Archive for the ‘Slow Poison’ Category

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.

Freeberg Paradox of Political Tempests

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Posted to the Hello Kitty of Blogging tonight:

The Freeberg Paradox of Political Tempests: If you possess some superlative personal attributes that enable you to enter one, or be engulfed by one, and emerge as the last man standing, you’re probably not the sort I can personally trust with much of anything.

I’m thinking of a lot of things with that. I’m thinking of the character of Wesley Mouch; I’m thinking of some bosses I’ve had (some real, some pretend assholes who just wanted to be my boss). I’m thinking of that jackass Steny, the political party to which he belongs, and their general attitude right now. Which I would sum up as: Oh dear, we got our butt cheeks handed to us on a plate, those other guys are in charge now, so that must mean it’s oh so important to meet in the middle of the road and compromise. Yeah, right. That’s exactly what they were saying two years ago. Pffffft.

Also, those Pentagon dickheads coming after the Navy Captain for a video he made four years ago. Just wanting to make his guts into window dressing & confetti for the brand new DADT repeal.

Makes me want to barf. And you know why, if you have a brain: In such an organization where you can get sacked for making a video, if much later on down the line there’s some politically-charged change in policy and some scheming opportunists come sniffing around for blood to help highlight it…what sort of official manages to scurry to the top of such a heap? Someone honest? Sensitive? Respectful? A modern George S. Patton? Brilliant commander of logistics? Of tactics? Someone who loves diversity? Someone laboring tirelessly to make a new perfect world in which everybody enjoys mutual respect and tolerance?

Again: Pfffft. I’ll tell you who scurries to the top of such a heap. Lizards. Reptilian, cold-blooded creatures. Scavengers. Create the challenge, provide the vacuum, and the creepy-crawlies will scamper in to fill it.

And the more mature our society becomes, the more we’re providing this challenge. We’re rapidly approaching the point, assuming we haven’t reached it already, where everybody who has some weighty opinion to deliver on anything is some kind of cowardly scavenging reptile. Possessing no useful “superlative personal attribute” whatsoever, save for knowing when to stick the beady-eyed, scaly head out into the light, and when to pull it back in again.

Patton isn’t going to survive something like this. His head would be the first to be affixed to a pike. George Washington would be the next to go. And where does this leave us, in terms of providing a solid, robust, deadly defense for the country? It’s a serious matter.

Thing I Know #106. Making sure no one is offended, virtuous as it is, seems to be antithetical to real achievement.

Scrooge Was a Liberal!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Until the three ghosts visited him, then he became a right-winger.

Ann Coulter took a look at the miserly-versus-generous behavior, vis a vis party affiliation, and came to that conclusion. It makes more sense than you might think:

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks’ study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book “Who Really Cares?” Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and “religious” liberals.

His surprising conclusion was … Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity — $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in “charities” that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children’s elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, “are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way.”

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.

They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more — and 50 times more to secular charities — than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. These “bleeding-heart tightwads,” as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also “significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”
Interestingly, religious liberals were also “most confused” of all the groups. Composed mostly of blacks and Unitarians, religious liberals made nearly as many charitable donations as religious conservatives, but presumably, the Unitarians brought down their numbers, making them second in charitable giving.

Brooks wrote that he was shocked by his conclusions because he believed liberals “genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did” — probably because liberals are always telling us that.

Blogger friend Phil entered a comment yesterday that is even more persuasive:

What was Scrooge’s answer to the charity collectors?

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.

See, he would give none of his post-tax fortunes to ease others’ suffering because that’s the government’s job – in accordance with the progressive viewpoint.

And of course, after his conversion, he gave freely of his fortunes to those to whom he chose to give it. Which would be in accordance with the conservative viewpoint.

Phil nailed it. The liberal has seen to it that we have constructed our state apparatus to deal with this — therefore he has “given at the office,” as it were, and there is nothing to do but scold, scold, and scold some more.

All who doubt this, just let the air out of your own tire at some busy intersection, downtown, in an urban area in the middle of a blue state. Or the water out of your radiator. See what kind of help you get…see what kind of attitude you get…then drive out into the middle of a farming area in a red state and repeat the exercise. This is the real cost of the nanny-state: You get your prisons, workhouses, treadmills and “poor laws” up and running, and with them arrives a horde of Ebenezer Scrooges ready to talk about them. The “gave at the office” attitude. Just get that wreck out of my way!

Reaching out with a helping hand to someone you personally notice needs the help, it becomes a thing of the past. We have programs to deal with that stuff; go there.

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

Death Panels Revisited: The Left Won’t Admit Palin Had a Point

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook:

At a stroke, Medicare chief Donald Berwick has revived the “death panel” debate from two summers ago. Allow us to referee, because this topic has been badly distorted by the political process—and in a rational world, it wouldn’t be a political question at all.

On Sunday, Robert Pear reported in the New York Times that Medicare will now pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling as part of seniors’ annual physicals. A similar provision was originally included in ObamaCare, but Democrats stripped it out amid the death panel furor. Now Medicare will enact the same policy through regulation.

We hadn’t heard about this development until Mr. Pear’s story, but evidently Medicare tried to prevent the change from becoming public knowledge. The provision is buried in thousands of Federal Register pages setting Medicare’s hospital and physician price controls for 2011 and concludes that such consultations count as a form of preventative care.

The office of Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, the author of the original rider who then lobbied Medicare to cover the service, sent an email to supporters cheering this “victory” but asked that they not tell anyone for fear of perpetuating “the ‘death panel’ myth.” The email added that “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch.”

So, it’s good for us, and it’s so good for us that it’s important we never find out about it. Keep calling that Palin chick an ignorant Eskimo snowbilly and hope she doesn’t say anything.

YogiKnow what this reminds me of? Al Gore invented the Internet. Or, every politician screws around on his wife just like Bill Clinton. Palin said she can see Russia from her house. In all these cases, once you found out all of what was going on, the leftist, statist position ended up looking not so well off, not the way to go. But if you learned just enough to be dangerous they looked golden — so The Left, ever accustomed to dictating to people what they should learn and what they should not learn, encouraged its followers to form a picture of what’s going on about as brilliant and vibrant and detailed as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. It has become such a carefully nurtured predilection now, that the loyal leftist fully expects to walk past the same clump of trees over and over again every three seconds.

The “truth,” to leftists, ends up being contradictory in all cases: Every single politician messes around on his wife! And Bill Clinton didn’t!

Palin said she can see Russia! I heard her myself! With Hillary standing next to her looking disgusted!

No, Al Gore never said he invented the Internet! And he should have!

We should have death panels! And we’re not getting them!

We get overloaded with all these “lint trap” talking points that are cherry-picked according to whether they make the left-idea look like a good-idea…they aren’t even consistent with each other. They only work on the people who have invested their ego in whatever leftist idea came before, and among them, only one the ones who are passionately dis-interested in what is really happening. At some point, they collide with each other and they don’t work. And so we start hearing a bunch of “jokes” that aren’t really funny.

Meanwhile, back to hi-res, 24-bit TrueColor land where we care about learning what’s really happening: We see now that “left wing” has as much to do with how legislation is planned, as with what the legislation is. Maybe more. Make sure it impacts everybody, and we can’t get away from it no matter who we are or where we are, even in its experimental phase; especially in its experimental phase! Unless we have the right friends, or we got a “waiver.” DON’T tell us what’s going on. If we find out what’s going on, distract us with something else. If we cannot be distracted, make a punchline out of the truth so that whoever has learned it, will be reluctant to share it.

Have I distorted this? Exaggerated some of it unfairly? If so, how?

If not, then who, of sound mind, really thinks we need this?

On That Study That Says Fox Viewers Are Misinformed…

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

…the one from the University of Maryland.

Mediaite is to be congratulated for putting up something that not only talks about the study but actually points to it. There is an abundance of spewing and intoning and condescending out there in blogger-land, in which people merely talk about the study around virtual mouthfuls of churlish chortling, basking in the afterglow of skimming through something that comports with their prejudices in such a satisfying way. But they don’t point to it.

This is not the intellectual behavior of people who meet my definition of “informed.”

I should add in the spirit of full disclosure I don’t have a dog in this hunt. This is the twenty-first century and responsible consumers of news don’t get their news from the teevee anymore. They take a more active role now — they put together queries about what they want to find out, who says what, what the opposition has to say about it, and then they form an opinion.

If I do this right, you’re about to find out how that is done and also why it is so important.

Daisy DukeBut anyway, I don’t regard myself as a Fox News watcher. If I beat the Lady of the House home, I might turn on Hannity if there’s enough time to attend to a casual chore like hanging up my shirts from the drier, but not enough time for an episode of Dukes of Hazzard. Only in the spirit of, since these are interesting times in which we live, I don’t want to be completely cut-off from the outside world for an evening…and I can’t hit the news scrolls on the computer when I have a “One Big Ass Mistake, America” tee shirt in one hand and a hanger in the other.

So I have the channel memorized. But would I say Fox News is a significant contributor to my net information base? Not even close. If I’m misinformed about the issues, don’t go crying to Hannity about it.

Anyway, back to the study. By reading what the eager cheerleaders of the study do not want you to read — which is the work itself — you find that the “misinformed” assessment was formed by means of responses to carefully chosen questions. In other words, if a respondent refused or failed to reject a pre-selected and pre-defined canard, which apparently the authors of the study decided ahead of time was somehow relevant, the respondent was “misinformed.”

Even if I liked the questions that were asked — if I liked the canards that were pre-selected — I’d have to characterize this as a not terribly helpful way to go. As you’ll see below, the canards have it in common that, if true, they would make a certain consistent ideological position (progressive) look discredited and undesirable. The obvious problem with this, is that a respondent could reject all of them out of loyalty to this ideological position and come out of it looking like a rocket scientist.

Care to argue with me about it? Take a look.

P. 5. Most economists think stimulus legislation has saved or created only a few jobs, or has even caused job losses.

P. 6: Economists estimate that healthcare legislation will increase the deficit.

P. 7: The economy is still getting worse.

P. 8: Most scientists think climate change is not occurring.

P. 9: The TARP program began under President Obama.

P. 11: The bailout of General Motors and Chrysler occurred under President Obama and not under President Bush.

P. 12: There were no income tax cuts in the stimulus legislation.

P. 14: President Obama has either decreased troop levels in Afghanistan, or kept them the same.

P. 14: President Obama may not have been born in the United States.

In addition to these, there was one token question that went the other way, on page twelve:

In October an article on the website launched the claim that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was using large amounts of money raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates. Most voters—60%–were aware that this charge about the Chamber of Commerce was not proven to be true. However, a substantial 31% did believe the claim that “the US Chamber of Commerce was spending large amounts of money it had raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates and attack Democratic candidates” was proven to be true.

A token question is useful for keeping ankle-biters like me from making absolute statements that would otherwise be true: “All of the litmus tests in this study would be satisfied by an uninformed participant who just happens to lean left politically.” It helps to refudiate a claim like that — but, I note, it wouldn’t have much of an effect on the statistical outcome.

There seems to have been a prodigal expense of effort going into this study, and I don’t even want to know how many dollars. The research, from what I can tell, is all based on the survey responses to these chosen falsehoods. It just seems strange to me they weren’t chosen with quality in mind. If I were to commission such a study, there would be a great many more questions. Something approaching a hundred seems more reasonable.

I would sort them into three buckets: “The revelation of the truth makes the conservatives look good”; “the revelation of truth makes the liberals look good”; and “neutral.” Then I would fill these buckets so that the final ratio was something like two, two and six. I expect, as far as finding the canards to be debunked, the six-neutral would be the most difficult one to fill in terms of quota.

I note, too, that some of the questions asked by the World Public Opinion Dot Org are framed around “what the experts think.” So there is another obvious point to be made about the flaw in their research: It is inclined to bestow the title of “well informed” upon people who place great weight on what “experts” think, and then just slavishly mimic them. I suppose there is a certain fairness to that, along with a worthy fidelity to the intent of the study — you need to track down some information in order to find out what the so-called experts are thinking, so you can copy it — but it occurs to me. When we seek to establish and maintain an “informed” democratic republic of participating voters, this seems somewhat far-flung and distant from what we should be trying to build.

What good is information if you aren’t thinking independently about what it means?

Anyway, it is clear to me from reading this study that World Public Opinion and the University of Maryland are going to need some assistance coming up with some canards/litmus tests for the next study. It’s also clear to me such an abundant effort will be made at least one more time, prior to the elections of 2012 — of this, I have no doubt.

So following are my submissions for the next selection of falsehoods to be included in the next round.

1. The New Deal ended the Great Depression.
2. Science is about reaching a consensus.
3. After we invaded Iraq we learned the invasion was completely unjustified.
4. The First Amendment criminalizes the expression of religious belief in a public school or in any public place.
5. The Supreme Court has consistently held that life doesn’t begin until birth.
6. President Nixon started the Vietnam war.
7. The Pilgrims came to America so they wouldn’t have to pray or go to church.
8. The Constitution, through the Bill of Rights, grants certain rights to The People.
9. It also grants the Supreme Court the final say in whether a law passed by Congress is valid.
10. America was started so that all pressing issues of public importance could be decided democratically.
11. In the years after Ronald Reagan signed the tax cut in 1981, tax revenues fell.
12. Women in the work force, on average, make 70 cents to every dollar made by an equally qualified man.
13. On average, the rich inherit their wealth; they don’t earn it.
14. While serving as Governor of Texas, George W. Bush pardoned James Byrd’s killers.
15. ObamaCare has never done anything to create a “death panel,” this is a complete falsehood.
16. Al Gore never claimed to have created the Internet, this is another falsehood.
17. The Second Amendment is about hunting, and if you don’t hunt your food you have no use for it.
18. By renewing the Bush tax cuts across the board, Congress is giving money to the wealthiest Americans.
19. Equality is one of the founding, visionary ideals of America.
20. Diversity is another.
21. Blacks didn’t win the right to vote until the 1960’s.
22. Under Reagan, the CIA sold crack to inner-city youths to keep them criminalized and impoverished.
23. Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame and destroyed her career as a covert operative.
24. George Bush (the elder) persuaded the Iranians not to release the hostages until Reagan’s inauguration.
25. The Boy Scouts is a hate group.
26. Unemployment benefits stimulate the economy.
27. A fetus is not a life.
28. Under President Bush, gas prices went up as oil companies saw their biggest profit margins ever.
29. A progressive tax system imposes the highest proportional liability on the wealthiest Americans, which is as it should be.
30. Sarah Palin said, “I can see Russia from my house!”

At sometime or another, I have argued with liberals — usually on the innerwebs — who honestly believed one, some or most of these demonstrably false statements. I tripped them up easily; they were uninformed because they were misinformed. Handed a bowl of drivel and nonsense which they then gulped down uncritically, probably repeating it more than a few times before I smacked ’em upside the head over it. The balance of what remains, I have heard uttered by progressive politicians. They were seldom to never questioned about it.

So if the study is to serve the public interest by offering us cues as to where people might be going to become informed or misinformed, I would argue there is an urgency involved in framing the next study around falsehoods like the ones I have offered. Among the falsehoods they are already using, they could jettison some to make room. I would start with the ones that begin with “experts/economists/scientists say…” Because this, too, is not a pattern of behavior I would expect from an informed person — you turn on the teevee to watch a news anchor regurgitate to you whatever it is the experts say?

No, I think the study would be better served by using what I’ve offered. I wonder if that will have an effect on the result? Ya think it would?

I probably needn’t worry about that. World Public Opinion Dot Org is merely a label, a front for The Program on International Policy Attitudes. PIPA is bankrolled by, among other sponsors, the Tides Foundation.

So I’m not holding my breath for my offering of thirty questions to make it into the next round.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

“If People Stop Taking Something Seriously, it Ceases to Exist”

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Ann Althouse is calling out this canard, practiced most recently by Josh Marshall who says:

A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional.

Althouse replies:

We don’t rule out a proposition of constitutional law simply because no one seems to taking it seriously right now. We work through the analysis, and maybe we discover that it should be taken seriously.

Notice she said “maybe.” The point is that the “nobody taking it seriously” litmus test is not a reverse barometer of logical validity; the point is that it is non-correlative.

Also notice that she’s granting Marshall the benefit of the doubt — conceding the point, for the sake of argument, that “no one” was taking the proposition seriously twelve months ago, so she can contest the reasoning of what this would & would not mean.

But there were people taking it seriously one year ago. How did Marshall ignore this? Easy. He made them disappear…by refusing to take them seriously. That’s the trouble with this kind of thinking. You start manufacturing your own reality. And you do it on purpose. Without explicitly knowing that’s what you’re doing. By being a craven gigglepuss.


Your Thomas Sowell reading assignment that deals with this, would be Intellectuals and Society, Chapter 5, “Optional Reality in the Media and Academia.”

I Made a New Word XLIV

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

College-itis: (n.)

A mental illness in which a patient is simply unable to accept a situation in which another thinking person possesses a commensurately durable command of the relevant facts, and has pursued some valid and competent thinking process to arrive at different ideas regarding what it all means or what should be done. Persons suffering from this disease leap instantly to the conclusion that if you disagree, you have to be stupid.

It is difficult for laymen to understand College-itis without first fleshing out all of the benefits involved in what the typical college kid is missing, which is life experience. Among the benefits of experience, is the encounter with other persons who have had experiences — therefore, necessarily, encounters with persons who have had disparate experiences. Learning is a non-instinctive behavioral change, so as intelligent people experience things, they must necessarily alter their behavior as they learn. Empirically observed fact, plus studied fact, plus anecdotal knowledge equals inferences; anecdotal knowledge plus inferences equal planned-response. This loop feeds into a person’s behavior: response, minus stimulus, equals behavior.

Slacker UThe other thing that’s important to note here is that when we apply anecdotes from our own experience to the thought processes that form our behavior, we are indulging in what in the higher-education environment is referred to as “prejudice”; this is, of course, actively discouraged there. There is much complaint now that college campuses are maintained as diverse environments only in terms of skin color, not in terms of ideological leanings. But the truth is that it isn’t really possible for a college campus to lean in several different ideological directions, nor in several directions on any discussed question or issue, when participants are dissuaded from relying on any-and-all previously cherished values or previously experienced events. Without those, there can only be — what you learned in prerequisite coursework, what you have been told here this semester, and what you are experiencing today. The compliant but diligent student will not allow anything else to affect the outcome.

So the College-itis patient suffers from something worse than a lack of experience. He ends up suffering from an extreme lack of appreciation for its very significance (other than, of course, his own experience taking the class which is all-important). The sufferer has been programmed to accept the concept of negative knowledge: Just as a person’s opinion might be dismissed as ignorant if it is formed prematurely, with a scarcity of observed fact or opinion to back it up — and then that person could be labeled “stupid” and ejected from subsequent discussions as well — the same goes for a person who has managed to gain command of an uncontrolled abundance of knowledge, or knowledge outside the body of knowledge that is approved by the authorities — knowledge outside the syllabus. That person is to be labeled exactly the same way the ignorant person is to be labeled, with no recognized necessity for distinguishing between the two, now or forevermore.

And so in its advanced stages, College-itis becomes a predilection, one operating at a level somewhere beneath complete consciousness, for mistaking ignorance for education and vice-versa. Very much the same thing is done with the unrelated concept of tolerance. The other person’s opinion is compared to what is sanctified; from the opinion, a conclusion is reached about his command of the facts or lack thereof; from that, a conclusion is reached about his level of intellect. After that, all three of these are sort of smooshed together. From that, a boolean result is formed which is either “good” or “bad”; suitable for being carried around in the brain of, not quite so much an accomplished and educated graduate of higher learning, but a mentally impaired infant marsupial.

Cross posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

“Intellectual Cowardice”

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Also, props to our friend in New Mexico for finding the cartoon below. He possesses only a fleeting interest in this story — sees all of the foolishness in NPR’s move, and subsequent “homina homina” backpedaling, but only in a “now, back to football” way.

To me, it’s much more serious than this. All of our nation’s founding documents are clear on this point: Our legislative branch gets to boss us around, make new laws that will bind us, oblige us, tax us and prohibit us…they get to do this for a two-year term. For the enduring expression of our values, from now on into the generations ahead, that kind of “legislation” is left up to The People. Congress does stuff and then We, The People get to tell them what we think about it.

The danger that is involved in such a machinery working properly, is the same danger you have in any electrical circuit: It cannot run in circles. Government cannot be allowed access to any tool that tells the electorate what it should be thinking. It simply is not to be allowed.

This is why the First Amendment proscribes against the establishment of a state religion…and if all of the concepts of talk radio were crystallized and agreed-upon in 1791, the First Amendment would carry a statement about state radio stations as well, and for precisely the same reason. In fact, this is why we have a Second Amendment as well. And a Tenth. Government is not to be put in charge of re-electing itself through The People.

Which is exactly the situation we have, without some “wall of separation between radio and state” if you will.

So people like the quiet, sonorous tone of commercial-free radio. They claim it’s less noisy. I’m sure they’re right about that…not that I’d know…but they miss the point entirely. There’s just no call in this country for “public radio.” It is a constitutional aberration and abomination.

The point I think a lot of people miss when things like this happen, is that when you centralize a decision you create more conflict, and when you localize it you prevent the conflict from ever coming about. I remember many years ago I read a Thomas Sowell column — which I tried to find, subsequently, and have never been able to pin it down. But he was discussing, coincidentally, the idea that we should have some federal agency to decide what we should listen to on our car radios. Just laying it down as a hypothetical. Today’s official radio station is 92.7 FM, and all your car radios will be turned to it; tomorrow’s will be 88.9, and the day after we’re all going to be listening to 102.3. So if you don’t like country music you’re just going to have to learn to like it, and if you don’t like rock & roll you’ll have to learn to like that.

Can you imagine how much bickering there would be? But his point was: We don’t do things this way. You tune your radio to what you want, I tune mine to what I want, and we never even get into a fight about it.

Folks, that is exactly the way it should work!

I submit that this fighting Sowell was writing about a few years back as a theoretical, here in 2010, is precisely what we’re seeing happen in real life. We’ve centralized the decision about who is to be abhorred as a potential threat; as I said at Buck’s place a few minutes ago, if Juan Williams said it makes him nervous when fellow air travelers are tea party activists, I doubt like hell he’d be fired over it. So we’ve centralized the decision about who is to be perceived, on a personal level, to be a potential threat…and, here we are bickering. Ah, as predictable as a sunrise.

De-fund NOW. If there are teeming masses that absolutely must have their Car Talk, then that means there is a market for it. There is no call for “public” radio; no call, no need and no point.

Memo For File CXXI

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Irish Cicero says this anecdote from my past is good enough for a blog post of its own. Now that I think on it a few more times, I realize he’s right. Before I start, I’d like you to think about misunderstandings, and how they happen. When one man gives another man an implied message, and the message turns out to be incomplete, who do we hold responsible for that.

When there is danger around, we pool our resources and work together. If there is a misunderstanding, the blame for the misunderstanding is shared between sender and recipient; they both must have done the job half-assed. A good example of this is a gun range. You don’t want to be the guy who understands “this automatic pistol does not have any cartridges in its magazine” — and then finds out there’s one-in-the-pipe. You also do not want to be the guy who gave that message to someone who took your “empty magazine” message as a synonym for “empty gun.” The outcome of this could be tragic. And so people do not place all of the responsibility on one person or the other. They work as a team. Safety first.

This is not the way we do it in other places.

That’s what this story is about.

In just a few months a whole lot of things happened. I became an unattached dude and a bachelor; my job went away; I became a contractor when it was figured out somewhere that my skills were still needed, even though my job was “supposed” to go away; Reagan died; and I served on a jury.

I was pooled as an alternate, and then someone got sick. So in I went. This story is about the opening comments of the defense attorney. His client was accused of stealing stereo equipment out of a jeep at two in the morning, but the charge was not theft. It was “receiving stolen property,” a nod to the insufficiency of the evidence for supporting the stronger charge.

The cop’s testimony was the only evidence available. He had found the jeep, parked curbside in a residential district, with the door hanging open. He was supposed to be looking for anything out of place, and he figured that qualified. Driving onward, he saw the defendant walking and he ordered him to stop. Defendant bent downward, toward his own ankles, for just a moment — he was behind another parked car, so the officer could not see what he was doing — and then he took off running. For anyone who’s watched C.O.P.S., the events immediately following would be easy to envision…

At the conclusion of the foot chase, the defendant was handcuffed and then the officer led him back to his patrol car. As they passed the spot where the suspect bent down, the officer saw the stereo equipment lying on the ground. Where, evidently, the defendant had placed it.

Evidently. Ah…but can you prove it?

There are written instructions on how you’re supposed to do your thinking when you serve on a jury. It’s a packet somewhere in the vicinity of twelve to twenty pages, I forget what. You can find a high-level description of these here, but that is not the packet that was circulated to us. In addition to the written instructions, there are also instructions from the judge, and from both of the counselors.

Now, I said before that the story is all about the opening remarks of the defense attorney; a transcript would be most helpful. I don’t have that, and that may partially explain why I didn’t think this was worth writing up. Besides of which, I’m not a lawyer and it isn’t my job to know how this stuff works. Not anymore. But I can tell you what made the deepest impression on me: The prosecution is required to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the defendant’s guilt. The defense is required to prove nothing, because the defendant, according to our Constitution, is to enjoy the benefit of any & all doubt. The prosecution has to prove so much, that they have already failed in this case.

The law required us to spring his client. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. Acquittal was the only hope we had, to maintain our compliance with the law, especially that highest of all laws, the United States Constitution.

The instructions from the judge were different. The jury packet was also different. What the judge said, agreed with what was contained in the jury packet; those two things did not agree with what the defense attorney told us.

The word “shadow” did not appear there. The phrase used was “reasonable doubt,” and there were many pages devoted to what was reasonable and what was not. There are things you know to have taken place, and there are inferences you draw about what must have been going on. Process-of-elimination is a valid technique. By which I mean: The evidence says a gun was empty, nobody handled the gun except Jim and Frank, the gun comes back loaded — if there’s more evidence coming in saying Jim had no bullets, it is fair to infer that Frank put bullets in the gun.

So “shadow of a doubt” does not cut it. There can be shadows, and you can still convict somebody.

And you aren’t breaking the law if you vote to convict. I’m pretty sure this is true, because I’m the juror most responsible for the vote coming out the way it did. When my fellow jurors started to go off on a wild tangent and spin wild tales so they could justify an acquittal, I called bullshit.

I wanted to throttle jurors #9 and #10 by the throat before it was over. They talked over each other in their exuberance as they pointed out you can NOT vote to convict this “boy” just because he ran! And this was true. But we also had to include the running-away in this scenario we were evaluating. We were working from process-of-elimination, so what were we eliminating as we drew the necessary inference to support a conviction? That was the key question.

Juror #10 offered the possibility that the cop had a dog; a mean, vicious, dog that had gotten away and was chasing the boy. Hey, the cop didn’t say he had one, but he didn’t say he didn’t!

I fought back an instinct to lunge across the table. Somehow, my reaction to this was to calmly point out some instruction that began on the bottom of page 3 and concluded on page 4, which strictly proscribed against this brand of thinking. I don’t know how I managed to do that, but because I did, the imaginary canine remained consigned to the oblivion from whence it came.

Later on I recall being under the microscope, or on top of the soapbox depending on your point of view — explaining some train of thought which completely escapes me now. I recall trying to pick the proper nomenclature, or interpreting of semantics, or something…I made some allusion to Bill Clinton debating the meaning of the word “is.” The entire jury room erupted in peels of laughter, but Jurors #9 and #10 sat stone-faced, glowering. Yeah, okay. So I’m pretty sure I know where they were coming from. This gets back to what Stephen Browne was referring to as “making up stories.” It is what it sounds like. You want to arrive at a desired conclusion, and so you start injecting evidence into the mix that isn’t really there.

But in the end, mostly due to my own machinations, we agreed to hang the bastard.

And no, as we filed out of the jury box, there was no deputy waiting to handcuff us all for breaking the law.

This means the defense attorney did what I call lying. A lot of lawyers will say that isn’t accurate at all, he was just doing his job. And he never said anything technically untrue. So really…and by “really,” what I mean to say is “in their world”…I’m the one who is lying by calling him a liar. But that isn’t my world. In my world that motherfucker lied and he should have been disbarred.

This is one of the tragedies of the times in which we live. It has become acceptable to convey pieces of “truth,” leaving out selected bits of it in support of your own interests — to manufacture misunderstandings that benefit you. That, somehow, is thought of as a truthful thing. In fact, nowadays it is thought of as an admirable thing, a testament to your superior skill in “communicating” — leading the poor dumb bastard who’s believing you, to a conclusion he’d never reach on his own, in a million years, if he had all of the picture. Our ethics have gone astray. Because the manufactured misunderstanding, on the part of the person who placed too much faith in you, is all that guy’s fault.

It’s absolutely nuts. It’s like someone butchering your dog, or sexing up your wife and putting the hotel room on your credit card — then blaming you for it.

We’ve got a lot of people running around now, who are thought of as great communicators. But I wouldn’t want to go to a gun range with anyone who communicates that way, and neither would you. Well, maybe you would…but let’s just leave that train of thought alone.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel.

“The Most Egregious Performance Ever by a Federal Judge”

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

National Review Online, Ed Whelan:

Consider the totality of Judge Walker’s conduct in the anti-Prop 8 case:

Let’s start with Walker’s initial case-management conference when he determined, to the surprise even of plaintiffs’ lawyer Ted Olson, that the case couldn’t be resolved, one way or the other (as other courts have done in similar cases), as a matter of law but would instead require extensive discovery into supposed factual issues.

Let’s continue with Walker’s insane and unworkable inquiry into the subjective motivations of the more than seven million Californians who voted in support of Prop 8.

Whelan has much, much more; but as far as I’m concerned he can stop right there. He has me at this second one.

It’s getting close to the time we might as well shut the whole experiment down. Our votes are being picked apart by our judges, who in turn are charged with scrutinizing the constitutional consistency of the rules we vote in — and are supposed to have zero authority to make policy of their own. They have been doing this, in part, because they are displeased with the motivations we have when we vote in these laws. It’s a given that they have not accomplished, nor have they attempted, the daunting task of polling each one of the millions of Californians who voted for Prop 8. They…and by “they” I mean Judge Walker…are quite satisfied engaging in speculation and generalization.

I don’t care if you’re conservative or liberal and I don’t care what your feelings are about gay marriage. This should frighten, agitate and anger you. Judges have second-guessed voters for awhile now, but since when have they so brazenly done it out of dislike for the voters’ personal feelings about things? If that’s the game plan, why bother to vote on anything at all?

But the Other Guy Did it First!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

One of our blogger friends up in Seattle advanced a fascinating argument Friday and we just managed to trip across it yesterday afternoon. If you’re a blogger who embedded that fantastic take-down by the other wise man named Morgan in which he says people should stop talking about race; and you went on to take note of His Holy Eminence’s use of the word “bamboozled” — then, he says in so many words, you’re doing a lousy job of sticking to your own knitting. You’ll notice those last two hyperlinks point back to these fine pages, so we presume he’s including us. “God” just got done telling us to stop talking about race, and here we are talking about it.

What a great point that is. Or would be, if he didn’t mention it. D’Oh!

But there are some things not mentioned, like the premises upon which the argument rests. I specifically have in mind the pure motives of our nation’s first Holy President — the notion that He was Shirley-Sherroded, didn’t mean anything by it, taken out of context. The argument presumes this as a given, while simultaneously shaming us into avoiding any thought or discussion of it.

But once we inspect these motives and find the innocence is not there; or to put it more precisely, once we inspect the motives and find proof, or compelling evidence, that Mister Wonderful was, indeed, making an effort to stir up a racial the hornet’s nest for His own benefit; then, at that point, the entire argument is rent asunder. Replacement Jesus becomes the person flouting the sensible advice of Morgan Freeman, and the bloggers are “guilty” of just noticing it. Ironically, at that point it ceases to be about race. It’s just another story of just another politician making more promises to eradicate a problem, while His political fortunes are inflexibly fastened to the continuing existence of that problem. This is something that has never worked and never will.

So yes, of course Barack Obama is continuing to agitate racial tension. And bloggers, by noticing this and pointing it out, are doing what bloggers should be doing.

Some will call this an exercise in the disgraced “The Other Guy Started It!” defense. I’d like to address that. But first, let us take note of something else that happened yesterday. James Taranto, writing in Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web, had a few words to say about a tempest that has erupted in a teapot in the wake of Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — the issue being the lack of a unanimous vote.

I do not mean to belittle the tempest. There is something that has come undone, when unanimous votes used to be the norm, and now it seems sensible to conclude we’ve seen our last for quite awhile. We have, then, lost something that we should have tried harder not to lose, have we not?

Those Republicans need to take a good long look at themselves! Well not so fast, says Taranto:

As a distressed Jonathan Bernstein observes on The New Republic’s website:

What would have happened if there were only 52 or 53 Democrats in the Senate, or for that matter 48 or 49. Elena Kagan appears, by all accounts, to be a mainstream Democratic nominee; she certainly wasn’t on the short list of liberal advocates, although she was broadly acceptable to most of them. Can any Obama nominee be confirmed to the Supreme Court next year? The problem here is that compromise is almost impossible to imagine over the Court…

If there’s a Supreme Court opening, and if the Democrats hold fewer than, say, 55 seats in the Senate, I think the odds of a real train wreck, a total stalemate, have to be well over 50/50.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Bernstein, however, that the Kagan vote is the mirror image of the Alito vote (D 4-41, R 54-1). Almost all Democratic senators, including future presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, voted to reject a mainstream Republican nominee whom they had no possibility of defeating.

After that, why would Republicans vote for any Democratic nominee?

This isn’t the only time Taranto’s column invokes other-guy-did-it-first. There is an eloquent argument wrapped up in the offering that the real turning point was in 1987, when the late Sen. Ted Kennedy indulged in a smear campaign against eminently qualified nominee Robert Bork. True, after that the flame of bipartisan unity flickered a few times, but then it ultimately died out. At least, for the time being.

If you were paying attention back in ’87 and saw what Sen. Kennedy was doing, then you know: The “he started it” argument has some real merits here that are not quite so easily dismissed.

And this is where it connects back to the other issue, of Replacement Jesus standing up at a podium and using the word “bamboozled” as a code word for whipping up a racial animosity. This hostility we have toward the “other guy started it” argument is something we get from dear ol’ Mom. Dishes, laundry, mopping, dusting…she didn’t have time to play detective and figure out who started what, nor did she have any interest in raising grown-up children who think any reprehensible conduct is just fine, so long as the other guy did something that could be said to have provoked it. This falls short of what is required for functioning in a civilized society.

And so she taught us to maintain control, and responsibility for our interactions with others. And this starts, necessarily, with forsaking for all time the he-threw-the-first-punch defense. We need to ignore the race-baiting of our President, lest we be guilty of the same. And we need to reject Taranto’s argument, pretend the Kennedy smear campaign and the Alito vote never happened.

And this gets down to my point:

Nobody ever said Washington, DC is emblematic of this civilized society in which we must learn to live by forgetting who started what. Quite a few knowledgeable people have said things to the contrary. And this republic is founded on a principle of everlasting vigilance against our so-called “leaders.” The citizens are supposed to be responsible. If we trust implicitly, then we betray the vision. This is a point that is overlooked often.

Did you notice how many times the word “forget” appears, as I describe Mom’s vision? You can’t do that without it.

What we have here, then, are two noble visions — one for our sensible adult conduct once we grow up, one for the country — that eventually come into contact and conflict with each other. The Founding Fathers cannot abide Mom’s advice to us because there is too much forgetting involved. An incompatibility has been created. This is why people detest politicians so much.

You forget that Ted Kennedy started our climate of intemperance with regard to the Senate’s advice and consent, and your forgetfulness fits in just fine with Mom’s advice. It feels like you’re doing your bit to foster a new era of congeniality. You’re doing what Mom said, aren’t you? Forgetting. But the effect this ultimately has, is just the opposite. The politician is taught, like a puppy shitting on the living room rug, that he can get away with this.

No, we have to remember things. We have to remain informed. It is what makes the country go. It is the only hope we have for keeping deranged sociopaths out of our nation’s highest offices.

This would not be complete, without some thought regarding what kind of detestable life form we’re trying to keep out of those mahogany offices. We’ve had a lot of people running the show, for a very long time now, who are supposed to be making it easier for us all to get along with each other. Straights and gays, blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor. The time has come to acknowledge that if such harmony fit in with what they really wanted, and we have been doing a swell job of picking ’em, we’d be there by now…or, at least, we wouldn’t be having these flare-ups during every even-numbered year in the months leading up to November.

Anger and hatred are like erections. If you can keep ’em going across days, months and years, there is something terribly wrong with you. And there’s something terribly wrong with anybody who wants you to.

Vigilance. Not forgetfulness. That’s the only answer, the only way out. We’ve tried the other one already. Sorry, Mom.

“It Was During One of These Meetings When the Penis Question Was Asked”

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Blogger friend Rick reminisces about the past, unfondly…waxing morosely about a spiritual setback, but it’s not the kind you’re expecting.

The initial hurdle was a series of psychological tests. I had to trek up to Richmond for the day to take them. It took hours to complete the battery. Once I learned that I had passed that satisfactorily, I moved on to the next level.

I, and my fellow potential ordinands, met with a Diocesan discernment board made up of both clergy, laity and mental health professionals…

We met regularly over a number of months as I recall and it was during one of these meetings when the penis question was asked…

I’m trying to think of a personal anecdote I could toss into the mix that would compare, and…nope. The closest I can come is when, as a kid, I had to listen as my Dad griped and grumbled about “the hippies taking over the church,” because the blue jeans and patch-elbowed suit jackets were taking the place of the fine traditional velvet choir robes, and the guitars were gradually displacing the pipe organ.

That’s nuthin’ compared to pre-ordination psychobabble questions about Big Jim & The Twins. I’ve just drawn a pair of sixes against Rick’s Full House.

I Made a New Word XLI

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Pres • ley (v.)

1. To kill an organism slowly, by means of poisoning, which in turn is achieved by denying it the ability to purge itself of impurities.
2. In politics, to bring an entity to a slow demise by stigmatizing against its autonomy in declaring what it is; specifically, declaring what is incompatible with it.
3. To deploy political resistance against a group’s ability to jettison something, with an intent to make it more ludicrous over time and thus to bring it to an end.
4. To declare that someone should never part with something, as if you have their best interests at heart, when you really don’t.

We’ve seen a lot of this lately haven’t we? Ann Rice lashes out against Christianity even as she insists she still believes in Christ; Meghan McCain tries to destroy the Republican party over the same issue, homosexuality, denying it the opportunity to declare and exercise a fidelity to its own principles.

The Republicans responded to a number of other moves like this one, late last year, by coming up with a “Purity Test.” Oh boy, after that, the process just started to get going. The purity test was watered down, by the folks who supposedly had the party’s best interests at heart. And after just a couple months, because of all the artificial heat involved, the purity test was dropped.

Now get your puke bucket ready — if someone isn’t Presley-ing you, you’re gonna be needing it. New York Daily News wants to call out the Republicans for getting rid of Bob Inglis.

The current Republican Party, one hijacked by hustlers and extremists, not only looks to destroy President Obama. It even starts to kill its own.

Rep. Bob Inglis, a voice of reason at a dumb, unreasonable time in American politics, is one of them. Inglis (R-S.C.) will be out of a job soon for not hating Barack Obama nearly enough. The irony, he says, is that he disagrees with Obama on almost everything.

Sounds pretty dumb and unreasonable, doesn’t it? Stupid Republicans! We need a new rule, requiring them to keep the candidate 71% of the voters did not want. For their own good!

But wait. Inglis says…

“I’d get asked a question and they’d all wait to see if I’d use the word – socialist – they were throwing around. I wouldn’t. Because I don’t think that’s what he is. To call him a socialist is to demean the office and stir up a passion that we need to be calming, rather than constantly stirring up.”

Now, that’s a problem. As we’ve pointed out before, it’s pretty hard to come up with something a socialist is supposed to do, that the President has not in fact already done. Inglis is effectively saying if you’re a socialist, once you manage to get yourself elected President, it becomes an obligation of all the citizens to pretend you aren’t one so that the office is not demeaned.

Sorry, Bob. Words mean things, as they saying goes. And since when do we elect our officials to calm ourselves down? Seems to me that’s not what your job is supposed to be. How’d this country get started in the first place, anyway? Was that a “calm” revolution? I missed that part of my history, please enlighten me.

But wait! At paragraph number thirteen (!!!), the reader is finally given the information needed to decide the paramount question: Is the Republican party cuckoo-burgers? Maybe they are, but if so, this might not be the decision that manage to demonstrates it. They purged sensibly. Not that this is evident to you if you stopped reading two-thirds of the way through.

Inglis is smart enough to know it wasn’t just his refusal to call the President names that turned him into one more unemployed American. He voted for TARP and against the surge in Iraq and even called out Glenn Beck, a rough, tough media guy who thinks ad hominem attacks are great until he’s the hominem.

In the primary runoff, Inglis’ opponent got 71% of the vote. It’s never just one thing when you get carried out of the ring like that.

“I was at a breakfast and somebody said the President wasn’t patriotic,” Inglis says. “I knew I was supposed to go along. Instead, I got up and said, ‘That’s simply not true. I disagree with this President most of the time, but he loves his country.’ Afterward a big Republican operative in our state grabbed me and said, ‘Don’t give him that.’ I said, ‘Give him what?’ And the guy said, ‘That he’s patriotic.’

“Why do I have to see Democrats as my enemies? I’ve got Al Qaeda. I’ve got the Taliban. I’ve got enough enemies. I’m supposed to call this President despicable? The people who are despicable are the ones who constantly mislead the public in the interest of selling books. Or themselves. And always cloaking themselves in patriotism. Shame on them.”

He laughs softly.

“But then what do I know?” Bob Inglis says. “I lost.”

His district did. His state did. His party did. He did not.

Yes, his party lost. It lost something it needed to lose, something toxic to it. If you are never allowed to reject anything, then there’s no definition to you and you’re never allowed to become anything.

Inglis did lose. He lost the confidence of his party, that he possessed the mettle required to effectively resist bad policy. He went on the record seeing things that were not actually there. He imagined a “love” of country, where the evidence doesn’t indicate any love actually exists. Like I’ve said before: If you love me like today’s democrats love America, then please stay the hell away.

But if the GOP is to show this dreamer the door, they are to pay as high a political price as is possible, for doing so.

In 2010, it seems that is a popular tactic of the left. Among the people who, strangely, inexplicably, are enamored of some frenzied fondness for higher taxes. Even though most of the people so intoxicated have no direct interest in such a policy, and stand to improve their lot in life not one bit through such a policy.

You know what? They could use a good purging, too.

Update: Oh look, there goes one of them right now. Raising money for Charlie Crist. It doesn’t even justify a separate post.

This is a word we’ve been needing for awhile. It’s an important concept, and we’re seeing examples of it more and more often lately.

If you’re never allowed to get rid of anything, you can’t keep anything.

“That Girl Could Have Killed Half of Oregon”

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

FrankJ writes in Pajamas Media. FrankJ speaks the truth…

Do you know what kinds of diseases can lurk inside improperly handled lemonade? No, you don’t. And neither do I. So obviously, that threat is so severe that medical scientists won’t even tell us about it so as not to create a panic. And do you know how many people died from contaminated lemonade before stringent health regulations were enforced? I’ll give you a number: 52,143,000. Well, the number of people who died from improperly handled lemonade involves one or more digits from that number.

Scary, isn’t it? That stupid little girl could have killed half of Oregon. Luckily the government was there to protect you. But the damage isn’t just limited to people’s health; there’s also the economic impact. She goes out there with her non-union labor selling lemonade for 50 cents, and who knows how many proper businesses that paid all their licensing fees and taxes she was undercutting? She was effectively stealing money from Oregon and the federal government. Thus while President Obama is working very carefully to revive our economy, she is working directly against him. That probably also makes her a racist.

I’m sure the situation is a little more reasonable than this. Probably some homeowner wanted to build a gazebo or install an awning and got turned down for the permit, so their nose was all out of joint about this then they found out about some little girl selling lemonade. Called City Hall and said “What about her? HUH? Has SHE got a permit?!?”

And then of course the officials had to swoop in. Can’t discriminate in any way in a properly civilized society. All laws must be enforced equally, and the only way to do that is with good old-fashioned Zero ToleranceTM. We have to do that, all over the place, to show what good people we are. Enforce and enforce and enforce some more, until there’s nothing left. It’s the least that should be demanded out of a compassionate people.

Now lynch the bitch. Crazy lemonade whore.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and at Washington Rebel.

Broken Window Fallacy

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The epitaph for the times in which we live, is that it’s become radical to acknowledge that destroying things is destructive.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

History of Environmentalism

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Green & red, yeah they look good together.

Hat tip to Kate at SDA.

Perfect Mike

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Blogger MarkyMark received a note. I’ll just excerpt the entire thing.


I’m writing this to tell you of an old friend of mine, a man I greatly respected and the tale of his life. What makes this man special is the that by all accounts his life, his married life, working life, and family life, was a “success” by the standards laid down by modern society. I’ll call him Michael (not is real name) and he was a true blue worker, very intelligent, and raised to provide by two parents who stayed together and raised their son with strict Baptist values. He wasn’t all that handsome but invested his younger years diligently, pursuing an engineering degree at Duke University back when grade inflation didn’t exist (early 1960’s). The girls he dated, well, he didn’t date much as he was a nerd and being the 60’s the girls with the new freedom used that freedom to ride the cock train of football players and players in general. The new age of sexual emancipation left Mike at the station. Years after college Mike met a girl who had gotten her fill of the bad boys, and they started dating. True she was no virgin while Mike was, she’d had several relationships and relations before but she recognized the value of Mike in that he had a new job with an up and coming career track – computers! Misinterpretation of his prior religious teaching ordered him to forgive this girl’s past and instead focus only on the future. It was his duty after all. He married her and worked, hard. His father worked for the railroad and the company had taken care of him so Mike knew that this was the way to a good life. Work hard, and the company would reward and take care of you. Then the 1970’s hit with the Carter recession and all that loyalty and hard work amounted to nothing. Still he tried again, found another job (that forced him to move frequently) and this one wanted even more hours than the prior job. I remember him saying “It’s Friday do you know what that means? It’s only two more working days until Monday!” and off he’d go. Everyday. For 43 years. He had two children, a boy then a girl, and worked while his wife stayed at home. Later on after the children were out of high school Mikes wife dabbled a little here and there and worked part time occasionally for a convenience store. The extra money was nice but not enough so she pecked Mike continuously to make extra money. It was never enough. “Go tell your boss you need more! You should show him your value! A real man would provide for his children!” and on it went. Mike was getting older now, and had always had diabetes, a life long condition he had to treat with regular insulin injections. The shots were painful but he needed them to think straight. Of course there was the time he was laid off in 1980 with no insurance and the daughter needed braces. A real man knows when to put others first after all. And of course when the mother in law needed a new roof, and he really had promised his wife that new washing machine, and oh she needed to go see her mother for Christmas as well and airfare was so expensive. So the medicine(s) waited, more than once.

His children were boomerang types, his daughter slutted it up with a guy and moved in with him but later on came back home until she was able to snag a younger version of Mike. His son dropped out of college a few times and then came home to be a bum for 2 years after deciding that work was too nerve wracking. Mike would never throw his children out so they stayed for several more years. Several more. Finally when his son hit 28 he found a slut with a child from another guy and got her pregnant. The girl wanted a lavish wedding but his son was only working at a book store and couldn’t afford it – no big wedding so it seemed. Mike’s wife knew better of course, and argued with him for months about paying for the big day. She’d gotten a lavish wedding (thank you Mike) and didn’t Mike know how important a wedding is to his future daughter? Yes this was his vacation money, yes after so many years of hard work he was finally going to get to go do something he always wanted (to see the Northern lights in Alaska). Yes he was going to finally get that Harley Davidson and ride up there after 35 years of no vacations at all. BUT This was going to be his daughter according to his wife and his kids HAD to come first…. So the girl got her wedding. Then his real daughter needed help with a house. Her new husband turned out not to be a copy of Mike after all but a thug with a criminal record who had just lost his job. Why did his daughter lie about this guy to Mike? Her wedding was very expensive too. Oh well it was too late now and his daughter did need a place to live and she just found out she was pregnant! He didn’t have the money but his wife researched it and 2nd mortgages were so easy to get back then. True, his house after so many years of work was almost paid off but his grandchild needed a real home and there was no way his new son in law could afford it and Mike was told he could now work up to 10 hours more overtime if he wanted. 60 hours wasn’t too much of a sacrifice and he’d at least get a leg up on that promotion, maybe.

Another decade passed and after scrimping and saving and even more hard work the mortgages were paid off. In a rare perfect storm both children (now well into there 30’s with kids of their own) didn’t need something. The mother in law didn’t need a new appliance, or home repair, or another new car being long past her driving years. Yes, now, this was the time. Mike now 64, proudly strode into the Harley dealership and filled out a custom order sheet. In 8 weeks a shiny new Harley would arrive and he would get to ride it. He would finally take a vacation, his first real vacation since college. Sure his wife and kids had gone on many many vacations over the years but he always had stayed behind – to work. Something always came up. One time it was that there just wasn’t money or neighbors to take care of – of all things – the dogs! 3 Lassa’s that Mike never wanted yipping and shitting all over the place. Ugh… still at least his wife would get a vacation – she deserved it after all didn’t she? There was even that one time (he hoped it was just the one time) where he found out his wife had hooked up with an old boyfriend when she said she was going to visit her mother. He forgave her of course a divorce would have devastated his kids (he knew they were his – or at least he hoped) and of course he’d have lost everything with the divorce laws – besides wasn’t he a Christian? Shouldn’t he just forgive and forget? What does his pride or even himself matter? He had never cheated on her or even been with another woman – not even once – but that was normal and he knew that she appreciated that didn’t she?

The last big push before new years came at work and Mike was tired. His wife as always spent Christmas and new years with her mother – and he knew this time she really was with her mother – she was too old to cheat on him now wasn’t she? When she got back he would be free of dog sitting and he would take his new Harley on the road for the first time. Shiny and red, he hadn’t even ridden it yet. He read the owner’s manual 100 times and knew everything about it, he couldn’t wait and it was all he talked about at work! It was brand new and kept in the garage but he stripped the engine and cleaned and oiled everything just to make sure! It was polished, waxed, and hospital clean. All was ready. His first ride on his HIS!! brand new Harley to see the Northern lights. It was the culmination of his life’s work and now it was really going to happen. Mike was so excited.

On December 29th his daughter called and left an angry message on the tape machine. She wanted to visit but the snow was blocking the drive-way and she had her daughter and no snow shovel! Why the f**k hadn’t Mike shoveled the driveway? He knew she was coming to visit that lazy good for nothing piece of crap. NOTE: the words she used were in reality more caustic than this – I have lightened them considerably.

On January 3rd his son came to visit and found his father cold and lifeless surrounded by a ring of dog shit. He’d had a massive stroke, likely from the diabetes, and the paramedics said they thought that he didn’t suffer for long – but it was hard to tell. When Mike’s wife returned later on she immediately made plans to sell the house. She raged that Mike hadn’t left her enough life insurance and no instructions on what to do – what a irresponsible man what the hell was he thinking? He should have provided better for her especially since he knew she was too old to work! She was 62!!! Insurance was so expensive for someone in his condition but if he hadn’t squandered *their* money on that stupid bike he could have afforded it. Her old boyfriend George was so much more successful – oh how she regretted not marrying him! The bike was listed on Ebay that week. “Never ridden Harley – brand new! $17,000 or best offer”.

By every PC measure Mike’s life was a success. He worked his whole life for someone else and doubtless made millions for his bosses over the course of his career. He took care of 3 people and two grandchildren that would have been on the dole if not for his efforts, and paid punitive taxes to take care of many more along the way. He never collected a dime of social security or unemployment even when he was laid off – he was just too proud to file. He never took Medicare and he made lots of profit for 2 large banks, 2 colleges, and never once thought of himself. He died cold and alone, surrounded by shit, never once having done anything for himself. His epitaph was a bike on Ebay – his life’s dream – sold to a dealer for $15,500 – the best offer his widow could get several years ago. She took a cruise with the money. America thanks you Mike. You were a real success, and moreover a blueprint for what we expect a modern man to be. R.I.P.

“Narcissistic Men Typically Direct Their Rage at Straight Women”

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Bloomberg Businessweek:

Ever met a guy who talks only about himself, thinks he’s superior to everyone and who tends to view women as little more than playthings?

That man may very well have narcissistic personality disorder, a condition marked by an inflated sense of self-importance and a profound lack of empathy for others.

And new research suggests the anger, hostility and short fuse that accompany a man’s narcissism tend to be directed toward straight women.

“Heterosexual, narcissistic men become enraged at people who deny them gratification, whether it’s social status, having a trophy partner or sexual gratification,” said lead study author Scott Keiller, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Kent State University Tuscarawas in Ohio.

“The group that could gratify heterosexual men the most is heterosexual women,” Keiller said. “To the extent narcissistic men would get resistance, that would make them enraged.”

Depressed NarcissistFor the study, published online July 23 in the journal Sex Roles, Keiller and his colleagues gave 104 male undergraduates questionnaires designed to measure narcissism. Questions included: “I love to be the center of attention” or “It embarrasses me when I am the center of attention.” The former is associated with narcissism, the latter with modesty and humility.

Another case of a white-coat pocket-protector clipboard-carrying propeller-beanie egghead conducting a study to “discover” what he wanted it to discover.

If you already see the dark side to this one, I know exactly what it is that concerns you. And your fears crystallize into reality right here:

None of the men questioned had diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder, said Keiller. But narcissism is a continuum, and plenty of the young men had a pronounced tendency toward those traits, he said.

Massive eyeball roll…steam coming out of ears…sputter, sputter. Does it even need to be said? Okay, let me lay it out right here:

Everything is a fucking continuum, asshole!

It isn’t that I can’t see some merit in what he’s trying to do. I recall, some twenty years ago…there was a software engineer on a project who started accusing me of stealing source code and taking it home. This was a small company, and he managed to get me put on some kind of “probation” — over nothing. No evidence, no appeal. I never even understood what set the whole thing off…for a few months…and then it became crystal clear. He blackmailed the boss. Something hadn’t gone his way, so he gave an ultimatum over the phone: He had the project at home and he was never going to come in again until some changes were made. He’d been projecting. Accusing others of doing what he, in fact, was doing.

That one had a whole kit bag packed full of emotional issues. But if he were to be given a test, would he be clinically diagnosed with a behavioral disorder? Maybe if you put him in front of one of those quacks that can find a disorder in just about everything…but that’s true of us all. My point is, he should have been found wanting of something — and maybe looking for mental health deficiencies is not the right approach.

Some of these people are just plumb happy with the way they’ve been made, and they think it’s right. Blackmailing the boss with stolen company assets and blaming someone else for it, is clearly unethical; but the other person might say it’s the only logical decision if there’s some larger mission to be fulfilled, and it can be achieved by no other means. Everyone has a justification for just about everything.

Actually, that’s what the word means. At least that’s what I’ve always thought of it to mean: I can justify anything in my own mind, so if I have any kind of ethical taxonomy, I might as well not have it.

I’d be more inclined to look for mental illnesses with regard to the technique of the blackmail. He wasn’t threatening to start his own company and bring the software to market; he was literally stealing the code. Whatthefuck?? We had backups.

But you know, the more I read about this study, the more Scott Keiller reminds me of that guy. Read that one more time:

“I love to be the center of attention” or “It embarrasses me when I am the center of attention.” The former is associated with narcissism, the latter with modesty and humility.

This is not to say that the only worthwhile man is one who will say “It embarrasses me when I am the center of attention.”

But the desire to obliterate others who are not exactly like yourself…is a continuum.

This is where the study really falls apart. Really, when you think about it, it’s delivering on its promise from stem to stern; there are narcissists out there, like my old “pal,” who would never be found to possess a genuine personality disorder and yet certainly should be. Without a study like this, the rational observer is forced to conduct an informal, unwritten study of his own. Heheh, trust me on that last one. If you were in the position in which I was placed two decades ago, you’d be going at it just as hard.

But the conflation between dysfunctional narcissism, and classically masculine traits, and the cognitive bias that is driven by this, is palpable. My one-line conclusion? Scott Keiller, from what I’m seeing here, is what he calls others.

His research deserves to be studied, just like the stuff his research studies deserves to be studied. In fact, his own mindset is probably even more worthy of inspection because Keiller is not the first “researcher” to let fly with it, and it bears great responsibility for putting our civilization where it is now: Males, in order to be worthy, must be weak, meek and mild. They should be inclined, even eager, to accept situations in which things are not done the way they think they should be done; they should be perpetually self-sacrificing. Females get a pass from all this. They mature more quickly and they know how to “nurture.”

It has deteriorated into yet another academic exercise with much detrimental effect and very little beneficial product in its wake. The propeller-beanie eggheads like Keiller want us to get rid of masculinity because they call it “narcissism”; we’ve accommodated them; now we have a society that is constantly pretending to be more certain about what to do, than it really is. It’s constantly confused. Our feminists typify it. They cannot choose a man who will make them happy over the long term. They can’t even make up their minds whether they want Wonder Woman to wear long pants or not.

I'm Captain Kirk!I once saw an old episode of Star Trek in which Captain Kirk was split in half by the transporter beam. Each “half” was physically complete (they sidestepped the question of the doubled mass in the sum-of-the-Kirks), but the personality was separated, as if spun in a centrifuge. One physical incarnation possessed all the feelings of hostility, all the primal urges. Kirk’s Id. The other half had a monopoly on the characteristics that are required of a person when he seeks to become a cooperative and functional part of a society.

The nasty drunken reprobate was the one in control of all of the leadership and decision-making skills. I’ve got a gut feel Keiller would find this to be scientifically invalid; but if you’ve ever been in a position of leadership, and forced to make decisions about things when not all of the requisite information is there, you can recognize there is certainly something to it.

In fact, I’ve found that particular episode to be a chillingly accurate prophecy of exactly what feminism has done to manhood since it came out. After Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the gang were forced to acknowledge the importance and beneficial effect of these supposedly destructive attributes, feminists and quack-doctors spent the decades since then continuing the damage in their blissful ignorance.

The “researcher” knows barely enough to be dangerous. It’s like he’s figured out that gasoline is extremely flammable, can do all kinds of terrible things…and furthermore, on inspecting the commuter car that gets us to work and back again, has made the shocking discovery that it has some in it. Better get him a grant, toot-sweet!

Hat tip to Full of Grace, Seasoned with Salt.

Memo For File CXX

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Irish Cicero, chief cook and bottle-washer of Washington Rebel where I am a new contributor, wants to talk about Armageddon. It is the subject of this post, as well as in a private e-mail thread that has been bouncing around this week. I was quietly abstaining from it altogether because it’s already an important item within My 42 Definitions of a Strong Society — the last of the set:

42. Armageddon is not breathlessly anticipated. Very rarely does anyone talk about the entire world ending, for any reason.

Why is it a definition of a strong society to avoid talk of Armageddon? More precisely, why is it a definition of a weak one to go ahead and discuss it; to cite more accurately, to “breathlessly anticipate” the end of everything?

Because, to me, it represents absolute hopelessness, and a drive to talk about Armageddon represents a yearning for hopelessness. It also represents a departure from reality. You enjoy a much greater likelihood of suffering from a heart attack, without warning, than sitting here in your own natural lifespan when Jesus comes back. Thinking about the heart attack before it happens might be a constructive exercise. But the heart attack is not absolutely hopeless. Maybe you’ll be next to someone else — someone not having a heart attack, who will be in a position to help you.

The end of the world is exactly that, though. The Man Upstairs says, I’ve decided to make a clean wash of it. What are you going to do? Appealing to a higher authority is out of the question, as is making a wonderful speech to Him pointing out some new facet to the situation that somehow escaped His notice.

So I don’t want to talk about Armageddon. I don’t think that is what we are in. I rocked the boat with a suggestion we give it another name, and as of now it remains an open question what we’re going to call it. It is now likely we’ll refer to what is happening by some other name…which greatly enhances the potential of my participation. This is a good thing. I’m not happy with conversations that begin with the expurgation of any & all hope, and go forward from there. I tend to tune out.

Also, I’m unhappy with the level of thinking that tends to accompany the “breathless anticipation” of the end of the world. I’ve found it to lack robustness, logic and tensile strength. Just think on it for a minute with the emotions kept at bay: How do you go about justifying this theme to it, which everyone understands is paramount and central although very few say it out loud — that we are culpable? God wants to hit the reset switch. How much guilt should we really feel about it? The only reasonable answer is “none at all.” It is the height of hubris to say “must be something I did or didn’t do.” We’re that important? Really?

And so such exercises have it in common that they start playing hopscotch; they shift from one foot to the other, from a pious worldview to a more secular one. God’s formatting the disk — no, He isn’t doing it because He isn’t there, we are. Back in the fifties they came up with a replacement god in “The Day The Earth Stood Still” called Klaatu, who belonged to a race of aliens sitting in judgment of us. They were going to topple our Jenga tower. Because we were bastards and we deserved it. This has been an ongoing theme.

I don’t like talking about Armageddon. It represents, to me, abdicating all control of the conversation to those sitting at the table who have no hope. It is an indulgence in hopelessness. To me, there has to be some hope; if there isn’t any, I’d prefer to make up my mind about that myself thankyewverymuch. And once I’ve satisfied myself of that you’re going to find my interest in the conversation has reached an end, not a beginning. Some folks are my polar opposite, I’ve found; they only start their emotional investment when the hope is measurably gone — and I don’t even want to be around these people.

The folks who have far more money than I do, and made it all themselves…I’ve noticed they all operate this way. If you’re one of these Gloomy Gus people who just suck the energy out of the room, they kick you out. If they can, and if they can’t then they beat feet outta there. They don’t want to be around hopelessness. I suppose anyone who has a vision for solving a problem, or who merely wishes to form such a vision, has to be this way.

But I would like to participate in Cicero’s discourse. This is an important point he’s raising. We’re in something that, before, we weren’t in. Or we were not quite so submerged in it.

What then do we call this? Life in 2010 is not normal. Something is definitely happening. It is not the end of the world, because there is hope. There is abundant hope; in fact, if November comes & goes and the children are still running things at the end of it, very little of this hope will have dissipated. What’s the word to describe it?

I like the word “quickening” an awful lot. The changes are washing over us, bigger and bigger, and closer together. The smaller changes that change nothing, but act as harbingers of the bigger changes that are linked to them — they are becoming bigger and closer together as well. I see it on these here innerwebz. The loudmouths who insist on getting the last word, telling me I’m stupid and have the wrong idea about something; maybe they’re right, maybe I’m getting much stupider because it certainly seems I’m being told so a lot more often, by more and more people. Truth be told, the one factor that makes it hard to accept this, more than any other, is the frequency and enthusiasm with which I am told about it. We quickly reach a point where it’s been pointed out a little too quickly, a little bit too energetically. The whiff of desperation is unmistakable.

I am in error when I don’t help to condemn Andrew Breitbart.

I am repugnantly wrong when I insist on solid evidence before believing the tea party is chock full of racists.

I am certifiably stupid when I doubt the settled science of climate change.

I am committing sacrilege when I don’t bow before Shirley Sherrod, kneeling, kissing her, uh, her ring.

And for thinking a military exists for the purpose of fighting and defending something, rather than to provide free higher-education benefits to the enlistees, I’m an oaf.

I’m nuts for thinking there was anything dangerous about Saddam Hussein. Ever.

I’m making a dreadful mistake thinking Sarah Palin personifies what feminism was really supposed to be.

And I need to trust His Holy Eminence at 1600 Pennsylvania. He has the economy well under control. That unemployment rate will drop again, just as soon as He’s all done cleaning up FaPoBuAdtm, the Failed Policies of the Bush Administration. I’m a big ol’ dummy for thinking it would have been nice for Him to bother to show up, in person, to the Boy Scouts’ 100-year celebration rather than going on an airhead ditzy female talk show.

Now keep in mind…I’m only mentioning the most harmless things that I am, according to those who disagree. They have much worse things to say about my fine self. Since, thus far, I’m the only one they’ve met all across the world wide web, who disagrees with them about anything. Except I’m not. In fact, I’m generally not in the majority very often on a given issue, but on many of the above items I’ve found that I am; it is my opposition that is badly outnumbered. Which means very little to me. Except — still, they continue with the bullying. With the numbers extraordinarily lopsided, in the given locale, something like thirty-to-one. They’re the ones to bring it up. Their disconnection from reality complete, they continue their onslaught with the bullying “everybody knows” schtick, when it’s patently obvious that “everybody” knows no such thing.

It’s been happening more and more. More this year than in the two years before, which is saying a lot…and more the last two weeks, than all the months before. It’s a quickening. It’s a plague straight out of Book of Exodus. A plague of fools.

It’s hard to see what is happening here until you take the time to inspect the actual words exchanged, and read between the lines. Look under the surface. Then it becomes crystal clear.

Before I get to that, though, let’s go back to what Irish Cicero wants to talk about. The quickening.

It is a degradation of something. In the private e-mail thread, I compared it to a ruptured gas line burning away at the base of a steel tower. Nobody on God’s green earth can extinguish it. The tower remains standing for an hour, maybe two, but at some point the structural strength will dissipate and that tower’s coming down. If you’ve never experienced this in real life, I can tell you it is an amazing sight. Just one within the crowd will be most sensitive to motion at a distance, and the cry will go forth: “Ah, there she goes.” It won’t be mistaken, and a moment or two later it will be visible to everyone. But still the tower will remain standing, for the better part of a minute or more. Nobody really knows. No one is looking at a timepiece.

That is where we are. We have these “junkies” arguing about trivial bullshit on blogs. But it isn’t bullshit and it isn’t trivial. They…we…are the eagle-eyes, perceiving the movement first. What this says about us, is unimportant. The facts worth considering all have to do with that steel tower.

Another analogy is more obvious: You inflate a basketball to full capacity, and drop it on the level pavement. Boom, boom, boom, boom-boom-boom…they get closer together, very slowly. A gradual quickening. Once it diminishes into that brrrrmmmmm sound, something that existed before has been lost. I like this one because, after the basketball is at rest you can always lift it into the air and drop it again. This, I think, is where we are headed. We’re learning something about ourselves, withholding our efforts so we can see how things shake out. Eventually, we come to understand that it really is all about us. If we want to get some energy out of these objects, we have to put some in.

But the analogy that fits the best, is the darkest one. Every parent’s worst nightmare: Your child was right there just a moment ago, and now s/he’s nowhere to be found. Those first few moments that seem like days, are gone now, and now you’re facing days that seem like lifetimes. The police are looking, and your head is wracked with echoes of WHERE?? and HOW??

This is the best fit for where we are. We have hope, but we do not know how this is going to end. There is something precious to us that we think is still around, although we are not sure of it. The dreadful, unthinkable possibility exists that it may be gone forever.

We’re beating ourselves up constantly with thoughts that contain no perceptible words, other than “if only.”

We hope, and hope, and hope some more that there is a happy ending to this waiting. We don’t really know if it will happen. And we cannot presume the worst, so we concentrate on the when. But we don’t really care about the when. If we have to wait in order for it to come out right, we’ll wait.

But if that happy ending does come to pass, boy oh boy are there ever gonna be some new rules in place!

Yep. That’s it. That’s where we are.

There are those, though, who do not want to put the new rules in place. There are those who, by some neglectful act, or failure to act, allowed the child to go missing…read that as, “voted for Barack Obama.” The rest of us understand that the resulting disaster is so grave, that there is an indecency involved in pointing out their culpability in this. It is useless, it is cruel, and they already know.

And so they take advantage of our compassion and distance themselves further from reality. Then they get angry with everybody else. They begin to behave as if someone else was responsible for losing the child. They project.

Here, I connect this back to the loudmouths on the Internet who like to pretend someone else is the problem. I’m circling back to this thing you realize when you read between the lines, when you look under the surface. What makes them so frenzied, so desperate, so anxious to find racism where it is not, and to overlook it where it is.

It is guilt.

In 1945, we, and the Soviets, defeated the Nazis. Sixty-five years ago this very week, we had victory in Japan. That was the beginning of the Cold War. The communists began to try to infiltrate their new enemy, the Free World. This particular war, contrary to popular belief, has never ended. The USSR crumbled much like that steel tower, they had a “quickening” of their own, but the communist movement survived even the demise of their host state.

True communism doesn’t live in a state. It is a base human impulse. It is the darker side to our human nature and it lives in all of us.

It survives by means of guilt, and it propagates that way.

Here in America, it is hard for us to see it working. We are not like Europe. The misadventures involved with visibly different peoples integrating, coming from different races and different backgrounds, is interwoven with our history. All of our history. The challenges were with us at the very beginning, every moment up until the Civil War, every moment since then. We have always struggled with this.

And the encroachment of the communists depends on this. Communism invades by means of guilt. That is what they do.

I’m not talking about guys with Russian accents wearing Che Guevara hats. There is no requirement for such a thing, any more than vampires in our modern movies have to go around wearing fine tuxedos like Count Dracula. Communism is, as I said, burned into the motherboard of humanity. It is jealousy. It is a desire for misery and failure to be equally distributed, and we are always going to be burdened with it.

These are people who made dreadful mistakes, and they know it. They want all others to be equally culpable.

If they can’t keep their jobs, they don’t want you to keep yours.

If they got fooled by something, they want you to be fooled by the same thing.

And they think it’s silly to talk about communism. The communists were defeated, haven’t you heard? And so there must be no such thing. Our elected leaders can prattle on all day long about “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” and no alarm bells go off. Said leaders are obviously not talking about themselves, or any of their friends, who can make just as much money as their little hearts desire. The rest of us, whose names are not stored in the right Blackberry devices and don’t play the right golf games with the right people, need to live under a ceiling.

It is aristocracy versus commoners. It is exactly what the American revolution, and the Bolshevik revolution, were supposed to banish forever.

Communism, socialism, collectivism, call it what you will — it has emerged from the fog as a synonym for this aristocracy. The leader of such an assembly possesses rights and privileges not too far different at all from those of royalty. We don’t have any church elders running around putting it into words that the glorious dictator rules by Divine Right — but we act that way. He can “make” as much money as He wants, whereas we cannot. He’s different.

I would have to imagine any supposedly egalitarian society is going to have to struggle against the same challenge. Forever. It will remain egalitarian, only so long as the people living there understand that some people succeed at things and some people fail…and that is quite alright. When we start trying to fix it, spread the wealth around, we constantly fail and we end up spreading the misery around instead.

And then we create a new caste of “leaders” who are to be spared from this misery that is being equally spread around.

And they become royalty.

The child is kidnapped — the people who created the situation through their neglect, start projecting their feelings of guilt onto others. And then there is a quickening.

All quite unavoidable.

But not hopeless. Never hopeless. We are humans, we have brains. We can learn. That means we can prevail. Not forever; the struggle will never be over. But we can show some real humility, learn from our mistakes, and resolve to never allow that child to be kidnapped again.

It’s called vigilance. It is the everlasting responsibility of ordinary citizens. The founders of our republic made a point of mentioning, several times, that it is a fundamental requirement and will be one forevermore.

Guilt? That’s the opposite of vigilance. Guilt cannot be complete until it starts to affect decisions; which means, those decisions are made differently because of the guilt. That means they’re made wrongly. And here we come down to another truth, one everybody understands deep down, that is so rarely put into words: Guilt is not good. Decisions that are made out of guilt, are not recalled later with fondness. People don’t say “I’m so glad I felt guilty at the time and made that decision.” Go over those decisions sometime. You’ll find the theme that permeates through them, is not that they are beneficial to whoever suffered the plight inspiring the guilt, but that they are injurious to the person who made the decision. They are self-destructive decisions. They are bad decisions — as a deliberate, non-negotiable object of the exercise of making decisions out of guilt.

That’s why communists like guilt. It leads to suicidal decisions. You need some guilt to sell their product to people.

And so we are going through a quickening with our guilt. We are finding, the hard way, that this is an emotion that has no redeeming value. I suppose there are some people to whom it comes naturally, and it’s unavoidable. Like, every day you need to have something approaching eight hours of sleep — and you need to feel guilty about something.

I will not begrudge them on this. Feel guilty if you have to, but making decisions while you feel that way is about as smart as shopping for groceries while you’re hungry.

It Helps to Be Rich, Too

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Or, uh…so I’m told anyway.

Hat tip to Grerp.

Now, don’t forget those two most important rules of sexual harassment:

1. The intent of the guilty, er, I mean accused party is immaterial. It is the perception of the paranoid, uh, I mean offended person that decides freakin’ everything. Yep, some stranger with a screw loose and a fatal attraction can ruin your career for good. On a whim. We’ve let lawyers make for us a world in which nobody with a brain would choose to live. But hey, at least they can get crazy rich by chasing the right ambulance.

2. These rules are put in place to make a workplace environment that is comfortable for EVERYONE. Yup, everyone. Yeah, we’re going to say those two things, this bullet & the last one, in the same breath. Without even cracking a grin. That’s how you remember we’re reptiles.

“Evidence and Denial”

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Richard W. Rahn, Washington Times:

As almost everyone now knows, there are two competing theories about how to revive the American economy. One theory is to promote the supply-side of the economy by cutting tax rates or at least to maintain the Bush-era tax rates and reduce spending and government regulation; the other theory is to follow the Keynesians’ advice by allowing some or all of the Bush-era tax rates to increase while also increasing government spending and government regulations.

An item of interest here: I am a member of the first group, and have been for a very long time. I did not get that way by poring over textbooks about economic sciences and such, or even by being rich, or pulling in lots of money (those last two things are quite different, by the way, but that’s another story).

No, I got that way by putting myself into the other fellow’s shoes. Maybe it comes from growing up and entering the world of work in a small business community, but before I had my first job, I got to watch real job-makers make real decisions about how to grow their real businesses and whether it was time to hire real people to do the real work. It’s not a simple decision. It cannot be measured.

It really comes down to just two things, though: Magnitude of opportunity, and potential for achieving it. Now, if either one of those two are eroded by too much, the likelihood emerges that the decision will go the other way — let’s just forget the whole deal. Not open that office. Not hire those people. Don’t do it, and say we did.

Now, the people in the second group…if they started reading this to start with, and that’s doubtful…they’re thinking “that Freeberg character is off in the weeds again. It’s all about making the rich pay their fair share! No need to feel sorry for them, they’re too rich! And selfish, yeah!”

They’re the ones who presume to possess a monopoly on good communication. Sympathizing. Reading people. Empathy. Yeah, you just try explaining that to the space alien living in your laundry room. “Well, we’ve got these people called ‘liberals’ who pride themselves on being compassionate…and they spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to sock it to straights, males, whites, rich people, Boy Scouts, housewives, and anybody else who doesn’t live life the way they want them to.”

But we’re veering off from the main point of the article. Let’s get back to it:

The first theory was tried during the Reagan administration, and the second theory is now being tried during the Obama administration. Both administrations inherited an economy in trouble. President Reagan inherited an economy with stagnant growth, rising unemployment and double-digit inflation. President Obama inherited an economy with falling growth and rising unemployment, but little inflation. President Obama likes to say that he inherited the “worst” economy since the Great Depression, but the fact is that the economic “Misery Index” – which the Democrats used as a weapon against Republicans – was twice as high when President Reagan took office.

Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics
Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics

Reagan’s policy was to sharply cut individual and corporate tax rates, and to restrain the growth in government spending and regulation. The Democrats, who were in control of the House of Representatives, resisted and delayed the Reagan tax cuts, so they were not fully implemented until 1983. Mr. Obama had the luxury of having his party in control of both houses of Congress, so he was able to get his proposed, massive government spending increases enacted almost immediately.

This is all to give some background behind the starting dates for the chart you see to the right.

Bottom lining it: The liberals are right. A little bit of empathy and compassion goes a long, long way. If only they practiced it!

When Reagan left office in January 1989, he had presided over “seven fat years,” as Bob Bartley, the now-deceased editor of the Wall Street Journal, called the Reagan era. Unemployment was half of its recession high, economic growth averaged more than 4 percent after the recession bottom in 1982, the deficit was falling and was under a very manageable 3 percent of gross domestic product, the GDP-debt ratio was falling, inflation had dropped by about two-thirds, and every American individual and company had seen very sharp reductions in their marginal tax rates – the maximum rate fell from 70 percent to only 28 percent by the time Reagan left office.
Given the above facts – which have the benefit of being true (unlike many “facts” delivered by our elected officials) – would you follow the Reagan/Clinton II economic policies or the Obama ones?…Obama economic advisers Paul Volcker, Larry Summers and Christina Romer have, at times, all advocated polices totally contrary to the ones that Mr. Obama is now practicing. Are they, like many of those in the Democratic Party, all suffering from cognitive dissonance by continuing to push a failed model? [emphasis mine]

Mr. Rahn finishes strong. I’ll not send you there, I’ll replicate right here. Do RTWT anyway…but here is the punchline.

The economy performed better under Reagan’s supply-side policies than President Carter’s economic team had forecast it would if their man had been re-elected and continued his high-tax, Keynesian policies. The economy is now performing worse than Mr. Obama’s economic team forecast with its Keynesian policies. Looking at the evidence, it strains credulity to believe that the economy will actually perform better next year when all the tax increases are slated to go into effect. When will Congress wake up?

Let’s bottom-line it. In something (almost) suitable for a bumper sticker:

The economy is about economic opportunity, not just economic stability. It is about making money — for its own sake. It is about the rest of the nation getting out of the way, when those among us who have achieved sufficient solvency to part with a dollar, seek to so part with it and gain back two.

An economy is about making money.

The economy we have, is has no need of life support, or a breathing machine, or a heart massage, or a defibrillator. It doesn’t need get-well cards from the grandchildren or flowers or teddy bears in its hospital room.

What it needs is for our government to pull the fucking pillow out of its face so it can breathe. Businesses — people — will turn profits, just as soon as it stops being a crime.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and at Washington Rebel.

Best Sentence XCIV

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

By the power invested in me, I am hereby bestowing the latest award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) upon a sentence fragment:

…[P]eople don’t get enough done because they are discouraged by the sudden realization that it usually takes a pretty big job just to get prepared for doing a job.

Preach it, brother Andy. He goes on to expound upon the point:

We only want one kind of work in our recalcitrant lethargy, and that’s the kind that gets done. We most certainly have no interest in the kind of work that must be labored through for hours just so you can get started working on the kind that gets done. The hardest part about going to work should be the getting out of bed. It’s almost like forced volunteering, or like having to run out and drill for the oil, then bring it back and pour it your engine. Or even a little bit like when dad said “you have to clean the crawl space if you really want to know what it’s like to drive my car.” Didn’t make sense at the time, but I see now that it still makes no sense at all. Thanks, dad.

Well, this is worth a think or three. If there’s any one thing that has changed in the last thirty years, or one hundred, or three hundred, it is this: We get to specialize in things. You get to be a windshield wiper motor installer guy, I get to be a gearshift-knob-twister-onner guy.

This yields a certain conservation of momentum to us all. The industrial revolution, as we know it today, could not have happened without it.

But while there is a physical challenge being overcome, there are also several mental ones being effectively sidestepped. All of the mental challenges, really, when you think about it. Sure, we ensconce ourselves once again into that stimulating realm of intellectual puzzles once we invent some robots to screw those gearshift knobs on in our place — but it just isn’t the same anymore.

Right and wrong are no longer determined by cause and effect, they are derived from group consensus. How could this possibly be avoided? Think back: When is the last time your livelihood prospered or suffered because you succeeded or failed at nailing down reality? If you’re one of the fortunate few who can provide an answer to that…and it really is fortunate to be able to, believe it or not…you are in a class by yourself.

The world just doesn’t work like this anymore. A judgment call that helps or hurts your personal livelihood, generally, is a judgment call made at work. And that, generally, is a judgment call that is not designed necessarily to be the best one, but rather, the one most closely resembling the call someone else would have made. When you tackle a complex chore — one that is meaningless, until it stands atop the successful completion of a multitude of disparate, interrelated tasks — you are robbed of the luxury of assembly-line workmanship, but you are challenged to think like a real adult. You become your own customer. And so you become responsible for “writing” a whole series of unwritten contracts about service levels.

It isn’t a comfortable arrangement. None of us, or very few of us, are going to choose it if an alternative is available.

But it does challenge the mind in the manner it was built to be challenged, and it recalls a simpler time when this kind of thinking was necessary for our continued survival. And no longer is.

And that is a heavy thought. Not a cheerful one.

Science: The Belief in the Ignorance of Experts

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Frank J. Tipler writes at Men’s News Daily:

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” is how the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman defined science in his article “What is Science?” Feynman emphasized this definition by repeating it in a stand-alone sentence in extra large typeface in his article.

Immediately after his definition of science, Feynman wrote: “When someone says, ‘Science teaches such and such,’ he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you should ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’ It should not be ‘science has shown.’ And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but be patient and listen to all the evidence) to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

And I say, Amen. Notice that “you” is the average person. You have the right to hear the evidence, and you have the right to judge whether the evidence supports the conclusion. We now use the phrase “scientific consensus,” or “peer review,” rather than “science has shown.” By whatever name, the idea is balderdash. Feynman was absolutely correct.

When the attorney general of Virginia sued to force Michael Mann of “hockey stick” fame to provide the raw data he used, and the complete computer program used to analyze the data, so that “you” could decide, the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia declared this request — Feynman’s request — to be an outrage. You peons, the Faculty Senate decreed, must simply accept the conclusions of any “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards.” Feynman’s — and the attorney general’s and my own and other scientists’ — request for the raw data, so we can “judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at,” would, according to the Faculty Senate, “send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.”

According the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia, “science,” and indeed “scholarship” in general, is no longer an attempt to establish truth by replicable experiment, or by looking at evidence that can be checked by anyone. “Truth” is now to be established by the decree of powerful authority, by “peer review.” Wasn’t the whole point of the Enlightenment to avoid exactly this?

We’ve sometimes referred, here, to a logical fallacy we have given the name of “Malcolm Forbes’ Demise.” Back when the balloon-riding mogul assumed room temperature, we happened to have read about it first in some trashy tabloid (reading the cover while waiting to pay for our groceries, of course). Now, 1990 being well before the maturity of the Internet as we know it today, and at the time not really caring about it too much, it was some time before we learned of this from any other source. So pretending for the moment we were forced to rely on a tabloid magazine — if we were to try to arrive at a “scientific” hypothesis about Mr. Forbes’ health, and engage in this “peer review” process done by “science,” the first step would of course be to establish the level of credibility of these trash-tabs. It’s very low, of course. And from that we would then have to conclude, tentatively, that Forbes is alive and well until we hear differently from a more reliable source.

BalloonAccording to the methods we are told are sound, that’s only reasonable!

A man of genuine logic and reason, on the other hand, would ask himself how likely it is that the evidence in hand would arrive, were there no truth behind the statement. Well, a better source would be desirable, for sure. But our exercise, being one of deriving conclusions from facts, rather than of gathering the facts, says we are deprived of that…so in the absence of that, would the rag print up the headline if Malcolm Forbes was not dead? The potential for this is peripheral at best. Would you bet money that Forbes is alive? Or that he’s dead? Use your common sense. He’s probably dead.

It seems a piddling distinction to make. And when you have the luxury of demanding information out of Google on a whim, it does become mostly meaningless. But all human affairs are not scrutinized by the robots of Google. So “consider the source” remains good advice, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t decide the entire question. This is a mistake commonly made by esteemed experts in the scientific community, as well as by us “peons.”

Another way we’ve been putting it: If someone known to you to possess appealing attributes says something that is known to be false, how do you react? How about if someone known to you to possess harmful attributes, says something known to be true? Does it then become untrue? What if the “knowns” are not entirely known, but mostly-known?

I lately made the acquaintance of another blogger. “Made the acquaintance of” means “got into a big ol’ cyber-dustup S.I.W.O.T.I. (Someone Is Wrong On The Innernets) argument with.” Late in the exchange I had noticed our real disagreement wasn’t with regard to the facts, or the conclusions to be reached from them, but rather with the method used for deriving conclusions from facts. You see, he had come off a very intoxicating high, having successfully bullied all sorts of folks to stop looking at something, and I kept looking at it. So he started telling half-truths about the study being recanted, which turned out not to be true; then, all other approaches having been exhausted, he started having an electronic hissy-fit trying to get me to ignore what he wanted me to ignore.

Noting that what the study purported to prove wasn’t even anything outside the realm of agreement between the two sides, I made this observation:

Your blog is fascinated with, and named after, a canard that was started (unintentionally) by H.L. Mencken; mine is fascinated with, and named after, an ancient library administrator who figured out the size of the Earth. So you’re sort of a “Bizarro Eratosthenes” from an anti-matter universe: Instead of encouraging people to look at things, you’re encouraging them to look away. I’m a software engineer, and from your comments it appears you are a (failed?) lawyer.

It’s the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine. Cop illegally enters my apartment and catches me building a bomb, or torturing my kidnapped toddler, or writing a confession in my diary about having murdered somebody — and the law has to pretend it never happened. Yes, I know the doctrine is refined across time and it’s a good deal more complex than this, but the fundamental principle remains: We are to allow our lawyers to decide for us what “truth” is, and they are to instruct us to disregard big chunks of real truth.

There is a skill involved in this, and it is a learned skill passed down through the generations from parent to child. Today it is all but extinct: Isolating a claim from those who make it and argue about it, focusing only on the claim, exerting one’s mental energies toward figuring out if there’s truth to it or not.

Our overly-mature society has lost this. We look to the “experts” to figure it out for us, and trust them implicitly even in situations where we have no idea who they are, let alone what their agenda might be. Much of the erosion has been relatively recent. I trace it to the early 1960’s, to mid 1950’s; the Warren Court had transformed the “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree” doctrine into an iron fisted jurisprudence requiring judicial and enforcement officials of the law to pretend false things were true and true things were false.

The good news is that we always have the potential within us for a revival. It is interwoven into our DNA. If you’re about to crawl under a car, you will automatically become a highly skilled philosopher, dedicated to love of wisdom and love of truth, as you set about the task of figuring out if the jack stand is worthy of your trust. We rekindle this spirit by doing work, and we rekindle it quickly, forcefully, keenly, by doing dangerous work.

We allow it to atrophy when we shirk our responsibilities, when we become comfy, when we allow our existences to whither and shrivel into these little menageries of iPods, iced coffee drinks and video games. That is when we curl up into a fetal position and look for someone else to tell us what truth is. That is when we stop peeking into water wells, imploring our aristocrats, our superiors, our overseers, to form their communities and publish their papers and define their collectives.

You see, “peer review” is actually a misnomer. A peer is a relative term, applied to someone who possesses equal stature. This is a process for declaring communities of demigods, to stand over us and give us orders about what to think, to strip us of our God-given autonomy, independence, masculinity and resolve.

Thing I Know #129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.

“Our Divisive President”

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal:

President Obama’s Inaugural was a hopeful day, with an estimated 1.8 million people on the National Mall celebrating the election of America’s first African-American president. The level of enthusiasm, the anticipation and the promise of something better could not have been more palpable.

And yet, it has not been realized. Not at all.

Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.
The first hint that as president Mr. Obama would be willing to interject race into the political dialogue came last July, when he jumped to conclusions about the confrontation between Harvard Prof. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and the Cambridge police.

During a press conference, the president said that the “Cambridge police acted stupidly,” and he went on to link the arrest with the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”

In truth, the Gates incident appears to have had nothing to do with race—a Cambridge review committee that investigated the incident ruled on June 30 that there was fault on both sides.

Well, the review committee got it half right.

They were playing to a modern mindset that says when persons of disparate race are involved in a disagreement that spirals out of control in any way, the person with darker skin must be found unconditionally blameless. These mobsters are being manipulated, in turn, by a swaggering elite that seeks to enslave the melanin-enhanced as well as the melanin-challenged, with a dysfunctional protocol that says skin color decides guilt & innocence. “Fault on both sides” was a concession to this anarchy, and it brought the anarchists an important victory: If you’re a white cop, avoid these confrontations in the first place. It’s the only way you can come out ahead. Pretend something’s wrong with your radio and you can’t hear the dispatcher.

But back to the President, since it’s a much more serious charge that this racial division goes all the way to the top.

It isn’t accidental. Listen to Obama talk about something that doesn’t have to do with race: I, I, I, Me, Me, I, I, Me, I just think, seems to Me, Michelle & I, I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. The subject shifts to race, and all of a sudden it’s we, we, we, we, America, Ms. Sherrod, bloggers, talk shows, Cambridge police, we. He stops talking about Himself, because He’s cataloging sins…things that have been done wrong. When that happens, He isn’t part of us anymore. Suddenly, He can grind out entire paragraphs without mentioning Himself one single time. He’ll re-join us when the lecturing is done. Then He’ll be happy to tell us, once again, what He thinks about things.

So our President is a divisive agent, a willfully divisive one, and not only does he see race as part of the division He seeks to deploy, but He has a carefully laid-out and executed strategy in place for dividing us along racial lines. He seeks to remedy & heal nothing. But it isn’t just about race. It’s also about money. Have you listened to this “full” video clip of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the NAACP? I’m using scare quotes because there’s still some editing that’s been going on. But the point is this: It started out being about race, how a woman of color found herself approached for her legal assistance by a farmer of pallor. She didn’t apply the full force of what she could do for him, feeling that he should be helped but only by his own kind. The longer, 43-minute version becomes relevant because the speech is revealed as a “Grinch” story; the protagonist realizes her way of thinking about things is wrong, she reforms, and she does things she would not have done if she had not reformed. The speech was about this reformation, which is why there is such anger about the posting of the abridged version.

But why did she reform? I’ve seen lots of leftists subjected to this spiritual awakening, and it isn’t permanent, one-way, or spiritual. In my case, they’ve gone back and forth, and with the wisdom of hindsight I’ve come to realize something: What they were trying to decide, was whether or not I was a “mark.” Was I desperate enough yet that, if they short-circuited some rules to “help” me, would I give them my soul. This is the true face of the progressive movement: Put the non-producers in charge of figuring out how the goods and services are allocated, and if enough people are in desperate circumstances & stand to benefit from your little modern Bolshevik revolution, they will help you do this and you will succeed. You cannot succeed without them. This is how Shirley Sherrod saw that white farmer. She changed her mind about him. As his plight became more and more desperate, she figured out how he would come in handy.

This is a perfect illustration of Obama’s agenda. He is not a unifier because He cannot ever be one. He’s had a long time to enhance, rather than diminish, the control exerted over the production of things by those who do the producing; He hasn’t taken advantage of that opportunity one single time. Every move He has made has been to put the non-producers in charge. And ultimately, you have to drive wedges in order to do that. You have to have class envy. If we all have the feeling that we’re in the same boat, then our natural inclination is going to be to let the producers have the control that belongs to them, so the rest of us can benefit. To shift the wealth to the non-producers, you need to subvert the natural order of things, and you need to achieve broad interest in altering that natural course. Get the message out that the non-producers are the only ones interested in bringing a benefit to others across class lines. You need to spread a myth: Money makes a person naturally mean and selfish, unless the money a person has is money that came from somebody else, then that person becomes virtuous, egalitarian and civilized. Our poor, and the thieves who steal what they give to the poor, are the only enlightened beings in our society, or in any other. That is the Obama agenda and that is the Obama propaganda drive.

So anybody waiting for Obama to be any kind of unifier, is in for a long wait.

Partial hat tip to Irish Cicero, since I already had this in my “stack” when I was following a trackback to his place where he was talking about me…when I scrolled down I saw he already did a decent write-up about this.

You know, it would make a decent bumper sticker wouldn’t it:

Can We Elect a Black President Who’s Not Quite So Communist-ey?

The Tempest in a Teapot About Obama’s Cabinet

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Something pretty interesting happened Friday when Neal Boortz made a reference to the November, 2009 “study by J.P. Morgan” that found only seven percent of President Barack Obama’s cabinet has experience in the private sector. You may recall this thing went viral. And, as is usually the case when things go viral, there is much misinformation making its way in, from both the right and the left.

Well, the study itself doesn’t interest me too much. Obama’s cabinet doesn’t know what it’s doing; you don’t need a study telling you that. The evidence is all around us. And common sense should tell you that if there are some smarts in that cabinet, they aren’t going to be of very much use are they? How on earth could they be? Imagine yourself as a high ranking official in the Obama administration. A decision comes along, and what do you do? Answer: You don’t. If you say “peanut butter and jelly” and the Little Emperor says “roast beef on rye” you look like a complete dork. You’ll be backpedaling like crazy, claiming that your remarks were taken out of context — and that’s among your friends, before word even gets out. So no, this isn’t a relevant statistic. For all practical purposes, the experience of this cabinet must be zero percent.

Their Special Guy at the top is just too big and important. With or without Secretary Chu’s coveted Nobel prize, the “Me Too” people don’t count. They are indicators of Chairman Zero’s priorities, nothing more than that.

But I do wish to inspect the debunking. Oh goodness gracious, do read that from top to bottom. It is a fascinating portal into how dedicated liberals “debunk” things.

First of all: The study is bogus, and if you weren’t a simpering moron you’d immediately see the study is bogus, because the math doesn’t work.

Vice President, plus 15 executive department heads, plus six others: 22 people.

If only 10% had private sector experience, that would be 2.2 of them. Each of the 22 people comprises about 4.5% of the cabinet. Two of them with private experience would be 9% of the cabinet. Three with private experience would reveal the chart to be in error. Would it be possible to create a cabinet of 22 people and have only two of them with private experience?

The bullshit detectors in the bloggers’ minds should have been clanging like crazy when they saw that chart. [emphasis in original]

Secondly: J.P. Morgan is a bank. What is a bank doing conducting a study into the resumes of cabinet members?

Well, the article about the study is here.

Michael Cembalest is chief investment officer for JPMorgan Private Bank. The views expressed herein are Cembalest’s and may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of JPMorgan Private Bank or any of its affiliates.

There is a serious effort here to gather data according to a consistent methodology, and extrapolate meaningful statistics from them. Careless, casual statements like “the chart is a hoax” are, quite plain and simply, wrong.

A hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive or trick people into believing or accepting something which the hoaxer (the person or group creating the hoax) knows is false.

It is true that the study has been recalled by those who linked it in haste, with perhaps the most representative and thoughtful example provided by Eugene Volokh. The chart could be regarded as misleading, not so much because of bad data or malicious intentions behind it, but because of a strong potential among the readers to misinterpret it.

The rules applied are consistent, but subjective. The headline chosen for Cembalest’s column is “Obama’s Business Blind Spot” and the data support the point Cembalest set out to make: Here we have these real-world problems with our nation’s unemployment situation, and Obama’s tackling them with a bunch of damn professors, P.R. people and lawyers. Their hands are soft. And it is a superlative situation. Cembalest chose a methodology by which each administration could be measured, and was able to produce a data series showing something remarkable about this current one, and indicative of how the administration would view the problem. Therefore, indicative of how it would choose to solve it.

How a bank might be interested in such a thing, should be obvious.

But let’s go on to the debunking blogger’s most pivotal and often-mentioned point, for this is my favorite, and it is probably the most important one in “debunking” the study:

I figure, Rahm Emanuel was a spectacular success at investing. He made roughly $4 million a year, his clients presumably much more. Most people work a lifetime for less than $2 million — so can we credit Emanuel with 8 lifetimes of experience? Why not?

If these bozos don’t want to deal with the facts, they can offer their methodologies, I figure. And if they don’t, it’s probably because their methodologies are unfair and indefensible, so must be hidden.

In any case, a rational person looking for “private sector experience” wouldn’t discount a lawyer’s representation of an historically on-the-border of corrupt company like Chiquita Brands.
Geithner was president of one of the largest and most important branches of the Federal Reserve Banking System, in New York. Working with the highest ranking and best recognized foreign economic consulting firm isn’t toothpaste. His time with Kissinger and Associates was golden, not deserving in any way of the denigration you lend to it. It’s like going from college to a team that includes at their peak, Michael Jordon, LeBron James, and Bill Russell — and getting at least significant playing time.

I didn’t redefine anything I had. I merely looked at the bios of the people Cembalest claimed didn’t have private sector experience.
Chu, who…won a Nobel for his private sector experience, is acknowledged as a genius in the field his department covers, and has more than a decade managing some of the most demanding groups imaginable, including the physics department at Stanford and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, one of the best-respected masses of 4,000 bright people ever created.
Attempts to denigrate the experience of this, one of the best qualified cabinets, tell us more about the size of the critics, than about the qualifications of people like Steven Chu or Hilda Solis. Or, maybe I should say more accurately, the lack of size of the critics.

His argument mostly hinges on this: Lawyers are hard workers because practicing law is really, really tough. And don’t dare contradict him or else he’ll demand your experience practicing law, and discount whatever that experience is rest assured, so you don’t know what you’re talking about. In the comments section you see him coming back to this point again and again and again. Lawyers are golden. Every lawyer in Obama’s cabinet represents lots and lots of “private sector” experience, even if he didn’t work in the private sector. Maybe we should count that guy multiple times. I see it this way, therefore it is Truth.

Well, my own experience practicing law is as short as it can get. But as a voting citizen, when I go through his painstaking summaries of the experience of each cabinet member, nose-by-nose, my confidence in the Obama administration is not bolstered or even recovered. It is diminished. This idea that practicing law should count as private experience — maybe it should count even more than the other stuff! — think of it what you will, but the “debunking” relies almost completely on this.

And that’s the observation I’d like to make here about liberals “debunking” things. Based on the meandering of the presented argument, and their analysis of it, they see things a certain way. And that way of seeing things is local, not global. There is no guarantee of consistency across time with it. For example, if the Republicans put up a couple of experienced lawyers against Obama in 2012, I don’t know that this liberal blogger will go on thinking law experience is all-that-and-a-bag-o-chips. I expect he’d do a hairpin turn, something to the effect of “Yeah, but Obama has grown into the job of President! President beats Lawyer any day!” Or something to that effect.

But even if that doesn’t come to pass, here the weakness in the debunker’s argument becomes a philosophical one. You m-u-s-t see things the debunker’s way. You m-u-s-t agree that practicing law counts as private sector experience…and it must count exactly the way the debunker says it counts. Agree to that, or else you’re just a big ol’ dummy.

That they think this is a solid argument, let alone a debunking, exposes the fact that they really don’t know truth or falsehood when they see it. And it worries me mightily when these are the people who say we need to “sit down with our enemies and talk out our differences with them.” Look how they do the talking. It’s all point…counterpoint…value system…value system…THE VALUE SYSTEMS FACE OFF AND ONE DEVOURS THE OTHER NOW WE MUST MARCH IN COMPLETE LOCKSTEP ON THE VALUE SYSTEM. And then when we get past that, it’s on to the next point. As opposed to point…counterpoint…value system…value system…now since those value systems are not going to change, let’s try to find some real common ground. The latter is the thinking method of reasonable, rational people. The former is the thinking method of tyrants. And small children.

I recognize that when we’re trying to figure out how lawyering counts as private business experience, some number has to be produced and that number has to win, so that it can be applied consistently across the administrations across the generations. But a rational person would have pointed this out and exposed the real weakness with this study — that it is inherently subjective, although it might be reasonably viewed by a casual observer as something different.

Liberals never seem to want to service the casual observer, to give him the benefit of the wisdom he would pick up himself if he were not a casual observer. They always seem to want to write a headline that offers a different twist to the casual observer, and keep him casual. And so they end up writing garbage. The study is a “hoax”…which the casual observer would infer to mean, it didn’t happen, or there’s nuthin’-to-it. That is not the case.

Their world is one in which everyone must value everything and see everything in a uniform way, and those who value things or see things any differently have to be somehow neutralized. I do not want people who think this way, to represent me as they “sit down and talk with” that I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket guy in Iran, or the Gargoyle in North Korea. Because let’s face it, when the “discussion” gets to that one-value-system-gobbles-up-the-other thumb-wrestling contest — I don’t know they’re gonna win.

This makes them the vastly inferior choice for managing both foreign policy and domestic issues. It is their way of seeing the world and all the things within it. It is immature. Nobel prize or not, it is a worldview inadequate for making real decisions.

Thing I Know #330. A man who doesn’t know the difference between a fact and an opinion, is not to be trusted in delivering either one of those.

Color Me Unimpressed

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

“Have you ever seen such a bunch of self-righteous, ass-covering prigs? They don’t care what we do; they care what we get photographed doing.”


So the armies of humility are lining up on the left & right of the blogosphere, as well as cable-teevee-pundit-land and Planet Newspaper, to apologize for driving Shirley Sherrod out of a job. I’ve reviewed the forty-three minutes myself, and although the seamy footage makes it clear this is still less than what actually took place, it’s undeniable that the spirit of her remarks is different than what I thought. So do I have some crow to eat?

Eating CrowPerhaps just a smidgen. A wing. A foot, maybe. Well, let’s get it choked down. Clean your plate when crow is on it, for if you leave leftovers you should expect a steady diet of it.

My words:

The wasp is dead, the nest remains.

Ms. Sherrod, according to her own words, was a Little Hitler. Check that chart; third column, fourth row, the Petty Tyrant.

Can there be any doubt we still have some petty tyrants?

The nest does remain. Sherrod’s wasp is dead, but it has been dead for a very long time now. That was the point of her speech. The edited version makes it seem that there is something very different going on. My assumption that no context could leverage the spirit into something different, was somewhat rash. Partly correct, partly incorrect. Ultimately, I have to admit I placed an excessive abundance of faith in the edited version. Got snookered. Might as well admit it.

So now Breitbart has some ‘splainin’ to do? No, not at all. In fact, his point stands, and rather solidly. The whole point to showing it in the first place was to examine this claim that the Tea Party has racism in its ranks, and needs to do a more forceful job of policing its own. It is an argument of “don’t criticize your brother for the splijter in his eye when you have a beam in your own.” This point is actually strengthened by the events of the last 48 hours. The NAACP was able to confront its accuser, release the footage, use the media to entice the public to pay attention while the iron was still hot. And as frosting on the cake, they were able get another lie out there about Fox News being responsible for Sherrod’s sacking.

Such a dizzying, dazzling assortment of privileges for the NAACP! I wonder, if the footage had been about a Tea Party member saying equally racist things, would that informal coalition have been similarly indulged? Do I even need to ask the question.

So yes, I was “snookered” about Ms. Sherrod as a person. My crow-eating begins and ends there. Her comments about her own behavior stand, monument-like, as a testament to institutionalized racism. And how reformed is she, anyway? As John Hawkins points out, this is open to question. From all the evidence we have about her, there really isn’t much to indicate she’s ready for a post-racial world. It remains an unsettled issue, one to which I do not assign much weight, but one that is besieged with suggestive noise on all sides. There is doubt, and I’m not inclined to grant her much benefit of the doubt.

But let’s grant it all anyway. She realized she was being a horse’s ass, cleaned up her act, and that’s what happens to all the racists in these agencies? The entire story is kaput because of Ms. Sherrod’s Scrooge-like conversion? I don’t think so.

And this gets into the actual point that I don’t see anyone making anywhere. It has to do with the two halves of that part of humanity that thinks about these things.

My half says that individuals have rights, and these rights are regularly violated by institutions like the NAACP.

The other half, which has all of the voice, all of the time, says the institutions are the ones with the rights. People just gum things up. The institutions are perfect, or can be made that way by means of identifying the contaminating people and tossing ’em overboard. Let’s call this the Vilsack Doctrine.

This is why I’m being somewhat stingy with my apology. To me, it was never about Shirley Sherrod. Firing her was just a bizarre, wrong-headed move, and it would remain that even if the footage was exactly what it appeared to be. Adam and Eve bit into the apple, humanity has been corrupted and corruptible ever since, and institutions that are made out of humanity are no better than the people who build them and work in them.

If I’ve got a terrible problem with keeping my farm, and I’m describing my plight to some pencil-pushing bureaucrat who decides I’m acting superior to him just because my skin is white — that black bureaucrat is well within his rights to think such a thing. You get to think mistaken things. We don’t have a government that regulates that.

So President Jealous of the NAACP can grandstand and spread more lies, and Vilsack and Obama can apologize…all they want. These fine gentlemen still miss the point. The point is that the “Could Be Construed As” standard is unattainable and irrelevant. It is not impropriety, it is not the appearance of impropriety — we’re never going to solve a single problem by ending the careers of people who become tainted by it, no matter what the color of their skin happens to be.

I am thankful that the heyday of this risible ritual has now passed, or at least I think it has. Today, if you asked most people about it and had an honest discussion about it, a consensus would emerge that agrees with my notion: You don’t fire bigots. You prove them wrong. Even if they have supervisory authority; we do not sentence people to losing their livelihoods and becoming wards of the state because of the appearance of the thoughts in their heads — this is not the way America was supposed to work. If you find your career is heading into a cul de sac because you happen to be working for a sexist or a bigot or a homophobe, that means you have a boss that hates you. It’s unfortunate, but welcome to the real world. It’s gonna happen to you again. It’s happened to me. It happens to everyone. Go work for someone else.

I’m not trying to be insensitive with that remark. What I’m pointing out is that we’ve tried the other method…the Vilsack method. Gave it a good go for a few decades. It has been a net loss, a failed experiment. It’s made people fearful for their jobs and their careers, and this has given them motivation to do all kinds of whacky, stupid, free-market-killing stuff.

Know how bad that can get? Last “sexual harassment training” I was forced to attend, they said something I found interesting and it’s probably the same thing they said at yours: The intent of the offender doesn’t matter, it’s the perception of the accuser that decides everything — and “these rules are put in place to provide a workplace that is comfortable for everyone.” SAME BREATH.

So a whack-job paranoid stranger with a random vendetta can end your career at any second. By bitching, the easiest thing in the world to do. Boy that really makes me feel comfortable. How ’bout you?

Worst of all, people don’t worry too much anymore about getting fired for genuinely screwing things up.

It’s called political correctness. And future generations will look back on it, I’m convinced, the same way we see fourteenth-century bedside-bloodletting.

Update: Andrew Breibart’s comment on it:

All I’m seeing is people right now seeing blood in the water and coming after me. And the amount of half-truths and falsehoods that are out there in the pursuit of taking me down because they perceive that I’m a threat, it’s astounding.
I believe that I’m held to a higher standard. If this video showed a picture of a Caucasian talking in the exact same way but talking about a black person with an audience affirming and clapping that behavior, the reporter would be getting a Pulitzer Prize right now.

Say what you want about the man, but he’s right about this. All of it; every word.

And it isn’t defensible.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form XXXI

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

As the Hopenchange Presidential administration was still new, and impressing and bewildering us all as they unleashed one wild scheme after another, I struggled to find a way to comprehend what was happening. Who are these people who believe in “stimulus”? And do they, really? How come our new President continues to campaign for a job He’s already got?

And then I figured it out: They have an “underpants gnome” mentality. I suppose all good salesmen do. Step One, we make you do what I want you to do, or I do what I would ordinarily do anyway; Step Two, ??? — and Step Three Profit.

I have not looked back on this theory of mine with any regret or doubt. In the one-year-plus since I wrote that, pretty much everything Obama and His apologists have done, falls into this. Step One, pass a health care plan that puts Obama’s buddies in charge of all the decisions…Step Two, ??? — Step Three Profit. Step One, pass cap and trade, Step Two ??? — Step Three, the damn hole will somehow be plugged.

Now, I don’t know if James Taranto reads my blog. I’ve always operated from the assumption that hardly anybody ever does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in the “Best of the Web” column yesterday:

The vice president’s description of the administration’s political strategy reminds us of the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes from “South Park”:

Phase 1: Legislation
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Victory

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

Of course, today the administration has been ensconced for exactly a year and a half, and it has become cumulatively difficult to figure out what might be the best example of Underpants Gnome thinking in the eighteen months.

It’s a tough call, but I think I’d nominate the beer summit.

1 – The three of us sit down at a table and drink beer together
2 – ?
3 – Racial animosity healed forever throughout the land

D’JEver Notice? LIX

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

I’m seeing over at the Hello-Kitty-of-Bloggin’ (FaceBook) there’s someone who knows someone I know who’s having a tough time with her computer, which is a Mac. This is rather interesting because The Lady and I just had dinner last night with a former co-worker of hers…whose husband, in turn…is having a tough time with his computer. Which is a Mac.

What is it they say about those Macs? All together now, I know you know the words by heart: “They don’t give you confusing error messages and you don’t need to install stuff, they just work!!” Except — no, they don’t. They break, they seize up, they overheat, they wear out, they are designed badly and manufactured badly just like anything else.

Bad MacBut I do not wish to criticize the machinery. Machinery breaks. My words of criticism are for people. Consider the interesting psychological differences here.

A PC computer gives you a perplexing error message because something wore out or something wasn’t configured right. And what’s our reaction? Those fucking PC’s, you’re never done twiddling around with them, they’re built for geeks who like to replace stuff.

It’s kind of like a Republican politician lying. It reflects badly on all Republicans when that happens. Cold-hearted bastards. PC’s give you confusing error messages and Republicans lie.

What happens when a Mac goes gunnybags? Same thing that happens when a democrat is caught lying: We go generic. Computers suck. Politicians can’t be trusted.

The advantage enjoyed by liberal politicians and pleasingly-pastel fruity computers is the same. Of this I am certain. What I’m not quite sure of, is how do they come to benefit from this seemingly magic spell in the first place. How’s that work? What makes people forget about all your faults so automatically and make up stories so they can blame it all on your competition? As if you were paying them money — when, in actuality, they are your customers (or your voters)?? What gets this chain reaction started?

If I could figure out how to bottle it, I’d make millions.

Meanwhile — no, Macs do not “just work.” That’s a lie. Or they do, until such time as they don’t.

“Making Up Stories”

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Stephen W. Browne, writing in Atlasphere. He’s been noticing what I’ve been noticing:

I have noticed something about how some people treat beliefs which are personally important to them. When faced with uncomfortable facts, they do what I call “making up stories.”

I don’t mean they lie. Or rather they do, but they’re lying to themselves, and in a very particular way.

Some examples: About seven years ago, I was taking a course in the Polish city of Wroclaw. While there, I shared an apartment with an Englishman who had a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

This fellow was convinced of every fashionable environmental catastrophe, including, of course, global warming.

I am skeptical about man-caused global warming for reasons not relevant here. In the course of our discussions, I mentioned that when I was working to launch a new college of science in Poland, I had come to know quite a few members of the Polish Academy of Science in the departments of chemistry, physics, paleobiology, etc.

I told him that not one of these world-class scientists believed in man-caused global warming.

He replied, “That’s because their jobs depend on defending the oil companies and denying global warming.”

To begin with, that’s not true. On the contrary, the Polish government at the time had no concerns about global warming. They had too many real problems to deal with. And he was a stranger to Poland who couldn’t have known one way or the other.
In my newsroom not long ago, I brought up on my computer screen a picture of President Obama shaking the Emperor of Japan’s hand and bowing low.

I showed this to a colleague and said that our president had really stepped in it again, after the flap about bowing submissively to the King of Saudi Arabia, then and treating the Queen of England with undiplomatic familiarity.

“What’s wrong with that?” she asked.

I pointed out that American presidents — heck, American citizens — do not bow in submission to any foreign monarchs. There are long-established diplomatic courtesies appropriate for citizens of a free country, which show respect for but not submission to foreign monarchs — courtesies our president entirely omitted when meeting Queen Elizabeth II.

Furthermore, I said, in Japan bowing has gradations and subtleties indicating relative status, that non-Japanese seldom get right. Foreigners doing business in the country are generally advised not to try.

She replied, “Well maybe he’s creating a new custom, blending the customs of America and Japan.”

And when we go to the movies, we see they’re chock full of ninety-pound women karate chopping three hundred pound men through brick walls. It defies lots of laws of physics, but it makes (certain) people feel good.

Funny thing is though, that reality is what makes you feel good — if, and only if, reality is connected in some way to your continuing survival. If you’re about to crawl under a car, nothing will make you feel good short of solid evidence that the jack is going to hold it up. We conflate reality with fantasy when we’re able to. When we can afford it.

And this is, in a nutshell, why progressive politics become more popular as communication becomes more efficient and technology becomes more advanced. It isn’t because the human race is evolving into a species of brilliant thinkers. It is because we become more comfortable, and with that comfort comes a capacity for tolerating nonsense.

And an ability to, should the need arise, manufacture some of it.

Cross-posted at Cassy’s place.

Twenty-Four Little Hitlers

Monday, July 12th, 2010

While we’re waiting to see what blogger pal Gerard has planned for August, he still has lots of good stuff scrolling up every day on Ka-Ching! Like, for example, this — and I know you can relate to it, don’t pretend otherwise.

Freakin’ awesome.

If it were mine, I’d add on a few things. For most of these, I can envision a corresponding “li’l Hitler” who works by making his opposition look like that “li’l Hitler.” I’m thinking here specifically of column 1 row 2, column 4 row 2, column 2 row 3, column 2 row 4 and column 1 row 5.

Remember right after the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act got passed we had all these liberals who were suddenly fond of Benjamin Franklin? Sacrificing liberty, temporary safety, deserve neither, blah blah blah…et cetera. Seems like a distant memory now, doesn’t it?

I gotta wonder what our first Postmaster General would have thought of it. The man was plenty sharp enough to spot a fair-weather friend from a mile off.

Another little-Hitler: The “pleasant dinner” little-Hitler. You know — “Oh, let’s keep things pleasant! There’s cheesecake!”

How familiar is the following exchange:

McGovern-voting Granduncle: Let the immigrants in! We’re a nation of immigrants! You fucking bigot!

You: Actually I’m not concerned about race, I’m concerned about why someone would choose to circumvent our immigration laws. How come I have to follow laws while we’re defining a whole class of people who don’t have to, and we don’t even know who they are?

Hostess: Oh, stop fighting you two! Here we are having a lovely dinner and you have to bring politics into it. Just let him call you a reprehensible, cross-burning scum-sucking douchebag asshole xenophobe and then let’s move on! There’s cheesecake!

And then there’s the “whoever’s fun must be right” little Hitlers. They get their news out of the Daily Show, and they’re fond of bragging about it, but if you’re the one who points that out they’ll say you’re just making things up because you’re a liar.

Right now they’re telling us if we have a shred of decency we’ll support the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. They just have to. She’s really funny.