Archive for the ‘Poisoning Individuality and Reason’ Category

Gitmo Detainee Released

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Wall Street Journal:

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” held at Guantanamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, who took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.

Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding that the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in coming weeks.
Brig. Gen. John Furlow, who helped lead a Pentagon-ordered probe of detainee abuse at Guantánamo Bay, has testified that at one point Mr. Slahi was “the highest value detainee” at the site and “the key orchestrator of the al Qaeda cell in Europe.”

Plans to try him by military commission were derailed after prosecutors learned Mr. Slahi had been subjected to a “special interrogation plan” involving weeks of physical and mental torment, including a death threat and a threat to bring Mr. Slahi’s mother to Guantanamo Bay where she could be gang-raped, officials said.

Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and that evidence it produced couldn’t lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.

The Constitution: Strong enough to stop us from defending ourselves, but far too weak to suggest there may be shenanigans going down when Congress orders us to buy health insurance.

Elections have consequences.

Memo For File CIX

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

A “wealth gap” hurts an economy, and greater equality among the classes helps it. We measure the economic health of a society by how great the population is within its “middle class.” Evolution is responsible for everything we see in all living things. Global warming is real; those leaked e-mails don’t mean nuthin’. You hear that? They don’t mean nuthin’! Nuthin’, nuthin’, nuthin’!

Saddam Hussein was a harmless teddy bear who never would have have hurt anybody if he were left alone. The Constitution applies to terrorists who’ve never been in this country. Kids are unharmed, or even helped, when they are adopted by two mommies or two daddies. Socialism isn’t all that bad. Tea parties are racist. Any supposed “conservative” who opposes gay rights must be gay himself.

Keynesian economic theory works.

The Eighth Amendment was intended to empower judges to make up new laws as they go along, to codify our “evolving standards of decency.” The Second Amendment, on the other hand, has outlived its usefulness and should be ignored. It never was intended to apply to the people in the first place.

Have you ever noticed this about those frequent occasions on which left-wing suppositions contradict common sense — the subject at hand is always something that offers great difficulty in being refuted or proven? By which I mean compellingly proven. To a mindset initially hostile to that which is being proven. You can open your copy of the Constitution and turn to where the Second Amendment says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”…which ought to be good enough. But it isn’t of course. You have to wait hundreds of years to find out if the oceans are really going to disappear…you don’t really know if God built things, or if it was all evolution. No telling what would happen if we left Saddam where he was. I was just thinking about other things that can be absolutely, positively, indisputably proven — easily. Liberals never seem to want to take those on with their condescending, bullying tactics.

ShowerI was just wondering what we’d see if that were to happen. So I made a little list. What if it was about…something immediately recognizable. Water being wet?

1. The clear and indisputable fact that water is wet, is found to have an obstructive effect — don’t ask me how, let’s just go with this, okay? — on some highly energized left-wing agenda item.
2. That same day, some darling intellectual attracts attention by announcing that, actually, water’s wetness has always been a myth.
3. Sarah Palin says water is wet, drawing from her experience helping out with Todd’s fishing business, and is promptly ridiculed all over the place for being an unsophisticated fish-gut covered crazy Eskimo whore.
4. Barack Obama delivers an inspiring speech, says water has never been wet, and manages to work in one of the “Let Me Be Clear,” two of the “Make No Mistake,” one of the “For Far Too Long We Have,” six “Uh”s and He manages to mention Himself an astonishing thirty-six times.
5. All kinds of Sunday morning pundits declare this latest one has got to be Obama’s BEST SPEECH EVAR!
6. Ann Coulter writes a column about Barack Obama’s speech. Several “conservatives” go on record saying they think the sarcastic comments were beneath Coulter’s stature, disrespectful of the office of President, and uncalled-for. Liberals make fun of her for being a skinny blond chick although some of them comment they wouldn’t kick her out of bed.
7. Glenn Beck goes on record saying water is wet.
8. Keith Olbermann says Glenn Beck is the worst person in the world.
9. With the issue becoming heated and controversial, the Reflecting Pool in the Washington Mall is drained.
10. Huffington Post publishes a column by some guy who surely must know what he’s talking about, being a Hollywood celebrity and all, stating that water is dry. His thesis proves this by denouncing people who’ve said it is wet and calling them all sorts of names pulled straight off the elementary school playground.
11. John McCain delivers a speech in the well of the Senate confirming that water is kinda wet and kinda dry.
12. A school teacher directs a class of children who, on their own of course, “wrote” a catchy song about water being dry and that anybody who says it is wet is quite stupid.
13. The New York Times publishes an unsigned editorial waxying lyrically on the dryness of water.
14. The United Nations passes a resolution that says water is dry. The Science Is Setted.
15. Meghan McCain tweets on her Twitter page that although she thinks the Republican party is just as cute as a button and she just wants to pick it up and give it a big hug and take it home — kisses! — it needs to be promptly ridded of all these ignorant rubes who think water is wet. Young people don’t like that.
16. Matthew Yglasias says water is dry. Hydrogen — DRY! Oxygen –DRY! Nothing else in there! Stupid conservatives!
17. TPMuckraker puts up a column that says water is dry.
18. Washington Post prints an editorial proving water is dry.
19. L.A. Times prints an editorial proving water is dry.
20. Fox News does an expose proving that water is wet.
21. PETA expresses outrage that Fox News’ segment the previous day was humiliating and unkind to the fishies.
22. Keith Olbermann says Fox News is the worst person in the world.
23. Some suicidal maniac shoots up a school or an army base or an IRS building, and several “news” organizations get ahold of some old writings of his, displayed on their web sites and then hurriedly pulled off after twenty minutes or so, implying that he was one of those deranged kooks who think water is wet.
24. Bill Clinton emerges from retirement to say water is dry, but that the really important thing is that we all learn to get along with each other.
25. DailyKOS puts up a post about water being dry, but most of it consists of disparaging comments made against people who think water is wet and how they also think dinosaurs walked the earth six thousand years ago.
26. Neil Cavuto does a segment asking if we’re making too much of a rush to judgment about water being dry?
27. Jon Stewart ridicules Neil Cavuto for ending too many of his statements with a question mark.
28. Keith Olbermann says Neil Cavuto is the worst person in the world.
29. Democratic Underground links to a story about some Republican who thinks water is wet, and within a few hours thousands of comments appear under it wishing death on him and his entire family. Nobody anywhere pays the slightest bit of attention to this.
30. Sean Hannity challenges liberals to take a shower before they go to work every morning, but not to bother drying off with a towel before getting dressed. Chris Matthews responds by (missing the point entirely) shouting, “No, you do it! You first!”
31. Keith Olbermann says Sean Hannity is the worst person in the world.
Wet Girl32. Jimmy Carter emerges from retirement to say water is dry and the Israelis are killing innocent Palestinian children.
33. The Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) takes the position that water is dry. Andy Stern, President of the Union, visits the White House five times in a single day to have some meetings about it.
34. Some prominent conservative commentator is forced to apologize for calling anti-war liberals a bunch of bed-wetting sissies, when it is thought (by no one willing to use their actual name) that he was making a side reference to this new hot controversial issue about pee being wet or dry. He apologizes two more times, and then his career is ended anyway.
35. Keith Olbermann says that conservative guy who lost his job is the worst person in the world.
36. Saturday Night Live does a skit on the issue of water being wet or dry. They have Sarah Palin’s look-alike, Tina Fey, say something abysmally stupid and by the end of the weekend millions of people are convinced Palin actually said it.
37. Janeane Garofalo says anybody who doesn’t immediately acknowledge the dryness of water is a racist who is just trying to get back at Barack Obama for being elected President.
38. The first Star Wars movie becomes a left-winger’s favorite, because Mark Hamill emerges from the fight with the garbage monster with his hair all puffy and blow-dried.
39. Because the issue has become so incendiary, all swimming events have been banned from the Olympics.
40. Berkeley becomes the nation’s capital of dead houseplants.

You know, there is a simple reason for why we are so damned contentious. We wish to be. We argue about stupid bullcrap that isn’t worth the arguing. Our liberals seize on purposefully ironic things that are antithetical to common sense and threaten us with social excoriation if we dare to call them out, and then we accommodate them.

It’s not going to get any better with time, you do realize. Not if we continue to tolerate it.

Best Sentence LXXXVI

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I’m bestowing the eighty-sixth BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) award upon Prof. Thomas Sowell, not just because the sentence is good, but because it is important in this day and age. In an interview with Investor’s Business Daily, he is asked to define intellectuals. Much of the interview would later be spent making the same points we saw during John Hawkins’ interview. But defining the word, as is often the case with defining-of-words, is an ingenious and eye-opening approach:

I define intellectuals as persons whose occupations begin and end with ideas. I distinguish between intellectuals and other people who may have ideas but whose ideas end up producing some good or service, something that whether it’s working or not working can be determined by third parties.

With intellectuals, one of the crucial factors is their work is largely judged by peer consensus, so it doesn’t matter if their ideas work in the real world. [emphasis mine]

The “peer consensus,” of course, is a cosmetic substitute for the third parties. If it were my quote, I would change third parties to “stakeholders,” or something less awkward and more precise than that. Owners of the situation that is subject to influence by the merits of the idea.

The ideas are ideas outside of practice. “Properly maintaining your automobile has been found to be beneficial toward gas mileage as well as vehicle life” is an idea. But it is a practical idea, one validated by real-life events, and outside the scope of what Dr. Sowell means, I think. We are awash in intellectuals peddling ideas that do not and cannot contain the words “has been shown to.” “Is good for” is a much more common fragment among the intellectuals and their ideas. “A robust, thriving middle class is good for society.” “I just think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” “Unplugging your coffee pot is good for the environment.”

The other minor itch left unscratched by the Sowell definition, I would say, is the intellectual mindset. A lot of us non-intellectuals have ideas and our ideas are also full of “ifs,” “whens” and “woulds.” But when we have these ideas we have some curiosity about whether it would really work, and if so, then what bits of it would have to be refined. We are frustrated by the fact that we cannot gauge this until such a time that a prototype or proof-of-concept vehicle has been constructed. And so we feel an urge to build said prototype, and the urge festers if it is not satisfied in some way. We are frustrated that the idea is remaining an idea and nothing more than that.

Intellectuals also want to build their machinery, but “prototype” has nothing to do with it and there is no “proof of concept” about it. The dream, it seems, is the universal scope of influence itself. The frustration is that we have not “made it happen” yet, which means to commit to implementing the idea, non-incrementally, over every available square inch. No crevice or hamlet or valley should escape it. And when that happens, and the data flow back starkly indicating the idea is a crappy one or requires some alteration, the intellectual offers a rather stunning lack of curiosity about this. The criticism is to be marginalized somehow, or else the details are to be left to others.

As long as I’m jotting down my notes about this, there is one other thing I notice: The intellectuals are often subscribers and not originators, nor do they pretend to be originators. President Obama, for example, does not claim (to my knowledge) to have originated the idea that “when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” But I’m sure He would be eager to offer His subscription to this idea, as a testament toward His credentials as a brainy intellectual fellow. Ditto for Paul Krugman and Keynesian economics, Eve Ensler and global warming, Christopher Hitchens and not-believing-in-God.

And I would offer these as cherry-on-the-cake, supplemental additions to the definition. Intellectuals are ready to add to their virtual curricula vitae by listing ideas they did not invent, and would not pretend to have invented. If they do invent some kind of an idea, they are disinterested in the prospect of seeing it evaluated by those who would hold a stake in the idea working out well. They do not provide much impetus or motivation for the idea being put into a prototype, and are only interested in discussing the idea insofar as they can be congratulated on having it — not given suggestions on how to improve it.

They’re pretty easy to detect, because their ideas don’t have a lot to do with cost/benefit. With a practical non-intellectual, this is the origin of the idea: “I’m paying a lot of money to do X, how can I get around that.” “I’m spending a lot of time doing X, is there another way.” “These poor saps are having to send their product clear over here and wait for it to come back before they can get started on this other task over there…how can we sever this prerequisite relationship between these tasks, so they can be worked in parallel.”

With the intellectuals, the appeal of the idea is the irony. That is what makes them scary. The idea has to contradict other ideas, which may be presumed to arrive first. Too much of the time, the idea flouts common sense in order to do this. That would be okay, if the intellectuals possessed the same drive to have the idea validated in the plane of reality that the rest of us do with our ideas.

But, as has been explained above, they do not.

Audrina Patridge Talking on a Cell Phone

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve been thinking I want to start a gallery of people smiling into cameras while they talk on cell phones.

To me, that’s like the ultimate give-away. Must socialize…must socialize…every hour, every second, must constantly bathe in chit-chat. I suppose I should cut some slack to hot girls. They can take a good picture doing just about anything. But for everyone else — don’t you realize you’re having a picture taken of you with a phone being held up to your ear?

There’s something slipping off the rails here. You should be able to do pretty much anything if it’s a candid shot. That’s the definition of candid. This one looks borderline…it bothers me a little when people pose for pictures and don’t say “Oh hey, hold on a second, (insert name here) is taking my picture.” (Phone goes down.)

It’s just a complete failure to figure out where exactly you’re attention is supposed to be going. It’s a give-away that you expect others to pay attention to you, but you can’t be bothered to reciprocate. Really a way-off-into-the-deep-end WAGTOCPAN move.

But, like I said. Fetching visions like Audrina earn a pass. For reasons that should be obvious.

Update: That’s it.

Best Sentence LXXXIV

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The eighty-fourth award for the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) is hereby presented to Robert J. Avrech at Seraphic Secret, for this gem:

There is no dialogue possible when one side is armed with information and facts, and the other side insists on a fossilized, delusional narrative.

Holy crap, can I ever relate with that.


Friends getting together, who almost never discuss politics because one couple is inclined one way and the other couple is leaning the other. But on this latest of occasions, the subject of global warming comes up! “You don’t believe in global warming?” inquires the pro-democrat-party, anti-human-achievement couple, incredulously.

Climategate? They hadn’t even heard of it.

But still they claimed the mantle of possessing a superior command of the relevant information. They had all the answers. They even used those four thoroughly worn-out words, the four that have been amalgamated into one. You know what I mean: Thescienceissettled.

Hat tip to Rick, who says the global warming believers need an intervention. I think with the hardcore cases like this, there’s something to that and they probably need a lot more than just intervention.

When you’re trying to present yourself as being thoughtful about something, it’s all fine and good when you’re doing some thinking and it’s still okay when you’re not doing any thinking, but trying to convince others that you are. The latter case is a liar, but at least he knows what he’s doing. My point is, if you’re sane, you should at least know, internally, whether you’ve been doing real thinking or not.

I’m not commenting upon the liars. They are not part of what is alarming me here. I’m not commenting on the “Just Because of the East Anglia Scandal, Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Happening” people. They, at least, have thought things through enough to come up with their latest slogan.

I’m choosing a target with surgical precision. I’m talking about keeping it straight in your own head how much thinking you’ve been doing.

Lots of people in the global warming camp seem to have slipped this cog. They’re parroting talking points…which by itself isn’t raising a red flag quite yet…but then, down in the marrow of their bones, they don’t seem to comprehend this is what they’ve been doing. They really and truly do seem to think they’ve been thinking. Independently. Skeptically. Critically. As in — gathering information for themselves, and making up their own minds. When that’s the furthest thing from what they’ve really been doing. They seem to have lost track. Climategate happens, and their response is…well, nothing. They don’t even want to know what it is.

That’s a problem.

Are these people doing real things? Driving buses, performing surgery on pets, fixing someone’s brakes…stuff like that? Someone should be finding out.

Intellectuals and Society

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

“Many of the great disasters of our time have been committed by experts.”

At somewhere around 12:00, there’s a discussion of the events following the market crash of ’29. Make it at least that far.

The Real “Global Warming”

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

…is that kids are being systematically taught to evaluate only one side of a controversial argument, uncritically accepting the wild speculation and doomsday scenarios from financially motivated strangers. And to call it good. Think on it as a decision well-made. That is the real crisis.

At 1:06: “Are there some people who say this isn’t true?” “Yes.” “Might they be right?” “Nooooo!” “How do you know they’re not right?”

That is so much of a bigger issue. Especially if you want to talk about freight trains smashing into our kids. Because you cannot achieve a fulfilling life with real freedom and independence, when you fall for anything that comes along.

So much of what we “know” is settled because if you don’t believe in it, someone is going to call you stupid. If you don’t believe the earth is getting hotter, it’s man’s fault, and the new systems of taxation will fix it, you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe that evolution is singularly responsible for every little living thing on this planet, you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe Sarah Palin is an idiot, you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe Joe Biden is a “distinguished elder statesman” sooooper genius, you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe in hyper-isolationism, that we should leave mad butchers like Saddam Hussein and Kim-Jong Il exactly where they are to do whatever they want, then you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe in getting rid of any & all discipline in the public schools, leaving it up to the shrinks, the special nanny-programs and the mind-altering drugs to restore order, then you’re an idiot.

If you don’t believe in Stimulus, then you’re an idiot.

If you don’t think a higher minimum wage will lower the unemployment rate (????), then you’re an idiot.

If you don’t agree that poor people need special instructions from Michelle Obama about what kinds of food to eat, then you’re an idiot.

Of course you’re an idiot if you watch Fox News…

If you don’t think a country with a good health care system should throw it out, and taken on the health care systems of other countries with bad health care systems, then you’re an idiot.

If you don’t think Bush stole Florida back in 2000, then you’re an idiot. If you don’t agree Bush is an idiot you’re an idiot, and if you don’t agree Bush is an evil genius that fooled everybody then you’re an idiot.

This idiot objects not quite so much to these conclusions, compared to how we’re getting there. We’re “thinking” these things out by calling each other idiots. We are thinking them out by medicating.

It’s bad enough to passively fail to teach children how to think critically. To actively teach them how to think things out non-critically, of course, is far, far worse.

If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything.

Memo For File CVII

Monday, February 15th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I think the terms are these:

Architects and Medicators.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Web Licenses to End Blogger Anonymity

Saturday, February 13th, 2010


The American blogosphere is going increasingly “viral” about a proposal advanced at the recent meeting of the Davos Economic Forum by Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, that an equivalent of a “driver’s licence” should be introduced for access to the web. This totalitarian call has been backed by articles and blogs in Time magazine and the New York Times.

As bloggers have not been slow to point out, the system being proposed is very similar to one that the government of Red China reluctantly abandoned as too repressive. It was inevitable that, sooner or later, the usual unholy alliance of government totalitarians and big business would attempt to end the democratic free-for-all that is the blogosphere. The United Nations is showing similar interest in moving to eliminate free speech.

The recent uprising in the blogosphere that resulted in the overturning of the Global Warming consensus can only have focused our rulers’ attention more acutely on this infuriating challenge to their totalitarian control. “What will go next?” they must be asking themselves. Unrestricted immigration? Punitive taxation? Even the European Union? With the helots exploiting a loophole in the PC Curtain that has otherwise been so remorselessly drawn down over freedom of expression, the internet represents a dangerously subversive force, fulfilling the role in the West that was formerly performed by samizdat publications inside the Soviet Union.
A “driver’s licence” for the web would be Christmas every day of the year for the control freaks. One can all too easily imagine the criteria applied to licence applications.
I forecast that the right to anonymity on the internet will become one of the most fiercely contested issues over the coming decade. Be very afraid…


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Had this in my stack of to-do things, and The Spyglass jogged my memory about it.

Gerard Alexander: Why are liberals so condescending?

Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.
This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government — and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.

Alexander provides many examples to support this, most of them recent. If he had the space to do so, he could put together an elaborate treatise supporting the fact that this has been a prominent trait of progressive liberalism within each and every single decade since…maybe World War II. Awhile.

Do all revolutions call for reactionary dismissal of the opposition’s ideas? I doubt it. As I read through the writings of the Founding Fathers, the most frequently recurring theme seems to be outrage with regard to the status quo — much like liberals with our health care, interestingly — but I don’t recall a single peep out of them about those “stupid” Tories and how they’re out to snooker everybody (or have been snookered by somebody). No, the Founding Fathers were fixated on what a viewpoint of one’s own birthright and responsibilities does to his way of looking at life itself; what it does to his way of living it.

Liberals, to the contrary, must avoid any discussion of that. America’s builders wanted people to stop living like dependent veal calves. Our post-moderns want us to start again.

For Adams, Jefferson, Madison et al, there was no need to even acknowledge the opposition, let alone formulate some “cowcatcher” idea to push them out of the way. We, the big “we,” were simply meant for grander things than to plow and harvest the fertile soil on behalf of the King Great Britain. And so there was no need to propagandize against the opposition. Maybe there were some caricatures of King George himself, but I see no evidence of anyone putting forth the argument that if you were a loyalist, you were automatically stupid, a nitwit, a dimbulb, a halfwit…even though that was a revolution too. So what changed?

Maybe it’s the secularism. If we were intended to govern ourselves…someone, somewhere, must have been doing that intending. To dwell upon such an idea nowadays in a public school setting, of course, would be an offense to our overlords and career suicide to the district employee. And so it is out of the question, and liberals don’t seem to be enthused about monotheism of any kind anyway. Other foundational concepts are similarly off-limits to them. Precedent is typically out of their reach. Quick, when’s the last time the earth was in danger, and we cut our carbon emissions and saved it? Actually, being a liberal seems to be mutually exclusive from doing anything anybody ever did before, whether it was found to be a winning strategy or not.

And so I think the process is one of elimination. DO IT MY WAY — because — these other guys did exactly the same thing over here and it turned out to be a smashing success? Liberals can’t say that. Do it my way because if a Higher Power put you here, then that Higher Power must intend for you to take on the responsibility? They cannot say that either. And so all that remains is some litmus test for intelligence, invented on the spot, but the progressive recruiter must pretend it is ancient, established, and canonical.

If you don’t do it my way, you’re a nitwit. According to something…some establishment of True North, some conception of it that is sacrosanct, bigger than you or me. Something cosmic. But not anointed or blessed or any of that “god” stuff. Something secular, something scieyuntifikal, something undeniable.

Do it my way or you are — mathematically — a dumbass.

It’s a messy hodge-podge, because it is the result of grasping at straws.

So If You Wanna Be a Socialist, Whaddya Gotta Do?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

A new poll has really got a lot of people chattering around the innerwebs and elsewhere. It says two thirds of self-identified Republicans believe President Obama is a socialist. Those who would like more people to be receptive to President Obama in general, and to His policies in particular, have responded the way they always do: Like a six year old who has no arguments. Yoooooouuuu’re Stooooooooopppiiiidddd!!!!

This argument was already hashed out a couple months into Obama’s term. Similar technique. Identify the attack as a “myth,” pick out some factoids that pose a little bit of a problem for the attack, and then act as if you’ve rained down a devastating salvo upon the argument and pronounce it “debunked.” Don’t treat it with any respect at all; that way, you can start out precisely where you want to end up, and not do any intellectual work at all.

OF ALL THE inane accusations about President Obama, the silliest has to be this: The president is a socialist.

Obama’s plans are “one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment,” asserts House minority leader John Boehner. He’s “the world’s best salesman of socialism,” says Republican Senator Jim DeMint.

“Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff,” declares Mike Huckabee. Sean Hannity derides his agenda as “socialism you can believe in.” Obama is “a radical communist,” warns kooky Alan Keyes.

“Epithets are substituting for thinking,” observes Marc Landy, professor of political science at Boston College.

Are they ever.

Well…funny thing about that. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term rather broadly.

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

And I’m thinking Definition #1 qualifies Him pretty easily. President Obama is generally not neutral on the question of centralizing decision-making authority, particularly when it comes to running businesses. And He certainly isn’t generally hostile to such centralization.

If you want to assert that Obama is taking us down a road that would, if pursued to the end, ultimately lead to communism — and I’ve got a feeling a great many of those polled would say precisely that — then it becomes reasonable to qualify Him under the third definition as well.

The dictionary definitions all mirror each other so perfectly, it seems they are xeroxed from a common prototype. There is one exception: Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Unless the “mods” don’t like the edit that you did, in which case you are a “vandal” and they’ll revert it right back again.

Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended.

Not centralized control, not collective control, not government control; worker control. Got their material out of a socialist pamphlet, it would seem.

Turn to the talk page, and you’ll find a real party goin’ down.

Barack Obama is not a socialist. Anybody with even the most basic knowledge of socialism is perfectly aware of that.

Like I said. Yoooooouuuuurrrr’e Ssstttooooooooooopid!!!

And there’s more.

And besides, “national socialization” is a nonsense phrase. Get an education!
If we’re calling Obama socialist, we’d might as well call Bush fascist by those standards
I think that the widespread description of Obama as socialist is an important factor in society, particularly among the political right, but at the same time I think that it should be noted as largely baseless accusations and not as widely accepted.
Obama is not particularly seen as a socialist. The political right just uses it as a meaningless buzzword for anyone they don’t approve of. Bill Clinton was called a socialist plenty of times as well.
Obama is no sort of socialist. Period.

That is the form and substance of the counterargument. Shut up!

But this one has gotta take the cake:

Another Vandal Oh dear. While we are over here on the talk page discussing the fact that Obama is nearly as far from Socialism as Reagan yet another vandal was linking Obama into the Socialism page. I can tell this one will be on my watchpage basically indefinately.

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m sure the ostensible reason for the “watchpage basically indefinately” [sic] is so that Wikipedia preserves its value as a resource, to enhance the reasons people would have for going there, and diminish the reasons they would have for going somewhere else. Simonm223‘s achievement, I’m afraid, is the polar opposite of the intent behind it.

And no, before anyone asks: I’m not the vandal. I guess there are quite a few of us getting snookered by this.

I’m still waiting for something to save me from being hoodwinked. So far I’m not saved. One thing you will not find at that talk page, or anywhere else so far as I can see, is this: What, exactly, do you have to do to fulfill a minimalist litmus test for this word, that the Obama administration has not, in fact, done?

The whole question, once evaluated logically, would boil down to essentially that. Wouldn’t it? What am I missing here?

Apple-Milk Cycle

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I was just wondering about this comment I put up at Old Iron & KC’s place. Background: Old Iron was noticing (with great glee) that yet another member of Canada’s upper crust elite is doing the southward walk-of-shame, turning his back on the glorious canuck ‘free” health care system to partake of some of our own services. You remember our health care system, right? That horrible awful one that needs changing so badly? And so he proceeded to grill KC about it and make her squirm a little. Or maybe a lot.

And I made the point that when you remove the meaningless details from our recent health care fiasco — I don’t know if I can write about it in the past tense or not, but God I really do hope I can — the whole thing is nothing more than another ride on the same stupid merry-go-round. And health care itself is one of the meaningless details. It’s just the latest thing to be “reformed,” or for them to try to reform, and the reform always goes the same way.

The “health care” aspect of it really doesn’t matter, because it’s the same story as any other commodity. Just name one. Education for your children, legal services, barrels of crude oil.

Trickle Up Poverty“The rich” can get ahold of it and the poor people cannot, so someone gets the idea of “reform.” No one defines what the R-word really means, because anyone who’s in a position to communicate with the public about it understands reform is only appealing until people understand what it is. So some new laws are created to make the commodity “equally available to everyone.”

Which, it turns out, doesn’t mean the poor can get it. It means the rich people can’t. And was anyone wondering why people refer to socialism as “trickle-up poverty”?

Except if you get to watch how the politicians live, up close, you see something rather interesting. Whatever the commodity is…they can get ahold of it a lot more easily than the rich people were ever able to. Proceed to re-enact the scene with Squealer and the milk & apples from George Orwell’s Animal Farm…

This cycle [is] absolutely consistent, event for event, with each and every market the United States has semi-nationalized…and the U.S. has semi-nationalized quite a lot. My country’s gutless this way; we like to go halfway on things. That way we don’t have to admit that some things work and other things don’t.

Yes, that last part is worth re-reading again. Admitting that there’s a right way & a wrong way to do something, really does take balls. Some people just don’t have ’em. They don’t want to admit this is true about anything — even though, in reality, it’s probably true about damn near everything. And so everything is “middle of the road” because of the balls these people don’t have. These loud, loud people. Their one consistency ends up being “I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty”; and then, given enough time, they’ll come across a situation that requires an exemption from even that.

So they don’t want any rules; they’re anarchists who don’t want to admit that they’re anarchists. They want every little thing to be decided on a case by case basis. They are gregarious, friendly, trusting people, and they seem to have gotten it in their heads that any “common sense” decision anybody ever makes about anything, will be to their liking. I don’t know where they get this. I don’t think they know either. But it isn’t stopping them.

Let us count all the other things worth mentioning, shall we?

1. The “Status Quo”: Irony be here. One of the hottest squares in Obama Speech Bingo is the one captioned “false choice.” As our President uses the phrase, it has diminished to the level of a thoughtless verbal tic, a reflex. He can’t stop Himself from saying it anymore. What He’s really talking about is the False Dilemma Fallacy: “When two alternatives are presented…[t]his can lend credence to the larger argument by giving the impression that the options are mutually exclusive, even though they need not be.” The irony is — quick, what’s the best possible example in recent memory? Why, it’s President Obama’s favorite dichotomy! If you’re not for the “reform”…you must be among “those who want to preserve the status quo.” How’s that work out? Can you find me a hundred people who are opposed to the reform? Won’t take long to round ’em up…now, once you have those hundred, can you promise me each and every single one of them is tickled pink with the status quo? Cross your heart & hope to die, stick a needle in your eye? Of course you can’t. At least sixty…and probably eighty…are wrestling with avoidance-avoidance conflict. President Obama’s choice is false. But he continues to repeat it. This is part of that cycle that continues to play out, across all those other events involving semi-nationalization of those other commodities. That is how they were done. You had to support the “reform”…or else you must be in favor of the “status quo,” and nobody liked the status quo. So reform it is. Except — in each and every single case — things didn’t really go so hot in the long run.

2. Debunking “Urban Myths”: Since vagueness is the best friend of the proponent of the “reform,” no one is in a position to definitively state what exactly is involved in the final “reform” plan until it has been signed into law. By which time, of course, it’s too late to talk about anything. And so as the critics do what critics are supposed to do, and enlighten the public about some of the things that really deserve attention as the details are being hashed out, the proponents highlight these concerns as “urban myths” and start to “debunk” them. Case in point? Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” Politifact named it “Lie of the Year.” I seem to recall more than one left-leaning commenter pointed out that hey, it can’t be true, the legislation hasn’t even been written yet. Well no duh…that’s kind of the point isn’t it, Sparky? Wherever there’s an unknown, you have to figure out who you’re going to be asked to trust, and how much you trust them. Even as of today, to my knowledge, the debunkers have yet to come up with a single example of a country with socialized medicine that doesn’t have some kind of Death Panel — call it what you will.

3. Aristocracy. There always is one, after all the dust has settled. The people who write the legislation that ultimately defines what kind of [insert name of commodity here] we are going to be consuming, and how it is to be apportioned among us, never, ever, ever use the same machinery to get theirs. They enjoy the exclusive use of a bypass gate. From time to time we all make a bunch of noise about it, and people get really upset. But it blows over.

4. Half a Loaf. The people who are “for” the plan, after it has been put in place, end up making such an incredible weak show of their apologia that it hardly sounds complimentary at all. Go back and read KC’s commentary about the Canadian health care system. That’s precisely what I’m talking about. The waiting is interminable and the “free” services aren’t really free, they’re expensive as all holy hell. BUT — well, but something. It’s a mix of good-and-bad. The road always leads back there…mix of good and bad. Now ask yourself this: Would you ever, in a million years, be able to sell “reform” that way to a country that hadn’t yet signed on to the reform? I can just see Obama with that one now: “Folks, Let Me Be Clear. Make No Mistake. After we enact my ‘reform,’ things are still going to suck a whole lot and suck large. It’ll be a mix of the good and the bad. But For Far Too Long, as a country we’ve been tring to make things better than they were before when we try to fix things. We need to have the courage to change, even if it’s scary change, change that makes things worse. Even bad change is better than no change at all. For you little people, I mean. I don’t need to change of course, I’m perfect as I am.” It would be honest. But I don’t think the pundits would gather the following Sunday morning to proclaim “His last speech was the Best Speech Evar, until this one, and now this is the Best Speech Evar!!” At least, I think they probably wouldn’t say that. But at this point who the hell knows.

5. NOW! President Obama took a lot of hammering over his strong-arming Congress to pass health care “by Christmas.” And after it became clear it was costing Him some support, He kept right on doing it. That’s because this is part of the cycle. It always goes this way. It happens to you, you’ll see, when you think back on your own personal past events. It’s how salesmen sell shitty things. “Of course you don’t have to sign today, but I have another couple interested in this house, matter of fact they came by here just the other day…hey why don’t we go to my office for some coffee, and you can sign some papers and at least get your name in? Have you got your checkbook?” This is starkly at odds with the other thing that happens, about the status quo. It’s supposed to be such a widespread realization, an undeniable one, that the status quo reeks so much. If that was really the case, and a point presented honestly, you’d be able to put your “reform” on a table and let it just sit there, while the representatives eventually come ’round to the unavoidable conclusion that buying-in is just the smart thing to do. See, that is how good products are sold. But the Apple-Milk bandwagon cannot afford to tolerate it. It’s like a “gorgeous” actress whose time has passed, one who is overly-reliant on the perfect makeup and lighting. Up close, she doesn’t look that good and she damn well knows it. So it has to be sold now, now, now! When we buy things for our household, a lot of us raise a red flag when we hear that pitch. Somehow, with public policy, a lot of us don’t.

6. Bad Examples. Even though nobody can say anything good about this “reform” after all’s been said & done, other jurisdictions will seek to emulate it as if it had been wildly successful. The results here will be far superior to the results there, the proponents (in the new country) will say. The same basic framework may have been tried a dozen times…a hundred times…and failed each and every single time. Still people will want to go for it. They’ll say the reason it didn’t work out too well in whoozeewotsitplace is — well, the right people weren’t in charge. Some variant of that theme. You know why that is? It’s because the proponents aren’t really proponents of the plan per se. They are proponents of a lifestyle that is associated with the plan; the lifestyle that has to do with sacrificing opportunity and freedom for the sake of a little temporary security. There is something obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive about viewing life through this lens. People who do it that way want everyone else they know to do it that way, too. So the plan is to the lifestyle, you might say, as a man-carved idol is to the deity it is supposed to represent. It’s just a manifestation. If prosperity surrounds the idol, this is testament to the power and the benevolence of the deity. But if there is suffering wherever the idol goes, it ceases to carry any symbolic weight and is no longer representative of the will or karma involved in the deity. The stupid sculptor must not have carved it right. Our village is dying, and our suffering has been most acute since this idol was put up, but our deity is a good one.

Megyn Kelly Schools Gloria Allred

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Two issues are involved here, they’re both important and one of them doesn’t even have to do with abortion. The first one — abortion-related — is all these nihilists, eugenicists and other assorted crackpots walking around claiming to champion a woman’s “right to choose to abort or to carry to term,” either which way so long as the decision is hers. And in reality, that is absolutely, positively not what they want. They like abortions. They want more of them.

The second issue is just as invasive and insidious. For over forty years now, it has been a tactic of the world communist movement to infiltrate our government and our society through this sneaky tactic of “oh I’m for free speech, but I’m also against misleading speech, and I don’t want to restrict your speech but if you’re going to say this thing over here you also have to say that thing over there.”

What Allred is arguing is the essence of the Red Lion vs. FCC decision of 1969 which says exactly this. Americans need to start rejecting this because we really have no excuse not to. We’ve seen a few rounds of this; we know how the game is played. It is exactly as Ms. Kelly has described it. You want to say A, A happens to be completely true but here comes this arbitrary authority to say you can say A only if you include B. Saying B happens to be costly and unworkable, but it’s an unfunded mandate and it’s all your problem. If you choose to pay the costs of saying B, there will be a C, D, E, F and G…because we wouldn’t want to “mislead” anybody.

Finally you throw in the towel, and the arbitrary authority says “Oh well. Just remember, we didn’t restrict your free speech!”

Smile. Wink.

Just disgusting.

You know what our problem is? We’re way too cynical in some ways, and not nearly cynical enough in others.

Gloria All<<RED>>. Somethin’ else. You know, if she was a character in a work of fiction, I’d say the author should have put a little more work into choosing her name. The metaphor is too obvious. And her tactics are, too.

Yeah, it’s just crazy old white guys in the late stages of dementia who babble away about “the commies are taking over!” Maybe I’m turning into one, I dunno. One thing is making me crazy like a fox over this stuff, faster than any other: facts. The more I learn about what really went down, the clearer it is that communism is not a hard, tangible organization from a dead empire, like the KGB. It’s a way of looking at the world, a jaundiced spirit. It is invasive; it did invade; it’s still invading. It’s an ideological prybar, with a great wealth of proven techniques and tactics behind it for sticking its nose where it isn’t welcome. It is recognizable by these tactics.

It is the enemy of human dignity itself. Keep saying no.

Thanks to Danny Glover at Hot Air, who blogs at The Enlightened Redneck.

Robert Gibbs on FNS

Monday, February 1st, 2010

It’s clear, from this, that if I ever want to sell a big ‘ol plate of bullshit to somebody, Bagdad Bob Gibbs is my guy.

If I ever want to figure out what’s going on…he isn’t.

Hat tip to Boortz, who has quite a bit more to add:

I was sitting there in paradise watching Chris Wallace interview Obama’s doughboy Robert Gibbs. The questioning was about the decision to read the PantyBomber his Miranda rights. Chris Wallace wanted a simple answer to one question: Was President Obama notified before the decision was made – by whoever made the decision – to give Abdulmutallab his Miranda warning. Does that sound like a trick question to anyone? Either Obama knew that the CrotchBomber was going to get his Miranda rights, or Obama didn’t know.

So … here’s the transcript:

WALLACE: Minute left. Our top intelligence and homeland security officials told Congress this week that none of them were consulted beforehand on the decision to charge the Christmas Day bomber, Abdulmutallab, as a criminal defendant.

And we’ve now learned that he was read his Miranda rights on the day he was arrested, on Christmas Day, after just 50 minutes of interrogation. You said this week that it was Attorney General Holder who made that decision. Was the president informed before or after the decision was implemented?

GIBBS: Which decision?

WALLACE: The decision to charge Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant and not treat him as an enemy combatant.

GIBBS: Well, Chris, the charges didn’t happen until several days later, and everybody…

WALLACE: Well, he was read his Miranda rights. Was the decision — was the president…

GIBBS: Right.

WALLACE: … told before or after…

GIBBS: That decision was made by the Justice Department and the FBI, with experienced FBI interrogators. But understand this, Chris. Make no mistake. Abdulmutallab was interrogated and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation.

Wallace pressed the issue, but Gibbs just flatly refused to answer the question. Sadly, Wallace didn’t demand an answer. Perhaps Wallace was afraid that if he pushed the issue any further he would never get the President’s spokesman on the show again.

My girlfriend has a pet peeve that reads very much like one of mine: Men who say “to be honest…” This is one of the reasons, I think, that we get along well. Her logic is completely durable: If, after those three words, you’re going to start being honest — what in the hell have you been doing the rest of the time? And how long are you going to be honest? How do I know when you’re going to go back to being dishonest again?

Bush Justice Officials Cleared

Saturday, January 30th, 2010


[A]n upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos of professional-misconduct allegations.

While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.

Mmmm…well, we’re taking some encouraging steps toward fulfilling my forty-two definitions of a strong society, particularly the second one:

[N]obody ever has to profess a false belief, or keep their silence about a genuine belief, to keep from losing their property, their business, their kids, their spouse, their house, their job, their stature in the community, or anything else.

And that’s sick. It’s sick that anybody ever had to scribble something like that down, that it was ever called into doubt that this is just the way things should work — anyone should think it should work some other way. “I have this sensitivity about this-or-that, and if you don’t share it you should lose your job and go to jail. Just as if you raped a baby or killed somebody.”

Make that whole thing a forgotten relic of the twentieth century. It’s done nothing helpful for us at all, and nobody is really in favor of it anyway.

My 42 Definitions of a Strong Society

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Yes, once again it is time to dig into the obsessive-compulsive-list-making “what’s been ripening in the innards of the smartphone” file. And nobody disagrees with me about any of it.

At least, when talking-out-loud most people don’t disagree with much of it. Being a liberal, lately, seems to involve saying something to the effect of “Oh in a perfect world I wish (insert some of what follows here)…BUT…we have all these problems, so therefore we must ‘invest’ in my program.” And being a “moderate” liberal versus an “extreme” liberal, seems more than anything else to have to do with how quickly the liberal gets to that “but.”

Regarding what makes a society free, strong and healthy, there does not appear to be a lot of disagreement. Except for craven disagreement, the disagreement that must cower out of sight, hiding behind red herrings.

Some of these things can be measured, in service of producing an actual number. Where that is possible, and the number is found to be in a decline, that place is coming off the rails. So you can probably form a guess about my thoughts regarding the direction our country has been heading for the last year.

1. Taboo versus Law. There is a vast, yawning gap between laws that are written down, and unenforced cultural taboos that are universally observed as a sign of respect the individual pays to the sensibilities of the community. There is an abundance of little things that are frowned-upon, and because they are frowned-upon they are very seldom done. They carry absolutely no penalty whatsoever. In fact, making any kind of “hard” law against some of these things, is one of the taboos.
2. Stigma is firm but soft. Rule #1 notwithstanding, nobody ever has to profess a false belief, or keep their silence about a genuine belief, to keep from losing their property, their business, their kids, their spouse, their house, their job, their stature in the community, or anything else. Hey let’s face it: If thinking a certain thing is evidence that you’re a wonderful person, and then you get penalized for thinking something else, then thinking that thing is no longer evidence of your wonderfulness, now is it?
3. Men do things. Able-bodied men, of all ages, are knights. They defend women, children, old and handicapped people, from trifling inconvenience as well as danger and bodily harm. They never, ever remain sitting when a lady approaches.
4. Failure. Universally available, and free. No person, enterprise or industry is “Too Big To Fail” — ever. Failure is regarded as something that is always possible, to be avoided at all costs, but never to be ignored or sidestepped once it is earned. Depriving a man of the failure he has justly earned, is rightfully seen as just as deplorable as depriving him of wages he has justly earned.
5. The high wall. Coarse humor and other material are kept away from children, as well as adults who might not prefer it. The girly mags kept behind the clerk, rather than at knee height out front; the blogger who takes the effort to write “not safe work work language in this video”; the curtain in front of that special room in the back, at your video store; South Park scheduled on the cable teevee for 10pm or later. These are fundamental building blocks of any civilized society. The spicy stuff is freely available, but walled off.
6. Promote strength and not weakness. If an individual falls short of a physical or mental challenge, he is encouraged to try again, and discouraged from developing the one-time failure into a lasting disability.
7. Keeping and bearing arms. There really isn’t any telling who does & doesn’t have a gun, but it’s probably not too far from the truth to suppose everyone is carrying something.
8. Egalitarianism. A penalty for a crime is constant, regardless of the class, economic status or birthright of the convict.
9. Take your place. Children wait for grown-ups; grown-ups make sure the women go first; the women see to it that, among them, the elderly and infirm go first.
Nucular10. Say it. At work, rest or play, nobody ever mumbles; misspellings are exceedingly rare; if an idea is worth expressing, it’s worth expressing properly.
11. Earn your pay. The employee sees his employer as a partner in the business — nobody ever does half-ass work, or less work, to avoid making his co-workers look bad. He does what the boss says, not what the union boss says.
12. Non-Discrimination is a taboo and not a law. Opportunities are not awarded to, or withheld from, people because of their religion, race or gender (unless applicable).
13. Getting rich by watching the rich. People don’t pay greater attention to indigents and ask “Who is at fault?” They pay attention to those who are better off, and ask “What wise things did he do that put him in this position?”
14. Independent thinking. It starts early on. Teachers teach and grade children to produce a good outcome, not to follow a certain sequence of steps.
15. Children wait. Children are afraid to interrupt adults. When they play or are otherwise too distracted to move out of the way of someone else, they do their playing in low-traffic areas, where they aren’t likely to obstruct.
16. Faceless kingmakers. There are no anonymous panels of experts artificially creating other experts. When men carry great respect and authority, the people who show them this respect are ready to list the wonderful things those men have done, not the titles, awards and other gimmicks bestowed on them by anonymous commissions or third-parties.
17. Faceless kingmakers, continued. With regard to #16, nobody can earn respect, authority, titles, awards or other gimmicks by talking a certain way; they have to accomplish something, and it has to be something measurable.
18. Rehabilitation and Recidivism. If a man continues to prove himself unable to live safely among others, he is ultimately put to death.
19. Ownership. People ask “Is it my place to pass judgment?” before asking “Would I have done it the way he did it?”
20. Individuality vs. Groupthink. Groups just aren’t very important. The individual is the de facto master of any given task, challenge or situation. Very few things in life are decided by a vote anywhere, or for that matter by passages out of some kind of rulebook. Committees, where they exist, exist only for brief periods of time and decide practically nothing at all.
21. Mind-altering substances. No one ever uses hallucinogenic drugs. They see their fortunes in life as being linked to their ability to think things out capably, so they just don’t want to mess with that.
22. Nobility of labor. People spend time doing their own manual chores; many of them possess an abundance of tools that they have designed and constructed themselves. It is impossible to do any of this when you engage in the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late; and, I suppose, it is perhaps not possible to avoid the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late, if you haven’t done something like this in awhile.
23. Keeping up with the Joneses. Nobody ever wants to buy something just because someone else they know bought the same thing.
24. Headwear. Men and boys never wear hats indoors. Ever. Headgear above…or a roof…never, ever both. Simply not done.
25. Strong and silent. The more powerful the leader is, the shorter his speeches are, the greater the passage of time before he gives one, and the less likely it is that he’s ever heard to blame his predecessor for anything.
26. Family first. Nobody who lives in a household ever tolerates disparaging comments about anybody else who lives in that household.
27. As the ladies go, so goes civilization. Girls give their attention to boys who are serious about what they’re trying to do, and show some drive when they’re trying to do it; not to whoever “makes me laugh.”
28. School. In school, when one child picks on another child and the other child tolerates it, the officials see to it the weaker child “mans up” and that the stronger child is punished — BOTH of those, not one or the other. The lazy school official who turns a blind eye, or enforces discipline only upon children who’ve shown the intelligence and civility to respond positively to it, and in so doing allows this adolescent boy-coming-of-age juice to pickle, like improperly-fermented homemade beer — he is universally regarded as the lowest and most detestable form of bureaucrat, something toxic to natural human development, inimical toward manhood. And that goes double for erring in the opposite direction…handing down some ill-thought-out “hard rule” (see #1) trying to make bullying into a relic from the past. Not gonna happen. Bullying is not something to be expurgated, it is something to be handled.
29. School, continued. With regard to #28, children who can communicate with other children but not do the work, are seen as needing improvement; children who can do the work but who lack “communication skills,” are seen as successful and worthy of emulation.
30. Husbands. Women and men mate for life; all of her children are biologically his.
31. Charity. When any member of the community is enduring urgent need, nobody is condemned with such disdain as the other member who could help and refuses to — except for whoever else wants to force him to. Nobody seeks to make himself, or anybody else, “better” by passing some obligatory law requiring charity. (Again, refer back to #1.)
32. Charity, continued. With regard to #31, to receive such charity and then gripe about it in quality or quantity, is regarded as one of the lowest possible transgressions.
33. World travel. The most respected community members are the ones who have traveled to other countries. But before they traveled they personally worked to earn the solvency needed for their traveling. Traveling is not used as a bully pulpit to promote some sick vision of hyper-internationalism, or to promote materialism and extravagance as if luxuries should be prioritized as staples of life.
34. Central, unifying language. There is one and only one dominant spoken and written language, and whoever isn’t functional in it, does the best they can to learn that one before any other.
35. Immigrants speak the language of the community. With regard to #34, whoever immigrates to this place, speaks that one dominant language before their mother tongue — even at home.
36. Children speak the language of the community. With regard to #34 and #35, children of immigrants are taught to speak the language of the community before their mother tongue — at home.
37. Parents don’t raise boys and girls, they raise men and women. Parenting is seen as a process of making kids capable first, and “safe” second. A parent who delivers a child to adulthood, happy healthy and whole but not capable, is seen as a failure at parenting (see #4).
38. Taxes pay for things, where they are unavoidable. Taxes are never levied, increased or exempted to reward or punish classes of people. Social experimentation by tax code is an unknown thing. Taxes are collected for the purpose of funding vital government activities, and for no other reason.
39. There is a(n unwritten) Hays Code. The fiction that people enjoy, has heroic characters who do good things, villainous characters who do bad things, and nobody ends up prosperous at the end by avoiding honest work or by breaking the law.
40. People acknowledge each other. The everyday greeting is not only desirable, not only obligatory, but sacred. Men who once fought over a woman, take the time to do it with each other, friendly or not. Very few tasks justify withholding a handshake, eye contact and a decent Hello. And for this reason, people don’t spend much time at all with their “personal tunes.”
41. Weaknesses are not coveted. Nobody ever brags about, or connects an identity to, an inability to do something other people can do. People do not greet new acquaintances with that most odious of self-introductions, “I don’t know anything about computers.” People don’t form relationships around weakness. People don’t say “That’s my friend Carol, she doesn’t know how to cook.” They say “That’s my friend Carol, she’s the best interior designer around.”
42. Armageddon is not breathlessly anticipated. Very rarely does anyone talk about the entire world ending, for any reason.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

The Obamarang

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I noted, a few minutes ago, that the kind of messaging being practiced by our current political party in the majority, is almost synonymous with obfuscation. Wherever a point is understood with clarity, there is a task that has been left unfinished.

One of the reasons the democrats are doing so poorly right now, and are so ineffectual in spite of the fact that they run everything, is that they are anti-human and anti-definition. Their platform is to oppose ambition, effort and individual achievement, and they do this by making things vague. Terrorists aren’t terrorists, sovereign states are not sovereign states, Separation of Powers is not Separation of Powers, the ClimateGate Scandal never really happened, spending money is not spending money as long as you’re spending it on “health care”…

Victor Davis Hanson goes one step further, singling out the man at the top of the mess. Who is caught on a regular basis doing the polar opposite of what He just got done saying He was going to do…

Whereas past executives shaded the truth, Barack Obama trumps that: on almost every key issue, what Obama says he will do, and what he says is true, is a clear guide to what he will not do, and what is not true. It is as if “truth” is a mere problem of lesser mortals.

1. Obama now rails against a pernicious Washington and its insiders: ergo, Obama controls Washington through both houses of Congress and the White House, and wants to expand Washington’s control over the auto industry, health care, energy, student loans, transportation, etc.

2. Obama bashes the Supreme Court on weakening public efforts to curb campaign contributions. Therefore, we know Obama has done more than any other president in destroying public campaign financing by being the first presidential candidate in a general election to refuse public funds — in confidence that he could raise a record $1 billion, much of it from big moneyed interests on Wall Street.

3. Obama calls for a freeze on government spending and deplores deficits. Hence, we know that the possible $15 billion savings in some discretionary spending will not affect the Obama record budget deficits that will continue to grow well over an annual $1.5 trillion a year — as Obama piles up the greatest budgetary shortfalls in any four-year presidential term in history.

4. The president calls for the Guantanamo Bay detention center to be closed within a year of his inauguration, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, to be tried in New York. Accordingly, we know that Guantanamo won’t be closed within a year and KSM won’t be tried in New York.

5. Obama issues four serial deadlines in autumn 2009 for Iran to comply with non-proliferation accords. Presto — we know that Iran will get the bomb unimpeded by U.S. opinion.

“People Aren’t Stupid”

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

John Fund’s column in the Wall Street Journal, about Massachusetts’ new Wonder-Senator:

So why does he think Democratic attacks on him for opposing Mr. Obama’s bank tax didn’t seem to gain traction?…”They get that a bank tax will be transferred down to individuals through ATM fees and the amount of money they can lend to create jobs will also be reduced.”

Mr. Brown says it frustrates him that too many politicians still believe that people will be fooled by what they’re proposing. “People aren’t stupid, and leaders should figure out they’re better informed now than ever.”

I Made a New Word XXXIV

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Hale • Bopp (n.)

I’d be far less disgusted with Christopher Buckley if I thought for a minute he was a lone voice singing in the wilderness. As I wrote ad nauseum earlier this morning, his point seems to be — and he seems quite proud of this — that Obama has conducted Himself most unpresidentially, but it’s so much fun to watch Him and listen to Him that it doesn’t really matter.

No wonder, for the last half-century or so, when the democrats look for the next candidate to lead their party from the White House, the question is not: Does this person make wise decisions? But instead: When this person makes stupid decisions, is there a huge following of people motivated to vote for, support, and show up at rallies to egg on his toxic bullshit?

Let’s face it: “moral authority”; “hope and change”; “there’s just something about Him”; “he wrote ‘Earth in the Balance'”; “He’d be one hell of a lot of fun at a bar”; “at least he didn’t have anything to do with Watergate” — these are just devices. Devices skillfully wielded to close transactions that are contrary to the interests of the buyer.

One year following the election of the Holy One, I was noticing that it works not just in the democrat party machinery, but across the landscape of the electorate as well. Republicans are qualified if and only if they can instantly recall, with accuracy, exotic names, historical trivia, and lists of things; democrats are qualified if they are capable of selling things contrary to the interests of those who buy them. And a month onward, I made some observations about a quality some of our previous Presidents have actually had. “Charisma” doesn’t quite nail down what this quality is, since charisma is an occasional good thing, whereas what we’re talking about is a tactic for deception. But the C-word perhaps comes closer than any other word in the English language.

Barack Obama has oodles and oodles of this, but nobody is quite sure what it is. You heard this much discussed throughout the 2008 campaign, especially when He was locked in a fierce battle with Hillary Clinton for the nomination. “There’s just something about Him!” Some people call it leadership because when He says something, like “grab a mop” for example, there arises within you this primal instinct to get it done. The marrow of your bones seem to just want to start mopping. Authority, confidence, blah blah blah. He never stutters or stammers…says “uh” quite a lot, but always with dignity and flair.

What’s this done for us over the course of the previous 43 administrations?

Well, it’s helped to sell us a lot of crap. Salesmen learn how to do this; if it is their trade to deal with bad product. Hey let’s face it, if your product is compatible with the interests of the buyer, your “charisma” isn’t going to help the sale a whole lot. An average-Joe can get just as much sold. You need excellent salesmen if you’re trying to move a shitty product. So this “I don’t know why I want to do what he says, it’s just the way I feel!” thing is a distinguishing characteristic of flim-flam men and liars.

So when you possess charisma, plus a readiness, willingness and ability to use that charisma toward the objective of selling large numbers of people on something that will ultimately bring them harm, that is Hale-Bopp.

I understand why the democrat party wants to find the next walking specimen of it so badly. It’s because their policies suck so much. As I said before: If the product being sold is really good, you don’t need this quality. So they need it, to get all the Chris Matthews’ and the Chris Buckleys (what is it about the name “Chris”??) on board.

It is a Thing I Know #271 moment:

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. Fact is, if you’re in sales, you want to do a superior job, you want to realize the benefits of being better than the rest, but you also want to deal honestly with people, you’re in the wrong line of work.

And our fascination with it, seems to me symptomatic of a society that, for the most part, hasn’t had to get real work done for a very long time. A superpower, whose “citizens” get bottled water delivered to their doorsteps, and have nothing to talk about all day long unless the bottled water delivery was late.

Because deep down we all know this: A farmer, whose personal fortunes are tied to his progress in plowing the field, his progress in getting the irrigation machine to work, his progress in getting the cows milked, his progress in putting the equipment out of harm’s way when a storm front is rolling in…he really doesn’t have much use for salesmen, be they god-like in their hale-bopp or merely adequate for the job of selling quality things. To him, they’re just people who fill the air with lots of noise. The question is, does the goddamn thing do what it’s supposed to do, and flipping the switch & trying her out will settle that quickly enough. When you have real work to do and your fortunes rise & fall on getting the work done, talk becomes cheap very quickly.

Don’t Pick on the Girl

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Item: Daphne is digging into the root cause of what’s really wrong in Haiti. Besides/before the quake. Because nobody, anywhere, is saying before the quake hit, Haiti was some kind of Garden of Eden. They can’t say that because you’d immediately know they’re full of it. So howkumthatiz?

I pulled up a headline a little while ago that began “The scarcest commodity in Haiti…” and fully expected the answer to be fathers. Serendipity has been flashing her soft skirts at me today, pressing an incessant peak of firm, high thigh well before the sun rose and the flirt hasn’t let up yet. An incessant weave mentioning good fathers, or the clear lack of them, has been a steady theme turning up in every corner of my world today.

My ridiculous expectation wasn’t nearly as absurd as the reporter’s answer…
Communities that function with reasonable success under normal circumstances are full of solid men shouldering broad responsibilities for their children’s welfare. These widespread corners of low crime, good schools and dynamic business revenue thrive on the responsible backs of hardworking men who willingly respond to meet the everyday needs of their personal responsibilities and community infrastructure. When their neighborhoods are afflicted by catastrophic events, natural or man-made, they react with decisiveness and ingenuity to save lives, alleviate suffering and quickly rebuild. They’ve made plans for future contingencies because they have their children’s long-term welfare in mind. It’s really that simple.

And now for another item, brought to our attention by John Hawkins, something completely, or mostly, unrelated. Daphne has explored what we fellas are doing right, now let’s take a look at what the chickees are doing wrong.

15 Annoying Things Girlfriends Do (That You Have to Put Up With)

1. Random Item Relocation
2. Unwanted “Organization” of Your Stuff
3. Constant Overdressing
4. She’s Late for Everything
15. Deeming All Things Technical to be Unimportant

And what have these two things in common with each other? One points out that men do things right — or, let us be more precise, that it is important that the men do things right. The other points out that women do things wrong. One has to do with keeping a civilization going…a matter of life and death. The other has to do with the minor irritant of not being able to find your Super-Suit, and when you unleash a plaintive wail about where the damn thing might be, you’re asked why you need it.

What’ve they got in common with each other?

They are disallowed. Men important…women flawed. Neither one of those can get a fair hearing in our culture. We’ve blocked them both out. No one will ever say “women are perfect” and very few people will say “men don’t matter.” But with the black magic of the pliable, Gumby-like code of unwritten taboos, we can say those things without saying them — by stigmatizing their opposites. So you aren’t allowed to mention that men might play a pivotal role, or that some women do some tiresome, tedious things.

Check out the comments under the “15 Annoying Things” article. It really is astonishing. They pretty much fall into two categories: “You’re a pussy for even taking the time to notice/jot down this stuff,” and “If you’re dating any women at all, which I doubt, they’re not the right kind.” Read that last one as the “Yeah But All Women Aren’t Like That” stanza.

That’s the same as saying no woman ever does this? Huh. How do you explain that live-in of mine from a few years ago…during which time I had my “survival kit” packed in the trunk of my car, of the vital items she couldn’t “Randomly Relocate”? The batteries, the bandages, the tampons, the cat food. Why was that necessary if this isn’t a real problem?

Criticizing women is a funny thing. “Not All Women Are Like That” — is the same, somehow, as — “There Are No Women Like That,” which logically is a completely different thing to say. Read those comments again. What you’re seeing here is Thing I Know #58:

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

What we have condemned with such severity — without having the balls to out-and-out condemn it — is inter-generational transfer of knowledge. Bar Mitzvahs, taming the wild mare, the institution of marriage itself, Ten Commandments, Pan Far…these are traditions that got started for a reason. And the reason is that some requirements, some customs, some prohibitions that are needed for a society to continue to thrive, are absolutely essential. Among those are essential, even if you’re a real smart ticket it’ll take you a long time to figure out they’re helpful. Like, to age fifty or so. Well, we don’t have time for everyone to reach age fifty and figure it out. And so traditions are handed down from mother to daughter and from father to son. Rules are recorded in books, and then they’re followed. Old people are going to have to tell young people what to do, and then the young people are going to have to do it without asking questions about everything.

Our new taboos have torn these to shreds as well. Men don’t count, and nobody should ever demand anything out of them (except money); women never annoy anybody, or else it’s the other person’s fault for being annoyed.

The eventual result? Men in their twenties who don’t do a damn thing that’s constructive, fun as they may be to watch. Old men who are alone and purposeless, wishing like the dickens that they did something constructive when they were young. Women leapfrogging from one marriage to the next, annoying the shit out of every single husband they get, wondering why it’s taking them so long to find “love.” Children who can’t pay attention to a goddamn thing besides the latest text message that popped up on their “Hello Kitty” flipfone.

It isn’t our lack of ability to do things well, or to fix things when we aren’t doing well. It’s our lack of ability to figure out what we’re not doing well — and that’s a lack of willingness, not ability, when you get down to it. We’ve identified just a few occasional flaws that we are not ever, ever, ever willing to acknowledge should we ever run across them.

Which, in reality, actually do happen from time to time. And that is where we start to slip off the rails and become all dysfunctional. Things go gunnybags.

On Endorsing McCain

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

I agree with Allahpundit. Mostly, anyway. More than I usually do.

First, he quotes from the boss, Michelle Malkin…and I have to agree with her as well.

As the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, [Sen. McCain] was wrong on the constitutionality of the free-speech-stifling McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations. He was wrong to side with the junk-science global warming activists in pushing onerous carbon caps on America. He was on the wrong side of every Chicken Little-driven bailout. He was wrong in opposing enhanced CIA interrogation methods that have saved countless American lives and averted jihadi plots. And he was spectacularly wrong in teaming with the open-borders lobby to push a dangerous illegal alien amnesty.

Tea Party activists are rightly outraged by Sarah Palin’s decision to campaign for McCain, whose entrenched incumbency and progressive views are anathema to the movement. At least she has an excuse: She’s caught between a loyalty rock and a partisan hard place. The conservative base has no such obligations – and it is imperative that they get in the game before it’s too late.

And then he makes a prediction…

The weirdest part of this? I don’t think anyone will be swayed by Palin’s endorsement. No one seriously believes she’d be backing him if not for her personal loyalty to him, and McCain’s sufficiently infamous for his centrism that even her support won’t scrub him clean in the eyes of tea partiers. Which means this is actually a pretty shrewd move on her part: She gets credit for being a good soldier, especially in light of the sniping at her from his former campaign aides, whereas he gets maybe a few extra votes from conservatives. In fact, someone should make a video at her rally for McCain in the same mold as that now-famous video outside Obama’s rally for Coakley, where college kids babbled about getting to see The One in person while showing no enthusiasm whatsoever for the candidate. That’s what we’re going to end up with here, I think.

Yes, Palin has an excuse, yes Palin is caught between a rock and a hard place. Suppose she endorsed Hayworth or Simcox. Or simply didn’t say anything at all. Oh dear God, can you imagine. She could survive it, but only just barely. I think what’s going on is, in that scenario she’d lose the “salt of the earth” types — those who don’t give a rat’s ass whether McCain sinks or swims over in Arizona, but dammit, want to see some good old-fashioned character in whoever’s taking charge. Right or wrong, she’d lose them. And without them, her movement loses definition.

No, I don’t think this is shrewd on her part. I think it’s necessary. Even so, I’m not altogether sure I agree. Malkin’s right, and I hope McCain loses.

The democrats are saying two and two are five. The Republicans, last time they were in charge, said two and two are four but it doesn’t really matter let’s spend the money anyway. McCain’s all about saying it adds up to four-and-a-half.

We’re getting fed up with all the nonsense — I think Arizonians are too — and McCain isn’t doing his bit to bring it all to the inglorious end it so richly deserves. Depending on the issue, four-and-a-half is every bit as wrong an answer as five.

Supreme Court Ends Shut-Uppery

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Or some of it, at least.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is rejoicing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Already Know What They Want to Know

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Ann Coulter puts the big reveal on the flawed extreme-leftists’ mind, as only she can:

On Jan. 8, just 11 days before the election, The New York Times reported: “A Brown win remains improbable, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the state and that Ms. Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support.”

It was in that article that the Times said a narrow Coakley win would be an augury for the entire Democratic Party. But now she’s being hung out to dry so that Democrats don’t have to face the possibility that Obama’s left-wing policies are to blame.

Alternatively, Democrats are trying to write off Brown’s colossal victory as the standard seesawing of public sentiment that hits both Republicans and Democrats from time to time. As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews explained, it was just the voters saying “no” generally, but not to anything in particular.

Except when Republicans win political power, they hold onto it long enough to govern. The Democrats keep being smacked down by the voters immediately after being elected and revealing their heinous agenda.

This is the trouble: Liberals never, ever learn anything because they never, ever lose elections. When they win, of course The People Have Spoken — when they lose, it must have been Diebold tampering with the machines. Fear. Bigotry. Latent traces of racism. Angry voters having a temper tantrum.

When a liberal is wealthier than a conservative it’s the just reward of the liberal’s superior worldview; it just goes to show the conservative cannot make it in the “real world,” anywhere outside his dilapidated single-wide. When it’s the conservative who is better off, it means he’s greedy and surely he must have cheated it out of someone who was better entitled to it.

Because of this, they end up with this natural hostility toward truth, logic and fact, and it hangs around them like a bad smell from one year to the next because they are (seemingly) ignorant of it. Some “convenient” truth comes along, and they get to act scholarly: Aha! George W. Bush unemployment rate never went below five-point-something! And don’t you say a word about it soaring to twice that much under Obama…because it went way up in the early 1980’s under Reagan! And the year 1998 was the warmest on record! Iraq didn’t attack us! Great Depression ended after FDR got the New Deal going…post hoc ergo propter hoc. NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. See, I can quote fact, I are smart.

Ignorance is BlissThings like this are just embarrassing to follow. They think they’re keeping up with the big boys. Tighty-righty guy supplies some statistics friendly to his argument, lefty-loosey guy does the same; it’s all finished except the cherry-picking, you just shout the lefty-fact from the highest hilltop, and put your hands over your ears and go “la la la!” when someone alludes to the righty-fact. Trouble is, this reveals that they live in a special universe, one in which cause-and-effect do not apply. They can’t see the tighty-righty guy, reciting his facts, is also able to supply solid reasons why things are this way. Let’s see…Obama is making it generally a pain-in-the-ass to live, for anyone who starts a business…or hires anyone…or for that matter, buys something requiring a long-term financial commitment, out in plain view, out of the black markets. Result: Nobody wants to do it, and the economic indicators demonstrate the eventual results of this business-hostile climate. Gee! Who’d a-thought it? So that is why, when you get a hardcore-lefty type in a seat of power, the job climate suffers…because those who create jobs, really don’t know what the next best move is, if they want their businesses to survive. Cause, effect. Now then, Mister Lefty arguer guy…you say raising the minimum wage brings unemployment down? America will become more prosperous, if we can make it really expensive to run a business and create jobs? We’ll all end up with more money in our pockets if the regulations are made thicker, less workable, more cumbersome? Health care will become more abundant when the government makes decisions about rationing it? Gasoline and drugs will become cheaper after your favored candidates have made it much more expensive for businesses to bring these products to us? And this works how?

Woopsie! Time for a subject change! So whoddaya thinks gonna get thrown off American Idol?

We’ve got quite a few people walking around, as free as you & me, who can’t see this because they think the “fact” is where an argument ends, rather than where it begins. They learn very little because the need for genuine learning, as we see in the case of the Brown-Coakley match-up, just isn’t there. You just blame Martha Coakley. Stupid girl. Hey, let’s all take a break from bashing Palin for the next week or two, we have a new outlet for our misogynist energies — a new lightning rod for our vitriol, since nothing bad can happen to anyone due to Barack Obama’s liberal policies. He’s still the change we’ve been waiting for, isn’t He?

You see, they just aren’t very curious, because there is no necessity for curiosity. They already know what they want to know. They don’t believe things that happen cause other things to happen; they’ve somehow managed to get through life without having to become aware that this is how the laws of the universe work. And this is proof, in their warped little minds, that they exist as superior Darwinist genomes. Everything’s just easier for them because they are stronger — “fittest.” The hardcore cases really do seem to see themselves as the next evolutionary step, and say so out loud.

One cannot help but wonder how many of them cling to precisely the same self-image and are quiet about it.

Which would mean, necessarily, that humanity’s evolutionary destiny is for us to believe the very first thing we hear out of the public school system and the alphabet-soup “news” networks, and never question any of it. Just scan the horizon of whatever reality manages to present itself to us, looking for little nuggets that validate what we have been told, rejecting whatever might challenge it even a little bit.

So you see, the whole Massachusetts thing is “overrated.” It never actually happened. It is to be bowdlerized from reality itself according to our new-age, East Anglia way of thinking about things. Certainly, there’s no need to inspect it any further, we already know what we want to know.

“When We Allow Freedom Ring, When We Let It Ring…From Every State and Every City…”

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The speech contains, by my count, twenty mentions of the word “freedom” and five instances of the word “free.”

I propose we celebrate this man’s great dream, by measuring our current leaders according to this standard. With an open mind, let us gauge their appreciation, or lack thereof, of this concept of a very basic human birthright.

Freedom, to me, is when you’re doing something someone else does not like. Someone rich. Someone powerful. Someone well-spoken, who can talk to a crowd and really get it all stirred up and excited. When that person loathes what you are doing or saying, and you’re allowed to keep right on doing it anyway, then you are free.

If this is not possible, for whatever reason, then you are not.

Let us celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday with a clear and honest inspection of the job we have done, as a society that calls itself free, adhering to and fulfilling his vision.

FARK Will Cure Your Optimism

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

…about the future, that is. Particularly with regard to the younger generation, currently being edjyoomakayted in our institutions of higher learning, readying themselves to take up the leadership mantle in the world of tomorrow.

It’ll cure your optimism about the present as well. Or at least Yahoo News will do that. Or Pew Research. Or whoever wrote this godawful summary paragraph.

From April 2008 to October 2009 the percentage of Americans saying there is solid evidence of global warming has fallen from 71% to 57%. A third of the country now says there is no evidence of global warming, up from 21% last year. Views of the evidence of global warming is related to how seriously people see earth warming as a problem. Interestingly, among global warming skeptics a third still sees it as a serious problem (10% very serious, 23% somewhat serious). Roughly two-thirds of those who do not say global warming evidence exists say it is not a problem. Among the 18% of the public who say there is evidence of global warming, but that it is caused by natural phenomena a majority say it is a serious problem, with 27% saying it is a very serious problem. Americans who say global warming exists and is man made (47% of the public) are unanimous in their opinion that earth warming is a serious problem (97%), with two thirds describing it as a very serious problem.

Here’s the issue I have with this: Carbon dioxide does have insulatory properties. And the “science is settled” on that. It is in our atmosphere, to the tune of some 385 parts per million, about a thirtieth of a percent. This unique animal species we refer to as “man” does put out some. All this is backed up with solid evidence.

The evidence is also united in saying something else: This is patently absurd. A whole lot of other animals emit CO2, there is a whole mess of other things in the atmosphere that cause this “greenhouse effect” and there are lots of other variables that factor into the mean temperature of the earth…and oh, by the way, there are lots of ways to measure that. All the solutions on the table have to do with shuffling money around. All the people plugging those solutions — minus the loudmouths on the innerwebs who just like to shoot their digital mouths off, that is — stand to profit from it. And they just got caught red handed bullying the real scientists, cherry-picking the evidence, and re-defining the “peer review” process to silence dissenting viewpoints.

Now take a look at the FARK thread. It is a textbook case of a little tiny bit of knowledge being a dangerous thing. In their first handful of comments, the FARKists’ “science” is settled quite nicely. A cold snap, a bunch of rubes out there thinking they can get a reading of the earth-mean-temperature by peaking out their trailer windows, and this accounts for the fourteen-point plunge in the “belief in global warming.” Not a syllable to be uttered about the ClimateGate scandal. Propagandize harder! The earth is at stake!

Or use sarcasm. With a lot of them, that’s the only way they can argue anything…and think of all the poor woodland creatures with the big sad eyes.

It could very well be that all the posters who’ve added content that fits the above — and this looks, to me, like about sixty percent — none of them go to college. I last paid some diligent attention to this when I first created my account, nearly a decade ago. And these things will always change with time. But my habit is to view FARK as a window into the universities…because college students are cheap, and many of them have access to the webs for free. On free hardware. The Mac Powerbook Whatever was just one more item in the mad scramble of Mom and Dad, junior’s education was so important.

That’s just my impression. The way these kids write their stuff, it’s like they live in a whole other society all their own…one that can only exist on college campuses. They’ve all got that “anybody who doesn’t agree with me is skullfuckingly stupid but I’m going to project that ignorant, obstinate attitude of mine onto everyone else” thing going on.

Here & there some brave souls step up to point out Climategate, that it might have something to do with the public’s change in perception. They are promptly called stupid and “shouted” down.

Behold, the educated minds, being readied to become the captains of industry in tomorrow’s world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Best Sentence LXXX

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

The eightieth award for the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to Vanessa Grigoriadis for this tiny nugget of artwork in the February issue of Vanity Fair.

Money quote:

And because Twitter uses simple technology, it’s a utilitarian vehicle for ambitious extroverts, without any previous distinction, to become digital superstars. [emphasis mine]


How and why is there such a thing as an ambitious extrovert? Being an extrovert is an aspect of one’s personality; ambitiously extroverted makes as much sense as being ambitiously brown-eyed, double-jointed or six-toed. Right?

Wrong. It’s viewed by many as a competitive exercise. Competitive, as in: Placing second is equivalent to placing dead-last.

Ever have to work in an environment bogged down with a plurality of these types? Egad. What a mess.

“Hard Hat Logic”

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Nobody reads this blog…ever. And I gotta tell you, it’s times like this that we just bust with pride over that, because nobodies tend to be a lot smarter than somebodies overall. The same way that just about anybody is smarter than “everybody.” Everybody. Feh. That’s another thing…the festering crap that is crammed into “everybody”‘s head…how did we all make it as long and as far as we have. Well, that is a bunny trail.

Hard HatStephen J. came up with the name for which I was searching. What is the opposite of this “intellectualism” being promoted, defended and apologia’d by people such as David Brooks of the New York Times? What is the proper moniker for that style of thinking in which you indulge in such rustic and primitive fantasies as…up is up and down is down? Terrorism is perhaps more dangerous than climate change? You know, that neanderthal mindset that ensnares most of us as we go about our laughably simple lives just, uh, you know…building things that people will actually use? As opposed to writing drivel that will line birdcages and end up as targets of dark comedy in the blogosphere? Or coming up with plans that seem to do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do…ratcheting up the public debt to cure our financial ills, trying Kalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts to show the world how fair we are, feeding the terrorists three squares a day making sure they’re comfy while we wait for them to talk…et cetera.

The person who answered my question, was kind enough to provide a full explanation, not that it’s needed:

You do not go on a construction site without putting on your hard hat (and other safety gear). You cannot build a real building without going on the construction site. And a building designed by someone who doesn’t know anything about real materials or real forces is going to fall down. Plus, it evokes “hardheaded practicality” and formal precision in “logic”; it’s a hat, so it evokes the “thinking cap” image; it sticks to a two-syllable word at its longest, no polysyllabic euphony; and doesn’t have the faintest breath of “-ism” in it.

So in future, whenever anybody says, “But the intellectuals say X,” you can always say, “Yeah — but what does Hard-Hat Logic say?”

Yes, that works. Thinking the way people are forced to think when they live in a virtual past, and are forced to — protect themselves from real dangers, build real things and do real work. And so they don’t have to use the word “reality” or do anything else to tell outsiders that their ideas are “real”…the reality is proven when they stay alive long enough to come back to it the next day. That, and when the stuff they build actually does what it is supposed to do.

Update: Guys on the radio are re-running an episode because it’s a Saturday. They’re talking about proposals that offer indigent women a thousand dollars give-or-take to tie their tubes. Actually, not that quite so much, but about people who are opposed to such a thing for ethical reasons.

Not even them, per se; this is not so extreme or unreasonable of a revulsion, you could sustain it simply because of the implication of eugenics. They’re zooming in on the people who are opposed to such proposals on ethical grounds, who simultaneous with that, are not opposed to abortion. How does one explain such a twisty ethical profile, without concluding that the ethicist must just-plain-like abortions?

It brings to mind another dubious ethical sensitivity: Opposing requirements for voters to present ID. All too often, we let this one go without serious debate or inspection — “Oh, you can’t do that, it’s discriminatory.” Or “prohibitively expensive for people in certain circumstances.”

Another example: The USA cannot drill for oil within its own land holdings, because of — all together now — BLAH BLAH BLAH PRISTINE WILDERNESS BLAH BLAH BLAH WILDLIFE BLAH BLAH BLAH VERGE OF EXTINCTION BLAH BLAH BLAH. Yes! Because nothing outside of the United States is pristine. As long as that barrel is imported, you’re good.

Things like this, I think, cast a big glaring spotlight on The Big Reveal: The outspoken opponent of such direct action, or someone who is the focus of his sympathies, is drawing some kind of benefit from the continuation of the problem. The objection is that the proposed solution is a bit too “hard hat”; it shows just a little bit too much promising potential of actually working, to merit further consideration.

The person so dismissing the idea on such frivolous grounds, naturally, thinks of himself as an intellectual. Or at the very least, well-read, up-to-speed, knowledgeable about what “the experts” say. But he forgot to put on his hard hat.

I seem to recall Ayn Rand explored this at length, when Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden and crew climbed into a locomotive and took the first ride ever on a track made of gleaming green Rearden Metal. There followed three pages of prose, which amounted to roughly two thousand words. Unfortunately, the prose was “brilliant” in the sense that a typical Obama speech is brilliant: Quick, recite me a line of it from memory, or find someone who can. If you can do either of those, you’re better than me…so I can’t comment kindly on Rand’s talents as an industrial-age American poet.

I do remember the overall spirit of what she was trying to say, though. It’s exactly what Stephen J. is talking about. Such a locomotive ride is certain death, if any one person inside built something with too much fidelity to theory and not enough to practice. It was a chain of trust — one weak link would’ve compromised the entire thing. Inside that locomotive, the supposedly-evil capitalists managed to construct precisely the community that the “intellectuals” say they want to build, and it’s so hard because the evil capitalists keep getting in the way.

Our intellectuals live in a perfect upside-down, anti-matter universe. We’ve got a lot of people walking around who think they’re pretty smart, not because they’ve managed to master our ultra-sophisticated society, but because they’re dependent on it. They have been imbibing so exuberantly from the intoxicating elixir of theory, that they new eschew the wisdom acquired through practice. Just a few generations ago, when acquiring a bucket of water or evacuating one’s bowels were challenging and odious feats of manual labor, people like them would have had to be locked up for their own safety.

Update: The latest Crowder vid has a lot to do with this subject overall:

Hat tip for that one to Washington Rebel.

“The Problem With the ‘Educated Class'”

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Yesterday, during our skewering of David Brooks’ New York Times column, we highlighted a “big reveal” or two but glossed over the really huge one. It’s something we’ve discussed before, but I think I like the job John Hawkins did with exploring the exact same idea. His explanation is easy to read, easy to understand, and one can quickly see it meshes with what’s going on and makes good sense.

Besides, John Hawkins quotes from smarter people than I do:

Intellectualism has become the readiness, willingness and ability to call dangerous things safe, and safe things dangerous. — Morgan Freeberg

The New York Times’ pretend conservative, David Brooks, got some attention for his latest column sneering the Tea Parties, but I found his misguided view of the “educated class” to be more interesting:

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

David Brooks is getting something backwards here. You see, it is not the general public that looks at the views of the “educated class” AKA “intellectuals” and turns away. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

That’s because intellectuals gain notoriety either by saying something that no one else is saying and making a case for it or by making a particularly clever argument that disagrees with the generally held wisdom. An “intellectual” who agrees with common sense positions and traditional ways of doing things generally isn’t considered an “intellectual” at all. Why is that? Well, how can you be smarter than everyone else if you have the same opinions held by the common man?

If you wonder why college professors and other intellectuals, who dedicate a lifetime to research and study, can often have less common sense than the average teenager, that’s the reason for it. They spend their lives in an environment where coming up with clever and novel theories are rewarded, even if they don’t work, while taking a common sense approach is at best considered dull and uninteresting at best — and at worst, it’s considered to be a flaw.

The average informed person, who doesn’t live in that world, can see that manmade global warming is joke and that “multilateral action” often doesn’t work out so well in practice. Many members of the “educated class” hesitate to admit something so obvious exactly because it is so obvious. How can they be these extraordinary minds if they come to same conclusion as Joe Sixpack — except a few years later? That has a lot to do with why the decision making process of the “educated class” in this country often goes so tragically awry.

It has been my general experience in dealing with people, that if you know what you’re doing, you can mold and shape their opinions not by attacking some arguments or bolstering others, or by introducing new evidence, but oftentimes by simply coming up with names for things. “Teabaggers” is one such example of this. Typically, it works best if the public is swayed away from the thing being named, and for this reason, our “intellectuals” tend to come up with new names for some viewpoints when it would make more sense to come up with a name for the opposite. “Laffer Curve,” for example — which says there’s a bell curve of tax revenue, such that if you raise the tax rate there will come some zenith point, at the far side of which revenues drop as the rate is raised. Wouldn’t it make far more sense to name the opposite viewpoint, so it can be targeted, mocked and ridiculed? Something like “The Sky’s The Limit” economics? “To Infinty And Beyond” economics?

And there are a lot of other examples. “Bush Doctrine,” which says — well, let’s not get into that again. Wouldn’t it be sensible to label the opposite so it can be similarly denigrated? The “Leave Saddam Right Where He Is And Let Him Do Whatever He Wants” doctrine?

However, in this case perhaps it makes sense to come up with a label for what is to be defended. The surreal and ridiculous, after all, has already been named: “Intellectualism.” This seems to me an exercise very much like the leftists coming up with the name “Political Correctness.” They managed to promote this, even with a confession right there in the name: Political Correctness. Alright, so we’re coming up with a new strain of correctness. “Correct” is a fairly simplistic concept, so we must have been more-or-less in agreement about what exactly the old flavoring of “correctness” was, which some powerful advocacy group deemed to be out of harmony with their desires. So we’re re-defining what it means to be correct.

That should have turned the public off of it. But it’s thirty years later, and Political Correctness is still going strong.

I think we should follow the example, and come up with a name for the kind of intellectualism that has earned the enmity of people like Brooks, as they rush to embrace this surreal, new-age “intellectualism.” This new name should make the point that, like “correctness,” “intellectualism” is a primary-color within the human palette and there never was a logical need to go re-defining it.

My new name should also make the point that, when you expect the experiments involving your novel new idea to outlive you, there is no incentive to make sure you get it right. So nobody comes up with a novel new idea that humans breathe water; disproving that would be quick and easy. We have these novel new ideas that we’re emitting carbon and burning up the planet, or that a country can live in solvency and comfort after embracing a socialist economic model…things that can be surrounded by logical arguments, or things that look like logical arguments, for years and years, perhaps centuries.

My new name should further make the point that ideas don’t mean very much if they aren’t based on observations — or if they’re based on observations that have been cherry-picked.

My new name should be laced with a frosting of irony. It should subtly make the point that we have been gradually acclimated, in recent years, to a rather phony brand of “intellectualism.” The kind Hawkins was describing above.

My new name should fit on a bumper sticker, just in case someone wants to carry it into 2012. It is, I perceive, the primary subject of the elections in that year: What kind of “intellectuals” are we putting in charge of things, and how exactly is it we decided they were “intellectuals” at all? It should point out the dirty trick the enemy has been doing: “We’re intellectuals, because that’s what we call ourselves, therefore if you disagree with us you’re not an intellectual!”

And so my new name, for the kind of intellectualism we used to embrace…and must embrace again, if we are to have any kind of hope for the future…is…

Real-World Intellectualism.

The kind of intellectualism that, before it spins its mental gears, first recognizes the world and the things in it for what they really are. It recognizes that when you’re neck-deep in debt and it’s become a big problem — you need to spend less money, not more. That safe things are safe. That dangerous things are dangerous. That when a terrorist tries to bomb a jetliner with his underpants, and he fails only because a fellow passenger tears his clothes off and the fuse is a dud, maybe it’s fair to say the system didn’t work. That when you promise food and money for Kim Jong-Il so he doesn’t build any nukes, and he goes ahead and builds them, maybe yet-another-treaty isn’t necessarily the best way to go.

That when you go several years saying “Jimmy Carter might have been a bad President but he’s still a wonderful human being,” and then Jimmy Carter goes on record behaving like a perfect asshole, and then does it again and again and again — maybe he isn’t that good of a human being either.

That if there was any policy enacted in 2009 that’s any good, someone somewhere should have something good to say about how 2009 shook out; and if that’s not the case, then the policies should be brought under serious scrutiny at the very least. That generally, when we want a problem solved, it might be a good idea not to make it illegal or impossible for someone to make a profit when they solve it.

The kind of intellectualism that looks & listens before it talks.

This is what we’ve been losing. This is what we need to bring back. Because thinking about any complex problem, or for that matter even simple ones, is like pulling something with a chain. If one link breaks it really doesn’t matter how glittery and shiny all the other links are.

So Much Gasbaggery

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

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

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

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

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

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXIV

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Atomic Nerds:

…I don’t expect every freshly-minted 18-year-old to posses the full gamut of wisdom and experience a middle-aged person, let’s be clear. Experience and wisdom take time to acquire, and often painful lessons, and often times the only way to gain anything is by doing something spectacularly stupid and learning from it. To continue to classify these adults as kids, however, imparts a sense that the spectacularly stupid mistakes don’t count, or aren’t really that severe, and are just products of youthful high spirits. The latter sentiment may be perfectly accurate, but the former gives tacit license to the adults who should be learning from these fuckups to keep on fucking up for longer.

There is absolutely no good reason for this practice. The idiots don’t benefit from it, as they get to continue doing stupid things until they’re “really” adults, whenever that might finally trickle around, and then just start figuring things out when they should have a pretty good working grasp already, and the rest of us don’t benefit from it because fucking idiots are doing stupid things around us, deluded into thinking it’s somehow all right because they’re too young for it to count. Less than a hundred years ago, adolescence stopped sharply around fifteen or sixteen, especially during the Great Depression, when your options were either bust your ass and scrabble to keep you and yours on the right side of the dirt, or get trampled by those who were trying. Fifty to sixty years ago, you finished high school, and then you got right after figuring how to not be a fuckup, glad you got the extra time the depression folks didn’t. Now it’s something of a minor miracle if someone doesn’t move back in with his or her parents after college. I know the expression is “you’re never too old to play” or “always be young at heart,” but at some point it’s a good idea to at least pick a new game, or if keeping a young heart, at least try to get a wise head to go with it, and every Officer Sparky lumping an adult, albeit it a young one, in as “just kids” is doing every last one of us a disservice by dragging this problem out.

Hat tip to The Bastidge.

Update: I’m doing some more thinking about this…drawing on the long term memory. This has been in the works for a very long time, you know, and it hasn’t been put into effect simply to enable eighteen-year-olds to keep acting like eleven-year-olds until they’re thirty-five-year-olds. The author makes reference to the sink-or-swim climate of the Great Depression, and of a century ago when “kids” were unceremoniously slammed into adulthood at fifteen.

Item #2 on the list of Ways To Motivate Large Numbers of People to Do a Dumb Thing Without Anyone Associating the Dumb Thing with Your Name Later On — is — socially stigmatize the opposite of what you want done. What is going through my long-term memory is how this was everywhere. I do mean everywhere. If it was possible for a process of growing-up to take X many years, it had to take that many years. I remember a teevee commercial about extra-extra big training pants for an extra-extra-old kid, so he could learn “on his terms.” Only the most wizened doc fully understood the benefits of this, and only the cruel and heartless would sound any kind of alarm about it.

Soccer parents during the 1990’s…they were not obnoxious until such time as they yelled at their kids to play harder and better. Then they were in the way. Now who in the world came up with that?? There are many things about the soccer phenomenon that are tough to take, and the effort and achievement involved in winning is pretty far down the list.

The Doofus Dad in the movies. What makes him? He’s a repentant small-dee dad who’s spent ninety minutes doing things wrong, who right before the closing credits resolves to do better so the family can live Happily Ever After. Wife, kids, in-laws, after all — each one of them as witty and downright repulsive as a Monday is long — have been doing everything perfectly. But what are these principal sins that so distress all others? The desire for the kids to do well ranks high on the list. Try harder. Do better. Do more. Small-dee dad shouldn’t be “pressuring” you to do that, kiddies. Huh. In my day we were told to “do your best and don’t worry about winning”; but there was, at least, an important emphasis placed on the do-your-best part. Oh, and give a hundred and ten percent, remember that one? Am I showing my age?

There is an agenda here, and the agenda provides mystery. An agenda can be deliberate; and it can also be not-so-much. Now, who in the world would harbor a deliberate agenda to make our young people sluggish, weak, incapable and dull? I’m tempted to dismiss it outright. Does it even matter. A more subconscious, jealous urge — to deny, derail, inhibit, dissuade achievement in others — is well within the capacity of the flawed human genome. This is what we’ve been seeing these past few decades? Occam’s razor, I think, smiles upon it.

Occam’s razor is not always right, of course. But when we think the razor might be wrong, there are some “regardlesses” that emerge. As in…regardless…is it really that much of a traumatic experience for a child to be in the position of potentially scoring a goal, or simply making a goal more likely, and hearing his parents up in the stands cheering him on to make it happen? How about another experience…drifting on past age four, five, six still pissing his pants, with a chorus of parents and grandparents giving him the message that’s perfectly all right and he should pick up his training on his own timeline?

What, exactly, is wholesome about that? How does that make the child happier over the long term, more emotionally balanced, capable, robust? How’s that work exactly?