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What is a Woman?

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Well let’s see…President Obama is particularly interested in telling us all the things His wonderful initiatives do for women throughout their lives, and so He’d like to tell us how they benefit from His wise tutelage womb to tomb. From this, since America’s First Holy Emperor is infinitely wise, of course, we get a good solid definition of women. We get a fairly complete picture of who they are, what they do, their contributions to society…although I can’t shake the feeling that this last item was not the primary focus of the presentation…but that could be because they’re more about taking than giving, or something?

They design web pages. That seems to be the big take-away insofar as why we bother to keep chicks around. Mothering isn’t a big deal, since it consists of standing in front of the house while the school bus picks us up and takes us to Kindergarten. They design web pages their whole lives — twenty-first-century version of embroidering and sewing, if you will — and somewhere along the line they have kids. No need to mention any dad anywhere. So they soak up these really nice pricey educations, and use those educations to design web pages, get knocked up, drop little aspiring web page designers, get old and collect Social Security.

And vote for the right party, we can safely presume that is part of the vision as well.

Ed Morrissey (hat tip to Terri):

At least they picked the right name for their fantasy woman trapped in an all-encompassing government; Julia was the name of the lead female character in George Orwell’s 1984, after all.

One point jumps out at me from Obama’s “Julia.” Not once in this timeline does Team Obama mention anything about a second Obama term. There isn’t one new policy or proposal in it. For a campaign with the slogan “Forward,” that seems a little odd. Just when does Obama plan on discussing his vision of a second term…December?

Morrissey links to David Harsanyi, from whom he excerpts capably, and so I shall not repeat the exercise. But I’m just lovin’ Harsanyi’s headline:

Who the hell is “Julia,” and why am I paying for her whole life?

Quite right. Politician gets voted in — usually, but by no means always, a left-winger — and politician pushes for some new program that confiscates money from people who probably won’t vote for the politician, to provide benefits to people who are more likely to. Politician runs for re-election and says “look at all the wonderful programs that I provided…” Which is a deception, oh let’s call it what it is, a lie. Nobody who is acquainted with what’s going on, is suffering from any delusions that anything was provided. Except by the taxpayers, against their will.

Some people vote for the politician based on this lie, others do not fall for it. Note that this is an objective measurement, it is not right-wing spin, it just happens to come to the same conclusion as right-wing spin because the spin happens to be correct. There is the suckered, there is the un-suckered, and it’s no more complicated than that. Somehow, the ones who are suckered…by this very, very plain and very, very unsophisticated slight-of-hand…are supposed to be smarter than the people who aren’t fooled.

I mean, very much smarter. Just complete rocket scientist geniuses. Ever argue with one of them? But here’s the paradox: According to their own vision, the most productive among them are going to leave this plane of existence at a prosperous and wrinkly old age…probably with a green burial involved so their rotting carcasses don’t pollute Mother Gaia too much…with absolutely nothing left in their wake to say that they were here, save for oodles of web pages. And an adorable little fatherless consumer the government helped them raise. That, according to the progressive narrative, is the cream of the crop. Meh. With all due respect to the web page design industry, that doesn’t look like a genius to me. And the static nature of the technology, I have to say, leaves me concerned. How old is Julia when she kicks it? A hundred? A hundred and ten? Nobody comes up with anything innovative or new in all that time, we all just sit around reading web pages Julia built?

Well, of course not. If someone invented something, Obama would have to share the credit. We saw well He does that, when Seal Team 6 made bin Laden into fish food.

Terri sez…

I am, as a woman, offended. But worse than that…creeped out.

T-Rex’s “Life of Julianne” is a work of art because it illustrates the cultural divide in the country, something Obama’s slide show seeks to avoid. One thing that immediately sticks out is that this life has more a sense of purpose…through community, and family. Some parts of it, minus the web page designing, look like this other life over here.

Which I suppose some people find off-putting, it must be said. Well, hey…things that recall one of George Orwell’s most tragic and sinister novels, can be a little off-putting as well.

We do have a cultural divide in this country. Half of us read things like 1984, Logan’s Run, Atlas Shrugged, Brave New World, Anthem and We…and we see warnings. The other half seems to think of these as instructions manuals.

Question: If this is the Obama vision of a woman’s place in society…what is there for the men to do with their lives?

Update: Oh, well here’s one answer to that question: Cease to exist?

Thanks to Dean Esmay for linking this.

Lessons From Star Wars

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

1. All Annoying Things Come to an End. Think about it: Darth Vader is really Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is a whiny annoying little shit; Darth Vader is not. Darth Vader is a business executive who practices the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He rates his subordinates according to results, period. If they don’t deliver, he crushes their larynxes with The Force, with cool lines like “You have failed me for the last time, Admiral” or “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.” His helmet looks like a skull. He has a cool cape. He does not say silly irritating whiny things “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!” No list of scary movie villains is complete without Lord Vader, which says something, what with that monster-fest that took place a few decades back with Frankenstein and Dracula and all those other guys…so what happens…Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Jar Jar meets his fate, as does Queen Padme who’s almost as annoying as Israeli-born American actress Natalie Portman. Even the Ewoks suffer an Endor Holocaust. Every single Star Wars character that is annoying…save for Luke and Threepio…ceases to exist. And Luke and Threepio stop talking. The moral is unmistakable: Just wait it out. Whine not about those who annoy you, lest you become them. They will be gone, in time.

Jar Jar be que2. Don’t Let the Women Make Decisions. Think about this one, too. What happened right before Chewbacca, Luke, Han, and Leia were trapped in the garbage pit? Next to a long fall down a garbage chute, what was the very most recent thing that happened? The chick took charge of her own rescue, snatched a rifle away from somebody, blasted open the grating and decreed that everyone should follow her down the chute…which they then did, obediently enough. And then, in Attack of the Clones, what was the last thing that happened before Padme and Anakin were captured in the droid factory? Same thing, right? The girl takes charge. Anakin says “Oh don’t worry, I’ve given up trying to argue with you.” Yeah, that was a win, wasn’t it. There’s only one other female in the whole Star Wars movie universe, and it’s Mon Mothma, who orders an attack on Death Star II…which turns out to be a “twap,” right? Thirty-six years earlier, Padme instigates a vote against Chancellor Valorum, and gee, now that we think back on it, that’s exactly where all the trouble gets started. And then, back on Naboo, she barks orders at her bodyguards and her royal servants and so forth at Theed Palace on Naboo…the six or seven or eight of them scale the walls, like they’re all Batman or something — how does that turn out. They get captured, right? Padme, Leia, Padme, Leia…captured, captured, captured, captured, captured. And then rescued. Sometimes. Yes they’re very tough and strong-willed and bull-headed, but their judgment just isn’t very good.

3. Your Grammar Mangle if the Good Lines You Want. Hey c’mon…face facts here. Yoda’s got a lock on all the memorable lines, and it isn’t because he’s old, short, wise or green. Even “Around the survivors a perimeter create” is a cool line, and they go up from there. The verbs in the sentences, last, you put, you must…or…something. Yes, practice it takes. Like they’re going out of style, your commas you must use, or forget it you should.

4. Lightsabers. What a stupid idea. They don’t even work. But still it must be said: Star Wars revolutionized movie-making…the franchise is, without a doubt, the single biggest event in the movie industry in all of the twentieth century, and the movie industry is nothing without the twentieth century. It couldn’t have happened without lightsabers. And lightsabers wouldn’t be lightsabers without lightsaber sounds. Vvvvv-vvvvvvvv….vvvvv..vvvvvv….wksssshhhh!!!! VVVVVVVVVPPPPPP!!!!!!

5. Good vs. Evil. This is the only serious thing on my list. It takes a little bit of deep thinking, so bear with me here…there are two types of drama, high-contrast and low-contrast. With high-contrast, good is good and evil is evil, and they’re both pure. Low-contrast is more of an Occupy Wall Street sparkly-vampire kind of hipster/trenchcoat drama…that means, the good guys have something slimy and unscrupulous about them, and the bad guys have a streak of good in them. Think about the kinda-sorta-bad-guy who’s forced to rob a bank, or assassinate someone, because the really-super-duper-rotten-bad-guy has kidnapped his daughter. So he’s doing bad things but he has a good excuse for doing them. My point is — this shit goes in cycles. We have the classic westerns in the fifties and early sixties, in which the guys in white hats have these “showdowns” with guys in black hats. Pure good versus pure evil. And then we have the seventies, with the hard-boiled cop movies, where the bad guys are all-bad, the cops want to take them down, but the cops are like Dirty Harry…you might want them saving your wife or mother from being raped, but you wouldn’t want your kid to turn out like them. And then you have Star Wars which is a reboot, where we have pure good against pure evil. And then, we entered the grunge age, where it becomes more about the noble anarchy opposing the imperialistic thuggish authority…continuing on forward into the twenty-first century with the Marvel Comic book characters coming to the movie screen. Every single “good guy” has ridden on a stolen motorcycle, without a helmet, at least once. Well…I think humans are genetically programmed to have a greater appreciation for the higher contrast, the stories of pure good against pure evil. Which doesn’t make a lick of sense at all, if you believe in evolution as a way of explaining away God. But if you think we were put here by a Higher Power, it makes perfect sense. And, in either case, it is undeniable. We, as a species, can watch Matt Dillon face off against pure-evil bad guys in Dodge City, all day long. But we tire quickly of the grunge/hipster/trenchcoat/sparkly-vampire/bad-guy-kidnapped-my-terminally-ill-daughter-and-I-have-to-rob-this-bank stuff. The latter does not work for us, in the long run, we tire of it quickly and we have no attraction toward it unless it’s forced on us and there isn’t anything else available for us to watch. When the rubber hits the road, we’d much rather watch Marshal Will Kane shoot Frank Miller dead, and then ride off triumphantly into the sunset. That’s where our hearts really live. We want to see good triumph over evil.

Governor Rick Scott…

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

We need you. Well DONE, sir!

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, you stay put.

Cherokee Liz…

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

…is, I think, in a process of meltdown.

Native-American or not, she is quickly becoming an amalgamation of everything about politicians that annoys me. She’s talked up everywhere in progressive circles as if there’s something remarkable about her, as if she’s accomplished amazing feats that only she can do, and I can’t find anything about any aspect of her that is outside the mediocre. She just got caught in a lie and her reaction is to accuse-the-accuser of discrimination against women…a Saul Alinsky tactic, perhaps chosen with competence, but executed badly.

She doesn’t strike me as particularly knowledgeable. She doesn’t impress me as an above-average, or even an adequate, public speaker. Just another middle-age butter-faced progressive white chick in a pantsuit, doing a lot of whining.

Yeah, I know, I have acquaintances and accomplices who chastise me for noticing these women are ugly. It’s not a critique against them, as individuals; I agree, that would be wrong. But the trend is unmistakable, and I maintain there’s nothing at all wrong with noticing the trend. Senate election after Senate election, Supreme Court nomination after Supreme Court nomination, nothing ever changes…because it’s part of the left-wing sense & sensibility that there’s something wrong with women being appealing to men. You have to wonder who got passed up. It is, after all, supposed to be about equal opportunity. Well, females, by & large, are nice-looking. Three quarters of them look better than these witches.

That quote of hers that was trumpeted up by MoveOnDotOrg, is just dumb. If I agreed with it, and I don’t, I’d see nothing special about it. It isn’t well-said, it isn’t thought-out, if I scribbled out something like that and someone came by and said “Freeberg, you need an editor” I wouldn’t take issue with it; I’d just dish out my stock answer of “Yeah, I know, can’t put one on the payroll yet.” No, it’s not a magnificent piece of prose by any means.

None of which means much, since I don’t live in Massachusetts. But she is a very annoying woman and I have to wonder how she got chosen. I grew up in a college town myself; I’ve had occasion to meet the middle-aged-hippy-woman who’s on the faculty at the campus, who doesn’t believe in eating meat and burns incense at home and droning on about patriarchy and nobody-made-it-on-their-own and what-not. A little bit of them goes a long way. I don’t know why anyone thought the voters would flock to her. And that’s before she got caught lying to advance her career.

Hopefully, some of the immolation happens to affirmative action, as well. I suppose it’s already detonating, the way progressive causes do, by first going through a name change. Been awhile since you’ve heard it called AA, right? “Diversity in hiring/contracting” or some such, you’re supposed to call it now. Hope it suffers a huge black eye because of this. We’ve got these greedy white girls gaming the system. Something must be done!

“The Nutty Things Liberals Say”

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Prelutsky is bringin’ it again.

I know that those on the Left pride themselves not only on their compassion and on holding the deed to the moral high ground, but also to having brains so enormous that they can barely make it through doorways. Well, it ain’t necessarily so.

For instance, while speaking at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Eric Holder said this to his host: “Thank you for your partnership, your friendship and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill.”

You would have thought he was praising some great humanitarian. Instead, he was paying homage to the man who got his start as a publicity whore back in 1987, when he accused white cops of having raped a black teenager, who had only made the accusation as a way to conceal from her mother the fact that she had spent the weekend shacked up with her boyfriend. Sharpton followed that up by singling out a couple of New York Jews for street justice. Predictably, they were subsequently killed by black mobs.

More recently, Rev. Sharpton, who now hosts a show on MSNBC, was down in Sanford, Florida, and once again, in concert with the Black Panthers, he was inciting racial violence.

As Bernard Goldberg put it in a recent article devoted to Sharpton’s litany of sins, “This kind of nonsense gives cynicism a bad name.”

Yes. Myself and others have been noticing, it seems to be this sense of extreme-goodperson-who-knows-it-all, with side helpings of “my side’s always right and those other guys never are,” and “Look what I’m saying, this ought to make my homies happy and keep me in the club’s good graces for another three minutes”…moves them to say exceptionally silly things.

Also, there is an anesthetizing effect, or rather, a dampening effect. They’re used to telling the rest of us what to think, what to remember, and what to forget. And let’s face it, they’ve been doing it awhile, so the rest of us are accustomed to being told. Barack Obama says on January 20, 2009, future generations will look back and say this was the moment the oceans receded…by January 21 nobody knew about it except for some right-wingers on the radio, and the situation persists today.

Joe Biden, who is busy serving as Obama’s consigliore, admitted, “I never had an interest in being a mayor because that’s a real job. You have to produce. That’s why I was able to be a Senator for 36 years.” So, as a reward for being lazy as well as stupid, he winds up being the man a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Still, while he’s right about his own deficiencies, he still manages to be wrong when it comes to mayors, as proven on a daily basis by the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa and Rahm Emanuel.

Recently, while delivering a speech at Alabama A&M, Louis Farrakhan told an adoring crowd that Jesus Christ had been a black Muslim. He also took the time to refer to Jews as “a synagogue of Satan” and accused white Republicans of praying for Obama’s death. I wasn’t too surprised that the predominantly black student audience cheered his words, but I was a bit taken aback to learn that he’d been invited down by the A&M Poetry Club and the A&M Democrats. Frankly, I would have expected better from the poets.

My head came close to exploding when Hilary Rosen took Ann Romney to task for never having been a member of the work force. For one thing, anyone who thinks that raising five boys is easier than being a liberal flack clearly has straw for brains. For another, Ms. Rosen is a lesbian. I have no bone to pick with lesbians, but I can’t deny that I find it ludicrous when the likes of Hilary Rosen and Rosie O’Donnell take it upon themselves to lecture American women on how they should live their lives.
Speaking of women, we should never forget that it wasn’t too long ago that Hillary Clinton, whose engraved business cards read: “The Smartest Woman in the World,” announced that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was a reformer. But, as I recall, she also had very complimentary things to say along the way about her husband and Barack Obama, so perhaps she just has a soft spot for tall liars.

Finally, it should be acknowledged that almost as noteworthy as the things that left-wingers say are the things they don’t. For instance, while constantly railing against the way that Republicans treat their womenfolk, when have you ever heard Obama utter a negative word about the vile manner in which women are dealt with in Islamic societies?

It’s all about appealing to the constituency and staying in the good graces of the club. A good litmus test to apply to a liberal who wants to “discuss” something, and I dunno, it seems gauche and rude to actually go applying it, but maybe I should start: Ask the lefty to acknowledge Thomas Sowell, Sarah Palin and Charles Krauthammer might have a better lock on reality than Peggy Joseph, the notorious “Obama gonna put gas in my car and pay my mortgage” fan-lady on Barack Obama’s campaign trail.

Seems silly to even think about applying such a test. Perhaps it is. But too many left-wingers would not pass it, and yet, they want to discuss things. Which leads to endless micro-circular round-robins like this.

Well, that’s on them. Watching it happen on a Wednesday, and then forgetting all about it by Thursday morning, is our fault. Hillary Clinton claimed to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. She’s said many other dumb things…and that’s just her.

Of course people who are left of leaning, will respond with some cute clips of George W. Bush, maybe Dan Quayle as well, stumbling through something — entirely failing to consider the causes. Some left-wing volunteers sifting through endless volumes of speeches, interviews, et al, looking for “oopsies”; a bit too much No-Doz, or maybe, not enough. That is not what I’m complaining about here with the liberals. All caught up on their sleep cycles, their bloodstream perfectly well balanced in gluten, protein, iron, and I don’t even want to think about what else they’re accustomed to having in there…pulse and blood pressure normal, not a care in the world, no pounding headache, nuthin’ — they strive to show how smart they are, and reliable as rain, they peel off. It’s a doozy, you don’t have to sit through anything to find it, you can listen randombly and here it is…here comes another gem, and you’ll have to listen to a right-wing radio talk show if you ever want to hear about it again. Oh, really Joe? Clean and articulate, you say…and this is a big fucking deal? Hey, that’s great. Just great.


Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

First impressions: I’m probably not that good at stepping into the shoes of the squishy, moderate, “casually-informed” voter, but this strikes me as very well done.

Were I advising them about it, I’d say take those few moments at 3:05+ or so, about how awful and evil those Republicans are, and strip them out. The rest of the video makes for a powerful, compelling, positive message, and these 30 seconds don’t fit in with it. The “and still, He persevered” is particularly silly; can’t stick to ideas being sold, they have to keep veering off into talking up the personality who is selling them to us. So it’s back to the Holy Healer nonsense from four years ago.

I’m convinced this would be even more saleable if that were left on the cutting room floor. Along with the bin Laden thing, too, probably. Surely someone has suggested it. But those who put the clip together — who clearly know what they’re doing — chose to leave that all in. Possible explanations: Their talents come from keeping the right-brain engaged in their work, essentially gratifying themselves almost on a hormonal level, with every second of footage produced. And, darn it, it felt so good to take a few swipes at the Republicans. Or…they have research that says the electorate, at least the squishy middle of the electorate that these kinds of media are intended to reach, will tolerate some messaging of the form “Our side is so much better than that other side.” At least, from the liberals they will.

Medicators medicate. It’s what they do. That’s why their situation is ever-constant: We’ve all been living through some interminable period of darkness, with the greedy selfish one percent dominating and oppressing everybody, at least, everybody who ought to matter. But the clock is stuck at almost-dawn, with the sun just about to peak over the hills in the East, and when it’s daylight the locks on the treasury will be shattered and the stolen fortunes will spill out in the streets and our champion will tell everyone to grab all they can, and the widows will be sustained and the babies will be fed and the awful oppressive meanie people will have big frowns on their faces as they realize how much they suck, and…and…and…we’re always right there, at the very last moments of the long dark night. Keep watching the hills in the East.

So they don’t deal with time very well because, as we’ve seen, they haven’t got an answer for “Okay now it’s daylight and you’re in charge, what ya gonna do?” That is where this video breaks down. Of necessity, and by design, it is tailor-made for people who do not make use of their long-term memory faculties, at least, not with comprehending the phenomena of American politics. On November 5, 2008, the Medicator class got their dawn. And on 1/20/09 their Replacement Jesus was ensconced onto the throne. Therefore, to those who pay attention to history even at just a cursory level, it’s a bit silly to be playing the “last few minutes of the long cold dark night” thing in 2012.

Now, how would a Republican sway a squishy-moderate who’s all ready to re-elect America’s First Holy President as a result of watching this powerful video? If the job were left up to me, I would jump to 2:09 and make the case there. Reform…reform…reform…cheaper…can’t deny…guaranteed…more affordable…all sounds good, but you know what’s really being talked about? Force, force, force, force, force, force, force. The government big enough to give you everything you want, as they say, is big enough to take away all you have. And this government makes nothing cheaper. It subsidizes and pays for absolutely nothing. It acquires things, often on behalf of others whose votes are being sought, by confiscating money from other people…forcibly…and, when that is not sufficient to pay the tab, it borrows in the name of those who are not yet born, but will be, with thousands of dollars of debt over each newborn head. More force.

That’s why the video is effective. It succeeds in appealing to the right half of the brain, reaching out to the Medicators on their primitive-instinct pleasure-center level, and deftly sidesteps the darker ruminations about a fiat economy.

The one-word mantra of “Forward,” on the other hand, is a complete disaster (hat tip to The Other McCain).

The Obama campaign apparently didn’t look backwards into history when selecting its new campaign slogan, “Forward” — a word with a long and rich association with European Marxism.

Many Communist and radical publications and entities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had the name “Forward!” or its foreign cognates. Wikipedia has an entire section called “Forward (generic name of socialist publications).”

“The name Forward carries a special meaning in socialist political terminology. It has been frequently used as a name for socialist, communist and other left-wing newspapers and publications,” the online encyclopedia explains.

The slogan “Forward!” reflected the conviction of European Marxists and radicals that their movements reflected the march of history, which would move forward past capitalism and into socialism and communism.

The Obama campaign released its new campaign slogan Monday in a 7-minute video. The title card has simply the word “Forward” with the “O” having the familiar Obama logo from 2008. It will be played at rallies this weekend that mark the Obama re-election campaign’s official beginning.

There have been at least two radical-left publications named “Vorwaerts” (the German word for “Forward”). One was the daily newspaper of the Social Democratic Party of Germany whose writers included Friedrich Engels and Leon Trotsky. It still publishes as the organ of Germany’s SDP, though that party has changed considerably since World War II. Another was the 1844 biweekly reader of the Communist League. Karl Marx, Engels and Mikhail Bakunin are among the names associated with that publication.

East Germany named its Army soccer club ASK Vorwaerts Berlin (later FC Vorwaerts Frankfort).

Vladimir Lenin founded the publication “Vpered” (the Russian word for “forward”) in 1905. Soviet propaganda film-maker Dziga Vertov made a documentary whose title is sometimes translated as “Forward, Soviet” (though also and more literally as “Stride, Soviet”).

Conservative critics of the Obama administration have noted numerous ties to radicalism and socialists throughout Mr. Obama’s history, from his first political campaign being launched from the living room of two former Weather Underground members, to appointing as green jobs czar Van Jones, a self-described communist.

The European Marxists like the word because it lives within those last-few-moments-of-the-long-dark-night. You don’t motivate people to join your cause with “Yay, we’re already there.” So the carrot is constantly two or three inches in front of the donkey’s nose. Forward!

This is awful for the Obama team, because every propaganda poster from Europe’s many disastrous twentieth-century experiments, is a free iconic campaign gift to the Republicans, and imagery is powerful. Now, whether they’re smart enough to use it, is another thing. But the fact remains, the word has some very dark connections and they’re not coincidental. It’s a package deal: The state plays a game of “Robin Hood and the Sherrif of Nottingham are one and the same,” keeping the ignorant masses in a state of perpetual bloodthirsty euphoria by pretending to loot itself. More laws, more taxes, more social programs, more force, less freedom, a fiat economy, and, interestingly, everlasting hostility against the Jews always seems to be inextricably woven into the design, either by intent or by consequence, but it’s always there.

On a philosophical level, where the conservatives can go from here — and there is a lot of time to do this — is to attack this lock-busting sunrise moment, when the walls of the coffers are shattered and the treasure spills out in the streets and the starving widows and orphans scoop it up. That seems like “economic justice” until you think on it awhile; right off the bat, there are two big problems with it. One, the starving widows and orphans who are even worse off, and don’t happen to be anywhere near the place where the coins are hitting the pavement, so their plight persists; two, the people who happen to be close by and are in a position to grab what they can when the bolshevik champion yells “Go!,” who were already doing rather well. These two problems point to the plain fact that this isn’t an equalization of living standard at all, and has nothing to do with any kind of justice, it’s just theft.

The sunrise moment ends up being nothing more than an exchange of a free-trade, merit-based system that produces inequalities, for another one that is corrupt, decree-driven, essentially random, and still produces inequalities. And, of course, there’s no plan for what happens after the sunrise. Somewhere an enemy has to be defined to keep the masses all riled up, so the people in charge start purifying their own ranks. Revolutionaries do have a habit of executing their own for not being revolutionary enough.

In fact, that inspires a rather interesting and poignant question. What happened to the 2008 theme of unifying us and bringing us all together? Did that just turn out to be too self-satirical, too awkward, too unworkable, invited too much ridicule maybe? Just not going to try to pretend anymore?

Update: Via Gerard: Once again, you knew it was coming…

“A Fact of Life”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Bill Daley, who used to be the White House Chief of Staff, explains:

“Most of the public today believes the president has been too light on the financial service sector. Nobody’s gone to jail. He didn’t nationalize the banks. The president has a very difficult time with the business community. Most people in business and most people who are successful are Republican that’s just a fact of life.”

Perhaps it has something to do with, figuring out how things work before making all these imperialistic decrees about what should happen next, or what should’ve happened with some other situation somewhere. The “president has been too light” because “nobody’s gone to jail.” Sensible sentiment, if we’re talking about those Black Panther thugs who got busted intimidating voters at a polling place; not only is it definable what their actions were, that were illegal, but their case went to court and they lost. And then the incoming Obama Justice Department moved to dismiss the case.

Not so with the business executives. But it feels so good to say, someone shoulda gone to jail…the President shoulda made it happen. Off with their heads! Well, last I checked, that’s not the way it works. Also, that is a trait shared by nearly all of the more successful people I’ve met: They figure out how things work, and manage to restrain their impulses of “but it should work some other way.” They deal with reality as it is. If they want to open a business, and the city or county or state takes a tax, or a fee, that is “unjust” — read that as, unworkably expensive — they form a new plan, opting for some different location, and then they put all their energy into it.

You might say they “occupy” life.

The Government’s College Money Pit

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Jeff Jacoby writes at Townhall:

Year in, year out, Washington bestows tuition aid on students and their families. Year in, year out, the cost of tuition surges, galloping well ahead of inflation. And year in, year out, politicians vie to outdo each other in promising still more public subsidies that will keep higher education within reach of all. Does it never occur to them that there might be a cause-and-effect relationship between the skyrocketing aid and the skyrocketing price of a college education? That all those grants and loans and tax credits aren’t containing the fire, but fanning it?

Apparently not.

“We’ve got to make college more affordable for more young people,” President Obama declaimed during campaign appearances at the universities of Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado last week. “We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.” Like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, Obama argued for keeping the aid spigot open. He hit all the usual notes (“extend the tuition tax credit … cap student loan payments … make sure the Pell grants are there”), and for good measure used the federal student-loan interest rate — which will double in July unless Congress acts — to paint Republicans as clueless Grinches. Yet Mitt Romney also wants to extend the current rate. The myth that government can control the price of higher education by driving up the demand for it commands broad and bipartisan belief.

“It’s not enough just to increase student aid. We’ve also got to stop subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” Obama said to applause in Iowa City. He might as well have declared that it’s not enough to keep flooring the accelerator; we’ve also got to stop the car from going faster. Reality doesn’t work that way. Rising government aid underwrites rising demand for higher education, and when demand is forced up, prices follow suit.

There is something else happening here.

Our institutions of higher learning have captured for themselves a rather messy and unattractive, but well-deserved, reputation as little Che Guevara factories. They are not generally fond of the advantages offered by a free-market economy, and why should they be? Their revenue stream has been shifting, over the years, toward government largesse — which in turn is liberated from the taxpayer, against his will. No genuine “trade” involved. Which, in turn, feeds into the problem defined above. There’s little or no incentive to keep tuition costs under control.

Feeling Unclean

Monday, April 30th, 2012

John Hinderaker writes in PowerLine:

Events like last night’s always leave me feeling in need of a shower. Partly it is because there some truth to Kimmel’s joke, after noting that the room was full of politicians, members of the media and celebrities, that “Everything that is wrong with America is here in this room.” Partly is is due to the sense that everyone involved in the event is pretending. The politicians pretend to engage in self-deprecation that shows they don’t take themselves too seriously. The comics pretend that they are just trying to be funny, lampooning politicians impartially in search of laughs. But, even though some of the lines are indeed funny, the premise of the event is fundamentally false. In fact, politicians, comedians and even the celebrities present are pursuing an agenda that is both self-aggrandizing and political. That is why, I think, such events always leave me feeling unclean.

Me, I felt unclean, in part, because my President opened the festivities with toilet humor.

Also, for whatever it’s worth, I don’t recall hearing a hand-washing sound effect following the toilet-flushing sound effect.

But the whole thing is classless and idiotic. Were such a “correspondents’ dinner” possible during the Washington administration, the Father Of Our Country would’ve nixed it in about half a second.

I’m sure to the progressive types it looks like a cool idea, and for them maybe it is, because their side is always going to have a lock on humor. Humor is a way to persuade people who don’t pay much attention; and, unfortunately, as unhappy as people are with the direction things are headed, it is a highly prized political commodity to be able to reach people who aren’t paying attention. There are so many of them.

It’s a funny thing about political commodities: Whatever is exploited, is encouraged to grow. The country doesn’t need more people paying attention only casually. That, really, is the only thing broken. Previously in our history, if people were unhappy with the situation and the way it was shaping up, they’d pay more attention. Our problem today is an attitude of “this sucks, so i’m going to go look at something else.”

This springtime dinner is, I think, our stupidest tradition. I don’t want to see humor used to sell Americans a bunch of progressive toxic stew yet one more way, when they’ve already said not-buyin’-today fifty different times. I don’t want to see my President making jokes about Kim Kardashian.

And frankly, I worry about the concept of humor itself. I grow quite weary of watching it drifting away from its classic purpose, being used as a shield; liberals say these dumb, false, un-funny things, and there seems to be this rule in place that they have to have that “last word” they’re always trying to have…if anyone says anything against it at all, back they come with What’s the matter with you, don’t you have a sense of humor. Well gee, yeah, humor, there’s that too: What you said wasn’t funny. Wasn’t there some other rule in place, that if I have to get blasted or stoned before I find your joke funny, it’s not really funny and you shouldn’t tell it? Guess that got repealed, huh?

“Their Carefully Worded Protest Signs”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I imagine more than a few of my friends will identify with this:

From Terrierman.

“Wild Bill’s Tax Plan”

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

You’re speaking my language, Wild Bill…

I predict, though, that those who are left-of-wing would find a problem in this. If noplace else, then toward the end, where he talks about votes being cast by the taxpayers. It seems to be a liberal position that taxpayers are the very last people who should have any say in anything…

Trust and Retractions

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Now here is a picture that’s worth a zillion words…

Look what’s going on there now. Green line is retraction incidents, measured in “notices” per 100,000 publications in scientific journals. Now, you could argue there may be problems with measuring it this way…but nevertheless, if the plotting is shaped like this, it’s gotta mean something. And the line more or less gels with public perception of the problems with science across time, if it doesn’t define an even greater issue with this thing we call “science” in actuality, compared to what is perceived.

Conservatives and moderates are losing faith in the institution, whereas liberals continue to pledge fealty.

The situation might very well be — it must be stated — much more complicated than this. Bu-u-u-u-t…I don’t think so. Liberals like feeling all scientifical & stuff, they mock conservatives for not sharing in the passion, it assuages their egos to wallow in the mental stew that they’re being all science-y and the conservatives aren’t cool or nuanced or sophisticated or hip enough to follow along…but what’s really going on is that conservatives, as is usually the case, do a better job of factoring in the history of the way things turned out, prior to figuring out what’s going on & what to do about it.

From Bad Data, Bad!, hat tip to Terri by way of Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm.

I see Primer Caps and Heavy Pendulums is now up to 252 comments, which is sure to be a record for The Blog That Nobody Reads. I’m not quite so impressed by the number, as I am by the subject of this record-breaker…climate change. This genuinely surprises me, as I thought it would have something to do with legalizing pot, or Sarah Palin. What was I just saying about factoring in the history of the way things turned out…it would seem, now & then, that doesn’t work. Sarah Palin & pot have always been way out in front, as ways of stirrin’ the puddin’. What changed?

This thread got up there exactly the same way your car reaches a destination — by means of something going around very quickly in a circle. We have a gadfly, who is evidently not a single person, who is busy citing lots of scientific research and even demonstrating an understanding of some of the more involved parts of it, while showcasing a rather dazzling ignorance of the elementary aspects. His/her/its/their objection to my point looks like: Do you accept that the Earth is warming? and I say, no, I don’t…my objections have to do with the many problems involved in measuring things, and the total, or near-total, silence about the nature of these problems & what is done to overcome them. Whereupon, the mysterious entity chastises me for being skeptical to the wrong things, and commands me to go through the data, withholding any further commentary until such time as I find a problem. Uh, the data that were acquired through these means of measurement that I’m questioning. In varying levels of detail, depending on which cycle we’re on in the stupid-go-round, I define the nature of one of many points in the inference pipeline of “Um, you don’t really know that”…and my partner in discourse continues to chastise me without even showing an understanding of what I’m talking about. Like I said. Showcasing a dazzling ignorance of the elementary aspects. The climate-alarmist has data, he has a method for capturing the data…poopy head skeptic comes along and criticizes the way the data were captured, the alarmist’s way of shutting him up is to task him on a snipe hunt, endlessly combing through the data. This person knows what kind of footnotes to put up, and is familiar with the terminology, but cannot reliably locate where the point of dispute is in a disagreement. ++sniff++ ++snif++ Smells like…college kid.

From the New York Times column linked in a prior post at Bad Data

In the fall of 2010, Dr. Ferric C. Fang made an unsettling discovery. Dr. Fang, who is editor in chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, found that one of his authors had doctored several papers.

It was a new experience for him. “Prior to that time,” he said in an interview, “Infection and Immunity had only retracted nine articles over a 40-year period.”

The journal wound up retracting six of the papers from the author, Naoki Mori of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. And it soon became clear that Infection and Immunity was hardly the only victim of Dr. Mori’s misconduct. Since then, other scientific journals have retracted two dozen of his papers, according to the watchdog blog Retraction Watch.

“Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang, who is a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Dr. Fang became curious how far the rot extended. To find out, he teamed up with a fellow editor at the journal, Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. And before long they reached a troubling conclusion: not only that retractions were rising at an alarming rate, but that retractions were just a manifestation of a much more profound problem — “a symptom of a dysfunctional scientific climate,” as Dr. Fang put it.

Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.

“This is a tremendous threat,” he said.
Several factors are at play here, scientists say. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.

But other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.

There is something of a vacuum-cleaner-sucking-itself-out-of-existence thing going on here, since we now have reason to distrust and doubt the things the scientists say, especially when they trot out these scary graphs, so to find out how bad the problem is, we’re going to listen to what the scientists have to say about it and look at some scary graphs.

But there is an important concept being illustrated here, which is well worthy of exploration because it has escaped the notice of many among us, particularly, those among us who have the most to say. The concept is one of simple uncertainty. Don’t Star Trek androids and Vulcans talk this way all the time? “Captain, there is a seventy-three percent probability that…” et cetera.

A funny thing happened in the big long monster-thread. The gadfly posted a chart from the NOAA that was very difficult to read. It turned out, neither the gadfly nor the geniuses at NOAA responsible for putting it together, had ever viewed it against anything but a white background. It was a .GIF file with a transparency layer that didn’t belong there, you see…so, I used an image processing tool to fix their own artifact for them, stripping out the transparency.

This is, coincidentally, a perfect metaphor for what is happening. SCIENCE SEZ…such-and-such a thing. The liberals and other laymen who like to feel all scientifical & junk before they really have a handle on the concepts involved, take note of the findings without also taking note, Vulcan-like, of what the potential is that this is a true & accurate reading of the thing being measured. Just like a different image file format that only supports the luminence and chroma of the pixel, but with no alpha/transparency channel present, presumes 1.0 for the transparency (meaning, all of the pixels are absolutely opaque). From the merry-go-round arguing with our resident gadfly, we’ve seen this is exactly what is happening. They understand “findings” and they want to debate it with people who say it might not necessarily be so, but they refuse to understand, let alone have a discourse about, the simple human-knowledge concept of uncertainty about things. They live in a 24-bit RGB world, you might say. There is reality, there are measurements…these are functionally synonymous. Question the measurements? How dare you!

Monica Novoa Wants to Get Rid of the “I” Word…

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

…but apart from that, she’s not completely sure what she wants done.


Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Surber throws it in. Time/energy demands can’t be sustained, just-plain-tired.

Not a cheery event. This actually unhappys me much. But best wishes to him, may the road rise up to greet him and the wind always be at his back.

This Is Good C

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Hawkins comes up with another good one.

Mmmm, hmmmmm…Zimmerman shot someone, so he’s “white” — it is a fait accompli that if he was in the news because he came up with a cure for AIDS or Cancer, there’s no way under the sun that his description in electronic media would include the word “white.” Our media thinks in terms of narratives and not in terms of facts, because the commodity they sell is the narrative. Occasionally this creates problems, and this looks like one of those problems. Someone did not succeed in thinking things all the way through.

Seriously, Why?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Permit me an unhinged rant about the young family at the next table over. Last night was my sweetheart’s birthday, and I was delighted to see we had a seat with no waiting even though we didn’t have a reservation. Cool! And it was right up front. Just after ordering the appetizer, we were graced with the company of a young couple, about thirty, with the loudest entourage of of little tax deductions you ever did see. Right across the aisle. Why does this keep happening? If it is truly a random occurrence, the odds against it happening the way it’s been happening…must be staggering. But somehow they always know where to seat us, who to put next to us, and when.

To be clear, “loud” only applies to the 67% youngest amongst the junior lineup. The oldest, around five or six, mentally checked out with the able assistance of his tablet. And I do mean checked out…completely…no chiding at all from the parental units about speaking properly to the waiter when ordering, nothing like that at all. Could’ve replaced the oldest kid with a leather dummy, or a big pillow. The middle was a girl who was, like most girls that age, allowed to laugh and sing and yell and make whatever sounds she liked, as loud as she liked and as long as she liked, without so much as a hint that this is out of place, inappropriate, or even uncherished. Boys that age are admonished to use their “library voices,” I think, still, but she proceeded to cheerfully dominate the sound space the entire time. The two year old had discovered the joys of being self-mobile and proceeded to run up and down the aisle. Three times, the family patriarch excused himself to go collect. Momma did not so much as flinch. Yeah, that told the story…husband is in business clothes, wife is in the “You don’t expect me to keep this house together and look pretty too, do you?” uniform. Going out to a nice restaurant to give momma a break. Mercifully, they finished the meal lickety-split. But they spent more time picking up their stuff on the way out, than they did actually eating. Interestingly, all three whelps had to be hounded about where their iPads were. That’s worth a lifted eyebrow at the very least. All three have iPads? I see. How many will require medication before they can pay attention to their teachers?

Talk with your eyes closed, smell your own fartsThe service we got from the wait staff was off-the-charts excellent, which is why we keep going back. It seems to be getting just better and better all the time. And, with dessert, and the check, we get a survey card. Oh, no…

It’s not even a dilemma. I have to mention it. There seems to be a feeling in the air, from where it comes I do not know — families with kids can be put anywhere, it’s a universal fit. This cannot continue uncorrected. Yes, I’m serious. I feel awful about it.

But my real puzzlement is with the family. Lobster ravioli, parmesan-crusted steak, grilled cheese sandwich, kids don’t give a shit. They’ll prefer a box of animal crackers for $1.89 or whatever. After a hearty meal of fish sticks. We opted to keep things pleasant. That means, we showed no balls at all. No need, nothing was really ruined — this time. We got a chuckle out of it. And delighted in entertaining a fantasy: I pick up their check, and when they ask why, we say if you can’t afford a sitter you must need every nickel.

Tempting. But it’s wrong to spend real money to feel smug. There’s a reason we don’t have a Prius…

What has happened? Has babysitting become yet another job real Americans won’t do? We have so many retail establishments that exist solely for the purpose of giving kids a wonderful time, places completely unlike anything that existed in my youth — and yet I continue to see these whelps hauled off to other places, places that have nothing whatsoever to do with whelps. It is an enigma and, I think, perhaps a foretelling of something that is about to turn out in a way we won’t like.

Green Activists Trash Park on Earth Day

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

*sigh*. SFist, via Gateway Pundit, by way of Fox News.

Not to get all hippie-preachy or anything, but this is kind of an offensive amount of trash, right? Do normal and reasonable human beings not look at that mess and say, “…maybe we ought to like, I don’t know? Take some of this trash with us? To a trash can?” or “Maybe we should bring that coffee table back home?” We’ve seen our share of litter-y days in Dolores Park and some embarrassing trash pileups in Golden Gate Park, but leaving actual pieces of living room furniture is a whole new level of prickish park use.

“Those trash picker guys are going to be stoked about this!” was one justification we heard for the mess. We tried to get someone from the neighborhood recycling center on the phone to settle that bet, but they are unfortunately not open on Sundays, so we’ll have to follow up on that later.

Looks like the SF online resource is none to pleased with people blaming this on “activists.” Mmmm…yeah, after mulling it over, I think I’m going to go out on a limb and call that one. There is drawing reasonable conclusions about things and then there is “fabricating.” Those are two different things, ya know.

Feminism 6/1/97

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

It was a Sunday. The sun was not up yet, and I hoofed it around the block where we lived, at Folsom Ranch on Greenback Lane.

I had a lot on my mind, because I was about to become a father. To a healthy baby girl. Her mother informed me, nearly two months previous, that I wasn’t going to work that morning because the water would break that day…which didn’t happen, and didn’t happen the day after that, and the day after that. That’s where the previous two months went. What a long two months those were. If I live to be a hundred and fifty, I won’t forget it.

I remember it like it was an hour ago: The sun just started to peak up over the mountains and I approached American River Canyon Dr. The thought in my head rings clear as a bell even today: “Jesus fucking Christ, I don’t know how to raise a girl, because the world doesn’t know either!” Seriously, what are they supposed to do? Marry? Have kids? Clean house? Bake pies? Every little thing you have them do, someone somewhere is ready to criticize you for it — and her too. Which means something. What is an expectant father to do?

The map says my route was 3.86 miles. I don’t remember too much of it after that; nothing at all, really. Not a single footstep. Thankfully, “Savannah” or “Mikhaila” or whatever-ya-call-her, was born 11 pounds, fourteen ounces, with extra equipment, that Wednesday afternoon. I was spared those interminable trips to the barbie doll shops and the Twilight movies, instead I get to be preoccupied with camping, archery, knot-tying and gunfire. Good. To this day I see it as The Lord’s infinite wisdom, confining a man’s temporal challenges to fit the finite talents he can bring. The same is true of all Freeberg men. We don’t have daughters, because we’re not up to it.

But I don’t think anyone else is, either.

And that ends my experience with being a father of a daughter. Just a hypothetical; several weeks of dull and thoughtless apprehension, followed by a few terrifying minutes of real clarity on a Sunday morning, once liberated of the anesthetizing distractions. Followed by a permanent terminus. Now it’s someone else’s problem. That makes it easy; had it actually happened, I would have eventually found a way to deal with it, just like I deal with it when my liquor store doesn’t stock my favorite beer in the cold case. That makes it easy, too. But, it’s a challenge I’ve not had to face down, since my Sunday-morning sweaty-hiking deep-thinking…at which time, I came up empty with all my man-against-nature fine-mind-against-whatever-challenges-the-world-has-to-offer ruminations. That makes it hard. Very, very hard; I’m not used to coming up empty, as in, all-out-of-ideas. In fifteen years, since then, I don’t think it’s really happened to me quite like that. On that Sunday morning, as the sun peeked over the mountains, I was fresh out of ideas as I’ve never been before or since.

Would I have, once again, found a way to deal? I’m certain the answer is yes. But honestly, I have no idea what that way would’ve been. I haven’t even a glimmer.

Take this however you will. As a salute to parents of girls? That probably works, and it probably fits. They have a special challenge. Maybe, had I been forced to adapt to it, I could’ve and would’ve. It’s more than likely. But the same could be said of serving in Iraq, maybe getting a limb blown off. Odds are, I’d have adapted to that too. But that’s all just a useless hypothetical. Here I sit with all four limbs, all twenty-one digits, and a wonderful, wise, capable, conscientious and scrupulous son. Who’s four hundred miles away, but oh well.

The point is, I can’t criticize the feminists too much. They are coping with the problem that, fifteen years ago, I had declared — and found — to be unsolvable. Then again, you could argue that through the thirty years previous, they had made it that way. But meanwhile, the plain and simple fact of the matter is there are still pregnancies going on, and some 52% of those end in the birth of a female baby. Then what happens? As she grows up, she acquires skills? Sounds good! Then what? She meets someone? And her life turns into something that is not a complete vegan-radical-fem-henna-Earth-goddess mess?

My son is coming over to visit this summer. Before the school year begins and he has to go back, we’ll have probably, oh, twenty or more conversations about my future daughter-in-law. Is he going to be an ambitious and capable manly-man, and introduce me to a lean, strong, capable young girl with straight teeth who will fortify my family line with strong, robust grandchildren, and maybe make the old man more than a litle bit jealous; or is he going to wimp out and bring home some cleb-foot freckle-faced inbred hillbilly girl with fifteen kids by four previous marriages and who knows how many informal couplings…

I reckon that’s politically incorrect, putting the same pressure on boys that’s been put on girls since the days of Shakespeare. What’re ya good for? Who ya bringing home?

Well — whatever. If you’re going to do something, do it right. That’s an easy rule to follow, until you apply it to the raising of a girl. Then things get complicated fast. And boys are not too much easier. I’m now over twenty years divorced, with a fifteen-year-old son. Yes, the math doesn’t add up. It’s the first question St. Peter will have for me, and whatever questions come after that will be nothing more than an afterthought. Well, it is what it is; I can only apologize so many times.

But that’s my complication. Women, nowadays, have their own. I had to put some serious thought into this, before sunrise on a Sunday morning in the summer of ’97. I’ve not had to think about it too much since then, but I have have the feeling I’ll need to be thinking about this, again, before too much longer.

This Is Good XCIX

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Obama Eats Dogs

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Kate at Small Dead Animals links to Jim Treacher:

I haven’t had this much fun ridiculing a dog-eating president since the last dog-eating president, who was… Hmm. Let me get back to you on that one. I guess everything Obama does is historic!

As for our moral, ethical, and intellectual superiors in the Democratic Party who don’t appreciate this one bit, here’s a question:

If you don’t want to talk about dogs, why did you bring up dogs?

Now: Add up the number of days you’ve yammered about Romney’s dog. Take that sum and add 1. Find a calendar, count out that number of days from today, and mark the date. That’s the day I’ll consider not hurting your feelings anymore by bringing up the fact that Obama eats dogs.

Or November 7, 2012. Whichever comes first.

“A day will come when I stop enjoying this. Today is not that day.” That all by itself is nearly good enough for a BSIHORL. And the tweet scores a direct bulls-eye.

“Narrative is Everything”

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Cindy Simpson, channeling Breitbart:

There is one thing that President Obama refers to as a silly distraction. But in reality, it represents a key part of the bigger thing conservatives must overcome to win this election battle.

The biggest thing was described by the “Big” sites’ creator, Andrew Breitbart, in his book, Righteous Indignation:

The left does not win its battles in debate…The left wins because it controls the narrative. The narrative is controlled by the media. The left is the media. Narrative is everything. [i]

Breitbart highlighted the “turning point” in the history of media control — the mainstream coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. The “guys who idolized Woodward and Bernstein” had been transformed into “open partisan hacks,” rewriting the narrative with Clinton cast as the hero and Republicans the villains. Breitbart also noted that the “institutionalized conservative movement” became “conspicuously silent” because they had allowed the left to control the spin and “didn’t want to put themselves in harm’s way” [ii].

Leave Barack Alone!The “Democrat-Media Complex” (Breitbart’s term) control of the Obama screenplay has been obvious from day one, even when there was no narrative to shape. Instead of offering evidence to refute criticism of their star, the Alinsky-schooled Complex lazily lob potent word-missiles like “racist” or “birther.” Most Republican elites defensively duck and run for cover lest any of the labels stick. Conservatives hope that intelligent discussion of economic and policy issues will win election battles, but they fight within an arena defined and controlled by the leftist media, leaving the home court advantage to the left.

Refusing to play by Democrat-Media Complex rules, conservative writer Diana West bravely observed the relationship between two of Obama’s scandals: his socialism and the probable fraud of his identity documents. The assertions are related in that even though both are supported by facts and evidence, neither fits the narrative, and so both are ignored by the mainstream. And most of the conservative establishment has reacted the same way it did in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair: conspicuously silent and self-censoring. Author Roger Kimball noted the disturbing consensus that has rendered Obama’s nativity a topic “literally undiscussable.”
“Will the GOP stop playing Charlie Brown to the media’s Lucy? If the Republican Party doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to fight back,” warned Breitbart [iv], it will be the people who have to step up and win back the big thing: control of the narrative. A narrative of truth.

A debate, a narrative. It’s a useful distinction to keep in mind. Brietbart, it seems, discovered the Architect/Medicator divide. Recycling and re-recycling a narrative is, after all, an excercise in self-medicating. The difference is one in trajectories; a real debate will make a somewhat linear motion. Things will be posited, and then there will be some event, after which the things will have been refuted or proven. A narrative, on the other hand, moves in a circular direction, taking great delight in “proving” the same things over and over again. One’s a thinking activity and the other one’s a feeling activity. Case in point, this conversation, thanks to the behavior one participant, is an exercise in recycling a narrative over & over again.

But how to tell the difference when you’re not actively participating in the debates/narratives? Perhaps the first red flag to be raised, is when you look around and see you’re living in mankind’s very first enlightened, egalitarian, “free” civilization toiling under a massive and growing list of “literally undiscussable” things.

Hat tip to Bird Dog at Maggies’ Farm.

What’s Wrong With Saying “Nice Guy In Over His Head”

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Jan LaRue writes at American Thinker:

If Mitt Romney becomes the Republican presidential nominee, he needs to sound more like Thomas Jefferson than Mr. Rogers. Hope and change haven’t brought a beautiful day in this neighborhood.

The Founders were brilliant political strategists who didn’t need focus groups to tell them that their fellow patriots wouldn’t be inspired to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to “throw off” a “nice guy who was just in over his head,” as Romney repeatedly refers to President Obama.
Jefferson and the 55 co-signers of the Declaration railed against the “evils” committed by King George III….They laid out the substantive case against the King in 1,323 elegant, inspirational, compelling and radical words that birthed this nation. The King’s abuses of our God-given unalienable rights required more than moderate words:

“A Tyrant … unfit to be the ruler of a free people”
“A long train of abuses and Usurpations”
“Absolute Despotism”
“A history of repeated injuries and usurpations”
“Absolute tyranny”
“Nice guys” get second chances. Obama must not. Making the case against a tyrannical king or the most radical president in U.S. history cannot be entrusted to faint-hearted moderates.

I have to say, this has flipped around my view of the whole situation. I had some trouble seeing what the whole beef was, now I don’t.

There is some value to be had in staying away from the theatrics. Picture, as an extreme example, Al Gore’s tirade about “George Bush betrayed the country.” This, if memory serves, is about the last time the climate change Goracle was relevant in some way, no? It all comes down to: An argument that should win the day, doesn’t have to be presented in such a manner — this is a rhetorical methodology for little kids. Very little kids, who are up past their naptime.

But part of presenting the argument that should win the day, is defining the necessity of action. That means itemizing the deficiencies of the status quo. Things the way they are right now, are heap big busted, and there’s a lot more wrong with them than a president who’s a “nice guy in over His head.”

If, this morning, President Obama woke up feeling an unusually high level of competence in His ability to do His job, and if this same day the challenges that rise to meet Him are unusually mild, and He can fulfill them with a sense of accomplishment and victory that eludes Him on most days…He will still do a lot of damage. It is His vision that is the problem here. His very electoral mandate, the agreement between Him, the people who fund Him, and His voting constituents on what He’s supposed to be doing. It comes down to: “Use Your rhetorical flourish and Your black skin to lock in a bunch of legislative left-wing goofiness that You normally would not be able to lock in.”

I don’t really know how it helps the country’s economy, to identify and target a bunch of “millionaires and billionaires” and come up with some radical new plans to deprive them of their money. Neither does anybody else. That particular policy cannot be defended in a logical way, because no matter how you cut it, it’s based on a dictum that there is something wrong with being rich. You aren’t making a nation’s economy stronger when you identify that nation’s rich people as some kind of a problem, and then come up with ways to solve that “problem.” That isn’t how you make a nation prosperous, that’s how you make a nation poorer.

So, no. Obama is not in over His head. I wish He were, we’d all be better off. This is much worse than that.

“If I Wanted America to Fail”

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

It’s making the rounds this morning. Rightly so.

Hat tip to, well, just about everyone on my reading list.

“Why Do Men Become Communists?”

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

It’s certainly a question worth asking. Because twenty-year-old guys aren’t that worried about evening out an economic playing field, and Das Kapital is boring.

Three fundamental ideas: “The enemy of being is having”; “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his need”; “philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it.”

Hat tip to David Thompson, by way of Gerard.

I have noticed there is a narrow band of authority altitude that is highly attractive to the Medicator mindset. You could think of it in military terms as Sergeant and Corporal ranks, but not as disciplined. Something high enough that the holder of the office is responsible for seeing what needs to be done, and also high enough that he can order a grunt to do it once he figures out what it is. But low enough that forming the vision to be carried out, is someone else’s job. So someone else higher up figures out, if the mission is to succeed then this thing over here is going to have to be done; then this middle-management layer comes in, takes the order, figures out something incredibly mundane has to happen, and then starts barking orders to the muscle-men who have no discretion and make no meaningful decisions at all.

The appeal seems to be: High enough on the org chart to get some atta-boys, low enough never to be blamed for anything. Apologies to retired Sergeants and Corporals for the comparison, I can’t think of any other way to illustrate it and I know your “real” jobs are much more complicated than this.

Point is, there is a role being sought out, and the role is to boss around others, with or without a real purpose involved. If all commodities achieve value through scarcity, then surely a ticked-off Marxist guy thundering away about how this-shall-not-stand, young or old, is about a dime a dozen. How tiresome the spectacle has become. Yeah yeah, you’re angry and you’re mobilizing, got it. Just order the damn burger and let’s get out of here.

So the appeal of Marxism, apart from getting hold of the fruits of others’ labors without helping to shed the blood sweat & tears, is bossiness. That’s my opinion, anyway. Like Severian (we think it was?) said, somewhere (Update: Nope not him): Modern liberalism amounts to a lifelong struggle to make high school come out right. They are the nerds who were shoved into trash cans by the bullies, who grew up and now want to become the bully.

Longer lecture here:

At 15:33: “Marx was also a master psychologist. He understood there is a class of people in every society who, like himself, are motivated in their day-to-day lives by envy, resentment and hatred. Such people always blame others for their condition and plight. And Marxism speaks directly to such people.”

Related: Because I don’t link to it often enough: Zizzo and Oswald’s money burning experiment.

“President Obama Helps You Do the Math”

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Yeah, about that…

I Made a New Word LVI

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Red Dot Science (n.)

Broadly, it is the brand of pseudo “science” that is being used any time the outcomes of the underlying experimentation & research are pre-determined. Where real science says whatever it says, without any regard at all for how well-understood or well-communicated it is, red-dot science is all about being communicated in a convincing way. It relies on emotion for this communication, therefore, discussions about it are emotional and not intellectual. Although the people trying to sell the red-dot science try their very best to make it look intellectual.

Real science knows what has been demonstrated after the research is done. Red-dot science knows what has been proven, after, during, and before this research; the research itself is little more than a tangent. Most people with normal working brains, very often have at least the unsettling suspicion they’re looking at such a false brand of science when they read about studies that say, for example, “women suffer more than men do” or “girls are much more advanced in [blank] than boys” or anything of the form “World To End, Women & Minorities Hardest Hit.” Any story about a study that begins “Researchers wondered what would happen if…” inspires thoughts, although it isn’t mentioned much, of wonder about the wondering by the researchers. Wait, what kind of “researchers” would wonder about that? Intellectually-capable, non-agenda-driven people read things like that and think — waitaminnit, was this open to question or was it not? If it was not open to question, why did the money get spent on the study? And if it is indeed questionable and therefore there must be difficulty in measuring it, then how come there never, ever seem to be any “outlier” studies, even ones that are subsequently discredited, that suggest something contrary? Even through error? Like, ever?

Red DotIf the studies themselves are data…the data suggest that the study findings are written first, or defined first anyway, crystallized more firmly than should be allowed when a useful scientific method is applied. The data do not prove it. But they do suggest it.

Other things suggest this too. There are two definitions for “science” in the House of Eratosthenes Glossary, the more modern of which says:

1) A credentialed collective of academic elites who use democratic, political and coercive techniques to decide amongst themselves what is so. 2) The Dogma embraced by individuals who remain in good standing within this collective. 3) An agenda of Absolutism, toward recruiting more individuals into said dogma. Either way, it is the acquisition of new “psuedo-knowledge” about nature, by means of engaging in a False Unanimity fallacy: X must be so because “all scientists” believe in X, and “all scientists” believe in X because any scientist who doesn’t believe in it does not count. We know he isn’t a real scientist, because he doesn’t believe in X.

So this modern definition of science involves voting on what is and is not so. It embraces a fallacy of circular reasoning, since the voting takes place among elites who are credentialed and therefore qualified; the qualification is linked to the voting, since anyone who dares to fasten his or her name to a dissenting viewpoint is attacked. Therefore, the pie charts and other graphics exploring numbers of scientists with this-or-that opinion, could be better read as pie charts & graphs about how many scientists have balls and will put their careers on the line when science is being abused. Yes, of course it’s a minority. This is always a minority in establishments of credentialed elites, that’s the way establishments of credentialed elites work. No balls.

Red Dot Science, more specifically, is science prepared and presented for the purpose of appealing to emotion. It acts in a squid-like way when challenged, squirting generous amounts of rhetorical ink in order to confuse and deflect. In the many candidates I considered for this name, I tried all sorts of different ways to work “squid” and “cuttlefish” and “sepia” into the final result, and eventually abandoned that.

Red dot science shows other behaviors, when challenged, that real science does not show in the same circumstance.

Since it is an appeal to emotion, it seeks to reinforce itself through simple repetition, just like the kitty saying “I will catch the dot, I will catch the dot.” In real science, of course, the verity of a claim has nothing at all to do with how many times it’s repeated. Real science, in fact, labors — in futility, but nevertheless gives it a good try — to fight the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which is the problem that results when the measurement of a thing is affected by the effort to measure it. Real science struggles against this, red dot science embraces it.

Often the repetition is made cosmetically more believable through the exploration of further detail. Consider the following dialogue:

A. The moon is made of cheese.
Q. Whoa…that would require a lot of milk…how do you think it got there?
A. Sixty percent Colby, thirty percent Swiss, five percent Gouda, three percent Cheddar, two percent cottage.
Q. Um, that doesn’t answer my question…
A. What’s your problem? It adds up to a hundred, I’m using science!

Another tell-tale sign of red dot science is that it pushes for things to be “settled.” You can detect this push when you consider elements of the theory that are mostly settled. Real science will push, if anywhere, in the opposite direction and try to call these items along the periphery into further question. Red dot science is like the kid in the back seat of the station wagon asking are-we-there-yet. “Can’t we agree on that so we can go on to the next thing?”

As a result, red dot science treats an opposing viewpoint as something of a contagion, much like the kitty would treat the statement “you can’t catch the red dot,” an undesirable element that thwarts and could reverse the build-up of desired emotional tartar.

As reader Severian was noticing in an offline, red dot science cannot even grant a concession toward the opposing viewpoint theoretically, purely for purposes of argumentation. No can do. That, in itself, is a tip-off that the discussion is an emotional one and not an intellectual one, since a participant in an intellectual disagreement can easily gain credulity by arguing “fine, let’s say things are your way, how then do you explain [etc.]…” Red dot science nurtures an everlasting hostility to any type, kind or form of uncertainty, in any context, just like the hopeful kitty. It even loses track of time itself that way; advocates of red dot science are very frequently heard to wax lyrically about future events, as if they have taken place in the past. “What’s going to have to happen, is reasonable steps will have to be taken to combat climate change, and people are going to have to accept a new form of…”

A strange thing happens when red dot science says if we do this, then that will happen. Example: If we fund a government stimulus program then the economy will turn around. Things do not go the way they were supposed to go, the red-dot-science advocate is made aware of it and asked for his reaction. What happens next is truly surreal. He will recite the way it’s supposed to work, all over again, seemingly oblivious in every possible way to the fact that the experiment has failed. In this context, it shares some traits with mental illnesses. “See, what happens is, the money ends up with the construction workers, and they use it to buy groceries and boots and tools and gas for their trucks, then that goes into the economy…” Yeah, yeah sport. Exactly what we just tried. Where’s your captured red dot?

Another tip-off that red dot science is being used, is that vast verbiage will be used reciting a catechism, with little or nothing said that makes its contents any more probable other than argumentum ad authoritarian static.

Citations offered with no specifics. It’s clear there is an expectation that the works cited are to be consumed, starting on page one, ending whenever the receiving party comes ’round to the red dot way of thinking…at which point, further reading is entirely optional. This is a key functional difference between indoctrinating and educating; the educator is on a mission to expand the student’s mind, the indoctrinator is on a mission to change the student’s mind, at which time any further effort is much better expended on the next “student.” With red dot science, if the other party manages to wade through the citation but hasn’t come around, he is directed to go-back-and-read-it-again. If the other party finds a problem with the reasoning in the citation and stops reading it, he’s accused of “ignoring the evidence” without any hearing given to what problem he found with it, and why it would be a problem.

Intransigence is often used as a substitute for evidence in red dot science. Many of the arguments presented boil down to “you’ll never convince me no matter what, so you might as well come over to my side.” Also, the lecturer’s lack of ability to understand what the other person is saying, is sometimes used as an argument that the lecturer, with his substandard reading comprehension abilities, must have the right idea.

As reader Nightfly noted back at his place,

The whole dizzying affair at Morgan’s barely qualified as a conversation, because it never went anywhere. This fellow (s) Zachriel has, in fact, put himself into my mental dictionary as the picture illustrating GK Chesterton’s chapter on madmen in his tremedous book Orthodoxy. Chesterton observed that a closed circle, such as the mind of a madman, can be said to be infinitely small… a tiny ring constricting tighter and tighter until nothing is left.

Why would he or they or whomever do that? What would be the point of such a long pointless exchange?

I’ve puzzled ’til my puzzler was sore, and only one thing really makes sense: the very pointlessness of it all must be the point to Zachriel. There’s a dull commonality to how he approaches the topic and how he demands that all others approach it. For all the talk about saving the world, it involves no actual volition on the part of those who will actually do the nuts-and-bolts saving on a daily basis – they won’t choose, they’ll be herded.

Summing it up: Red dot science is simply a demand, dressed up in a “science” costume. Its weakness is that a demand to believe in something, no matter how artfully it is demanded, does not make that article of belief any better established. It is precisely as scientific as arriving at the “right” answer by flipping a coin, spinning a roulette wheel, or shaking a Magic-8 ball.


Friday, April 20th, 2012

I hear people are contradicting themselves when they say they value life, and want to stop abortions, but then turn around and want murderers executed. Hmmm, it’s an entirely valid critique…until you think about it. The babies being aborted haven’t murdered anyone. If anyone is contradicting themselves, it’s the people who want the executions stopped and the abortions to go ahead. In many cases, the contradictions are quite glaring; some within the anti-capital-punishment crowd say they are speaking up for the voiceless, because our civil liberties and constitutional rights must be applied to the least among us. Eh, voiceless, least among us? Hello?

Come to think of it, these are the people who want a sumtuous gourmet of ever-more-lavish social programs and retirement programs. Isn’t it a real problem when there’s no next generation coming up, to get socked with the bill?

Another thing I’ve been hearing is that Americans have a reputation around the world for being boorish, poorly-mannered, arrogant, intellectually stilted, incurious, et cetera. I’m seeing Americans criticized for reaching middle age without ever having held a passport, meaning they haven’t traveled outside their country’s borders. And it occurs to me: If these are the ones who have not traveled outside the country’s borders, shouldn’t we be looking to the enlightened, sophisticated, well-traveled nuanced-thinking blue-bloods as we try to figure out how we got our reputation? Some of them can act pretty boorish. Why blame the people who haven’t traveled anywhere?

How come democrats want more things in our lives to be run by a government that is run by their enemies six years out of every ten? Are they really so myopic that they think their friends will be calling all the shots, forever and ever? Just wow. Let’s not even discuss the values they have that are different from mine…I don’t want anyone that dense to be in charge of anything, anywhere. For their own good.

I think if I liked Barack Obama’s positions on the issues, and I was excited about His presidency because He has all this gravitas and weight and cred and…well, whatever else you call it when you’re accustomed to getting your way, nobody wants to argue with you about anything, and nobody can explain why…right about now, I’d be wishing for someone else to take charge who had a lot less of this. Think about how it goes with most presidents: The election is coming up in a year or two, so it’s time for the administration to get worried about gas prices, food prices, et al. This one, thanks to all the cred, managed to snooze all the way through about February of this year. Even now it’s a debatable question whether or not He’s on our side on this thing.

That’s another thing: Everything’s open to question. Birth certificate, bin Laden death photo, college transcripts, every little question is answered with “I/We shouldn’t have to produce that and you shouldn’t be asking.” So, again, even if I saw things more President Obama’s way, about now I’d still be wishing for a Republican to be in charge just because that’s the only time it seems we can have a transparent government.

Do Americans want the wealth to be spread around? We certainly do have a stewing, steaming resentment of rich people and there certainly is a feeling that they’re getting away with things…many Americans openly opine that this is how the rich people got rich in the first place. Hmmm, one wonders what it is about the rich that makes them different, if the being rich is not what set them apart, it must have been something else. What was that, then? But when the agenda advances to spreading the wealth around — I do not perceive that there is much passion for this in America. Seems to be an attitude getting forced on us, by the people who are running things.

Does it even work?

“Something Offensive”

Friday, April 20th, 2012

As they say in text mesage speak — no other intro will do — “Dude, WTF”:

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech but it cannot insulate folks against the social and cultural repercussions that come from saying something offensive.

I’m pulling that one gem out…some would say, unfairly…from a treatise whose subject and title are “Ted Nugent Should Be In Jail.” I don’t agree with the conclusion, or how he got there, but the author had me accepting his argument as at least a reasonable one right up until I got to that sentence. In fact, if anything, my picking the one sentence out of its context makes it look less glaring, since a casual reader might be forgiven for taking the phrase “social and cultural repercussions” at face value. Which would make it a much more reasonable thing to say. But the idea is JAIL. The whole column is all about how Ted Nugent should be in JAIL.

“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech but you should still be jailed for saying something offensive.” That illustrates the problem; the word “but” is being abused. You don’t get to say “up but down.” But to make the transgression more evident, I had to change it. Did I change it unfairly? Eh…I don’t think so. RTWT, as they say.

If I’ve misunderstood something, then clearly apologies would have to be in order. But if that is the case, it poses a problem: It would illustrate the ease with which things can be misunderstood. In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to suppose that pretty much everything, with a little bit of intellectual torture, can be reinterpreted convincingly as pretty much everything else.

Are you threatening to do something illegal against someone, perhaps plan their murder, when you say “I’ll either be dead or in jail by this time next year”? I can certainly see the thought pattern. If I have a daughter, and I tell you “Marry her and I’ll be dead or in jail by this time next year,” my meaning is pretty clear. It’s not as clear when we’re talking about a sitting President, rumored by His opposition to be aspiring toward becoming the next American Caesar. Among the many legitimate complaints made against His Eminence is the one that, for a professor of constitutional law, He doesn’t seem to know or care much about the Constitution. So, yes, I do think it is appropriate for the Secret Service to check this out, but no, I cannot say a threat against the President’s life is the only reasonable interpretation to be made of Mr. Nugent’s remarks.

Hey, come to think of it, what ever happened to the people who made the move about George W. Bush getting assassinated? You remember, back when Bush was still President. Where’d that go?

Science and Politics

Friday, April 20th, 2012

You know, it occurs to me: We live in an age where it is becoming increasingly important to tell these two things apart. Which should be easy. But we also live in an age wherein that is becoming increasingly difficult. Partly by accident and partly by design, we’re being offered an awful lot of political propaganda that passes for science.

We need a litmus test. It shouldn’t be hard to arrive at one, since politics is goal-oriented and real science is supposed to be process-oriented.

Perhaps that is the key. With both science, and politics, there is always a sponsor. Every offering has an offerer. Now how would that offerer react to a a second offerer, with a second offering, which drives toward the same conclusion but relies on an analytical process that is clearly flawed. Like: Yes, Earth has gravity that can be measured according to the acceleration of a falling object at sea level, roughly 32 feet per second squared…because there’s a witch who lives in the middle of the planet sucking everything in with her magic potions.

The scientist would recoil from this kooky stuff, but the political propagandist would welcome it into an alliance. Only the propagandists can say: That’s bullshit, but it’s helpful bullshit so we should arrange a partnership to get it spread around. The notion that a bad process happens to arrive at a good conclusion, would be meaningless to a real scientist, since real science is not concerned about arriving at a pre-determined conclusion. That’s not supposed to be the goal.

A lot of what we call “science” is research under government grants, which by their very existence provide pressure to arrive at a particular conclusion. So my litmus test excludes an awful lot. Well, so be it.

The Dog Week

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I’m looking back over the past week, and it strikes me as a week from which much is to be learned if one studies it the right way, but also as one I would not like to see repeated. About the only good thing I’m seeing happen is that our Ridiculer In Chief had to absorb some ridicule back, and His craven spineless apologists were exposed as craven spineless apologists. What’s that, the “Romney put a dog on the roof of his car” narrative was unfortunately upstaged by the more spectacular “Obama ate dog as a child” narrative, now all of a sudden it’s so important to move on and discuss real issues? You weren’t afraid of this side trail when you thought you were gonna win it, Obama Fans. Either we’re going to talk about mistreating dogs or we’re not. A little consistency.

But the canine controversies mask something else that happened this week. Peggy Noonan, who seems to share my concerns on this one, has a good run-down of examples, although I part company with her on her last one.

People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.

Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.

I see it as a failure of an experiment, and a spectacular one as failures go. See, we’re supposed to elect Barack Obama, who’s got all this undefinable and unexplainable “cred.” His words carry great weight, although nobody can supply a decent explanation as to why they do. From putting Him in charge, and thinking happy thoughts, and never saying or doing anything that offends anyone (unless they’re the right people to offend) we’re supposed to approach some state of Nirvana and become better people. It’s been given a fair try, and the result of the experiment is indeed a new type of American…a new breed? Let’s call it what it is: A contagion. We’ve become something of a pestilence. Read her examples. A man is beaten in Baltimore and the enlightened denizens of this new Xanadu whip out their cell phones and start filming it.

Low and bad character, is the picture that gels into recognizable form from the examples she has to offer. If we have become an enlightened people from our recent experiment, we’ve got a funny way of showing it.

My own examples mirror this, I’m afraid. There is the extended-family matter into which I’m not inclined to go probing too much, it would betray confidence. Suffice it to say someone is bitterly resentful of our upbringing, and this person has little real cause to be. And although the writer may not recognize it, his wish is for a wallowing; an unproductive, circular conversation about, essentially, nothing. I’ve had one such cyclonic examination this week already and I have no patience for another. But I do take note of a consistency between these two experiences: I have been shown some bit of evidence, or prose, or a political manifesto cloaked as a scientific study — I have read it and it has not produced in me the emotional reaction that was expected/anticipated by someone, who then responds by giving me instructions to go read it again.

Ah, this is fast becoming a pet peeve: The sloganeering didn’t work, so I am to be given a second dose. No, I say. Call it The Godfather rule: Never read something a second time that didn’t make its point the first time around. Why would I do that. Reminds me of the Citizen Kane conversation, in which I made the mistake of asking for specifics about why this would be called The Greatest Film Ever Made. The answer, of course, was that I should go watch it and it would become obvious. Rather useless answer, since I’d already watched it. Years before, a Wesley Clark fan, in response to my questions about Gen. Clark’s position on the issues, very casually directed me to go to his website and all would be made clear. It wasn’t. I’ve seen many Ron Paul fans do the same thing, with the same results.

In hindsight, I realize I should not have been surprised by any of this; lately we, as a society, have developed a fondness for clubbing each other over the head with details, without presenting any details. Part of the Architect/Medicator divide is that medicators want to make everyone else a medicator, and a defining behavior of Medicators is that they react emotionally to things. The logical consequence to all that is, people who react emotionally to things want everyone else to react emotionally to things…which, we see, is true. They forget the “O.J. Simpson Trial” rule: Two people from different walks of life, can see exactly the same thing, and come away with wildly different conclusions about what it means, with neither one of them sustaining the slightest question or doubt about what they’ve concluded.

That’s just the way people are. It’s called “learning”; not a bug, it’s a feature.

The “read it again” and “go to his website” things though — make no mistake about it, those are bugs.

We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around among us who seem to be genuinely incapable of processing & understanding the message: Yes I read the thing you showed me, top to bottom, and no I still don’t agree. They just don’t know what to make of it. “Go read it again!” seems like something into which they’ve at least put some thought. But I don’t think so. I think that’s a reflexive nerve-center reaction, like a dead body twitching.

Peggy Noonan’s complaint, or at least, the worrisome thing to be noticed from all her observations, is that there are things that we have to take somewhat seriously if we’re going to live together in some kind of peace. And these things are not being taken seriously. From my own experiences this week that bother me the most, it seems to come down to: People do appreciate the need for this peace, but they’re making the mistake of defining it as absence of conflict. The mistake is a deadly one, since life itself entails conflict, and a dogmatic regimen of rejecting all conflict will eventually come to the point where it begins to reject life. All those sermons given by Jesus Himself, the parable of the talents, the parable of the magic eyes, the prodigal son, all of that was an attack on this. You can’t be a disciple if you’re only a disciple until such time as there is conflict. The same holds true of being a Christian. No, I do not mean to say a good Christian seeks out conflict and tries to make it happen. But I do mean to say that anti-conflict must be anti-Christian. What point is there to life, if we’re only supposed to live it until there is conflict? There is none.

And this is reflected, I would argue, in the results. When people are bludgeoned into this living-of-life-to-avoid-conflict, sooner or later, you always see someone, somewhere, laboring under a commandment that they need to stop living life, or to live less life. So that someone else isn’t offended. Very often, when the “someone else” doesn’t actually exist, and is thought about only as a hypothetical: “Take that American flag down, someone might find it offensive.”

Sooner or later, intolerance itself is tolerated, and ironically that is the exit point of tolerance from this avoid-all-conflict doctrine.

Peggy Noonan finishes strong:

The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.

Something seems to be going terribly wrong.

Maybe we have to stop and think about this.

Unfortunately, I cannot do the same. I suppose I shouldn’t try; she’s paid to write and I’m not. I will say, though, that all I have learned about people over this past week, makes me more appreciative of dogs. They have the qualities, naturally, that humans are trying to develop; and the more the humans try to approach that goal, it seems, the further away they get from it.