the electorate need that Democrats simply have priorities backwards? The first role of government is the protection of its citizens. First role! Numero Uno. The prime directive. Yet, when faced with budget crises of their own doing, the Democrat modus operindi is to cut public safety, but also to wrap golden union benefits in an impenetrable shield of bureaucratic red tape.

Hat tip to Proof Positive.

I was noticing this myself. As a philosophy, the democrat worldview seems to have a lot to do with giving up freedom and opportunity in order to bolster personal security to unrealistic levels — so many of their identifications of deficiencies in the status quo seem to revolve around bad things that might conceivably happen — but they flip over like a pancake the minute a threat becomes genuine. Or measurable.

Here, I’ll sum it up in a single sentence:

Global warming is a real problem we have to solve but jihad-based terrorism is a nuisance.

Maybe they really don’t give a rip about freedom or safety…they’re just opposed to reality.

Or maybe they’re just telling people whatever they have to tell them, to get hold of more loot to distribute to their friends. That would explain just about everything. Except then, the democrat politician becomes, uh, well, pretty much exactly what he says the Republicans are. Just with different friends. The Republican is the friend of that awful guy with the mustache in the pinstripe suit smoking his cigar in the corner office…who is accountable to the court system and to the shareholders. The democrat is the friend of the union boss who is accountable to nobody. Everyone who might possibly do something to him, is bought off with money taken from other people. Money that represents wealth the union boss did not create.

Perhaps we don’t need to be concerned so much with the democrat who tries to be Robin Hood. Maybe the nightmare scenario is the democrat who plays the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Are Businesses People?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

After sitting through all of President Obama’s State of the Union address, and updating my list of “Obama Speech Bingo” items from 53 to 87, I am left with exactly one question. I don’t know if it will be answered in this lifetime or not. I’d like to know what, exactly, the loyal hard-left liberal democrat has in mind when he talks about “the economy,” as in the economy is getting stronger, we want to see it get better, the economy took a whallopin’ “Over The Last Eight Years,” et al. I’ve prowled over the clues, looking for some semblance of consistency…and perhaps that is a mistake. Near as I can figure, The Economy is something that thrives when taxes are raised and is starved when taxes are cut. And yet it has something to do with jobs, which makes me wonder if the loyal extreme liberal democrat has it straight in his own mind what “The Economy” is.

Miss Me Yet?The jobs thing has something to do with businesses making decisions to hire people, that much I get; and this seems to be on par with the way we see “the economy” here on Planet Earth. It is equally clear to me, however, that on Planet Wild-Eyed Liberal, a business hiring someone has a lot more to do with willingness than with ability.

I found this nugget on page 7 of the New York Times transcript to be an aptly representative sample of what I heard over the seventy minutes last night:

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can’t address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree — which is why this freeze won’t take effect until next year — (laughter) — when the economy is stronger. That’s how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand –- understand if we don’t take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -– all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we’ll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that’s what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That’s what helped us into this crisis. It’s what helped lead to these deficits. We can’t do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new. Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let’s meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let’s try common sense. (Laughter.) A novel concept.

I recall the President said something about really sticking it to the businesses and it brought the democrat side of the chamber to a standing ovation. Can’t remember if this is that moment or not, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that goofy moment just a little bit later, about the Supreme Court decision. President Obama has earned for Himself a fusillade of justified criticism here. He seems to have been taking a break from trying out His novel concept of common sense. As one Georgetown University Law Center Professor asks,

In the history of the State of the Union has any President ever called out the Supreme Court by name, and egged on the Congress to jeer a Supreme Court decision, while the Justices were seated politely before him surrounded by hundreds Congressmen? To call upon the Congress to countermand (somehow) by statute a constitutional decision, indeed a decision applying the First Amendment? What can this possibly accomplish besides alienating Justice Kennedy who wrote the opinion being attacked. Contrary to what we heard during the last administration, the Court may certainly be the object of presidential criticism without posing any threat to its independence. But this was a truly shocking lack of decorum and disrespect towards the Supreme Court for which an apology is in order. A new tone indeed.

I’ve read all the arguments in favor of the decision and dissenting from the decision, and again it comes down to this central question: What is an economy? More precisely, are businesses people? If they are not, then I could begin to see the logic: How dare that Supreme Court allow those green-headed monsters to have an influence on our elections! But if they are…

If they are, then this is the very appearance of fascism, is it not? You just take anyone from among the citizenry who might object to your new proposals, and define them out of existence. That’s how it works right?

President Obama, like any energized, extremist liberal, seems to come from that other planet on which businesses are food, not people. They have nothing to do with this thing we call “the economy” other than feeding it by making occasional random decisions about hiring & firing.

No wait — if that were the case, you’d have to acknowledge the business’ welfare is linked to the welfare of the rest of us. So it must be something like the businesses hurt the economy by laying people off. For fun or something.

Whatever. The facts are not on the President’s side on this one:

Tonight the president engaged in demogoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, “open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”

The president’s statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making “a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication… .”

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.

Well, I live on Earth. Over here, businesses are people. They are people who will be filing income taxes at the end of the year, because they are required to file them…and they are organizing under a charter recognized by the governments of the nation and the states, for the purpose of making that money on which they’ll be paying the taxes. “Tax the businesses” just means taxing a whole lot more.

And no, Mr. President, the “status quo” is not “investing less in our people” — unless, by investing less in our people, you mean continuing to tax the businesses on their production of wealth that is going to be taxed on an individual basis later. If this double-taxation is what You meant by this remark, You were right, but that would involve seeing businesses as people. I’ve got a pretty good idea of where you stand on that question, so I have a feeling that is not what You meant.

Because now that You’ve had the opportunity to give hundreds and hundreds of speeches to get Your point across, with the Obama-Speech-Bingo phrase “Let Me Be Clear” always sprinkled generously throughout — You are, at least somewhat, clear. You, obviously, come from that other planet. Where it is not altogether certain what exactly an “economy” is, and I guess nobody really cares. But you all gather every night around the Na’vi Hometree and tell spooky stories about scary alien monsters that are “corporate special interests” that have to be taxed “to pay their fair share,” but shouldn’t be allowed to say anything about the policies of the government that sees such nobility in multiple-taxing them…

…and then putting together one commission after another to try to figure out why “The Economy” isn’t taking off.

Photoshop credit once again goes to Gerard.

Five Things Americans Need to Understand About How Government Works

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Hawkins:

One of the biggest problems we have in this country is that so few Americans understand how our government works in the real world. Since that’s the case, most people simply aren’t capable of making an informed judgment about whether politicians can deliver on a promise. With that in mind, it seems like a good idea to go back to basics and explain what so many of us have already learned the hard way about the government.

Government can’t compete on even footing with the private sector:
:
Government action often creates more problems than it solves:
:
It’s extremely difficult to shrink government:
:
Our politicians lack expertise:
:
The first priority of our politicians isn’t solving our problems: As the great Thomas Sowell has said:

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

Supreme Court Ends Shut-Uppery

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Or some of it, at least.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is rejoicing.

The New York Times editorial board is crying in their beer. They don’t explain the foundation of their opinion very much, or very well. When they give it a go for a paragraph or two…

The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The Constitution they wrote mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.
:
This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign. The court elevated that case to a forum for striking down the entire ban on corporate spending and then rushed the process of hearing the case at breakneck speed. It gave lawyers a month to prepare briefs on an issue of enormous complexity, and it scheduled arguments during its vacation.

Those are the two beefiest paragraphs in the entire editorial, with regard to the issue of why corporations should be treated any differently from individuals. The founders were worried about the corporations, but didn’t write down anything to that effect; and the Supreme Court heard the arguments during a vacation.

The editorial betrays an addled mindset that thinks inflammatory rhetoric is a good path to a decent decision, and this somehow justifies throwing lots of red herrings in the space where one would expect to find a coherent, rational argument. This is not the first occasion on which I’ve read a NYT editorial and noticed this. This is rather childish of them; adults know full well that, if it’s possible to make a good decision on a vacation, there is little to be gained from proscription against deciding things on a vacation. Adults also know that corporations are people. Sure, there’s a corrupt corporation here and there; just like there are corrupt people. And hey, NYT editorial board, there are corrupt labor unions too.

The other editorial board has it right. Corporations, mostly due to made-for-teevee and big-screen movies featuring bad guys who wear nice three-piece suits at all hours of the day & night — have soiled reputations, and the public is not terribly sympathetic with them. They have not always conducted themselves admirably. Just like some people.

But the case has not been made, that they should enjoy any fewer rights than an individual. It’s just generational squawking, the same stuff we see with regard to “Net Neutrality,” “Public Option,” “Privatize Social Security.” There are vast multitudes walking around, somehow, laboring under the delusion that you and I are all right until we start working for a corporation and then suddenly we’re terrible creatures, and then everything we want must be anathema to the welfare of “everyone.”

They are overly enamored of various methods and techniques of shut-uppery. They seem to figure, since the public overall isn’t sympathetic toward corporations, that means any protections the Constitution would ordinarily provide to them, should be bulldozed because those protections are getting in the way of something the New York Times calls “democracy.” Said democracy seems to have something to do with benefits extended to whoever the NYT finds to be adorable, cute, sweet, doe-eyed and fluffy.

Well, since when has the Constitution had to provide protection to those who are appealing? Bambi’s Mom already has protection in public sentiment, and the legislators who represent that sentiment; the Constitution is for the hunter.

So Much Gasbaggery

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Why Obama is Obsessed with Summits. It was on my “tall stack” as of the end of last year, and it never made it into this scroll. Better late than never.

Little more than a month after taking office, he held a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” where he solicited ideas for battling the deficit; a few weeks after that he hosted a “Health Care Summit” to kick off his drive for health care reform; and later still came the “H1N1 Preparedness Summit” and the “Distracted Driving Summit.” Then there were the assortment of international summits (Summit of the Americas, NATO Summit, G-8 Summit, G-20 Summit, ASEAN Summit), head-of-state summits (Karzai, Zardari, Medvedev, Hatoyama, Hu), and, of course, the Beer Summit with Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley. And today Obama’s summitry comes full circle when he holds another jobs summit, where he and 130 other people (including Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, and even Eric Schmidt, in case he has any new ideas he didn’t put forth 14 months ago) will chew over how to get the unemployment rate out of double digits. Add it all up and that’s an astounding amount of gas-baggery in such a relatively short period of time.

Reminds me of this sketch that appeared on a popular local comedy show, waaaay back in the day when I was living in Seattle. Yes, that is Bill Nye the Science Guy, in case you were wondering.

Hat tip to Mere Rhetoric. And, my notes also indicate, this one came by way of the purse-dog-obsessed Gerard.

Four Ways to Spend Money

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Radio guy just went off on this. I missed the part where he explained whether he came up with this on the spot, or read it somewhere…and the GooglGodz are frowning with disdain on my attempts to nail down any source. But I can’t let this go.

There are four ways to spend money.

With your own money, for yourself.

You will be extremely careful about what it is you are buying, what it is the thing is going to do for you, for how long, and most of all — you will pinch pennies like there’s no tomorrow.

With your own money, for someone else.

You will spend money with just as much caution as in the above example but you won’t pay too much attention to what it is you are buying because you don’t really care.

With someone else’s money, for yourself.

You will spend lavishly as you pay attention only to what it is you are acquiring. You will be somewhat concerned about “bang for the buck” but not overly much.

With someone else’s money, for someone else.

You will spend with reckless abandon, caring not one whit about how much you burned up or what you got with it.

Government taxing-and-spending falls mostly into the fourth of those. What doesn’t fall into the fourth of those falls into the third. And perhaps there’s way too much falling into the third thing and not enough falling into the fourth, but that’s a different discussion.

Point is, if this is coming to you as a paradigm shift, there’s lots and lots of good stuff on the teevee on election day and you should really spend your time watching that instead of voting.

Anthony’s Snow

Friday, October 30th, 2009

For reasons I’d rather not list, I’ve been forced to think lately about this messy thing that invades our lives whether we invite it or not, called “other people”…where people go wrong, and why. How they make it tough to get along with ‘em. The deleterious effects they have on one another. The mistakes they seem to make, apparently with innocence, but then the mistakes have been made so many times before. I’ve thought about this before, and I’ve written about it a few times.

The taxonomy known as Ten Terraces of Liberalism shies away from the specifics of cause, opting instead to focus its inspecting lens upon levels of severity. It leaves much ground uncovered, for this reason. The ground it does cover has to do with specific methods of initial recruitment. And the Seven Steps to Insanity is another taxonomy of levels, more vertical than horizontal; the former traces how people become more and more liberal, the latter traces how they become just-plain-nuts.

So let’s look into what’s been left flapping in the wind, untied, so we can get it tied down.

First, there are Pie People. Pie People are easy to define. Their area of special interest is economics, and their fundamental error is an unsubstantiated belief in wealth’s fungible nature. A dollar in my pocket is proof-positive you can’t ever have it in yours for however long it remains in mine. Any billionaire you see, therefore, is ipso facto evidence of deprivation, and perhaps extortion, of hundreds of thousands of innocents who should be wealthier than they really are.

The Pie People believe in an economic “pie” that is of a fixed diameter and mass, although the size of the slices out of that pie may vary by size. That’s why when my slice is bigger, the net of all the other slices must be diminished — including yours. Naturally, the only fair thing to do is to make all the slices equal.

Elimination-of-Risk people are closely related to this. Both of these types of people, are associated with obsessive-compulsive behavior. The more they get of something they wanted, the more they want — again. It never stops. Pie People want everyone to have the same amount of stuff, and elimination-of-risk people want life to be safer and safer until there is no risk at all. They have it in common that they fail to see that they just got everything they wanted. They constantly feel like they’re being had. And so when they get what they want, and as a direct result everything turns to crap, they naturally fail to see that too. They want more more more. And they get it.

This weekend I scrambled under a deadline to put together a document that is of a private nature, and I’ll not elaborate too much on what is in there…but there is one section that is worthy of reproducing here.

This is a schism that has been opened wide under the foundation of every single culture, I suspect, that has achieved any semblance of “civilization” since the beginning of history. …Humanity has been struggling, since its inception, to figure out if it’s worth the hassle of trying to drive any & all risk of failure out of the day-to-day challenge of living life.

Behind that question, a second question emerges: Could there be danger involved in trying to eradicate any and all risk? To those who assert that it’s worthwhile to drive risk of failure from our existence, or at the very least that getting rid of all risk is relatively harmless, the recent history that is the bailout boondoggle intrudes as an inconvenient lesson. It has been ill-advised, reckless, certainly very expensive, and toxic. Even people who don’t typically believe in the free market, are now perhaps more worried than they’re willing to admit about the loose soil under our economy that is the ongoing survival of firms that — according to conventional market signals, that were overruled in an exceptional case — shouldn’t continue to exist. Such a situation is, indeed, the primary cause of the bursting of the housing bubble that took place a year ago.
:
Lots of good, sound, logical points are made why we shouldn’t do it. We do it anyway. It turns out to be a huge mistake. Entities that should be successful, fail; entities that should fail, because of artificial “bowling bumpers” put in place, succeed.

When it’s over, anybody who honestly inspects the situation and puts some quality thought into thinking about what it is they’ve seen, has to admit this was a huge mistake and we shouldn’t have done it. And yet — the next time the same situation comes up, we look seriously at doing it yet again, and more often than not we do try to eliminate risk all over again.
:
I should add that, as I write this, there are murmurs from Washington that since the “Stimulus Plan” didn’t lower the unemployment rate and might have even raised it, what we need is a “Stimulus II” or “Son of Stimulus.” I rest my case. We think we are evaluating the results of the things we are doing, with some honesty. We’re wrong.

Now, here’s a heady question: Do the Pie People morph over time into the Elimination-of-Risk people? Or is it the other way around?

So far, it seems to me the faction most opposed to common sense and rational thinking is the E.O.R. people. They have shown themselves capable, as I pointed out above, of looking upon the wreckage of their flawed ideas and in that very moment solemnly pledging to do it all over again…to fix the wreckage. If sanity is something that can be casually expunged, so it can never ever be retrieved again — they are very close.

But in this same document, I continued to describe another modern people-problem…one that might be even worse still. The “parade people”:

I’m writing here about those poor wretched souls who seem to go through life disbelieving in, or doubting, or failing to observe, any connection that might possibly exist between the things they do and the positive or negative consequences that are visited upon them. These people seem to see life as some sort of parade, an endless and meanering tapestry of surprises, hopefully pleasant ones but at other times unpleasant ones; these things just seem to “happen.”

Passive voice is the rule. I didn’t fuck up at my job; I got fired. Mean ol’ boss came in one day and laid the smack down. Poor me. Got my car taken away by that man who works for the cruel, heartless bank. Don’t talk to me about failing to make the payments. What good does that do? What happened was that I got my car taken away. I lost it. Poor me.

It’s often done by proxy, which is to say by one person on behalf of another; this is classic enabling. He has a learning disability. Her weight problem is genetic. His private life is separate from his performance in public office. They’re sending their children into Israel with dynamite belts because they have no other way of defending themselves. There wouldn’t be any crime if the economy was just a little bit better. They didn’t get divorced because they got married too young and grew apart; HE changed, and in so doing drove her into another man’s arms. He made her do it.

These people aren’t known for taking extra steps to stop bad things from happening, in fact they are known for reacting with acrimony and resentment if it’s ever pointed out something could be done to stop bad things from happening. Their view of life becomes limited, and necessarily their view of their own role in life also must become limited. They extend this limited view to others they know, after awhile. If you know them, you feel the weight bearing down on you that you shouldn’t be working too hard. Why do you have to go to work today? Why don’t you call in sick? How come you never call in sick, unless you’re really sick?

That’s why I call them “Parade People”; the assignment seems to be to sit or stand…and watch. That is all that is expected from any of us. Except, that is, for the people who make it happen. These people are elitists, embracing the social contract that we should get along with each other and recognize each other as human beings — but they only feel the obligation of honoring that among their own kind. Should you ever go out to lunch with them, you’ll find they don’t treat the “help” the same way they treat their friends, who are “real people,” who in turn are cooler because they have fewer things to do. Together, they’re all supposed to wait for the next surprise to come along, and display the appropriate and expected emotional reaction to it. That’s it. Then wait for the next surprise. Apart from that, it seems nobody is really supposed to be doing anything. Except for those stupid grunts who somehow have the “job” of putting the parade together.

The slightest suggestion that someone, somewhere…anyone…has what it takes to perhaps impose an effect on what the next thing is that comes down the road…gets these people angry. Think about this for a minute or two. Recall your own experiences with people like this. They don’t mildly, simply, coolly, dispassionately disagree. They get mad. Like they’re involved in some kind of a civil war.

That’s because they are.

And so perhaps they have a tendency to evolve into the cornfield people.

Earlier this week, blogger friend Rick chose to challenge a left-wing Christian blogger who said she was “sick of war.” I joined in, and together we courteously made the point that war does have its purposes. Trouble is, you can’t be courteous to the cornfield people. After she declared she “had enough” I decided to test the boundaries here and try to figure out just how hypersensitive the cornfield people are. Answer: Very…although I was left with the distinct impression that if my opinions on the issues were more to her liking, the eggshells upon which I was walking would suddenly be made of cast iron, and I’d have much greater latitude.

All of the points she had to make — each and every single one — had to do with some wish that she had, that someone or something would cease to exist. Not much thought about what was to become of the wretched things. They should just stop…being. That’s why I call people like her “cornfield people.” The reference is to the six-year-old boy in the Twilight Zone episode who wishes people out to the cornfield. It’s an ingenious little tale (Physics Geek was kind enough to write in and provide a link to the story from which the TZ episode was made).

This behavior remained consistent, and continued until the very end when she announced that she had to unexpectedly put down her dog of eight years, and really, really couldn’t stand this anymore. Comments closed.

Back at Rick’s place, I noted that not only could her entire argument be distilled down to a singular wish that this-thing or that-thing be made to disappear…and she never once had anything else of substance to say…but she maintained through it all a narcissistic “It’s All About Me Me Me” unidirectional sensitivity about what she found offensive. In whatever. Had she put a moment’s thought into the idea that perhaps she can say things that sound offensive to others, she’d have her own answer about why she was being oh so picked on in this rough-and-tumble world we call the blogosphere…in which, for reasons unknown, she thought her hypersensitive ego could be safely ensconced. But she couldn’t even read accurately. She hallucinated some kind of awful things I said about her family that I never once said. This is a good lesson for us all, I think. These people are out there. Some of them are capable of getting jobs. If they disagree with you it’s all your fault. They’re walking claymore mines.

If their thirst for drama ends up doing you harm, they’ll not be sorry. They’re elitists, and they’re cornfield people.

They go around finding things offensive. It’s not a two-way street with these folks, just like Anthony’s reading minds in “It’s A Good Life” was not a two-way street.

I love that story because although it’s primarily concerned with the life the grown-ups are forced to live, “if Anthony would let them,” a subtle side-plot is Anthony’s gradual development of a strange, dysfunctional personality — a personality that isn’t good for anything. He’s building it every day he lives (presumably, in both the book and the TV episode, everyone starves to death)…because he coasts on through his childhood never being told no.

You can tell, as I draw my little arrows in oh-so-light-pencil from one type to the next type, that I think there’s a connection amongst all these, a connection of cause and effect. But I’m really not terribly sure what it is; what pupates into what. I do know, be that as it may, what it is they all have in common. All these folk, for whatever reason, are living out only a piece of the gift we call “life.” Perhaps they’re simply afraid to embrace all of it. They cannot compromise on too many things. They want everything done their way. But if everything really is done their way, the rest of us only live out a piece of life as well. We end up watching snow fall on our crops in midsummer, just like the grown-ups at the end of the TZ episode. In fact, you could make a perfectly acceptable argument that Atlas Shrugged is the same story, with a few more pages and a more meandering plot. The primary sequence of events, and the characters & motivation, are all the same.

All of this may be taken as a lead-up to a wonderful essay Neo-Neocon has put together called “My Friends The Liberals.” You’ve made it this far through my own scribblings; in for a penny, in for a pound. You should stop whatever it is you’ve been waiting to get to, click open her post and read every single word, including the comments. Highlights:

I mentioned that my liberal friends often diss America. This happens so often that it is almost a verbal tic. Often, their fellow countrymen/women are contrasted to those wonderful Europeans, who are (take your pick): cultured, sophisticated, linguistically diverse, international, pacifist, non-imperialist (now, anyway—since history began post-WWII). Americans? The opposite.
:
If someone tries to point out certain things that are unequivocally and more conventionally “good” about America, such as the fact that the US was in the forefront of international relief after the tsunami, it is brushed off as a very small and insignificant matter compared to the manifest wrongs we’ve committed. Their belief in the general evil perpetrated by the US around the world is not built on a single event, nor can it be eradicated by pointing out a single fact, or even a few. It is a huge edifice built on thousands of smaller bits of supposed knowledge, and to mount an assault on it would take several courses and piles of reading matter, and might not be successful even then.

Are you beginning to see the depth of the tragedy here? All this effort is put into being positive. To think happy thoughts. To see the other side of those who might casually be categorized as the least worthy among us. To find reasons why such-and-such a guy is stealing liquor from a drugstore…maybe he’s trying to scrape together a few bucks to get his dying daughter the chemotherapy she needs, et cetera.

That’s supposed to be the redeeming quality. The ability to see the other side, to recognize beneficial attributes that would go otherwise unnoticed.

And yet I think all sane people, occupying any position along the ideological spectrum, would ‘fess up that “[M]y liberal friends often diss America…it is almost a verbal tic” has nothing positive going for it whatsoever. There is some dark alchemy at work that metastasizes this drive to do good, to think those happy thoughts, to “dream of things that never were, and ask ‘why not?’” — into something acrid, caustic, and trenchant.

No, worse than that.

Something that, by its very nature, is antithetical to the living of life. Something parasitic. Salt sown into the soil where our crops are supposed to grow. Something that stops us from living some of life today, and all of life tomorrow.

Anthony’s snow, perhaps.

Update: Seeing lots of parallels between this lamentation, and what Peggy Noonan is noticing. Perhaps we’re seeing exactly the same thing, and making our comments in different ways?

Rachael Leigh Cook and the Common Good

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Rachael Leigh CookClassic Liberal is pointing back to us with another Sunday post that contemplates deep thoughts about sociopolitical human interaction over the generations, and a vision of female loveliness which today is Rachael Leigh Cook.

The sociopolitical theme for today is the balderdash commonly named “Common Good.” Which, you will notice, always indicates someone is being personally and unfairly harmed. There’s a necessity arising to indicate you’re doing something “good” for somebody, which ends up being “common,” since everyone can plainly see you’re hurting someone. “The two worst scourges of humanity in the twentieth century were socialism and fascism…” the essay begins. Go and read.

I was just thinking about this stuff the other day. Had a “D’Jever notice?” moment.

When a common problem is confronted by two solutions to be implemented against it simultaneously…and the two solutions are opposed from one another in that one of them demands that individuals take responsibility for words and deeds, and the other solution absolves individuals from any such responsibility…it is a common human mistake to systematically credit all desirable results that ensue, on the solution that absolves. And, further, to blame all deleterious events on the solution that does the demanding.

It’s an important observation because it’s very rare that we go full-tilt absolving people of personal responsibility, and somehow we don’t seem to be comfortable taking a hard line on demanding personal responsibility out of people either. It is in our nature to mix the two together. We seem to persist in thinking that sewage mixed with a fine wine results in something besides sewage.

And so we start out with this mixture, and then the next mixture does a better job of absolving responsibility…since that produced “good” results and the alternative produced all these “bad” results. Think of the “banking crisis” being blamed on “Wall Street greed” and not on government intervention…think of “skyrocketing healthcare costs” being blamed on “greed” and not on torts. Once you recognize the signs, it’s everywhere you look.

We absolve personal responsibility, punishing those who committed no crime other than meeting their responsibilities and earning the profits that resulted from doing so. And then we do more and more and more and more of it. Then we wonder why capitalism is screwing us over so badly.

It’s not leaving us. We’re leaving it.

Vertical Man, Vertical Man, Doing the Things a Vertical Can

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Gagdad Bob:

“Horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine authority. Taken to its logical extreme, this manifests as the demagogue, the cult of personality, or the dictator-god who expresses the vitalistic will of the people. But all forms of leftism lie on this continuum. So much of the pandering of the left is merely totalitarianism in disguise — a false absolute and a counterfeit vertical.”

And there is no one so inflated with narcissistic hubris as the leftist social engineer who will save mankind from its own self-inflicted wounds. The leftist can give man everything but what he most needs, and in so doing, destroys the possibility of man. As Eliot said, the leftist dreams of a system in which it will be unnecessary for anyone to be good. But man is the being who can — and must — choose between good and evil.

Likewise, “the moment we talk about ‘social conscience,’ and forget about conscience, we are in moral danger” (Eliot). Eliminate the idea of moral struggle, and “you must expect human beings to become more and more vaporous.” Since man is placed at the crossroads where he is free to choose between good and evil, this again eliminates man…

They have a fight, and Horizontal Man wins.

Don’t Dare Call it Stupidity

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

…because the whole point to zero tolerance is to take human thinking out of the equation. So in assessing the actions put into play by the policy, there is no human intellect that can be evaluated. It’s been removed.

And you need that explanation…to keep your jaw from hitting the floor

Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother’s fiancé by his side to vouch for him.

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

As Neal Boortz pointed out, someday our country’s defense will rely on kids Zachary’s age. Yeah that’ll work out real well, if the little darlings have never seen a knife before won’t it?

My kid knows how to handle a knife, bow & arrow, and a gun…somewhat…anyway, why do I teach him to do these things? Because I got upset when someone had to cut up his meat for him, when I thought he was way too old for it — and I don’t want to get shot in the ass with a pellet or an arrow. But then there is the matter of his safety. What if the time comes he has to use a gun? He’d need to own one first, of course…and childhood seems an apt time to learn the rules. It’s always loaded, never point it at anything you don’t want to shoot, etc.

But there is this vast multitude of unfortunates out there — and some of them are parents — who believe any scintilla of danger anywhere represents a job left undone. They’re the ones driving this…the ones who think life, womb-to-tomb, should be danger-free. Ironically, these are the same folks who talk on cell phones while they park-and-unpark huge minivans they have no business driving, before and after dropping off their kids. Your preciousness is very likely to be in greater danger during those few minutes than at any other time of day.

What we’re seeing here is a great culture clash. Because let’s face it, we really don’t have occasion to come together across class lines, outside of the schools our kids attend. How this is reconciled should be of great concern to everyone, even to the people who prevail in the reconciliation. The independent-minded folks, responsible gun owners, rednecks, call ‘em what you will, send their kids to the same enclave as the ladies who sat in the back seat with the little ones when they were babies, and now drive minivans with sixteen sets of airbags, and live under the delusion they can somehow make life hazard free.

I’d be happier if there was some kind of big melee that resulted.

As it is, rulz is rulz and…game-set-match, the pussies win. This community area called “school” is custom made-to-order so as not to offend their sensibilities of what a kid-friendly environment should be. Everyone else just needs to learn to cope.

Neal raised the question of how the nation is to be defended in the years ahead. Well there are other things that have to take place, too, once the defense has been provided. People don’t learn to engage diligent, responsible, strong thinking when they haven’t learned things can go wrong.

What Does a Hate Crimes Bill Have to Do With Defense?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner:

Nothing, except that the National Defense Authorization Act, which will win final passage in Congress and be sent to the president’s desk this week, also contains the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Democrats placed inside the defense measure over Republican objections.

The crime bill — which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which the bill defines as a victim’s “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” — passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure. But it’s never had the votes to succeed by itself in the Senate. So over the summer Democrats, with the power of their 60-vote majority, attached it to the defense bill.

Republicans argued that the two measures had nothing to do with each other. Beyond that, GOP lawmakers feared the new bill could infringe on First Amendment rights in the name of preventing broadly defined hate crimes. The bill’s critics, including many civil libertarians, argued that the hate crimes provision could chill freedom of speech by empowering federal authorities to accuse people of inciting hate crimes, even if the speech in question was not specifically related to a crime.

All of which gives me cause to wonder…

…what if the bill passes, and then the hardcore left-wingers persist in referring to tea party attendees as “teabaggers”? It has become quite a common practice of late. When you belong to the more adorable political party it seems you can be just as homophobic as you want, in front of as many people as you want, as often as you want. So that would all change right? Or am I just being silly and naive?

A Society That Doesn’t Run on Greed

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Quote of the Day, over at The Smallest Minority:

Is there some society we know that doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy; it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy.

The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the auto industry that way.

In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, they have had capitalism and largely free trade.

If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. The record of history is absolutely crystal clear: that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

The speaker is Milton Friedman.

The House of Eratosthenes Glossary defines “greed” as…nothing.

Greedy (adj.):
An undefined word. If it does have a meaning at all, the closest one we’ve been able to extrapolate from the pattern of the word’s actual usage, is: Someone who manifests a desire to keep his property when someone else comes along wanting to take it away. A wealthy person who wants to stay that way.

In California, Unemployment Highest in Seventy Years

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

New York Times, via Lucianne:

California’s unemployment rate in August hit its highest point in nearly 70 years, starkly underscoring how the nation’s incipient economic recovery continues to elude millions of Americans looking for work.

While job losses continue to fall, the state’s new unemployment rate — 12.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — is far above the national average of 9.7 percent and places California, the nation’s most-populous state, fourth behind Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island. Statistics kept by the state show California’s unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in 1940, said Kevin Callori, a spokesman for the California Employment Development Department.While California has convulsed under the same blows as the rest of the country over the last two years, its exposure to both the foreclosure crisis and the slowdown in construction — an industry that has fueled growth in much of the state over the last decade — has been outsized.

Those of you who think America’s halcyon days of “hope and change” are just around the corner, as soon as we de-fang, muzzle and geld the Republicans just a little bit more and get just a little bit more power to the democrat party, maybe have a few more “One Revolution Away From Happiness” revolutions of their choosing and at their request…

Look to my state as the crystal ball for what your future holds.

Thirty-six million souls living out their lives on this giant billboard that serves as a warning to you. As one of them, I really don’t know how it can be made any plainer. Seriously, how are you gonna reply? It’s conservatism that got us into this fix?

This Sunday, the Sacramento Bee (I’ll try to find a link later) had a front-page story about the California economy sucking…actually, the budget…economy is everything, budget is just the government piece. So the story was about the budgets sucking — as in, this year’s budget, last year’s budget, the year before’s budget, next year’s budget. And SacBee finally managed to figure it out: Income tax receipts from taxpayers making more than $500k a year, have far too big of an effect on how things are going to turn out in any given year. Uh yeah, like duh. If one of the “privileges” of doing business in the Golden State is that your profits will never be seen by you, because those profits have to be used to prop up our dilapidated state government that doesn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of — but nevertheless still wants to cook up more ways to get rid of money — well, what’re you gonna do? What would anyone want to do?

Our financial picture is bleak, because we don’t want it to be in any other condition. We hate rich people, and we don’t want ‘em around. It’s really just as simple as that.

“The Soup is Terrible and the Portions Are Too Small”

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Much of the “governing” that took place in our country throughout the twentieth century, has consisted of a) identifying a problematic social program that had been put in place in some past generation to redistribute money — what in God’s name were we thinking when we put that turkey in?? — and b) putting together yet another one to give our children the same nightmares our parents gave us. We seem to possess a regrettable ability to fail to recognize a Faustian arrangement, right up to the last phases of it, the moment our nose-hairs are tickled by the sulfuric fumes.

Regarding the President’s speech Wednesday evening, I got five things out of them:

No one single plan is finalized yet, so nobody else can criticize it but I can “dispel rumors” by fantasizing about what I’d like to see in the final draft;

I get to call my opponents liars, but when they say I’m a liar it’s a breach of some kind of sacred code of civility;

If my opponents point out something won’t work, you should pretend nothing of value has been said at all, until such time as they can come up with a solution to it — but when I say something that makes no sense whatsoever but sounds good, go ahead and get as excited as you want;

Medicare is broke because it promises things we cannot afford to pay, so the solution is to promise more;

My plans all make it harder for any person or company to make a profit providing the services we say we want & need, thereby making it much less likely that it will happen — but don’t call it that, call it “holding them accountable.”

All in all, a fine and stylish re-hash of all twentieth-century left-wing proposals to “fix” our social-engineering and gimme-gimme programs handed down to us by our parents and grandparents. There’s nothing new added, but all the old stuff has been meticulously covered.

The editors of Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook have gone over the President’s remarks to see what else they can get out of it:

Mr. Obama began by depicting a crisis in the entitlement state, noting that “our health-care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers,” especially Medicare. Unless we find a way to cauterize this fiscal hemorrhage, “we will eventually be spending more on Medicare than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health-care program is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.”

On this score he’s right. Medicare’s unfunded liability—the gap between revenues and promised benefits—is currently some $37 trillion over the next 75 years. Yet the President uses this insolvency as an argument to justify the creation of another health-care entitlement, this time for most everyone under age 65. It’s like a variation on the old Marx Brothers routine: “The soup is terrible and the portions are too small.”

As astonishing, Mr. Obama claimed he can finance universal health care without adding “one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period,” in large part by pumping money out of Medicare. The $880 billion Senate plan he all but blessed this week would cut Medicare by as much as $500 billion, mainly by cutting what Mr. Obama called “waste and abuse.” Perhaps this is related to the “waste and abuse” that Congresses of both parties have targeted dozens of times without ever cutting it.

Apparently this time Mr. Obama means it, though he said this doesn’t mean seniors should listen to “demagoguery and distortion” about Medicare cuts. That’s because Medicare is a “sacred trust,” and the President swore to “ensure that you—America’s seniors—get the benefits you’ve been promised.”
:
Mr. Obama also called for “civility” in debate even as he calls the arguments of his critics “lies.” So in the spirit of civility, we won’t accuse the President of lying about Medicare. We’ll just say his claims bear little relation to anything true.

We’re gerbils on a treadmill, the way we hear these promises about how budgets will be met without cuts being made anywhere. We act like we can look back on some track record that promises accuracy in these rosy prophecies — or at least provides some way to determine accuracy, accurately.

That’s probably the biggest lie that’s been told or implied in this whole issue. These programs don’t cost what we’ve been told they’ll cost; they cost orders of magnitude more. There isn’t even a mathematical formula available to predict how much exploding they’ll do. The only one that’s worked out over the generations has been “>1″. Beyond that — the programs cost every single bit as much money as they want to cost, and when it happens, we’re powerless to stop it. There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Except of course for one thing: Make more programs, provided the guy trying to get us to make them, is a really good speech-maker.

Update: John Hawkins interviews Congressman Joe “You Lie!” Wilson. You shouldn’t miss it. You know, that whole thing we talk about from time to time…hearing the other guy’s side of the story. Turns out there is one.

I was looking at all of the amendments and I knew that the Democrats had defeated the enforcement amendments about illegal aliens and these would be the amendments that would provide for verification of citizenship. That’s the wording and I’ve actually read the 1,000 page bill. The references to the illegal aliens in the bill didn’t have any enforcement. It was simply fluff.

So in other words, they say illegal aliens aren’t covered at all in the bill all they want, but if they deliberately leave out any enforcement provisions, it doesn’t mean anything because they can still…

It doesn’t mean anything. The verification, as proposed by the Republican amendments, was defeated in committee. I knew that and so I just felt like what I was hearing was not accurate. …So I was just really appalled at this.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

“No Enemies to the Left”

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Michael Barone, writing in the Washington Examiner about our President’s “convenient fantasies”:

Legislation to restrict carbon emissions that is supported by the administration would undoubtedly kill a large number of jobs by increasing the cost of energy, and so you can see why its advocates might want to argue that there will be a compensating number of “green jobs” created — at least if the government spends a lot of money on them.

But this sounds like fantasy. If there were money to be made in green jobs, private investors would be creating them already. In fact big corporations like General Electric are scrambling to position themselves as green companies, gaming legislation and regulations so they can make profits by doing so. Big business is ready to create green jobs — if government subsidizes them. But the idea that green jobs will replace all the lost carbon-emitting jobs is magical thinking.

Obama’s approach to health care legislation, unless he makes a major course correction in his speech to the joint session of Congress tonight, is of a piece with his hiring of Van Jones. By ceding the task of writing legislation to congressional Democratic leaders and committee chairmen, he has been following a “no enemies to the left” strategy.

One of the reasons The Left stays so strongly unified whereas The Right does not…bonded together and emulsified, almost in a surreal sort of way, like a demonic force is at work…is that The Right is motivated by a desire to avoid engaging in bad ideas, ideas that have been shown in the past to be wrong ideas, but that are nevertheless seductive. The Right therefore must be engaged in a schism regarding how forcefully to reject these wrong ideas, since we are all surrounded by well-intentioned but naive and inexperienced folks who want to go for the wrong ideas, and feel personally alienated when the wrong ideas are labeled as the wrong ideas they really are. And so any time it is necessary to drum up support that is represented through a count-of-noses, The Right becomes instantly fractured, if not vaporized.

The Left, on the other hand, is motivated by simple jealousy: If that guy over there has something I don’t have, something somewhere must have gone wrong, there’ve been some shenanigans going down, and I should get some of what he has. Obama says “no enemies to the left,” He is not the first leftist to work this way, because there’s no division in place until after the dog has caught the car, the spoils have been seized, and it’s time to divvy ‘em up. Then leftists turn on other leftists. But during the paper-chase there is no primal force to divide them. They’re not trying to stop a bad idea from becoming the law of the land, they’re trying to make it happen.

It’s interesting that they’re running into problems now with staying together on this “public option” business. That’s because now is one of the rare times in which there is a price to be paid for reaching too far in implementing too much of the bad idea within too narrow of a timeframe; and, we’re starting to wake up to what they’re doing, so there is also an opposing danger to not implementing enough of it. A window of opportunity may be closing on them. Next year, our country just might be too wise and cynical to be slapped by this stupid-stick of wrong ideas — it may very well be now-or-never. So now, for once, it is The Left that is sailing between Scylla and Charybdis. That gets ‘em fighting with each other.

Mister Wonderful Gets a Lecture from Jack Webb

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Hat tip: IMAO.

This Is Good LXII

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I just like it.

Found it here.

Anyone who has a beef with it, I have two complaint departments you can visit. You must first ask yourself “Do I have a problem if any OTHER country on the face of the globe acts like it’s all that & a bag o’ chips?” That is your litmus-test question.

If yes, go here…

If NO, then go here…

You may now proceed with registering your complaints with me. Don’t be shy.