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Liberalism and Fear

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

The dumbest propaganda move The Left ever made, might have been to ascribe the motives of their opposition to fear. If you’ve ever argued with them about one of their silly changes they want to make for any length of time, or watched someone else do it, you’ve heard it:

You’re afraid! Scaredy-cat white males afraid of big tall black guys being on the same airplane flight or something…

I think whoever popularized The Left going that route, might very well have been a right-wing infiltrator. It’s a horrible, horrible idea for them. If I were a left-winger, the last thing in the world I’d want to do is get the whole audience thinking about, What would my priorities be if fear had no effect on them?

The answer to the question is, we’d act like conservatives. Some nanny-state do-gooder would approach us about voluntarily surrendering some of our rights, or our privileges, or our firearms “for the greater good” — and we’d tell ’em to shove it. It’s a beautiful dialogue that practically writes itself, and it would play out over and over again:

“It’s just that, ten years ago, there was this guy who had a gun just like yours, and he went to this crowded restaurant and did these awful things…”

“Well then take it up with him. Now fuck off.”

Fear would be acquiescing to such nonsense.

Here’s what they don’t get: Having, and using, the capacity to noodle out consequences to actions is not fear. If the liberal thinks it’s a great idea to wheel a baby stroller with a baby in it up to the brink of a cliff and then give a it a mighty shove — and let’s face it, a lot of their proposals are just like this — it’s not “fear” to understand that this results in a dead baby, and on those grounds oppose the idea. When James Bond figures out he’s got to blow up the orbiting laser satellite before it fries some major city and kills tens of millions of strangers he’ll never meet, and does his predicted transformation from martini-guzzling whore-fornicating nihilist assassin into altruistic white-knight who’s going to save the day because he suddenly cares about people — until the next movie — is he being fearful? That’s not fear, that’s concern for others, the one attribute all real heroes have in common with each other.

Liberalism is the Population Bomb ideology. It is the ideology of “Now that I’m here on the planet, resources are scarce, so fuck everybody else I’ve got mine.” It lives for today and retains no real hope for the future.

It is the ideology of a rat on a sinking ship.

It IS fear.

F*cking With People

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Rant: I do not believe in conspiracies but I do believe in common incentives and I believe some of these are hidden. These could be fairly called “conspiracies” because they achieve the same effect although they do not involve the collusion that should be necessary to qualify for the term.

There is a conspiracy to fuck with people.

Show me a hundred people who want a “climate surcharge” and I can show you a hundred people who want higher taxes. Show me a hundred people who want higher taxes and I’ll show you a hundred who want the climate surcharge. If things were on the up-and-up it wouldn’t be that way, because higher taxes are not good for the environment. Also, every dollar you spend on higher taxes leaves a dollar less available for surcharges, and vice versa. Furthermore, I would not be able to show you a hundred people who, by their own private conduct, do good things for the environment. On average, their “climate skeptic” dissenters would be kinder to the environment. So these are not people who want to preserve a livable climate; they are people who just want to make it more expensive to live.

California has water rationing during droughts, which makes some sense. We keep the rationing in place when there is flooding, which doesn’t make sense. Unless you accept the conspiracy to fuck with people. With regard to the environment, I have also noticed there is a “toilet paper rule” in effect: The cheap, rough toilet paper that chaps your ass will never be found to be bad for the environment. Only the cushy, comfortable, popular things are harmful. Environmentalism is not in conflict with things that really hurt the environment, but it’s in everlastingly conflict with us, and the things we prefer. And the measures that “protect” the environment seem to be chosen not on the basis of their potency for protecting their environment, but on the basis of their profile…which means their inconvenience. I mean seriously, what does the “straw ban” do? We got a much better benefit for the environment when the lumber companies began voluntarily planting trees on a 1-for-1 basis whenever they clear-cut a forest. But that did not get in the face of the average taxpayer/homeowner, inconvenience him, annoy him, obstruct him, nor did it justify the coercive police power of the state. So the straw ban is a model for future efforts, and the 1-for-1 sapling planting is not. That’s hosed.

We are indoctrinated from childhood to accept this. Our third-grade teachers told us “Because one of you did X, none of the rest of you will be allowed to do Y” and “If I make one exception, I’ll have to make a thousand.” We are conditioned to accept encroachments on our liberties and detriments against our standard of living based on the actions, or the neglect, of people we will never meet. In adulthood, we see persons of influence take advantage of this. “Things the way they are right now, with what’s going on lately, whenever you do a [blank] you’re going to have to get/do [blank] [instead].”

It has become the siren song of our times.

And we have allowed it to be this way.

But it’s never too late to reverse course.

The Glory of Error

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.

Charles M. Schulz

By the time I started this blog, I’d already had a long time to figure out you can “win” an argument on the Internet and then you can be right about something — those are two different things. It’s easy to forget this, but it’s important to keep in mind because both of these require strategy and effort. And this is not effort applied in a common direction. They are, in fact, opposed. Winning an argument on the Internet depends a great deal on dispensing retorts that are bite-sized, and often inaccurate, so as to hold the attention of any bystanders. Really being right often involves an accumulation of complexity, just like a program or script, as the answer evolves to soundly address a sprawling collection of disconnected but relevant factors. During which time, how much fun it is for someone else to watch you, is not a matter under consideration. Being “Internet-right” means being fun to watch, and being really-right often requires being boring to watch.

If your answer is getting better by way of evolving, it’s going to have to absorb some body-blows so you know what to change. That’s how it works. And so around the time I started this blog I began to notice how easy it was to Internet-win arguments with a certain type of personality, the better-than-you, every-hair-in-place guy who took the time to triple-check his grammar and spelling so that he could tut-tut you about “George Washington actually never said that” or “Prepositions are actually okay to end sentences with.” You know this type yourself, probably. You’ve met him: The “actually-guy.”

I can Internet-win arguments with these types in just a few choice words: “I make ten or more mistakes every morning before you punks even think about getting out of bed.” Interestingly, any other time I theorized about the happenings in their own lives I would earn a predictable rebuke of “you don’t know that about me,” no matter how innocuous or safe the assumption. I was always wrong on these, or at least potentially wrong, which was just as damning. But here I was acting as if I knew what time they woke up in the morning, and opining on it rather rudely, and I never received such a correction. Not once. That’s because it was in their nature to see this as an admission of defeat, and they were showing off for their friends who no doubt saw it the same way. So one of my idle pursuits was winning arguments on the Internet with these punks and their friends, and being the only one present who could see it was a win. Rather like hitting a hole-in-one playing golf by yourself.

It didn’t bore me as much as it should have. I found this fascinating.

And perhaps that was right, in fact maybe I should have found it even more fascinating. If you were a thirteen-year-old punk arguing with me on the Internet back in 2004, let’s see…that would make you the same age as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now. Crowder has a rule about her “only mock AOC when she truly deserves it, but let the little stuff go.” I like that rule. It makes a lot of sense.

This is a generational affliction. It isn’t all just AOC. The kids can’t tell Internet-right apart from being-really-right, they think it’s all the same thing. It’s like the point to life is to reach your coffin without ever having been wrong about anything, and you’re never wrong about anything unless you admit to it.

So if I had been AOC and I had asked my millions of followers WTF that growling thing in the sink is, only to find out garbage disposals have been around for eons, I’d laugh at myself. Like an “OMG you guys what planet have I been living on?”…It’s okay not to know what something is. It’s a little tone deaf to use that ignorance, innocent or not, to then try and leverage that ignorance, innocent or not, into a rallying cry to push an agenda: bigotry, economic exploitation, and climate denial. Remember, AOC considers herself a leader. Leader’s make mistakes.

Actually, an apostrophe in this context indicates possession not plurality…oh wait. I think I see what the writer did their.

Look, I know of some people who go the other way: So fervently do they believe the future belongs to “strong people capable of admitting their own mistakes,” that they go looking for mistakes to make so they can make a big show of admitting they made one. And when the moment comes you can see how fake it all looks, how it has the feel of being rehearsed. Which it likely was. So there’s a delicate balance here. You should learn as much as possible from your mistakes, but you should apply your energies toward doing as well as you possibly can. This requires a little bit of thought. Because if you only learn from your mistakes, but you’re trying not to make them, doesn’t that translate into trying not to learn anything?

Well no. You set up test environments. You practice playing your musical instrument in private. You remove the weight from your potential mistakes. You test the triggering mechanism on the nuclear missile with the payload removed.

Millennials get a bad rap and much of it is undeserved, you can see by watching certain splendid individual examples within their set. But across the entire set as a whole, I’m sad to say the reputation has been earned. All those years of participation trophies and “you’re just so special” and “that was a real good thing you did” have created this sense that right-vs.-wrong is a purely societal construct, and if you ever think you made any mistakes you should a) refuse to ever admit to them and b) disabuse yourself of that notion toot-sweet, even if you see iron-clad proof that you made the wrong call. It’s just your self-esteem taking a beating sweetie, now brush it off and strut around like a pigeon on a chessboard the way you were taught.

See, that’s wrong. You might say it is the ultimate error. If we’re right all the time, even just “Internet-right,” we don’t correct anything and therefore we don’t improve. We don’t do our learning when we win.

This affects billion dollar endeavors. I see Rian Johnson does a lot of “pushing back,” especially on Twitter, against anybody who “doesn’t get” The Last Jedi and sees errors within. I don’t begrudge the man for standing up for his work. And perhaps there’s been something going down here that has escaped my notice…but it’s rather amazing that this has been his reaction all of the time, with every little bit of criticism, this Millennial attitude of “I’m right, you’re wrong, you only have a problem because you don’t get something, I know something you don’t know.” TLJ, as myself and others have noted, isn’t really that complicated of a movie and it doesn’t have that complicated of a message hidden within. It’s loaded up with mistakes just like any other movie. Once you admit to that, you could admit that some of these mistakes were significant and affected the overall quality.

Johnson, along with the others involved in the production, cannot even admit the “Leia floating in space” scene was a mistake. This is a huge red flag, an indicator that the wrong people were in charge. Artists and entertainers should be able to absorb and channel criticism. It’s part of the job description.

And politicians? Doubly so, when they fancy themselves capable of drawing up the set of rules that are supposed to guide the new command-economy they want to create. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has lately taken a bizarre turn with “I’m both joking and not joking at the same time” with regard to the only-have-twelve-years thing. Now, I’m not entirely sure how alarmed I should be about this. She is, after all, the leading symbol of a major political party; in the years ahead she will only get closer to the median age of our most impactful congresspeople, while her more moderate rivals are forced to retire. And if I’m reading this right, her understanding of right vs. wrong has been so damaged by the Internet that she’s entirely lost her sense of dialectics. She, along with her constituents, may never have had it. The mindset she represents is one that says none of this stuff means anything at all, there is no world to save within twelve years, they’re all abstractions, there is only winning arguments on the Internet and that is the only reality.

I could be wrong! Hope so.

If I’m not, this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Let’s Grind Up Some Puppies

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

American politics explained:

Let’s say I set up shop in the middle of a populated town where everyone can see me, in broad daylight, with a pickup truck towing a gas-powered meat grinder and a basket full of newborn puppies. I crank up the machine and, without saying a word, begin tossing one squirming yelping creature after another, into the metal chute, as blood and guts spew forward. Everyone in attendance is horrified. “Morgan is grinding up puppies!,” they say. And they’re right. I’m doing this terrible thing, everyone can see me doing it, they talk about it for days and weeks afterward and there’s no confusion at all about who did what, or what a terrible thing it is.

But let’s add this twist.

I tow my meat grinder to another little town and set up shop with a new litter of puppies. This time, as the machine revs into high gear I yell at the top of my lungs “Bob is grinding up puppies!” I repeat this litany over and over again while I throw the puppies in the meat grinder. From the crowd, a guy named Bob emerges, understandably perplexed. “What the?? YOU are the one grinding up puppies, not me! Everyone can see it! You’re not even trying to hide it!”

The “poli” in “politics” represents the people. It is impossible to truly understand politics if you do not make the effort to understand people. And a strange thing happens here. The crowd, nauseated by this continuing spray of puppy guts, blames both me AND Bob. And…neither one of us. The cry goes forth “You’re both a couple of jerks, grinding up puppies! Each one of you is saying the other one is doing it, and we don’t care anymore, this is disgusting! A pox on both your houses!”

And disperse. To go watch The Kardashians.

In the first town, someone might have actually tried to stop me. In this one, they’re less concerned about the puppies and more concerned about their own social status. They just condemn, verbally, and then beat a hasty retreat away from the whole nasty affair. Suddenly those Kardashian reruns look appealing, and no one cares about the puppies.

So in politics, before you start doing things everyone knows are bad things, make sure you falsely accuse your political opponents of doing it first, then you can get away with it. People don’t remember what was done. They remember what was said. And when each side is accusing the other, they’d rather watch Kardashians.

That’s why democrats say Republicans disbelieve science, wreck the economy, waste money on useless wars, look down with contempt on poor people, ruin public education, divert precious resources on dumb useless investigations, create constitutional crises, abuse offices, discriminate…always accuse the other side of doing what you’re doing.

Then you can do a lot more of it. That’s how politics works because that’s how people work.

Crippling Debt

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

We need to talk about the concept of crippling debt.

One of the reasons socialism is growing in popularity right now is that a lot of young people feel the same way I felt when I was their age. They have hopes and dreams they think they can build on, possibly to the betterment of all the rest of us. Like I had, and still have. And they have a load of debt, like I had back then. Today I have debts but I’ve learned to live within my means, and make it manageable.

I’ve learned some other things. I’ve learned debt isn’t always bad. You have to make good decisions about it, and if debt really is unmanageable then that usually means you haven’t been doing that. Of course there are exceptions. Unfortunate things happen. But even then you still have options. You may have to make a major course change in life, and that’s okay. That’s learning. But one way or another, it’s best not to look at your existing debts as “crippling,” but more like a task you have to get done. Can you achieve these hopes and dreams before you get your debts paid? Maybe! Maybe not. But that is okay too.

But the most important thing I’ve learned is: If I don’t have the ingenuity to take care of my debts — if I’m not bigger than they are — then I don’t have what it takes to realize these hopes and dreams that are going to make life better for everyone else.

That’s dark, so let’s turn it around: If I have what it takes to realizes these hopes and dreams and make life better for everyone else — I can pay my debts. That would be but a first step. And that’s for me, given that I plan to get them all paid before I start on those hopes & dreams in earnest. That’s actually not necessary for everyone. A lot of people do some very fine work while still in debt.

Now this might seem like bold talk, since I have a good reputation and I’m experienced, and my total debt-load compared to my income earning potential is slight. Many young people would be tempted to ignore this, and it’s understandable because their debt load is much higher when compared to their income earning potential. Without paying food rent and utilities, I could put all my income into this red ink for month and months, years maybe, it just seems so hopeless. And so they think: Someone has to take care of that for me! So I can work on my hopes and dreams that will help everybody else.

Well no sweetie, you don’t want that. That’s my message here. After your debts are paid you’re still going to have limited income potential and you’re still going to see things you’ll want to have that are worth more than what you can save up during the term of time in which you want to have them. After the fat guy gets liposuction there’s still going to be food to be eaten. Yes our health care system is a mess right now — due to government intervention — and I have sympathy for people who run into a health crisis that drains their life savings, I really do. But if your hopes and dreams are really good for everyone else, and you really do have what it takes to bring them to fruition, you can pay off your student loan first. Or during.

I’m sure that feels like it’s some kind of smack-down. Back in my younger days when I was foolish, inexperienced, debt-ridden and skinny, I’d have taken it that way if someone else said it. But that’s not what it is. What I mean to say is that debt is a test, an extremely elementary one. It’s a test of your decision-making powers in the past, when you racked up the debt, and your powers of negotiation and resourcefulness today, when you’re trying to do something about it. It is the drawing of the sword from the stone before you can become King. It is the draining of the swamp before you can pour a building foundation into the construction site.

If you’ve got that, then you’ve got this.

If nobody is making the effort to get the word across to the younger generation, we can hardly blame them for not hearing it or reading it or understanding it. When they insist they’ve got all the brightest and best ideas that will finally make the world all perfect, while acting helpless and “triggered” and bemoaning that some magical Fairy Godmother doesn’t come along and clean up their messes for them, they look silly to our generation. But they’re simply channeling the ideas they’ve been given, while we, who can see what’s wrong with all that, have remained silent.

And that is why socialism is gaining inroads right now. It isn’t because people talk about politics too much; it’s because we discuss things too little. It’s because of “If I say something I might get called in by H.R.” or “Politics religion and sports have no place at this dinner table” or “I’m too smart to talk back against left-wing politics, working where I do” or “Stop it already, there’s cheesecake!!” The politicians and pundits who are selling socialism to our young people, who fancy themselves to be crippled by debt, are never interrupted by cheesecake. And so of course the young people don’t know, when someone pays your debts for you there are always strings attached. Of course they don’t know that. It’s not all their fault.

The Birth of Community

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

It happened long before the beginning of recorded history, so we don’t know if it was sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, or a bunch of cavemen still in the throes of evolution from monkeys. But it was undoubtedly profit-driven, motivated by the realization that a group can achieve in breadth & depth something that a lone individual cannot. And that had to be a meal because it could not have been anything else. It must have been meat, because the farmer labors in solitude when he sows and reaps.

So the most able hunters in a village, or in a locale that was later to become a village, pooled their resources together and brought down a mighty beast. They gathered to cook it over a fire, and divide the portions. They ate better and fed their families better than they had before, as a result of previous attempts in solitude, and so they resolved to do the same again and again.

The process of allocation must have become an issue very soon, likely within mere moments. The first liberal caveman who didn’t know how to hunt, or didn’t care to expend the effort, proposed that his contribution to the feast would be the knowledge of how to apportion the meat among the various other participants. Those stronger cavemen who brought down the beast then tore him limb from limb…and so, having anticipated this, he didn’t actually say anything, opting instead to keep the thoughts to himself. And probably starved, or survived on the scraps.

But the desire remained — the desire to make one’s living by way of dictating where the energies of better people should go, as a substitute for actual contribution. It was left to churn away, like an underground fire, for thousands and thousands of years before technology would permit it to see the light of day.

It began, near as we can figure, with the Pharaohs. The Divine Right of Kings. The cavemen looked to their chieftain and said “Who am I to question him? He could kick my ass,” and it must have been so, because if anyone could kick the chieftain’s ass then that would be the new chieftain. Whereas the ancient Egyptians said “Who am I to question him? He was chosen by the gods.” The cavemen had the better idea. But the Egyptians had managed to build something on top of community, which was civilization. They had technology. And from the very beginning, humans used technology to ensure the weak and incapable had at least an occasional lottery-ticket shot at ruling over the strong and capable.

The Sumerians came and went, the Babylonians, the Etruscans, the Phoeneicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Huns, the Britons, the Scots, the Picts, the Moors, the Saxons, the Normans…house of Capet, house of Plantagenet, house of Bourbon, the Yorkists and Lancastrians, the Holy Roman Empire, Throughout it all, technology improved, stripped us of our inertia whenever we realized we need to get going — or, to stop. Technology made us more nimble, sleeker, lighter, enhancing our engine and brake horsepower and thinning down our curb weight so we could respond to unforeseen events with greater agility. Except with regard to one thing: That occasional moment of terrible realization, when it became apparent to all that the man in charge is weak, fickle, his elevator doesn’t go to the top floor. And then the Divine Right of Kings interceded, with the one-note samba of: It doesn’t matter. My Great Seal is upon the parchment upon which you find written the awful, terrible, no good horrible idea. My imprimatur brings with it the full force of law and the police power of the state.

The Renaissance came about in the fourteenth century, but it didn’t really hit its stride until three centuries later when the revolutionaries started decapitating royalty. Before that, there were some brief glimmering rays of hope, with depositions. If the King was a big enough asshole, he could become unpopular, and if he became sufficiently unpopular it would no longer be necessary to poison him in the dark of night, he could be tossed out in broad daylight. In the Middle Ages this was an occasional happenstance, and by the time King James tossed the Great Seal into the River Thames it was becoming an all-the-time thing. In another century or so Louis XVI’s head would fall and the revolutionaries won. But they, too, had imbibed the intoxicating elixir of “I don’t have to be capable and strong, I just have to be in charge.” Their movement was the movement of the mayfly, who looks at our universe in a completely different way because he exists in it for five minutes only. Maximilien Robespierre, like many a revolutionary who came after him, met up with the harsh judgment of his own revolution for the crime of not being sufficiently revolutionary, or not being revolutionary in the correct way. It has become the defining attribute of the leftist: They overthrow an entrenched power structure and become a new power structure, then feed on their own.

Technology, people think, allows us to make the most and best of ourselves. They’re right. It allows us to do that. It is not a bad thing. It isn’t good either. It’s like the gun; what it is used for is entirely up to us. And our default use of technology has been to elevate unfit people to positions of authority, wherein they can make bad decisions that are beyond appeal. It’s a sad commentary that the cavemen, with no technology, no civilization, living by the brutal code of might-makes-right, in some ways had the right idea. “Give me your portion of meat, look at all my bravado, and my strutting self-confidence” would have been met with a proper beat-down. It is the process of evaluation many a so-called “civilized” man would do well to engage: Waitaminnit, no that’s not happening. I’m too good. To interfere with my hopes and dreams, you have to be up here, and you’re down there somewhere. ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ mutherfucker.

Where we really start to take a wrong turn is where we define civilization as this acquiescence, this self-derogation, this spirit of “Well I can see you are weak and incapable and your ideas are wretched, but rules are rules.” That is not what civilization is. Civilization is, as I’ve written elsewhere, a set of protocols that function as bulwarks and hindrances against brutality. It is the opposite of brutality, and brutality is where I get to take all your stuff if I’m stronger than you are. Brutality is not me using my superior might to keep my stuff that is already rightfully mine. It’s a fine distinction but it’s an all-important one. Real civilization has to do with empowering people who have the capability and the desire to advance our causes; phony civilization has to do with empowering people who do not have this capability, or the desire, and would lead us astray.

Our species has built such phony civilizations before. They don’t last. This should surprise no one.

Today we have all sorts of so-called “leaders” filled with the spirit of that first liberal caveman, the poor-hunter, the one whose “contribution” to the feast would have been a bunch of rules about how much each caveman should get — but, had to keep his mouth shut so he live long enough to scavenge the gristle and gizzards from the ground. Technology has made it so they can not only keep talking and living, but also run things. It is a recipe for disaster: People who don’t produce anything, and never have produced anything, telling the producers how and when to do their producing. Technology is neither good nor bad, it didn’t bring us here. It merely made it possible. We did this.

Our starting point was the caveman just beginning to figure out a community campfire is beneficial to all; even the lowly scavenger who contributed nothing and can claim nothing. Anything we’re doing now that falls beneath the dignity of that first community event, should inspire a re-think. Putting the scavenger first ahead of all else just because he’s being bossy, is undignified, and unfortunately technology has made this lack of dignity affordable.

You remember that line in Jurassic Park: “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This is why I define “Dark Ages” differently from the way most people do. I think we’re still in ’em. We’ll see daylight when we stop turning over the spoils of past triumphs, and the authority to engineer and direct the triumphs in progress, to the people who have nothing to do with making them happen. Between now and then there has to be a learning event, where we come to realize they don’t belong in these positions because they’re not emotionally invested in victory. That the unproductive bossy scavenger, put in a position where he can dictate allocations, won’t care that much about a lean kill because he’ll just allocate the choice cuts for himself. That civilizations don’t have to die, they can fill out a long and healthy lifespan like any other living organism, by self-governing responsibly and well.

What the Hero Does

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Fiction is valuable for cluing us in on where our culture is and where it’s going, and movies are valuable representatives of fiction. Especially big, expensive productions that demand commitment from companies and executives who must find a way to put their fingers the public’s pulse. They don’t succeed at this every time they commit mass quantities of funds, but when they do it’s worth a second and third look.

I hate to rain on a parade.

In my youth, heroes were like Zorro, the Lone Ranger, The Phantom, Batman. The Scarlet Pimpernel inspired them all. The message was that the triumph of good over evil was more important than atta-boys, so it’s okay if nobody knows who you are when you make things right.

High Noon came out before I was born, and the message there was that right’s right and wrong’s wrong, it doesn’t matter if the people you’re defending are cowards and are undeserving of the protection made possible by your bravery. Good must triumph and evil must give way.

And then James Bond came out, and the message there was that you can be as big and brash and bold as you want to be, and in the darkest hour when all seems lost you just need to look around, there must be something you can do to stop Largo from detonating his nuclear warhead just offshore of Miami. Good must triumph.

And then they repealed the Hays Code and it became okay for villains to profit from being villains, and get away at the end. Still though, movies for little kids got the message across that in the darkest times, there’s always a way to win. Just shoot bullets at the shark and hope you can blow up the air tank in its mouth, if nothing else. Maybe some angels of death will jump out of the Ark of the Covenant and melt the Nazis’ faces, so drag yourself under a truck, stowaway on a submarine from the outside if that’s what you have to do.

And then Spock sacrificed himself so the Enterprise could get away from the Genesis implosion. The message changed to one of: When all seems lost, kill yourself. Seemed like a good idea at the time, it looked like acknowledging the pureness of the sacrifices made by soldiers who threw themselves on top of grenades so their buddies could live. But Spock also had to say “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” Hollywood, which sees nothing wrong with communism, continued to carry on the meme.

The ranks of scriptwriters were bleached of creativity, so throughout the decades they continued nobly sacrificing characters whenever they ran short of ideas, or the adjoining actors wanted too much money. So the message changed to one of “Nevermind if good triumphs over evil or not, find a way to kill yourself.”

While this was all going on, a wedge was being driven between the audience and the hero who scored the touchdown, or killed the bad guy, or blew up the satellite before it flooded London with EMP. The main character didn’t do these heroic things anymore, so the stories stopped being about finding ways to get them done. They slowly morphed into meandering interconnected chains of events, consisting of “And then he did this, and then he did that.” Evil continued to be vanquished, but more as a happy coincidence than as the culmination of events instigated by the hero.

And now it’s come to this: Photography. Lookit! He/She is in costume and looks majestic, and there’s a CGI explosion in the background. He/She is just SO awesome!!

But the audience isn’t supposed to relate to the hero anymore. Superman is all about: We need hope! Uh, no…not in my time, back then Superman was all about: What if you were Clark Kent? If you had the powers to do just about anything, what would you do to make things right? Clark using X-ray vision to peek into the girls’ locker rooms wasn’t even a joke, wasn’t even a fixture of outrage. It wasn’t discussed. There was an understanding that we should want to have superpowers, and if we did have them, we would do good things with them.

So yeah when Captain America swung Mjolnir I thought that was pretty cool, but since it had no effect on the outcome I’m not overwhelmed…just kinda whelmed. Ditto for the Gordian knot of super-females, and the super-lesbian destroying the enormous ship…very, VERY cool visuals. But they weren’t connected to any meaningful events in the story. So Will Kane shooting Frank Miller dead scores more points with me, Martin Brody blowing up the shark scores more points with me, and it’s not because I’m biased against Marvel comic books or hate women or anything like that.

I’m just a crusty old fart who remembers there was something there, that’s gone missing, feeling somewhat sorry for kids of today being deprived of what used to be there. They’re being loaded up with something called “self esteem,” but aren’t being conditioned to see themselves as the superhero, as the agent of good, as the force of righteousness who finds a way vanquish evil and to do right by others even when all seems lost.

Memo For File CCXII

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

There are, walking around among us, many poor souls who don’t understand how liberating it is to believe things that are plainly true. True, obviously, and irony-free, like two and two make four.

When you believe in things that are true, there is no need to build a perfect environment in which people feel stigmatized for saying anything different. Mother Nature has her own way of stigmatizing people who think two and two are five. So this saves a lot of time. You don’t need to “fight to end” things. You don’t need to hit people with bicycle locks, or yell “Fuck Trump!” when it’s your turn to deliver a speech at the Oscars. You don’t need to put together a “Green New Deal” and then act all hurt and abused when the Senate actually holds a vote on it.

When you believe in true things, nature is on your side. There’s no need to get into a knock-down back-and-forth debate about whether Pi is 3 and a quarter, or something more involved and precise than that. You can simply say: Measure the diameter and circumference of a coffee can, and get back to me on that. No need to act like a belligerent “science guy” and call your own fans idiots. No need to go around to restaurants or other social gatherings to harass the people who disagree with you.

There is no need to cudgel or bludgeon, to henpeck, to gaslight, to “crusade for social justice” when you believe in true things, like women get pregnant and men don’t. It liberates you to ask questions. And the best part is, if you do ask these questions and it emerges you were wrong, if you’ve got the balls to admit it you end up even closer to the truth; this is called “learning.” So you don’t need to be afraid to ask questions about the other position, like “Fine then, if negative numbers can have square roots, what is the square root of minus-16?” Or “How exactly does it work that our economy becomes stronger when we raise taxes?”

There are, walking around among us, a great many wretches who have never been outvoted because they saw something the majority failed to see. They’ve never allowed themselves to be put in that position. They’ve been too worried about their social stature, never stood up for the fact that the boiling temperature of water is affected by air pressure, or that unborn babies have heartbeats.

They think they “do science.”

And yet their whole understanding of nature revolves around the idiom of “But you can’t just go around saying that stuff.”

They think they’re all about reality. And yet they allow teeming hordes of strangers to mold and shape their reality. Disembodied voices, activist-types, whom they’ve never met and never will meet.

They think they’re all about not being offensive, think they’ve found some happy medium between truth and tact. And yet they work hard at being tactless. They put a lot of energy into offending the right people. And they still believe Jussie Smollett.

Black P.R.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Some people tell me I need an editor. I do have one, but he works for free and he sucks at the job.

Some people who need editors are still very good writers. It’s not for me to say whether that applies to me or not, but it applies to Kevin D. Williamson. I hope, when my “editor” falls down on the job, the end result looks like his stuff. You just bump into the awkward sentences that needed better editing, read them a few times and go “wha??” Then you figure out what the author’s intent was and move forward, so you can get to the good stuff. I hope my finished output is like that. I hope so, although I don’t think it too likely.

The Covington fiasco has proved to be a clarifying moment. And here is what has been made clear: Much of the American media is no longer engaged in journalism. It is engaged in opposition research and in what is sometimes known among political operatives as “black p.r.”—the sinister twin of ordinary public relations. As Joy Behar, as profoundly dim and tedious a person as American public life has to offer, forthrightly confessed: The hysteria and outright dishonesty surrounding the Covington students had nothing to do with them. It has to do with narrowly partisan, selfish, deeply stupid, entirely unpatriotic, childish, foot-stamping, fingers-in-the-ears, weeping, cooties-loathing, teary-eyed, tremulous, quavering, pansified, gormless, deceitful, dishonorable, and cynical politics of the lowest kind — the politics of Us and Them.

Preach it!! Call ’em out, go get ’em.

Chris Truax in USA Today: “Trump bears moral responsibility for pipe bombs. Denying it just makes things worse.” Jonathan Chait, New York: “Bomber Cesar Sayoc is a By-product of Trump’s Party.” Even Rick Wilson debased himself, writing in The Daily Beast: “Of Course Donald Trump Inspired Cesar Sayoc’s Alleged Terrorism.” That’s a particularly asinine headline: For Trump’s culpability, it’s “of course,” while Sayoc’s crimes are “alleged.” That isn’t the kind of stupidity that happens by accident. These claims are pure intellectual dishonesty. They are smears, and there is no good-faith case to be made for them. All of these writers should be ashamed.
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As some of you may recall, I wrote a little book called The Case against Trump. I didn’t think much of him in 2016. I don’t think much of him now. But we aren’t three tweets away from the Holocaust.

Hat tip to Instapundit, who adds:

The best argument in favor of Trump’s presidency is what Trump’s presidency has taught us about the character of the people who oppose him, and who would be wielding power if he weren’t.

Stop Enabling Liberals

Friday, April 19th, 2019

A fascinating comment about “sophisticated judgments,” as Carl Bernstein opines on the Mueller Report:

It’s here in substance, in nuance, in context and it is there for all people of good will in this country, if they are not so dug in politically or ideologically to process information and make some sophisticated judgments about the behavior of everybody I’ve mentioned here.

This is why journalism is dead. It’s been killed off, inch by inch, as its practitioners tell us what’s going on the world, and then it’s up to us to make decisions about what to do…then we decide the “wrong” way. So then the journalists start busying themselves with somehow giving us the right motivation to make better decisions. This fact over here gets more emphasis, that fact over there gets less, this thing over here isn’t a fact at all, it’s an opinion, but let’s present it as a fact…

And that’s brought us to where we are. We have this two year investigation that was supposed to be the be-all end-all. Now the report is out, it doesn’t say what the High Priests were telling us it would say, so what you have to do is read it in a “sophisticated” way and then you’ll get it.

No. Stop. Enough. This is not advice about the right way to read a report. This is a symptom of a mental disease. Liberals are suffering from it, non-liberals have been making it happen and we should stop hurting the liberals, stop exacerbating what’s already wrong with them, making it worse.

Non-liberals must accept blame for liberalism. We are enabling it. If you’re not a liberal, there has to be a reason because liberalism is easy. You want everyone to think you’re a nice person, then of course you go “Ban plastic bags to save the planet” or “Yes gosh darn it health care is a right.” To say no to these things, you must either be taking the time and effort to see the bigger picture, or you’re just a jerk who wants people to stay sick and you want to trash the planet.

The propaganda of liberals notwithstanding…it’s very likely the first of those two things, not the second. You probably don’t want people to stay sick or to trash the planet. You probably see the broader picture and, with some measure of regret, keep your decisions rooted in what you know to be true, and hell with what anyone thinks about it.

People like this actually have the best kind of decency, because it’s the decency they don’t need to advertise. They know they could make more friends if they played the virtue-signaling game, pledging money to noble causes that actually belongs to other people, but they’ve made a conscious decision that it’s better to have good friends than many (phony) friends. The dirty little secret is that such people *do* care about other people’s feelings.

So when a liberal says, “I have figured out two and two make five, because I’m uniquely sophisticated”…

What they see is someone who says “I think two and two make five because I’m a dumbass.” Or to be more precise: “I think two and two make five because I haven’t put enough thought into it.” Or, “I think two and two make five because I’m engaging my mouth when the subject matter hasn’t yet been routed through the best parts of my brain.”

And decent people who care about other people’s feelings, are going to respond the same way, every single time: Sure Carl. You’re right, Mr. Bernstein. Yes Barack Obama. You’ve figured this out and you’ve got your unique take on it, because you’re smart and you can see something no one else can see. How frustrating that must be for you.

Decent people presume this treatment is a palliative balm for the poor beleaguered liberal, who must be running into a bruising disagreement everywhere he goes. The decent-people’s momma taught them, after all, if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. And they want to be the port in the storm, for a good friend. Here’s the problem: There’s no storm. The liberals are not running into dissent everywhere they go. They’re actually running into “You’re right, you’re so smart” everywhere they go. Because most people are decent, this way.

I won’t play that game. I couple days ago, obliged to have a certain opinion because a liberal was telling me about “all the studies say,” I correctly pointed out that grown-ups don’t think that way, don’t make decisions that way. This stung him, and I got back a lecture about not being condescending…*heh* from a liberal. The truth is, my words stung him because the antiseptic was working.

We’re living in a time where the point of “maturity” is simply a birthday. That’s not what maturity is. Maturity involves critical thinking. It involves looking under the surface packaging of an idea, inspecting its content, looking for the parts of it that don’t fit. It involves saying “He says he’ll pay me back on Tuesday…but he said that before and he already owes me $50 so I might make a different decision.” Or, “The study says white males have ‘privilege,’ but I’m looking at the college entrance stats and the graduation stats, AND the upward mobility of incomes, and I don’t see the privilege.” Or, “They ruled out arson ‘for the time being’ while Notre Dame was still burning…that actually doesn’t make a lick of sense.” Or, “Illegal aliens don’t ‘work hard and follow the law,’ they might work hard but if they followed the law they wouldn’t be here.”

So when people accept these bumper sticker slogans and run with them, and you want to keep the peace, my advice is to just change the subject. DO NOT pretend to agree, or make the lib feel smart. Don’t praise the liberal for bringing superior intellect or keen insight. Stop that stuff. Change the subject, maybe with a note of “I disagree.” Even better: “I disagree, and it could very well be I see something you don’t, now let’s talk about something else.”

Your momma would call that good.

But stop praising liberals. They might crave it, but your dog craves chocolate the same way, and this isn’t good for them. They are NOT — repeat, NOT — starved for it. Not even close. They’re ready to call you a bad person for thinking two and two make four, because they think being a good person is all about saying five. They haven’t been exposed to anything else, in all likelihood, or if they have then it hasn’t sunk in yet. They’ve already gotten their validation, just like the alcoholic who wants you to pour him a scotch, already got his libation. Things will get better, when we stop validating the self-image of liberals.

Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

NPR, by way of Instapundit…who points out the obvious, that the answer is yes of course they are.

University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor started studying bag regulations because it seemed as though every time she moved for a new job — from Washington, D.C., to California to Australia — bag restrictions were implemented shortly after. “Yeah, these policies might be following me,” she jokes. Taylor recently published a study of bag regulations in California. It’s a classic tale of unintended consequences.
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Taylor found these bag bans did what they were supposed to: People in the cities with the bans used fewer plastic bags, which led to about 40 million fewer pounds of plastic trash per year. But people who used to reuse their shopping bags for other purposes, like picking up dog poop or lining trash bins, still needed bags. “What I found was that sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned,” she says. This was particularly the case for small, 4-gallon bags, which saw a 120 percent increase in sales after bans went into effect.
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A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.

Can we stop pretending now?

The activism, and the legislation that goes along with it, is about churning, and constant turmoil, and drama. It also makes money for some people. It hasn’t got anything to do with saving the environment, except as a sales pitch.

“You Create Nothing”

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Exactly the kind of observation I would make. Must be a real smart guy saying this. Oh yes, it is…it’s Correia (by way of Gerard).

To The Book Community: Go Fuck Yourself. An Anti-Apology.
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You people aren’t a “community”. You are a fucking cancer.

People who like to read books? That’s a book community. Bullies who exist in a perpetual state of being offended, eager to silence artists, you’re scum.

If you had an ounce of self-awareness, you would be ashamed of yourself. But you don’t…Fuck you. Fuck your feelings. And fuck your ridiculous claims. Fuck your perpetual offense. Take your smug, entitled ignorance, and cram it up your ass sideways, you worthless sacks of crap…
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You create nothing. You can only destroy. You are miserable failures, and like the demons of CS Lewis, your misery makes you want to drag down everyone else too. You give one star reviews to books which haven’t come out yet, which tell us a lot more about your weird personal issues and neurosis than they do about the book you’re supposedly reviewing.

You get away with this abusive shit only because most artists are sensitive, caring types. They don’t want to offend people. They don’t want to hurt feelings. Only you lie to them…You don’t care about their art. You don’t care about entertaining people. You don’t care about kids reading or people enjoying themselves or even the group you’re supposedly championing today.

You only care about control.

Yeah, preach it. This goes way beyond book reviews. These days it’s everywhere you look. If it’s going to get worse before it gets better, then bring it on but one way or another, we have to get past this.

What got him all spun up, is this

Anti-apology. I love it. Would like to see more, a lot more.

Being perpetually offended, carries no price. That’s what is wrong. That is what has to change. And it hasn’t been lost on me, that if you happen to be offended by these “perpetually-offended” types, that’s the moment where all of a sudden offense loses meaning. Right at that moment in time when, if it were taken seriously and given its due weight, it might put us on the pathway toward regaining our sanity. We seem to be stuck in the mold of only giving offense weight when it is least sincere, most manipulative, radiating off the miserable carcasses of the lowliest jackasses.

Creating a Toxic Environment

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

We live in a time in which we get to see many people say many foolish things and we don’t have to wait long for the next example. Every now and then, though, one foolish statement stands apart from the rest, imparting something not only foolish, but as distant from the real truth of things as anything written or uttered can ever be.

Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, speaking about the Jussie Smollett debacle — in the midst of saying some otherwise rational things — came up with this beauty:

At a news conference Thursday, Emanuel — who has called the dropped charges in the Smollett case a “whitewash of justice” — took aim at the President for fostering a culture which, in his view, enabled the incident.

“Let me be really clear about something,” Emanuel said. “The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is for the environment — the toxic environment — that Donald Trump created.”

Um…

Mr. Smollett’s story was that immediately after buying a Subway sandwich, he was accosted by a couple of Trump supporters who doused him with a chemical substance and tied a noose around his neck yelling “This is MAGA country.” The sandwich somehow survived the attack, an aspect of the story even weirder than the idea of identifying any part of Chicago as MAGA country.

So you would think there would be more widespread hesitation about buying into this. Perhaps if Smollett were white, and straight, and maybe if he were a Trump supporter with a story about being jumped by Antifa thugs, you would have seen such reluctance. But it seems Smollett “thought he could take advantage of a hoax” — thought he could get away with it — because he is black, openly gay, therefore people in public, high profile positions, would be afraid to call him out on his B.S. If so, he calculated correctly.

In fact, even now that the whole thing has collapsed, people are busily writing about how they still believe him, or at least are still proud to have believed him, which is almost as bad. “It makes us better.”

No, it doesn’t. You’d be better if you didn’t fall for obvious deceptions. And I continue to be impressed by this “let me be clear” phrasing, because the pattern continues that when liberals say that, the thing that follows produces more fuzziness and confusion than clarity, by way of being soporific balderdash.

Trump did not create the environment in which Jussie thought he could get away with it. The modern, showboating virtue-signaling liberal with a raging case of GoodPerson Fever, created that environment and continues to create such an environment. Special status for minorities and homosexuals, the refusal to just treat everyone equally without regard to such private attributes, the “Believe the Victim All the Time” mentality, created this environment.

At a time when many people say many foolish things, and often, Mayor Emanuel’s utterance stands head & shoulders above the rest. But of course, he had to put that in there because he’s a liberal talking to other liberals, and he would have lost popularity if he spoke too long, saying too many sensible things, without throwing in some garbage. The kind of thing that makes sense only to someone who’s been paying no attention whatsoever to anything, whose understanding of the entire news cycle can be boiled down to “I hate Trump.”

Or There’ll Be a Reckoning

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

I was in the car and listening to Rush Limbaugh, who I heard take a break from this all-Mueller-all-the-time stuff to notice something…

I got a note today from a friend. “Rush, do you know the major differences between us and Democrats? Aside from the policy differences, what everybody knows. What is one of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans?”

And the answer provided here is the left cannot get over losing and move on. We can. They are like children who always want their way, and when they don’t get their way, they whine, they cry, they demand all the rules be changed so they can get their way.

They can’t get over that Hillary lost. They’ve never gotten over that Bush won twice. They want to change the Electoral College. They want to do all kinds of crazy things because they cannot and will not accept losing. You might think that that’s a little simplistic, but it actually isn’t. It is a fundamental feature of the ongoing American constitutional republic. It’s part of the peaceful transition of power.

If one side decides that they are not going accept the results of duly constituted elections, we’ve got a major, major problem. If one side develops the attitude that they should never lose and when they do, it’s because they got jobbed and they turn around and begin to investigate everybody and everything that resulted in their losing, we’re gonna continue to roll along like this.

They’re like a bunch of spoiled brat, pampered children, a bunch of irresponsible little kids who cry, whine, and moan, except they’re not kids. They’re wealthy people with lots of power who refuse to accept that they have ever been rejected.

And so whoever rejects them, whoever votes against them, whoever defeats them is gonna pay one hellacious price so that they don’t try it again. That’s what we’re smack-dab in the middle of here.

I’d been noticing this myself. Not that I haven’t commented on it before, but the air is getting fairly thick with rule-changes proposed by liberals and democrats; not stuff that is innately “progressive,” for which some rationale can be offered about how the rule changes are going to help you and me. Just stuff that would help democrats win elections.

One or two of these might seem reasonable. “Hey, we represent the downtrodden and the oppressed, and because elections work such-and-such a way, we can’t get a break so our guys can’t get a break.” But I feel a tinge of proxy embarrassment for liberals and democrats right now — which they don’t seem to feel — because there’s so much rule-changing needed to help them this way, all of it important, and all of it right now. I mean, the question just naturally emerges: If your ideas need that much help, and all at the same time…have you re-thought the premise that you should be winning? Maybe you shouldn’t be.

I’ve had this John Podhoretz column saved in my stack since last week, and it’s just become even more timely now with the crashing and burning of the so-called “investigation.”

In recent days, Democrats have been trampling all over each other to get to a microphone to trumpet massive structural changes to American public life.

First, several presidential candidates are calling for an increase in the size of the Supreme Court. Nine justices are too few, apparently. In a proposal that seems straight out of the writers’ room at “The West Wing,” Beto O’Rourke wants the court apportioned by party, with five Democrats and five Republicans, and an extra five chosen by the 10 partisan ones.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed a proposal to lower the federal voting age to 16 (an idea already being contemplated at the local level in Oregon and the District of Columbia, and gathering steam in California).

Oh, and a great many Democrats want to abolish the Electoral College. This is nothing new for modern Democrats, who feel the Electoral College makes it too hard for them to win the presidency.

Podhoretz offers an explanation:

Here’s the thing, though. Eighty thousand votes won Donald Trump the election in 2016 — votes scattered across three states that Barack Obama had won twice.

If you put aside all the high-flown talk about the grand meaning of the Trump victory and what it tells us about America and our history and white supremacy and blah blah blah, the challenge for Democrats in 2020 is pretty simple. They need to get 80,000 new Democratic votes in those places, flip the states, and reclaim the presidency.

They won in 2018 by not being lunatics. Democrats seem intent on testing the proposition that it will take a lunatic to beat a tweeter.

Mkay…it’s worth looking at that, because somewhere there’s a plan and wherever there is a plan, there must be planners. But that isn’t all of it. The Republicans have lost presidential elections too, in which the electoral college, while not changing the outcome from what a national popular vote would’ve been, certainly did magnify the defeat. Romney’s loss in 2012 was particularly close. I don’t recall any calls for this rule, that rule, that other rule to be pitched out the window so the Republicans could win next time. Rush is right. There’s a meaningful difference here.

It seems whenever there’s any kind of a contest, be it an election, discussion, town hall debate, talk radio rant, cable teevee scream-fest, workplace water-cooler melee…conservatives have this passive faith in the parameters of the exchange that liberals do not have. The latter are constantly screeching about how from this point forward, such-and-such a thing has to be done such-and-such a way, and not the way it’s always been done, otherwise it’s NOT FAIR. Whereas the former has no counterpart to this. They hope they can make their point operating under the game-rules as they exist already, and if they can’t, well. They’ll just be hoping some wisdom and maturity set in to the audience members next time.

I see a great example of what Rush is talking about in this Twitter-flurry about Quilette, and universities:

Dr. Katja Thieme, a professor of English at the University of British Columbia, took to Twitter recently to enact her own unique brand of McCarthyism. “YES. If you are an academic and you publish in Quillette, we see you. We fucking see you. And we are looking right at you.”

This was in response to the following tweet by a Denison University History professor who stated, “And any member of our field who publishes with Quillette should lose all credibility.”

One of Thieme’s followers then followed up with the astonishing suggestion that there should be a literal blacklist of academics who have written for the magazine. “It would be nice to have a list of Canadian academics who have published in that shitrag.”
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It has become fashionable to spout nonsense such as Quillette is “racist,” or Quillette is “white supremacist.” When asked to provide evidence, accusers often claim that they do not have to provide evidence, or they just never respond.

The breezy dismissive rhetorical gesture of “both sides do it” does not work here. There is something in the liberal well-water that makes them act this way. I’m looking, once again, at how normal people mature. What they learn as they are about to enter, or soon after they have entered, adulthood.

One of the things we have to learn is how to cope with a system as we find it. Building a new widget is actually pretty easy. Well it’s not…really…perhaps what I should say is, building a whole new system, while intellectually taxing IF you hang around long enough to see what goes wrong with it, and take your orders about how to correct and refine it…falls short of demanding a certain discipline, that coping with a legacy system does indeed demand. I’ve seen this in software development fairly constantly. I’ve been one of the worst offenders. To do this thing, you have to do that thing first, and that way, and before you can do that you have to do this. The impulse sets in like a rapid fever: Oh for chrissakes, can’t we just scrap it and start over again? There’s no way, if we started over again, it would end up being this complicated, or unpredictable, or hard to use, or, or, or.

Which is often correct. But the point is, we can’t just go through life that way. We don’t have the time and resources to keep rebuilding everything from scratch. Sometimes, you have to stop programming, and accept that the system will be telling the humans how to behave, rather than the other way around.

And then comes the most painful truth: A lot of us have started to program computers, because of our failure to accept this. We developed our talents after taking our marbles and going home, after being called on to join a conga line, executing the right dance steps at the right time — and failing. We started building systems because we hadn’t developed the maturity to use a system someone else had built. After we learned how to do some cool stuff and put together some semblance of a marketable skill, then we matured. I see this in my colleagues often. It’s frustrating. “Hey, look what I built, now we don’t have to use that anymore.” Uh…okay, that’s nice. But “that” already has documented instructions, a bunch of bugs that have been opened and then resolved, or else documented as won’t-be-fixed, and we have software engineers in five different time zones who already know how to use it. People wonder why so many programmers are liberals. I think some of it has to do with what comes naturally to programmers, and it isn’t our innate and common strengths. It’s our weaknesses. It’s got to do with what’s wrong with us, not with what’s right with us.

What we’re dealing with here is Chesterton’s Fence:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

It takes a lot of maturity to say to yourself, “I don’t know what that thing is doing here. It may have a purpose that is still relevant but outside of my knowledge.” When we see liberals going on about “Hey hey now, you/we don’t need to do it all stupid the way we’ve always done it, we can do it this new way” — what they’d like us to be seeing is what they see themselves, some special, keen insight. But you’ll notice this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you take “I just figured out we don’t have to do X, we can do Y,” you have to envision someone who lived a long time ago decided we should do it the other way. With using fossil fuels that can work…but did some guy who lived a long time ago really decide we should leave millions of people without health insurance?

Liberals swallow this stuff because they don’t scrutinize the claims coming from their own side. No Virginia, the Electoral College was not established to preserve slavery. But you just try telling ’em that.

A couple of years ago, a Brit by the name of Rory Sutherland made an interesting observation: We seem to be in the midst of mass producing Chesterton’s-Fence-Wreckers.

Ideas such as electoral reform, a single-European currency, or the removal of the monarchy, for instance, are all intellectual enthusiasms rarely shared by ordinary folk. All three ideas seem to make perfect sense until you think long and hard about what the hidden virtues of the previous irrational arrangement may be…We could add to this list of expert failures of judgment the promotion of low-fat diets, the support for free movement of labour and the promotion of diesel cars. All were trumpeted as self-evidently good ideas by experts, because experts all shared the same narrow frame of reference. So yes, diesel cars did reduce CO2 emissions: the experts were right there. But widespread use of diesel in cities came at a terrible cost in particulate pollution, which lay outside their model.

There is a huge cast of well-paid people, from management consultants to economic advisers, whose entire salaries are earned by ripping out Chesterton’s fences. Interestingly, these are mostly male-dominated industries (men are more prone to narrow systematising than women). Silicon Valley, which is overwhelmingly male, is possibly the worst offender of all. The very fact that a fence is over ten years old, requires atoms in its manufacture or creates employment for human beings is reason enough for them to want to get rid of it. [emphasis mine]

This observation of the male-female split is interesting. It certainly does apply to my above cranky-rant about programmers. This newbie who never bothered to learn the system already in place, and busied himself with crafting a replacement no one but him wanted, in my recollection is almost always a “him.” I’m ashamed at how often I might have been the guy, and I have to admit a female counterpart wouldn’t have been so likely to make that blunder.

But in politics, the gender-divide falls away. Elizabeth Warren wants to get rid of the Electoral College. Nancy Pelosi wants to lower the voting age to sixteen. Hillary Clinton wants to regulate the financial industry in a whole new way, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to get rid of capitalism, passenger jets and cow flatulence. We have lately become quite accustomed to the pantsuit-termagant caterwauling without restraint, in true Chesterton’s-Fence-Wrecker style, about “don’t do it that way start doing it this way.”

Why do women allow us men to blunder along making that mistake, all by ourselves, in software development? And then so unabashedly match our weakness when it comes to national politics. You’ll have to ask them. It’s off topic here so I’ll not get carried away with speculating, but by all means if you figure it out let me know.

But in all these “games,” the rule holds that when you play and lose, the right thing for you to do before playing again is to improve. Reconnect. Study. Grow. Learn.

Changing the rules, getting a blacklist started, and demanding a rematch is for mental children, perpetual nuisances and ankle-biters.

On the Emotional Investment

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Cobb:

The primary social problem in our society is that we are too emotionally engaged with the productions of journalists and political activists. These two groups, more than any other media producers have captured the attention of many Americans and are compensated by those things that spark ‘debate’.

This is not a consequence of social media…
:
In the news today is the story of a boy who threw an egg at an Australian senator, who was making remarks about a mass murder in New Zealand. So today, emotionally involved Americans are yelling at each other as if we need, every day, to demonstrate that murder is bad. Who has convinced us that there is a spectrum of positions on murder which are worthy of public debate? Journalists and political activists.

I had been meaning to write something about this. “Conservatism” versus “liberalism” explains much of what separates my opinions from the opinions people who are, well, you know…wrong…much, but not all. There is dark matter there, in the void. A lot of this has to do with emotional investment.

Palin Was RightRemaining emotionally detached so you can think like a grown-up, is not always easy. It can present some daunting challenges. But it’s never impossible. I think we all fail in this effort at one point or another, but I’ve seen how when people disagree with me about things, one of the things that separates us is that I at least try. If the disagreement becomes heated, I see it’s almost always because of an underlying disagreement, obscured by the other one more visible, about whether or not there should be a discussion at all. Emotionally invested people often play the game of “I want to win the argument without doing any actual arguing.” So they have these tricks. I’m pulling rank, or the “experts” are on my side, or I don’t wanna talk about it, or, or, or…

If they’re the only one paying the price for being wrong, it’s pretty easy to resolve. Just do what they want, disappear into the void and wish them the best on your way to oblivion. The eventual results will educate one side, or the other.

In politics, things are difficult because they’re not the only ones paying the price for being wrong.

Another fascinating thing I’ve picked up about overly-emotionally-invested people, is they get that way by way of laboring under the mistaken impression they personally know the people involved. I saw this awhile ago with the “Sarah Palin is a stupid idiot” song-and-dance from a decade ago. My own opinion wasn’t so much that was was or was not a stupid idiot, nor did I take the position she was some kind of egghead genius — she did seem to win a lot more often than people remember — but rather, that thing that is the beginning of all learning. I DON’T KNOW. I disagreed with people about Palin’s lack of intellect…and also, subsequently, about Barack Obama’s abundance of it…

Because I kept in mind that I didn’t personally know these people. And Mitt Romney, and Joe Biden, and Donald Trump, and Mike Pence. I don’t know these people. Palin might be stupid, heck she could be retarded. Maybe Barack and Michelle are geniuses. I know approximately how much I’d bet on such things, but it really doesn’t matter. The lack of certainty is what matters. Or to be more precise about it, the lack of doubt is what matters.

Emotionally invested people tend to confuse their politics with their soap opera viewing. They “feel” like they know all these people. The disease spreads when we’re talking about level of intellect, because it’s hard to remember that dumb people can be right about things and smart people can be wrong about things — both of those actually happen, quite often. So he/she is stupid/smart, really doesn’t matter at all.

How it connects back with the above: I think by the time you become part of the problem, you’re no longer discussing principles like “murder is wrong.” People who add more heat to these discussions than light, have crossed a Rubicon where they’re buttressing narratives about attributes of these characters, like they’re writing a screenplay. They’re talking about people and no longer talking about ideas.

Why We Disagree

Monday, March 11th, 2019

You know, it occurs to me. I’ve occasionally had some frustrating exchanges with the more casual observers of the political scene, about for example “raising the minimum wage.” They are just as earnestly baffled by the idea that I could oppose it, as I am by the idea they could support it, and it’s easy to see why. They hear “raising the minimum wage” and they hear raising…wage. A wage is going up. Someone — probably somebody who makes very little money and could use every nickel they can get — will be paid more. Who could possibly be against that? And of course, once they find out I’m on the other side, it follows that I must be the jerk who wants these doe-eyed low-paid innocents to be shafted some more.

Being lightweights, these adherents don’t hear or understand the word “minimum.” Raise a minimum of something is an exclusionary concept. Over and over again I explain it to them, raising the minimum wage outlaws jobs. It defines a class of job currently legal, and then makes everything in that class illegal so it has to go away. They just don’t get it. They’ve become emotionally invested in the proposal before exploring the true ramifications of it.

A lot of this has to do with demographics, particularly sex and race, because those are visible. Like many straight white males who aren’t all on-board with the latest whatever, I get pigeonholed. The pigeonholers see it all as a race/sex/preference/class thing, and we six-foot-tall straight white non-homeless males still in possession of all twenty-one digits, are supposedly looking out for our interests.

It is demonstrably untrue because of the economic-class thing. I joke a lot about being independently wealthy, but I’m really not. I’ve done well but the Missus and I don’t have “Fuck You” money. We are wage slaves.

The truth is: I, and people like me — not all of us straight white males — presume the worst. I presume a progressive tax scheme does not exist to pay for anything, it exists to punish. I think all these schemes exist to punish. I think reparations are not being proposed to lift anyone up, but to punish others. I think environmental initiatives, for the most part, exist just to screw with people. I think “International Women’s Day” is not there to empower women, but to punish men. I think higher minimum wages and entitlement programs are put together to manufacture dependency classes, not to help anyone up or out of anything. These are my default presumptions until I learn more.

It isn’t because I’m a white straight man. It’s because I’m a grown-up and I think like one.

It isn’t because I’m full of hate.

It’s because I’m wise. At least, wise the way Socrates was wise. I know there are things I don’t know, and when I admit it, I have a chance to learn.

You’ll notice, if you take the time to hang around after these plans are implemented and review the results objectively, more often than not it does turn out this way. Every program that says it’s out to fix or help or improve, doesn’t necessarily do that. Most of the time they just hurt or punish someone…and when there’s no correction made before the next lap, you have to conclude that was the original purpose and the punishment-program was a success.

You don’t have to think about things like a starry-eyed child, uncritically buying every word of every sales pitch. You don’t have to go around approving of everything. But if you do, thanks to the magic of social media you’re likely to come in contact, sooner rather than later, with someone who’s thought things out in a more mature, healthfully cynical, multi-point-perspective way. Which does cause conflict, and does look a bit ridiculous to anyone who’s on the outside. And kind of is.

But it isn’t a bad thing, not completely anyway. It’s a process of societal growth. We’re learning the fundamentals, things children should be learning before they become adults. That you can’t just legislate adequacy, or health, or goodness. That life is more complicated than that.

Related: Well, not really. Avett Ray has nothing to do with this at all, other than this 6-year-old blind boy played the same song and did a wonderful job.

Strong Women Can Cope with Men

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

This new Ms. Marvel movie is getting a rep as a social-justice vehicle, and I don’t know if it’s deserved but I do know the star asked for it when she said,

About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed 
it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to 
Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.

Yes…I’ve seen this before. There are some numbers someone collected, and this “proves” that white men are guilty of something. And this gives someone else license to label themselves and their efforts as “inclusive,” while indulging in some very non-inclusive behavior and showing some very non-inclusive attitudes.

“Too many of [blank] in here someone has to do something about it” is, by its very nature, non-inclusive. Do I even have to mention it? It seems only by willfully avoiding it can anyone with a brain fail to see it.

This isn’t the first time Brie Larson has set off alarm bells. Last summer, she made the comment about another movie,

Recognizing that “reviews change lives” and the impact which films are considered for awards season, Larson called for more inclusive representation in the industry. “Am I saying I hate white dudes?” the Oscar-winner asked the room at the Beverly Hilton. “No, I’m not,” she replied.

“I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I want to hear what a woman of color, a biracial woman has to say about the film. I want to hear what teenagers think about the film.”

You’re not saying you hate white dudes, but you are applying a litmus test of skin color & gender and, based on the outcome of that, making a determination that the person’s opinion is irrelevant or undesired.

That makes as much sense as deciding not to watch a superhero movie because the central character is a woman. And it isn’t very inclusive.

I’ve seen this attitude before, somewhere. Ah yes, now I remember: Kathleen Kennedy, producer of the Disney Debacle of Star Wars sequels, unwittingly explaining why her success has been less than complete.

I have a responsibility to the company that I work with. I don’t feel that I have a responsibility to cater in some way. I would never just seize on saying, “Well, this is a franchise that’s appealed primarily to men for many, many years, and therefore I owe men something.”

This is turning into a pattern. And the pattern is one of futility. People who say such things want to hold themselves up as strong, independent, “don’t need men,” “don’t owe anything to men”…and they keep babbling away about inclusiveness. But it comes across as weakness and bigotry: “Keep those men away from me, I can’t deal with them.”

And yeah, maybe I’m old fashioned but I recall this was an implicit part of entertainment: You owe something to everyone who buys a ticket. If you don’t like that idea, you need to find a different line of work. That’s show business.

For a couple of generations now, if not more, males who made male-centered action movies kept that in mind, and inserted plenty of kick-butt female supporting characters. Which means the Ms. Marvel movie might be breaking fewer glass ceilings than its most enthused fans might imagine…(warning, video below is produced for people who understand sarcasm)

And these male fans, to whom Ms. Kennedy feels she doesn’t owe anything, by & large didn’t object.

Nowadays, there has to be this twaddle put out there by the stars, the producers, whoever, that we are not to worry, special effort has been taken here to make sure “white males” are not included…and we should think of that as inclusive.

It comes across looking like weak, non-inclusive people were involved in making the entertainment product, which harbors the prospect of relieving us of lots of money and, in return, not providing much entertainment — for white males or anyone else.

I’ll avoid commenting on the movie specifically as I’ve not seen it. I have no plans to do anything about that in the near future. I can tell when I’m not wanted.

Memo For File CCXI

Monday, March 4th, 2019

There is a persuasive mythology out there that democrats are on the fringe-kooky left, Republicans are on the fringe-kooky right, and the way “forward” is somewhere in between those two.

I have noticed fragile narratives start to crack and crumble when made to answer specific questions, and the specific question to ask here is: What exactly are the fringe-kooky right positions? Lower taxes, strong defense, sound immigration policy, law & order. I mean yeah, you can pretend these are “dog whistle” signals for intolerance and bigotry, but that’s not choosing a centrist in-between way forward, that’s uncritically accepting inflammatory leftist talking-points. It all comes down to, Trump doesn’t make a very good Hitler if he’s relocating the embassy to Jerusalem.

I think Republicans need to hit back against this hard. Without this mythology floating around, you can make the ultimate Republican campaign commercial just by showing clips of the donkey-face cutie Bronx bartender speaking. But too many people see that, and think “I don’t like that but I’ll sort of fantasize about Republicans being just as bad, although I can’t think of specific examples, and so I’ll vote for the liberal/democrat/moderate/centrist/no-party guy or stay home.” After watching people talk about these things in the public square all these years, reconciling it with what I read online, and then seeing the results play out on this-or-that election night, I’m convinced that’s the most influential, and harmful, factor in American politics. Which means it’s the most influential/harmful factor in deciding where our whole society is going, unfortunately.

Politics shouldn’t be so influential. But during the course of my lifetime, it is what it is. As long as that part of the machinery is busted, some attempt should be made to fix the other.

The point is, the idea that a vote for a democrat is a vote for Venezuela-style socialism, survives scrutiny. The idea that a vote for a Republican is a vote for nooses and burning crosses, and a re-enactment of The Handmaid’s Tale, does not.

Border Wall Nets Higher Approval Than Green New Deal

Monday, March 4th, 2019

My first reaction to this was, of course, that I like the implications of the headline; upon reading it, I was glad to see the headline was earnest and 51 is, after all, greater than 31. Although still 49 points shy of where it should be.

Fifty-one percent of Americans say that they would rather have a border wall on America’s southern border, compared to 31 percent who say that they want a Green New Deal, according to a poll released by Remington Research Group.

Republicans said that they would prefer a border wall by a 68-point margin, while Independents said that they would prefer a border wall by a two-to-one margin.

Overall, a majority of Americans, or 51 percent, said they oppose a Green New Deal, 51 percent of Democrats support the radical environmental program, while Republicans and Independents overwhelmingly oppose Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) idea outright.

But then I had another thought: This is a rather silly comparison, isn’t it?

It’s kind of apples-and-oranges. The objective of a wall is to elevate the difficulty involved in breaking into our country illegally, whereas the GND’s objectives seem to be a messy hodge-podge of reducing our impact on the environment, and make sure everyone has the same amount of stuff. I read through that goofy draft that wasn’t supposed to have been part of it or whatever, and waded through the other literature about it, and I’m altogether unsure about the linkage between proper stewardship of Mother Earth and her bounteous resources, and income/wealth equality. What is it? Is there, perhaps, some propaganda floating around that if we make sure everyone’s got the same amount of stuff, the environment will improve? I’ve no doubt there is.

But that would be the opposite of what’s true. Socialism is awful for the environment.

The Soviet government’s imperatives for economic growth, combined with communal ownership of virtually all property and resources, caused tremendous environmental damage. According to economist Marshall Goldman, who studied and traveled extensively in the Soviet Union, “The attitude that nature is there to be exploited by man is the very essence of the Soviet production ethic.”

A typical example of the environmental damage caused by the Soviet economic system is the exploitation of the Black Sea. To comply with five-year plans for housing and building construction, gravel, sand, and trees around the beaches were used for decades as construction materials. Because there is no private property, “no value is attached to the gravel along the seashore. Since, in effect, it is free, the contractors haul it away. This practice caused massive beach erosion which reduced the Black Sea coast by 50 percent between 1920 and 1960. Eventually, hotels, hospitals, and of all things, a military sanitarium collapsed into the sea as the shoreline gave way. Frequent landslides–as many as 300 per year–have been reported.

Water pollution is catastrophic. Effluent from a chemical plant killed almost all the fish in the Oka River in 1965, and similar fish kills have occurred in the Volga, Ob, Yenesei, Ural, and Northern Dvina rivers. Most Russian factories discharge their waste without cleaning it at all.
:
According to the Worldwatch Institute, more than 90 percent of the trees in the pine forests in China’s Sichuan province have died because of air pollution. In Chungking, the biggest city in southwest China, a 4, 500-acre forest has been reduced by half. Acid rain has reportedly caused massive crop losses.

There also have been reports of waterworks and landfill projects severely hampering fish migration. Fish breeding was so seriously neglected that fish has largely vanished from the national diet. Depletion of government-owned forests has turned them into deserts, and millions of acres of grazing and farm land in the northern Chinese plains were made alkaline and unproductive during the “Great Leap Forward.”
:
There is much evidence to dispute the theory that only private businesses pollute. In the United States, we need look no further than our own government agencies. These public sector institutions, such as the Department of Defense (DOD), are among the worst offenders. DOD now generates more than 400,000 tons of hazardous waste a year — more than is produced by the five largest chemical companies combined. To make matters worse, the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the enforcement power over the public sector that it possesses over the private sector.

So taking better care of the environment does not necessarily fit some grand scheme of taxation and incentives, to reward the under-privileged and punish the successful and make sure income/wealth disparities are reduced. I really don’t know where we ever got that. You know what does, though? Donald Trump’s big, beautiful wall. You can’t have open borders with a welfare state. There’s a rule about that, and if there weren’t such a rule, someone would have to come up with one.

The incompatibility is mathematical in nature. Just as, you can’t rank members of a set without defining what the set is; the same goes for assessing the level of inequality, of anything. In fact, the greater the assessed inequality, the more crucial is the question of set membership. In the most extreme case, perfect inequality — n people in a village, where one guy has lots of dollars and the other n-1 people have zero — the removal of a single person instantly transforms the situation to one of perfect equality.

So borders do matter. Especially if you’re trying to force this sameness these open-borders types tend to want forced. The periphery comes first. It’s got to be that way.

I submit that such thoughts about compatibility, and cause-and-effect, are more important than the poll results. However many people think they want something, the ones who do want it seem to be very, very sure they want it, and are highly enthused about it. But, as usual, the ones most enthused haven’t thought things through all the way.

Students Sign Petition to Put Trump Supporters in Re-Education Camps

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Kaitlin Bennett went undercover.

From the comments:

If Trump supporters were all in camps, who would feed the freeloaders?

Indeed.

9:08 student body president saying “do it, but lie about it so we don’t get in trouble!”

Yeah, and the meaning of the word bigot is: “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.” Just pointing that out there.

I live in California and I think she nailed the look

I live in California too, but I used to live in Seattle…she bulls-eyed both, except her clothes are all brand new and her hygienic habits are satisfactory. She looks alive and pleasing to the eye, whereas a true leftist is like a hunk of some zombie spirit world materialized onto the plane of the living by mistake.

Ironically I was just talking about this to someone last night. I said that although conservatives might dislike liberal ideologies, most would never want to see a liberal harmed or harassed, whereas I know for a fact many liberals/leftists would be thrilled to throw conservatives into camps or see harm come to them. It comes down to more than just policy ideals, it’s a very warped and toxic mindset!

Not hard to prove that true. I saw this question posted on Quora a few days ago: “Is it unfair for Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be unable to go to restaurants because he gets yelled at by people who oppose what he does/says?” And the very first answer is “I don’t just think it’s fair. I think it’s overdue. And this also goes for members of the Trump administration being denied seating at restaurants, etc.” The attitude is everywhere, and you can see it if you just take the time to look.

Going the other way, I can’t prove it but I think I speak for a lot who lean my way when I say: No “camps” for lefties. The camp I have in mind is reality itself. It’s called getting your hands dirty, doing some honest work, engaging in a difficult effort in which failure is a real possibility, and the final word on whether or not you succeeded goes to someone else who cares about end-results, and isn’t a tenured professor.

Work hard to make a positive difference, and earn a bit of profit honestly and well. Then watch some goo-gooder come along and take that away, to be redistributed among others who didn’t try as hard…lather rinse & repeat a few times. A lefty who doesn’t catch on after awhile, is too far gone anyway, but I think most of ’em would catch on in pretty short order. So no camps. Not because I’m some kind of nice guy, but because they’re not needed.

It Would Take Too Long

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

Q: What is the Bernie Sanders theory of the case, for why Venezuela is the way it is? What went wrong there, in what is an avowedly socialist project?

A: Ah well, that’s a long story that I don’t think we have time to get into. But this is what I will say: …(blah, blah, blah)

Journalist just lets him off the hook. Because our media sucks.

From the comments:

Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried. Hey Bread line Bernie, I explained it in 8 words.

How could it not fail? The fuel line of our economy is the connection between your actions today & your prospects tomorrow. Socialism severs that fuel line.

It isn’t complicated.

When is it Science?

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Yes, to all of it.

There’s a lot of talk these days about people being “anti-science.” The problem is, a lot of people making those claims either are a bit unclear on the idea of what science is or know full well what it is but are hoping you don’t. Just because someone calls something science doesn’t mean that it actually is.

First off, science is not a collection of “facts”. It’s not a set of conclusions. And it most certainly is not ultimate Truth, forever and ever, amen.

Science is a method. And the core of that method can be summed up in one simple question:

“How would we know if we were wrong?”

The late Richard Feynman described it this way:

First, we guess what we think our new law will be. Then we calculate what must happen if that law is right. Then we compare the result of that calculation with experiment.

And here’s the most important part. If the calculation from our guess does not match experiment, it’s wrong. Period. Yes, there can be experimental error. Yes, if the data is variable sometimes just from chance you’ll get a result that is atypical. But once you account for those, once you’ve gotten your measurements nailed down precisely enough to differentiate from your calculated result, once you’ve got enough measured data for the statistics to say whether it matches calculated results or not, then if they do not match, they’re wrong.

The Hole

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Ran across these emanations from the dark cesspit of despair late at night. I’d like to put together a rebuttal of sorts, because it reminds me of this clip from She’s Having a Baby, and I know our society dies a little bit when more and more people think this way. But a rebuttal wouldn’t do anything other than insult the intelligence of the author — he’s clearly already read such things and figured out for himself how little they mean. I think the encounter would be fruitless, or it would come down to a contest of writing ability, and then he’d win and I’d lose. Give credit where it’s due, he did a great job of summarizing the situation.

I know, because I’ve been there myself. Three times, this side of that stupid Y2K computer bug. This century’s brought challenges the last century didn’t bring, even though in the olden days I can see now I really didn’t know much of anything. “Something else won’t come along,” as brilliant of a good-writing gem it may be, as much potential as it may have to really get the point across…is a tested falsehood. I can’t die three times, and the test of whether something is over or not, is whether there’s more coming afterward. Well, knock on wood, I’m still working.

Kevin Bacon’s character, at 1:40: “I secretly believed that he was terrified I might make something of myself outside the field. If I did, he’d be reminded in living color of his own failure.”

You see, there’s some good writing in that too — and some truth. Once we’re in the hole, we pull others in with ourselves. Maybe without even realizing it. “If I climb out of this hole, I’ll remind that guy down there that he’s not really trying.” We-ell…you know, sometimes that could be a good thing.

There certainly is an age thing going on, I discovered. I don’t think about it much because there isn’t a lot I can do about it. So the other lessons have made more of an impression on me. Every little complication that makes it tougher for a reader of my resume to figure out what it is I really do, is a liability. In my youth, I went where I was needed, and I noticed the people who were more highly valued didn’t do that. I wondered at the time if they knew something I didn’t know, and in the aftermath I got my answer. One manager got me on the phone, and inquired from behind a thin veil of exasperation from having tried to figure it out for himself, what was I. It was a weird conversation because he was all but admitting he didn’t know what to do until he had me properly pigeonholed. It was also exasperating, because from a technical point of view I knew it was true I was worth more, having had real practical experience in more areas. But it was also true I wasn’t willing to be pigeonholed, because at that point I would have done either one, programming or project management, to earn a steady paycheck. This conversation didn’t go anywhere and I never heard from the guy again. I guess after he hung up I was supposed to go “Stupid, stupid, stupid! I should’ve told him I’m a coder, coder, coder!” But, I look at it more like I dodged a bullet.

Nevertheless, there’s some Logan’s Run youth-worship going on there, and some unhealthy pigeonholing. People placing people, and the placers are creating problems because they themselves aren’t going to be in the business in another five years, aren’t truly committed to making the organization better, and don’t have any interest in making it healthy over the long term. They just want to make a decision today, and be able to defend it for a few weeks or months, tops, then go on to something else. We should all worry about this whether we’re impacted or not, because it simply doesn’t work. My “Are you a programmer or a project manager?” type interviewer got back exactly the answer he didn’t want…either one…both…he was sniffing me out to see if I really needed a job, which I did, and that was a turn-off. The most attractive candidate is already working. Why was I out looking for a job after age 35? There must be something wrong. Well the math doesn’t work on that, does it? Medical miracles have made it commonplace for people to live past a hundred years, and with that we’re going to have to get used to the idea of people maybe not retiring at 47. Someone didn’t get the memo. And so a situation is developing.

The sense of despair, travels. The sense of victory, not so much. We can’t outlaw age discrimination, or people-pigeonholing. We can only adjust our attitudes. Something will come along, if your skills match the job someone needs to have done. The trick is to keep them relevant.

President Precedent

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Happy President’s Day. Hamilton wrote in Federalist #70:

Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy. Every man the least conversant in Roman story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government, as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the conquest and destruction of Rome.

There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.

Of course, Rome eventually fell. It goes without saying there is an intended balance here, and there are those who insist President Trump is throwing it out of whack with this “Emergency Declaration” business to set aside funds for the construction of his big, beautiful wall.

Well, about that.

The WH did not make one executive action today. In reality they made three, only one of which involved an emergency declaration.

First the WH announced they would be funding $601 million in wall construction from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, relying on 31 U.S.C. § 9705. This does not require an emergency declaration.

Second, the WH announced they would be funding $2.5 billion in wall construction under 10 U.S.C. § 284 (this is MilCon $ for combating drug trafficking). This does not require an emergency declaration.

Finally, the WH announced they would be funding $3.6 billion under 10 U.S.C. § 2808. This money does require an emergency declaration.

According to the WH this money will be spent sequentially so the § 9705 money will be spent first then the § 284 money then the § 2808 money.

So depending on how fast they can begin construction, they will have to spend over $5 billion (including the $1.3 billion in fencing appropriations) before any of the emergency money is ever tapped…

But, isn’t this whole thing rather phony? If it’s an emergency, why declare it and then go golfing? Seems like a good question, at first, but then you go to inspect it…to do that, you have to construct a coherent narrative in which there’s something wrong with Trump making a move after Congress told him no. According to this narrative, Congress must have acted in good faith, not attempting in any way to usurp the control of the cockpit, determining which way the ship is going to go; but simply reporting to the Captain of the vessel, as the responsible stewards of the fuel supply, that there’s no more fuel.

The Captain has the sole responsibility to steer the vessel clear of any dangers. The guardians of the resources say the resources are not available to do this.

Looks like an emergency to me. What else to call it?

But many have lined up to point out the dangers of precedent. If Trump does this, so goes the litany, a future democrat President can declare a national emergency that…I eat meat. Or that I own guns. A constitutional crisis will follow, and supposedly we’ll have Trump to thank for it.

I find this unconvincing. It pretends we have yet to head into the cul de sac, when in fact we’ve been in it for quite some time, and in fact have converted it into a busy thoroughfare. Seems such a long-winded way to say “We should never elect democrats President again”; or, “I don’t know very much about these national emergencies.”

Good constitutional arguments can be made for and against President Trump’s evocation of emergency powers to address the crisis at our southern border. But the notion that such a declaration would encourage a future Democratic president to do something similar borders on the comic. Democrats don’t need encouragement.

Under President Barack Obama, the Constitution was violated more wantonly than a goat at a Taliban bachelor party, and the faithful cheered every violation. In early 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama groupie David Remnick wrote about his experience accompanying Obama on a west-coast fundraising tour.
:
By 2014, Obama had successfully nullified any number of laws with negligible media objection. In February 2011, for instance, Obama and “wing man” Attorney General Eric Holder came willy-nilly to the conclusion that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was not “constitutional.” President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 with overwhelming support from Democrats in Congress and nearly unanimous support from Republicans.

No matter. Going forward, Obama decided that the Justice Department would no longer enforce DOMA. That simple.
:
On the subject of illegal immigration, Obama did not bother deeming existing laws unconstitutional. He chose not to enforce them because they did not poll well among Hispanic voters. It would get no deeper than that.

Getting back to the presidency itself, there’s an oath you’re supposed to take as you’re inaugurated into that high office. It reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Seems to me a more easily defensible idea, that Trump has fulfilled the letter and the spirit of this oath and Obama has failed it, than the other way around.

Let Me Tell You What It’s Like to Be Right All the Time

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Because of some family obligations, I’m communicating with some people for the first time in many years. It’s not by choice, and even now this is being done through intermediaries. But I can pick up the vibe of some old resentments against my less enjoyable qualities, and being a flawed Son of Adam who ate of the fruit, I must concede there is some legitimacy to these resentments.

Even the people who tolerate me graciously repeat some of the litany: I don’t admit it when I’m wrong. There is some truth in this, although it doesn’t survive strict scrutiny. All it takes is one time for me to admit to a mistake, and that proves I’m at least capable. After reflecting on this, on & off for many years, I’ve come to the realization that the complaint is insufficiently precise. It has to do with how, and when, I admit to being wrong about something.

The complainers evidently have a script already written in their heads: I’m to be shown something, and then comment audibly something like, Heavens to Murgatroyd I must mend my ways. What actually follows is an explanation of why this new nugget of information doesn’t matter, or best-case scenario, a methodical re-examination of the true state of things followed by a rational, autonomous, non-instruction-driven declaration of my new revised opinion which might not fit the supplied stencil. So the real beef is not that I’m unwilling to alter a flawed opinion, but that I’m maintaining my own control over how I come up with these alterations. This is something all real grown-ups are supposed to be doing all the time, so with this understanding I suppose I’m magnifying my original sin. My interest level in possibly reforming, also, is slipping from its apex. From there, things deteriorate all-around.

So yes. I don’t get along well with mental midgets. It’s best we not have contact with each other.

But some labor under the onus of maintaining contact with me across vast expanses of time whether they want to or not. And for them there is an additional complication: As time goes on, these happy occasions on which I admit I was wrong about something and revise my opinion, become less and less frequent. Well…yes. That’s actually a feature and not a bug. If you apply your own critical thinking skills, make up your own mind about the true meaning of things as grown-ups are supposed to be doing, and you are capable of learning from mistakes but you apply those lessons in a way that makes the best sense to you — throughout a larger expanse of time, with nothing dramatically changing, you should reach correct conclusions about things more often and you should find it necessary to admit defeat less often. That’s actually the only meaningful definition of learning. So I conclude we’re dealing here with a mindset that demands from others a “healthy” admission of mistakes made, but is unready to deal with the natural consequences.

We just finished the latest available episode of The Ranch, and it’s been entertaining and everything because the jokes are genuinely funny and the writing is above par, but I have to say I’m somewhat relieved. Watching them back to back, you can see the slow but sure drift toward soap-opera dreck, and I’m tiring of the leitmotif of aggrieved, aggravated females getting fed up and leaving because of [blank]. It comes across like a creativity deficit in the writing pool, perhaps an outreach effort toward harridans who watch too much teevee and, in a related development, can’t manage to make their own marriages work. Or, if I’m conspiracy-minded, a blue-stater’s desire to infect the red state with the blue-state plague of broken families. And honestly, I find it rather offensive toward red-state women, who in my personal experience are not that delicate. I sympathize somewhat with Abby’s predicament with Colt’s deceptions, but I’ve never been entirely clear on what these various women find wrong with Beau. Something to do with waiting for something to change, and the thing not changing. Sorry, that’s just stupid. If you’ve got a ranch and women on the ranch act this way, eventually the whole damn country goes hungry. When is it time to leave? Abuse, physical or mental — and, no fair stretching the perimeter of “mental abuse” to cover “He doesn’t make me feel good ALL of the time.” Adultery. Lying, I suppose, if they’re really big lies and not just “No that dress doesn’t make you look fat.”

Short of that — sit down and STFU you dumb bitch. That’s what we tell your husband when he gets bored with family life, and desires a spectrum of options he no longer has.

I believe we’re just emerging from a sad chapter in our cultural history, in which we haven’t been able to get along with each other because it’s become fashionable to expect/demand so-and-so does such-and-such. Now this character that they’ve used Sam Elliott‘s acting talents to construct, to me, couldn’t possibly be easier to understand. He’s not a complicated individual at all, what you see is what you get. Perhaps I identify with him too much, because for me, he’s the central character and the soap opera angle of “The Ranch” is about this crusty old fart trying to bring beef to market in the middle of a bunch of estrogen-charged ditziness…which I suppose is not the intended thrust of the show. It seems everyone else is picking up on something that’s eluding me. The monologue from this or that woman lamenting how long she’s waited for something to change, and it never does, has always bored me. And I suppose my reaction isn’t the intended one either: “Well then GTFO, you silly twit.”

But these are scriptwriters who have managed to create an immensely popular show in a short amount of time. Their fingers must be on the pulse of somebody, if not on mine. This sad chapter is not yet closed. There has to be closure to this, because society cannot endure this way. We cannot keep a healthy culture going, when everyone with an opinion to offer about anything, is expecting everyone else with an opinion to offer about anything, to change for insufficient reason. Those who fancy themselves learned in all the interpersonal skills required in order to function, are going to have to get jiggy with the plain fact that people are people, and they don’t change their minds about things just because they’ve received an instruction that they should do so. There has to be a reason. And even if one emerges, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that that reason will be reconciled against their own life-experience, and not someone else’s.

There’s no such thing as being right all the time. But there is such a thing as thinking for yourself, as an adult…and the problem is, this works. If you’re truly capable of learning from mistakes, after awhile you make fewer of them, so if your aim is to regularly admit to mistakes so you can make other people happy, this is not for you. Making mistakes is just like anything else: If you want to do it often, meet some kind of quota, you have to put some effort into making mistakes.

“I Don’t Deserve My Fortune”

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Washington Times:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says he doesn’t “deserve” his fortune and thinks taxes on the rich should be much more “progressive” than they are in the United States.

“I have paid more than $10 billion in taxes, but I should have paid more,” Mr. Gates, who is worth roughly $96.5 billion, told the UK.’s Daily Mail in an interview published Tuesday. “I more than followed the law but I think things should be more progressive.

“I don’t deserve my fortune,” he said. “Nobody does. It has come through timing, luck, and through people I worked with. I certainly worked hard and I think software has been a beneficial thing, but I benefited from a structure too.”

Yeah…but no. Not following. You benefited from a structure, for which you paid more than your share of taxes. Individuals and companies benefit from lots of things, for which they/we pay…once we’re done paying for those things, we’re done paying for them. That’s the whole point of paying for them, to satisfy the attached claim.

The big lie here is that “benefit from” is somehow synonymous with “Will never satisfy the attached claim, ever, ever, never, not ever.” Silly stuff. You don’t think of the candy bar you bought from a vending machine that way, why think about anything else that way? Soldiers give up their blood and their limbs for us, we can think about them that way. How about that? But government contracted with private businesses to build our roads and so forth?

There persists another deception about the nature of money, what it represents. It’s not privilege. The government didn’t allow Bill Gates to have money. Bill Gates earned it by building things, then running things, then investing in things. Yes it can grow exponentially without work. That’s a feature and not a bug. You risk large amounts of money, if it works you make large amounts of more money. That’s what makes our economy go.

Money is control. Saying “I don’t deserve to have this much control” is saying “I don’t know what I’m doing,” which means Gates either doesn’t know what he’s doing, or he’s being deceptive. He knows what he’s doing.

The real problem is that we have persons walking around among us, listening to stuff like this and reading about it, who are receptive. Mr. Gates is playing to them, earning their approval. Why does stuff like this net their approval, that’s the real problem.

“I don’t think giving the money to my children would be good for them or good for society,” he said. “So after whatever consumption I have, and after some left aside for the kids and for taxes, the rest of the money goes to the foundation.”

“Melinda and I work hard all the time to make sure that money goes to help those most in need,” he added.

I can’t disapprove of that, it’s his choice and he has every right in the world to make it that way. If I’ve got some three-comma assets under my control when my time comes, I’ll probably do something similar.

But this one-guy-has-too-much stuff has been creeping in, a little bit at a time, and while we were all snoozing away it seems to have become mainstream. It’s not a question that becomes relevant only when & if you reach billionaire status; it cuts to the quick of the point of existence, for all of us. Too many Americans don’t have savings, aren’t ready for retirement, and that’s directly linked to this mindset that the most positive effect you can have on posterity is to do-nothing, emit-nothing, be green & clean. Lack of financial goals. Vacation? That’s why we have tax “refunds.” If you haven’t got enough coming back or you end up with the IRS sending you a bill, well, then you play the lottery.

Unprepared people have hurt me. They’ve redirected my resources and thwarted my goals, jeopardizing or diminishing my dreams. They have, at the very least — excepting the occasions I rejected their conjured-up high-drama crises entirely — delayed what I was trying to do, which often had something to do with helping other people. In short: They have been agents of chaos.

People who have “too much” money haven’t done any of this to me.

This is not consistent with favored plot-lines and literature or movie drama. But it has been my experience and, from what I have learned about the experiences of others, it’s not unique.

Enough of this. It’s pablum for people who lack the attention span to review, or consider themselves above reviewing, results. It doesn’t bring good results. It wrecks things and causes misery.

It’s a good thing you’re running a charity that’s supposed to help people, Bill. Perhaps it can make up for some of the damage you’re doing here.

We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

So we finally watched Solo, and I wasn’t that excited about it so I just glanced at it every now & then, sort of seeing it with half an eyeball. But I do have to say what I saw surprised me and it looked pretty good overall. All this fuss about the social justice robot seemed overblown, to me.

Disney’s new direction, I’ve come to realize, has stirred a sort of weariness in me. It’s not annoyance and it’s not actual fatigue. I’m weary of going through the motions pretending something is deep and complex, when at the end of it the narrative turns out to be threadbare and shallow. Back in my childhood, the franchise excited us as a meeting-place between technology and spiritualism, as good confronted evil. That’s gone, and what a shame that is. What we had before wasn’t just a mix of tech and holy ghosts, all dumped into a big bag & shaken together. There was planning, there was elegance.

There was real mystery. Yeah we were disappointed when we realized Lucas was making it all up day-by-day as he went along…there’s no explanation for Darth Vader standing right in front of his own daughter and being unable to sense her. Sorry, but every explanation you’ve heard about that is bunk. The unavoidable fact is that Leia was not his daughter in 1977, and by 1983, she was. But at least each character had a solid anchoring within a much larger story, including Leia…who, since then, has become a plainer, simpler, less interesting character.

It’s not just Leia. Some of the old elegance, that depth of good story-telling, has been bleached out by this effervescent drive toward “Girls Are Awesome!!” Okay, yeah, boys got a lot of inspiration out of Star Wars and there’s a desire to share this among girls who couldn’t get into it. This issue with girls who couldn’t get into it, puzzles me too. I recall the girls being just as inspired as we were, and having just as much fun. These days it seems we have a lot of people who see yet another inequality in need of correction. But the people most agitated about that, don’t warm up too cozily to the concept of religion. As a consequence, Star Wars has lost depth. I tire of obligatorily pretending the depth is still there when it isn’t.

It’s come to be just another thing social justice warriors are wrecking. And we’re not supposed to notice.

This issue of the droids being potentially sentient and therefore deserving of rights, though, does rightfully claim an anchoring in the old trilogy, specifically at the moment when Luke tries to enter the Mos Eisley Cantina with his droids and is curtly informed by the bartender “We don’t serve their kind.” Therein lies a loose thread, that can be pulled to offer us the story of how oppressive things are in this galaxy at that time. I remember wondering about this, maybe for just a split second, clear back in ’77 as I was trying to take in the story. I guess this is just a weak point in the story-telling, because with good story-telling things should have a point, a reason to be. What was the reason for this exchange?

Luke comments to 3PO that they should acquiesce, which they do, since they “don’t want any trouble.” Is this to clue us in on the situation that, with the Empire looking for the droids and the entourage now wading into a much more densely populated area, they’re in danger? Seems redundant. Is this setting up a theme that “there are alternatives to fighting,” which is picked up a little while later as the Millennium Falcon is sucked into the Death Star? Or a situation in which the droids are out in the alleyways looking for proper hiding spaces, instead of meeting Han Solo and the Wookie?

Maybe, when it came time for Obi-Wan to save Luke by slashing that guy’s arm off and killing the insect-creature, a couple of zany mechanical sidekicks would have hurt the suspense factor? I never did get a good answer to this. George Lucas has always been a stickler for the good-storytelling rule that, if there isn’t a definable reason for a thing being there, the thing should be ejected along with even the most marginal risk of possibly boring the audience. Seems to me the Mos Eisley Cantina could’ve gone right on ahead “serving their kind,” the droids could’ve waddled around, and everything with the story would have been fine. So what gives?

I’m very sure there’s nothing deep or challenging in the state, or degree, of droid sentience that I’m missing. As characters in the story, the droids service the whims of children who haven’t yet put any serious thought into the difference between gadgets and living things. The droids do things robots simply don’t do, like express pleasure while taking a hot oil bath, swear at each other and tell each other to “switch off,” etc. To adults who fancy themselves sufficiently sophisticated to ponder weighty moral issues, they’re toasters, with just some fictional/metaphorical embellishments added, like speech to a cartoon animal, to entertain the less mature.

Toasters don’t need liberating. Oh yes, I know slaveholders referred to their slaves exactly this way in the antebellum era…they’re things and not people. This doesn’t cause me much discomfort with regard to my toaster. As far as I’m concerned it can stay where it is.

Cory Booker Says We Have to Stop Eating Meat

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Independent Sentinel:

Radical leftist Cory Booker has been a vegetarian roughly since 1992, and it began as an experiment. He is committed to it now and wants us to all be vegetarians to save Planet Earth.

The planet can’t sustain all the meat eaters, he told vegnews.com.

Cory Booker“You see the planet earth moving towards what is the Standard American Diet. We’ve seen this massive increase in consumption of meat produced by the industrial animal agriculture industry. The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact,” he said.

There just isn’t enough land, he said. There is too much rainforest destruction and too many greenhouse producing gases, he added.

Hmmm…I like eating meat, but let’s leave that alone for now. After all, the continuing survival of the planet is at steak, er, stake.

The problem here is that I do lots of other things, besides eating meat, that we can’t afford to have everyone doing. The lot size of my house, for example, multiplied by 3.77 billion (world’s population divided by my household’s population) would come to how much land mass? I have a job, and drive a car to get there. I use up services, I consume goods. Not just meat, I also go through a lot of coffee, to say nothing of beer and wine.

You know what I think would make a big, negative environmental impact? If everybody stopped eating meat. How come no one’s exploring that? Could you just imagine? These discussions surface about eating-meat, and people automatically think about cows. Every now and then I’ll come to learn about the actual throughput of chickens, though, and it’s hard to fathom. Hundreds and hundreds, per day, in one tiny little restaurant…what if we were all to quit, uh, cold-turkey. All those chickens that would’ve been butchered every day instead just strutting around making more chickens.

I would imagine one of the first things to happen would be an acute corn crisis. Corn requires a massive investment in land use, and all of the time. You use an acre to grow corn, you can’t use that acre for anything else. I could take this further, but I think I’ve already passed the point that’s been given any serious thought by the Senator or those in agreement. Liberals like to talk about simple things, like individual liberty, being “complex” and “tricky” so they can disguise what they want to do. But then they come to whether the planet can survive the way we do things, and all of a sudden things aren’t tricky anymore, they’re nice and simple, like a fast car barreling toward a brick wall, or a cliff. But that’s exactly when things really are tricky, and not that simple.

Liberals Ruin Everything

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Liberals have a reputation for ruining everything, because they do.

You do realize, don’t you, that they could avoid this reputation — even with their awful ideas — if they agreed to the implementation of those ideas with some kind of back-out plan if things don’t go the way they should. That’s the way you roll out a patch or a new application in a large-scale enterprise network. But they won’t. They want it to be like dumping an additive into the village water well; once it’s done, it’s done. You can put it in but you can’t suck it back out again. They want it like that every time.

They could avoid this reputation if they provided for some kind of opt-out, so that whoever doesn’t want their local well spiked can be given the option to say no thanks. But they won’t. Their ideas are so “good” they have to be forced.

Liberals Ruin EverythingThey could avoid this reputation if they agreed to a sunset option, with option to renew after some term. They almost never do this. They want that ratchet locked in place.

They could avoid this reputation if they didn’t work so hard to exert control over who’s allowed to vote, at what age, with what criminal record — if they could just accept the voting body for however they find it, and make their best pitch to it, like any reasonable sales or marketing professional. But they won’t. They have to do their “ballot harvesting,” their Motor-Voter, and they have to fight any voter ID requirements so we’re not allowed to know who’s voting.

They could avoid this reputation by firming up their list of ecological/cultural lists of offenses, so that it could remain static for a little while. But no. Every year there’s a new offense that’s supposed to make all liberals in good standing angry and “triggered.” For any year that doesn’t see the arrival of a new offense, there is a new expensive social program, some new nanny-state assurance, and we don’t have an adequate level of government until and unless it’s provided. It’s a constant influx. So we never know how many dollars per nose it takes to run a proper government.

They could avoid this reputation by setting up a “sandbox” and checking their new rules within that isolated enclave, leaving everything outside the perimeter unaffected. But they won’t.

They could avoid this reputation by going first. They could say “I want you to pay this higher tax, as I have been paying for the last two years” or “I want you to order drinks without straws, as I have been doing for the last two years.” But they won’t.

They have the reputation of ruining everything, because they want to implement something they haven’t tried themselves…everywhere, from sea to shining sea…forever…with no opt-out plan…no back-out plan…no sunset. And not even so much as a hint that it’s the right way to go.

Notice we’re not even deliberating here whether it’s good to ban drinking straws, to impose unrealistic demands on utilities to use “green” energy, to put Lara Croft in long pants, to expel college students for wearing pro-Trump hats, to tell us how many cartridges our weapons should be able to hold or what days we can water our lawns, to increase the minimum wage or marginal tax rates. It’s got to do with how the rules are imposed, not what they are. Liberals don’t like this reputation they have. I wouldn’t like it either. But I don’t feel one bit sorry for them.

New Platform

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Unless I’ve missed something, the course change Americans voted in for the next two years is

1. Presidents have to release their tax returns
2. Impeach the motherfucker
3. Highest marginal tax rate = 70%

This AOC person deserves some praise for, if nothing else, contributing the most definable, actionable and real policy change that can be discussed. For coloring outside the lines of this unworkable hatpin-tiny platform of “I/we hate Trump” that had been drawing criticism and ridicule all year.

As far as the discussion that ensues, we have had it before. The problem with that arrangement is that the nation’s mighty resources are directed by people who played no part in bringing them into existence. Socialist H.G. Wells wrote a story about this, “The Time Machine,” about the Eloi and the Morlocks, the former of whom lived “above” and enjoyed the perks and privileges of society, the latter of whom lived below, toiling away to make it happen. This is the paradox of socialism: We’re supposed to require their enlightened way of looking at things to see that this is dysfunctional, and yet once they’re in power this is exactly the world they tend to create.

It doesn’t work because the people enjoying the benefits must necessarily make the far-reaching decisions of state, but are missing a toughness that can’t be taught. Pelosi will cut off your head and you won’t even know you’re bleeding, huh. But she’s Eloi. Thrown to the wolves, her kind would NOT return, leading the pack; her class requires this membrane between the upper and the lower, to protect the charismatic types from the exigencies, pressures and shocks of the hard work they can’t do.

There was another story from much further in the past, a fable about a goose and golden eggs, by a guy named Aesop. The parable teaches us there is a difference between a desire to spend loot, and the proper respect that must be paid to whatever brought it into existence.

This new Congress looks to me like a problem that’s going to solve itself. I don’t mind the vulgar language, the so-called “strong willed women” and their readily evident lack of practical skills. What concerns me is their lack of curiosity about what it takes to make things go. But I’m picking up the vibe the rest of the American voting public is seeing the same thing I’m seeing. This is going to help Trump in 2020. A lot.Erika

I just hope these silky-girl-hand types, these Hillary-wannabe pantsuit waifs, caricatures of the type of person we shouldn’t want running anything, double-X reincarnations of Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss, don’t become fastened in the nation’s consciousness to the condition of being female. There are quite a few chicks in this country who understand hard work, cause and effect, supply and demand, who know how to strip and clean a rifle and field dress a moose. There are females who understand that when you subsidize something you get more of it, and when you tax something you get less of it. Really! Girls who have proper trigger discipline and can drive a stick shift. They exist. It’s a shame they were not ably represented in last year’s electoral results, which by and large have favored the “Panera Mom” who gets offended by every little thing, can’t parallel park, and never cultivated an intimate or mutually respectful relationship with anyone who wasn’t a mall-shopping buddy or a stuffed animal.

I’m wondering, once again, why whenever we have a “Year of the Woman” it always seems to end up representing women I don’t know. The women from whom I’m permanently estranged, by choice, the ones I seek to avoid. The sisterhood of Annie Oakley types, who at the very least have once or twice had to deal with a recoil and smelled the sweet scent of burning gunpowder, never seem to find their voice in these things. If we can find a solution to that, we will find a solution to much. Empowering malcontents, with males or females, never ends well.